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Frequently asked Questions

Sri Ganapati Sachchidananda Swamiji answers some tough questions for American Hindu youth.
Hinduism Today correspondent Archana Dongre asked Swami a series of questions submitted by young teens in the US  in
Tell us Why, Swami  March/April 2001

What is Sri Swamiji's main mission?
My mission is not only healing.... I am giving help and suggestions. I am witnessing and doing His Orders. So for people near Swamiji, I am giving some help, not only healing. (taken from a radio interview given on March 5, 1994 in Santa Cruz, CA)


What is your final message to us today, Sri Swamiji?
Tameva Devan, Saranam Vrajaamaha. God is one, but the names and forms are different. Flowers are myriad, but worship is one. Languages are different, but the thought is one. Cows are many, but the milk is the same. Like that I am giving suggestions to people. Don't be afraid of what will happen tomorrow. So many people are thinking that destruction will come tomorrow. So I am giving a suggestion. You be calm with your children and do your duties. In your household, respect each other like friends and don't fight. Dont create unhappiness in yourself. So many times you are creating unhappiness in yourself and then you are fighting. Please cut out your fighting nature. Have love, affection, compassion, and do your duty and work. (taken from a radio interview given on March 5, 1994 in Santa Cruz, CA)


Why do we need a guru?
A1: When a man performs virtous deed and gains merit (punya), a Guru will automatically appear to him. When a man's sins mount up and have to be aboslved a Guru steps in. In the first case, the Guru releases him from the bonds of attachment and then gives him (Atma Sakshaatkar). In the second case, the Guru prevents His devotee from deteriorating further. After that, the Guru brings about a deep transformation in the individual. It is not necessary that the Guru should be present in the physical form. A Guru or master can manifest in the form of Shakti or just enlightenment or create spiritual stirring as has happened in the case of Budha.


A2: (This answer was composed by Venu Gopal Lunani; Lunani Corporation; GNT Road, Eluru 534002; A.P. India; Phone: Off: 08812-37363, 37364; Res: 08812-37361, 37362; Fax: 08812-37361, 42116; E-mail: sslunani@usa.net)

In todayís modern world materialism has reached its pinnacle. Our appreciation for materialistic things have gone to such an extent that we are self-destructing ourselves, our relationship with others and society as a whole. Are we existing for self-destruction? Or is there something more to life? The answer to this question lies with sadguru (spiritual master), who through yogic powers can steer us away from this path of self-destruction and help us realize the purpose of our lives.

A Sadguru is a teacher (guru) who preaches truth (sat) and provides us guidance and balance in our lives.Following the guidance of a sadguru is not a new trend. Guru parampara has been in existence in India since several thousands of years. As per Hindu mythology, Lord Sri Rama, reincarnation of Mahavishnu, used to have a guru by name Vasista. While Lord Sri Krishna used to have sadguru by name Maharaja. If Rama and Krishna, divine power in human form, could have gurus, why should we not have one? Especially when we all are living in such a chaotic and unpredictable life in this kali age.

For a truth seeker, sadguru is a representative of cosmic truth and for an ordinary person sadguru appears like a layman. Sadguru elevates the mind and spirit by his sheer presence. Literally sadguru is a perfectionist in all the physical, psychic and other planes of existence. Sadguru possess all the potentialities of god at the same time acts like a human. For those who follow the guidance of sadguru he is the inspirer and divine vision. By his presence and guidance he accelerates your achievements. Sadguru is meant for transformation of the disciple into right path.

A sadguru is divine in nature and carry positive yogic powers. He is also capable of assessing karmas of previous births and that of present birth (something a sadguru will not reveal to his devotee). It is known fact that our scientists by using sophisticated equipment are finding out what is happening in the universe, which we believe and have not seen by our naked eye. When we believe in this why not we believe holy saintís vision of previous births and present birth karmas of human beings that they come across.

A devotee who is willing to bring balance in his life should have firm determination to achieve this through sadguru (a spiritual doctor). Once a devotee establishes a trust in sadguru, devotee will be put under sadhana i.e. yoga, meditation and other spiritual practices such as mantra and prayers. This is analogous to visiting a specialist medical doctor, who diagnoses illnesses of a patient and provide prescription for treatment of this illness. By performing these spiritual practices one can slowly diminish negative forces (bad karmas) which are acting within ones body from previous births and present births. These spiritual practices should be followed in parallel to ones responsibility towards family, profession and society.

In recent times Sri Rama Krishna Paramhamsa, Shirdi Sai Baba, Sri Ramana Maharishi, Sri Paramcharya of kanchi, Sri Aurobhindo, Sri Meharbaba and such others are qualified as Sadgurus. At present these saints are not physically present among us, but their bliss is always showered on their devotees. Divine representatives are physically present on the earth all times. It is upto us to choose one among them as our sadguru.

Self realization starts from these spiritual practices i.e. knowing what is good or bad and having a balance of mind and body. This practice also increases self-awareness. We all have encountered times when we had to make tough decisions or are confused or mentally stressed. In these situations we should take the guidance of sadguru who is a representative of the divine power.

If Spiritual practices are practiced in a disciplined and structured approach then the vibrations of such practices reach the supreme god. One may find this illogical or irrational. We can relate this to modern day wireless communications systems. Signals pass through thousands of miles to transmit programs, faxes, messages across continents. Of course they were scientifically designed. But we did not comprehend the existence of such a mode of communication 100 years ago. The universe is filled with powerful cosmic energy. An individual can draw this energy using the guidance of sadguru. This process awakens the hidden powers inside the body.

Scientifically, it is proven that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. This applies to human beings as well for their karmas. Knowingly or unknowingly we do bad deeds, which is noted by cosmic energy (unseen) i.e. divine power. What follows is reaction to this in the form of bad karmas. But if spiritual practices are performed then the intensity of bad karmas comes down to some extent. Moreover, control and attentiveness of ones mind increases. It is also said that by following such spiritual practices some devotees have seen God in their sadguru. Thus experiencing that god and sadguru is one and the same.

With strong will power and common sense one can only see marginal benefits of what you would otherwise experience under the guidance and spiritual practices of sadguru. In final conclusions, I strongly believe one can develop a balance in life through self realization, self awareness and positive thinking that are useful to oneself, family and the society at large by having a perfect devotion to his sadguru.


Why are there superstitions?
Superstitions are determined by context. If you kill an animal for a Goddess like Maha Kali, it is considered a superstition. But if you say a sattvic prayer for the same Goddess, that is not a superstition. Fasting many days for internal purification before performing a fire ceremony is not a superstition. But without the proper spiritual attitude, if you just keep on pouring gallons of ghee into the sacred fire, that is superstition. At our ashram in Mysore, when we do abhisheka, ritual bathing for Siva, the milk used (for abisheka) is distributed to the poor. Rituals, when performed in a spiritual, proper attitude, do not constitute superstition.


Why is the ultimate goal of Sanatana Dharma, moksha, or liberation, not emphasized in our activities as Hindus?

The general tendency of common people is to ask God to bestow on them material things, like a bungalow, car, money, etc. They will ask the priest to perform a ritual for that. It is not the priest's fault that they seek material things. If the priest says, come, I will help you attain moksha, or liberation, many will not come. Out of the four purusharthas, the four aims for a householder, which are dharma (righteousness), artha (wealth), kama (pleasure) and moksha (liberation), a majority of the people seek the first three. But a good guru will lead you toward dharma and moksha.


Why did God create?
God had an intention to create, and gave life to multitudes of souls to show them mercy. He also gave them karmas. By performing good karmas, they would have an opportunity for attaining liberation from the cycle of birth and death. God created gurus to guide souls toward salvation from this world bound by illusion. Creating this world was not a mere play for God.


How should we respond to kids who taunt us, saying that we worship too many Gods, not the one true God?
There are 330 million Gods in the Hindu religion. Everyone's method of worship differs. Some worship a Deity with a form (Saguna Upasana), others prefer contemplating on God without form (Nirguna). Approaches differ, but all worship ultimately goes to the One Supreme Being, just like all rivers finally reach the ocean. To give another analogy, you need one boat to cross a river, you do not need hundreds of boats to cross the river. So choose your one God.


Are there really demons?
There are three gunas, or qualities: sattva, raja and tamas. The people whose actions are prompted with tamas, the lowly, negative qualities, have demonic, or rakshas tendencies. Righteous conduct, like respecting your parents and teachers, reading good books and studying with a sincere attitude, will enhance the tendencies toward sattva guna, the soul-like qualities, and keep the demonic tendencies away. Rituals introduce you to dharma. Keeping company with people of bad and negative actions will increase tamas guna. Bhakti, or devotion, leads you to sattva guna, and keeps demonic tendencies away.


What is your view of corporal punishment for children and students?
It is wrong. You do not have to inflict physical punishment on children. When teachers and parents inflict bodily punishment on children to discipline them, that means those adults themselves do not possess patience--they lose their temper. In our school in Mysore, the teachers are instructed not to punish the children physically. Discipline is encouraged through moral support, and by relating pertinent stories to them. In extreme cases, the erring students are either asked to stand outside the classroom, or made to fast, go without food for one meal.


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