Though I give much freedom and liberty in dress and external forms, I am very strict with my students with regard to the essentials. The rules prescribed by the Order of Sannyasa must be followed. Then only can they shine as ideal Sannyasins. Comfortable Sannyasa is very dangerous. They should not give lenience to the mind. Fashionable, independent Sannyasins are a menace to society. The people in the world curse such Sannyasins and treat them with disrespect and contempt. They, however exalted in the spiritual line, should not live in the company of women or householders and freely mix with others. Burning Vairagya with simple living and high thinking must be the ideal at every moment of their lives.
No doubt renunciation is mental. That does not mean that you can do anything and live in any way you like. That will bring your downfall. Strive for perfection by following the traditional rules for discipline and control of mind and senses. Discipline in food and dress will naturally manifest itself if you have genuine Vairagya and dispassion. External observance of the rules will help you to stick to the path. Maya works havoc. Maya deludes. Beware. Be cautious at every step and watch the Vrittis of the mind.
My disciples should have no superiority complex. They are not dry philosophers who spend all their time and energy in preaching alone. They have self-sacrifice and serve the world with their silent and intense Sadhana. In the midst of intense service, they learn the way to rivet the mind on the Lakshya. They are rooted in the idea: "The world is a long dream (Deergha Svapna), perishable-Truth alone is Real." For my students, there is no world. They perceive the Divinity behind all names and forms.
PURIFY THE INNER NATURE
Purify your mind. Develop Sattvic qualities such as nobility, courage, magnanimity, generosity, love, straightforwardness, truthfulness. Eradicate all evil qualities such as lust, greed, anger, avarice, Raga-dvesha and other negative traits which stand in your way of ethical perfection and Self-realisation. Ethical perfection is a pre-requisite to Self-realisation. No amount of practice can be of any value to the aspirant if he ignores this side of Sadhana. Love all. Prostrate yourself before everybody. Become humble. Talk loving, sweet, endearing words. Give up selfishness, pride, egoism, hypocrisy. Regenerate your lower nature.
Find out through self-introspection if you want real freedom and liberation or you are just inquisitive about higher things or have a lurking desire for obtaining money, name and fame by exhibiting spiritual powers. Become sincere. All qualifications will come by themselves when you are in the company of evolved persons and live in an atmosphere charged with spiritual vibrations.
ATTITUDE TOWARDS WOMEN
My silent adorations and prostrations to all women, who are manifestations of the Divine Mother, Sakti or Kaali. They are the backbone of society and upholders of religion. If they are inspired, the whole world will be inspired. There is a peculiar religious instinct in them. They have natural, inborn divine qualities. In olden days, Hindu ladies also led the life of celibacy, served the Rishis, meditated on the Atman and obtained Brahma Jnana. In ancient days there were many Siddhas, Brahma Jnanis, Vairagis, Bhaktas and advanced Yogis among women. By their purity and perfection they could do miraculous things when there were occasions for utilising their spiritual power. There are instances of their giving life to the dead, stopping the rising of the sun in the morning and of controlling the elements also. Even today you can find many women in Rishikesh, Haridwar, Brindavan. Banaras and other holy places in India, who have renounced the world and taken to the path of Yoga.
I do not detest anybody. I revere a woman as my own self. I regard women as Mother Durga or Divine Mother. Women are dynamic forces on earth. Religion is sustained through their piety. To passionate youths, I have written a lot about the perishable nature of the physical body of women. It is just to develop in them a strong Vairagya and help control of their senses and mind. Though for the sake of inducing Vairagya in men I have given a negative description of women, I have great reverence for them. I serve them. I have done Kirtans with them in various Sankirtan Sammelans in the Punjab and the U.P. Many ladies come to the Ashram from Delhi and other places even if they get two or three days' holidays. They come in groups and join the daily Satsanga and enjoy the peace and bliss, and stay within the Ashram for days and weeks.
SHOULD WOMEN RENOUNCE THE WORLD
No doubt it is difficult for young women to get on in the Sannyasa line. They do not have the same liberty and freedom as men. Men can live and move about in any way and sleep anywhere. They can go from door to door for alms and maintain themselves. But women are greatly at a disadvantage and suffer thereby. It is a pity that there are not many ideal institutions in India exclusively for women where they can live peacefully, serve the world and evolve. Ideal institutions with all comforts and conveniences for women, who are spiritually-inclined, are a great need of the hour. For ages, this important work has been neglected.
I get letters from some sincere cultured ladies expressing a desire to tread the path of renunciation. In 1936, I gave a reply to a devotee giving my helpful suggestions:
"I cannot safely suggest any Ashram where you can live peacefully and evolve. You should get a decent amount from your parents. Invest it in a Bank. You can lead a simple life with the interest you get from the deposit. This is the best way. Even then, live in an Ashram where you have advanced souls, Mahatmas, or live with some elderly ladies of a religious temperament. Devote all your time to the study of the Upanishads, the Gita and to Sadhana. Specialise in Kirtan and Bhajan. When you advance on the spiritual path, you can go from village to village and elevate the masses and develop Bhakti in them. The world will worship you if you do so. If this is not possible, you can get a monthly allowance from your brother. This will make you dependent on him and you will develop a leaning mentality. You must be expecting his sympathy every month. This is not safe.
"If you are bent upon treading the path of renunciation but cannot manage independent means for your maintenance, you can give private tuition to some girls. Their parents will support you in return. I do not mean that you should become a qualified mistress of a school or a nurse. That is worldly. That will take away all your time and you cannot have strength or energy to do intense, regular Sadhana. The temptations of the world will affect you in the long run, Vairagya will slowly vanish. Luxury and comforts will creep in. You will miss the Goal. You will not be able to keep up the same mind and Bhav as now if you lead a comfortable life and freely mix with worldly persons. Be adamant. Never change your mind. Have perfect trust in God."
SERVICE TO WOMEN
"This mission of service to sincere women is very dear to my heart. I do not have money. I have no knack to collect money from the public, from Rajahs and Zamindars and businessmen. I do not go out for collecting money in the name of service. Occasionally I receive a little money from devotees. I spend this voluntary donation for the spiritual uplift of those who are around me and those who keep themselves in close touch with me from various centres. My books are sold in large numbers in many parts of the world, but I do not earn anything from the publications. I lavishly give away my books free. I do not know business. For starting an institution purely for ladies, I do not have resources or facilities at present."
Some orthodox people and Sannyasis say that women are not fit for the path of renunciation. My view is different. They too are eligible to tread the path of Yoga and renunciation. Several times I have thought of concentrating more on rendering a real service to mankind by starting an Ashram exclusively for ladies. That will be a boon to the world. In the absence of proper support from the world for an ideal institution exclusively for women, I have permitted many educated and cultured ladies to live in this Ashram. I personally attend to their needs and train them in all branches of Yoga, Bhajans and Kirtans. Many have learnt Yoga exercises and derived incalculable benefits.
Among them, there are many from foreign countries also. I give them initiation into the Order of Sannyasa. After some training in the Ashram they go back to various centres and they continue their Sadhana and service to the world. The Divine Life Society Branches have Ladies' sections in all parts of the world, where they have ample scope not only for their own evolution but also for serving womankind. The ladies who stay in the Ashram have all comforts and conveniences. They have all facilities, liberty and freedom. In the absence of a separate Ashram exclusively for women, this Institution has become an ideal centre for their spiritual evolution. May they all prosper and enjoy peace and Divine Glory and Splendour.