The Journey Home Book - By Radhanath Swami
At the age of only nineteen, Radhanath Swami left his home in America seeking adventure and spiritual knowledge. After trekking across Europe for months, Radhanath Swami reached his long hoped for destination: India. After living there for many years as a sadhu or wandering monk, Radhanath Swami returned to America in order to share the sacred knowledge and wisdom he had learned from the many holy men and women he had met there. It was an extraordinary choice, given what Radhanath Swami had survived to get there: a journey filled with bizarre characters, mystical experiences, and dangerous adventures. The story is recounted in his recently published memoir The Journey Home - Autobiography of an American Swami. Reviewers have called Radhanath Swami's saga "at once an engaging yarn, a love story, and the evocation of a transcendent paradise in all its savagery, solitude, and splendor.
Radhanath Swami emerged from his years of travel wanting to explain for others the beauty and rewards of a life devoted to God, and therein lay a dilemma. Radhanath Swami's many followers and friends describe him as completely selfless and consequently unwilling to take credit for his work and restless when a spotlight is focused on him. By choosing A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami (1896-1977), a Bengali Vaishnava Saint, as his guru (after declining offers of initiation from several tyagis or renunciants in the Himalayas), Radhanath Swami cast his fate to the wind, cut his matted locks, and entered back into the society.
RadhanathMaharaj.net gives us a complete collection of the teaching of Radhanath Swami. Teachings consists of Transcriptions of lectures delivered by Radhanath Swami at various places. This website is to inspire the followers of Radhanath Swami to practice the philosophy of Vaishanavism.
I am especially grateful to be amongst all of you today. My special thanks to Ajay, Swathi and Urvi for inviting me to participate in this very wonderful event, we have just seen the performance of yajna, it is important to understand the meaning of the yajna, Krsna tells in Gita, Yajnashishtaashinah santo muchyante sarva kilbishaih; Bhunjate te twagham paapaa ye pachantyaatma kaaranaat, Bhagavad Gita the lord says in the beginning of creation
I have created man, women, I have created the devatas and I have also created yajna or sacrifice and have proclaimed be though happy by performing the sacrifice for it will provide all things to you, Krsna also explains what sacrifice means, 3rd chapter of Gita,
yajñārthāt karmaṇo 'nyatra
loko 'yaṁ karma-bandhanaḥ
tad-arthaṁ karma kaunteya
That work must be done as a sacrifice in the service of god. Otherwise what ever work we do will simply bind one by the ropes of karma, so our work is our sacrifice, our thoughts are our sacrifice, our words are our sacrifice and our happiness and the invocation of all auspicious and desirable things takes place when our work, our words and our thoughts are offered as a sacrifice in harmony with the will of god.
Today actually Krsna tells in Gita, yat karosi yad asnasi yaj juhosi dadasi yat yat tapasyasi kaunteya tat kurusva mad-arpanam that what ever we do, whatever we offer and give away, whatever charity you perform, whatever austerities, anything that is done should be done as an offering for the service and pleasure of god,
ataḥ pumbhir dvija-śreṣṭhā
whatever our occupation may be, whatever our status and society may be, our success, our perfection is that what ever we do is pleasing to the lord, that is sacrifice. The yajna is especially performed according to ancient Vedic rituals and there are different effects that takes place in a yajna, when they are chanting these mantras and the offering particular oblations and there is paraphernalia that is of the auspicious nature, what it is meant to do from a karmic point of you is infuse the atmosphere with auspiciousness, there are three modes of material nature, Tamoguna, Rajoguna and Satvaguna, ignorance, passion and goodness. Through the karma kanda, yajna what we are doing is we are actually infusing, surcharging the entire atmosphere with mode of goodness, which removes obstacles and cleanses the environment, just like if we have radio waves, with a particular radio wave you can chant name of the god, with a particular radio wave you can also surcharge the atmosphere with cinema love songs, it has a different effect, so what are we surcharging the atmosphere in yajna, we are surcharging the atmosphere with auspiciousness, but when it is done in a spirit of samsiddhir hari tosanam , to please the lord of devotion to the lord, then it not only creates a completely auspicious environment and removes obstacles but it invokes and attracts the blessings of god which is really the ultimate purpose of the sacrifice.
To invoke the presence of god’s blessings upon us to help us, to cross over all temptations and all obstacles and the subject of obstacles today as Ajay has so nicely explained the auspicious occasion of dussehra, dussehra is the day where good is victorious over evil, light victorious over darkness, knowledge victorious over ignorance, it is a day of victory, it is the day according to the Ramayana that Sri Ram Chandra defeated Ravana after a long competitive conflict between the two, Sita is the goddess of fortune, she was born of the earth, therefore all the fortune of the earth is represented in Sita. And all that fortune was meant in the loving service of Ram, in that sense to live in harmony with the principle whatever Sita provides the goddess of fortune, within this earth should be done in harmony with the will of the creator, and then there is Ravana, who represents envy. Wanted to steal Sita, not only Sita but he exploited so much gold from all over the planets to create Lanka, he wasn’t satisfied with that he conquered massive armies, he conquered devatas, he wasn’t satisfied with that , ultimately he wanted Ram’s consort, the goddess of fortune herself. Ravana represents this mentality that is within almost all of us, that mentality of greed, envy and exploitation, to work for our own purpose without considering the needs of others and the will of god, the word Ravana literally translates as one who makes others cry in distress, for his own purposes he didn’t mind offending, torturing, killing anyone, that is the materialistic mentality in its ultimate state, Ravana.
The battle between Ram and Ravana which took place in Sri Lanka is something very great, Sri Ram cut off the heads of Ravana and cut off the arms of Ravana, but every time he cut them off, they kept coming back and coming back and coming back that is the nature of Kama. That is the nature of selfish egoistic passion. However many times we try to conquer it keeps growing its ugly head again within our minds, ultimately Lord Ram Chandra took the arrow given to him by Aghastya Muni the blessings of a great sage and he shot it right in the heart of Ravana. And Ravana fell from his chariot on to the ground and the whole world celebrated that great disease to the whole earth planet like a cancerous disease Ravana, who caused so much pain to the body of human society, the world was liberated of him.
Today we are opening the research center to alleviate disease Ravana was the supreme disease with the help of Ram, if we can just invoke the blessings and presence and mercy of Ram we can alleviate so many people from crime, by alleviating so much of the disease of this world. There are three types of diseases, disease of the body, disease of the mind and disease of the soul. Disease of the body we know all about those and the whole medical industry is trying to deal with those diseases to alleviate pain and suffering and psychology and psychiatry other such sciences are trying to deal with alleviating the diseases of mind, the emotional systems within the system and there is also the disease of the heart, the disease of ignorance, people are forgotten who they are, what is the purpose of life? What is the relationship with one other? What is the relationship with nature?
And what is the relationship with god? And this disease can cause suffering despite having very healthy body and very very strong mind, this spiritual sciences are meant to ultimately cure this disease, in Bhagavad Gita describes na jayate mriyate va kadacin nayam bhutva bhavita va na bhuyah. ajo nityah sasvato yam purano na hanyate hanyamane sarire, that the conscious force within every living being is spiritual by nature, it is eternal full of knowledge and full of bliss, hanyate hanyamane sarire, even if the body dies that soul remains as it is, dehino 'smin yatha dehe kaumaram yauvanam jara tatha dehantara-praptir dhiras tatra na muhyati , Krsna tells in gita that as a child grows into youth, old age and ultimately death, in the same way the soul is passing through the various transformations of life and at the time of death what happens to the soul? According to our activities and our desires in life we have a particular state of consciousness and the soul is transmigrated accordingly to one of the eight million four hundred thousand species of life within our creation according to the Vedas. So we are part of god, mamaivamsa jiva loke jiva bhuta sanatana, the nature of the soul is to love god, the nature of the soul is to be instrument of god’s compassion in everything we do in life, to be in harmony with god means to live according to gods laws in the spirit of instrument of his compassion in everything we do, everything ewe say and ultimately in everything we think. Dussehra represents that day of enlightenment, dussehra represents the day where with the help of Ram we can restore our own lives in his eternal loving service and what is the greatest service we can do? What is the greatest way we can show love of god within this world? As we have said and as we have emphasized to be instrument of Krsna or god’s compassion in everything we do, after all Ravana was very learned , he was extremely scholarly, he had tremendous physical power, he had tremendous wealth, infact when Hanuman first saw Ravana, when he was disguised in Lanka, Hanuman was thinking, if only he had morality, if only he had devotion, he would be greatest man of earth, he had everything, he was coming from a very high family , Brahman, sages, wealth, strength, knowledge, but he used it all in ignorance, he used it all for his own selfish egoistic purposes.
Bhagavad Gita says that kama or lust is like fire, the more you feed the hungrier it gets, you can’t satisfy fire by putting fuel in it, that was Ravana , no matter how much power he had, no matter how much fame and prestige he had, he could not get enough , even his own wife Mandodari ,she said along with Vibhishan , his brother, you already have conquered the demigods, you are already unparalleled in your strength and in your fame , you have so much incredible wealth like nobody else, be satisfied, just give Sita back to Ram ,otherwise he is going to come and destroy you, but he couldn’t , Ravana represents this dilemma, that as long as we have selfish desires no matter how much wealth, prestige, power, influence never be satisfied. The fire can only grow and burn hotter and in that fire we can cause so much distress and problems to so many other peoples life. But by the power of Sri Ram that Ravana influenced within our own hearts can also be destroyed that is liberation and that is the essence of meaning of Dussehra, in all of our work we should be like Hanuman on the side of Sri Ram, infact Hanuman medically very very a stood person, you know this story? He lifted the entire mountain from Himalayas and brought it back and that healing herb, was the Surasena, I believe was the name of the doctor of Kanaras, he said you have to get this particular herb only this could heel Lakshman. Lakshman was laying on the ground, he was terminally ill, he had javelin of Ravana that pierced the chest, he wasn’t breathing , there was no symptoms of life, Hanuman to make sure he brought the right herb he brought the whole mountain. So here was the person who had tremendous strength and energy and he used in the service of Ram in compassion to others and Ravana he had the same type of strength and same type of powers but he used it for his own egoistic purpose. So Dussehra is a glorious day, it is day of invoking the lords presence and therefore it is said that anything begun on this auspicious day is blessed by the lords will if it is done with proper consciousness and proper motivation and it will be successful.
Krsna explains in Gita what success is?, success is not necessarily what the material eyes and what the news paper in the society tell us, success is that we are using whatever we have for the right purpose in harmony with the compassion of god that itself is our success. Today Swathi Devi also is very much inspired by the presiding deity of Saraswathi Devi, Saraswathi pooja, the goddess Saraswathi presides over knowledge, in all of the arts such as music, dance, drama, poetry, and education. There is a story regarding Saraswathi that I would like to very briefly narrate, there was a devotee of sarasvathi who pleased her so much, his name was Keshav Kashmiri, she gave him such powers that every time he open his mouth she controlled his tongue, therefore he could speak with such incredible wisdom, he can cite any scripture, he had undefeatable logic and guess what happened, he became uncontrollably proud. Queen Kunti says that wealth, knowledge, strength, high birth these material qualifications, actually they are beauty, knowledge, strength, high birth and fame these qualifications can be greatest disqualifications for our spiritual life, they have the tendency to make us proud and when we become proud we think I am the doer, Gita says prakrite kriyamanena guna karmani sarvasah ahankara vimoodhathma, that means that the bewildered soul thinks themselves to be doer of the activities actually we are all empowered by nature , mayadyakshena praktri and god is the controller of nature.
In America we say do not be proud of borrowed plumes, everything we have is gift of god and he can take it at any time why should we be proud? We should humble instruments of gods compassion with whatever god gives us that is real civilization that is real culture, so Keshav Kashmiri has incredible knowledge, he became digvijay pandit, he traveled all over the length and breadth of India challenge people to debate and defeated everyone soundly and soon wherever he went he was in procession riding on elephants with Brahmans chanting slokas and musicians playing instruments and thousands of people coming along with him, he came to Navadvip at that time Lord Chaitanya was avatar of Krsna in this age of Kali was living and he disguised himself at that time , he didn’t reveal his supreme opulence’s, he was playing the role of the young boy who was teacher of grammar, so Keshav Kashmiri happened to be walking along the banks of Ganges, he sees little boy so beautiful teaching grammar so nicely surrendered by students, And little Nimai which was lord Chaitanya’s name, he said oh you are great Keshava Kashmiri, we have heard so much about you, previously he told his friends, his students when they were glorifying him, lord Chaitanya said a great person is like a tree, when the tree has good fruits, those good fruits make the tree bow low to everyone, but the tree doesn’t have good fruits stand out high with proud. So similarly if a person has good qualities he is humble and respectful to all and a person who may have all kinds of material opulence’s but doesn’t have real quality of the heart stands very proud, so he said to this students soon this Keshava Kashmiri, his proud will be cut down as every body else ultimately is in this world.
So Nimai addressed Keshava Kashmiri, oh you are such a great poet, we heard about you undefeatable, all scriptures rest right on your tongue, because you are blessed by Saraswathi as her favorite, please compose some poetry and glorification of Ganga. Like a whirlwind he just composed original poetry a hundred stanzas in glorification of Ganges, the students were mesmerized this is super human and then little Nimai said, now that you have said this very nicely just like the wind you composed this poetry, no human can do this, but now please describe the ornaments and false of your poetry , Keshava Kashmiri said I am above false, no man even the gods cannot detect false in what I compose and the little Nimai was nothing but a grammar teacher pointed out false and why Keshava Kashmiri tried to reply he became completely blank he could not even move his tongue not a single thought can come to his mind and he just stood there bewildered and all of this students started to laugh and Nimai said no no don’t laugh do not embarrass him and then Nimai said go home study your books tomorrow we will discuss some more, so he went home and he started worshipping Saraswathi Devi how is this possible?
You gave me the benediction that every time I open the mouth you are going to speak through me, you are giving all knowledge, all abilities , how is it that a simple grammar student has defeated me, have I offended you , have I did something that you have abandoned me, with this saying he went to sleep, Saraswathi Devi appeared to him , it wasn’t a dream she appeared to him within his heart and said that you should understand that today I have given you my ultimate blessing , having great knowledge of the scriptures of logic of every subject, having the ability to convince others to defeat others that’s not my real blessing, that something superficial that I give to ordinary people but because you are actually pleasing me today I let you to meet the supreme lord face to face and be humbled by him, after all whatever I have to give you I have received from the lord, go to him and surrender with humility and be an instrument of his compassion, that is my supreme benediction.
There are many educational institutions in the world today and there are many people who are gaining tremendous power but it is sorry to say that is the most educated and powerful people in the world that are causing the problems, it is not the simple field workers that are creating threats of nuclear wars, crating disruptions in the whole economy, by cheating, plundering and greediness, its not the simple people that are really creating the ecological problems that the world faces today. As people have tremendous amount of power, power comes through knowledge ability and influence. When power is used in the wrong hands like Ravana it can create greatest problems in the world. when power and all those things that make power , knowledge, strength, prestige, ability when those powers are used in right hands they can create healing affect to the human society. In today’s world the greatest need is people’s hearts to become cleansed of this Ravana like tendency of greed, lust, envy, anger, pride and illusion. In the world today people require to clean their heart and be instruments of love, instruments of compassion and then yes, our educational systems, our scientific research will have a very very deeply healing affect on the world, it can bring real happiness and prosperity. Dussehra is the day when individually and collectively we should be praying and striving to utilize whatever we have, what ever knowledge, strength, influence, ability goddess Saraswathi has given to use them according to her will, as an instrument of love and compassion that is why we pray, that is why we chant the names of god, to invoke the compassionate spirit of love that is dormant within us.
So Keshav Kashmiri became then really the favorite object of Saraswathi’s blessing , he became humble and compassionate and used what he had in that spirit. yat pramanam kurute lokas tad anuvartate, Gita tells what great in influential people will influence the world, we have so many people who are big politicians, big scientists, big swamis but they are causing a mess in the world, unless their hearts are pure, because what people in high positions, influential positions do is they effect the people, they are the standard that the people want to follow. I must especially proud to know Ajay and Urvi and Swathi and their families because I know this family very well and with very much love and respect I have known mother Lalitha Piramal , many years, seen how her prayers and her actions are always trying to nourish her family with these inner spiritual virtues, they have influence, they have wealth, but what’s so wonderful is that they want to do something wonderful, something healing in the service of god for humanity, they did not invite us here in the inauguration of their very costly research center for some superficial or ritualistic reason, they want the blessings of god, they want the blessings of sadhus, so that they can do something wonderful in harmony with the will of god, in a spirit of compassion, I was speaking Ajay a few days ago and he was telling that the real interest between him and his wife and sister in law in developing this project is not just to make a lot of money, because in something like this you are risking everything, but its to utilize what they have to try to make a positive difference in peoples lives in this world, to alleviate suffering, to show compassion, yes the greater shortage in this world is not money, not rain, its compassion, whether is compassion everything will follow in auspicious way so today iam very very proud of your family and I wish you all success, that gods blessings shower upon you profusely .
Lord Kapila Dev taught the Sankhya Philosophy, Sankhya means the very very deep analytical study of material nature, the original book of research is Sankhya Philosophy of Kapila Dev, he describes in deeper and deeper aspects of reality of nature and relationships between atomic molecules, gross matter, the mind, the ego , the intelligence, time and god and the soul. He describes in such intricate analytical detail not only how material nature works but why it works the way it does? So very very powerful important subject matter but his conclusion is understanding all of this things the perfection of all of our knowledge is to learn how to live in perfect harmony with our creator, to learn how to utilize all of creation in harmony with the creator, this is yoga to unite our motivations our activities and our words with the will of our very source. I pray that this research center in your analytical study of various diseases in other forms of misery that people are suffering in this world, they are blessed by the lord, blessed by the lord to actually be real instruments of his love, of his compassion, I thank you very much and I pray that everybody here who has assembled also prays for the lords blessings for the true success of this wonderful project. Thank you very much.
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