Talks by Sringeri Acharyals - VIII

God, the permanent companion


Immersed in worldly activities, man generally toils day and night and by some means goes through his ordeals and escapes. Time waits for no one and in this fast changing background, he manages to earn and spend. But each one should introspect on what distinction he has achieved and whether he has taken any step to reach the goal of emancipation. ``What have I gained in this precious life and have I utilized the opportunity provided by God in a proper manner'' should be the self-enquiry he should make.

Our forbears who had been steeped in spiritual traditions had left for posterity the methods to secure divine grace. They had said that the mind should be kept absolutely conditioned, which meant that the physical body, the senses and the mind ought to be utilised to think about the God-man relationship, to utter His names and to offer service to Him. When he worships, naturally the mind will have to be kept tamed so as to enjoy peace.

But many have not been able to resort to spiritual exercises which will lead them to God. They usually say, ``These days (when I am young) are not intended for religious pursuits. There is enough time and I can take to religion at a later stage.'' This is their general attitude but little do they realize that as age advances all the sense faculties will fail to respond. On the day when he is to fast, he will feel more hungry and when he is asked to keep awake on a Sivarathri day, he will get sleep early. There is absolutely no guarantee that he can think, act or see clearly in his old age.

Hence, wise men have tendered genuine advice that younger days are more conducive to developing devotion and be of service to God. When his body is trim, words flow without falter, mind takes quick decisions and eyesight is sharp, a person should think of God and adopt measures which will lead him to God's vicinity. Such a tendency to be God-minded should arise, not from suggestions made by others but by one's own volition.

He should not go to the temple because someone has compelled him. Worship of God should be to please himself and the Almighty, knowing well that it is for his own benefit. Elders have pointed out that they have been provided with a golden opportunity to realize God through these procedures.

Sri Bharathi Theertha Swami of Sringeri Sarada Peetam in a discourse cited in this connection the words of the Lord in the Gita:

Let a man lift up himself who is drowned in the ocean of transmigration. Let him not lower himself for he alone is the friend of himself. No other friend can lead him to liberation from this sea of distress. Mind under different circumstances is both a friend and a foe to the soul. It is a friend to one who has full control of self and an enemy when he has not checked its vagaries.
— Bhagavad Gita

God alone is man's permanent companion and so what one should consider as a real achievement is not to merely accumulate wealth or seek fame and position but to meditate on God, utter His names, offer worship to Him and thereby earn His pleasure and obtain His grace.