Shri Dada was called the Saint Universal, but it doesn’t mean that he subscribed to all the fundamental background of those schools or necessarily to their practice. For instance, in the Shri Dada Sanghita – the Heart of the Indian Mystical Teachings – a Sufi teacher is given a speech in which he declares the tenets of his school and Shri Dada hears him, and reveres him as a great devotee. But Shri Dada did not agree with what he calls the ‘shallow concept’ of the Sufis by which the romantic attachment, if it’s unselfishly held for twelve years, will turn into love of God. Shri Dada says, “This is raga, passion, and how can raga change into vairagya”. He calls it the ‘shallow doctrine’. The Sufi is not criticised there, but Shri Dada is silent – he doesn’t repeat it. In the same way with the Christian Fathers, for whom he had a great respect and reverence – when the Christian Father says baptism is absolutely necessary to cleanse the soul of original sin, Shri Dada is silent. He reveres him as a great devotee but he doesn’t agree with the fundamental tenet which the Father has put forward.
Our teacher spoke of Brother Lawrence for whom he had a great respect and a reverence. But with Brother Lawrence again the background and the basis was different from the Yogic basis. Sometimes he’s quoted – and it’s only a report by a third person, but still it’s probably true because it’s not contradicted by what he says elsewhere – that he felt a greater sense of the presence of God when he was engaged outside formal worship. He says, when we continue, from God sometimes a reminder, a stronger sense, warming and firing his soul so strongly at times that he cried aloud, singing and dancing as vigorously as a madman. He expected to have in time some great affliction of body or mind. The worst would be to lose that sense of God which he had had for so long. So he felt that he might lose it. But in his writings and in his letters there is another thing which gradually shows itself, though not formally and officially, a sense that God assured him that He would never completely abandon him. The formal basis was different because Brother Lawrence says, “To worship God in truth means to worship God as Spirit – perfect, infinite; and to worship God in truth means to confess that we are completely separated from him.”
Shri Dada didn’t agree with this basis. He says, “There is a deeper truth which is that the Lord is within.” And, as a matter of fact, in Brother Lawrence’s own experience, which comes out, he begins to speak sometimes in this way, of God as within. Nevertheless, in his worship he often couldn’t keep still and he was compelled to move about. He said that sometimes it kindles so warmly the soul, that he is constrained to temper it with many outward acts. Well, this is another example of a great devotee who was revered and quoted by our teacher, but nevertheless the basis was different, and the practice was on a different basis from that.
Turning to Yajnavalkya’s teachings as given in the Jaina scriptures, an important point is made about the desire for wealth, the desire for home and the desire for the world, which Shankara reads as ‘power’. Shankara points out that Yajnavalkya was rich at this time. The emperor was making tremendous presents to him – a thousand cows meant a considerable amount of capital in India at that time. He doesn’t say then that he gave that up. He remained, but he was free from the desire for it. “Well, how would one know?” Because he was not always talking about it and he could walk away from it, as he did.
© Trevor Leggett
Talks in this series are:
Part 4: Karma is waiting for you
Part 5: Free from the desire for things