Sunday, June 10, 2018

Two types of Bhakti (13/2/2018)

Today I would like to share some thoughts on two types of bhakti, namely sakama bhakti and nishkama bhakti.  
             We all know the word bhakti means devotion to Ishwara, the Ishwara about whom a bhakta has got some understanding, from the scriptures. That Ishwara or Bhagawan is the ultimate cause of universe, śriṣṭi sthiti laya kartā.
            The Bhagawan is sarvajñaḥ omniscient, sarva-śaktiḥ omnipotent etc,. A bhakta has got a general understanding, and the devotion towards such an Ishwara is called bhakti. And for the sake of practicing bhakti, our scriptures have given several forms for the Bhagawan, even though Bhagawan is only one. Several representative forms are given in the form of Shiva, Vishnu, Devi, etc,.
And according to the taste, a bhakta shows his devotion towards the desired iṣṭa devatā. This reverential attitude towards Bhagawan is bhakti. The attitude is bhakti and the worship is also called bhakti. And this bhakti alone is of two types, sakama bhakti and nishkama bhakti.
            What is sakama bhakti? When a bhakta offers reverential worship, and through that worship he wants to fulfil his various desires. He wants to employ the bhakti for the fulfilment of his desires.
            The desires can be either in the form of getting various things, or in the form of getting rid of various things. When a sakama bhakta uses this sakama bhakti, for the fulfillment of his desires, he has got a rough idea about the sakama bhakti. And the understanding of the sakama bhakti is based on various ideas, he has heard and gathered from different sources.
            What is the common understanding of sakama bhakti ? It is widely held understanding, unfortunately a wrong understanding, in many places a bhakta has heard that Bhagawan is omniscient, omnipotent and all compassionate. The combination is very important - omniscient, omnipotent and compassionate. We are all children of the Bhagawan. Because Bhagawan is the creator and we are bhaktas, when we appeal to the Bhagawan for anything, what is Bhagawan’s job?
            As the omniscient , omnipotent, compassionate Lord, whatever I appeal, Bhagawan will fulfill. Bhagawan can never say, “I cannot give”. When I seek, anything from local people, they can answer,I cannot afford”. But Bhagawan cannot give that answer. Therefore what is the expectation of the bhakta? Whatever I ask, it is Bhagawan’s job to just keep giving them.
            There is something fundamentally wrong about our understanding of sakama bhakti, therefore we should revise our understanding. According to the scriptures, sakama bhakti means sakama karma sahita bhakti. Always sakama bhakti should go along with a relevant karma or action. A relevant karma prescribed by the scriptures, based on the type of kāma. The scriptures do prescribe varieties of sakama karmāṇi. After performing those karmāṇi or actions, a sakama bhakta appeals for the karma phalam. So the appeal is always for sakama karma phalam. And when Bhagawan receives this appeal, Bhagawan gives the result not based on the appeal, but based on the type of karma performed. Because Bhagawan is defined as karma-phala-dātā. Therefore sakama bhakti should be understood as a type of karma only. And once I understand it is a karma, and Bhagawan will give the karma-phalam not according to my desire, but according to the law of karma.
            According to sakama bhakti which is a form of karma, the phalam is going to be dependent on the law of karma. So, the result may be in keeping with my expectation, or the result may not be in keeping with my expectation. The karma-phalam can be aniṣṭaṁ iṣṭaṁ miśraṁ ca trividhaṁ karmaṇaḥ. Therefore, sakama bhakti may become successful, or may not become successful. There is no guarantee, that our sakama bhakti, our sakama pūja or our sakama japa or our sakama pārāyaṇam will be always successful. This understanding must be very clear.
            Thus a sakama bhakta faces a very high risk of losing his very faith in God, if he doesn’t understand the principle of sakama bhakti, when his expectations fail. Therefore according to our scriptures, bhakti should never be confined to sakama bhakti only. In the Bhagavad Gita, Lord Krishna strongly criticizes, sakama bhaktas who totally rely upon sakama bhakti
yāmimāṁ puṣpitāṁ vācaṁ pravadantyavipaścitaḥ vedavādaratāḥ pārtha nānyadastīti vādinaḥ BG Verse 2-42
kāmātmānaḥ svargaparā janmakarmaphalapradām kriyāviśeṣabahulāṁ bhogaiśvaryagatiṁ prati BG Verse 2-43
bhogaiśvaryaprasaktānāṁ tayāpahṛtacetasām vyavasāyātmikā buddhiḥ samādhau na vidhīyate BG Verse 2-44
kāmaistaistairhṛtajñānāḥ prapadyante'nyadevatāḥ taṁ taṁ niyamamāsthāya prakṛtyā niyatāḥ svayā BG Verse 7-20
These sakama bhakta’s mind will never rest in peace. It is always with anxiety. When sakama bhakti doesn’t work, it would give rise to lot of anger and depression. Anger towards God himself. And in Bhagavad Gita, Lord Krishna warns that the success of sakama bhakti is highly doubtful, because always rules and regulations in sakama bhakti, are more rigid. Which deity should be worshipped? What naivedyam should be offered? Which type of flower can be offered? What should be the type of puja? If we violate the prescribed rules and regulations, result may not come as expected.
            Even with a little bit of practice of nishkama bhakti, one will see a sea of change in his/her mind. The difference will be in the degree of success, but it is always success. The degree of success is directly proportional to the time and effort I am willing to put in practicing this yoga-abhyāsa as prescribed in scriptures. And by practicing this, I seek mental strength rather than anything else. Scriptures point out as what type of transformation one can accomplish by practicing nishkama bhakti. It is so wonderful and attractive.
In Bhagavad Gita there is a chapter called, ‘bhakti-yoga’ in which Lord Krishna condenses the nishkama bhakti and yoga-abhyāsa in a set of 10 - 12 verses.
santuṣṭaḥ satataṁ yogī yatātmā dṛḍhaniścayaḥ mayyarpitamanobuddhiryo madbhaktaḥ sa me priyaḥ BG Verse 12-14
satataṁ santuṣṭaḥ - always happy and contented with whatever he can earn legitimately without comparing himself with others. He is happy with what he has. yasmānnodvijate loko lokānnodvijate ca yaḥ harṣāmarṣabhayodvegairmukto yaḥ sa ca me priyaḥ BG Verse 12-15  The one who doesn’t disturb the world also. He enjoys such a tender considerate mind that he doesn’t disturb the world. But more importantly he enjoys such a strong mind that he is not disturbed by the events of the world. Not only the world, events happening in the family, events happening to own body.
yo na hṛṣyati na dveṣṭi na śocati na kāṅkṣati śubhāśubhaparityāgī bhaktimānyaḥ sa me priyaḥ BG Verse 12-17 He doesn’t divide the world into subham and asubham. For him the whole creation is manifestation of Bhagawan. Therefore, there is no aśubham , everything is śubham and maṅgalam only. We don’t consider anything aśubham including death .
           mṛtyorbhibheti kiṁ mūḍhā kiṁ na vimuñcati”.
Are you afraid of death O fool!? Just by being afraid of death, do you think that death will leave you”? Biggest problem of the mind is bhayam. And the first benefit of nishkama bhakti is understanding and removal of this bhayam.
abhayaṁ satvasaṁśuddhiḥ jñāna yoga vyavasthitiḥ BG Verse 16-1
abhayaṁ pratiṣṭhāṁ vindate atha so'bhayaṁ(सोऽभयं) gato bhavati TU
Therefore sakama bhakti is ok, but more important is nishkama bhakti. It requires scriptural study, minimum Bhagavad Gita study. Jnanam is the remedy for bhayam and jnanam is the only medicine for bhayam. Thus understand sakama bhakti, understand nishkama bhakti. Follow both of them and enjoy the benefit of bhakti. On this auspicious śivarātri day (or night), may Lord Shiva help us in practice nishkama bhakti, study of scriptures, and discover a strong mind.

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

The glory of Sanatana Dharma - 2018

#73 Post: I wish you all a very happy, healthy, peaceful, prosperous, successful New Year 2018.
As New Year approaches, many people become curious to know, 'what topic Swāmĩjĩ is going to talk about?!'  My answer is definite: I cannot talk anything new! And, I don't hope to do that also. Whatever I talk, you already know. I am taking this opportunity only to share some thoughts from the scriptures, so that it is a loud remembrance of the teachings, together. That is my main intention. And incidentally, if there are non-students who happen to hear these talks, they may get some benefit and may be they will get inspired to study the scriptures. That is my only intention. Today’s topic is:  THE GLORY OF SANTANA DHARMA.
            Sanātana dharma is popularly known as Hinduism. sanātana dharma is a compound word, consisting of two words: sanātana and dharma. And the word dharma is a significant word, with many shades of meanings. And, I will refer to three meanings that are there is our tradition.
The first and formal definition of dharma given by the traditional ācāryā, Jaimini Mahaṛiṣhi in His pũrva mĩmāṃsa sũtrāṇi is, "codana laksanah  arthah dharmah" - anything revealed by vedā is called dharmaḥ. Arthaḥ means, the teachings or message. Coming from which source? codanā which means, Veda. Therefore dharmaḥ means, Vedic teaching. Then, the second and third meanings are based on the benefit of following the teachings of the Vedas. If the humanity or society follows the Vedic teachings, what are the benefits that we will get? One is, the benefit at the cosmic level, the outer level. And the other is, the benefit at the internal level. The benefit at external level is, maintenance of harmony and peace at all levels - at individual level, family level, social level, national level, international level - that which preserves peace and harmony is called dharmaḥ. jagataḥ dhāraṇāt, dharmaḥ. So the secondary meaning of dharma is, that which maintains harmony. The third meaning of dharma is, not only it maintains peace and harmony outside; but, it maintains peace and harmony within ourselves also. A dhārmic person - the one who follows Vedic teachings - can enjoy peace of mind, he can enjoy a joyous life also, which is called dharmaḥ; otherwise called, puṇyam at the internal level. All these three meanings are there for the word dharmaḥ or Hinduism. And, it is called sanātana; because, we believe that these teachings have been given by the Lord Himself, through the medium of Rishis
yo brahmāṇavidadhāti pũ̃rvayo vai vedāṃśca prahioti tasmai II
taghadevaṃ ātmabuddhiprakāśaṃ ṃummukurvai saranamaham  prapadye IIII [śvetāsvatara]
It has originated from the Lord Himself. Therefore, it does not have a beginning. And since the Lord is the originator, the Lord is the maintainer also of this dharma. In the Bhagavad Gĩtā[11.18] Arjunā says, "tvam avyayaśāśvata dharmagoptā" - you are the protector of this dharma. And since the Lord is the protector, it will survive rest of the time also! Therefore, even though sanātana dharma may face several challenges - throughout the history it has faced, even now it is facing - but, in spite of all this challenges this dharma will survive, eternally. It is beginning less and it will be endless also. And, being eternal it is called sanātanam.
            The second meaning of the word sanātanam is, that which is ever valid and therefore which never goes out of date. It can never become obsolete at any time. It is always valid not only in this generation; but, in the generations to come also it will remain valid! Therefore, eternal and ever valid teachings of the Vedas is sanātana dharma or Hinduism. 
            And, these teachings have been later elucidated, expanded and clarified by several later secondary scriptures also. Like smṛti, itihāsa, purāṇa etc. All those secondary scriptures are also considered to be part of the Veda only. Therefore, when I say Vedic teachings, it includes all the teachings of the supportive scriptures also. Now, the question is, what is the glory of these teachings? We have been learning the teachings of the scriptures for years. Therefore, the teachings are endless. But, today, being auspicious New Year day, (auspicious because, we have done a Puja) we will try to remember some of the salient teachings of the Vedas, especially the ones I appreciate.
The first and foremost teaching the Veda gives us is this : this entire world or universe in which we are born is the most wonderful infrastructure that any human being can conceive of.  Not only it supports Life; but, it has got all the resources for our physical growth, emotional growth, intellectual growth, spiritual growth - for all of them provision is there in this wonderful creation. Therefore, never take this creation for granted. As human beings we have got the intellectual resources to appreciate the wonder called this universe! If at all there is any ugliness in the creation, it is only within a small negligible area where human beings are there. That means, ugliness is our contribution! Otherwise, the cosmos, the universe is the most wonderful infrastructure, governed by countless principles, without violation! Not only physical principles; but, the law of karma, called the moral principles also. 
Whether you study at the micro level or at the macro level, World is the most wonderful infrastructure. manasāpy aciintya racanārupasya - which we cannot even remotely visualise! Whether you study it at the micro level or at the macro level, it is the most wonderful infrastructure. Therefore, the scriptures say that, as intelligent human beings we should give time to appreciate the glory of this creation. Therefore, Veda is never tired of describing the wonders of the universe. We have been seeing in taittirĩya upaniad first chapter - anuvāka 1.7.1 - several descriptions of the universe -
pthivyantarikadyaurdiśo''vāntaradiśaII agnirvāyurādityaścandramānakatrāṇi II āpa oadhayo vanaspataya ākāśa ātmāII ityadhibhutam II athādhyātmam II prāṇo vyāno''pāna udānasamānaII cakuśrotraano vāk tvak II carma māgsagsnāvāsthi majjāetad adhividha??ya rṣ̣iravocat II - anything you take in the external world; or, any organ you take in your own body, talk to the relevant specialist, they are still studying every organ, dividing and dividing and dividing, and every part of the organ requires life-long study and so they are not able to complete!! The more we look at the creation - outer or inner - it is a wonder. Therefore, may you - as an intelligent human being - appreciate this universe.
            Not only that. vela prescribes certain regular activities, in which we acknowledge the contribution and express our gratitude through a token offering of water, called tarpaṇam. One of the most popular - and, becoming unpopular - Vedic ritual is, nitya sandhyāvandanam. In that, right from young age, we are only asked to appreciate the glory and the wonder of this creation, which supports and nourishes us. And the centre of the solar system being Lord sũryā Himself, daily sandhyāvandanam is, the appreciation of the contribution of the Sun. Without Sun, life is impossible. "ādityam tarpayāmi, somam tarpayāmi, agārakam tarpayāmi, budhatarpayāmi" - planets we remember, the Sun we remember, water we remember, fire we remember. Appreciate! Acknowledge! Express gratitude! And, as even we appreciate this cosmos, this infrastructure more & more, this appreciation will get gradually converted in to admiration; and admiration to reverence. Not only I talk about that; but, as even I talk about that, my hands will join in reverence!
namasavitre jagadekacakue II jagatprsauti sthiti nāśa hetave II trayĩ̃mayāya triguṇātma dhārie II viriñci nārāyaa śań́karātmane II For me, Brahmā, Vishnu and Shiva are none other than the pratyakṣa sũrya devatā. Appreciation to admiration to reverence. This universe is not only a gift of the Lord, this universe is the very manifestation of the Lord Himself. Even in this Ganea pũjā, one of the words used is namo namo ganeāya namaste vivarũpiṇe - this whole universe is the manifestation of the Lord. Therefore, a Vedic person is one, according to whom, the appreciation of GOD and the vision of GOD does not require closing of the eyes but vision of GOD is by opening of the eyes. Therefore, 'where do I see GOD?' if you ask, a Hindu will say, 'where do I not see GOD?!' This divinisation of the world is the first and foremost lesson of the veda. Don't imagine GOD is an extra-cosmic thing, existing somewhere exclusively; but, it is the one available in & through in our every perception. This is the first lesson I like. sarvam viṣṇumayam jagat!
Then, the second lesson that the Veda gives is, this cosmic infrastructure has got an already inbuilt harmony in itself. We need not create harmony. We need not harmonise the world. And therefore, Veda tells the human being, that what is requested of you is (you can guess before I say) don't disturb this natural harmony. No new harmony is needed, it is inbuilt. This request is uniquely given to human being only; because, the only living being who can abuse, exploit and destroy this very infrastructure, the only living being who has the power to do is, the human being!! All the other living beings in the form of other animals and plants never violate the harmony. They have got instinctive and inbuilt program by which they live, grow and die, without disturbing the harmony. A vast forest will be in absolute harmony, until we the great ones enter! The vast ocean will be in wonderful harmony, until we enter. Badrinath, Kedaranath - all those places will be in wonderful harmony, until we enter. Wherever we go, we destroy the harmony; we destroy all other living beings; and in the process, we destroy ourselves!
            And therefore, Veda instructs, 'Oh human being may you be responsible!' All the dharma śāstrams and instructions are given not to the local buffalo; not to the cow or horse! All the instructions are given to the human beings only. And, all the values are reduced to two basic principles. "sloka??rdhena pravaksya??mi yadyuktam grantha kotibhih ppaarroopakāra puyāya,, pāpāya para pĩ̃ḍanam". So, never hurt the infrastructure or never disturb any living being which is part of this infrastructure. If you can contribute positively wonderful; para upakāra puyāya. If you can, you do. Otherwise, at least follow ahimsā to the maximum extent. Take to para upakāra, avoiding para apakāra. This is the foundation of all the values of life. "ahimaa??paramo dharmaḥ̣". Therefore, what is the second important Vedic lesson? Be a responsible member of this cosmic orchestra! The whole cosmos is a music, it is a rhythm, it is a harmony. This is a dhārmic life, which makes a person a Hindu.
            So, what is the second lesson? Be responsible. What is the first lesson? Gratefully appreciate & acknowledge this creation. The third lesson is, since we are drawing resources and support from this cosmic infrastructure, we will have to give back. As a taker from the cosmos, I have to give back also. As they talk about Corporate Social Responsibility. The humanity has the responsibility to contribute to the structure. For this contribution alone we have got a fantastic scheme, called paca mahāyajñāḥ, which I am never tired of talking about. Because, I consider it as the most glorious scheme. These 5 yajñās are - deva yajñaḥ - we start the day contemplating upon the cosmic wonderful infrastructure you have, looking upon it as the very body of viśvarũpa ĩvarā. In every mantra that is said. As I have quoted,
lapthivyātmane gandha??n dha??rayāmi II haṃākāśātmane pupaiḥ̣ pũ̃jayāmi II yavāyvātmane dhupaṃāghrāpayāmi II raagnyātmane dĩ̃padarśayāmi II vaamtātmane amtaahānaivedyanivedayāmii II sasarvātmane sarvopacārapujāṃsamarpayāmi
When we are doing various upacārā to the Lord, we are saying this. 'Oh Lord I am offering candanam, visualising you as the manifestation of pthivi. Similarly, every upacārā only reminds us that bhagavān is available in the form of the paca mahābhũtāni and their products. I gratefully acknowledge this gift and make a prayer that everyone who is part of this universal infrastructure are like my own family. "mātāca pārvatĩ̃ devi pitādevo maheśvaraḥ,, bāndhavāḥ
śiva bhaktāśca svadeśo bhuvana trayam". śivabhaktāśca or viṣṇubhaktāśca. The entire creation, with living and non-living beings, let there be peace and joy. "sarve bhavantu sukhinah". I start the day not by remembering my small family; but, I expand my mind to remember my largest family. If we start the day with deva yaja, my narrow mind will expand to accommodate the whole universe. This is deva yajñaḥ. Start the day with remembrance of the Lord; not, as a small idol in your room; but, the Lord as the live universal organism.
The second one is pitṛ yajñaḥ. GOD has given this infrastructure and this body that I have. The human body I have has come to me because of my parents. GOD is the sāmānya kāraṇam; parents are the vieṣa kāraṇam. Because of them only I am here and I am able to appreciate. Therefore, show your gratitude towards the parents. ''ma??ta??pitrbhya??m vapuso janaka??bhya??mm uda??nvaham namaskaromi viijñ̃a??na janakaa??bhya??m' - not only they have given me the body they have given me the wonderful education and culture. And therefore, I revere them; I do namaskāra every day; and take care of them in their old age. They supported me when I was a child. It is my responsibility to reverentially support them when they need me. This reverential service that I do to my parents is called pitṛ yajñaḥ, which is the responsibility of every single Hindu, the sanātana dharma follower. Because it is said, for every pāpam there is a prāyacitta; but, for ingratitude there is no prāyacitta! Therefore, be grateful to the macro; be grateful to your immediate source also, the parents. It is called pitṛ yaja. Not only while they are alive, even after their death we have to remember and acknowledge.
Then, the third one is manuṣya yajñaḥ. I remember the contribution of all other human beings -because of the farmers, grains are available; because of weavers, cloth is available. Food, clothing and shelter - they are all because of other human beings contributing to me. Therefore, in return, I have to share whatever resources I have with others, which is called manuṣya yajñaḥ.
Thereafter, bhũta yajñaḥ. Not only human beings contribute to our welfare, even animals and insects and worms! The lowly earth worms are very, very valuable! The earth worms are making the land fertile! Thus, from worms onwards, birds onwards, everything! Trees give us the oxygen we breathe. Thus, I am aware of the contribution of every plant and animal; and, I contribute to them also in whatever manner I can. That is called bhũta yajñaḥ.
Then, finally comes brahma yaja. I am enjoying these wonderful teachings because of the Vedic scriptures. And the scriptures are there because the ṛishis - in an endless paraṃparā - in spite of so many calamities and problems, they have preserved! Now there are so many technological advancements for preservation. But in the olden days, they had to preserve in the mind when even the writing had not come! The entire veda was received orally, preserved in the head and transmitted to the next generation! And even when the writings came - not our computer and all - they had to take the palm leaf and they had etch every letter. Remember, the Veda, the Rāmāyaṇa and Mahābhāratam [one lakh verses!] - all these, the ṛishis have preserved. The ācāryās have preserved. In spite of the onslaught of other people trying to destroy these also, somehow the scriptures have managed to survive. Therefore, I have to express my gratitude to the ṛishis and the ācāryās. That is called brahma yajñaḥ. brahma here means vedaḥ.
            Not only that I should acknowledge, I should do my best to preserve this knowledge for our own future generations. Thus, paca mahāyaja is the best scheme provided by the vedās themselves for contribution to this wonderful infrastructure. This is the third lesson. What is that? Be a contributor. So, be an appreciator. Be responsible.       And, the fourth and final Vedic lesson. The Vedas point out that, if only we receive, understand and assimilate the Vedic teaching and understand the principle by which the entire cosmic infrastructure is functioning, not only this knowledge will help us in living a meaningful life; but, this knowledge will be useful in going through the later part of our life also, which is ageing and dying. Which we generally don't think of when we are young. But that is also an integral part of living. And once we understand the infallible principles of the universe, we will know how to accept those also very gracefully, without resistance. Because, the greatest challenge in life is going to be confronting the old age and death. The best preparation is, assimilation of the cosmic laws. In the bhagavad gĩtā- which is an extract of the vedic teaching - Lord Krishna tells -
mātrāsparśāstu kaunteya śtoṣṇasukhadukhadāḥḥII āgamāpāyino''nityāstāṃstitikasvabhārata IIII [2.14] So, we have to understand and assimilate that everything that arrives in our life they all will have to leave us, one by one. The things that will come to us will have to go away from us or we have to go away. The people who enter our life one by one, also will have to leave one by one; or, we have to leave them. In our own body, every faculty in our body gradually came - right from conception onwards, various faculties of jānendriyams, karmendriyams - all these faculties gradually came. And, gradually these faculties will have to go also. Finally, the very body which we have acquired in time will have to go away! Every arrival will be followed by departure. Every union will be followed by separation. These are the infallible laws of this cosmic infrastructure. As long as we remember these laws, we can age gracefully and accept these events as very, very natural events. They are not extraordinary events happening only to me, about which I have to complain! Nothing can be complained about!
jātasya hi dhruvo mtyurdhruvajanma mtasya ca II tasmādaparihārye''rthena tvaśocitumarhasi IIII [2.27] Just as birth is an event in time, death is also an inevitable event in time. Once we have assimilated this, we will never look upon it as an amagalam thing. That is also part. Whether it is the death of the near and dear ones or my own death, I can gracefully accept, without complaint. Above all, Lord Krishna, beautifully tells, 'death is not the end of life'. Death is not the end of life! Krishna gives a fantastic definition for death by saying that, it is not an end of life; because, the vedic teaching is, life is never created or destroyed! Just as we say, matter can never be created or destroyed or energy can never be created or destroyed, so too, life also is never created or destroyed. Therefore, what is death? It is not end of life. Then, what? Krishna says -
dehino''sminyatthādehe kaumārayauvanajarāII tathādehāntaraprāptirdhirastatra na muhyat IIII [2.13]
- death is transition of life from one body to another. It is transition of life and it is not end of life. Then we will ask, 'why this transition?' Very simple. 'Because, after sometime this body becomes worn-out and is no more capable of expressing Life!' Therefore, naturally, the worn out body will have to be replaced by a fresh and new and efficient body. Krishna gives the example, 
vāsāṃsi jirṇāni yathāvihāya navāni ghṇātiinaro''parāṇi II tathāśarirāṇi vihāya jĩ̃rṇānyanyāni sayāti navāni dehi IIII [2.22] - when the clothing is worn out we get a new clothing. It is good news or bad news? It is a good news only! Similarly, death is not amagalam.
yyamāya dharmarājjāya mtyave cāntakāya ca II vaivasvatāya kālāya sarvabhuta kshayāya ca II auḍumbarāya dadhnāya nĩ̃lāya parameṭhine II vkodarāya citrāya citraguptāya vai namaIIII There is no amagalam in this creation! Thus, life is beautiful; growth is beautiful; ageing is beautiful; death is also wonderful!!
 We can go through all these with a cheerful face, if only we assimilate this message. If we don't have the emotional strength to go through these experiences, for that also the solution is there in the infrastructure. "Oṃ namo bhagavate anantāya" - let us chant the vara nāmā and draw strength from the very infinite creation; and with that strength we can go through all these things with emotional strength and a cheerful face. Therefore, I consider sanātana dharma is a wonderful gift from the Lord. We are fortunate that we are born into this. Let us thank GOD for this and try to follow the teachings. With this prayer I conclude my talk.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

The Vedic View of God - 9/07/2017

In the Bhagavad Gĩtā, in one particular ślokā, the Lord talks about four types of devotees:
"chatur-vidha bhajante mam, janah sukritino ’rjuna
arto jijnasur artharthijnani cha bharatarsabha"
There are four types of devotees, and they are: ārta bhaktaḥ, arthārthĩ bhaktaḥ, jijñāsu bhaktaḥ and ānĩ bhaktaḥ.  
Arta bhaktaḥ is one who is a devotee in distress facing varieties of problems. And he wants to worship GOD for freedom from his problems. He is a distressed bhaktā wanting to get freedom from his stress and distress. Whereas, arthārthĩ bhaktaḥ is one who does not have any particular problem now; but, he is engaged in various ventures, and in all of them he desperately wants success. May be an admission in a American university! So, varieties of things a person desires. Whatever he desires is called arthaḥ. arthaḥ means, wealth also. So, arthārthĩ is one who wants success in his seeking. Both ārta & arthārthĩ bhaktās want to worship GOD either to get things or get rid of things. In fact throughout our life, we are only busy either getting things or getting rid of things.
            And this bhaktās are so obsessed with his personal needs, he will worship GOD in any manner, suggested by anyone, at any place! If one person introduces a temple somewhere in a unique corner, he will go there and he will go to any temple any church any mosque or any place and offer any form of worship. His aim is: I want to somehow get what I want. I don't mind any type of pũjā.  They don't want to know 'who this blessed GOD.  But, they are not interested in knowing who this GOD is. How many GODs are there, whether GOD is a male or female or formless, all those details they are not interested. They go by pure faith. They do the pujas hoping their problems will be solved.  
            Thus, we have got many worshipers of GOD who are not interested in the knowledge of GOD or enquiry in to the nature of GOD. And Lord Krishna says, 'among these ārta and arthārthĩ bhaktās, some of them - in due course, (some of them, not all of them) may get sufficient puyam so that from ārta bhakti and arthārthĩ bhakti they become the third variety, a rare variety, called jijñāsu bhaktā. First, they want to know, 'is there a GOD at all?' Right from that, there is a problem; because, modern science - which is most powerful now - is rejecting the very existence of GOD. I should know what is GOD. I should know what is the nature of GOD. This desire comes. 'atatho brahma jijnasa?' (Brahma sũtra 1).
            And initially, it is a casual desire. It is not very serious. But, after some time, this desire becomes a burning desire. And he reads all kinds of books in his desire to know about God.  He finds that all those books are full of mystic experiences and mystic visions of GOD appearing, giving darśanam and disappearing; and miraculous events happening! God usually is full of mysticism, full of miracles, full of extra-ordinary experiences. But, all of them have got one common statement. They all say, 'you require a guru for guidance'.  And he begins guru shopping.
            Dayananda Swamiji calls it 'guru shopping'. Going from mall to mall, he looks for guru. And he has got his own concept of guru; and ultimately, he may identify someone or the other as the guru. According to his parameters, he fits in. Preferably, a person whose looks are extraordinary! Because, if a person is dealing with a mysterious GOD and mysterious visions, the person also should preferably look mysterious and extra-ordinary. But suppose, because of his extra-ordinary punyam, he gets a guru - looking ordinary or extra-ordinary - whatever the look may be, suppose he gets a guru who belongs to the vedic tradition. vaidika paramparāgata guruḥ, which guru paramparā we are worshiping on vyāsa pũjā day.
Nārāyanam aṇṇaamm padmabhuvam vasistham saktim ca tat putra parasaram ca vyasam suktam gaudapadam mahantam govinda yogaindra mathasya sisyam.
Sri Sankaracharya mathasya padmapadam ca hastamalakam ca sisyam tam totakam vartika karam anyan asmad gurun santatam anto’smi
So, if he finds traditional guru, coming in vaidika paramparā, he is very, very fortunate. Imagine this disciple approaches such a guru. And his expectations are based on all the GOD realisation books he had read. Therefore he thinks, the guru will teach him varieties of meditations, through which he can have mysterious experiences; mysterious visions he can get. Thus, he goes with an expectation of learning varieties of meditations. But a traditional guru, he never, never talks about meditation. Shisya is waiting; waiting with expectation. The guru's first statement is, 'GOD is the topic of this scriptures. Therefore, if you have to know GOD, first you should expose yourself to the teaching of the scriptures'. Thus, a traditional guru always introduces scriptural teaching; never meditation.
            All the scriptures are full of guru-śiṣyā dialogue; and in all of them, śiṣyā approaches the guru and surrenders. And the guru says, 'let us start learning'. Arjunā in the Gita surrenders to Krishna and says - "śisyaste’hm sadhi mam tvam prapanam - - 'please teach me'. Kaivalya upaniṣad that we are studying begins - "adhĩ̃hi bhagavan brahmavidyāṃ variṣṭhāṃ sadā sadbhiḥ sevyamanam nigudham  - 'may you teach'. Thus, traditional guru talks only about exposing oneself to the scriptural knowledge: "śrotavyah manavyah nidhidhyasitavyah" [bṛhadāraṇyakopaniṣat] - 'may you expose yourself to the teaching' and try to assimilate the Lord, as revealed by the scriptures.
            Thus, all the scriptural words are those that the guru systematically taught the disciple. So, the fundamental difference between a traditional guru, belonging to vedic paramparā, and any other guru, who does not belong to the paramparā is: tradition starts with teaching; others start with meditation. This is one of the fundamental differences.  
Once the teaching starts, all the scriptures reveal GOD in a particular form, which is unique to the prasthānatrayam. Whether it is the upaniṣad or it is the bhagavad gĩtā or it is brahma sũtram - which are the fundamental scriptures - a jijñāsu bhaktā, should be exposed to the contents of this teaching. Iśāvāsya upaniṣad says:  
Isavasyam ida sarvam yatkincha jagatvyam jagat
Tena tyaktena bhunjitha ma grdhah kasyasviddhanam
The 'vision of GOD' requires the conversion of our attitude towards this universe. The vision of god involves conversion of our attitude towards the very world we are experiencing. Or, in short, everything that we are experiencing. What is the conversion of the attitude? The upaniṣad says, before the scriptural study, we are looking at everything as world or universe. You have got jagat bhāvanā or prapañca bhāvanā. (bhāvanā means what? Attitude). What should you do? You have to replace the prapañca bhāvanā, displace the prapañca bhāvanā with ĩśvara bhāvanā. That means what? Everything that I am experiencing is none other than ĩśvarā and ĩśvarā only!
Purusa evaeda sarvam yadbhutam yacca bhavyam utamrtatvasyesanah [puruṣa sũktam] sarvam viṣṇumayam jagat.
In the viṣu sahasranāma, the first word of bhagavān is, viśvam. viśvam means, what? The whole universe. Therefore, in the vision of the veda, that we are looking at the world as a world is a mistake; but, we have to learn to look at the very universe as ĩśvaraḥ. Therefore, ĩśvara darśanam is not seeing a 'separate' ĩśvarā, who is other than the individual and world. ārta and arthārthĩ bhaktās think: ĩśvarā is a third entity other than jĩva and jagat. There is an extra-cosmic ĩśvarā, which extra-cosmic ĩśvarā I have to see, through mysterious experience. This is the approach of ārta arthārthĩ bhaktā.  
But, the vedic approach is, ĨŚVARA DARŚANAM IS SEEING THE WORLD AS ĨŚVARĀ. It is not a separate ĩśvara darśanam; but, learning to see the world itself as ĩśvarā. Therefore, when I systematically study the scriptures for a length of time, my idea of 'world' is replaced - whatever I experience is ĩśvarā. So, jĩva - jagat - ĩśvarā this is the triangle that I imagine. But, veda says, 'there is no jĩva - jagat - ĩśvarā triangle. Triangular format is wrong format'. And veda presents a new format, which is the preliminary binary format. It is individual and GOD alone. .
            So, vedic ĩśvara darśanam is, changing my perspective and trying to look at the whole universe with reverence. That is why in viṣṇu sahasranāma, even though we do pũjā to the deity, one of the dhyāna ślokās - which is the most popular one - is,
bhuḥ pādau yasya nābhrviyadasuranilascandra sũ̃ryau ca netre
karnavasah siro dyaurmukhamapi dahano yasya vasteyamabdhih
bhuḥ pādau - the earth is the feet of the Lord, chandra sũ̃ryau ca netre
- chandra and sũrya are the eyes of the Lord. Yasa nabhih viyat  - the entire ākāśa is the nāābhi of the Lord, karnau asuh - all the 10 directions are the ears of the Lord. So, you can never talk a secret; everywhere GOD's ears are there! Thus, description of ĩśvarā is, as viśvarũpa ĩśvarā.
 Iśvarā is world. world is ĩśvarā! So, drop you obsession with a separate ĩśvarā, other than the world. Once you think of a separate ĩśvarā - other than the world, you will get in to mysticism, you will get in to miracles. veda does not want us to get obsessed with mysticism and miracles and extraordinary visions.
What is the pursuit of GOD? Gradually learning to respect everything that I experience. Every man, every animal, every women, every insect, everything is none other than GOD. In dakṣniṇāmũrti stotram we read -
Bhuur-Ambhaamsy-Analo-[A]nilo-[A]mbaram-Aharnaatho Himaamshu Pumaan
Ity[i]-Aabhaati Cara-Acara-[A]atmakam-Idam Yasya-Eva Muurty[i]-Assttakam
Naanyat Kin.cana Vidyate Vimrshataam Yasmaat-Parasmaad-Vibhoh …..
The pañca bhũtās are the five limbs of the Lord; the Sun and all the stars are limbs of the Lord; all planets are limbs of the Lord. Every living being is the limb of the Lord. Yasya eva murthy astakam - the Lord is called aṣṭa mũrti ĩśvarā. Thus, developing a reverential attitude towards the universe is ĩśvara darśanam. The eyes are the same; but, the attitude behind the mind will have to be transformed. Even in the daily puja, which many people do mechanically, the same idea is conveyed. During every upachara, the mantra is chanted mechanically.  
Iam prithivyatmane gandha dhapayami, ham akastmane pushaih pujayami,  yam vayvatmane dhupamvyvatmane aghrapayami, ram agnyatmane dipam darshayami, vam amrtamane amrtam mahanaivedayami, sam sarvatmane sarvopacarapujam samarpayami.
Iam prithivyatmane gandha dhapayami - even though he applies chandanam on the idol or photo, he says, prithivyatmane - 'oh Lord, you are in the form of prithivi. You are the earth. ham akastmane pushaih pujayami - thus ākāśa is also you; vāyu is also you. Thus, ĩśvara darśanam according to veda is attitudinal transformation. Miracles we need need not go into, we need not debate. Miracles are there, okay. Not there, okay. But, we are not interested in miracles. Spiritual progress requires changing our attitude towards the universe. There is no other ĩśvara darśanam that veda prescribes, other than attitudinal transformation.  
This ĩśvara darśanam should lead to internal sanyāsa. Iśāvāsya upaniṣad says - "tena tyaktena bhunjitha ma grdhah kasya svid dhanam. So, may you renounce the notion that you are seeing the world. May you replace it with the attitude that you are experiencing GOD. When? All the time. Not with eyes closed. With all the sense organs open, declare, 'I am experiencing ĩśvarā all the time'. The entire human life is the rarest opportunity to appreciate the viśvarũpa ĩśvarā, all the time.
            Sandhyāvandana mantrās declare, "a satyena rajasa vartamano nivesayan amrtam martyam cha - 'the sun GOD is coming, let me worship'. Every paurṇamĩ is sacred for me; because, moon GOD is available as pũrṇa candraḥ. pũrṇa ĩśvaraḥ is always available.
            And once I appreciate 'everything belongs to ĩśvarā and means the totality', I have to renounce two important things. One is mamakāra, the idea that I am the owner of certain things. Since everything is ĩśvarā, everything belongs to ĩśvarā.  As I progress in my study, I begin to renounce the idea of ownership and controllership. I should remember, I use everything given by GOD for a few decades. I am only the user. I am never the owner. bhagavān is the owner. He has given only for lease. Lease rent we pay is puṇyam; because, manuṣya janma is due to puṇyam. That is why, only you can listen to the talk. Therefore, because of puṇyam, bhagavān has leased us the human body, in which, I get an opportunity for enjoying viśvarũpa ĩśvarā all the time. In the evening many people go to the beach; but, there also, they eat popcorn and miss the wonderful ocean, the sky, the stars! The whole creation is wonderful. Our own body is an extra-ordinary body. Instead of appreciating the viśvarũpa ĩśvarā, I get obsessed with a few things and develop mamakāra, ownership. And thinking that I can control everything, I worry about the future. But, I should remember, 'I can contribute little to the future as a puny little individual; what is going to happen in the future is decided by ĩśvarā alone'. Thus, once I renounce the idea of ownership and controllership and do whatever I can do in life, then future worry is also not there. Because, everything is ĩśvarā. Future events are also ĩśvarā.
nāsthā dharme na vasu-nicaye naiva kāmopabhoge, yad bhāvyaṁ tad bhavatu bhagavan pūrva-karmānurūpam, etat prārthyaṁ mama bahu mataṁ janma-janmāntare ’pi, tvat-pādāmbhoruha-yuga-gatā niścalā bhaktir astu,  [mukundamālā stotram] 'Oh Lord, whatever should happen in the creation according to the law of karma, let it all happen. I am ready; because, all events are nothing but the movements of the Lord alone'. That is why it is called naṭarāja nṛtyam, the cosmic dance. The whole movement of the universe, the rhythmic movement of the atom, rhythmic movement of the solar system, they are all looked upon as the dance of ĩśvarā. Therefore, I don't have to close my eyes for ĩśvara darśanam. I don't require miracles for ĩśvara darśanam. I only should change my bhāvanā, based on the scriptural teaching. Then, ownership is replaced by usership; controllership is replaced by contributorship. Life becomes an enjoyment. Then, the concept of mokṣa also will be different.
            Now, we don't look upon this creation as GOD. We look upon this as world. Therefore, we have a negative attitude. Hence, our concept of mokṣa is, running away from the world. 'Somehow I should die; never to come back here again'. That means, we hate the world; which is, totally against the vedic vision. We think, 'we have a world to be hated and we have a GOD somewhere to be loved'. We have to hate the world and run away from the world; 7th chapter to the 12th chapter. He says, 'I have got one higher nature and one lower nature, called parāprakṛti & aparāprakṛti. My own (my own means, bhagavān's) higher nature is CONSCIOUSNESS principle.
            parāprakṛti is chaitanyam. And, I have got a lower nature, which is called aparāprakṛti, which is matter'. And, we have to love the GOD who is somewhere else! In vaikuṇṭha or kailāsa, Vedas never accepts that. There is no hateable world and lovable GOD, as an opposite entity. The world you hate is none other than GOD. So, stop hating the world; start revering the world. Mokṣa is freedom from this ignorance.
            What ignorance? The world is to be renounced and I have to run to GOD! Run away from the World and run towards GOD - this concept of escapist. Dropping this ignorance and learning to appreciate the universe in its totality and variety, is binary format, jijñāsu bhaktā's attitude number one. What is binary format? Don't say, individual, world and GOD. Forget it. Replace it by individual and GOD alone. There is no such thing called world. "tena tyaktena bhunjitha - renounce the idea that, 'what I have is a hateable world'. Everything is lovable ĩśvarā only! Advesta sarvabhutanam maitrah karuna eva cha [gĩtā12-13] Then, if the jijñāsu bhaktā survives, ... because, those who are obsessed with mysticism and miracles they will not like this. Foolish they are as they renounce the vedic teaching and go in search of mystic guru.
            But, if the śiṣya is able to survive, then the guru gives further teaching, which is more profound, which I will summarise today, being gurupũrṇimā day.  Bhagavān gives in the gĩtā a very beautiful teaching - from the 7th chapter to the 12th chapter. He says, 'I have got one higher nature and one lower nature, called parāprakṛti & aparāprakṛti. My own [my own means, bhagavān's] higher nature is CONSCIOUSNESS principle. parāprakṛti is chaitanyam. And, I have got a lower nature, which is called aparāprakṛti, which is matter'.
            Thus, GOD consists of CONSCIOUSNESS PRINCIPLE and MATTER PRINCIPLE. Brahman andMāyā. parāprakṛti and aparāprakṛti. Everything that you experience is matter. Therefore, it comes under the inferior nature of GOD or aparāprakṛti. Why inferior? Because, it is mixed with pleasure and pain. It is a mixture of opposites. Still, it is also what? It is also ĩśvarā only. What ĩśvarā? aparāprakṛti ĩśvarā. And, there is a higher nature - parāprakṛti. That is brahman. And, how to see that parāprakṛti brahman? Lord kṛṣṇā says –
bhūmir-āpo ’nalo vāyu kha mano buddhir eva cha
ahankāra itīya
me bhinnā prakitir ahadhā (7.4)
apareyam itas tvanyā prakiti viddhi me parām
mahā-bāho yayeda dhāryate jagat (7.5)
The parāprakṛti, the higher nature, the CONSCIOUSNESS - is never an object of experience. It is available in the form of the very 'YOU', the experiencer of everything. Thus, the ultimate teaching is, The whole material universe, including the body and mind, is aparāprakṛti, the māyā part of ĩśvarā; and 'I', the consciousness principle, which is not an object of experience, that 'I', the sākṣi caitanyam is, parāprakṛti. Everything is GOD.  So, everything is to be revered. And whatever I experience is the lower GOD; it is material & changing. Whereas, 'I', the experiencer, is the higher GOD. This is the jñānĩ's binary format. '
            I' am brahman, the parāprakṛti. What I experience in front is māyā, the aparāprakṛti. Both the 'observer' and 'observed' put together is the 'total' ĩśvarā. 'I' the experiencer am GOD. Experienced world / matter is also GOD. The experiencer 'I' is CONSCIOUSNESS GOD. Experienced is MATTER GOD. So, everything requires only one attitude: Reverence & reverence.
            The whole life is a life of worship and reverence. Thus, the traditional vedic paramparā does not involve mysticism, does not involve miracles. Those who are interested let them go. But, our approach is what? I am GOD and whatever I experience is also GOD. sarvam viṣṇumayam jagat. sarvam śivamayam jagat. Finally, sarvam devĩmayam jagat.

This teaching between Guru and Shisya is through the wonderful guru paramparā. Whoever comes to this paramparā is fortunate and it is that paramparā we worship today. With these words I conclude my talk.