Shankaracharya Brahmananda: Teachings
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At his first press conference in the USA on Wednesday, 29 April 1959, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi told of his intention to spiritually regenerate the whole world, adding:
My life truly began 19 years ago at the feet of my Master when I learned the secret of swift and deep meditation, a secret I now impart to the world.
Maharishi also says, "Right from the beginning the whole purpose was just to breathe in his breath. This was my ideal". His Guru was Swami Brahmananda Saraswati, and they met when Maharishi was 23. One look at the glowing silent face of Swami Brahmananda had the young man enthralled at once. Swami Brahmananda insisted that before he accepted Mahesh as a disciple he should complete his studies at university; and receive parental permission before joining him.
Tuesday, 1 April 1941 the highly respected Brahmananda became the Shankaracharya (head) of Jyotir Math, Badrikashram, Himalayas, and was since known as Jagadguru Shrimad Swami Brahmananda Saraswati Maharaj Ji. In TM circles he is referred to as Gurudev or Guru Dev.
A Story from His Training
AFTER completing his study of the scriptures and having discovered the truth about his innermost Self, the twenty-five years old Brahmananda accompanied his guru Krishnananda. For about a month they stopped over at the nice little village of Kajliwan near Rishikesh. They were given a rousing welcome.
Among those who thronged to have a blessed glance at them was a Brahmin milkman. He used to offer milk to the holy guests that visited the place. Brahmananda arranged with him to bring half a litre of milk every day, and would boil and serve it to his gurudev every night. But one day the Brahmin's wife said to her husband, "The cow has given very little milk today. It will not be enough even for the children." The husband, however, paid no heed to her and supplied half a litre as usual to the honoured guests.
When Brahmananda warmed up the milk and served it to his Master, the latter said, "There is woe in the milk today. I shall not drink it. Please return it to milkman and tell him to stop giving it."
Brahmananda did so. About fifteen days later the milkman's son died. The whole place feared that Krishnananda was displeased with the Brahmin milkman, who therefore had lost his son. On hearing it, Krishnananda said to Brahmananda, "When the people take the boy's corpse to the cremation grounds, tell them to send for me before making the funeral pyre."
It so happened. The corpse was placed on the ground and Krishnananda came to the place. He kicked the lifeless head gently with his foot, saying, "Why do you sleep so much?" And then the boy was on his feet.
Afterward, on reaching their hut, Krishnananda said to Brahmananda, "It's better to leave this place right now before all the dead people here start pestering us for life!" And with that he left. [Retold from The Whole Thing - The Real Thing [◦Link]
Quick Returns Required
Years later, high up in the mountains Brahmananda in turn gave his disciple Mahesh a certain errand. He was asked to run to a place high up and far away (probably distant Tapoban) to deliver a message to a holy man who lived there. On arriving, the breathless and exhausted disciple waited for the reply. The saint, after reading the message, merely bid him return quickly to his guru.
Many times did the brahmachari find himself on such a mission. But once he tripped and fell as a result of his undue haste. After dusting himself down, he stooped to recover his guru's precious message, to find it had become unsealed. Curiosity overtook him and he read it. It said,
"Please instruct this brahmachari [student under training] to return at once."
Although more often found to be in solemn mood, the Shankaracharya could display a radiant smile and project a lively sense of fun and jollity - an enigmatic combination.
On Friday, 12 June 1953, at the wish of Swami Brahmananda, his close disciple Sri Swami Shantanand Saraswati Ji Maharaj was installed as successor to the throne of Shankaracharya. And Mahesh committed himself to prolonged spells of deep silence at Gyan Mandir, Rishikesh. In a cave there "there is quiet. No sound. Cool in summer. Warm in winter."
He later emerged to spread the TM technique and what followed from it. He said about the Shankaracharya's core teachings, "His spiritual teachings are simple and clear and go straight home to the heart." The following seeks to capture the very handy teachings of Shankaracharya Brahmananda: God bless you.
Be cautious and learn to make full use of Bliss
ONE should always be cautious, so that no sin happens, so that one has no regrets at the time of death. [Mod Brahmananda]
Concentration on the unmanifest is not possible. [Brahmananda]
Keep your luggage packed. [Brahmananda] [Meaning: Let not death find you unprepared.]
Be careful and cautious.*
When the mind realizes God, it is permanently established there and does not desire other things. [Brahmananda]
Mind remains with you always. Even in the other world - Therefore, connect it with Eternal Existence both in animate and inanimate things, the only permanent entity of the highest order. Connect your mind with Him. [Mod Brahmananda]
Learn to make full use of the human body. One should not waste this chance. [With Brahmananda]
The [figurative] prince will live in bliss. [Brahmananda]
NOTE to the picture caption: The hog plum (species: Spondias mombin) is cultivated for its edible, plumlike fruits. The large stone in each fruit bears many spines and is difficult to separate from the pulp. [Ebu "hog plum"]
One should be fortunate enough to do profitable business. [Brahmananda]
There are three types of protection and service: The highest is like a tortoise; the middle is like fishess; and the lower is like birds.
The turtle does not keep his eggs near. The fish does not go near its eggs. The bird protects its eggs by covering them always, sitting on them.
In the manner of the tortoise, the Great Spiritual Guru helps, protects and guides his sincere disciple by concentration and observation of the behaviour of his disciples. By the blessing of the Guru the life of disciple become purposeful and develops faster on the (path of) Spiritual Progress. [Abr. Brahmananda]
Necessary control of the mind and the senses and deep concentration are essentials of true Yoga. When the mind is wholly focused you merge with Brahman (God). [Mod Brahmananda]
That which hinders transcendental wealth and results in accumulation in sin is not wealth but a burden, a debt (anartha). [Brahmananda]
The instructions to realize God are to be practiced to bear fruit
IN our daily affairs we should adopt a strategy of quickly attending to good works and things related to the divine. And wrong action [had better] be continuously postponed. [Mod and Abr. Brahmananda] (3)
The disciple should follow the orders and instructions as given by the Guru. [Brahmananda]
Spiritual teachings . . . cannot throw light on the inner Self, for the Self is Light. [Brahmananda]
The knowledgeable and realised Guru feels that this world (is) like keeping sour hog plums in the hand and realises that Paramatma (God) is inside as well. [Mod Brahmananda]
Para[m]atma [God] has given you power to think and decide what is good and bad. [Brahmananda]
As long as one has to live, live peacefully. [Brahmananda]
BY doing as much purushartha [actions consistent with the goals of human life and evolution] as possible, one can eventually become one with God. [Brahmananda] ◊
Divine union can be realised by the practice of Yoga. [Brahmananda]
To be born a human is [potentially] more fortunate than to be born a deva. [Brahmananda]
Every second in human life [can be] very valuable. If you don't value this, you will weep in the end. [With Brahmananda]
You should never consider yourself a weak or a fallen creature. [Mod Brahmananda]
Every moment is the power of the Supreme to be realised and remembered. [Brahmananda]
There is no distance or separation with Paramatma (God). [Brahmananda]
[To some:] If you have to make an offering, offer not your money but your defects [if you are allowed to, that is], so that you are redeemed and made whole. [Brahmananda]
In taking birth there is suffering; much more suffering there is at the time of dying. [Brahmananda] The manifest [One, God]) exists for the welfare of the world. [Brahmananda]
The recordings of your good doings reach the Eternal also - prepare for it even now
DO good works as seems best.* (5)
Having a human body, if you don't reach God, then you have sold a diamond at the price of spinach. [With Brahmananda]
Increase your love for that ever-blissful Paramatma [Supreme Self] . . . Keep your mind free for the imperishable Paramatma, whose very essence is bliss. [Brahmananda]
A human being is like a lump of pure gold, whereas gods are like pieces of fine jewellery. [Brahmananda]
It is essential to be cautious always. [Brahmananda]
God has given you power to think - do the best possible action. [Abr Brahmananda]
[Have] devotion and trust in Paramatma alone and none else. [Brahmananda]
The Great Guru keeps himself separate from his own body. [Brahmananda]
The argument about formlessness is thoroughly useless. [Brahmananda]
If you do not know what Bhagavan is, how can you be devoted to Him? [Brahmananda]
Without Ishwar (God) it is impossible to become released. [Brahmananda]
The dawn comes . . . allowing us to enjoy the light of the sun. [Brahmananda]
The meaning of the word sadhu is this - sadhus are good-natured people with good hearts . . . avatars are for the welfare of those people. [Brahmananda]
Forgetting the other world, one becomes immoral and licentious. [Brahmananda]
The techniques of Yoga are the self-realisation. [Brahmananda] [Deducted: potential self-realization facets lie embedded in the right techniques and postures. *]
One's own final time is not to be spoiled . . . prepare for this. [Brahmananda]
Whatever man does while living, be it good or bad, it comes to be remembered at the moment of death. [Brahmananda]
The people struggle hard to gain valueless baubles of daily living, day in and day out. [Brahmananda]
Being separated from God is harsh. *
Worshipping Paramatman is highly profitable. [Brahmananda]
Paramatma never keeps separate from Atman. [Brahmananda]
BEING engaged in union with God is the path of highest blissfulness. [Cf. Brahmananda] ◊
Having attained this birth, one should not act carelessly, but do the best purushartha. [Brahmananda]
If you want to catch the shadow, catch the real thing and automatically the shadow will be in your hands. [Brahmananda]
Mind is something permanent which remains with you always. Even in the other world it will continue to stay with you. Therefore connect it with someone permanent, God, being the eternal existence in animate and inanimate things. [Mod Brahmananda]
It is necessary to bifurcate [divide] the work of the mind as main and secondary. Apply your body mainly and your mind secondarily to you work (vyarabara). [Brahmananda]
Accumulate wealth, but in such a way that is not against transcendental wealth (param-artha). [Brahmananda]
Fulfilling one's own dharma while keeping faith in Paramatma is [of] purushartha. [Brahmananda]
Lead this life with a peaceful mind. [Brahmananda]
Paramatman himself will look after the well-being of the [recognised] devotee. There will be no need to pray for one's welfare: The father will not be able to see his son suffer. Even without being asked, he will do his best to get his son cured. Likewise Paramatman, without even a request, will do the needful. [Abr. Brahmananda]
When the mind is mainly engaged in thinking of God, you shall receive His grace. [Brahmananda]
That which hinders Paramartha [ultimate good] and results in accumulation of sin is not wealth (artha) but the negation of wealth (anartha). [Brahmananda]
The creator and protector of the universe is Brahman [God]. Brahman provides the efficiency in all living Beings (Jiva) to perform their own duty. [With Brahmananda]
Brahman [God] is not doing any actions but all living beings are free to perform their own actions . . . but they have to suffer the result of their action (karma) from the result of karma they are not free. [Brahmananda]
Activities that gain Paramatman . . . is a natural activity and can be done with ease. [Brahmananda]
Put enough attention on God, the source of peace and happiness. [Mod Brahmananda]
The disciple should not copy the behaviour of Guru. [Brahmananda]
The aim of life is to stop the mind from involvement with this world. [Brahmananda]
Your mind . . . can be useful to take you near God. [With Brahmananda]
There is no difficulty to go but there is difficulty to come back. [Brahmananda]
The mind . . . is not fully satisfied or satisfied for long with anything of the mundane world. [Ed. Brahmananda]
You can work to make your family happy. [Mod. Brahmananda]
BY the blessing of the Spiritual Master there is an awakening Spiritual life. [With Brahmananda] (7)
Even a little of [God's] grace is capable of bestowing on the ego all that is good in its entirety. [Brahmananda]
One should not act carelessly, but should conscientiously [fulfil] one's own dharma while keeping faith in Paramatma. [And] keep the company of wise people. [Abr. Brahmananda]
The Creator will make arrangements. [With Brahmananda]
There are good and bad actions, and each and every action is divided into various subdivisions: (1) daily duty; (2) special occasional duty; (3) expiate; (4) ritual. All these karmas are described. [Cf. Brahmananda]
Try to live quietly as long as you have to live. [Brahmananda]
LEAD life in such a way that you will be peaceful while living and making your future path bright as well. [Brahmananda] (8)
Mantras (sometimes) contain a mixture (of sounds including) Aum [OM] that are given for auspicious purposes. Another thing is this that women are prohibited from practising japa with a mantra conjoined with Aum. [Brahmananda, abr.] (9)
Mason, Paul. 108 Discourses of Guru Dev: The Life and Teachings of Swami Brahmananda Saraswati, Shankaracharya of Jyotirmath (1941-53). Vol 1. Penzance, Cornwall: Premanand, 2009.
Mason, Paul. The Biography of Guru Dev: The Life and Teachings of Swami Brahmananda Saraswati, Shankaracharya of Jyotirmath (1941-53). Vol 2. Penzance, Cornwall: Premanand, 2009.
Mason, Paul. Guru Dev as presented by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi: The Life and Teachings of Swami Brahmananda Saraswati, Shankaracharya of Jyotirmath (1941-53). Vol 3. Penzance, Cornwall: Premanand, 2009.
Mason, Paul. The Maharishi: The Biography of the Man Who Gave Transcendental Meditation to the World. Rev. ed. Lyndhurst, Hampshire: Evolution, 2005.
The extracts are from "Gurudev Satsang" by Paul Mason, with kind permission: [◦Link]
Biography parts also from Paul Mason's wonderful book Maharishi Mahesh Yogi: The Biography of the Man Who Gave Transcendental Meditation to the World (1st ed, Element Books, 1994). [◦About].
Many thanks to Paul for supplying the great Guru Dev pictures that the details (photos) above are taken from.
[Maharishi Mahesh Yogi] claimed his life only truly began . . . when [as a young student] he learned the secret of 'swift and deep meditation' . . . Swami Brahmanand had instructed him in a technique of meditation. - Paul Mason, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi (1st ed)
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