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Preparations for Sadhana –Part 4

{written by : Sri Bimal Mohanty}

Article word count : 5187 -- Article Id : 1548
Article active date : 2009-02-12 -- Article views : 3556


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Article is about :
the importance of Samarpan- or self surrender, the ultimate stage of Sadhana.

Reincarnation The Neverending Journey
In Reincarnation The Neverending Journey an attempt is made to explore the conundrum of our existence. An existence that spans yesterday, today and even tomorrow. Questions surrounding the existence of the soul and our connections to the physical world, the fundamental mechanisms and the processes by which reincarnation operates through time, are carefully examined. Plausible revelations on memories and karma and their intrinsic connections to our lives today and tomorrow are explored. It is a Neverending Journey.. Your Neverending Journey....

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"Based on the lectures by Sri Bimal Mohanty"

Earlier we emphasized the very important role Shraddha plays in sadhana. But Shraddha without atmasamarpan or self surrender is like all labours lost. Look at it this way. If you look at your yoga sadhana as a river, Shraddha provides it the strength and sustains so that it swells to become stronger and mightier. But what good is a river if it does not flow its full length and meet the ocean? If a river, however mightier it may be dries up halfway in the desert without meeting its goal - the ocean, where is the benefit? What a colossal waste it is? Atma samarpan or self-surrender is like that final plunge of the sadhana into that ocean of Bramhan. That is why to the followers of Sanatana philosophy and those who are constantly in the quest of Bramhan, the word samarpan or self surrender has great significance. Because surrendering oneself to that ultimate Omniscient -Sarvajnata- Superconscious - Chinmay- being is not only the prerequisite of our developmental process but in the practical life of our day to day existence, this samarpan or surrender is like a talisman for instant peace and happiness. If one could wear this talisman around him all the time, many of the trials and tribulations of life would appear trivial - too small to bother about.

When we talk of samarpan or surrender or deliverance - many people straightway jump to the obvious which is Atma Samarpan. That is deliverance of your "self" in "totality" to the Lord. However, we must understand that this is really the highest form of surrender, which comes at the very end, and is achieved at the culmination of one"s sadhana. This being the highest point of Yoga there are stages which the sadhaka must cross.

All yoga end with atmasamarpan. This is an axiomatic truth worth keeping in mind.

Obviously it does not come easily to worldly men like you and me. Years of hard sadhana encompassing perhaps many many lives one reaches such a state. Therefore, when Lord Krishna himself says " Sarva dharman parityajya mamekam saranam braja, aham tvam sarva papebhya mokshyisyami ma sucha. - Leave everything and surrender to me and I shall save you from all sins, it sounds nice but one never knows where to start. That is how difficult it appears.

First let us understand the need for an attitude for surrender. A worldly person is constantly under the influence of two shortcomings that we all know. One is the power of desire- a constant hankering after sense dictated needs - and the other is ignorance, i.e. not knowing where the solution for peace and happiness lies.

When desires take possession of us they drag us down and down, step by step, through anger, loss of memory, loss of discerning power and finally the ultimate downfall. But as a creation of The Lord, with divinity as our inherent character, we are certainly not destined to a fate of irrevocable downfall and total annihilation. There comes a time, when helped by the nature and intervention by the Divine guidance, we resist further degradation.

At this point when we look for help, we do not know where to look at. Our ignorance poses before us as a dead wall. We are like the proverbial child lost in the woods not knowing the way. We have the natural tendency to depend on someone who is knowledgeable and ready to guide us out of the woods. Once we find such a person, we put ourselves in the hands of that person and allow ourselves to be led without questioning. All our movements are in the direction and diction of this person. We have surrendered ourselves to this person who knows, seeking a way out from our predicament.

Now, in the jungle of life, we also often get lost.

There is a need to seek guidance.

And who could be the best guide? Who is this person who knows all the ways out of this human predicament?

The Lord ofcourse.

Hence we see logic in surrendering to Him- The Lord.

It sounds so simple when spoken like this. However in the practical sense, we need some guidance and further understanding. For guidance, the Bhakti Yoga of Bhagavad Gita comes as an excellent source. What does The Lord say there?

Mayeva mana adhatsva mayi buddhim nivesaya

Nivasisyasi mayeva ata urdhvam na sansaya


Fix your mind on me. Let your thoughts stay with Me. You will then dwell in me alone, have no doubts after that. It is the mind and the intellect, that are called upon to get fixed on The Lord.

But indeed this solution also happens to be part of our problem. How does one succeed in keeping the mind steadily fixed on the Lord? This is difficult. Hence The Lord himself goes on to make it simpler for us.

Atha chittam samadhatum na saknosi mayi sthiram

Abhyasa Yogena tato mamicchaptum dhanamjaya



If you are unable to fix your mind on me, just keep on trying to reach me. Just keep on thinking about me as much as you can. Keep practicing.

But even inspite of trying we often find it frustrating when the wavering mind refuses to get tied down. So the Lord again makes it even simpler

Abhyasepi asamarthosi matkarma paramobhava

madartham api karmani kurvan siddhim avapsyasi


If you even can not keep on your practice, think that all actions are to be done for my sake and you will attain your goal. Just convince yourself that you are working for The Lord and you will reach fulfillment.

When He says this, here we find some ray of hope for those people who are in the initial stages of their spiritual sadhana and find it difficult to concentrate straightaway on matters of abstract meditation. Directing the mind could be extremely exasperating but directing one"s actions perhaps could be easier.

The Lord says if you find it so difficult, simply make me responsible for all your work. Whatever you do, do it as if, you are doing it for my sake alone.

Here the basic concept of our spiritual philosophy, which we have discussed so elaborately in the beginning, comes to our help. All that goes on in this creation is indeed the work of The Lord. The role of human beings as we have discussed earlier, is only that of a tool, a nimitta, through which The Lord gets the ordained tasks performed. He is the ultimate doer the real kartapurush. Therefore doing all work for His sake alone is logically correct. Realising this, one simply surrenders all activities in the name of The Lord, sacrificing the feeling that your actions could be different or something outside this grand cosmic enterprise.

So as a first step to total surrender, what is being talked here is the surrender of one"s activity, one"s worklife, to begin with. This is indeed the advice which is good for all of us to follow. This is an advice which is given by most of our sastras which is, "dedicate your worklife to The Lord".

Sri Aurobindo explains it more lucidly in his "Self surrender in works - The way of The Gita". He says "Our purpose in Yoga is to .... enthrone God ... As the ruling inhabitant of the nature..There must be implanted and activised in all are doings a supreme, impersonal, unfaltering and unstumbling will in .. unison with the will of The Divine.

He is talking here of putting The Lord on the throne from where all commandments and directives flow. Allowing Him to rule and assume all responsibility. His will has to override on any trace of ahamkara or agency of individual ego-self. The self agency has to become subservient to the divine agency.

He further goes on to explain "A hidden power is the true Lord and overruling observer of our acts and only He knows through all the ignorance and perversion and deformation brought in by the ego their entire sense and ultimate purpose... The greater will must be made conscious in us and master..."

As we can see, here two things need to be understood well. When individual ego takes the role of doer on its own, the results are likely to be perverted and deformed. That is because the individual is not in possession of all the knowledge to determine which action is absolutely right and which has hidden dangers within it. Therefore it is HE, who knows everything, who should be made to overrule.

All actions must be done in more and more God oriented and finally in God possessed consciousness. "One must make God-Love and God-Service our only motive"

This has various practical advantages.

When you think that you are the doer yourself and master of all your activities, then it is quite natural that since you can not have all the interrelated information at your disposal and the final outcome does not work out to your liking, you are bound to feel miserable. You will not understand why inspite of your best efforts the results did not come the way you wanted. The next would be a sense of frustration and anger. Anger is described as a temporary loss of sanity and an insane man loses all control and adds further misery to himself.

Our shastras say that instead of looking at yourself as the doer, one should understand who actually is the doer and knowing that the Divine hand performs all, one should let one"s ego surrender to this divine will.

How will that help? Are we talking of simply passing the buck? On the contrary, knowing that all activities take place following a natural divine law and nothing happens in an adhoc manner we try to reason things out. We know and believe that the universal law or The Lord"s actions are scrupulously fair and is always for the good of all. Whenever something unpleasant happens- once we believe that there is God"s hand hidden behind it - the mind instead of revolting starts reasoning out. There could be an initial resentment but ultimately when the dialogue with your own conscience begins, the reason invariably takes over. This is because, whatever one may say or argue with the outside world, the dialogue with one"s own conscience is always based on truth. No body can ever cheat one"s own conscience.

Under such a situation, there is serious introspection, inward thinking. You start asking yourself, if such a thing has happened to me, what is the hidden message God wants to convey to me? Where did I go wrong to be in this predicament? Answers to such questions sooner or later reveal before us. There is no better lesson available for improving one"s own character and one"s future actions.

There is another practical advantage in dedicating all work to The Lord. If I could keep always in my mind that all the activities that I perform are ultimately my offerings to The Lord, would it ever be possible to do a vile deed in the name of God? How many of us would steal in the name of God? How many of us would perpetuate crime in the name of God? How many of us would cheat in the name of God? Some people ofcourse with demoniacal qualities (asuri prvrtti) do such acts. But they also eventually degrade themselves and mar their future lives by doing so. But those who are possessed with any amount of divine consciousness would still refrain from doing so. They do this because, when you do all actions as an offering you will hesitate to offer anything that is wrong. A mother who cooks for her child would she ever spoil the food knowing that she would offer this to her beloved child? In the story of Ramayana the tribal woman could not think of offering a rotten fruit to Lord Rama. She tasted each one herself before offering. The conscience always acts as a deterrent.

Once such feelings become stronger and stronger, the true meaning of God-human relationship becomes clearer and clearer. The God-human bond becomes stronger and stronger. One starts finding the advantage of the ego-self coming in conformity with the Divine and Superior will. Then total surrender happens.

Therefore the way to surrender to Him is to surrender our actions to Him.

Always remember:

Yat karomi tabarthaya atma samarpanaya ca

Whatever are my actions are for your sake only. That will lead me to total surrender,

Once we do that we have this great assurance from none else but The Lord Himself

Sarva karmany api sada kurvanah madvyapasrayah

Mad prasadat avapnoti sasvatam padam avyayam

Who continuously does all actions dedicated to me, reaches the eternal permanent goal with my grace.

Interestingly, in Srimad Bhagavad Gita, as you must have noticed, every utterance of The Lord is a mahavakya - a final say and is not repeated again. However there are some concepts which are so important that The Lord does repeat them in some other context. This is rare yet as if The Lord knows the inherent limitations of the human mind and is not tired of saying it over again. This concept of self surrender through your day to day actions is indeed one such. So He goes on to remind us:

Ye tu sarvaani karmaani mayi sanyasya matparaah

Ananyena eva yogena maam dhyaayanta upaasate

Tesaamaham samuddhartaa mrtyu sansaara saagaraat

Bhavaami naciraat paartha mayi aavesita cetasaam.

Those who worship me by surrendering all their actions to me as their final destination and unflinching thoughts on me, soon have me as their deliverer from this sea of mortal world.

So the very goal of sadhana is assured. We surrender through our works. Once we have surrendered then our very sadhana is in the hands of The Lord.

Leaving your sadhana in the hands of the Lord is both powerfully effective and an act of great reverence. All great sadhaks and saints believe that one"s sadhana can only succeed not merely by one"s own efforts but essentially by the grace of the Lord. Without the very grace of the Lord you can not have liberation.

Here lies another deep philosophical concept inherent in self surrender.

We are now talking of the final step of sadhana, after the sadhaka has gone through all stages of ascent.

Let us understand it from another angle.

We may recall that we talked about two concepts often connected with sadhana. Jnana Labha- or acquring of knowledge, and Siddhi Labha or acquring the state of Bramha realisation. As we know, a knowledgeable person or jnani is not necessarily a realised person or a siddha. While knowledge is an enabling strength, siddhi is an experience. Jnana takes you to the gate of siddhi or realisation. But for the gate to open and your being welcome to the promised kingdom of eternal bliss or the realm of Bramhan consciousness, there is required something else.

Jnanalabha or knowledge acquiring is the completion of the first stage of the movement of sadhana. It marks the conscious acceptance of the existence of that supreme entity The Bramhan. At this point, there lies in front of the jiva - individual soul- that great promise of unlimited bliss or The Satchidananada, the truth, its realisation and the ensuing bliss, but yet, the jiva is still not quite there.

That momentus transformation does not occur, or can not be achieved, unless the grace of the Lord is upon us. The crossing over of the chasm only occurs when He extends His hand and holds yours.

All that the individual soul"s efforts have achieved so far, is the progressive development at all levels of his existence and purification of the soul, freeing it from all layers of avidya or nescience. Thus the sadhaka has discarded and overcome the fretters and limitations of his physical existence - the annamay kosha, the vital existence or the pranamay kosha, the mental or the manomay kosha, and he is the master of knowledge in his knowledge sheath or the vijnanamay kosha. But yet, the bliss of the anandamay kosha has still not been experienced. This may be the peak point of knowledge, the last achievement of all yogas, the karma, bhakti and the jnana. Now the big question is from here HOW? How does he take his last flight to mukti or liberation?

Here the sanatan philosophy believes in the ultimate kindness of that supreme power of Bramhan for his uddhara or deliverance.

All the fervent appeals the jiva has made all his many many lives, through austerity and penance are for this act of kindness from the Lord himself, necessary at this stage of the soul"s ascent.

Through all his sadhana he has often cried "tamaso ma jyotirgamaya". The darkness of nescient, avidya, is behind me. In front of me lies the light of knowledge. Oh my Lord! Deliver me from darkness to light.

"Mrtyur ma amrtam gamaya". I have crossed over many cycles of perpetual births and deaths. Now ahead of me is my immortal existence. Oh my Lord, deliver me from mortality to immortality.

These are cries that arise from the innermost hearts of all the created beings reverberating so to say all around this cosmos.

All souls need this grace and are constantly crying out to The Lord.

Can the Lord ignore this appeal from his own children?

Here the Lord himself gives his assurance.

All that is needed from the soul is an unconditional self surrender wholly and in unqualified measure. The grace is assured provided this appeal to the Lord is accompanied by a total surrender. Such a surrender is indeed the key.

This is what is to be understood when Shrimad Bhagavatam while describing the nine descriptions of devotion (bhakti) recognises the final effort as atmanivedanam offering of one"s own soul. This is what is to be understood from the words of Sri Aurobindo when he says talking about this supramental change that "surrender is the indispensable means of the supramental change." (vide Self surrender in works).

So if we are called upon to surrender what assurance we have from the Lord?

Tesam eva anukampartham aham ajnanajam tamah

Nasayami atmabhavastho jnanadipena bhasvata

The Lord is full of compassion towards all that come to Him. And He says out of pure compassion for them, residing in their heart of hearts, I work to dispel the ignorance born darkness, by the luminosity of wisdom. (Gita 10.11). In simple words, The Lord makes everyone see the light.

What is the practical interpretation of this process?

As we discussed earlier:

Sarvakarmani api sada kurvano madvyapasrayah

It is making the performance of all actions, making me the reference point all the time.

What will happen if you do so?

Matprasadat avapnoti shashvatam padam avyayam

By my grace you will reach the eternal state of continuous fulfillment.

And therefore

Tameva sharanam gaccha sarva bhavena bharata

Tat prasadat param shantim sthanam prapsyasi shashvatam

Surrender to him alone with all your feelings, O Bharata. By his grace you will have peace supreme and reach your eternal state of existence.

Manmana bhava madbhaktah madyaji mam namaskuru

Mam eva esyasi satyam te pratijane priyosi me.

Fix your mind in me, be devoted to me, mark all your offerings to me. (Let us keep in mind that all our thoughts and actions are indeed our offerings to The Lord.). Then He says mam namaskuru. Subjugate everything of yours to me, which means surrender totally to The Lord. Then what will happen?

Mam eva esyasi satyam te pratijane priyosi me.

You will truly enter me, be one with me, return to be a part of me.

This is my promise to you. The Lord could not have used a stronger or more assuring word than pratijane meaning a solemn assurance or a promise. How much more emphatic God can be?

Why the Lord makes such a firm commitment? Because he says priyosi me. You are dear to me.

Atmasamarpan is not an abstract concept when we start relating to God every thought and every action of ours. We should incessantly practice it that way otherwise there is no liberation.

This is then how we should approach yoga sadhana.

The six elements of preparation as we have discussed so far, are like certain amount of preparedness that goes with any activity.

Even when you enter a temple to offer worship you carry with you certain things before starting worship. You do not go just like that. You have with you

Patra pushpa phalam tatha arati dhupa chandanam

You carry tulsi or durba or billva leaves, you carry flowers, fruits to offer, lighted lamps, incense and sandalwood paste.

The six preparations we discussed so far i.e. Sankalpa, Swasthya, Swadhyayana, Samsuddhabuddhi, Shraddha and Samarpan are like Patra pushpa phalam tatha arati dhupa chandanam

QUESTIONS FROM READERS

Question 1

from Sri K S Subramanian- Mumbai

Also - Sri Anoop Mehta- Mumbai

What is to be understood by Gods? Are they fortunate beings starting out from beginning whose favours we must seek? (

The exact questions are not reproduced (due to space limitations) only their purport)

Answer

Gods are nothing but conscious personifications of one or some specific attributes of that one omniscient thing- The Bramhan. Broadly one can see that there are three stages in our spiritual development. The jiva or individual self stage where all of us belong, the deva (God) stage and finally the Bramhan stage. At the jiva stage we are all under the grip of ignorance and delusion, at the lower end of perfection. The jivas are under the control of Maya, and not having overcome it are said to be mayadhina- meaning "under maya". As we acquire the true knowledge we become more and more enlightened. We evolve into better beings by understanding the true nature of Maya.

The Devas belong to this enlightened state. (Deva literally means the enlightened one) They have with enlightenment understood and overcome maya and its vagaries. They are said to be mayatita or beyond maya.

The final stage is ofcourse the Bramhan state- the state of total knowledge and consciousness - purnacaitanya. The Bramhan is mayadhisha the lord of maya being the creator of maya and is unaffected by it.

In the process to enlightenment - from jivahood to devehood- the object is to acquire, perfect and exude the divine qualities that are part of Bramhan. Even the Gods are not perfect. Only Bramhan is perfect. Even you and me, as much as the Gods are all part of the Divinity. Each of us have different grades of perfection depending upon the level of consciousness that we have acquired. So are the Gods. There is no place for envy of each other as every one endevours to attend a higher level of consciousness and perfection by dint of his own efforts. We all evolve from jivahood to devehood and when become fully conscious or totally perfect we unite with Bramhan.

There is another angle to look at and understand Gods.

The qualities that the Gods possess are also deep within us lying dormant, covered with our own ignorance. The meaning behind praying for favours from the Gods is triggering a self effort through positive thinking to accentuate those very same qualities within us. It is similar to emulating examples of another person or entity who is more enlightened than us. That is one of the most beautiful concepts of Sanatan philosophy.

Question 2

FROM SRI VIJAYMEHTA Mumbai

What is the essential character of gross and subtle.

Anwser

The essential character of everything is "Bramhan consciousness" in smaller or larger degrees. The degree decides grossness and subtleness. Bramhan consciousness is also described as chetana which is the awareness about one"s own self. If you are more aware about your own self than me, then you are endowed with more chetana than I am. "Self" is only an extension of Bramhan. So it is essentially Bramhan consciousness that we are talking about. All things emanate from Bramhan therefore everyone and everything is in possession of this consciousness, in greater or smaller degree. That decides its grossness or subtleness.


Question 3

FROM SRI VIJAYMEHTA Mumbai

You said that soul (jivatma) has no personal identity but the soul within each being is extension of that one universal soul. Why suffering of one individual soul is not the suffering of that one universal soul (Brahman)? If suffering of one soul remains individual then why not to accept the individual soul as an entity? Similar question also remains for liberation.

Answer:

The soul never suffers. (so also by inference the universal soul.) All sufferings are mere projections of mind. The ego self thinks he is suffering or enjoying, hence it suffers and enjoys. "I think, therefore I am"- goes the saying.

All sufferings are experienced only through our five sensory attributes and the mind. (which is also described sometimes as the sixth sense organ). If we did not have sensory faculties there would be no experience of misery. If the soul is devoid of those five sensory attributes, with what it will suffer or enjoy?

Our physical bodies which house these sense organs can also be freed from experience of suffering, if we could transcend above the senses. ( by becoming gunatita). This is possible by knowledge and yoga.

Question 4

FROM SRI VIRENDRA QAZI - Kashmir

The relates to suffering of the Kashmiris and overwhelming response of sympathy for them.

Answer:

Sufferings of the Kashmiris (for that matter of any one any where) is a result of many interconnected factors. From a spiritualists point of view, it is how we analyse and look at our sufferings and then learn the lesson for our further higher movement is important. Although all sufferings are at the gross level, yet every suffering is our obstacle as well as helper towards greater knowledge and understanding. That is their importance in our lives.

Whenever a jiva or individual suffers, strangely enough, this state of suffering is not limited to him alone. The entire universe being a whole and interconnected matrix, any individual"s suffering, (complete with its positivity of understanding and negativity of ignorance resulting in violence revenge etc.) also becomes the state of suffering for all the jivas. Any inflicted injury, injures both the victim and the aggressor. And most importantly and strange as it may sound it injures everybody and everything else in the creation.Whether in a direct way or in an indirect way, every one"s progress is affected. Those who understand this truth, readily extend their genuine and unmotivated sympathy to the sufferers. In trying times, irrespective of any individual or collective efforts, there is one truth which should be our constant mental companion. That happens to be an unflinching faith in The lord and right actions under all circumstances. Human experience has proved that there is always a daybreak after the night.

In AHWAN vol 2 June 2000 issue we discussed the concept of wholeness and homogeneity of the universe with every one linked to other in an interconnectivity matrix. Sufferrings and good fortunes are all collective karma, all are responsible collectively.

Question 5


FROM SRI PRADIP SOLANKI - New Delhi
If we are all dear children of God why does he inflict so much suffering to his dear ones?
If suffering is what I have earned because of my mistakes already committed in the past, why it is said that prayers and faith will wipe out one"s suffering? If every cause has an effect how can one get away from suffering due from past mistakes?

Answer:


Yours is a very interesting question indeed and speaks of a mind that wants to look at things from a logical view point. This is a welcome trait because for every sadhana, both logic and intuitive faith are necessary to be well understood.

Logically, it is absolutely true that every cause has to have an effect or every action has to produce a reaction. In case one has committed a mistake in the past, dictated by one"s ignorance or lack of control over the senses, a process of atonement is inevitable. It may happen in this life or lives hereafter. But it has to happen.

When one commits "mistakes" ( some people describe it as committing sins), it creates an unwelcome imbalance in the creation. As we have already discussed (read Ahwan Vol June 2000 issue) the creation runs guided by divine principles that is benevolent to everyone without exception. So any action done by anyone which runs counter to these righteous principles creates imbalance and then the nature acts to restore balance. One has to go through this correction process. Obviously this process can not be very pleasant to the person who has committed the mistake. We do not like it and see it as unhappiness and misery. The way out of this is clearly avoiding committing such mistakes. (duhkham heyam anagatam). That is why all recognised religions of mankind urge people to constantly control the senses, tread the path of righteousness and not deviate from it.

This natural process, which we experience as unhappiness and misery that we go through, has a profound philosophy hidden within. The Lord has no intention of unleashing misery upon His loved ones. Every such circumstance that unfolds as the outcome of our wrong doing, carries a message, a lesson from The Lord which has to be learnt not only to avoid re-occurrence, but also to assist thereby in our spiritual evolution. That is a constant endevour of the loving Lord.

Unfortunately most of us fail to understand or learn this lesson from every unhappy and painful situation and keep on committing "sins" again and again. Why blame destiny or God for it?

How do prayers and faith help?

The lower level human mind has this tendency of exaggerating all unpleasant situations as unbearable etc. An enlightened mind sees them in their true perspective neither exaggerating nor belittling. Prayer and faith in the divine working, precisely clears this mental block and does not allow us to go overboard when misery strikes. With understanding this misery appears much less grave and we perceive it as if our misery has been reduced. This is a relative lessening of unhappiness. ( papakshyaya) It is really all in the mind only

Secondly, with growing understanding arising out of the faith in the divine, the lesson that ought to be learnt from this is quickly learnt. With that, the future sins or mistakes are avoided. If one has learnt the lesson, the purpose is already served. So one avoids future predicaments. The Lord is pleased to see one has earned his future happiness.

So, while a mistake invariably brings unhappiness, prayer and faith brings understanding and strength to bear it, gives a sense of composure, and teaches us the lesson that we ought to learn. Prayer and faith makes the mind to accept this lesson. The results show in our actions and ensures a happier future life.

Author Bio :
From Ahwanm the spiritual approach to life by Sri Bimal Mohanty. http://www.ahwan.org/index.php

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