Sunday, June 14, 2015

Samarth Guru Param Sant Dr. Chaturbhuj Sahay: Sage and Founder of Ramashram Satsang Mathura

Before we talk about Dr. Chaturbhuj Sahay Ji, the guru and founder of Ramashram Satsang Mathura (RSM), also known as Guru Maharaj, it’s important that we ask what is guru?

To begin answering this question, let’s start with a portion of a conversation between a sage and a scholar, which will give us some insight into this.

The Sage says, "What Brahman is cannot be described. All things in the world - the Vedas, the Puranas, the Tantras, the six systems of philosophy - have been defiled, like food that has been touched by the tongue, for they have been read or uttered by the tongue. Only one thing has not been defiled in this way, and that is Brahman. No one has ever been able to say what Brahman is.”

The Scholar replies “Today I have heard and learned something new.”

The Sage continues, “Men often think they have understood Brahman fully. Once an ant went to a hill of sugar, one grain filled its stomach. Taking another grain in its mouth it started homeward. On its way it thought, 'Next time I shall carry home the whole hill.' That is the way shallow minds think. They don't know that Brahman is beyond one's words and thought. However great a man may be, how much can he know of Brahman? Sukadeva and sages like him may have been big ants; but even they could carry at the utmost eight or ten grains of sugar!

As for what has been said in the Vedas and the Puranas, do you know what it is like? Suppose a man has seen the ocean, and somebody asks him, 'Well, what is the ocean like?' The first man opens his mouth as wide as he can and says: 'What a sight! What tremendous waves and sounds!' The description of Brahman in the sacred books is like that. It is said in the Vedas that Brahman is of the nature of bliss – It is Sat-chit-ananda.”

The above is a conversation between Sri Ramakrishna Paramhansa, a well-known sage from the 19th century and Ishwarchandra Vidyasagar, a philosopher, reformer and philanthropist of the time, who was well versed with the six Hindu systems of philosophy.

As Ramakrishna mentions above, Vedas talk about Brahman as Sat-chit-ananda, meaning Existence-Knowledge-Bliss absolute. In the book Guru Gita[1], lord Shiva calls on Sat-Chit-Ananda as Guru, by saying  “I bow to the Guru who is Sat-Chit-Ananda…” (बन्देह्म्सचिदानान्दमभेदातितमसदगुरुमनित्यम्सुध्यमनिराकारं निर्गुणं स्वाताम्संस्थितम ll). Brahman has therefore been called by two different names: Sat-chit-ananda and Guru. That is, the indescribable, infinite knowledge and existence, which cannot be interpreted by mind or speech.

With the above in mind here is an attempt to say a few words about Guru Maharaj, Samarth Guru Param Sant Dr. Chaturbhuj Sahay Ji, the sage, founder and guru of RSM.

On November 3, 1883 in Etah, a small town in Uttar Pradesh, a noble soul took the human form of Param Sant Dr. Chaturbhuj Sahay Ji, who would give the world a Sadhana (Spiritual practice) geared towards Self-realization. He went on to establish Ramashram Satsang Mathura to make that Sadhana available to all. As a student, he studied Urdu, Farsi, English, Hindi, and Sanskrit. He also studied homeopathic medicine, which he practiced primarily as a selfless social service. Most of his patients were poor, but he treated them with grace and gave them medicines without taking any fees. Even before his spiritual journey was revealed, Guru Maharaj was always there for whomever asked for his help.

Dr. Chaturbhuj Sahay Ji met the great sage Sri Lalaji Maharaj (Dada Guru), while helping patients during an epidemic outbreak. Inexplicably, one day Dada Guru had Dr. Chaturbhuj Sahay Ji do the Sadhana in his presence, and during that session, Dr. Chaturbhuj Sahay Ji covered the entire spiritual journey and reached the pinnacle; Dr. Chaturbhuj Sahay Ji was now a Self-realized Sage. There were no verbal lessons. No scriptures had been read. No hour-long scholarly discourses were given, knowledge simply gushed from master to disciple. The Guru-disciple tradition seemed reestablished in all its majesty and grandeur.

In 1919, Dada Guru instructed his disciple, Dr. Chaturbhuj Sahay Ji, to make this system of meditation, the Sadhana, available to all. Guru Maharaj followed his master’s instructions and, upholding the principles of the teacher-disciple tradition, brought the honored institution of his master’s message to the masses. This Sadhana, which was previously only known and understood by a few, was made available to thousands. The Satsang took root with Guru Maharaj imparting spiritual knowledge and teaching the Sadhana to anyone and everyone.

In 1930, Guru Maharaj established the Ramashram Satsang at Etah, his birthplace. Soon after founding the Satsang, he published the Hindi monthly journal Sadhan in August 1933, which at present has celebrated eighty plus years of uninterrupted publication. Ceaselessly toiling, Guru Maharaj traveled extensively throughout India writing several books, including a monumental seven-volume book based on his own spiritual experiences. His numerous books have helped countless spiritual aspirants and continue to be a great source of inspiration. While doing all this, he lived the life of a family man fully and unshakably, with a daily life marked by normalcy. He set an excellent example of how to combine spiritual idealism with family life. Serving his wife and children to the last, he mindfully attended to all familial duties. Param Sant Dr. Chaturbhuj Sahay Ji illustrates the life of one who lived in the divine consciousness and manifested that divine consciousness in life.

Guru Maharaj’s teachings were not opposed to any religion. Any organized religion has perhaps two-dimensional activity: horizontal and vertical. Horizontally, it harmonizes and gives directions to the life of the individual and society in conformity with its faith and morality - giving a chance and motivation for a good life leading to a good death. Vertically, it opens up spiritual paths for those who strive for a higher state or realize the ultimate truth during this life on Earth. Horizontally, religions are mutually exclusive, but not contradictory. Guru Maharaj was concerned rather with the vertical mode, the paths to realization; therefore his teaching clashed with no religion. He guided those who would follow him on the most direct and central path of Self-Realization and for this no conflict arose with any religion. He approved of every religion and when asked about the different religious practices, he would stress their deeper meaning and about their underlying unity.  

When in conversation with philosophers or theologians, if they wished to argue whether the human soul was permanently and essentially separate from the Divine Being or Both being the same, he would refuse to join issue. Instead, he would try to direct them to spiritual efforts, softly implying that when they attained Realization they would know --and theoretical knowledge[2] without Realization was of little help to them anyway. In his teachings, Guru Maharaj has harmonized all the four paths. Attainment of the Saguna Brahman through devotion by Bhakti Yoga; reaching the Immutable and Immortal Brahman, or the Nirguna Brahman, by Gyan Yoga; serving the Lord and His Creation with non-attachment by Karma Yoga; leading to the Absolute Bliss, which is another name for Brahman by Raja Yoga. Guru Maharaj’s teaching uniquely combines all the four paths adapting all the four yogas simultaneously.

It is said that the mission of a born Sage or Messenger of God is twofold. He renews and confirms the essentials of the Scriptures, or the revelation of the Sages. He also serves as a center of divine grace to his disciples --especially to those who, intuitively or mystically, recognize him as an embodiment of God, and therefore bear unto him the same devotion that they formerly bore to God, seeing no distinction between the two. This is in accordance with the spirit of the ancient sacred Scriptures, which is expressed in the following verse:

ईश्वरो गुरुरात्मेति मुर्तिभेद्बिभागिने
व्योम्बद्व्याप्त्देहाय दक्षिणामुर्त्ये नमः

“Salutations to the Lord of Divine Wisdom, infinite like the sky, who is three in one, as God, the Guru, and the Real Self.”[3]  It seems that for one who understands this truth and becomes a disciple and devotee of the Sage, it may not be necessary to be physically near him. The Sage transcends time and space and is therefore everywhere.

The Scriptures have received a noteworthy confirmation from the experiences (revelations) of the Sage and Founder of Ramashram Satsang Mathura, Samarth Guru Param Sant Dr. Chaturbhuj Sahay Ji, which form the foundations of his teachings. To his followers, his written and oral teachings are the basic revelations, and as it happens, the Scriptures are in full accord with those teachings. In this context, it might be of interest to note that when Dada Guru‘s Guru – Huzur Sahib, when imparting the Knowledge of Truth to Dada Guru, said, “Now I will instruct the Knowledge of Truth to you. These revelations are in the Old Lore – the Scriptures – but now people have become unaware of those. First, acquire the Supreme Knowledge, The Knowledge of Truth, confirm the essentials of Scriptures, and then spread it.” 

[1] 112th verse

[2] Preoccupation with theory, doctrine, and philosophy can actually be harmful, insofar as it distracts a man from the important work of spiritual effort by offering an easier alternative, which is merely mental, and which therefore cannot change his nature. The intricate maze of philosophy of the various schools is said to clarify matters and to reveal the Truth, but in fact it creates confusion where none need exist. “Into a blinding darkness they enter who follow after the Ignorance; they enter into a greater darkness who devote themselves to the Knowledge alone.” Isha Upanishad Verse 9 

[3] Sri Sureshvaracharya in his Vartika on Sri Sankaracharya’s  Dakshinamurti Stotra Ch. 1 Ver.30

The Four Paths of Yoga

Each of the six systems of Indian philosophy (Samkhya, Yoga, Nyaya, Viasheshika, Mimamsa and Vedanta) highlight that the root cause of all our sorrows and sufferings is our loss of contact with our true Self, caused by ignorance of its sole reality. Ignorance creates a false “I” or ego which blinds us and subjects us to a world of delusion and desire. An unending round of birth and death, pleasure and pain, happiness and sorrow seem to govern this world. Since the source of this ignorance was caused by the loss of our contact with our true Self, it cannot be dispelled by any material or psychological solution. Hence, the only possible solution to dispel this ignorance is to remove the false “I” by the attainment of knowledge and union with our real Self. This union with Self is also known as Yoga.

Seers, sages and saints over the ages have categorized four ways of Yoga, primarily based on the means or methods used to dissolve the ego. These paths are: Karma-yoga, the path of selfless action; Bhakti-yoga, the path of devotion; Raja-yoga, the path of concentration and meditation and Jnana-yoga, the path of knowledge and discrimination.

Below is a brief introduction to the four paths of Yoga, where Yoga means “Union with Self.”

Karma-yoga (“Karma” -action)

The message of this path is “we only have the right to action, not to the results of action.”

We live in a world of constant action, where both participation and non-participation is an act. Yoga by selfless-action seeks to eradicate the ego by means of acting or doing with no attachment to “I”. Actions performed with an attachment or sense of “I” create walls of “Me or Mine” around us, which disclaim the rights of others. These walls not only divide us from others, but also separate us from our true Self within. By practicing our actions in this world in a selfless manner, we can diminish this ego and slowly bring down these towering walls. By this the follower of karma-yoga slowly expands the “I” and realizes the true Self.

The key message of karma-yoga is: Kill the unconquerable laws of karma by karma-yoga. Release yourself from the chains of attachment by practicing nonattachment to the results of action.

Bhakti-yoga (“Bhakti” -devotion)

The root meaning of the word “bhakti” is “to be part of”. The path of bhakti-yoga seeks completeness by being in union with the universal Self by means of Love. Love, is the most basic human emotion and in its purest form it is altruistic and divinely inspired. Pure or selfless love is liberating from any bondage or attachment.

This path starts with devotion and love towards a choice of form or the formless nature of the divine. However, true devotion and pure love only comes when bhakti-yoga is fully realized. Our love becomes selfish due to ego arising from ignorance and is further fueled by lust, anger, jealousy, pride and greed. This causes an obstruction of the free flow of love toward others and the Divine. When pure or selfless thoughts of devotion and service are poured into the mind all negative thoughts are naturally washed out over time. The practice of devotion or surrender to the Divine (true Self) brings out our natural pure love and, eventually, an “intense love” towards the divine leads to union with the true Self. This love encompasses from One to All.

Raja-yoga (“Raja” –royal)

By name it means the “king of yogas”, which seeks union with the Self by means of concentration of mind. Its modern name is also yoga school of philosophy as introduced by Swami Vivekananda. Originally, laid out in the “The Yoga Sutra of Patanjali” it consists of eight limbs (Ashtang yoga), practicing of which is required for restraining or controlling the mind. These limbs are namely “yama” (non-harming, truthfulness, non-stealing, celibacy, non-greed), “niyama” (internal and external purity, contentment, austerity, self-study, and contemplation of true Self), “asana” (postures), “pranayama” (control of vital forces), “pratyahara”  (withdrawal of the senses), “dharana”  (concentration), “dhyana”  (meditation) and “samadhi” (union with the divine/Self).

Here, to control the mind, one first learns to control one's actions (ethical dos and don’ts), body, breath, senses and finally, the mind. In this order, one begins with the gross and works towards the subtle. Raja-yoga asks the seeker to develop strong will power of mind by the relentless practice of concentration and meditation, eventually leading to a state of union with true Self (Samadhi).

Jnana-yoga (“Jnana” -knowledge)

Jnana-yoga is the path of knowledge: realizing Self by discriminative analysis. The premise here being that only the light of knowledge can dispel the darkness of ignorance.
The doctrine of jnana-yoga is "neti, neti" ("not this, not this"), a discriminative analysis by negation of Self from non-Self. It aims at the discrimination of the eternal/imperishable from transitory existence. With this, one realizes one is not their body, mind, or senses, but is something greater: the pure, undivided consciousness that pervades everything, Brahman.

The psychology of jnana-yoga tells us that we cannot generate spirituality by artificial means. The mind does not give up its attachment to worldly pleasures unless it has tasted something greater and higher. The Self is revealed in the mirror of the mind that has become purified through self-control and austerity. The method of jnana-yoga is to persuade the seeker that his or her sole identity is the Self. By hearing about the Self, reading about the Self, thinking about the Self, and meditating on the Self, the mind gradually realizes that the Self is the only reality in this universe and that all else is unreal. This calls for the practice of discrimination between the real and the unreal, renunciation of all desires—both earthly and heavenly—mastery over the mind and senses and an intense longing for Self-knowledge.

Traditionally, Karma-yoga has been advised for the active, bhakti-yoga for the devotional, raja-yoga for the strong-willed, and jnana-yoga for the rational. Eradication of the ego through karma-yoga is a long process requiring a strong will and most seekers do not have the patience to endure its sacrifices. Bhakti-yoga requires abiding faith and selfless love for God, which is not always possible for an average seeker. Raja-yoga requires persistent practice for control of actions, body, senses and mind, not easily achieved by all. For practicing Jnana yoga, the aspirant needs to have integrated the lessons of the other yogic paths, for without selflessness and love of God, strength of body and mind, the search for self-realization usually becomes mental gymnastics.

The four paths of yoga are not mutually exclusive. When the means of either path (selfless action, love, controlled mind and knowledge) is in union with Self, the other three paths inevitably follow up as result of the other. The goal of all four is freedom from the assumed bondage of the mind and realization of our true identity—the ever pure, immortal/universal Self, or the Ultimate Reality. In the system of Ramashram Satsang Mathura (RSM), all the four paths/yogas are integrated and harmonized such that the seekers of different tendencies/backgrounds can together move towards the goal of understanding the Self.