All of us come from different backgrounds, and we walk the path in our own unique way. Yet, we all have the same innermost longing to know the deepest mystery of our own nature and being. Reflectin…
In the 1960s, my Gurudev, Sri Chitrabhanu- Ji, wrote a poem called “Matiri Bhavanu” on friendship and universal love in his native tongue (Gujrati) that became famous in India. It was eventually recorded as a song by a well known Indian singer named Mukesh and was set to music by an eminent Indian composer. The poem was translated into English by Gurudev Chitrabhanu- Ji and that is the version of the poem that I was most familiar with. However, at the meditation center where Gurudev taught and lectured in the 1970s, we sometimes sang the poem Maitri Bhavanu in Gujrati with great feeling.
The scene shifts now to almost 30 years later to 1994. In 1994, the thought came to me that I should read the original Gujrati version of the poem by my teacher. Gujrati is not my native tongue and, in fact, I do not understand it at all. I cannot speak in Gujrati and cannot read it. However, the Gujrati alphabets are similar to Hindi which I do know. So somehow the feeling came over me and I started to try to read and understand my teacher’s poem. It was hard but I was staring at the Gujrati words as if through will power alone I could decipher them. After some difficulty, I switched to the English description of the Gujrati sounds that you can see on the Jain Meditation Center website.
After many attempts, I actually started to understand the first stanza, and then the second, and then the third, and then the fourth. It was so beautiful and full of the universal feeling that I went into ecstasy. The result was the following poem, “Let this feeling never part!” In a very real sense this poem is the spiritual offspring of that original poem written by my teacher in his youth as a Jain monk. Recently, I came across the poem again on my old computer files and had to smile. I was just a “kid” when I wrote it. Of course, it cannot reach the same level of poetic artistry as my teacher’s poem in original Gujrati which is a true masterpiece. But I tried because something came over me. Perhaps what I lacked in talent, I was trying to make up in enthusiasm and feeling. I dedicate this poem to my Gurudev, Sri Chitrabhanu-Ji, who taught me the meaning of Ahimsa, the philosophy of nonviolence.
Let This Feeling Never Part!
The sacred stream of love divine
sweeter than the sweetest wine
flowing into this vast sunshine
springs eternal from my heart.
I pray no one should be left out
from life’s blessings in their glory
and give way to tortured doubt
with unhappy endings to their story.
Never should they be turned away
suffering from the blows of life
the poor, the wretched of this world
caught helplessly in endless strife.
If ever anyone should be in need
of comfort or help in getting up
let me not run away from them
but plant kindness as my living seed.
Let me give hope where there is despair
and mend hearts considered beyond repair
like the gentle ocean breeze that
heals all wounds and gives a fresh start
Let this feeling never part!
I should always find delight
in the warmth of universal light
but if my heart must bleed at all
let it be so in the dark of night.
No one should see the tears that come
when the wicked and cruel come in my sight
let this hand forever be raised in peace
and the violence around us come to cease.
Always this thought should be kept alive
every sinner is a future saint
there should be a place for everyone
to swim in the pouring love divine
that flows eternal from my heart
Let this feeling never part!
Unaware, if someone is unkind
let forgiveness be on my mind
until no trace is left behind
of ill will, anger, or hostility.
If I should ever slip and fall
and no one to catch me is around
let me come down gently like a leaf
so other life is unhurt on the ground.
If I have to lay for some time
contented should be my smile
composing songs of love and friendship
and resting all the while.
I will be picked up by love divine
which springs eternal in my heart
for all the beings everywhere
Let this feeling never part!
Sages have sung the song of friendship
walking with them and in their shoes
the same melody plays on my lips
the feeling of reverence for life continues.
Involuntary poets, there have been many
who felt the thrill and saw the sign
whose hearts sang out in ecstasy
as their fountain bubbled with love divine.
The blessings of nature are bestowed
on those who are firm in their belief
who are harmless to others and easily bow
before anyone, seeing only divinity.
If I should be granted just one thing
let it be the vision of love
always rising from the spring
sacred and eternal in my heart
Let this feeling never part!
I bow to the light in you
which is the same light in me.
All of us come from different backgrounds, and we walk the path in our own unique way. Yet, we all have the same innermost longing to know the deepest mystery of our own nature and being. Reflecting on the purest teachings of the Self and on the nature of Ahimsa as nonmovement of the mind, we are bound to have experiences and openings in our consciousness.
When my teacher, Gurudev Sri Chitrabhanu-ji visited Sri Ramana, he was just a teenager. Chitrabhanu-Ji became a Jain monk in 1942 at the age of 20. Prior to that, he was searching and visiting different saints in the various traditions of India and asking them questions about the spiritual path and how to become Self-Realized.
Gurudev Sri Chitrabhanu
Chitrabhanu-Ji told me that of all the saints and sages he visited in India in his teen years, a few were unforgettable and stood out to him. Sri Ramana was one of them.
When I was 22 and studying with Chitrabhanu-Ji, he saw me carrying books of different spiritual teachers for my reading pleasure. He asked to see these books and thumbed through them. He knew most of the authors personally. Swami Rama of Himalayan Institute had come to our meditation center. One time I saw Swami Chidananda, the disciple of Swami Sivananda of Rishikesh, when he came to visit my teacher. Swami Chidananda was very thin even then and was leading a very pure and ascetic life.
After looking through my books, Chitrabhanu-Ji told me that I should read the dialogues with Ramana Maharshi and study his teaching. That is how I was led to Sri Ramana. Of course, after I read the classic, “Talks with Sri Ramana Maharshi”, it was indeed like magic and I knew deep in my heart that this was my way.
The Author at 21-22 studying With Sri Chitrabhanu-Ji
Going back to Chitrabhanu-Ji, he wanted to know the meaning of life at a very young age. He had lost his mother, his sister, and then his girl friend and so the world did not seem so attractive to him even at a young age. He wanted to know the mystery of life and death and what is beyond. In that quest, he started visiting many saints and sadhus and also visited Sri Ramana.
“Who is a master? He is the Self after all.” Ramana Maharshi
The company of peaceful Sages (Satsangha) and living in Ahimsa (harmlessness) is considered the primary influence that leads to Self-Realization. The forced attempts to discard various habits and conditioning and practicing different techniques to calm the mind have built in limitations. However, such methods can be pursued with benefit if one is already inclined towards these practices.
When strong inner motivation is present, one is automatically propelled towards Self-Awareness and Meditation. The fog of confusion then quickly evaporates and leads to Self-Seeing, Self-Being, Self-Realization, and Silence of the Heart.
Meditation and mind calming methods, can be effective at many different levels if practiced in the context of a clear understanding. Such practices, however, cannot by themselves end the fundamental agitation of the mind which continues at more and more subtle levels and causes suffering.
The nature of the mind is to hanker after that which is not real and is constantly subject to change. Not knowing who we are, where we come from, and where we are going, we still continue chasing after dreams built on the sand castles of desires.
If we become aware of this, we can see the primary nature of suffering, and direct our attention to the mystery of life and the nature of our perceptions.
In Indian spiritual traditions, a guru serves as a conduit to help us along the path. However, many things we hear about gurus these days are not appetizing. Still, if we realize the truth of the pure teachings, that the Supreme Reality is indeed our own Heart which guides us, then we can walk the path lightly without being misled.
The Self Always Reveals It Self from Within. Listen. Remain aware.
Be utterly indifferent to the clever words, miracles, and magical techniques that promise salvation. If you have the courage, open your wisdom eye and see clearly what attracts you to such things and people.
What is it that these gurus have to give you that you do not have? Question seriously and honestly and investigate the root of your hopes and fears.
There are many active marketers of “spiritual wisdom.” It has now become a public relations game with the many modern gurus as they compete in the free market of spirituality. Many spiritual teachers today attempt to distinguish themselves on the basis of their “enlightenment”, their spiritual experience, and how “awake” they are. Some claim that by their magical touch, shaktipat, or willpower, they can create miracles and remove obstacles from someone’s path. We cannot say that all such teachers and gurus are good or bad. But we have witnessed enough scandals among spiritual teachers to conclude that there is a need to be alert to the human tendency of those in power to exploit others financially and even sexually. Some teachers, giving satsang, and teaching yoga and advaita, are no doubt good and genuine people, but others may be quite ignorant and have generally bad tendencies.
I will share with you briefly a story. One time, I was walking my teacher, Chitrabhanu-ji, back to his apartment and we were speaking about the guru-disciple relationship. During the conversation, he said to me, “You should never follow any guru.” I was quite surprised to hear him say that because you see Chitrabhanu-ji was my spiritual teacher and mentor and I referred to him as Gurudeva. All Indian spiritual traditions in Hinduism, Jainism, Buddhism, in fact, have the guru-disciple relationship at their core. So I asked Chitrabhanu-ji, “Gurudev, why do you say this? Why do you say that I should never follow any guru?” My teacher smiled and said, “Well, what if the guru goes crazy and starts acting nutty?” So I had a good hearty laugh.
My teacher, Gurudev Chitrabhanu-ji, was also my friend. I was only 21 when I met him. He was then 56 and now he is in his mid 80s (written in 2006). During the time spent with him, I had the sense that he wanted to make sure that I understood the realities of life and was fully independent and able to think on my own. His success as a teacher was that he made me independent of himself as well. Chitrabhanu-ji used to say that…” a real guru is like an ice cube. He cools your consciousness and then disappears without a trace.” From my teacher I learned the sacred philosophy of Ahimsa (harmlessness), which is the cardinal principle of Jainism. Mahatma Gandhi of India was an exemplar of the practice of Ahimsa in the last century.
After some years, when I left my teacher to go back to graduate school, he said that I should always remember the principle of Ahimsa and keep that as my ideal. From Ahimsa follows being able to understand many different points of view and to approach situations with awareness and compassion. During the years that I studied with my teacher, he never asked me for anything. No money, nothing. Actually, I had nothing to give. At that time I used to teach yoga to earn a livelihood and it was barely enough to pay the rent and eat.
Sometimes I see gurus who treat their students badly and even exploit them financially and in other ways. I see the huge contrast between that and how my teacher treated me, despite my youth and immaturity, with the utmost respect and courtesy as a human being and his equal. So I tell students on the spiritual path that it is never a good idea to hang around a so called guru or a spiritual teacher who demeans you or insults you or disrespects you in any way. It does not matter if such a person is charismatic or if your friends adore him or her. In Patanjali’s ancient yoga sutras, Ahimsa (harmlessness or nonviolence) is mentioned as the first principle of yoga. A guru or a teacher whose words and attitude carry and convey violence cannot be good for you.
Understand that, like you, most gurus and spiritual teachers today have their own personal challenges and suffering. You need not judge others too harshly. Yet at the same time one must be free to follow one’s own vision. With compassion for others and one’s own self, one should keep one’s focus utterly, totally, and completely pure. This means that you should not give in to the attraction of confusion, and compromise in seeking the Truth by creating a permanent dependence on another person. If a guru creates circumstances and subtly encourages you to do become dependent or submit to his/her will, know that such a person is controlled by his or her own power needs and greed. What can such a person give you?
When I first met my teacher he told me frankly, “I cannot give you enlightenment. Gurus who claim such a thing deceive their students. To become Self-Realized, one must carefully investigate the mind and perceptions and meditate on the nature of the Self.”
I pass this on to you. No one can give you the Truth. Truth is always revealed from the inside. And when it comes, you see that your own essence is that of Truth. That is our mystery that the perfect and complete love that we long for is ultimately seen in our nature and our own heart. The ancients called it the Heart, Sat-Chit-Ananda, Existence-Knowledge-Bliss, which is our very being.
Do not settle for anything less than the Heart, your own Heart. Do not settle for anything – keep going until there is nothing left to settle for.
Let your effort be absorbed in peaceful Self-awareness. There is absolutely nothing else to be done.
See the sights,
be not mistaken.
You have everything you need.
Think not that you must awaken,
now or at some later date.
Know this for certain,
That You Are Already Wide Awake!
Abide in that Heart of Being.
In this commercial age, everyone has to periodically run out and buy gifts and cards for their lovers, friends, and family on various occasions. However, true love from the heart remains the most practical gift which is suitable for giving on any holiday, be it Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Diwali, Easter, Eid, Hanukkah, Holi, or some other special occasion. It is the only gift which multiplies in value as it is sent out.
We have all known each other since the beginning of time. That is why at some level we recognize each other.
Is it any wonder that this feeling overcomes that there is no choice but to love.
Within our human limitations and flaws, and despite them, the luster from the diamond of the Heart pours forth as all embracing consciousness. My teacher used to say that when two candle flames are joined, it is hard to tell which flame belongs to which candle, as it is the same fire. Love is the eternal flame.
I was remembering my teacher Chitrabhanuji yesterday and the time I spent with him in the late 1970s and the early 1980s. After a while, we were just friends. What would we do without teachers?
Ramana Maharshi once said that the Guru is unreal. The Heart manifests as the outer Guru. The outer Guru points to ones’ own Heart and instructs to look within.
It is only Love playing.
Love to all
Q: Where were you born, and what religion were you born into?
Harsha: I was born in Amritsar, Punjab, India, in a Hindu family.
Q: Anything interesting about Amritsar?