MAHANS

I am a sincere devotee of Sri Raghavendra. Though I accept and chant the Maha Mantra with pleasure, at times, I feel I am doing injustice to Sri Raghavendra. This disturbs me. What should I do?

Sri Raghavendra was a great Mahan and a great Hari Bhakta. He is considered an incarnation of Prahalada Swami, who is the supreme among Bhagavatas. Moreover, the term ‘Raghava’ in the name of Sri Raghavendra denotes Sri Rama. Maha Mantra Kirtan is nothing but Hari Nama Kirtan,which is the favorite of the Bhagavatas. Hence chanting the Maha Mantra will indeed please Sri Raghavendra Swami. He will definitely accept your Kirtan you chant the Maha Mantra in front of his picture.

I have not been into any specific spiritual practices so far. However I would like to have the darshan of an enlightened sage. Are there any enlightened sages like Ramana Maharshi or Ramakrishna at present whose darshan I can have?

There are enlightened sages even today. However, it might not be of much use if I name one or two of them. At the right moment, you will find your Master. We shall pray for you so that you find your Guru soon.

All major texts mention that Sri Adi Sankara lived about 2500 years ago. However, the book ‘Autobiography of a Yogi’ cites that Sri Adi Sankara was initiated by Babaji around the 8th Century AD. Which one of them is right?

If Adi sankara Bhagavadpada had been initiated into Kriya Yoga by Babaji, his disciples like Thotakachara or Hastamalaka etc would have mentioned it in their works. Sri Adi sankara Bhagavadpada himself has dedicated all his works to his guru Sri Govinda Bhagavadpada. He would have mentioned his initiation by Babaji in his books, had that been the case. This being a case which cannot be concluded without any trace of doubt, we cannot say any thing further conclusively on initiation of Sri Adi Sankara’s initiation by Babaji.

Please enlighten me on what is the principal difference between Azhwars and Nayanmars.

Azhwars worshipped Lord Narayana as their ‘Ishta’ (favorite deity), and nayanmars worshipped Lord Shiva as their ‘Ishta’. This is the principal difference.

Why is it that only Mahans have divine visions and blissful experiences and not ordinary people?

Incarnations are rare indeed and their case is different.
As for the rest, God does not discriminate between any of His creations. However, the divine experiences and visions depend on the extent of Sadhanas (spiritual practices) that one has performed. The sadhana that one performs is a continuation of the sadhanas of his previous births.
One can no doubt, have divine visions and blissful experiences in this birth itself, if he incessantly chants the Maha Mantra with complete faith and devotion.

Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu has been described as a mahan. The Gaudiya vaishnavas believe that He is an avatar of Krishna Himself. Do you also believe in the same?

We believe so too.

Why are most of the Mahans men and not women?

This notion is not right. We have so many mahans who were women – Meera, Andal, Avvayar, Karaikkal Ammayar, Janabai, Chakkubai, Saradamani, Anandamayi Ma and so on. There have been quite a few women saints in the past who have not opted come to limelight because of the customs that prevailed during their time.

You have, in your speech said that we cannot see God and can only feel His presence. But it is taught earlier that Sri Ramakrishna and Vivekananda have seen God directly and got His blessings. I beg for your clarification.

We see because God is in us. So how to see him who is ‘behind’ the vision! Swami Vivekananda and Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa ‘saw’ God not with eyes. They experienced Him and to make us understand it can be expressed only as ‘seeing’. Like you say, I saw in my dream. Did you see through your eyes? It was in level of mind – which is a level deeper than physically seeing, right? Likewise, God Realization is in a level deeper than mind.

I read about Mahans taking up the sufferings of their devotees when they pray in distress. There is no question about the credibility of such incidents. But is it advisable for devotees to pray in such a manner especially when they know that their Guru will undergo suffering on their account? Would not this end-up in incessant sufferings for the Mahans when many such devotees pray? Instead, would it make a difference if the devotee ardently beseeches the God or Guru to give them the strength to go through the suffering? Is this not a better way of serving them by ensuring that no pain is caused to them on the account of the devotee?

Knowingly or unknowingly, throughout history, Mahans have taken up the sufferings of the devotees. Saints like Sri Ramakrishna and Bhagavan Ramana got cancer.
Yogi Ramsuratkumar was afflicted with cancer in His last days and suffered a lot. Then a devotee asked him, ‘Bhagavan! You have led a pure life. Then why such a suffering?’ Yogi replied, ‘to bring about a cosmic balance!’
Any Karma, whether positive or negative cannot be vanished; it has to be undergone. If one person does not undergo it, someone else should.
The moment a Mahan blesses a devotee, He takes their karma. Sins of a person who comes to a Guru will go to the Guru, provided he is a Uttama Guru. We see this not only in Sanathana Dharma but also in other faiths, and it happens according to the beliefs in each faith.
When the devotee is in real trouble, s/he prays earnestly to the Guru in just the same way as they would, to God, and an Uttama Guru never reveals that he is suffering on their behalf, for the cognizance of this very fact might upset the true devotee and make him/her feel guilty. It is the duty of the Guru to keep happy his devotee, who loves Him so much.

Can you throw some light on the life of saint ‘Arana’?

Arana was a great Bhakta who lived in the recent past. He lived in New Delhi in the early days of his life and was holding a high office. Once, in his dhyana, Saint Meera appeared in front of him and blessed him. She gave him the nama ‘Arana’.
Soon he moved to Chennai and his devotion to Lord Krishna grew multi-fold. He sang songs on Krishna in different languages. His satsang was always a calm and pleasant one – that is just about performing Kirtan towards developing love for Lord Krishna. The satsang does not criticize or hate anybody or anything, for they believe that everything is a ‘lila’ of Lord Krishna.
Arana lived for a short period after which he attained the feet of Lord Krishna.