Time can only move forward as we cannot change the past or re-visit the past except in our memory. We can come up with theories of travelling faster than light to travel back in time, but that can happen only in theory and not in real terms. In real terms, even if we travel trillion times faster than light, we will still arrive only in the future, by a trillion times faster than light.
Dear Friends, The book – Science of God has been published by Partridge, a Penguin publishing company and is right now available for purchase in the U.S and UK website Amazon.com. It will be available in India with Amazon and Flipkart. Please ask for a copy from your local book store.
Here is an excerpt from the book. Hope you will find the read interesting and beneficial.
“Life is all about being successful and happy. Many of us have everything and yet find the real happiness missing. We are constantly in pursuit of that joy which has eluded us forever, thus far. When we realize our true nature and origin, it enables our progression towards attaining a happy and fearless state in life. Each one of us is a divine Soul; unborn, unchanging, immutable and eternal; an inseparable potency of that Supreme God, who dwells in us eternally. Though each one of us has the potential to experience a divine existence, being immortals, we have chosen to take birth in this mortal world; taking birth to die and dying to take birth again, in some 8.4 million bodies. There is a mismatch in what is happening to us. We are immortals, but the bodies we acquire in this world are not. We can attain the divine, eternal world of God, if we realize our imperishable relationship with God, who alone can grant us the state we all seek. With that realization, we can transcend causes and effects of this karmic world, overcoming grief and pain. We not only achieve material success, but also live a useful life, for the self, for our families and for the society.”
Part – 32 – why did God create souls/universe?
Que – where did it all begin? Why did God create this world or universe and the souls?
Ans – there has been no beginning as such; as all the three main tatvas (entities) – the jivatmas (individual souls), the universes and the paramatma (Supreme God)– have no beginning or end. God is unborn in the literal sense. Jivatmas and universe hv no beginning or end either, because they were born from God who has no beginning or end. He has been there even before this universe manifested from Him. And He pervades the entire universe in un-manifest form. Just that they were merged into God prior to manifestation. The souls and the universe are the body for God as He resides in every soul (if the soul is a body, God is the atma dwelling in the soul just as we are the atma in our body). God has no other origin for Himself but is the origin for all the worlds and souls; He has always been there, the other two (souls and universes) were inside God. It is not easy to comprehend this reality. So, to make it simple – First there was God who was unborn and always existed and the souls and the worlds were born from Him.
Gita 9/4 – mayA tatamidam sarvam jagadavyakta mUrtinA, matsthAni sarva bhutAni na chAham tEshvavasthitaha”
This entire universe is pervaded by Me in an unmanifest form (avyakta murtina), all beings abide in Me, but I do not abide in them”
Krishna explains in gita further – 9/7 – “sarva bhutAni kaunteya prakrutim yAnti mAmikAm, kalpa kshaye punasthAni, kalpAdau visrujAmyaham”.. all beings enter into My prakruti at the end of a cycle of time (pralaya or dissolution), again I send them forth at the beginning of a cycle of time (srushti or manifestation or creation).
A close comparison to explain this would be to think of each atma as a drop of water, each one with its distinct identity (karma / dna). When each drop merges into the ocean it gets into the body of the ocean and can not function. It would be static (in a state of suspended animation) when merged into the ocean. When it is released from the ocean (evaporates) it goes into the created world taking a body based on its potential (karma).
This would be when the worlds are forming, similarly when the clouds cool down, they become rain drops and fall into the ocean again (they also fall on land and other places, imagine if there was no land, if everything was ocean then all the rain drops would fall into the ocean, we are trying to analyse in order to understand how each soul originates from God in formation stage of the universe and how it merges into Him during annihilation). It is important to realize that the drops of water have not made the ocean here. The ocean exists, always, and the drops are made from the ocean. The drops of water do not exist without the ocean for they originate from the ocean and merge into the ocean again. In all states, every drop depends on the ocean for its existence. Its release, functioning and merger – are all controlled by the ocean – which is God here.
What we seek as salvation from this mortal world is not merging into God during dissolution. We seek to attain God’s eternal world in a divine immortal body that is not bound by the process of manifestation and dissolution but remains beyond this mortal world, we would be literally in the company of God, in the immortal body, in the divine world of God, truly as His children.
The worlds and the souls were born from God; the word created would be a
mis-representation as God did not literally create. The worlds manifested from God and souls having originated from His ‘para’ the superior – sentient power, hv some similarities as well as dis-similarities with Him.
God created this world for our sake, because we chose to experience an independent existence, away from Him. (This is defined as becoming vimukh (turning away) from the Lord, which has resulted in our coming to this mortal world since eternity. Those souls that chose to become sanmukh (turning toward) to the Lord, remained with Him in the immortal world, eternally) Though the souls have knowledge as their nature, it can use the knowledge only with the potential of the body it takes. God, out of kindness, also gave us all the knowledge in theVedas and scriptures for us to follow and benefit while in this world. All that He has done is to give us what we sought. We sought change, being on our own and ended up getting exactly that.
Vedas, Upanishads, divya prabandham and other related sacred scriptures are the vital knowledge source for knowing the unknown, which can not be known by any other means. If not for them, there is no way of knowing about the self (atma) or this universe or our Lord. There is no science that can show us the jivatma for it can not be seen. There is no experiment that can reveal the atma. It is true that we can feel and realize the existence of the self (atma) in our bodies. We can realize the self but can not be shown as a proof of our existence. The only way to explain is that when we are in a body, we keep the body alive, functioning and the body becomes lifeless matter when we exit the bodies. Whether we take human bodies or that of animals, birds, insects or plants, we have no way to show or see the atma, be it in a living body or outside where countless number of souls are hovering around to find a functional body. How else can we deduce the existence of the atma in all living, functioning bodies? The only way to know about the atma – its nature, its origin; and about the universe – its origin; and of God and His powers – is from the Vedas and relevant scriptures. Science has a limitation to how much it can observe, verify, and experiment. To be precise, science can only know of non sentient objects and matter, be it matter or energy. Science has no way of knowing about atma or God. Why, science has problem knowing about even the physical universe and human brain, so far.
Vedas resonate the cosmic sound and reveal the knowledge of the unknown. What can not be seen to be known, can only be realized through knowledge. Scriptures confirm that only ‘sabda’ is the ‘paramana’ or knowledge through sound of Vedas that stands testimony for knowledge of atma or the Paramatma. Scientists use this very method to know of spotting habitable planets like our own, they listen to cosmic sounds. They confirm that the movement/expansion of the universe resonates sounds which can be studied to know more about them. There is no other way of knowing about them. They even listen to the sounds of our sun to analyze and predict eruption of sun spots spewing tremendous energy, that can potentially knock out our electromagnetic field and destroy our electrical systems. All this is evident enough that only Vedas / Vedanta can give us all the answers about the atma or God, even if we claim to know of the universe with out the help of the Vedas. Vedas have the answers because they are given to us by none other than that Supreme Lord and who other than the Lord can know better about His creation?
God created because it came naturally to Him by a mere sankalpa (thought/will); because it was in His power to manifest by will alone, without so much as opening an eyelid, was done effortlessly. Because He has pure joy in creating this universe for His prime nature is Bliss or He is Anandamaya. He is Anandamaya first and all other identities and names we know of Him are additional. One of His divine virtues being “satya sankalpaha” – illustrates that merely by His will alone, everything is caused into existence, including the release of the souls and manifestation of the universe. He does not have to do anything to create, sustain and annihilate the universe, everything happens merely by His will alone. He created the universes because of His infinite capabilities. He wanted to express His powers. The souls and universes are the effect of His natural expression. Both the worlds and souls are inseparable from Him. Creation, sustenance and withdrawal of the worlds is like a play for Him which is an expression of His pure, divine bliss. He created the worlds for the souls so that the souls can realize His infinite capabilities, relate to Him; appreciate and adore His omnipotence which pleases Him most.
He has formed the laws of prakruti (maya) for the sake of the souls to explore His world, evolving in bodies of their choice backed by deeds (karma). When they can relate to Him as the cause for the worlds and realize their close relationship with Him, realize His presence as the innerself of every atma, know His supreme nature and seek Him with unconditional devotion, they can go back to Him. This world and the souls sent into this world are His way of expressing His omnipotence in giving the souls what they sought. The Vedas declare that even He does not know the extent of His infinite capabilities. In simple terms God’s infiniteness can not be known.
When we express in the form of an art or music or dance or sport – we not only enjoy expressing but also enjoy much more when others appreciate our ability. It is the same with God. If you adore and appreciate the magnificence of the Grand-canyon and relate it to the beauty of God’s expression, He is pleased. Admire the natural wonders, thinking of Him as the source of all, He is elated. Realize that the billions of stars in our galaxy and billions of such galaxies as part of this infinite universe being His infinitely sublime expression, He would be praised; which is why He made us sentient beings, in order to appreciate His potential.
With that, we also realize that He is beyond our comprehension. In reality, we know little about either our own body; especially the brain, or the universe, let alone God. All that we can do is wonder about God’s omnipotence and adore everything about Him and His creation. And this adoration is devotion. After all, He is our eternal Father and a relative and friend; He is truly everything for us. God is not different from us in some ways, we hv few similarities which is the reason why he has given us the ability to express through mind and body. This universe is His expression, and the jivatma takes a body for its expression. All of us would like to express our capabilities in some way or the other; feel good when it is liked and appreciated. Similarly, all the scriptures, psalms and verses are expressions praising, adoring and appreciating God’s infinite glories which He likes coming from us. We are naturally sentient, knowledgeable. If not for that, we would have been like the rest of the world, non-sentient matter or machines without expressions or emotions. God would not hv the joy if He created souls devoid of expressions and emotions or joy.
Asking the question asto why God created this world is like asking a genius artist (a Picasso or a Leonardo Da Vinci) asto why he created master pieces of art or a scientist as to why he invented or a child that plays with a ball even though it comes across a ball for the first time, why? They all do so because it is natural to them; they have pure joy in doing what they do. And it is in their power to express their thoughts and God having infinite powers (beyond human comprehension) created this world and the souls naturally. We can ask why the birds fly and the fish swim. Because they are naturally made that way and they have the capability. And the same with God, He created the worlds for the souls; to explore His world evolving in bodies of their choice. As though like a play.
Gita 9/5 – “na cha mat sthAni bhUtAni, pasya mE yogamaiswaram, bhUtabhrunnacha bhUtasto mamAtmA bhUta bhAvanaha…” – “yet beings do not abide in me, behold My divine yoga. I am the upholder of all beings and yet I am not in them in a manifest form” – that My will alone causes their existence, sustains and supports them. (this means that God does not support beings like a vessel that supports water contained in it, he supports them by will, which is His divine yoga power, and yet He derives no help for Himself by anyone or anything. He projects, sustains and controls all beings merely by His will, but without directly involving or interfering in the cause and effect process of each soul. The laws of prakruti would be the governing force for all the souls in the mortal worlds, which were set by Him.
Gita 9/10 – “mayAdhyakshENa prakrutihi sUyatE sacharAcharam, hEtunAnEna kauntEya jagadviparivartatE” meaning “prakruti gives birth to all mobile and immobile entities under my control. Hence does the world revolve”
We can relate this universe to our own body. Our body functions as directed and controlled by us. Similarly this universe is body for God and He uses it without abiding in it directly. It functions by the power of His will. It is somewhat different from the atma using the body it has acquired. Atma feels the causes and effects of the body. Atma experiences the pleasure and pain caused by the body due to its association with the body. However, God remains unaffected, though He is associated eternally with the universe and the atmas. Whatever changes the universe goes thru, do not affect God. He remains untouched by the manifestation, functioning and dissolution of the universe.
We know that we are not the body in which we are the presiding power. However, we experience the pleasure and pain as an effect of what our body goes thru. When the body is injured, body itself does not feel the pain, but we feel the effects of the injury. Our body has no feelings. We use the body to perform all our choice execution; however, it is the atma that accrues effects of all acts done by the body. Though the body does all the activities, there is no karma for the body, for the simple reason that it is non-sentient matter, lifeless on its own without the presiding atma functioning in it. On the other hand, though Paramatma is the innerself of all jivatmas, who is literally the atma dwelling in the souls, He does not feel the effects of choices made by the jivatma. By the same token, though he pervades everywhere in the universe, He is not affected by the changes the universe goes thru, unlike the atma which feels all the changes and effects the body goes thru.
Gita 9/9 confirms thus “na cha mAm tAni karmANi nibadhnanti dhananjaya, udAsInamadAsInamasaktam tEshu karmasu” – “ the actions of creation do not bind Me, for, I remain detached from them, untouched”
we understand that in order to create, produce or make something we do need three things – a maker/manufacturer, tools/equipments/machinery and raw material – let’s take making of a clay pot for instance, as that is what is often quoted as a reference for creation – we need clay and water (raw material), the pot making wheel that spins and a potter who uses the clay/water and the wheel to make pots of different shapes / sizes. But in the case of manifestation of the world God is Himself all these things – He is the raw material for He did not use any thing outside of Him to will this world into existence, He used no machinery as His will (sankalpa) was the machinery and He is also the Maker from whom the worlds came into being. We can not see this thing work anywhere else. All the products that we see around us today are all made by somebody, with some raw material and equipment. We accept that a particular watch is made by rolex, a tv by sony and a car by bmw etc.. Things/products don’t happen or appear by themselves for all the materials and products are lifeless, devoid of knowledge and are non-sentient. Some one living, sentient and having knowledge has to cause them into existence and make them functional. But when it comes to the universe and the souls, we think they just happened without anyone causing them. Surely no product comes into existence without someone making it and no being exists without someone causing it to exist.
We can not create even a lifecell or anything natural. We can not make blood, nor tissue, nor bones, hair, organs in the lab. All that we are able to do is use available natural resources and put them together to see what comes out of them, with so many trial and error methods, when we see a resultant outcome or product that is useful for us; we claim to have made an invention. But in reality we hv not created anything.
We would agree that all man made products are made by man but out of something that was available to him. We didn’t create things out of nothing. All the products that we see on earth are made from the raw materials originating from earth and earth is merely a part of this universe; a tiny little planet of a solar system; our sun in turn is a medium sized star of the milky way galaxy, which again is one of more than billions of galaxies (infinite), as known to man. We didn’t make either the earth or the natural raw materials that we have on earth. We hv merely changed their form into products we can use to make our life convenient. This is also true with cloning. Scientists claim to have achieved something fantastic. But in reality, all that they have done was to use the stem-cells or life cells for it to develop into a body which is naturally done in a marital relationship. There is a joy in all our relationships and relationship from marriage results in a baby or manifestation or creation. This is something we can all understand. It is important to know that the process of intent might be for sense gratification but the resultant baby is pure joy. When a living being produces, it is an expression of joy, this is true even to animals though they do not have the human intelligence. Why, we even feel happy in products we produce. A car well crafted gives all those involved a sense of joy. A music well composed gives immense happiness to the composer and to the listeners. A scientific break thru or invention gives overwhelming joy to all involved in the project. However a robot though programmed to do certain activities, does not feel anything, for it is a lifeless machine without human emotions. This is exactly why the Supreme Lord’s prime nature is “infinite bliss/joy’ – ‘rasovai saha’ – as stated by the Upanishads. He creates out of pure joy/bliss. However, there is no intent of sense gratification by God as the process of creation, sustenance and dissolution is done by will alone without direct involvement, and that expression of joy is the worlds we see around us; and the souls experience the worlds taking different bodies from the worlds they want to experience. This should give us the realization why creation is possible only by a living being and when he creates, there is joy involved. That is why the true identity of the supreme Lord is ‘Bliss’ or Anandamaya. In that the Lord creates, sustains and withdraws, as His mere thought would transform everything into reality. He has the joy while doing and after the job is done. However, for us, we would feel happy when we do something well. Every job well done, gives us the joy.
Primarily we all seek happiness in everything we do. And all happy people are truly successful in their life. They would be too happy to give up the body at the time of death. They would be truly fulfilled in all respects, totally contented in the way they lived their life. If someone has not been a good person thus far, he can make a conscious effort to becoming good and make it count in life. It would be worthwhile to have obtained a human life, only if we can be useful to others to an extent possible and such a person would feel fulfilled and happy. That is being successful in life. The reason for being successful in life comes from how much we have done for the sake of others’ well being. If we have been able to live righteously, helping atleast one person in our life based on our ability and disposition, we would feel quite fulfilled and successful and would be glad to take our last breath. We would be able to meet up with our Lord with total humility, when we hv lived a useful life, doing whatever we could for others. So, what defines success in life would be determined by how much we have contributed to helping others in relieving them of pain and suffering and not the wealth acquisition and bank balance. There is no point in possessing all the wealth in the world, if he has not been able to use his power of wealth for the benefit of the needy. All the wealth would be worth nothing, if it has not been useful for anyone. At the same time, if he has even done something for others, he would die a fulfilled man. Definition of success in life is not decided by our wealth accumulation, but by the good deeds done for the benefit of the others. Obviously, we bring nothing with us into this world other than the package of karma and take nothing with us when we die, other than karma accumulated in that life.
courtesy – all images in all posts from google images.
Part 31 – source of knowledge..
Que – what is the source for all this knowledge?
Ans – The Vedas. Vedas are acclaimed to be the most ancient text the human race has known. It is said that there is no knowledge about God, universe and nature of jivatman, that is found elsewhere that has not originated from the Vedas and related scriptures. Vedantas are the Upanishads that convey the essentials of the Vedas in a way we can relate to. Whatever knowledge each one of us gains in this world from several sources have their roots from the Upanishads that has spread all across the globe and to us thru our parents, elders in the family, teachers and learned scholars; reading and listening; mainly due to the grace of the Acharya. More importantly all the knowledge coming from various sources is given to the human race by the divine souls who take birth from time to time. The Upanishads instill thought process, enabling us to finding true understanding of all the three main entities – ourselves, this world and the Lord. We can never exhaust thinking and knowing about God for He is infinite all respects. Even the mahatmas who know God only know little about God for He can not be fully known. They have the perfect and complete knowledge in their realization that the Paramatma can not be fully known.
The beauty of Vedas and Upanishads is that there is no suggestion anywhere to accept anything as it is. This knowledge triggers inquest in us to finding correct answers for ourselves, we can not be shown, taught or explained God, but only guided to perceive. God can only be experienced and realized thru logical thinking and practice of ‘tapas’(penance) that leads one to Bhakti/devotion. Vedas reveal information based on which we can further inquire to realize the truth ourselves. Blind belief would not work nor advocated anywhere.
The term ‘Veda’ means ‘true knowledge’; ‘sacred knowledge’. Vedas are the treasure of knowledge but Vedas have knowledge that is applicable and sought by all types of people. There is karma kanda, that prescribes desire oriented rituals (kamya-karma or actions for desire fulfillment) best suited to everyone based on their nature. Those desirous of attaining heaven, and other material benefits in this world for enjoyment, which in the course of achieving, could accrue as karma for the soul, that would bind the soul to repeated births and deaths in this world. Karma kanda is for those who are not interested in moksha / liberation from the cycle of birth and death in the mortal bodies. Karma kanda advocates actions for the benefit of the body which is not a tribute to the soul; to be indulging in sense gratification, as that would keep the soul bound to this mortal world. It would entangle the soul to remain in this world.
And upasana kanda advocates devotion and worship that would lead us to God. It provides knowledge for all concerned based on their respective goals.
Krishna confirms in Gita differently about the devotees seeking His grace..
7-16 “chatur vidA bhajantE mAm janAha sukrutinorjuna, Arto jijnAsurarthArthI jnAni cha bharatarshabha”… ‘four types of men of good deeds worship Me, these are the distressed, the seekers of knowledge, the wealth seekers and the men of knowledge’. Here Krishna is referring to all good men, but due to their conditioning and state, they seek different goals.
Why are the Vedas providing knowledge for all sorts of people? Shouldn’t it contain references only for nurturing devotion that would lead us all to immortality? Here again, God has provided everything needed and sought by every type of person. Not everyone is interested in devotion and attaining immortality. God being the kind father has to look after all types of children based on their interest. Just as we assume 8.4 million bodies based on our karma/choice and not all the souls acquire a human body though that is considered better, spiritual scriptures provide knowledge for seekers of all interests. Eventually, it is our happiness that He wants. Only after being born as humans do we realize that human life is better than that of other species, similarly only true devotees would know the value of being a devotee; others would not. Just as a rich person would not want to return to a state of poverty ever again, a devotee who has tasted the joy of being devout would never seek to return to the ways of non devotees. Obviously, the scriptural knowledge is only for humans and beings of higher nature and not for animals, birds or plants etc.
God is like a father, who gives the children spending money. He does not interefere or control how they spend and what they spend it for. If they spend it for their good, they can go back to their father and would get replenishment money for the amount spent so that they can use the money for good purposes again and again. Children who spent the money for bad purposes that would cause them harm, would not be able to go back to their father and report their spending on bad things, obviously they would not get replenishment money either. God, dwelling in every atma, gives every atma the power to function, to use their body, mind, senses and intellect, but would not interfere with what we do or the consequences we have to face due to our causes. If we are good, our good deeds would take us to better state of existence and if we are bad, we would deteriorate to states of lesser species and this has been going on since eternity.
If we introspect a little, we would not miss to realize that only humans are going thru a lot of pain, suffering due to hate, crime and discrimination. Animals and birds do not seem to have this problem. Animals and birds don’t suffer to getting their basic needs – food, shelter. As humans, we need clothing; education and healthcare in addition. Inspite of having the extra knowledge and eduction, we still seem to be missing that fulfillment in life; we are worse off than animals and birds. We are never satisfied because we are not seeking to meet our basic needs alone. Each one of us wants more than there is in the world; though we have this world which has sufficient resources to meet the needs of all its creatures, including humans. In this state, even the world is not enough; even for one person! Animals don’t suffer because they have no extra desires and wants. They are fulfilled by meeting their basic needs and instincts. Animals are never in grief, never unhappy, nor disappointed with their life. Humans suffer because we don’t stop at fulfilling our basic needs to take care of our body. We have unlimited wants and in the bargain those who are better placed and more powerful to acquire more than their needs, hv ended up taking away what rightfully belongs to the entire humanity. In order for us to fulfill our unlimited wants and greed, we have ended up depriving millions of other humans from getting their needs. If not, there is abundant resource available with nature to meet the basic needs of all humans on the planet. Now, due to our greed, not only have we not attained fulfillment or satisfaction, despite acquiring more than our share, we have also caused others to suffer by depriving them of their share.
Though, in essence, knowledge should be put to good use for the benefit of humanity, some of us choose to use it for destruction, causing pain and suffering. An intelligent man can employ his knowledge to develop products that can be used for the betterment of human life-standard or can use the same to cause harm, as well. Technological break thru’s and inventions can be used for economic progress or for mass destruction. It is upto us how we wish to use knowledge and resources as the same can be put to good or bad use. Because, we also have some not so good men in the society and they could be seeking goals that can cause harm and suffering to others in order for them to achieve their goals.
Even with modern science, scientists first formulate theories and after it has been tried and tested by them ensuring that it can be applied in real life for the benefit of the society; they pass it on for our use. We then apply to reap the benefits. We do not doubt them for they do it in the larger interest of the mankind, and they take pleasure in giving it to the people. Similarly, Vedas and all other sources of knowledge are given to the mankind by God out of benign grace, for our benefit. The fact that humans are able to know, invent, innovate and create is the proof that, we are made naturally with all these attributes and everything that we do is by the power of the supreme God abiding in each one of us. We know that none of us created ourselves or the worlds. We also know that nothing gets created or made by something without life or knowledge or intelligence. Only a living entity with intelligence and knowledge can cause and function; itself or what is caused. Since it is not any of us (souls) who has created this world and the souls, it obviously has to be someone much superior to us to have been able to cause us and the worlds. We need to first have faith in the knowledge which has been tried and tested by many divine souls and mahatmas who have added their own understanding and experiences for us to realize as well. It is also true that the Vedas are beyond comprehension even for gods let alone humans, hence Vedavyasa has written commentaries which are again not easy to grasp for our minds. Hence many great souls appeared on earth to pass on the knowledge to us in a way we can understand.
Those seeking knowledge and way of life that can lead one to the eternal abode of God, ‘upasana’ is prescribed in Vedantas (Upanishads – ‘upa’ means – nearness or nearto or going near. ‘upanishad’ also means to sit at the feet of’ – which means to bring us closer to God) have the relevant references. And then we have bhagavad gita which is the essence of Upanishads given to us by the Lord Himself, and there is Sri Ramayana and some relevant sattvika puranas (sanctimonious scriptures) that can give us answers. Above all, we hv the arulicheyal in tamizh by the Azhwars that vividly express the close experiences the Azhwars had with God and also have the clarity in their message. While the Vedas are considered to hide their meanings and are not easy to interpret; many a times one can be mislead in to gaining wrong understanding. Then Azhwars are none other than the nitya suris, who took birth in human bodies to reveal their experiences with God in their 4000 divine verses/psalms of divya prabhandham.
Sri MaNavALamAmuni gives us all the knowledge we need to know about the Azhwars and Acharyas in his ‘UpadEsarattinamAlai” – the ten azhwars are “poigaiyAr, bUdattAr, pEyAr, pugazhmazhisai, ayyanaruLmAran, sEralargon, tuyyabattanAdan, anbartALtULi, narpANan, narkkaliyan Idivar tottrattadavamingu”
Even if the psalms of azhwars are not easy to comprehend, we hv commentaries by the great Acharyas, explicitly revealing every nuance of the intrinsic/deep devotional experiences of the Azhwars for each one of us to understand and follow in our daily life.
Nammazhwar goes out of his way to impress upon souls like us thus “sonnAl virodamidu, Agilum solluvan kENmin” –
“Though we would antagonize the Azhwar or dislike him for mentioning what he would, he would still tell us what is good for us and asks us to pay heed to his words”
There are two ways to dealing with people we like, in any situation. One way is to establish what is considered “hitam” for the receipient. ‘Hita’ literally means “for the benefit of the one who follows the suggested course of action” and the other way is ‘priyam’ to express what is liked by the recipient, what pleases the person; but may be harmful if followed.
Here, azhwar is giving us the knowledge, following which we would benefit immensely, though we may not like the suggestions at the face value. priyam – is an easy way, likeable way. We often say things to please people, even if it is not the truth. We may do so in order to gain their confidence or try to please them assuming they may be potentially useful to us. We do not care if it is beneficial to them or not, all that we focus on is to gain their favour by uttering words that would please them or what they would like to hear. But azhwar does not know our ways, he can not pretend. He knows only one way and that is to speak the truth, following which we would benefit.
Even at home, we can see the effect of hitam and priyam. If the child wants pocket money in excess of what is normal, we hv to think twice before giving the child any money, for it could lead him or her into wrongful/harmful ways. He could go astray and would become impossible to rein in after a certain stage. We shall not worry if denying the child what he likes would displease him. We have to do what is good for the child. In this case, we have to firmly set the standards so that the child shall not go out of the precincts. We have to draw a line when it comes to doing what is right and what we like to do. Due to our association with the body and sense objects, we tend to indulge in sense gratification without consciously reasoning out the rights and wrongs. Hitam is that conscience that reminds us to do what is right, what is good and beneficial as well. Priyam, though is what is mostly sought as that gives us momentary desire fulfillment, the effects would be undesirable.
The Vaishnava heritage considers greatness of contribution by the divine souls in their different states – if nitya suris and muktatmas are ever in the service of the Lord in the eternal world, they as azhwars did greater service by taking birth in the mortal world in attempting to elevate the souls from the mortal world to the divine world with their divine expressions in divya prabhandams.
- If Azhwars were the greatest in their experiencing the Lord as the supreme master and protector to whom they would be ever in subservience, Periyazhwar was considered greater than them. In that he considered the supreme Lord as his child and himself the protector/mother of the Lord.
If Periyazhwar was the greatest becoming a mother of the Lord, Andal was greater than him being a naturally feminine companion of the Lord (souls are feminine in nature and God is the only purusha (man), taking total care of Him, while Periazhwar had to imagine becoming the mother of the Lord, while not being a woman naturally.
- If Andal was the greatest, Madhurakavi Azhwar was greater as he was devoted to Nammazhwar, seeing him as his Lord and considered serving him as the purpose of his life, which pleases God more than serving Him.
(Sri Madhurakavi azhwar)
- If Madhurakavi azhwar was the greatest, greater than him were the Acharyas such as Periyavachanpillai, who wrote commentaries on the expressions of the Azhwars without which we would not understand the intricacies of Azhwars’ expressions.
(Sri Periavachan Pillai)
- Even greatest of them all was Pillai Lokacahryar who revolutionized the concept of devotion by simplifying the doctrines to the extent of the common man without bar, that anyone and everyone is entitled to God’s grace merely by desiring to be with God. That there is no special qualification or restriction to seeking God – birth, place, time, method – that all stand on an equal pedastal when it comes to seeking God (surrendering to God thru an Acharya). He declared thus “prapattkku dEsa niyamamum, kAla niyamamum, prakAra niyamamum, adhikAri niyamamum, phala niyamamum illai” – implying that every one is equally entitled without restriction ‘sarvarum adhikarigale’ – that all are entitled to seek God’s grace with just one condition “vishaya niyamame uLLadu”
That one shall seek God thru total, unconditional surrender thru an Acharya.
(Sri Pillai Lokacharyar)
In the traditional expression – their state was analyzed in levels of their impact. They would call it “parvata – paramANu” simile. If the latter is a mountain, the former was a pebble (paramANu means atom), in comparison.
Que – who authored the Vedas?
Ans – it is said that the vedas are a-paurusheyam – meaning not authored by anybody. And so are the divya prabhandams. But Azhwars were the ones who revealed to us their divine experiences with God in the divya prabandhams. Vedas originated from God just as the worlds and souls have their origin in God. They are also said to be eternal and timeless. It is only natural that the source for this infinite universe and the countless number of jivatmas has to be the source for all the knowledge as well. Vedas that we know today are perhaps not the total version of what was original. What we hv today is a shortened version that may also hv gone thru additions and omissions. If there are any differential perceptions, anything arguable and questionable, it should be because of changes incorporated by humans of this age to suit their requirements.
It was Vedavyasa who wrote commentaries and sutras for the Vedas. Vedavyasa is one of God’s part-incarnations. They were first passed on to Brahma (the creator of our worlds; there is a Brahma designated to create each anda-thataka (cluster of galaxies) and from him was passed on from time to time – unto us thru Vedavyasa.
(Sri Veda vyasa)
courtesy – images in all posts from google images
Part – 30 quality of life in immortal body
Que – based on the nature of the soul, if he is best suited in an immortal body, what is this immortal body made of, what are its capabilities and how is it different from the human body we are in now?
Ans – the immortal body is divine in all respects and a soul getting into that imperishable body becomes so powerful that he will hv no limitations as to what he can do. It is still a soul in a divine body and not God, but being with God, soul gets so many auspicious virtues and qualities (only good) that God Himself possesses. Even the intellect, mind and senses would be divine in the immortal world. God grants us everything He can when in the immortal body, just as a father would allow his child to use all his belongings. We as children own everything our father owns and have total freedom to utilise everything at our disposal. In fact, the father would keep enquiring if the child wants something and would not spare any effort in providing what the child wants.
In the mortal world (here) – the body, senses, mind, intellect, ego – every thing except the atma is non-sentient and prAkrutik. Only the atma is ever divine, whether in a mortal or immortal body. It is hard for us to comprehend such an existence from here. You can imagine a superman without any weaknesses or limitations – that is the closest comparison, though superman’s body is not divine. The divine body is not made up of bones, flesh, blood, muscles and tissues like a human body because it would be an aprAkrutik body, not made up of the five non sentient elements that human bodies are made of. It is a body that can not be hurt, that will not bleed nor feel pain/suffering; that will not age, would not smell foul, there would be no hunger, yet you can taste food if you wish to, all of them would be ever in prime youth, always in constant state of ever growing happiness. There would be no element of fear for the soul in an immortal body. You don’t need to sleep like us here (Azhwar calls them ‘imayorgal’ those who do not sleep) yet you can sleep if you so wish (go into a yoga nidra), you will hv powers to do whatever you wish. They would however, do everything for the sake of their Lord. They would be in a state of divine happiness that has no end. This is exactly what Nammazhwar refers to when he says “nalam andamillador nAdu puguvir” – meaning “you would attain the world of ‘endless bliss’. You will be in the company of your Father (God) and doing things He would like to be done, experiencing His divine company. It should be the highest state of existence, being totally free, without going thru causes or consequences. They would not err like humans. They would be much above even the gods of the created world, brahma included. They would be literally the divine children of that supreme God, living in His physical company. While they would be focused on doing what would please their Father; the Father being the greatest and infinitely omnipotent with unlimited capabilities, would be looking to please them in every new way possible. God grants us several of His powers and qualities.
The human body in this world is made of the 5 basic elements of nature – space/ether, air, fire, water and matter (earth). In fact, this entire universe comprises of these 5 main forces of nature.
It is in our nature to be happy; even in happiness from good experiences we need change of experiences. We do not like monotony. But reality in this world is that the good experiences are short lived and there is no consistency or change in goodness or increasing degree of goodness which is what we seek. We keep experiencing a blend of good and bad, joy and sorrow. However, in the eternal abode of the Lord, there is continuous change in the goodness of divine joy we can experience. It would not be repetitive or boring. There would be no monotony. The Lord is a natural scientist and inventor. He would probably be coming up with ever new ways to keep the divine souls experiencing unending joy with continuous improvement which would be unending as well. we could say we would be experiencing infinitely growing ‘bliss’ in infinite ways. Every moment would be more divinely blissful and would keep us in eternally increasing joy. Sri Nammazhwar describes the divine bliss of the Lord in Thiruvaimozhi 2-5-4 as “appozhudaikkappozhudu en ArAvamudamE” The divine joy of the Lord that we experience would be like the water in the river which is continuously flowing, you would never have the same water again, we would experience His divine bliss that would be increasingly changing every moment giving us His own divine bliss in infinite ways.
In this mortal world when a devotee experiences the overwhelming ‘nirhetuka krupa’ (unconditional grace) of the Lord, the devotee would not be able to absorb the enormity of the Lord’s love for him. If there is a weakness in the Supreme Lord, if we can call it a ‘weakness’, it is that He goes out of His own control in bestowing unending grace on His devotees, for He is infinitely omnipotent in all respects. Though there are no limits to how much He can bestow, the devotee is limited in taking everything being in a mortal body here and can not take even a miniscule of His Grace. It would be beyond the devotee’s capacity to absorb the grace of the Lord, who knows no limits when it comes to showering His grace on a devotee. Sri Andal expresses this factor in Thiruppavai – 22 (angaNmA- pasuram) “kinkiNi vAicheyda tAmarai pUppolE, sengaN siruchiridE emmEl vizhiyAvo, tingaLum Adittiyanum ezhundArpoL, angaNirandumkond-engaLmEl nokkudiyEl” She asks Krishna to bestow His grace slowly, bit by bit so that we can withstand the enormity of His limitless kindness for us.
Que – are the elements (forces) of nature living things?
Ans – no, they themselves are not, they are part of the 24 achetana (non-sentient) tattvas; but the powers (gods) that these forces are controlled by, are souls like us. The elements are non sentient, devoid of knowledge. They are like our body. They (demi gods) possess the power to release these forces of nature and keep them at work. They govern these forces and can control them. But they would not interfere in the laws of functioning of this universe and these forces work in accordance with the laws set by God. Each one of us has these elements of nature as the building block of our bodies. Our bodies are of made of these 5 elements.
Que – are we in total control of executing our choice?
Ans – Five entities are involved in the execution of every choice we make.
– The self (atma) who is the choice maker;
– mind/senses/sensory organs/our body;
– other people (atmas like us) and
This is true to every little thing that we do, including breathing which we do on auto-mode. But we are never aware of the other four contributors’ involvement in the works we do. We assume that we are the sole contributors for all our deeds. We have no realization that without even one of the other four entities, we would fail to execute our choice. We credit ourselves for the accomplishment and feel proud that we hv been able to execute our choice to perfection; thinking that we were smart in planning and execution. Even a simple task as to eating would not be possible with even one of the other 4 not co-operating.
Let’s say that I make a choice to eat something. This is the simplest and easiest task we do everyday in our life. I am one of the 5 entities as the choice maker who wishes to execute my choice in to fulfillment.
a> in this plan, my (atma’s) co-operation is guaranteed as I make the choice.
b> Supposing I get a stroke and am unable to use my hand, or suddenly my health fails for some reason, I can not complete the task.
c> Just in case there is a fire alarm, earthquake or some natural hazard occurring at that instant, I still can not eat even if my health permitting.
d> Let’s say at that instant someone in the family falls sick, or the person who has to provide me food has not prepared the food or some one else calls me on phone to report some emergency or if someone announces that the food I am about to eat is poisoned, I still can not eat the food,
e> Though God does not interfere or intervene in either our choice making or our actions, His laws are always in effect. Based on his laws of karma, I could die that moment, before I could eat the food.
Yet, we think we are always in control of every situation and everything that we do. The others are in majority (80%) and we are merely 20% contributors, but never in realization of this truth.
courtesy – images in all posts from google images
Part 29 – Service to mankind is true devotion
Today’s urgent need of the hour in countries like India is ‘quality education’. This must become the top priority for every philanthropist, economist, thinker, politician and government. If all the money that is wasted away in senseless spending by some of the extremely rich and some very corrupt people who pile away money outside the country that would never be used either for them in their lifetime or for the others, rendering it totally redundant. Should they come to senses, introspect and do a little good at least once in their lifetime, it can eradicate poverty and suffering from the country once and for all. This is how powerful some of the extremely rich and corrupt people are. It is to be understood that not all rich people are totally self centered. We do have a lot many great people like Bill Gates and Warren Buffet who inspire even those that are not rich to share their worth with the have-nots.
The sign of a developed society should be in the quality of facilities available to all citizens, especially the standard and quality of public education and health care has to be the best there is and even the rich should prefer to send their kids to public schools and get healthcare done at public hospitals. If this can be achieved, there would be no poverty in that country.
We have to recall a touching incidence to know, how when some one is involved in a good cause, it can inspire even the poor to contribute their share. Our Acharya was organizing a ‘Go-shAla’ and a ‘pata-shala’ and we were discussing how much each could contribute and then our driver offered to give Rs.1000/- out of his salary of 12000/-. Though we declined his help and said we would contribute 1000 more on his behalf. 1000 rupees was a significant amount for him and yet he was willing to give. This is proof that each and every one of us can give and make a difference. Every rupee we give enhances the value of the money in our possession and vice versa. Whether we are resourceful and useful can be determined only by how much we can give away and not by how much we have stashed away, never to be used in our lifetime nor for the next generation. Money kept away is as good as lost and money given away is several times more valuable. There is a saying in kannada ‘kottiddu tanagE, bachchittiddu pararigE’ ‘what is given away remains in our credit and what is hidden away will end up in others hands’.
Some rich people might have been bad all their lifetime, but if they change to become good humans only for a brief moment of time and get down to doing some good for the under privileged of the country, they could easily transform the poor countries of the world into prosperous nations. Despite giving so much, they will continue to remain rich or probably even become richer. And every rupee they spent would have gone a long way into making life better for the needy. Their rupee is worth more than its value, really, than millions they would have wasted spending lavishly
This is how every contribution can become invaluable. When Rama decided to build a bridge to Lanka some of the stronger and bigger monkeys would carry big boulders to the spot while the little squirrels did their bit by wetting themselves in the sea and rolling on the sand to shrug it off on the bridge. They could not carry boulders, but they carried grains of sand. Sri Thondaradippodi azhwar describes this act in his prabandham TirumAlai – 27, thus “kurangugaL malayai nUkka kuLittuttAm purandittodi, taranganIr adaikkalutta salamila aNilampolEn” What can inculcate devotion in us than by serving humanity in whatever little way possible?
Service to mankind (helping in kind, materially) is greater devotion to God than merely worshipping so many times a day seeking benefits for the self. God recognizes a devotee based on how much he cares for others’ well being and his being able to see the self in others and God as the atma in every soul.
We can all succeed in leading a happy life if we cultivate to follow the basic values of life – in the way we think, speak and act. The easy and simple way to develop that habit is to – have our Lord as the basis and purpose of our life – and do everything consciously for the joy of our Lord. This awareness would ensure that we would never do sinful acts and unrighteous deeds.
We can feel that there is a built-in conscience in all of us. Whenever we are about to venture into doing something wrong, we do feel guilty and uneasy about it the first few times. For, we can feel within us as to what is right. If we let our conscience decide the course of action to be pursued, we would invariably end up doing the right thing. If we make a choice to kill our conscience and proceed with doing what we wanted, what is convenient, we end up doing the wrong thing. After a few times, it becomes a habit to not think about right and wrong. We start acting based on our instincts alone, doing what we like, doing whatever we can in our power, without analyzing. This is a dangerous state to be in, for we could end up destroying anyone or anything that comes in the way of our desire fulfillment. We become like animals as that’s what animals do. At least, animals act on basic instincts when they are hungry or when they want to mate or when they hv to defend their life. But we do many things that are not essential for our survival, just for extraneous purposes, just to prove to the self and others that we are capable of doing such things. In the bargain, we end up causing untold suffering and misery to many that come within our reach. Some times the destruction can be far reaching.
What differentiates humans from animals is the superior knowledge and sense of conscience that is natural to humans. Except for knowledge, animals are superior to humans in most other aspects. Humans can not match an elephant in strength; humans are no match for the scent perception that the dogs have which is why their special ability is sought in crime detection, to following a trail. Eagles have greater eye sight, owls’ infra-red and night vision, the felines have better sighting in the nights; bulls and horses are bestowed with better endurance; the birds can fly, the fish can remain underwater. A cheetah outruns humans by many times; a falcon is swifter in a downward gravity assisted dive that it can hit speeds of over 320 k.m per hour and the spine-tailed swift fastest in flight. Except for humans it is not normal for other species to die of heart attack or other organ failures or other human related ailments. Animals are not illusioned or disillusioned like the humans. They react instinctively based on face value. Animals can be trained and tamed and seldom do they violate unless a corrupt input causes a change in their behaviour. They behave true to their nature, based on the capabilities of the bodies they acquire. The animals have no remorse, they just live a lifetime in their respective bodies using the potential. The only time the humans can be free from grief is when they are in deep sleep; devoid of dreams. They experience the effect of deep sleep only when they wake up, feeling good to have slept well.
Two classes of people in our society are guaranteed of great life in their next births that may eventually lead them to attaining God, even if they are not devotees in this life – Soldiers and Farmers. They become great devotees of God by default of their service to the nation alone. All those who develop a flair for serving the humanity would eventually become great devotees, for, that is first basic requirement that God recognizes in a devotee. There can be no devotee who would not serve mankind in some way or the other, within his capacity.
True definition of devotion is to give unconditionally, serve unconditionally, even to God. All devotees would find a way to give whatever they can – if they are scholarly, learned and knowledgeable, they impart their knowledge for the benefit of the society, if they hv special skills, they share their skills for the benefit of the society, if they hv excess resources and wealth, they would use it for the needy, under privileged. By serving the people they serve their Lord and this is true devotion. If one becomes a devotee, God would provide him with resources and opportunities for service. There is no devotee who does not give something or the other, in material, in knowledge or in kind or in service. We hv to give to the needy because God does not need anything. In fact what we give is already God-given. We are not the givers. We give whatever we can to help the needy as an offering to God, as in service to Him and that pleases God most.
Why do people bow before the true saints, priests, gurus, swamys, spiritual leaders – because they dedicate and devote their whole life in service to humanity. They are totally selfless. They are in that position because they are personally fulfilled. If there is anything that they seek, they seek to give.
a> the soldiers – that sacrifice their life for the country, either by living full life time protecting us or even if they hv to put their life in line to save us. If they survive full lifetime, they are still guaranteed of a glorious next lives and a possibility to be great devotees in their next lives to attain God’s eternal abode, for they would hv inherited as an effect of karma, the natural trait to doing their bit for the benefit of others. If they offer their life in a war, even then they are guaranteed of either heaven or having a great life in the next.
That is why, if we are not a soldier or a farmer, the least we can do is contribute to whatever extent possible in helping the poor of the society which is an effective way of serving God. In God’s view that is a greater tribute to Him than merely worshipping Him and doing nothing in service. Worshipping is good, being devout is great for only that would ultimately lead us to God, but merely worshipping without being kind and caring about others is not true worship.
Sri Kulasekara azhwar seeks from God thus in his ‘mukundamala’ – 27 “majjanmanah phalamidam madhukaitabhAre, matprArthanIya madanugraha Esha Eva, Tvadbhrutya bhrutya parichAraka bhrutya bhrutya, bhrutyasya bhrutya iti mAm smara lokanAtha” “all that I seek from You for having been born is only this “pls facilitate me to serve your devotees (society) as I stand last in the line to serve every one” and Sri Kulasekara azhwar who was a king, was wishing to serve the people of his kingdom. He was already a noble king and all the people in the kingdom lived happily in peace. A true devotee looks at everyone as God’s child and a devotee of God. just as God does not distinguish between one another, a true devotee does not see any difference in people. They see their Lord dwelling inside everyone’s heart. Serving them would mean to serve the Lord, constantly thinking of Him and there is no greater devotion than this.
That’s exactly what all azhwars and acharyas hv conveyed in their expressions.
Sri Nammazhwar in his Tiruvaymozhi 8-10 (11 psalms) emphasizes the greater importance to serve God’s children here which pleases the Lord most. Serving Humanity is the ultimate goal. He stresses that greater devotion is being a devotee of the devotees and that alone leads us to become true devotees of the Lord. Subservience is inherent and integral part of devotion. We can not be devotees if we did not have that natural trait to helping the needy and the less privileged.
Azhwar reiterates in several psalms that serving humanity is the greatest devotion to God – in His 3/7/10 – Azhwar pledges his subservience to all the devotees of the Lord and that he stands serving the last of the devotees. God is complete and wholesome, infinitely fulfilled in all respects and does not lack anything nor seek anything; He is ‘avApta samasta kAmaha”. The only way to serve Him is by serving humanity here. Kindness and compassion are the true essence of devotion.
Part – 28 divine souls are born to redeem us..
Que – Are there more Acharyas of the Vaishnava heritage, like Ramanuja?.
Ans – there were many greats. Like Thiagaraja, the great devotee of Rama and a composer says “endaro mahAnubhAvulu” – in fact every one of them is an equally great acharya, but Ramanuja was the chosen acharya and hence has played a predominant role in the redemption of millions of souls from eternal deterioration.. It may be hard to describe Ramanuja’s glory, but can not equate anyone with Azhwan as he stands out from the rest. Sri MaNavALa mAmuni (re-incarnation of Ramanuja) mentions about Azhwan in one expression “vAchAm agOcharaha” that words can not express his glory. Similary, ThiruvarangattamudanAr in his ramanuja nUtrandAdi refers to Azhwan (slokam 7) mozhiyaik-kadakkum perum pugazhAn…- that his glory is beyond expression in words or languages, his glory surpasses all expressions.
(Sri Azhwan, Kooram)
We have to think for a moment as to why God has given us the knowledge in the Vedas, Upanishads, Gita and other dharma sastras? Why the great mahatmas, great philosophers, sages, azhwars, acharyas, prophets, saints and gurus hv taken birth to bestow knowledge from time to time. Obviously, none of them have any personal benefit in the outcome, not even the credit for imparting such knowledge. Their only gain could be if we benefit from the knowledge, by following their directives. Their goal is not to make money or to control people or become popular and rich like some of the so called self declared swamys of today. They had no intentions of forming any cult or association to garner support and acquire power. They did it in service to God. God has caused us with natural intelligence, we are naturally knowledgeable. He has provided us a world with every ingredient we could think of to support the bodies we take.
We could say that God has an interest in doing everything because we belong to Him and He loves us beyond our comprehension. This world was created for our sake. We and the universe are His property. He caused us and the worlds to express His divine joy. He caused us from His superior nature – para or akshara who is the divine Mother of all souls; he made us sentient beings to share and experience His divine joy, either here in the changing world or in the immortal world. He made us somewhat similar to Him so that we can communicate with Him and exchange our expressions of appreciation about Him and His infinite auspicious virtues and magnificent qualities. He has interest in us because we are His children. It is natural for a good father to provide for the well being of his children which is exactly what God has done. He has given us the total freedom to choose what we like and hence we are here. He cares for us and hence he has made us knowledgeable and intelligent and provided us with all the information in the Vedas, Upanishads and scriptures so that we can be well off here if we like to continue taking bodies here. The ultimate goal for God is our well being, our being happy in everything we do. Whether we think of Him as the cause for us and the worlds or not, He still loves us and wishes well for us. Since He knows more than anyone else that this mortal world is a blend of pain/pleasure, suffering/joy – He has given us the ways to reach His immortal world where there is only unending divine joy. He is in a way selfish in taking care of us, as all fathers would. Hence, He puts in all the effort of taking incarnations, sending great sages and mahatmas from time to tome to bring us back home where we truly belong.
Either God or the great mahatmas have no other purpose in giving us all the sacred knowledge that would lead us to eternal glory, except our benefit. We are so obsessed with material acquisition today that we look at everything with suspicion. We assume that the great mahatmas who gave us the sacred scriptures hv done so with some motives. We attribute every thing to making money or profits. We do not do anything without a self benefit as a goal and when God or great mahatmas take birth here selflessly for our cause, we do not trust them, nor recognize their superior nature. They are not some tricky salesmen trying to sell a concept in order to make money. Their cause would be met if we derive the ultimate benefit that befits all atmas – that is to attain immortality.
We invent products, concepts, ideas and convert everything into a commodity for bulk consumption so that we can make huge profits. We do not impart knowledge without a fee. We attach a cost factor and price to all intelligence we share. Every breakthrough becomes an IPR (intellectual property right) so every user would have to pay a charge We do not do anything without a “what’s in it for me” answered. We assume that even God and great mahatmas are also like us and do not trust what they say. We are not even willing to try. If we try, we need immediate benefits. But the truth is that the benefit with God will be wholesome and not in piecemeal, and to attain that stage we have to get their 100%. We have to seek that entitlement by constant endeavor. By practicing what has been advocated by the great Azhwars and Acharyas, we will attain our goal. But the goal can not be reached in bits and pieces. So, it is important to realize that all the knowledge from the sacred scriptures and messages of the great mahatmas who guide us to righteous living and unconditional devotion is for our benefit. Their prime interest would be met by our attaining unassailable divine state of existence and nothing else. We can even think that God has motives, as the worlds and atmas belong to Him and He to them and hence it is in His interest that both are well protected, but not the Azhwars and Acharyas.
Some of us, who are indulging in non-stop sense gratification and pleasures because of the wealth in our possession, may claim that we are already very happy and lack nothing. We say so because, we have not tasted the better quality of joy even in this world, let alone the divine joy that the true devotees are bestowed with. We are somewhat like a frog in a well that assumes the well as the whole world and thinks that there is nothing beyond the well. Those who have seen and experienced greater levels of happiness would have also seen and experienced the trivial pleasures that we are content with. However, the divine souls are magnanimous that they wish for the entire humanity to experience the divine happiness they hv seen and also give us the knowledge to attain such states of bliss which in reality is our true nature to seek.
The least we can do for our own sake is to try being righteous for some time to see the results for ourselves. In the ultimate analysis, a devotee is not considered a devotee by God if he does not do his bit to help others. All the knowledge and wealth is no good if we can not be kind and compassionate to the needy and poor of our society. There is no use of being a devotee if we can not be of use to others, doing our bit to spread joy and happiness. Happiness and joy is not caused by speech alone, it comes when we do something to relieve others of pain, hurt and suffering, in action, in deed and in kind. A helping hand is more sacred than offering prayers in help – like the famous Mother Teresa saying “ helping hands are better than praying lips”. Just expressing our compassion in words does not help. It is true that we are not God, so we can not take care of everyone’s problems or protect the whole world from suffering. But when we attain a position to be of help to others, we should not lose that opportunity for even that position of being helpful to others is God enabled.
(picture courtesy – The Hindu, milk of animal kindness)
If we pause for a moment, introspect on the purpose of life here, we can all realize the true essence of being a human. The ultimate goal of human birth is to attain immortality and togetherness with our eternal Father, the supreme Lord which would also imply that we would not have to take birth ever again in a mortal body. Getting a human birth in itself is a great achievement because human life is rare to get and is too precious, too valuable to be wasted away. In pursuit of our goal of immortality, how do we make best use of this life? It is important to remain happy throughout this life and make every moment count. I am sure most of us would agree that in order to be happy in life, we need to be prosperous. We can not be happy spending a whole lifetime in poverty, struggling for every need for the self and family. Life can be happy for all concerned only if we have the requisite resources to fulfill our requirements. This does not tantamount to seeking sense gratification. This is the essential need for all humans, in order to realize the ultimate goal of attaining immortality and being with our Lord.
As a first step, purpose of life here is to make money and the purpose of making money is to use it judiciously ensuring that we extract optimum value from every cent / rupee spent. Making money and using the money – would have to be done righteously. How can spending money become unrighteous? After all if we make money righteously, legitimately, how can it be unrighteous if we spend it in a way we deem fit? Is it a crime to spend hard earned money to fulfill our passions?
Let’s say, due to good karma, some of us are in a position to make more money than most others (it is always hundreds and thousands of times more, for we can see that the rich are extremely rich. In that less than 1% of humans have more than the total wealth of the world population put together). So, it would make every extra cent that I have, so much more precious, for the others don’t have the same opportunity as I, to make that extra cent. Now if I spend such precious extra cents without taking benefit, we could justify calling it ‘waste of precious money’ which in a way is unrighteous. It is only right to extract full value of money even if spent on the self or others. Our wealth would be much more valuable when spent for the right purposes and right causes based on the needs. If we get into the habit of lavish spending, extravagant lifestyle, we would be wasting such precious value of money for nothing.
We can think of many ways how money is wasted (in India and other developing nations where majority of the population live in poverty) especially, just because it comes easy for some.
- buying a bugatti veyron or aston martin paying 160 to 200 million rupees, without ever being able to use it on our roads is indeed a crime and waste of precious money. It costs a few million rupees every year just to keep the machine parked and idle. If I have million times more money, why should I not have the pleasure of owning an expensive car? It is a waste because, I am not using it. The purpose of buying anything expensive is to be able to put that to best use or for a good reason. If both are defied, it is a criminal waste of precious money that could otherwise elevate at least a village (of 1000 people) out of poverty, for a full generation by providing quality education or that kind of money could feed 296296 children for a whole year. ISKCON provides meal for a child at Rs.675/- a year.
Now, it is not to say that one shall not buy an expensive car spending so much money. It is justified if he is in the profession involving speeds and he can put the investment to use every day of his life or if he has the roads in his place. It is considered a waste only when it can not be put to good use on a daily basis. If someone has a passion for experiencing high speeds, and is very wealthy and can afford to buy such expensive cars, he could still rent such a car for driving and experiencing high speeds. He would be hardly spending one thousandth of its cost. He can repeatedly go back to the racing circuit and experience high speeds in these cars. There is no need to own one. It is like saying, if my son loves Disney world costing several billion dollars, I should own one just for his sake or should I take him to Disney world once or twice to have his dream fulfilled? These cars can not be driven on regular roads in India where even the better cities as Mumbai have worst roads. If we hv the passion and the money, we can always invest in something that we can use every day of life. The value for a product is based on how much we can use it and not for keeping it unused.
- Lavish and extravagant wedding parties in which hundreds of millions of rupees is wasted without regard for value of money. Wasted amount of money of each such wedding party can support a whole village or two for life; to provide education and basic amenities. We would rather waste than put our hard earned money to good use.
I remember a friend once telling me about his friend who is a garment exporter, who traveled frequently to meet with his customers abroad in Europe and North America. Though he could afford to travel business class, he would travel economy class to Europe and other destinations involving one long flight as he could still remain fresh for the meetings on arrival. He would keep aside the fare savings (difference of business class and economy class fare) to be given to charity. I am sure he would have enjoyed the economy trips much more than the trips he went business class, for every rupee that he saved to give away went a long way in helping many poor students. The long term positive impact would be much more, for these kids would become economically self sufficient once they get quality education and their future generations would not have to be poor.
There was one more incidence that’s fresh in memory – just a couple of days after the devastating tsunami on Dec 26, 2004, we saw so many famous film stars and people who donated merely between rs.50000 to rs.500,000, each of them were interviewed on TV shows and were spoken about at length for half hour at least about their great gesture. Some of them were inspiring so that more would be influenced to contribute; but most of them were merely seeking publicity. We do remember some foreign NGO’s who were interested only in publicity but had not done anything of concrete value. They would ask for free t-shirts (200 to 500 t’shirts) with their name printed on the t-shirts. We first thought this was to be given away to the people affected but we were shocked to realize these were to be gifted to the members of the organisation so that their name is seen when televised. The need of the hour was to give the people in affected areas dresses, blankets, mats etc and to for the use of those helping.
A few of us visited the tsunami affected areas and identified one village to adopt. A Srivaishnava Swamy did so much work silently that his service was perhaps most effective in terms of value and solution. He organized rice for a whole village and for some kids – books, school uniforms. The lady from the village, who was one of the most sensible persons we had met, a school teacher and also the secretary of that village panchayat, informed us that the urgent need of the hour was to provide fishing nets as they were young healthy fishermen who were ready to go to work from the very next day but all their nets were totally damaged or gone. They had the boats, intact. she said “Lord is their employer, the sea is their factory, and they had the boats, if you buy them all fishing nets, they would go back to work from the very next day” she also begged ‘pls don’t give them money or free food for months as that would make them lazy for life. They would waste the money to drink alcohol and would get used to eating free food’. We were fortunate enough to order and procure 150 fishing nets within a week’s time and distributed to the village without any fuss or publicity. Each big net was good for one boat of at least 4-5 fishermen. They would fish in teams of 4 or 5. They could catch fish worth 50000 to 70000 rupees each trip of 2-3 days. We believe this was the fastest help delivered to any village. We also brought them new shirts, lungis, bed sheets and mats etc. That apart a lot many organizations and governments did great job in the recovery programs for all the affected people; but their help would reach people a bit later for it would involve bureaucracy; going thru systems and procedures. A Vaishnava Jeer swamy also arranged to have 100 duplex homes built for that village, in the quickest time possible. Reportedly, a bollywood actor did a lot of good work, silently. There were some who did less work or nothing but were keen on publicity. There were few who did effective work, silently.
So, if we value our earning and wealth truly, we have to put it to optimum use, ensure that every rupee is spent valuably for the right purpose and not merely wasted just because it is in our power to waste our money.
courtesy – pictures in all posts from google images
Part – 27 – we acquire relationships with our birth..
It is fascinating to know that we acquire all relationships with our birth into this world, including our association with our own body and lose all relationships with death. Each of us can realize one thing for sure – that we had no control over our birth or death (amusingly enough, in reality, we hv no control even over events during our lifetime as well, except that we think we are the ones in control of everything that we do!!). The truth is that all that we are in control of is only to make a choice, not the outcome of our action or even execution of our choice. We should be glad to know that our only permanent relative is God in all respects as He is unchanging; He has been, is and will be there for ever and so would we. We have reasons to be afraid of our relatives and other humans for the physical or emotional hurt/harm they can cause to us. God is the only one we don’t hv to be ever afraid of, for He can not and does not cause any pain or suffering to anyone, as He loves us all equally. He is our true Father and the dearest friend. He is our only eternal relative in all respects.
We take birth in a body and leave the body as it becomes dysfunctional (dies) – for various reasons – but have no knowledge of the true reasons / answers for the birth and death each one of us experiences.
Compare our body to a car that we drive in. We can keep using the car till it is functional, the moment it stops working, we hv to either service/repair the car to keep it functioning or give up the car if it is totally damaged beyond repair and acquire a new car.
It could be the most expensive car, we would still have to discard the moment it goes beyond repair.
By the same token, even the richest and most powerful personalities on earth would have to relinquish their body soon as it stops functioning. In order for us to understand this reality even the supreme Lord ended his incarnations. Be it a king, emperor – all of them would have to end their lives in a mortal body. Even the great souls- acharyas, rishis, sants, gurus, saints and prophets – that took birth here had to give up their bodies. Why even the earth, sun, galaxies and this universe will be gone one day to be re born again.
(Asoka & Shivaji)
(Buddha, Sankaracharya, Ramanujacharya)
(Earth, Solar system and Universe)
A person who has not eaten for days and is hungry would say it would mean to be in paradise for him if he got to eat a good meal. The same good meal would be a torture to another person with stomach problem, like the saying goes “food for one is poison for the other”. A thing that we thought made us happy earlier can also become a reason to cause us pain. So there is neither consistency in our state of happiness nor the things that once gave us happy moments would be same again.
We Love God without knowing
We categorize people based on religions, philosophies. Our perception towards them would be based on factors that are nonsensical, if they are religious or atheists. God Himself would not bother about our beliefs. Then why should we? In reality every living being loves God, whether they hv faith in God or not, whether they know that it is God that they love the most or not.(Sant Mirabai) Each soul is born from that super power God, like a drop of water with its distinct identity even if it merges into the ocean or when it is out of the ocean. Every living being wants one thing in common – happiness. Every single thing that we do is for happiness. The reason why each one of us wants to be happy is because of our origin. Our origin is “infinite happiness”. The true definition of God “sat-chit-ananda swarupaya” – sat/ true and eternal; chit/omniscient; Ananda/unending infinite bliss – He is the wholeness of infinite divine happiness.His nature is infinite bliss. Being a part of that wholeness of divine bliss, we want to be happy and are seeking happiness constantly. But that divine joy – unlimited, ever lasting and ever growing divine joy has eluded us for ever till now, because we have been seeking our happiness at the wrong place. We can experience true divine happiness only with God and not in this world. The so called joy that we hv experienced here is limited, temporary and diminishing, if we are successful. Even the happiness we experience is God enabled but without His involvement. But when we attain His world, we would experience our Lord’s involved happiness. Many a times, we end up experiencing pain and grief in this world, while our attempt was to seek happiness.
In one word – we all seek and love that divine happiness. And that divine happiness is God. With or without our realization, all of us love God, because we love happiness. We can be religious or atheists – everyone loves God equally. There is no living being who does not love God. If it is happiness that we love; we naturally love God. We may not want to accept God and religion as basis for happiness. It is implied that we seek God as He is the infinite happiness that we are a part of and hence, naturally we seek to be happy. In reality, there are no atheists, though they do not accept existence of God (which is a choice they make), when they seek happiness; unknowingly they seek the same God they don’t realize, exists. God does not mind if we choose to deny His existence. He exists even in that denial. (azhwar declares “uLnenil uLan aranuruvam ivvuruvugaL, uLanalan-enil avanaruvam ivvaruvugaL) He loves even those who deny Him for each one of us is equally dearest to Him.
The happiness a soul experiences is different in different bodies. The happiness of humans is more than that of the other species such as animals. Even amongst animals it varies from species to species based on the potential of their respective bodies. Happiness reduces relatively for the species of bodies with fewer functionality. Relatively, the happiness of the gods, is much greater than that of the humans going up to the Brahma whose happiness is more than the gods of the heaven. Yet all of us, including Brahma belong to this changing, mortal universe and all of us including Brahma have not experienced the divine joy that we all seek.
Similarly even the pain, hurt, suffering and emotional feelings also vary from body to body; humans to animals. Humans are most vulnerable to emotions.courtesy – all images in all posts from google images
Part 26 – Reality of life in the mortal world..
Gita 2/27 – “jAtasya hi dhruvo mrutyurdhruvam janma mrutyuscha, tasmAdaparihAryE’rthE na tvam sochitumarhasi”
“for, death is certain for the born, and re-birth is certain for the dead, therefore you should not grieve about what is inevitable”…
Sri Thondar adi podi azhwar in his prabhandam TirumAlai sums up a full life time of the humans in one song – ‘vEda nUl pirAyam nUru manisar tAm puguvarElum, pAdiyum urangippogum ninnadil padinaiyAndu; pEdai, pAlakan, adAum, piNi pasi, mUppu, tunbam; AdalAl piravi vEndEn arangamA nagar uLAnE” – that the humans are born to survive around 100 years. Some live less and some a bit more than 100 years. In that, half of the life is spent sleeping, and in the balance 50, we lose out the ability to realize anything during infancy, childhood, teenage (sense gratification), sickness/ailments, hunger, old age and grief … and there is hardly any time for realizing the purpose of this life when a whole life is wasted away without being able to know our relationship with God and be of service to Him. Hence do not wish to be born at all in this world.
(Sri Thondaradippodi azhwar)
We start our journey of this life with our birth. We would have no knowledge of any thing that was happening to us during the formation of body in the womb, except the suffering during imprisonment in the womb or after birth as an infant (which is probably the reason why all infants cry soon after birth as though to express the grief of suffering
they underwent being imprisoned in the womb), It is true that we cry whenever in grief, even as adults; by crying we seek relief from grief which is what probably all the new born babies do. As infants, we would lie in our own excretion and someone else would hv to clean us up, we would be totally dependent for everything. This is so because the atma has to use the body based on its capabilities; as a newborn and infant our body is still developing its capabilities.
We would hv no memory of the past, why and how we hv taken up this body.
As we grew up to be a child all that we did was to play, all the time. At this stage, in this state, we would hv no questions arising in us about the self except for the guided souls such as a Prahlada or Dhruva..
Then comes the state of adolescence in teen age, this is the age we should be on our guard against going out of control, be it attraction to the other gender, drugs, smoking, alcohol – any addiction, as all that we would be interested in is to indulging in non-stop pleasure-activities, seeking enjoyment from every quarter, totally believing that our body has to be fed with all sorts pleasures and that it is meant for that very purpose. That life is all about using the body to go all out, seeking physical pleasures. Most of us lose our reasoning in this phase of life. So, there is no scope for realizing the truth about the self in this period. A lucky few escape from the clutches of sense gratification, focusing on good education or pursuing sports activities or arts or music due to the right parental guidance, family environment or association with people that would guide them in the right direction.
Once out of the state of infatuation, either due to failures in achieving what they sought or by mere physical exhaustion or ailments that would prevent them from doing what they hv always been after, some realize their misdeeds and try to recover. Some others get totally lost. Those who recover are able to do so due to their association with such souls that hv influenced them to mend their ways; they end up with an employment (self employment or work for others), get married, settling down in a family life, with a schedule of daily routine – working 5 days so that they can get 2 days off. Our relationships increase with marriage. As we beget children, we gain new relationships. All that we are interested in this stage of life is to acquire maximum material comforts, accumulate wealth, and planning in many ways to provide ultimate comfort to self and family members in pursuit of joy or simply engage in non-stop sense gratification for the self and family. For some, it is important to show off their status, some others want to be popular, famous, powerful – being able to control others; end up in politics. Some wise ones see the joy in helping others; would happily share their excess wealth.
We constantly keep setting up goals in our lives – goals to achieve and acquire material wealth. As we attain a state closer to our goal, the goal keeps changing, ever increasing. Those who have attained a state of reliable financial stability, are constantly in the fear of losing whatever they possess; and those have-nots are constantly worried about how to get out of poverty and to becoming rich. Every way – either in pursuit of material acquisition or in fear of losing what has been acquired. The fear of losing is like getting
caught up in a black hole, it keeps pulling us into it.
Funny, isn’t it – like the Great devotee of Krishna – Purandaradasa mentions in one of his compositions – “anugAlavu chinte jeevake manasa” that the man is constantly worried – be it a poor man or rich.. The reason for this is simple. We always want more; the more we get, we want much more. Constantly unhappy about what we don’t have and in pursuit of seeking what we don’t have. If I aspire to acquire 10 things and succeed in getting 9, I am unhappy about the one thing that I did not get. If I aimed to make 10 million rupees this year and manage 9 million, I am upset for missing out on 1 million. Instead of feeling content with what we have, we fret about what we don’t possess and this seems to be a constant state for most of us.
The moment we realize that we have what we deserve and become content with it, we can be happy with such an understanding. All the disappointments are caused due to wants not being fulfilled; expectations that do not materialize. If we manage to fulfill some wants, it still does not make us happy as there are more wants unfulfilled. Wants and desires are like a burning fire and fulfilling them would mean to feed them with fuel. The more fuel we feed, the more they burn; seeking much more fuel and this would be un-ending.
(the fire of desire)
It is said in the Gita 2/62,63 – “dhyAyatho vishayAnpumsaha sangastEshUpajAyatE, sangAt sanjAyatE kAmaha, kAmAt krodhobhijAyatE” krodhAtbhavati sammohaha, sammohAtsmrutivibhramaha, smrutibhramsAdbudhinAsho, budhinAsAtpranasyati”- “to a person thinking of sense-objects, there arises attachment to them, from attachment arises desire, from desire anger (if we don’t get what we want or get only part of what we wanted); from anger comes delusion; from delusion loss of memory, from loss of memory destruction of discrimination (losing the ability to distinguish between right and wrong; and reasoning) and with the destruction of discrimination such a person is totally lost”
It is needless to mention that we live more or less around 100 earthly years in this body, if lucky enough to survive ailments /diseases, accidents, / natural disasters, wars and acts of terrorism that may end our life sooner. However, our inclination to enjoy (sense gratification) lingers on till the last breath and we leave the body with so many more desires and wants unfulfilled. Will keep taking birth to die, will die to take birth again.
courtesy – all images in all posts from google images
Part – 25 – the sacred knowledge
Que – and what is that sacred knowledge that Ramanuja revealed to everyone desirous of knowing that knowledge.
Ans – each one of us has to take refuge with an authentic acharya to obtain this knowledge. Ramanuja himself acquired this supreme knowledge from his acharyas just to lead by example. He knew everything, yet he took refuge with acharyas to receive this knowledge. Not everyone, who thinks he knows this knowledge, is authentic or authorized to reveal this supreme knowledge. There is a logical reason for this restriction or stipulation – primarily because one who is not an authentic teacher might misinterpret and come up with his own wrong perceptions. That could mislead many. It is like a person who is not a qualified doctor, practicing medicine. However, Ramanuja was the nominated divine soul who took birth here to preach the sacred values that would lead everyone that followed his preaching to the ultimate state of existence in the divine world. Ramanuja has also designated 74 simhasanadhipati’s (lineage of acharyas) to carry on his legacy. Only the acharyas of their lineage are authorized to perform ‘samAshryanam’ as well as reveal the essence of the ‘rahasya mantras’ All others like us, that are not authentic, are permitted to merely make a mention of what this sacred knowledge is. They are –
- Charama slokam
Que – what is the proof that knowing this knowledge would lead us to obtaining an immortal body in the eternal world? It sounds too easy and simple.
Ans – merely knowing these mantras would not take us anywhere. Knowing this knowledge would prepare us to practice a lifestyle that would entitle us to God’s ‘nirhetuka krupa’ (unconditional benign grace) who in turn would enable us to transform into kind and compassionate persons to practice a life based on the preaching. Or if we choose not to practice in accordance with this knowledge, but merely know these mantras, would not make us any different from those who have not known these mantras. Merely knowing this knowledge does not position us to deserve immortality, except that we would be considered much more egoistic and arrogant when we declare that we know this great knowledge. Knowing the intrinsic hidden values of these mantras would make it easy for us follow the prescribed life style. This knowledge gives us direction, practicing which we can develop unconditional devotion. We start with subservience to the Acharya that nurtures devotion in us. We then start serving the society, unconditionally, detached to ownership to our deeds or the fruits of action there of. We do everything as a representative of the Acharya. The purpose of learning this is to practice a lifestyle based on the doctrines of this knowledge which in turn would be recognized by the Acharya and God. Ramanuja was focused on elevating every soul that wished to transcend beyond the material aspects of this world. He dedicated his entire life to serving humanity, while also ensuring that they come out of their state of being served to becoming self sufficient and be able to serve others. That is the true essence of service. Service to humanity does not mean to keep the under privileged in that state permanently. While we help them to get out of their state of poverty, we must guide them to attain economic independence so that they are enabled to serve others as well. There is no greater joy than being able to help others. Once we reach that stage, we do not hv to worry about anything. God will take care of the rest. Ramanuja lead by example. The least we could do after gaining this knowledge is to help at least one person in our life. It is not a restriction, we can help more as may be possible. But if we do not intend helping even one person, truly, then we can not be true devotees.
I have to graduate as a doctor to practice medicine. If I do not formally learn a course in medicine, I can not be a certified doctor. However, after graduating as a doctor, if I choose not to practice medicine, makes me a normal person and not a doctor. I can boast of having graduated in medicine, but it does not benefit me or anyone else. Similarly learning these mantras properly from an authentic Acharya, will prepare us to be devotees, to realize our true nature and our purpose in life and the sense of our subservient nature. That service to humanity is the essence of it all.
We can be devotees even without knowing these mantras, but we would be missing direction due to lack of correct knowledge and would be mislead with improper understanding that would not serve our purpose. Hence, knowing these mantras is important. However, if one gets the opportunity to know but does not practice accordingly is not different from those who do not know and don’t practice.
The acharya may simply impart the essential knowledge for us to follow in our daily life and that would be enough for God to recognize our potential. The only important criteria is to practice a righteous, kind, noble lifestyle of a true human being, than just knowing all the shastras, Vedas and Upanishads etc.. a person who applies his learning would be more effective than a person who has not learnt, of course.
We do see a lot of learned scholars and spiritual leaders that are very knowledgeable, bestowed with excellent communication skills, being able to articulate and elucidate the concepts well, but do not practice what they preach. A lot of us would lose faith when we realize that the preachers themselves do not practice the doctrines. They would advise the prospective devotees to treat everyone as equals, without discrimination. They would advise us to help the needy at every possible opportunity if we are in a position to help. But we may witness their double standards when we notice that they themselves would mete out differential treatment to people based on their caste, religion, financial status etc. The preachers could be wealthy but would not give a cent to anyone. We lose respect for them when we learn that they are merely doing what they know as a job to make money. But there are many good ones, who devote their entire life for the benefit of the humanity, in the true sense. We can see the difference between those who preach but do not practice and those who practice what they preach. We know that the Mahatma was a true practitioner of whatever he preached and hence he was a true mahatma.
Krishna clarifies to arjuna that whatever he was preaching to him in Gita, he practiced as Rama, His earlier incarnation. As a matter of fact, Krishna preached what He practiced as Rama. Similarly, we have to live a life following the doctrines of the sacred knowledge here, in order for everyone to follow.
Krishna clarifies – gita 3/21 – “yadyadAcharati sreshtastattadEvEtaro janaha, sa yatpramANam kurute lokastadanuvartate”
“whatever a great person does, others also do, whichever standard he sets, the world follows it” hence it is all the more important for the preachers and persons of knowledge to set a standard in life, leading by example, for every one to follow.
Krishna goes on to say 3-22 “ na me pArthasti kartavyam trishu lokEshu kinchana, nAnavAptamavAptavyam, varta Eva cha karmaNi” “for me, there is nothing in all three worlds which ought to be done, nor is there anything unaccomplished that ought to be accomplished. Yet I keep working.
3/23 “yadi hyaham na vartEyam jAtu karmaNyatandritaha, mama vartmAnuvartante manushAh pArtha sarvasaha” “ If I did not keep working unwearied, humans would follow my path.
3/24 “utsIdEyurimE lokA na kuryAm karma chedaham, samkarasya cha kartA syAmupahanyAmimAha prajAha” “ if I do not work, these people would be lost; and I will be causing chaos in life and thereby ruining all these people”
3/25 – saktAha karmaNyavidvAmso yathA kurvanti bhArata, kuryadvidvAmstathAsaktaschikIrshurlokasangraham” just as the ignorant, attached to their work act, so also the learned should act without any attachment, and only for the welfare of the world”
3/36 ” na budhibhedam janayEdajnAnAm karmasanginAm, joshayEtsarvakarmANi vidvAnyuktaha samAcharan” “ the great person should not bewilder the mind of the ignorant who are attached to work (doership), rather he should perform work with devotion, for others to follow suit”
The 5 states to be known
Knowing the basics would prepare us to know the ‘artha panchakam’ the meaningful five, as clearly explained by Sri Pillai Lokacharyar. This is the next stage after knowing of the tattvas (chit/souls, (the knowledgeable, conscious), achit (matter/universe – devoid of knowledge or consciousness) and ParamAtma (the cause and origin for chit/achit). There is nothing else in the world.
a> sva swarUpa (knowing the nature of the self)
b> para swarUpa (knowing the nature and relationship with Paramatma)
c> purushArtha swarUpa (knowing what we should be doing on attaining our goal)
d> upAya swarUpa (knowing the means to attain our goal)
e> virodhi swarUpa (knowing what prevented our attaining the goal thus far)
a> swa swarUpa – is knowing the nature of self, the atma. In that there are 5 types – nityatma, muktatma, badhAtma, kaivalyarthi, mumukshus.
– Nityatmas are the nitya suris in the parama padam,
– mukatatmas are the ones who attained the parama padam after being mumukshus.
– Badhatmas are the ones still caught up in this mortal world (like us), who can desire and become mumukshus to attain the state of muktatmas.
– Kaivalyarthis are the ones who attain the eternal world, but chose to remain in the nature of the self, attaining peace but would miss the divine bliss of being in God’s company. This is the most dangerous state for the atma to be in for this is an eternal state without recourse. though there is no suffering, he would be of no use to anyone even after being in the eternal world.
– Mumukshus – are the atmas that are desirous of seeking moksham, parama padam
b> para swarUpa – is knowing the nature of the Paramatma – in 5 states. Para, vyUha, vibhava, antaryami, arcchAvatara –
– Para – in His Bhagawat swarUpam – in the eternal world – Paramapadam being omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent. In this state He has infinite capabilities of all his states.
– vyUha – involved in release, sustenance and dissolution of the changing worlds.
– vibhava – incarnating in this world – Rama, Krishna etc.
– antaryami – being the innerself of both the sentient and non sentient of the universe
– arcchAvatara – God becoming every form we give him, every name we call him abiding by our wish to be served in temples (idols, deities), at home in the form of sALigrAmam, literally pervading every where for our sake. Allowing us to be His protectors, care takers, giving us the divine bliss in being able to express our subservience to Him. since we can not experience Him in the other 4 states, this is the only state in which we can literally experience a hint of the divine bliss He grants us in the eternal world. – “iruppidam vaigundam vengadam”, “icchuvai tavira yAn poi indiralogamALum acchuvai perineum vEndEn”
c> purushArtha swarUpa – achieving our goal, state of executing our nature – subservience, kainkaryam. In that there are 5 stages – dharma, artha, kAma, Atmanubhava, moksha
– dharma – doing righteous deeds for the welfare of the self, family, society and Acharya.
– Artha – acquiring wealth legitimately, to serve the society
– KAma – desiring to experience the fruits of our noble deeds, in this world or in the heavens.
– AtmAnubhava – indulging in the bliss of the self, in the eternal world, after attaining salvation from the sorrows of this world.
– Moksha – attaining the divine body in the eternal abode ‘paramapadam’ and experiencing unending joy in the service of the Supreme Lord.
d> upAya swarUpa – means to attaining our goal – karma yoga, jnAna yoga, bhakti yoga, prapatti, AchAryAbhimAnam.
– karma yoga – doing yajna, dAna, tapas, dhyAna, sandhyAvandana, panchamahAyajna etc.. would enable us to live a righteous, happy life here. If karma yoga can be practiced as a form devotion, renouncing doership and fruits of action, doing everything as an offering to the Lord, even karma yoga can please the Lord to accept our devotion in the form of karma yoga. Karma yoga leads us to jnana yoga.
– jnAna yoga – knowledge of the self would enable us to know the self (atma-jnAna), it is not a means to reaching God simply by realizing the self. Jnana yoga, with the realization that the Lord is the innerself of the atma, realzing His all pervasive nature, doing all our duties with awareness of His omnipresence, it would lead us to bhakti yoga.
– bhakti yoga – is the state of unconditional devotion to God, in this state, we do not seek anything except to serve Him the way He likes to be served. Devotion has to be wholesome, total and exclusive only to God. If we succeed, it is not our doing, but His benign grace that would be the reason for accepting us.
– Prapatti – those who are unable to practice karma/jnana/bhakti yoga leading to unconditional devotion, prapatti is a state of unconditional surrender to the Lord, emoting true love for Him. bhakti is a threefold state of karma/jnana and bhakti. Prapatti is a state, we simply surrender to the Lord allowing Him to lead us.
– Acharyabhimanam – is for those who seek refuge in an Acharya, who accepts the onus of leading the disciple to ‘bhagavat-prApti’. The Acharya would take it upon himself to do everything for the disciple. He not only is serving/helping the Lord by bringing his beloved atma to Him, but also helping the atma attain the impossible, for the atma on his own may not succeed attaining the goal.
e> virodhi swarUpa – the impediments that prevented us reaching the Lord’s abode are – swarUpa virodhi, paratva virodhi, purushartha virodhi, upAya virodhi.
– swarUpa virodhi – dEhAtmAbhimAnam, anyasEshatvam, swa-swAtantryam. > thinking that we are the body, seeking refuge with others other than an Acharya or the Lord, or to think that we can independently achieve our goal without anyone’s help.
– Paratva virodhi – thinking of other gods as our origin (for no one except the supreme Lord is our origin), being devoted to evil forces, not knowing the divine supreme nature of the Lord when He incarnates, not realizing Lord’s all pervasiveness and His presence in the idols.
– prushArtha virodhi – desiring for the fruits of attaining eternal world, wishing to serve the Lord in a way we like to serve Him.
– upAya virodhi – deeming the effort of the self as the means to attaining the goal.
There are some of us who are convinced that by merely uttering “adiyen ramanuja dasan” or “emberumanar thiruvadigale saranam” we would be guaranteed of a place in the ‘parama padam’. The question is – would we say “adiyen ramanuja dasan” if it would not take us to ‘parama padam’ or even worse, if it would lead us to eternal hell? I am sure most of us would not. So, our motive is reaching parama padam so that we can be well off in parama padam. And we use emberumanar merely as an agent who can get us our desired goal. We have no need for him or would not utter his name if not for attaining our goal. We do not want anything to do with Emberumanar if not for his being instrumental in getting us the desired goal. What we should seek instead is (tiruvadi sambandam) relationship with Ramanuja’s lotus feet and service to Ramanuja thru his devotees, and not any other gain from that relationship; not even parama padam. There is no greater state than being in subservience to Ramanuja and his devotees. Sri Madurakavi azhwar demonstrates to us leading by example. “tEvu mattariyEn kurugUr nambi, pAvi ninnisai pAdi tirivanE”.. He declares that he does not know of any other god other than Nammazhwar. If we can even aspire to practice a minuscule of that total devotion to the Acharya, we could use our “echil vai” (impure speech) to utter the divine name of Ramanuja, not otherwise.
(sri madhurakavi azhwar)
Koorathazhwan was probably one of the few exceptions – he rejected the permission to see Ranganatha when it was declared that anyone associated with Ramanuja shall not be permitted into the Temple but he being Azhwan, known to be a great person, can go into the temple. To Azhwan, his being a disciple of Ramanuja was the only state of existence he sought and He would not go in to the temple to see his God if it came in the way of his relationship with Ramanuja. Everything about Azhwan had no equal.