Q : Some say that the theory of Moksha leads one to think of oneself alone and makes him keep aloof from his social obligations and duties. Is it correct?
A : That is only a misunderstanding of the concept of Moksha. The 'Self' that is contemplated upon is not the physical self. It is the 'Self' which is Immanent and Transcendent and is All-Comprehensive. As such a man who thinks of 'Self' does not become conscious of his small personal self at all.
Q : The idea of Moksha was conceived of, it is often said, as a negative concept, as a deliverance from so many kinds of ills and sufferings. Is it so?
A : It is a negative concept in the sense that it removes all such sufferings. But more than that, it is Absolute Freedom - freedom from personal likes and dislikes, impulses and things that sway the mind. It is freedom to act unaffected by the various worldly pulls.
Q : The concept of Moksha was born, it is sometimes argued, due to social imbalances, during the fallen days of society when people did not help each other and there was no social security to the individual.
A : On the contrary, Moksha was conceived of when society was at its highest glory, when it was victorious, when its armies and missionaries were marching forward.
It is a fact that social balance and mutual help and harmony do alleviate people's sufferings to an extent. But not all sufferings. In spite of the best social set-up people do suffer from illness, nervous breakdowns, bereavement and so on. So the mental afflictions have to he remedied on a more fundamental basis.
Q : 'Bhaktas' are reported to have seen the actual manifestations of divinity in the form of Rama, Krishna etc. Is it not merely a type of mental state, a mere imagination or hallucination?
A : No, no. Certainly not. The Divinity responds to our prayers and Tapas and actually materializes in various Forms before the Bhaktas at appropriate time in all Its glory and effulgence. We can see them, talk to them and experience their presence. In some cases others too, when touched by these Bhaktas, had that vision. There are ever so many instances in many parts of our country of Rama, Krishna, Devi, Shiva etc., manifesting in their physical forms before the Bhaktas.
Q : But actually Rama and Krishna were historical personalities.
A : Yes, what of that? Even after their departure from this world they come to the Bhaktas and guide them in many ways. Why, even Ramakrishna Paramahansa is a historical personality of recent times. He appears in his physical form before the devotees and gives them guidance on spiritual matters.
Q : Did the 'Mantra Drashtaas' create the Mantras? Why are they called so?
A : The Mantras were there already. The Rishis, by their penance, saw the light; from the light sound emerged; the sound gave rise to words; and those the Rishis expressed. It is because they were the first to see and express them, they are called Mantra Drashtaas.
Q : Is it a fact that in places like Maanasarovar, Badari and such others, our mind becomes tranquil?
A : Yes. At those high altitudes there is a change in our feeling. A sort of sanctity is felt in the atmosphere. The mind becomes more prone to tranquility and peace.
Q : Is there anything wrong in praying to God for our physical needs and comforts?
A : Why should we beg? Does he not know what we need? Whatever he bestows on us, we should put it to the best use. In Durga Saptashati, the devotee prays Putram dehi dhanam dehi sarvakaamaamscha dehi and so on.
Having started begging from God, we have now extended it to begging from one and all. We have now fallen into the despicable condition of going out with a begging bowl to the doors of foreign countries for rice, for wheat, for machinery, for the personnel to run them, and what not. We have totally lost the will and the faith in ourselves, to produce and accomplish whatever we desire by ourselves.
Q : Is there anything objectionable in initiating youngsters into 'Sanyaasa'?
A : Nothing objectionable. However, only he, who is capable of seeing into the aspirant's past (birth), his present aptitudes and his should give Deeksha, not others.
Q : Words like 'Maayaa', 'Mithyaa' are all so misleading.
A : No, it is their English translations that have created confusion. Maayaa is often translated as 'illusion'. But it is not so correct. It is only used for want of a better word. Mithyaa also does not signify 'false', as often translated. It is only 'transitory'.
Once there was a discussion between two students of philosophy. The idea of the world being Mithyaa, that it is all a dream etc., was being hotly discussed. A doubt arose that if the world is a mere dream, how is it that it appears to be the same to all persons; because, in dreams each individual will have his own vision, and no two visions will be similar.
I told them, "The reason is, the Dream is of Ishwara. In that Dream we all take part. As such, so far as we are concerned, the dream appears real and the vision is the same to one and all." But all this Brahma Satyam Jaganmithyaa is not something to be merely talked about, it is to be experienced.
Q : Is it wrong to keep the photograph of a great man?
A : No. But, it should be born out of a genuine reverence for the person, and not be a mere fad or a sort of self-satisfaction without any corresponding incentive for emulation. For that, one photo should suffice, it is only by the psychological attunement that one can realize one's Chosen Deity in any particular pose.
Q : But that is very difficult.
A : It is difficult for those who have not taken to that path. But, the darshan of one's Ishta Devataa is one of the most elementary Siddhis for a person who is on the path of Devotion.
Q : For that, much training is necessary.
A : Training is necessary for all things - even for the physical practices. Does not even cycling require practice?
The external aid may sometimes help us. But the real memory is within us. And as an external symbol, anything may suffice. For example, Stupas are built for the relics of Buddha. Even the dust from the place on which the great persons walked, can suffice to rouse the mental powers and give a psychological lift. Everything depends upon the mental attitude that one take up and not the externals.
Even Sri Rama and Sri Krishna were surrounded by many persons who remained unaffected, some even continued to be evil, throughout their lives-to the extent that one of those nearest to Sri Krishna even suspected him of stealing the Syamantakamani!
Q : There is a general feeling that intuition is opposed to reason.
A : No, it is not. Intuition is only compressed reason. It is super-reason. Intuition takes into consideration so many factors which fall outside the scope of reason also.
Q : What are those factors?
A : For example, Time and Space. And even Causation. So many causes enter to bring about a particular effect which reason has not yet come to grips with. Shakespeare has said : "There are more things in earth and heaven than are dreamt of by philosophy."
Q : Philosophy or science?
A : He has said philosophy. Philosophy of the West has not been able to grasp so many things. Intuition will be able to solve so many problems which reason cannot. To give an example, to denote the connection between reason and intuition, there is a simple arithmetical problem. A boy works out the answer step by step, whereas a scholar will give the answer immediately. As his intellect is already trained, the various steps are worked out quickly.
Q : Can spiritual contemplation offer solutions to such problems which are being solved by scientific analysis and experimentation?
A : Nature - even inanimate creation - has a 'soul', a spark of the Spirit in it. If one could establish his identity and harmony with that 'soul', then in that state one could solve such problems. And such identity is also possible. The works carried out by such persons who are in tune with the secrets of Nature will be enduring and beneficial for all time. The works which are against the element of Nature will prove fruitless and even harmful.
For example, the Sukkur dam built over Sindhu has proved useless. The river began to flow in quite a different course leaving aside the dam because the dam was built without a proper understanding of the natural forces and their direction - the 'soul' of Nature. The dam was required to be reconstructed again and again. As opposed to this, there is the example of the channel - the Padma 'river' - which connects the Ganga and the Brahmaputra rivers in Bengal. That 'river is man-made. Though it is not a natural one, still it has continued to flow in a natural way. this only means that the designers of that project were men with insight into the secrets of Nature.
Q : When one begins to concentrate on any particular thought, sleep overcomes. Is there any way out?
A : It is true it is an obstacle in the path of meditation and contemplation. That can be overcome with the guidance of one who has progressed in spiritual saadhanaa.
Q : Is it not possible to achieve spiritual progress without a 'guru'?
A : It may be possible. But, after all, who is a guru? Just as an individual can become a guru, so can a book. Guru is only a point of reference by which we can check up how far we have progressed in the saadhanaa. Suppose we are sailing on a sea and it is all pitch dark. Direction is lost. At that moment, we look to the skies and see the stars to ascertain the direction. In that case the stars are our guru.
Q : Does a change in behavior necessarily accompany spiritual enlightenment?
A : It should.
Q : Is there any connection between spirituality and morality?
A : Undoubtedly. A spiritually advanced individual must necessarily we morally elevated.
Q : What are the dangers that beset the path of a spiritual aspirant?
A : The chief danger a saadhaka has to beware as he progresses spiritually is the fascination of the Ashta Siddhi. But he should not fall a prey to it.
Q : What then is the path which is without such risks?
A : In the corporate saadhanaa there is no risk of Ashta Siddhi. One of our workers took Sanyaasa and went to Himalayas in search of a guru. Even now there are yogis in the Himalayas who have attained the highest spiritual state. But they are not easily recognized in their indifferent appearance. The worker came across a white-skinned Sanyasi. He was a European doing tapasya in the Himalayas. The worker requested him to accept him as a disciple. The European Sanyasi enquired in detail about the particulars of his pre-Sanyaasa life and activities. The worker replied that he was engaged in social work. The Sanyasi further enquired about the nature of that work. On coming to know that he was working for the RSS, the European Sanyasi told him, "Then, why did you give it up and come all the way here? You can get all the guidance you need for your saadhanaa there only. That is a corporate Yoga which does not involve risks."
Q : Cannot scholarship change the course of one's life or of others?
A : Sir Ramakrishna Paramahansa used to say, "What is the use of dry erudition? It is like an ass carrying a load of sandalwood."
Q : Do dreams come true?
A : For ordinary persons only a few may signify the coming events. But for those pure in mind, the dreams do come out true. For example, Samartha Ramadas has said that whatever he had seen in his dreams had come out true.