Friday, 24 April 2015

women, vaishyas, sudras ..........

HARI OM
Practical steps to spirituality- section 7 part 57
The Gita revisited  
The  women, vaishyas   ,sudras  , those  born   of sinful wombs

               In verse 32 of chapter 9 , the Lord says  even  women, vaishyas  and sudras  - those born  of sinful wombs  , even they attain the supreme goal  and while  describing the  brahmanas' and the kshatriyas 's births  He  uses the  words  ' meritorious  births'  . Pujya Gurudev  Swami Chinmayananda   defines sin as that act which keeps one away from the  Truth. and merit as that  act that  helps us know the  Truth. 

          We  have seen  in an earlier  page  that the  caste system  was  initially     based  on one's  mental  makeup (  gunas ) and  profession  and  not  on birth. . Having certain  mental  qualities  becomes an  obstacle  or  having certain other qualities  become  advantageous  to the seeker of Truth. . The  women referred  to in the above  verse  means  that  womanly  qualities  of attachment  , dependency   and  being emotional  , and  the  vaishyas  referred  to in the same  verse  mean  people  with qualities  of manipulating, calculating  and profit making  and  the sudra qualities  of herd mentality , dullness  , lethargy   all  these qualities    are  disadvantageous  to the seeker  after Truth.  

          While  we know  that when the  Geeta  speaks  of brahmanas  , it does not refer   to the  brahmanas  of the present   day  caste system . They refer  to the  sattvik nature  of a person who has a quest for knowledge  , has  subtle thinking abilities  and  is generally peaceful.  The  kshatriyas referred  to  in the verse   stand  for qualities  of brightness  , dynamism  and daringness. . So a  brahmana  and a  kshtatriya   with these  qualities   get   the best opportunity   and qualification   to  gather knowledge  and know the Truth. 

               The  chapter ends  with the  Lord's assurance  that  when we think of Him, put our heart  in Him  , consider nothing greater than  Him and are ready  to sacrifice  our all  for  Him  and  dedicate  our life  for  Him  then  we  shall   without doubt  attain Him - the  Infinite Supreme Truth. 

to be  continued....

Friday, 17 April 2015

Different paths but one destination.

HARI OM 
The Practical steps to spirituality- section 7 part 56
The Gita revisited.
Different paths but one destination.

                         A question that  bothers the mind of any sincere seeker  is  that  'are  some  more qualified to realise God  or  are all  equally  qualified?'. Vedanta  reiterates  the  fact that all are  equally  qualified  ,irrespective  of  one's gender, caste, creed , colour  , education, family  , religion  or  nationality that one may belong to. . 

                      The  different  paths  ,the  scriptures throw  open to us  are  suitable  to each one of us  according  to  our own level  of  spiritual  growth and  evolution. . Not all  are  fit to walk the path of  jnana  yoga  and realise God. Only a few  evolved  souls  like   Sankara   could  straight away  take  to the  path of  knowledge  . For the  majority of  us  ,we first have  to  become free  from the  impurities  of the  mind  for which  we  need  to have  the  sadhana  chatustaya  sampatti  .  So  we  develop  viveka, vairagya, and  the  other  six ethical perfections  and  then to develop a desire  for moksha  , we are first asked to walk the  path of karma yoga  . On freeing  our minds of the impurities , we become qualified to walk the path of knowledge  and attain Self- realisation.


                 The  path of  devotion is  unique   in that  there are no preconditions or qualifications to walk the path of bhakti. All  that  one  needs is pure love and devotion for the Lord   and an urge to attain Him and merge in Him. Even ordinary mortals   like Sabari-a tribal woman, jatayu - the vulture, kevata - a boatman were blessed  by Lord Rama.  Even great saint and sages  too  have  walked  this  path of bhakti  and  attained  the Supreme. 


to be  continued.....

     

Tuesday, 14 April 2015

God is impartial.

HARI OM 




















































                                     

                






HARI OM 
Practical steps to spirituality- section 7 part 55
The Gita revisited 
God is impartial.



  God  is impartial to all. His Grace flows on saints as well  as sinners alike. He  protects  the  believers  as well  as the non-believers  , the  spiritual person as well as the  materialist  . He does not discriminate  between   the rich and the poor. The  Lord says that  He  is impartial to all. He says  His devotees are dear  to Him  and  they are in Him and  He is  in them  . . This  statement  from the  Lord makes us raise our eyebrows as to  how  God  can  pass  such a statement  "  they are in Me  and  I am in them .", which looks as though the  Lord is  partial to His devotees. .  

            








    Before the  Mahabharata war  started ,the  Lord  said  that  He  would give His  Narayana  sena   to  one  side  and the  other  side  would have  the  Lord  but  without  His  weapons. Arjuna  asked  for  the  Lord  and  was indeed  blessed  to  hear  the  teachings  of the  Gita  from  the  Lord's  mouth   in the  battlefield  and  Arjuna  also  saw  victory in the war  because  he  chose  the  Lord. While  Duryodhana  wanted  only  the  Lord's  powerful  army  and   got  destroyed  in the  end  . The  Lord  blesses  His  devotees  in the way they  approach  Him  and  worship  Him . Hence  He  is impartial  






               The  Lord assures  us  here  that even  the  worst sinner  can  transform  himself  and  turn towards  God  ,hence  can be called a  good person. There  is  no eternal  damnation in  Hinduism  . Sage  Valmiki  was previously known as    Ratnakar  , a  robber  by profession , who  by the  grace  of  sage  Narada   turned  into Valmiki  after  he gave  up his  bad  ways  and  started  chanting  the  Lord's  name  continuously.  The  Lord's  Grace  turned  him into  the  famous  Valmiki  , the author  of the  Ramayana. 

                It  is  generally  believed  by devotees  that if we take  one  step   to  walk towards  Him, He  takes  ten steps  to  reach  us, his  devotees. That  is how   His  Kripa  gets expressed  . We  on our part  have  to be  open  to  receive  His  blessings  and  grace  flowing  through our  life  and  helping  us at every  stage  to  face  with courage  life's  problems  and  overcome  obstacles  and  grow  spiritually  . The  Lord  says  " My  devotee  never  perishes ".


to be  continued....

Monday, 13 April 2015

pathram, pushpam,phalam ,thoyam

HARI OM 

Practical steps to spirituality- section 7 part  54
The Gita revisited
Pathram, pushpam ,phalam thoyam 

                          We  worship God  according  to our own  limited understanding  of  Him. When  we understand  God  as a limited  power ,we  worship  Him  only  as  a finite  being  with limited  powers  and not as an infinite  Being  who is  Omnipotent, Omnipresent  and  Omniscient  . The  sattvika worship  deities  of knowledge  and divine  virtues, those  hankering  after  wealth  will  worship  deities of wealth and  power  and  those  with   tamasika  qualities  would  worship  deities which are  negative  and  evil   . A few  worship  their  parents  with the belief  that  worshiping them is  worshiping  God Himself. . Many  believe  that  doing selfless  actions  is the  best form of worship of the  Lord.  Some  try to see  God in nature  and hence  worship nature in the various ways  She presents  Herself to  us.  Lord Krishna  says  that in whatever way  people worship the deities , He accepts  all  of them as worship offered  to Him  only  and  it is  He  who bestows the  results  for  such  worship. even when it is a worship of the  finite deities. 

                 On the  other hand  ,God  is infinite, compassionate, all loving and  forgiving. . Whatever  we offer  Him  , the  Lord  accepts  it  ,be it  a leaf,  flower, fruit or   plain water. (  patram ,pushram, phalam and thoyam )  . The  Lord only sees  the  attitude behind our offering  . Whatever we offer Him  has to be offered  with  humility, love  and  pure devotion  ,without the  ego that  '   I am offering these  things to the  Lord.'  . For  ,whatever we are offering  to the  Lord  does not belong to us, all are  already  His  only. What is there  in this  world  which  is not His  already ?. The  Lord says  that when we do our duties  selflessly  dedicating  them  unto the  Lord  ,this is the  best way we can  worship Him and  please  Him. . In  this  way, all  our  actions  can  be  turned  into worship of the  Lord  by offering  them  unto Him  with  'Iswara arpana buddhi ' and  accepting  the  fruits  of all our actions  , whether pleasant or unpleasant  , as  'Iswara  prasada '. 

to be continued.....
                  

Wednesday, 8 April 2015

Yogakshemam vahamyaham.

HARI OM
Practical steps to spirituality- section 7 part 53
The Gita revisited 
Yogakshemam vahamyaham 

                     The  Lord  has given  us  the  assurance  in verse 22  of chapter 9 that  He  will  take care of  us  , of all our needs , provide us with all that we need  and   preserve  all that we already possess.  " Yogakshemam   vahamyaham  ". All  that  He  expects  us  to  do  is  have  an  unflinching  devotion   for and  faith in  Him. To  those  who are  still  struggling  with   fulfilling  material  desires  ,to such  devotees  He  assures  them  that  there will  be  complete  success  in their  worldly  life  if  they  inculcate  three  factors  in their  life  that  of   consistency  of willing and thinking  , singleness  of purpose  and  self control. .
                   The  above three  factors  are also very important  in one's  spiritual  journey  as well  ,to take  him forward  .The  Lord  promises  those  who with single  pointed  mind  meditate  on Him  as  the  ONE and  only  Reality  , that  He  would  bring yoga  and  kshema  to them  , meaning  He  would  bless them  with  more and  more  spiritual  strength and vigour  (  yoga)  and  the  final  experience  of the  Ultimate  (  kshema  ) , which  is  the  liberation that  scriptures talk  about  . The  Lord  assures  them  that  He  will  see  to it  that  no obstacle  becomes too great   an  impediment  as to hinder the devotee's  spiritual  journey  . The  devotee  who  has  undertaken  this  journey  with  complete  faith  and shraddha  in the  words of the  Guru, in the  teachings  of the  scriptures  and  in the  presence  of the  Almighty God. , will  be  protected  says the  Lord  .  He and  his  family's needs  will  be  taken care  of by the  Lord. 

                   Adi  Sankara  defines  the  term ' yoga'as the power to gain and  'kshema ' as the power to guard . It  is true that  all of our life's struggles  amount to only  gaining material things  and  also guarding them  . The  one  who  is  free  from these two preoccupations has risen  above  the  need  for  them   and has gained all  that  is  to  gained    meaning  the  one  who  has  attained  self knowledge  has  no need  for  them  , he has attained the state of Bliss  ,free  from all  sorrows. 

to be  continued...

Tuesday, 7 April 2015

The central jewel

HARI OM 
Practical steps to spirituality- section 7 part 52
The Gita revisited 
The central jewel.

                           When we examine our own life on this earth, we find that we come to get no permanent joy or happiness  from anything that we do, or achieve  , or in any object or even in relationships .. We derive no happiness  from the ephemeral  pleasures  that we run after. . Even  the happiness  one comes to enjoy  in heaven  is  only temporary  and short  lived  ,as  this  happiness  will  end  when  one's punya karma  gets exhausted   and one is sent back to this earthly life. . So we keep wondering  if  there is a place in earth or heaven  or anywhere else   at all where  we  could find  permanent  bliss  ?

                          Verse 22  of chapter 9  is  at the  center  of the  Gita  ,like  a  central jewel, a  precious pendant  decorating  the priceless  necklace  of  700 verses  of the  Gita  . Herein  ,the  Lord  says  that  one  can live in Bliss  right here and  now. . God  is  Bliss  Absolute  . He  is  Sat, Cit  Ananda  swarupa.  and  when we  unite with Him and become one with Him ,we come  to experience  Bliss   in the here and  now. God alone  is  our path  through which we  have to walk  and also the goal to be reached  . He alone  is our support, strength  and  protector. . When all our thoughts and  actions  are dedicated  to the  Lord and  we come  to live  for  Him  and  when  He  becomes  the  dominating force  in our  life, and  when  His  work  becomes  our work  ,then all our thoughts and actions- physical, verbal and mental,all  turn into a  worship unto Him . We  are then in Bliss. 

                 The  seeker may at this  point of time  raise a  doubt  that  if  all my  thoughts and actions are  only  about  and  for  God, then  who will  take  care  of  my  family and its  needs?. The  Lord  through this  verse 22  gives  us  an assurance  that  it  is  His  responsibility  then  to  take  care of  us  and  our  family. , to  bless  us  with  what  we  lack  (yoga)  and  preserve  what we already have. ( kshema). God  promises to take care  of all our needs. All  that   is  needed  from our part  is  absolute  surrender to  God  and  His  Will  and  He  provides us with what we need  and  makes sure  it remains with us. Does not God protect us  right  from our  birth .? One  who has complete  faith that  God  takes care  of him  ,lives in peace and  enjoys all that he  has  because  he  is  connected  to  God and   he  lives  in Bliss.

to be  continued....

Thursday, 2 April 2015

Worshipping God

HARI OM 

Practical ways to spirituality- section 7 part 51
The Gita  revisited 
Worshipping God 

                          God  can be  worshipped  in different ways  according to the different  attitudes that  people may  have  towards the  Lord .  Whatever be the attitude ,what is important  is  having  shraddha  and  bhakti  for   one's own ishta devata . Being in a satsang  one  gets to develop  the  emotion of love  for the  Lord  and  one's mind remains in peace. . Some like  to hear  the  stories  about the  Lord  being told by a mahatma. . While a few  may like to sing  the  glories of the Lord  and  in this  process  ,a bhakta  may come to imbibe  the  divine virtues  of the  Lord in his own life.

                         Some  exhibit their  devotion  be  doing  parikrama  of the  temple  premises  and  also  do  prostrations  in front of the  idol or image  of the  Lord. . This  is a  sign  of humility  and reverence  for the  Lord. . A few  others like  to worship  God by  studying  the  scriptural  texts   and  His  teachings  found in them. So they  make  study of the  scriptures  a life long affair   , continue  to  reflect  and also  discuss  with  like  minded people the  Truths elaborated  in them . Some  become  teachers  and  enlighten  the minds  of the ignorant seekers  or  some  give  discourses  on the  different  scriptural texts. 

                      A few  meditate  on God  as their own  infinite Self  (  soham  )   and seek  oneness  with God  . Here the  devotee  finds no differentiation between  him  and  God  . This  is  Advaita  . While  a  majority  who are  still  in their  early  stage  of spiritual  growth  understand  God  as  being  different  from them   and  come  to see  God  as their  friend,  a child  or  as their  beloved .. Many  worship God  in His  incarnations  as  Sri Rama  or  Sri  Krishna  . Some  whose  spiritual  consciousness  is  advanced  ,see  the Lord  in all  His  creation. and  hence  worship  the  whole  of nature. 

                       It  is  important  to  note  that  in whatever  way  we  worship  God  ,He  accepts  our  worship. and  responds  to  our  prayers. . God  is  the  Self  in all  and  all  reside  in Him  , He  being  the  substratum  of everything  ..   He  is  the  refuge  of all. . God  alone  works  as  our  conscience  (  adhyatma  )  , He  alone  controls  our  immediate  surroundings  (  adhibuta  )  and  through  laws   He  controls  natural phenomena   ( adhidevik).. It  is important  to understand  that  each of us are at different  levels  of  spiritual  growth  and  whatever  path  we  have  undertaken  to  follow  in our  lives  , let  us  pursue  the path  with  shraddha  and  bhakti  

to be  continued ....