Thursday, December 14, 2006

Story 39 – Story of Mahaabali - 04

Vaamana after hearing Mahabali’s words replied thus:

“O King! There is nothing in the three worlds which can satisfy a person who is under the control of sense organs thereby seeking sensual pleasures. Whoever somehow gets happiness, he becomes happy. A person who is sad cannot be made happy even if he is provided with the entire three worlds & their entities.

The reason for human being’s sorrow is not getting satisfaction from artha and kaamas (things and pleasures). This dissatisfaction is bondage. Liberation is being satisfied with whatever comes by chance. A saint who is happy with whatever he gets by chance, will always be immersed in the bliss of the ultimate reality of Lord. Brahmajnaana will vanish for a dissatisfied person even as fire is extinguished by water. Therefore I need three feet land alone; my aim will be fully satisfied by this surely.”


Here we see Vaamana replying in beautiful sentences about the futility of worldly sensual pleasures and the emphasizing the importance of being satisfied with whatever is achieved by chance. As we discussed in the previous days, the worldly entities can never give eternal bliss because they are temporary. We find a thing today and tomorrow it is not there. Such temporary entities cannot give eternal bliss because they themselves are not permanent. If a person wants to get eternal bliss, he will have to understand that all the temporary things are nothing but mere illusions in the ultimate reality of lord. If a person understands this, he will be ever satisfied with whatever he gets & whatever he has.

Only when a person is satisfied with whatever he has, he can be happy. Happiness is possible only when there is satisfaction and contentment. Thus realized saints who know the worldly entities to be temporary & hence filled with sorrow are ever happy and content with what they have. If the saints get something bad, they consider that also as the grace of the Lord. If they get something good, then also they accept it as the grace of the Lord. Everything is but the grace of the Lord alone for them. The Lord whom they worship is not of a particular form and sitting in Vaikunta or Kailas but it is the ultimate reality of Brahman which is present everywhere and as the substratum of all illusions that are perceived.

Vaamana here clearly shows that the more and more a person tries to gain satisfaction from worldly entities, the more and more he becomes sad. The more a person enjoys things, the more craving he gets for the same. As long as there is craving for worldly pleasures, there will never be satisfaction as always there will be more and more craving. Thus such a person will never be happy and content with what he has. Whenever he gets something, he will crave for something else bigger – this goes on and on without any ending. A person who has a bicycle will crave for a motorcycle. A person with motorcycle will crave for a car. A person with a car will crave for a van. A person with a van will crave for an helicopter. This goes on and on without any end. It is for this reason that the Lord mentions in Gita that the worldly entities are the seeds of sorrow – they seem to give temporary happiness to the seeker but gives only sorrow in the long run. Therefore wise people never go behind worldly pleasures. Wise people will understand that the Lord alone is real and eternal. Hence they will be seeking the ultimate reality of Lord and considering everything as the Lord alone. Thus they don’t have anything to either get or lose. They will ever be immersed in the ultimate reality of Lord thereby being content with whatever worldly things and pleasures they get. They will not crave for happiness nor be sad with sorrow – they will ever be happy and content with whatever they get even if it is sorrow. It is this state of being content with whatever one has that a seeker has to develop and work towards. It is only through this that a seeker can get eternal bliss – that which he is seeking each and every moment.

A person who is not content with whatever he has will never be content even if he is the controller of the three worlds. We find the devas and other asuras never being content with whatever they have and ever seeking things. We have living examples of George Bush, Osama Bin Laden etc. among others who have everything they want to live happily but still not being satisfied with either themselves or the world.

It is another truth that if a person tries to control the world, he will end up in the ocean of samsaara characterized by sorrows and sufferings. This is because the world itself is not real but only an illusion in the ultimate reality of Lord. Trying to control the world is like trying to drink water from the mirage in desert. This is not at all possible and hence the seeker will become sad when he is not able to accomplish it. Thus trying to control the world or trying to get happiness from the world will only lead the seeker to more and more sorrow. The wise person should instead seek the ultimate reality of Lord knowing that everything is but an illusion in the Lord. He will thus be ever content with whatever little he has. It is such a mahatma that we find in Vaamana who didn’t want anything but just three feet of land and was content with the same.

We will see in the next day as to how should a person achieve this state of being content with whatever one has and what all obstacles he might face in the spiritual path.

Smilingly Bali decided to give the three feet of land to Vaamana. At that time, Shukracharya who was Bali’s Guru stopped him. Shukracharya told Mahaabali that Vaamana was the Lord using his Maya powers and that if he was given three feet of land that would be the destruction of the entire clan of asuras. And therefore Shukracharya told that Bali had lie in this case.

Shukra said that for keeping the wives under control, just for fun, to make the bridegroom happy during a marriage, for living, for saving one’s life, to do welfare for cows/Brahmins and to avoid bad for others a person can lie. Hence Bali should lie to Vaamana and get away from the daana; this was the advice of Shukracharya.

Mahaabali was not willing to head the words of his Guru in this case and thereby avoid the daana. Mahaabali replied thus “if it is Vishnu who has come in the form of Vaamana then who can stop him? It is Vishnu who is worshipped by saints like you through yajna and other things. Let him be my friend or foe, I have decided to give him three feet of land.”


Different saints proclaim that traversing the spiritual path is like walking along the edges of a razor. The path is filled with lot of troubles and testing. In order to reach the goal of IIT or IIM, we go through a lot of struggle. If gaining worldly pleasures which are temporary itself takes so much effort, what to speak about the effort for eternal bliss? It is for this reason that Vedanta mentions Titiksha or forbearance as one of the mental qualities required in order to apprehend the ultimate reality of Lord propounded in the scriptures. Whatever be the situation and condition, a seeker should still stick his mind unto the ultimate reality of Lord. His mind should have the clear conviction that the Lord alone is real and everything else is temporary. That which is temporary will lead only to sorrows and sufferings whereas that which is permanent alone can give a person eternal bliss. The world as we see daily is changing every moment. The changing world is temporary and hence the seed of sorrow. The ultimate reality of Lord who is the substratum of the changing world is eternal and hence can give a seeker eternal bliss. Eternal bliss from the Lord can be achieved only by totally surrendering unto the Lord and constant contemplation of the ultimate reality of Lord. There is no other way than this to eternal bliss and removal of sorrows/sufferings in the illusory world.

As explained earlier, the spiritual path is filled with troubles in all stages. In today’s world it is but natural to find many self-proclaimed Gurus. If a person gets into the clutches of these false-gurus, he would not only be lead in the right direction but will be taken in the wrong direction. These false-gurus are like a mathematics teacher who doesn’t know to count!!! These gurus are like a 1 year child who himself is unable to walk but claiming to younger children that “I will make you walk”!!!

It is for this reason that Vedanta and real Gurus of Vedanta give emphasis to the scriptures and the ultimate reality of Lord above everything. Even a Guru has lesser significance when compared with the ultimate reality of Lord. Swami Paramaarthananda Saraswathi of Chennai says that a Guru after teaching the student the way to interpret the scriptures says “Now you can directly access the scriptures. If you find some contradiction between my words and the scriptures, take the scriptures to be right & reject my words”. Here by scriptures what Paramaarthananda is emphasizing is the ultimate reality of Lord. It is this subtle point that Bhagavatham is making clear in this part of the story of Mahaabali. Even though the Guru told Mahaabali to tell a lie and not give land to Vaamana, Mahaabali didn’t agree to that. A real seeker will set aside the Guru as well when the Guru poses a threat in the spiritual path. A Guru who deviates from the ultimate reality of Lord is a Guru who has to set aside. Any Guru who proclaims himself to be greater than or equal to God is but a false Guru. Any Guru who proclaims everything as God is a real Guru because what he is propounding is the ultimate reality that everything is the Lord alone, one without a second. These are some of the simple ways in which we can identify a real Guru from a false Guru. A real Guru will always be detached from everything in the world and even the disciples. It will never matter for the Guru whether he has 100 disciples or one disciple or no disciple as he is ever established in the non-dual ultimate reality of Lord. For him, there is nothing but the Lord alone. Such a Guru is a Guru to be sought and worshipped equivalent to the Lord. We should identify and analyze a Guru as to whether he is real or false. This is not a wrong thing to do but the very right of a seeker. When the Lord’s own final advise to Arjuna was “vimrishya etat asheshena yatha icchasi tathaa kuru” – analyze this thoroughly and do as you wish, it is wrong to say that we cannot analyze a Guru.

The human intellect has been given only for analysis. But analysis has to be done as per the scriptures and not as per one’s own wish. Once a person finds a right Guru, he can rest everything else with the Guru as the Guru himself will take the shishya to the ultimate reality of Lord. But for people who are not able to get a realized saint as Guru, we need to analyze and focus our attention on the ultimate reality of Lord. Anything that is against the ultimate reality of Lord and the path to the Lord should be rejected outright even if it is propounded by the Lord himself. Such a seeker alone will reach the ultimate reality of Lord. We find Bhagavatham propounding here that a real seeker or a realized saint will always give importance to the ultimate reality of Lord above even the Guru as we see in Mahaabali. We will see in the next day as to what happens because of Mahaabali setting aside the Guru for the ultimate reality of Lord & we will also see in later parts as to the realized state of Shukracharya as well who was just doing his role of advising and further cursing Mahaabali.

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