Chapter 7: Practice and Devotion

1. When Hemalekha was thus asked by her husband, she with her saintly practical knowledge of the state of the universe, spoke to him with increased kindness:

2-5. "Dearest, listen to me attentively. What is known as the mind is, after all, always like a restless monkey. So the ordinary man is always afflicted with troubles. Everybody knows that a restless mind is the channel of endless troubles; whereas one is happy in sleep in the absence of such restlessness. Therefore keep your mind steady when you listen to what I say. Hearing with a distracted mind is as good as not hearing, for the words serve no useful purpose, resembling the fruit-laden tree seen in a painting.

6. "Man is quickly benefited if he turns away from dry, ruinous logic and engages in purposeful discussion.

7. "Appropriate effort must follow right discussion; for a man profits according to the zeal accompanying his efforts.

8. "You find, my dear, that aimless discussions are fruitless and that earnest efforts are fruitful in the world.

9. "Discriminating zeal is what enables the husband-man to plough the field in season and the assayer to assay the worth of gold, silver, precious stones, medicinal herbs and the rest. No practical work will be done if people spend all their lives in vain discussions alone. Therefore, one should discard aimless talk and begin immediately to accomplish the highest aim of life as ascertained by appropriate sincere discussion. Nor should one refrain from individual effort, as is the wont of the followers of Soonga.

12. "A man who is in earnest need never be at a loss; will sustained effort ever fail in its purpose?

13. "Men earn their food, gods their nectar, pious ascetics the highest beatitude and others their desires, by individual exertion alone.

14. "Think well and tell me where, when, how and what profit was ever gained by any man who without engaging in action was taken up with dry polemics.

15. "If some stray cases of failure should make one lose faith in individual exertion, that one is certainly accursed of God, because he is his own ruin.

16. "Guided by proper deliberation, accompanied by zeal and engaged in individual efforts, one must take one's own unfailing way to emancipation.

17. "There are said to be many ways to that end. Choose that one among them which is the surest.

18. "Choice is made by right discussion and according to the experience of the wise. Then begin the practice immediately. I shall now explain them in detail. Attend.

19. "That is best which does not again yoke you to suffering. To a discriminating man, pain is apparent in all aspects of life.

20-22. "Whatever has the impress of misery on it cannot be good. Such are wealth, children, wife, kingdom, treasury, army, fame, learning, intellect, body, beauty and prosperity. For they are all of them transient and already in the jaws of death, otherwise called time.

23. "Can that be good which is only the seed ready to sprout as pain and grow into misery?

24. "The right means lies beyond these. However, the desire to possess them is born of delusion. The Master Wizard is Mahesvara. He being the creator of the universe, all are deluded by Him.

25-30. "Even a juggler of limited powers is able to deceive his audience although only to a limited degree. The majesty cannot be seen through without reference to him. Of course, the whole audience will not be deluded by him, but who can escape the illusion of Mahadeva?

"Just as there are a few who know how to see through the illusory tricks of the juggler and are not mystified by them, so also men can learn to overcome the universal Maya (illusion) if only the Lord is gracious to them. They can never escape from Maya, without His grace.

"Therefore he should be worshipped by those who are anxious to cross the Ocean of Maya.

31. "He with whom God is graciously pleased is endowed with Mahavidya, the supreme knowledge by means of which his crossing of the Ocean of Maya is certain.

32. "Other methods are also put forward as serving this supreme end, but they are bound to fail in their purpose if the Lord's grace be not forthcoming.

33. "Therefore worship the Primal Cause of the universe as the starting point; be devoted to Him; He will soon enable you to succeed in your attempts to destroy the illusion.

34. "Clearly the universe must have some origin.

35. "Although the origin is shrouded in mystery, let us investigate the cause from the visible effect and be guided by the holy scriptures; and then the conclusion will be reached that there is a Creator in no way comparable to any known agents.

36. "Contentious statements to the contrary have been logically refuted by many authoritative scriptural texts.

37. "That system which admits only sensory evidence is merely an apology for philosophy and leads nowhere. Salvation is not its end but damnation is its fruit.

38-40. "Dry logic also must be condemned. Another system declares that the universe is eternal, without beginning or end. It follows that the universe and its phenomena are self-existent; thus lifeless insentient matter is its own agent and keeper, which is absurd, because action implies intelligence and no example can be cited to the contrary. Scriptures also say that the Primal Cause is an intelligent principle, and we know that action always originates from an intelligent source alone.

41-43. "The world is thus traced to its Creator who differs entirely from any agent known to us. Judging from the magnitude of the creation, His power must be immeasurable in the same proportion as the unimaginable vastness of the creation. Such a one must also be able to protect and elevate His own creatures. Surrender therefore unreservedly unto Him.

44-50. "I shall adduce an example as a proof of this. We find in every-day life that a chief, if pleased, even though his means are limited, always ensures the prospects of the man who is sincerely devoted to him.

"If the Lord of the world be pleased, will anything be withheld from the devotee? Tell me. He is the only Solace of the devotees whereas the chiefs are many in the world and not necessarily kind; may be they are cruel and ungrateful also. Their patronage is also wavering and short-lived. The Supreme Lord has infinite mercy for His devotees, is most grateful and has unlimited powers. Otherwise, would people continue to worship Him from untold ages? Kingdoms not well ordered are known to disintegrate. (But this universe continues as ever). Therefore this Lord of mercy is well established and also rightly famed.

"Surrender yourself directly and unhesitatingly to him. He will ordain the best for you and you need not ask for it.

51-59. "Among the methods of approach to God, there are (1) worship to overcome troubles, (2) worship to gain wealth, etc., and (3) loving dedication of oneself. The last one is the best and surest in its results.

"In practical life too, a chief entreated by a man in trouble duly affords him relief. The man is however unhelped if he has not shown proper attention to the patron. So also the service born of ambition, bears indeterminate and limited fruits according to its intensity. Devoted service with no ulterior motive takes a long time to be recognised; yet it makes even the petty chief amiable. A human master may take long to recognise unselfish work; but God, the Lord of the universe, the Dweller in our hearts, knows everything and soon bestows appropriate fruits. In the case of other kinds of devotees, God has to await the course of destiny - that being His own ordainment; whereas for the selfless devotee, God, the Lord and the sole Refuge, is all in all and takes care of him without reference to the devotee's predestiny or His own ordained laws. He compensates the devotee quickly, and that is because He is supreme and self-contained without depending on anything else.

60-61. "Predestiny or divine will is powerless before Him. Every one knows how He set aside predestiny and divine laws in the case of His famous devotee, Markandeya. I will explain to you now the fitness of this. Listen, my dearest!

Note: - A rishi Mrikandu, by name, who was childless, pleased Siva by his penance. When Siva appeared to him, he prayed that a son might be born to him. Siva asked him if he would have a dull boy long-lived, or a sharp boy short-lived. Mrikandu preferred the latter. So Siva said: 'You will have a very brilliant son; but he will only live for sixteen years.' Accordingly a son was born who was very good and dutiful, and most intelligent and pious, charming all who saw him. The parents were delighted with him but grew sad as he grew up. He asked them the reason for their sadness and they told him of Siva's boon. He said, 'Never mind. I will see' and took to penance. Siva was pleased with his intense devotion, and ordained that he should remain sixteen years of age for all eternity.

62. "The current notion that one cannot escape one's destiny is applicable only to weak-minded and senseless wastrels.

63. "Yogis who practise control of breath conquer fate. Even fate cannot impose its fruits on yogis.

64-66. "Destiny seizes and holds only senseless people. Conforming to and following nature, destiny forms part of nature. Nature again is only the contrivance for enforcing God's will. His purpose is always sure and cannot be prevented. Its edge can, however, be blunted by devotion to Him and if it is not so blunted, the predisposing cause must therefore be considered a most powerful factor in a man's life.

67. "Therefore, eschew high vanity and take refuge in Him. He will spontaneously take you to the Highest State.

68. "This is the first rung in the ladder to the pedestal of Bliss. Nothing else is worth while.

69. (Dattatreya continued) "O Parasurama, hearing this speech of his wife, Hemachuda, was delighted and continued to ask her:

70. "Tell me, dear, who is this God, the Creator, the Self-contained One and the Ordainer of the universe to whom I should consecrate myself.

71-72. "Some say He is Vishnu, others Siva, Ganesa, the Sun, Narasimha or similar other avatars; others say Buddha or Arhat; still others Vasudeva, the life-principle, the Moon, Fire, Karma, Nature, primordial nature and what not.

73. "Each sect give a different origin for the universe. Tell me which of them is true.

74. "I verily believe that there is nothing unknown to you because that famous and omniscient sage Vyaghrapada has been gracious to you, and profound wisdom shines in you though you are of the weaker sex. Please tell me out of your love to me, o fair one, speaking words of eternal life!"

75. Thus requested, Hemalekha spoke with pleasure: "Lord, I shall tell you the final Truth about God. Listen!

76-78. "God is the All-Seer who generates, permeates, sustains and destroys the universe. He is Siva, He is Vishnu, He is Brahman, the Sun, the Moon, etc. He is the One whom the different sects call their own; He is not Siva, nor Vishnu, nor Brahma nor any other exclusively.

79-93. "I will tell you father. Heed me! To say, for instance that the Primal Being is Siva with five faces and three eyes. The Creator would in that case be like an ordinary potter making pots, endowed with a body and brain. True, there is no art found in the world, without a body and some intellect. In fact, the creative faculty in men belongs to something between, the body and pure intelligence.

Note: - Body being insentient cannot act of its own accord; nor can intellect do so without a tool.

"Therefore the mind operates apart from the gross body, in dreams; being intelligent it creates environment suitable to its latent desires. This clearly indicates that the body is only a tool for a purpose and the agent is intelligence. Instruments are necessary for human agents because their capacities are limited and they are not self-contained. Whereas the Creator of the universe is perfect in Himself and creates the whole universe without any external aid. This leads to the important conclusion that God has no body. Otherwise, He would be reduced to a glorified human being, requiring innumerable accessories for work and influenced by seasons and environments, in no way different from a creature, and not the Lord. Moreover, pre-existence of accessories would quash His unique mastery and imply limits to His powers of creation. This is absurd, as being contrary to the original premises. Therefore, He has no body nor the other aids, yet He still creates the world, O Lord of my life! Fools are taken in by the notion of giving a body to the transcendental Being. Still, if devotees worship and contemplate Him with a body according to their own inclinations, He shows them Grace, assuming such a body. For He is unique and fulfils the desires of His devotees.

"Nevertheless, the conclusion must be reached that He is pure intelligence and His consciousness is absolute and transcendental. Such is the consciousness-intelligence in purity, Absolute Being, the One Queen, Parameswari (Transcendental Goddess) overwhelming the three states and hence called Tripura. Though She is undivided whole the universe manifests in all its variety in Her, being reflected as it were, in a self-luminous mirror. The reflection cannot be apart from the mirror and is therefore one with it. Such being the case, there cannot be difference in degrees (e.g., Siva, or Vishnu being superior to each other). Bodies are mere conceptions in the lower order of beings and they are not to the point in the case of God. Therefore, be wise, and worship the one pure, unblemished Transcendence.

94. "If unable to comprehend this pure state, one should worship God in the concrete form which is most agreeable to him; in this way, too, one is sure to reach the goal, though gradually.

95. "Though one attempted it in millions of births, one would not advance except in one of these two ways."

Thus ends the Chapter on the Nature of God in the Section of Hemachuda in Tripura Rahasya.