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Lord Lakulish
28th Incarnation of Shiva

Swami Kripalvananda
Initiated as a Renunciate Yogi


Swami Kripalvananda as Renunciate Yogi

On Overcoming My Obsession with Food

On Diet

Sattvic Charity and Tithing

Rajasic and Tamasic Charity

On Fear and Disease, Eating and Exercise

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Swami Kripalvananda as
Renunciate Yogi

In 1934 at the age of nineteen Swami Kripalu encountered his mysterious and nameless guru. He enjoyed a close and intimate relationship with him and was formally initiated into yoga.  Fifteen months after their meeting, the guru abruptly abandoned his ashram and left Swami Kripalu's life as mysteriously as he had entered it.  Eight years later in 1942, Swami Kripalu took formal vows of renunciation and began traveling on foot from village to village throughout western India, teaching, singing and turning hearts to God.  Sayings of Swami Kripalu by Danna and Richard Faulds p. 78



On Overcoming My Obsession
with Food

Such an unusual fate I have had!  From earliest childhood, I used to go to my mother all day -- morning, noon , and night -- with only one prayer -- "Please give me something to eat."  Yet, after going out to play again, I would soon become hungry and run back for another snack.

Yes, hunger and I were terrible enemies. Hunger stalked me voraciously, and the fire of my appetite never subsided.  My mouth just kept moving like a millstone.  I would always beg to eat a little more at lunch so that hunger would not overpower me so soon afterwards.

I was born into a family during an age when parents often inspired their children to undertake fasts. Other children were fasting at age five or six, but I had not yet fasted at the age of ten.  As soon as the thought of fasting came into my mind, my appetite would voraciously attack me.  It would force me to eat twice as much breakfast, at a time even earlier than usual.

Finally, when I was ten years of age, my mother proclaimed that I should observe the upcoming Ekadashi Fast Day.  My sister Indumati advised my mother, "If you really want him to observe the fast, you will have to lock him up in his room.  Otherwise, since he normally eats four times a day, he will eat five times on this fast day."

Everyone was sure that this plan would never work if I knew about it beforehand, so they kept it a secret from me.  Then dawned the dreadful day of the Ekadashi fast.  After I had arisen and performed my normal routine, Mother said, "Come upstairs with me." The moment I followed her into my study room on the second floor, she locked the door behind me and announced, "Today is the auspicious day of Bhima Ekadashi, and you must observe the fast. I will call you when it's time for fruit."

As soon as my mother went downstairs, hunger came upstairs.  I just could not fast, and yet fasting was being forced upon me.  My mind became very restless and angry as a result of my hunger.


"How can I ever make it through this fast today?"

"What if I go to bed hungry?"

"How will I sleep with an empty stomach?"

"How can I get some food?"

I knew the schedule and habits of the entire household.  I knew that when my mother went into the kitchen to prepare my brother's lunch, that was my chance to sneak into the pantry.

There was a small balcony off my study on which a garment was drying.  I quickly lashed it to a pillar and quietly lowered myself directly into the kitchen courtyard.  My mission now was to hunt for any food stored in the pantry.  I crept softly into the storeroom.  Without a sound, I explored every can, jar, pot, and pan.  A bag of rice flakes came into my hand.  Gripping it between my teeth, I rapidly scrambled up onto the balcony the way I had climbed down.

Gleeful, I thought to myself, "Now I can spend the whole day eating these rice flakes!"  (Ed. Which he did, though his ruse was discovered two weeks later when his mother went to find the rice flakes.)

Now just consider: if a person could not tolerate hunger when he was ten years old, how much less would he be able to tolerate hunger when he was nineteen?  At nineteen, I was used to eating two meals and two snacks a day.  Not only that, but I would never turn down extra snacks or meals. Since I was very fond of exercise, my appetite was voracious.

I was a disciple of my Reverend Gurudev. Gurudev was a great man.  I believe he knew me inside and out, and I had unflinching faith in his divine wisdom.


One day, Gurudev said to me, "From tomorrow onward you should eat only once a day."  I became depressed merely upon hearing this order.  My appetite was notorious.  Thus, when my Gurudev told me that from that day on I should eat only twice a day, I pleaded, "Guruji, how will I be able to carry out this formidable task?"  But he gave no comfort to my cowardice.

I was utterly dissatisfied during the first week, but thereafter my train gradually began to run on the right track.  After two months, Gurudev changed the routine again.

He instructed, "After tomorrow, you should eat only once a day, and that meal should be moderate."

"I have to eat moderately and only once a day?"


He nodded, "Yes.”

My mind was in revolt for a week.

Eventually, however, it mellowed.

Gurudev insisted that I eat with him, and informed the sister who served us that I must eat moderately.  After I ate the moderate portions she had served, Gurudev would order me to leave the table.  Sometimes the sister cried in pity at my situation, although it was obvious that Gurudev’s orders contained no trace of cruelty or oppression; they were full of a very powerful and tender affection.  The task that had at first seemed difficult was made easy, and the person who had seemed cruel was actually loving.


Then, after keeping me on the dietary regimen of one meal a day, Gurudev instructed that I only drink milk for three months.  During the first few days, I felt discomfort again, but afterwards, things began to run smoothly.

Eventually Gurudev said, "My son, starting tomorrow you should fast for forty days on water and practice mantra Japa (repetition of sacred Sanskrit sounds).  His first two words, “My son” seemed so sweet.  They had the unique power to sweeten the bitterness of everything that followed.  Yet, my mind was not prepared to believe that I could observe a forty-day continuous fast on water.  I may have had the willpower to fast on water for two or three days, perhaps, but I knew that to fast for forty days was far beyond my capacity

On hearing his order, my mind became a battlefield between conviction and logic.  I was prepared to obey.  Yet, although I had unflinching faith in sadhana (spiritual practice), I was very doubtful whether I could actually accomplish this task.


Gurudev said, "I will quote to you from scripture: The word upvas, or fasting, is composed of two syllables: up meaning 'near or close' and var meaning 'to reside'; that is, 'to live close to the Lord.'  Thus, the Lord sits near the fasting devotee who is helpless with love. Actually, a true devotee is hungry only for love, and since the Lord loves to look with unblinking eyes at the face of the love-hungry devotee, He never leaves him alone.  When he does not eat enough food to fill his stomach, the Lord fills him."

Finally, it was the day of the fast.  Guruji initiated me with the mantra and showed me to the room where I was to fast.  He said, "You must observe austerities for forty days.  There is a water pot inside.  Every day I will lock your door from the outside and keep the keys with me.  You are free to come for darshan (a meeting or audience with a spiritual master in this case, with himself) twice a day."


Expressing my mental anguish and confusion, I asked, "Guruji, must you bother to lock and unlock the door yourself?"

"Yes, I will do this myself," said Gurudev with finality.

Such affection for his disciple.  What unparalleled grace!  I have never been proud of my arduous austerities, even in a dream; it is all truly due to the divine grace of my Gurudev [Dadaji, the Lord Lakulish, who is seen in the idol at the Temple of Lord Brahmeshvar ]."


On Diet

Moderation in diet is one of the foundations of spiritual progress.  "Moderation means "eating the precise amount of food required to keep the body alert and efficient."  But if a delicious dish is put in front of an orator while he is preaching about moderation in diet, he will want to stop talking about moderation until he has eaten the food.

In India , moderation in diet is given deep consideration as an important part of spiritual life, since one’s energy is generated, protected, and maintained by moderate diet.  In addition, every, religion invariably prescribes fasting.  If fasting were not woven into the structure of the social religions, there would be even more disease and death in the world.

 It is necessary for you to know that in order to prevent disease you must follow moderation in diet. And to keep from getting sick you must do postures and pranayama and other forms of exercise. To prevent disease you should not eat when you are not hungry and chew your food well for proper digestion. By always remaining consciously aware, you will protect yourself from disease. It is best to not stay up late at night and to protect your body with proper understanding. Keep the doors of the mind closed so that inappropriate thoughts can't enter and keep the vents open so that the good thoughts flow through.


Sattvic Charity and Tithing;

Charity comes in three varieties: pure, passionate, and polluted; that is, sattvic, rajasic, and tamasic. Lord Krishna defines charity as gifts given to helpless and deserving persons, with the feeling that it is the giver's duty to give; and which are presented in the proper place, time and situations Everyone in the world can give very generously whether he is very rich or very poor. To equate charity solely with gifts of money, clothes, or food is a real delusion. In fact, we can give countless other gifts such as education, security, and comfort. The Lord is invoked in our heart whenever it melts at the sight of a helpless person's intolerable pain. At such times, our heart becomes totally illuminated with the Lord's divine light.

Everyone has his own pains to suffer. But those who suffer for others' pain are God's messengers because He extends His help through them. These messengers are actually very fortunate. Even without practicing austerities, when their heart is touched by the pain of others, they experience the same sattvic feelings which usually emerge as a result of practicing arduous austerities. This experience should be considered truly the grace of the Lord. Just think, anyone can be a great philanthropist. One can give great comfort to the hearts of others just by giving a loving glance to someone who is in despair or by addressing an afflicted person as "Brother" or "Sister."
Since sattvic charity remains engraved in the donor's memory, his heart (antahkaran) continually receives a form of divine joy. Note, however, two of the major principles of sattvic charity: "give and forget" and "give secretly"; that is, as much as possible give without others knowing.


It is necessary for you to know that in order to prevent disease you must follow moderation in diet. And to keep from getting sick you must do postures and pranayama and other forms of exercise. To prevent disease you should not eat when you are not hungry and chew your food well for proper digestion. By always remaining consciously aware, you will protect yourself from disease. It is best to not stay up late at night and to protect your body with proper understanding. Keep the doors of the mind closed so that inappropriate thoughts can't enter and keep the vents open so that the good thoughts flow through. Buying something one wants from a shop is not attachment; paying for it is not renunciation. If one gives money or gifts to family members or loved ones, such giving is not renunciation or charity; it is one's family duty. Any gifts one offers while bowing at the feet of one's Sadguru are not charity; such giving is homage or dakshina and is an expression of love. Also, anything one dedicates at the holy feet of the Lord is not charity; it is consecration and an expression of love. Furthermore, anything which one gives to another with pleasure is not charity; it is a gift. Moreover, the salary given by an employer to an employee is not charity; it is wages given in exchange for his labor.


Charity is only that which one gives with compassionate and religious feelings.  Although almost everyone wants to have an abundance of material possessions, they forget that before acquiring plenty of riches they should offer some portion of their possessions as a token of their love for God. After all, when a farmer sows an old seed in his field, the compassionate Lord gives him 900 seeds in return. Through love for this generous Lord, one should give away a portion of whatever one hopes to acquire, even if one gets an inadequate amount. Then, after obtaining one's desire, one should first set aside a small portion for charity and use the rest for himself.

The farmers of India are very generous. Whenever a Sadguru comes to their home, they welcome him by tossing a few grains of rice over his head. When he is ready to leave, they give him a huge bag of rice that they have set aside. This act is inspired by the thought: "We are farmers. It would be shameful to welcome the Sadguru by tossing just a few grains in the air. We sow just a single grain in the field, and the Lord gives us hundreds of grains in return. The sight of God's generosity inspires us to be generous too; and even our feelings of generosity are His grace!"  Likewise, before I began this discourse, you in the audience also bowed down and offered the guru whole flower pots rather than a single flower.


We cannot see the Lord as He continually nourishes the sun and the moon with light, as He secretly fills the earth with food, and as He secretly fills the clouds with water.  Human eyes can clearly see the sun, the moon, the light, the earth, the food, the clouds, and the water. However, our eyes cannot perceive the Lord, any part of His body, or even the shadow of His body. The Creator of the world is so great; and since we are truly His children, then our nature should contain a bit of His generosity.

Pure sattvic charity is defined as "generously giving everything one has or totally giving of oneself." When a devotee offers pure charity with faith to God and guru, they, in return, feel tremendously content and merge with the devotee, making him their own.


Those with exorbitant wealth are considered rich. Yet, if despite their wealth they are not generous, they are really paupers, because they behave like paupers. Conversely, those who are very poor but who are generous despite their poverty are actually wealthy because they behave like wealthy people. One who donates anything to the family, society, nation, and the world, according to his capacity, is a truly wealthy and cultured person. Those who do not give of themselves are poor and degenerate. The average person hoards everything he earns and uses it only for himself instead of for others. Many wealthy aristocrats are even more selfish than that; they not only hoard everything they have for themselves, but they also try to snatch everything they can get from others. They are a treacherous threat to everyone everywhere.

Thus, it is irrational to equate wealth with material abundance. Actually, anything considered valuable is an asset and is, thus, a form of wealth and prosperity. From this perspective, we should treat as assets and wealth our physical and mental health and well-being, our love, and our knowledge. Some portion of whatever one gets should be set aside for others; only then should the person wholeheartedly enjoy whatever remains. Donation is a basil leaf through which the subsequent enjoyments become the Lord's prasad.


Rajasic and Tamasic Charity

Rajasic charity involves the type of giving which is forced and painful, with obligation attached and exchange expected. Almost everyone in the world practices rajasic charity.  Tamasic charity involves the type of giving which is motivated by condescension and contempt, and in which the improper place, time, and recipient are chosen. For lack of time, I have not elaborately explained these two forms of charity.  In conclusion, remember to always keep this sentence from the Upanishads in your heart: Relish and set aside even a little bit of whatever you receive for the love of God.


On Fear and Disease, Eating
and Exercise

We are afraid of disease. But at the time of overeating we forget that if we overeat we will be unhealthy, that overeating is the invitation to the disease. When we have to run to the bathroom often, then only do we say, "I made a mistake in eating." That mistake is the fear. What is the picture of the fear?

The knowing that our desire will not be fulfilled creates a fear. When we desire something and we have the painful projection that we will not get it, a fear is created. Our doubt is our fear. Doubt is not a real thing. When we have such a doubt, whether something is gold or brass, for example, we are in the middle. Whenever we doubt something or are indecisive about something, we are in limbo. If we do not know what health is, we are afraid of disease.


The same reasons that protect your health will remove your poor health. So the first thing to determine in protecting your health is, "How should I behave?" One of the reasons for disease is indigestion. Indigestion is due to lack of physical exercise. Without the physical exercise, you cannot digest food properly. If you could really digest food without exercise, you would eat all the food in stock. There are some people who do some form of exercise and then eat twice as much. If a person were to choose to eat less, he would have a sharp intellect. It is worthwhile doing physical exercise.

We can only truly live happily if we do physical exercise. Those who exercise properly digest food properly and hey find food very tasty. The taste of food is one thing, but the inner sensation of real hunger is all together different. You get up in the morning and after you finish your morning routine you start overeating. This is not proper. Leave your stomach empty for awhile and you will experience joy and alertness of the body. When you get up yawning, you are eating yawns. Then you eat food again. That increases the dullness.


In such conditions, there won't be the alertness. In order to become alert, give up morning breakfast. Another thing, when you eat, chew your food well. If you do not chew thoroughly, the saliva does not mix with the food properly. And that does not help digestion. One of the many joys in this world is to eat the food that you like. By eating moderately your intellect remains pure and you can engage your attention on the Lord. I'm not willing to overeat, [thereby] missing the opportunity of having my attention on God.

It is necessary for you to know that in order to prevent disease you must follow moderation in diet. And to keep from getting sick you must do postures and pranayama and other forms of exercise. To prevent disease you should not eat when you are not hungry and chew your food well for proper digestion.

By always remaining consciously aware, you will protect yourself from disease. It is best to not stay up late at night and to protect your body with proper understanding. Keep the doors of the mind closed so that inappropriate thoughts can't enter and keep the vents open so that the good thoughts flow through.



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