May I answer that by Swami Sivananda

  • By Swami Sivananda
  • November 2003


Q173. The Hindus worship the phallus or the sex organ. They are ignorant people. They have no philosophy.  
This is the sarcastic statement of a curious, passionate, impure foreigner of little understanding or intelligence. When a foreigner tries to learn the Tamil or the Hindustani language, he first tries to pick up some vulgar words. This is his curiosity nature. Even so, the curious foreigner tries to find out some defects in the worship of symbols. The Linga is only the outward symbol of the formless being, Lord Siva.

Linga means ‘mark’ in Sanskrit. It is a symbol which points to an inference. When you see a big flood in a river, you infer that there must have been heavy rains the previous day. When you see smoke, you infer that there must be fire. This vast world of countless forms is Linga of the omnipotent Lord. The Siva Linga is a symbol of Lord Siva. When you look at the Linga, your mind is at once elevated and you begin to think of the Lord.

There is a mysterious power or indescribable Sakti in the Linga to induce concentration of the mind. Just as the mind is focussed easily in crystal gazing, so also, it attains one-pointedness when it looks at the Lingam. That is the reason why the ancient Rishis of India have prescribed the Lingam for being installed in the temples of Lord Siva.

To a sincere devotee, the Linga is not a block of stone. It is all radiant Tejas or Chaitanya. The Linga talks to him, makes him shed profuse tears, produces horripilation and melting of the heart. It raises the devotee above body-consciousness and helps him to commune with the Lord and attain Nirvikalpa Samadhi. Lord Rama worshipped the Siva Linga at Rameswar. Ravana, the learned scholar, worshipped the golden Linga. What a lot of mystic Sakti there should be in the Linga!

The light of consciousness manifesting out of Sadasiva is, in reality, the Siva Linga. Form Him all the moving and unmoving creations take their origin. He is the Linga or cause of everything. In Him the whole world merges itself finally. The Siva Purana says: Pitham Ambamayam Sarvam Sivalingascha Chinmayam”. The support or Pitham of all is Prakriti or Parvati; and the Linga is Chinmaya Purusha, the Effulgent Light which is self-luminous. The union of Prakriti and Purusha, of Parvati and Siva Linga, is the cause of the world.

The union of Linga with Yoni is a representation of the eternal union between the static and the dynamic aspects of the Absolute Reality. This represents the eternal spiritual communion of the paternal and the maternal principles from which all the phenomenal diversities have originated. This is an eternal communion of the changeless Being and the dynamic Power or Sakti from which all changes flow.

The lower sexual propensities in the aspirants are eradicated by this sublime conception. The spiritualization and divinization of Linga and Yoni help the aspirants to free themselves from sexual thoughts. All base thoughts gradually vanish by entertaining this lofty idea. All sexual relations in this world are spiritualized as the manifestations of the ultimate Creative Principle, of the eternal self-enjoyment and self-multiplication of Lord Siva in and through His Power or Sakti.

Q182. Is it absolutely necessary to do Nishkama Karma Yoga for Self-realisation? If so, how should it be done?  
Yes. You cannot understand and realise the spirit and object of Vedanta if you neglect to practice Nishkama Karma Yoga for the eradication of the impurities in the mind. Nishkama Karma Yoga gives you Chitta Suddhi and eventually culminates in the realisation of the unity of the Self.

Serve everyone with intense love, without the idea of agency, without expectation of fruits, reward or appreciation. Feel that you are only a Nimitta or an instrument in the hands of God. Worship God in the poor and the sick. Have no attachment to any place, person or thing. Keep up mental poise amidst the changes of the world without consideration of success or failure, gain or loss, pleasure and pain. Have the mind always rooted in the Self amidst activities. Then you will become a true Karma Yogi. Work elevates, when done in the right spirit. Even if people scoff at you, beat and kill you, be indifferent. Continue your Sadhana.

Q184. Should it not be considered as Himsa when we cut vegetables and fruits?  
Cutting vegetables is not Himsa. There is no real consciousness in plants and trees, although there is life in them. There is life in plants, sensation in animals, mentality in human beings and spirituality in stages. There is no Visesha Ahankara and reflection of Chaitanya in plants and trees. Hence they cannot experience pain. The tree will not say, “I am experiencing pain”. The mind in plants and trees is not developed. It is quite rudimentary. It is Jada and insentient. Life on earth will be impossible if we take cutting vegetables also as Himsa. This is only splitting the hairs. This is the idle philosophy of those who take interest in vain discussions and arguments. Ignore triflnss. Become a practical man.

Q191. Is woman made for man and to serve him only? Did God create us for the kitchen and for procreation? Why should a woman play a secondary part? Why do you deny equal rights to women?  
Woman is in no way inferior to man. The home is a cooperative organization. It flourishes on the principle of division of labor. If a man earns and the wife stays at home, it does not mean that the woman is a parasite and a slave. She is indeed the builder of the nation. To make noble citizens by training their children and to form the character of the whole human race is undoubtedly a power far greater than that which women could hope to exercise as voters or law-makers, as presidents, ministers or judges.

The idea that men and women are equals is purely a Western concept. The Indian or Hindu concept is that man and woman, Purusha and Sakti, are one and indivisible. Sita did not think herself as a separate entity. She was in and of Rama. The Indian woman always identifies herself completely with her husband in all domestic, religious and social life. She is the queen of the house. She illumines the home through the glory of motherhood. It is in the motherhood of woman that all her prerogative, glory, competency and jurisdiction are specially vested.

The West has seen women playing the man in every walk of life. But I ask: “Has this contributes more to human happiness and to the real prosperity and peace of the country? Surely it has brought more divorce courts, more unhappiness, more restlessness. This has only thickened the women’s veil of ignorance and augmented their Rajasic element”.

Even in the West, there are many persons who are not in favor of women claiming equality with men. Even those who were in favor of this movement are now seriously repenting for their wrong advocacy, because they are actually witnessing before their eyes its pernicious effects.

Loose life is not perfect freedom Promiscuous mixing is not freedom. Some women of India have ruined themselves by taking advantage of this false freedom.

The ideal of the woman in the West should not be our ideal, for then we shall not only be denaturalized, but also denationalized. One nation cannot adopt the ideal and the social customs of another without undermining one’s own rock-bottom base.

Women should become good mothers only. This is the function they will have to perform in the grand plan of God. This is what is meant in the divine plan. This is the will of God. Women have their own psychological traits, temperament, capacities, virtues, instincts and impulses. They have their own disadvantages in society. They cannot, and should not, compete with men.

Q196. Observance of Brahmacharya would appear to be meaningless, because scientists, through laboratory tests, have proved that semen cannot be reabsorbed into the system and that the brain has nothing to do with semen.  
Semen is a mysterious secretion that is able to create a living body. Semen itself is living substance. It is life itself. Therefore, when it leaves man, it takes a portion of his own life. A living thing cannot be put to laboratory tests, without first killing it. The scientist has no apparatus to test it. God has provided the only test to prove its precious nature, viz., the womb. The very fact that semen is able to create life is proof enough that it is life itself.

I have thousands of letters from young men who have wasted this precious fluid and are in a miserable plight. Several young men even go the point of committing suicide! Through waste of semen, they lose all their physical, mental and intellectual faculties. Those who are perfect Brahmacharins have lustrous eyes, a healthy body and mind, and a keen, piercing intellect.

Scientists with their test tubes and balances cannot approach subtle things. No amount of dissection of the body will be able to tell you where the soul is, where life is, or where the mind is. Through the practice of Yoga, the seminal energy-not the gross physical semen-flows upwards and enriches the mind. This has been declared by the sages. You will have to experience it yourself.

Q200. Why is Ganges water regarded so sacred? What are the scientific or religious reasons for its water being eternally free from any short of contamination?Is it a fact that all sins are washed away be a dip in the Ganges?  
From time immemorial, Mother Ganges has been associated with sages and saints who had found immense spiritual benefit by bathing in her waters as well as by drinking it.

Fire can burn all other things, but cannot act upon its own self. Flowing down the Himalayan ranges which contain many a rare herb that posses disinfectant power to a very high degree, Mother Ganges contains the various chemicals (found in those herbs) in a nascent condition. As such, other pollutants lose their powers to defile the Ganges when thrown into he waters. All our religious dogmas are based on sound scientific reason.

Yes, all sins are washed away by a dip in the Ganges when there is a real Bhav in your mind that your are atoning for your wrong doings.

Q201. Don’t you believe that Naga Sadhus, when moving in public, are a standing menace to our holy culture? Have they really risen to that level as to regard this nakedness as nothing indecent and bad? Is there any spiritual significance to this nakedness of body in its totality? Kindly illumine.  Q-201.
Our holy culture is essentially spiritual in every respect. Only when the Spirit is forgotten, dualities like decency and indecency arise. All these dualities exist for the worldly man and not for him who tries to go beyond them and establish himself in that non-dual, differenceless state. From the spiritual viewpoint, how can you then come down to the level of finding the existence of dualities and getting affected by them?

The spiritual significance of remaining naked lies in its being a helpful factor in getting over the body-consciousness or Sarira Abhimana. The man whose mind is tainted with worldly thoughts and who is awake to the dualities will feel ashamed to present himself in his birthday robe in public. Only he who has conquered his senses and mind can roam in a state of nudity in public fearlessly and without the least emotional disturbance.

Some adopt this as a part of their Sadhana to overcome the body consciousness and such people generally avoid the crowds.

Of course, there are people who impersonate realised sages and move about duping the innocent public. But people can easily understand these pseudo-saints by their reactions and hence shun them.

Q202. On what grounds do you prohibit meat eating?   
On medical, psychological, moral and spiritual grounds. The mind is made up of the essence of the food that a man takes. Tamasic food results in a Tamasic mind. Meat is Tamasic and hence should be avoided.

When an animal is killed or butchered, a contraction of its nervous system takes place on account of fear. (And you might have felt certain disturbances in your own stomach when you have experienced fear) This leads to the secretion of certain poisons in the liver, etc., of the animal. Theses poisons are cumulative in their nature and are never removed or lost during the process of boiling or cooking meat. Hence, meat –eating is poisonous and dangerous in the long run.

There is no difference between you and an animal when both are considered as souls inhabiting the bodies. From whichever source you derive the right to live and enjoy in this material body, from that very same source, the souls of these animals have derived equal rights to live and enjoy in their material bodies. Hence, you do not possess the moral right to kill a single living being, however small it may be.

Q206. Is procreation a sin?
Neither manhood nor womanhood nor procreation is a sin. A seeker after Truth can beget children and later take to the path of renunciation either in and through the world or entirely out of the clutches of the world. The moment one begets a male child for the upkeep of the progeny, one can devote oneself wholeheartedly to Sannyasa if he so wishes, though it is not a hard and fast rule to have a male child before taking Sannyas. The need for a male child, though not imperative, is in consonance with the Sruti.

Q212. Why is it that the life span of the modern man is so short as compared to that of his ancestors?  
Our ancestors used to have a well regulated, disciplined life. They were not slaves of their senses as the modern people are. They used to do Japa, Pranayam, Sandhyavandana (Trikala) and Svadhyaya (study of religious books like the Gita, the Bhagavata and the Ramayana). They used to do charity and selfless services, and observe Vratas like Ekadasi, Sri Rama Navami, Sri Krishna Ashtami and Dattatreya Jayanti. They used to conduct spiritual conferences and pray for world peace and not for their own individual selves. They used to take plenty of physical exercise in the form of walking ten to twenty miles a day and at a stretch. They used to observe Yama and Niyama very rigidly. They used to live mostly in villages and not in congested areas. They were self-reliant and not dependent on others even for trivial matters. They used to have Kaya Siddhi as well as Vak Siddhi. When the present-day generation realizes the value of the way of ancient living, surely it will achieve all that it desires with the Prasannata (grace) of the Devas.

Q219. How to put permanent end to all doubts and question?  
As one advances in spiritual Sadhana and attains a greater and greater degree of evolution day by day, by regular and unremitting practice of the Yoga of Synthesis, the clouds of doubts, delusion and interrogation disperse by themselves. As the sun rises, the mist disappears. Even so, as you progress in the spiritual path by the Grace of Guru and God, all the intricate problems of life and death dissolve themselves into the ever-abiding Truth of existence. The only duty of man is to intensify the inner purity by graded integral Sadhana. Whenever doubts, troubles and the like arise, repeat any one of the following Mantras: Om Sri Rama Saranam Mama or Om Sri Krishna Charanau Saranam Prapadye or your Guru Mantra. There is no room for doubts to crop up on the attainment of God-realisation, as the seeker is no longer the seeker, but God Himself.

Q225. Is God conscious or unconscious? If He conscious, He must have a form, for only a being who has a body can be conscious.   
God is pure consciousness. He is omniscient, all-knowing. He is Nirakara, formless or incorporeal. This physical body has limited our universal consciousness. Consciousness is of various kinds, viz., physical consciousness, mental consciousness and absolute consciousness. You will experience the highest consciousness when you transcend the three bodies through constant and intense meditation. With this physical body and limited senses you can have the physical consciousness only.

Q229. Why should there be evil?  
This is a question which still remains unanswered by sages, Rishis, Acharyas and philosophers. Do not put this question now. You cannot understand it now in your present stage of evolution. It is inexplicable, inscrutable, Anirvachance Maya. Brahman or God only knows. You will understand it only when you get rid of Maya, when you attain the knowledge of Brahman. This question is put in another way also. Why has God created this universe? Nobody knows the why and how of this universe. Don’t rack your brain on this point now. You won’t get an answer. You will only waste your energy. Try to go beyond evil. There are ways. Know them and exert.

Q253. What are the advantages of Mouna or the vow of silence? Should I also observe?  
Observe Mouna for a couple of hours daily at any time that suits you. Try to speak little at other times. Avoid obscene language. Talk sweetly and gently. You must have perfect control over speech. Control over speech means control of mind. The organ of speech, Vak Indriya, is a great distractor of the mind. Mouna gives you peace. It removes anxieties and quarrels. It develops your will power. It conserves energy. It reduces the force of Sankalpa or the thought-current.

Q264. Why do the Hindus give more importance to the Bhagavad Gita than to the Uttara Gita?  
The Bhagavad Gita is more comprehensive and detailed in the exposition of the philosophy and teachings of Sri Krishna. Rather, it is a magnum opus among the scriptures of the Hindus, and so, in substance and scope, it is more important than the Uttara Gita, also of Sri Krishna. But please note that there are many Gitas, such as the Anu Gita, Avadhuta Gita and so on, all of which are helpful to the spiritual aspirant. Yet, among all the Gitas-quite few dozens of them, major and minor-, the Bhagavad Gita is the most important, integral, comprehensive and the best.

Q266. What are the marks of spiritual progress? How can one know whether he is advanced is the spiritual path or not?  
Peace, cheerfulness, contentment, dispassion, fearlessness and an unperturbed state of mind under all conditions indicate that you are advancing in the spiritual path.

Spiritual progress is not measured by Siddhis or powers, but only by the depth of your bliss in meditation.

These are the sure tests of your spiritual progress: -

Is your interest in inner spiritual activity and outer Sadhana increasing day after day?   

Does spiritual life mean to your consciousness a matter of great delight, a delight far transcending the happiness that the world of vital pleasures affords you or offers you?

Has your personal awareness come to a possession of a sense of peace and strength which men who are not aspirants do not find in their everyday lives?

Do you feel certain that your power of discrimination and light of thought have been steadily growing?

Is your life being gradually led to such experiences which reveal to you the operation of a will and intelligence other than your own, the will and intelligence of the Omnipotent Lord?

Has there come into the conscious activities of your everyday life, the active function of a new delightful angle of vision, a new perspective, a strong sense of self-possession, a steadily growing conviction of your dependence upon and intimate relation with the all-pervading Divinity?

If your answers to all these questions or to any one of them are in the affirmative, be absolutely sure that you are progressing, and progressing speedily, in the spiritual path.

Q272. What is the purpose of singing Kirtans constantly?  
Singing of Kirtans incessantly will produce divine vibrations within and these vibrations are so powerful as to counteract all external forces distracting the human mind and arrest the wanderings of the mind, bringing peace and happiness to the individual. There is a mysterious power in the Divine Name that singing it purifies the heart and mind and makes the Kirtanist God-conscious.

Also read –
1. Section Indian Culture – Questions & Answers Indian Culture.
2. Section Indian Culture – In Indian Culture why do we.
3. Section Philosophy – Spiritual Quest.

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