Have you ever become disheartened with the pace of your sadhana? Have you ever felt that you are making no progress in your mantra japa or meditation? If you have, then the following story is just for you.
In it Yugrishi Shriram Sharma Acharya outlines an extremely important lesson that all spiritual aspirants must bear in mind – which is that devoted and sincere sadhana (spiritual practice) always has an effect, even though it may not become immediately apparent to us. Slowly but surely, a genuine and regularly performed sadhana, works subconsciously to cleanse our inner nature and prepares us for the ultimate goal of God-realization. Therefore it is imperative for every sadhak to pursue his/her sadhana with patience, perseverance and faith.
The enclosed story was first narrated by Shriram Sharma Acharya in his Hindi lecture: Prayaschit Kyo? Kaise? – This lecture is a part of his wonderful book of Hindi lectures: Pujyavar ki Amritvani (Vangmay Number 68). Enclosed below is an English translation of the story.
Madhvacharya: The Saint Who “Failed” in His Sadhana For 13 Years – As Told by Shriram Sharma Acharya
Let me tell you a story. The great saint Madhvacharya used to live in the north-Indian town of Vrindavan. For 13 long years he performed intense Gayatri Anushthans.
(A Gayatri Anushthan for those who are not familiar is a spiritual discipline in which a sadhak (aspirant) undertakes a certain number of japas (mental chantings) of the Gayatri mantra, all the while meditating upon the Infinite Divine and performing other austerities such as fasting. There are many types of Anushthans, the longest of which requires an undertaking of 2.4 million japas to be completed in 1 year. The time commitment to fulfil this vow is about 6 hours each day.)
Now despite performing successive Gayatri Anushthans over a period of 13 years, Madhvacharya’s spiritual practice nevertheless bore no fruit. Neither did he attain to God-realization, nor were any of his other wishes fulfilled. Even the feelings of inner peace and satisfaction which usually descend upon a sadhak, as a natural consequence of such intense sadhana (spiritual practice), evaded him completely.
Disappointed With His Sadhana, Madhvacharya Takes Up a Tantric Guru
Deeply dejected Madhvacharya began to think – what is the use of chanting the Gayatri Mantra when nothing can be attained through it? In frustration, he gave up his sadhana and left the town of Vrindavan and travelled to Varanasi. There, with a heavy heart and eyes brimming with tears, he sat down at the Manikarnika Cremation Ghat, on the banks of the Ganges.
A passing sage seeing his sorrowful state, took pity on him. Upon learning of Madhvacharya’s predicament and his complete loss of faith in the Gayatri mantra, the sage spoke in a kind voice:
“Son, I know nothing of the Gayatri Mantra for I am a Tantric (one who follows occult practices) belonging to the Kapalika tradition. However, I can teach you a Tantric discipline which will yield marvelous results in one year itself. At the end of this sadhana you will be blessed with a supernatural vision which will restore your faith in the presence of the Infinite Divine (and subsequently you will be able to perform other spiritual endeavors to reach God).”
Madhvacharya agreed. The sage imparted to him the knowledge of the Bhairava mantra and stressed that in order to attain success in the Tantric sadhana, Madhvacharya must remain within the confines of the cremation ground at all times. He must not leave it even for a moment, performing all his daily activities of eating, sleeping and bathing within its confines.
Lord Bhairava Tries to Scare Madhvacharya Off The Cremation Ground
“The path of Yoga is always beset by inner and outer difficulties and the sadhak must develop a quiet, firm and solid strength to meet them.”
– Sri Aurobindo
And thus Madhvacharya began his Bhairava Tantra sadhana. As his sadhana began to progress he started facing severe tests. Lord Bhairava in order to ascertain his devotion and commitment would sometimes take the form of a lion and try frighten Madhvacharya off the cremation ground. Other times he would try to entice Madhvacharya by assuming the form of a bewitching woman, or try to lure him off the path through offers of money and riches.
However Madhvacharya admonished all these apparitions away and doggedly carried on with his sadhana. He recalled the teaching of his guru, the tantric sage, who had warned him of the possibility of such disruptions and had told him to not get perturbed by such experiences and to instead remain engrossed in his sadhana.
A Voice Speaks to Madhvacharya From Behind His Back
At the end of one year Madhvacharya’s strenuous sadhana bore fruit. A voice suddenly spoke – “I am Bhairava, the one whom you have been worshipping for the past one year. I am pleased with your sadhana, ask me for a boon and I shall grant it.”
However, thinking this voice to be yet another illusion attempting to disrupt his worship, Madhvacharya replied: “Ever since I began my spiritual practice, delusive forces have tried hard to break my sadhana by taking the form of a lion, a ghost, a wild buffalo, or a woman. Therefore please convince me that you are really Bhairava, the deity of my worship. Appear before me, so that I can see your face and ascertain your identity. Until I see you, I will remain unconvinced and doubtful. So grant me this boon and later I shall perform another year long sadhana and ask you for another boon.”
“Do not be impatient or easily discouraged because things do not go fast. Aspire, try to keep yourself in the sunshine of confidence and let the seed grow.”
– Sri Aurobindo
Bhairava replied, “Son, I cannot appear before you. I can only stand behind you and talk, but it is not possible for me to appear in front of you.”
Madhvacharya was greatly puzzled and enquired why, to which Bhairava replied, “My child, you have performed immense sadhana of Mother Gayatri – the Omnipotent, Omnipresent Divine Shakti (Force), who has created this Universe. Your face is imbued with the brilliance of the Gayatri Mantra and your eyes radiate its divine force. I am a Tantric deity but I do not have the courage to face the effulgence of Mother Gayatri’s power. Therefore I will stand behind your back and speak to you.”
“But why? What is your limitation?” Madhvacharya pursued unable to control his surprise.
Bhairava once again replied, “My child, I just told you that I cannot stand before the magnificent radiance that shines on your face as a result of your intense devotion to the Supreme Mother Gayatri. Therefore ask for any boon and I shall grant it standing behind you.”
Madhvacharya was struck with amazement to learn that the Gayatri Sadhana, which he had performed for 13 long years was so powerful that it had imbued him with such brilliance that even a great Tantra-deity could not stand before him!
Madhvacharya Discovers the Secret Reason Why His Gayatri Sadhana Had Not Yielded Results
With great humility he asked Bhairava, “Lord, if you do not wish to come before me, that is all right, but do tell me the reason why despite performing such intense Gayatri Sadhana for 13 years, I could not attain to my goal of God-realization? Why did my Gayatri japas (mantra chantings) and austerities fail?”
Bhairava replied, “Son, I will certainly answer this query, so do close your eyes.”
Madhvacharya closed his eyes and one after another, Bhairava showed him the events of his past 13 births, in which he had performed many evil deeds including murder, robbery and several other egotistical, sensual and selfish acts.
Lord Bhairava spoke, “Your inner-self was burdened by the Samskaras (impressions) of these past evil deeds. They had to be cleansed. Without this inner purification God-realization is impossible.”
“One must be very, very patient (in Yoga). The whole thing is to hold on, to endure, to endure. Endure and you’ll conquer. Bear and you’ll vanquish. Triumph comes to the most enduring.”
– Mother Mirra, Sri Aurobindo Ashram
“Your spiritual efforts have not been wasted at all. In fact the mantra japa, meditation and austerities that you have performed over the last 13 years have gone towards compensating for these wrongs that you have committed in each of your past 13 lives. For this reason your sadhana has not yet yielded fruit. Now that your inner self is cleansed, go back and perform the Gayatri Sadhana for the 14th year and you will surely attain to God-realization.”
Madhvacharya was pleased. He went back to Vrindavan and once again initiated his sadhana. At the end of it he attained to God-realization and the Omnipresent, Infinite Divine Shakti – Mother Gayatri took a form and appeared before him. She asked him for a boon. Madhvacharya replied, “Mother I want to leave behind such a work that will benefit humanity for centuries to come.” The Mother of the Universe granted him this boon.
It is said that after receiving this boon the great saint Madhvacharya wrote the Madhav Nidan Samhita, an Ayurvedic text detailing the methods for diagnosing various diseases such as arthritis, peptic ulcers, acidity etc. What is most interesting is that even though Madhvacharya wrote the Madhav Nidan in the 13th century AD, to this day the text has survived and constitutes one of the core texts that is taught to students in Ayurvedic Medical Colleges all across India.
“The road of Yoga (path to God-realization) is long, every inch of ground has to be won against much resistance and no quality is more needed by the sadhak than patience and single-minded perseverance with a faith that remains firm through all difficulties, delays and apparent failures.”
– Sri Aurobindo in Letters on Yoga II
Give the gift of knowledge! If you enjoyed reading this post about Don’t Be Sad if Your Meditation or Mantra Japa, Does Not Yield Immediate Results, then take a moment to share it with your friends and family.
If You Liked this Post, I Also Recommend Reading:
Nirvikalpa Samadhi – Vivekananda’s Experience of Complete Mergence With God
VIDEO: Reincarnation | MIND Accompanies the Soul After Death
VIDEO: What is the Meaning of Karma? What is the Law of Karma?
VIDEO: Law of Karma is Not Eye-for-Eye | Understanding How Karmic Justice is Dispensed
VIDEO: Mahabharata & Karma | Some Stories Imply Karma “IS” Eye for Eye?
VIDEO: Why Hinduism Champions Vegetarianism as an Aid to Samadhi
Is Watching Pornography a Sin? – Hidden Realities About the Porn Industry
Is Sexual Abstinence Old-Fashioned or the Sensible Thing to Do?
Power of Brahmacharya | When Swami Vivekananda Memorized an Encyclopaedia
<< Spiritual Bee Home |
Join the Discussion | Share Your Thoughts