(POST-2 - VERSES 2,3,4,5)
Saturday, August 28, 2010
SRI ADI SANKARACHARYA
TEXT & COMMENTARY
In the first post on Atma Bodha, we have seen that the final result of Atma Bodha is eternal Joy. Not that we get eternal Joy – but that we become the eternal Joy itself. We have also seen the Anubandha chathustayam – (i) the subject matter of the book, (ii) its essential use or benefit, (iii) the eligibility criteria for seekers, to acquire the knowledge in the Book and (iv) the relationship of the user of the book to the use of the book and the subject matter in the book.
We will now proceed from the 2nd sloka:
2. Bodho anya-Sadhanebhyo Hi
Sakshan-Moksha Eka Sadhanam
Pakasya Vahnivat Jnanam
Vina Moksho Na Sidhyati
Which is the only direct path to Moksha or liberation? There may be many Sadhanas (efforts) which we do and more which can be done, all of which yield many good results. But, without Atma Jnanam, or knowledge of the Self, Moksha will always remain elusive.
It is like the FIRE which is considered the most essential requirement for cooking purpose – even though you do need other things like rice, vegetables, spices, utensils etc. If rice is not available, you can take wheat. If vegetables are not there, you can take cereals. But, if fire is not available, there is no alternative way of cooking. So, Fire is indispensable and is the direct cause of cooking.
Knowledge of the SELF is the direct cause of Moksha. Reason is – Knowledge or Jnanam is the only thing that can destroy Ignorance (Avidya or Maya) which is the one holding us away from liberation.
But, there is a purpose for other Sadhanas and austerities – which is the purification of the mind and heart and ensuring a proper mental condition for our spiritual growth. Receiving of Atma Jnanam becomes easier with these Sadhanas and austerities.
Every Sadhana (Effort) is intended to achieve a Sadhyam (a Target goal) – on achieving of which, the Sadhaka (Person making the efforts) becomes a Siddha (one who has attained the Goal).
These Sadhanas make you the Adhikaari, the entitled person to receive this supreme knowledge.
Let us also understand that there is no need to suffer any of these Sadhanas. Every Sadhana takes you to a higher point of JOY and not to a greater level of suffering.The causes of your suffering tend to drop off as you progress in each small or big sadhana.
3. Avirodhitayaa Karma
Karma (Action) cannot destroy Avidya (or Maya or ignorance) as Karma is not different from it and not opposed to it. For destroying darkness, we need its opposite, namely Light. When light is brought, darkness is automatically removed. It cannot stay. Likewise, Knowledge (Atma Jnanam) is to be brought - to destroy Ignorance or Avidya.
Karma or Action arises from desires of the Body, manas and Buddhi (Body – emotions – intellect complex) and is intended to fulfill their desires. So, Karma or action is within the sphere of Avidya or ignorance and cannot destroy Avidya.
Here, Knowledge always means Atma Jnanam and not any other learning. Ignorance means ignorance of Atman and not of other subjects. One may possess any amount of knowledge and intelligence on many other subjects. But, if he lacks Knowledge of the SELF, his Ignorance of SELF continues and he is bound by Maya or Avidya.
When some one attains Atma Jnanam, his need for karma drops off. What he does after attaining to Atma Jnanam has an altogether different quality of the “Eternal existence-consciousness-bliss” that he has known himself to be.
The seven great enemies which we have seen in earlier Posts ( Desire, Anger, Greed, Sex-Lust, Pride, Envy and Fear) which cause Maya in us will not touch the person who has attained to the ATMA JNANAM. He is always joyful.
The second sloka emphasizes that any amount of Action or Karma is not going to remove Avidya or Ignorance from us. Only Knowledge of SELF leads to removal / liberation from Avidya or Ignorance. Adi Sankara emphasizes this aspect in all his writings.
It is never stated that Karma is useless. It is only useless to remove Avidya. But, proper Karma makes one an Adhikari who is eligible for the knowledge of self.
4. Paricchinna iva ajnanat
Tannase Sati Kevalah
Swayam Prakasate hi Aatma
Because of Ignorance (Ajnana or Avidya), we feel many limitations on the SELF or the Atman. When this Ignorance (Ajnana) is destroyed by knowledge of the self, Atma is instantly visualized just as Sun appears to be emerging when dark clouds are dispersed.
Just as the true nature and brilliance of Sun is hidden by the clouds, the true nature of the eternal and self-luminous Atman is hidden by Ignorance.
This ignorance makes it appear that the all pervading Atman is a physical and a finite being. The Ignorance gives it various names (Naama) and shapes (Roopa). The Naama roopas mislead us into believing that Atman is such a name and such a shape.
But, in reality, Atman is like the self luminous SUN, which can never be hidden by a cloud.The Ignorance (Or the clouds) are in our mind in the shape of Naama roopas – and nowhere near the Atman (or the SUN).
This ignorance is to be destroyed by means of various processes of acquiring knowledge such as Sravanam (Listening from Guru), Mananam (Remembering it) and Nidhi dhyasanam (deep contemplation) and realization of the truth. For this purpose only, the Vedas and Upanisads provide us the vedic mahavakyas ( the Great truths) like Aham Brahmasmi (I am Brahman) and Prajnanam Brahma (Brahman is pure consciousness) and so on. These Mahavakas are mentioned in an earlier Blogpost on Adi Sankara’s Maneesha Panchakam (2 Posts).
5. Ajnana Kalusham Jeevam
Krutwa Jnanam Swayam Nasyet
The Jeeva (or the Jeevathma, the soul within the body and identifying with the body-mind complex) is rendered impure by Ignorance (Avidya). It is therefore purified by the acquiring of the knowledge of the Self. After purifying the Jeeva, the Jnanam dissolves itself and disappears as it is no more needed.
This is compared to a cleansing Nut of a tree (Kataka nut) which when dropped in impure water, cleanses the impurities suspended in the muddy water and then dissolves itself and disappears.
We have seen in earlier Posts what seven great enemies spoil our lives and render them impure and dirty. Atma Jnanam instantly removes these seven great enemies of mankind.
This means, the Maya enveloping us falls off from us. We (the Atman) begin to shine as our true self.
In this process also, initially, we find three entities – the one who seeks to Know (called Jnaatha), the process of seeking (Jneyam) and the the Knowledge sought and known (Jnanam). Once the Atma Jnanam is attained, these three dissolve totally as mere reflections of your true self. There is no more a Jnaatha seeking a a Jnanam through a jneyam. All are dissolved. You the Atman shine as your true self.
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SRI ADI SANKARACHARYA
TEXT & COMMENTARY
I hereby Salute
the Great lineage of
The Gurus starting
With the most illustrious Guru
In the middle of this lineage
And Upto my Gurus
=and seek from them
The knowledge of the SELF=
In Indian mythology and spirituality, Siva is considered the first Yogi and the first Guru who taught the ultimate knowledge of the Brahman.
In many ancient texts, Siva is stated to have revealed this knowledge first to his consort, Paravathi and thence to the ancient sages and from them to others.
Siva is himself the most profound consummation of ALL THE DUALITIES in the world. We will discuss Siva in more detail in a future blog Post.
In the great lineage of Gurus of this ancient wisdom, after Siva, the next most illustrous guru is undoubtedly the great saint, Adi Sankaracharya, who, many consider as the incarnation of Siva himself. The physical, Intellectual and meta-physical (superhuman) achievements of Adi Sankaracharya are the most astounding and unparalleled in the last 2000 years and more.
His elucidations on the Upanisads, his Prakarana Grandhas on many related topics and his Prayers and Stotrams are of such great beauty and clarity that they have become the PRAMANIC TEXTS – texts on which to rely in discussions, teaching, and living and all other purposes of importance.
“WHO AM I?” is one eternal question that has been answered convincingly in many of his elucidatory texts on Upanisads and original prakarana Grandhas for the benefit of all the seekers of liberation (Moksha). The whole of Advaitha philosophy centres around this one question.
Atma bodha is such an elucidatory text, which brings together the knowledge of the self that is available in scattered form over many Upanisads.
Great Gurus of contemporary times teach Atma Bodha, the knowledge of the SELF, to the seekers of this knowledge.
In this Blog Post and some more to come, we will consider the Pramanic text, ATMA BODHA, and strive to understand the knowledge of the self.
(KNOWLEDGE OF THE SELF)
Atma Bodha is for all practical purposes – a continuation of our ‘WHO AM I?” series of posts. As the discerning reader understands, the whole spiritual seeking revolves round this one question. There is simply no point in asking or answering other questions such as “who is God? Where is God?” and so on – until we understand our SELF.
Why is it so important to answer this particular question?
All religions of the world want us to believe that their particular teachiong has been handed down by the ALMIGHTY himself. If all of them teach the same – we may have no particular difficulty in accepting this fact and accepting what they say.
But, all of them differ from each other in a most fundamental manner in many aspects.
So, we may not find it easy to know which one to accept and which to reject, or, whether to accept all, and if so, how, since they all differ so fundamentally!
There is ONE PARTICULAR BOOK that is undoubtedly written by the ALMIGHTY himself – which no one on earth can deny!
That Book is YOU. That Book is I.
All facts of the Universe are securely hidden in the “I” and the “I” is available to us at all times for the closest possible examination.
The ancient sages have found that answering the question WHO AM I? leads us to all answers to all other fundamental questions too.
Therefore, this question occupies the utmost primacy in the Upanisads, which are therefore, so fundamentally different in their teaching methods from the VEDAS.
The teachings on WHO AM I is beyond religion, and, beyond all religions.Once this question’s answer is found, one does not have any other questions to answer! It is so fundamental and so Ultimate.
It is the only question!
It is for this reason, that we are concentrating on what the great masters have taught us on this eternal question. In this Post, we are therefore looking at what Adi Sankara himself says on this question and how he answers this question.
Atma Bodha consists of 68 slokas.
It starts with Anubandha chathustaya, the 4 closely related aspects of the subject matter of this book and ends finally with extolling the one with ATMA JNANA, the one who has attained to the knowledge of the self.
We will now start with the first sloka:
1. Tapobhih Ksheenapaapaanaam
As already said, this first sloka indicates the ANUBANDHA CHATHUSTAYAM for the knowledge contained in this Book.
In the most ancient texts of knowledge, it was customary to lay down at the very start of the book, the four important matters connected with the book, namely, (i) the subject matter of the book, (ii) its essential use or benefit (iii) the eligibility criteria for seekers of the knowledge in the Book and (iv) the relationship of the user (the seeker) to the use of the book and the subject matter in the book.
These Fourfold details are stated at the very beginning and is considered essential.
Firstly, by merely looking at the subject matter mentioned in the first sloka – you either pick up the Book or drop the Book! Either it is for you or it is not for you. You know instantly.
Secondly, the USE or benefit indicated here gives better understanding of what you will get from the subject matter. If the use or benefit mentioned is not some thing which you desire, you can safely skip the book – as the book is not for you. But if you earnestly want that benefit, then, the knowledge of the book is for YOU. Texts like Atma Bodha are not connected with earning money, wealth, enjoying worldly pleasures and so on. So, people seeking such aspects will not get any assistance from the Book.
Thirdly, the qualifications for going through a strenuous exercise of undergoing the teaching and acquiring the knowledge of a book like ATMA BODHA needs that the student (and also the teacher) must have certain necessary qualifications. The student must have these prescribed qualifications for undergoing the course of ATMA BODHA. The student must go to a teacher who has these necessary qualifications and attainments. The teachers will ensure that a desiring student acquires the necessary qualifications laid down in the book before teaching the subject matter to the eligible student. Evidently, Many people are not ripe for certain types of knowledge.
Fourthly, how are the User, the use, the subject matter and the qualifications inter-related? All these must be closely linked to each other The subject matter, the benefit intended and the qualifications prescribed must not be at variance to each other. Let us see the Anubandha chathustaya mentioned in the first sloka of ATMA BODHA:
The SUBJECT MATTER (vishayaha) in the book is ATMA BODHA, or knowledge of the self.
What is its USE (prayojanaha)? Its use is Liberation (or Moksha) from all bondages, sufferings and the cycle of births and deaths.
Who is the ELIGIBLE PERSON (Adhikaari) for this Knowledge ? One who has got rid of all of sins by great Penance (Taphaha), one who is always with a tranquil mind, one who is beyond the dualities of likes and dislikes and one who is desirous of liberation is the eligible person for this knowledge.
What is the RELATIONSHIP between the Adhikari and the Vishaya? The Adhikaari is desirous of Moksha or Liberation, and the subject matter of knowledge of self or Atma Bodha leads precisely to such Moksha or liberation, assuming that the Adhikaari has the necessary qualifications laid down for Atma Bodha.
Now, one generalized feeling in many people is that such knowledge is unnecessarily kept secret by the ancient people from the general masses.
Let us for a moment assume this to be so. As we go through the entire Atma Bodha, we will see again and again how keeping a peaceful and tranquil mind and being free from likes and dislikes is essential for Moksha or liberation. There is no way, you can take one step forward, unless you are at least willing to keep a tranquil mind and keep down your likes and dislikes.
How many of us are really ready for this? Specifically - getting rid of our LIKES and DISLIKES! How many of us WANT to go through a training and process of dropping all of our likes and all of our dislikes? Many of us may feel, our whole life goes waste! Dropping likes and dislikes involves great penance – a lifelong one at that. At the very thought of this – many people will drop off from ATMA BODHA training.
The question therefore arises – why Atma Bodha – which cannot be achieved by even one in a Crore of people?
Let us look at the other side of life. How many achieve the Olympic gold medal for 100 metres running? One in the whole world of several hundreds of Crores of people. But, many people try to achieve the necessary qualifications for it. Yet many other people enjoy watching the efforts and achievements of these super achievers, whether they win the gold medal or not. The achievers necessarily need to go through rigorous training and practice, cultivate certain life style and avoid certain life style and so on. It is much like Atma Bodha training.
Unlike the ancient days – when so many people were striving for Moksha, today, the percentage of Moksha seekers is pretty less. The TV and other media, the life style we live in and several other factors of today’s life create and sustain in us, too many likes and dislikes and a stormy, petulant, restless mind.
But, on the other and more positive side, FOR THE FIRST TIME IN HUMAN HISTORY, the print media and the audio visual media bring to us the texts, elucidations etc of great knowledge from the great masters at our door step – almost for free. These are definitely not substitutes for sitting before a LIVE GURU and having his graceful guidance.
Yet, the present day books and audio visual aids do have the effect of focusing our attention on the more important goals of life and lessening the distractions to us caused by modern media, towards other, less worthy goals. It makes our life a lot more sane and meaningful.
It is said – Moksha is the goal, and we do need to understand what MOKSHA really is. But, the preparation for Moksha may go on in our life for days, months, years, or even for several births depending on the individual aspirant’s progress and his devotion.
The books and audio visual aids are also preparatory steps today and these were not available in the ancient days. One should consider himself / herself extremely fortunate – if one earnestly goes through texts like Atma Bodha and commentaries thereon or listens to them on audio visual media.
If you have come to this Blog Post, or have listened to any great Gurus, or have seriously read books, commentaries, audios, audio visuals etc on ATMA BODHA, it is not by mere chance, but, because you somehow, are a seeker of this knowledge and you somehow know that every other knowledge is not going to satisfy you.
But, to repeat a caution, none of these can be substitutes for sitting before the Guru and learning from him. However, all these of our efforts may bring the right Guru nearer to us.
Should one renounce all his earthly life and its pleasures immediately on taking up ATMA BODHA? Did Lord Krishna renounce any pleasures or any activity? Kindly see in one of the previous Posts, what Lord Krishna says. He did not renounce any thing. We just need to understand everything and play our part with the understanding of WHO AM I.
Did the great sage Vasista Maharshi renounce any thing? No, Not at all. Do you know that he lived in the deepest forests along with his wife, Arundhathi and begot one hundred children through her? And, he was the one who taught Lord Rama this essential knowledge through the famous Yoga Vasista teachings.
Did Lord Siva himself renounce them? He too hasn’t renounced any thing. In fact, there is no way you can renounce anything. Except a thing called ATTACHMENT!
You must only play your part with total awareness and self knowledge. And, your part is dictated by the moment.
Swami Paramarthananda talks of MUKTHI – as Nithya Mukthi – you get liberated as you are, where you are and there is no renouncement and running away from any where to any where! Mukthi is not after death! It is as you are- that is, even as you are alive! The most important factor is you start enjoying life much more, not less. You become the personification of joy. You come out of the influence of Maya, which is the root cause of all of your sorrows. Mukthi is when all sorrows fall off from you.
Do you want that state where you have no sorrows and you are the personification of Joy? Yes. You do. Just as I do. You and I won’t lose a thing at all in life by this knowledge of the self – except our sufferings, our sorrows, our ignorance.
Let us therefore proceed further to listen to Adi Sankara, through his Atma Bodha – from Verse.2
P.S: As always, this Blog will be extremely grateful to the readers for their suggestions, comments, CORRECTIONS and improvements - and invites the same from each reader.
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Monday, August 23, 2010
WHO AM I?
To the same question of WHO AM I? - one of our most recent saint of Saints , the venerable Saint - Ramana Maharshi has replied as follows :
The physical body, composed of the seven dhatus, is not 'I'.
· The five sense organs and the five types of perception known through the senses are not 'I'.
· The five parts of the body which act and their functions are not 'I'.
· The five vital airs such as prana, which perform the five vital functions such as respiration, are not 'I'.
· Even the mind that thinks is not 'I'.
· In the state of deep sleep vishaya vasanas remain. Devoid of sensory knowledge and activity, even this [state] is not 'I'.
· After negating all of the above as 'not I, not I', the knowledge that alone remains is itself 'I'. The nature of knowledge is sat-chit-ananda [being-consciousness-bliss].
These are extracted from texts compiled by well respected disciples of Ramana Maharshi. We have taken only this one question of who am I and answer to it which is representative of the path to be taken by the SEEKERS OF THE SELF. The saint has clarified many related aspects, which we will take up separately.
To us, Seeking our own self appears to be a contradiction. What is the need to seek our own SELF? Are we not our SELF- we tend to ask? Very Reasonable questions to ask.
That is the reason we have earlier dealt with how little we understand the functioning of our body - mind - emotions complex.
You know the food you eat or the water you drink, till it crosses your tongue. Nothing beyond that. All other things happen inside you constantly and mechanically. It is not left to you to understand or regulate the process beyond that. The breathing process, even at the input stage itself, is automatic and not left to your control. Whether you are awake, asleep or dreaming – breathing goes on happening automatically. Your thoughts too happen automatically – you can’t stop them at all. You can’t avoid a thought by your will. That too is automatic and beyond your control. Your emotions too, are automatic. You do some thing externally. Either happiness or sorrow arises in you automatically. Anger arises in you automatically. Greed, envy, pride etc arise in you automatically on the happening of an external event. You do not generate the emotions in you. They happen inside.
What you know as body-mind-emotions complex itself is almost self regulatory requiring very little of control and regulation from you. Yes. In that, you do have about 5% intervention capability – as you can control input mechanisms to some extent and assist further by keeping the body and mind a little fit.
But, your five senses while assisting you in this job – also create HABITS, and make you a slave to them. These then become the vishaya vasanas that the saints talk about. Vishaya stands for objects (& persons) and Vasanas stands for habits, addictions and obsessions.
The Five senses and the vishaya vasanas that they create, always distract you from yourself to outside objects and persons. We have seen from the previous blog Posts how the seven great Thieves in you (Desire, Anger, Greed, Sex Instinct, Pride, Envy and Fear) induce the spell of MAYA around you.
Vishaya Vasanas arise on account of these seven great thieves. In simpler terms – these can be reduced to two vasanas – Raaga (Likes) and Dvesha (Dislikes). The seven great thieves in us fall under these two categories – Raaga and Dvesha.
So, the constant effort of a seeker of truth, or seeker of Self is – to avoid Raaga and Dvesha (Likes and Dislikes) both.
Look at everything with equanimity. Can you like some one or some thing, which is ever changing? Next moment, or, tomorrow, or next year, it is not the same person or same thing that you liked earlier. Will you like it now also or not, after it has changed a lot? Likewise, will you dislike some one or some thing – after they have changed a lot? And every thing and every person is ever changing – in their body, mind and emotions – which were the only reasons why like or disliked them once!! Modern science also acknowledges that CHANGE IS THE ONLY CONSTANT in this world.
There is another shocking truth about Raaga and Dvesha. Both are creators of Sorrow and Misery. Dvesha from moment one – which is very clear. Raga from moment two – which is not very clear. But, both do create sorrow and misery.
Ravana invited sorrow by raaga – not by Dvesha. Rama did not bring sorrow to Ravana. Ravana himself did it by his act of Raaga. Raaga creates sorrow and misery some times directly and some times indirectly, say, from moment two. But dislikes create them directly, from moment one. Let us be very clear here – that UNCONDITIONAL LOVE – is not Raaga or Dvesha. It is beyond that.
Once you clearly know (i) that everything and every person is changing (ii) that there is no reason either to like or dislike any of them and (iii) that the likes and dislikes are responsible for all of your sorrow and misery – the next thing that arises is – what is the sub-stratum against which You perceive the changing things and persons.
There is some thing in YOU beyond your body – mind - emotions complex – and that some thing is Ever unchanging, compared to the mind – body – emotions complex which is ever changing.
You and I must find out, locate, perceive and identify that substratum against which all changes are perceived by us. That sub stratum is Who you are, and who I am!!
That is why, the saints urge us : Be a witness; Be a Sakshi of your mind, your body and your emotions always.
Witness them; Witness them;Witness them.
All Yoga Is that. In being a witness, you gradually erase the seven great thieves in you, the two dualities of Raaga and Dvesha and the veil of ignorance (or Maya) that surrounds your five senses..
All saints say – your journey as trying to be a witness continues until you discover your SWAROOPA, or, Your true self – which is “Sat – Chit – Ananda”. Then YOU don’t need to try. You, in your swaroopa, will take charge.
PS : Learned readers are requested to contribute their wisdom, ideas, comments, corrections etc – which will be gratefully accepted.
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Saturday, August 14, 2010
WHO AM I
(POST 6) =
In the previous five Posts on the fundamental question of our life, “WHO AM I?”, we examined many aspects.
We examined – how our bodies, intellect and emotions are ever changing and perishing; yet, how our genetic information is carried to future generations; why we look like our grand fathers and grandmothers and they in turn look like their grand fathers and grand mothers; and by the same logic, how our grandchildren will look much like us; how, even their grand children will carry our features, our habits, our weaknesses and our diseases.
So some thing in us survives beyond our bodies, intellect and emotions. We are not able to think at the level of our Genes and if we can, probably we will know how our continuity through generations is maintained.
We also saw how most parts of our body organs like our heart, kidneys etc, etc are all put away out of our control and how that is good for us.
We saw the four-fold qualifications needed to unravel the question “WHO AM I?” namely-
1. The capacity to discriminate between the permanent and the impermanent.
2. Dispassion to the enjoyments of the fruits of one's actions, during this life and thereafter.
3. Six fold qualities of – (i) Control of the mind, (ii) control of sense organs, the external faculties of perception like eyes etc, (iii) ability to perform one's duties (enthusiastically, without any sense of burden),(iv) ability to endure the pairs of opposites like heat & cold, pleasure & pain etc, (v) Faith in the words of Guru, and Scriptures, and (vi) ability for single minded focus on goals
4. Yearning for liberation.
We saw that these are not as difficult as they look like and how they tend to enhance our joy as we move on this path.
We saw how all of our desires fall under three categories (1) Desire to be Eternal (Existence) (2) Desire to know everything (Consciousness) and (3) Desire to be Happy (Bliss). These are really our yearning for SAT-CHIT-ANANDA.
We search outside of us for satisfaction of all wants. We try to accumulate more and more of outside things, which are small parts of the five great universal forces of Space, Air, Fire, Water and Earth.
Who within us, desires more of these? The same 5 universal forces, are also within us and are desiring more and more of themselves from outside. How much ever you accumulate these, there will never be satisfaction. That which is outside is always much more and much bigger than that which is inside – even after lifelong accumulation. So, the desire for more is never fully satisfying. Dissatisfaction remains always. Why? It is not YOU who needs this union. The MAYA that is governing your body-intellect-emotions complex is urging you constantly. And, you are racing at the behest of this Maya, all through your life.
So, what is MAYA? We saw three stories about MAYA.
(1) How Indra, the King of Gods, became a PIG, loved PIG’s life more than heavenly life – until the Pig was ripped apart and he was dragged out from it.
(2) How the divine sage, Narada fell in deep love with a lady, led family life, lost the family life and by the grace of Lord Krishna come out of Maya again.
(3) How Arjuna was killed by his own son, and was redeemed back to life by Lord Krishna through sacrificing the fruits of his Brahmacharya vrit , how his wife Sathya Bhama objects to this and how all the people around understand the Maya later and get Lord Krishna’s blessings.
There are many beautiful stories of Maya. So, what is that Maya which sits in us and is responsible for all ups and downs of our life, our sorrows and pleasures, our angers and friendships, our loves and hates, our actions and inactions and our lives and deaths?
There is a saying “kama, kridha, lobha, moha, madha, matsaryanaam Dhehe thistathi taskaraaha…”
It means - there are six thieves residing in our bodies and robbing ALL OF OUR JOY. These are - Desire, Anger, Greed, Sex Obsession, Pride and Envy. You must be wary of these robbers of your joy. You can add FEAR also to this list. It completes the fearsome seven.
Simply put, MAYA is equivalent to these fearsome seven. There are of course other definitions of Maya, which we will see later.
DESIRE : When you desire madly, you come under Maya. You can’t distinguish between good and bad. For succeeding in business or profession, you ignore your wife, husband or children, and your own health. There is this saying – that first you will earn wealth losing all health, and then lose all wealth trying to regain health and at the end, you lose both. You neglect you parents to do every thing for your children, and then, the your children will neglect you!
Forget the outside results. Examine your internal thoughts and feelings all the time when you desire some thing. You are feverishly running and spending your whole life after this desire. When you attain the desire – you find, much of your life is gone. Your mind is habituated to running after some desire or other - ALL YOUR LIFE. Maya makes you run after desires always. Buddha says – you are busy collecting a lot of DEBRIS always – until you yourself become DEBRIS. Whatever you are collecting – is debris only. Think of that. MAYA is making you run!! Desire is the cause of all suffering – said Buddha and Lord Krishna both. Desire is MAYA. What is the antidote? Just Be Conscious. Be totally aware. Desire dissolves in awareness. Maya is powerless to affect any one who is TOTALLY AWARE. In awareness, whatever you do – you are joyous, which is your natural self, away from the MAYA.
ANGER : When you are angry, you turn temporarily mad – in proportion to your anger. In anger, a mother can kill her own child. You will commit your life’s biggest mistakes in anger. Angry man loses friends and makes enemies all around. Angry man dies of anger. Anger is Maya. What is the antidote for anger? Where Unconditional love prevails, anger cannot exist. Unconditional LOVE is the antidote of anger. Such love is very EASY too. Easier than anger. It is for this reason that some great Gurus, attach great importance to LOVE. One contemporary Guru, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar stresses a lot on UNCONDITIONAL LOVE.
GREED is Maya. However much you hug your money, possessions or ornaments, they don’t hug you back. Your greed occupies your mind always and make it incapable of enjoying life. Your greed turns you into a miser. Your greed turns your friends into indifference towards you. You commit all types of unsocial acts in greed. No one likes your Greed.
Many contemporary speakers on Gita advise – look at what you already have and enjoy them first. Greed blinds you to your existing possessions and the happiness they give. When you get what you are greedy for, you find, it gives you least satisfaction. Your greed now turns to some thing else.
Compassion is the antidote of greed. A compassionate man can never be greedy. A compassionate man may be earning well – but is happy to share. ‘ATHITHI DEVOBHAVA’ – means, treat every seeker at your door step as GOD seeking from you. If GOD comes and asks from you, will you still be greedy and miserly? This compassion has nothing to do with sympathy, empathy etc, in which you suffer first, before you can help another. A compassionate man is a joyous man, and helps all, always. This is the message and practice of the great, contemporary Gurus like Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev and Ram Devji Maharaj. Greed is MAYA. Compassion brings you out of MAYA.
SEXUAL OBSESSION : Kaamaathuranaam na bhayam na lajja – says an old Sanskrit sloka. This Kaama means sex obsession, or, MOHA. It says - if the sex bug bites you, you lose all of your fear, shame and propriety and go in active pursuit of sex. Look at how may rapes, molestations and extra-marital relations are occurring and how excellent achievers in many fields fall prey to sex obsession and lose all of their position in life.
Adi Sankara warns us of this one weakness several times in his writings. This is the reason why, the institution of marriage is established to satiate people’s sex desire in a rightful way, in a way they can come out of MAYA even while enjoying SEX.
Maithunam (Sex) should be like Prarthanam (Prayer) – says Swami Sukhabodhananda. The great sage, Vasista lived with his wife, Arundhati, in forests and fathered a hundred children through her. Yet he was out of MAYA, and was the originator of Yoga Vasista. He was the Guru of Lord Rama himself. So did all great sages in the past. Very Few renounced family life. That is also the story of Sage Yagna valkya, whose wife refused to stay back. She said – if you are now after permanent joy, I am also after permanent joy. Let us both go together.
SEX was not an obstacle for them. But, whatever is happening in contemporary society – is MOHA, a form of Maya - and people are bound to suffer from it. Its antidote is RIGHTFUL SEX – in marriage, with the marital partner – to whom you have made promises like DHARMECHA, ARTHECHA, KAAMECHA, NATHI CHARAAMI - which means, in all earthly ways, dharma, artha and kaama - shall we both stand together forever.
PRIDE : You are proud of your caste, religion, position, group, money, power, body, beauty, your achievements, strength, intelligence, skills and so on. Whatever you are proud of – can leave you any time. Neither are they yours really. Pride is the most foolish quality you can have. Its irony is – except you, everybody notices that you are being foolish in your pride.
Also, anything that you say you have – is not even an iota of what is there in the world and none of them really obey you. Your own heart, lungs, kidneys, pancreas, in fact, almost nothing inside you obeys you. Very few things in you are allowed to obey you in a very, very limited way!! How can you be proud of that body which doesn’t obey you? It is so with most other things. Some body invisible is in charge of them – not you.
Also – in pride you forget the most valuable possessions you really have – the fresh air you breathe in and out, the water you drink, you take bath in, and possibly swim in, the beautiful sky that brightens all your life, the beautiful air that brings you the finest smells, the flowers, the moon, the stars, the rivers, the seas, the hills and so many beautiful things that are absolutely free and enjoyable immensely – You are really enjoying them and they are yours. But, you are not proud of them because you do not consider them as your possessions. But, what are your possessions in comparison to these?
All kings and all other proud people who walked the earth before you are now under your feet, as the dust you walk on. Their possessions did not go with them. Greece did not go with Alexander. Germany did not go with Hitler. No body could take any thing with them.
The antidote for Pride is simple. Every day morning, when you get up, remember that you are alive this morning because of an unseen grace you are not even conscious of – and not because of your possessions or accomplishments. Look at your possessions for some time. Think of which of your possessions will come along with you wherever you go. Think of one permanent possession which will come with you. Strive to acquire that.
ENVY : If you are not proud of your caste, your religion, your position etc, you are probably envious of others’ caste, religion, power etc – which is equally foolish. When you are proud, there is place inside your mind ONLY FOR YOU and for no one else, including the ALMIGHTY himself. When your are envious, the person your are envious of is always sitting within you and is ruling your mind. Even you have no place inside you!! Your happiness is gone – whatever your other possessions and accomplishments may be.
If you are a silver medalist in Olympics but are envious of the Gold Medalist, you can never be as happy as even the bronze medalist. You can’t be happy at all – even as much as any one who never ever dreams of competing in Olympics. Envy is MAYA. Make no mistake about it.
What is the antidote for ENVY? Applaud everybody, appreciate everybody who ever has achieved any thing in life. Write to them. Congratulate them whole heartedly. More important, every day, pray for the success of some people – who do not even know you. Pray for the success of those whom you have envied in the past.
FEAR : Fear robs all happiness. Fear of death, fear of disease, fear of old age and so many fears that most people have. You can see the series of posts on fear and fearlessness in my blog “www.wiselivingideas.blogspot.com” – which are still continuing. Ignorance creates FEAR and knowledge is the best antidote for fear. Sri Paramarthananda says – one definition of MOKSHA is total, absolute fearlessness. Leave aside all fears. FEAR is MAYA.
SUMMARY : These are the seven aspects of MAYA. We have seen their antidotes too. Is this all there is to MAYA? No. Maya is much more. But, once you are out of these seven deadly sins of Maya, you can be very easily out of Maya. You will be well on your way to know the answer for “WHO AM I?”
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