Sunday, December 02, 2007

Story 47 – Story of Destroying Indra’s pride – 16

We learnt in this story of destroying Indra’s pride a lot of matters related to the ultimate reality of Lord and as to how a seeker can realize the Lord.

This story along with the story of humiliating Brahma points out that any person who is egoistic and thinks himself to be great will be punished severely by the Lord. But if the seeker is a devotee of the Lord (knowing that the Lord alone exists here) yet somehow forgot the Lord, then the Lord will ensure that the seeker is punished and brought back to the spiritual path. This means that the moment a seeker becomes a devotee of the Lord it is the Lord’s responsibility to take care of the devotee even as it is the responsibility of the parents to take care of their children. The Lord himself makes clear of this in many places of Gita as well as through the various puranic stories. We may say that puranic stories are mere stories and they aren’t real; then we do have examples of how various saints in the world have been protected by the Lord. Here Indra denotes all seekers who are devotees of the Lord yet haven’t realized the Lord thereby at times succumbing to worldly desires and passions.

But then how do we know who is a devotee and not a devotee?
The Lord defines a devotee as one who is ever established in contemplation of the Lord and considers the Lord as the ultimate goal of life. Various activities of japa, dhyaana, going to temple etc. are only ways to gain this devotion. These activities in themselves don’t denote devotion. We find many people in the world who after worshipping the Lord for years complain about the Lord when they grow old as the Lord doesn’t protect them during old age (as they are unable to chant, meditate etc.). Those are ignorant people who are far away from devotion. The various activities of going to temple, bhajans etc. are only easy ways to always remember the Lord. If those don’t lead us to constant contemplation of the Lord, then they are as useless and dangerous as worldly activities. A real devotee instead will not complain at the end of his life – even if he doesn’t have any money or isn’t healthy, he will still be blissful with contemplation of the Lord. It doesn’t need special effort to remember the Lord at all times – the mind is always active even though our physical condition might be bad. Hence it is always possible to contemplate on the Lord irrespective of external situations, surroundings and conditions.

Such a real devotee might due to vasanas (latent tendencies) forget the Lord at times; but unlike the worldly person who suffers from his vasanas the devotee will not suffer as the Lord will ensure that the devotee again remembers the Lord.

If the Lord can control activities in the world, then isn’t he a sadist as many people in the world are suffering?
Though we say that the Lord will always save a devotee, we shouldn’t take it literally. If we take it literally then we may end up in confusions. Even Krishna was not able to save the Pandavas and the millions of people who died in the Mahabharatha war. This only goes on to show that what is really meant by the Lord saving a devotee is that the devotee will be unaffected by the activities of the world as he knows that the Lord alone is real and everything else is only an illusion in the Lord. It is this state of witnesshood or bliss that is meant by the Lord saving and protecting the devotee. The Lord’s very nature is that of bliss. Hence when it is said that the Lord is protecting the devotee, it means that the Lord is imparting bliss to the devotee which means that the devotee is ever blissful. Thus we find many Mahatmas like AMMA, Swami Vivekananda etc. suffering in the world yet being unaffected by the suffering as they are real devotees of the Lord.

Thus the Lord will not become a sadist because of controlling the activities in the world as he never controls the world – the world is but an illusion in the Lord, devotion towards the Lord will only make a devotee be unaffected about the activities in the world.

If this is the case, then how come the Lord saved Indra by appearing himself?
This only means that when a devotee forgets the Lord then the Lord will make the devotee realize his mistake by giving him blows – blows and sufferings need not be by the physical presence of the Lord (as the Lord is present everywhere and is the substratum between all objects of the world) but can happen to a person in many ways. The eternal law of karma is that which controls activities and fruits in the world. If a devotee forgets the Lord then he will suffer for the same – such suffering will not be greater than the suffering of a worldly person but since the devotee is in a state of bliss, any small suffering would seem as if very big. Hence a small suffering for the devotee will make him realize his mistakes thereby always contemplating on the Lord to realize his very nature of Lord.

Let us all try to always contemplate on the Lord thereby being devotees of the Lord so that we may be always protected by the Lord when we deviate from the spiritual path so that we may very soon realize the Lord and be ever blissful.

The ultimate reality, an analysis

We have finished one story of Srimad Bhagavatham. Before starting the next story, let us try to bring our focus back on to the ultimate reality of Brahman (or Lord). It may be questioned as to why are we again and again speaking about Brahman or Lord; it may also be questioned as to why is it that we are always trying to focus on Brahman instead of the miraculous creation of the Lord; it may also be questioned as to why are we always focusing on the illusory nature of the world. Though it can be answered that we are always focusing on Brahman being the only reality and the world being an illusion in order for us to be able to achieve the ultimate goal of eternal bliss or moksha, it still doesn’t answer as to why we are again and again repeating the same thing.

Brahma Sutra beautifully summarizes this through the sutra “aavrittih asakrit upadeshaat” – repetition again and again due to being the way of instruction in the scriptures. What this sutra beautifully points out is that even as we learn the mathematical formulae as well as the mathematical tables by constant repetition of them, in order for us to not get deluded into the perceived world and focus on the non-perceivable Brahman we have to keep on repeating the same thing in our mind again. It is for this reason that the Guru of Uddalaka instructs his son Svetakethu on the Mahavaky TAT TVAM ASI 9 times in the Chandogya Upanishad.

Brahman or the ultimate reality of Lord is beyond perception; the Lord is beyond perception because he is the reality and the cause of the entire world as well as the sense organs used to perceive the world. Even as the eyes can see objects of the world but not itself, the ultimate reality of Lord (who is the indwelling Self in each one of us) can perceive the entire world but cannot be perceived by the sense organs. The only to realize the ultimate reality of Lord is through the scriptural way of sravana, manana and nidhidhyaasana (listening, reflection and contemplation). In order for a sadhaka to not get distracted into the illusory world, it is necessary to always focus on the illusory nature of the world. The moment we get deluded into the illusory world we will end up in sorrow alone; anything which is temporary is an illusion and can lead us to sorrow and sorrow alone. The water seen in desert is temporary and hence will lead us only to sorrow as we will be expecting water & running towards it but end up with no water at all. Similarly the world is constantly changing and hence is only an illusion in the ultimate reality of Lord; thereby the world can give us only sorrow until we apprehend its illusory nature and always remember that it is an illusion. Any illusion is in fact the substratum in which it is perceived; even as the water seen in desert is nothing but desert alone, similarly the world that is perceived is only an illusion in the ultimate reality of Lord. Thus if we have to get bliss out of the world, we need to see it as the ultimate reality of Lord along with the knowledge that the world consisting of various names and forms is only an illusion in the reality of Lord. Thus always remembering the Lord alone can lead us to eternal bliss as such a person will be ever immersed in the ultimate reality of Lord and be devoid of any likes-dislikes arising out of considering duality as real.

In order for a sadhaka to always remember the Lord rather than the illusory happenings in the world, we need to always focus on the Lord rather than on the various miracles done by the Lord and his avataras in the world. It is for this reason that though we are learning different stories in Srimad Bhagavatham, we are always focusing ourselves on the ultimate reality of Lord. This alone will serve the real purpose of learning Bhagavatham which is getting eternal bliss.

Remembering the ultimate reality of Lord as the non-dual reality behind the illusory dual world, we will start with the next story of Srimad Bhagavatham from the next day.

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