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ASSOCIATES OF MAHATMA GANDHI > VINOBA BHAVE > MOVED BY LOVE > On the road to Freedom
On the Road to Freedom
I came here (to Brahmavidya Mandir, Paunar) in 1970, and I spend a lot of time here in cleaning my surroundings. People ask me why I give so much time to this work, and I tell them what Saint Jnaneshwar said: ‘He who stands one moment at the door of the Lord attains four kinds of freedom.’ The Lord Rama (in the form of the statue of Bharata-Rama) has come to our courtyard; while cleaning it I feel the joy of His presence, and at the same time I have got the four kinds of freedom.
The first is freedom from outward activity. After being occupied in works of service from 1916 to 1966 I entered on the inward path, and from then on I am in fact free from outward action. It is true that for three or four years I had to give some attention to the great work of Bihar-Dan, which involved some outward activity, but by now (October 1970) that too has come to an end. The second is freedom from books. From now on I shall do no more book-writing. The third is freedom from study. What do I read? Nothing ! The fourth is freedom from teaching. I began teaching in 1911, teaching my school friends and class-mates. Later on I taught the people in the Ashram. I have been teaching for about sixty years, but now that also is finished.
As for my continued cleaning work, there was an additional reason: I looked to it as a way of meditation. If instead of a broom I had picked up a rosary and started telling my beads, no one would have said that I was wasting my time ! Picking up rubbish acts for me like a rosary—with every straw picked up there is a remembrance of the Name. There is no thinking involved, it is pure contem- plation. A man who cannot tolerate rubbish around him will not tolerate rubbish inside him either, and will feel a strong urge to get rid of it. That is a spiritual urge. Very soon however I shall take leave even of this work.
In the same way, (in July 1972) I stopped signing copies of Gita-Pravachan (‘Talks on the Gita’) and other books. I have been popularizing it for forty years—1932-72—and I have now no wish to go on doing so. In addition, (in 1976) I took some further steps, which I announced on the holy Christmas Day, December 25. ‘From today on,’ I said, ‘I will not share in the management of any institution, nor act as adviser to any, even to those which I myself have founded. The second thing is that whatever talks I have will be with individuals at an individual level, and I have already said what subjects I am ready to discuss—science and spiri- tuality. Science is going ahead by leaps and bounds, and I no longer try to keep up with it except as it relates to physical health. As for spirituality, I do not mean by this any philosophical analysis of such terms as Brahma (the Supreme), maya (illusion) or jiva (individual soul); I mean that which can loosen the tangled knots in the mind and make it pure. Anyone who wishes to exchange thoughts on these two subjects may come. And just one thing more, these talks will not be held in private.’

Kshetra-Sannyasa (Renunciation of Travel)
(On November 2, 1969) I came from my travels through my homeland (India), to my special home in Wardha, and spent seven days in Sevagram. I decided to plan ahead for seven days only, not more. The idea was to keep my mind fresh, and at the same time alert. And who knows, by planning for seven days at a time I might well stay in the same place for a whole year !
(So from Sevagram I moved on to Gopuri, and then) on June 7 (1970), I came to Brahmavidya Mandir. On that date, four years earlier, I had laid all my work of service at Bapu’s feet, obtained my ‘discharge’, and entered upon the path of inwardness. On that day therefore I decided to go to the Brahmavidya Mandir. ‘I don’t wish to tie myself down,’ I said to the sisters. ‘Over in Bihar the Naxalites2 are uttering threats against the Sarvodaya workers, and Jayaprakashji has therefore given up the few days’ rest which he had planned to take, and is going from village to village to help them. It is impossible for me to close my mind to these things.’
But although I kept an open mind, I remained where I was. I was ready to consider leaving if some happening somewhere in India should demand it, but otherwise I felt strongly that I should stay, and concentrate on strength- ening Brahmavidya Mandir. The work of the Mandir was being carried on by mutual consultation and agreement among all its members, and so it would continue. Apart from that, I thought, I would be ready to answer those who came to me individually with their questions and opened their hearts to me.
A month or two later (on October 6, 1970) I announced that I was going to become a sthanakavasi, a dweller in one place only. This sthanakavas is a practice among the Jains. Just as they renounce possessions, so also they renounce place. I proposed to begin it on the following day, October 7. One should certainly regard every day as holy, but October 7 has a special importance for me, for it was on that date forty years ago that I began to write the Gitai. On that date therefore I entered my ‘detention camp’. The Jains call it sthanakavas, the Hindus call it kshetra-sannyasa, the modern word is ‘detention camp’. When a man halts in one place like this, it makes it easy for everyone to find him. This is not my own decision, it is an inward call which I regard as a command. I hope that my friends will come to see me sometimes, for friendship’s sake or even for a game of chess !

Entering More Deeply into the Inward Life
This idea of kshetra-sannyasa, of confining oneself to one single place, is certainly an old one. People practised it for the sake of meditation and the welfare of the soul. My purpose however is not that; I seek to realize a deeper inward power for the sake of the welfare of society. This welfare cannot be achieved by outward activities alone. The more deeply inward the action becomes, the more is achieved. Now the time has come to practise this deeper inward action. I entered on this inward path five years ago, but circumstances then compelled me to use the outward path also; it was needful to carry forward the work of Bihar-dan to a certain point. Now that the local people have taken it up, and Jayaprakashji has staked his life on it, I have settled down here in the middle of India.
This deeper inwardness means that one contemplates this whole created universe and sees in it the image of the divine. It means to stand face to face with humanity and lose oneself in the soul within. The individual who enters on this path will be reduced to nothing, to less than nothing; that is the test. It is inwardly experienced, and bears fruit in the individual life. For society it means the release of a power which, like the power of the atom, is inward and hidden, but whose effect is far greater than that of outward force. This inward energy is just as great as that of the atom, but it cannot be described in material terms.
The work which our friends have done recently, the collection of a Gram-Swaraj Fund3 has, I think, been done very well. Years ago a Swaraj Fund was collected in the name of Lokmanya Tilak when he was at the peak of his fame. That is not the case with me; my reputation is now at the lowest ebb ! There must be many people in the country who feel affection for me, but who regard my gramdan work as bogus. That is only what I expected. I said in Bihar that bhoodan is a cash transaction, something definite, so much received, so much given away. But gramdan work is not like that; as I said, it could have infinite results, or none whatever; there is no middle way. Today it looks like a zero. Jayaprakashji and others are trying to turn the zero into infinity, and I believe they will succeed, because that is the demand of the age.
But having settled down in one place I find that my mind is inclined towards silence. My body also has become very weak. People ask what I am thinking about nowadays, and I answer that I am not thinking at all, it is as if I had no mind at all. I take a morning walk and see the planet Venus shining before me, and the people going to and fro, and the trees. I am conscious of nothing, for much of the time, but a ‘mindless’ bliss. When I talk with people my intellect comes into play, but not my surface mind.
I have stopped thinking about the state of the country, and leave it in the hands of God. Nor do I keep particular individuals in mind; my thoughts are only of the Lord. But I do read the newspapers, and so have some idea of what is going on, especially just now (1971) the happenings in East Bengal.4 Apart from that I just sit here like a reference book, ready for any who may wish to consult me.
People ask me what I am planning to do next, and I tell them that today I have been engaged in meditation, but as for tomorrow, who can say? There was one thing I never accepted from Gandhiji, the writing of a daily diary. In this I had the blessing of the ancients; their words, ‘abandon all attachment to the past, all anxiety for the future,’ had a great influence on me; I neither remember the past nor trouble about the future. People tell me that I ought to write my autobiography. (The Hindi word is atma-katha, ‘Story of the Self’.) But if I did, it would be only the story of the body, for it is not possible to write the story of the Self. In the preface I should have to say that there is no guarantee that what is written here is true, because I am ‘Vinoba the Forgetful’. I have forgotten a great deal and I go on forgetting. I don’t allow the past to become a burden on me.
I am however engaged in one experiment, and it has two sides; on the one hand to keep the world in my remembrance, on the other to send out my blessings by the channels of thought. Remembrance of the world implies remembrance of oneself. This is the basis of my experiment in abhidhyana, ‘specific’ meditation. I ask everyone of our workers to write to me once a month, but I do not answer their letters in writing. I read them, I reflect on them, I seek to unite the power of my own thought with whatever is good in them and so to strengthen it.
This intensive reflection, this meditation on specific people and their endeavours, bears fruit only if two con- ditions are fulfilled. On my part there should be complete freedom from egoism. On the part of my correspondent there should be, as it were, a radio receiving set, an open mind. Then the results will appear.
I am practising this intensive meditation on five specific themes, following the pattern of fivefold worship which Shankaracharya began, and which is called Shan-na-ra-ga-de. ‘Shan’ stands for Shankar, ‘na’ for Narayan, ‘Ra’ for Ravi, the Sun, ‘Ga’ for Ganapati or Ganesh, ‘De’ for Devi, Goddess. What then is my fivefold Shan-na-ga-de? My Shankar, who watches over the welfare of all, is Brahmavidya, for without that knowledge of the Supreme we shall never obtain our true welfare. Those who regard our movement as merely economic and social are taking a completely one-sided view and have not understood it at all. The movement is spiritual, and founded on Brahmavidya. Spiritual disciplines such as meditation, prayer, self-examination and striving for inward purity must always be a vital part of it. Then comes Narayan, the god of human society; Narayan stands for gram-swarajya, village self-government, and that is my second theme. The Sun is the Shanti-sena, the Peace Army, my third theme. The sunbeams shine upon all, so let our Shanti-sena shed its light upon the whole of India. The fourth, Ganapati, is the god of Knowledge, so the Acharya-kul is a theme of my meditation. And the fifth, the Devi, is the Devanagari script. I am very deeply interested in what my fellow-workers have done and are doing about these five matters, and what their difficulties are.

With the Sarva Seva Sangh and my Fellow-workers
When these friends come to see me, I have begun to urge them to choose one district in every State where Gandhiji’s constructive programme may be fully demon- strated. The idea goes back to 1916, when I was with Gandhiji in the Kochrab Ashram. He used to go for a walk every day and I would go with him. One day as we were walking he said to me: ‘Look, Vinoba, there are 700,000 villages in India (at that time India had not been divided). We ought to have a worker in every one of them. He would depend on the people for his livelihood, and would guide them and work with them to build up the strength of the village. For 700,000 villages we need 700,000 workers.’ That was Gandhiji’s dream. So I say to my fellow-workers: ‘If you stop thinking about politics, and take up the constructive programme with determination and faith, so that you are completely absorbed in it, it will benefit both yourselves and the whole world also.’
In India today there is much discontent, and many problems of various kinds. But whatever the circumstances, and whatever the reasons, there should be no resort to violence. Not only that, there should be no aggressive non-violent movement either, so long as complete under- standing is lacking between Pakistan, India and Bangladesh. Otherwise the country will be in danger. There should be nothing but peaceful constructive work, by means of which a great deal can be done to relieve poverty and other sources of discontent.
I keep on saying another thing also. Shankaradeva, the great saint of Assam, had a saying: ‘Politics is the science of demons’. Let us therefore forget politics and think about the world as a whole. These days I think much about the world, and I have by me a map showing the nations of the world with details of their population, forms of government and so on. Let us then study world politics and at the same time keep ourselves aloof, like onlookers. Otherwise we too shall be divided, like the politicians.
(In July 1974) I spent a week for the discussions of the Sarva Seva Sangh. Usually nothing affects my sleep, but on one of those days I felt a bit anxious lest the Sarva Seva Sangh should break up, and so I slept less than usual. My own aim and endeavour is always to bring people together in a union of hearts. Now it seemed to me that hearts were being divided, and that was not right. Differences of opinion there may be, but hearts must remain one. I therefore set to work as skilfully as I could to bring them together.
I set before them three principles—Truth, Non-violence, Self-restraint. Let us keep within these limits, I said. No matter what we do, we are always talking about Truth and non-violence, and to these two I added a third: Self-restraint, which is a very important thing. It means restraint of speech. One should refrain from talking ill of others; rather one should emphasize their good qualities. Everyone possesses some good quality, some element of truth. Let us look for that and so build unity, not break it down. The whole Sangh, with its four or five hundred workers, was in danger of breaking up. I gave them my proposals in writing: that they should accept any resolution which was passed unanimously, and work with united hearts within the limits set by Truth, Non-violence and Self-restraint. Within those limits, let all work in accordance with their own special interests.
There is another matter which I have been talking about repeatedly—that there are three kinds of power in the world, spiritual insight, science and faith. Faith, or trust, is a very great power. Let us all trust one another. For my part, I trust everyone. I trust Jayaprakashji and Indiraji, and Hemavatinandan Bahuguna and S.M. Joshi and Vasantrao Naik.5 That seems strange, doesn’t it? Joshi and Naik belong to opposite political parties, yet I trust them both. I trust Zulfikar Ali Bhutto6 also. You may call it a merit or a defect in me, but there it is. We must increase the power of trust in everyone. We should trust those who are opposed to us, trust them as much as they distrust us.

The Gift of Fasting
These days (December 1973) I have started fasting for a half day on the 11th of the month and for a half day on the 25th. These dates have meaning for me; the 11th is my birthday, the 25th the day on which I left home. Both days are good for reflection, and the two together make up a full day’s fast with no bad effect on health.
My food costs about three rupees a day, so in this way I save three rupees a month, thirty-six rupees a year. I thought I would give this amount to the work of the Sarva Seva Sangh.7 It seemed to me that it would be a very big thing if every one of the workers, sympathizers and supporters of Sarvodaya ideas would fast once a month and give the amount saved each year to the Sarva Seva Sangh. Up to now we have been accepting all kinds of gifts for our work, and in that way we have worshipped the Sarva Brahma, the Supreme in all. Now let us worship the Vimala Brahma, the pure Supreme, with a pure offering. Fasting purifies; a gift derived from fasting is a pure gift.

One Year of Silence
(In December 1974) my mind was full of the idea of keeping silence for a time. The 25th was approaching. It was the holy eleventh day of the half-month of Magh in the Hindu calendar, the ‘birthday’ of the Gita, and also Christmas; I decided that beginning on that auspicious day I would keep silence for one year.
But should I not then complete the work which I had already planned? A spiritual decision does in fact entail breaking such commitments, it cannot wait until some work or other has been finished. To accept sannyasa means that such ties have to be broken, otherwise nothing is gained. So from December 25 I kept silence for a year.
Before entering the silence I told people that in one sense I had been observing silence even while speaking, and that now I should go on speaking even in my silence ! Silence is an active power. The Sun shines outside the door, but if the door is closed, the sunlight does not push its way in. This silence is not like that, it pushes, it presses forward.
This silence means not only no speaking, but also no writing. I shall write nothing but Rama-Hari, the Name of God. Even after I took kshetra-sannyasa I was involved in a few outward matters and in discussions about them, for these too seemed to me to be in the natural course of things. Then I began to think that though there was nothing wrong with these natural activities, the power of intensive inward meditation could only be released by entering more deeply into the inward life. So I decided that I should stop speaking and writing.
God had already stopped my ears. I was sent two or three hearing aids, and I put them on and tried them, and found I could hear well. I used the hearing aid for ten or twelve days, but then I gave it up. Why should I use an aid to get back what God in his grace has taken from me? By God’s grace I have already become one of those three (Chinese) monkeys,8 the one who is stopping his ears. Now I am going to become the second monkey who keeps his mouth shut. But I am not going to be the third monkey and keep my eyes closed, instead of that I shall stop using my hand, that is to say I shall do no more writing. I shall keep the use of my eyes, in order to read the letters of all those friends and fellow-workers who write to me regularly, and of those who write occasionally as they feel the need. I want to go on reading these letters and to give myself to intensive meditation about each one separately. The inward thoughts which the letters reveal can be influenced, the knotty problems loosened, by the power of this intense meditation. When I stop speaking, even those who do not have ‘receiving sets’ will be reached by this power. The silence will be aggressive; it will push its way into the heart of the one who wrote.
Some will ask, why one year only of silence? Why not more? The answer is that in such difficult spiritual matters one must be guided by experience. This is a small first step, a year only. I have not thought any further ahead. Experience will decide.
(Vinoba then remained silent until December 25, 1975)

Anushasana or Guidance (From Vinoba’s first talk after breaking silence)
I would like to explain briefly what I mean by anushasana parva. The phrase is used in the Mahabharata, but it occurs earlier, in the Taittiriya Upanishad. In those ancient times it was the custom for a student to live with his teacher for twelve years, pursuing his studies. When the studies had been completed, and the student was about to return home, the teacher used to give him his final advice. In the Upanishad this is called anushasana, and it is something to be followed throughout one’s life. From the teacher comes anushasana, from those in power comes shasana, the authority of government. If the world were to be guided by shasana it would never be at peace; problems would be unravelled only to become tangled again.
This is the kind of show which is going on today throughout the world. From A to Z, from Afghanistan to Zambia, there are more than three hundred governments, and they all have their alliances. Among those subject to their authority there is discontent everywhere, killing everywhere. If only the world would listen instead to the advice of its teachers, its acharyas, it would be at peace. An acharya, in the words of Guru Nanak, is one without fear or hatred; I would add to that, without political allegiance. Such teachers never become agitated or angered; they are able to think calmly and come to a conclusion on which they are all agreed. They may then put their proposals before the public; those who follow their guidance will be benefited and the world will be at peace. This is what anushasana means, the dispassionate advice of the true teacher, the acharya. A government which acted against the advice of such fearless, impartial acharyas could rightly be challenged by satyagraha. I feel sure however that the Government of India would never act against the advice of its true teachers.

A Fast against the Slaughter of the Cow
One piece of work was initiated by me during the following year (1976). On April 25 a conference of the Maharashtra Acharyakul was held at Paunar. In my speech I laid great stress on the protection of the cow, and said that the acharyas should take the responsibility. A pamphlet was also published on the subject.
On May 17 Shri Shankararao Chavan, the Chief Minister of Maharashtra, himself came to Paunar to meet me. During our talk I emphasized the need for a ban on cow-slaughter for the sake of the development of the country. I told him that unless this was done soon I would have to undertake a fast unto death.
On May 29 I was talking with some workers about this, and I told them in plain words that if by September 11, there were no announcement of an all-India ban on cow-slaughter I would begin my fast on that day, which is my birthday. The date was still three and a half months away, so it gave the people concerned enough time to come to a decision.
This year (1976) is the centenary of my mother’s birth, and I do not remember a single day when I have not recalled her. When I was a child she taught me that before taking my own meal I should first water the tulsi plant and then feed the cow, and she would not let me sit down to eat until these two duties had been done. Now she is saying to me: ‘Vinya, you must do something for the cow; if the cow can be saved it will be a great benefit to India.’ In India today thousands of cows are being slaughtered, and their flesh exported to foreign countries in order to earn dollars. In three months’ time I shall complete my eighty-first year, and one cannot say how much longer I have to live. So I thought I might sacrifice these remaining days for the sake of the cow. If I died and the cow were saved, that would be good. Even if the cow were not saved I should still die happily, remembering God. I would have done my duty, but the saving of the cow depends on the grace of God.
In June the news of my intended fast was printed in Maitri. The police came and confiscated the whole issue and took all the copies away. What did I do? As they were carrying them off I stood up, clapped my hands and shouted Jai Jagat. Blessed were those who couldn’t muster up courage to print the news ! Two or three newspapers were bold enough to publish it, but the others were afraid, for if the papers were closed down where would they get their bread? It does not occur to us that in the times of Gautama Buddha, Mahavir, Jesus Christ and Shankara- charya there were no newspapers, yet their teachings spread abroad as no others have done.
Since the first of April I had cut down my daily intake of food to half the normal. I have several times related how my mother used to tell me that fate had fixed not the length of my life but the amount of food allotted to me. ‘If you eat a little at a time, you will live longer.’ The other reason for reducing my intake is that I am getting ready for the fast. It is much easier to go to a full fast from half-rations than from a full intake. From a full diet to a full fast would be a real ‘high jump’ !
I had declared that on August 11 there should be fasting and prayer throughout the country for the protection of the cow. After that, during the following month, there should be no more public propaganda. This is a kind of non-violent satyagraha. Once during a discussion of non-violence, someone said that we should resort to ‘non-violent resistance’. ‘Not resistance,’ I said. ‘Let it be non-violent assistance in right thinking.’ If all propaganda is stopped for a month it will have a very good effect. The government’s mind will be set at rest, and it will be able to consider the matter calmly.
(By the 8th of September) the question of ending cow-slaughter in India was very largely solved. On the 11th September I therefore began to take my full normal diet.
Although cow-slaughter was now banned in most places, there was a good deal still going on in West Bengal and in Kerala, and my heart was troubled. I therefore decided (in December 1978) that from January 1, 1979 I would begin a partial fast. I knew however that such a partial fast would probably not help the cow much, so I also considered a complete fast. Only God can ‘save’ the cow, so I do not talk of saving her but only of serving her. I will serve her as far as I can and if need be at the cost of my own life. Afterwards I announced that I would begin a complete fast from the 22nd April.
When the fast began I did not say, as I usually do at the end of my talks, ‘This is the end. Jai Jagat’. I said instead, ‘This is the beginning. Jai Jagat.’ (On April 26) however I received an assurance from the Prime Minister and the Congress leaders that they will make every effort to see that cow-slaughter is banned throughout India. I have said a number of times that trust is as necessary for the life of society as breath for the life of the body. Trust is the life-breath of society. So I trusted those who had given me their promise, and my fast fulfilled its purpose in five days. Here is the temple of Bharata-Rama, a name which (in Nagari script) has five letters, Bha-ra-ta-ra-ma. Five letters for the name, five days for the fast !
(On December 24, 1982) I announced that as bullocks are being slaughtered in the abattoir at Deonar (Mumbai) there should be satyagraha in Bombay for a total all-India ban on the slaughter of cows and bullocks of any age.9

Thoughts about Death
When I had reached my seventieth year in this body I noticed that my mind was no longer easily disturbed but remained effortlessly calm. If someone asked me a question I would give an answer, but that was all. It seemed to me that if I were to go on talking all the time, others would stop thinking for themselves. Rather than that, I had better ‘die’ while still alive. Vallabhaswami had died in December 1964, and one by one others were passing away and were no longer there to give advice. One day when I was talking with Jayaprakashji I said that the ‘typhoon’ which was then going on was my last battle. ‘One fight more, the best and the last,’ I quoted. ‘Oh no,’ he replied. ‘It’s not the last. We need you to fight a lot more battles. We are not ready to let you off so soon.’ ‘As if that lies in your hands !’ I said. That is why I feel in my own mind that I should ‘die’ before my death. So should everyone. One should see one’s own death with one’s own eyes, as I myself long to do. So I thought, let me ‘die’ before my death, and see what happens to bhoodan. If anyone asks my advice I can give it; apart from that, let me be just an onlooker. So I told my friends that so long as I was there I would be a ‘dictionary’. A dictionary is there to be used by those who want it; if they don’t it just lies on the shelf. It has no urge to get up and wander about explaining the meanings of words. I would behave in the same way.
My companions ask me why I eat so little, and why I talk so often about fasting. The thing is, as I said in ‘Talks on the Gita’ , that it is a good thing to keep death in mind. When I left home I had the idea of going to some solitary place to practise meditation and so on. Instead of which I went to Gandhiji, stayed with him, and worked under his orders. Now (1978) my only purpose is to wait for death. I feel I have done all that I had to do. Now I am free from all outward action, and the only thing that remains is to answer the questions of people like you, to give them ideas and explain things.
Being now freed from outward activity I am reflecting on death. So this could lead to deathlessness. My attitude is expressed in a verse in Manusmriti: ‘Desire neither death nor life; wait for the time just as the servant waits for the master’s orders.’ I have no desire of my own, either for death or for life, but like the servant I wait for my master’s command. I practise dying every day when I lie down to sleep. I say, do today, do at once, what you have to do when you die. Saint Tukaram says: ‘My death has died and made me immortal. I saw my death with my own eyes, and it was an incomparable festival.’ So every night I carry out the rehearsal of death. I say to God: ‘If you take me away tonight I shall not be leaving any special work undone; I shall come to you filled with love. If tomorrow you give me birth once more, then whatever service I can do I will do, especially by the spoken word.’ I die daily, and forget all that is past. If Gandhiji had remembered all the various events of his own life, he would not have said He Rama as he did, in his last moments.
When death comes, it will come not to me but to my body. My real self will be immortal, because I have given up the illusions which caused me to don the garment of the body. When I hear that someone has died, I regard it as good news. What else can it be, the news that someone has gone home? For in truth it is that world which is our home; in this world we are strangers. Our turn is about to come; only a few days remain. Let us pass them laughing and singing—like the wise devotees, as the Gita says.
Meanwhile, being still in this body, I am enjoying watching the ‘play’ of my own death, and trying to imagine what will happen after that. Who am I? Millions of people, and all die, not even the great escape from death. Only God and the universe remain. We come and we go, like the waves of the sea, some smaller, some bigger, some rising high and others not, but all of them merely waves.
It is September 11, 1981; I have completed eighty-six years of life. Let us reflect that this body is a thing of time, and in the end it will go; why should one have any interest in sticking to it? You are keeping a peaceful quiet today because it is my birthday. Let there be quietness and peace also on my deathday. I have nothing more to do now. I have written these words in my note book, ‘My duty is done.’
So now, as I wait for my life to reach its destined end, I try to follow the advice of the poet who says: ‘With every breath take the name of Rama; let no breath go waste.’ I try to do that, to remember Rama-Hari at all times. All day long, whatever I am doing, eating or walking, it goes on, and when I lie down at night it goes on all the time. I fall asleep in the lap of God; if He should blot out my consciousness I shall die every happily with the name of Rama-Hari on my lips, I have no doubt about that. These things are constantly in my thoughts.
Ramadas said that the mantra ‘Shri Rama’ is open to all. I too tell everyone that one should say ‘Rama’ as one breathes in the outside air and ‘Hari’ as one breathes it out. Along with the fresh outside air we take in Rama, and our inward being is filled with Him. Then, as we breathe out the air within us we perform also the haran, the removal of our sins, taking the name of Hari the Remover. In this way I have told everyone that we should repeat ‘Rama-Hari’ as often as we can. This rhythm of breathing, in and out, continues as long as life remains. There is no need to pronounce the words; the consciousness is all that matters.
‘One dies, another mourns,’ says Saint Ramadas, ‘and then in a moment the mourner too passes away.’ Death comes to all, and the only problem is to remember the name of God when the time comes. To be able to do that one must practise it throughout life.
I have one very important thing to say: Forget me, but remember the Gitai.