(Read in TAMIL)

Aiya was sitting with his eyes closed.

We were at Balaji’s house for the Navarathri celebrations.  I have brought Aiya with me as a guest but by the time we had arrived, the house was already packed with friends and families.  There was chanting of mantra in the hall, with many joining the recital. Aiya and I sat outside the hall, near the landing.   There were others too…  Deepak, Bala, Siva, Murali….  It was time to catch up with all.

Children were shouting and running around in joy.  Ajit, Deepak’s son, is about 10 years old; he might have been curious about Aiya, as he ran to him and tapped his shoulders…

‘Uncle….. Are you sleeping…? What are you doing…?’

Before I could stop Ajit, Aiya had gently opened his eyes and said with a smile, ‘No son, I am trying to find myself…’

Ajit could not control his laughter and said loudly, ‘Look Dad, Uncle is trying to find himself with both his eyes closed…. Ha ha… ha… Uncle, open your eyes first and see!’

I looked nervously at Aiya.  Perhaps he was meditating; was he disturbed?

Aiya laughed.  ’Correct son, how stupid of me to close the eyes and search!’

Ajit was not even listening.  His attention had already shifted to something else and he ran.

Deepak said ‘Shhhh…. Ajit, be quite, there is puja going on’.

I said, ‘Let him…. Navarathri is all about spreading the joy.  Let him be happy’.

All festivals, especially these nine or ten days of Navarathri celebrations, bring happiness to all.  This is the time when the families invite each other; as if there is a healthy competition, families demonstrate greater hospitality and regards to each other.

Aiya said, ‘Yes, all of us only seek happiness; sukham or happiness we seek and dukham or grief, we seek to avoid.’

Siva said, ‘Yea, That is why, I am also happy for being a driver during these days, to take my wife to all our friends’ houses.  I have another four more houses to visit today’.

We all seem to enjoy these visits and don’t mind the fatigue.

Aiya said, ‘Life is to enjoy; our default goal is to be a bhubukshu – a seeker of enjoyment.  It is true and natural for all jeevarasi.  For example, when a dog sees you with a stone in your hand, it runs away; but when you have food, it comes to you. These are natural traits to seek pleasure and safety and to avoid grief and danger.’

‘Perhaps human beings have mastered on these notions, because, we seek greater and greater happiness and at the same time, avoid deeper and deeper troubles’, I said.

Sukha vritti and dukha nivritti – yes, this is our nature.  There is no need to be ashamed of this.  To say that I want to enjoy life is fine; it is a true and honest statement’.

Deepak, who was vigorously typing on his iPad, looked up and said, ‘Yes, that is why we all need to rely on our own actions and performance.  Except for some sort of time-pass and fun, I am not sure of any use from Navarathri puja!’ saying thus, he quickly returned to his devise.

Deepak is an investment banker; he must be in his mid-thirties.  I have known him for couple of years since he relocated to London from the US.   I have found him very engaging, articulate and focused; he had come with his wife Swapna and their only son Ajit for the Puja.

‘I think Navarathri Puja and such upasana provide a lasting happiness…. Otherwise, such festivities could not have survived for many thousands of years’, I said.

Deepak looked at me.

‘Perhaps, but we need to perform actions.  Only our actions and achievements can lead to happiness’, he said.

Aiya replied. ‘Absolutely…. Action is mandated for achieving results.  Only actions help to achieve our goals’.

There was gentle breeze, carrying the enchanting smell of incense-sticks from the payer room.  Fresh Jasmin flower, worn by the girls and ladies who were moving here and there, also made the aroma in the air, divine.

Aiya continued.

‘But do our actions always end in happiness? Don’t we simply stall many times, wondering why our actions only lead to miseries in the end?’

‘Yes Aiya, sometimes even with sincere efforts, we fail’, I complained.

Deepak closed his iPad.

‘Yes, but failure means that we need to take a course-correction.   It is again a call for action, entirely on our part.  So I don’t see the use of puja except for some fun and time-pass’, said Deepak.

He must have felt bit uneasy, so asked, ‘In what ways, these religious acts help?’, as if to keep the conversation going.

I did not think Deepak said those words with any sense of arrogance; he was thinking like most of us, who are busy with our chores-of-life; especially in the days of career-building, who has the spare-time for puja, meditation etc. except may be for some yoga classes to flex the muscles!

Aiya looked at Deepak and smiled.

‘Rightly said, religion, scriptures, gods etc. must be relevant and helpful to us in our goals of life.  Otherwise, as you say, these are just for entertainment only.   I think our Seers must have pondered over this.  That is why in our Sanatana-dharma, everything is about human-life-goals.’

‘In what way’, asked Bala, who joined the conversation.

After a successful career in the city, Bala is now leading a happy retirement life.   He is a regular at all Satsangh meetings and always a ready-volunteer to serve.  Nowadays, he is keen on spirituality, probably as the result of reprioritization of goals in the retired-life.

Aiya continued.

‘Well, human goals or purushartam are the primary, nay, the only focus of our scriptures, in which our life-goals and actions are thoroughly analyzed.  To specifically answer your question, our scriptures reveal that there are three mandatory stages or processes that we all deal with, in our performances’.

Aiya paused before continuing.

‘These are said in Sanskrit as jaanati, icchati and yayati – meaning knowing, desiring and acting.  It is common sense really!  You need to have knowledge of objects; only then you may develop a desire or the will towards the object; only the will turn into action to achieve the object.  It is common sense; Vedanta is all common sense only, yet we seem to ignore.’

Aiya closed his eyes briefly.

Deepak responded quickly.

‘Of course these three constituents exist in all our actions.  This is known to us.   Why do we need scriptures for this knowledge?’

I briefly stood up to gently close the door so that our conversation was not interrupting the chanting, as Aiya continued.

‘Well, let us look at these three stages briefly.  Knowledge by default should mean the right understanding of things; perceiving things as those are.  It is also called grahanam in Sanskrit; that is to grasp the true nature of objects.   Of course, if we have no knowledge about an object – then we remain ignorant and so there is nothing to desire or act.    So clearly we want to avoid ignorance and achieve knowledge’

‘Yes’, said Siva.

‘That is why we must put effort to learn.  Not wasting time on rituals etc.’, thus said Deepak.

Aiya did not respond for a moment.

‘If you are able to get correct knowledge of things, then that is well and good.  However, the problem is that it is not easy to have the correct knowledge at all time.   It is even worse, when our knowledge is faulty, for example, we take one for the other. Wrong perceptions… this is the case mostly, do you agree?  Most of our troubles are only because of incorrect knowledge, seeing something as something else….  anyada grahanam…’

We all nodded our heads.

Aiya continued.

‘Incorrect knowledge, when taken as the right knowledge, would lead to incorrect action, to incorrect goals and thus to failure.   With incorrect knowledge, we build incorrect-belief-system, which is like a thick moss or blanket of ignorance covering our mind.  Such strong belief-system inhibits true learning.  Together with our ego, we limit our ability to learn the right knowledge, thus perpetually live in an incorrect domain of notions and beliefs.’

‘The point is, when the knowledge is found to be faulty, seek the right knowledge, find the right source of knowledge and learn.  Is it not?’ asked Deepak.

He was right.

But I also thought, to move from incorrect understanding to correct understanding, we need the will – a trigger or a sort of realization of our folly and a desire to unlearn what we have wrongly learnt and to learn correctly.

I was listening as Aiya continued.

‘If you are able to achieve that, and always have the correct knowledge, then that is great.  But even with the correct knowledge, are you able to reach your goals?’

Deepak did not hesitate to respond quickly.

‘Of course not, we need right action, which is easily identified, because we have the right knowledge.  For example, if I understand that fitness requires right sort of food and regular exercise, I must eat such balanced-diet and perform exercises regularly.’

Aiya said ‘Yes, with the right knowledge, you can identify right actions.  But right actions must be rightly and completely performed.  If you are not committed to perform daily exercise, even though you have the knowledge, you will fail.’

‘Obviously….  What I meant was to perform right actions and also to perform completely…. Not giving up halfway’, said Deepak; he quickly added ‘Yet, it is only our responsibility; it is not something happens through the puja.   We simply need to go on acquiring the knowledge and the ability to perform’.

Aiya smiled and continued.

‘It is our responsibility only.  I also agree that to reach our goals, we need knowledge not ignorance and ability and not inability’.

Aiya turned slightly towards Deepak.

‘Let us take a moment on the middle step:   Icchati which refers to a deep desire or the will.   Do you ever think about the power that gives us the will?’

Aiya paused for a while.

‘To have desire on an object is an innate power.  Unlike knowledge and action, which could be attained through external agents, the will is something very personal.  It is internal.  It is inconceivable as to why we develop a desire to like or dislike something.’

Aiya let a moment to pass.

‘Remember, you said that one has to simply go and get the right knowledge and perform right action.   What causes anyone to go after such right knowledge?  What creates such a desire in a person?    That power is called the iccha-sakti.  This is the source of all creations; this is the trigger for all knowledge and all actions.   Only to remind us of this truth, iccha-sakti is worshipped as Adi-Para-Sakti, the infinite power of the supreme will.   Even God could not have created the worlds without the divine will. Do you understand?’

None of us were speaking, but listened.

In Navarathri, the power to know, the power to will and the power to act are celebrated as tri-powers – namely gnana-sakti, iccha-sakti and kriya-sakti respectively.  The very chanting that was going on the next door was only about these tri-powers.   We just heard the chanting of the divine names ‘iccha-sakti gnana-sakt kriya-sakti-svarupini’ from Sri Lalita Sahasranama Strotram, next door.

I was also thinking like Deepak.

If the power to will is also within me, then should I not simply focus on having the will for the right knowledge and right action?

‘Aiya, then one should simply focus on desiring the right objects, acquire the right knowledge and do the right actions, isn’t it?’

Aiya laughed heartily.

‘Of course that is all.   If one does those, he becomes the Karma Yogi.  But it is not that simple.  How can you make sure that your desires are only for the right objects or goals? In other words, are we able to naturally seek, righteous knowledge and actions?  Unfortunately, no!’ said Aiya.

‘What is then required?’ I asked.

‘To have such righteous goals as our desire, we need to develop our iccha-sakti’, said Aiya.


I am encouraged to ask questions by Aiya.  He always says that there is no answer when there is no question.   Questions like “why” and “how” drive the rational minds and scientific studies.  “For-who these all are” is the question that drives a spiritual seeker.  So, questioning is necessary both for our worldly endeavour and the spiritual pursuits.

Aiya replied.

‘We must ask what is in it for me….; that is the question one must always ask.  Vedanta always sets a context of questions and answers between the teacher and the disciple, for revealing the supreme knowledge.   Now to answer your question – why do we need to develop iccha sakti – I say, that only by nurturing the powers of iccha-sakti – we can move towards greater happiness and away from deeper distress.’

‘But iccha-sakti is inconceivable, that is what you have said.  How can we develop this?’ – Deepak asked.

‘The only way to develop or reorient our ccha-sakti is to change its domain of operation’, said Aiya.

As if he is quiz master, asked, ‘Where do you desire or will?’

‘In our minds….’ said I.

‘That means our focus should be on our minds.  As mind is the domain operation for the iccha-sakti, we must cultivate the mind, like you cultivate the garden to bring up nice flowers and fruit-trees’.

Siva was curious.

‘Aiya, how do we know our mind is cultivated…?’

‘Well…. perhaps we can use two simple benchmarks….  The first one is our ability to focus.’

‘Like concentration…..this is about focusing on one thing at a time, is it not?’ Bala asked.

‘Yes, let us first ask why there is a need for a focused mind.     Our will is the trigger for seeking knowledge and actions.  So, the mind, where the will operates, should be steady. A wandering mind will hinder our actions and impact our performance; our true potential would be wasted; therefore a strong will requires, stronger mind’, said Aiya.

‘Yes, there are lot of psycho-metric tests and tools available to isolate and correct these deficiencies.  We perform such exercises as part of management development programs’, said Deepak.

Deepak was trying to reinforce the point that cultivation of mind requires no more than few exercises on concentration.

Aiya said, ‘Perhaps!  Dhyanam, japam etc. are also of help in this objective.   Let us not discuss any more on this aspect.’

After a moment or two, he continued.

‘Another important indicator of a cultivated-mind is its constituent qualities.  Mind must be filled with good qualities or virtues and should be void of bad qualities or vices.’

‘Good qualities like love, kindness, compassion, non-violence etc.’, said Bala.

‘Yes, such good qualities are to be learnt and followed.  These are called sadguna in Sanskrit.  At the same time we should also rid of bad qualities.  These are like weeds in a garden.  These grow in us naturally!  You know, sometime you may wonder why a child is lying; surely it is not something a parent would normally teach to a child.  But bad qualities emerge naturally in our minds as the weeds in a garden.  We have to be alert and uproot these weeds as early as possible, and as often as necessary’, said Aiya.

‘Again, this is common sense!  If we follow good people and good advise, we should be able to develop good character’, said Deepak.

Clearly he had had not moved an inch towards the needs for Puja, I thought.

Bala said ‘Well, I have been trying, but it is not something that comes naturally’.

There was a pause for a while, until I asked.

‘Aiya, what is the benefit of having all these good qualities?’

‘mmm…. When you have good qualities or sadguna, it will lead to another important ability – the right attitude or sadbhavana.    You see, more than half-our miseries are only due to our attitude towards our work and the world.   When we perform an action, as it involves our minds, our attitude becomes the dominant factor.   Attitude is what differentiates a good action from a bad-one.  Attitude is the direct and the most significant contributor for the impact of any outcome’.

‘I don’t understand Aiya’, said I.

‘Attitude describes your motive.  What is your motive, what are your personal expectations, how do you perceive others in your actions – these are all the key determinants.  For example, when you are helping others, what is your motive for the action?   Karma Yoga requires any karma or action to be done with the right attitude.   Sadbhavana or right attitude is to have the appropriate context for the action.  Only when there is right attitude, we can cope with any outcome – success or failure.   To have right attitude, we need right qualities.  That is why sadguna leads to sadbhavana.’

Aiya looked at Deepak, who was deeply thinking.

Children were still running around.  They were playing hide and seek.

Suddenly, there was noise upstairs.  We all looked up instantly.  On the stairs was Ajit, who had fallen down.  Although he got up swiftly, he cried, more for the hurt to his ego than to the body.  He came running and launched on to Deepak’s lap.  Deepak held his hand, wiped his tears, and looked at Aiya.

‘Aiya, I hear what you say.  Right qualities, right attitude etc. are the general requirements for any good person.  These are moral principles that can be learnt and nurtured.  Still I do not understand the importance of puja’, said Deepak.

Although Ajit was hurt and lying on his lap, Deepak was engrossed in the conversation, it seemed.

Aiya continued.

‘There are many good people with such good virtues and good knowledge; they also exhibit good attitude towards others. Yet they seem to lead a miserable life; they often fail to reach their goal of happiness.   Do you know why?’

After pausing few seconds, Aiya continued.

‘They do not have the tenacity to complete their tasks.  Application of knowledge and the abilities to complete the task is the greatest of skills. It requires driti or the strength of character.   Strength is what we need not weakness. Remember, goodness does not mean weakness; kindness does not mean weakness.   Strength of character is the real strength and without it, one cannot undertake and complete any task.   Many of us fail in this test.’

I quickly nodded my head in total agreement.

How many times had I started something only to give up half-way!   It is not that I do not have the knowledge or at least some basic virtues or right attitudes, yet the power to complete an undertaking, sometimes seem to elude me.

‘That is kriya-sakti, the power to endure actions for the completion.   The only way to strengthen the kriya-sakti is to deepen the underlying iccha-sakti which again means further cultivation of mind.  This is an on-going process.  This is called self-development.’  Thus spoke Aiya.

‘It is easier said than done’, added Siva.

‘Yes, it is very difficult.  It amounts to the transformation of character, which is not easy. Even to Lord Krishna, to effect such transformation seemed difficult. He could easily lift the mountain on the little finger or perform many miracles at will, but to transform the character of Duryodhana was seen as an impossible task.’

Aiya continued.

‘In Mahabharata, Duryodana says janami dharma na ca virtti:   I know what is right but I cannot perform the righteous acts, janami adharma na ca nivriti:  I know what unrighteousness is, yet I cannot avoid.      In spite of his knowledge,   Duryodana did not have the iccha-sakti to make the right course-correction.’

We can see such situation in our lives too.  Many of us, at least most of the times, understand what is right or wrong, yet we are unable to adhere to righteousness.  It must be because driti or the strength of character is absent.

‘Perhaps that is why in Bhagavad Gita, there are three or four chapters mainly dedicated to character transformation’, said I.

Already I have learnt about this from Aiya.

‘Yes’ said Aiya.

‘The point is that we must have these virtues as well as the strength of character to adhere and complete the actions’.

‘Aiya How is it possible?  I am not a keen gardener but I have seen my gardener working every week. It is almost non-stop work, especially removing the weeds.  Similarly is our mind, if I understand you correctly.  We need to keep our vigil on what all comes to our minds, at all times, in order to transform our character.  Won’t it take a long time’, asked Deepak.

‘Cultivating our minds does not have a start and stop time.  It is a process.  Life is nothing but a chain of experiences…anubhava dhara. Experiences occur in the mind.  Therefore, although I said gardening as an example, cultivating the mind is more than a weekly-gardening function.  It must be the very nature of our daily existence’, said Aiya.

‘mmm… I need a kick-start Aiya’ said I.

‘My mind is full of vices,  so full, that sometimes I  cannot uphold my virtues, spiritual thoughts and such greater ideals.  It is full of rubbish, like the drive-way in front of my house, covered by thick moss, grass and unsightly weeds!’

Aiya laughed,

‘So you want a kick-start! Have we all not been there before!  How many times, when you open the wardrobe and see the pile of cluttered cloths, you wonder – I wish some one cleans this just once for me, so that I can maintain it in the future! We all are in such situations in all walks of life.  Needing to boost our mental strength…. this is where the puja or upasana helps’.

‘What is upasana?’

‘In Sanskrit, the word upa means supreme or near-by and asana means seat, so upasana means supreme seat or more aptly  near-by seat.  When you are in upasana, it means, you are seated near-by’

‘Near to what?’ asked Deepak.

‘That is the question you must answer’ said Aiya.

‘Who is near to you?’, Aiya asked.

‘Appa’ said Ajit, with his finger pointing to his Dad.   He must have been listening to the conversation.

‘Shhhh…’, warned Deepak and said  ‘Aiya,  well,  the person sitting next to me is near to me’.

Aiya continued.

‘No, wherever you are, who is the nearest person to you?  In other words, from whom you are never far away, forever?’

I know upasana is also taken to mean the puja; therefore the answer could be God.  So I said, ‘is it God?’

Aiya said, ‘I do not know much about God, so I will not talk about God.’

There was silence.     Inside, the bells were ringing indicating that the chanting was coming to an end.

But we were not moving.  We were looking at Aiya.

‘What is that, which can be known without any means of knowledge?’

We were still not responding.

‘Which is beyond your senses yet remains certain?’

We were waiting.

‘It is I.  In your case, it is yourself.  Do you ever need your senses to recognize you? Even in the darkness, don’t you know of your existence?  That existence is the nearest to you.’

‘Aiya – upasana is therefore to be near me!  Just be myself!’ – Deepak exclaimed.

‘Yes’ said Aiya.

‘Why?  What is the benefit of that?’ asked Siva. He too got onto the questioning habit.

‘Your mind is the drive-way.  It drives all your actions.  You just learnt that the drive way should be clean, steady and be filled with niceties.  But the current state of your drive-way is pitiful; it is full of moss; long and hard effort is required to clean it up!   So you want some quick fix, a kick-start.   You need a jet of spray with right mix of chemicals to utterly dispense the moss and weeds and expose the true granite of the drive-way – in a flash!’, said Aiya.

Of course we want such a help  to cleanse our minds.

‘That is what would happen in upasana. When you are with yourself,  the eternal effulgence – the supreme light, which is within you, will shine as the power of infinite sun, as a jet of grace that wipes clean your mind in a flash.     It will expose Itself, as nirguna, nirvikalapa, nishkalanga, nirmala etc….’

I injected ‘Aiya, these are the names of sakti in Sri Lalitha Sahasranama

‘Yes, mind will become like a clean slate.  Nirvikalapa… there are no vices or virtues, no right or wrong, completely pure, pristine, like a child – such a state is called shanti or bliss.   That is the nature of Self!  Yourself!  It will dawn on you.   Perhaps for a nano second, or a minute, or an hour, I don’t know.  Even the waiting for that light in upasana is a great cleansing process.’

Aiya paused and closed his eyes as if he is going to be in the upasana.

Bala interrupted.

‘Aiya, you wanted us to accumulate good qualities.   But if we become nirguana – or without any qualities…..’

Aiya laughed and interrupted.

‘I only wish…..’, saying thus he waited for a moment in thoughts.

‘When you come out of sincere upasana, your mind is like a clean slate, like the cleanest drive-way.  Then it is easy to add necessary good qualities that are deemed necessary for this embodied life. ‘

I joined, ‘But equally bad qualities will also come back, like the weeds on the drive-way’.

I expressed my anxiety.  I have been trying all sorts of upasana, meditation etc. but dare I say that I have become pure…. Nope!

Aiya said in a comforting tone.

‘Don’t worry.    If you perform upasana, the mind will slowly but surely become cleaner. It also gets a coat of natural resistance to vices… it is called vairagya….  The more upasana you do, more focused you would be.   Then, even a small lie would be unacceptable to you.  Even minor vices that were deemed alright once, now are totally out and you would want to avoid them.  In short, like the driveway that is slowly and surely becoming maintenance-free, your mind will become pure and you will have the strength to remain so.’

Deepak ‘Then, where is the need for the chanting etc.?’

‘Well, these are the tools and processes that can give the moments….perhaps in the melody of bhajans, or in a divine name of God, in the mesmerizing beauty of aarti – anywhere –  there could be a trigger for the moment of bliss – to bring you to you – for being near- the real upasana.  We are only searching for such moments in these chanting, puja etc.’

Bala and I looked at each other.

We usually meet at monthly Bhajans and Satsang etc., where the recital of slokas or mantras is merely mechanical.  There is something we should be all seeking, I thought.

‘Aiya, I have been trying all these.  I know many sloka, I even know many of the sahasranamas by heart.  I recite these many times.  But the upasana – which you have just explained – is never within my reach so far.  What am I doing wrong‘, I asked.

Aiya was reassuring.

‘You are doing great.  Keep doing what you are already doing with sadbhavana – right attitude.  But there is something else that you should ensure that is in place.   That is called surrender.   Ensure there is absolute surrender.’

I have heard about surrender as the total submission.  I do perform namaskarams – which is prostrating in front of learned, elders and gods.  What is absolute surrender, I wondered.

Aiya continued.

‘Surrender is not a sign of weakness but a power.  It is not about submitting to someone who has defeated you.  It is submitting to someone who loves you, protects you unconditionally.   True surrender requires unconditional love, unquestionable trust and unshakeable commitment’.

Aiya looked at Ajit.

‘Like this child, who came running to his dad when he was hurt, with the hope that all is well while being with his dad.  That is trust, love and commitment.   We should do the same with God or the Power-within.   When you surrender to that Power, you transfer your burden or your load to that Power.  You then become totally free.  Such trust we must have.’

‘Why?’, I could not resist.  I have been encouraged to question.

‘It is because only by transferring your responsibilities, you can become free. After all, freedom gives joy, nay, freedom is joy.  So only when there is absolute surrender we get absolute joy’.

‘But it is difficult…. Because…’,  Deepak hesitated.

‘It is difficult because of our ego, the pride….  It is natural.  We have been conditioned that way from the very young age.  Ahamkara or ego does not allow us to surrender easily’.

‘How do we overcome this?’, asked Bala.

‘There is only one way’.

I was hoping that Aiya would prescribe some ritual, mantra or special puja.  Perhaps we should undertake fasting, visit temples or holy-places.  I was curious.

Aiya asked ‘What do you offer to gods in the puja?’

Ajit said, ‘I know, I know….’, raising his hands.  He continued.

‘Laddu, payasam, vadai, banana. Apple…’

‘Shhh. Ajit’, controlled Deepak.

‘Yes, we give all these food to gods, hoping that they won’t eat… otherwise, we cannot eat.’, when Aiya said, Ajit giggled.

‘Well, I am not saying that these are wrong. We can offer anything to God, but when you want to give some gift to your loved ones, what would you normally choose?’ asked Aiya.

‘Oh, something very expensive’, said Siva.

‘Well, something rare’, said Bala.

‘Typically, something that other person does not have’, said I.

Aiya looked at me intensely.

‘Very good….. So if you want to give something to God, is there anything that He does not have?  Something that you have as rare and expensive….’

We were thinking.  How can there be anything which God does not have!

Aiya soon resolved our doubt.

‘Ego…. The ahamkara…. Like there is no darkness in the Sun, there is no ahamkara in God. That is rare for God; we also know that ego is very expensive as it costs our freedom.  God surely does not have ahamkara, so let us give it to Him.  Let Him take this away from you.’

We were feeling a sense of joy.  We have within our control, something that can be given away to gain total freedom!

‘But how…?’, asked Siva.

‘It is through absolute surrender!  Ego comes from our attachments…such as declaring my, mine etc.   Our sadbhavana or right attitude should be not-me, not-mine etc. That is why as we worship God, we declare everything as not-mine, not-mine but without understanding’.

Aiya then continued.

‘In Sanskrit the words namaha, namo etc. only reflect this. Namaha is both adoration and an assertion that you give away your ego.  So next time when you say these words or do namaz or namskaram – do think that you are giving away the ego.  When your head hits the floor, or as in some tradition, when the head is shaven as the oblation to God, know that it only symbolizes the discharge of ego out of our system.’

Aiya stopped.

We were frozen in joy.

Balaji called us all inside to take the maha-prasadam.  We stood-up.    Ajit was still lying on Deepak’s lap with his eyes closed.  Deepak gave a nudge.

‘Get up Ajit – Are you sleeping?’

Ajit replied.  ‘No, I am trying to find me’.

Aiya laughed as Deepak raised his eye-brows in wonder.  His iPad was making familiar noises due to incoming messages from the stock-market.  But Deepak was not at all bothered as we were all getting into the hall for receiving the maha-prasadam.

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