Sagun Nirgun

05: Memory

The Vayu Purāṇa describes the term ‘Memory’ in a beautiful verse,

vartamānāni-atītani tathaiv anāgatāni-api|smarate sarvkāryāṇi tenāsau smrutiruchyate ||’

The mind-set that allows one to remember the past, present and future is ‘Memory.’ It is this ‘Memory’ that allows us to recollect events, samskaras and emotions associated with events in our lives. In the ‘Saptaṣati’ section of the Markandeya Purāṇa ‘Memory’ has been identified as a goddess and is offered prayers as follows –

“Salutations to the Goddess existing in all living beings in her ‘Memory’ form.”

We find many references that elucidate the importance of ‘Memory.’ Shree Vasudevanandasaraswati Swami Maharaj quotes “smaraṇbhakti ati ṣreṣṭha” that is, remembering and thinking of our favorite deity is supreme bhakti. Bhagawān Dattātreya only needs this simple action from us and in turn he has promised to never leave his devotee’s side. That is why he is said to be ‘smaraṇmātreṇasaṃtuṣtāya.’ Remembrance is our greatest wealth and forgetting Him is our greatest loss (‘sampan nārāyaṇasmrutih|’). In the Shrimad Bhagavad-Gita Arjun was advised to focus his mind on Shree Krishna (mām anusmara|’). It is through remembrance that the great saints and patriots of the nation continue to inspire everyone even today. We remember the sacrifices they made and the valuable lessons they taught and learn from them.

A small incidence is very inspirational. During the scorching summer months, two friends decide to go for a swim. One of them begins to drown, so the other saves him and bring him back to the shore. The one who was drowning, recovers and on a nearby rock carves the following words, “My friend saved my life today,” Not understanding the meaning of his actions, the other asks him, “Why have you carved this?” The boy who was drowning answers, “Whenever, someone does something nice for you, one should carve it on the rock of memory, so it can never be erased.” Such humility and gratitude exist in everyone and is the true upāsanā.

In order that everyone can perform ‘smaraṇabhakti’ our saints have laid down an extremely easy path – Think of Him during your every action. This allows us to realize that ‘we are not the doers,’ but He is the doer. Such a devotee becomes truly successful in life. Let us all take this to heart and practice it.


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