Papaji: Why does hearing the truth only work in a small percentage of cases? The simple answer to that is that only a small percentage of people are really interested in the truth. How many people even go to the Guru to listen to his words? There are six billion people in the world right now. A hundred, maybe a hundred and twenty, are sitting here listening to what I have to say. Most of the others don’t want to come here because they want to enjoy sense pleasures instead. Such pleasures are easy to find, and even though no permanent happiness is derived from them, everyone still runs after them.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Look what is happening here. There are many girls here who have recently got new husbands. That means the first husband did not provide permanent satisfaction. The same thing is happening with the men. Even in this satsang, the boys try out girl after girl, and the girls try out boy after boy. If you want true bliss you have to look towards your own Self, not towards other people. If you find it, you won’t want to exchange it for anything else because it will give you complete and permanent satisfaction.

 

You say that I heard the words of truth from my own Master and that they immediately worked on me, whereas others who had been sitting there for decades didn’t have this experience. You want to know why this is so. The Maharshi was available throughout the day. One could sit with him from early morning till lunch time, and from after lunch up till about 10 p.m. at night. The silent presence was available there all day for anyone who wanted it, but many people couldn’t stand the silence. They had desires to fulfil and they couldn’t sit there quietly without thinking about them. In the early morning, at a time when the Maharshi was freely available, many people would run off to the Arunachaleswara Temple with their coconuts to do a puja. And usually it would be a puja to fulfil some particular desire. The priests charged for these services, because that is their job, but the Maharshi never charged for his silence. If you have worldly desires that you want to fulfil, the Guru’s words will not work on you. And if you have these desires, running off to a temple to do a puja is not going to help you either. That is my experience.

 

In some of the big temples you can pay as much as Rs 1,100 just to have a darshan. I know a place in Vrindavan that charges this much. A long time ago I was friendly with the son of one of the priests who worked there. I heard from him what goes on in these places. This man was an engineer called Anand Alwar. During the period I lived and worked in Madras, he was one of my neighbours. He said the devotees would give all their offerings – fruit, money, etc. – to his father. The father would then draw a curtain across the shrine so that nobody could see what he was doing. He was supposed to be doing a puja to the deity so that all the devotees on the other side of the curtain could have their desires fulfilled. Instead, he would just sit there, smoking a beedi and having a rest. After about five minutes he would pull the curtain back and offer prasad. Everyone was happy because they all thought that he had performed some elaborate ceremony on their behalf. I don’t believe in temples and pujas as a means of fulfilling one’s desires. I know what goes on inside these places.

 

Your question is: why do the words of the Guru work in so few cases? It is because no one can stand the silence of the Guru. The mind or the body is always looking for an excuse to run away from it. Here too, no one can sit in silence. That’s why I ask some of the girls to dance and sing.

 

There was once a king who was looking for someone to take over his kingdom. He called his chief minister and said, ‘Make a proclamation. Tomorrow I am going to open the doors to my throne room. Make sure my throne is on display there. Anyone who wants to take over my kingdom can walk in and sit on the throne. All the people who come will be my guests, so make arrangements to look after them properly when they arrive.’

 

There were many courtyards in the king’s palace. During the night the ministers and the officials made extensive preparations for the guests they were expecting on the following day.

 

They thought, ‘These people are going to meet the king, and one of them may even become the king. We must make sure that they are clean, well dressed, well fed and happy before they go into the throne room.’

 

So, the next morning, when the first visitors arrived, they found that the outer courtyard had been converted into a beautiful bath house. Everyone was invited to bathe there and to cover his body with beautiful perfumes. The visitors could even have a massage if they wanted one. When the guests had been attended to there, they were invited to choose new clothes from the king’s own wardrobe. His courtiers had laid out hundreds of outfits that the king had ordered for himself and hardly ever worn. Many of the guests were so overwhelmed, they spent hours going through all the clothes, trying to make up their mind what they should wear when they entered the throne room. In the next courtyard tables had been laid with all the best foods that were available in the kingdom. Everyone was invited to eat as much as he wanted. At the end of the meal all the royal entertainers put on singing and dancing performances for the benefit of the guests.

 

One by one everyone forgot why he had come to the palace. The food, the clothes and the entertainment were so attractive, nobody felt like leaving to go into the throne room. At 8 p.m. the king, who had been waiting in the throne room for someone to walk in, called his chief minister and asked, ‘Where is everybody? Did you make the announcement that I was giving away my kingdom today? Didn’t anyone turn up to claim it?’

 

‘Yes, your majesty,’ said the minister, ‘but they all got side¬tracked by the hospitality we provided for them.

 

Nobody was willing to give up the things they were enjoying to come here and see you.’

 

‘Very well,’ said the king, ‘since no one cares enough about the offer to walk straight in, I will withdraw it. Close the door. When they have all finished enjoying themselves, send them all home. If anyone had come here first, the whole kingdom would have been his. All the enjoyments would have been his for the rest of his life.’

 

This is how it is in satsang. People come here, thinking that they want freedom more than anything else. They even tell me that this is what they want, but they are not willing to give up all their other desires. The door to my throne room is always open, but no one walks in to claim the kingdom. Everyone is too busy following his wandering thoughts and desires.

 

If you want freedom, you must want it to the exclusion of everything else. You cannot keep your other desires pending while you try to win freedom. You must reject them completely. When the desire for freedom is strong enough, nothing will prevent you from walking into the Heart and claiming your kingdom. Imagine that your clothing has caught fire and you are about to burn to death. You know that there is a river nearby, so you race there with the intention of jumping straight in. On the way you meet an old friend who invites you in for a cup of coffee. Do you stop to chat to him? Do you accept his invitation? Further along the road you meet a beautiful woman who tries to entice you into her hut. Do you fall for her attractions, or do you carry on running towards the river? When your desire for freedom is burning like this fire, nothing slows you down or diverts you.

 

 

 

 

The slide show comprises photos of Papaji taken in his Lucknow home in the early 90s.

Left: Papaji in Rishikesh, 1972.

 

 

Right: Papaji in Lucknow, early 1990s

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David Godman Books

 

Books by David Godman on Ramana Maharshi, his devotees and his teachings