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Monday, February 28, 2011

VISHNU SAHASRANAMA – PROLOGUE

Viṣṇu Sahasranāma begins with Pūrvabhāga or the prologue. This part consists of twenty one verses, mostly in the form of invoking Lord Viṣṇu’s blessings and expounding His greatness. This part is in the form of conversation between Yudhiṣṭhira and Bhīṣma.
 
“I meditate upon the One, who appears in pure white dress, shines like the full moon, the One with four hands, whose eternal bliss is reflected through His face, for removing any obstacles. I pay obeisance to the great impeccable sage Vyāsa, the great grandson of sage Vasiṣṭha, grandson of sage Śakti (the eldest of Vasiṣṭha's hundred sons) and the son of sage Parāśara. I pay obeisance to the Lord Viṣṇu, who is in the form of Vyāsa and to the sage Vyāsa in the form of Lord Viṣṇu, who is the treasure of Vedas. I pay obeisance Vyāsa, who is in the linage of sage Vasiṣṭha. (The inseparability between the devotee and the Lord is highlighted here.)”
 
I bow my head in reverence to the Supreme Lord Viṣṇu, who is without modifications, pure, eternal, changeless and the Supreme Conqueror. I prostrate before the mighty One, whose mere contemplation ceases the pains of transmigration.
 
Vaiśampāyana said, (Vaiśampāyana is a pupil of Vyāsa and also the narrator of the Mahābhārata to Janamejaya, a celebrated king) “After having listened to the means to renounce dharma and the ways to annihilate sins, Yudhiṣṭhira again addressed Bhīṣma.”
Yudhiṣṭhira said, “Who is the unified Lord of the universe? Which is the ultimate refuge? By worshipping whom, the humanity attains propitiousness? Which is the best of all dharmas? Having born, what is the way to liberation?”
 
Bhīṣma said, “By worshipping Lord Viṣṇu, the Lord of the universe, the Chief of all gods, the One who is Infinite, the One who witnesses from Above, through devotion and perseverance with His one thousand nāma-s (names) and worshipping and praising That Puruṣa (the Brahman or the Supreme Self), by means of meditation, praise and prostration, gets rid of all his pains and miseries. The one who worships Him, Who is fond of Vedas, Knower of all righteousness, Who strives for the upliftment of the world, the Chief of the universe, the Almighty, the One who causes birth and death, is relieved of his sufferings.
 
“Worshipping Lord Puṇḍarikākṣa (lotus eyed, referring to Lord Viṣṇu) all the time with devotion and through verses in His praise, is considered as the supreme amongst all dharmas. That which is the Supreme light, the Supreme penance and the Supreme Brahman is the Supreme Abode. The Purest amongst the pure, the most Auspicious amongst the auspiciousness, the Lord amongst the gods and the eternal Creator, He alone is the Lord of the universe.
 
“From Whom the entire creation originates and dissolves, the One who is the upholder of the universe and Omnipresent, His one thousand nāma-s are capable of eradicating sins and fearfulnesses. Listen to me for those celebrated nāma-s that describe His guṇa-s (attributes) and versified by great sages and saints. I am declaring these nāma-s to you, for your enlightenment.
 
“For this Sahasranāma, Veda Vyāsa is the ṛṣi (the sage by whom this Sahasranāma was revealed to the world) and the son of Devaki, the Lord Viṣṇu in the form of Kṛṣṇa.
 
“I prostrate before the Omnipresent, the in dweller of all the beings, the great Lord, who has innumerable forms, the destroyer of demons, ever radiating Puruṣottama (the highest being), the Lord Viṣṇu.”

Friday, February 25, 2011

INTRODUCTION TO VISHNU SAHASRANAMA

Viṣṇu means all pervading. Viṣṇu is the administrator of the universe. He puts in place, the laws of the universe and administers the universe strictly according to the law. He is a strict disciplinarian, yet highly compassionate in nature. He presides over not just the universe, but all the seven planes of the universe. The abode of Viṣṇu is supposed to be the Supreme one. He has prescribed various paths through which one has to travel to reach His abode, the point of no return for a soul known as liberation. He has been referred to in Vedas. Without Viṣṇu, no fire ritual is complete. He is quite often referred to as Puruṣa, the Supreme Soul. His famous sleeping posture on Ananta, the snake, who floats on the ocean of milk, is very well known. This posture is not merely a gross description, but has got subtle meaning. Ananta means infinite and the milk of ocean refers to the eternal bliss. He lays in the eternal stage of eternal bliss. Those who seek Him also enter the state of bliss. He incarnates in different forms to destroy evil doers. His avatars occur whenever there is imbalance between morality and immorality. When immorality begins to dominate over morality He incarnates. His notable incarnations are Lord Rāma and the Lord Kṛṣṇa.
 
The scene of unfolding this great Sahasranāma happened in the great epic Mahābhārata authored by the great sage, Veda Vyāsa. Bhīṣma was lying on a bed made of arrows awaiting his death. At that time, he was meditating on Kṛṣṇa. Knowing this, Kṛṣṇa asked Yudhiṣṭhira (eldest among Pāṇḍava brothers and known for his righteousness) to seek spiritual initiation from Bhīṣma and also told Bhīṣma to initiate Yudhiṣṭhira. Yudhiṣṭhira asks Bhīṣma “kimekaṁ daivataṁ loke” meaning who is the Supreme Lord of the world. Bhīṣma replies by saying, that the purest, the most auspicious, the chief among the gods and the father of all the beings is the One who is Supreme, referring to Lord Viṣṇu. This conversation appears in the pūrvabhāg of this Sahasranāma. The spiritual initiation of Yudhiṣṭhira by Bhīṣma is Viṣṇu Sahasranāma. Kṛṣṇa was also present when this happened and this Sahasranāma was blessed by the Lord Himself.
 
Viṣṇu is also known as Nārāyaṇa. Garuḍa Purāṇa (III.24.54, 55) explains the etymological meaning of Nārāyaṇa. “As He is the resort of merits and demerits and as He abides in the waters of ocean, He is called Nārāyaṇa. Water is also called nāra (probably meaning cosmic water); as He resorts to water, He is called Nārāyaṇa. Water is so called because, as cosmic water it emerges from His glance sideways. As He is the resort of water, He is called Nārāyaṇa, and also because He is the source of this eternal universe.”
 
Viṣṇu is the most auspicious form of the Brahman. He is not only invoked during auspicious occasions, but also while performing funeral rites. At the time of conclusion of all rituals, the effect of the rituals are surrendered Viṣṇu.
 
Viṣṇu Sahasranāma consists of three parts – pūrvabhāg or the first part; stotrabhāg or the main part from which one thousand names or nāma-s are composed; and uttarabhāg or the concluding part. The main part consists of 108 couplets from which all the 1000 nāma-s are derived. Apart from these three parts, this Sahasranāma has seven dhyāna verses by which one can meditate upon His auspicious form.
 
With this brief introduction, we now proceed to discuss Viṣṇu Sahasranāma through a series of postings.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

BHAGAVAD GITA CONCLUDED

Gita Series – 178: Conclusion.

Bhagavad Gita is not another epic. It is considered as the science of spirituality. The Lord speaks through the seven hundred couplets, the precepts of mankind as a whole. Kṛṣṇa takes the aspirant towards liberation, slowly eliminating every doubt of students of spirituality. While talking about the steps required for liberation, Kṛṣṇa also lays down guidelines for day to day living. He does not advocate spiritual practices, nor gives hopes to the humanity that He would absolve them from their sins. He makes it apparently clear that everyone’s life is determined by his own actions and says there is no divine intervention involved. One has to seek the Lord to get away from pains of transmigrations.

Among many other things to be followed, he stresses importance of doing one’s prescribed duties. Shirking from one’s responsibilities is considered as a sin. The second important factor is the mind. One has to keep the mind free of impressions. The main source for the impressions is the sensory organs. One has to use the sensory organs for an effective existence and not for pleasures. Today’s pleasure will be tomorrow’s pain. Pleasure and pain are realised only if one uses senses beyond one’s necessity. Kṛṣṇa discourages excessive indulgence in all the actions. Over indulgence causes addiction, which ultimately turns into monstrous proportions leading to one’s self destruction.

Another aspect of Gita is renunciation. If one remains inert without carrying out his duties saying that he is always united with the Lord, he is disowned by the Lord. What the Lord advocates is that one should perform his duties without intent on the fruits of actions. Fruits of actions are to be surrendered to the Lord, irrespective of the nature of outcome. If one understands and follows the theory of renunciation and surrenders, no further karmas accrue to him. One’s karma is the deterrent factor to liberation, as one has to exist in various shapes and forms till all his karmas are exhausted. The Lord rules the universe only through the Law of Karma. Evil thoughts are more powerful than evil actions.

One cannot attain liberation overnight. The spiritual progressions should be gradual with a strong foundation. Hence a great emphasis has been laid on spiritual knowledge. Only with the right kind of knowledge, the Lord can be realised. Only a thoroughly purified soul becomes eligible for liberation. The Lord is always waiting to offer liberation to souls. He is also longing for the love of His devotees (may sound like dualism). That is why, it has been repeatedly stressed in this commentary that one’s devotion to the Lord should transform into love for Him. He says to Arjuna, “You are so dear to Me. I will never let you down. Believe me.” What a sort of compassion is this? The Lord is more concerned with our welfare more than our parents. Every breath of ours is being watched by Him. Every action of ours is recorded.

It is often said that Gita is unsuitable for modern times Scriptures cannot be changed to suit the modern times Holy Scriptures do not change, but humanity changes from bad to worse. There cannot be peace and harmony when there is no reciprocation. When the humanity sets its mind to transform from religious fanaticism to a spiritual pursuit, there is bound to be a peaceful co-existence. The Lord is not many He is one and He belongs to everyone. Out of ignorance and misguidance, men resort to different types of ritualistic worships. Commercialization of spirituality is the worst sin of all.

This commentary is meant only for the beginners of spiritual pursuit. This commentary does not follow a particular type of philosophy. It is the combination of all. The main idea of this exercise is to make the people choose the right kind of living that paves the way for ultimate liberation. Mind is the only factor that leads to liberation. Everyone should attempt to develop only positive thoughts and concern for the fellow beings. The Lord is the embodiment of compassion and love. When one decides to merge with Him, one has to be full of compassion and love. After all, fire and water cannot coexist. If one conclusively decides to have liberation, he has to have purity of thought and mind. The inner purity is more important than the external purity, as liberation takes place only through the mind.

With these words, the commentary on Bhagavad Gita is completed and placed before the lotus feet of the Lord seeking His grace for universal prosperity and peaceful co-existence.

BHAGAVAD GITA. CHAPTER XVIII. 72 - 78

Gita Series – 177: Chapter - XVIII. Verse 71 – 78
 
Have you listened to the holy sermons of Mine with rapt attention, Arjuna? Has your ignorance, born out of delusion, vanished?”
 
Arjuna answered: “Yes! My delusion has gone by Your grace. I have now regained my knowledge and shall act according to Your words.”
 
Sañjaya said: “Thus, I have heard the wonderful dialogue between Śrī Kṛṣṇa and the great soul Arjuna, with goosebumps all over my body. Through the grace of Śrī Vyāsa, I have directly heard this supreme and the most secretive sermons directly from Śrī Kṛṣṇa, the Lord of yoga. O King, I rejoice repeatedly in this holy conversation. Remembering that holy form of Śrī Kṛṣṇa repeatedly, I am amazed and I rejoice again and again. Wherever Śrī Kṛṣṇa and Arjuna are, there will be auspiciousness, victory, glory, and unfailing righteousness. This is my firm conviction.”
 
With great concern, Kṛṣṇa asks Arjuna whether he has understood His teaching with attention. This is the concern of the Lord for His true seekers. The Lord can be attained through any of the methods of Vedānta. Vedānta is the combination of two words Veda + anta. ‘Veda’ refers to knowledge and ‘anta’ refers to ‘the end of’ which means the end of knowledge. At the end of knowledge, liberation happens. Knowledge here refers to the spiritual knowledge and not the materialistic knowledge. Spiritual knowledge is the knowledge that is required to realise the Brahman. The different categories of Vedānta are beautifully explained by the Living Master thus, “Brahma has no relation to Māyā nor is He residing in the heart of all beings in Advaitavedānta. It is His upādhi Īśvará (the Lord with attributes) who is residing in the heart of all beings. Anyway, even Īśvará is not the owner of Māyā in Ádvaita. Māyā is the Power of the Lord only in Dvaitá and Viśiṣtādvaita. In Ádvaita, it is merely neither real nor unreal (i.e. not created, not manifested by anyone, just a mere mistaking the rope for a snake). Brahma has no relation to Māyā nor is He residing in the heart of all beings in Advaitavedānta. It is His upādhi Īśvará (the Lord with attributes) who is residing in the heart of all beings. Anyway, even Īśvará is not the owner of Māyā in Ádvaita. Māyā is the Power of the Lord only in Dvaitá and Viśiṣtādvaita. In Ádvaita, it is merely neither real nor unreal (i.e. not created, not manifested by anyone, just a mere mistaking the rope for a snake).”
 
Vedānta is a powerful tool made available to us to realise the Lord within. Vedānta is not a mere intellectual exercise, but an experience by itself. For the beginners, Vedānta can be explained as follows: Several gods and goddesses to satiate our different requirements is the lowest form of Vedānta. Acceptance of a force called God, who is the creator of the universe, is the middle form. Understanding and realising that there is only one Reality, known differently as the Lord, the Brahman, Self, etc is the Ultimate Truth. When one affirms with confidence “I am That” he is known as Self realised person. To attain ultimate liberation through knowledge, one has to pursue the path of non-dualism. Dualistic theories say that the Lord is different from individual soul and cosmos (prakṛti). Qualified non-dualism also accepts soul and cosmos, but as qualities of the Brahman. Non-dualism says everything is the Brahman, and He is the ultimate Truth. All the Upaniṣad-s, including Bhagavad Gita dwell elaborately only on non-dualism. In the words of Gabriel Pradiipaka , referred to as the Living Master earlier, “Bráhma cannot be described by any means, i.e. He is not the embodiment of anything. He doesn't control Māyā at all. Not even His upādhi Īśvará does so, because the upādhi-s arise from her and not vice versa. Māyā is neither real nor unreal, and consequently, she is "nothing" which is fit for being controlled. It is just a false notion, not something objectively manifest. To understand this is crucial in Ádvaita. In Ádvaita, Knowledge is the main tool to attain Final Liberation. When you realize Bráhma such as He is and not as Īśvara, that is spiritual enlightenment according to Ádvaita.”

Whatever the branch one pursues is not important, but it has to be pursued with great dedication and sincerity. One’s devotion has to turn into Love for the Lord. If love for Him blossoms forth, it means He is ready for final enlightenment. When his karmic account is nullified, he is liberated and the self realises the Self. It is only the knowledge that is paramount in Advaita philosophy. Only Advaita philosophy says, “I am That” or “I am Brahman”. Through out this commentary, all types of philosophies have been used depending upon the circumstances and narrative necessities.

Arjuna for the first time says that his delusion has gone. For a person like Arjuna, who is highly advanced spiritually, when so many explanations are needed, nothing needs to be said about spiritual aspirants. Spirituality does not mean the expression of religious affiliations. It is much beyond any religion. One has to seek the Lord within, by constantly meditating on Him, focussing his attention on Him. Then only he gets enlightened and attains ultimate liberation. Arjuna got enlightened and now is ready to listen to the words of the Lord.
 
Sañjaya has referred to in the opening verse of Bhagavad Gita. The great sage Vyāsa had given to Sañjaya, the cosmic eye or the third eye to see the happenings in the battle field. On seeing the Lord enlightening Arjuna, Sañjaya enters into the blissful state and affirms with great confidence, wherever Kṛṣṇa and Arjuna exists, there will be positive vibrations The presence of a true devotee can be realised from the positive vibrations around him.

CHAPTER XVIII OF BHAGAVAD GITA IS CONCLUDED.

BHAGAVAD GITA. CHAPTER XVIII. 67 - 71

Gita Series – 176: Chapter - XVIII. Verse 67 – 71
 
“The secret that has been disclosed to you should not be revealed to the one, who is devoid of self control and devotion, who is unwilling to listen and finds fault with Me. Whoever imparts this supreme secret of Mine to my devotees with devotion, he shall, without doubt attain Me. No one else is dearer to me than him, nor there shall be one. Whoever studies this sacred dialogue between us, worships Me through his mind. Whoever listens to this conversation with utmost faith is freed of his sins and attains the world of virtues.”
 
Kṛṣṇa after having finishing His holy sermons briefly tells Arjuna about the benefits accruing on reading and listening to His holy sermons. The Lord also places some injunctions by which His sacred and secret sermons should not be disclosed to disinterested people.
 
Bhagavad Gita is an exceptionally a great epic from two angles. First, the Lord Himself discloses what is needed to attain liberation of a soul. Secondly, the whole Gita is a concise precept of teachings of Upaniṣad-s. The main purpose of human life is liberation, as liberation can be attained only in human life. Man forgets the ultimate aim of his birth and indulges himself in the delusionary pleasures of life and falls into the trap of desire and bondage. As a result, he goes on accruing both good and bad karmas. As long as karmas prevail, one has to undergo the pains of karmas. The Lord never interferes in the Law of Karma, but surely paves the way to become devoid of karma. This is all about Bhagavad Gita. The Lord wants everyone to get rid of karma and attain liberation. But, a bewildered man considers the enjoyment of sensory pleasures as his ultimate goal and sinks deeper into the materialistic world. Over a period of time, he gets addicted and unable to get away from the clutches of materialistic life. By the time he begins to understand the reality, his life comes to an end. This vicious cycle goes on and on without any respite for sufferings.
 
Mind is the most important aspect in spiritual path. Entire spirituality revolves around mind. Throughout this series, cleansing of mind has been repeatedly emphasized. Cleaning one’s mind is a tough job to do. It is easier to say, but the process of cleansing is difficult. Mind has innumerable impressions and at one stroke, it is difficult to remove those impressions. To begin the process of cleansing, one has to stop further impressions. Every action performed with “I” ness, leaves strong impression in the mind. Mind is literally controlled by emotional disorders, psychological conflict and narcissistic dominance. They are too powerful and prevent the cleansing process of the mind. They are the inherent qualities of mankind. One has to fight against these powerful forces to conquer his mind. If efforts to conquer are initiated now, the result can be reaped in future births. By initiating the process of mind cleansing, the impressions can be gradually removed in births after births.
 
Spiritual evolution is directly related to the level of consciousness. Allegiance to ego forms the stumbling block to purify one’s consciousness. Consciousness in most of the men is dominated by impulsive desires and animal instincts. Consciousness is the only instrument that is able to differentiate between Reality and illusion. That is why Kṛṣṇa said that impelled by desires and fruits of actions, one goes to bondage. “Ego is not overcome by seeing it as an enemy. It is one’s biological inheritance, and without it, nobody would be alive to lament its limitations. By understanding its origin and intrinsic importance to survival, the ego can be seen as being of great benefit, but prone to becoming unruly and causing emotional, psychological and spiritual problems if not resolved or transcended.”
 
An impure mind with is filled with excessive delusion and too much of thoughts is the real enemy to spirituality. It is not by mere enquiry, spiritual knowledge is attained. To attain the true spiritual knowledge self-experience is essential. Self-experience can be attained by going through Holy Scriptures. But, at the same time, one should not continue to be associated with scriptures. Every scripture and every author have their own way of explicating the path of spirituality. Many of them speak from their own experiences and experience of any two persons is not the same in spirituality. It all depends upon one’s cerebration.
 
Kṛṣṇa says to Arjuna, that Bhagavad Gita can be taught to the one, who has the capacity to understand the foregoing. Caviling is another deterrent factor in spirituality and is the quality of those who are unwilling to listen with attention. The Lord also prohibits the revelation of Gita to them. Gita should be taught to those who respect human values, kind heartedness, compassionate, devoid of arrogance and anger. The one, endowed with these qualities is very dear to the Lord. There are many instances where men and women attained liberation out of pure love for Him. The initial knowledge should transform into love for Him for perfect liberation. Knowledge should act as a seed for perpetual love for Him. Love is a stage beyond devotion. However great a man may be, he is nothing but a tiny particle before the ever compassionate Lord.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

BHAGAVAD GITA. CHAPTER XVIII. 64 - 66

Gita Series – 175: Chapter - XVIII. Verse 64 – 66
 
Listen to My supremely secret words again, the most secretive of all. You are extremely dear to Me, and I shall only say what is beneficial for you. Fix your mind on Me, worship Me and bow down to Me. By doing so you will come to Me alone. I promise you. Resigning all dharma, take refuge in Me alone. I shall absolve you of all your sins. Do not worry.”
 
This is almost the concluding statement of Kṛṣṇa in Bhagavad Gita. After having explained to Arjuna, the elaborate steps to attain liberation, Kṛṣṇa conclusively says that surrender unto Him is the best choice for liberation. Kṛṣṇa gives importance to friendship by saying to Arjuna that he is very dear to Him. Both Kṛṣṇa and Arjuna, studied, played and grew together. Though, Kṛṣṇa was moving with many others, He had a special interest in Arjuna, not just because he was a noted warrior, but also because of his ability to understand. Added to these qualities, Arjuna never deviated from the scriptural dictums and always followed the path of virtuousness. It is like the Lord extending His hands to those who are spiritually well advanced. This does not mean that the Lord follows the path of partiality. The Lord takes a special interest on those, who truly seeks Him without the handful of prayers and favours. Such yogis are taken over by the Lord Himself, who ultimately leads them to liberation. Even then, the Lord does not dissolve their karmas. He only tells them the ways and means to dissolve their karmas quickly. Karmas can be dissolved only by one’s experience in this world and not otherwise.
 
The entire Bhagavad Gita is the Lord’s message to these yogis and not just Arjuna alone. Subsequently, He says that Gita should not be imparted to those who are not interested in pursuing the path of righteousness. When the world is totally immersed in darkness of ignorance, the Lord incarnates and sets the world in the right path; as otherwise, the world would sink deeper and deeper without any plausible redemption. All those, who follow the path of virtuousness, will also get sunk along with the demons. If virtuous men are punished, then the sayings of the Scriptures would be falsified. In order to avert the complete catastrophe, the Lord takes avatars and infuses confidence in the hearts of those virtuous men Kṛṣṇa avatar is purely towards this goal only and obviously, the goal has been totally achieved by the Lord. Towards the closing chapters of Gita, Kṛṣṇa becomes too compassionate. He says to Arjun and through him to the entire humanity, “You have suffered enough. I do not want you to suffer any longer. I am your Lord. Surrender unto Me by thinking about Me all the time. I will give you liberation. You have come very close to Me. Just a few steps, you will attain Me. Please do not go back.” Even after these compassionate words, one is unwilling to surrender his ego to Him, then, nobody can save him. He will continue to undergo the pains of birth and death repeatedly.
 
When a person had fallen into a deep pit, one can throw a rope to save him. If he is not willing to take that rope and claim up, what can one think about him? This is the kind of situation, the humanity is in. The Lord says I am giving you the rope to claim up and even promises that he would be taken to safety. Even then, the fallen person is not acting it means that he is resigned to his fate. The Lord says that one should set aside his ego and surrender to Him through one’s mind. He does not even want a person to suffer physically. Just developing the quality of renunciation, through his mind, is more than enough to attain liberation. Sacrifice is the sole essence of Gita. One can perform any actions without intent on the fruits of actions. Nothing is barred and the only requirement is to stay connected consciously with the Lord all the time. If one takes refuge in the Lord, the Lord will take care of his liberation. He will find the ways and means to absolve all his sins, purify him and ultimately makes him one with Himself. After all, the Lord is the embodiment of compassion and love.
 
Kṛṣṇa once again tells Arjuna not to worry and asks him to surrender in entirety to Him. The Lord also gives a promise that he will be absolved of all his sins and liberated. He says, “Do not get repeatedly entangled with duties that may be either right or wrong. I am above all the scriptural dictums. When you aim to attain Me, dharmas have no significance. Get out of your ego and come to Me is all that I need from you.”

BHAGAVAD GITA. CHAPTER XVIII. 61 - 63

Gita Series – 174: Chapter - XVIII. Verse 61 – 63

Arjuna, the Lord abides in the hearts of all beings, causing them to revolve according to their karmas as if attached to a machine, by His cosmic delusion known as māyā, Take shelter in Him completely, and by His mere grace, you shall obtain supreme peace and the eternal abode. Thus, I have imparted the supreme wisdom, the secret of all secrets. Ponder over it thoroughly and act as you desire.”

 
The essence Bhagavad Gita is being conveyed through these verses. This message can be interpreted as follows. “The Brahman residing in the hearts of all beings make them to act as per their karmas, through His power of māyā. Surrender unto Him totally, and you will have eternal peace. This is the secret of all secrets. Now it is up to you to decide.”
 
Lord is the force, by which all the beings are made to act. Without electricity, the light fittings are of no use. The Lord is the electricity that powers the beings to perform. The Lord does not decide how one should perform his duty. It is already decided by his karmas that unfold as actions at the appointed time. Depending upon the bulbs, electricity does not change. Bulbs could be 60 watts, 100 watts, fluorescent lamps, etc. The shapes and sizes of the bulbs could be different but the source for all the bulbs is the same electricity. In the same way, the source for all the beings is the Lord and only the shapes and forms differ. The one who realises this is said to be a Self-realised person and the one who does not realise this is said to be spiritually ignorant.
 
Māyā is the illusionary aspect of the Brahman. Mā means to measure. When the immeasurable Brahman appears as if measured, is known as māyā. Vedānta holds that we perceive things only in their empirical aspects and not in their essential aspects. The Brahman is the embodiment of purity of mind, consciousness, etc. He is the ultimate reality, underlying all our experiences. Therefore, any kind of existence is essentially the Brahman and hence, He is omnipresent. The Brahman controls māyā holding it as His manifold power to rule over the cosmic process. If one is able to look beyond empirical aspects into the unchangeable essential aspect, the Brahman, one is said to have realized the ever radiating Self, who alone is Self-illuminating. One gets deluded by the effects of māyā, which is always tempting and inducing, he succumbs to illusionary joy and happiness it creates. If one is able to understand the effects of māyā, he will not be deluded, but makes progress to understand the Reality.
 
Karma is the sum total of consequences of one’s thoughts and actions over his past births. Depending on the nature of one’s karma, one is born as different shapes and forms and undergoes pains and miseries. This process continues over many births, till his entire karmic account is exhausted. Karmas stop accruing only if he chooses to surrender to the Lord consciously. Any amount of ritualistic surrender will never stop the accrual of karmas. The surrender should happen through the mind. Repeated affirmations make this happen. The thought of liberation comes to one’s mind, only when his karmic account permits. When the thought of liberation dawns on him, it means that he is not too far away from liberation. When the thought of Lord dawns on him, he begins to judiciously exercise his freewill, goes past māyā and ultimately surrenders to Him. From that moment onwards, his karmic account does get added up.
 
When such a situation arises, the grace of the Lord falls on him, which bestows the state of bliss and peace. He merely waits for the time for his liberation. Kṛṣṇa says to Arjuna that He had imparted the most secretive spiritual wisdom to him and it is for Arjuna to decide what he should do, whether to fight or not to fight. It should also be remembered that irrespective of Arjuna’s decision, the fate of the war has already been decided by the Law of Karma. This signifies the importance of karma in one’s life. Good thoughts and actions cause good karma and bad thoughts and actions cause bad karma. If one consciously surrenders to the Lord, karmas do not accrue at all. Liberation happens to such a person, soon after all his existing karmas are exhausted.

Monday, February 21, 2011

BHAGAVAD GITA. CHAPTER XVIII. 56 - 60

Gita Series – 173: Chapter - XVIII. Verse 56 – 60

The one, who always takes refuge in Me, though performs actions, attains the imperishable state due to My grace. By mentally surrendering all actions to Me, taking recourse to discriminative intellect, considering Me as the ultimate goal, constantly give your mind to Me. By surrendering your mind to Me, you shall overcome all difficulties due to My grace. If by chance you are not listening to Me, you will meet with destruction. If you are still afflicted with egotism and decide not to fight, your decision will be falsified as you will still be compelled by Prakṛti to fight. Arjuna! Even then if you are not willing to fight, deluded by ignorance, you will be forced to fight helplessly, due to your karma.”

Kṛṣṇa spoke about liberation through knowledge in the previous section and in this section, He discusses about karma yoga. Yoga of knowledge is difficult when compared to karma yoga. In jñāna yoga or the yoga of knowledge, the entire process of liberation happens through the mind as mind is the only tool that is put into use. However, in the case of karma yoga, mind is not the only instrument that is used to attain liberation. Along with mind, the power of one’s affirmation plays a very significant role. A jñāna yogi is completely engulfed in the thought of the Lord all the time.  A karma yogi performs actions and surrenders all his actions to the Lord. The concept of renunciation is important in karma yoga. If renunciation is not practiced, it means the practitioner continues to remain only as an aspirant, unable to move to the stage of a yogi. Renunciation is nothing but surrendering one’s thought of “I” ness which is known as ego. When importance is given to “I”, it leads to desires and attachments. Kṛṣṇa has already said that one who performs actions without attachment attains liberation. The thought of “I” always kindles the fire of ego. An egocentric person can never attain liberation, however hard he pursues the path of spirituality. The very word “I” has no place in spirituality. If anyone uses “I” in spirituality, it clearly means that he continues to be a spiritual infant. It should be understood that one attains liberation only through His grace. One has to seek His grace all the time, instead of remaining egocentric. The Lord is ever ready to shower His grace, when it is sought for by a person whose mind is devoid of any impressions. A mind without any afflictions is the stage, where one is able to remove all sensory impressions and ensures that further impressions are not deposited.A karma yogi is permitted to perform any action, provided he is able to surrender that action to the Lord. A karma yogi advances in spiritual path through the concept of surrender and renunciation and a jñāna yogi advances through his discriminative knowledge and contemplation. Goal is the same in both these approaches, but the path that is to be traversed is different. They cannot be compared and none can affirm that a particular path is better than the other one. Ultimately, it is the mind alone that matters. Liberation of a soul can happen only through the mind. As humanity alone has got the power of mind, liberation is possible only during human birth. Attaining human birth is not an easier task. The entire humanity is blessed by the Lord and none should waste this divine compassion. If one does not develop devotion to the ever compassionate Lord, he is said to be in the darkness of spiritual ignorance. Surrendering to the Lord should happen only through the mind. Any amount of rituals ever satiates Him. What the Lord expects from the humanity is to think about Him all the time. None is barred from performing his prescribed duties. But he has to perform all his actions on behalf of the Lord. This is possible only by mentally surrendering all his actions to the Lord. Repeatedly affirming that the Lord alone performs all his actions makes one to advance in the path of surrender and renunciation.

Even after Kṛṣṇa’s exhaustive teachings, if one continues to be bewildered by the influence of māyā, which is also His own manifestation, he goes without redemption for births. Even after knowing that His grace is always available if sought for through the mind, if one does not make any efforts to seek That, he causes his own destruction. Destruction does not mean his death. Death is nothing but a tiny process by which a soul migrates from one body to another. His death is not an end to his miseries, but just a beginning.

Kṛṣṇa says to Arjuna that in spite of all His elucidations, if he still chooses not to fight against his cousins and teachers, then the law of karma takes over, and he will be compelled to fight through the influence of primordial nature, present in the form of Prakṛti A soul and Prakṛti cause the formation of a being. What is destined to happen, will surely happen, which none can postpone or prevent. Nobody can fight against his karmic account, and the karmic account unfolds at the appropriate timings in one’s life. The only way to escape from karmic accruals is to renounce every action to the Lord, by surrendering one’s ego. After all one is not different from the Lord Himself. Arjuna has no option except to fight, as his karma is waiting to unfold that way only. If Arjuna chooses to listen to Kṛṣṇa and kills his enemies, he does not accrue further karma as he acts only at the behest of the Lord. On the contrary, due to ignorance, if he decides to act with ego, he is further afflicted with karmic accruals.

BHAGAVAD GITA. CHAPTER XVIII. 54 - 55

Gita Series – 172: Chapter - XVIII. Verse 54 – 55
 
That yogi, who has realised the Brahman, with complete mental clarity, neither grieves nor rejoices. He beholds equitability and attains Me with supreme devotion. By this devotion, he realises My reality and having realised My reality, he gets absorbed into Me.”
 
A spiritual aspirant transforms into a yogi, when he enters the state of eternal bliss. By constantly remaining in a state of bliss, he moves towards the Lord slowly but steadily. When he enters into the arena of His radiating effulgence, his mind attains perfect clarity. When the mind is devoid of any other thought processes and entirely pervaded by His thoughts alone, his mind is said to have been cleansed. His mind remains in absolute purity. As his mind is percolated by His thoughts, he sees both animate and inanimate beings as Him. He does not need anything from anyone. He does not love anyone nor hate anyone. His mind becomes incapable of discrimination, as he has understood the reality of creation and existence. He knows that the Lord alone exists everywhere and only because of illusionary effect, the creation appears to be in different shapes and forms. He now becomes capable of looking beyond the shapes and forms. His mind becomes completely tranquil.
 
As he establishes himself in the radiating effulgence of the Lord, he begins to acquire the qualities of the Lord. He is like the Lord, yet He is not the Lord. When a log is put in a fire, it merges into the fire by burning itself slowly but firmly and ultimately merges with the fire. After the log is fully burnt, there remains no trace of the log, as the fire has totally assimilated the log. The log does not get burnt immediately. The log has to first draw the heat energy of the fire and then has to gradually transform into the fire itself. Unless both the fire and the log have the same level of temperature, the log cannot be burnt by the fire. If the log contains traces of water, fire ensures that traces of water are removed and this can be noticed at the other end of the log. The fire is purifying the log before it imbibes the log.
 
In the same manner, the Lord takes over that yogi, who enters into the vicinity of His effulgence for final processing before He allows his merger with Him. First, his mind is purified. It loses its ability to differentiate and discriminate, not out of ignorance, but due to lack of secondary thought processes. It loses its ability to receive the inputs from his sensory organs. That yogi sees only the Lord and Lord alone around him. His purified mind is readied for that Supreme merger. Traces of his karmic influences are removed, and his karmic account is totally zeroed. When the time is ripe, his soul leaves his physical remains and merges into the Lord forever. That yogi ceases to exist once and for all. The complete merger had happened. That yogi has become the Lord. The Lord and that yogi are not different now. That yogi’s perseverance and dedication have been rewarded.
 
Not a single person goes unrewarded in his spiritual pursuits, provided there is sincerity, devotion, perseverance and dedication. After all, the Lord is the embodiment of compassion. The only precondition before the merger is that one has to become almost like the Lord Himself. The final stages are taken care of by Him.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

BHAGAVAD GITA. CHAPTER XVIII. 49 - 53

Gita Series – 171: Chapter - XVIII. Verse 49 – 53
 
He, whose intellect remains unattached, who has subdued his senses and has no desires, attains perfect knowledge to get relived from karmic afflictions, can attain the state of supreme perfection. Learn from me, how this perfected person realises the Brahman, the supreme state of knowledge. Endowed with pure intellect, subjugating his mind with determination, devoid of sensory gratification and likes and dislikes, limited food consumption, controlling his speech, mind and body, ever remaining detached, devoid of ego, violence, arrogance, lust, anger and comforts, devoid of any materialistic possessions, remaining selfless and peaceful all the time and remaining in a secluded place becomes fit to realise the Brahman.”
 
Kṛṣṇa emphasizes three primary conditions to attain liberation and they are the non-attachment, subdued senses and devoid of desires. Not just this, one has to be devoid of karmic afflictions as well. Further accumulation of karma is possible only if one renounces the fruits of all his actions. Only when one reaches this stage, he becomes eligible to realise the Self. Unless one is perfected and pursuant to which is purified, one will not be able to reach the destination of his spiritual journey, probably commenced in his last few births. One should never lose out this opportunity, to merge with Him. Therefore, Kṛṣṇa takes time in explaining the last part of one’s spiritual journey. Brahman is an embodiment of perfection, knowledge and effulgence. A soul has to be purified, attain knowledge and illuminated, before it merges into Him.
 
One has to purify and refine his intellect. Pure intellect is the stage where one can distinguish between the Brahman and His illusionary aspect. Brahman conceals Himself through His veil of māyā. Realisation does not happen that easily, though it may appear to be easy. Many aspects of realisation are easier to discuss and explain than to follow. Once the concept is understood thoroughly, the whole process becomes easier. Kṛṣṇa now begins to explain the conceptual aspect of realisation.
 
Mind by nature is always tending towards senses. One has to control his mind by not crowding the mind with too many thought processes. Ground for realisation is set only if the mind is devoid of any secondary thoughts. The primary and the only thought should be about the Brahman all the time. When the mind has to be subjugated, the sensory organs are easily trained to look within. If sensory organs are allowed to function in their natural way, impressions are caused in the mind. Mind should be made devoid of any impressions. Instead of listening to the external sound, one has to practice to listen to the sound of OM within. Instead of using the biological eyes, one has to learn to use the spiritual eye, also known as the third eye. Instead of consuming sumptuous food, one has to learn to secrete ambrosia during meditation. These are ways to control senses as a result of which, mind is also controlled. It can also be said the other way around.
 
When senses and mind are controlled, rest of the process happens on its own. When the mind and senses are subjugated, he transcends the stage of likes and dislikes. For him, every being is nothing but the form of the Lord. He has developed the ability to look beyond biological structures. He is not concerned with shapes, forms and names. If one develops attachment towards gross bodies, he develops the quality of like and dislike. When he is able to see the Brahman in everyone, all are same to him. After all, he is struggling all these days to realise Him. His individual consciousness no longer exists and transforms into universal consciousness that becomes ripe enough to merge with Him. When one is moving closer towards the Lord, he automatically feels the vibrations of the Lord and at some point of time, during the last leg of his journey, he imbibes the effulgence of the Lord and the final stages of his liberation is taken over by the Lord Himself. The Lord is so compassionate He is unwilling to let one of His true seekers to slip back during the last moments of his union with Him. The yogi (he is no more an aspirant) now begins to consume less food. He literally lives on the ambrosia secreted from his top head chakra. He perpetually remains in the state of bliss. He does not need food at all, but he knows that he cannot destroy his body that sheaths the Lord within. He is not able to go around and procure his food. He is not able to talk; he is not able to use his mind either for other purposes as the Lord has completely pervaded his mind. All his human qualities begin to disintegrate. He remains detached to his very existence pursuant to which he becomes devoid of ego, violence, arrogance, lust, anger and comforts. He clearly understands that materialistic possessions cause attachment and sheds every one of them.
 
He is now a completely purified person. Literally, he becomes like the Lord. He has no interest either in his body or in the materialistic world. He moves into the repeated bouts of trance and at one point of time, he remains in the stage of trance perpetually, strongly bonded with the Lord within. His mind and body are completely rested and remain in total peace. He moves into a secluded place. He is all alone with the Lord. When his karmic afflictions are exhausted, the Lord makes his soul to merge with Him. He longer exists and his body is consumed to the Nature from which it originated.

BHAGAVAD GITA. CHAPTER XVIII. 45 - 48


Gita Series – 170: Chapter - XVIII. Verse 45 – 48

"When one performs his duty perfectly, he becomes eligible for realising the Self. Now, listen to me for the ways to attain this perfect stage. A person attains perfection when he worships the Lord, the source of all beings and all pervading, through his ordained duties.  It is better to perform one’s prescribed duties, though imperfectly, than performing others’ duties perfectly, because one does not accumulate sin if he performs his ordained duties. One should never abandon his prescribed duties, though done with imperfection.  Like smoke engulfing fire, all actions are marred by demerits.”

Every human being is classified under the four categories.  This classification is not based on one’s lineage, but purely depends upon his inherent quality.  Duties are prescribed based upon one’s inherent qualities.  For example, a person with great valour should engage himself in protecting the boundaries of his country rather than performing the duties of other classes.  A person with complete knowledge of the Lord should not waste his time in bordering his country’s boundaries.  In both the cases, the country is the loser.

Kṛṣṇa says that even one does his ordained duties with blemishes, he does not accrue sins.  The imperfectness of the initial stages will get rectified through experience and will finally lead to perfection. If one finds his inherent quality is to serve others, then he should not aspire to plunge into a commercial venture. If one has a great interest in God realisation, he should not waste his capabilities by indulging in administrative activities.  The inherent nature of a person is important in choosing his line of action, and by doing so he does not accrue any sin, though there are mistakes while discharging his ordained duties.  If one pursues an activity against his inherent nature, though it may appear to be perfect in the beginning, over a period of time, he ends up in catastrophe. Assuming that his actions are perfect while indulging in duties against his inherent nature, he still accrues karmas for having disregarded his inherent qualities and for having abandoned his ordained duties.  By doing so, he also accrues sins for having failed to perform his prescribed duties.  One’s karma and impressions of past births determine the type of quality one imbibes. 

All types of actions have blemishes.  No action is perfect. If one thinks that all his actions are perfect, it means that he is afflicted with egoism. Fire, by nature will have smoke around it.  If there is no smoke, then it means no fire.  In the same way, every action will have its own shortcomings.  However, these mistakes can be rectified with practice, like fire becoming less smoky with dry logs. Practice alone leads to perfection.  When perfection is complete, that man is ready for liberation.  Total perfection can be attained only if he pursues the path destined by his inherent nature and not otherwise. It is also important to remember that one should not get attached to the fruits of his actions, even though he performs his ordained duties. 

Friday, February 18, 2011

BHAGAVAD GITA. CHAPTER XVIII. 40 - 44

Gita Series – 169: Chapter - XVIII. Verse 40 – 44
 
There is no being on earth, or in the heaven or among the gods, or elsewhere without the three guṇa-s, originated from Prakṛti.T Men are classified under four broad categories based upon their inherent qualities, based on the three guṇa-s. Subjugation of mind and senses, enduring hardships for the discharge of one’s prescribed obligations, both internal and external purity, forgiveness, honesty, behaviour, belief in Vedas and Sacred Scriptures, faith in God and life after death – all these constitute the inherent duties of brāhmaṇa-s. Gallantry, fearlessness, firmness, cleverness, solemnity in battles, bestowing gifts and leadership qualities are the inherent duties of kṣatriya-s. Agriculture, breeding of cattle and business are the qualities of vaiśya-s. Offering their services to other three classes is the inherent duty of śūdra-s.”
 
The entire creation is intertwined with the three types of guṇa-s. Prakṛti has all the three guṇa-s in equal proportion. When Prakṛti conjoins a soul, a creation is made and depending upon the predominance of a particular guṇa, his quality is determined. One has got the ability to alter the predominant guṇa. The determination of guṇa in a person largely depends upon one’s karmic account and impressions of subtle mind. Without the presence of guṇa-s, existence is impossible.
 
The entire humanity is being classified under four categories, depending upon the inherent qualities present in them. This classification is not based on one’s birth or lineage, but purely on their qualities. Due to one’s efforts, one can move from one guṇa to another guṇa. Any one of these classifications cannot exist on its own and has to depend upon the other three for a peaceful and safe co-existence.
 
Brāhmaṇa-s are those who actively engage themselves in gaining and imparting knowledge of the Brahman. By controlling mind and senses, they perform sacrifices on behalf of others. In the process of learning, they endure hardships. Their very purpose of existence is only for the sake of the society. They set an example for internal and external purity or purity of mind and body. They are supposed to be the embodiments of honesty and straight forwardness. They should have immense faith in the Lord and through understanding about souls. They stand as a connecting link between the Lord and His creations. They have to be compassionate and should not be greedy. Their main source of income is their fees for rituals and secondary source of income is the gifts given by other groups. They should set examples and make others follow the right spiritual path.

The next category is kṣatriya-s. They have inherent quality of leadership and they are basically the class of warriors, who are capable of protecting one’s mother land from enemies. They should remain fearless, not only against the enemies but also against the wrong doers of his own country. Their main responsibility is to keep their citizens happy and to ensure plenitude in their administration. The great epic Ramayana is based on these principles. They have to offer gifts to the other three classes of men.

A county’s prosperity depends upon its commercial acumen. Third category known as vaiśya-s, take care of agricultural production, commerce, milk and milk produce. They engage in trade with other countries and ensure that all the basic needs are available to their fellow countrymen at a price that they can afford. Their inherent quality is commerce and economics.
 
The fourth category is the work force. In today’s scenario this category can be compared to those of the employees, workers, skilled labourers, etc. They offer their services to the other three classes. They form the backbone of every economy. A country’s prosperity depends upon their dedication, sincerity and loyalty.
 
Only if all the three classes live in absolute harmony, a country can prosper. None of them is considered as superior or inferior. A person who excels in his class is highly respected. With the process of aging, there is a possibility that one class may move to other class. For example, a king, after ruling his country for years, may decide to seek the Lord and may enter into the path of spirituality. In this case, a kṣatriya becomes a brāhmaṇa. In the same way, a brāhmaṇa, if he is unable to pursue the path of spirituality could go for employment. When disharmony, mistrust and hatred prevail, that country will be heading for disintegration and becomes susceptible to attack by enemies.

BHAGAVAD GITA. CHAPTER XVIII. 36 - 39

Gita Series – 168: Chapter - XVIII. Verse 36 – 39

Now, listen to me on the three types of happiness. That in which the spiritual practitioner by means perseverance finds happiness in practices such as the devotion, meditation, prayers, service, etc., thereby he reaches the end of his sorrows, though appears like poison in the beginning, tastes like nectar at the end. This happiness is sattvic in nature, as it arises from one’s purified mind due to the realisation of the Self. The happiness that arises from the senses though appears as nectar in the beginning, eventually becomes poisonous. This happiness is rajasic. The happiness that originates from delusion, excessive slumber, obdurate and slothfulness is said to be tamsic in nature.”

After having categorised actions, doers, intellect and fortitude, Kṛṣṇa begins to categorize happiness under three guṇa-s. With this, categorisation under the three guṇa-s is completed. Out of the three guṇa-s, sattvic, rajas and tamas, sattva guṇa is the best one, that is to be followed by all the sincere spiritual aspirants. The other two guṇa-s do not purify the mind and amplify egoism.

Law of karma is supreme and having born with karmas, one has no choice except to go through the unfoldment of karmic account The person who aims for liberation has to ensure that his karmic account does not swell any longer. Therefore, he chooses to pursue the path of devotion by renouncing the fruits of his actions. He gradually loses the concept of doer ship and leaves everything to the Lord. He refines and purifies his mind by resorting to meditation, prayers, service to the Lord, etc. Though he may find the initial stages of his spiritual life as painful, ultimately he reaps the benefits of his perseverance and dedication. When one can attune his mind with the Lord, irrespective of the intensity of his sufferings, he does not feel the pains of his sufferings. Initially, one will find the spiritual path as very challenging, particularly control of the senses. Ultimately, when he succeeds in his attempts, he always remains in a state of bliss, the reward for his perseverance and dedication. At this state, the aspirant is very close to the Lord, awaiting his turn to become liberated. However, he has to wait, until his karmic account is exhausted. The intensity of happiness that immerses him at this stage is sattvic in nature. A spiritual aspirant who is devoid of wants can comfortably reach this state of happiness.

A person, who indulges in sensory pleasures, will be happy in the beginning, but as time runs out for his exit from his present body, he begins to realise his mistakes. By that time, his mind would have been totally corrupted with un-erasable impressions that get manifested in subsequent births as well. Sensory pleasures, beyond the permissible limit cause serious inflictions in one’s present and future lives. The initial joy in such cases, invariably lead to irreparable miseries. Such temporary and deceptive happiness is said to be of rajasic in nature.

When a person is inert and derives happiness out of delusion, excessive sleep, unwilling to mend his wrong doings, remaining stubbornly remorseless and unwilling to work, if at all he derives happiness, this happiness is classified as tamasic happiness. Such kind of men is to be discarded and deserve no sympathy from the society. Their very presence will cause serious depletion of positive energy levels.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

BHAGAVAD GITA. CHAPTER XVIII. 33 - 35

Gita Series – 167: Chapter - XVIII. Verse 33 – 35


The one with absolute resoluteness controls the functions of his mind, vital breaths and senses is sattvic in nature. The one with resoluteness gets attached to the fruits of actions to enjoy materialistic life with bondage and attachment is rajasic in nature. The one with absolute resoluteness and wicked mind always remain in a state of slumber, fear, anxiety, sorrow and arrogance is tamsic in nature.”

Kṛṣṇa after having classified actions, actors and intellect, now proceeds to classify fortitude under the three guṇa-s. Fortitude is one of the four inherent virtues derived from nature and the other three being prudence, justice and temperance.  They vary from person to person and ultimately determine the character of a person.  Any quality or action can be classified broadly under the three guṇa-s that are present in prakṛti Fortitude means the strength of one’s mind.

When one can focus his mind towards the Lord, leaving aside other thoughts, he will be able to realise the potency of his inner power.  In order to aid the process of conquering the mind, control of breath and senses is necessary.  When the breathing is slow and deep, the mind becomes calm.  When the breathing is fast and shallow, the mind is afflicted with too many thoughts. Sensory inputs leave lasting impressions in the mind, if objects are looked at with desire and attachment.  The one, who is able to control his mind, breath and senses with a single pointed focus on the Lord, this type of fortitude is called sattvic fortitude.  It not merely the fortitude that is important, but the thought process is far more important.  The classification of fortitude is based on the thought process.

The one, who focuses his mind on satiating his materialistic desires and on the fruits of all his actions, is said to have rajasic fortitude. His main focus will be pleasures and comforts.  He spends lesser time for realising the Self.  They derive satisfaction in performing religious rites.  All his actions are done with a limited purpose in mind.  He is incapable of surrendering the fruits of his actions to the Lord as he believes that fruits of his actions will pave the way for his liberation. 
T
he one with tamsic fortitude is engrossed in lethargy and laziness and lives without a purpose. He lives in his own world and unwilling to understand the reality.  As he is incapable of discrimination, he immerses himself in the sea of miseries and sorrows. His mind always remains wicked, causing the spread of bad energy in and around his place of living.  He commits mistakes after mistakes and spends his precious life fearing all the time. This physic fear induces him to indulge in more and more evil actions and ultimately his karmic account sweeps over him to cause his abominable end.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

BHAGAVAD GITA. CHAPTER XVIII. 29 - 32

Gita Series – 166: Chapter - XVIII. Verse 29 – 32
 
Listen to me while I explain the classification of intellect and fortitude based on the predominance of each guṇa. The one, whose intellect is sattvic, is one who is able to understand the paths of action and renouncement, what ought to be done and what ought not to be done, the difference between fear and fearlessness and bondage and liberation. The one, whose intellect is said to be rajasic, is not able to understand what is dharma and adharma and what is to be done and what is not to be done. The one, who understands adharma as dharma and looks at all things in a perverted manner, his intellect is tamasic in nature.”
 
Kṛṣṇa after having classified all actions and the performers of actions under three types of guṇa-s, now proceeds to classify intellect under the three types of guṇa-s.
 
When a person is able to distinguish between actions performed with desire and actions performed with intent to renounce, his intellect is said to be sattvic in nature. One has to have an intellect that has acquired the ability to discriminate. If the intellect is devoid of ability to discriminate, realising the Lord is not possible, as one should be able to discriminate between māyā and reality. The intellect is a product of mind and if the mind remains pure, the intellect automatically attains the capacity to discriminate. Realising the Self can happen through two ways. One is by performing actions like charity, rituals, etc prescribed by Scriptures. However, these actions are to be performed with no intent on the fruits of action. The other one is to renounce all the karmas and stay eternally connected with the Lord. Generally, one should enter the spiritual life by following the precepts of Scriptures and after gaining versatility over them, should enter the final stage of renunciation. True spiritual aspirant, blossoms forth as yogi, only if this path is strictly followed. Knowledge required for realisation can be attained only by following Scriptural dictums at the beginning of one’s spiritual life. In the case of total renunciation, a renouncer cannot perform any types of actions.A person with sattvic intellect has to understand the difference between the two and has to pursue these paths at the appropriate times. If one does not have knowledge to discriminate between the two, he will remain as a confused person. Therefore, in spiritual pursuit, mere intention is not enough; one has to have adequate knowledge and capacity to discriminate.
 
All actions are classified as good and bad according to the precepts of the Scriptures. One has to have sufficient knowledge of the Scriptures, so that he knows what can be done and what cannot be done. Fear is inherent nature of any being. One cannot fear for everything in life. A man with knowledge can discriminate between what is to be truly feared and what is not to be feared. Spiritually advanced person has the ability to discriminate and hence he will not fear for anyone except his own conscience. He is able to distinguish between bondage and liberation. Bondage causes impressions and he ensures that he never gets afflicted with impressions of materialistic life. As long as impressions remain, one cannot get liberated. A person, whose intellect is endowed with these quality is categorised as sattvic.
 
When a person’s intellect is not able to differentiate between dharma and adharma and the actions that are approved and unapproved by Scriptures is said to be rajasic in nature. A person with rajasic intellect cannot take appropriate decisions as his intellect is not endowed with the capacity to discriminate.
 
A person with tamasic intellect understands adharma as dharma. His mind is corrupted and afflicted with immorality and sensuality. This kind of intellect cannot be corrected. They always look at the world in a perverted manner. Most of the criminals continue to be criminals in their life because of tamasic intellect.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

BHAGAVAD GITA. CHAPTER XVIII. 26 - 28

Gita Series – 165: Chapter - XVIII. Verse 26 – 28
 
The doer, if free from attachment and ego, full of firmness and enthusiasm, unconcerned with success and failure is sattvic. The doer, who is full of attachment and greed, with intent on fruits of his actions, impure, vicious and affected by happiness and sorrow is rajasic. The doer, who is devoid of self-control, arrogant, deceitful, indulges in robbery, lazy, despondent and procrastinating is tamasic in nature.”
 
Kṛṣṇa further explains about the characteristics of three types of doers. All the actions depend upon the nature of the doer. When a person performs an action without the thought of the doership, with determination and with vibrancy and without concern for its result, he is said to be of sattvic quality. He fully understands the impermanency of his physical body. He also knows that neither his body nor the Self within is the doer. He is fully aware that all his actions are due to his karmic account. What he had sown in his previous births is being reaped by him, either good or bad in the present birth. He also knows that by staying connected to the Lord all the time, he does not accrue further karmas. He is a man of knowledge and is said to be sattvic in nature. One should not give room for malefic thoughts, as they are more dangerous than malefic actions.
 
When one performs an action with full of attachment and greed with impure and vicious mind and with intent on the fruits of his actions, he is said to be rajasic. He allows his mind to stay connected only with the results of his actions. If the result is not in his favour, he becomes angry and expresses his anguish in different ways. If the result of his action turns out to be in his favour, he becomes jubilant and expresses his happiness also in different ways. He is concerned only with the end result of an action and not with the action itself. He is always concerned with his ill-founded pride. If one decides to renounce the fruits of actions, a rajasic person becomes tamasic in nature.
 
The third category is the one who is devoid of self-control, full of egoistic arrogance. They are like animals and indulge in beastly actions. They are unfit to be classified as humans, as they are unable to control their senses. Self control is the quality that is unique to humans, which they are devoid of. They make their living by laying their hands on others hard earned money. They have no inclination to work and remain sedentary. They postpone all the actions indefinitely out of lethargy and laziness. They are classified as tamasic in nature. They are beyond salvation.
 
Kṛṣṇa classified all the actions under three guṇa-s in the previous section. In the present section, He classifies doers under three guṇa-s. Action is not possible without a doer. Action and the actor together determine the quality of an action. All the three guṇa-s are present in all the beings. But, one of the three guṇa-s alone predominates. A man is known by the predominant guṇa in him.

BHAGAVAD GITA. CHAPTER XVIII. 23 -25

Gita Series – 164: Chapter - XVIII. Verse 23 – 25
 
Those actions that are prescribed in Scriptures done without the thought of doership, without attachment, without prejudice and without concern for fruits of such actions are sattvic in nature. Those actions that are performed with immense strain, with intent on the fruits accruing out of such actions and with egotism are rajasic in nature. Those actions that are performed out of ignorance, beyond one’s capacity, without considering the consequences on self and others are tamasic in nature.”
 
All the actions are classified under the three guṇa-s. Those actions that are performed merely to follow the Scriptural directives, without the thought of doership, without concern for the fruits of actions, without prejudice are classified as sattvic in nature. One has to be unselfish while performing actions that are classified under this category. Actions are classified not on the basis of actions but on the intent of the performer. If a person chooses to do charity for publicity, it is not considered as sattvic in nature, even though the act of charity is sattivic.
 
If actions are performed beyond one’s capacity, both physical and financial, in order to reap the accruing benefits and in the process causing inconvenience to others are classified as rajasic in nature. Such acts are nothing but the arrogant exhibition of one’s pride. Any action done with a sense of doership does not confer merits. The end results of such actions are nothing physical and financial strain. If one performs any action beyond his capacity, he only accrues only bad karmas. Many festivities and rituals come under this category. Lord never wants anyone to propitiate Him with material offerings. He longs only for unstinted love.
 
Those actions that are performed out ignorance, with immense physical, mental and financial strain, causing hindrance to others, without thinking about the consequences of performing such acts are classified as tamasic in nature. By performing such stupefying acts, one ends up in financial debts and physical miseries. At that time, neither the Lord nor those who were with him, come to his rescue. This is a typical example of digging one’s own grave.
 
All the actions should be done without ego and pride, with humility and without causing inconvenience to others, within one’s physical and financial capabilities and without intent on the fruits of actions. Such actions should have the approval of the Scriptures. If any acts performed in contravention of this, ultimately yield only irreparable sorrows and miseries.

Monday, February 14, 2011

BHAGAVAD GITA. CHAPTER XVIII. 17 - 22

Gita Series – 163: Chapter - XVIII. Verse 17 – 22
 
The one, who does not have the thought of doership, whose mind is not attached to materialistic objects and actions, though destroys beings, is not affected by sins accruing out of such actions. The triad - knower, the knowledge and the object of knowledge induces an action and another triad - the agent, the organs and the activity forms the components of an action. As per Sāṃkhya philosophy, the knowledge, the action and the doer are classified as three kinds in accordance with the three types of guṇa-s. Listen to me carefully. That by which man perceives the undivided and imperishable Supreme in all the beings is sattvic in nature. That by which man perceives different beings of the universe as different entities is rajasic in nature. That by which man perceives only the body as if it were the whole, is irrational, trivial and without reasoning is tamasic in nature.”
 
If one becomes devoid of ego and remains unattached to materialistic objects, is absolved of all the sins resulting as a result of performing his actions, including killing his enemies. This statement is particularly addressed to Arjuna by the Lord, as Arjuna is hesitating to slay his enemies comprising of his cousins and teachers. Kṛṣṇa had already said that Arjuna merely remains as a tool in killing them as the period of their existence is already over, as determined by their own karmas. At this stage, if we say that Lord is responsible for their death, it would not be appropriate, as the Lord has clearly said that Self is not responsible for any of the actions. Every person creates his own karmas and according the accrued karma, he undergoes either pleasure or pain or both.
 
Karmas are of three types. One is the sum total of all the karmas acquired during different births. Out of this grand total, a portion is carved out to be spent in the present birth. The third one is the carried forward karma which is calculated as grand total +/- accrued karmas in the present birth. To attain liberation, the sum total of the karmas is to be zeroed. A person, who is not concerned with the fruits of his actions, but still performs his prescribed duties, does not accumulate karmas. Becoming unattached to the fruits of actions can happen only through a purified mind. As long as one suffers from attachment and desire, he continues to accumulate his karmas. His future karmas become more than the sum total of his karmas that he brought in at the time of the present birth.
 
Sāṃkhya philosophy begins by saying, “The absolute cessation of the threefold pain is the absolute aim of the Soul”. There are a number of instances where Sāṃkhya philosophy deals with triads. It is only the Sāṃkhya philosophy that enumerates tattva-s or principles. An action can be performed only if there are three factors present - knower, the knowledge and the object of knowledge. Knower is the one who is the doer, knowledge is the one with which the doer performs as an action and the object of knowledge is the one for which an action is performed. Let us take the example of realisation of the Self. Knower is the person who makes attempts to know the Self. Knowledge is the tool that he uses to realise the Self; meditation comes under this category. The object is the Self, for whose realisation the doer performs different actions, such as meditation. This triad is also called ‘the knowledge, the known and the knower’. Without all the three, no action can happen, hence it is said that these three induces an action.
 
There is another triad which is called the components of an action. They are the doer, the organs and the action itself. A doer has to perform an action with his organs. Let us take the example of walking. The doer walks (action) with his legs (organs). Sāṃkhya philosophy classifies the doer, the action and the knowledge into three categories as per the inherent guṇa-s, sattvic, rajasic and tamasic. The one who sees the entire creation as the Brahman is sattvic in nature. The one sees the creation as different entities is rajasic in nature. The one who gives importance only to the gross bodies is tamasic in nature and he is considered as a man of total ignorance. The reality is that the entire creation is nothing but the reflection of the Brahman. If one looks at his image in a mirror, he sees his image. The image is illusory and the person who sees his image is the reality. There exists no two persons, the one is the reality and the other is illusory. The one who believes that the image is another person, he is considered as ignorant. In the same way, the Brahman is seen everywhere and in every object. This explains the theory of omnipresence of the Lord.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

BHAGAVAD GITA. CHAPTER XVIII. 12 - 16

Gita Series – 162: Chapter - XVIII. Verse 12 – 16
 
The three kinds of fruits of actions – good, evil and mixed accrue after death, to those who have not renounced. But, for those who have renounced, nothing accrues after death. Arjuna, there are five types of causes for accomplishment of all actions, as per sāṅkhya yoga. They are the seat of action, the doer, sensory organs, functions of different organs and destiny. These five are the contributory factors for any actions, either right or wrong, performed by a person through his mind, speech and body. This being the reality, the one who thinks that only the Self is the doer is afflicted with perverted intelligence, does not understand the truth.”
 
For every action there is equivalent reaction that gets recorded in one’s karmic account. Karmic account not only records the results of one’s actions, but also his thoughts. Karmic afflictions of malicious thoughts are far more powerful than malicious actions. Since thoughts originate from the mind, it signifies the status of one’s mind. Unless the mind is purified, realisation and consequent liberation is not possible. When a soul is not liberated, it causes transmigrations. When a soul gets embodiment, the body undergoes pains and sufferings, but the soul remaining within remains the same, irrespective of the number of embodiments it takes due to the embedded karma. The sufferings and pains are only for the gross bodies and the mind. Karma does not cause agonies alone but also causes pleasures and happiness. It is also possible that one undergoes happiness and sorrow, either together or separately or alternatively. Karma is nothing but a tool that records one’s thoughts and actions, which is replayed either in the same birth or during subsequent births. There is no way that one can escape from the clutches of karma, except when one renounces the fruits of his actions. Actions do not cause karma, whereas the attachment to the end results of actions cause karmas. Hence, renunciation is prescribed as a remedy to avert karmas. The reactions in the form of karmas could be good, bad or neutral, depending upon the quality of actions performed without intent to renounce the fruits accruing to such actions. In order to attain liberation, one should not be concerned with the fruits of his actions.
 
For every action, there are five components. They are the field of action, the gross body; the doer, the subtle body, comprising of mind, intellect, consciousness and ego; sensory organs – organs of perception and action; functions of these organs like seeing, walking, etc; and destiny or the will of the Lord. Let us take an example as to how these five components together cause an action. The gross body is the shell of an automobile. The fuel is the subtle body. Gross and subtle bodies are interdependent and the one without the other is not possible. Without the fuel, the vehicle cannot move. The fuel alone does not make the vehicle to move. The fuel makes the engine to function and only the engine of the vehicle is the sensory organs. The engine does not make the vehicle to move. The kinetic energy produced by the engine makes the vehicle to move. This is the functionalities of the organs. The fifth one is the destiny. Destiny is nothing but the unfoldment of one’s karmic afflictions. Destiny decides the destination of a person and in the same way, the one who is at the wheels decides the destination of the vehicle. The concept of actions can be understood with ease with this analogy.
 
Effectively all the actions, either right or wrong, are performed through the perfect coordination between mind, speech and body. The mind decides, the speech conveys the decision of the mind and the body carries out the decision of the mind. For example, a person decides to visit his friend. He conveys his decision to his friend through a phone call and then drives to his friend’s place. Therefore, every action is decided by one’s own intellect and not by the Lord. Self is merely a witness to all the actions carried out at the command of the mind. Self neither influences nor modifies nor disapproves any of the actions. Every action done with ego gets recorded in one’s karmic account that gets unfolded either in this birth or in the subsequent births. If the same actions are done without ego, then karmic accounts does not get affected. If one believes that whatever is destined happens at the will of the Lord, then he is mistaken. One’s destiny is decided by his actions alone and the Lord never decides one’s destiny or fate. Everyone acts according to the law of karma, known as the Law of the Lord.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

BHAGAVAD GITA. CHAPTER XVIII. 7 - 11

Gita Series – 161: Chapter - XVIII. Verse 7 – 11
 
One should not stay away from those acts that are obligatory in nature. Non performance of such acts due to ignorance is tamasic in nature. When one renounces these actions out of bodily discomforts, it is rajasic in nature and the fruits of such acts do not accrue to him. When one performs such acts as his duty , without attachment to the fruits of such actions, is said to be sattvic in nature. The one who does not hate bad actions or likes good actions is truly wise with all his doubts cleared, and is said to be a man of true renunciation. Since all actions cannot be given up in totality as long as one exists with a gross body, the one who renounces the fruits of all his actions is a man of renunciation.”
 
Prescribed actions are of two kinds, optional and obligatory. Obligatory actions are those actions that are considered as essential. For example, maintaining one’s family is obligatory in nature. If a person finds it difficult to take care of his aged and ailing parents, it is a clear shirking of one’s obligatory duty. Such grave sins are considered as tamasic in nature, the worst among the guṇa-s. One’s obligatory duties should be performed without fail. Such responsibilities should never go unperformed due to laziness or bodily discomforts. These types of responsibilities are not carried out mainly because of laziness and lack of time. When one says that he does not have time, it means that he has not come out from the clutches of illusion and ignorance. If one is not able to manage his time, he cannot pursue right spiritual path. Spirituality is not meant for people who are lazy and docile in nature. It means that they are engulfed by darkness and it is difficult for them to move away from darkness. They become addicted to laziness and lethargy and get sunk to the deeper levels of ignorance. They are said to be tamasic in nature.
 
Kṛṣṇa makes a difference between non-performance of obligatory actions due to ignorance and laziness. Non-performance due to ignorance is tamasic in nature and non-performance due to sluggishness or any other bodily discomforts is rajasic in nature. In both these cases, fruits of any of his actions do not accrue to him. But the one who performs such acts as his duty without any intent on the fruits of such actions is said to be sattvic in nature, the best among the three guṇa-s. The one who fails to perform obligatory acts out of ignorance is rajasic, the one who fails to perform obligatory acts due to body discomforts that include lethargy and laziness is tamasic and the one who performs all the obligatory duties without any intent on the fruits of such acts is sattvic. Shirking one’s responsibilities out of ignorance, lethargy and laziness are frowned upon by Kṛṣṇa. The one, who performs all the prescribed duties without concern for the fruits of such actions is said to be a person of true renunciation.
 
There are two kinds of actions in the world. One is good actions and the other one is bad actions. Good and bad are relative terms from the point of view of others and not from the point of view of the person who performs such actions. Good actions pave way for peaceful coexistence and harmony and bad actions cause mental and physical afflictions on others and cause enmity and hatred. Bad actions invariably leave bitter impressions on the one who indulges in such acts. Kṛṣṇa says that the one who does not hate bad actions nor likes good actions is a truly renounced person. A truly renounced person is beyond likes and dislikes.
 
A person with a gross body cannot be without performing actions. Actions are the platform on which one’s karmic account is unfolded. If one performs an action with an eye on end result of that action, he is bound by karma. If an action is performed without intent on the end result of an action, irrespective of the end result, karmas that arise while performing such actions do not accrue to him. Therefore, one should continue to perform actions that are prescribed as precepts by Scriptures, unattached to fruits of such actions is a truly renounced person. Actions in the present context refer to one’s duties as a true human being and not the sacrificial rites and rituals.
 
One should also understand that non-performance of rituals and rites out of laziness does not permit a person to begin his spiritual journey. Spiritual journey should be commenced with a strong foundation. No progress can be made in spirituality if one merely says that God exists everywhere and there is no need to appease Him by performing rituals. Such thoughts are only hallucinatory in nature, as these thoughts are shallow and do not originate from strong affirmations from one’s experience.