Question: What do the spiritual Masters in India do when their disciples fall asleep during meditations?

Sri Chinmoy: In India, very sincere spiritual Masters ask their disciples to meditate at night in front of an open fire, so the disciples don't fall asleep. No matter how cold it is, the disciples have to meditate. If they fall asleep, the Master just strikes them mercilessly and says, "Why do you have to create problems for your parents and dear ones? You left them for God, and now you have to deceive God also?"

Many of you people leave the members of your family for God. That is wonderful. But if you leave them because you are afraid of accepting earthly life, then it is just deception. If you have accepted the spiritual life, then you have to be sincere to God. There are many, many absolutely authentic incidents told about Masters who strike their disciples like anything, because they feel that the disciples have broken their promise to God. Perhaps there was a time when this was an acceptable method, but the difficulty is that in the modern world, physical torture is not the worst torture. If the mind is illumined and the heart is awakened, then the physical torture is not necessary at all. Why should the Master strike you? If you know that you are doing something wrong by sleeping, then you will try to conquer it so that you don't sleep next time.

I feel that there is much truth in the method that they applied. I don't use it, I cannot use it; but I cannot say that their method is wrong. Their method is equally good. In this case, the Teacher is not getting malicious pleasure by striking the disciple. It is because of his love for the disciple that he is doing it. This is one method. But in general my policy is to disapprove of physical violence.

Mental violence goes on everywhere. When one person becomes jealous of another, he attacks that person mentally. Wrong forces attack you all the time like arrows, and you are also throwing arrows. But a physical attack is absolutely the worst kind of violence. If you can throw these forces aside on the mental plane, it is wonderful. If not, at least you should try to throw them aside on the vital plane. Now if you can't do this on the vital plane, then these forces come to the fore on the physical plane. Once two young men who are disciples of mine, who were intimate friends, had a fight on the vital plane. The next morning they meditated together and they never thought of striking each other on the physical plane. But on the vital plane they had fought just the night before. I had to intervene in order to end it. Fortunately, it did not come down to the physical plane. Quite often this happens between two men or between two women or sometimes between men and women, and I have to become the umpire. A fight can start with jealousy, insecurity, worry, depression or any negative force.