Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Story 37 – Story of Gajendra - 02

One day Gajendra along with the troop of elephants was rampaging the huts in the trikootaparvatha. Sensing that gajendra was in that place, the various animals including lion ran away from the place. Gajendra along with the troop came near to a lake. Seeing water, the entire troop entered into the lake & started playing in the water. The elephants started playing sensually drinking water and throwing water over their counter-parts like a father fondling his family of wife & children. As a grihastha who is immersed in the ocean of samsaara (under the influence of Maya) gets deluded into worldly things, similarly the elephants also were deluded into sensual pleasures in the lake. As a person doesn’t know the big danger that is going to befall him while he is indulging in sensual pleasures, similarly Gajendra and the elephants did not know or realize the danger that was to happen to them.


We learnt in the last day about how Indradhyumna by the curse of agastya was born as an ignorant elephant. This rebirth or curse is a kind of symbolic way of telling the truth behind birth and death in the world (or the worlds). Katha Upanishad beautifully propounds this thus:

Paraanchi khaanih vyatrinat svayambhoo
Tasmaat paraan pashyan na antharatman
Kaschit dheerah pratyagaatmaanam aikshat
Aavritta chakshuh amritatvam icchan

The sense organs which were going outside (seeking sensual pleasure in the sense objects) were cursed by svayamboo (one who is born by himself – or one who is not at all born). Therefore they see only the sense objects and don’t see the inner Self or the svayambhoo. Some wise person seeking the inner Self attains immortality by making the sense organs introverted.

The sense organs can be extended to point out the individualistic Self or jeeva (in vedantic terms). Jeeva or reflection of consciousness in the intellect is but an association and identification with the sense organs and the inner equipments (antah karanas). The sense organs are always extroverted and never introverted. The organs are extroverted because of the curse of the Lord. Why did the Lord curse the sense organs? The sense organs came from the Lord but forgot their own source of Lord (this forgetfulness is termed in Vedanta as ignorance-desire-action). Thus the Lord became angry and cursed the sense organs. What was the curse of the Lord? The curse was that you will not be able to realize me instead will be going outwards to sensual pleasures. It is because of this curse that the sense organs by nature are extroverted and constantly seeking pleasures from the sense objects.

If sense organs are always extroverted, is there no way of overcoming or coming out of the sin? There is a way out of this sin. The way out is through control of the sense organs. Control of sense organs through not letting them seek sensual pleasure & instead making them seek the eternal reality of Lord is possible only when there is strong desire to know the eternal reality. As long as the mind doesn’t apprehend the temporary nature of the entities of the world and the eternal nature of the Lord beyond the objects, there will be no desire to realize the ultimate reality of Lord. As long as there is no desire to realize the Lord, there will be no actions done to realize the Lord. Such a person will always be indulging in worldly pleasures. But a person who seeks the Lord through control of sense organs achieves immortality through realization of the eternal Lord. This is what is termed in Vedanta as moksha or liberation.

Birth or janma is nothing but indulging in worldly pleasures. As long as there are desires for worldly pleasures, there would need a body to enjoy those pleasures. As long as there are actions and desires, bodies will be taken again and again. Even at the age of 100 or when a person is at the doorstep of death, there will be many desires in the mind. This particular body cannot be used to fulfill those desires because the body has been weak and mutilated & the time to leave this has come. Thus in order to fulfill the desires, there has to be another body to be taken. Thus the jeeva considering himself as limited by the body-mind complex and ever in ignorance takes bodies and bodies even as a person changes his dress frequently. There can be no overcoming of birth & death until desires are all satisfied. Desires are fully satisfied only by desiring the eternal reality of Lord – that by attaining which there remains nothing else to be attained. Thus the curse of the Lord becomes valid through the individual taking births and births getting deluded in the ocean of samsaara characterized by sorrows and sufferings. It is only when the person seeks liberation from this ocean of samsaara that he seeks the ultimate reality of Lord. Seeking of the Lord is through constant contemplation of the Lord in all places and at all times. Whatever is being seen is the Lord alone, whatever has been thought is the Lord alone, whatever is being done is only an illusory activity offered to the ultimate reality of Lord – thus is the seeking of the Lord propounded in the scriptures.

We find gajendra getting cursed by agastya which means that gajendra was deluded in the ocean of samsaara. Thus he took a birth in the form of an elephant fully ignorant about the ultimate reality of Lord. We all are almost in this state only. Sankara mentions in Vivekachoodamani that intellectual thinking and the capability to control desires-passions is what differentiates man from animals. Animals have nothing to do but eat, drink, sleep & mate. We all are animals until we utilize the discriminating intellect by the Lord to identify the eternal nature of the Lord & temporary nature of the world. So long as this intellectual discrimination termed in Vedanta as viveka (nitya anitya vasthu viveka – discrimination between real and unreal) is not there, the individual will be deluded in the ocean of samsaara. This is the state in which we see gajendra and his troop playing in the lake.

What is the problem of getting deluded in the ocean of samsaara? I am happy and hence no spiritual path is required.
These are words of ignorant people alone. He is to be considered an idiot who considers himself happy with the temporary pleasures of the world. Samsaara doesn’t signify happiness but it signifies sorrows & sufferings alone. A person might seem to be happy because of prior good actions but that happiness is short-lived. Real happiness is that where nothing is sought & there is total contentment-peace-satisfaction. This is possible only through realization of the ultimate reality of Lord – there is no other means to this. We will go on to see in the next day as to what is the problem of sensual pleasures in the world – that they will lead finally to sorrows alone as what we see even in the case of gajendra. We will see this the next day.

Shuka continued:

O Parikshit, what to tell except appreciate the strength of vidhi (fate). A crocodile which was angry with the elephants caught hold of the leg of Gajendra. This crocodile was the gandharva named hoohoo who became a crocodile because of the curse of devala. Gajendra who was caught by the crocodile tried his level best to come out of the grips of the crocodile. All the other elephants starting crying & other forest-elephants also came there to help Gajendra. They all tried their level best to bring Gajendra out of the clutches of the crocodile but were unsuccessful. Time passed by as the elephants tried to pull Gajendra out whereas the crocodile was still pulling Gajendra. With this, Gajendra was totally exhausted & all his strength was lost.


As explained in the previous mail, sensual pleasures are seeds of sorrow & they can lead a person to sorrow and sorrow only. Sensual pleasures are such that they may seem attractive and giving happiness in the short run but in the long run, they can give sorrow alone. The Lord explains this beautifully in Gita thus:

Ye hi samsparshajaa bhogaah dukhayonaya eva the
Adhyanthavantha kaunteya na teshu ramathe budhah

The pleasures which are attained through the contact of the sense organs with the sense objects (sensual pleasures) are seeds of sorrow – because they have a beginning and an end – thus the wise never take resort to them.

Sensual pleasures are seeds of sorrow, because they have a beginning and an end. Anything that is not permanent cannot give long-lasting bliss. Bliss is possible only in eternal entity which stays beyond time. Sensual pleasure is achieved from sense objects. The sense objects as we see are constantly changing. The sense objects have a beginning as they took form sometime or the other. The sense objects also have an end because some day they will perish. Since the sense objects are temporary, they will vanish one day. If a person seeks the pleasure from a sense object, then he will be attached to the sense object. This attachment will cause trouble when the sense object perishes. A son is always attached to his father. This attachment leads to sorrow when the father dies. This is not just the case with people but the case with any sense object whether it is insentient or sentient. Thus since the sense objects will perish one day, they will lead a person to sorrow alone. They might seem attractive but are seeds of sorrow. As the sense objects are seeds of sorrow, wise person doesn’t take resort to sensual pleasures. The wise person instead seeks the eternal entity of Lord so that he gets eternal bliss – that ever-lasting happiness which is sought by each and every person in the world.

We see in this story as to what would happen when a person takes resort to sensual pleasures considering them as real & forgetting the ultimate reality of Lord. Gajendra was totally immersed in sensual pleasures & hence was caught by the crocodile. As explained earlier, Gajendra was immersed in the ocean of samsara characterized by avidya or maya. This maya of the Lord leads a person to get caught by the crocodile. What is the crocodile? Vedanta speaks about the six emotions of the mind which are desire, anger, greed, delusion, pride and jealousy as crocodiles. Once a person is caught by the emotions of the mind, that itself leads the person to sorrow. If we analyze all of these six emotions, they all lead to sorrow alone as there is always seeking happiness in the temporary in these emotions. Not only do these emotions lead a person to sorrow but they also affect the balance of the mind thereby making the seeker ineligible to contemplate on the ultimate reality of Lord or to concentrate in worldly activities.

Thus Gajendra who symbolizes the Jeeva was playing with his kith and kin (symbolizing the various sense objects). This Gajendra was caught in the net of Maya. This Maya made Gajendra fall into the trap of the crocodile signifying the six emotions of the mind. The jeeva when forgets his own very nature of Lord & gets into attachment with sensual pleasures develops the six emotions of the mind. When there is attachment to any object, this attachment when becomes strong leads to desire towards the object. This desire leads to anger when the object is lost or gets out of control. Thus all the six emotions of the mind are with respect to sense objects & the pleasure derived from them.

What if a person is under the clutches of the crocodile?
We see in this story that Gajendra was caught between his friends and the crocodile. The jeeva gets caught between his people-things & the emotions of the mind. Gajendra when was caught by the crocodile lost all his strength and became weak. Similarly when the jeeva gets lost in the six emotions of the mind loses his strength and becomes weak. We experience this loss of strength/power in our daily lives. Whenever we have strong desire or attachment, it requires more mental and physical activities from us thus making us weak. When we get angry, it takes off a significant amount of energy from us making us weak and unable to do anything for some period of time (just after the anger).

Thus a person who is under the clutches of the crocodile loses his strength. Losing of strength can be overcome by scientific means (medical means) & hence it is not a big deal – if somebody says so, this is wrong. Medical means are not only ineffective (to a large extent) but they make the body susceptible to future problems. It is well known that medical drugs have side effects and they destroy the defensive power of the person towards diseases. Thus it is not right to say that losing of strength can be overcome by medical aids. Losing of strength makes a person weak and more susceptible to the six emotions of the mind. When we get angry for a single reason, it extends to many more reasons & to all people around us. As long as there is no strength in the person, there cannot be contemplation of the Lord which requires concentration and strength of mind.

So long as we don’t preserve strength (both physical and mental), we will not be able to contemplate on the ultimate reality of Lord. Thus it is essential for a seeker to preserve strength through not indulging too much into sensual pleasures.

There can be a doubt now as to the activities of a jeevan muktha or an advanced seeker as they are also seen as being subject to sensual enjoyment. We will see this doubt & answering of the same in the next day. There is also mention of fate in this part of the story. We will try to spend a day analyzing on fate as it is one of the most important & confusing topics in life.

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