Superstitions have become a part of.our life nowadays. We have various superstitions about silly things in our life.
Let me first define superstition:
It is an ill tradition followed blindly which results in exploitation of one and no or obsolete spiritual, social or sentimental importance.
Usually, it followed because people do not care enough to critically enquire about it, or their curiosity is shut down by calling them rude. Another reason it is followed is that people who follow it just out of tradition without any type of critical analysis of it. They just follow it like sheep. No one ever questions as to why is one following it.
One more reason why such rituals are present is because when people are under pressure or critical times in life, they resort to any means and methods to get out of it, and usually, people take advantage of such desperation, the exploiters involve such people in black magic or utter nonsense, just for extortion of money and exploiting their women.
Lord Swaminarayan was a strongly against such rituals and traditions which were in the society in the form of social evils. He stopped various such practices like that of Sati, and female infanticide, exploitation of women in the name of Religion, and monetary exploitation of people in general by Vairagis and Sannyasis. There was a lot of sexual exploitation of women in the name of religion or spiritual leaders, pseudo-Gods, who mislead people by misinterpreting the meaning of scriptures.
The reason for such practices as seen by Lord Swaminarayan was mainly due to the improper and incomplete knowledge of spirituality, and metaphysical world. The second was the impious and anti-Vedic lifestyle of people. People were not leading a pious and a life of integrity and dignity. Vices like meat eating and alcoholism, adultery/illicit sex and a tendency to steal as much money as possible through bribe and exploitation.
This is why Lord Swaminarayan brought about a social and spiritual reformation.
A few steps taken by Him were as follows:
- Promotion of Vedic Knowledge
Lord Swaminarayan was the founder of a new form of Hinduism which was called Neo-Hinduism. He redirected the worshipping to the Supreme God called Narayan in the Vedas. He revived Hinduism from the vices like the misinterpretation of Vedic wisdom by pseudo-Vedantis, greedy Brahmins or Tamasic and Tantric Vairagis.
Lord Swaminarayan stopped ill practices of female infanticide and Sati tradition, and He promoted true Vedic knowledge and imparted wisdom to discern between a pseudo-saint and a true saint. He also helped people get out of the fear of Tamasic demigods and goddesses, and He stopped the ill traditions of animal/human sacrifices in the name of religion.
He imparted common sense into people and corrected the misinterpretation of Vedic texts. He also inspired people to live a pure life and to practice purity both internally and externally, so that there was no chance of getting affected by paranormal activities.
He wrote this particular letter to His devotees, so that they would not be afraid of any other demigods or not get involved or be fooled by pseudo saints:
“I am Sahajanand Swami writing this letter, may all the Satsangis read blessings of Narayan. Secondly, the reason for writing this letter is as follows” A human being(His body) faces happiness-misery according to one’s own providence(fate), and also birth and death, according to one’s fate. And Bhavani, Rudra, Bhairav etc cannot kill or revive or give pain or happiness to that soul, by crossing over the fate or destiny of that soul. And Narayan Pramaeshwar is the only One capable to kill the alive and to revive the dead, to disregard the fate and Kaal(the time of death or effect of time). But no other demigods, or goddesses. Hence, one must undertake steadfast shelter of that Parameshwar and offer devotion to Him every day and one should never be afraid of other demigods and goddesses. And we are brave devotees of God, and therefore a devotee need not be afraid of any demigod or goddess. If one was able to live by Mantra-Jantra or some magical potions, then we would have witnessed such a person on this earth, but we haven’t and we have witnessed experts in Mantra-Jantra die too. And if Mantra-Jantra could kill someone, how do the Kings who have several enemies remain alive? And if one can attain great powers by Mantra-Jantra, why would the Kings and government spend so much money on defence and ammunition, and why do they keep so many Guns and weapons? Instead, they should keep one strong Shastri who is expert in Mantra-Jantra and should employ him to kill all the army and enemies, but it does not seem so. Hence, all the devotees should worship Narayan fearlessly and trust God and have a steadfast faith in God. And everything happens as God intends and nothing happens according to what we intend or anyone else intends to do. And if things happen according to our wishes, then nobody will remain a pauper as all of them aspire to become a King. But it does not happen like that.”
Some insights on the letter…
Lord Swaminarayan promotes common sense and critical thinking of various fears people have, especially women, who believe everything they listen and are afraid of so many rituals and ill omens. Some of them are true, but not all of them.
Lord Swaminarayan establishes a principle that no one is capable to transcend the fate, destiny(karma), death and life other the Supreme God, called as Narayan in Vedas. Hence he proposes devotion to Him. And urges one should not be afraid of other demigods and goddesses. As they enjoy powers and capabilities granted to them by that Supreme God.
These demigods and goddesses are real and they are honourable, but they are ineffective to a devotee and therefore a devotee should not be afraid of them and should be steadfastly anchored to Narayan. He does not mean any insult to these Gods but urges one to invest faith in the Supreme.
He made sure by this letter, that people do not get misguided into various babas or rituals in which people get exploited monetarily or sexually. He also made sure that people are saved from blasphemy and embarrassment which comes from taking help from people which we would later regret.
- Lead a pure life
Another method that Lord Swaminarayan adopted was that he inspired people to lead a pure life, free of sins and offence to other deities, spirits and devotees, or any other person. Hr inspired good and kind conduct with other people. This made sure their body and mind were pure, and evil spirits and ghosts render powerless when encountered with a pure-minded devotee.
He made sure all of his devotees practised the 5 vows firmly, that was, no meat, no intoxication or addiction of any type, no illicit sex, no stealing of money(or taking which is not entitled to one), and not to proselytize or get proselytized.
- What to do in difficult times?
Our life is bound to have ups and down, it is going to be a bumpy ride. And it is quite natural that we will not understand as to why we are facing such difficulties, we may think that we do not deserve this kind of sufferings, and it might be true. But, know this, God is judicious and he will never do injustice to us or anyone. We may not know the cause of the misery, but I always believe “The deeper that sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain.”
Here are some things that one ought to adopt in difficult times:
- Do not become depressed and disheartened. Keep the fighting spirit alive like that of a drunken sailor.
- Do not take any major decision in the time of crisis, just be patient for a while and look to complete your duties, and fulfil your priorities first. Stay low and quite for a while, do not try to do too many things.
- Have faith in God, or develop it through associating with true saints, and follow some religious discipline, and get to know spirituality. Gain spiritual education, read, listen to spiritual lectures, so that we have a clear picture as to what we are going through, and why…
- One thing you can surely do it, pump up devotion accompanied faith, more difficulties should be countered with more devotional practice. Just like we increase the cooling of the AC as and when the heat rises, similarly, increase the cooling through spirituality and devotional practice.
- Never try to run away from the situation, endure it. Running away from the situation will not change your destiny.
- Plan your life well, and save money for the future. Talk to your parents, elders or Gurus, they will surely help you.
I think it all comes down to gaining knowledge of spirituality and associating with true saints so that you have a great support system, which does not allow you to break down in difficult times.