Fearlessness and freedom is gained from confidence and belief. Again, unconditional love and righteousness are attained from the self-confidence itself. A person, who knows the fundamental truth and has a firm belief in the concept of same-self energizing every single aspect of this universe, is able to attain unconditional love towards all and everything that he/she is able to see, smell, touch, taste, and hear. There is nothing that sounds alien in any sense of the term—the person finds himself/herself in complete communion and harmony with the bliss that dawns when such exalted feelings are attained.
You can love everybody, and I mean this word, if you have full confidence in the reality of self. There is nothing that can hinder your love flowing towards every single being of this universe, and making you righteous in every act of yours: Your hands will rise only to help and not harm; your feet will move to offer yourself wherever others require you and not to trudge upon them; your eyes will be seeing the same divinity in every impression that falls on your retina and will not entertain any distorted image of hatred and jealousy towards others; your ears will be able to hear the sounds of the soul (the primordial sound) that is common to all and not the ranting and panting of ego and tussles of faiths; your mind will allow and positively help you to follow the conscience and will not hinder your journey towards your goal in any possible way!
When a person knows that the soul or the Self is the basis of all, there is nothing that appears to be hateful or averse—this is where confidence in the self comes into play. Our senses are open to all the stimuli that are thrown upon them, and the impressions of dual nature are formed upon them: We see cloud and sun-shine, we are able to hear noise and music, we are able to speak soft and harsh words, we are able to taste bitter and sweet materials, and we are able to feel hot and cold, etc. The dual nature tends to lead us astray and we tend to forget our basic and real nature. If we have a firm belief and confidence in the self that we are but God, and nothing, whatever it might be, can pull us away from God, then we would be able to live peacefully and in perfect harmony with others.
I am not shy to say that whatever may happen, whatever may a person do, or whatever others do to a person, the basic reality or truth can’t be changed—we are all God; we have come from God, and we will go to Him alone and nothing elsewhere. A person who has confidence in this theory will not face any problem or difficulty in facing the vagaries and idiosyncrasies of this world, which often baffle even the strongest of minds.
In the second chapter of the Gītā, Lord Kṛṣṇa turns Arjuna’s mind to his innate reality, which is spirit and not the mind. We would like to dwell on three of the cantos that describe the characteristics of spirit:
नैनं छिन्दन्ति शस्त्राणि नैनं दहति पावकः ।
न चैनं क्लेदयन्त्यापो न शोषयति मारुतः ।। (Canto 23, chapter 2)
(Nainaṃ chindanti śastrāņi Nainaṃ dahati pāvakaḥ, Na cainaṃ kledyantāpo na śoșayati mārutaḥ)
In this canto, Lord Kṛṣṇa gives some characteristics of the spirit, which He describes as that which can’t be cut by arms, can’t be burnt by fire, can’t be soaked by water, and can’t be dried by wind. This canto basically means that the spirit is unaffected by the vagaries of the elements of the nature, whatsoever.
अच्छेद्योऽयमदाह्योऽयमक्लेद्योऽशोष्य एव च ।
नित्यः सर्वगतः स्थाणुरचलोऽयं सनातनः ।। (Canto 24, chapter 2)
(Achédyo-yamadāhyo-yamklédyo-śoșya éva c, nityaḥ sarvagataḥ sthāņurachloyaṃ sanatanaḥ)
In this canto again, Lord Kṛṣṇa says that the nature of the spirit is un-cut-able, un-burnable, un-wet-able, and un-dryable, and the spirit is eternal, omnipresent, unmoving, steady, and ageless. Basically again, the Lord gives some dilation on the nature of the spirit.
तस्मादेवं विदित्वैनं नानुशोचितुमर्हसि ।। (Canto 25, chapter 2)
(Avaykto-yamcintayo-yamvikāryo-yamucyaté, tasmadévaṃ viditvainaṃ nānuśocitumarhasi)
In this canto, the Lord says that the spirit is un-posit-able, unthinkable, and without shortcomings. You should know the spirit in this regard and should not grieve about it.
The main purpose of these cantos is to turn our center of thinking from the mind or body to the spirit, which is our true identity, and which can’t be affected in any manner. This is where we have to take the strength from and go about doing our works in this world. All our conceptual and experienced fears pertaining to this world and the life will die down, and we will be able to lead a life that is full of contentment and satisfaction, and also of freedom, which comes from the knowledge of the spirit.
It is indeed difficult when your own physical father forbids you to acknowledge the existence of the Universal Father and when you feel that your own father is impeding your spiritual growth. It is a pretty strange kind of test that God often puts to the spiritual aspirants and many of us keep grumbling about this factor, ‘domestic atmosphere’.
We claim that we were not given suitable or conducive domestic atmosphere and therefore we could not have any inclination towards spiritual ventures. Though this is pretty true in other sense of the words, as God has often reminded that for your previous righteousness, He gives you conducive atmosphere so that you can further your effort on your spiritual journey. However, difficulties and impedance should not be regarded as bar on your spiritual growth. It could be a spiritual blessing in guise.
Prince Prahlāda stands as one of the most shining examples of fearlessness and firm conviction—he knew and believed that God pervades everything. He knew that nothing can harm him and nobody can be bad because the same divinity shines in everybody. His father Hirnyakśipu tried his best to dissuade his son from the path of God, but the unwavering faith of Prahlāda saved him every time his father tried to put an end to his life.
Let’s just peep on the troubles that were heaped on Prahlāda by his father to dissuade him from going the spiritual way:
- He was kept without food and water for many days in a dark cell when he was a tiny lad.
- He was thrown from mountain-top.
- He was drowned in the sea.
- He was kept in chambers full of dangerous snakes.
- He was thrown before a mad elephant so that it could just stomp Prahlāda.
- The toughest of them all: the sister of Hirnyakśipu had a boon that fire could not burn her. She took Prahlāda in her lap and sat on burning pyre: the boy came out unharmed while the boon-bearing evil-minded lady was burnt to ashes.
Should I ask you whether we can withstand such tests or can even imagine this type of treatment meted out to us by our own father? It is a shining example where we can clearly notice that the spiritual aspirants have to undergo untold testing before they come tete-a-tete before God.
Then came the pinnacle of the story when the father tested the veracity of his faith and the saying that God pervades every iota of this universe. He hit the pillar of his palace with his mace, and therefrom came the very terrorizing image of Lord as Narasiṃha—having the face of the lion and body of a man. The strange and fearful incarnation of the Lord killed Hirnyakśipu.
It is believed that the anger of Lord Narasiṃha was not over after He killed the demon king. However, only after Prahlāda offered his obeisance to the Lord, did He felt appeased and crowned the prince on the throne. It is believed that the anger of the Lord was so fierce that everybody believed that the Lord will put an end to this universe. However, when Prahlāda approached the Lord, which appeared to him as loving as it might be, the anger of Lord cooled down and He made Prahlāda to sit on His lap. This is where the difference of image is often pointed out—to the person who hated God, Lord Narasiṃha appeared fearful and terrorizing beyond limit; however, to Prahlāda, who was ever immersed in the contemplation of God, that terrorizing form appeared as lovable as it could be. Prahlāda had the confidence that nothing can happen to him; and if it has to happen by Lord’s will, nothing can stop it!
The case of Prahlāda is not a new one or singular. We often see parents trying to lead their wards towards materialistic pursuits muffling any spiritual out-spring that could have audacity to come out. Prahlāda did not hate his father—he knew that his father has conquered the whole universe: the elements were under his control and he has no fear. On the flip side, he knew that his father could not view this victory as a gift from God so that he could move further; but this victory over elements blemished the wisdom of Hirnyakśipu. He sent terrifying waves in the hearts of his citizens and ordered them to believe him as the almighty. Rather than achieving the state of fearlessness after controlling the elements, he became fearful of losing that state. He did not know that the final and valuable victory is on one’s self. When you feel secure in the hands of God, you are victorious and fearless.
Fearlessness from elemental world won’t give us secureness—it is only when we give ourselves completely to the disposal of God that we come to know the real meaning and bliss of being fearless.
Swami’s words on fearlessness
Fearlessness; is not just the absence of fear. Both fear and the absence of fear are associated with body-consciousness. Absence of fear can sometimes be foolish, such as when the body is threatened with harm. But fearlessness is beyond body-consciousness. It can be experienced only when you recognize the truth that the one divinity resides in full measure in every heart.
It is said that a person charged with fear dies every step of the way, while a fearless person dies only once. “Therefore,” Krishna told Arjuna, “give up your fear and become completely fearless!” Only a fearless person can achieve victory in great undertakings. A person who is truly fearless will have detachment from all the objects of the world and be saturated with the love of God. On the other hand, one who is egoistic about his body and his worldly accomplishments will be charged with fear. Attachments to the worldly objects and egoism will never be entertained by a person who is free from fear.
In the epics, you will find the story of a demon king who was charged with fear, whereas his son was completely fearless. The king had placed his trust in the world. The son, Prahlada, had placed his trust in God. The boy’s teachers went to the demon king and said, “Sire, your son is not afraid at all. However much trouble we give him he never complains or cries about anything. Rather than shedding even a single tear out of personal hurt, he constantly praises the Lord and sings endlessly of the Lord’s glory and magnificence.” Why was the boy free of fear? It was because he had the firm faith that there was nothing else in the world except God. This conviction endowed him with unshakable fearlessness.
In another ancient classic we find a guru commending his disciple on his fearlessness. The teacher said to his disciple, Janaka, who was a great emperor and yogi, “I am very pleased with you. You are now totally freed from fear and you need never again worry about anything. You have kept your heart entirely absorbed in the Lord. You are existing only as an instrument of God in the world, serving him in everything you do. You have no attachments at all to the objects of the world. You believe that everything in the world has the form of God and is imbued with divinity. Wherever you look you see only unity in the diversity that others see. This awareness has made you totally fearless.”
How Swami exemplified this habit
Swami has always displayed this quality quite beautifully—he has no fear whatsoever. He goes around doing his work without any problem or without any lack of conviction. Right from the birth, he has shown that a person who sticks to truth and who is fearless about the authenticity of truth should not feel insecure in worldly matters.