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If people are suffering because of their Karma, why should we help them? What is the need to be compassionate towards others despite knowing that they are suffering because of their Karma?

It is indeed true that if one undergoes suffering, it is because of the effects of one’s bad karma done in previous births or in the distant past.

But a fact of Karma is that if God’s grace is there, the suffering due to Karma gets reduced.

If someone is doing a good karma, he is going to reap good fruits for it at some time in future.

So, if you are helping someone who is suffering,

  1. You may perhaps be the channel through which God’s grace is acting on the person to reduce his suffering.
  2. By helping the person genuinely, you are acquiring good karma for you.

My Guru Mata Amritanandamayi (Amma) says that if somebody is suffering is because of their bad karma, extending help can be your dharma! A person fallen into a pit shouts for help.  If a passerby thinks ‘Why should I help? After all, he is suffering his karma’, it is not a right mindset. Instead, he should think, ‘It is my dharma to extend my helping hand to pull the person out of the pit’. That is the right attitude, says Amma.

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What is Love? Where is love? How does love work? Does true love exist?

What is Love?

Love is an emotional feeling of attraction, closeness, intimacy, strong liking, and source of enjoyment to be together with someone or something.

Love can take different forms with different things and beings. Examples:

“I love coffee”; “I love my new dress” : “I love my native place” – these are to do with things.

“I love Ilayaraja songs; I love watching thriller movies”  – these are to do with abstract things.

“I love my dog”; “I love my cat”  — these are to do with living beings other than humans.

“I love my friend”; “I love the comedian Vadivelu” – these are to do with third persons

“I love my cousin brother; I love my brother in law” – These are to do with distant relatives.

“I love my mother/ sister/ son/ daughter/brother/ grandfather” – these are to do with blood relatives.

“I love that girl; I love that boy” – these are to do with a specific person of opposite sex with a marital or sexual intent in mind.

“I love my husband/ wife” – these are to do with existing intimate relations

“I love Lord Shiva; I love Lord Krishna” – this is bhakti – devotion to God.

It is quite obvious that the intensity of love, the reverberation of the joyful feeling that love generates is not same in the various categories of love that we saw above.

The love a boy develops on his girlfriend is not of the same frequency or intensity as the love the boy has on his sister. The love one has on his father is not same as the love one has on the pet dog. Strange it may seem, but the present day truth is that many people are able to love their pet dogs better than their fathers!

When it comes to love, all of us are both givers as well as receivers.  All of us, with varying degrees of intensity, are capable of giving love and receiving love. No one can constantly be giving love without getting back any love in return. No one can keep on receiving love without giving something back. Think of it: If pet dogs don’t reciprocate any love, no one will ever keep them at home!

What is the source of Love?

Where from does love spring? Why at all does a person express love to another? Why does a wife love her husband? Why do parents love their children?

According to Sanatana Dharma, God is the in-dweller in all beings. God permeates the entire creation. Even though each of us seem to have different personalities, our Self – Atman is one. It is like different beads of a necklace strung together in a single thread. It is like a single sun reflecting in hundred pots of water. Atman is that thread; Atman is the sun. Atman is Sat-chit-ananda – Existence-knowledge-bliss. It is the bliss of the atman that gets expressed in the form of love.

In the Hindu scripture Brihadarayanka Upanishad, The saint Yagnyavalkya says

 ‘A wife loves her husband not for his sake, but for the sake of her own Self…… …..

The above are excerpts from the eBook  “What is Love? Where is True Love?”

To read the full eBook,

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0B54VYSJL

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To what extent Hinduism has reached the west? Who are the main saints that contributed in spreading Hinduism’s concepts across the globe?

Hinduism is spreading around the world definitely, but not by conversion but by acceptance of Sanatana Dharma (Hindu’s dharmic way of life) by so many followers who won’t figure in any national census identified as Hindus!

Hinduism as a religion practised at a commoner level (worship of different God forms, formal temple worship, rituals etc) may not be spreading (except perhaps for Krishna Consciousness Movement by ISKCON) globally. Unlike abrahamic religions with one god and one holy book, Hinduism has so many  facets. Hence there is is virtually no commonly acceptable mode of conversion to Hinduism. There is no ‘business’ of religious conversion to Hinduism ever existing in it. There is virtually no impetus in Hinduism to convert people of other religions.

Hinduism has such a wide base that there are umpteen paths within it for one to practice Hinduism. One path of Hinduism that is most appealing to many well educated westerners is Jyana Yoga (The path of Knowledge) and Vedanta (essence of Upanishads). Many non-Hindus with spiritual mindset get hooked Vedanta and Bhagavad Gita and they start getting right answers to their nagging doubts on spirituality not satisfactorily answered in their religions.

And there is the contribution of great spiritual masters and Avatara Purushas of Hinduism who have influenced a lot of non-Hindus to the spiritual paths open to them in Hinduism. There are countless followers of these masters across the world:

  • Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa (1836–1886) and Swamy Vivekananda (1862–1902) — Sri Ramakrishna Paramahmsa was a rustic Bengali with little formal education who is considered a Divine Avatar that revived and re-validated practically all major paths and sects of Hinduism during British rule in India.His prime disciple Swami Vivekananda travelled to America and spread the wisdom of Vedanta to eager beavers in the west. At his prompting, a few the other disciples of Ramakrishna — Swami Saradananda, Swami Turiyananda, Swami Trigunatitananda and Swami Abedananda travelled to west and spread the message of Vedanta.

(Picture above: Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa &Swami Vivekananda)

  • Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa’s talks and discussions on multifarious aspects of Hinduism in the most simplified and easily digestible fashion were recorded and made available in a book The gospel of Sri Ramakrishna by his house holder disciple Sri Mahendranath Gupta. It was later translated into English by Swami Nikilananda. This is one magnum opus in Hindu spiritual literature that is being read and re-read by countless spiritual seekers cutting across all sects and sub-sects of Hinduism and all other religiously and spiritually inclined people across the the world, across religions.

Sri Ramakrishna Vedanta Society building, Boston, USA

Swami Rama Tirtha

Swamy Rama Tirta (1876–1906): He travelled Japan and USA in 1902 and influenced lots of Buddhists and Christians towards Hinduism. He spoke on practical Vedanta to Amrican audience. He was a true sanyasi in the sense that he travelled to USA and several other countries totally without carrying any money or luggage.

 

 

 

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If the self is already eternal, deathless, and one with Brahman, why do I have to make any spiritual effort in life?

Yes. All gurus, all scriptures say that my Self is already eternal, deathless and one with Brahman. Yes, I nod in agreement.

But I am worried about my debts; I get restless if my food is not served in time. I hate my neighbor for whatever omissions and commissions he does. I just cannot accept that he is also Brahman like me!

I am having pain on my left shoulders and I am deeply worried — is it the symptom for impending heart attack? What will I do if attack comes suddenly? Oh! I am scared of death. Who will look after my family if I die suddenly?

So, my theoretical knowledge that I am deathless and I am Brahman is absolutely useless to me, until I experience that state so that I remain in bliss always with no mundane worries.

Sadguru Mata Amritanandamayi (Amma) says that if you write ‘ honey’ in a piece of paper and lick it, it will not taste sweet. She further says that it is indeed true that a tree is contained in the seed. We are like seed now. For the seed to become a tree, it has to go into earth, its outer sheath should split so that the sprout comes. Conditions should be favourable too. A seed fallen on a rockey surface or in a desert is not likely to sprout. It should get water, nutrients etc to grow. Climate should be favorable. When all things are favorable, only then the seed will become a tree and bear fruits.

That’s why spiritual effort is needed “for the seed to become a tree”. Going into the earth indicates surrender (to guru). Outer sheath breaking indicates breaking of one’s ego. Ambience, climate etc becoming favorable indicates guru kripa.

Amma says “kalam, pryatnam , and Easwara kripa” (Time, effort and divine grace) are the 3 things essential for success.

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Does Amma (Mata Amritanandamayi) give Mantra Diksha? If so, mantra of which God? When does she give Diksha?

Yes. Satguru Mata Amritanandamayi Devi (Amma) does give Mantra Diksha to her devotees and earnest spiritual seekers. She gives them selectively, at her own discretion, when a request is made to her while taking her darshan. She gives mantra diksha to householder devotees as well as to renunciates and Brahmacharis & Brahmacharinis. She selectively gives diksha to non-Indian, non-Hindu devotees too. Several of her western devotees have taken diksha from her.

What sort of mantra does Amma give?

Amma mostly gives diksha to devotees based on their existing Ishta (personal God) – It could be Shiva, Devi Parashakti, Kali, Rama, Krishna, Vishnu and so on). On some specific cases, she may give an alternative mantra (other than the seeker’s Ishta) too, as she knows the innate nature and tendency of the person whom she is giving Mantra.

There are also cases where a person has already taken diksha from elsewhere (like Sri Ramakrishna Math, for example) and may want Amma to give him mantra again. In some cases, Amma may advise the person to continue with the old mantra.

A lot depends on Amma’s assessment of a person’s samksaras.  For some, she may ask to wait for some more time before asking for mantra.

When does Amma give Mantra?

A person who wants to take Mantra diksha from Amma has to request her when he/ she is taking darshan from Amma. If Amma agrees, the person has to wait till the darshan comes to the end on that night. Amma will give diksha at Amritapuri Ashram as well as at other places where she tours. Diksha will be given only on her darshan days and not on non-darshan days. When Amma is in Amritapuri, Wednesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays are the normal darshan days.

Depending on the crowd, Amma’s darshan may end at any time in night — before midnight, after midnight, early in the morning etc. Those who want to take diksha from her are expected to wait till the darshan ends at whatever time.

Announcement will be made in the TV screens calling the persons who are waiting to take mantra diksha to assemble at one designated place near the dais. Amma’s assistants will note down your Ishta Devata or your preferred God and hand over to you a Mantra card containing your mantra (to be kept secret with you and not to be disclosed to anybody) and the necessary instructions regarding preparations and practices of chanting the Mantra.

Before Amma leaves the stage after giving darshan to all the people, she calls the people who are waiting for receiving the mantra. Amma hugs each person and whispers the specific mantra meant for the person into his/her ear. She blesses them by sprinkling flowers on their head and giving them a prasad.  Except for waiting for this time to arrive, there are absolutely no other procedures involved.

If one needs any clarifications or has any doubts, they can always approach the assistants and they will help you.

 

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