Sunday, March 11, 2007

Story 42 – Story of Khatvaanga - 02

Khatvaanga, when knew that he had less time before leaving the body, gave everything to his children and after renouncing all attachments got fully immersed in Brahman.


Bhagavatham in a particular place speaks about the ultimate goal of human life as realization of the ultimate reality of Lord and remembering the Lord at the time of death. Generally at the time of death, we tend to think about that which has been thought most in our life – generally people have lot many desires left in their mind at the time of death. It is these desires which lead a person taking another birth. This vicious circle of birth and death will never end unless desires are completely fulfilled or removed. As we have seen previously, desires can never be fulfilled completely. Instead a person can get rid of desires only through knowledge that there is nothing here but the ultimate reality of Lord alone exists.

A realized person will always be contemplating on the ultimate reality of Lord. Hence even at the time of death, there will not be any desires in the mind of such a jeevan muktha. His last thought also will be remembrance of the ultimate reality of Lord only. When a person thinks about the Lord at the end of his life, he doesn’t have any more desires to be fulfilled and he merges into the ultimate reality of Lord never to return back in the ocean of samsaara.

Thus we can briefly say that the goal of human life is to end one’s life through remembrance of the Lord – to have no desires at the end of our life. If yama is to come to us this very moment, we should accept him happily without any regret or sorrow. We find Khatvaanga doing exactly the same here.

When the mind is purified through nishkaama karma (action done without seeking any fruit), the mind becomes like a mirror without taints – such a mind can vaguely see the future through indications. Thus a jeevan muktha will very well be able to judge the time when he has to leave the body (in fact, the jeevan muktha clearly knows that the body itself is only an illusion – and that it is like a dream world wherein a person does activities). Each one of us, if we purify our minds, will be able to judge the same through indications in our lives. Khatvaanga thus was able to foresee death and hence he renounced everything contemplating on the ultimate reality of Lord.

The Lord tells in Gita that whatever a person thinks or desires at the end of life in this birth will be carried over in the next birth. This carry-over continues until the seeker wakes up from the long dream of waking world thereby realizing his very nature of non-dual Lord and then never again returns back. As explained earlier, it is not that easy to think about the Lord at the end of our life. We will be thinking about that which we have been contemplating all our lives. If we have been contemplating all our lives about our children, we will think about our children only at the end of our life. Thus Bhagavatham is here indirectly telling us that we should spend each moment of our life thinking about the ultimate reality of Lord alone. This way we will be ensured to think about the Lord at the end of our life – thereby getting out of this delusion of samsaara.

Before it is late, we have to start contemplation on the ultimate reality of Lord now itself. Those are foolish people who claim that Vedanta is to be learnt after retirement and in old age. In old age, because of the various samskaaras developed during the first 60-70 years, we will have many other things to think about – moreover, such a person will not have the necessary intellect or mind to concentrate on the ultimate reality of Lord. Thus it is essential that we all start thinking and contemplating on the ultimate reality of Lord from now itself. This will make us get out of the ocean of samsaara like Khatvaanga.

Bhagavatham will be explaining next as to how Khatvaanga came out of this delusion and was able to think about the Lord at the end of his life. We will see that in the coming days.

Khatvaanga before merging into the ultimate reality of Lord had thought about it in depth thus:

I am not interested in anything except sanga with realized saints. From my childhood itself, my mind has ever been immersed in the Lord. My mind hasn’t rejoiced in anything other than the ultimate reality of Lord. I gained this establishment of the mind through seeing the Lord in everything as the substratum of the illusory names and forms. Though the devas had offered all sensual pleasures, I didn’t accept it as my mind was ever established in the ultimate reality of Lord.


We find Bhagavatham starting the explanation of the mental process undertaken by Khatvaanga which in turn lead him to merge into the ultimate reality of Lord at the time of death never to return back. These explanations are very important for seekers as it is by following these thoughts in action that Khatvaanga was able to be ever established in the ultimate reality of Lord.

Vedanta speaks about the three-fold path to realization of the ultimate reality of Lord. The three-fold path is SRAVANA, MANANA and NIDHIDHYAASANA. Sravana is listening to the scriptures and puranas with the main import as the ultimate reality of Lord. Manana is reflection using logic in the intellect about whatever has been heard about the ultimate reality of Lord through sravana. Nidhidhyaasana is constant contemplation of the ultimate reality of Lord without any doubts and obstacles – contemplation should be pure like water and constant like flow of ghee. A seeker will be able to contemplate on the Lord only after clearing doubts about the Lord through manana. Contemplation here doesn’t mean mere thinking of the Lord at all times but it is thinking about that Lord who alone exists here and that Lord in whom everything else (illusion of names and forms) is seen. In order to make the intellect convinced that the Lord alone exists, we have to do manana or reflecting within ourselves. It is for a very few intellectually strong seekers that the step of manana is not present – they just realize the Lord by contemplation from the moment they hear about the Lord. For the majority of seekers, manana is essential. When we go to a bhaagavatha sapthaaham and sit there listening to the discourse of Nochur or Balakrishnan Nair, everything will seem clearJ. But once we reach home, the same fight with wife, the same disturbing children, the same distractions in the form of TV serials, the same mental disturbances about work, family etc. arise. Though everything seemed to be fine while listening, we tend to forget it afterwards. Therefore it is essential for a seeker to go through the step of manana or reflecting within oneself at times of solitude or otherwise about the ultimate reality of Lord.

If it is questioned as to why everything seems to be fine when in front of Mahatmas but there still are doubts, confusions and lack of experiencing the same thing at other times, Vedanta gives a beautiful analogy to prove the same. A seeker is like an iron piece whereas a Mahatma is a magnet. When the iron piece is near a magnet, it gets the characteristics of the magnet. But it still hasn’t been converted into a magnet. Therefore once the iron piece is taken away from the magnet, it behaves normally like an iron piece.

When we are in the presence of a Mahatma, we tend to apprehend everything because of the light of the Lord emanating from them. It is as if we become luminous because of the light of the Mahatmas. We still haven’t really being illuminated and hence afterwards the luminosity is lost. To become a permanent magnet, we have to always be in touch with the real magnet of thought of the Lord. In order to be able to ever contemplate on the Lord, we need to reflect about the Lord so that our mind and intellect is convinced about the non-dual reality of Lord.

It is this process of reflection that Bhagavatham is pointing out clearly through the though process in Khatvaanga. This step of manana is essential and there cannot be any seeker who can even dream of overcoming and passing-over this step. Even devotion to the Lord cannot make us pass-over this step. Devotion to the Lord only will lead us to a proper Guru who will then guide us in this process of manana.

Remembering that manana or logical reflection is essential, we will see Khatvaanga’s thought process starting from the next day.

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