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Updated on March 9, 2012

People have different notions of how a true Saint should act or behave. Some say that he should stay in the jungle, absorbed in Divine love, some say that he should live in the society and show beneficence to the world, and such people have their own definition of beneficence. Still the question remains, what should be the ideal behavior of a Saint'?

We know that behind every action, there is a motive. Any kind of good action done by a person is either to get praise from people or to be blessed by God in the future. On the other hand, a devotee who tries to free himself from the worldly attachments and develop love for God seeks solitude and tries to remain absorbed in bhao.

These two kinds of people, a good man and a devotee, have their own motivations. But in the case of a Saint, who has risen above the worldly ambitions and who is tasting the ultimate sweetness of Divine love all the time, there seems to be no reason why he should do any good deed or why he should stay in isolation.

Someone might say that a Saint, being kind-hearted, should do good to the people, otherwise what is the use of his being in the world? It is true that a Saint must do good to others but the question is, what is `good'? How can one know what is good for him, when he is unenlightened and ignorant? At the same time, in what way should a Saint do good for others?

Suppose a perverse and selfish person asks for help in his wrong activities. Is it good to help him? Definitely not. Suppose a needy person asks for money, a barren woman wants a child, and a lustful person wishes to marry a pretty girl. These are common ambitions of people. Is it good to fulfill them?

Everyone will answer `yes,' because those are the things they really desire. Suppose a Saint grants these things to a person. Will that person be contented and happy? No. It is our experience that ambitions never die, but multiply. The fulfillment of an ambition only causes temporary happiness, and instantly a new desire arises in the mind that tempts one's heart. Thus, the whole life of a person is spent in fulfilling, multiplying and pursuing his desires and ambitions which leave him dissatisfied forever.

For example, a childless person is blessed with a child, and he believes that he has received this with the blessings of a holy man. We notice that first he was desirous for a child, but now he is worried about the child's welfare. Suppose the child turns out to be a naughty and spoiled boy, the man will again rush to the holy man to seek blessings for the boy. Suppose the boy grows into a man and treats his parents cruelly. The father would now think that it would have been better if he never had this child. He again goes to that person to report the wickedness of his son and seeks help to regain his mental peace. Thus, we see that he is beset by all kinds of ambitions and anxieties and he has no peace of mind.

A true Saint, in fact, never grants worldly things to people. Moreover it has already been explained in the first part of this book that a person receives pains and pleasures in the world according to the actions of his past lives. Therefore God or a Saint has nothing to do with a person's material deficiencies.

If a person has done wrongs in his past life, he will get the results in his present life; no one can undo them. Apples cannot be harvested from acacia trees. Most people are so selfish and ignorant that they seek the Grace of a Saint only for their worldly gains, and there are thousands of hypocrites all over India and the world who take advantage of this human weakness. They dress themselves up in saintly clothes and pretend to grant boons to the needy, although no such boon can be granted to a person who is not destined to receive it. A man carries his own destiny, but people, because of their blind faith, cling to such pretentious dissemblers. Any person in a saintly garb who promises to grant a material boon is certainly neither a Saint nor even a good man, because a good man never pretends to be what he is not. We must know that a Saint never helps in fulfilling worldly ambitions, but he does good to the souls in a true way by changing their worldly ambitions into a Divine quest.

Just as a child does not know what is good for him, but his mother knows and she does whatever she thinks best for him. Suppose a little child is happily playing with a sharp knife. As soon as his mother sees this, caring not for his cries, she snatches away the knife from his hands, because she knows that the knife may hurt his tender body, although the child does not like this kind of interference.

Similarly, the Saints do whatever is best for the souls. They do not comply with everyone's wishes, but they impose their own will for one's own good. They know that the soul is longing to meet God and without the attainment of Divine love there can be no happiness. So they tell the people about the transience of worldly enjoyments, the illusion of maya, the faults of intellectual meditations and the superiority of bhakti. They help the people in finding the true path of happiness and they Grace the true devotees with Divine love. All this they do because of their compassion for every living being.

Thus, the actions of a Saint are neither good nor bad. They are Gracious actions through which the souls are Graced. They are far from worldly goodness or badness. They are Divine, although they appear as good or bad to ordinary people because of their material way of thinking. One should know that all the actions of a Saint are in sonic way connected to the good of the souls; it is another thing if we do not understand them due to our ignorance in Divine matters.

The story of Parvati

Take the example of Goddess Parvati, who is another form of Shly.

When Sita was worshipping Parvati, desiring Her Grace so that She would get Ram as Her husband, Parvati appeared in person and

said, "Bhagwan Ram will wed you." This instance shows that Parvati knew all about Sita's future and She also knew that Ram was God.

After many years, Shiv and Parvati came to have darshan (vision) of Bhagwan Ram, but at that time Ram was acting like an ordinary man and was grief stricken, searching for Sita, as She had disappeared suddenly. In those days Ram, His brother Lakchman and His wife Sita were living in the forest, Gracing the Saints and the Sages who lived there.

Shiv prostrated himself at a distance as He did not want to disturb Ram, and said, "Glory to supreme God Ram, Who although omniscient is pretending to be ignorant."

Parvati, hearing the words of Shiv and seeing the humanlike behavior of Ram, fell victim to confusion. She thought that if Shiv worships Ram as supreme God, He must be supreme, but My mind is not going to accept this, because I am seeing Ram as an ignorant and afflicted person. I do not see any Divineness in Him. In this way Her mind was disturbed.

This is human nature that when any doubt enters the mind it goes deeper and deeper and a person becomes more restless and puzzled. Shiv, knowing the mental state of Parvati, advised Her, "Why don't You go near Ram and find out the truth?" Parvati decided to test the Divineness of Ram, as to whether He really was God or not. She tried and failed.

After a long time, Shiv and Parvati were sitting in their abode, Kailash. Parvati, finding Shiv in a good mood, asked Him, "Dear! I am now convinced that Bhagwan Ram is supreme God, yet a little doubt remains that the son of King Dashrath, Ram, Whom We saw in the forest searching for Sita, is the same Ram who is absolute Divinity, or the absolute Divinity Ram is someone else? Would You please explainit to Me?"

(Ram is an eternal form of supreme God, Whose abode is called Saket, a modest manifestation of Divine love. He descends on this earth planet from time to time according to His schedule. His latest descension was millions of years ago. He appeared in Ayodhya, a town in North India. His father was Dashrath and his mother Kaushalya. He

ruled India from the capital, Ayodhya, for ten thousand years and then ascended to His abode. His biography is the Ramayan, which also contains spiritual philosophy and is one of our important scriptures. The story of Parvati, described here, is taken from the Ramayan.)

So, when Parvati asked, Shiv answered thus,

"Parvati, in fact You have no doubts, because You and I are one, not two. In this way You want the form of Bhagwan Ram to be revealed to the people of the world so they will know that the same absolute Divinity Ram, Who is omnipresent, appeared as the son of King Dashrath:' (Shiv then related the whole history of Bhagwan Ram to Parvati which is called the Ramayan, and that was again described and written by Goswami Tulsidas about five hundred years ago.) Thus, one ignorant looking question revealed the history of Ram and the philosophy of divine love devotion.

Parvati's former simulations of ignorance and confusion established the glory of Ram and His leelas, and revealed the truth that the leelas of supreme God cannot be intellectually understood even by the highest personality of this world like Herself.

Thus, we understand that all actions of the Saints, whatever they might be, are to Grace and to enlighten the souls. They may not lie understood due to ignorance, but they certainly are for the good of the souls.

Sometimes a Saint's actions are concerned with a particular person or for certain reasons, and such actions, for which no intellectual inference is possible, appear to be puzzling and surprising to people.

Strange Stories of real SAINTS

For instance, Arjun once visited the abode of Indra where he was greatly honored. The most beautiful woman of that abode, Urvashi, fell,in love with Arjun, so during the night she made amorous advances towards him, but he remained unmoved by her beauty and resisted her. The same Arjun (after receiving the knowledge of the Gita) went to Naglok (a lower celestial abode) where he fell in love with a damsel. Bheem, the younger brother of Arjun, married Hidamba while they were in exile. The attachment of the Sage Parashar and the birth of the five Pandavas are all unbelievable events. When the war of Mahabharat was over, Dhritrashtra, the blind father of Duryodhan and his ninety­nine brothers, who were killed in the battlefield, wished to embrace Bheem. Krishn played a trick and sent him an iron statue, saying, "Here is Bheem, you may embrace him."

There are many such events in the Puranas which people read and criticize. They apply their material minds to find answers to the strange deeds of the Saints, asking, "How and why they do so." It is absolutely impossible for the human mind to understand because they are all Divine actions. For example, there is a story of Hazrat Moosa, a well known Saint, who was famous for having seen the `light of God' on the Toorhill.

Once, in the early days of his life, (Hazrat) Moosa went to see Saint Alkhizra and asked him if he could stay with him for sometime. Alkhizra agreed on the condition that Moosa should neither interfere with his actions nor should he ask any reason for them. Moosa agreed and began to live with him.

One day they were walking along the beach when Alkhizra saw a ship coming. He made a hole in its bottom with his power and thus the ship sank. Moosa wondered at this act but remained silent. As they went further, Alkhizra saw a handsome youth. He charged over to him and put him to death. Moosa was uneasy within, but still remained quiet according to the agreement. Further they went and reached a town where Alkhizra found a ruined house. Alkhizra stopped, called for Moosa to collect the debris and started to rebuild the walls. Moosa lost his patience and he asked Alkhizra the reason for his strange actions, Alkhizra replied, "The-ship I sank would have been captured and Its wealth misused by a king. The person I killed was a good looking scoundrel, and the wall I am building is to protect the wealth buried in these grounds for the children whose parents are dead, and it must be secured for their future. Now I ask you to leave me, and if you want to stay, no more questions from now on."

So we see that the doings of a true Saint cannot be judged by ordinary reasoning.

Could the actions of a Saint be impersonated?

The Bhagwatam says,

"One must not think of impersonating the deeds of Saints or God in any way. To do so, will surely be to perish. Shiv swallowed deadly poison (which came out from the sea) and remained unhurt, but if an ordinary person will try to drink poison, he will certainly die."

"It is the teachings of a Saint or God that should be followed, not his actions."

"Only those actions of the Saints should be followed which have been done to establish devotional discipline, and they should be followed wisely, according to the level of divine love consciousness at which the devotee stands."

The people of the world are so attached to the senses that they often justify their moral weaknesses by quoting instances from Ramayan or Mahabharat etc. They say, "Such and such a Saint did this, so what's the harm if I do it?" People who talk like this should know that comparing their selfish and ignorant actions with the actions of those

Divine personalities, whose every breath was beneficence, is a spiritual transgression.

The actions of Krishn in Dwarika were the ideals of good living, and these actions can and should be followed in general by all. For example, Krishn rose early in the morning, engaged Himself in morning worship, gave alms to the poor, listened to the petitions of the common people, and so on.

For the Divine love devotee of a higher stage, the Brajwasis revealed the ideal of devotional love of how a selfless devotee should love Krishn.

Their actions can he followed. But generally, it is a Rule that the teachings of Saint should be followed, not his actions.

Actions of a Spiritual Master.

I have explained about the nature of the actions of some of the historical Saints. Now we should learn how a Saint, who is scheduled by God to be a Spiritual Master, acts in the world.

The actions of each Saint differ according to the work they have been allotted to do. A Spiritual Master deals with the souls directly. There are different classes of people with different mental conditions and different devotional aptitudes, and those who come in contact with a Saint have various levels of faith and surrender. Due to this reason, a Saint has to act in such a way so that they can maintain their belief in him and derive greatest benefit from his Divine personality.

Every person has a worldly mind and worldly feelings. So, with regard to the worldly-like actions of a Saint, a devotee, even of a higher order, cannot keep his mind poised and balanced all the time. Thus, a Saint has to act varyingly with the people. Such a Saint leads a normal life and he acts differently towards different groups of people.

While in the midst of the people, he is reserved and well poised. Among ordinary disciples, he is less reserved, and among his intimate disciples he behaves informally and remains in his natural mood. Among his intimate disciples too, his behavior towards each person differs because he has to bear in mind their habitual and devotional feelings in order to provide the maximum opportunity and Grace to improve their devotional love.

Thus, he may talk more to one and he may talk less to another. He may show greater love to one and less to another. He may keep one closer to his person, and another less close, or deprive one of his personal association; all depending upon the internal status and sankars of the devotees. He may praise one or may rebuke another. He may love one to strengthen his devotional feelings) or may be angry with another to make him more disciplined or to test his patience and so on. Normally, a Saint gets angry with a disciple whom he loves more because lie wants him to improve his devotion and discard carelessness.

Although he remains constantly in a state of Divine Transcendence, he acts in different ways in public, and towards his disciples.


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    • AudreyHowitt profile image

      Audrey Howitt 

      6 years ago from California

      Very interesting article--I am not sure that I could even aspire to act in this manner but I hope to continue to feel the connection and love with and for all life--


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