Saturday, October 18, 2014

REFLECT on your true nature this Year: Happy Deepavali

Wishing You And Your Family A Very Happy Deepavali And
A Peaceful & Prosperous New Year

(Note: Gujarati New Year will be V.S. 2071 on 24th Oct 2014. For other states, year is celebrated on Chaitra Shukla Pratipada  Most Lunar calendars start the year on Shukla Paksha Pratipada during Chaitra month (March – April). In 2014, the Nav Samvat begins on March 31. This day is celebrated as Gudi Padwa and Yugadi. The New Year is first day after the Amavasi (No moon) in the month of Chaitra.

However in Gujarat New Year starts on Shukla Paksha Pratipada in month of Kartik.)

Deepavali is the celebration of victory of good over evil.

‘Good’ represents, sattva guNa, sAttvika qualities like dayA (compassion), prema (divine love), tyAga (renunciation), etc and all activities related to sattva guNa and light i.e. knowledge (of Self).

Evil represents tAmasika guNa and it’s qualities like revengeful attitude, lazyness, ignorance (of knowledge of truth), etc. 

rajasa guNa represents activity, glory, and vikshepa Sakti (mental agitation)

Each year, we get an opportunity to reflect upon our past actions and accordingly take necessary action so as not to repeat mistakes. It is about starting fresh life.

bhagavad gItA is one of the most revered scriptures for us. Sri Abhinavagupta, a great and unique Saiva AcArya has written a unique commentary on bhagavad gItA. The commentary directly asks one to look within. It is in the commentary of Sri Abhinavagupta ji that we find symbolic interpretation in the first verse itself.

Note: Adi SankacAcArya ji has commented on gItA from chapter 2, verse 10 i.e. BG 2.10. This is because the chapter 1 is all about creating a background, calledas pUrvabhumikA. gItA starts with BG 2.7, as it is in this verse arjuna accepts bhagavAn Sri kruShNa. bhagavAn accepts arjuna as his disciple and begins giving his updeSa from BG 2.10. Hence Adi SankarAcArya ji has start his commentary from BG 2.10, though he has covered earlier verses in brief.

Since symbolic interpretation can be used even today to turn introvert and apply the teachings in our daily life, let’s have a look at BG 1.1, BG 6.5-6 of bhagavad gItA in brief.

  • Kuru-kshetra, a battlefield, is our own mind.
  • Kaurava-s are ignorant qualities like, hatred, jealousy, etc and attachment to perishable objects and person with a sense of attachment like ‘me’ and ‘mine’
  • pAnDava-s are positive qualities like love, compassion, etc and will to overcome negative qualities.
  • druTrAShTra is represented as a blind man, meaning our ignorance towards Atman / Brahman and false attachment towards objects and loved words. Since we are all ‘blinded by attachment - ‘me’ and ‘mine’, gItA begins with the blind king.

The summary of Adi SankarAcArya ji’s commentary on two verses BG 6.5-6 can be:

Mind is one’s own enemy and friend. Mind with sAttvika (divine) qualities is a friend and an obedient servant, while a mind filled with lower, negative thoughts and emotions is one’s greatest enemy. Anyone else who is an external harmful enemy, even he is of one's own making! [This is because of perception and our own way of judgment of a particular person and incident.]. One who has conquered with 5 senses, that mind is the friend, while the one who’s mind is a slave of senses is an enemy of himself.

As an enemy, who is different from oneself, does harm to oneself, similarly one's self behaves like an enemy to oneself. This is the meaning. If the body and organs are under control, they are helpful in concentrating one's mind on the Self; but, if they are not under control, they oppose this concentration.
[Note, The word ‘AtmA’ (Self) is taken as ‘mana’ (mind) when it is taking about controlling one own self and self with good and / or bad qualities. Real Self cannot be controlled, as it is the one and only one reality]
Gita begins with a blind king and ends with Arjuna’s recalling of Self i.e. knowing the true nature of Self. Our journey too is from that of being attached (blinded by objects and loved ones) to becoming a disciple and then realizing our True nature i.e. becoming a GYAnI by the grace of ISvara and guru.

This article is purposefully published early so that one can

Reflect ... On Your True Identity

Story: Once, mother tigress died immediately after giving birth to a cub while pouncing on sheep. Cub grew among sheep heard and thought himself to be a sheep. He started eating grass and became a vegetarian. Once a tiger saw a cub behaving like a sheep. Tiger grabbed him and show his face in a pond and said that your face matched with 'Me', the tiger, and not with the Sheep. Immediately, Tiger realized his 'true' nature and started living like a 'Tiger'.

Let the lamp of knowledge ever ignite in our hearts is my prayer from the bottom of my heart

Reflect ...

Overcome negative qualities That Stop Your Spiritual Progress ...

Realize Your True Nature

Verses explained in detail: (can be skipped)

मूल स्लोकः
धृतराष्ट्र उवाच

धर्मक्षेत्रे कुरुक्षेत्रे समवेता युयुत्सवः।
मामकाः पाण्डवाश्चैव किमकुर्वत सञ्जय।।1.1।।

English translation by Swami Gambhirananda

1.1. Dhrtarastra said -- O Sanjaya, what did my sons (and others) and Pandu's sons (and others) actually do when, eager for battle, they assembled on the sacred field, the Kuruksetra (Field of the Kurus123)?

Sanskrit commentary by Sri Abhinavagupta

धर्मक्षेत्र इति। अत्र केचित् व्याख्याविकल्पमाहुः -- कुरूणां करणानां यत् क्षेत्रमनुग्राहकं अतएव सांसारिकधर्माणां (S सांसारिकत्वधर्माणां) सर्वेषां क्षेत्रम् उत्पत्तिनिमित्तत्वात्। 'अयं स परमो धर्मो यद्योगेनात्मदर्शनम्' (या. स्मृ. I, 8) इत्यस्य च धर्मस्य क्षेत्रम्; समस्तधर्माणां क्षयात् अपवर्गप्राप्त्या त्राणभूतं तदधिकारिशरीरम्। सर्वक्षत्राणां, क्षदेः हिंसार्थत्वात्, परस्परं वध्यघातकभावेन (S परस्परवध्य -- ) वर्तमानानां रागवैराग्यक्रोधक्षमाप्रभृतीनां समागमो यत्र, तस्मिन् स्थिता ये मामका अविद्यापुरुषोचिता अविद्यामयाः संकल्पाः; पाण्डवाः शुद्धविद्यापुरुषोचिता विद्यात्मानः; ते किमकुर्वत? कैः खलु के जिताः? इति। मामकः अविद्यापुरुषः; पाण्डुः, शुद्धः ।।1.1।।

English translation by Dr. S Sankaranarayan (on Sri Abhinavagupta's Sanskrit Commentary)

1.1 Dharmaksetre etc. Here some authors offer a different explanation as -Kuruksetra : the man's body is the ksetra i.e., the facilitator, of the kurus, i.e., the sense-organs. The same is the field of all worldly duties, since it is the cause of their birth; which is also the field of the righteous act that has been described as :

'This is the highest righteous act viz., to realise the Self by means of the Yoga';

and which is the protector [of the embodied Self] by achieving emancipation [by means of this], through the destruction of all duties. It is the location where there is the confrontation among all ‘ksatras’, the murderous ones-because the root ‘ksad’ means 'to kill' - viz, passion and asceticism, wrath and forbearance, and others that stand in the mutual relationship of the slayer and the slain. Those that exist in it are the ‘mamakas’ i.e., the intentions that are worthy of man of ignorance and are the products of ignorance-and those that are born of Pandu: i.e., the intentions, of which the soul is the very knowledge itself and which are worthy of persons of pure knowledge. What did they do? In other words, which were vanquished by what? Mamaka : a man of ignorance as he utters always 'mine'. Pandu : the pure one.

We can have a look at BG 6.5 and BG 6.6. Sri Abhinavagupta ji has given a combined commentary on two verses

मूल स्लोकः

उद्धरेदात्मनाऽऽत्मानं नात्मानमवसादयेत्।
आत्मैव ह्यात्मनो बन्धुरात्मैव रिपुरात्मनः।।6.5।।

English translation by Swami Gambhirananda

6.5 One should save oneself by oneself; one should not lower oneself. For oneself is verily one's own friend; oneself is verily one's own enemy.
मूल स्लोकः

बन्धुरात्माऽऽत्मनस्तस्य येनात्मैवात्मना जितः।
अनात्मनस्तु शत्रुत्वे वर्तेतात्मैव शत्रुवत्।।6.6।।

English translation by Swami Gambhirananda

6.6 Of him, by whom has been conquered his very self by the self, his self is the friend of his self. But, for one who has not conquered his self, his self itself acts inimically like an enemy.

Sanskrit commentary by Sri Abhinavagupta

अस्यां च बुद्धौ अवश्यमेवावधेयमित्याह -- उद्धरेदिति। बन्धुरिति। अत्र च नान्य उपायः, अपि तु आत्मैव, मन एवेत्यर्थः। जितं हि मनो मित्रं घोरतरसंसारोद्धरणं करोति; अजितं तु तीव्रनिरयपातनात् शत्रुत्वं कुरुते ।।6.5 -- 6.6।।

English translation by Dr. S Sankaranarayan (on Sri Abhinavagupta's Sanskrit Commentary)

6.5-6 Uddharet etc. Bandhuh etc. In this path there is no other means excepting the self i.e. nothing but one's mind. Indeed the subdued mind is a friend and it lifts up the Self from the highly dreadful cycle of birth and death. But the unsubdued one does the act of enmity as it throws the Self down in the horrible hell. The characteristic mark of the subdued-minded man is this :

Adi SankarAcArya ji also agrees with Sri Abhinavagupta . Lets see commentaries on BG 6.5 and BG 6.6.

Sanskrit commentary by Sri Sankaracharya

-- उद्धरेत् संसारसागरे निमग्नम् आत्मना आत्मानं ततः उत् ऊर्ध्वं हरेत् उद्धरेत्, योगारूढतामापादयेदित्यर्थः। न आत्मानम् अवसादयेत् न अधः नयेत्, अधः गमयेत्। आत्मैव हि यस्मात् आत्मनः बन्धुः। न हि अन्यः कश्चित् बन्धुः, यः संसारमुक्तये भवति। बन्धुरपि तावत् मोक्षं प्रति प्रतिकूल एव, स्नेहादिबन्धनायतनत्वात्। तस्मात् युक्तमवधारणम् 'आत्मैव ह्यात्मनो बन्धुः' इति। आत्मैव रिपुः शत्रुः। यः अन्यः अपकारी बाह्यः शत्रुः सोऽपि आत्मप्रयुक्त एवेति युक्तमेव अवधारणम् 'आत्मैव रिपुरात्मनः' इति।।आत्मैव बन्धुः आत्मैव रिपुः आत्मनः इत्युक्तम्। तत्र किंलक्षण आत्मा आत्मनो बन्धुः, किंलक्षणो वा आत्मा आत्मनो रिपुः इत्युच्यते -- ।।6.5।।

English translation by Swami Gambhirananda (on Sri Sankaracharya's Sanskrit Commentary)

6.5 one should save oneself sunk in the sea of the world by oneself; one should save,  should uplift (oneself) from that, i.e. make it attain the state of being established in Yoga.  one should not lower, debase; oneself. for oneself is verily one's own friend. Certainly there is no other friend who can bring about liberation from this world. In fact, even a friend is an obstacle to Liberation, he being the source of such bondages as love etc. Therefore the emphatic statement, 'For one is one's own friend, is justifiable. oneself verily is one's own enemy. Anyone else who is an external harmful enemy, even he is of one's own making! Therefore the firm conclusion, 'oneself verily is one's own enemy's is reasonable. It has been said that 'oneself is verily one's own friend, oneself verily is one's own enemy.' As to that, (the self) has this additional word, ‘atma’, self. of what kind is one's own friend, or (the self) of what kind is one's own enemy? This is being answered:

Sanskrit commentary by Sri Sankaracharya

-- बन्धुः आत्मा आत्मनः तस्य, तस्य आत्मनः स आत्मा बन्धुः येन आत्मना आत्मैव जितः, आत्मा कार्यकरणसंघातो येन वशीकृतः, जितेन्द्रिय इत्यर्थः। अनात्मनस्तु अजितात्मनस्तु शत्रुत्वे शत्रुभावे वर्तेत आत्मैव शत्रुवत्, यथा अनात्मा शत्रुः आत्मनः अपकारी, तथा आत्मा आत्मन अपकारे वर्तेत इत्यर्थः। ।।6.6।।

English translation by Swami Gambhirananda (on Sri Sankaracharya's Sanskrit Commentary)

6.6 of him; by whom, has been conquered, subdued; his very self, the aggregate of body and organs; that atma, self {here atma is to be taken as mind}; is the friend of his self. The idea is that he is a conqueror of his senses. but for one who has not conquered his self, who has no self-control, his self itself acts like an enemy, inimically, with the attitude of an enemy. As an enemy, who is different from oneself, does harm to oneself, similarly one's self behaves like an enemy to oneself. This is the meaning. If the body and organs are under control, they are helpful in concentrating one's mind on the Self; but, if they are not under control, they oppose this concentration.

Let’s begin our journey by taking an appointment with our own mind and take necessary steps so as to progress spiritually.
Reflect ... On Your True Self

Reflect And Realize … 

॥ ज्ञनदेव तु कैवल्यम् ॥

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

When a man becomes liberated?

Sri Ramakrishna (to the devotees): "A man becomes liberated even in this life when he knows that God is the Doer of all things. Once Keshab came here with Sambhu Mallick. I said to him, 'Not even a leaf moves except by the will of God.' Where is man's free will? All are under the will of God. Nangta was a man of great knowledge, yet even he was about to drown himself in the Ganges. He stayed here eleven months. At one time he suffered from stomach trouble. The excruciating pain made him lose control over himself, and he wanted to drown himself in the river. There was a long shoal near the bathing-ghat. However far he went into the river, he couldn't find water above his knees. Then he understood everything (He realized that man is not free even to kill himself, that everything depends on the will of the Divine Mother. ) and came back. At one time I was very ill and was about to cut my throat with a knife. Therefore I say: 'O Mother, I am the machine and Thou art the Operator; I am the chariot and Thou art the Driver. I move as Thou movest me; I do as Thou makest me do.'"

Source: Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Be Positive says Sri Ramakrishna

Sri Ramakrishna: "After the purification of the heart one obtains divine love. Then one sees God, through His grace. One can teach others if one receives that command from God after seeing Him. Before that one should not 'lecture'. There is a song that says:

You have set up no image here,
Within the shrine, O fool!
Blowing the conch, you simply make
Confusion worse confounded.

"You should first cleanse the shrine of your heart. Then you should install the Deity and arrange worship. As yet nothing has been done. What can you achieve by blowing the conch-shell (The conch-shell is blown during the temple service.) and simply making a loud noise?"

Vijay sat on a raised stool and conducted the worship according to the rules of the Brahmo Samaj. Afterwards he sat by the Master.

Sri Ramakrishna(to Vijay): "Will you tell me one thing? Why did you harp so much on sin? By repeating a hundred times, 'I am a sinner', one verily becomes a sinner. One should have such faith as to be able to say, 'What? I have taken the name of God; how can I be a sinner?' God is our Father and Mother. Tell Him, 'O Lord, I have committed sins, but I won't repeat them.' Chant His name and purify your body and mind. Purify your tongue by singing God's holy name."

Source: Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Non-violence and Vegetarianism

|| Hari OM ||

Non-Violence (अहिंसा)

Non-violence was always practiced and encouraged in Hinduism. Non-violence is not to be taken in literal way. It is an attempt to be as much non-violent in actions, thoughts and emotions. Only Atman is truly non-violent as it attaches with no one. One can be non-violent when one detaches oneself from body mind, intellect and ego. It is identification with the body and all that is non-Self that is responsible for all types of violence, physical or mental. Hence, Non-violence is a journey beginning from dis-identification of Self with the body and mind and ends up in total detached state which is Brahman, a state beyond all three guNa-s - sattva, rajas and tamasa.

Why does violence cease to exist in state of enlightenment?

Brahman or Atman is beyond three guNas- and so it is beyond mAyA. All that we experience is because of mAyA. Our attachment with non-Self is because of mAyA.

Why does mind give violent reactions?

Because it does not get what it wants or longs for. Hence either it is a quest to conquer, achieve or it is the frustration of failure to achieve the desired object that brings violent reactions.

Why does mind long?

Atman empowers mind and it itself shines (reflects) from within mind. Searching for happiness is our basic longing. It is not wrong to desire for happiness. What is wrong is to search it outside when it is inside says Sri Ramana Maharshi. After achieving that is desired, we feel happy. Everyone, whether one believes in spirituality or not is longing for this happiness. Our entire life is nothing but search for this truth. We try to find it in a person or an object and try to achieve it. Since it is our own wish, we use our will and put in our efforts … and the vicious cycle of action and reaction, karma and it’s fruits keeps rolling … and one is trapped in the cycle of birth and death. So instead of returning back to the source of mind, which is Atman, ‘I’, we search ‘I’ outside mind and body.

So the cause of violence is -
To search for happiness out us in worldly objects or person and
Making efforts to achieve it and get frustrated if it is not achieved.

One may take violence as an act of physical abuse. But in reality, in subtler plane, violence is found even in trivial actions like making efforts. It is violence when it is compared with the eternally peaceful and blissful state of non-activity.

So why does a person resort to violence -
The answer is: Ignorance of our True nature.

So to return to our true nature, what should be done?

Now we enter into the spiritual world, the path of renunciation and dis-identification. We may have the will, but not the temperament and mental purity to apply the teachings of vedAnta in our life. One cannot simply stop expectations and reactions. Hence we begin with purifying our mind so that one day we can practice detachment with correct understanding.

The path of purification begins with doing social service and surrendering fruits of work to God. We can go one step further to surrender our actions too to God and keep praying to show him a direction and the path that best suits you. We can add bhakti to get emotionally attached to God. Upon right time, God will himself guide you either directly or through a Guru. After this phase, just like a prey cannot escape from clutches of a lion, so does a student does not escape from the clutches of Guru. He (his spiritual progress) is under the control of Guru and constantly benefits from his Guru’s grace.

Till now, we were talking about violence from spiritual POV, now lets turn towards practical side of ‘violence’

Practical side of non-violence

Non-violence is a necessity for sages who have renounced the world. For a person living in society, one has to follow smriti-s too, which are moral and ethical codes. Like the parASara smriti, often called as the smriti that is suitable to kaliyuga (refer to sloka-s 1-25 of parASara smriti) says that you should be careful while donating something. Take care that the person is of good natured, else our money or stuff can be used for wrong purposes. Even the celebrated Manu smriti 8.350 says that a king can kill anti-social elements like murderer and rapist either in secret or in public. For this king incurs no sin. Sin is uncured when King does not kill him.

Our SAstra-s teach us to rise against injustice, to keep fighting till last drop of blood. All devatA-s except bhagavAn brahmA ji are equipped with weapons. SAstra-s do not teach us to be cowards. Teachings of vedAnta are not to be confused that it should be applied by all. vedAnta is not for all. It is only for those high souls you have purified their mind by lots of good karma and intense meditations in this life or in previous lives. We have a dedicated SAstra ‘dhanurveda’ for training men in martial arts.

You may have heard about animal sacrifices in SAstra-s. Please Kanchi Paramacharya's response on these issues

Vegetarianism (शाकाहारी भोजन)

Our journey is from individuality to totality. In order to progress spiritually, we have to turn our extrovert mind introvert. For doing this, one has to have dispassion in worldly matters and objects. Only a sAttvika mind can turn introvert, as rajas is for activity, power and glory and an active person, who is attached with his actions is always extrovert. tamasa guNa is connected with laziness, inertia, ignorance, revengeful attitude.

It is due to these qualities that Veg food is recommended, as it contains more of sattva and rajas guNa tamasa. Fruits contain more sattva than rajas. They are light to digest. Underground food is not prescribed in Jains and even by vaiShnava-s as it has tamas guNa. It is said that 'food makes up mind' and hence, it is prescribed to saints to have a light sAttvika food.

Plants do not have central nervous system, though they have feelings and have life. They have a guNa of paropkAra (benevolence). In ancient days, saints used to pray to plants to have fruits and plants used to respond to their prayers. Saints used to pray to herbal plants to show their guNa-s (healing qualities). This is how Ayurveda was developed. (One saint gave me this info). Besides, we do not destroy the whole plant, but just pluck flowers, fruits and other vegetables. If we do not pluck fruits or grains, then open ripening they drop automatically. Do we feel pain when we trim our hair and nails? Aren’t they part of our body?

The damage is done when we uproot plants and take their roots like onion, etc. Here too the plants are not deliberately destroyed. When they’ve finished developing, you’ll notice the lowest leaves start to yellow and wither. Shortly after, the stems will flop over at the neck, as if all your plants had just died.

Still since they grow underground, they are said to have more of tamasa guNa.

The peculiarity of tamasa guNa is strong smell which we see in onions and garlic. Even garlic can be taken in small quantities for medicinal purpose.

You may be attracted by the smell of Pav Bhaji, but you will never be attracted by the smell of any fruits. You will eat fruits only that is necessary, which is not the case with other foods. If it is your favourite delicacy, you will eat more. This attraction and bias is keeps mond extrovert, while fruits do not increase our extrovert tendencies as they do not attract us in a way other delicacies do.

Hence, for spiritual aspirants, sAttvika food is recommended which is light, easy to digest, causes less harm to others and purifies our mind. The energy saved in digesting food can be used for spiritual purposes.

Mineral kingdom i.e. rocks have consciousness (read somewhere in Sankara bhASya, mostly in viShNu sahasranAma bhASya), but this consciousness is in raw form and often they have to wait for many years or even kalpa to ascend to higher state of consciousness. Animals are more evolved than plants. No animal is willing to give away his life for taste of tongue. When any animal e.g. chicken knows that it's going to due, it is in state of depression and hopelessness. The emotions like pain of separation from body on account of death is too much and wish to live i.e. unwillingness to die, are all embedded in the energy or emotional body of animal. We cook and eat these emotionally diseased bodies. Emotions are tAmasika in nature and hence they will increase tamasa guNa of mind. So mind does not gets purified. One yoga student who used to eat non-veg was initiated into higher practice after warning to quit non-veg. He didn’t quit eating non-veg. After sometime, burns appeared in his skin.

If one argues that there is no difference in ‘killing’ either plants or animals, then we would like to ask them why they condemn cannibalism. Carnivorous animals avoid eating other carnivorous animals.