Practical Spirituality – The regulative principles
Everything in this universe, except for the Supreme Lord, has to follow rules and perform the prescribed duties. But Krishna says in the Bhagavad Gita that though he is not bound by any rules, he still executes his duties so as to set an example to all the souls.
BG 3.22: O son of Pṛthā, there is no work prescribed for Me within all the three planetary systems. Nor am I in want of anything, nor have I a need to obtain anything — and yet I am engaged in prescribed duties.
BG 3.23: For if I ever failed to engage in carefully performing prescribed duties, O Pārtha, certainly all men would follow My path.
Spiritual practice can be a different experience depending on which path one takes. In general, the best path to take would be and should be the easiest one, is it not? This applies to spirituality as well. But easy does not mean “no rules”. There is a common misconception that is going around that you can do anything you want as long as you say a few prayers and ask for forgiveness. Some even go to the extent to say “Oh, Krishna is like my friend. He just wants us to enjoy like he did!” There are people who even seek to justify their bad habits using Vedic philosophy.
A story I heard: A Krishna devotee was visiting a home once. The lady of the house, during the course of her discussions, mentioned that her son was a good ‘naishtika brahmachari’ and a pious person but he smokes a lot. She requested this devotee to go and talk her son to put some sense in to him. The devotee went outside to the back of the house and found the lady’s son puffing out smoke like a steam engine. When he asked the son: “Sir, why do you smoke this much? Do you not know this is bad for health?” The son replied, “I am not smoking, my body is smoking!”
So, this kind of dangerous ideas can be the result of unguided, self improvised spiritual practice. Vedic Spirituality is not a simple “Be good, Get good” scheme. It is not a way to get material wealth and happiness through ‘grace of God’. Certainly, it is not wrong if someone prays to Krishna for protection in dire times or relief during extremely difficult financial or family situations, but treating Krishna or any of the devatas as “order suppliers” should be strongly discouraged and avoided.
Let’s get back to the topic. For any aspiring, sincere spiritualist, there are 4 basic regulatory principles that must be followed. These rules were followed as a matter of habit in the past, but Srila Prabhupada gave them prominence since he was preaching in a place which was abound with the below practices.
1) No meat eating (meat, fish eggs etc.)
2) No intoxication (smoking, drinking liquor, coffee and tea (yes, you read it right) etc.)
3) No gambling
4) No illicit sex
We will look at these one by one in detail in the order shown.
Before we get in to the details, here are some statements to consider.
From Śrī Īśopaniṣad:
Iso 1: 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.
From Upadeśāmṛta (The Nectar of Instruction) of Śrī Rūpa Gosvāmī:
NoI 1: A sober person who can tolerate the urge to speak, the mind’s demands, the actions of anger and the urges of the tongue, belly and genitals is qualified to make disciples all over the world.
I will leave these at this point. We will come back to these as and when needed.
Now, for the first rule… being a vegetarian. There will be so many people who might have raised their eyebrows at the other rules, but I am sure the first one comes as no surprise.
Why vegetarianism? For spiritual practice, one of the goals is going beyond the control of the 3 modes of nature. But the first step is to be in the mode of goodness… sattva guna. The other two modes of nature are mode of passion (Rajas) and mode of ignorance (Tamas).
Ok. Quote time.
BG 9.26: If one offers Me with love and devotion a leaf, a flower, fruit or water, I will accept it.
BG 17.7: Even the food each person prefers is of three kinds, according to the three modes of material nature. The same is true of sacrifices, austerities and charity. Now hear of the distinctions between them.
BG 17.8: Foods dear to those in the mode of goodness increase the duration of life, purify one’s existence and give strength, health, happiness and satisfaction. Such foods are juicy, fatty, wholesome, and pleasing to the heart.
BG 17.9: Foods that are too bitter, too sour, salty, hot, pungent, dry and burning are dear to those in the mode of passion. Such foods cause distress, misery and disease.
BG 17.10: Food prepared more than three hours before being eaten, food that is tasteless, decomposed and putrid, and food consisting of remnants and untouchable things is dear to those in the mode of darkness.
You with me still? Good.
Basically, to get situated in the mode of goodness, one must avoid eating foods that are detrimental to such a progress. As such, non-vegetarian items are not categorized as ‘sattvic food’. There are several reasons why this is stressed by the Acharyas. I am not going to go in detail… but will briefly touch upon them.
There is no need to kill animals for food when the same is accomplished through grains, vegetables, fruits and milk. It is quite understandable that this is not possible for people who are desert nomads or Arctic Eskimos. But for people in civilization, where there is plenty of the vegetarian stuff available, to be eating meat is sheer indulgence which takes the animals for granted as being at our disposal. There will be some people who claim animals don’t have souls and hence ‘killing’ them is fine. That is very a foolish argument, as are the claims of some people that we cannot get all nutrition from vegetarian food.
Does this mean it is ok to gorge down on vegetarian food and kill plants as well as trees at our will?
No. Absolutely not! Here is where we refer to the quoted verse of Śrī Īśopaniṣad. Everything belongs to the Supreme Lord but we are allowed our quota for sustenance. Nothing more, nothing less.
There was a question from David on this topic. It is true that many vegetarians take pride in being so, and put down the other side. I was one too, to be honest. I have just one verse to quote on that.
Srimad Bhagavad Gita Canto 3, Verse 13
bhunjate te tv agham papa
ye pacanty atma-karanat
“The devotees of the Lord are released from all kinds of sins because they eat food which is offered first for sacrifice. Others, who prepare food for personal sense enjoyment, verily eat only sin.”
This is a direct statement from Krishna which is self explanatory. Anything that is prepared as food and eaten without offering it to the Lord is basically sinful. So, even it is vegetarian food, if it is not first offered as ‘nivedya’ and consumed later as ‘prasadam’, it is sinful. Obviously, non-vegetarian food cannot be offered as nivedya (as well as preparations with onion, garlic, mushrooms etc. but more on this later.) This concept of ‘prasadam’ is directly tied to the verse which mentions about controlling the urges of the tongue.
Trust me, in the current world, being a vegetarian is an austerity where one has to be very vigilant in what one eats. But I have seen the effects of food on one’s mental disposition, behavior and mood first hand as well as heard of the same from many others.
I will stop here for this article. In the next installment, we will look in what the other regulative principles are meant to accomplish.
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 – Role of faith in Science
Role of faith in Science
In my last article, we had seen what Krishna’s instructions on the caste system were. And there was an interesting set of comments from Mr. Hari, which prompted me to put up this article together in short notice (I was working on a more elaborate article and had updated LR only yesterday that I was running behind schedule, but looks like this one can fill the gap.)
Let the fireworks begin.
I think we hear this statement almost every day that “In science, everything is empirically verified; so there is no question of dogmatic faith in scientific methodology.”
Let us have a deeper analysis on this claim, shall we?
Here are the fundamental assumptions made by scientists in their attempt to understand the origin and functioning of this universe (and life) in purely physical terms:
1. Every natural law can be explained by mathematical expression.
2. Those expressions are valid everywhere in this universe.
3. The natural laws are simple.
People in general take these for facts because scientists say it is so. But these are just axiomatic principles which have not been proved to be correct. Nor can they be proved easily. These are just part of one approach to explain reality, and the scientists have implicit faith that these are correct. There may be no logical reason to rule out advanced alternative theories that explain the Universe and life as such, but no… many a scientist would insist his/her chosen strategy is the correct one.
Why? The reason for such an over simplified approach is that if they can describe the universe or life in simple equations, they can understand and probably manipulate them! But what if the universe in its current form is the simplest form or if it is irreducibly complex? Either way, this approach fails.
One other major assumption the scientists make is that the physical rules they discover on this earth through lab experiments is valid throughout all space and time. But they do hide nicely behind the fact that obviously no one can go back billions of years in time to see if something the scientists claims to have happened. Nor does anyone have any direct physical evidence from anything other than a limited space in our solar system (and do you want to know how limited it is, just to get an idea of our insignificant position in the universe? Click Here!).
So, believing in any ‘scientific’ theory requires as much faith as is required to believe that the universe is created and maintained by a personal God.
The moment some people read this, they would be gritting their teeth and ready to jump: “How dare you insinuate that science requires faith? It is all backed by experimental evidence, you Taliban!!”
Stand down, soldier. Now, show to me that an experiment has been conducted and has proven the validity of all known physical laws across all time and space… then, maybe, we can have a civil conversation. Without that proof, the element of faith simply reasserts itself.
We people are also to blame. We just believe in whatever our intelligent friends throw on our ears without question. For example… how do you know man really landed on the moon? Where you standing next to Mr. Armstrong? The point is NOT whether man actually landed on moon or not… but what is our means of knowing such an event actually happened? We just take it for granted the reports are true… based on faith.
So, accepting anything as a fact without one experiencing it directly involves the element of faith.
The faith on scientists is strengthened primarily based on the so-called technological advancements that they have been showing off till today. The keywords are “improved standard of living/ life”.
But in doing so, we reject the faithful teachings of ‘spiritual scientists’ like Ramanujacarya, Madhvacarya or Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, who have themselves put the essence of the Vedic knowledge to practical implementation and the results of their experiments are well documented and are still verifiable by their followers to this day.
It is a pity that people are ready to accept blindly speculative theories as unshakeable truth, while they are not even willing to take the smallest effort to study and understand the basics of the teachings of anti-material, spiritual scientists.
(I have already mentioned this before, I do it again: Understand this. I do not say science as we have it today is useless. It has its benefits, but only so much as related to material aspects. One of modern scientific thought’s major shortcomings is that many scientists take the attitude called Burden of Proof towards God or any other subtler aspects of science, saying that God or soul does not exist until proved. This attitude is fine towards matters related to gross physical existence, but fails miserably when applied to subtle matters. If you read through my post on Descending Knowledge, you can understand that ‘Yes, it does take faith in the Vedic scriptures to get started in studying them, but just like in the modern scientific method, the faith gets strengthened by the results that the prescribed experiments give’. )
I will conclude with this: Trying to put down the teachings of the Vedas and Vedic scriptures as myths and what not, without understanding the Vedic teachings at least at the basic level, is like trying to comment on a work of Shakespeare without any knowledge of English.
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.
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.
Understanding the concept of God – Part 3
Whenever I say Space, don’t forget it is Conscious & Intelligence. It separates itself in high speed. Once the speed starts, then follows the time, it takes for its whirling & the distance, between two energy particles, & the place it occupies is the volume. So now we have the four expressions of the particle– time, distance, Speed & volume. To make the people understand they gave a form to this concept as four faced Brahma, who does the creation.
Soon as the particle was formed, because of the high speed, it couldn’t dissolve itself into the space & the endless journey of the conscious starts transforming as the panchaboothas which I’ve explained in the previous chapter. Another quality of this particle is it records everything within. So in an energy particle everything is stored like in the computer chip. It’s again the work of the magnetism. My guru used to say Magnet as mega – net, a huge networking prevailing through out the Universe.
While this kind of classes was conducted by the masters, we do so many meditations like Thuriya, Thuriatheeth, Panchabootha Navagraha Meditation, and Pranava Meditation. All these meditations bring down our mental frequencies & sometimes while meditating some get visions of the above said. That’s how the experiences in meditation & the analysis of all bring clarity in the mind. It’s not just a theory to be understood, but can be experienced also.
One might wonder why one should do so many meditations.Panchabootha Navagraha meditation is specifically to make a harmonious link with the person.Thuriatheeth meditation to expand the mind. (I will explain about various meditations in detail in another topic)
So now coming back, according to the difference in the speed & the magnetism, the process continues & the stars were formed. When the speed slows down, conscious, Space or intelligence will dominate & so the process goes perfectly well with a pattern, regularity & in a precise way. So millions of stars were formed & they together join to form galaxies. Even the galaxies are like a huge energy particle. Again don’t forget that everything is recorded in all the particles.
Most of you might know how planets are formed from the stars. From the sun all the 9 planets were formed. They too have all the 5 elements but different in proportion. Only in earth, the 5 elements are in the right proportion for the living beings to come into existence.
In the next chapter I’ll continue how the evolution happened from the 1st sense to the 6th sense in our home, the Earth.
Previous topics in this series :
A conversation with my aunt
Understanding the concept of God – Part 1
Understanding the concept of God – Part 2
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.
A study on Soul
A Study on Soul
SOUL – the life force / energy that keeps a body moving . Science has made so much of advancement but still the concept of the life force/energy is still a mystery or uncharted path for scientists. In this context, it is definitely worth proud of and worth admiring a fact that Vedas and Bhagavad Gita written thousands of years ago in our land offers a rich and valuable information and understanding on the concept of soul.
Reading Bhagavad Gita these days am awed by the enormous wealth of knowledge and insight this master piece provides. Here in this topic , I shall write about the understanding on soul that I gained from my spiritual quest of our Vedas and Bhagavad Gita. So far.
The size of the soul :
Svetasvatara Upanishad (5.9) says :
Satadha kalpitasya ca
Bhago Jivah Sa Vijneyah
Sa Canantyaya kalpate
Which translates as :
“When the upper point of hair is divided into one hundred parts and again each of such parts is further divided into one hundred parts, each such part is the measurement of the dimension of the spirit soul”
Another verse from the same Upanishad also mentions the size of the soul :
Jiavha suksma-svarupo yam
Sankhyarito hi cit-kanah
Which means :
“There are innumerable particles of spiritual atoms , which are measured as one ten thousandth of the upper portion of the hair.”
So we can conclude that according to Vedic scriptures of the vedic times , the individual particle of spiritual soul is a spiritual atom smaller than the material atoms.
This very small spiritual spark is the basic principle of the material body and the influence of this tiny spark is spread all over the body . This tiny atom is what gives the life force for our body. If this tiny spark is snuffed out of our body, it’s just a dead body.
Nature of the soul :
According the Bhagavad Gita : chapter 2.17
“ That which pervades the entire body , you should know to be indestructible. No one is able to destroy that imperishable soul”
The material body can be destroyed and it is perishable . The same is not the case with the soul. The soul can neither be destroyed . It is imperishable. The material body has to die at one point of time but soul is ever living.
According to Bhagavad Gita chapter 2.20
“ For the soul there is neither birth nor death at any time. He has not come into being , does not come into being , and will not come into being. He is unborn , eternal , ever-existing and primeval. He is not slain , when the body is slain. ”
According to Bhagavad Gita chapter 2.23
“ The soul can never be cut to pieces by any weapon , nor burned by fire , nor moistened by water , nor withered by the wind ”
According to Bhagavad Gita chapter 2.24
“ This individual soul is unbreakable and insoluble and can be neither burned nor dried. He is everlasting , present everywhere , unchangeable, immovable and eternally the same.”
According to Bhagavad Gita chapter 2.25 :
“ It is said that the soul is invisible , inconceivable and immutable.Knowing this , you should not grieve for the body. ”
So in a nutshell the nature of the soul is describes as : indestructible , imperishable , is unborn , eternal , ever-existing and primeval. The soul is unbreakable and insoluble . It can neither be burned nor dried. It is everlasting , present everywhere , unchangeable , immovable and eternally the same.
The point eternally the same is very important. It conveys a point that all living souls are of the same character but what differentiates one from other is through the cycle of karma and the influences of the individual on its course of births and rebirths. In this regard , it is very interesting to note that , Vedas ascribe two kinds of soul Jeevatma and Paramatma . Both this souls live within every living entity. The actions and reactions of the Jeevatma is what brings the different uniqueness and characterizations of the individual living entity. I will talk about Jeevatma and Paramatma and their significance in another topic.
To conclude with a verse from Bhagavad Gita chapter 2.29 :
“ Some look on the soul as amazing , some describe him as amazing , and some hear of him as amazing , while others , even after hearing about him , cannot understand him at all ”
This is exactly how one reacts when we talk about soul. The more we study indepth the Vedas and Bhagavad Gita , the more we get the understanding on the soul . I have just started my spiritual journey into Vedas and Bhagavad Gita will share the knowledge I gained in due course of time in my blog.