Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Types: Listening - sravanam

We have been seeing a series of qualities that we are supposed to develop in order to progress in spirituality through Bhakti route.
Now onwards we will see the several types of bhakti that exist with exemplary stories.
The is no hard and fast rules as to how the form of Bhakti should be. It is something entirely between the person and his God. therefore it is natural that there are various way of expressing it.
The first is called sravanam which means listening. Not listening to any cinema songs or something like that!
It is listening to the Lord's praise and stories related to him. Through this we will come know His qualities and also how some people progressed spiritually by this methods. We can emulate them and we can also progress. Listening to anything about Him makes us want to see him; so we will be able to concentrate. This is remove the attractions on mundane things and helps us to go to the higher steps.

Oh do you mean we can listed to stories about Him and go to swarga or get moksha?

:-) it is not a joke! A person did indeed listen to stories about the Lord and obtain moksha.

Oh really? Let us listen to that story then.

Here it is!
The King Parikshit is a descendant of the Pandavas.
Once he went on a hunt. Once in the forest they are parted by chance and parikshit was left alone. After a few hours of hunting, he got thirsty. There was no one to fetch him water. So he went back the way he came and presently arrived at an ashram. The ashram belonged to a risi named sameeraka. Sameeraka was sitting under a banyan tree and was immersed in meditation. The King asked for water but the risi was in no state to hear him. Already hungry and thirsty the king got angry. A dead snake was lying around. The king lifted it with his sword and put it around the neck of the risi and then went on his way.
After some time sameraka's son came along. Seeing the snake around his father's shoulders he wa enraged. Though young he was a great thapasvi. He discerned what happened by his spiritual powers. When he realized what had happened he was even more enraged. Saying this is not how a king should behave he cursed that the king will die from snake bite within a week.
After a few minuted sameeraka came down from his meditative state and seeing his angry son nearby inquired what the matter was. Learning what had happened he chided his son for cursing the king like that. “ whether it is a garland or snake it is the same to me. Why curse the king for a matter like that? Now nothing can be done about it. By cursing you lost a lot of power from tapas. Go to the king and inform him that he has just seven days of life left.”
learning that he has just a week of life time left, the king was repentant. I acted in haste and that act doesn't behoove me. What can i do to wash my sins within a week? He decided to go to the banks of Ganges and fast to death. The news spread fast and several risis arrived at the banks. The king prostrated before them and requested them to show him a way to attain moksha. They said the great risi sukha will arrive shortly and will help you in this matter. The sage sukhaa soon arrived. After receiving him with all respects he did paatha pooja and requested hm to show the way. Sage sukhaa said the easiest way to attain moksha in a week is to listen to the Lord's story. Thus was born Srimad Bhagavatha.
In the ninth chapter sukhaa narrated the story of Krishna briefly. Parikshit said, "I am most disappointed to hear such a brief story. Even while you were telling us the story of Harishchandra, Dushyanta, the Kings of the Sun dynasty, the Kings of the Moon dynasty i was waiting for Krishana's story. All my relatives have sang praises of him. Tell me in detail for I think I live for a week only for that purpose”.
Sukhaa was most pleased with this attitude and so in the tenth chapter he happily narrated Krishna's story in great details. Having listened to this Parikshit attained mokshaa at the end of the seventh day.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Now the topic under consideration is Dhanam.
That means giving to others. How much to give? It is not important. What is important is the attitude with which one gives. Suppose an organization is collecting money for the renovation of a temple. Or some such thing. a millionaire donating a thousand rupees is not very great. If a day to day wage earner donates even ten rupees that would be great.

When a real Bhakta sees God in everyone or everything naturally he wants to share what he has with others.
there was one Namadeva in Maharastra. He was an ardent devotee of Vitala. he has sung many songs on Him and they are called apangas. they are somewhat akin to Devaram and Thiruvasakam of Tamilnadu. He practically lived in penury through out his life!
One day someone tool pity on him and gave him a dry chapatti (flat bread like food item, popular in North India)and some butter. Namadeva cried, " Oh Vittala you have sent me too day's food!" Keeping it aside he started singing in His praise. Meanwhile a dog spying the chapati sneaked in and grabbing it started running away. The people around shouted at Namadeva "Hey, the dog is running away with your chapati!" Namadeva started chasing it. Of course the dog increased its speed. Namadeva ran after it crying, " Oh Vittala, you have not taken the butter. The chapati is dry and you can't consume it without this piece of butter. Please take it!" The people around naturally thought him to be mad!

Namadeva never had any steady work or income.if at all somehow some money is saved he will immediately spend it on feeding the devotees. His wife got vexed with his ways of life. She went to the temple and complained to vittala,: See what you have done! you are dragging him towards you. He hardly brings home any money. How am I supposed to run the household?" Taking pity, Vittala appeared in person before her and said," It is not me who dragging him towards me. He is the one dragging me towards him!"
the wife said, " I don't know any such philosophical thing. I am a simple woman. If no money comes home wee will have to starve!"
Vittal said, "Ok,Ok, when did I have money? Ask her" and He pointed to rukkumayi. The wife went to rukkumayi and made the same complaint and rukkumayi promised to look into the matter. Namadeva's wife felt happy and went home.
That night a cart appeared in front of Namadeva's house and a man and a woman got down from it. They told Namadeva's wife that Namadeva's Guru had sent something to them. They unloaded several sacks containing grins, vegetables and other groceries along with a bag of coins. The wife was astounded and ran in to tell his husband. by the time namadeva came out to inspect the goods Vittala and Rukkumayi were long gone!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

continuing from the last post....

continuing from the last post....
Lord Krishna was ready to leave this world as the job came here for was accomplished. Well the gopis were so dear to him and he wanted to give them the option of what to do next. As you might know the gopis are devas who in Rama avatar could not interact with him directly and so took a form during Krishna avatar. Krishna sent for the gopis and told them, “ The job i came here for is complete and so i propose to leave for vaikunta. What do you propose to do?” In one voice they told him,” What are we going to do without you here? We too will come with you". “So be it” said Krishna. So off he went to the forest and as per the risis' curse the last iron piece of the mace was fitted as the arrow head by a hunter and he shot Krishna's feet thinking it was a deer. Krishna consoled the hunter saying what must be done has been done and the hunter's action was only a move in the game.
Krishna merged with Narayana in vaikunta.
The gopis also duly arrived at vaikunta. As soon as they came they looked for Krishna all over the place. They could not find him. After a few days Narayana sent for them and asked them “Are you all happy here? Is there anything that you lack?” the gopis said “ We feel it is Hell here”. Narayana was surprised and amused! “Why do you say so?” “ we don't find Krishna here! We are heart broken!”
"Well, I am Krishna! I took that avatar!"
The gopis would not accept that argument.
“ok, so what do you want?”
“Send us back to the earth! We can spend our time thinking of Krishna there!”
So they were sent back.
----
A few years back one ganapatigal very well known to me, had been to Brindavan. He hired a rickshaw to go around and see the place. After a few hours he thought there was nothing more to see and asked to be returned to the place of stay. The rikshawallah told him that he will take him to a special place and took him to a park. Spent some time here and come back, he advised. Ganapatigal went around the park and came back.
"What did you see?"
" Nothing special. This place is like a lot of other parks. Mmm .... there are a lot of monkeys here though!"
" Ok so go back observe the monkeys and come back."
Surprised ganapatigal went in and sat in a place and observed the monkeys. After some time he realised what was different.
Monkeys are known for their mischief. They cant not stay on one place for any length of time. They just cant keep quiet. They have to be active. They will be always running here and there and jumping about from branch to branch.
But here it was different. Most monkeys kept quiet and looked sad. Some will be crying and some circumnavigate a particular place. In short they were totally different.
Ganapatigal returned and told the rickshawallah what he saw. In reply the story written above was narrated. The rickshawallah ended it saying, “These monkeys are the gopis. They are longing for Krishna and thinking only of Him. That is why you see them behave differently."

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Anudharsa and true love.

Anudharsa is not to be excessively happy.
A little surprising? Yes! After all everyone wants to be happy always.
Yes. That is true but excess of anything is not good. More over a point to be kept in mind is to look at things dispassionately. The apparent happiness and apparent sadness must be taken equally.
duḥkheṣv anudvigna-manāḥ
sukheṣu vigata-spṛhaḥ
vīta-rāga-bhaya-krodhaḥ
sthita-dhīr munir ucyate

One who is not disturbed in mind even amidst the threefold miseries or elated when there is happiness, and who is free from attachment, fear and anger, is called a sage of steady mind.
In short one who can control and command the desires will not get caught in too much of happiness. He will also attain atma gnana.

We get things related we adhere to. Attachment to things that are bound to get destroyed, takes us too towards destruction. In stead of that if we attach ourselves to the Brahman we will start traveling towards that. If one has to have attachment this one only is worth having! This only is the true love. Only this can lead us to experience the bliss that can not be perceived through our senses.

In bhakti yoga the sataka will be singing praises of the Lord only as long as he is conscious of his own body. Should he lose this sense he will go to a state that is not describable. This has entered the realms of Gnana yoga.

After all the classification we made regarding the various ways is only for our convenience to examine various aspects involved. There is always a cross over among the ways.
Where there is unqualified total love the realisation of oneself naturally occurs. Love and gnana at their highest state are one and the same.

“Srimad bhagavaatam says that the risis who are in atmic bliss having shed the shackles show love to God just for the sake of love, with no qualifications.”

in prahalada saritra it is said that when prahalada lost the sense of “I”, he did not see the universe. He only perceived a nameless shapeless being. When he got back his consciousness of self he saw the universe and the Lord with unlimited virtues.

Gopis of vrindaavan too were like that. With the Krishna conscious they had merged with him and did not feel they were separate. Only when the “self” consciousness returned they considered themselves as gopis and Krishna as one to be worshiped.

In short if one stand away from the brahman it will be bhakti and if you get merged it is gnana.
But then this itself cn lead to a false gnana!

Usually bhaktas desire to be separate from the Lord. Sri Ramakrishana says bhakta wants to taste the sugar candy of the Lord, he does not want to become the sugar candy himself by realising “aham brahmasmi”

Monday, December 20, 2010

The next one is the virtue called satva.
To be dull and sleepy most of the times is thamas.
Mmmm.. how to correct that? If one succeeds in inducing such a person to do dome work the rajasic aspect of the work will suppress thamas and it will get corrected.
To be always active... actually restless... and be up to some work or other is the rajasic quality. This also gives rise to the surfacing of emotions, be it joy or anger, and even this is not very good. This is to be corrected by inducing the person to be quiet and meditate or something like that.
That is, turn thamas into rajas and rajas into satva. A sativic mind is quiet and not given to agitation. Such a mind can focus on the God, fill one's heart with spiritual peace. Elevation to higher levels of spirituality results.

Dharma is what our forefathers, risis and sastras agreed as dharma. It is a s et of universal rules by which this whole universe moves. To taste sweet is sugar's dharma. To wet things is water's dharma. To burn is fire's dharma. Similarly our actions too have a predictable effect and having analysed them our forefathers simply compiled a set of do s and don't s. This is called dharma sastra. Traditionally anything against dharma has been frowned upon though being humans there has been constant attempts to cross the limits. Thus slowly it has got eroded. The saying “dharmō rakṣati rakṣitah” which occurs in the fifteenth verse of the eighth chapter of the Manu Smriti denotes that dharma always protects those who protect it.
What does it mean? Can be protect dharma? How can anyone protect a set of natural rules?
Her to protect means following dharma. You abide by rules and the rules protect you.
Next to consider is anavasta.
It gives a sataka a mature mindset. One can judge a person's spiritual progress with this! When the sataka can sees God in everything everywhere he will always be happy! How can be otherwise in the presence of God? He will have no desires and his heart will be content.
How can one achieve this?....
The answer is very simple but to get there is a bit difficult.
The answer is that our natural state is one of peace. It is we who have spoiled it by allowing the senses to prevail and hijack us with the emotions. The environment also aids this. If we can overcome the environment and control our sense we can find our natural state of peace.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

The power of mind – the story of kanaka dasa

Let me tell you a little secret! Though the paths are classified differently it does not mean there is a strict compartmentalization. You enter the way of bhakti and you may well end up with gnana. You may be well into the karma route and your kundalini might raise up and you become a yogin. One cant predict!

Let us see the story of kanakadasa as a point of illustration.

There was a shepherd named kanakadasa in the state of Karnataka. He was an ardent devotee of Krishna. He was particularly attracted to the Krishna called Adhikeshava at Kaginele, (presently in Haveri district of Karnataka.) But as a shepherd his job took him to the pastures of the village. How cold he pray or do pooja while at work? But that was hardly a problem for him. He used to do it mentally! If you think that is easy try it! After seeing to it that the sheep are happily browsing he would start his mental pooja to Kaginele Krishna. After that he will sing songs on him and ..... in short be mentally with Him.

Now Vyasa raya was the prime minister of that country. (He was to become vyasathirtha later.) The king had highest regards for him. Vyasa raya was traveling along with his retinue. He was being carried in a planquin as per the custom and practice in vogue those days. Vysa raya being an erudite scholar, many scholars and vedic experts were present in the retinue.

On the way they encountered a field of Tulasi, the holy basil-herb, (ocymum sanctum). Vyasa raya was so happy to see that. His mind at once leapt to the Lord and he wanted to dedicate the entire field of Thulasi to Him. Mentally he bound a garland from the thulasi and mentally imagined the lord and put the garland on Him. To his surprise the garland would not settle on the image of the lord properly!

Vysaraya was perplexed! After all i was imagining it and why should the vision turn out to be like this. Well, let it be, he thought and went on to imagine another thulasi garland. To his surprise and dismay it met the same fate to hanging askew on the shoulders of the Lord.
He called halt to the procession. He called up the scholars and narrated to them the perplexing story. They too could not come up with any explanation. All they could do was scratch their heads and look at each other!

So the procession continued on its way. Presently a shepherd was seen running towards them calling out loudly “Oh sir, Oh sir!” While the guards stopped him vyasaraya looked out. The shepherd called out loud. “Oh Sir the garland does not settled well as there is a churning-staff in the Lord's hand and the garland is getting caught in it. Put the garland a little away and it will be alright.”

All were astounded. This shepherd dares call to the prime minister and give him instructions! Vyasaraya closed his eyes and creating another garland mentally put it on the Lords shoulders -this time a bit away- and of course it settle down fine there!

A surprised vyasarayaasked the shepherd how he knew about the problem and the solution while none of his retinue could understand it.

The shepherd replied “ Oh i was doing pooja when you tried to put the garland on His shoulders, that is how i knew of it.
The shepherd was none other than kanakadasa!

The mind could be as powerful as this!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Ahimsa

Next on the list is ahimsa.
ahimsa has two parts. The first is not hurting others. The second is forgiving others who hurt us.

ஒறுத்தார்க்கு ஒரு நாளை இன்பம் பொறுத்தார்க்குப்
பொன்றும் துணையும் புகழ்
oṟuttārkku oru nāḷai iṉpam poṟuttārkkup
poṉṟum tuṇaiyum pukaḻ

says Thiruvalluvar!
Just having a goodwill to others is not ahimsa. One must also have tolerance and equanimity of mind.

That is the story of a sadhu who went to the river to have a bath. having compeleted it and having performed the rituals, he was coming out off the river. At that time he saw a scorpian caught in the river current and being carried away. The sadhu wanted to save it. So he lifted it out of the water. But the Scorpion immediately stung him. In reflex he dropped it. The Scorpion fell in the water and was being washed away the sadhu did not leave it at that. he tried again to lift it out of the water. Of course the Scorpion did not know that he was trying to help it. It stung him again. Undaunted he attempted again after a few attempts the goal was finally achieved.

A person was watching this episode from the bank of the river. He asked the sadhu why he would not stop after being stung by the Scorpion. It was ok for the first time, but after being repeatedly stung why he did not leave it alone.

The sadhu laughed and said it is his dharma to help those who are suffering and the dharma of the Scorpion is to sting anyone that it perceives as threat. If the Scorpion did not stop doing its dharma why he should stop doing his dharma.

Suppose somebody does us a very bad turn, we might get angry. With a lot of effort we might supress that anger. After that, though there is the temptation to punish the person we forgive him. Will this be ahimsa? Not really. The immediate reaction of anger negates that.

That is to say getting angry and suppressing the anger is not ahimsa. If your mind can be at peace while it is forgiving that deed, that would be ahimsa.
For one who follows ahimsa what he feels, what it thinks, what he says and what it does - are all in concurrence. And in spirituality this is very important.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Honesty and Love

While we have been seeing the qualities needed for a Sataka. In this list the next is arjava.
This means honesty. Quite a few words being more or less the same thing but they are subtle differences. Satya and Arjava seem to mean the same thing but Arjava means proper conduct. This proper conduct is easy to follow when we are not having any problem. It is only when we are facing adversity that the real test happens. To be straight forward even in such situations is what honesty is all about.
This considered a virtue.
We must show honesty in trusting god without any show.
We must show honesty in reciting his name.
We must show honesty in serving our elders our spiritual leaders.
If we follow honesty in our mundane life and spiritual life we can progress in sadana. I'm not saying this is easy but with trust in God we can achieve it.
If you are wondering about the "honesty in reciting his name", here is a small anecdote.
A sadhu used to recite "sivoham" always. that means "I am siva". Once he was traveling in the Himalayas and as you know it could get very cold there! He was meditating in a clearing and it suddenly got very cold. He tried his best to ignore the cold and keep his mind in the chanting. After a while he could not bear it any more. he changed the chanting to "dehooham" (I am the body) and ran to seek shelter.

The next is kriya. This is love for all creatures in this universe. Thiruvalluvar says

அன்பின் வழியது உயிர்நிலை அஃதிலார்க்
என்பு தோல் போர்த்த உடம்பு

aṉpiṉ vaḻiyatu uyirnilai aḵtilār
eṉpu tōl pōrtta uṭampu
meaning a person with out love is just a skeleton on which their skin cover has been put on.
Sri Shankara also says
maṉuṣyatvam mumukṣutvam mahā puruṣacamsrayam
turlapam tēvāṉukraha hētukam
in this maṉuṣyatvam means the quality of being human. In this context it is based on love.
Love does not arise out of any sort of infatuation. It comes with unselfish sacrifice and blemishless living. If there is any selfish motive in showing love to any one, there will always be a limit to that and also it is mixed with sorrow.
Vallalar says
 எத்துணையும் பேதமுறாது எவ்வுயிர்க்கும் தம்முயிர் போல் எண்ணியுள்ளே
ஒத்துரிமை உடையவராய் உவக்கின்றார் யாரவர் உளந்தான்
சுத்த சித்துருவாய் எம்பெருமான் நடம் புரியும் இடமென நான் தேர்ந்தேன் அந்த
வித்தகர்தம் அடிக்கு ஏவல் புரிந்திட என் சிந்தை மிக விழைந்ததாலோ

ettuṇaiyum pētamuṟātu evvuyirkkum tammuyir pōl eṇṇiyuḷḷē
otturimai uṭaiyavarāy uvakkiṉṟār yāravar uḷantāṉ
cutta citturuvāy emperumāṉ naṭam puriyum iṭameṉa nāṉ tērntēṉ anta
vittakartam aṭikku ēval purintiṭa eṉ cintai mika viḻaintatālō
He who does not see differences in any life form and would happily consider them as his own, His mind is where my Lord dances in his form of pure knowledge. My mind seeks to serve such a person.

A learnt Brahmana who is also humble, the cow, the elephant, the dog, the one who eats the dog all are equal in the eyes of a gnani.-  Bhagavat Gita 5-18.

Such a realisation comes to one when the love matures. One must be really lucky to serve a person who has matured so much.

If we develop our love it breaks the constraint of the smaller circle "me" ,  expanding to "us", later on the love encompasses all the living beings, and later still to even the non living things. Such an expansion of the attitude is very important for god realisation. One who is not able to feel the unselfish love cannot realise Go.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

control of anger, kriya, satya

Shall we go further? From anger comes delusion. The person who angry does not know any more whether his actions are correct or not. Therefore he commits a lot of deeds that are sinful, thinking they are all correct.

From delusion comes loss of memory; from loss of memory, the intellect is destroyed. When intellect is destroyed the person will be destroyed. This chain of events will destroy the person concerned.

krōtāt pavati sammōha:
sammōhāt smruti viprama:
smruti pramcāt putti nācō
putti nācāt praṇasyati

-Bhagavad gita 2:63

“From anger comes delusion, from delusion, the loss of memory; from loss of memory, the destruction of discrimination; from destruction of discrimination he perishes.”

The next one is kriya. One can call it good deeds. This comes from satva guna. This is also called kalyana. Shri Ramanuja says that if this is present purity with satya, straight forwardness, love, ahimsa and dharma will be present.
For this the body, mind and the words must always be pure. You should always say, what we think, and we should always do what we say.

This is what Ramalinga Vallalar said:
uḷḷoṉṟu vaittu puṟamoṉṟu pēcuvār uṟavu kalavāmai vēṇṭum

satya:
catyō nāsti parōtarma ....
The vedas say that there is no higher dharma than satya. If we have to go somewhere near realising the Bhramhan that is sat, chit and ananda our life must be in the way of Satya. This thirst for Satya, should not be affected by the worldly attractions. If our attention turns inward the spiritual streangth will be increased. If our attention turns outward our strength will be spent. Therefore it is logical that as long as the senses lead our way, to have a life in the path of satya is near impossible. A lot of sacrifice is needed for spiritual progress. We should all try to change our lifestyle in this way.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

haughtiness and hypocracy...

The next is abhimana or haughtiness.
Most of us while doing an action think that we are the one who is doing that action. This is because of the rajasic Guna which arises from a Tamasic base. It is human nature to claim credit when things go right but the moment something goes wrong, we blame so many factors. We start blaming our colleagues or subordinates;or say that the time was not right or at least the weather was bad!

But anyone who is serious about spiritual progress should not fall into this trap. If he does so, he will get confused on the urged to seek God will slowly disappear.

It is only in the human janma that one can have spiritual thoughts and progress. We might have been born as animals or even worse, beings of even lower orders. We cannot expect to have any spiritual thoughts, and so where is question of any spiritual progress? It is fortunate that we are born as human beings.There is no point in wasting it as long as we know and can appreciate that one needs to seek Spiritual elevation. Let us make use of it. Who knows what our next janma will be?

A new line of thought arises from the above analysis. It is common to see that one feels that he is the one who is looking after his family etc. But in reality, it is obvious that it is God who is looking after each one of the life forms. We are only acting as tools in his hands. Suppose we're not there, tomorrow he will do the same thing to someone else.

Ask anybody if he is prepared to leave this world in exchange for a permanent place in swarga (the heaven). The answer will be,"oh no! I'm sorry!" , followed by explanations that he has to look after so-and-so, be it children, wife, parents and the list may well run 2 to 3 pages. As long as we have this feeling that we are the one who can look after them, God will leave it us as we desire. The moment we surrender these mundane things to God, He will look after, and usually he does a better job. If we think deeply about these things, we will not be afraid to die, and that makes a whole lot of difference to the outlook of a person. We will simply lose fear and the spiritual progress can be very fast.

The next thing to avoid is hypocrisy. Without any doubt this will take the sataka for away from here, he will lose the simplicity and the sweetness. He will be filled with violence and bitterness. So says Narada!

Narada then goes on to generalise, what should be avoided. He simply says, "Avoid all bad things!" So you ask, what are the bad things? The answer is simple, whatever makes your mind run after the senses are bad!
Let us see down why he should say so.

dhyayato visayan pumsah
sangas tesupajayate
sangat sanjayate kamah
kamat krodho 'bhijayate
- Bhagavad gita 2.62
[While contemplating the objects of the senses, a person develops attachment for them, and from such attachment lust develops, and from lust anger arises.]

To think of mundane things start liking them. When you start liking them you desire them. When you desire something you want to obtain that. And if these efforts are frustrated it leads to anger. So, this desire and anger spoil everything.

It is said that the fire destroys on contact and poison on consuming it. But the senses destabilise the person just on thought.

if we say okay, I will think only good things, that is also not desirable. If we call, thinking bad things the iron fetter, good thoughts are Golden fetter. That is what Shri Ramakrishna says.

It is quite possible that you're getting very jittery now! What should I be doing then?! Don't worry, that stages far off. Let us first get rid of the bad thoughts, and then let us think about the good thoughts, much later.

Friday, November 26, 2010

the attractions of wealth and nastikas..

Wealth is another attraction. This incites one to indulge in worldly things. Satana becomes a little too tiring. The spiritual progress comes to a standstill. Senses have a field day seeking food for themselves. Mind will never be satisfied with what one has. Whatever you earn there is still something more to be acquired! So the balance of mind is lost and so is peace of mind!
So does that mean we should not earn or money is not needed to live?
No, it is not like that! We should not run after money. Whatever we get through the job that we do, should be enough and we should try to live within that means. We will get what we are entitled to by laws of karmaa. Let us try and be satisfied with that!

mūḍha jahīhi dhanāgamatṛṣṇāḿ
kuru sadbuddhiḿ manasi vitṛṣṇām
yallabhase nijakarmopāttaḿ
vittaḿ tena vinodaya cittam (bhaja govindam- 2)


“O fool! Give up the thirst for acquiring wealth
Devote your mind to thoughts on the Reality
Be content with what comes
Through the actions that you did in the past”

The caution about the nastikaas is the next in the list. Such a thing will make you indulge in the worldly things again. One might think about these things a lot – whether to leave such attractions and indulge is your choice- but one you have entered a path of devotion it is foolish to turn back to these things. We will neither shine in the chosen worldly path nor make any spiritual progress! Confusion is the only certain outcome of it!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Training cont...

Actions of this kind will naturally be right and not adharmic. And it will give good results. So says the sage Narada.
" 63. Sthreethana nasthika vairi charithram na sravaneeyam" - narada bhakti sutra.
That means, don't listen to the descriptions and stories of ladies, money, the atheist and your enemies.
This is nothing derogatory about ladies, what he wants to convey is the attraction between the male and the female of the species. Usually for the males these feelings are more predominant and therefore the sayings all like that.
These things feed the development of kaama and krodha. Kaama is as powerful as wildfire, and as destructive too. Left alone, it can destroy a man by consuming all his powers of mind, and his spiritual strength. Many satakas fail in this test somewhere along the line of spiritual progress. Most of us know the story of vishwamatra. In order to become a brahma risi he did tough penance. Still, he fell to the charms of apsaras sent by Indra. This kaama is very powerful and can upset -at least momentarily - even big gnanies.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

more on training...

The devotee wants to serve the world. Why? It is not because the people of the world are suffering. The mature devotee sees the world as God. He knows that serving the world is service to God. Because of this understanding, he is happy. If he thinks that he is serving the world, the result will be a lot of problems.

In rishikesh Swami Shivananda had established an ashram. One of the volunteers in that ashram suffered a dog bite and unfortunately developed Rabies. Shivananda was a doctor before taking sanyasa. Therefore he looked after that volunteer himself. Even in these days of advanced medical care, we don't have any good treatment for rabies. Seeing the way Swami Shivananda was caring for him, others admired him. Surely the swamiji likes this devotee so much!
After a few days of this felt that it will be better to send him home and continued to treatment there. When they put this idea to Shivananda, he agreed and sent him home with some money. Then, he continued to look after the affairs of the ashram. Now and then he used to enquire about the progress of the patient. But the treatment was not effective, and the volunteer died. The news was duly conveyed to Shivananda, but to their surprise they found that Shivananda was not moved emotionally. He continued to do his work without showing any grief or anxiety.

When the devotee has reached the highest state it occurs to him that everything that is happening in the world is God's play. Therefore he doesn't take pride in what he is doing. Nor does he regret, if something goes wrong. All that he knows is that he is serving God. Such an attitude is real surrender. we should try that develop such an attitude.
During his training period, or even when we have advanced to higher levels - in no state we need to forego our social life. But whatever actions we do, we have to surrender the result to God and accept whatever the outcome is as His prasada.

Monday, November 22, 2010

redirect the senses....

The animals which are bound and led by senses at the most suffered a little due to the new attachments. But the man acquires a little bit of papa also.
The person in the bhakthi route has to take some action regarding the senses. To negate the sensory inputs is possible, but that will not come under the subject of bhakthi. The kind of people who follow this course of bhakti are mostly simple folks who may not have the power of mind to do so.
Therefore in bhakthi, all the senses are the other results of the senses like kaama and krotha are redirected towards God. Just like the farmer redirects the flow of water to the fields that require it by blocking the flow onwards and making a small breach the bank of the channel in the direction of the field.
If you must have desires, desire to see God. If your mind must burn for something, let it be with the feeling that you can't live without God and that your mind will be in peace only with him. All these will make kaama the "lust" pure!
If you have to get angry let it be with God who is not taken you into his fold yet.
If you want be very possessive let it be with God . Like " This is my God. He belongs to me only". This makes lobha (avarice) and moha (infatuation) pure.
The attitude that "Oh God, you cannot escape me. I will conquer you; I will lock you up in my heart. I will spend all my education, wealth and power in catching hold of you". Such a haughty, insolent attitude is okay with spirituality (bhakti).
When we see someone who has advanced in spirituality if you start crying, "Oh God, you have made these people so much advanced spiritually; why is that you don't let me advance?" - this matsarya (jealousy) is pure.
Redirecting the attachments that come through our senses towards God, we develop non-attachment towards the worldly things and our attachment to God will increase.
Thiruvalluvar says
"Patruga patratraan patrinai Appatrai patruga patru vidarkku" meaning if you want to renounce desires catch hold of thee feet of the one who has no desires.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

vimoha

The next quality to examine is the vimoha. That is not giving any room for lust. This will release us from the bindings of karma. Our senses lead to attachments and if these attachments are intense it will greatly affect the mind. The equilibrium will be lost, and therefore the spiritual progress will be affected. Those who are led by their senses will soon get caught in an unstable confused mind that for if the mind has to be pure we need vimoha.
Krishna paramatma says,

nāsti buddhir ayuktasya

na cāyuktasya bhāvanā

na cābhāvayataḥ śāntir

aśāntasya kutaḥ sukham


[One who is not connected with the Supreme can have neither transcendental intelligence nor a steady mind, without which there is no possibility of peace. And how can there be any happiness without peace?]

One who is not conquered the senses will not have a steady mind. One who does not have a steady mind will not have peace of mind. He who does not have peace of mind, can he have happiness?

These attachments come from the conjugation of mind and the senses. Only these two determine what one's quality is. The person's qualities determine his raise and fall.
The corrupt forms of mind or six in number. They have been given special names. They are as follows: kāma (lust); krodha (anger); lobha (avarice); moha (infatuation); mada (insolence), mātsarya ( jealousy).

How these are handled depends on the person. It is basically a question of who is controlling whom. A snake charmer has a lot of snakes in baskets and places from all over his body. He controls the snakes and they don't control him. Therefore they are quiet. But if we see the snakes, we panic.

Similarly, those who are in control of the senses, use them to their ends and we the mere mortals cannot do that. Just one of the six is enough to control us.
In viveka chudamani Sri Shankara warns us....
He quotes the example of five animals.
To catch a deer hunters will go into the forest and play the flute. Listening to the music the deer will stay quiet, and someone will go and catch it.
To catch an elephant, the hunters take a trained elephant and let it go and rub against the wild elephant. Being sensitive to touch of the opposite sex the elephant is tamed. The elephant can be caught unaware and is easily trapped.
Most of us are aware of the flies are attracted by fire. The fly straight into the fire and die there.
It needs no special brain to know that fish are caught by the sense of taste for the worm pinned to the fish hook.

Insects are attracted to flowers, and if the flower happens to close at sunset they will be trapped.

Sri Shankara appeals to the man. "Oh! man these beings are caught, just because of one of the senses. But you have five and you run after them. What will be your fate!"

Thursday, November 18, 2010

see a different classification...

Let us now see a different kind of classification of bhakthi.
Bhaya bhakthi seeing God in an idol, a number, the picture, the book or in some other object. God will be in the temple or some room, not elsewhere. The God here is all powerful. If you pray to him worship him and offer objects to him and demand something God will grant that. Most of the people are of this kind. In such people tamas is predominant.

The next ananya bhakti. This is a private relationship between the individual and God. This is usually intense. Such people will even fight with God and demand that God does such and such thing to them. When things go wrong, they will even blame the God and even cry that God is testing them. People with rajasic guna or of this kind. In this concept, there is only one God and he is in the form that one imagines . He is in my heart, and he is mine, is my ishta devatha. He is manifesting to others in some other form. People who have this concept will not criticise others their way of praying or worship.

Next is ekanta bhakthi. This is the bhakthi of pure saatvic people. These people offer bhakthi to God without any reason. That is no bargain in this. There is nothing like I offer this to you and you give me this . Whatever the external environment happiness or sadness, riches or penury, the life is full of roses or troubles,- nothing will change the attitude towards God. This person's God is always and everywhere stayed with him.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

what is bhakti?

Now let us see what is bhakti. It is to have a loving and relationship with God the omnipotent, all knowing, all-powerful entity. This entity, we call God. God has told us through puranas and agamas how to relate to him. We worship him through traditional bhajans and pujas. But one must evolve from seeing God in a particular idol or picture and start seeing him in every living being. We should also surrender ourselves to him in the highest level.
Essentially, there are two types of bhakti. One is to follow in the tradition by following the rituals etc in the way that our forefathers have prescribed. We should get to know what the family tradition is and with the help of some elders enter into this path. This is called vaidheha bhakti or krama bhakti.
The second way follows no tradition here, only the love of God is paramount. What rules and regulations did kaNNappa nayanar follow? some even call this "mad with love".
but this kind of thing is for the exceptional people. It is not for everyone of us do, we can quote examples most of us lack the intensity. Therefore we should always strive to follow the traditional path. If you think this is wrong,then may I pose a simple question? Are you prepared to give of your eyes to God? No? So, that is it.
What is called para bhakti is bhakti on the para bhrahman. This is a part of the gnana yoga.
But practically is not possible for most of us to do bhakti to an entity which is not seen, touched, smelt or perceived in any of the usual ways with our five senses. Therefore, we imagine a picture that gives us pleasure,is easy to remember and call this god.
Some people like their god to be like a child. They worship kanna, bala murugan etc. Some people like to see God as a mother. For some, the all-powerful entity attracts them. For them to imagine a God with several weapons is easy. Since the mind of people is varied like this, our forefathers have granted independence to choose the form that we like and worship it. Then only the mind merges with the god easily. Such bhakti will be strong. Questions like, Hindus have a lot of gods, how can that be and if so who is stronger, who is weaker, and who is superior, who is inferior are all a lot of stupid questions. This kind of bhakti is called apara bhakti.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

problems with food....

Three problems that arise through food are identifiable. The first East are natural problem of food. Foodstuffs like onion, meat, and liquor create some problems owing to the inherent nature.
If you consume these things, the mind will not get set on God. The purity of the mind will be spoilt. Lust and anger take precedence. Foodstuffs that grow under the ground like tubers, increase the dullness of the mind. (tamasic)
We have already seen that Mind is very powerful. If we go with people who have a pure mind our mind also falls in line. Does the person's mental vibrations affect the environment? Yes, it does! This is something that cannot be physically measured or seen. This can also pervade material things, therefore it becomes important, from whom we get the food.
Now for the second problem. The food items created by a loving mother will certainly always do good. If a cook comes from outside and cooks at home much depends on the mental status of the person. The worries and tensions of the person pervade the food. This is called asreya dhosha. That is why it is recommended that while cooking one must keep chanting slokas or do nama japa in praise of god.
The third problem connected to food is that of the environment in which the food is kept. Unhygienic conditions, something like insects falling in the food, mixing of dust, hair - all these will influence our mind. That is why people who were particular about the spiritual advancement do not partake food that is cooked by others.
Shri Ramanuja must have been speaking from personal experience. There is a story that relates his sufferings from food.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Viveka

Yesterday we saw the qualities one should develop. Today let us see the first one. Viveka. Shri Ramanuja interprets this as pertaining to food. Let us go on look at it the same way. Viveka is to use our discriminative intellect as to what we eat. Why is it so important? Because it not only gives energy to body but also to the mind. It influences the three gunas and feeds them.
The gunas as something you're born with. They are the sattva, the rajas and the tamas.
At any given time. Only one of them will be dominant. The other two will be quite. What is dominant at any given time, is influenced by the food that we eat. Therefore we must try to eat food that is saatvic.
Food items made with liberal spices and salt promote rajasic qualities. That which is bitter, sour and very hot are also rajasic. Generally those which are very tasty are rajasic.
Food items that are few days old, those that are spoilt, meat, and the remnants at the dinner table are tamasic.
Food items that are mild in taste, that which is a little sweet are saatvic.
In general, what is tasty to the pallate doesn't do good to the mind. Rajasic food agitates the mind, and we became emotional. Tamasic food makes you sleepy and our actions become dull. Therefore, if we aim to be peacefully happy we should always prefer saatvic food.

आहारशुद्धौ सत्त्वशुद्धिः सत्त्वशुद्धौ ध्रुवा स्मृतिः ।

āhāraśuddhau sattvaśuddhiḥ sattvaśuddhau dhruvā smr̥tiḥ |

This means if the food is pure, your mind is also pure. Cleansing of the mind instills godliness in it.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

qualities we need...

Having covered the fundamentals let us go ahead now and see what  qualities we need to develop to progress in the Bhakti yoga.

1. The first is training. This involves thinking about God, without a wavering mind. If you want to ask me now, how that is possible....b ear with me a bit more and I will tell you in a later chapter.

2. The next is vivēka. That this discrimination, we need to know what is right and what is wrong. we must choose the right one always.

3. The third is vimōha. While moha is intense lust in the worldly matters, vimoha is escaping from it or not having that.
4. The fourth is Satya. That is truth. Whatever route is followed. We should observe these. They should be thinking truth speak the truth and follow whatever our inner mind says.

5. The fifth is arjava. This is honesty.

6. The sixth is kriya. This means doing good to all the living beings. Since God is present in every being doing good to all the living beings is equivalent to doing good to God.

7. The seventh is kalyāṇa. This does not mean marriage! It is another word that comes from samskrit, but finds wrong usage by and large. This really means that they should be kind to everyone and wish them well. When we pray to God, they should be praying that everyone should be fine in the world should be in in peace.

8. The eighth is dayā . This is compassion to all god loves us all and this forgiving. Those of us who try to reach out to him, should also behave like him in a matter of compassion.

9. The ninth is ahimsa. ahimsa is not hurting other living beings, but mind or action.

10. Dana: This is to give poor people with pure mind, whatever you can afford .

11. Aṉavastā : This is to be cheerful and confident always.

These are the eleven things that the person in bhakthi yoga who is serious about it must follow. If we don't have these qualities, we must try to develop them.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Bhakti route.

Now let us see all the four routes.

The first route is the Bhakti route.

Let us start this with a post on Lord Ganesh.

From ஆன்மீகம்4டம்ப்மீஸ்
In India most of the work is begun, with a puja to lord Ganesha. Whether the person prays to lord Shiva, or Vishnu or any other deity. He begins doing so, with lord Ganesha. thus no one dislikes lord Ganesha. He is liked by all.
Ganesha is the most worshipped God in tamilnadu. Perhaps except Maharashtra, this worship is most prevalent in Tamil Nadu. You can find a temple for him in every nook and corner of all villages towns and cities.
When you say Tamil, a name that springs to mind very easily is avvaiyar.
Our Lord Ganesha it's a very good friend her. Let us see the story regarding these two.
Sundara, the nayanmar, having travelled the breath and width of of Tamil Nadu worshipping Lord Shiva in several places, finally got vexed. He cried out , ” where am I going to get salvation?why are you testing me? please take me to your abode as soon as possible.” Lord Shiva took pity on him and instructed Lord Indra to send Iravada - his elephant to bring back sundara.
His order was carried out duly and Sundara started going to mount Kailash. His dearest friend cheran perumal saw him flying towards Kailash and asked him where he was going. Sundara replied that was going to Kailash. Cheran perumal uttered the pancakshara in the ear of his horse and the two started flying behind sundara. Seeing this his troops committed suicide and followed their king in their astral bodies
when this procession was passing through Tirukovilur they saw the old woman poet Avvaiyar offering prayers to lord ganesha. They called out to how friend come with us to Kailash. Avvaiyar replied, “I will come after my pujas, so you people go ahead”. So they went ahead. Lord Ganesha was pleased with her devotion and appeared in person to partake, whatever she had to offer.

Lord Ganesha ate it at leisure. Then he asked her what she wanted. Avvaiyar said, “apart from your blessings, what more would I want?” Lord Ganesh said, “Ok, let me hear a poem. Then she started singing “seetha kaLaba senthaamarai...”. Ganesha was so pleased with her that that he lifted her by this trunk and placed her in front of Lord Shiva and Parvati in mount Kailash.
After some time sundara and the entourage came along and were surprised to see her there. They wondered how she reached Kailash before they did. So avvai sang another song that goes:

matura moḻi nalumaiyāḷ ciṟuvaṉ malaraṭiyai
mutira niṉaiya vallārk(ku) aritō? mukilpōl muḻaṅki
atiravarum yāṉaiyum tērum ataṉpiṉ ceṉṟa
kutiraiyum kātam kiḻaviyum kātam kula maṉṉaṉē

(மதுர மொழி நல்உமையாள் சிறுவன் மலரடியை
முதிர நினைய வல்லார்க்(கு) அரிதோ? முகில்போல் முழங்கி
அதிரவரும் யானையும் தேரும் அதன்பின் சென்ற
குதிரையும் காதம் கிழவியும் காதம் குல மன்னனே)

meaning “for those who contemplates always on the lotus feet of the son of parashakti any chariot, elephant, horse and foot soldiers have to follow at a distance.”

Thursday, November 4, 2010

mumuksha..

The fourth step is the intense desire for mukthi. In samskrit it is called mumuksha.

Once a disciple was pestering his guru to show him God. The Guru replied that if he has intense desire to see God he can see Him. The diciple was insisting that he had intense desire, but still he could not see God. One morning, the guru went to the river to have a bath. The disciple went along with him. When they were in the water the guru suddenly pushed the disciple inside the water and held him there. The disciple did his best to come to the surface, but the guru was too strong for him. When the disciple had almost lost hope, the guru released him. The disciple asked the guru, "what did you do that far?" The guru asked him, "what were your thoughts when you were immersed in the water? " Oh guru, my only thought was how to get free from your grip, in order to come to the surface and take in air. "Didn't you have any other thought?" "Oh no, I did not have any other thought. My only intense desire was to breathe free." The guru told him then,"If you can have similar intense desire, you can see God."

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

more on the group of six...

Renunciation is also called Uparati. Renunciation is not inaction. On the other hand, it is declining the fruits of our actions whether they are good or bad or of a mixed nature. One is expected to do one's duty. We do many things apart from that, desiring some result. Those who are serious about spiritual evolution should strive to minimise these extra efforts as far as possible. Apart from duty and our actions must be directed towards fulfilling the wordly minimum requirements.

Endurance is called Titiksha . It is to control the emotions when the lust and anger raise to the surface. These are the two emotions that mainly stand in the way of controlling the mind.

Samadhana is to keep the mind in such a state that is receptive to contemplation of philosophy. Many of us hear quite a bit of philosophical lectures and feel elevated. When we listen to them, we are absolutely certain in our mind that they are correct. Unfortunately, by the time we reach home, the mind is back to its old ways. All the philosophy that we heard and resolved to follow have already gone with the wind! We should not let this happen. We should keep the philosophy in mind and contemplate on it whenever we find time.
To have absolute faith and love for the Guru, the God and the Shastras is calledd Shradhdha. If you don't have these, we are likely to get a lot of doubts, and all the progress that we make is likely to come to a standstill.

Friday, October 29, 2010

The third is a bunch of six is starting with Sama.

So the immediate question is what are the six bunched together? They are as follows: sama, dama, renunciation, endurance, samadhana, and sradhdha.
Sama is -Tranquility (control of the mind), Dama is (control of the senses), Uparati (renunciation of activities that are not duties), Titiksha (endurance), Samadhana (perfect concentration), Shraddha (faith).

The first is sama. That means control of the mind. Actually it is the mind that is causing us a lot of problems.If you don't control it runs around. It goes back from 40 - 50 years and brings back the same undesirable emotions of things that happen long back. As a result we get angry sad and depressed. It might also make to think of what can happen in the future and make you anxious about it. The past is gone and the future is not yet here! if we can get some lesson out of the past it is worth remembering it. otherwise it is of no use! Similarly the future is something that is uncertain and so many other things might happen in a different manner. It is futile to plan in too much detail.

The mind keeps telling you the you need this and that. If you yield and provide it what it desired, it is not happy to leave you alone. It comes up with the next demand. It's near impossible to provide everything that it is asking for. Therefore we need to keep a check on this and tell the mind that it should keep quiet. This is what is called sama.

The next is dama. This is the control of the five senses. The five senses being the apparatus to seeing, hearing, tasting, touching, and smelling. All these must come under our control. I do not mean to say that these must be completely done away with. On the other hand, this must come under our control. Meaning, we should not be going where they drag us to, but they must be under the check half of intellect. You might ask whether they are really under our control. The are.
We might be seeing a movie in the cinema theater. There is an interesting scene going on. At that time somebody comes in and sits beside us. After some time, we realise that it is one dearest friend. We never realised that before because the attentions were elsewhere. We also did not realise that the person on the left had got up and gone away. It is not that we did not see this thing is. It's just that our mind was not in it.
Of course, we are all familiar about the classes that we attended. The teacher was trying to get something into our thick heads, but we're thinking about which movie theater was preferable. It is only when our neighbor give us a kick, we realise that the teacher was asking us a question. Again, it is not that we did not hear it but we were not attentive.
In a Hindu concept. The senses don't work one way. When we see, something from us as to reach the object and come back to us. And only that will be perceived. Similarly, something from us is to reach the source of song and come back to us. This only than we hear. Therefore the senses of certainly under our control, but we don't exercise that.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

how to get gnana...

You asked me how to get gnana ….
Our forefathers have shown us the way it is called sadhana chatushtayam.
Don't be flustered with the jargon. It only means that the process has four stepes . Sadhana is the effort.
Let us enumerate them.
The first is viveka which tells us what is it to ephemeral and what is not. It is called nitya and anitya.
The second is not to have any desire pertaining to this world on the next.
The third is a bunch of six is starting with Shama.
The fourth is the intense desire to attain salvation.
These of the four steps involved in attaining salvation.

Let us see them one by one.
•The concept of nitya and anitya.
This is to see whether the object is something permanent or destroyable. What is permanent is worth seeking after and attaining. What is the use of running of the something that is just destroyable? The Shastras say whatever  is conducive to salvation is something that can be classified as nitya. all the  rest are anitya.
Therefore whenever we seek something, we need to determine this thing  and decide how much effort to put into it. I buy something to eat. Once I eat it will get digested in about six hours. No doubt it gave me some energy but it is gone in a few hours. Seeing it in the proper perspective helps me to determine how much effort I should put into obtaining this. I can also decide whether I should eat to live or I should live to eat. Reading a blog like this is nitya as such enquiries can lead to finding your route to salvation. :-))
If we start looking at everything in this manner soon we'll find that we don't need several things essentially. Therefore we can stop clamouring after them. What we really need is food, clothing and a place to stay.That is all. If we seek more things, life may become more problematic.

• The second is not to have any craving, intense desire pertaining to this world on the next. Buddha said that desire is the root of all evil. If we crave for something we try hard to reach it. We get angry and frustrated is something stands in the way. For spiritual evolution this craving (kama) and anger (krodha) are counter-productive. Desire is not just something that pertains to this world. It can be something like "I want to go to swarga where I can be very happy." And therefore I want to do some pujas and havans. Though superficially this seems to be something good and desirable in reality it is not so. This is also something that can potentially create problems, just like the worldly desires.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

the gnana route 3

So the pot is ephemeral. The mountain over there that is this permanent? Is that right?
Well think about it. It's the mountain permanent? There's a quarry over there. Seven years down the line the monitor will disappear.
Oh! looks like nothing is permanent.
Yes that is quite true. Though it appears superficially that everything is permanent, nothing is so. Everything will get destroyed one day. Usually we see what our mind tells us. See the leaf here ? This looks green right?
Of course it is green.
But are you sure you're seeing what I am seeing?
What do you mean? Of course I do.
Well from the childhood you're being told that this is green. So you're saying this is green. That does not really need that you are seeing it the same way that I do. I may be seeing it as red but you are seeing it as green. But both of us call it Green.
Of course how can it see what you are seeing I can't enter in your mind.
Exactly! Therefore we believe whatever our mind tells us. That may not be true.
Suppose we show the pot to a geologist. He will say that the mud is pure and of high quality . show it your mother. She will say that it you'd be great to store water. Those who see the mud do not see the pot. Those who see the pot do not see the mud.
In the same way the Bremen has manifested as the universe. Those who see the universe do not see the brahman. Those who see the brahman may not see the universe. These are the people who are called gnanies.
Well, can I become a gnani?
One can, by doing vicara.
Can you explain the procedure?
That is basically the inquiry into who am I? and what is this universe? How did this come about? What is the relationship between me and this universe?
But to do this you had to purify your mind, cleanse your mind so that it can contemplate on higher things. For the present this will do. We can go into to details later.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

The Gnana route-2

How?
That star belongs to the Orion constellation. It is approximately 800 light years to 1340 light years away.
You were talking about distance and now talk about years.
Yes, that expression is used while talking of very great distances. The sun is far away but it takes its light only 8 minutes and 18 seconds. That is a mean distance of 1.496×108 km from Earth. When we say the star in Orion is 800 light years away it means that the light that started from that star 800 years back has reached us only now!
!!!!!
So that star that you insisted emphatically exists there now, was there really 800 years back only!
So much for what we see and what the truth is. But to say that the star exists is an illusion but that is generally accepted as true. Similarly that this universe exists is generally true but not really. It is an illusion.
Suppose you are handed over a paper with something written on it in pencil. What do you see? If you see the paper you are ok. If you see the words only then something is wrong.
Wrong?
Yes, wrong. The paper is the base on which something is written. What is written may be erased tomorrow and something else may be written. What is unchanging is the paper not the words on it.
See the pot here? What was it before? It was mud. What will happen once it breaks? It will be thrown away and mix with mud. It might again become a pot later. Mud always existed, exists and will exist. For a while it had a particular shape and name and was called pot. That did not last long.
The one who sees the pot does not see pot before its creation or after its destruction. But a person seeing the mud sees the mud before the pot was made, while the pot existed and after the pot breaks too. He would be called a viveki.
This world as we see is constantly changing. It exists now but tomorrow it won’t exist as it is now. It would have changed. That is why it is called anitya or ephemeral.

Friday, August 13, 2010

The Gnana route.

So what next?
The Gnana route.
First a quiz!
Have you come across the following lines in a movie?
“What is real? How do you define real? If you are talking about what you can feel, what you can smell, what you can taste and see they are simply electrical signals interpreted by your brain!”
Wait for the answer.

To clean up the mind and start inquiring with it, seeking the answer to the question “who am I?” Start discarding what you perceive that “I am not” after deep analysis. Finally what remains is what you are. This is what gnana route is.
In short such an analysis will lead to the concept “Only Brahman exists, all this universe is maya.”
Now the word maya can be interpreted variously.
It does not mean untruth or falsehood. It may be taken as illusory. But perhaps a closer meaning could be ephemeral (transient, short lived, fleeting, passing, brief, momentary, temporary) .
In the laboratories scientists experiment with isotopes that have a very short span of life. One might say they are irrelevant as they are so short lived. Stop to think for a minute. So are we! Compared to the age of the universe our life span is so short like that of an isotope compared to our life span.
Still I find it hard to accept that this is all illusory. How can I reject something that I can see as illusory?
Alright. Not all that you see is the truth though it appears to be true, can you accept that?
Explain.
Look at that star. It is there, right?
Of course it is there.
Is it there now?
Yes of course!
I put it to you that it is not there now.
How?

Friday, August 6, 2010

More on Raja yoga route....

. Otherwise things may turn out to be very difficult as it happened to one of my acquaintances……
One person known to me was very active in social life handling something like 12 voluntary organisations. Naturally he went around meeting a lot of people. He used to find out what the other person’s interest is and try to talk about it or try to learn what it is. In due course he met a person who was practising Raja yoga and not knowing much about it, he started discussing it and later asked to be initiated. At first the master refused. Of course what is denied to us has a lot of attraction to us and we make extra efforts to get it. If something is easily available we don’t even give a second look. Our friend went to him repeatedly, pleaded so much and thus prevailed finally. He was asked to close his eyes and relax and the master put his hand on his head and did something. He was a mantra and asked to do japa for so many days, so many times. Of course our friend was satisfied having got what he thought he wanted and so was careless about the practice. A month passed and our friend was having a lot of uneasiness, mental confusion and restlessness. He could not carry out his day to day activities. Doctors could not fathom his problem. Then he suddenly remembered the master and went to him only to get the scolding of his life! The master again put his hand over his head did something and turned him out asking him never to show his face again in those parts!
I mentioned this only to drive home the point that these things are not to be taken lightly. No book can tell you exactly how to do it. Don’t ever get into practice without a proper guidance. This is like walking on the knife edge. A guru is a must for raja yoga.

So what next?

Thursday, August 5, 2010

The Raja Yoga path

This is the karma route. So what is next?
To Chennai via panurutti.
The Raja Yoga path:
Yoga means to join. Raja yoga is also referred to as ashtanga yoga. There are eight steps in it. Let us first list them though we may not understand them now.
* Yama – This is not the one responsible for taking us away when the time is up! It means - code of conduct, self-restraint
* Niyama –This is not opposite of yama. It means - religious observances, commitments to practice, such as study and devotion
* Āsana – This is the world renowned yoga asanas. It is integration of mind and body through physical activity
* Pranayama – Also popular these days. It is regulation of breath leading to integration of mind and body. It is not just filling your lungs fully to get air into all the alveoli to get good oxygenation but something more.
* Pratyahara – abstraction of the senses, withdrawal of the senses of perception from their objects. In simpler terms not allowing the senses to run after what they enjoy.
* Dharana – concentration, one-pointedness of mind
* Dhyana – meditation, letting the mind wander only around one object. (quiet activity that leads to samadhi)
* Samādhi – the quiet state of blissful awareness, superconscious state.

Re yogasana one might find it difficult to believe that mind and body can influence each other.
It is not really difficult to see that it can.
It is quite common to see people who undergo a lot of tension. Unless some measure is taken to relieve it, it will accumulate. This will manifest in several ways. Commonest is constipation. It can also manifest as lose motions, rashes all over body, changes in appetite etc. One goes to the doctor and he says there is nothing wrong with you. The sufferer gets angry because it is he who is suffering! The doctor meant that nothing is wrong with you physically. It is the work of mind. Find a way to release that tension and everything is alright!
Similarly when one is running a high fever, or has a very painful physical ailment the mind gets depressed.
We can use this fact to handle our stress. Here is an example. Harmless of course!
Just lie down comfortably. Then tighten all your muscle, the entire body hold for a few seconds and then let go. Start breathing deeply in and out, watch the breathing, watch the abdomen and chest moving with the breath. Start counting backwards from 32 with each breath. 32…31…30… and so on. When you reach zero it is most likely that you are well relaxed. Keep that state for a few minutes. You may repeat it as many times as needed taking into account how much time is available.
For a more detailed course look here: http://www.svyasa.org/course/smet.asp
I have used to do this with the help of a cassette long back and found it effective. Now they are charging Rs. 1500 for a two day course.
A word about pranayama too. Don’t ever take it lightly and start practicing on your own! It could be very dangerous. In fact none of the raja yoga components are to be taken lightly. One needs to practice under a guru who has had good training. Otherwise things may turn out to be very difficult as it happened to one of my acquaintances……

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

a good exercise!

In the earlier days, and strictly speaking even now, the action that is referred to is what is prescribed by the sastras to one’s varna. To be more specific it referred to the yagnas, homas and such rituals. In that division of labor each person as ensured a job and his livelihood was taken care of. No one would dream of doing what is another person’s job.
But these days the varna system has become complicated due to mixing of the genetic material over time. There are umpteen numbers of new jobs. So what does one do? These days there is confusion as to what is one’s karma. Steeped in orthodoxy I stand for looking at it based on what is said in the sastras but one needs to think about it and determine it for oneself. If you choose to take it to mean whatever one is doing, fine. God in his infinite wisdom put us in some place to work; so let us do it to our utmost efficiency and leave the result to Him accepting whatever he dishes out as his prasad. It could be what we aimed at; or something less; or something more; or something entirely different. That would be a good exercise!

This is the karma route. So what is next?

Monday, July 12, 2010

" you are not entitled to the fruits of action."

Tell someone that they should work without expecting anything in return ad hardly anyone would do so. It is not natural. Everyone expects some sort of outcome that one desires or expects. Without it there is no motivation to do anything.
One can do a work, or not do it, or do it differently. This how to do or not do – here one has his way. It is one’s own bidding. But one doesn’t have a choice as to how the outcome turns out to be. Why? Because, it does not depend on one alone. There will be other people involved in whatever we are doing. The time, place of action all these play a part.
We may work hard for an exam and do well in our own opinion. We expect to score high marks. Let us see the possibilities. The answer papers should properly reach the person who is evaluating. He must be in a good mood while valuating it. His must have his coffee on time in the right temperature and sugar must be just so. He should not be missing any page while reading the papers. He must be tallying the marks properly and not leave any page unturned. The marks must be entered in the registers properly. Finally it must be transferred to the computer and the mark sheet printed out right in the right name.
What should be a simple matter has so many pitfalls!
We usually encounter problems when we think the result MUST be like this. Then we start worrying as to whether it will be like we thought or not. We also worry what we should do if it does not turn out the way we expected it to. We lose sleep over these things. We also get angry with someone or something that stands between us and the result that we anxiously await. If we can do nothing about these factors we get frustrated.
On the other hand he who thinks that he would do his best and let God give him what he deems fit, has a pleasant time. At least he won’t suffer! Since his mind is at peace he would do whatever the work is in a relaxed manner which usually translates into perfection.
This is what Lord Krishna had in mind when he said, “You have right only as to what you can do. Never on the fruits.” He only meant that you are not the sole person determining the outcome. But unfortunately it has been translated wrong as the following passage shows – taken from a popular site-
[Bhagavat Gita 2:47 karmany evadhikaras te ma phalesu kadacana ma karma-phala-hetur bhur
ma te sango 'stv akarmani You have a right to perform your prescribed duty, but you are not entitled to the fruits of action. Never consider yourself to be the cause of the results of your activities, and never be attached to not doing your duty.]
This not being entitled to the fruits is the cause of all the problems associated with this verse.

Friday, July 9, 2010

The karma way

This path is called the karma yoga.

I know what karma is. That is fate. What we get from the previous birth, right?
Well, nor exactly. Karma means action. That is all. Since Hinduism says all actions have reactions and if that is not delivered in that birth it can and will be delivered in the next births too. That is why we usually think of karma as fate.

This way involves doing one’s prescribed work. Doing it with utmost care and devotion to the best of one’s ability. Doing it with shradhdha and leaving the result of the action to god - to give as deemed fit. This in short is karma route.

Oh, this is what is told in Bhagavat Gita. Do your duty and don’t expect results.

No, it is not so.

Not so?

Yes, this is the usual misunderstanding that is widely prevalent.
No one in their right senses will work - do anything without expecting results. What Lord Krishna says is “You have right only to do the action. Don’t expect the result to be this or that. you might want the result to be this or that but you don’t have a right on the what the result be.

So what is the big difference?

We shall see….

Saturday, July 3, 2010

why all of us should not follow the gnana path?

So why all of us should not follow the gnana path?

That is because not all of us have the sharp intellect and power of sustained analysis. On the other hand it is much easier to acknowledge a power that is beyond us from experience. And give it a name - God. And relate to that by praying and rituals. We can relate to him in the way we choose- a friend, a teacher, a guide... keep doing this and we will certainly evolve.

But usually we don’t see anyone evolving like this!

Though in small numbers, they are there. But we don’t see them. What we usually find are people who either fear “Gods” or want something done from desires. This fear factor has slowly disappeared over time. Some 80 years back people will fear that god will punish them for wrong doings. Not anymore. I consider this a drawback however unreasonable it may sound. What people want to believe these days is that they can do so many things that are not right and by going to temples and worshipping they can wipe those sins away. Another factor is that their wants have increased. Gone are those days when people will be happy if their tummy is full and they have reasonable clothes to wear and can live under a roof that does not leak too much.

 So what do they ask of god?
I want a lot of money; a good job where work is light and the pay packet heavy; want a child; want school admission for my child; want it to get good marks; when it grows want a seat in triple E course in a premium college; want a good alliance; want the dil also to earn a lot; want a grandchild.... a circle again. It never stops growing

Would that be wrong? To ask god what you think you need in life?

Well not wrong in the beginning. Most come to god initially for fulfilling their needs. Somewhere along the line they must realise that this list is unending. People should love god without wanting something in return. Stay here and there will be no evolution.


We will see this evolution of bhakti in later chapters.

For now we shall consider the next option to go to Chennai. Via Pondicherry and ECR.
This path is called the karma yoga.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Different paths to....

How can that be?

mmm.. let us say I want to go to Chennai from Cuddalore where I reside.
Easiest way is through Pondicherry and ECR.
Or one might like to travel via Pondicherry and Tindivanam.
Well… my taxi has no Pondicherry permit. Then I take the Pannuruti, Tindivanam road to Chennai.
Whichever road I take I shall reach Chennai.
The roads are different but the destination is not.
In the same way whatever path we take for realisation we can still achieve it.
 There are four different paths.
1.       The bhakti way
2.       The karma way
3.       The yogic way
4.       The gnana way.

Shall we examine them one by one?
First the bhakti way.
Most of us are familiar with this one.
We realise/ acknowledge a force that is superior to us and call that force God. We may name Him in any manner. That god might have a legend. A temple. A particular way of worship. Or we may have our own way of worshipping Him. A set of rituals. Different ways of puja….
A big ocean this is!
 Come on, wait a second!
Ok!
You started saying realising one self.
Of course.
Now you say God and we worship and all that. What is this?
Realising God and realising oneself are not much different.
How?
They are two different manifestations of Brahman.
WHAT! I can’t comprehend.
Of course not. The levels of thinking are different. One should not jump from one level to another level of thinking. That will usually lead to confusion.
You wanted to go to Chennai and I am suggesting driving towards Pondicherry. This is one of the ways. Let us see if it is to your liking. Otherwise we may examine another way. Be assured all roads lead to Chennai.
The concept of Brahman is gnana path. Seeing the difference between man and God is one level. In bhakti that is the initial level to be thought in.  We have to study in primary school and secondary school before going on to the college. If we start seeing God in a temple, in a icon, then slowly we will start seeing it in all other live beings and still later on in everything in this universe... then realisation comes at one stage we realise everything is one. That would be at the end of gnana path as well.

So why all of us should not follow the gnana path?

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Who am I ?

Who am I ?

To find the answer for this question is what spirituality is all about.

You may laugh. You may point to yourself and say this is who I am. Where is the confusion?

Oh, yeah? Are you pointing to your body and saying , “This is who I am”?

Yes of course!

So this body is you?

Yes, it is.

Ok, what is this?

This is my shirt.

And this?

This is my pen.

The shirt and pen are yours? Yes, they are.

But you are not the shirt or pen.

Of course not!

So this is your hand? Yes, it is.

This is your leg? Yes it is.

The hand and leg are yours, but they are not you, right?

They alone are not me, no.

In the same way this body is yours but it is not you.

How?

Ok. So someone –say X - dies and his body is very much there. Still we say X is dead. How can that be?

Hmmmmm…

It is so common to say my body pains, my body is tired.

So who is the real I ?

Perhaps the mind is the real me! The western philosophy says I think, therefore I am.

-----

Cogito ergo sum (French Je pense donc je suis; English: "I think, therefore I am"), often mistakenly stated as Dubito ergo cogito ergo sum (English: "I doubt, therefore I think, therefore I am"),[1] is a philosophical statement in Latin used by René Descartes, which became a fundamental element of Western philosophy.

Ref: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cogito_ergo_sum

-----

Well, you sleep. There are two kinds of sleep. One is where you dream. Second is when you don’t dream. When you dream you exist certainly as it is you who walks, jumps, laughs – of course all in dream. At that time it appears very real. What about the other? When you don’t dream? You don’t exist? Still when you wake up you say, “I had such a nice sleep. Never knew anything!” Aha! You never knew anything as your mind was not functioning but still you existed? Where did you go and from where did you return? And who is that you who felt that happiness of undisturbed sleep?

So the real you is something that is not body, that is not mind but something else.

How do I get to know who this real me is?

Getting to know that is a process called sadana.

There are several types but they are generally clubbed into four ways.

Why and how can there be different ways? Not a single way for the truth? Are there several truths?

There are different ways because all of us are not the same. Some like action always and some the intellectual way. Some can sit and control their breath and many cannot.

Therefore different ways are suggested. We may choose a way that is more suitable to us and get on. Whatever way you choose the end result will be the same – realisation.

How can that be?

Friday, June 25, 2010

Science and....

This blog is meant to be a feed for our website swaminathar.org and so until that gets really going the posts will be a bit erratic.

Kindly excuse me.

Ok, let us get something out of the way at the outset. Then we can be clear where we are going.

People consider science great. Some of them refuse to accept the spirituality/God etc. as there is no scientific proof.

Now I want to pose a question. Does science know everything?

Obviously not.

When every year so many discoveries are made, how can it not be obvious? What was discovered today was not known last year.

Until the airplane was discovered, flying was thought to be impossible. But now?

Ah! You got the idea! What science said impossible last year, it says it is possible today. Such things are happening daily. As the human’s knowledge keeps expanding, more and more equipments come into being yesterday’s concepts fall like a house of cards. Who knows what surprises science holds for us tomorrow? Therefore, no categorical statement can be made as to a thing not existing. All that can be said is that as per today’s knowledge it is possible/ does not exist.

That is all.

So, can you give me some proof that God exists?

mmmm… Unfortunately, most of us lack the apparatus to realise His presence.

Just as you need eyes to see colours, ears to hear sounds we need something special to realise Him. Those who acquired that apparatus by penance have told categorically that God exists.

Just as we very naturally accept scientist who have experimented and told us, “This is so that is so” and we believe them, we should believe the risis who had no vested interest and lived in austerity.

Spirituality is not really a belief system but a matter of experience. You experience something and realise God exists.

Anyway, if one says that God is a belief then saying God does not exist is also another belief. Who is to say who is right? A believer might get a spiritual experience, get the proof and realise God but the non-believer will be in belief forever.

Think over that one and meanwhile..... “au revoir!”

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Welcome!

Welcome to the posts on Spirituality!

Is this blog for you? We aim at today's modern Indian youth mainly (that does not mean others should not read these!) who have lost the opportunity to read write in their native language. Well, we are not going into why and how of that question. We simply want to present the opportunity to kick-start learning the vast spiritual knowledge of our great country.

The posts will examine the basic ways and approaches to spirituality that our forefathers have prescribed in their infinite wisdom.

If you have already read our other blog anmikam4dumbme in Tamil there may not be much more here, though I propose to use a more easy approach with out sticking to any real format. The topics will be basic in nature. We aim to present things with a little humour and make it as painless as possible to understand 'spiritual glossary' words. Hardly any page will exceed "two page downs" and so you need not spend more than a minute or so a day. Postings will be only on week ends.

We would like to answer questions as long as they are honest, the mind is open and there is a real quest to know. We would like to avoid any arguments here if it is just for the sake of argument. It is our experience that there are guys who keep browsing the net just to find blogs on spirituality and bash the writers. That wont work here for long. Such comments will be trashed without a second thought. So please be careful about what you write.

That said, welcome to this blog!