Monday, November 27, 2006

Story of the churning of the ocean - 06

Asuras started fighting amongst themselves that “I want amrita first”. This way they were fighting to get hold of the pot of nectar. Suddenly a very beautiful lady appeared in front of them. The asuras got deluded into the mohini form of Hari. They gave the pot to mohini so that it can be divided properly amongst them. Bhagavan after deluding the asuras gave the amrita to devas who drank it. Coming to know that the Lord was giving the amrita to the devas, the asura Rahu took the form of a deva and tried to drink amrita. Surya and Chandra pointed this to the Lord. Bhagavan cut the head of Rahu with his chakra. But since Rahu had drank amrita, the head and body became immortal and remains as stars in the sky. The head portion is now called Rahu and tail portion is called Ketu. It is quite famous that in order to take revenge, Rahu eats up Surya and Chandra which is known as Surya Grahana and Chandra Grahana.

With the asuras looking, Mohini vanished from the place. Even though asuras and devas worked together to get amrita, because of dual notion and attachment/aversion the asuras were not able to get the fruit out of the action.


We have to constantly remember that amrita or eternality alone is the goal of human life. Whether a person is rich or poor, learned or not-learned etc. still the goal of human life is eternal bliss alone. Eternal bliss is that state from which there is no return; the state where there is no sorrows and sufferings; the state where there is no fear; the state where there is bliss and bliss alone. We all are searching for this eternal state alone.

Many saints from vedic times have tried to find out the way to the eternal state. If we study the growth of philosophy and systems regarding the same, we will find progressive growth. Thus arose the systems of nyaaya, vaisheshika, sankhya, yoga, mimamsa and Vedanta as well as the systems of charvakas or materialists, bauddha and jaina. All these systems have the same final goal of eternal bliss. These systems are perspective and analyze the way to eternal bliss from a particular level. It wouldn’t be wrong to say that all this search of eternal bliss and philosophy in itself ends in Vedanta. Veda means knowledge & antha means end – Vedanta is that philosophy wherein ends the search for knowledge. It is by getting infinite and unlimited knowledge that a person becomes perfect and blissful. Thus eternal bliss can be achieved only through Vedantic study and following the path propounded by Vedanta.

Vedanta bases itself on the scriptures. Since scriptures are bit tough to apprehend and understand, therefore the Lord himself propounded the truth of the Vedanta to Arjuna through the Bhagavad Gita portion of the Mahabharatha. Veda Vyasa further logically proved Vedanta through the Brahma Sutras. All these might be tough to apprehend for the normal person and hence Vyaasa wrote the various puranas and Mahabharatha. As we have learned in the beginning of the Srimad Bhagavatham that Vyaasa didn’t get satisfaction after writing the puranas and the Mahabharatha. Hence he was advised by Narada to write the Bhagavatham giving emphasis to the ultimate reality of Lord alone.

It is in Bhagavatham that we find the ultimate reality of Lord being stressed in each and every story. Eternal bliss can be achieved only through realization of the ultimate reality of Lord as one’s own very Self. The path that Vedanta puts forth for realization is constant contemplation of the ultimate reality of Lord as one’s own very nature of Consciousness. A seeker has to always remember the ultimate reality of Lord offering all actions unto the Lord. When the devotee is ever immersed in the ultimate reality of Lord, he gets over the dual notions of like-dislike which leads to attachment/aversion that in turn leads to happiness/sorrow. The very aim of human life is eternal bliss characterized by complete cessation of sorrow. This is only possible when the seeker realizes that there is nothing here apart from the ultimate reality of Lord and that Lord is his own very nature of Consciousness. The seeker thus realizes that there is no duality whatsoever here. The duality that is seen is only an illusion in the ultimate reality of Lord. A seeker has to get rid of the duality through seeing the Lord everywhere and in everything. Thus the seeker’s mind will ever be immersed in the reality of Lord alone. The seeker has to follow equanimity in all actions and experiences. This is what is signified through the devas and asuras working together to get amrita. Devas denote good qualities of the mind & asuras denote the bad qualities of the mind. When the seeker merges both and directs towards constant contemplation of the Lord, then the churning becomes fruitful by proving the output of eternal bliss in the form of realization of one’s own nature of Lord. This is what is termed as moksha in Vedanta and the goal of each and every human being.

If we want to attain amrita or eternal bliss, we have no other means than to constantly contemplate on the ultimate reality of Lord whatever be the action we are doing, whatever be the thoughts we are thinking and whatever be the knowledge that we are intellectually ascertaining.

Here we find the devas and asuras ever immersed in the reality of Lord thereby getting amrita out of the churning of the ocean. We will see the brief analysis of Maya and mohini form of the Lord in the next day.

We will discuss Maya and the mohini form of the Lord today. Maya is indeed a very interesting yet indescribable entity. Maya is the power of the Lord through which the Lord creates the world, protects the world & destroys the world. The Lord was in the starting (before creation) one without a second. Then arose all of a sudden the power of Maya. The Lord with the power of Maya thought that let me multiply – thereby started creation.

Thus creation can be attributed to the power of Maya. Maya is not a real power of the Lord because the Lord is one without a second; everything apart from the Lord is only an illusion and not real. Hence Vedanta says that Maya is the illusory power of the Lord. The power of Maya is without any beginning and hence cannot be really described as “this” or “that”. Maya is without any beginning because we cannot apprehend the Lord who is beyond Maya through the intellect which itself is a product of Maya. In order to apprehend the place where Maya is not there, we have to get rid of Maya through knowledge or jnaana. Since the intellect itself is a product of Maya and Maya is an illusion in the ultimate reality of Lord, we cannot speak about Maya in any way. The water seen in desert (mirage) can never be spoken about because there is no real water at all. Similarly since Maya is only an illusory power of the Lord, we cannot speak about it. Thus Sankara defines Maya as that which is beyond yukthi or logic or the intellect. Maya as it is an illusory power creates things that cannot be imagined or proved through logic. The world itself is a product of Maya. If we try to analyze as to where from this world came, why the world came, what is the purpose of the world; we will end nowhere. Maya and its effects can never withstand logic even as the water seen in desert cannot withstand logic as it is only an illusion in the desert.

It is due to Maya or avidya that we seem to have forgotten our own very nature of Lord. This ignorance cannot really be proved through logic because there is no real ignorance – only illusory ignorance is there. Ignorance can only be mentioned as present through one’s experience that “I don’t know; I am ignorant” etc. This ignorance of our own very nature of Self or Lord is what causes us to think and believe that we are the body-mind-intellect complex. This thought thereby leads us to get associated and identified with the changes in the body-mind-intellect complex. When the BMI (body mind intellect) complex undergoes good changes, we become happy. When the BMI undergoes bad changes, we become sad. The association with the BMI is so strong that we not only get associated with our own BMI but with other BMI’s as well. Therefore if something bad happens to “my friend”, I also become sad. Thus the ignorance of one’s own nature of Lord causes a person to suffer in the ocean of samsaara filled with sorrows alone.

In order to come out of this illusion of Maya through crossing over of the ocean of samsaara, we have to seek the ultimate reality of Lord through constant contemplation and total surrender accompanied with knowledge about the ultimate reality of Lord as the one and only real entity.

The Lord thus speaks about Maya and the way to overcome Maya in Gita:

Devi hi esha gunamayi mama maaya duratyaya
Maam eva ye prapadhyanthe maayaam ethaam taranthi te

My Maya made up of the three gunas of sattva, rajas and tamas is tough indeed to conquer. But those who take refuge in Me alone, they easily overcome this delusion of Maya.

Thus if a seeker withes to overcome the delusion of Maya which is the main cause of sorrows and sufferings in the world, he has to seek the ultimate reality of Lord. There should be pure devotion in the form of total and complete surrender unto the Lord. Pure devotion is not different from knowledge – devotion becomes pure only when we know the nature of Lord as Existence, Consciousness and Bliss absolute. Thus knowledge and devotion are not different but one and the same only. A seeker who is endowed with pure devotion towards the ultimate reality of Lord, he overcomes this delusion of Maya. Asuras denote the negative tendencies of the mind which lead us away from the ultimate reality of Lord. The asuras didn’t have any surrender or devotion towards the Lord. Hence the power of Maya in the form of Mohini deluded them and took them away from amrita or immortality. But the devas were totally devoted to the Lord as they had completely surrendered to the ultimate reality of Lord. Hence the devas were not deluded by Mohini; instead they achieved amrita through devotion.

Maya in this story is depicted as a beautiful woman. This way of depiction is just to show that Maya easily lures a person. We all know that the weakness of most of the people is woman (which denotes lust – man in the case of a woman). Hence Maya is depicted in this way. It is not necessary that Maya will appear in the form of lust alone. Maya can appear in any form – maya might be deluding a person through money and another through fame. We can never find out how we are deluded. Instead if we seek the ultimate reality of Lord through pure devotion, we will not be affected by Maya; instead the illusory power of Maya will pave way to constant contemplation of the Lord thereby leading us to immortality. A devotee will see the entire world which is an effect of Maya as the glory of the Lord. He will see the world as not the world but as the Lord alone. For such a devotee, there is nothing apart from the ultimate reality of Lord. Thereby he overcomes the delusion of Maya that causes dual notion and realizes his own very nature of eternal bliss.

We will continue with the story in the next day.

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