By Shri Jayant Divekar
Secrecy is the back bone of all Brahmavidya teachings. All lessons have been strictly guarded and yet we have our gurus time and again stressing the need to spread the light of Brahmavidya, though this condition seems as mystic as its teachings it is not mere hocus-pocus and has a deep-rooted understanding and philosophy, which is unraveled lucidly in the following article…
“Jayanta, your TV programme last night was very good,” remarked a lady from my housing society. She was referring to my interview on 18th August 2004 in the Hello Sakhi programme of Sahyadri Channel. In this interview I had introduced Brahmavidya. After this opening remark she further added, “But you did not tell anything about what one should practice. This seems to be your trade secret.”
As you are aware, Brahmavidya methods cannot be taught in a public lecture or interview. Hence I did not speak about the methods and practices. My neighbour did not approve of this secrecy. Similarly many new students of Brahmavidya find this condition of secrecy objectionable. In every lesson of Brahmavidya it is mentioned that ‘this lesson is only for you.’ Right in the beginning of the Basic Course the student is explained that as far as possible he or she should not show these lessons to any one; should not allow any one else to touch them. Many new students find this condition of secrecy unreasonable for various reasons. Some of these are:
- They are saying that they want to spread Brahmavidya to more and more people; then why should they object if we teach this to our near and dear ones?
- Why should not other people from my family get the advantages of Brahmavidya? If I show them these lessons and explain to them what I have learnt at the class they also can benefit. (In some cases other family members are not in a position to attend the classes for various reasons.)
- If I allow other people to read these lessons or if I teach them Brahmavidya Sadhak Sangh will not get any donation. Hence they must have put this condition to avoid such loss of income.
- These breathing exercises are quite simple. The instructions are given clearly in the lessons. I have also learnt these exercises and other methods under a qualified teacher. Now I feel that I have understood this well and I will be able to teach this correctly. Then why should I not teach?
Many questions like the above arise in the minds of new students. In this article I would like to clarify these doubts and it is my sincere hope that this clarification will help us all to understand the need of secrecy and feel convinced about it.
Now the first doubt is that which arises out of our commercial or practical common sense. We feel that if one person has paid the fees and got the written lessons why others close to him cannot take the advantage of it. Why should they have their own separate lessons? Practically this makes sense to us.
Now in relation to this doubt, let us keep this in mind that all teachers and volunteers of Brahmavidya Sadhak Sangh work in spirit of service without any remuneration. Hence the question of any individual loss or profit does not arise. Thus even if the reason behind the condition of secrecy appears to be commercial, IT IS NOT SO. Now let us try to understand the deeper reasons underlying this condition of secrecy.
From ancient times the Spiritual practices have always been handed down orally from Master to Pupil. In all Spiritual disciplines this condition of secrecy is observed strictly. If a Master gives a NAAM (sacred word for chanting) or a MANTRA for chanting, one is not supposed to disclose this to another. Also the student is asked to refrain from discussing his experience of Spiritual practice with anyone other than his Guide. In the present times, it is not possible for the Teacher and the Student to stay together to pursue Spiritual practice and that is the precise reason for preparation of these Lessons. It is as if the Teacher is personally teaching each student individually through these lessons. Thus these lessons are a private and personal message to each student.
Spiritual practice is beyond human intellect. We cannot understand its deeper nature and this results merely through the analysis and reasoning of our intellect. One can unfold the secret of these methods only through sincere practice. For this reason, in ancient times the Master would test the student to find out whether he is ready to learn. If the Master found that the student is not yet ready, he would refuse to teach. Even today, before learning anything the student has to prove his readiness or eligibility. One cannot obtain admission in any university or for any course just because he desires so.
For learning anything two elements are essential namely: 1) the will to learn and 2) the eligibility or readiness to learn. If any one of these two elements is missing the Teacher would notable to teach in spite of his best efforts.
Now as far as Brahmavidya is concerned we say that every human being is eligible to learn Brahmavidya. In a lighter vein we say, “anyone, who can breathe, can learn Brahmavidya.” Yet, even though everyone is eligible all do not have the will to learn. Once a student enrolls for a class and pays the required donation, he declares his will to learn in a definite manner. Not only this, but such action reinforces his desire to learn and he is inspired to practice sincerely. Before sowing the seed it is wise to check if the soil is right for the seed. Just because we have good seeds we cannot scatter them everywhere, as this will surely waste the good seeds and make our efforts futile.
There are many books available on Geeta. Yet to understand the deeper meaning one has to go to a Teacher who has studied the Geeta well and particularly has practised to live the Geeta. In the 18th Chapter of Lord himself has given instructions to all such Teachers of the Geeta regarding ‘to whom knowledge of the Geeta maybe revealed.’
idaṁ te nātapaskāya
na cāśuśruṣave vācyaṁ
na ca māṁ yo ‘bhyasūyati – (18th chapter of Geeta)
इदं ते नातपस्काय नाभक्ताय कदाचन ।
न चाशुश्रूषवे वाच्यं न च मां योऽभ्यसूयति ॥
You should not disclose this knowledge to one, who does not undertake Tapashcharya (penance or spiritual practices), and never to one, who is not my devotee, and the one, who is not ready to serve (abide by the instructions of) the Master or the God, and the one, who hates Me (God).
Thus the Lord himself has indicated that where the Teacher should sow the seed of the Geeta-Knowledge and where it will grow well. If we sow it anywhere else it will be wasted.
We find a similar warning about secrecy in the Bible. While explaining the need of secrecy to his students Guru Ding Le Mei would quote the following from the Bible: “Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast you your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you.”
Based on the above passage there is a phrase in English – ‘Pearls before swine’. There are similar phrases in Marathi and I suppose also in other Indian languages.
So far we were discussing the need of the student ‘being ready’ before the knowledge can be disclosed to him. Equally important is the competency of the Teacher. If the Teacher is not competent then the teaching may not be beneficial and at times it can certainly be detrimental, because half knowledge is always dangerous. Hence just because one feels that he would be able to teach, it does not make him competent to teach. Not only in spiritual field, but to teach any subject one has to obtain permission of a competent authority in that field before he begins to teach.
Brahmavidya is a deep science of Spiritual Practice. Without an in-depth study and devoted practice it is not possible to understand the deeper secrets. What is revealed in the Basic Course is only like the visible portion of an iceberg. The deeper nature of the Teaching can be understood only by the study and practice of the higher courses – Pragat (Advance) and Pradeepak (Teachers’). When we look on the surface it appears simple; one tends to think, “Oh, this is simple and easy. I think, I can teach.” Yet to teach without adequate preparation is like the blind leading the blind.
To complete all Courses of Brahmavidya it takes about five years. Sincere study and practice of at least this duration is essential to be a Teacher in Brahmavidya. Such practice gives strength to the words of a Teacher and then his speech has the power to effectively convey the message to the minds of his students. A mere intellectual can never hope to attain such power of speech. An incident given below from the life of a great Maharashtrian Saint Eknath Maharaj illustrates this well.
Once a woman along with her son came to Eknath Maharaj and requested him, “My son eats too much of sweets; I have told him a number of times, but he does not listen to me. You are a saintly person and I believe that if you tell him, he will listen to you.” Eknath Maharaj replied, “Please bring him back after 15 days and then I will see how I can help him.” As decided the woman came back with her son after15 days. This time Eknath Maharaj talked lovingly to the child and admonished him not to eat too much of sweets, as it was not good for his health. The woman went away happily. Again after a few days the woman came back to Eknath Maharaj, prostrated before him and said, “Due to your blessings my son is now better and he does not eat as much sweets as before.” After the woman had left, a person who was present on all these three occasions asked Eknath Maharaj, “Why did you callback the child after 15 days? Why did you not tell him to eat less of sweets in the first meeting itself?” Eknath Maharaj replied, “You see, I love to eat sweets. When I am so fond of sweets, how can I advise the child to eat less of sweets? Hence I did not eat any sweets for 15days and then told the child.” So, without adequate practice the speech does not have the required power to convey the message. While concluding this article, I would like to appeal to all students that instead of discussing let us practice the methods of Brahmavidya. As we practice sincerely, we are bound to see good results on the Physical, Mental and Spiritual planes. It is inevitable. As we continue our practice, gradually we will become competent to teach. Through such well trained Teachers we will be able to spread Brahmavidya to more and more people effectively.