Thursday, December 18, 2008

Story 51 – Story of Narakaasura Vadha (killing) - 11

Bhoomidevi continued her praise

O Lord! It is you only who renounces Tamo guna and takes up Rajo guna in order to create the world; you then take up sattva guna and protect the world; time, prakrthi, purusha etc. are the you only, the supreme cause.


The world is created and sustained by the illusory power of the Lord which is termed as Maya – the word Maya itself means that which doesn’t really exist (yaa maa saa maaya). The Lord defines Maya beautifully in the below sloka of Gita:

Daivi hi eshaa gunamayi mama maaya duratyayaa

My Maya is a divine power and made up of the three gunas of Sattva, Rajas and Tamas.

The three gunas are an interesting topic to discuss in depth – the Lord himself has described the three gunas in an entire chapter of Gita (the 14th chapter of Gita titled Gunatraya vibhaaga yoga). Tamo guna or Tamas is something which denotes laziness, slumber, inactivity etc. Rajas denotes activity arising out of desire and a sense of achieving something. Sattva on the other hand denotes a state where a person is immersed in knowledge and bliss. Sattva and Tamas both are similar as in both activity kind of ceases quite a lot but the main differences is that in Sattva activities cannot happen because knowledge dawns (knowledge culminates all actions – though actions might still happen after a person gains knowledge that the entire world is only an illusion in the ultimate reality of Lord). The Lord demonstrates all the three gunas with respect to the world. The Lord is rajo guna pradhaana (mainly rajas) while creating the world (as this is an activity). The Lord denotes sattva guna while protecting the world as this is not an action but more of compassion and other good qualities.

Though the Lord demonstrates the three gunas and we also are often into one or the other guna, realization is that state which is beyond the three gunas. This is what the Lord terms as guna ateetha (one who is beyond the gunas). The gunas are part of Prakrithi or Maya whereas the very nature of the Lord is beyond the gunas. But most of the time we are immersed in either activity or inactivity (as in laziness, slumber etc.). The way to go beyond the gunas is through sattva alone – whenever a seeker does sadhana along with knowledge, it is sattva guna and will help him in going beyond the three gunas. Knowledge is nothing but constant remembrance that the entire world is filled in and out with the ultimate reality of Lord who alone is the substratum-cause of the illusory world. As a seeker tries to be in sattva guna, slowly he will go beyond the gunas - then irrespective of whether the body or mind is in rajas or tamas, he will ever abide as the witness Self (the ultimate reality of Lord).

In order for a seeker to go beyond gunas, knowledge is essential – the Lord beautifully describes knowledge (that knowledge which will help us go beyond the gunas) thus in Gita:

Na anyam gunebhyah karthaaram yadaa drestaa anupashyathi
Gunebhyascha param vetti so madbhaavam adhigacchathi

A person who knows the doer of all actions as none other than the three gunas – he remains as a witness of the gunas and their activities; thus he goes beyond the three gunas and attains my state (the state of eternal bliss).

Bhoomidevi continued:

O Lord! The entire world made up of movable and immovable entities and consisting of earth, water, fire, air, space, subtle sense organs, thoughts, mind, ego, vishwapranan etc. is only an illusion in the non-dual reality that you are.


The last line of the verse of Bhagavatham in this part is

Tvayi adviteeya bhagavaanayam bhramah

In the one-without-a-second reality of Lord that you are, all these (the entire world) is only an illusion.

The scriptures compare the waking world that we currently perceive as similar to the dream world that each one of us experience while sleeping. In order to explain this clearly, the ancient seers split one entire day into three states (which repeat as various days) of waking (jaagrat), dream (svapna) and dreamless deep sleep (sushupthi). Waking and dream are very much similar in many aspects. A person goes to sleep and he perceives a lot of things. He marries, gets children and then has grand children – all of a sudden he dies due to old age and then visits Yama in naraka. In naraka he suffers variously including thrown into a cage where a ferocious lion resides. Seeing the lion in front of him, he suddenly wakes up. He is all sweating but he realizes that whatever happened was just a dream – he is yet to get married! The entire dream world was only an illusion in the dreamer. The dreamer pervaded and became the entire dream world (each and every object of the dream world). Similarly this waking world is also a long dream in the dreamer of Lord (consciousness that pervades the entire world). This long dream continues and appears to be real as long as the seeker is sleeping. The waking world appears as real as the dream world while in dream. But once a person wakes up from this long dream of waking world, he will realize that there never was any world in the first place – all that he saw was only an illusion in the non-dual reality of Lord of the nature of Consciousness.

In order for a person to understand that the entire world is only an illusion, he doesn’t need to realize. Comparing this world with dream world itself is enough to show us that the duality that we currently perceive is only an illusion. Even as various gold ornaments are mere illusions of names and forms in gold – they are gold and gold alone. The names and forms delude us into thinking that each one is different from one another – this delusion continues only until we realize and apprehend the underlying gold which is the essence of all gold ornaments. The goldsmith is one who apprehends this truth constantly and hence whenever we go to him with a particular gold ornament asking him to give a latest fashion ornament, he immediately does it. This vision of the goldsmith about all gold ornaments being an illusion of names and forms in gold and that gold alone is real is the true vision of gold ornaments. Similarly the entire world that we currently perceive is only an illusion of names and forms in the reality of Conscious Lord. Without Consciousness, whatever we perceive will have no existence whatsoever.

When a person is able to remember at all times that the entire world is only an illusion of names and forms in the ultimate reality of Lord and is like a dream world, the seeker will not be affected by the activities in this illusory world. All actions will continue but still there will be no craving for a particular fruit – hence whatever is the outcome of those actions, the seeker will ever be blissful. It is this blissful state that we are constantly seeking and what Vedanta terms as jeevan mukthi (liberated from sorrow even while living).

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