The survival of the fittest
The age-old expression from the Darwinian evolution plays an important role in our daily life. We strive everyday to put our best foot forward; to show a best face at the work place, in our home and among our friends & dear ones. We always want to be a star performer on the stage, a great accompanier, a memorable entertainer, and overall a successful & admirable human being to be associated with.
The dedication and the energy we devote, coupled with the quest for achievement will put us on a fast track to the realization of goal. In between comes the recognition as pit stop which refuels our passion in the journey. We go to great heights, make a lot of sacrifices to get things done our way and to impress others with the outcome.
But the enthusiasm we put in the beginning of every activity tends to reach a saturation point and becomes a difficult task to move up from there. You may call it a point of ‘mid-life crisis’ or ‘comfort zone’. The achievement you had so far gets on to your head and blocks your vision to go beyond. The mind loves to become dormant and the soul dusts in the laurels of the past.
We encounter an illusionary block in our way and get a doubt factor in the system. Worse is sometimes it becomes a melting point where all the achievements and good-will start to diminish and pulls us down, if we fail to act on it. We will realize that reaching the top is an easy thing, but being there is not.
The comfort zone you’ve settled in is not going to change the past but definitely going to shape the future. It may be a stressful activity to move out of that region but when you embrace change, you’ll realize that it’s a small discomfort you’re buying to entirely change the way the world perceives you and for the larger goodness of yourself for bigger achievements.
Constant focus and assertiveness is going to help in maintaining the place you’ve reached so far. Don’t settle down for anything less in the activities you undertake. Question everything that comes your way and challenge yourself to look beyond the goal. Don’t just aim for success; target sustainable success.
The way we start our day determines how it is going to end. Stretch your horizon after every single lap. Make yourself self disciplined, as only the fittest of the fittest will survive here. You’ll get a day only once in a life. Make sure to go MAD – Make a Difference!
About the Author:
Anand has a Masters degree in marketing and works in advertising in Chennai. He is a life blogger and writes articles concerning life and its nuances. He loves to spread inspirational messages that help people discover happiness from within. He blogs at http://musingsofanand.blogspot.in
She lived a life which was luxurious compared to normal standards. She wanted to have everything in life. No morals posed a barrier for her. She was very influential… her very pious husband, cunning daughters, useless sons, all fell in line when she wanted them to… except her eldest son. She had a faint idea why but she was not one to be outdone. She schemed and tortured her eldest daughter-in-law, and even reported untruthful accusations to the poor girl’s mother. Even then, the eldest son never spoke a word against his mother. But finally one day she had her husband and others kick the eldest son out of the house, along with his young wife and kids. He warned her that her ways would bring her only more suffering but being heart-broken, he left with his family without further conversation.
Time passed by. Her husband departed his body, blissfully unaware of his wife’s wrongdoings. Her eldest daughter-in-law asked that she better come and stay in her eldest son’s home. But she refused, ridiculed the eldest’s family and put her faith on the money and sycophants who were behind her.
Years rolled by. Money played and changed hands. Betrayals built upon each other. Slowly, one by one who had been supporting her left from her side along with what they could take.
Finally, there came a day where she was left with nothing more than a small bank balance and an emaciated body. She was like a coconut shell, grated and thrown out on the street. No home, no sons or daughters to take care of her festering, foul smelling body. She lamented about the good old days, but that did nothing to change her heart and attitude. She landed up in a relative’s house, who took her in partly out of sympathy and partly for the money she said she would pay them. When the soft hearted girl in that home or the hired nurse came to clean her foul body, she would yell and curse at them. If asked what she wanted to eat, she would complain that the food was fit only for dogs.
Only her eldest son kept coming and visiting her, his broken heart still bearing a burden of duty, at the relative’s place. Yet, she spewed acid at him. He bore it with a grim face and set about his duties just for the sake of it. On one of his visits, she screamed and sobbed.
“Why? Why am I made to suffer like this? What sin did I commit?”
The son, shocked at the outburst, recovered and retorted.
“What sins have you not done, mother? You think I did not know what you were up to in your able days?”
It was her turn to be shocked. The son sighed and stared at the wall.
“Oh yes, mother… I knew of your doings. Even father was unaware of it. But I kept silent because I did not wish to shame our family. You were only after pleasure and money. You wanted people to be at your beck and call. You thought you can buy love with money, buy affection through gifts.
“But when you got an idea that I might know what you were up to, you felt fear for the first time… fear that your status and righteous image might come crashing down, fear that what you call as ‘mine’, won’t be with you anymore. You couldn’t confront me directly, so you chose to target my wife. Oh, how I wish I could have spoken up against you that time? I saw the poor girl being put through hell by you, but did not do anything. I have repented for that mistake a thousand times over. If had been any other girl would have divorced me, then and there.
“You hungers didn’t get satisfied even with my exit from our home. Who all were your sidekicks and how many were your indulgences? So much money you made by selling father’s lands. And much did you give to my sisters and brothers. But, where are they now? My father, a pious man, left you in good condition, but what have you done? You have sucked everything dry by your indulgences and indiscreetness. You feared that someone would steal everything from you, yet you were handing out everything to the very thieves you feared!”
She started sobbing.
“It is only the good deeds of father that have kept you going till now. You have grown old. But even at this age, when your body is rotting and the cold call of death is nearby, you do nothing but think of money and luxury. You curse those who help you. You curse my family, but I don’t fear your curses, for I know my Lord will save me. But what awaits you in the afterlife? I wouldn’t wish what you have been or about to go through even for my enemies!
“I have spoken to your doctors. There is nothing they can do now. At least now, throw aside your pretence and sincerely pray for forgiveness and mercy if you can. Let the Lord have mercy on you and ease your passing. I have been doing what I can as a matter of duty… and I have one last duty left.”
She sobbed more. She cursed more. But her voice had started becoming lower and trembling. The son smiled sadly, switched on a tape recorder which filled the room with a soul livening kirtana. He went out of the room, sighed at his relatives and went away. Within 10 minutes he was on the train home, but his thoughts went back to her. And he prayed.
“Oh Krishna, no one knows how you make this world work. I know that my mother is suffering for her sins. No matter how much medical attention is given, I have seen that there is no improvement. Have pity on the poor soul. Did you not say that what one remembers at the time of death, they will attain surely in the next birth? Your names are not different from you. So, at least for the sake of this poor fallen devotee of yours, grant her passage out of this misery in your presence.”
Suddenly, his mobile phone rang and he answered. A strange, sad calmness engulfed him. He got down at the next stop and caught the train going in the opposite direction.
Written by Ambi
Journey of Life
Jyoti and Jeevan were ready to explore their new world. Jyoti the ever calm, ever obedient, unfazed. Jeevan full of life, curious, adventurous and volatile but well meaning. Prakriti’s offspring were well brought up and hardly went wrong.
The moment had come for their great journey – a learning experience as their mother had explained.
“Ok my dear children! Time for you to set off. Just remember the rules- No straying. Stay on course and observe. You are to return by Dusk. You will find many like yourself. Many temptations, many new experiences but ultimately you are to remain focused and observe as much as you can without causing harm to any being or yourself. You are to earn your bread by nurturing the plant that I will be giving you both , as soon as you reach midway after your orientation You are to help anyone in need but finally you are to return to me, here and nowhere else.”
“O mother why are you sending us away? Have I disappointed you in any way? Let me stay here with you. I have no fascination nor any urge for the outside world. You are my world. You are my every thing” Jyoti the obedient was desolate to leave her mother
“I know my dearest, but this journey is essential. Call it the law of nature! To be taken at least once”
“I am ready mother. What surprise do you have in store for us?” ever effervescent Jeevan asked eagerly.
“Your enthusiasm is good but you should practice some self restraint too, It will do you good” said his mother ruffling his hair lovingly.
So Jeevan and Jyoti set off on their great journey -The journey that has to be taken at least once. They were amazed with the magnificent sights that they came across. Magical sights that seem to awe and fascinate them at once. Sights that beckoned them to get lost in their intensity. The sunrise, the vast ocean, the rain soaked woods, beautiful flowers, rustling brook, awe inspiring mountains, and colorful birds. Both of them were awed by what they saw, but Jyoti checked herself and tried to disinterest herself from them, remembering her mother. She missed her mother and remembering her loving face soothed her restlessness. She concentrated on the path ahead of her and tried to remind her brother about their mission. But Jeevan was completely immersed in the scenes around him. He sang with the birds, smelled the flowers, and gazed at the mountains and the sun. He had not forgotten his mother. He thanked his mother for sending him here to experience it. No matter how moved he was by everything, he did not stray away from the path and he carried on with a light heart and springy steps. Everything was smooth till now.
A little later, the sun had become hotter and the sights becoming stranger. They found themselves in one of many parallel courses. Some remained remain parallel throughout, some intersecting and merging and then again diverting after some distance. They found many children like them in these paths in various form of activities at stages. Some playing, some crying, some talking in a group, some totally running away from their path. For some, their paths took a sharp turn to enter homes. Children waving goodbyes to others. Both were totally confused at the chaotic activities going around them. By then they had started feeling hungry. So they took out their plants and started watering it, fertilizing it. At some distance they saw some other children doing the same too. After sometime their fruits of labor began to show and show it did… the amount of their labor. If they had worked hard the fruits were large, but if not, then it was obvious what they had. Wasn’t it? Some sighed, some cribbed about their mothers for handing out bad plants, and some tried to redo it again while the fortunate ones relished them. Both their plants had yielded good fruits and they were quite delighted, when, they chanced upon a crying child. Her fruits had accidentally fallen down in the river in a moment of negligence and she had none to have now. Jyoti calmly gave a portion of her share and advised the child to be careful in future but she did not stay back to converse with her. Jeevan was sorry for the child and immediately befriended her whose name was Maya and out they set together. They played together, laughed at silly games, cried when they fell, helped an injured bird and continued their journey behind Jyoti who was in a hurry to meet her mother.
At a point they came upon a diversion. Jyoti knew the road was straight ahead, but Maya set off the other way. Jeevan was tempted to go after her but he knew he couldn’t. He pleaded her to stay but to no avail. He wailed, wept and was utterly devastated, but after crying his heart out, he straightened up and continued with his journey, determined and wiser. They came upon many children whose path intersected for a while with theirs. Jyoti was polite but she befriended none. She helped when needed, advised when asked but she had only her mother foremost in her mind. Jeevan as animated as before, was friendlier of the two. He laughed with them, joined them in their grief, played with them, became angry when he saw someone behaving unfairly, helped the needy and was sorry when they had to part but it was not devastating for him anymore. He met Sangini who was very fond of him and promised to stay beside him till he reached home She was true to her word. She was beside him at every moment helping him… Lending him a shoulder to lean on when he was tired. Finally he felt calmness descended in his life along with the setting sun with the coming of Sangini.
Jyoti fervently started remembering her mother with the approaching end of their journey. She was inwardly elated that ultimately she will be with her mother. She cared for nothing other than being with her mother. But Jeevan was in turmoil. Of course he was glad that he will finally see his mother but what about Sangini? He had so less time with her. Will he meet her ever again? Was this the end of their journey together? They wept at their impending separation and held each other’s hand willing it otherwise. Why did it have to end this way? He looked up at his sister Jyoti and thought how lucky she was not to be attached with anyone, but was she. ..Though momentarily, he had come across his soul mate Sangini, he was happy to have met her and would never let go of the experience if it could be repeated…If only she could be with him even after this…
Finally they came to the end of their journey! They both reached the threshold of their home- their world. He watched Sangini walk by to her onward journey with a heavy heart and tearful eyes, never to know if they will ever meet again.
Their mother met them at the door. A strange peace pervaded them. Both hugged their mother and all their exhaustion and worries were swept away.
“Oh mother! How I have waited for this moment.” Jyoti exclaimed. “I want to never be away from you. Never let me go I beg of you. !”
“No my children! The ordeal is over and now we will be walking off together to the Great Door to be together forever!”
“Mother!” Jeevan held her back and softly said, “Mother I have a question for you” his eyes downcast.
Prakriti bent down and holding up his chin asked “Yes my son? Something seems to trouble you”
“Mother, don’t get me wrong! I love you and you are the essence of my being but I seem to be wanting to go back their again. With all the hardships and sorrows I faced I still miss them- the sights, the experiences, the exhilaration of being successful as a planter, my companions…and Sangini. I know I could not stay focused like Jyoti and I laughed with the brook, ran with the wind, sang with the birds and played with my friends. I harmed none. I helped when I could. I fell down a couple of times too. But I stayed in the path and never strayed. Now I remember everything and wish for them. You are the most important and I know that mother, but why cannot I curb these thoughts of longing ?I had indulged my senses there, I had attached myself, Now I long for them – them with all the good and bad, does that make me vile? Now that it is time to go through the great door, I am experiencing doubts, does that make me a failure? When that was supposed to be a learning experience, why do I feel that I learned nothing except to question you this- what ultimately was the purpose in sending us there-Does this make me a rebel? Jyoti is the enlightened one of the two of us. She can see happiness beyond even unseeingly. But I, O mother relate only with things I feel, I experience even if they are illusions… I feel moved by them, uplifted by an unknown feeling called love. attachment. Maybe you will say I have my eyes shut and shunned to The Light of Knowledge but this is the way I am. Does this make me fall from your grace, O mother”?
Author’s Note: Well I don’t know what Mother said and nor do I hope to know it in my lifetime (maybe because I doubt if anyone can know this for sure in one’s lifetime) but if anybody can complete this story then you are welcome because my imagination could not go beyond this. Otherwise it is entirely a work of my imagination and bears no semblance to sanity. I do not wish to contradict nor propagate any stream of thought by this nor does this article show any disrespect to anyone’s opinion. If unknowingly I have hurt anybody’s sentiments, then I apologize profusely for the same.
Ancient Wisdom, Modern relevance – Perfection of Yoga
Ancient Wisdom, Modern relevance – Perfection of Yoga
In my last article, I had addressed the details on who can be a Guru and how to identify a bonafide spiritual master. In the article before that, we saw Lord Krishna addressing Arjuna’s despondent pleas. Instead of going through a chapter-wise discussion as I had planned earlier, I am taking a thematic approach on presenting the conclusions made by the Supreme Lord Sri Krishna on various paths of Yoga as he explained in the Bhagavad Gita. This will reduce my effort significantly, thereby helping me to spend time on the discussions that might follow.
“Yoga” means “linking of our consciousness with the Supreme Absolute Truth”. When the linking process is predominantly through fruitive activities, it is called Karma Yoga. If it is done through empirical means, it is called Jnana Yoga. If it is done through unalloyed devotional service to the Supreme Lord, it is called Bhakti Yoga.
The Bhagavad Gita teaches us of a “Yoga Ladder”, a series of steps made of yoga practices which ultimately lead to the Perfection of Yoga. Following this process, a conditioned soul can purify its existence gradually in this material world and reawaken its spiritual consciousness.
The first step in the ladder is called “Karma-Kanda”. This step has no spiritual objective. In this stage, a conditioned soul/ person, is introduced to regulated sense enjoyment, and to the Vedas which dictate the performance of sacrifices for the sake of results. This basically increases faith in the sastras.
Read BG 2.31, BG 3.11, BG 3.16.
Next is the step of “Karma Yoga”, which is performance of fruitive activities. The person begins to get frustrated with the sense enjoyment and shows inclinations of detachment. But he is still too attached to completely stop working for his own enjoyment.
When a person works for his own enjoyment but has a spiritual objective interlinked to the effort, the stage is called Sakama Karma. Continued practice of work in partial detachment to the results of fruitive activities leads to Nishkama Karma, work which is uncontaminated with material desires and has a pure spiritual objective.
Since any sense enjoyment leads to frustration in the end, a person gradually elevates himself through Karma Yoga to a stage where he begins to examine the ‘Jnana’ section of the Vedic literature. Here, as described by Lord Krishna in Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 06, one gives up all societal obligations and sets on a pursuit in search of knowledge of the Brahman. This path of realization is not easy at all to follow, as correctly pointed out by Arjuna and Lord Krishna in the chapter 06 of Bhagavad Gita.
Read BG 5.2.
Beyond Jnana Yoga, once the Jnani achieves knowledge of the Supersoul, the Paramatma, and begins to lead a life of austerity and meditation on the Paramatma, he enters the stage of “Ashtanga Yoga”, an eight fold process as the name implies. Yama, Niyama, Asana, Pranayama, Prathyahara, Dharana, Dhyana and Samadhi are the 8 steps.
Read BG 6.30, BG 6.31
At the pinnacle of this Yoga ladder is “Bhakti Yoga” or “Unalloyed, pure devotional service to the Supreme Lord”. This is best summarized by Lord Krishna himself:
BG 9.34: Engage your mind always in thinking of Me, become My devotee, offer obeisances to Me and worship Me. Being completely absorbed in Me, surely you will come to Me.
BG 18.65: Always think of Me, become My devotee, worship Me and offer your homage unto Me. Thus you will come to Me without fail. I promise you this because you are My very dear friend.
BG 18.66: Abandon all varieties of religion and just surrender unto Me. I shall deliver you from all sinful reactions. Do not fear.
And what does the Lord have to say about the other paths?
BG 6.46: A yogī is greater than the ascetic, greater than the empiricist and greater than the fruitive worker. Therefore, O Arjuna, in all circumstances, be a yogī.
Note: The ascetic is the ‘tapasvi’, the empiricist is the ‘jnani’ and the fruitive worker is the ‘karmi’.
BG 6.47: And of all yogīs, the one with great faith who always abides in Me, thinks of Me within himself, and renders transcendental loving service to Me — he is the most intimately united with Me in yoga and is the highest of all. That is My opinion.
So, you see, the Bhagavad Gita offers devotional service to Lord Krishna as the Perfection of Yoga, with pure devotional service being the goal. There are several stages of Bhakti too, but this is too premature a point in this series to get in to that. Bhakti Yoga is the path recommended for this age of quarrel, the Kali-Yuga. We do not reject the other paths, but making progress in them is extremely difficult, if not impossible, in this age. This was stated very clearly by Lord Krishna in the Bhagavad Gita. Although one passes through one level or another of the previous stages even while trying to take to the path of Bhakti, it is much easier and the effect seen on oneself as well as the progress gained towards liberation is permanent.
I have tried to summarize the entire siddhanta of Bhagavad Gita within 900 words above. Now, there are certain issues which I would like to clarify upon.
I have read several articles on Bhagavad Gita where the author has very elaborately discussed on the merits of Bhakti Yoga as described in the Bhagavad Gita. Throughout the text, the author says “Krishna said this, Krishna said that”… and finally concludes “Krishna is instructing us to be surrender to the impersonal, all pervasive, inscrutable Brahman”. Throughout the Bhagavad Gita, Krishna says “Surrender unto me”, means surrender unto Krishna… not something within him. I am sure the Lord as well as Vyasadev knew enough Sanskrit to state exactly what they wanted to state. Sure, Lord Krishna talks about people who want to ‘mingle’ with the Brahman as their final goal… but he does NOT conclude it is the ultimate goal or is the easiest way. Here’s what he says on that issue:
BG 12.5: For those whose minds are attached to the unmanifested, impersonal feature of the Supreme, advancement is very troublesome. To make progress in that discipline is always difficult for those who are embodied.
BG 12.6-7: But those who worship Me, giving up all their activities unto Me and being devoted to Me without deviation, engaged in devotional service and always meditating upon Me, having fixed their minds upon Me, O son of Pṛthā — for them I am the swift deliverer from the ocean of birth and death.
I have stressed upon one point so many times in the series till now and I am doing so again. The current trend seen among ‘spiritualists’ is basically to take the Bhagavad Gita, pick and interpret just a few specific verses completely out of context to suit their own philosophy, and present their own speculation in an (pseudo)authoritative manner. If one has to take reference from Bhagavad Gita, the conclusion arrived at MUST be the one presented by Lord Krishna and as it is accepted by Arjuna, as below.
BG 18.73: Arjuna said: My dear Kṛṣṇa, O infallible one, my illusion is now gone. I have regained my memory by Your mercy. I am now firm and free from doubt and am prepared to act according to Your instructions.
Giving any other conclusion on the Bhagavad Gita, anything different from what is being said by Lord Krishna, is akin to cheating, no matter how popular or scholarly the person giving the different conclusion might be.
With this article, I would like say that enough foundation has been laid for any sincere seekers of Truth to go forward on their own. I hope the comments and the discussion in my previous articles as well as the ones that are to follow would add more fuel to their interest. If and when required, my help would always be available.
From here, I would like to get in to addressing issues that we face on a day to day basis and how the knowledge received through our ancient scriptures can help us even now. So, if the readers have any topics on which they would like me to elaborate with relevance to our current position in time, please feel free to add the suggestion as a comment.
The next article title from me would be “The Caste System – as it should have been”. I hope to complete it another week or so.
Life in a nutshell
Life goes on..
And in the end, it’s not the years in your life that count. It’s the life in your years.
- Abraham Lincoln
One youngster comes to me very depressed and asks this question "Why is God creating so many difficulties for us? How to handle stress?" I tell this youngster to reflect on this beautiful story:
A man goes to a shop, picks up a beautiful cup and says "my god this cup is so beautiful" and suddenly the cup starts talking to the man. The cup starts saying "O man, I am beautiful right now, but what was the state of my being before the pot-maker made me a beautiful pot?
Before I was sheer mud and the pot-maker pulled me out of the mud from the mother earth and I felt why that pot-maker is so cruel, he has separated me from mother earth. I felt a tremendous pain. And the pot-maker said, "Just wait." Then he put me and churned me, when I was churned I felt so giddy, so painful, so stressful, I asked the pot-maker "Why are you so cruel?" the pot-maker said, "Just wait." Then he put me into a oven and heated me up, I felt completely burnt. There was tremendous pain and I asked the pot-maker "Why are you so cruel?" and the pot-maker said, "Just wait."
Then he poured hot paint on me and I felt the fume and the pain, I again asked the pot-maker "Why are you so cruel?" and the pot-maker said, "Just wait." Then again he put me into an oven and heated it to make me more strong, I felt life is so painful hence pleaded the pot-maker and the pot-maker said, "Just wait." And after that the pot-maker took me to the mirror and said, "Now look at yourself". And surprisingly I found myself so beautiful.
When god gives us lot of trouble, it appears god is very cruel but we need patience and we have to wait. When bad things happen to good people, they become better and not bitter.
So, all difficulties are part of a cosmic design to make us really beautiful. We need patience, we need understanding, we need the commitment to go through in a very calm and wise way. So, all difficulties are not to tumble us but to humble us.
With this understanding, let us not be against difficulty. Understand difficulty is a part of a purifying process. A purifying process at present which we cannot understand and hence we need faith and we need trust.
Let us understand how to handle stress with this background. You can be affected by stress from two angles. There is an internal stress and there is an external stress. Nobody can avoid stress; one has to only manage stress. Managing stress can be internal and also external.
The internal stress is; your thoughts can create stress, your values can create stress, and your beliefs can create stress, meaning thereby your stress is coming from your mind more from the outer world. Many people suffer not from heart attack – they suffer from thought-attack.
For example, when somebody says you are an idiot, we get so hurt, we get so victimized. My boss has called me an idiot and I am feeling tremendous pain. Now where does this stress come from? If my boss has called me an idiot, I have to ask myself "am I an idiot"?
If I am an idiot nothing to be upset about; and if I am not an idiot, then also nothing to be upset about! It is the perception of the boss. But why do we suffer from that stress? I suffer not because my boss has called me an idiot but because of the thought-attack.
I may say the boss has called me an idiot; therefore I am suffering? It is true that the words are unpleasant. But what hurts is the interpretation of the unpleasant word. The thought in me interprets. That is pain and therefore it becomes pain. Much of our stress is our mind interpreting it as pain. So we suffer from thought-attack more than heart attack.
Yaksha Prasana – Q & A between Yaksha and Yudhishtra
Yaksha Prashna is an episode from Mahabharata . It is the dialogue between Yaksha and Yudhishtra . The pandava brothers one by one goes to fetch water from a pond . Out of Ego and maya , Ignoring the voice of a Yaksha ,warning them not to drink the water, each one of the brothers dies after drinking the water from the pond . The last one left was Yudhishtra , the most pious and ardent upholder of Dharma . Yaksha asks him a series of question and says , if he answers them correctly , he could get his brothers back to life. Many of us would have known this episode but very few of us knew the complete set of the dialogue .
The following is the translation of the Q & A originally in sanskrit sloka format . I thank by Sri K Balasubramanya Iyer who had written the book on this subject and enriching me with the knowledge.
- What is it that makes the sun rise up ?
- Who are his surrounding attendants ?
- Who makes the sun set ?
- In which is he firmly placed ?
1. The Veda (Brahma) makes the sun rise.
2. The Devas are his attendants.
3. Dharma makes the sun set , and
4. He is firmly grounded in truth.
(The first question what makes the sun rise up ? philosophically implies , what wakes up the Atma ( Soul ) ? The vedas or knowledge is what wakes the Atma from the darkness of ignorance. The sun is interpreted as the ‘ soul of man ‘ The devas are the Sama , dama etc and it is with the aid of this that the knowledge of the Atman can be obtained . By Dharma , it is meant Karma , upasanas that determines the path of the Atma )
- By what does a person become a Vedic scholar ?
- By what means does he attain the Great ?
- By what does a person acquire a second to him ?
- By what does means does a man become wise?
5. By Vedic culture a person becomes a Vedic scholar.
6. By tapas a person attains the Great.
7. By steadfastness a person acquires a second to him.
8. By service of elders a person becomes a wife.
- What is the divine nature of Brahmanas?
- What is their right conduct similar to that of the good?
- In what consists their ordinary human nature? And
- What is it in them that is similar to that of the bad?
9. The knowledge of the Vedas is their divine nature.
10. Their tapas is similar to that of the good.
11. Their mortality is the ordinary human nature.
12. Talking scandal is their conduct similar to that of the bad.
- What constitutes the divineness of Kshatriyas or warriors?
- What is their quality similar to that of goodness? ( i.e. what is their virtue? )
- What constitute their humanness?
- What is their quality similar to that of bad means?
13. Arrows and missiles constitute their excellence.
14. Yagnas or sacrifices are their good qualities.
15. Their humanness consists in fear.
16. Abandonment / failure to protect the distressed is their bad quality.
- What is the Sama which is beneficial for the sacrifice?
- What is the Yajus which is beneficial to yagna?
- Which among them is chosen for the yagna itself?
- What is that which the sacrifice cannot be without?
17. Prana or vital energy is the sama which is most helpful to the sacrifice.
18. Manas or mind is the Yagus which is most helpful to the sacrifice.
19. It is the Rik alone which chooses the yagna for itself.
20.It is the Rik alone which yagna or sacrifice cannot do without.
- What is the best among those that shower?
- What is the foremost among those put into the ground?
- What is the best among the four-footed animals?
- What is the best among those that are begotten?
21. The rain is the best among those that shower.
22. Seed is the foremost of those that are put into the ground.
23.Cows are the best among the four-footed animals.
24. The son is the foremost among those that are begotten.
- Who is that, enjoying the objects of senses, endowed with intellect, respected by the world and accepted by all beings , through breathing , does not live?
25. He who does not participate by offerings, the Devas, guests, dependants, pitris, and one’s own self , those five, though breathing do not live.
- Which is weightier than the earth itself?
- What is higher than the sky?
- What is swifter than the wind?
- What is more numerous than grass?
26. The mother is weightier than the Earth.
27. The father is higher than the Sky.
28. The mind is swifter than the Wind.
29. Thoughts are more numerous than grass.
- What is that which does not close its eyes while asleep?
- What is that which does not move after birth?
- What is that which is without heart?
- What is that which swells by its own force?
30. A fish does not close its eyes while asleep.
31. An egg does not move after birth.
32. A stone is without heart.
33. A river swells by the force of its current.
- Who is the friend of one who goes on a journey?
- Who is the friend of one who remains at home?
- Who is the friend of one who is afflicted by sickness?
- Who is the friend of one who is about to die?
34. The caravan is the friend of a person going on a Journey.
35. The wife is the friend of the person who remains at home.
36. The physician is the friend of the sick man.
37. Gifts constitute the friend of the person who is about to die.
- What is that which journeys alone?
- What is that which is born again?
- What is the remedy against snow or fog?
- What is the large receptacle?
38. The Sun journeys alone.
39. The Moon is reborn.
40. The Fire is the remedy for snow or fog.
41. The Earth is the large receptacle.
( The term Sun in this context reflects Atma or Soul. Yudhistra says that Surya , which as Jyotis or light , signifies Atma . For the Atma alone shines during the three stage of consciousness , namely , waking , dream and dreamless sleep
According to ancient scripts , Moon is equated with the mind. Due to avidya , the mind functions and projects the world once again. That is significance of saying moon is born again. This avidya produces sorrow.
The next question is : What is the remedy for this avidya which like the fog is the superimposing agency ? The answer is that agni is the remedy for snow or fog. All this four question and answers are similar to the four questions and their answers in the Taittreeya Samhita , 7th Kanda )
- What is the all-comprehensive virtue?
- What is the all-comprehensive thing to fame?
- What,in one word, leads to Heaven?
- In what is comprised all happiness?
42. Integrity is all-comprehensive virtue.
43. Dana or charity is the one comprehensive matter of fame.
44. Truth alone leads to Heaven.
45. Character comprises all happiness.
- What is the soul of a person?
- Which is the friend bestowed by divinity?
- What is it that aids to sustain him?
- What is his greatest resort?
46. The son is the man’s soul.
47. The wife is a friend bestowed by divinity.
48. Rain is the chief aid to life.
49. Charity is the great resort.
- What is the best among laudable things?
- What is the best among all assets?
- What is the best of all gains?
- What is the foremost happiness?
50. Integrity is the best among laudable things.
51. Learning is the best asset.
52. Health is the foremost among gains.
53. Contentment is the best happiness.
- What is the highest Dharma in the world?
- What is that Dharma which always bears fruit?
- What is that by controlling which people never grieve?
- With whom does an alliance never break?
54. The highest Dharma is kindness to all.
55. The Dharma ordained by the Vedas always bears fruit.
56. By controlling the mind , people never grieve.
57. Association with the good never breaks.
- By renouncing which thing does one become loveable?
- By renouncing which thing does one never suffer grief?
- By renouncing which thing does one become wealthy?
- By renouncing which thing does one become happy?
58. By renouncing pride one becomes lovable.
59. By renouncing anger one never experience grief.
60. By renouncing desire one becomes wealthy.
61. By renouncing avarice one becomes happy.
- What for does one make gifts to the Brahmins?
- What for does one make gifts to actors and dancers?
- What for does one give presents to servants?
- What for does one give to kings?
62. It is for Dharma that one gives to Brahmins.
63. It is for fame that one gives to actors and dancers.
64. It is for maintaining them that one gives to servants.
65. It is on account of fear that one gives to kings.
- By what is the world enveloped?
- On account of what is it that a thing does not shine?
- For what reason does one give up friends?
- For what reason is it that one does not go to heaven?
66. The word is enveloped by ignorance.
67. It is on account of darkness that things do not shine.
68. It is due to avarice that friends are abandoned.
69. On account of attachment one does not go to heaven.
- How will one be considered as dead?
- When will a Kingdom be considered as dead?
- When will a Sraddha be considered a dead?
- When will a sacrifice, Yagna be considered as dead?
70. A miser may be considered as dead.
71. A country without a government may be considered as dead.
72. A sraddha performed without men learned in the Vedas may be considered as dead.
73. A yagna ( sacrifice) without dakshina or remuneration to the ritviks may be considered as dead.
- What constitutes the way?
- What has been spoken of as water?
- What is food? And
- What is poison?
- Tell me what is the proper time for Sraddha?
74. The way is the good.
75. Akasa or space is spoken of as water.
76. The cow is mentioned as food.
77. Wants are poison
78. Meeting a man learned in Veda is the proper time for Sraddha.
( The word Dik in the Sloka containing this set of questions is interpreted as those who instruct. It really meant those who show the way. Supporting this is the sloka from Mahabharata Vanaparva , the sloka gives us the meaning : “ The Vedas are diverse . The smrithis are different . There is no sage whose view is not different from that of another. The principle of Dharma is concealed in the innermost recess. What the good have followed , is the way. ”
What is spoken of as water in the Vedas and Upanishads, treating about cosmogony or creation is really Akasa or space. . There are various reference for this in different Vedas and Upanishads. Philosophically , according to Vedic scriptures , Akasa denotes the Jiva.)
- What is spoken of as the characteristic of Tapas?
- What is known as Dama or Self-control?
- What is said to be the highest patience?
- What is well-known as Hree or shame?
79. Tapas consists in the observance of one’s own Dharma.
80. The control of the mind is Dama.
81. Patience is putting up with the dvandvas or the pairs of the opposites.
82. Shame is what restrains one from bad conduct.
- What is said to be the knowledge?
- What is the highest compassion?
- What is referred to as straightforwardness?
- Who is the foe invincible to man?
- What are the endless desires?
- What is said to be goodness? And
- what is said to be badness?
83. Knowledge is the perception of the Truth.
84. Compassion consists in desiring happiness to all.
85. Straightforwardness is equality of mind towards all.
86. Anger is the most invincible foe.
87. Covetousness is the endless desire.
88. Goodness is seeking the welfare of all beings.
89. Badness is absence of compassion.
- What is delusion?
- What is pride?
- What is to be understood by laziness?
- What has been spoken of as grief?
90. Delusion consists in not knowing Dharma.
91. Pride is self-consciousness.
92. Laziness consists in not doing Dharma.
93. Ajnana is spoken of as grief.
- What is the steadfastness spoken of by the Rishis?
- What is referred to as courage?
- What is the supreme bath?
- What is here said to be Dama or charity?
94. Not swerving from one’s own duties of swa-dharma is the steadfastness.
95. Courage is the control of the senses.
96. Bath is abandoning of the impurities of the mind.
97. Protecting all beings in charity.
- Which man should be regarded as learned?
- Who is said to be a nasthika ( atheist )?
- Who is a fool? What is a desire? What is envy?
98. One who knows Dharma is known as learned.
99. The atheist is called a fool.
100. Desire is the source of samsara or cycle of birth and death. Affliction of the heart is said to be envy.
- What is said to be ahankar or ego?
- What is known as conceit?
- What is said to be the supreme divine nature?
- What is back-biting or slandering?
101. The highest ignorance is ego.
102. The flying aloft of the flag of Dharma is conceit.
103. Divine nature is the result of daana or charity.
104. Talking evil of others is paisunya.
- Dharma,Artha and Kama are opposed to one another. How do these eternal antagonists co-exists in one place?
105. When a wife and virtue agree with each other and are in control , each of the other , then there is co-existence of the three , namely , Dharma , Arth and Kama.
- By whom is the ever-lasting hell attained?
106. He who voluntarily invites a poor Brahmin, who comes for help and then says ‘no’ to him goes to ever-lasting hell. He who ascribes falsehood to Vedas , Dharma sastras , to the Brahmins , to the Devas , and to the rites done to Pitras goes to everlasting hell. He who possesses wealth, yet is devoid of charity or enjoyment owing to avarice and afterwards says ‘no’ , attains everlasting hell.
- By what does Brahminhood result , is it by kula or ancestry , vrtta or conduct , swadhyaya or study of Vedas or sruta , hearing or culture?
107. It is not ancestry or study or learning of Veda or hearing or culture that is the cause of Brahminhood . Without doubt it is conduct that is the cause of Brahminhood. One’s conduct should always be well protected especially by a Brahmin. He who keeps his conduct pure never goes down. He , however , whose conduct is destroyed is himself destroyed. The teachers and pupils and all who merely study the sastras are to be regarded as fools. But he alone who possesses conduct is the man of real knowledge. Even je who has studied the four Vedas is to be regarded as inferior to the unlearned man if he is devoid of right conduct. He who performs the Agnihotra and has controlled his senses is alone said to be a Brahmin.
- Tell me what does one gain who speaks pleasant words?
- What does he gain that acts after due deliberation?
- What does he get that makes many friends and
- What does he attain who is devoted to Dharma?
108. He who uses pleasant words is liked by all.
109. He who acts with due deliberation succeeds very much.
110. He who has many friends lives happily.
111. He who is devoted to Dharma attains the liberation.
- Who is joyous?
- What is the wonder?
- What is the way and what is the news?
112. The man who cooks vegetables in his own house on the fifth or sixth part of the day, but who is not in need and who never goes out from his house is truly happy.
113. Day after day beings are entering the abode of Yama , yet those that remain believe that they will live for ever. What can be more wonderful than this ?
114. Ligic is uncertain. The Srutis are contradictory. There is not one Rishi whose opinion is authoritative. Truth about Dharma is hidden. That alone is the path which great men tread. In the frying pan of this illusory world time is cooking the beings in the fire of the Sun with fuel of days and nights and with the ladle constituted by months and seasons. This is news.
Tale of foolishness – the legend of the ritual cat
Long Long ago there lived a Saint who lived in utter simplicity in his mountain monastery with a few disciples. One night, a young monk felt a new sensation in his meditation on his knee. Something warm, pulsating, loving… and… furry? He looked down and saw a cat scratching his knee. The tail flicked against his face again. The cat turned and rubbed his head on his knee, purring loudly. Gently pushing it away, the monk settled back into his meditation. Unruffled, the cat wound himself around the next disciple, to be again pushed away.
No matter how many doors and windows they closed, the cat always found its way into the meditation room. After a month of this torture by the cat, the disciples had enough. They put a nice embroidered collar on him and attached it with a long lead to a pillar in the temple. They gave him a silk pillow, and every day they would feed him, stroke him, and play with him. The cat was very content with his new arrangement.
A few years later, the Saint died. A young Saint from a different area was installed, and life resumed its peaceful rhythm. The new Saint did notice that a black cat was always tied to the northern pillar of the great monastery, surrounded by choice offerings and sitting on an ornate silk pillow. Not wanting to look ignorant, he did not ask anyone about its presence, and assumed that it was a tradition of the monastery.When the cat died, the abbot ordered another black cat to be found to take its place, and installed with full honor.
Over time, all the disciples who had known why the first cat was tied to the pillar died. The successive generations of monks gradually forgot the utilitarian purpose of tying the cat to the pillar. Yet the tradition lived on and flourished for centuries. The original collar was reverently worshipped as a relic. Books of theological commentaries were written on the spiritual significance of tying a black cat to the northern pillar.
Legends of miraculous healings due to the intercession of the holy cat were compiled and studied devotedly. Trinkets and memorabilia were being mass produced. Business had never been better.
Comment : This tale is not a sarcastic attack on religion, as some would think. Yet it does point out what inevitably has happened in all organized religions
A conversation with my aunt
I was having a conversation with my aunt 3 weeks back when I visited my native. She is spritual. She has followed various path of hindu philosophies and finally she found her way in the teachings of Vethathiri Maharishi and Jaggi Vasudev , the founder of Isha foundation
So I asked her about God and We . This is the essence of the conversation we had.
God is the Universal energy.
Universe is not vaccum . There is an universal energyy and that energy lives in each and every tiny spec of the universe. God is nothing but this universal energy. The same energy is within each and every living being also but the energy is undermined , unutilised , forgotten , unrealized cause of our previous karmas. The karmic force influences our actions and reactions. Having said that , we the human souls , do have the energy to battle out and overcome the karmic force provided we have that will to do so.
Her view of life is to embrace every events in life with postive energy. Be good to others , think good , live good. Inspite of that if things turn wrong , take it in right spirit and without being bogged down by the negativities of the events try to overcome it with positive thoughts. Her main underlined advice was to “Take things positively and deal things positively”
Everyone is born the same.
Another point she made and most important one is not to hate anyone. No one is born as a bad human. There is no bad or good person when he or she is born. The cirumstances, the society plays an important role in choosing what he or she becomes. So in one way we in general are partly responsible for what a person becomes. So don’t hate anyone . Try to understand him and try to bring a good change in him.
Another aspect of her thought was – Detachment. She says its better to view the world in a detached point of view. Never allow the various hues of emotions of the world affect your own positive conscience. This reminded me the principles of Jeevatma and Paramatma which I learnt in Bhagavad Gita. ( will write an extensive topic on it later )
She has no kids. She said earlier she used to feel very sorry and demoralised thinking about it . But now she finds that even that is a blessing in disguise as she has more time and liberty to seek her spritual quest. Life will be simpler and easier if we take things in right spirit and embracing it with positive thoughts.
It was a brief conversation but enriched one.
Lessons on Life
Lessons on Life
There was a man who had four sons. He wanted his sons to learn not to judge
things too quickly. So he sent them each on a quest, in turn, to go and look
at a pear tree that was a great distance away.
The first son went in the winter, the second in the spring, the third in
summer, and the youngest son in the fall.
When they had all gone and come back, he called them together to describe
what they had seen.
The first son said that the tree was ugly, bent, and twisted. The second son
said no it was covered with green buds and full of promise.
The third son disagreed; he said it was laden with blossoms that smelled so
sweet and looked so beautiful, it was the most graceful thing he had ever seen.
The last son disagreed with all of them; he said it was ripe and drooping
with fruit, full of life and fulfillment.
The man then explained to his sons that they were all right, because they
had each seen but only one season in the tree’s life.
He told them that you cannot judge a tree, or a person, by only one season,
and that the essence of who they are and the pleasure, joy, and love that come
from that life can only be measured at the end, when all the seasons are up.
If you give up when it’s winter, you will miss the promise of your spring,
the beauty of your summer, fulfillment of your fall.
Don’t let the pain of one season destroy the joy of all the rest.
Don’t judge life by one difficult season.
Persevere through the difficult patches
and better times are sure to come some time or later