Question 189: How does one attain boons from the Lord?

How does one attain boons from the LordThe young Rama seeks elimination of doubt from the Sage, Vasishtha. How does one obtain boons from the Lord? The sage explains that boons are won by dint of spiritual effort and endeavour toward this end. Higher knowledge and spiritual wisdom are only bestown upon those who make effort, and struggle to realise the Atma, the Self.

Abyasa (abhyaasa). Systematic, steady practice.
purushartha: the repository of spiritual knowledge acquired by endeavour in pursuance of the precepts obtained from sages and scriptures
atmaswaroop: cf. atmaswarupa; Consciousness, the Self, original nature, our true essential nature. (embodiment, form of the Atma)
jñan Hin. m. jñana San. n. (from jña – to know) true intuited understanding; spiritual wisdom; higher knowledge. ‘What use is information which does not bring about transformation?’ (SSB) ‘Jñana is that which is beyond mind and speech. What the guru says through his mouth is not jñana but ajñana. Just as one thorn removes another, the guru’s verbal teaching (ajñana) removes the veil of the disciple and the result is jñana – pure knowledge.’ ‘Jñana is not something to be attained; it is eternal and self-existent. Remove ignorance and what remains is jñana.’ (pronounced gyan in Hindi)
vichar Hin. vichara San. m. deliberation, thought, reflection, pondering; discrimination, examination, self-enquiry: ‘Who am I?’
vichara: self-inquiry; contemplation, thought; reflection and introspection
vichara: inner inquiry as against blind unreasoning faith.
brahmacharya San. n. ‘conduct leading to God’, with all actions dedicated to God; enquiry into God. It is the first of the four vedic stages of life, in which unmarried student devotees are instructed in and study the veda while leading a life of mental and physical self-restraint and equal-mindedness.


Question 189: Sir, you say that everything can be attained with spiritual endeavour and effort (purushartha) and nothing can be attained without it. If that be so, why didn’t Prahlad awaken without the boon of Lord Vishnu? He attained wisdom only after he had received the boon from the Lord.

Answer: Ramji, whatever was attained by Prahlad, was the result of his spiritual endeavour and effort (purushartha). It was only with his spiritual endeavour and effort that Prahlad was stabilised in devotion and had merged his mind in Atma. He controlled his mind with contemplation, and that was his spiritual endeavour and effort (purushartha). He realised Atmaswaroop (the Self) and had the sacred vision of Lord Vishnu as a result of his spiritual endeavour and effort.

An individual awakens in Atma either by his own power or by the power of Lord Vishnu. Prahlad had meditated upon Lord Vishnu for a long time; hence he attained higher knowledge and spiritual wisdom with the grace of Lord Vishnu. Lord Vishnu does not grant spiritual wisdom to one who does not contemplate. It shows that contemplation (vichar) arising from spiritual endeavour and effort is the main cause for the realisation of Atma. Boon is the secondary cause; you have to take recourse to the primary cause. To begin with, control the five senses and then fix your chitta (consciousness) in contemplation of the Atma. When you succeed in it, you will cross the ocean of the universe (samsara) and attain to the Supreme State.

If Lord Vishnu were to grant liberation to one without spiritual endeavour and effort (purushartha), then He would grant it to birds and beasts too. And gurus, too, would grant liberation to the ignorant and thoughtless; but it is not so.

Ramji, know it for certain that an individual attains to the supreme state through spiritual endeavour and effort (purushartha) only. Those who have controlled their senses with the forces of detachment and discipline have realised Atma on their own. You, too, should be engaged in devotion and worship. See the Self yourself, and be established in the Self.


Consider how much talent the Lord has given to man. With that endowment, seek the Purusharthas, and move forward on the path to the Lord, adhering strictly to the demands of Sathya. That is the use to which the talent has to be put; that is the purpose of the gift. It is only those gifted with eyesight that can see things: the blind have not that luck. So too, only those gifted with Truth (Sathya), longing for Purusharthas and adherence to Dharma, can see the Lord; all others are blind. The Lord has also given man the instruments for developing his intellect and discrimination. If he uses them well and tries to realise himself, the Lord will add unto him fresh talent and new sources of power, for He is full of Grace towards the struggling. When man seeks to follow Dharma, the Truth too will reveal itself to him.

If you are careless about the discipline of Truth (Sathya), every duty laid on you by Dharma and every Karma prompted by Dharma will hang heavy as a burden. Search for the reality behind all these phenomena and that search will make all activity based on right conduct light and pleasant. The Lord has so shaped man that he is inclined towards God and delighted at the expansion of his vision and happy when he is moral and virtuous. So man must serve his best interests by adhering to his basic nature, by concentration on Brahma, by the cultivation of Sathya and the practice of Dharma: Truth has to be sought and tested by all the canons of reasoning.

The discipline consists of:

  • Ojascha, the heroism to observe Dharma rigorously;
  • Thejascha, fearless self-control;
  • Sahascha, the discarding of all feelings of joy or sorrow at the ups and downs of life, the unshakable faith in Truth (Sathya) and Dharma;
  • Balamcha, mental and physical health of the most excellent kind earned by discipline and Brahmacharya (conduct leading to God);
  • Vaakcha, the desire and the ability to speak sweet and straight, won by the practice of Sathya and Prema (Love);
  • Indriyamoha, the withdrawal of the five Jnanendriyas (instruments of cognition) and the five Karmendriyas (instruments of action) from vice and sin and the sublimation of all the Indriyas for the service of Sathya/Truth;
  • Sreescha, the winning of the overlordship of all the worlds by the self-won domination of the inner world;
  • Dharmascha, the destruction of one’s prejudices and the pursuit of Truth at all times – the prayer man has to make, is “May all this be conferred on me” as found in the “Chamaka” (Prayer to Shiva) Dharma Vahini, 59


Polynesia sunset


Hamsa Gayatri
Om Hamsaaya Vidmahe
Paramahamsaya Dheemahi
Tanno Hamsa Prachodayat

“May we realise Hamsa that is our own Self as the Swan. Let us meditate on that Paramahamsa, the Supreme Self. May Hamsa illumine us.”

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