Saturday, 30 August 2014

Yajnas

HARI  OM  

Practical  steps  to spirituality- section 7  part 2  

The  Gita  revisited 

Yajnas  

                The  ritualistic  fire  worship  was  one  of the  spiritual  practices  during  the  time  the  Gita  was  given  to  Arjuna  . Hence  the  Lord  speaks  about  some  spiritual  practices  in the  language  of  yajnas  . The  most  important  act  in  an  yajna  is  the  offering  of  oblations  into  the  fire  . Various  yajnas  are  mentioned  by  the  Lord  as  a  means  to  purify  oneself  and  make  oneself  fit  for  walking the  path  of  knowledge. 

               Daiva  yajna   is  the    offering of all   worldly  desires  thus becoming free  from desires . Brahma  yajna  involves  the  offering  of  oneself  in the  fire  of  knowledge  to  realise  '  aham  brahma  asmi  '.  The   third  is  the  Indriya  yajna  wherein  one  controls  the  external  stimuli  that  enter  the  mind  through  the  senses. . Samyama  yajna  involves  the  withdrawal  of  the  senses  from  all  external  pursuits  for  the  purpose  of  focusing  the  mind  on the  Self. The  fifth  is  Dravya yajna  which  refers  to  the  offering  of  cash  and  materials to the  poor  and  needy  ,which  when  done  as  an  act  of  worship  would  become  a  spiritual  practice  of  the  highest  order. . Tapo  yajna  is  living  a  simple  life  or  taking  up  austerities  and  conserving  the  time  and  energy  for  a  higher  purpose. . Then  comes  , Yoga  yajna  which  refers  to  the  eight  fold  path  of  yama,  niyama  ,  asana  , pranayama  ,  pratyahara , dharana,  dhyana  and  samadhi  . Each  of  them  can  lead  one  to   the  highest  Realisation   .

The  eighth  in  the  list  of  yajnas  that  Lord  Krishna  speaks  of  is  Svadyaya  yajna  , which  is  reading  or  studying  the  scriptures.and  introspecting  on  them  . Jnana  yajna  involves  the  deeper  understanding  of  the  scriptures  through  listening  or  self- study  groups  . The  tenth  is  Vrata  yajna  wherein  one  takes   to  special  vows  to  sharpen  one's  mind  and  senses  . Pranayama  yajna  is  exercising  control  over  one's  inhalation  and  exhalation  and  holding of  the  breath   outside  and  inside  . And  lastly  , Aahara  yajna   is  to  offer  the  right  food  in the  right  quantity   at  the  right  time  for  the  digestive  fire   within us  wherein  eating  itself  becomes  a  spiritual  practice  . These  yajnas  when  practised  regularly,  correctly  and  with  an  alert  mind  , help  the  aspirant  to  feel  cheerful  and  fulfilled  in  every  walk  of  his  life   and  also    grow  spiritually. His  mind  then  becomes  filled  with  peace  , contentment  and  love  for  all. 

to  be  continued....

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

verse 24 of chapter 4

HARI  OM  

Practical steps  to spirituality- section 7 part 1 

The  Gita  revisited  

Verse  24  of chapter 4  

                  Verse  24  of chapter  4  is  chanted  by  Hindus  as  a prayer  and  offering  before  partaking  of  meals  . In  the  yajna  - ritualistic  fire  worship,  the worshipper  offers  oblations  into  the  fire  with a  wooden  ladle  to  ask  the  Lord  for  a  particular  result  , yajna  phala. To  the  ordinary  worshipper  , who is  yet  to  realise  the  Lord  as  none  other  than  himself,  each  action  in  the  performance  of   the worship,  the  instruments  he  uses  to  worship  the  Lord  and  the  Lord  he  worships  are  all  different  . However  for the  Realised  Master  , whom  we  have  seen  as  the  intelligent  man  in  one  of  the  previous  pages  , who  has  experienced  the  Supreme  Truth  , all  is  Brahman   and  every  action  connected  with  the  worship   and  all  that  is used  in  propitiating  the  Lord  and  the  worshipper and the  worshipped  are  all  Brahman  . To  him  everything  becomes  a  brahma- karma  . 

            In  the  fire  yajna  , the  verse  states  that , Brahman  is  the  oblation  , Brahman  is  the  clarified  butter  and  so  on  that  constitute  the  offering  ,  by  Brahman  is  the  oblation  poured  into  the  fire  of  Brahman   and  Brahman  shall  be  reached  by  him  who  sees  Brahman  in  all  actions  . In  short  , while  a  person  has  his  meals  ,  he  offers  the  food  first  to  the  Lord  within  him  by  chanting  the verse  to  say  that  everything  is  Brahman. ,  that  it  is  He  who  is  in  the  form  of  food  that  is  provided  by  He  Himself   and  that  it  is  He  that  also  helps  in the  digestion   of  the  food  that  is  eaten  .  The  food  that  is  eaten  also  refers  to  all  the  sensory  inputs  that  we  receive  from  the  external  world  and   that all  the  actions  we  do  by  body  mind  and  speech   are  also    only  to  be  done  for  His  sake  .This  is  not a  mechanical  prayer or  offering  to  the  Lord  but a  genuine  feeling  expressed  to  the  Lord   and  is  accompanied  with a  feeling  of  gratitude  to  all  that  there  is   and  for  sure  , he  knows  that  everything  is  Brahman  alone  is  in  different  forms  .

to  be  continued...


Monday, 18 August 2014

Uttistha bharata

HARI  OM

Practical  steps  to spirituality- section 6  part 100

The  Gita  revisited  

  "  Uttistha  bharata  -  wake  up , O Bharata  "

             The  fourth chapter  of  the  Gita  ends  with  a  clarion call  of  the  Lord  to  Arjuna  to  wake  up  . The  Lord  tells  Arjuna  "  uttistha  bharata  "  meaning  "  wake  up  bharata  ".  Arjuna's  confused  mind  made  him grieve  for  those  who  did  not  deserve  to  be  grieved  . The  Lord  gave  him  the  highest  wisdom   that  the  Self  is  eternal   and  hence  cannot  be  destroyed  .

           We  have  seen  , in  the  beginning  of  the  second chapter  , Arjuna  put  down  his  bow and  arrows  refusing  to  fight  the  Mahabharata  war.  He  then  had  surrendered  to  the  Lord   saying  ,"    shisyastheyam   shadimam  twam  prapannam  "  . The  Lord  then  started  giving  him  the  Gita   and   continuing  His  teachings  to  Arjuna  , the  Lord  tells  Arjuna  to  wake  up  and  fight  this  war. . Since  the  Gita  happened  to  have  been  given  by  the  Lord  in the  battle  field  ,the  message  of  the  Lord  to  him  was  to  fight  this  war.  and  fulfill  his  duties  . It  is  actually  a  message  to  all  of  humanity  to  wake  up  , stand up and  face  all  the  challenges  of  life  without  running  away  from  them  ,  but  to  resolve  to  carry  on  all  the duties   and  obligations  to  oneself,  to  one's  family  ,  society  ,and  the  nation. according  to  each  person's status  and  position  in   life  and  to  realise  one's  highest  nature   and  revel  in  the  light  of  the  knowledge  (  bha+  rata  )  .
 
            The  Kathopanishad  also  says  "  Arise , awake  and  gain  this  knowledge  from  the  wise  "  (    uttisthata  jagrata  prapya  varannibodhata    ).In  modern  times  , we  have  seen  Swami  Vivekananda   gave  a  clarion call  to  his  countrymen   to  give  up  their  life  of  laziness,  apathy  and  indifference   and  come  forward  towards  fulfilling  all  their  duties  and  obligations  to  themselves,  to  society   and  the  nation. . This  clarion  call  became  an  inspiration  for  that  generation  to  wake  up  from  slumber   and  fight  against  all  kinds  of  injustices   and  for  gaining  their  rights  and  freedom. The  great  freedom  fighter  Tilak  said  "  swaraj  is  my  birthright  and  I  shall  have  it  "   In  a  larger  sense  , we  have  to  strive  to  give up  ignorance  and  seek  the  Truth  , attaining  which  is  the  birthright  of  all.

to  be  continued....
           

Thursday, 14 August 2014

Freedom in the broader sense

HARI  OM  

Practical  steps to spirituality- section 6 part  99

The  Gita  revisited  

Freedom in the  broader sense  of the  term 

                  Today  ,we, Indians,   are celebrating our independence day.    We  became  a  free  nation  , free  from  British  rule   on 15th AUGUST  1947. Eternal  vigilance is the price  of  liberty. We  have  to  be ever alert  in safeguarding  our country from any foreign  attack  and  internally  it also  means  freedom  from  hunger, poverty  and  disease  and  freedom to live our lives with dignity and  to  fulfill  all our aspirations .

                    On  a  deeper  note  , what  does  freedom  signify  ?  The  individual  jivatma  is  struggling  in  samsara  and  is  trying  to free  himself   from  bondage  that  he   himself has   created  through  ignorance  of  his   own  divine  nature. He   has  chained  himself  through  the  identification  with  the  body-mind- intellect  complex  and  has  become  the  doer  of  actions  and  the  enjoyer  of  the  results  of  his  actions. . The  jiva  is  born  again and  again  to  enjoy  the  fruits  of  his  actions  and  in  that  process  ,new  desires  are  created  ,which  prompt  further  actions  and  he  falls  into  the  trap  of  the  endless  chain  of  desires- actions  -results  - impressions-  new desires-  actions  and  so  on. .This  chain  goes  on and  on  life  after  life  and  the  jiva  continues  to  wallow  in  bondage. 

              Our  scriptures  have  given  the  jivatma  a  road  map  to  freedom  from this  self- created  bondage. Start  with  karma  yoga  -  doing  all  actions  as  an  act  of  worship  and  receiving  all  the  results  as  a  prasada  ,helps  in  giving  up  all  his   likes  and  dislikes  and  through  bhakti  yoga  , he  surrenders  to  the  Will  of  God   and  these  together  help  the jiva    remove  all the  impurities  of  the  mind  . His mind ,being free  from impurities ,    is  now  ready  to  approach  a  Guru  and  through  sravana  , manana  and  nidhidyasana    and  absorption  of  the  mind  on  the  Self  ,he  attains  Self  knowledge  , Brahma  Vidya  . So  the  jivatma  who  was  until now    in bondage ' becomes'  a  muktatma. 

            On  a yet  deeper scale  , when  we  start  examining  ,we  ask  ourselves  if  anything  new  was  attained  by  the  jiva  ?Is  there  any  'becoming   free ' now   with   the  gaining   of  Self  knowledge  ?  The   actual  fact   is , there  is  no  ' becoming  '  , there  is  only  ' being  '  what  the  jiva  already  is   and  hence  he  was  never  in  bondage  . . Self  -knowledge  involves  only  'knowing'  who  you  are  and  this  puts  an  end  to  all  ignorance  prompted  doing. . There  is  only  'being  ' what  you already  are  . This  makes  you realize  your  oneness  with  the  infinite  Self. . There  is  no ' becoming free ' for  the  jivatma  , for  he  is  ever  free  . His  ignorance  of  his  real  nature  was  the  cause  of  his  bondage   and  atma-jnana  frees  him once  for  all  from  this  bondage  . He  now  realises  himself  as  the  infinite  muktatma  and  not  the  finite  jivatma  . This  is  freedom  in the  broader  sense  of  the  term  .


to  be  continued.....


Thursday, 7 August 2014

Intelligent living

HARI  OM  

Practical  steps  to  spirituality- section 6  part 98

The  Gita  revisited  

Intelligent  living  

                               Intelligent  living  consists  in the  right  use  of  the  intellect  in  understanding  oneself   well  and  the  world. One  who  has  lived  well  , attained  the  goal  of  life  and  attained  infinite  bliss  is  said  to  be  intelligent. . We  have  seen in the  previous  page that when  an  action  is  done  with  the  notion  of  doership  ,it  is  called  an  action. , while  the  same  action  when  done  with  no  notion  of  doership    is  considered  as  inaction. . Such  actions  do  not  bind  the  person  doing  them. When  I  identify  myself  with  my  body,  speech  and  mind  ,I  become  the  doer  of  actions  , while  when  I  realise  myself  as  the  actionless  Self  ,I become  the  non-doer  and  my  actions  do not  produce  any  results  and  hence  do  not  bind  me. 

                         An  intelligent  man  just  enjoys  doing  actions  and  is  equally  happy  in  the  non- performance  of  actions. He  has  no  compulsions to  do  any  action  nor  does  he  have  anxiety  over  the  results  of  his  actions. He  does  actions  out  of  a  sense  of  fulfillment  . The  intelligent  man  , who  is  called  a  realized  master  , a  shitha  prajna  ,knows that  the  Self   is  the  witness consciousness   in  the  presence  of  which  his  body  speech  and  mind  function. . Being  identified  with  the  action-less  Self  ,he  is  not  affected  by  the  external  results  
  
                     An  intelligent  man's  actions  end  in  the  performance  of  actions  and  do not leave  any  impressions  or  vasanas  in  his  mind. hence   create   no  new  karma  . While  we  see  an  ignorant  man's actions  ,  on the  other  hand ,  do  not  end  with  the  performance  of  actions  . They  create  impressions  in  his  mind  ,which  again  create  fresh  desires  which  prompt  future   actions. He  now  falls  into  the  trap  of  a  vicious  cycle  of  desires  - actions  -results  -  future  desires  -  actions  and  so  on  . This  cycle  goes  on and  on  through  out  his  life  and  in the  lives  hereafter.  He   continues  to  remain  in  bondage. 

to  be  continued....

Saturday, 2 August 2014

action and inaction

HARI  OM  

Practical  steps  to  spirituality- section 6  part  97

The  Gita  revisited  

Action  and  inaction. 

           Action  and inaction  ,both  can  be  viewed  from  different angles  . When  seen  from karma yoga  point  of view  ,  doing  ones  duties  and  right  actions  do  not  bind  and  vasanas  get  exhausted  , while  doing  prohibited  and  wrong  actions  bind (  vikarma  ) , but  when  one  fails  to  do  his  duties (  akarma  )  non -doing  binds  him  and  he  gets  to  accumulate  fresh  vasanas. . When  we  see  even  karma  yoga  from  yet another    higher  angle  , though  giving  is  an  ordinary  action  but  when  right  attitude  is  added  to  the  action  like  when    giving  is  accompanied  with  love ,it  becomes  a  special  karma   and  when  this  giving   becomes  second  nature  , that  is,  when  action  and  right  attitude  done  over  a  period  of  time  becomes  a  spontaneous  karma  .

       Actions  when  viewed  from  the  point  of  view  of  jnana  yoga  , actions  and  inactions  take  a  different  colour  altogether. . When  a  person  performs  an  action with  the  notion  of  doership  (  kartuthva  buddhi  )  , he  then  becomes  the  enjoyer  (  boktha  )  of  the  results  of  his  action. . The  same  action  becomes  an  inaction   (  akarma ).  ,when  the  action  is  done  without  the  notion  of  doership  in  action ,then  the  non- doer  (  akartha  )  becomes  the  non- enjoyer  (  abhoktha  )  of  the  results  too. 

         Hence  sastras  categorise  all  actions  as  karma,  vikarma  and  akarma .  Realised  masters  like  Swami  Vivekananda  ,  Pujya  Gurudev  Swami  Chinmayananda  , even  when  they  kept  themselves   busy  with  serving  the  people  ,their  actions  were   considered  as  akarma  . The  great  masters  like  Ramakrishna  Paramahamsa  and  Tapovan  Maharaj  , though  they lived  far  away  from  the  mad  crowd  ,yet  whether  they  did  actions  or  did  not  were  all  considered  as  inaction  only because  they  did  not  carry  the  notion  of  doership  while  doing  actions   and  hence  were  never  the  enjoyer  of  the  results   and  they  they  were  happy  while  doing  actions  and  equally  content  in  the  non- performance  of  actions.   

       It  is  said  that  Lord  Vishnu  reclines  on  a  thousand  headed  serpent and  is  in the  midst  of  thousands  of  activities  yet  He  remains  in  a  total  state  of  peace   and  actionlessness . The  aim  of  every  spiritual  seeker  should  be  to  attain  this  state  of   peace,  poise  and  as  though  inactive  even  while  carrying  out  ones  duties  and  obligations  in  life. 

to  be  continued.....