The Land of the Gods

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Radiant Atman! Beloved sadhaks gathered together in Gurudev’s presence in his sacred samadhisthan, on the banks of Divine Mother Ganga, in this holiest of holy parts of our worshipful Bharat Mata, Mother India! This region is rightly regarded as deva bhumi—the land of the Gods, and as tapo bhumi—the land of austerity and penance. For that is what it was—the land of penance, austerity, serious spiritual practice, meditation and Yoga, a land where people came with the sole objective of attaining God-consciousness.

Their goal was God-realisation by propitiating the Gods through prayer, worship, adoration, surya-namaskar, Ganga puja and arati. In this way, by worshipping all manifestations of the one, supreme, non-dual Reality, the Universal Being, by making that non-dual, eternal Being the one and sole goal of their life and wholly devoting themselves to this great Goal, these sages and seers, recluses and anchorites, performed austerities and attained illumination.

No matter how much change has taken place in the life of the people dwelling in this region, no matter how much a life of penance, austerity, prayer, spiritual life, worship of the manifest God has gradually become a far cry in the lives of most people in this area, nevertheless, the land itself retains its vibrant spirituality. The very atmosphere is saturated with the penance, austerity, deep meditations and power of realisations of bygone seers.

Not only in ancient times, even in the last century and a half there were such spiritual stalwarts, steeped in meditation, totally established in perfect renunciation, who personified in themselves the descriptions drawn for us in our ancient scriptures. Thus a quality of spirituality and austerity is retained here in the very atmosphere, in the very soil, in the very surroundings. This territory of Ganga and Himalayas is vibrant with spirituality. Now, we have to set an attitude. We have to go to the essence of this area, the spiritual quality of the very atmosphere, the sanctity and divinity of this very place and concern ourselves directly only with that and not be overly concerned about these superfluous added factors: the busloads of people, blaring radio music through loudspeakers, noise of traffic, the shops and all the other distractions—it has become a market place.

In the midst of all this there are two great principles, which if firmly held onto, nothing can affect us. The first is the pervading presence of the present day saints who have sanctified the banks of the Ganga by taking up their abode in this very area where we are living, moving, eating, drinking, sleeping. They have recreated in all its power and splendour, in all its full force, that same ancient atmosphere of renunciation, austerity, penance and Self-realisation—that radiant illumined state of consciousness, brahma-vidya, knowledge supreme. They have done it both on this bank and on the other bank of the Ganga.

Therefore, we may find the ancient godly quality of penance, prayer, austerity vanishing from other parts of Uttarakhand, filled as it is with business, government officials, contractors and military personnel who do not harmonise with the quality of this area of the Ganges and Himalayas, the divine realm of the Gods, the divine realm of tapasya; nevertheless, the Ashrams of sages of Self-realisation, like this Ashram of Gurudev, are still as vibrant with spiritual force and power as any forest cave, mountain top or deep jungle seclusion where anchorites, sages and seers have meditated, attained illumination and become liberated sages.

This is the redeeming feature, and as the poet says, all is not lost if only we have eyes to see, if we have the right stuff within us to understand that they have captured and kept here for us that same ancient spirituality which sages and seers like Vasishtha and Vyasa created here in times of yore. It is here—the tapasya of Bhagiratha, the great wisdom of Vyasa, the divinity of Vasishtha. They are all here.

The second factor is, that if your approach to spirituality has been on the right note, then in spite of all that has happened, is happening, and will go on happening evermore, you can still move in this area like a being dwelling in the land of the Gods, in the land of tapasya. That is, wherever you go, you are in God and God is in you. This is the basic truth of existence. This is the central truth of Indian philosophy.

In this way, there shines within your heart the Light of lights that is beyond all darkness, “where the sun does not shine, nor the moon, nor lightning, what to say of this fire; from that Light all things upon earth derive their effulgence and shine in this world of men.” That Light is the Reality enshrined within you as the silent indwelling divinity, silent splendour. You carry It wherever you go. Even when you forget It, It is there.

And if you are fortunate enough to remember It, It is still more there and in a way in which you can experience It, in a way in which you can immunise yourself totally from all that is the opposite of It in the atmosphere, in the surroundings, in the sights and sounds that you have to experience here.

Go with this consciousness: “Everywhere one existence pervades, the Divine Spirit pervades. Wherever I go, I may be able to move away from everything else, but from God I cannot go. Before I go anywhere, He is already there. He is nearer than the nearest, farther than the farthest—pervading all, indwelling all, me too.” If this truth is contemplated, if this truth is not forgotten, if this truth is made the basis of your own inner state, then notwithstanding all the modern roads, the military posted here and in the remotest passages of the Himalayas, notwithstanding all the businesses, contractors, government officials, the swarming crowds of people—good, bad and indifferent that come here—you can still remain in that same state of blessedness, in that same sanctified atmosphere that the ancients, the sages and the seers, had the advantage of.

Therefore in the ultimate context it is for you to create a world of your own, and it does not require any special exertion or any artificial effort. You have to dwell in Truth. You have to be aware of the Fact—of what Is. You should not forget. That you should make the ground of your being. Then blessed you will be; you will live, move and have your being in God.

May this be your effort, earnest effort. Never take this truth away from your vision. Forever enshrine this truth and contemplate it by day and by night. Dwell in this consciousness. Dwell in God. Dwell in the full experience of the atmosphere that has been created for you by Holy Master. He has left for posterity a centre of vibrant spirituality where every atom of matter, every speck of space, the very atmosphere is filled with the power of his bhakti, jnana, vairagya and illumination, by his devotion to God, his great wisdom and renunciation. We are here in a protected area. We are here safe, sound.

Thus may our effort be to cultivate the awareness of this reality, this truth, to dwell in this truth and bless ourselves by our own self, by the right attitude and the right receptivity. This is the least that each one can do, upon whom grace has been showered by the Divine, upon whom the choicest benedictions have been showered by the Holy Master. God bless you all!


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