Philosophy

This verse, from the very ancient Brihadarnyaka Upanishad, shows an interesting development in knowledge acquisition and epistemology. Written almost 3000-3500 years ago from pre existing oral traditions The Brihadaranyaka or the great forest Upanishad appears in the Shataptha Bramhana of the Yajur Veda. It is one of the oldest Upanishads.

काममय एवायं पुरुष इति। 
यथाकामो भवति तत्क्रतुर्भवति। 
यत्क्रतुर्भवति तत्कर्म कुरुते। 
यत्कर्म कुरुते तदभिसंपद्यते॥

You are what your deep, driving desire is.
As your desire, so is your will.
As your will, so is your deed.
As your deed, so is your destiny.

The Brihadarnyaka UpanishadIV.4.5: 

The highly individualistic proposition of this verse states unequivocally that ‘You are responsible for your state of being’.

Vedanta does not believe in fate. As human beings we are made of matter, energy (Prakriti) & the divine enlivening principle (bramhan). The Eight fold nature of prakriti is earth, water, fire, air, space, mind, intellect & ego. Brahman, the unborn, unchanging, undying, eternal, all pervasive is the enlivening principle which is here, there, everywhere and nowhere in particular. Brahman is beyond the pale of time & causation while prakriti follows the laws of matter, time and causation

It must also be understood that pleasure and pain, victory and defeat, gain and loss are concepts created by our by our senses, mind and intellect but in the larger scheme of things they are just events inexorably controlled by the laws of science.

We are propelled to action by the dictates of the Karana sarira or the causal body which is the repository of our unique abilities, tendencies and in-born talents in the form of samskara. It is the cause of our birth according to the sastras. The other word for the causal body is vasana or subtle essence. In the chronology of action it is vasana that produces thought which produces desire which in turn produces action

This is our deep driving desire or swadharma

Excellence in work, and peace of mind, can be achieved by those who follow their swadharma; which means living in accordance with your true inner personality

This is no mean task. It is also an eminent task. From the very moment we are born and contact the world a host of influences engage with our minds.  It becomes the role of our parents to tell us how to deal with those influences. However parents themselves being young and often held in thrall by contemporary trends and fads on upbringing and careers, subtly or aggressively influence our minds. Over a period of time we become a bundle of ideas without knowing that unique creative urge, which drove us to appear into this world.

The Upanishads are clear. Our wealth and joy comes from following our swadharma. Be that as it may, many choose to ignore their swadharma in pursuit of what their elders, peers and vast digital inputs may advise our purpose to be limited to lucrative careers or methods to seek safety and security.

Following swadharma is not a guarantee for happiness; it is a necessary condition though, since not following it is a guarantee for unhappiness.

It must be pointed out that Vedantic Aphorisms often declare an absolute state of perfection and may leave us to work on them.  The extent to which we commit our self is the extent to which we attain.

This may dissuade a student who sees it as an impossible task to achieve perfection. However any forward movement requires steps of progress. The scripture assures us that; to the extent one is able to achieve perfection, to that extent is the achiever rewarded

You can begin with what you know and proceed into the unknown. There need not be disillusionment as long as progress is being made.

Your desire creates your will; your deed is whatever you do.

Our causal body, our thoughts and our desires subtly keep edging and pushing us to action.

This inner personality, which is really a collection of desires, ideas, and beliefs, will cause us to act in a particular manner. The more our mind solidifies its beliefs the more inclined we will be in doing just that. Our intellect too will become modified to be dictated by our beliefs and to serve our desires. Without our even noticing it, our will is created and it will propel us to act.

Much as we may like to think we are not just an individual bound by our body and insulated by our skin. We are a body mind complex constantly in a dynamic exchange with the world outside. We have limited control over the world but a significant capacity for control of ourselves. The will inside us that we have allowed to fructify will result in our deed and we will begin to move in a certain direction in our life.

The purpose of human life is to constantly seek happiness. Our destiny, is our current station in life. The closing line places the ball squarely in our court. We are the aggregate of the sum total of all our thoughts words and deeds until now, and that ‘our personality and its circumstances appear at the same time.’

Nobody is responsible for where we are here and now, but ourselves. Our inability to see our destiny as a product of our will is best reflected in what Carl Gustav Jung said

“That which we do not bring to consciousness appears in our lives as fate”

A note: For the young to understand.

Happiness is the ratio between your desires fulfilled and desires entertained by you.

Early in your life, (and it is never too late) Examine your swadharma; find out what is it that you want to be really good at doing. Then fix a high ideal in that direction, higher the better, and go for it. Maintain awareness at all times – of your thoughts, of your words, influences you are exposed to in your environment, and the people around you – Then evaluate carefully. That which helps you move towards your goal, is good; that which does nothing in that direction should be avoided, and it always counts if you have the right people by your side. Keep working at it. You will find both joy and progress. If you think you are no longer young, a good time to begin is now. That’s all there is to it.

These are the declarations of illumined, self realised sages

The word Brahman (ब्रम्हं) is not to be confused with Brahma (ब्रम्हा-The creating deity), Bramhand (ब्रम्हांड-universe), or Brahmin (ब्राम्हण -who seeks the Supreme Brahman)

 

©Ashutosh Dikshit December 2015

 


 

अन्धं तमः प्रविशन्ति ये अविद्दामुपासते

ततो भूय इव ते तमो य उ विद्दायां रताः

 

andham tamah pravishanti  ye ‘avidyam upasate

tato bhuya iva te tamoya u vidyayam rataha

 

Into blinding darkness proceed those who are attached to ignorance (darkness- heedless, lost pursuing materialism)

Into greater darkness, as it were, sink those who are wrapped up, steeped in and revel in ‘knowledge’ (ritualistic letter of the Vedas/repetitive spiritual process/activity/rituals)

 

The Isha Upanishad

 

This is a confusing verse appearing in the Isa Upanishad is a classic example of a tricky verse meant to riddle your mind. How can absorption in knowledge be seen as worse than absorption in wealth? Has it not been the case of wisdom literature to prefer spiritualism to materialism? This is a question the student of Vedanta may raise.

 

Vedanta has several such riddles to jolt brain patterning to provoke thinking in re-examining long held beliefs.

 

Knowledge; is an amalgamation of seeking, learning, rationale, disciplined practice and experience coming together in the form of wisdom or intuitive understanding. But individually none of these constituents by themselves, amount to knowledge.

 

Therefore revelling in any one aspect assuming it to be knowledge is misguided.

 

Many Hindus today see the religion as a mere collection of rituals which have to be intensified in their visual, public and volume form to achieve material or spiritual benefit. This verse states that ‘revelling’ in knowledge is worse than material pursuit. Indeed this is so. It is easy to see that our attachment to a car is less abiding than our attachment to a loved one, which is less abiding than our attachment to an avowed principle or ideology.  It is easy to deduce that greater the attachment, lesser the chance of our being free of it.

 

Hindus have been a ritualistic people.  They still are. Despite warnings by their primary philosophical texts- The Upaniads, the indulgence of people in rituals and superstition has been endemic. The Bhagvadgita too, points to this disease (Ch 2- 42, 43)

 

The highest tenets and philosophical underpinnings of the Upanishads and the brahm sutras have been ignored while other dated rituals have been cast in stone by ritualistic Hindus. This behaviour has worsened in the light of pop nirvana made possible by larger disposable incomes. More education has curiously led Hindus to sink more than ever before into rituals, superstition, fortunetelling and wasting their precious time and money in unfocussed ritualistic activity.

This attachment to religious rituals as a panacea for ills or as a path to acquisition of more wealth is dangerous because it leads to failure in achieving the very objectives that the practitioner sets out to achieve. He will certainly fail and will sink deeper into a world misapprehended by a distorted mind. Human potential is realised by progressing from the gross to the subtle. This noisy and garish public display of rituals is just the reverse. If at all this is culture, instead of deepening its significance we are magnifying its meaninglessness.

Blindly following rituals brings neither fame, nor wealth nor Moksha.  Personal growth requires a keen intellect and a sharp mind and a commitment to a higher ideal.  A ritual can serve as a regular reminder of an objective but is useless in the absence of an objective.  Ritually numbing the individual mind and intellect with noise and high intensity optics is nothing but a waste of time, resources and mental ability. The Bhagvadgita insists that human beings employ their intellect (Buddhi) to move from knowledge (information/empirical) to wisdom (applied, intuitive). In other words, use sight and tuition, to arrive at insight and intuition. (Chapter 8 – Jnanavijnana yoga)

A brief examination of incessant whatsapp messages, social media posts, and nonsensical TV programmes highlighting silly folklore pulled out of discredited or non – existent ‘ancient’ documents is keeping people’s minds occupied without any sensible purposes in mind. Concocted occult practices are advised on social media on a daily basis and an aspiration filled people are not applying reason or logic and instead allowing them self to be led by the nose into wasting their time and money. What is worse they are wasting their own true potential.

This is a culmination of what has been building up for some time and over the years Hindus have become extremely noisy and disruptive in public space. Not a month passes without a mass and hysterical display of religion and not a day passes without some local noise filled religious function.

For days on end kanwarias disrupt the highway.  Every year, hordes of people on foot, cycles, motorbikes & loaded on trucks, play loud music, go rampaging across the countryside and make trouble for fellow citizens and travellers. Fetching Gangajal is only an excuse for this raucous jamboree.

While no one can argue with the right to be privately superstitious, a heedless public display through the entire year is a tamasha of visarjans, jagratas , mata ki chowki , chatt puja , holi, diwali, dahi handi , and whatever other noisy public expression one can find of in an ‘in your face’ display of mass ritualistic behaviour

Scores of other festivals have delirious crowds blocking traffic, sullying the rivers, bursting crackers, making noise till late night and screaming on loudspeakers forcing the unwilling to suffer this idiotic and medieval behaviour.

A vast majority of people believe this indulgence in rituals to be a spiritual activity or dharma. This notion is misguided and silly. There is nothing spiritual about superstition, noise and sullying the neighbourhood and destroying hundreds of productive hours in noisy public rituals. All religions define the spiritual quest as one meant to seek out the truth. That journey cannot begin with or be sustained by andhavishwasa

The argument that Hindus are a religious people and therefore this behavior should be found acceptable is the height of laziness. This is not religion. This is voodoo culture & zombie-ism.  This behavior must be challenged for the sake of religion.

Rituals are meant to set the stage, to establish a state of mind and collect mental energy and focus it towards a higher goal, a nobler ideal and objective. The ritual is a means to an end. It is not an end in itself.

The Bhagvad Gita’s doctrine of committing oneself to performing obligatory duties and choosing a higher ideal is very useful. Hindus can use rituals, even create new ones or discard the old ones and commit themselves on religious occasions to their personal growth, their environment, seek education, follow the rule of law, be sensitive to public health and hygiene. These are all noble goals that Hindus must commit themselves to, and act dynamically to achieve, in a spirit of sacrifice towards a higher ideal. Even if the goal is unalloyed personal gain, then too, the ritual can only play a limited role and the aspirant has to commit himself to proper action directed towards a pure material goal (Bhagvadgita Ch-8)

Each festival can be converted to a larger human purpose in actuality and not merely symbolically. It is then that Hindus will live up to the tenets enshrined in their highest spiritual texts.

Lao Tsu the famous Chinese Philosopher once said that ‘If you do not change direction, you will end up where you are headed’.  If Hindus do not consider this seriously they will become a populous community of the pompous .The phrase ‘Proud to be a Hindu’ would have no meaning even among the faithful.

 

Ashutosh Dikshit 2015

 


 

From The Upanišhads

The Katho Upanisad

The Great Vājashrava Gautama decided to offer in sacrifice, many of his possessions to obtain heavenly pleasures. The Sacrifice sarva dakshina means giving up everything.

His son Nachiketas observes that his father is giving away only that which he can spare, and that which is of less use. The child disturbed by his father’s actions questions him thrice ‘Who will you offer me to?’ The enraged father says ‘To death I give you’

Legend has it that the little boy, Nachiketas, leaves home in that search and arrives at the door of Yama the God of death. Yama is not in his abode so Nachiketas waits for three days without food and water.

Yama is mortified on his return to see a young Brahmin boy waiting patiently for him. He apologizes profusely and asks the child to ask for 3 boons as compensation for keeping him waiting for three days. The first boon Nachiketas asks of Yama is for his father to be pacified and free from anger towards him, and that he is welcomed warmly on his return home. Yama grants him the first boon happily.

As Nachiketas asks the remaining two boons and his questions follow, Yama the lord of death, is bewildered by the child’s genius and the profundity of his intellect. He offers all the wealth in the world, riches and power but Nachiketas refuses. He only wants knowledge of the supreme Brahman(The word Brahmin comes from that)

Yama speaks thus:

अविद्यायाम्अँतरे  वतर्मानाः स्वयं धीराः पण्डितम् मन्यमानाः

दन्द्रम्यमाणाः परियंती मूढाः ,अन्धेनैवा नीयमानायथान्धाः( 1.2.5)

Steeped in ignorance, colossal fools living in darkness, who consider themselves wise and knowledgeable; thinking themselves as having an understanding of everything, run hither and thither like the blind leading the blind.

This phenomenal verse from the Katho upanisad is a reminder of the state of confusion we exist in. We are bound to our egos and unwilling to learn, and we do not see it. Dedicated to our fixed ideas and notions we go on and on discussing our problems, opinions and attitudes with our peers who are equally pompous and misguided. This makes our condition no different from the blind being led out by the blind lost in a maze.

Everyone is on the same level of thinking and at a certain age, having finished formal education, assumes that no further learning except that which we obtain through experience is required. The world appears to us through our senses and our understanding of it is limited to our own experience. We are microscopic as compared to the cosmos and we are microscopic as compared to billions of events yet we construct the worlds’ truths based on our experience

This of course is silly. Our minds are conditioned by sanskara ( metal impressions and brain patterning)to receive information not as it is but as we are!

The lenses that we view the world with colour the information coming in. This is only too obvious as we fail to have the ability to look at anything anew and go on and on believing falsehood.

Faced with turbulence we fail to examine, if at all, there is indeed another way, and take solace and refuge in blaming others or in another faulty assessment of our situation and lamenting our fate

How often have we ‘not noticed’, that when we talk to our peers and blame our circumstances for our problems our friends faithfully nod their heads and advice us accordingly and if any friend does not accept our faulty reasoning we abandon the friend instead of abandoning our faults. We seek confirmation and validation of our fixed ideas and not advice even as we sound like we are seeking it.

‘’The significant problems we face today cannot be resolved at the same level of thinking we were at when we created them”- Albert Einstein

This brilliant line by the great scientist is an astute understanding of the paradigm

In reality however we do not even think of ‘level of thinking’ and we do not question if there is something we need to learn. Even as we sometimes seek answers our brains trick us and all we get is old wine in a new bottle and we fall for it. We think we are ‘wiser’ when we have only replaced one faulty perception by another. We do the same thing differently and look for profound changes.

We are blind and so is our teacher.

Regardless of the level of our knowledge the intractable problems that confront us can only be solved by acting and practicing knowledge that is acquired from someone who can guide us out of the maze and not somebody who is stuck in the same maze

At every stage we must resist the arrogance of knowledge and be open to seeking a teacher. It is only the self realized sage who has no further need for learning.

The rest of us, living among the objects of the senses and buried under emotions, feelings and ideas, must never ignore the imperative of seeking higher knowledge.

__________________________________

 

SERIES ON VERSES FROM THE BHAGVAD-GITA

कर्मणयेवाधिकारस्ते मा फलेषु कदाचन।
मा कर्मफलहेतुर्भूर्मा ते सङ्गोऽस्त्वकर्मणि।  

karmany evadhikaras te
ma phalesu kadacana
ma karma-phala-hetur bhur
ma te sango ‘stv akarmani

Your right is in action alone and you have never any right to its fruit. Neither be (exist) for the fruit of action nor be attached to inaction

योगस्थः कुरु कर्माणि सङ्गमत्यक्त्वा धनञ्जय

सिद्धयसिद्धयोः समो भूत्वा समत्वं योग उच्यते

yoga-sthah kuru karmani
sangam tyaktva dhananjaya
siddhy-asiddhyoh samo bhutva
samatvam yoga ucyate

 Steadfast in yoga, commit to action renouncing attachment to success or failure O Conqueror of wealth. Evenness of mind is called yoga.

 

बुद्धियुक्तो जहातीह  उभे सुकृतदर्शते

तस्माद्द्योगाय युज्यस्व योगः कर्मसु कौशलम्

buddhi-yukto jahatiha
ubhe sukrta-duskrte
tasmad yogaya yujyasva
yogah karmasu kausalam

 United with knowledge one discards both good and bad deeds. Therefore commit yourself to yoga. Skill in action is yoga

Krishna’s advice to Arjuna follows when the warrior declares his intention of opting out of the war he himself had decided to wage. At the penultimate moment emotion takes over Arjuna’s intellect and he becomes incapable of fighting as a soldier and takes refuge in weakness and extols passive abdication as a virtue. At this moment of confusion Arjuna ceases to think of his objectives as a Warrior and a General and his focus collapses to dwell on his own emotions as a person. Dejected and demoralized he asks the Supreme lord to guide him out of this confusion.

Krishna says:

कर्मणयेवाधिकारस्ते मा फलेषु कदाचन।
मा कर्मफलहेतुर्भूर्मा ते सङ्गोऽस्त्वकर्मणि।  

Your right is in action alone and you have never any right to its fruit. Neither be (exist) for the fruit of action nor be attached to inaction

‘Your rights are limited to action alone, but not on the result.’ The focus is on the word ‘rights’ or adhikaar. ‘Do not ever occupy your mind with the fruit of your action.  And neither should you attach yourself to inaction.’

The word karma like dharma has several meanings depending on usage and context. Karma is in some cases all encompassing wherein it refers to cause and effect together, and in some cases, as in this, it is used in a very limited sense to mean immediate action.

Now Krishna makes a statement of fact. He Says, ‘your right is to action alone’. The right to results rests with the laws of cause and effect. You can only act in the immediate present and no matter what you do it is not possible to predetermine the consequences of your action.  The only mastery anyone can achieve is to attempt a perfection of his current action.

The fruit of an action will always be in the future. Whether seconds later or years. Thus anxiety for something in the future will dissipate mental energy.

Having chosen your course of life on the basis of your swadharma (deep inner nature) you work with a goal in mind, you fix objectives, you plan your actions, you think of several impediments that can come your way and accordingly plan out your action. You accordingly work out a strategy. Then why does Krishna say ‘do not be attached to the results of your action’.

Let us suppose an archer participates in a contest. Obviously he means to win. On his turn he focuses on the target, summons his skills refined over years of practice, balances the bow, senses the wind direction and speed, loads the arrow, and aligns it to the target and fires. This is the best he can do. If he were to start imagining the consequences of his success and failure in hitting the target, if he starts imagining the expressions of onlookers were he to fail, if he were to begin thinking of the prize money in the future, his attention will waver. That is all Krishna is saying. Do not ‘be’ for the fruit of action once you have decided to act. ‘Be’ only for the quality of action.

the word ‘Karmaphal’ is a technical term which indicates a state where the mental indulgence in a  ‘future event conditions action in the present’

Examine further in a complex action such as a manager or a general.

‘No strategy survives contact with the enemy’ these famous lines were said by Helmuth Karl von Moltke , German Field and the chief of staff of the Prussian Army for thirty years. He is regarded as one of the great strategists of the latter 19th century, and the creator of a new, more modern method of directing armies in the field.

Once you have strategized to win on the battlefield, thinking of the spoils of war will divert your mind. Keep on with the struggle of completing the task at hand with constant focus on here and now.

As a politician, once the election campaign starts, strategize to win and not worry what comes after that. Why worry about your position when the results are announced. Give everything to the campaign and plunge into the contest.

Be mindful of action in the present at all times through total and conscious absorption. Do not give up on your objectives, keep trying and in that there is great joy. Never give in to inaction believing in fatalism and shun laziness to continue your struggle.

But how will this be achieved

योगस्थः कुरु कर्माणि सङ्गमत्यक्त्वा धनञ्जय

सिद्धयसिद्धयोः समो भूत्वा समत्वं योग उच्यते

Steadfast in yoga, commit to action renouncing attachment and being the same in success or failure O Conqueror of wealth. An evenness of mind is called Yoga

Krishna declares that to achieve this kind of absorption with the task at hand it is required to renounce or give up the attachment to success or failure. To treat them as if they were just two sides of a coin. Krishna refers to Arjuna as Dhananjaya meaning conqueror of wealth suggesting that this doctrine is useful in achieving material success too. No philosophy or methodology is all encompassing till it is useful in being applied uniformly.

It is natural for a student to question as to how success and failure be treated alike. Success is likeable and failure causes misery.

But the Gita is insistent and uncompromising on this. It is reiterated in several verses across the text. Renounce entanglement, attachment, preoccupation with success or failure and only then it is possible to be engaged in working effectively.

Go on and on with your work. Believe in yourself. Act with commitment and dedication. Why worry. Intense work is victory and joy and peace. Evenness of mind is karma yoga

Without evenness/equanimity sub optimal work will be produced.

A significant portion of time is wasted in brooding over past failure or indulging in past victory. The mind then proceeds to imagine the joys of future victory and thereby an anxiety about possible reversals. The present is ignored.

The doctrine of karma yoga warns against this habit of the mind.

बद्धियुक्तो जहातीह  उभे सुकृतदर्शते

तस्माद्द्योगाय युज्यस्व योगः कर्मसु कौशलम्

United with knowledge one discards both good and bad deeds. Therefore commit yourself to yoga. Skill in action is yoga

Most people mistake renouncement as a display of disinterest while in fact it is a consequence of mastery. Nothing can be ‘renounced’ in a vacuum. When a larger ideal occupies the mind the lower ideal is renounced. As a CEO your large ideal is the success of the enterprise and not your personal victory or defeat. The larger picture requires you to set aside your exhilaration and dejection at small victories and defeats. The larger picture requires that you can put your ego and personal likes and dislikes aside and make the best use of available talent in the organization.

Go for the big ideal of taking the organization forward. Once free from preoccupation with your personal victory or defeat you will without stress do your job.  This evenness of mind, this calm and collectedness is karma yoga

 United with knowledge one discards both good and bad deeds. Therefore commit yourself to yoga. Skill in action is yoga

In the Gita United with knowledge is having attained self realization. That is the ultimate state of perfection for a karma yogi. As skill in action advances, as you become more consummate good and bad deeds (sanskaras or mental impressions) are transcended and nothing disturbs your calm and therefore the lord says’ Skill in action is yoga’

Examine this: A soldier returning from war after having killed several enemies will carry no imprint of having done a bad deed since his motive and intent was driven by a desire to live up to his job. On the other hand a criminal who kills people out of purely personal reasons will carry an altogether different imprint of that action. In the first case the ‘action ‘can be discarded as it were, and in the second it will be carried as baggage. This sanskara or mental impression is good or bad deed and not action per se

United with knowledge is not the same as learning or studying. When study and reflection result in intuitive, instinctive and effortless skill you unite with knowledge. This skill in action is in itself, joyful.

In essence karma yoga proceeds from swadharma to buddhi (intellect) to Yajna(sacrifice) to Kaushal (Skill), to Samatva(Evenness) to Sanyas(renunciation) and in that order

 


SERIES ON VERSES FROM THE BHAGVAD-GITA

 

 

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In the first verse of this series I had written on the declaration of Sri Krishna, as he spoke, identifying himself with the Supreme Reality.

In the succeeding verse, I had written on Sri Krishna whilst he speaks as a philosopher.

In the following verses, Lord Krishna once again speaks – identifying himself with the Supreme Reality.

These are the opening verses of Chapter 10 in the Holy Bhagvad Gita titled the Yoga of Supreme manifestation.

Herein, Lord Krishna continues to advise Arjuna on the nature of the all encompassing Brahman.

I take up the first three verses and then the last two.

sri-bhagavan uvaca:

bhuya eva maha-baho
srnu me paramam vacah
yat te ‘ham priyamanaya
vaksyami hita-kamyaya

na me viduh sura-ganah
prabhavam na maharsayah
aham adir hi devanam
maharsinam ca sarvasah

yo mam ajam anadim ca
vetti loka-mahesvaram
asammudhah sa martyesu
sarva-papaih pramucyate

buddhir jnanam asammohah
ksama satyam damah samah
sukham duhkham bhavo ‘bhavo
bhayam cabhayam eva ca

ahimsa samata tustis
tapo danam yaso ‘yasah
bhavanti bhava bhutanam
matta eva prthag-vidhah

Lord Krishna, identifying himself with the Supreme, continues to declare unequivocally, the absolute and unmitigated dominion over all that exists in creation and beyond.

He speaks thus:

Maha Baho-(mighty-armed one), listen again to My word, which I impart to you for your benefit and which will fill you with great joy.

Gods & great sages do not know my beginning. I am the source of the Gods and the sages. 

Whoever knows Me as the unborn, without beginning, and as the greatest Lord of all the worlds, he – wise among men, is freed from all sins.

Discriminating Intelligence, knowledge, absence of doubt and delusion, forgiveness, truthfulness, self-control and tranquillity, pleasure and pain, birth, death, fear, fearlessness, nonviolence, equanimity, satisfaction, austerity, charity, fame and infamy, appear because of me alone.

There are many verses in the holy Gita that point to the nature of divinity. The Divine is changeless, formless, eternal and infinite; it is without attribute or quality, which makes it impossible to ‘define.’ Divinity cannot therefore be experienced, or seen or touched. 

Divinity can only be conveyed, put across, symbolized, signified by way of metaphor.

The Brahman, the unmanifest reality and pure consciousness is the source of all that is manifest. It is not possible for the created to go back into the supreme’s primeval nature. Waves at the surface cannot perceive the depth of the ocean. Multitudes of Gods and sages, they too, no matter how advanced, cannot examine the supreme Brahman’s origin or postulate its future.

We are told in Vedanta that an enlightened being merges with divinity and ‘realises ’it.  Ajaand Anadi mean unborn and beginning less. Lokeshwara means the lord of the universe. Extending everywhere, and forever, in all directions, the Supreme Brahman remains before and after the beginning and end of the fabric of space-time.

The known rules of physics cannot take us to the instant of the Big Bang. Quantum physics does not attempt to question what before the big bang; there is no ‘before’ since that is considered the moment of creation. But on what this creation rests, cannot be ascertained by material equipment, the mind or the intellect. It being the very source of all there is can only be realized on merging with the Supreme pure consciousness, and bring about freedom from despair and delusion.

Sarva-papaih pramucyate means liberated from all sins. Sins in Vedanta mean an agitation of the mind and liberation means a state of total equanimity on merging with pure consciousness.

A background:

‘God,’ is often thought of as a powerful person located in some geographical corner, dispensing favours and justice. Confronted with suffering and evil the world view changes to, ‘if there is God why should there be suffering and evil,’ and if there is suffering and evil there must be no God.

Now verse 4&5

Sri Krishna identifying himself with the Supreme Reality; declares that being all pervasive, omnipotent, and omnipresent, the Supreme Lord is the source of all good and evil. He affirms, that all states of joy, pain, equanimity, agitation, fame, infamy, and the endless list of all tendencies and traits emanate from the Brahman – and He enlivens all there is. Later, in the ensuing verses, in this chapter, the Lord goes on to declare that the fraudulence of the gambler and the scepter of kings, are both none other than Him!

Just as the Sun and rain fall equally on all living beings, just as the ocean is the source of pleasant waves, and the tsunami, just as without air there can be no gentle breeze or tornado, the Supreme Lord enlivens all manner of beings. No matter what our circumstances, traits or personalities, the Supreme Lord is the enlivening principle behind it all.

 

 

*Brahman is not to be confused with  Brahma, or Brahmin.

©Ashutosh Dikshit 2012

 

 


 

SERIES ON VERSES FROM THE  BHAGVAD-GITA


Arjuna, faced with adversity and war, speaks of all possible reasons to avoid taking decisive action. He calls upon every probable emotional explanation, supported by faulty logic, and driven by fear, to eschew the path of the establishment of dharma. Arjuna’s arguments heap perjury upon perjury in the guise of righteousness.

Lord Krishna, identifying himself with the Supreme God, begins the process of resurrection. He gently leads the disturbed Arjuna. He speaks of the atman, and of pleasure and pain; He speaks of life, and of death; He speaks of the body as mere material equipment, and of the mind in its proclivity to delude. Before Arjuna can once again slip into a different comfort zone the Lord throws this statement . . .

ya nisha sarva-bhutanam
tasyam jagrati samyami
yasyam jagrati bhutani
sa nisha pasyato muneh



That which is night to all beings, in that is awake the self controlled one.
That which is seen as awakening by most, is perceived as darkness by the sages.


Nisha: Night, Darkness, signifying lack of awareness.

Samyami: The Self controlled one, with the intellect firmly in charge of his emotions and desires.

Yasyam Jagriti Bhutani: When many are awake – signifying ‘many’ as distinct from the ‘samyami.’


Nisha pashyato muneh: Seen as night by the sages.

A self controlled sage, as opposed to most ordinary people, perceives the same situation differently.

We spend a life time trying to figure out our spiritual advancement; treatises are written on it.

Yet in this befuddling statement, in two lines, the lord presents the benchmark par excellence of spiritual growth.

The power of the intellect in maintaining strict control over any emotion.


Fearlessness and Joy, focused dynamism, and conviction emerges when the intellect exercises suzerainty over emotional force. That in turn creates what can be called emotional efficiency. The intellect can prevent an unnecessary dissipation of emotional power.

He who lives by this verse is a Stithapragnya.  An embodiment of equanimity and decisive, dynamic action.

Consider the loftiness, the dare and ambition of this statement. In that which is night to all beings the samyami  is awake. That when emotions run amok the intellect seizes control.

Consider the possibility of this facet within the reach of an individual.

 


SERIES ON VERSES FROM THE BHAGVAD-GITA

yada yada hi dharmasya 

glanir bhavati bharata

abhyutthanam adharmasya

tadatmanam srjamyaham

 

paritranaya sadhunam 
vinasaya ca duskrtam
dharma-samsthapanarthaya
sambhavami yuge yuge

 

This is one of the most reassuring verses in the holy Gita. There are four parts to it; the statement of a situation, the manifestation of a solution, the reinforcement and reestablishment of order, and the cycle of imbalance and balance.

The averments in the Bhagavad-Gita work across the gross and the subtle, across the microcosm and the macrocosm, across the sukshma and the viraat, across nations and the individual. Yatha pinde thatha bramhande – As is the microcosm so is the cosmos.

The supreme lord, the enlivening principle, is neither on the side of good nor on the side of evil. He is not an object of any philosophy or religion; He is the subject of all thought, belief and action. The universe is maintained on the principles of balance of forces that allow for a smooth passage of all dynamic activity. This is true for our body, true for our family and society; this is true of the universe. Balance between good and evil, life and death, disease and health, calm and storm; balance between all forces of nature in the cosmos.

The universe and the entire fabric of space, time and being, are always balanced in totality. The Supreme Lord, Brahman, is the keeper of laws that ensure this balance.

The verse begins thus: As and when this order, this dharma, is in jeopardy, and imbalance predominates -indicating the predominance of disorder over order – of adharma over dharma . . . It continues: “Then I appear,” declares the Supreme Lord. ‘I give myself form,’ indicates the appearance of a solution.

Most importantly missed by many,  it does not stop there and continues: To support the maintenance of balance, to destroy the usurpers, I establish order and dharma, indicating resolution, reinstatement and reinstallation.

The omnipotent, omnipresent, eternal lord works through atom into infinity, through the ephemeral into the eternal, His all pervading magnificence and luminance is unstoppable. His writ runs large and when he begins the process of establishing dharma, it is certain that dharma will be established and those in his way will either toe the line or be destroyed.

The manifestation of the Supreme Brahman appear as cosmic and earthly phenomenon across the universe and across cultures and geographies, as a warrior, as a  messiah, as a sage, a revolutionary or in smaller measures as a powerful figure in families and communities or as the singular will to change in an individual

Regardless, when this process of reestablishment of dharma begins there will be churning and the eventual restoration of balance. That which tunes itself to this, ‘will of the Supreme Lord,’ will be restored and rejuvenated, and that which is in the way of this restoration will perish.
Finally yuge yuge: time and again, time after time. Imbalance will appear and balance will

 

always be restored. Maintaining balance is in line with the will of the Supreme Lord. Imbalance and entropy is in the nature of existence. The cycle goes on and on.

 

 

*Brahman is not to be confused with Brahmā, or Brahmin.

 

 

One thought on “Philosophy

  1. Profound, thoughtful and interesting – a rare combination in the written word world!

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