Prior to retirement from his life of active spiritual service, H. H. Sri Swami Chidanandaji Maharaj, the President of The Divine Life Society, gave an unprecedented series of forty talks on a small book by Sant Samartha Ramdas, the revered guru of Emperor Shivaji, entitled Manache Shlok (Verses Addressed to the Mind). It is a book that is dear to Pujya Swamiji's heart. Swamiji has literally given away thousands of copies of Manache Shlok in its original Marathi Language as Jnana Prasad. Now, at the beginning of 2002, he chose to translate and expound upon the verses.
The talks were given at the conclusion of the early morning meditation period in the holy Samadhi Shrine of Sivananda Ashram. Normally on these occasions, Pujya Swamiji spoke spontaneously. Rarely, he might spend two or three mornings on the same topic. What was unprecedented in these talks was that he not only spoke on one book for forty days, but he prepared notes before giving each talk.
The Manache Shlok is a poetical composition consisting of 205 verses written especially for the spiritual aspirant. Swami Chidanandaji has said, " Sant Samartha armadas was a sage of great realisation. He has produced a beautiful condensation of the highest wisdom teachings in a very concise form, in beautiful little verses of four lines in which he admonishes his own mind. He told his mind, 'Look here, mind, this is how you must behave, this is how you must look at things, this is how you must conduct yourself. This is what you should do and what you should not do." And Pujya Swamiji added, "If you follow the instructions given in these verses, you will be moving in the right direction, all will be well with you. Even while in this body-bound state, you will experience inner freedom. For this little book is priceless. It is like a diamond. In size it may be small, but its worth is great. Why? Precisely because it contains the wisdom that liberates.
Sant Samartha Ramdas was one of the great Maharashtrian poet-saints who lived in the 16th Century. He was a great ascetic and a devout Rama bhakta. From a very early age he practised and then experienced the glory of the Divine Name whose fruition is the highest Jnana. As a bhakta, he experienced how repetition of the Divine Name with full bhava can lead one to the highest Truth. As a jnani, Ramdas saw in Lord Rama, not a personal God, but the highest universal Divine Principle.,p> Although repetition of the Divine Name has always been an integral and important part of Swami Chidananda's spiritual life, it was not a topic on which he regularly expounded. These talks which place so much emphasis on the Divine Name, coming as they do at the end of Pujya Swamiji's active public life, provide an interesting reflection of the real importance Swamiji gives to the Divine Name. During his first world tour in 1959-1961, Swamiji would often refer with great reverence to the efficacy and power of God's Name. Thus, at the beginning and at the end of his public life, Swamiji emphasized the Divine Name. One time, while discussing with a devotee the repetition of their mantra, Swamiji Said, "Keep it up. It is the beginning and the end of spiritual life.
Out of the 205 verses of the Manache Shlok, Swamiji spoke on 110. These talks, which took place between the 21st January and the 3rd March 2002, were transcribed from the audiotapes and edited. All 205 verses have been newly translated from Marathi into English by Sivananda Ashram Matri Satsang with the first 110 verses closely following Swamiji's rendering. They are presented in Part Two of this book. We sincerely thank all those who transcribed, translated, edited, typed, designed and worked for this book.
Finally, there is one more interesting and unique feature in these talks the way Swamiji concluded them. Swamiji would repeat almost the same words each day, more life a benediction than a conclusion:
"I m thrice blessed that I have been the instrument for conveying these truths from Manache Shlok - Verses Addressed to the Mind. For this privilege and blessing I thank the Supreme being and I thank Holy Master Swami Sivananda. Thirdly, I must thank you also for enabling me to serve you because of you divine presence, your attentive hearing and your very graciously receiving what has been shared from his seat."
We feel that this upadesha was given by Swamiji with deep love and concern to his disciples, the sadhaks of the Ashram and to seekers I general. May it be received in this spirit. May the blessings of god, Guru and all the saints be upon us all.
Sant Samartha Ramdas was one of the greatest saints of the world. He was the inspirer of Shivaji. He was born of Suryaji and Renuka Bai in Jamb, Maharashtra, in 1608 A.D. His original name was Narain. Ramdas was a contemporary of Sant Tukaram. He was a great devotee of Hanuman and Lord Rama. He had darshan of Lord Rama even when he was a boy. Lord Rama Himself initiated him.
Ramdas was an Advaitin and a Bhakta in one. He had this very noble quality that he never hated any religion or nation. He was convinced that the several incarnations of the Lord were but His several forms and preached that everyone should respect and worship the One who took care of one and all in the world. His main object was to spread the Hindu religion throughout India.
In his pilgrimages, Ramdas observed and studied the social, political and economic conditions of the Indians and their utter helplessness in life. It is said that Lord Rama ordered Ramdas to go to the banks of the River Krishna and help the cause of Shivaji, the incarnation of Lord Shiva and founder of the Kingdom of Maharashtra. It was at the place called Singanvadi that Shivaji became the disciple of Ramdas. Shivaji placed the sandals of his Guru on the throne and acted as regent of the Kingdom under the orders and guidance of his Guru and adopted as ensign a flag of orange colour.
Ramdas had eleven hundred disciples, of whom 300 were women. The women disciples were also expert preachers and very virtuous. Ramdas sent his disciples to all parts of India. His disciples and Mutts in the North directly or indirectly helped Shivaji and his work. Ramdas's organisation in the South, round about Thanjavur, helped Shivaji’s son, Rajaram, to go to jinji and carry on the Twenty Years' War with Auranzeb.
The great Guru of Maharashtra breathed his last in 1682 at Sajjangad, near Satara, a fortress that was given to him by Shivaji for his residence. Ramdas repeated the Rama Mantra with his last breath. At the time of his departure from the world, a dazzling light emanated from his absorbed in the image of Lord Rama.
The last instructions of Ramdas to his disciples were: “Do not think much about your bodily wants. Have Satsang with devotees. Keep the image of Lord Rama in your heart. Repeat the Name of Lord Rama always. Annihilate lust, greed, hatred, anger and egoism. See Lord Rama in all creatures. Love all. Feel His presence everywhere. Live for him alone. Serve Him in all beings. Make total and unreserved surrender unto Him. You will always live in Him alone. You will attain immortality and eternal bliss."
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