Just not about God
It was the third day after my marriage.
“Beta tumahre maayke se koyi aaya hai,” said my mother-in-law. “He wants to meet you but refuses to come in.”
Who could it be? Puzzled, I rushed out.
Near the gate stood a bearded, elderly looking man, wearing a skull cap. He had a box of sweets in his hand. I strained my eyes to recognize him. Oh, God…It was Quasim, our old house help. When I was a kid, he used to drop me and my brother to school. I had not seen him in a decade. Why was he here?
“Beta aap khush to ho naa?” he asked hesitatingly.
Unable to attend my marriage due to ill health, he had come to Delhi to meet me. Only to ensure that I was happily married!
“Aap andar chaliye. Khaana kha ke jaayega,” I told him. He refused, saying that it was not proper to eat at a daughter’s house. He handed over a box of sweets. There was nothing much to say. He blessed me and left.
Entering my room, I went back to my childhood. Those days, my father a doctor with the Indian Railways, was posted at Moradabad. And Quasim, a middle-aged railway employee, used to work in our house. He would carry my school bag and drop me to school. Then he returned back to complete sundry jobs of buying vegetables and playing cricket with my younger brother. His punctuality, his honesty and his quiet dignified presence was a big support. In fact he was our Man Friday.
Then the unfortunate riots between Hindus and Muslims flared in 1980. We were in school. With minor skirmishes in the city, the situation was tense. That day the school decided to close early. And even before parents could come, Quasim was there to pick me up. Unfortunately, when it was time for him to return back, curfew was imposed. His house was in the heart of the city, where maximum rioting had taken place. Yet, he wanted to go. My father forced him to stay with us that day. Reluctantly he agreed.
Worse was in store that night. Rumors floated that a man from a different community was staying in our house. A fanatical mob had plans to get him that night. Oblivious of the tension prevailing, as kids we were devising plans to hide him. It was exciting, just like a mystery novel. The secluded pooja room in the courtyard was the safest option. My grandmother was not informed about it. It was our secret. For two nights we managed to keep my grandmother away from her pooja room, concocting stories about some repair work. When the curfew was relaxed on the third day, my dad dropped Quasim home in an official vehicle with police escorts. Then my father got transferred to Nagpur, and we lost touch with him.
This incident came to my mind recently when the ghost of Ayodhya had returned to haunt us. And as the government panicked in self-inflicted tension, faith in goodness prevailed. It was all about playing games with the incendiary mix of religion and politics. It was just not about God.
What’s about God, you ask?
Helping, caring, sharing……Maybe it’s as simple as smiling at someone.
I & Her
‘I’ entered the 11th standard A section class room of his new school and looked around with contempt. I adored his previous school, he didn’t want to leave it and come here but he had to. He went inside and silently sat on an empty seat besides a guy in third row. He didn’t have friends in this class; he looked around hopefully for friendly faces.
“No one is friendly, I’ll show them in exams” he thought in his childish prejudice.
Then ‘her’ entered the room. I saw her. “Man, she is beautiful!!” I thought.
Her went on to sit next to a girl two rows from I. He kept looking at her. Enter the physics teacher and I’s day dream ended. Classes continued one after another and I kept taking notes religiously. But in between he’d steal a glance or two towards her. Finally after the last class of the day as he stuffed his books inside the bag, I remembered about her. He turned to look at her but she was gone. Little disappointed, he went home.
Next day as I got ready for school, the only thing he was looking forward to was meeting ‘her’. He reached school and in the assembly line for prayer, he was searching her. But I was the tallest in the class and her was one of the shortest in the class- he couldn’t find her there. After prayer, as he entered class, he saw her- sitting there, where she sat the day before. He looked at her- she was a typical small town girl from UP, nothing special about her. She had a triangular face. Her sharp pointed nose parted those big beautiful black eyes with a hint of surma. Her long black hair was tied in a pony at her back. I fell in love. It was not the first time that I had encountered such effortless elegance, but it sure was the first time that I had acknowledged it. I was floored.
I wanted to know her’s name but he didn’t dare ask her directly. Who else to ask, he had no friends- you can’t go a stranger and directly ask him “excuse me, can you tell me the name of that wonderful lady sitting over there?” No you don’t do that. So I inferred – first he’ll have to make friends. And by the end of the day he was friends with the guy sitting next to him- S. As luck would have it, even S was a new admission and didn’t know her’s name. Another day had passed- I’s insides ached- I wanted to talk to her but he didn’t know where to start.
The next day same routine continued only that the last two classes were lab classes. The class was divided in groups and each group had been assigned an experiment. I went towards his experimental setup and waited for the other group mates to arrive. Just as I was about to study the experimental setup, he saw her coming towards him- walking, with all the divine grace that divinity could probably muster. Her came and stood besides I, silently.
“Have you too been given this group?” I asked.
“idiot!! Isn’t it obvious, why else would she be here?” he cursed himself mentally immediately after asking this.
Her nodded in agreement and I’s heart leapt.
“Hi I’m I” he introduced himself.
“Hi, I’m her” she introduced herself and the friendship began. I came to know her was Muslim. I was a Hindu. “Who cares anyway” I thought hovering in the completely alien cloud of emotions.
Classes continued, 11th standard got over and 12th standard arrived- friendship grew from lab sessions to class room and from class room to after school long chats and I’s feelings for her only kept getting stronger. I could still not tell her. “Man, she’ll say no” he’d think.
School days were about to end. I still didn’t have the courage.
It was the farewell party of 12th standard and overcome by emotions and with a sudden surge of inspiration- I got up and went to her. He took her to a quieter corner and told her all the feelings that he had for her.
Her listened and no, she didn’t say no. “I too like you I. But you are a Hindu and I’m a Muslim. We can’t do this. This is not to be. We can get into this now but it will only bring tears l for us both later. Let us please don’t get in this than regret later…”
Beyond that I couldn’t listen he lost the track of what her was saying. I took it as a No. He couldn’t fathom how the hell did that matter? He couldn’t understand why on earth did she care this much for the society? I couldn’t see the obvious but her did. The typical sensibility of the small town UP girl prevailed above I’s typical recklessness.
Eight years after, I opens TV and watches a debate going on the topic whether there should a Mandir or a Masjid at a particular place and he thinks “if only… her, you had shown a little more courage, we would have shown these morons!!”
But then suddenly I understands. Her did the right thing- in favor of her and his families. I feels proud of her- she had been both bold and sensible. Then suddenly, I feels pity on himself. Then he feels even more pity for his society “Unfortunate people- still held in petty issues of religion. Blissfully ignorant of the larger picture- love!!”
Ancient Wisdom, Modern relevance – Purpose of Life
Purpose of Life
So, here we are. Another year has passed as per the Gregorian calendar. Even as I started for home on Dec 31st evening from office, around 6:30PM, the grounds within the campus had been converted in to an ‘open-air’ ‘fun’ ‘party floor’. Laser lights, fog effects and ear-drum blasting music, alcoholic drinks… pretty much the trend these days, isn’t it? For one, I never understood the concept of ‘drunken fun’.
Drinking and driving don’t mix… how about drinking and dancing, like having something wriggling up the legs?? Surely, puking on the girlfriend’s (or boyfriend’s) dress (whatever part of it is ‘cloth’) isn’t fun now really, is it?
Well, I have seen this happen for the last couple of years, and this is becoming a tradition these days. It is cool to go to a New Year party, hang out (whatever that means) with cool buddies, stress and flush the stomach out, get up with a headache in the morning, start the daily grind… in the second day of the year, waiting for the weekend, so one can celebrate the New Week!
I won’t be surprised if I hear a “Happy Week #23!”, or a “Wish you a very happy new week! Best wishes for your promotion dreams to come true! Hope you get a good hike (for the treat, of course)!” in another couple of years.
(Does anyone think how the pay hikes are made possible? Does anyone think how ‘inflation’ occurs? This is another exercise for the readers to put their thinking cap on!)
“What’s wrong in partying? People are just having some good time… just a night of fun, to unwind, to relax…”
“Come on dude, life’s meant to be enjoyed…”
Hmmm. Hold on. Enjoyed? Is that what ‘life’ as we live it meant to be really? To be enjoyed?
Let’s dwell on this a bit, alright?
There are four activities in this world that are common to ALL living entities: Eating, Sleeping, Mating and Defending. We humans, especially, are doing all of the above extraordinarily well, since the level of intelligence we are endowed with allows a greater range of control, but along with greater intelligence and facilities comes greater responsibility… a purpose to this life, and living.
So, what is the purpose of life?
We take birth. We die. In the time between these two events, we do so many things, believing that it improves our lives, increases our standard of living and gives us happiness. Good parents, nice food and robust health, a cozy home, high education, beautiful wife, chubby children, warm friends… these are all the aspirations of anyone who wants to lead a ‘happy’ life.
But what is the purpose of life? No one taught us that really, did they? We learn everything at school and college, about math, history, zoology, music, spacecrafts, and microbes… each one is an expert in one thing or other. But where are we taught “the purpose of life”?
Truth is we are discouraged from asking such a question! You will see blank stares, snickering laughs, frowns and everything in between to such a question from ‘normal’ day-to-day people. But what else can they do? They, after all, are also as much in the dark, aren’t they? What really happens is that each one is left to one’s own imagination to cook up a purpose to their living (which might include just living without a purpose too, ironically).
Add to this confusion the modern philosophers and pseudo-spiritualists who have now begun singing a tune to “Each one decides what’s best for oneself”… and you can now see the mess it has done. I don’t even have to explain it to this audience, I hope. Nowadays, it doesn’t matter if a perspective is right or wrong… it is of no consequence, as long as everyone agrees with everybody else.
But there is an obvious difference between the individual perceptions on the purpose of life and the objective purpose underlying life itself.
“What a load of BS! Life has no purpose, other than what we imagine…”
I have heard this countless times. Yes, if the modern evolution theory is to be considered (just for a fleeting moment) as true, the above statement probably becomes valid, since the theory is based on the assumption that life evolved from matter by random, purposeless mechanical/ chemical processes. But that ‘theory’ is just that. If one accepts the teachings of the Vedas by proper guidance and application, one can easily understand that ‘life force’ cannot arise from matter and must have a spiritual origin. And consequently, everything has a purpose and reason for occurring/ existing. Just because that purpose or reason is not readily apparent to our limited senses does not mean it does not or cannot exist.
In the human form of life, a spirit soul is given great intelligence and so many facilities. But it comes with a condition, as put forth by the very first sutra of the Vedanta Sutras, which essentially states the purpose of ‘Life’:
athato brahma jijnasa
"Now is the time to inquire about the Absolute Truth."
Many say self-realization is the final goal, that once you understand who you really are (which varies from ‘you are nothing, zero’ to ‘you are God’ depending on who you ask) you become realized and nothing more to do. There are different kinds of such philosophers and spiritualists… mayavadis, sunyavadis and so on. But, unfortunately for them, we can understand from the Bhagavad Gita that self realization is just the first step towards something more important. It is only the ignorance and neglect the modern generation has been having regarding the Vedas and Vedic scriptures that have allowed all kinds of bogus philosophies to crop up in the name of spirituality.
The first step in understanding the purpose of life is to know our actual nature. Once that realization dawns upon us, the next step is to enquire in to our relationship with the Absolute being, God, revealed as Krishna through the Bhagavad Gita. Once the understanding of the relationship is got, the last step is acting on such knowledge. Considering this along with the concept of the Supreme Lord Krishna being the owner of everything as explained in the previous article, everything that we have must be used in the service of the Absolute being, Krishna (including the efforts of the scientists and leaders). That fulfills the purpose of life.
Srimad Bhagavatam Canto 1 Chapter 2 Verse 10:
lābho jīveta yāvatā
nārtho yaś ceha karmabhiḥ
“Life’s desires should never be directed toward sense gratification. One should desire only a healthy life, or self-preservation, since a human being is meant for inquiry about the Absolute Truth. Nothing else should be the goal of one’s works.”
The human form of life is especially meant for this purpose. We are given the faculties to do what many other species cannot: Think about ourselves. Yet, we would readily accept a grossly ‘unscientific’ declaration “Life has no purpose” when we can keep yapping about goodness, charity, eradication of poverty and what not.
Srimad Bhagavatam, the top most purana, explains in great detail that Bhakti Yoga is the only recommended way in this Kali Yuga to gain such a level of understanding on ourselves, the Supreme Lord and the real purpose of life easily. I am aware that all this is the ‘theory’ part… and I haven’t gotten in to the ‘how to’ part till now, because I do not consider myself as an accomplished spiritualist… consider me like a patient who has been cured by a doctor and is recommending the doctor to other ‘patients’.
With this, I end the “Ancient Wisdom, Modern Relevance” series.
Ambi’s personal Note: I do not know how effective or useful my articles were. There were so many discussions, so many arguments. I am sure there are several readers who did not participate in the exchange of comments but were silent spectators, several people who liked the articles/ comments, and several who disliked those. Almost everything I have put forth in my articles, I had learned from Srila Prabhupada’s books and his disciples (and No, I am not a member of ISKCON).
I hope at least a few of the readers would take up studying the “Bhagavad Gita As It Is” by Srila A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada with sincerity and benefit from it for eternity. If anything, this whole exercise was probably meant to be for my own purification. Thank you.
Article written by Ambi.
Ancient Wisdom, Modern relevance – Kali Yuga gaining
Ancient Wisdom, Modern relevance – Kali Yuga gaining
I did not find a more suitable title for this article than the one given.
All this while, I had attempted to present the teachings of Bhagavad Gita in a concise manner so that even a person with no prior knowledge can get interested in the vast literature. I had planned to present the next article on describing the material nature, 3 modes of material nature, how our everyday activities fall under it, how the food we eat is classified and so on. But I somehow did not get satisfied with the reason for writing on the topic at this moment. In the meantime, I wrote one article on the issue of faith that is inherent in modern science. But even that was not satisfying for me since I had given that article to try and put to rest certain types of arguments and doubts. So, this time, I have left my ‘flow’ take over.
Be warned that this article is not as focused as I would have liked it to be, for several reasons which are outside the scope of this discussion. Let’s begin, shall we?
Lord Krishna informs us in the Bhagavad Gita about the cosmic scale of time and the manifestation of creation and annihilation.
BG 8.17: By human calculation, a thousand ages taken together form the duration of Brahmā’s one day. And such also is the duration of his night.
If you read the purport for the above verse, it is explained that Kali Yuga, this age of quarrel, lasts for 432,000 years. Of this, approximately 5000 years have passed. Srimad Bhagavatam, the spotless purana, in the second chapter of its twelfth canto, describes the age of Kali in vivid terms and also declares the descent of the Supreme Lord as Lord Kalki, who will reinstate the eternal religion and the next Satya Yuga will begin.
What is surprising is how the ancient sages could have foreseen the calamity now that is the ‘modern era’. Please do click on the above link and just read through the text part. You will be surprised on how much has already happened as described, and more surprised by the accuracy of certain descriptions.
One can dwell on these topics for days together, but let us take just one symptom which is most prevalent these days.
"So much wealth do I have today, and I will gain more according to my schemes. So much is mine now, and it will increase in the future, more and more. He is my enemy, and I have killed him, and my other enemies will also be killed. I am the lord of everything. I am the enjoyer. I am perfect, powerful and happy. I am the richest man, surrounded by aristocratic relatives. There is none so powerful and happy as I am. I shall perform sacrifices, I shall give some charity, and thus I shall rejoice."
Sounds familiar? Do you recognize any of the above mindsets? I am sure each and every one of us knows very well that these are the scales by which our current society measures us. Guess what? I did not make up the previous paragraph by myself!!
The above text is used by Lord Krishna to describe people with demoniac nature in verses 13 thru 15 of that chapter.
“Whoa! Hold on… are you calling us demons?”
Umm… not exactly, but this is what is termed as demoniac tendency. In fact, read through the entire Chapter 16 of Srimad Bhagavad Gita. It’s a pretty small chapter with just 24 verses, so don’t skip the reading part. One can easily understand the context.
We claim ownership over this world. We identify ourselves, with pride, foolishly, as a Tamilian, Andhraite (Telengaanaite??), Indian, American, Hindu, Muslim, Christian, Atheist, Rich, Poor, Male, Female… everything except what we truly are: Jivatmas. This is called ‘maya’ or illusion. And add to this the tendency to lord over the tiny part of creation we are in, we have just as well branded ourselves to be the Lord of ‘all that we have access to’.
What is the reality here?
The very first verse of Isopanishad establishes the fact that the Supreme Lord is the Lord of everything that is.
īśāvāsyam idam sarvaḿ
yat kiñca jagatyāḿ jagat
tena tyaktena bhuñjīthā
mā gṛdhaḥ kasya svid dhanam
Everything animate or inanimate that is within the universe is controlled and owned by the Lord. One should therefore accept only those things necessary for himself, which are set aside as his quota, and one should not accept other things, knowing well to whom they belong.
Let us put this in perspective. ‘We’ do not ‘own’ anything in this world per se. Our ‘ownership’ is relative in the proper sense. Someone has placed all what we see and ‘we’ simply experience it. And in the insignificant space of time that we experience in the infinite timeline of creation, we think “This is mine, this is ours, it is our right, and it was meant for us” and so on. In doing so, we create misery for us and everyone around us.
How does this sound relevant in the present scenario? This is very relevant… at least to me. Without recognizing God as the owner of everything, there is no possibility of reconciliation between the warring people who are nowadays taking up arms for even the smallest of disagreements. Replacing Krishna’s position with a man-made authority like how the communists do will simply lead to further chaos or tyrannical regimes, as we already know from the several examples we have seen in this world.
At this juncture, mentioning the prayer of Prahlada to Lord Narasimha is very apt.
Srimad Bhagavatam Canto 7 Chapter 9 Verse 17:
sokagnina sakala-yonishu dahyamanah
duhkhaushadham tad api duhkham atad-dhiyaham
bhuman bhramami vada me tava dasya-yogam
O great one, O Supreme Lord, because of combination with pleasing and displeasing circumstances and because of separation from them, one is placed in a most regrettable position, within heavenly or hellish planets, as if burning in a fire of lamentation. Although there are many remedies by which to get out of miserable life, any such remedies in the material world are more miserable than the miseries themselves. Therefore I think that the only remedy is to engage in Your service. Kindly instruct me in such service.
For a person who is inheriting virtually all the wealth and status from his demoniac father, Prahlada Maharaj’s instruction is shockingly, in a good way, contrasting!
We think we can come over any problem in this material world by virtue of our limited intelligence and creativity, but we do not realize that we are creating more and more trouble for us, since our viewpoint is like that of a frog inside a well.
This can be a good exercise for the readers to do: Think and describe in brief a situation where a solution by humans for a problem has become a greater problem for mankind.
Let me conclude this article by saying this: We have dug ourselves a bottomless hole of quicksand called ‘construction-destruction paradox’. In the name of progress, we have ignored the teachings of the Vedas and ancient sages and are literally squeezing the life force out of our mother-like Earth, endangering our survival and a rare opportunity for eternal liberation.
Kali Yuga may be meant to be this way. That does not mean we don’t have any choice but to suffer. There is always a choice. It is up to us to take to the teachings of the Vedas seriously and live a purposeful life. Or ignore the instructions meant for our well-being (material and spiritual) and continue to suffer, thinking it is enjoyment.
Next topic: Purpose of Life.
Article written by Ambi.
Ancient Wisdom, Modern relevance – Caste System as it should have been
Ancient Wisdom, Modern relevance – Caste System as it should have been
In my last article, we had seen the basic essence of Lord Krishna’s instructions through Srimad Bhagavad Gita. Going forward, I will attempt to present the views from the perspective of Vedic teachings on some of the issues that we have been facing one millennium after another.
If someone writes articles about quantum mechanics, theory of relativity, chaos theory, Fourier transforms and so on, I bet that there will be almost close to ‘zero’ interaction on it. Whereas, there are couple of topics on which one can be assured of a deluge of comments from experts (no sarcasm here) who have had life as their laboratory and their own experiences as results of experiments. But no topic is as prone to sentimental ranting and fanatic following based on so many varied theories and ‘popular leaders’, like the topic of “Indian Caste System”.
Now I will attempt to present the caste system as described by Lord Krishna in the Bhagavad Gita. I request anyone reading this article to set aside your prejudices, read through the article fully and then decide for yourself if it makes sense.
Srimad Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 04, verse 13:
cātur-varṇyaḿ mayā sṛṣṭaḿ
tasya kartāram api māḿ
viddhy akartāram avyayam
“According to the three modes of material nature and the work associated with them, the four divisions of human society are created by Me. And although I am the creator of this system, you should know that I am yet the nondoer, being unchangeable.”
I might probably see, if I can, a few mouths drop open!
So, Bhagavad Gita endorses the caste system? Apparently, yes… but not in its current form. Unfortunately, this has the ultimate weapon for some pseudo-experts and proselytizers. The fault is not with Bhagavad Gita, but with us for our lack of understanding on the scriptures and our false ego which twists almost everything to suit our own needs.
Lord Krishna says he created the 4 divisions in the society… namely, Brahmanas, Ksatriyas, Vaisyas and Sudras. Notice the words Guna and Karma highlighted in the verse? Krishna does not mention Janma (birth) in his description. This is the crux of the problem. A brahmana’s son cannot become a brahmana by default i.e. by birth. A Ksatritya’s son cannot remain as a Ksatriya by default and so on. Somewhere in time, this system started to degrade. The change was because of people’s own selfish goals, and addiction to power that came with the caste assignment. The problem started when ‘unqualified’ people started remaining in the same caste as they were born in. The original system was simply that you go to a Gurukula, spend a couple of years learning stuff and the Guru identifies the stream of skill that you are good at and then assigns you to that caste. But that got changed and nowadays, you see a boy born in a ‘brahmin’ family still being branded as ‘brahmin’ even if he has the worst character possible and is working as a laborer in the IT industry! (Don’t get me started on how IT is a boon and such. That’s for some other time.)
So, what differentiates the 4 divisions? That is also addressed by Lord Krishna in the Bhagavad Gita.
BG 18.41: Brāhmaṇas, kṣatriyas, vaiśyas and śūdras are distinguished by the qualities born of their own natures in accordance with the material modes, O chastiser of the enemy.
BG 18.42: Peacefulness, self-control, austerity, purity, tolerance, honesty, knowledge, wisdom and religiousness — these are the natural qualities by which the brāhmaṇas work.
BG 18.43: Heroism, power, determination, resourcefulness, courage in battle, generosity and leadership are the natural qualities of work for the kṣatriyas.
BG 18.44: Farming, cow protection and business are the natural work for the vaiśyas, and for the śūdras there is labor and service to others.
I think the verses are self explanatory.
There is one more area where pseudo-secularists raise a hue and cry. They quote Manu Smriti (or Manu Samhita) and make an appeal to pity for their cause by citing verses which talk about punishments to be given for people who deviate from their caste… like a Sudra speaking Vedas. In opposition, if a person without a qualified MBBS degree is found to be working a doctor, will the law enforcers remain silent? In the same way, a person who has been identified by his Guru to be NOT having any qualities or work tendencies to be a Brahmana or a Ksatriya or a Vaisya, becomes a sudra. So how does this person have any right to lecture on the Vedas? Looking from the perspective of how the caste system should have been, I see nothing wrong in the punishments.
I quote my teachers:
“In the Vedic setting, if it is ascertained that one has the nature of a sudra, they were given vocational education; literacy for the masses was not given great importance in Vedic society. However, as the sudras gave service to the other varnas, it was in turn the duty of brahmanas to systematically disseminate shastric knowledge to the general public. In fact, the temple in a Vedic community was to serve just this purpose – as a center of learning – where the mercantile and laborer classes would come and learn about religious principles through art, drama and regular discourses on scriptural teachings.”
Nowadays the word Sudra has taken a ‘derogatory’ tone… while it is simply equivalent to being called a ‘dancer’, ‘mechanic’ and so on. I am 100% against the concept of ‘untouchability’, which is again the perverted rendering of the Vedic system by the pseudo-brahmanas of recent times. And one should also be careful while dealing with ‘modern reformers’ who are quick to denounce the Vedas and have ‘converted’ to Buddhism and such… they are more dangerous than the pseudo-brahmanas because not only are they wrong in their understanding of the scriptures, they are also proud of it and do what they do as a sense of duty and right.
So, the next time someone lectures to you on the caste system and starts denouncing the Vedic scriptures, you remember that it was we people, not the scriptures, who are responsible for the current mess.
Understanding the concept of God – Part 13 Panchathanmatras
Panchathanmatras (Physical transformation of energies)
The intelligence in the Consciousness & the force together functioned & designed this beautiful body with the help of the energy particles. How does the energy inside the body converts into pressure, light, taste, smell & sound to experience this world? The energy inside the body rotates fast & magnetism is formed due to the attraction & repulsion which you know already. Just as the electrical energy is converted into light energy & heat energy, magnetism formed is transformed into light, taste, smell & sound. I would like to explain what is soul before that.
The outer layer of man is the physical body. The inner layer is the “astral body” which is the aggregate of the life force particles, that penetrative and circulate throughout the physical structure. The third layer is the “causal body”, which is the aggregate total of the bio magnetism existing & functioning in the physical body.
As a general law of Nature, anything that circulates or spins forms its own intensified centre. Under this principle the bio magnetism also get intensified & forms its own intensified centre. This centre automatically forms at the centre of the physical body & this is called the “genetic “ centre. Here, the genes with their chromosomes accommodate the intensity of bio magnetism, sexual vital fluid & the heavier life force particles. This is a divine magnetic domain of compressed characteristics of the 3 layers of man. This is called “soul” This soul experiences everything with the help of the sense organs.
Just as the bulb is made in such a way to transform the electrical energy into light, the magnetic wave which goes through the sense organs are structured to experience what is around. Certain amount or unit of energy goes out of the body in the form of magnetic waves as pressure, light, sound, smell & taste. Because of the conversion & consumption process of bio- magnetism into electricity & chemicals, elimination of a certain degree of pressure, sound, light, taste & smell from a body is continuously going on through the respective senses (skin, ears, eyes, tongue, & nose) & the outgoing electricity & chemicals are spreading & mixing with the atmospheric field all around the body.
This is the process of physical transformation of life energy, naturally common to all living beings. According to the magnetic, electrical & chemical intensity & the quality of the living beings, the degree of elimination of the above said five results may vary from one species to another from time to time.
Normally when we take a sweet say for example laddu. The first one will be very tasty & if we take another one, it might be still tastier for someone but if you are forced to eat another one you will not like the taste & you might even feel like vomiting. Why is it like that? What makes it so? Have we ever thought about it? We simply say that it becomes stale. How does the staleness come? What happens in the tongue?
If the laddu has the sweet taste then it should have the same sweetness even if we eat 10 or even more. Actually it is not so. The mixture of all the ingredients have some chemicals which when put in the mouth , induces the sweetness in the tongue due to the bio- magnetism. The limited amount or unit of energy is going out through the tongue as bio magnetism. When the laddu touches the tongue & the level of the bio magnetism gets accelerated & we feel it very sweet & tasty. The more we eat the laddu, the bio -magnetism rises & leaves from the tongue & we are not able to feel the taste. So it is the bio magnetism that makes us feel the sweetness & when lot of the energy depletes from us, we are not able to feel the taste. The best example is a dog bites the bone & blood comes out from it’s own mouth, but the dog thinks that the taste is from the bone & keeps on biting the bone injuring itself.
In the same way we think that the taste of any food comes from the food. In fact, it is the conversion of our own bio magnetism that makes us feel the tastes of food. This is what is Maya & the same happens with the other organs like the eyes, ears & nose. Another example is that when we enter the theater in the noon, at first we will not be able to see the seat & only after some time we see the seats & the people clearly. Why is it so?
We are in the bright sunlight & our bio magnetism will be in an accelerated level say about 20 units as light waves. Once we enter the theatre, the light coming out from the screen will be 10 units. So the magnetism from our body should reduce to 10 & below. Only then will we be able to see the people around. After some time when the magnetism reduces & comes to the same level we can see the people around clearly.
If the accelerated conversion is within the tolerable limits of the senses & conversion of magnetism releases surplus energy, the feeling will be pleasurable. When the conversion- level of magnetism exceeds the tolerable limit of the senses or depresses the stock of bio- magnetism below the critical level required to maintain the existence & survival of the living being, the feeling is pain. Only the plus- degree will accelerate our feeling to result in perception.
Man has to keep all his enjoyments within a certain limit because every pleasure is the significance of expenditure of his own bio- magnetism.
For the the previous posts under “Understanding the Concept of God” by Radha Chandran , click here
Ancient Wisdom, Modern relevance – Guru
Ancient Wisdom, Modern relevance – Guru
In my last article, we saw how Lord Krishna began addressing Arjuna’s concerns. I also mentioned that we will see what was Arjuna’s response and Lord Krishna’s opinion of Karma yoga. Instead, I am going to get in to a topic that I consider as very important and it is the source of much controversy these days.
During the long exchange of comments with Mahesh Kalaal in my previous article, he asked “Who is Qualified? Who is Spiritual? Who is master?” His questions are the same ones that haunt every neophyte spiritualist. And in general there seems to be this idea that when it comes to spirituality, anything and everything goes and it is based on one’s convenience and whim.
These factors show up in some of the arguments many people against accepting a Spiritual Master. It seems like accepting someone as superior is anathema to their self-respect and, if I may add, self-importance.
In school, students do experiments in labs and write voluminous records on the results (remember, the same experiments year after year) under the guidance of a teacher. And they learn exactly the same thing without any doubt.
In spiritual science too, the same mood of experiment, analysis and results is allowed, under the supervision of a qualified master. Why years… everyday there are people who can attest to the fact of verifying what is being taught by one’s spiritual master.
Oh wait!! The teachers at the schools and colleges are ‘qualified’. They have a degree from a famous college and are easily identified. They are respected for their knowledge and are experts! We cannot be sure about a Spiritual master in that manner.
Do people send their children to a school only after looking at who are the teachers for different subjects? Do they actually look in to the qualification of each and every teacher? They simply trust the school administration… on basis of recommendations of people who have already sent their children to that school or based on news of how the school’s exam results are outstanding! What about the character of the teachers? Do they set positive role models for the children? How did their previous students fare in life or in studies? I don’t think anyone asks such questions. My point is that we are all so superficial in things in which we ought to be thorough.
In any case, people simply are made more aware of such modern things like degrees and such as they have been forced to fall in line with mainstream community, based on modern scientific development which is driven mostly by just 2 factors: economic opportunism and military expansionism. Just because majority of the people don’t know how to identify a qualified spiritual teacher, it doesn’t mean they don’t exist or cannot be found.
One basic misunderstanding is that nowadays people expect a degree for anything and everything. There will be a day when even unclogging a drain or cleaning toilets will require a ‘degree’!
Spiritual science has a different set of measures to determine who is qualified or bonafide and who can be or cannot be spiritual master. So, next time you search for a bonafide Guru, keep in mind that he doesn’t give you a visiting card with 2 or 3 letter degrees behind his name.
So, we come to the question who is Guru? How can we identify a bonafide Guru?
1. He belongs to one a bonafide sampradayas sanctioned and starting with the Supreme Lord himself, and must have been authorized to act as a Spiritual Master (Refer dharmaḿ tu sākṣād bhagavat-praṇītaḿ – Śrīmad Bhāgavatam 6.3.19 and the next two verses)
2. He never presents any invented, self-made teachings (which are then considered as influenced by the defects of a conditioned living entity), but always simply repeats what the scriptures and Supreme Lord say, without any modification or distortion.
3. He follows Sastra strictly and guides his followers on the path of liberation away from material attachment.
4. He does not claim himself to be God, nor does he claim anything and everything as God.
So, putting this in perspective of our previous discussions, let’s see what Srimad Bhagavad Gita and Srimad Bhagavatam have to on this topic (click on the links to read the actual texts).
BG 2.54: Arjuna said: O Kṛṣṇa, what are the symptoms of one whose consciousness is thus merged in transcendence? How does he speak, and what is his language? How does he sit, and how does he walk?
BG 2.55: The Supreme Personality of Godhead said: O Pārtha, when a man gives up all varieties of desire for sense gratification, which arise from mental concoction, and when his mind, thus purified, finds satisfaction in the self alone, then he is said to be in pure transcendental consciousness.
BG 2.56: One who is not disturbed in mind even amidst the threefold miseries or elated when there is happiness, and who is free from attachment, fear and anger, is called a sage of steady mind.
BG 2.57: In the material world, one who is unaffected by whatever good or evil he may obtain, neither praising it nor despising it, is firmly fixed in perfect knowledge.
BG 2.58: One who is able to withdraw his senses from sense objects, as the tortoise draws its limbs within the shell, is firmly fixed in perfect consciousness.
BG 14.21: Arjuna inquired: O my dear Lord, by which symptoms is one known who is transcendental to these three modes? What is his behavior? And how does he transcend the modes of nature?
BG 14.22-25: The Supreme Personality of Godhead said: O son of Pāṇḍu, he who does not hate illumination, attachment and delusion when they are present or long for them when they disappear; who is unwavering and undisturbed through all these reactions of the material qualities, remaining neutral and transcendental, knowing that the modes alone are active; who is situated in the self and regards alike happiness and distress; who looks upon a lump of earth, a stone and a piece of gold with an equal eye; who is equal toward the desirable and the undesirable; who is steady, situated equally well in praise and blame, honor and dishonor; who treats alike both friend and enemy; and who has renounced all material activities — such a person is said to have transcended the modes of nature.
BG 14.26: One who engages in full devotional service, unfailing in all circumstances, at once transcends the modes of material nature and thus comes to the level of Brahman.
SB 11.3.21: Therefore any person who seriously desires real happiness must seek a bona fide spiritual master and take shelter of him by initiation. The qualification of the bona fide guru is that he has realized the conclusions of the scriptures by deliberation and is able to convince others of these conclusions. Such great personalities, who have taken shelter of the Supreme Godhead, leaving aside all material considerations, should be understood to be bona fide spiritual masters.
Do I see people staring in disbelief? Ok, shake your head couple of times, take a deep breath and relax. So, it is not a simple procedure to go in search of a spiritual master. If you are to ensure that a person has all the attributes as listed above, you basically need to be a bit knowledgeable yourself.
Instead of any further elaboration, I will close by quoting my teachers:
“Choosing a spiritual master is quite different from a mundane exercise of ‘choosing’ some physical article or a relationship in this material world based on the mind’s likes and dislikes. Going by personal appeal or by some superficial criteria such as popular acclaim or some other external traits, or making comparison — these are likely to be misleading. Rather, one must look for the symptoms of a self-realized soul manifesting in the person of such a spiritual master, in the light of scriptural directions as stated above.
In the course of this process, the most important criterion on the part of the aspiring disciple is to nurture and strengthen their own internal convictions, sincerity and commitment for spiritual life. If the disciple harbors ulterior motives for some temporary, material benefits, then one is likely to be misled in the search for a guru. Therefore one should progressively cultivate one’s own sincerity of purpose in seeking a bona fide spiritual master competent to guide one to ultimate spiritual perfection. (jijnasuh shreya uttamam SB 11.3.21).
When the disciple’s heart is ready and prepared in this way, Lord Krishna reciprocates with such sincerity and prayers by sending the bona fide spiritual master into the devotee’s life. It will become amply clear who one’s spiritual master is at that time and the earnest disciple will be able to readily recognize and thus proceed to solidify that relationship as described above.”
Article written by Ambi.
Ancient Wisdom, Modern relevance – śrī-bhagavān uvāca
Śrī-bhagavān uvāca means “The Supreme Personality of Godhead said”.
Bhagavān is how Lord Krishna is addressed by Srimad Bhagavad Gita. It means one who has the six opulences, namely Wealth, Strength, Fame, Beauty, Knowledge and Renunciation, unlimitedly. If you read the list carefully, you will see that almost all so-called celebrities of this world are known for having the opulences stated above, one or more at any time. But even they do not compare to Bhagavān, who is the Lord of everything that is and has all the opulence in unlimited quantity.
In my last article, we saw how Arjuna is overcome by grief and refuses to take up arms against his kinsmen. Being such a ‘nice person’, one would have thought that Lord Krishna, as God, would have been very happy and said “Arjuna, I am so proud of you! You are non-violent! That’s just great!”
Did he? NO. Krishna, in fact, scolds Arjuna in the strongest of words. Here it is, Bhagavad Gita Chapter 02, verse 2-3:
kutas tvā kaśmalam idaḿ
The Supreme Personality of Godhead said: My dear Arjuna, how have these impurities come upon you? They are not at all befitting a man who knows the value of life. They lead not to higher planets but to infamy.
klaibyaḿ mā sma gamaḥ pārtha
naitat tvayy upapadyate
O son of Pṛthā, do not yield to this degrading impotence. It does not become you. Give up such petty weakness of heart and arise, O chastiser of the enemy.
I do not think that Krishna’s words need any explanation here.
Arjuna is shocked! He asks Krishna how can he encourage slaying men worthy of worship, being his teachers. He declares it’s better to live of begging than to live at the cost of these great souls. Then he accepts that he is confused with miserly weakness and that he is now Krishna’s disciple and then requests Krishna to dispel his grief. Then he says “Govinda, I shall not fight” and became silent.
What comes next is a very, very important section of Bhagavad Gita. The Supreme Lord begins his instruction to his surrendered devotee. Since his instructions carry the essence of the entire Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 02 is termed as a summary of the contents of the Bhagavad Gita. This will be quite a long article if I were to address all the instructions, so I will summarize on the main topics that are being addressed.
Lord Krishna begins with the explanation of the soul or atma by reprimanding Arjuna and calling him unwise for speaking like a learned man (because he made so many emotional arguments) but grieving for things that don’t deserve grief and also that the wise lament neither for the living nor for the dead. The very next statement he makes to Arjuna on this topic is this:
na tv evāhaḿ jātu nāsaḿ
na tvaḿ neme janādhipāḥ
na caiva na bhaviṣyāmaḥ
sarve vayam ataḥ param
“Never was there a time when I did not exist, nor you, nor all these kings; nor in the future shall any of us cease to be.” – BG2.12
This statement is a damning rebuttal of the theory which states that all souls merge in to the brahma-jyoti, losing their identity, and also of the theory where individuality is said to be an effect of illusion or Maya. In a way, it also is a statement that refutes the theory of evolution, where life is proclaimed to come from matter and has no purpose or prior or future existence. The next statement explains the core principle of Transmigration of the Soul:
dehino ‘smin yathā dehe
kaumāraḿ yauvanaḿ jarā
dhīras tatra na muhyati
“As the embodied soul continuously passes, in this body, from boyhood to youth to old age, the soul similarly passes into another body at death. A sober person is not bewildered by such a change.” – BG2.13
So, what are the characteristics of this spirit soul? In Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 2, verses 16-25, this is described clearly. A spirit soul is eternal, indestructible, cannot be cut in to pieces, cannot be burnt by fire, cannot be moistened by water or withered by wind, immutable, invisible and inconceivable.
And so, Lord Krishna says to Arjuna that he shouldn’t lament for the person who dies, since it’s only the body that is slain. After that, Krishna explains why Arjuna must fight, by telling how people would speak ill of Arjuna if he didn’t do his duty, and how the generals would think him to be weak. Krishna also begins talking about how Arjuna should do his duty for the sake of doing it, without considering the result. This, Lord Krishna says, would let Arjuna avoid sin.
He also conveys to Arjuna that what he has heard till now was only from the analytical point of view. So, Krishna begins explaining the same principles in terms of working without fruitive results. It is in this section he speaks the famous verse 47 in Chapter 02 (made popular, thanks to the Mahabharata serial on TV and countless pseudo-philosophers who claim this as the essence of Bhagavad Gita)
karmaṇy evādhikāras te
mā phaleṣu kadācana
mā karma-phala-hetur bhūr
mā te sańgo ‘stv akarmaṇi
“You have a right to perform your prescribed duty, but you are not entitled to the fruits of action. Never consider yourself the cause of the results of your activities, and never be attached to not doing your duty.”
The Acharyas explain that the Lord is talking about prescribed duties here, but we normally, wrongly, take this to mean that Krishna is talking about day to day mundane activities. So, one must do his prescribed duty, without attachment to success or failure. Allow me to deal in this a bit more. Lord Krishna does not say here that results are to be ignored or that we should carry out our duties carelessly. Since the Supreme Lord is the proprietor of everything, he owns the results too. We must understand that our self is just one of the five factors that influence action. This is from Chapter 18, verse 14.
adhiṣṭhānaḿ tathā kartā
karaṇaḿ ca pṛthag-vidham
vividhāś ca pṛthak ceṣṭā
daivaḿ caivātra pañcamam
“The place of action [the body], the performer, the various senses, the many different kinds of endeavor, and ultimately the Supersoul — these are the five factors of action.”
So, unless the results are dedicated to the Supreme Lord, Krishna, then that work causes bondage and suffering. How we should understand this is simply that as a spirit soul, we have to be engaged in activity. We have capacity for work and are intermediate causes, but material nature creates result and it is controlled by Lord Krishna. This is mentioned in Chapter 09, verse 10.
“This material nature, which is one of My energies, is working under My direction, O son of Kuntī, producing all moving and nonmoving beings. Under its rule this manifestation is created and annihilated again and again.”
So, we don’t really have a claim over results which are actually created by something which is not under our control. If we align our freewill through actions based on the Lord’s instructions, it does not cause any bondage.
One other important point to be noted from Krishna’s response is how he explains the root cause of all problems. Let’s hear it from him directly, shall we?
Lord Krishna says in Chapter 02, verses 62-64:
“While contemplating the objects of the senses, a person develops attachment for them, and from such attachment lust develops, and from lust anger arises. From anger, complete delusion arises, and from delusion bewilderment of memory. When memory is bewildered, intelligence is lost, and when intelligence is lost one falls down again into the material pool. But a person free from all attachment and aversion and able to control his senses through regulative principles of freedom can obtain the complete mercy of the Lord.”
So, Lord Krishna declares that attachment and the lust that arises from it to be the real problem. The senses must be engaged in some real activity, and if they are not used in the service of the Supreme Lord, then they will be engaged in service of materialism. But for a person who is devoid of attachment or aversion and follows the regulative principles properly, he can achieve the highest state of becoming conscious of the Supreme Lord. Artificial renunciation won’t help when the desire to enjoy is still present in the mind and even the slightest agitation of the mind will pull down a person who is even on the verge of the ‘liberation’ often spoken about as the goal of life.
I will end this article with one of the verses which has influenced me in my personal life very much. Srimad Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 02, verse 66:
nāsti buddhir ayuktasya
na cāyuktasya bhāvanā
na cābhāvayataḥ śāntir
aśāntasya kutaḥ sukham
“One who is not connected with the Supreme [in Kṛṣṇa consciousness] can have neither transcendental intelligence nor a steady mind, without which there is no possibility of peace. And how can there be any happiness without peace?”
This relates directly to how I started writing this sequence of articles, on request from our very own Lakshmi Rajan. I started off by saying everyone wants to be happy, forever. And above is the clear solution to that! Without the mind being peaceful, there can be no happiness. And for the mind to be peaceful, one must be on the devotional platform.
So, how does Arjuna respond to Lord Krishna and what question he put forth to the Lord? What does Lord Krishna say about Karma Yoga? These I will address in the next article, which should be ready by early next week.
This completes the brief summary of Chapter 02 of Srimad Bhagavad Gita. I have tried to compress the whole chapter of 72 verses in to less than 1800 words. So if I have missed out on any important aspects or given incomplete explanations, it is only due to my fault and oversight, for which I pray forgiveness and understanding from my teachers as well as the readers. Please do not hesitate to ask for any clarification as required and I will try to clarify to the best of my ability.
Understanding the concept of God – Part 12 (imprints of sins & its dissolution)
Imprints of sins & its dissolution
You must be knowing by now that all our experiences through our 5 senses get recorded in the energy particles & get stored in the genetic centre. Already stored experiences before one’s birth is called sanchit karma. This karma makes one’s prarabtha karma from the day of birth up till now & the 2 karmas together makes the real personality of a person. This is the ahamya karma which shows one’s future. The purpose of this life is to enjoy & at the same time clear off the karmas. Now, how do we know that we have sin imprints? Disease in one’s body & 3 impurities (ego, sin imprints & maya) in our thoughts show that we have sin imprints.
There is the cause & effect for every action we do. So if we suffer then we are sure to know that we had done a bad deed. Sow good & so shall the reap.
God + 3 impurities = Man
Man – 3 impurities = God
So far what is stored is done without our knowledge. So to avoid further storing, one needs certain awareness in whatever one thinks , speaks & acts. How do we clear off the past karmas? This is through expiation, dissipation & dissolution. Let us see all the three in detail.
Expiation: Whenever one does even a small mistake & if he regrets for it , the first thing he should do is to ask sorry to the concerned person & make him forgive for the wrong thing done. This will not create karmas. For example, we might shout at a person not knowing the truth of his mistake done & when we come to know it, we feel bad & so to avoid guilty feeling, ask him excuse at once. There are certain people who will not forgive & that has to be ignored.
Dissipation: Do good deeds so that the stored bad karmas doesn’t come out to make our life a miserable one. This can be explained by an example. Normally recorded audio or video cassettes , if it’s recorded with a movie can be over recorded with some good lectures of a master, nice music & so on. What was recorded cannot be seen or heard when played.
Dissolution: This can be done through meditation. The more we go deeply to lower frequencies thoughts get reduced & for a moment we experience thoughtless states. When one gets this experience, many of his karmas are erased. This is again compared to a cassette which in order to make it blank is made to simply “play record” & everything in the cassette is erased , but nothing is recorded. So through meditation many karmas(imprints) are made to dissolve or erased through thoughtless states in meditation. What we need is constant awareness or watchfulness to ourselves instead of unnecessarily watching others.
Understanding the Concept of God – Part 11 ( Moralization of the 6 bad qualities )
The 6 major bad qualities are strong desire (passion), anger, miserliness, immoral sexual passion, vanity & vengeance. All these qualities arise only when one is in beta level, as normally everybody will be in this level due to their constant thinking of some matters or problems that come across their life. The level swings from beta to alpha according to our thoughts & emotions. So it is in our hands to see that we don’t go beyond a certain level. (To know further about various levels read part 7)
The six qualities, if we are aware of , can be changed into 6 good qualities & they are satisfaction, patience, charity, chastity, equality & forgiveness. If one is satisfied in life with what they have, they will not feel jealous with others, out of greediness for more money & many unwanted happenings can be avoided. That doesn’t mean one should not have ambitions. Once you achieve or earn a lot of money, one should not go on for more money or increasing their properties. Until one knows about himself he will not have satisfaction in life. His expansion goes in hoarding money, increasing knowledge & gathering more & more properties. Once he knows his true self, outward requirements becomes little. Then satisfaction comes in life all the other good qualities comes automatically & we know the way to lead a peaceful & enjoyable life.
Strong desire changes into satisfaction.
Anger into patience.
Miserliness into charity.
Immoral sexual passion into Chastity.
Vanity into equality.
Vengeance into Forgiveness.