Monday, April 09, 2007

Story 43 – Story of Yayati - 04

Yayati thus had five sons two from Devayani and two from the other wife. Knowing that Yayati had accepted Gharmista as his wife, Devayani left him and went back to her father. Yayati who was bound by Kaama went behind Devayani. Shukracharya thereby consoled his daughter and cursed Yayati. The curse was that Yayati would be suffering from jaraa (old age) very soon. Yayati fell at the feet of Shukracharya and asked forgiveness. Shukracharya then said that Yayati could transfer his old-age to somebody else and take the Youvan (youth) from that person.


Earlier we saw that Yayati decided to take things as ordained or given by God. But here we see the real attitude behind that offering. If Yayati had total surrender, he would have offered everything to God including desire towards his wife and the outcome of all activities. But Yayati’s consolation to the mind to take things as given by God was a false consolation of the mind – there never was a real surrender attitude in his mind. This is what we find in many of the so-called spiritual people in the world.

When bad things come, they simply offer it to GodJ. And when good things come, they take the credit for the same forgetting God. Putting in Chinmaya’s beautiful words, if something good happens “I did it!!!” and if something bad happens “what to do? God gave this to me”J. Such devotion or so-called spirituality is a false creation of the mind. The mind fools itself by consolations that everything is done by God at times of distress and hopelessness. This is not real devotion or real attitude of surrender. Real devotion is wherein the seeker totally surrenders to the Lord – everything irrespective of whether it is good or bad is offered to the Lord. When a devotee thus offers everything to God, he is not affected by the outcome of any activity. Thus if a devotee’s wife was to fight and go back to her father, the devotee will still be blissful offering that as well to God. But here we find Yayati running behind Devayani. Why? Because Yayati was stuck by Kaama towards Devayani. Translate Kaama as lust or desire but this is what is present in most of the married people. There is always an emotion of lust or desire towards the other person. Either this lust is physical lust or mental lust in the form of an emotional support. We cannot find even a single married couple whose marriage is not based on this lust. Such lust becomes evident when there is a fight and the wife goes back to her father. The husband starts running towards his wife even as a fish runs towards water when thrown into the shore.

There is a beautiful incident in the life of Tulasidas and as to how he became very devoted to God. Tulasidas was very attached to his wife like Yayati. He couldn’t spend even one night without his wife – this attachment was not mere physical lust but emotional support as well. Once his wife had to suddenly go to her parents place; she couldn’t inform this to Tulasidas but mentioned the same to the neighbors. Tulasidas when he came back home in the evening didn’t find his wife; upon enquiry, he found that she is at her parents place. Tulasidas somehow couldn’t imagine spending the night all alone by himself. Thus he decided to go to her parent’s house. He went there. He climbed over the wall and knocked at the door of his wife’s room. She opened the door and found him. She was very embarrassed to find so attached husband (it is but a truth that current day women seek attention from their partners – this is just a general opinion and need not be the case with all women). She said to him “if you had this attachment to God, you would have realized him by now”. These words pierced into the heart of Tulasidas. He understood the futility of attachment to his wife. He directed it towards God and the rest is historyJ.

Thus we all have to get rid of lust and attachment towards people and things in the world. Instead we should direct this towards the ultimate reality of Lord. Attachment to the world will only lead us to sorrows and sufferings whereas attachment to God will lead us to eternal bliss. Unlike worldly people who are themselves seeking love from others, the Lord is ever ready to give his ever-present love and care for his devotees. We just need to seek the Lord and his love & caring will always be there for us. This seeking of the Lord alone can give us eternal bliss – that which bliss which we all are seeking every moment of our life. If we want to get rid of sorrows and enjoy bliss, we have to remove all attachment to the world and direct it towards the ultimate reality of Lord. Mere attachment to Lord as sitting in Vaikunta or Kailas will not lead us to eternal bliss – such attachment will only lead us to more sorrow as seen in the fights between Saivites and Vaishnavites. The Lord that we have to seek is the substratum of the illusory and temporary world; the Lord that we have to seek is the all-pervading Consciousness – he who is present in the world beyond the names and forms of the world. Such a Lord alone really exist – everything else is only an illusion in the Lord. If we seek such a Lord who alone exists, then we will never be affected by illusory activities of the world and the outcome of those activities; instead we will ever be rejoicing in the bliss in the Lord knowing that there is nothing here but the Lord alone exists, one without a second.

We will continue the story in the next day.

As Shukracharya had agreed if somebody would take up the vaardhakya (old age), Yayati called each of his children and asked them the same. The first four sons refused to part with their youvana for their father. The youngest son Puru decided that it is the duty of the son to look after his father; thereby he decided to give his youth and take old age from his father. Yayati thus got back his youth from his son Puru.


In the previous day we saw Yayati getting cursed by Shukracharya that he will face old age. Bhagavatham is here depicting that we all will one day or the other grow old and will have to face the problems of the body. It is only through knowledge that we can get rid of body-consciousness or identifying ourselves (the “I”) with the body. “I” am not the body as the body undergoes changes but from birth till death, I am the same only. Knowing oneself as not the changing body but the changeless Self is possible only through scriptural learning or guidance from a spiritual master. Unless a seeker knows that “I am not the body”, he will always be attached and associated with the body. The changes of the body will be attributed to myself. Thus when the body is growing old, I grow old. When the body is in pain, I am in pain. This association with the body is so strong that it is very tough indeed to overcome this association. Therefore Sankara mentions in one of his works that if a person has totally got rid of association with body and has the strong conviction that “I am the Self” even as a normal person has the conviction that “I am the body”, then such a person is liberated from the bondages of samsaara.

When the body grows old, due to lack of knowledge this growth is attributed to the body. Such a person thus suffers due to old age. When each one of us goes through this phase of old age, we seek to go back in time to the youthful phase even like Yayati. The old person knows that this is not possible and hence tries his level best to go back to youth even if this requires killing other people!!! We find Yayati here exactly doing the same – trying to get youth from his children.

Why does a person seek youth? A person seeks youth because he thinks that youth will give him sensual pleasure and thereby eternal bliss. We often forget that sensual pleasures are temporary and will end us up in sorrow only. Lack of this knowledge of the temporary nature of sense objects and the pleasure achieved from this causes a person to go after such sensual pleasures. A devotee who knows the reality of the worldly objects will always contemplate on the ultimate reality of Lord. Even if the body is in pain, he will ever be blissful as he knows that there is nothing here but the Lord alone exists, one without a second. Such a devotee alone will be able to boldly accept situations and be unaffected by them. All other people who are bound by ignorance will be like Yayati trying to enjoy sensual pleasures by hook or crook. Bhagavatham through Yayati’s seeking of youth tells each one of us not to go behind sensual pleasures; instead we should use time usefully to realize our own very nature of Lord – that which alone can give us eternal bliss which we are seeking each and every moment.

Is it possible to be not associated with the body? Is it possible to be blissful even if the body is suffering? Yes, it is possible. This is clearly shown through the lives of great saints like Ramana and others. Ramana Maharshi was suffering from tumour in his hand but still he was ever blissful. The doctors who tried to remove the tumour by surgery were astonished at his strength to bear pain – Ramana alone knew that there is no pain for him as all pain is for the body alone.

This doesn’t mean that we all have to give the body struggle like is common among Jains. It just means that we shouldn’t give too much emphasis on the body. If the body is suffering, we should try our best to get rid of the suffering. If still we aren’t able to get rid of the suffering, we should offer it to the ultimate reality of Lord knowing and remembering that “I am not the body but the ever blissful Lord”. This knowledge will make us bear any pain as the pain is for the body and not for “me”.

Such a real devotee will be ever blissful irrespective of external and internal conditions. Even when the entire world is mourning Tsunami and other troubles, still such a devotee will be ever blissful because he knows that there is nothing here but the Lord alone exists – whatever is seen as the dual world is a mere illusion of names and forms in the reality of Lord. The world that we see is a long dream in the ultimate reality of Lord.

If only Yayati had learned this knowledge from the scriptures, he wouldn’t have struggled and gone to his children seeking youth. We will see in the coming day as to how Yayati understands the futility of youth and that it will never give us eternal bliss or satisfaction or contentment.

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