• What's really needed is to recognize the need for spiritual as well as material happiness
  • The yogi's interest is inner peace and self-realization and social harmony
  • Perfection means being in tune with reality
What's really needed is to recognize the need for spiritual as well as material happiness

Who am I

Success in life begins with knowing, "Who am I? What is the purpose of my life?" Knowledge of the self exists; but sincere seekers are rare. More rare are the great teachers of such wisdom. Since time immemorial, wise men have described our wonderful nature: spiritual, primeval, ever-existing, undying, unchangeable, imperishable. This selection of the writings of Jagad Guru Siddhaswarupananda Paramahamsa (Chris Butler) shares that timeless wisdom — inspiring, challenging , practical.



BRAHMA asked Kardama to live and multiply. He accordingly went to the secluded bank of Saraswati, worshipped the Supreme Lord for a long time and was able to see Narayana and Lakshmi, the Transcendental Couple, riding on Garuda. Kardama said with reverence, "Lord, I have now all my desires fulfilled. I am ordered by my father to procreate the human species and take this opportunity to meditate on Thee. It is true that it is not commendable to worship Thee for the fulfilment of our desires; still I take recourse to this means only. I know it for certain that Thou conferest Thy best favours on him who lifts his hands in prayer, no matter whether he desires some boon for himself or is without any selfish motive."

Narayana replied, "It is not, necessary to ask for anything. I love the devotees dearly and fulfil all their wants. I have already arranged everything. Manu and his wife Shatarupa will come to you shortly and bestow their beautiful daughter Devahuti on you. A part of Myself shall be born as your Son and hallow this world. Dedicate your all to Me and you will be free from sin and attain unto Me." With this Narayana left him.

In due time several daughters and a Son were born to him. At the time of the Son's birth auspicious signs became perceptible and Brahma said to his son Kardama. "You have discharged your duty and have got as your Son One Who will teach the Truth. He shall be called Kapila."

He then congratulated Devahuti on having the Supreme Lord as her Son and went away.

Kardama thought that it was high time that he should retire to the forest and give himself up to the contemplation of God. Devahuti became aware of it and asked him what would be her duty and informed him that she would be in a helpless state if he left her. Kardama consoled her saying that she need not be anxious as the Lord had owned her as His mother and advised her to receive instructions from Him and she would be free from all bondage. Kardama then approached Kapila and prayed that he might not again be attracted by the lures of the world.

Kapila said, "The path of Truth has, in course of time, become blocked and obscured, I have appeared to clear it. Always meditate on Me. See the self-manifested Oversoul in your heart and you will be free from fears and miseries. I will confer transcendental knowledge on My mother and she will be free from the fears of death!”

Kardama started for the woods meditating on Him alone and Kapila and Devahuti remained in their hut on the Bindusarobara.

One day Devahuti went to her Son and said, "My Lord, I am weary of supplying objects of enjoyment to my mind; still it has not been satiated. It is incessantly driving me towards the darkness of misery. It is Thou alone That can'st help me. I am sure I shall be freed now that Thou hast come. Thou art the Lord of all. Extricate me from the mire of worldliness and infatuation and favour me with the true knowledge of myself."

He was pleased at her sincerity and said, "Mother, the mind is the cause of both bondage and deliverance. Let the mind be steeped in mundane matters and you are bound hand and foot. Concentrate it in God and you are free. It is the company of self realised souls and listening to their chantings and joining them in their devotional performances that bring the real good. Then only do the world's temptations fail. The greatness of the devotees knows no bounds. Attachment to the world binds, while attachment to the devotees frees. They direct all their efforts and exertions towards My pleasure and do not hesitate to sever their connection with those who are nearest and dearest to them if they go against their service to Me in any way. They meditate on Me incessantly and enjoy chanting My glory day and night. They are beyond the reach of misery. Touch with such devotees alone can impart devotion to Krishna. When you associate with devoted persons you hear nothing else than talk about Me. They sing My glory in endless ways and your mind is naturally diverted from the world and directs its course towards Me. If you practise it without cessation your mind will be free from dross and all your functions will be directed towards the attainment of My holy Feet and as the consequence you will attain My holy feet even in this life."

Devahuti said, "I am but a dull woman. Explain the devotional principles clearly and let me know my duty."

Kapila said, "Mother, this individual soul does, by nature, crave for touch with the Oversoul; but His illusory energy keeps him screened and entangled in the meshes of worldly attractions. It is association with self-realised souls alone that removes the screens and disentangles the unfortunate wretch, who is thus favoured with unalloyed devotion which is far superior to liberation. The real devotees never desire for salvation. They direct all their efforts to My service. They always long to look at My Form of transcendental Beauty and do not even turn towards salvation which offers itself at their feet. They serve Me eternally in Vaikuntha. The highest object of salvation is subject to decay but My devotees reside in a region where time has no influence and decay and destruction are unknown. So strong and unalloyed devotion to Me is the highest object of human achievement. Mother, betake yourself to the path of devotion."

"The Supreme Lord Sri Hari is the ultimate Cause. Some foolishly hold that Nature is the ultimate cause. They are wrong. The personal God Who is different from Prakriti (Nature) is the ultimate Cause. It is He Who impregnates her with material energy. First comes forth Mahattattva, the first sprout, as it were, of this world. Thenceforth come the different material objects. Earth, water, fire, air and ether are the five elements (mohabhoota); smell, liquidity, form, touch and sound are the five connectives (tanmatras); eye, ear, nose, tongue and skin are the five organs of sense. The mouth, the hand, the feet, the anus and the generative organs with the five organs of physical activity, the mind, the intellect, the perverted ego and nature added to them, form what is called the 24 Tattwas or categories. The Purusha or personal God is the 25th. The three attributes Sattva, Rajas, and Tamas, or purity, activity and stupor make the number twenty eight."

"The Purusha may be either God or the individual soul. Prakriti or nature has attributes whereas the Supreme Being or Purusha is not burdened with them. By dint of His inconceivable powers He resides in the body of the Jiva and is known as Paramatma. He remains unaffected by the qualities of physical Nature as the sun that casts its reflections on water. An infinitesimal portion of His pure essence is called Jiva who is liable to be affected by the qualities of Nature. This Jiva, devoid of all mundane attributes as he is by nature, imagines himself to be endowed with the triple material qualities of Sattwa, Rajas and Tamas and becomes thereby subject to mundane joys and sufferings."

"When by touch with self-realised souls he becomes re-instated in his original position he comes to know that he is independent of all mundane affinities. Assiduous devotion to Me alone can maintain him in My eternal service."

"Mother, let me delineate the process of serving Me by one who is free from the domination of Illusory Energy. The pure devotees contemplate on the Paramatma's dark beautiful Form with the conch, the disc, the club, and the lotus and see His own Form. Unalloyed devotion enables the devotees to see the form of Godhead as he is, viz., the beautiful adolescent Sri Krishna. Shiva deserves the Name of Benefaction because he holds on his head the Ganges who flows from the holy Feet of the Supreme Lord."

"Devotion is either mixed with quality (saguna) or unadulterated by such quality (nirguna). Those who hanker after something else than Krishna may have mixed devotion while the spontaneous play of the unobscured conscious principle of single-hearted devotees constitutes unalloyed devotion, These latter shun the desire for liberation from suffering as they shun the devil and want nothing but exclusive and eternal service of the Divinity. This sincere devotion is called unalloyed or pure devotion. The pure devotees sing My glory, serve the self-realised souls, behave sincerely, worship My divine Form, overcome their natural longing for creature comforts, listen to discourses on Hari, respect their superiors, imbibe friendship with the pure devotees and by means of other devotional practices attain Me without much ado.

"Those who indulge in malice and at the same time make a show of worshipping Me, practise the external forms of these devotional activities in vain. One should worship My divine form till one has attained the capacity for realising My presence in all beings as well as in one's own heart.

"This material world teems with millions of individual souls of whom man is the greatest. Those men who dwell in the land of Bharat and hold in high esteem the system of communal organisation for spiritual amelioration based on distinctions of aptitude and circumstances and are disposed to serve God are the highest class of men. The Brahmans who possess the knowledge of the Great Unknowable and are their teachers of religion form the highest class. Among the Brahmans those who are thoroughly well versed in the spiritual Scriptures are the greatest. Those Brahmans who possessing the knowledge of the Vedas follow constantly the principles of religion are the highest. Those who have dedicated their all to Godhead are superior to all others. There is none superior to one who is devoted to Godhead. He stands above all and knows no fall.

"One devoid of devotion is the creature of sorrow, want and anxiety. He may enjoy temporary pleasures, but is bound to be miserable in the long run. In the womb of the mother the soul averse to Godhead suffers excruciating pain and cries in agony sincerely imploring God to relieve him of his suffering by re-installing him in His eternal service. But just after his birth he consigns all these to oblivion and as the result he has to appear again and again in this world. It is the devotee alone who can have true felicity."

With this Kapila took leave of His mother, went northwards and became invisible to the mortal eyes.

Sri Vishnu imposed Himself on Kapila, instructor of unalloyed devotion. We must distinguish Him from the Kapila who is the propounder of atheistic Sankhya philosophy. Divine superimposition on individual Souls is of two kinds:-

  1. Imposition of the Lord Himself, eg. Kapila, Rishabha.
  2. Imposition of the Divine Power, eg. Narada, Vyas, Prithu, Brahma, and Sanaka.

He in whom a particular energy or power of the Divinity manifests itself is called "imbued with the Divine power". In this manner devotion manifested itself in Narada, in Prithu the governing power, in the four Sanas Knowledge, in Brahma the creative power. These regard themselves as so many servants of the Lord.

In superimposition of the Lord Himself the Divine energy manifests itself more perfectly and the individual soul regards himself as identical with Godhead.

Kapila and Rishabhadeva regarded themselves under Divine superimposition as the Supreme Lord Himself.

The Study of the English Language


AS English is a language with which we are all unavoidably concerned it is of the utmost importance to know the proper use of that language and what part it should play in the scheme of our useful activities. A tendency of abusing or praising the study of the English language in connection with diverse questions, is often noticeable in this country. We shall try to show in the present article how all may be benefited by means of the English language and what an abundant harvest of good the English as well as ourselves might reap from the proper use of the same. Let my countrymen consider with a calm and collected mind the views expressed here and approach the question of the study of the English language with the proper attitude.

The study of English was at one time generally considered to be among our bread studies. It is, as matters stand at present, a convenient passport for entry into the political and commercial life of the world. But this is not the only claim it has upon our attention. The language has its own peculiar merits. For strong masculine vigour, a pronounced tone of practicality, elasticity and preciseness of expression the language occupies a high place in the world. Nursed by the hand-maid of empiric science and maintained by the fatherly care of its most assiduous application to all departments of life, the language, like the people to whom it belongs, is possessed of a wide worldly out-look which is worthy of being turned to account by being consecrated to the service of the higher life.

Any one making an acquaintance with this language cannot fail to appreciate its influence. Come within its influence in the proper way and your heart is sure to realise a new freshness. You cannot ignore its vivifying force, its masterful spirit, its ever-prying inventiveness. All language rightly understood always point to the One. Most of the characteristics mentioned above no doubt belong to the best minds of the English nation, although they are apt to be abused by being directed to purely worldly purposes. But they are none the less true characteristics of the English language which portrays faithfully the thoughts, lives and manners of the English people.

So far as a seeker of the Truth is concerned the English language appears to have a very different mission to fulfil. The language seems to him suited to serve as a means of rousing the inert millions of the world, to carry life into the cold frames of its peoples. There is, therefore, a kind of special providence in the advent of the English people into India. They came to us with their language to regulate our learning, our habits of life and modes of thought, our traditional hopes and aspirations. This has led us to a strict self-examination and to the necessity of taking stock of our actual possessions. Our indebtedness, therefore, to both the English people and their language is great. Do not admire the English nation as a successful money-making, materialistic people. They should be to us as Heaven-sent agents to enable us to learn how to safe-guard the spiritual interests of all. They are, indeed, very different from the scriptural ideal of our warrior kings as guardians of spiritual welfare by direction of truly enlightened sages and saints devoted wholly to matters relating to the higher concerns of the soul. But we need not, therefore, unduly deprecate the English more than ordinary worldly people. If they fail in their higher duty towards us, if they make themselves unnecessarily exacting, they will surely be accountable to God, Who holds in His Hands the destinies of all nations and Who permits both individuals and nations even to abuse their freedom, affording them a chance of redemption from their failings by their own bitter experience. Let us study their character as well as their language to be also duly warned against such failings. The language would then be pregnant with invaluable lessons for us. Let us accept from the English people their close association with humanity, for the higher purpose. Let us acquire from their language that practical tone of thought which lies at the root of a nation's material prosperity, and turn it to higher account. Let us acquire from the English language the love of adventure, the zeal for action, the spirit of self-reliance, the indefatigable courage and perseverance, for the same purpose. Let us learn from their language scrupulous adherance to strict principles, regularity of life, steadfast devotion to duty and exemplary method of work. Let us adopt zeal for knowledge, patient and sustained efforts for large undertakings, love of researches and exertion for the discovery of the unknown. Let us learn these qualifications of a student and a really good citizen, and the proper virtues of a self-respecting gentleman. Let us use the English language for the purpose of the spread of self-culture.

We Indians have by an inscrutable Providence been made to come into contact with the language of the most powerful and prosperous nations on earth in order that we may become animated and invigorated by finding the proper use of the qualities that characterise that interesting nation. If by the study of English we learn merely to abuse or flatter the English people our learning will be harmful for both. If by the study of English we learn merely to imitate the vices of the English character, the free thinking of sensuous godless literature, our learning will do us no good. Providence has brought the English people into India not that we should learn English ways of living, not that we should imitate English modes of eating, drinking and dressing, but that we should find extended scope for our beneficial activities. If English education cannot do this for us then the opportunity will be abused. Indians are by nature and circumstances well fitted for this great task. The possession of this aptitude shows itself in our traditional anxiety to utilize every opportunity for spiritual use. We should continue to love to keep severely aloof from low ideals, we should love to detach ourselves from worldly-minded men and women, in order to be able to help all persons by our conduct. This aloofness is necessary under all circumstances and is a duty towards all. It is not opposed either to the interests of human society or to the laws that govern the moral world. A man should cut himself off from the company of his low minded fellows in order to follow a better and clearer perception of his duties to them, and the right mode of discharging those duties. On this ground isolation is necessary and justifiable. In fact a man can work out his salvation only by thus living for others. To be able so to live for others is the greatest glory and highest virtue of man. If this view is correct there is nothing wrong in the idea of such isolation. It should by all means be encouraged. Men should be repeatedly warned against drifting into the vice of real isolation from the spiritual life by association with worldly people, no matter by whatever honourable or glorious names such vice be designated. The current method of study of English is, we believe, no antidote against this vice. The tendency of the English literature itself is only to make men active, enterprising, practical and useful in this life. We should be thoroughly imbued with this spirit of English literature but not for the purpose of worldly living. The study of the works of a few select English authors under proper safeguards may serve the useful end. English books bring us into touch with the outside world. They carry us to the uttermost parts of the Earth, familiarise us, even when we do not move a yard from our homes, with the busy scenes of commercial life, the repulsive horrors of the battle-field, the roaring billows of the tropical seas, the frozen waters of the icy poles. English authors inform us about the customs of the most strange and savage nations as also of the mighty kings and potentates of the Earth. English books suggest to our minds the truth that the soul of man, inspite of the differences of caste, creed and colour which pertain only to the flesh, is the same in essence, that all are children of the same common Father variously called Jehova, Zeus, Jove, Allah, God, Brahma, -purporting Sree Krishna, and that one touch of the spiritual nature may make the whole world kin. We are taught by the scriptures to consider all persons as kith and kin, but by the preventing manners and customs of the world we are excluded from the real society of one another. This wilful spiritual isolation, as the world goes, does not seem to be productive of any good. On the contrary it is the cause of all the evils so far as our real interests are concerned. Unless we are disposed to apply our Shastras to the conditions and requirements of life, ours will be a miserable lot, a lot which will involve all, the rich and the poor, the learned and the illiterate, the caste Brahmins and the caste Shudras, in a sad and pitiable plight. The study of English or any worldly language is sure to lead to this catastrophe unless directed to the higher purpose.

But a not wholly unfounded charge is also brought against the study of English. A nationalist would say that the study of the English language disabuses men's minds of all ancient ideas and beliefs. In matters of religion, in matters relating to our highest interests the cultivation of the English language is hence calculated to a certain extent to make us losers rather than gainers. There is no gain-saying the fact that a thorough mastery of the English language need be no bar to the requirements of spiritual life the nature of which can hardly be suspected by one who is ignorant of the higher purpose. Nevertheless the charge is true that the materialistic tendency of the English language makes it more or less sceptical of religion. Let us counteract this materialistic tendency on us of all languages by a careful study of the scriptures and theistic philosophy. Let the study of the western sciences be rendered fruitful by the wise study of those vast lores of spiritual learning the Vedas, Upanisads and Purans bequeathed to us by the transcendental servants of God. If this is studiously and conscientiously done and if the happy wedding of the oriental and occidental spiritual lores to consummated, the brightest issue of that glorious union we doubt not, will no longer will be a number of greedy nations, but one heroic community of mankind conscious of its real mission by spiritual awakening. England will benefit no less than ourselves by this happy and glorious consummation. Let us in the Name of the Most High reverentially acknowledge this. Let us recognise the English people as not essentially different from us and the language of that high and mighty but equally unhappy nation as not unfit to be the gospel of salvation.

Our article is rather long but we have not certainly written in vain when we think of the unrest that happily prevails in many quarters of this vast world, which is likely to rouse us to an attitude of enquiry regarding its real cause. May the Great Disposer Who wields the destinies of all nations and Who has in His inscrutable providence brought together Easterners and Westerners also graciously inspire all peoples with the true ideas and sentiments that tend to the real good, happiness and prosperity of one and all.

(Revised by permission of the writer.-E. H.)