And to all of you in India who are on the cusp of celebrating a new year: Nutan Varshabhinandan. Saal Mubarak. Happy Indian New Year.
I am so delighted to be the host and speaker for this Siddha Yoga gathering of Darshan and Manan: The Siddha Yoga Practices of Seeing and Contemplating.
My name is Heather Williams, and I am the mother of the little drummer Rohit, whom you may have seen playing the tablas and speaking his mind in many of the recent live video streams. I am fortunate that in 1981 my parents were married by Baba Muktananda and that, through Baba’s blessings, they gave me the gift of the Siddha Yoga path. It has been so amazing for me to have met so many of you from around the world and to have practiced the Siddha Yoga teachings together. It is all thanks to Gurumayi’s grace.
I am sure that almost every one of you has made it a point to visit the Siddha Yoga path website and partake of the banquet of teachings in honor of the Deepavali festivities, which have been taking place all this week, and Bali Pratipada, which takes place tomorrow and is celebrated as the new year in several parts of India. For all mothers who are rearing young children, the Siddha Yoga path website is definitely a “Guru-send.”
Speaking of the Guru: the Guru imparts light. And we worship the Guru by waving a flame that symbolizes the light the Guru has kindled within us.
One of the classic stories of Deepavali is of Lord Rama returning to his kingdom after fourteen years in exile. I am amazed at how Lord Rama chose the moonless night for his return. The Lord was himself the embodiment of light. And as he made his way back to his kingdom, those who loved him lined his path with earthen lamps, so that he could see.
The Guru gives light. Lord Rama gives light. And their devotees worship them with light.
Light gives life.
Light bequeaths light.
Light illumines light.
Light worships light.
Light shows us the way.
Light brings forth happiness.
Light brings us to our destination.
Light merges into light.
On Tuesday night of this week, I read Gurumayi’s Shubh Deepavali poem to Rohit, who will be three years old in December. He listened sweetly and intently.
When we came to the end of the poem, we saw that Gurumayi had given all the readers an abundance of Deepavali sweets on a gorgeous silver platter. Rohit’s eyes lit up—he wanted to eat each one! So, I reached toward the computer screen, picked up each sweet on the platter, and put it in Rohit’s mouth. He savored each one, literally munching on it. Then he himself started to take the sweets from the tray! He was sitting on my lap, and I could feel him melting from the sweetness of Gurumayi’s love. He said the coconut dessert was his favorite.
I tell this story to you just in case you found that by the time you got to the end of the poem, the platter was a little empty. Please do forgive my toddler son.
Gurumayi has taught us that every holiday, every celebration on the Siddha Yoga path is a very good reason to worship God, to study and practice the Siddha Yoga teachings, and to offer our gratitude to the Guru.
In today’s gathering of Darshan and Manan, the topic is the Sanskrit term “Bhagavan.” This exquisite word appears in many of the Siddha Yoga namasankirtanas, so you are already very familiar with it. In fact, we address Bade Baba as Bhagavan Nityananda.
In preparation for giving this talk, I was in discussion with Ami Bansal. Ami is an SYDA Foundation staff member and scholar of the Sanskrit language. She and her family live in Mumbai, and she has the loveliest five-year-old daughter, Nitya-Shriya, who happens to have been one of Rohit’s best friends ever since she and Ami visited Shree Muktananda Ashram last year to offer seva.
Together, Ami and I have prepared today’s explanation of Bhagavan. The word “Bhagavan” is derived from the word bhaga. A verse from the ancient Indian scripture, the Vishnu Purana, defines what bhaga means and why the word “Bhagavan” is so dear to seeker’s hearts. I will give you the English translation of this verse.
Complete mastery, righteousness, glory, abundance, wisdom, and detachment—together these six virtues are known to constitute the word bhaga.1
From this verse we learn the divine attributes of Bhagavan. The first two attributes of Bhagavan named in the Vishnu Purana are samagra aishvarya, “complete mastery,” and dharma, or “righteousness.”
I will now explain the meaning of these two divine attributes.
Samagra Aishvarya—Complete Lordship
The word samagra means “complete” or “whole.” Aishvarya in this verse means “sovereignty,” “lordship,” “benevolent power.” Aishvarya also signifies abundance and wealth—both inner, spiritual wealth and outer abundance. Samagra aishvarya therefore means “complete mastery.” For us on the Siddha Yoga path, samagra aishvarya is realized by receiving the Guru’s grace, which awakens Kundalini Shakti within us.
As you participate in the gathering of Darshan and Manan in the presence of Bhagavan Nityananda, in honor of shubh Deepavali, let your heart expand. Let it embrace the aishvarya—the power of mastery, the material and spiritual abundance—that is showered upon you by Bade Baba’s divine and benevolent glance.
Now I will explain the second divine attribute of Bhagavan, which is dharma. Dharma is another amazing Sanskrit word that is incredibly rich in meaning. One of these meanings is “that which holds everything together.” Dharma is therefore the principle that supports universal harmony.
Dharma represents truth, righteousness, and the virtues that one observes to be a good human being. Dharma requires that there be justice and equality among all on this planet.
Another significant meaning of dharma is one’s own unique duty in life. The scriptures of India teach that when a person follows the dharma or duty that is natural for them, they can come to know and rest in their own Self. A great being such as Bhagavan Nityananda has fulfilled the highest dharma for a human being, which is to become one with the supreme Self, with God.
In this gathering of Darshan and Manan in the presence of Bhagavan Nityananda, in honor of Deepavali, rest your gaze upon Bade Baba’s effulgent and enlivened form, which scintillates with the essence of dharma.
I love darshan.
Darshan, in the Hindi languages, comes from the Sanskrit darshana. One of the primary meanings of darshana is “to see or to be seen.”
I feel so fortunate that Gurumayi has taught me how true darshan takes place in one’s own heart. For this reason, I first practice darshan in a structured manner—for example, by going to my puja room, going to the Temple whenever possible, consciously visualizing the Guru’s form on the screen of my mind, and ensuring that I am connected with the Guru’s energy in my heart. Because of this discipline, I am then able to have darshan of my Shri Guru throughout my day.
Manan is a Hindi word derived from the Sanskrit manana. It means “reflection” or “contemplation.” Gurumayi has said that manan is important because it’s not just thinking, thinking, thinking about things we don’t like, things we don’t care about, things that bother us, things that we want to get rid of, etcetera.
Manan is, in fact, a beautiful spiritual practice that supports us to keep persevering toward our goal, whatever thickets we may come across in our mind. Our goal is to find the holy grail. On the Siddha Yoga path, it is Atma ki Prashanti, Gurumayi’s Message for this year. Peacefulness of the Self.
In all traditions and cultures, there are stories about finding the holy grail or some equivalent of it. These stories are always about finding one’s own immortal self. For eons, the heroes of these tales search—their journey is long and arduous, and if they’re lucky, they come upon the holy grail.
Yet on the Siddha Yoga path, when we receive the Guru’s grace, we strike gold right away. One teaching from the Guru, one word of wisdom from the Guru, is like a laser beam; when we contemplate that word or teaching, it’s enough to propel us to the goal of sadhana. Then we just keep traversing the path for the joy of it, for the fun of it, for the love of it—to keep discovering new ways to recognize what it is that we’ve got.
Because we have it, we meditate.
Because we have it, we chant.
Because we have it, we practice darshan.
Because we have it, we do manan.
As Siddha Yogis, we come from a place of wholeness, instead of lack. We give and receive from that inner space of abundance, from the expansiveness of our own plenitude. We give because we experience joy in giving. We receive because we experience joy in receiving.
In today’s gathering of Darshan and Manan, I invite you to once again take in Bhagavan Nityananda’s darshan and contemplate samagra aishvarya and dharma. Samagra aishvarya is complete mastery. Dharma is truth, righteousness, virtue, and duty.
As you practice darshan and manan in this gathering, be established in the greatness of your own bounty.
Participants practiced darshan and manan, seeing and contemplating. Afterward everyone sang the Mahalakshmi Stotram in honor of Deepavali and participated in naivedya, the ritual offering of food to Bade Baba.
As this second Siddha Yoga gathering of Darshan and Manan came to a close, Heather gave concluding remarks.
I want to acknowledge you for designating time in your schedule to perform these two practices—darshan and manan. You are affirming for yourself that you are doing the right thing for your sadhana, and you are supporting your mind to be at peace—Atma ki Prashanti.
Today I explained two exquisite attributes of Bhagavan, the Lord within. Those attributes are samagra aishvarya and dharma. Sovereignty over one’s mind and one’s actions, commitment to carrying out one’s duty in life, and the resolve all the while to fulfill one’s dharma of knowing the Self. Continue to practice darshan and manan in the days ahead, and hold these attributes in your awareness. As you know, divinity abides within you.
My Indian friends have shared with me that the Deepavali festivities are all about loving life and celebrating life together. The flames of the lamps we light are symbols of the luminous love that is ignited in our hearts.