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


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


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


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.