December 11, 2010 Leave a comment
Nirbheni nobat vagiyo re, Madiya mohnarai…
– Sadguru Nishkulanand Swami
All across the writings of the paramhansas one finds a celebration of being made fearless by the attainment of God. And I’ve often sung these lines or read these words and pretended to know what they meant but the truth is I have no experience of fears that God’s attainment has removed. What’s more, I don’t think most people living in modern, educated societies understand it either.
The paramhansas are celebrating, among other things, the fact that attaining the Supreme Being removes all fears of other forces and lesser beings. A person in the court of the greatest King would never fear the vassals and lesser lords of the kingdom. Similarly, the paramhansas joyously sing a release from superstition and the fear of devas and shaktis interfering in daily lives. This is a concept that seems so weird and foreign. Most of us no longer fear that little beings or forces are out to make us sick or poor. For most us it is difficult to understand how debilitating and defeating such a fear can be.
Personally, I didn’t quite understand it until I went traveling in the adivasi villages of South Gujarat. One night, after having been traveling for a few days, I was able to get some time to just sit and chat with the locals. We sat for a few hours and I got to learn things about their marriage customs, their collective history, their festivals, etc. It was one of the best nights I had the whole month I was there. One of the interesting details that revealed itself during the marriage conversation was that it was hard to find people willing to serve food during weddings. I was a bit surprised, especially since they had just told me that whole villages emptied out to attend. When I asked why, a man told me, “Everyone is afraid. ‘What if I give a lady a little less rice than she wants; she’ll curse me.’ And if by mistake a person serving falls ill a few days later, they’ll automatically assume it was because of a curse.” I was shocked! Really?! They were afraid that giving someone a little bit less than they wanted would mean they’d be cursed?! No way! But, that’s the truth. The reason that such a thing is so debilitating is that if you think you’re sick or poor because of a curse or because some Shakti is against you, it’ll be hard to pick yourself up and move on. You feel helpless. How can you fight against a horrible curse or a goddess? Some people try to move on but they do so blindly and end up making matters worse. A lady’s daughter ran away with a boy she fell in love with. The girl had not been in touch for days and mother was very worried. She began to feel like the house she lived in was possessed. She believed spirits had, among other things, misguided her daughter to run away. She insisted her husband perform mystical rites to get rid of the spirits and to bring their daughter home. In just the five days that the daughter had been away when I met this family, they had spent more than 50,000 rupees to have sorcerers perform special ceremonies.
This is the stuff that the paramhansas were talking about. And the thing is you see their words proved true in those same regions. You meet Swaminarayan satsangis who have attained Bhagwan Swaminarayan and realized him to be supreme and you see that they have no fear. They are not paralyzed by constantly wondering if their actions will bring on curses. When they are ill, when they face economic obstacles, when their grades are not great, they don’t fear other people’s meddling because they know their Lord is watching after them and that no lesser vassal is going to able to touch them. They get medicine, find solutions, and work harder. They refuse to remain down; they tie their laces, pick up their heads and move on. They are completely unburdened; they feel free and emancipated. This is what the paramhansas are celebrating in their writings.
But if that were all, those lines would have no meaning for us today. And that’s why we must look deeper…
(continued in next edition)