Q : One thing that confuses people – be it youngsters or callers to our radio station or the people we meet – is the dilemma about choosing the spiritual path of love and innocence. If you look at the ways of the world, the person who is smarter and a game player seems to be more successful than the honest person who keeps to his scruples. But the heart says that being unscrupulous is not right and being pure, selfless, and innocent is good. How do we solve this dilemma?
Sri M : No matter how many games one plays in this world – by thinking something and saying something else – you will still fall short of God, who is the biggest game player of them all. In the Hindu Shastras, God has been called Ranganath – the one who colours and directs all plays. There is no greater player than Him.
Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa used to say this story often. In a village, there lived a huge Naag (hooded snake). The path where it lived was narrow; so it was difficult for people to walk past. One day, a Brahmachari Maharaj came that way. People stopped him and warned him about the Naag. They told him that it was even more poisonous than Vasuki, the king serpent. The Brahmachari Maharaj replied that he wasn’t scared of any snake, as he possessed a mantra that would calm the snake. As he went along, he was greeted by the hiss of the hooded serpent. With the help of the mantra, he managed to calm the snake down. The snake told the Brahmachari, ‘I have never seen a man like you, and I bow down to you. Please make me your disciple. And before you go, please give me a ‘Diksha Mantra’.’ The Brahmachari agreed to initiate the snake but on one condition. It was that the serpent would have to give up biting after it started the recitation of the japa. The snake agreed to give up biting people. Both went their own ways. A year later, the Brahmachari Maharaj visited that area again. He found that children were playing on the path, close to the snake’s habitat, totally unafraid of the snake. The Brahmachari asked the children, ‘Are you not scared of the Naag?’ The children said, ‘Who will be scared of that snake who doesn’t bite anymore. We pulled him by the tail, broke his back, and put him back in his hole. You can go and see for yourself.’ The Brahmachari peeped down the hole and called out to the snake: ‘Where are you, Naag Maharaj?’ The snake replied, ‘I’m down here waiting for you, Guruji.’ The Guruji asked him to come up. The snake replied that he couldn’t, as his back was broken. ‘Look what has become of me ever since I stopped biting. I wanted to find Moksh (salvation) but instead broke my back!’ The Brahmachari comforted the snake telling him that he would set it all right. He then told him, ‘Silly fellow. All I said was don’t bite. But did I ask you to stop hissing as well?’
To survive in this world, you have to hiss sometimes. I do that too. Ask the organizers. But because I don’t bite, no poison enters anybody. The problem is, after a while, many people get to know that there is no poison inside me. This becomes a problem. Outsiders will not know that. Only those who are intimate would know. So, desh and vesh – country and appearance – change. Even when Gods descend upon this Earth, as Avatars (reincarnations), they have to change their appearance. They do this in order to live like other humans. But within, they are pure. I would say that one could live like that. I am not a Sanyaasi (renunciate) either. I too have a family, wife and children. For living in this world, we have to do all that needs to be done, but within us, we have to be neat and clean. This is possible. Just to demonstrate this, Babaji told me to go and live the life of a householder. He said, ‘Do so because the people who come to you will be mostly householders”. He said, ‘If you shave your head and become a sanyaasi, what will you tell them? What you know would be second-hand knowledge.’