Life, Old Age and Renunciation – Perspective from Bhartruhari’s Vairagya Satakam

Bhartruhari’s Vairagya Satakam

The hundred verses of Vairagya satakam are divided into ten groups and deals with criticism of desire, renunciation of sense object, oppression by evil men. Of vanity, indifference to worldly things, principles of time the destroyer, control of mind through wisdom, life of ascetic and self renunciation. His elucidation of life, old age, the problems and issues of it, and how to face it is a lesson in itself.

Men with property, learned, having respected sons, untold wealth, a beloved wife and of youthful age, thinking this world to be permanent, deluded by ignorance run into worldliness. Whereas those who consider the transient nature of the world and renounce it are blessed indeed.(20)

The objects of enjoyment, even after staying with us for the long time are sure to leave us sometime. Then what difference does their privation in this way make to men, that they do not of their own accord discard them. If enjoyment leave us on their own initiative they produce great affliction of the mind but if men voluntarily renounce them they conduce to the eternal bliss of self possession. (12)

31.The downside of every enjoyment in this world is fear. In health and enjoyment, there is the fear of disease. In social position, the fear of falling off. In wealth the fear of hostile kings. In honour the fear of humiliation. In power, the fear of enemy. In beauty the fear of old age. In scriptural erudition, the fear of opponents, in virtue the fear of traducers, in body the fear of death. All things of this world pertaining to man are attended with fear. Renunciation alone stands for fearlessness.

Similarly everything has to end one day. Birth ends in death. Brilliant youth in old age. Contentment is attached by greed. Happiness and self-control by wiles of gay women, virtues by jealousy of men. Forest tracks by beasts of prey. Kings by wicked ministers. Thus, there is nothing stable in the world. (32)

Life is insecure. Desire of youth unsteady. Realizing this, wise men firmly fix their mind in yoga for peace and equanimity. Wise work towards improving the man kind. (33)

Life is changing like a big wave. Beauty, possessions, enjoyments are all transient. Enjoyments are transitory individually and inexhaustible collectively, so we are in never ending wild goose chase which brings in turn stimulation and grief. Desire produces this terrible entanglement and hope keeps it on. So, free your mind of these.

The life of a man as ordained is limited to one hundred years. Half of it is spent in night and out of the other half one half again is passed in childhood and old age. And the rest which has its illness, bereavements and troubles is spent in serving other. What happiness can there be for mortals in a life which is even more uncertain than the ripples on the surface of water?(49)

The earth is but a lump of clay circled by a ring of water. Even the whole of it is but a particle. Hosts of kings, having partitioned it after fighting hundreds of battles, enjoyed it. these very poor insignificant persons may or do give. Nothing is strange for them. But downright shame on those mean fellows who would beg bits of coin from them even! (50)

Why you, my mind, wander about in vain. Be restful. Whatever happens in a particular way happens so by itself and not otherwise. So not thinking over the past, nor resolving about the future, I realize enjoyments that come without engaging my thoughts. (51)

Stay away from the troublesome sense objects. Take the path of highest good which is capable of bringing about in a moment the destruction of endless troubles; get thee to the state of thy atman. Stop agitating. Be calm and now and never again seek transient worldly attachments. (52)

In old age the body becomes shriveled, the gait becomes unsteady, the teeth fall out, the eye sight is lost, deafness increase, the mouth slaver, relatives do not value one’s words, the wife does not nurse and even the son turns hostile. Know the misery of man of worn out age. Seeing the grey hairs on the head of a man, and discomfiture of old age youthful women at once fly away from him. (53)

As long as this body is free from disease and decrepitude, as long as senility is far off, as long as the powers of the senses are unaffected and life is not decaying, so long, wise persons should put forth mighty exertion for the sake of their supreme good, for when the hose is on fire what avails setting about digging a well for water. (75)

Live practicing austerities, or serve our wives, read scriptural literature or poetry. Man having longevity do not know which one to undertake. (76)

The rulers of the world have minds restless like a horse and therefore difficult to please, while we are after gains, age steals away bodily strength and death cuts short this dear life. ah! Friend nothing is good for the wise in this world except the practice of austerities. (77)

When honor has faded, wealth has become ruined, those who sue for favors have departed in disappointment, friends have dwindled away, retainers have left, youth has gradually decayed there remains only one thing proper for the wise. Reside somewhere in the grove, in solitude and on the banks of river. (78)

This freedom to wander about, this food to which no meanness attaches, the company of holy men, the cultivation of vedic wisdom result of which is spiritual peace, the mind restrained in its movements towards external things there is peace, pursue it. (79)

***

Ref: Vairagya Satakam, Swami Madhavananda, Advaita Ashrama, Calcutta.

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Knowledge – A Gateway to Freedom – Gita Chapter IV

Knowledge, Action and Renunciation – Way to Freedom

Freedom can be obtained by either following the path of Knowledge, Action or Renunciation and the path differs based on the individual’s latent tendencies.

Why birth:

As per Hindu philosophy, there is reincarnation. Everybody has had multiple births and death but are not aware of it. And that there is a definitive pattern behind taking birth. Natures decide the course. Everyone is born with certain tendencies and these latent characters of one decides one’s preferences and orientation in life. There also exists the reason behind everyone’s birth and the success is in knowing our purpose of being born, our areas of work, field of operation and tendencies which we must harness and fine tune so that our purpose in life can be fulfilled. In Bhagavad Gita Krishna states his life purpose as – “whenever there is decay of “Dharma” – morality, virtue, righteousness – and there is rise of “Adharma” – decay, decadence, injustice, wickedness, – I am born in this world; for the protection of good people, for the destruction of evil-doers, for re-establishing the right.” Only different being his birth and ours is that his is not guided by the desires and karma but by his own determination and based on the needs of time. He is not bound by the life-death cycle which we are. And the ultimate freedom for a human being is supposed to be getting liberated from this cycle.

Knowledge as-a-way to freedom:

Krishna says – Those who know me, my action, my birth obtains freedom. Those who can get rid of desire, fear and anger, worship me, get purified in the fire of wisdom, or whichever way they reach out to me get liberation from the cycle of birth and death.

Ways of Action and Organizing Society:

Men are endowed with different temperaments and tendencies. All are not equal and each one has some tendencies that are prominent. Action is the easiest way to achieve material success in this world. For this purpose, the society and people working are divided into four divisions, based on the energy requirements for effective functioning, each function being complementary. The four castes or varnas are created, are aligned with types of tendencies and actions, being the tendency for knowledge acquisition and exposition, for warrior-ship, for commerce and business and for production involving ground level work. Four division of labors, based on their tendencies and capability, each meant for specific purpose or excelling in certain works to express themselves to fulfill societal functions. There is no work that is low or high and all are equally important for the effective functioning of the society. This division helps in one expressing themselves freely based on their inherent tendencies. It is not that others cannot do it but something like the economic concept of comparative advantage. This we find still prevalent in organizations and more akin to consultant, architects, authors, teachers forming intellectual class, Military, Police, CEOs, Controllers, Sales and Marketing, forming part of warrior clan.  And Business, trading, Farming and producing class constituting the third section and service oriented work forming the other sections of the society.  It is important to note here, that as Krishna says in the opening verses of this chapter, these knowledges has however deteriorated and collapsed in the course of time, when being handed over from generations to generations and societal imperfections that this has becomes the most mis-interpreted concept in Hinduism and India currently.

Way of doing work:

Do work without doers-ship. Do without enjoyer-ship. Work. Engage.  Be amidst work. But do not think that you are doing it. Because the nature that is present in the world does it. Circumstances make it happen. It is a collective action.  To understand this better, if you have put a seed to grow, for it to start giving fruit, in addition to you, the sun, water, nutrients from soil, may be birds for pollination need to work together for the tree to start giving fruit. And when it starts fruiting may be the enjoyer could be somebody else. In the same manner, your duty is just to work without bringing into thinking that it is who you are doing and you are the enjoyer. When engaging in action, understanding that the circumstances and my inherence tendencies is making me do this, without getting impacted by the ego, you are free from the sorrow of individuality and not bound by the suffering born out of work.

Action, Inaction, Prohibited Action

In familiar parlance action means movement and inaction is absence of movement. Any action against law is prohibited action. Life means activity, a way to evolve, is dynamic and cannot even for a second cease to work. When life cases death occurs. So, action is inevitable.

Action is imperative if one lives. One cannot renounce action. Every action has a reaction and one has to bear the fruit of their karma.  However, any action that is performed without attachment, that I am the doer or for the fruits of action does not bind the soul.  Work is needed for purification of the self. Even if one is high up in the ladder in the society and can do without performing any work, it has to be done so that no wrong precedent is set for others still in the lower spectrum of evolution.

Action in inaction and Inaction in Action:

Performing action with an understanding that it is being done by body and mind, not induced by once nature, one self and the soul is not involved in it is inaction though action is being done. Here action essentially means those actions that is needed to be done and not the ones impelled by one’s desires, likes and dislikes and circumstances.  Similarly, when one thinks no action is being performed while say sitting, sleeping etc., it means no perceptible bodily action is taking place. It needs to be understood that the bodily action of breathing, digesting, circulation of blood etc. is happening involuntarily. Our mind may be busy in thinking, dreaming, extrapolating and visualizing. So seemingly inactive one is active.

And the man whose work is devoid of desires and purposes to enjoy the result of action, and whose actions are based on knowledge he is called a sage by the wise. Such a man, even when involved in worldly action performs it because he had to do it and to set example for others rather than for fulfilling his desires or expecting any results. If he is a renunciate he works to maintain his bodily functions only. Free from desire, with the mind and the self-controlled, having relinquished all  possessions doing mere bodily action, he incurs no sin.

Satisfied with that which comes to him by chance, or in course of nature, rising above the dualities or like and dislikes, pleasure and pain, hot and cold etc., being equipoise both in success and failure, working with such frame of mind even though he is working he would not be bound by the actions.

That man from whom all attachment is gone, from whom all cause of bondage, right and wrong has fled away, whose mind is ever fixed in wisdom alone, who acts  with a view,  to  the  performance of a sacrifice, his action with  its result is reduced to  nothing meaning does not create bondage arising out of action. Thus, work not prohibited in scriptures, work performed with the right knowledge of doing, without the desire for its action and with a sacrificial mindset frees one from the bondage arising out of such actions.

Know that, Brahman is the “Real, Consciousness and the Infinite”. He is cognized by all and is the innermost self of all.  It is instrument of action. He is all pervading. He manifests himself as an instrument of action, and the five forms actions and its accessories.

Work as a Yagna-Sacrifice:

Sacrifice is not limited to fire sacrifice or yagna alone as known in the traditional circle. It includes all work done with restraint, focus and effort. Thus, there are multiple ways in which sacrifice is performed.  Controlling one’s senses, Imparting knowledge one had gained to others, charity by donating wealth, following austerity, sacrifices by way reading, writing, acquiring knowledge, following scriptural vows are of different ways of sacrifice. Essentially all works that require discipline, excellence and renunciation of something is what is meant as Yagna here. It is work for work’s sake and duty for duty’s sake.

Controlling food, sensory intake, engaging in pranayama – Controlling one’s incoming and outgoing breath, and performing the sacrifices one is said to obtain freedom.

The sacrifices performed with material objects produces material effects, whereas wisdom-sacrifice does not. Therefore, sacrifice where knowledge is involved is superior to the sacrifice performed with material objects.  For, wisdom, which is the means to moksha comprehends all action.

Superiority of Wisdom:

Wisdom being the means to one’s freedom, Krishna says that it should be the basis for all actions. Then he describes why, how, from whom, with what mindset one gets to acquire wisdom. And what is this wisdom and benefit of acquiring this wisdom.

Approach the Guru, the teacher who is a realized self, with a sense of humility, enquiry and respectful mindset and by providing him service. Enquire what is the cause of bondage and how to get relieved from it.  And What is wisdom (Vidya) and what is ignorance and mistaken belief (Avidya). Guru can then impart knowledge of action, renunciation and wisdom.

Once this wisdom is obtained, clarity sets in and one will not be confused again as one is now. One is also able to perceive that all beings, all manifestation say from self to grass is of same Creator (Brahma), consciousness and the whole universe exists in oneself and one in the universe. There is a oneness, a unity of all things and all beings which is essence of Upanishadic wisdom.

With the right knowledge one can cross this samsara. While prarabdah karma, responsible for this life, that has commenced has to run its course, the result of future action, accumulated karma from actions of previous life that has not commenced (sanchita karma), yet to start and yet to fructify can be nullified by right knowledge.

Thus, the seeker of freedom, who has perfected himself by practice in yoga of action, knowledge and renunciation will attain peace and spiritual wisdom. On the other hand, the man who knows not  the Self, the man who has no faith in the teachings of his Guru, the main whose mind is full of doubts is  ruined.

Therefore, the man by practice of Karma Yoga has all his doubts and ignorance cleared and by knowledge acquires wisdom.  Hence Krishna commands – Arise! O Arjuna! Fight.  And thereby energizing us also to get out despondency and perform in this world with knowledge and wisdom.

* * * * *

25th April, 2017

The Nature as Teacher – 24 Gurus around us -III

continued from previous post…..

  1. Pingala: There was a dancing girl named Pingala, she was tired of looking for customers. As time went by no one came and she became anxious and frustrated. At the height of frustration she gave up her wait for customer and went to sleep. At that moment it also dawned on her that she does not need anyone for her happiness and bliss, decides to give up her pursuit of wealth and pleasing customers. She teaches that abandonment of expectation from people leads to contentment and infinite joy. Also with Atma contained in oneself there is no need to search outside for happiness and contentment.
  2. The kurara bird (hawk):A hawk carrying a prey was attacked by other birds like crow, eagle and other larger animals eyeing for same prey.  After some fierce fight, the bird carrying the prey, out of fear for its life,  let it fall so that other birds immediately went after the prey  allowing the original bird that had the meat to escape. From this one learns that there is intense competition and aggression in the world to acquire  material objects and for worldly pleasures. One who yearns for it is likely to come into contest and clash with fellow being who also compete for the same leading to avoidable aggression, strife, worry and stress. By balancing, managing and controlling ones wants one can save himself much of the unhappiness, have  and enjoy peace of mind.
  3. The child:Two children fight for some time. Their parents intervene to end the fight and they end up being enemies for life. But the children who were fighting initially  after some time forget and start playing together again. This is because they are free from ego and innocent. Be like a child to be happy.
  4. The young girl:There was a young girl who was doing work with hands full of bangles. During work it jangled against each other and was making noise. Since she had guest then, she did not want them to know that she was doing work. So, to reduce noise she removed all bangles except two. This reduced the noise to a great extent, but still was making noise, then she removed one more and was wearing only one in each hand. This way she could work without making noise and desist other from knowing what she was doing. So too, when many people live together, there will be noise, clashing of interests, disturbance, discord, dispute and fighting. Even when there are only two people difference of opinion and resultant discord is bound to be there. So, the ascetic is better of living in solitude. This is what the maiden working with hands full of bangle teaches one.
  1. The arrow maker: Once there was an arrow maker who was so absorbed in his work of making a straight arrow that he did not notice the king’s procession passing by. Then I learnt that to produce excellent result focus is necessary.
  2. The snake: The snake never builds a place for itself. It moves around and changes its place and sheds it outer skin. Thus it is able to lead safe life. An ant though puts effort and makes ant hill and later that is taken by snakes. Likewise, the householders endure difficulty in building and running their house by themselves while ascetic lives free by roaming around and not being rooted in one place. Thus one should know that people aspiring for carefree life should live lite, know his true self, and understand that at the end of his life time one will shed this body and get a new life as per one’s actions in this life time.
  3. The spider: The spider weaves its web from the thread in the form of a fluid. After sometime, it gathers up the web into itself. Thus the God projects the whole world during creation phase and after sometime, withdraws it into itself at the time of dissolution. The individual soul too takes birth in the body as per its past action, and in alignment with its inherent tendencies acquires intellect, mind, sense organs and bodies of action. Its latent tendencies direct the role play and actions while in this world and space. And at the end of allotted time-frame, death occurs when the soul again withdraws its senses, mind, and tendencies acquired in the life time and leaves the body. Thus, birth and death, creation and dissolution happens is what one learns from Spider.
  4. The wasp/Caterpillar: Wasp trapped a weaker insect in his hive. This insect took on the mentality of a wasp out of intense fear of the wasp, and thus became a wasp in its next life. This illustrates how one attains in the next life what one’s mind is fixed upon. You are the company you keep and what you think you become is what one learn from caterpillar. Good thoughts, company and action will lead one to higher level/birth.

Thus are the advise of Dattatreya to Yadu on what he has learnt from nature around him and how inculcating it in his life has made him blissful.

***

 

The Nature as Teacher – 24 Gurus around us -II

continued from earlier post…..

Of the following 24 teachers from around us we saw The earth, Air, Sky, Water, Fire, Moon, Sun, and Pigeon in the previous post. In this let us see what the stories of python, sea, moth, honey bee, elephant, honey collector, deer and fish teaches us.

The Earth The Air The Sky Water Fire Moon
Sun Pigeon Python Sea Moth Honey Bee
Elephant Honey Thief Deer Fish Prostitute Pingala Kurara Bird
The Child Young Girl Arrow Maker Serpent Spider Wasp
  1. Python: Python does not roam around looking for food instead waits for food to come to him and eats whatever comes it way, be it sufficient or not. It teaches us to accept whatever one comes across in the life, taking sufferings, hardships, miseries in life, joy, happiness, wealth in ones stride. Be rest assured and content with one’s state and be peaceful, you will get what is needed.
  2. Sea: Sea is deep. Sea is Clear. Sea cannot be crossed easily. Can’t churn it. Because of monsoon or the rivers emptying in it, sea does not swell or shrink. A sage, like sea is clear minded, unmoved amidst the tribulations of life. His wealth of knowledge is available to all those who associate with him.
  3. Moth: A moth is captivated by the radiance of flames, gets attracted, approaches flame, gets burned and dies. Thus being attracted by the outward look of things, we get deceived and fall prey. Man is foolishly gets tempted by the illusory pleasures of the visual sense and gets caught in the ceaseless cycles of birth and death. The wise one, understand the illusion of the sensory world and controls it and thereby obtains freedom.
  4. Honey Bee: A honey bee obtains honey from all flowers, without harming the flower and within the limit. Also note that the honey bee does not drink honey but it gets killed for it by honey gatherers. Thus a wise man should be able to know how, where and how much obtain necessary things, without harm for the self and the giver, without being greedy.
  5. Elephant: A bull elephant is captured by using female elephant as bait. Thus is man/woman gets lured by infatuation and sex and uncontrolled and unrighteous attraction to opposite sex is harmful is what elephant teaches one.
  6. Honey Thief: Honey being greedy collects honey, stores it, does neither eats it by self or allow other honey-bees to eats it. And one fine day it looses it to honey collector. Similarly man accumulates wealth by hard work, over a period of time, by umpteen sacrifices, forsaking enjoyment, and may lose it suddenly to fire, flood, treachery, tax, or if he were to die to his heirs or third party if issue less who may use of misuse his wealth. Thus being greedy leads one to loss is what honey bee teaches
  7. Deer: The deer is very fond of music and is very much attracted by it thus is trapped by hunter using music. It is trapped by the sense organ of listening – the ear. Thus excessive passion and sensory pleasure of listening to music and dance is thus harmful is what Deer teaches.
  8. Fish: The fish in search for food, due to greed is caught by the tasty bait and dies. Similarly, man meets his destruction by his craving for delicious food. Among the senses, tongue is the most powerful and difficult to control, and once controlled it makes it easy for one to manage other sensory pleasures. Learn to eat healthy and balanced food and be saved. Control your tongue, the sense organ for taste is what one learns from Fish.

To be continued

The Nature as Teacher – 24 Gurus around us

Life comes in various shapes, sizes and flavor. We share this world with natural elements of earth, space, fire, air, water, animals, plants, minerals and people. Of course there are supposed to be unknown elements and let us leave it out. We interact with them. A man who learns from his own experience leads a miserable life. the one who learns from others also leads a average life. The one who learns from anything and everything around us leads an exemplary life.

There is a converstation between “Dattatreya”, a Sage, and “Yadu”, a King in “Bhagavatham” where Dattatreya, when asked,  explains the reason for his happiness to the king, that it is because he has learned about the world from his Surrounding, Nature, and 24 Gurus follows it, he is happy, though from worldy point of view he might be considered a impoverished.

Now what are the 24 teachers around us. They are:

The Earth The Air The Sky Water Fire Moon
Sun Pigeon Python Sea Moth Honeybee
Elephant Honey Thief Deer Fish Prostitute Pingala Kurara Bird
The Child Young Girl Arrow Maker Serpent Spider Wasp

The Twenty-Four Gurus:

1.Earth: We use and abuse earth. We dig it out, load it, scorch it, dirty it and what not. Yet it provides us the plant, minerals, water bodies for our survival. It brings us stability. It is patient. Despite doing all this it supports us. Thus people may insult us, cheat us, ignore us do whatever may be keeping patience and not taking on us and not worrying about it helps us keep our mind stable and worry free. Learn the art of patience, performing ones duty, forbearance and helpful tendencies from Earth.

2. The Air: The air has no smell but carries the scent from the surroundings be it good and bad. But it is not tainted by it. The aromatic smell of flowers, spices, perfume or bad smell from dump yard, pollution does not affect the inherent quality of air. Same way the air goes into pipe in one but the sound that comes from it is varied. The cow is of different color but the milk is of white. Likewise the Atma-soul in all of us is Real, Happy and Eternal and is not affected by the happening to the person.

3. The sky: The sky is vast. Atma is so. Though the sky extends everywhere and everything rests within it, it does not mix with anything. The sky is never implicated or affected by the blowing action of the wind, water, rain, thunder or clouds. In the same way the living entity, the atma, is never affected though it may enter a body of material elements, the life.

4. Water: Water is essential for living. It is needed for our livelihood – drinking, cooking, cleaning, bathing, extraction, factory production etc. It is a great coolant and provides taste for food. It is a wonderful cleanser. The great seers of the world are like water. The yogi like that cleanses all the people who come in contract with him. Essentially that in being touch with great people everyone achieves greatness. Connecting with good people, help one in providing direction in leading the life.

5. Agni: The fire has beauty. It Illuminates.It is not easily reachable. Anything you put in it digests. It burns everything it comes into contact. It is impartial to shape, size and type of product. The Yogis and great people have charisma akin to Fire. He is not impacted by his company or the food he eats. He is able to maintain his purity under all conditions. Like fire he comes into contact with people for some time but he goes back to his work. He helps those who approach him also to achieve greatness. Similarly Atma is not affected by the body it takes, works based on it and comes and goes. From fire  learn to glow with the splendor of Self-knowledge and austerity.

6. Moon: The moon waxes and wanes but because of that the moon is not any less. So also the person who is born gets modified throughout his life – Being, born, change, growth, decline and death. And because the body is changed it is incorrect to assume the soul also gets transformed. Soul remains inviolate. As the man changes his cloths the Atma drops the body when it is not able to support him and gets into new one.

7. Sun: Sun is the cause for water cycle and clouds but it never takes credit for the same. The sun in the pond seems like moving but it does not. Sun Illuminates. Same way the soul and a Yogi does not take credit for the acts of body. The Atma seems to be affected by the acts of body but it is not.

8. Pigeon: Once in a family of pigeons, the father sees its wife and children are caught in hunter’s net and goes to free it, fails and it also gets caught in the same web. This is because of the excessive attachment, for the father pigeon thinks that without them life is not worth living. Had it thought for moment that it is difficult to free them it would not have attempted this and thus saving self. So also, we, the human beings get muddled into life because of our excess attachment. Attachment is bondage. The right way, learning from pigeon would be to love and yet be not excessively attached. Loving yet being discriminatory and detached our life would be peaceful.

  • to be continued

24 Gurus from Bhagavatam

 

“Sanatsujatiyam” – The story of US

“Sanatsujatiyam” is a chapter from udyoga parva in Bhagavatam, a well known Indian epic, of the same time period as that of Bhagavat Gita. While Gita is about the dialogue between  Lord Krishna and Arjuna in the battle field, Sanatsujatiyam is the teaching of Sage Sanatsujata  to Dhrutarashtra, the blind King and the father of Kauravas who are one of the main protagonist of Mahabharata war.

The Questions

Sanatsujatiyam answers some fundamental  philosophical questions that has been in our mind from time immemorial and raised by Dhrutarashtra in this case.

What do we do to go beyond all sorrow and will we be able to look with equanimity upon gain and loss, desire and hate, old age and death, joy and sorrow, hunger and thirst, fear and fearlessness, merit and sin, decline and rise the essential dhwandhas or the duality that are the conflicts of life.

Which are the cause of transmigration and how to attain liberation from these.

Is there death are there is no death.

Who are we. What is “Brahman”? How do we know Brahman which is our essential nature. What do we do to regain our essential self.

The man thinks himself to be body, mind and senses.we are active, doing things constantly trying to avoid pain and enjoy pleasures and result is facing miseries and failure to attain freedom which is the goal of life. We are born and we die again and again continuing this life cycle only each time under different body, name and circumstances. But then question arises. Is there death. Or what is death. Who is the real person behind these names and forms.

what is the knowledge that would make man immortal free from the duality of the world. Can enlightenment be reached and death be conquered by performance of Vedic rituals. Could it be done through combination of ritual and knowledge. Seers are of the view that there is death and no death. How can these contradictory views can be realised.

Who are we and when do we die are some of the questions asked of  Sage Sanatsujata and he replies to them as follows.

Who are we

The scriptures say ones real nature is liberation. We are divine beings. We are on vacation in this world.  The death happens when we forget that and fall from that state to this life. This forgetting of the natural state is the cause of all our problems in this life and the start of Karmic activities of production, attainment, modification and purification.

Ignorance is the cause of bondage and knowledge is the cause of liberation and we are all deluded because of this sheath of ignorance

The Atma or the soul residing in a person is beyond body and mind and beyond and continues in three states of waking, dream and deep sleep of a person. Since one is Atma there is no birth and death.

Body identification and doership is the cause for miseries of life. The man who is created from water, five elements, has gross body that embodies soul in his heart which is purely consciousness, and wrongly identifies himself with gross body. This body identification creates  self-not self concept and that leads to all sorrows, joy, misery and worry again based on his karma. Body identification leads to samsara in other words this circle of life of desire fulfillment, old age, decay and death. The five sense organs, the five organs of action, mind and intellect twelve in all are the cause of externalities and by withdrawing them internally the cause of transmigration is avoided and bliss is attained.

When any activity has to be carried out it has to be done with total detachment, without the feeling of ” I ” am doing it and expectation of result. Thus when mind is pure and free from desire and emotions of anger, greed, jealousy etc self knowledge and realisation happens. If one thinks the body is real and there are these unfulfilled desires at the time of death then the soul carries them along with it and comes back again and again. Hence no liberation from this cycle of life or samsara. When sense objects and desire arising from sense organs are understood to be transient and ephemeral leading to more karma and sorrow and overcome liberation is achieved. Raising above the body level and keeping the mind content and calm which happens when there is no thinking or no mind, or when activities of the mind ceases then path to liberation opens.

The  Brahman

The Brahman is that which is beyond cause and effect, all pervasive, beyond the reach of speech and mind that which is present in every being and object in the universe.it is experienced as pure consciousness. The Brahman has no form. It is infinite and not confined into any space and not made up of five elements. It can not be negated and is beyond ignorance. It is subtler than the subtlest and bigger than anything imaginable. It is that from which all in the universe emerges and  and at the end time of universe everything merges with it.  The entire universe shines because of the light of the Brahman. All the universe is established in it.

The person who is born in this world, the self, is the manifestation of Brahman and the self is a non-dual, infinite consciousness and bliss. The knower of self knows it as Brahman and who knows it becomes immortal.

Know Brahman

It is the creator, the supreme being who creates the entire universe out of five elements – fire, air, Earth, water, and ether- in everything and everyone and transmigrates. Who makes him do that and for what purpose and what happens when that action ceases is the play of creation. It is Brahman the being, pure consciousness and bliss.

The Brahman can be attained by truth, rectitude, humility, control of the senses, purity of mind and knowledge and keeping out pride and delusion.

Avoid these

As to the question if one can escape the consequences of sinful acts if he has learnt the scriptures the answer is no and that the fruits of good and bad activities have to be experienced separately and that one does not negates the other. The Brahman can be obtained by tapas which is rigour, penance and austerity. As it is affected the qualities of desire, anger, lust, greed, ignorance, pleasure from sense objects, cruelty, casting aspersions delusion, complaining, worry, covetousness malice, envy and hatred aspirant should avoid these qualities. Also one should avoid sense gratification, prosperity at the cost of others (note the qualifier here), lamenting giving away of gift after it is done, willing to face humiliation for gain, lack of discrimination, boasting and  ill treating one’s spouse.

Pride and the qualities that amplify it are also to be avoided by one.

Cultivate these qualities

One who knows Brahman is a brahmana. (Note – it is by qualities and not be birth). And the twelve great qualities of brahmana are speaking truth, speaking what is good for others, controlling ones mind, studying scriptures, caring for well being of others, proprietary, not talking about faults of others in public, self control under all circumstrances and control of senses. Thus those who have achieved these qualities would be in a position to attain great knowledge and success and position in this world.

Control of senses is effective when along with above qualities one is not quarrelsome, respects all, not lamenting about past or worrying about future, equanimous in all circumstances, Knowledgeable, not causing injury to others, detached and spiritualistic.

Practising the above leads one to happiness.

Know thy self

An object is identified by words only if it has some quality as name, form, action, and relationship with some other objects. As the self does not have any of these qualities it cannot be described but only perceived as pointed by Vedas. Self can be realised by giving up sense objects, which is done by withdrawing senses, being quite, away from all actions and by contemplation and meditation. Brahman is the source of all names and forms and self is Brahman. So knower of the self knows the source of everything in the universe. Attaining Brahman, the ultimate reality, pure consciousness, bliss (sat, chit, ananda) that is happiness, and that is the goal of life. And those who attain the knowledge of self are liberated.

Thus one who knows himself to be Brahman had no death. It is unborn and is the self of all moving and unmoving. By meditating on this he is fulfilled. Brahman is immortal and all beings are born from it and merge into it. Brahman is the self, not self and all that exist and exist not.

-Karparation

Ref:

-“Sanatsujatiyam” translated by S N Sastri

  • Discourse by Shri Swami Anubhavananda Saraswati on Sanatsujatiyam – available on YouTube

Series in Living I – Way of Life as in Hinduism

Hinduism takes a holistic view of living. It has four goals and stages of human life; – “Dharma, Artha, Kama and Moksha,” –  namely learning of rules (ways) of life, Acquisition of wealth, fulfillment of desires and liberation from worldly attachment are the four “purushartha” or purpose of human life. Similarly, – “Brahmacharya, Grahasthashra, Vanaprastha and Sanyasa” – Student hood, householder, retired and renunciate are the four stages of life.

Dharma – Law, Duty

Dharma is the righteous way of living, is akin  to do your duty and follow the law. It is the rule book pertaining to various aspects of life.  It enunciates the principles, ethical and moral values of living, essentially guides the ways in which other three goals of life – of acquiring financial wealth, fulfillment of desires and how to exit the life from these two stages can be fulfilled with least resistance. Virtuous and proper and productive living is the construct here and educating one of the duties and  rules of the game called life is the goal.

Artha – Wealth

The dictionary meaning of Artha is meaning, purpose, money, worldly prosperity, wealth. Artha is the material potential that includes all means of material needed for livelihood and security of livelihood. The survival and the thriving of humans requires wealth – that is, economic activity, wealth and its creation, worldly success, profit, political success and all that that is necessary for human existence. Wealth and prosperity is closely linked with all the other goals and is essential to fulfill them and absence of it means difficulties in goal fulfillment.

Kama – Desire

Kama refers to the principles of desire, drives, pleasure, enjoyment,  wish, emotional fulfillment, sensuality and sexuality. Artistic desires such as art, music, material possessions such as jewelry, cloth, fine house and gourmet food, sport and sex fulfillment are the instances of desire and fulfillment of these is encouraged in the righteous manner.

Moksha – Liberation

The goal of moksha is self-realization, self-knowledge, and liberation from worldly aspirations. Freedom and spiritual aspirations are the goals of this space.

Stages of life vs principles of life

Stages of life are aligned with goals of life. In the first stage of studentship educations is the goal, where in, one learns the rules of life including what is life is all about and how to acquire things that are needed to make it successful and righteous way of living. Discipline in cultivation of knowledge, control of ones thoughts, actions and deeds with respect to desires and enjoyment, staying away from entertainment and forces that distract one in his studies, and focus in studies are the goals of this stage.  Equipping one self, learning and knowledge and skill building are the primary focus in this stage ,   Having learnt the rules of life, earning and living he sets forth to lay the foundation of what is called family life

In the second stage which is of householder, one is married, and duties include maintaining a home, raising a family, caring for the children, parents, and society around. Acquiring wealth and fulfillment of one’s desires are the purpose of this stage and is considered to be the happiest stage in one’s life. Here all the desires and physical, emotional and social needs of person are to be fulfilled. The necessary means for it to be acquired. Wealth, security, pleasure and sexual needs fulfillment, and family are the main focus in this stage of life. One is encouraged to fulfill ones legitimate needs and desires be it physical, emotional, familial, financial and societal in this stage of life.

In the third stage of retirement, the person slowly starts disengaging oneself from the family responsibilities and starts handing over the responsibility to the next generation taking an advisory role. Here he is to prepare oneself for the attainment of spiritual liberation.it is one of detachment and being useful to the society serving as judge, teacher, counselor and wayfarer that marks this stage.

The fourth and final stage is that of ascetic, is marked by renunciation of material desires and prejudices, represented by a state of disinterest and detachment from material life, and has the purpose of spending one’s life in peaceful and spiritual way.

One is prepared and encouraged to face and lead the life according to the time and stages one finds oneself. One is expected to age and evolve naturally and gracefully. Each of the above stages equip one for the stage he is in and prepares him for the successive stage in life. The stages of student, family man, advisor and ascetic are applicable in that order for majority of the human being with a few exception, where a person can skip family stage and become a monk. For a successful living the learner stage is the foundation and how each one has lived in the previous stage decides the current stage the man is in.

Hindu way of life is simple living and high thinking. Poverty is not glorified and wealth by rightful means is encouraged. Moderation is encouraged and excess is abhorred. It is based on logic, reasoning and experience. However somewhere along the way these principles have got corrupted and sadly, Hinduism has got solely associated with rituals and dogmas and nihilism.

Hinduism stresses the importance of education in student hood, pursuit of wealth and happiness for householders, advisory role and preliminary detachment during retirement stage and liberation and spirituality in the final stages of life.  Adhering to these principles paves way for happy and fulfilled life and good society.