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Spiritual teacher Sunandaji| ( Pic by Chandana Wijesinghe)

Spiritual teacher Sunandaji from India has been doing an in-depth study on the subject of Vedanta for over three decades. She has conducted many lectures both in India and overseas and offers guidance to spiritual seekers all over the world. Sunandaji will be in Sri Lanka from February 28 to March 2 to conduct a lecture series on the subject ‘Faith­—the essential component for success and peace’ at the Buddhist Culture Centre at Havelock Road Colombo. Following are excerpts of an email interview done with her.

Q: Is there a prescribed way of worshipping The Lord?
True worship is to cognize the splash of Divinity manifested in every being, everywhere. To identify and merge with that omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent reality. You must realize the boundless benefaction lavished on beings. Much less grateful for what is received and enjoyed. To this vast realm of ignorance of an unseen hand functioning, must you surrender. Worship is an acute awareness of the infinite blessings showered everywhere followed by gratitude.

Q: How important is praying in reaching the goal of becoming a perfect human being?
True prayer means faith in good rather than faith in God. A perfect human being possesses outstanding divine qualities. The general concept of prayer does not seem to have any bearing on these qualities. People merely stick to idols and get addicted to ceremonies, rituals. They miss the soul of prayer and worship. The real and earnest part of prayer is seen in the annihilation of the ego, self-effacement.

Q: We often see people worship Demi Gods to obtain materialistic favours. If one has chosen to have materialistic possessions in life, is this type of worship wrong?
Prayer is not beggary. Moreover, mere asking will not help. Yet people make selfish demands in their prayers without paying the price for them. They want to harvest without sowing seeds. The law of life is that you get what you deserve, not what you desire.

Q: If everybody is a fragmented part and parcel of the Supreme Lord, why do we have the tendency to worship demons?
Today in the name of religion people function predominantly on fiendish superstitions, parasitic ideas, blind faith, fanatic beliefs, mechanical rituals and follow various forms of worship opposed to scriptural ordinance. Plunged in ignorance, the world is steeped in sorrow and suffering. This is spiritual suicide. The root cause of suffering is that people do not look within. Hardly investigate the truth of life. The role of Vedanta is to instill the knowledge of the inner Self.

Q: The Bhagavad Gita says one has to be cleansed to begin the relationship with the Supreme Lord. Can you please explain this part further?
Human beings are separated from Godhead, the supreme Self by vasanas. Vasanas manifest as thoughts and desires. Root out your desires, thoughts, vasanas you become one with Godhead. The shastra scripture has prescribed three yogas for the eradication of vasanas: Bhakti Yoga, Gnana Yoga and Karma Yoga

Q: How can one’s faith be subject to contamination?
The human mind is plagued with egocentric desires. Since few follow any method or system in their spiritual life, despite their efforts, the faithful remain where they are. Their minds contaminated with ever-increasing desires and consequent mental agitations and suffering.

Q: Does the heart play a role in choosing faith?
An aspirant chooses his spiritual discipline, path, faith, by analysis and assessment of his inner personality with the help of his intellect – the head. If his mind – the heart, alone chooses without consulting his intellect, it would be impulsive, eccentric, hysterical, leading to insanity. When the mind consults, takes the guidance of the intellect, the choice would be objective, discreet, mature.

Q: Do the scriptures permit the devotee to worship Demi Gods like Brahma, Shiva, Indra or Sun God?
The mind of man is in a chaotic state because of desires. One cannot stop the mind from its ramblings as long as it possesses desires. To circumvent this great hurdle, Hinduism has thoughtfully brought in gods and goddesses, rituals and festivals, ceremonies and celebrations. The master plan of the Hindu sages is to divinize everything in this world. By this plan, the mind is reminded of the Supreme even as it is engaged in desired objects of the world.

Q: How does one find a Bona Fide spiritual master in this era?
People confer divine qualities where it is least due. They deify gurus and follow them blindly. You must start thinking, questioning, enquiring, reasoning with the truths of life given out by a master. One ought to choose a master, guru who is able to satisfy reason and logic in choosing spiritual disciplines.