WHAT IS MEANT BY SAMSARA?
During the early days of my arrival here, on one day at about 3 o’clock in the afternoon, a middle-aged Andhra, who had come recently, asked Bhagavan, “Swami, as I repeat Rama Namam (the name of Rama) regularly every morning and every evening for an hour, other thoughts come in, one by one, increase from time to time and ultimately find that I have forgotten my japam. What shall I do?”
“At that time catch hold of that name (Rama Namam)” said Bhagavan. We all laughed. Poor man! He felt grieved and said,
“The reasons for these interruption is the samsara (family), is not it? I am therefore thinking of abandoning the samsara.”
Bhagavan said, “Oh! Is that so? What really is meant by samsara? Is it within or without?” “Wife, children and others” he said. “Is that all the samsara? What have they done? Please find out first what really is meant by samsara. Afterwards we shall consider the question of abandoning them,” said Bhagavan. He could not reply and so kept quiet, crestfallen.
Bhagavan’s heart was full of compassion. With a look full of tender kindness he said, “Supposing you leave your wife and children. If you are here this will become another kind of samsara. Supposing you take to sannyasa. Another kind of samsara comes into existence in the shape of a karra (walking stick), kamandalu (water bowl) and the like. Why all that? Samsara means samsara of the mind. If you leave that samsara, it will be the same thing wherever you are. Nothing troubles you.”
Poor man! He mustered up some courage and said, “Yes, that is it, Swami. How to give up that samsara of the mind?” Bhagavan said, “That is just it; you said you were doing the japam of Rama Namam. During the train of thoughts, you said you were sometimes reminded of the fact that you had forgotten the japam of Rama Namam. Try to remind yourself of that fact as often as possible and catch hold of the name of Rama frequently. Other thoughts will then slowly decrease. For the japam of nam (repeating the name of the Lord) several stages have been prescribed.
It is better to repeat the name by the mere motion of the lips than by repeating it aloud; better than that is to repeat it in the mind, and the best is dhyanam.
Letters from Sri Ramanasramam, 2nd December, 1945