December 26, 2013 Comments Off on What is Renunciation
The whole object of yoga-sadhana is to take away all results in the way of good and bad, virtue and vice, heaven and hell. In fact, all dvandvas stand abandoned or transcended by dint of yoga outlook.
This is the summary benefit yoga brings about. Krishna has been emphasizing this transcending note right from the beginning of his exposition of sankhya-yoga (Bhagavadgeeta 2.15, 38, 45, 48, 50, 53, 70). In the 4th chapter also he has described the true effect of spiritual enlightenment in four verses ( Bhagavadgeeta 4.20-23). There, he does not speak about desisting from any action. On the other hand he points out that yoga-attitude or spiritual wisdom will completely eliminate all the ‘dual’ consequences of whatever one does. Abandonment is not of the actions themselves, but only of the dual effects they produce on our mind.
This subtle but great difference between “renunciation of actions” and “renunciation of results” somehow did not strike Arjuna, as it does not even today, many students and sadhakas. The effort of Krishna has been to impart Wisdom, which has the sole effect of removing the disturbing and binding effects of all actions and safeguarding the mind and intelligence from getting afflicted or agitated on account of them. That singular purpose somehow misses Arjuna’s attention. Delusion prevails in him.
At the same time, Krishna has no intention of denouncing either the hallowed sannyasa, the great ideal or goal of human life, or the supreme glory and fulfillment it brings. The only question is how to achieve this glorious renunciation? What for is it sought? And how, in actual practice, can it be gained? In the exposition Krishna has made so far, the points are already discussed and clarified. But obviously for Arjuna, the discussion is not sufficient.
In fact, our scriptures emphasize shravana, manana and nididhyaasana as the three-fold method for achieving spiritual knowledge and realization. Listening to the words of wisdom from the Teacher (shravana) constitutes the first step. Rumination or reflection upon what is heard (manana) is the second step. And then alone contemplative meditation (nididhyaasana), the final step, is undertaken. All these are to be repeatedly resorted to. Sadhana means consistent effort, practice and pursuit. Consistency means being given to the task assiduously again and again. Thus repetition cannot be avoided.
By raising questions and seeking answers and clarification, Arjuna is gaining more and more of shravana which naturally implies more and more of manana also. This is the way for any sadhaka. Thus the 18 chapters of Bhagavadgeeta constitute a full-fledged sadhana. – Swami Bhoomananda Tirtha [Excerpt from the book “Essential Concepts in Bhagavadgita – Vol 3” by Swami Bhoomananda Tirtha]
December 17, 2013 Comments Off on Enlightened Sensory Interaction
It is true that we have the senses, which are susceptible to the allurements of objects. With these senses alone one can interact with the world and the objects around. It is the senses, which bring the knowledge about the objects and their mutual relationships, usefulness and the like. In fact, the very knowledge process is based upon our external perceptions. All the words that we have evolved, together with the ideas they convey, are derived from the object sphere alone. Sensory interactions with the object sphere alone make this possible.
But these interactions with the resultant knowledge should become a vital part in shaping our values and ideals in the manner in which Krishna discusses them. Rather than getting blinded by the thrills and delights of the senses, the interactional experiences must form the basis for deeper thinking and evaluation. In the name of sensory delights and thrills, no infatuation or lack of timely restraint and moderation should be allowed. For this, proper viveka (discrimination) should be fostered right beforehand. Or else, human life will merely descend to the level of animals.
In employing the senses for whatever purposes they are meant, neither the dignity of human life, as envisaged by Nature or the Creator, nor its wholesome purpose, should be led to degenerate. With the feeling heart and the knowing intelligence, we should not lack in preserving our timely wisdom. With adequate caution and safeguards, we should avoid undue pitfalls or degeneration.
Remember: Unlike animals, mankind has sovereign access to the inner horizon, the sphere of Consciousness. This inner sphere is far greater and more profound than the external counterpart surrounding the senses. The Subject consciousness, by dint of which alone the endless world of objects is perceived and interacted with, is always the Supreme. It is the majesty and magnificence of the Subject that enables and empowers the objective variety and endlessness. When Krishna, right in the beginning (second chapter), exposed Arjuna to the Immortal Soul in contrast to the mortal body, he was in fact leading Arjuna to grasp the inward magnitude and potential of man!
To be blinded by what the senses see, is to neglect this superior inward potential accessible to us. External allurements, if not checked and sublimated, will surely drive man to pitiable degeneration and doom. History has recorded the extinction of some great civilizations in the hands of moral, ethical and spiritual decay. Lack of spiritual insight, and the restraints and moderation such insight dictates, have alone been the cause of such downfall. If and when people fail to heed the message of inner life and its compulsions, the fate cannot but be the woeful attempt to climb two feet only to slip down by twenty. That is why Krishna, through his yajna enunciation and the warnings following it, gives us the necessary forethought and resolve.
The only right course is to employ the senses (as mentioned in verse 3.7) with sufficient regulation and moderation. If this is ensured, life will get enriched every time. In fact, the whole of our personality – consisting of the senses, mind, intelligence and ego – will become beautifully integrated if it becomes oriented and empowered by spiritual wisdom and strength. Like friction helping motion, every part of our personality will help and strengthen us consistently. – Swami Bhoomananda Tirtha [Excerpt from the book “Essential Concepts in Bhagavadgeeta – Vol 2” by Swami Bhoomananda Tirtha.](c) Narayanashrama Tapovanam, 2012
December 13, 2013 Comments Off on A True House
A house is a residence for our bodies to live. While living in it you should not forget the fact that our body itself is a house built by the Lord. And in the house called the body, the Lord dwells constantly. It is He who empowers our body to do all its work, including house-building.
Where then should be the greater emphasis? A true house is thus one that reminds us always of the indwelling Lord, the Presence within the body. The house should give you a constant reminder to live like the ancient Shabari who was living only to see Rama. The residence should inspire and inculcate the Shabari austerity and tradition.
Set up your house in such a style and sublimity that the thoughts and reflections on the Lord within the body will be encouraged, deepened and perpetuated. It is really an art and a subtle process. For all those who live there, as also for the new arrivals, the whole look and atmosphere must be such as to make their minds and intelligence soar high into Lordly reflections.
Have some routines for this purpose. Begin the day with some suitable sights, sounds and thoughts to remind you of the Lord. Consider cooking, eating, moving about, sleeping, as activities taking place in the Lord’s abode. Offer every action, small or big, to the Supreme. This process will bring greater and greater sublimation in your life and activities.
We miss God in His world. Think of the trees and plants – how unerringly, seasonally, and profusely they blossom and bear fruits. And none of these is for their own use. They are for the welfare of others.
If insentient, immobile creation can be so regular and grateful in their responses and functions, can we not be at least alike, if not more, in our reactions and gratitude to the Creator? – Swami Bhoomananda Tirtha (c) Narayanashrama Tapovanam, 2012
December 13, 2013 Comments Off on Relevance of Bhagavadgeeta
Bhagavadgeeta is present before us as a sovereign response of the Soul of man to the crisis of emotions the mind poses and the recurring questions the intelligence raises, when life’s course begins to stifle man beyond measure. Bhagavadgeeta describes the inevitable but grand outcome of the adventure man is led to in the hands of his own complex mind.
Life on the earth is, at its best, beautiful and harmonious; but at its worst it can and will be the other extreme as well. Unless the great impersonality of the Soul is struck, man will not be able to withstand and survive the challenges and vicissitudes, preserving peace and poise for himself and extending welfare to others.
Can such an inward potent treasure be valid and useful in all contexts of external life? Will men and women in all walks of life be able to generate practical vision and views from such a great impersonal possession? Can the benefits derived relate themselves amply to the facts and compulsions of life? How should one seek, either as a significant quest or as an imperative measure of practical relief, such a unique enrichment? Bhagavadgeeta holds lasting answers to all these questions and even more!
The discussions of Bhagavadgeeta when properly viewed, cannot be any sudden emergence. Their genesis lies far deeper, taking us back to the Vedic and post-Vedic thoughts of the land. Vedic thinkers were no doubt religious, but only for a short time in the beginning. Very soon their temperament grew sharply analytical and philosophical to enter irresistibly into the deep spiritual realms, which engulfed their life and pursuit. The course and finale of Vedic thinking are clear to the discerning mind even today, when it glances through the great sublime literature, which is climaxed and crowned by the great Upanishads.
Bhagavadgeeta in fact reflects the extensive Vedic voyage, although it emphasizes more significantly the Upanishadic pursuit and findings. While it has a brief religious background, the foreground it builds up and presents is fully of the great Upanishads. With vigour and emphasis, the Bhagavadgeeta dialogues delineate the subtle philosophical foundations of life as also the unshakable edifice built firmly on them! – Swami Bhoomananda Tirtha [Excerpt from the book “Essential Concepts in Bhagavadgeeta – Vol 1” by Swami Bhoomananda Tirtha] (c) Narayanashrama Tapovanam, 2012
November 20, 2013 Comments Off on Where Lies True Happiness?
Whatever may take place in the world, Atma sukha, the Self-contentment should never be lost. In fact, objective-pleasures are tiny particles of Atma-sukha. This means that any pleasure is always an evolute of the Atma and not a derivative of action. All actions are prompted by the mind. That relationship is never lost even while performing an action. The actions also end in the mind. And memory arises because the mind records everything that happens. Though the actions cease, their memories remain.
All the sense of pleasure seeming to arise from world objects, is not external, but internal. So the objective-pleasures are the external manifestations of the inner happiness, outflow. The objective-pleasures are a mere speck of the subjective happiness, which the Upanishads and Vedas promise.
The Atma is brilliant and blissful. Mind is its expression, in fact, its glory. But due to delusion and confusion, the mind feels attracted or repelled by the shadows of the objects formed in it. Then it gets dislodged. When the inner personality becomes pure and enlightened, the mind and intelligence, displaying the bliss of the Atma, will show its true colours and glory. Krishna is the personification of such a state of bliss, exhilaration of nirvana, the beautiful form.
Yoga is the harmonious dissolution of the mind, intelligence and ego into the inner soul, Atma.
Uddhava said: svadhaama naya maama api – do take me along to that abode to which you are going. Do not forsake me. I too want to live with you! I cannot think of anything else.”
Devotees! This is the touchstone for the minds of devotees. By the practice of devotion the mind should reach such a level that it is unable to separate itself from God. Only such an attitude will make it true bhakti. If on the one hand you rely on the alluring though transient world, and on the other claim that you have devotion to God, how can such an adulterated mix be true devotion?
Bringing about sufficient regulation in the senses and the mind, is the redress for all the ills of our worldly life. Never give any independent status to the multifarious and multi-faceted external world. Your own inner Atma comes first, and then follows experience of the world. The entire world should be viewed as the expansion of your mind, display of your Atma . There cannot be any differentiation like ‘inside’, ‘outside’, ‘internal’, ‘external’ in that unique Truth. Atma is neither a ‘subject’ nor ‘object’ in the usual sense. This inner presence, which is beyond both, beyond the senses, is the supreme Truth. – Swami Bhoomananda Tirtha, [Excerpts from Poojya Swamiji’s book “Krishna as 24 Teachers”](c) Narayanashrama Tapovanam, 2012
November 20, 2013 Comments Off on Secret of Unaffectedness
Life is a continuous interaction between the individual and the world around. The objects keep on changing, and the person who observes the changes remains the same. But these changes cause conflicts and feeling of distress. The interactions bring such unbearable sorrow that one is unable to proceed with the interactions any longer!
The remedy is to negate these in the inner realm of the body, not outside. In spite of whatever that comes to pass in the world outside, the mind should find a path to assimilate all these. This path is to be opened. And only truthful instruction can bring this about. This is what Uddhava is seeking from Krishna. Is not this kind of seeking relevant to one and all? It is through such discussions that our shastras and our puranas become the treasure of eternal messages. This is the unequalled greatness of our country, Bharat.
When people everywhere are being scorched in the frying pot of many kinds of desires, delusions, confusions, discouragements, fears, conflicts and so on, how does a person live in their midst untouched by all these, like an unconcerned tusker lying in the cool Ganga waters? Is it the external opulence that is seen in this? How did he gain this inner greatness at such a young age?
He has a deep inner depth, inner expanse, inner brilliance. He experiences fully the awareness that his inner realm is the Atma the Soul. Hence in whatever he sees or hears that infinitude prevails. No one can therefore brush away the Muni as trivial.
It is the lustre of the experiential knowledge of the Soul that abounds in him. Because of his austerity of abidance in Brahman he is brilliantly powerful. No one can surpass him or keep him hidden. Bereft of all possessions, he may have no means even for a vessel or anything else for receiving food. The only receptacle – in place of our usual plate and glass – is his belly. He has absolutely no possessions or sense of wants!
The water on the surface of earth becomes vapour and rises into the atmosphere on contact with sunlight. At the end of summer, when the rainy season begins, all that moisture returns to earth as rain. We may say that it is the Sun that does this “taking and returning” process. But the Sun has no pride, or ownership or attachment or abandonment in this. This is a cyclic process just like the seasons occurring due to the motions of rotation and revolution of the earth.
This is how a yogi too should be conducting his life. He accepts whatever is needed for the body, from anybody. Similarly, according to their quests and needs, gives advice and instructions on dharma and Spiritual truths, to those who approach him. The first is ‘taking in’ and the other constitutes ‘leaving’. This should be considered as nothing more than a scheme of Prakriti. This kind of loka-sangraha is being done naturally and joyously by the noble Yogis and spiritual Knowers.
This world is perishable. Anything perishable cannot exist continuously. But the world appears to exist continuously. So there must be a basis which is imperishable, for the perishable to exist. That is revealed continuously by the feeling ‘I’ in us.
Our life is to attain purity of the mind and express the brilliance of the Soul, and in the light of that, become self-fulfilled and unaffected, and live blessing the world. Some people will always be found eagerly seeking the association of such Mahatmas who are compassionate Jeevanmuktas. It is to provide an opportunity to such seekers that the ascetic sannyasins and avadhootas move about among the people. – Swami Bhoomananda Tirtha [Excerpt from the book “Krishna as 24 teachers” by Swami Bhoomananda Tirtha] (c) Narayanashrama Tapovanam, 2012
November 7, 2013 Comments Off on Making Devotion Real and Factual
Normally human mind is prone to be religious. And religiosity makes the mind rest upon the universal God. But usually this God is thought of at a very great distance far away from the earth. Nevertheless devotional offering is made to this God and devotional proximity is sought to be cultivated. The fact remains that the devotee remains separate and God remains separate. Not only that; while everything of the devotee is visible, personal, gross and experiential, everything about God is inexperiential, subtle, invisible and distant.
So the conflict always arises. ‘I am depending upon a God; where is that God I don’t know; it remains mysterious. So the devotional progress and the devotional depth, realism, fulfillment refuses to transpire in the devotee. So this distant God is to be brought nearer and nearer, closer and closer and He has to be installed in ones own heart.
Narada in Srimat Bhagavata and also Veda Vyasa continues to emphasize the fact that the presence of God is in every creature and being. And of all the beings the noble and good people are the best and the more adorable. The true devotee and the house-holder should share his food with the rest of the creatures. Bhagavata continues to say, the dog, the camel, the poorer people, the needy people, birds and animals all of them have to be given food. The householder should learn to share the food with the rest. While doing so he must also feel and understand that God is present in all of them and by feeding anybody he is feeding God. It is not an imaginary God that he is trying to propitiate at this stage; on the other hand he is looking at God who is evident and perceptible before him. So the imaginations are replaced by realities and factualities and there is a touch of realism and closeness in whatever is done.
Compassion is very important. Discipline is very important. A number of virtues and embellishments to make the mind peaceful, confident and joyous are necessary. I repeatedly think about these matters and come to the conclusion that ultimately we have only two kinds of mind; one is the pure, gentle noble, and feelingful mind and the other is the opposite one. When your mind becomes light, it becomes straightforward, sincere, zealous and pure. There is an expansion, there is a joy, and there is a fulfillment. You don’t have to doubt or look for anything, anywhere.
This purity and expansion helped by the intelligence, which intelligence goes on seeking information and enlightenment is one important factor that I would like all of you to imbibe from all these discussions. Only when your mind is pure you will have the feeling of peace, joy and expansion. If the mind is not pure there will be constriction, darkness ignorance and delusion. And the opportunity for making the mind pure is at every step in your life. Ever since you wake up till you go to bed and sink into sleep the opportunity, the facility the compulsion and persuasion, all are there to improve your mind and make it more pure, more expansive and more elevating. Try it at all times. – Swami Bhoomananda Tirtha (Excerpt from a morning message “Prabhata-rashmih” by Swami Bhoomananda Tirtha) (c) Narayanashrama Tapovanam, 2012