Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Story 37 – Story of Gajendra - 03

Shuka continued:

Gajendra who was caught in the grip of the crocodile started meditating. All of a sudden, knowledge dawned in the mind of Gajendra & he started thinking thus “the various male elephants could not save me from the crocodile then what to speak about the other elephants. This crocodile is the form of death (and time) which caught me through the will of the Lord. There is only one way out of this. The way is to surrender completely unto the ultimate reality of Lord of the nature of eternal truth or existence”.


As we learnt in the previous days that ignorant people consider themselves as in total happiness and peace until sorrows and sufferings come in the form of death and time. There is one thing which everybody except for realized saints fear which is death. Fear of death is inherent in beings irrespective of whether it is an animal or a human, a rich person or a weak person, a learned person or an ignorant person. It is keeping this in mind that Patanjali mentions fear as one of the five klesha or sufferings that obstruct a person to the state of Samadhi – he as well defines fear of death as something which is inherent in people both ignorant and the learned as well. Thus even if it is George Bush or Bill Gates or Osama Bin Laden, there is constant fear of death. This fear of death is in the form of cessation of one’s own existence. As long as the punya (good fruits) that one has accumulated in many births is there, he will be enjoying sensual pleasures in the world. He will be totally immersed in the temporary sensual pleasures thinking it to be permanent even as the fish caught in the net of a fisherman considers itself to be safe due to the dirt in the net. Ignorant people consider themselves in freedom or liberation until all the good fruits vanish. Punya accumulated will be exhausted one day or the other. It is just like a bank balance which when used will get negated or reduced. It is but foolish of a person to think that the sensual pleasure achieved from the worldly objects will give him eternal bliss. Eternal bliss can be achieved only through realization of the ultimate reality of Lord who alone is eternal – everything apart from the Lord is temporary as it is changing each moment. Any changing entity cannot give eternal bliss as the entity itself will cease to exist after a particular time. That which is not at all there cannot give happiness. Thus the temporary objects of the world cannot give eternal bliss. Eternal bliss can be achieved only from the ultimate reality of Lord who alone is real.

Until a person faces trouble in the world, the ultimate reality of Lord will be forgotten amidst the temporary but attractive pleasures of the world. This is what we saw in the case of Gajendra. But Gajendra had contemplated on the reality of Lord in his previous birth & hence all of a sudden, knowledge dawned unto him. It is for this reason that troubles are given for people in the world because those troubles will make them get back to the ultimate reality of Lord. It is for this reason that Kunti Devi asked the Lord to give her sorrow at all times. It is only at times of stress and tension that we take refuge in the Lord. We will try our level best to solve things because of the ego feeling that “I can solve this” – and once we understand that we cannot solve it, we take resort to the ultimate reality of Lord. But the wise takes resort to the Lord at all times knowing that the Lord alone can take care of the people at all times without any fail.

Even though we may consider ourselves as intelligent, rich etc. but still there is one person who cannot be cheated – he is Kaala or the Lord of Death, Yama. Nobody can cheat Yama because a person who is born in this world will become a victim of Yama at one point of time or the other. Some might be alive for 100 years or others might be alive for 1000 years but still death is inevitable for any person whether it is Lord Brahma or a beggar on Earth. If this is the case, how do we find various people like Hanuman, Vyaasa etc. as chiranjeevi (ever living)? These are people who have conquered death through realization of their very nature of Lord. Until we are associated with the body, we will be identifying death of the body with our death. But once we realize our very nature of the Self distinct from the body-mind complex, we will overcome death as death is for the body alone and not for the Self.

Thus through these various chiranjeevis, the Vedantic seers are telling us that the way to overcome death is by realizing the ultimate reality of Lord. The ultimate reality of Lord is one’s own very nature but still a person is ignorant of his nature of Lord. This ignorance can be removed only through constant contemplation of the ultimate reality of Lord. Thus the way to realize the ultimate reality of Lord thereby overcoming death is through constant contemplation of the Lord.

Contemplation of the Lord in a particular form and having grudge towards other forms will not lead to realization – that will only lead to more and more bondages like the Vaishnavas and Saivas fighting amongst each other. Vedantic Contemplation is constant remembrance of the Lord as pervading all forms, as formless yet present in all forms as the substratum of all forms – present everywhere in the world as the substratum of the illusory world. Thus constant remembrance is achieved through seeing the world as nothing but the Lord alone. If a person is unable to apprehend the formless Lord present throughout the world, he can contemplate on a particular form as pervading everything in the world – seeing the form in everything (whatever is being seen should be seen as that form). Thus this form worship will also lead to one-pointed concentration wherein the seeker will find that the form alone is present everywhere & hence is nothing but formless reality of Lord.

As Gajendra mentions here, there is no way to overcome death than realization of the ultimate reality of Lord through constant remembrance and complete surrender to the Lord. Surrender is nothing but constant remembrance of the Lord at all times & offering all activities as oblations to the Lord. We will continue with the knowledge that Gajendra contemplates on and how he is saved by the Lord in the coming days.

Gajendra continued praising the Lord in the mind thus:

That Ishwara who saves us from the fast-coming snake of time and seeing whom even Mrityu runs, we take refuge in such an Ishwara.


We will discuss the nature of Ishwara as prostrated by Gajendra and the various scriptures. Even though we are discussing just a single statement, this very statement alone is enough to analyze and thereby overcome the illusion of samsaara.

That Ishwara or Lord who is beyond death alone can save us from death. Such an Ishwara since he is beyond death has to be beyond time as well. This is because time is the death which is killing each one of us every moment. A person who overcomes time overcomes death as well. Thus the Lord as prostrated by Gajendra is beyond time and thereby death. Thus the Lord is beyond all limitations of time, space and causation. He is beyond space because only that which is limited by time is limited by space. He is beyond causation because he is not subject to birth & death. Causation is being subject to birth in the form of an effect & death in the form of merging back into the cause. Ishwara is beyond causation as he is beyond death. Thus Ishwara is eternal. Such an Ishwara is termed in Vedanta as Brahman or the ultimate reality. If we analyze the nature of such an Ishwara, Ishwara has to be existent beyond time – thus his nature is that of Existence or Sat. Sat or Existence is that which never ceases to exist but is beyond time & present at all times. Ishwara has to be conscious about his own existence, else he will become insentient like a rock. Such an Ishwara would cease to be existent because he cannot experience his own existence. Thus Ishwara is of the nature of Consciousness – Consciousness is the one and only entity which can experience its own existence as well as illumine other existences. It is keeping this Consciousness nature of the Lord that scriptures speak that “there in the Lord, neither the Sun shines nor the moon nor any stars – it is due to his light that everything else shines”. Lord is thus of the nature of Existence and Consciousness. That which is ever existent has to be full or poorna because it is devoid of any limitations. That which is full is perfect in all aspects as imperfection is being subject to limitations. As Chandogya Upanishad proclaims, that which is full and perfect alone can be blissful – such a full entity is termed as bhooma. Thus the Lord as he is perfect is blissful or ananda in svaroopa. Thus we have the nature of the Lord as “Existence, Consciousness, Bliss and absolute or infinite or unlimited” (Sat, chit, ananda, anantha).

The Lord who is Consciousness in nature is the one and only entity existing as all other existences is dependent on the Lord for their existence. Any dependent entity is relative and relativity is just an illusion in the absolute. Even as a variable is only an illusion in the constant (each moment a variable is nothing but a constant alone), similarly the world of plurality in the form of names & forms is only an illusion in the ultimate reality of Lord. Thus the Lord is absolute and only real existence. Since the Lord alone exists, we all have to be none other than the Lord as the Lord is one without a second (nothing apart from the Lord really exists). It is only ignorance about one’s own nature of Lord which causes us to think and see ourselves as separate from the Lord. Realization of the Lord as the substratum of the illusory names and forms is what Vedanta terms as liberation in the form of removal of ignorance. Ignorance can be removed only through knowledge that the Lord alone exists & constant contemplation of the ultimate reality of Lord as pervading everything in and out.

Since the Lord is eternal and ever present, even death fears the Lord. Death fears the Lord because the Lord is beyond death. An officer doesn’t fear anybody except his boss – even if it is a DGP who threatens and makes others fear, he fears his boss. Similarly Death or Yama doesn’t fear anybody in the world except the Lord because the Lord is beyond death and the substratum even to the illusory name and form of Yama. Death is nothing but a seemingly disappearance of the non-existing body. What we know as death is not real death because we only see the body disappearing. We never know that the body alone vanishes but the Self continues its journey towards perfection by going to other worlds and coming back to Earth again. Thus death is nothing but a fear of losing one’s own existence in a particular world or place. We all can suffer anything but cannot suffer losing of our own existence. We cannot say that even as in the films, a lover will lose his own existence for the sake of his love, but how can a person lose his own existence for others???? Is it possible that losing of one’s existence is possible at any point of time? Even if it was possible, would anyone lose his own existence for others? It is not at all possible because such kind of love is also based on selfishness alone. A lover wants to see his love happy – why does he want this? Because if his love is happy, the lover also will be happy. Thus the lover doesn’t do things for the sake of his love but for the sake of his own happiness. It is keeping this in mind that Yajnavalkya said to Maitreyi that “the husband is loved not for the sake of the husband but for the sake of the Self”.

Yama or Death is what we fear at all times because nobody wants to lose his existence. This death or fear can be overcome only by realization of the ultimate reality Lord – he who is beyond death. Thus through Gajendra’s prostration, Bhagavatham is pointing out to each one of us that seeking the ultimate reality of Lord alone is the means to overcome death – that which when overcome alone would give us bliss, that bliss which we all are seeking each and every moment in the illusory world & its objects.

Thus if a seeker wants to get eternal bliss, then he has to totally surrender unto the ultimate reality of Lord through constant contemplation of the Lord as pervading the illusory world. Whatever is being seen has to be seen as the form of the Lord, whatever is heard has to be heard as the names of the Lord, whatever is being eaten has to be eaten as the prasada of the Lord and whatever is being done has to be an offering to the Lord. It is this what Vedanta calls as jnaana and bhakthi shastras speak as para bhakthi or pure devotion.

We will continue with the story in the next day.

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