Hari Chand Khanna

Hari Chand Khanna

Dialogues with H. C. Khanna
'Day by Day with Bhagavan'


In the afternoon Bhagavan explained in answer to Mr. H. C. Khanna of Kanpur: (Question not given)

Why should your occupation or duties in life interfere with your spiritual effort? For instance, there is a difference between your activities at home and in the office. In your office activities you are detached and so long as you do your duty you do not care what happens or whether it results in gain or loss to the employer. But your duties at home are performed with attachment and you are all the time anxious as to whether they will bring advantage or disadvantage to you and your family.

But it is possible to perform all the activities of life with detachment and regard only the Self as real. It is wrong to suppose that if one is fixed in the Self one's duties in life will not be properly performed. It is like an actor. He dresses and acts and even feels the part he is playing, but he knows really that he is not that character but someone else in real life. In the same way, why should the body consciousness or the feeling `I-am-the-body' disturb you once you know for certain that you are not the body but the Self? Nothing that the body does should shake you from abidance in the Self. Such abidance will never interfere with the proper and effective discharge of whatever duties the body has, any more than the actor's being aware of his real status in life interferes with his acting a part on the stage.

"You ask whether you can tell yourself: `I am not the body but the Self'. Of course, whenever you feel tempted to identify yourself with the body (as you may often have to, owing to old vasanas) it may be a help to remind yourself that you are not the body but the Self. But you should not make such repetition a mantram, constantly saying: `I am not the body but the Self'. By proper enquiry into the Self, the notion `I am this body' will gradually vanish and in time the faith that you are the Self will become unshakeable."


When the Mauni brought the mail today he was limping with a pain in his right thigh. Bhagavan advised him to rub some liniment on it and told the attendant to give him some. Bhagavan's small bottle for constant use was empty, so Bhagavan told the attendant to take the big bottle from the cupboard. Bhagavan told Vaikunta Vasar to take a small bottle of it to Mauni and see that he used it. When the large bottle was taken out of the cupboard Bhagavan noticed that it was not full, so he turned to Khanna, who had bought it for him, and said: "It looks as though you bought this for yourself or your children and then gave it to me when you saw what a state I am in. And perhaps the Chavanaprash you gave me was also bought for you or your children."

Khanna assured Bhagavan that the liniment was not needed for himself or his family but had been bought specially for Bhagavan, and he explained that the reason why the bottle was not full was that he had bought it in several smaller bottles and transferred it to this large one.

A little later he handed Bhagavan a piece of paper on which he had written something. After reading it, Bhagavan said: "It is a complaint. He says, `I have been coming to you and this time I have remained nearly a month at your feet and I find no improvement at all in my condition. My vasanas are as strong as ever. When I go back, my friends will laugh at me and ask what good my stay here has done me'."

Then, turning to Khanna, Bhagavan said: "Why distress your mind by thinking that jnana has not come or that the vasanas have not disappeared? Don't give room for thoughts. In the last stanza of "Sukavari" in Thayumanavar, the Saint says much the same as is written on this paper." And Bhagavan made me read the stanza and translate it into English for the benefit of those who do not know Tamil. It goes: "The mind mocks me and though I tell you ten thousand times you are indifferent, so how am I to attain peace and bliss?"

Then I said to Khanna: "You are not the only one who complains to Bhagavan like this. I have more than once complained in the same way, and I still do, for I find no improvement in myself."

Khanna replied: "It is not only that I find no improvement, but I think I have grown worse. The vasanas are stronger now. I can't understand it."

Bhagavan again quoted the last three stanzas of "Mandalathin" of Thayumanavar, where the mind is coaxed as the most generous and disinterested of givers, to go back to its birthplace, or source, and thus give the devotee peace and bliss, and he asked me to read out a translation of it that I once made.

Khanna then asked: "The illumination plus mind is jivatma, and the illumination alone is Paramatma; is that right?"

Bhagavan assented and then pointed to his towel and said: "We call this a white cloth, but the cloth and its whiteness cannot be separated, and it is the same with the illumination and the mind that unite to form the ego." Then he added: "The following illustration that is often given in books will also help you. The lamp in the theatre is the Parabrahman or the illumination, as you put it. It illumines itself and the stage and actors. We see the stage and the actors by its light, but its light still continues when there is no more play. Another illustration is an iron rod that is compared to the mind. Fire joins it and it becomes red-hot. It glows and can burn things, like fire, but still it has a definite shape, unlike fire. If we hammer it, it is the rod that receives the blows, not the fire. The rod is the jivatma and the fire the Self or Paramatma."


In the afternoon Khanna's wife appealed to Bhagavan in writing: "I am not learned in the scriptures and I find the method of Self-enquiry too hard for me. I am a woman with seven children and a lot of household cares, and it leaves me little time for meditation. I request Bhagavan to give me some simpler and easier method."

Bhagavan: "No learning or knowledge of scriptures is necessary to know the Self, as no man requires a mirror to see himself. All knowledge is required only to be given up eventually as not-Self. Nor is household work or cares with children necessarily an obstacle. If you can do nothing more, at least continue saying `I, I' to yourself mentally all the time, as advised in Who am I? Whatever work you may be doing and whether you are sitting, standing or walking. `I' is the name of God. It is the first and greatest of all mantras. Even OM is second to it."

Khanna: The jiva is said to be mind plus illumination. What is it that desires Self-realization and what is it that obstructs our path to Self-realization? It is said that the mind obstructs and the illumination helps.

Bhagavan: "Although we describe the jiva as mind plus the reflected light of the Self, in actual practice, in life, you cannot separate the two, just as, in the illustrations we used yesterday, you can't separate cloth and whiteness in a white cloth or fire and iron in a red-hot rod. The mind can do nothing by itself. It emerges only with the illumination and can do no action, good or bad, except with the illumination. But while the illumination is always there, enabling the mind to act well or ill, the pleasure or pain resulting from such action is not felt by the illumination, just as when you hammer a red-hot rod, it is not the fire but the iron that gets the hammering."

Khanna: "Is there destiny? And if what is destined to happen will happen is there any use in prayer or effort, or should we just remain idle?"

Bhagavan: "There are only two ways to conquer destiny or be independent of it. One is to enquire for whom is this destiny and discover that only the ego is bound by destiny and not the Self, and that the ego is non-existent. The other way is to kill the ego by completely surrendering to the Lord, by realizing one's helplessness and saying all the time, `Not I but Thou, oh Lord!', and giving up all sense of `I' and `mine' and leaving it to the Lord to do what he likes with you. Surrender can never be regarded as complete so long as the devotee wants this or that from the Lord. True surrender is love of God for the sake of love and nothing else, not even for the sake of salvation. In other words, complete effacement of the ego is necessary to conquer destiny, whether you achieve this effacement through Self-enquiry or through bhakti-marga."

Khanna: "Are our prayers granted?"

Bhagavan: "Yes, they are granted. No thought will go in vain. Every thought will produce its effect some time or other. Thought-force will never go in vain.

This is from THE MAHARSHI News Letter