Certainity in Uncertainity

Death……is the only certainity in this uncertain world. Right from the smallest of insects to the largest of the living entity, everyone and everything perishes. Death comes uninvited. No one can give a gurantee that they will die on so and so date and time. According to statistics, 2 people die each second. The causes can be natural or accidental. Some die in their sleep, some die a gruesome death. 

Is death the end of life or is it the gateway to a new life?

Popular cultures believe in the afterlife where the soul exits the body. According to one’s karma, one will get a body that his/her consciousness has created at the time of death. 

BG 15.8 

“The living entity in the material world carries his different conceptions of life from one body to another as the air carries aromas”. 

If this is the case, a doubt arises- If I need to break the cycle of the birth and death, why not think of God at the moment of death? The answer is: No, it doesn’t work that way. How can one think of something they haven’t thought about so profoundly throughout their life and then suddenly think of God just before you die. One’s mind develops a certain way of thinking depending on the lifestyle. The mind is very fickle. It takes practise to make it go in the direction you want. One may think for a moment that I have controlled the mind, but the very next instant you would have lost control. Practioners of meditation, students would have observed that it doesn’t take time for the mind to get distracted. 

Let us forget about the after life. Why worry about that when it is not even in our control. Instead let us take charge of our lives and it worth living. We can do so by being grateful every morning we wake up. Carrying out chores sincerely. At the end of the day before you retire to bed, ask yourselves- 

  • Are you satisfied with the way your day went?
  • Have you completed whatever you had planned for that day? 
  • If this was your last day, have you lived it to the fullest?  

Living life to the fullest can be interpreted differently by different people. For some, it can be seeking an adventure, for some it may be partying. Whatever it is, they are all external pleasures. One must not forget to journey inwards and realize his status because at the end of day, real happiness is derived from within! 

Death is not the greatest loss in life but what dies inside us while we live. Its funny how people realize the value of something only after they lost it. Humans are fragile, physically, mentally and emotionally. All these vulnerabilities make life a very tortuous experience. Despite all the trouble, all the joy that we experience, death is the common denomination in all our lives. Rather than asking what’s after death, we must question how to live this life?

It is death that gives life meaning knowing that someday we are to going to depart, to know that yours days are numbered, that your time is short. 

Let this stanza from the wonderful poem “Stopping by the woods on a Snowy Evening” by Robert Frost be a motto for all of us who aspire to leave their footprints on the sands of time: 

“The woods are lovely, dark and deep,   
But I have promises to keep,   
And miles to go before I sleep,   
And miles to go before I sleep”.
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Karna- Providence’s son.

One of the legendary warriors born on this Earth but was his path to become one a smooth one?

A very well known character of the Mahabharata epic is Karna who is popularly known as Danveer for his extraordinary character to fulfill the seeker’s material desires. Karna is one of Mahabharata’s pitiable and loved character as his story is relatable to all, hence we tend to ignore his wrong-doings. The injustices done to Karna were innumerable however the path he treaded was debatable even by his standards.

A few spotlights of his life :Abandoned by his birth mother, adopted by a charioteer, constantly mocked because of his caste as he was unaware of his true parentage, cursed by his teacher, a farmer and Mother Earth, affronted when he wanted to challenge Arjuna, disgraced in Draupadi’s swayamwar, despised by his own brothers (The Pandavas), given false sense of friendship by Duryodhan, insulted his sister-in-law. He even gave away his protective armour and ear-rings to Indra (The latter’s arrangement to protect his son i.e., Arjuna). During the great war of Kurukshetra, he lost his life due to the curse given by his guru at the hands of his sibling Arjuna who was still unaware of the fact that Karna is his elder brother.

Karna’s life offers an incite in our life:

  • Firstly, just because life has given us problems or has done “injustice” to an individual, one doesn’t have the right to choose the path of Adharma to right the wrongs done to us. No matter how comforting the darkness is, we lose ourselves into that darkness and when the truth is broken out, one cannot withstand the light. We always have the power to choose what’s right no matter how hard it is because in the end, righteousness always triumphs.
  • Whatever one earns by deceit, he/she is bound to lose when one needs it the most just as how Karna forgot all his education in his final moments against Arjuna. This isn’t just the curse given by Parashurama but the law of nature!
  • Karna’s life inspires us to work towards our goal no matter how much difficult situation you come across in your life. If you are honest and dedicated towards your Goal you will eventually get that and will conquer all the difficulties.
  • He never gave up on his friend. No matter what the situation, he was always by his friend Duryodhan’s side. Just as a coin has two sides, similarly, one can look at this friendship in two ways- One- Always be loyal. Karna was loyal to Duryodhan to his very last breath and two- Choose your friends wisely.
  • It isn’t wrong to say “NO”. Credited to one of the main reasons as to why the war was waged. Had Karna refused to side with Duryodhan in the war, would it have even happened?

Here’s some food for thought for those who have a deeper incite of Karna’s life:

  • Why do you think Karna wanted to learn archery so desperately? Was it for the thirst of knowledge/ Was it to learn and impart that knowledge to the weaker section of the society?
  • If Duryodhan was actually his friend, wouldn’t he have uplifted the entire lower caste of those days? Think about it, Duryodhan only maintained his friendship for alliance. It’s a well known fact that Duryodhan relied on Karna’s strength and archery skills to wage the war against Pandavas.
  • What did Karna do once he became a King? I might be wrong here, but did he do anything to encourage the Sutas/Shudras to follow their dreams?

Karna was constantly praised even by Lord Krishna as a great warrior, an excellent archer (surpassing his arch rival Arjuna), the greatest of donors however he chose a path of Adharma in spite of being aware of his transgressions. Karna was and is still an inspiration for many generations. His life is worth reflecting upon because, one can’t do justice to the morals that can be learnt from his life in a few words!

“The more you want to go the other way, the path you were destined for is the one you will have to follow”.

Kavita Kane

Inner Life Management.

One must remain immune to the all that happens to him/her externally. One must not let external activities influence one’s condition of mind, instead remain steadfast on his /her path and continue one’s journey in search of the truth.

A man ought to live in this world like a lotus leaf, which grows in water but is never moistened by it; so a man ought to live in this world-his heart to God and hands to work”.

-Swami Vivekananda

Lord Rama. The seventh of the principal ten incarnations of Lord Vishnu is the perfect exampe of one who managed his inner life perfectly! If one closely looks at his life, Rama’s life was not that of a happy-go lucky person instead his life was a tragedy. At every step he had some disastrous event or the other.

Rama was born to the King Dasharatha and Queen Kaushalya of Ayodhya. Born in the comforts of the palace, after receiving education was taken by a sage (Vishwamitra) to fight demons at a very young age.  Due to anger and hatred of a servant in the palace, his mother Kaikeyi asked some boons which landed him in the forest for 14 years. His young and newly wed wife also accompanied him. His dutiful younger brother Lakshmana went along with him to the forest to help him. His father passed away due to grief of seperation from his beloved son. They fought several demons in the forest. His wife got kidnapped by the demon king Ravan. Rama walked a lot in search of his wife before he received help from an army of bears and monkeys. He fought and defeated Ravan and took his wife back but not before a fire test (for testing his wife’s purity). He took Sita home. After sometime, due to political reasons, he had to send his pregnant wife into forest again. After several years, he fought his sons without knowing it was his sons and almost killed them. Sita returned to Earth right in front of Rama’s eyes. He had to cut all ties with his favorite brother (Lakshman) due to a promise. After ruling for many years, he returned back to heaven by entering River Sarayu.

This is the summary of what all happened in his life. No would want to take this much trouble in one life-time. But then if all this has even happened, why do people worship Rama? The answer lies in the fact that Rama has managed his inner life. Despite the facts that such events happened to him in succession, he did not crack up or give up in life instead he bravely faced all the trials and tribulations that destiny had in store for him. He did not let the emotions get the better of him no matter how depressing it was. True he felt emotions but he didn’t let them cloud his judgement. He remained the way he was, He didn’t forget the qualities he was brought up with.

Take a moment and think, if one of these incidents would happen to us in our lives, we would crack up. Several would just give up. Many would lose hope for living but Rama chose to fight on. One must take inspiration from this quality of Rama and try to find meaning and purpose to life. 

Wishing you all a Happy Rama Navami and may you all find the inner strength of your life.

The Material world

What is this material nature?

The Bhagavad Gita enlightens us about the five basic truths viz., The Jiva ( Living entity), Ishvara (Controller), Prakriti (Material Nature), Karma (Activity) and Time. This material nature is described as inferior in nature. Everything that we see around us is material in nature. The material world is characteried by its transience. Everything that is found in this world is temporary- It is bound to be destroyed or lost or replaced. For example, a house can be destroyed by natural calamities or destroyed to construct a new flat; telephones being replaced by smart phones; canons, bow and arrows replaced with heavy artillery, the list goes on. The description given by Bhagavad Gita on the material world is as follows:

BG 15.1-2:

“The Supreme Personality of Godhead said: It is said that there is an imperishable Banyan tree that has its roots upward and its branches down and whose leaves are the Vedic hymns. One who knows this tree is the knower of the Vedas.

The branches of this tree extend downward and upward, nourished by the three modes of material nature. The twigs are the objects of senses. This tree also has roots going down, and these are bound to the fruitive actions of the human society”.

The material world is nothing but the perverted reflection of the spiritual world. One-fourth of the creation is considered to be material and the rest is spiritual. Earth is not the only world that is created. There are 14 worlds- seven above (Bhu, Bhuvas, Svar, Mahas, Janas, Tapas, and Satya) and seven below (Vitala, Sutala, Rasātala, Talātala, Mahātala, Pātāla and Naraka). The earth is in the Bhu realm. The material world is just a mere reflection, therefore it is temporary and it isn’t real just as your image that is formed when you stand infront of the mirror.  It merely imitates your actions. Since, there is a reflection, there must be a source. This source is the spiritual world.

Then if this is the reflection, is the spiritual world just like the way we see the world? No. The spiritual world’s beauty is beyond awe!

BG 15.6

“That Supreme abode of mine is not illumined by the sun or moon, nor by fire or electricity. Those who reach it never return to this material world”

The spiritual world, the abode of the Supreme Lord is being described here. It doesn’t require sun/moon/fire/electrcity to light up the sky. The planets here are self-luminous. The Katha Upanishad (2.2.15) too confirms that the spiritual sky doesn’t need any of the above luminary bodies, for the whole spiritual sky is illuminated by the effulgence of the Lord. Part of this shining sky is covered by the “mahat-tattva”, the material world. Other than this, major portion of that shining sky is full of spiritual planets.

As long as the living entity is in this dark material world, he is in conditional life, but as soon as he reaches the spiritual world by cutting through the false, perverted tree of material world, he becomes liberated. In the conditioned state, the individual thinks he is the boss, but when he becomes enlightened/ realizes the ignorance he is in, he will strive to reach the spiritual realm. There he enjoys eternal bliss, life and is full of knowledge.  However, that doesn’t mean one can become detached from this material world by simply dressing in ochre clothes. He must be devoted to the Supreme Lord whole-heartedly.  This way he can surely become reach God.

Moksha comes with a price ( Part 2)

Why should one pay a price in order to get liberated from this ocean of nescience?

The answer is simple. If one has to get anything in life, he/she has strive towards it; perseverance, determination and routine. The same applies even to Moksha. Well, you might be wondering what is Moksha? In simple terms, moksha is liberating or rather breaking your self from the endless cycle of birth and death, breaking yourself from the cycle of karma (Karma is your activity. Whatever you do, good or bad, you get the reward/punishment for your respective deeds). In the Bhagavatham, the definition of liberation given is as follows:

muktir hitvānyathā rūpaṁ
sva-rūpeṇa vyavasthitiḥ

” Liberation is the permanent situation of the form of the living entity after he gives up the changeable gross and subtle material bodies”.

However, feeing oneself from the bonds of maya( The external energy of the Lord) is not as easy as ABC.

One must train to control his/her senses to the extreme and subdue the mind. The mind may roam here and there but it is the duty of the individual to bring it back under control. The mind is always full of desires which will try to divert you. One cannot be desireless however, you change the quality of your desire. To break free from a bad habit or to advance oneself in the spritual realm all it takes is Abhyasa(Practise) and  Vairagya( Detachment). Take the example of a horse. The horse being restless by nature will try to be free from your clutches. If you don’t take control of the horse, the horse will take you for a ride to wherever it wants to go. So, you must be firm in dealing with the mind. Ofcourse it will be a tedious task to bring it under control but once you have it your command, imagine the wonders you can achieve. You hold the reins of your mind. You can direct and channelize your thoughts in whichever direction you want. This is abhyasa. Now you may wonder. If abhyasa is enough to bring the mind on track, why Vairagya. One cannot remove the quality of heat from fire or wetness from water; Similarly, the mind even if under your control will show the tendency to suggest the old sinful paths. Hence, with Abhyasa, one must detach from the old unrighteous path.

The path to moksha may seem to be one with thorns, but the goal for attaining Moksha- To be one with the Lord, to return to His abode should be thought and in an instant all these distractions will vanish. As Buddha said,

“Your pain is a part of your greatness”.

Logically, if someone were to give you a choice to sleep on a soft bed and a bed of rocks, what would one choose? It’s obvious. The soft bed. Even the person who is used to sleeping on rocks if the bed is given to him, he will know comfort. Similarly, we must aim for the higher taste (spiritually). Initially, it may be difficult to accept the change, but once you do, I can assure you, you feel a differnt aura altogether. In the material world, nothing is permanant- not even your happiness, nor your sorrow. Nor your kith and kin. Everything is just an illusion.

You may ask, if everything is illusional, what is real?

Moksha comes with a price ( Part 1)

The ultimate aim of spiritual life.

Moksha… many spiritual practioners strive to attain moksha. Well, there are primarily four types of moksha:

  1. Saalokya Mukti (Going to same abode as per form of the Lord)
  2. Saamipya Mukti (Being close to that form of the Lord)
  3. Saarupya Mukti ( Attaining the same form of the Lord)
  4. Saayuja Mukti  ( Merging with the Supreme Lord)

To attain moksha, one must be pious- in thoughts, words and deeds. To be pious one need not bathe in the Ganges or trek the Himalayas. It all begins with the simple yet important decision of surrendering to the Almighty. It is stated in the Bhagavad Gita

BG 18.65

man-mana bhava mad-bhakto
mad-yaji mam namaskuru
mam evaisyasi satyam te
pratijane priyo ‘si me

“Always think of Me and 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”.

Krishna promises Arjuna that those who worship him with faith will undoubtedly reached Him. Krishna is self sufficient, He can protect and serve Himself yet He choses to be served by His devotees inorder to give them the chance to come back to Him.

The tale of Gajendra Moksha is a well known story told to kids in their early stages in order to instill the faith in them that God always hears you in whatever situation you are. In short, a king was cursed to become an elephant by the great sage Agastya. One day, the elephant was wading in the waters of the Mandara hills. A crocodile caught hold of the giant’s leg and dragged it into the water. Due to king’s pious karma, he remembered a prayer to the Lord and in its dire situation with utter devotion called out Lord Vishnu’s name. Lord Vishnu arrived at the scene and liberated both the crocodile( who was also cursed for his insolant behaviour towards a sage) and the elephant( who attained Saarupya mukti). This story truly tells us the Lord is hearing us and all we need to do is call out to Him sincerely.

In the olden days, sages and kings would perform penance for thousands for years( I am pretty sure that you would have read/heard stories at least). Their penance was not a simple one, it would be a one of utterly back-breaking(Literally). Imagine standing on one toe for 10000000…… years just to please a diety to get a boon.In todays world and current scenario, its obvious that one cannot stand one a toe for thousands of years on a hilltop with nothing but a loin. Let alone one toe, the average lifespan of humans have dropped down to 68 years( male) and 72 years for female. So what is the solution if one can’t perform such penances to please the Lord? How are we supposed to attain liberation from this cycle of birth and death?

The Answer is simple: chant His names– be it the Vishnu Sahasranamam, Achyutastakam, Hare Krishna Mantra, Narasimha Kavacham and thousand others. Even visiting temples to pray to the diety is a form of expressing your devotion. Visiting temples with devotion can indeed wash away the sins accumulated over many life times. For example, the tirupati temple, located in Andhra Pradesh, the second richest temple in the world is a must visit! Located on the Tirumala hills also known as Venkatachala hills, the literal translation is Ven meaning sins and kata meaning destroyed. According to scriptures, if one visits these hills with utmost devotion inorder to see the Lord, his/her sins are washed away.  Not only tirupati, but any temple visited with sincerity and selflessness i.e., if one goes to a temple with no other intention except to seek the Lord’s  mercy and his grace one is sure to receive His protection.

So why does Moksha come with a price? And most importantly, what is the price that one must pay inorder to get liberated from this “material world” ?

Lust

One of the three gateways to hell…. The sure path to doom and devastation

BG 2.62-63

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.

It is evident from the above verses that attachment causes an individual to fall back into the material pool. It is not an instant one but it is a series of steps  which are in fact quite subtle and they may occur without our awareness.

When the senses find something that gives it pleasure, it attaches to it. This can be for any of the five senses- eyes,ears,nose,tongue and skin. For example, an ice cream which is a favorite for millions, pleasures the tongue and eyes; music pleasures the ears and so on. Once the senses attach to the objects of their desire, the senses develop a lust to obtain/attain that object.

What is Lust?

BG 3.37

The Supreme Personality of Godhead said: It is lust only, Arjuna which is born of contact with the the material mode of passion and later transformed into wrath, and which is the all-devouring sinful enemy of this world.

When a living entity comes in contact with the material creation, his love for Krishna gets tarnished with lust i.e., due to attachment, this love which we have for the Supreme Father gets transformed to lust. Love for Krishna can be transformed to lust by modes of material nature but transforming lust to love is extremely exasperating. When lust unsatisfied, it turns into wrath which is transformed into illusion. Therefore, lust is the greatest enemy which induces the pure living entity to remain entangled in this material world. It drags us from the plane of reality and truth and drowns us in the ocean of nescience.

Where does this lust originate from? The answer is also given by Krishna:

BG 3.40

The senses, the mind and the intelligence are the sitting places of this lust. Through them lust covers the real knowledge of the living entity and bewilders him.

Mind is the center of all activities of the senses. Thus when we hear about the sense objects the mind generally becomes the reservoir of all ideas of sense gratification and as a result, the mind and the senses become the storehouse of lust. Intelligence is the immediate neighbor the spirit soul. Lusty intelligence influences the spirit soul to attain false ego and identify itself with matter. The spirit soul thus becomes addicted to enjoying the material senses and mistakes this as true happiness.

BG 3.41

Therefore, O Arjuna, best of Bharatas, in the very beginning curb this great symbol of sin [lust] by regulating the senses, and slay this destroyer of knowledge and self realization.

Thus the Supreme Lord asks us to slay this enemy in the very beginning of the spiritual journey as it hinders the entity from attaining self realization. Lust is only the perverted reflection of love of God which is natural of every living being. If one is educated during the genesis, that natural love for God cannot deteriorate. Turning lust into love is the highest perfection.

Mind- Friend or Foe?

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.

The mind is a friend of the controlled and the enemy of the uncontrolled. The individual who masters his mind, masters his senses. Controlling the mind is the x-factor in leading a spiritual life. We are where our mind takes us. The mind is potentially the most dangerous weapon. It has the ability to destroy and individual if not controlled.

The mind can be trained and it’s energy can be channelized to do productive work. The mind must be under control at all times. This can be done in several ways however the best and the most effective method is by chanting the Lord’s name, thinking of Him, serving Him. When the mind is trained in this manner it will have no choice but to be at your service.

If the mind is not controlled, it will create absolute chaos. The uncontrolled mind leads the senses to act as they will. If the mind and senses are not controlled the results are evident from the following verses.

BG 2.60

The senses are so strong and impetuous,O Arjuna,that they forcibly carry away the mind even of a man of discrimination who is endeavouring to control them.

BG 2.67

As a strong wind sweeps away a boat on the boat,even one of the roaming sense on which the mind focuses can carry away a man’s intelligence.

Thus, one must engage the mind and the senses in the service of the Lord.

Are we living the right way?

Are we living the right way?

The news paper is flooded with articles about terrorisms, famines, child torture, injustice, racism, animal slaughter, loss of natural habitats, economy crash, ISIS and much more. People are crazy for some film actor/actresses. Ask yourself this question. What did the actor/actress do for you that you are showing them such devotion? All of us are misguided souls who is somehow try to fill the voids in our life.

Everyone is identifying everyone else with the appearance- Indian, American, Asian, Chinese, Black, White and the list goes on. We must cleanse this bodily concept of life. “AHAM BRAHMASMI”- I am spirit soul part and parcel of the Supreme Personality of Godhead.

In the Bhagavad Gita, it is said:

“Janma mrtyu jara vyadhi

Dukho dusanu darshanam”.

This material world is filled only with misery. One who is born in this material pool is bound to undergo the stages of death, disease and old age.

An excerpt from Adi Shankaracharya’s Bhaja Govindam states

“Punarapi jananam Punarapi maranam

Punarapi Janani jatare shayanam

Iha samsare khalu dustare

Kripaya pare pahi murare

Again and again one is born,
And again and again one dies,
And again and again one sleeps in the mother’s womb,
Help me to cross,
This limitless sea of Life,
Which is uncrossable, my Lord.
We are eternal servants of Lord Krishna, we are individual sparks. Just like Krishna, who by nature is sat-chit-ananda (eternal-Full of knowledge- happiness) and we being part and parcel of Him are also in search of pleasure. In this world, people try to derive happiness in several ways- playing sports, watching movies, hanging out with friends, intoxication, gambling and the list goes on. All this may seem right, but is it so?

Everyone is busy solving problems by advancements of civilization, scientific knowledge and technology because they cannot solve the four main problems. Hence, they set aside these problems because they can’t make any solution and waste the human life.

What is the purpose of our birth?

The answer lies in Bhagavad Gita (Chapter 18 verse 66):

Abandon all varieties of religion and just surrender unto Me. I will deliver you from all sinful reactions. Do not fear.

The universe consists of 8.64 billion bodies of which the human birth is a rare one and must not be wasted in nescience. In layman terms, if we simply waste our life by eating, sleeping, mating and defending what’s the difference between a dog on the street and us. Every activity that we perform if carefully analysed comes under the category of eating, sleeping, mating and defending.

Every human must understand his position- I am a conditioned soul. He should use this life to understand God and make solution to different types of birth, death and different transmigration from one body to another.

That’s the way to live!!!