Brother Madhusudan Naidu says, “Surrender is not fifty percent or ninety percent or even ninety nine percent. Either you are surrendered or not surrendered! There is nothing called percentage of surrender. It’s binary; either you are zero or one!”
“Most of you may have read these two books of THE STORY DIVINE, first part is more of a flight of fantasy; it takes you through many miraculous, mysterious things and keeps you glued to it because it is a nice happy read. But the second part literally plunges you back on to the hard ground and tells you that it is not that simple a story and there are lots to it, lots below the surface than what is above, what meets the eyes. And so it goes on a trip of lot of hard realities of our lives and what does it take for God to make man surrender to Him. Mr. Isaac Tigrett always quotes, “I have to break you to remake you”. Swami is somebody who does not believe in renovations. He believes in complete annihilation and then rebuilding it all afresh. Those in construction and interiors will know, renovation takes more efforts than actually rebuilding the whole thing again. If the building is falling apart, it is very difficult to renovate it. Probably, the better thing is to just destroy it completely and start all over again. And with Swami, this is the way! We may think we are fifty percent good, fifty percent not good and Swami will somehow make sure, the other fifty percent becomes better. But what does He do? He will take us all, and then He will take hundred percent of good and bad and He will make it nothing. He will put it back to zero! And then He will start all over again. So any percent is not good percent for Him. He once told me, surrender is not fifty percent or ninety percent or even ninety nine percent. Either you are surrendered or not surrendered! There is nothing called percentage of surrender. It’s binary; either you are zero or one! There is no in between for surrender. I had my own story of surrender. And I was quite headstrong. If I was not headstrong, I would not have been able to withstand so many things which happened during this journey. I am sure many of you over here are very strong people who have great convictions in their beliefs, who will stand by what they truly believe in and who will not budge whoever says. And that’s why we are here so very firmly rooted in the faith that Swami is there in the Sukshma Swaroopa and Swami is doing what He is doing; whatever friends, close associates, relatives, anybody says, it does not matter because we all are people who believe in certain convictions. You either live by the values that you believe in or you die for the values that you believe in. There is nothing in between. There is nothing called compromising the values. We believe Swami is there completely and he is doing what he is doing. And come what may, we stand by that. There is no changing our stand for the sake of pleasing or appeasing a few people, however close they might be. I am also a man of certain convictions. And I believe Swami is guiding and I truly believe in that.
But you may not believe, most of the guidance in the initial years was very confusing to me. He would say a thing and it would not happen. I would wonder if I was hallucinating, imagining. When ten things won’t happen and I would be about to give up, the eleventh thing will happen and it will again rejuvenate my spirit, reaffirm my faith and again the same story went on. Madhusudan Naidu
He first told me to not be in the job that I was in, because that was coming in the way of His work. You can’t go at eight in the morning and come back at ten in the night and also do all what Swami wants you to do and that too at the pace at which it is going now. He wanted a full time dedicated servant. He did not want a part time devotee, as He sometimes jokes! I had my own plans of my own devotion, how I thought devotion should be. A little of the world, a little of friends, a little of family, a little of property, a little of wealth, a little of name and fame, and a little of God; put it all together and it is a nice soup that we are always in! But Swami wanted all of it for God. He did not want any space for anything. Probably, in Hebrew, they describe God as a jealous one. He would not allow anything around Him. It is only Him and He won’t tolerate anything else in your life. He truly loves you and truly wants you. Swami had His own way of elbowing and nudging things out of my life one by one. He did all these things and at some point of time, it came to a state that I did not know where I will have the next meal and what will happen to my family and who will look after them because my brother was still studying, sister was younger, father was unwell, mother had already taken a voluntary retirement because Swami told her to do so. I was the only earning member and I was earning quite well, so there was no difficulty. Swami never gave us any hard time and things were going on well till Swami suddenly came and started rebuilding the mansion; started destroying everything that was there because He wanted a clean ground to start all over again. And it was a very difficult phase.
Swami Vivekananda was a lion of a man who dared to challenge all the dogmas that were literally destroying the fabric of Indian culture and spirituality in those times. And everything that was Indian, everything that was spiritual, and everything that had anything to do with our history and culture was considered lesser than all that was foreign. In those times, he took upon himself the challenge, he took upon the entire empire of the British head on and he fought tooth and nail to re-establish the Sanatana Dharma. I am a great fan of Vivekananda. I can’t call myself a devotee of Vivekananda, but truly I always think he is like a colleague, a peer, somebody who also worked for his Guru and worked with masses and did whatever he had to do. Today, many of us have the opportunity to do similar thing, may not be with the same intensity and surrender as Swami Vivekananda but probably we can look up to him and derive some inspiration. It feels good that before us somebody had done this kind of work and so we are not the very first ones. At the same time, if they could achieve something, with God by our side, we can achieve definitely much more than that. So, that always gives me courage.
There is a story about Swami Vivekananda which goes this way. It so happened, when his father passed away, all the burden of the family fell on Him. There were debts to be paid. Swami Vivekananda was a very bright boy; we all have known him to be. He had read up all kinds of literature when he was a young boy. His English was phenomenal in those days. He could have been a promising lawyer like his father; he could have been anything if he wanted to. So on one fine day Swami Vivekananda, who was Narendra then, comes to Sri Ramakrishna. Sri Ramakrishna asks, ‘Where were you? I have been waiting for you for so long. I can’t even eat my food without looking at your face’. Narendra says, you keep saying these things but you don’t help me at all. We have no money, no food to eat. We have nothing. In a book ‘The Monk as Man’ by one of Swami Vivekananda’s followers; it is extremely painful to read his story. I read only 20 to 25 pages and closed the book. I could not bear it. I could not even bear the pain of the thought that Swami Vivekananda that I know of, had to go through all that. Sri Ramakrishna says, “What can I do? It is mother who looks after everything. Why don’t you go to the mother and ask?” Narendra in a state of desperation goes to the temple of Mother Kali to pray. When he goes inside, he goes with all the ideas to ask her to set the house right, to get his sister married, get his property back, and get him a good job where he could get good money and look after his mother, sister and brother. But when he goes inside, he forgets everything and cries to Mother Kali, ‘Ama Ke Shakti Dao; Ama Ke Gan Dao; Ama Ke Bhokti Dao; Boiraggo Dao’ (Give me strength; give me knowledge; give me devotion; give me detachment). This is what he asks and comes back (We had enacted this drama in front of Swami and He would become so emotional during this scene). Ramakrishna, a very cunning kind of a Guru that he was would poke Narendra, ‘So did you ask Mother for job, wealth and all that you wanted to ask?’ And Narendra would say, ‘Oh! I forgot to ask all that! I went inside and forgot everything’. Ramakrishna would ask him to go back and ask again. This time he would go back with double determination to ask the Mother! This went on for many times. Finally, Narendra comes out of the temple and tells Ramakrishna, I realise what you are trying to teach me. I don’t want anything. I only want Mother, Bhakti (devotion), and I want Vairagya (detachment). That is when Ramakrishna kicks on Narendra’s chest and suddenly the world opens to him in a different way. He suddenly feels one with the entire creation and he experiences ‘Sarvam Brahmamayam’ (the feeling of everything is Divine). The world looks like an illusion to him. That’s when he becomes Vivekananda; when he grows into a man from a boy. So did all the problems of Vivekananda get sorted out just because he forgot about his prayers and asked for Bhakti, Gyan, Vairagya? No! I believe all his family members went through a lot because after this he got totally detached from it. And last words of his were (as mentioned in that book which somebody told me who read), ‘I feel very sorry that I could not do enough for my mother! And I am dying with this pain, the guilt in my heart that I could not do enough for my mother.’ In a way a very remorseful death, he could not do anything for his physical mother even though he did lots for his divine mother.
All of us (I, my mother, brother and sister) had gone for a South India tour two years ago, Swami had permitted us to go, and my mother wanted to see a few temples. At the Vivekananda memorial rock in Kanyakumari, there is a beautiful dark statue of Swami Vivekananda standing in his most majestic pose. I suddenly felt Swami Vivekananda came alive, a real man in flesh and blood, and I was quite mesmerized, though it was not a new experience to me. Every now and then I keep seeing things like this, experiencing things beyond the physical realms. It is quite a common place for me now. His eyes fell on me, I was down and he was on the pedestal, he asked me, ‘Is this your mother?’ I said, yes! And then he asked, ‘Is this your family’. I said, yes Swamiji. Then he said with a certain disappointment, ‘God did not look after my family the way he is looking after your family’. I was shocked. But that is the truth. Whatever I have read about Swami Vivekananda and his family, what they went through was tremendous. And for us, Swami made it so easy. Of course, it meant giving up a lot of things, our attachments to our old place, old home, friends, relations, associations, and our own ideas in life on what we would like to do with our lives. All this everybody had to give up. Only then Swami gave us what he had come to give us.
One day, during Darshan, a small boy had something in his hand to give to Swami. And Swami was having chocolates that He wanted to give to the small boy. But the small boy’s hand was already full. He said, first you empty your hand and only then I can give you what I want to give you! In that moment, He taught a small lesson. To know more about Madhusudan Naidu visit http://thestorydivine.com/about-madhusudan-naidu/
To us He did it this way, and when I heard about Swami Vivekananda, I thought that I must share as to how wonderfully he has looked after all of us. Truly, nothing belongs to us today. None of us own anything. There was a time when we owned at least some petty things and thought we were doing well in life. And we had the envy of most of our relations, how we had come out of middle class life and were looking at the upper class life. But today, it’s the other way and yet we are the happiest people. It is Swami’s tremendous grace. He can do anything. I have seen Him look after people in the most compassionate, the most magnanimous way. You ask for little and He will give you so much more! I have seen it any number of times. The last thing we should have is the doubt or apprehension, what if we take to the path like Swami Vivekananda, what will happen to us and our family. Believe me, when we are with Swami, our life is far better than that of those who lived with others before. I have the acknowledgement because I heard Swami Vivekananda himself say this to me. Today, there is no tension, no worry, there is no anxiety; best part is there is not even a preparation for the next day. I can simply wake up, get ready and go and I know things will move. The only requirement is to wake up with a peaceful mind and go in a surrendered state and let things happen and they will start happening. And look at the things that have happened when you are not prepared, if you don’t allow your mind to interfere with God’s mind. Look at what amazing things can happen, schools after schools, hospitals after hospitals, hundreds of people joining the mission, thousands benefiting across the globe and so many wonderful things are happening which is not conceivable by any ordinary human mind.