Monday, April 18, 2016

Whom does God love - Concluding part

In our endeavor to become a man of perfection and also in an attempt to get closer to a divine state of mind, we have been looking at few of the declarations of Krishna. Krishna gives clear insights as to what makes one dearer to HIM. The interesting point to observe is all Abrahamic religions emphasize faithful following of their texts and not questioning any of the precepts handed over as the ONLY way to find favor from GOD. This inevitably is a Male (In Judeo-Christian idea it’s an old white male) waiting to be pleased by the good behavior in accordance to a text. The HIM we refer in Sanatana Dharma is genderless Brahman.

Sanatana Dharma is quite different in the fact that the emphasis is purely on raising one from a lower self to higher self. There are no prequalifications as to following a text or particular faith. The interesting thing is as one acquires these qualities, nature itself routes the mind in the direction of Sanatana Dharma. Just like water always flows down and fire always goes up, acquisition of these qualities, irrespective of our religious or personal orientations, invariably ushers us not only to a higher life right where we are, but also appears as Sanatana Dharma. 

            Krishna urges working constantly on acquiring or improving these qualities.  The interesting thing is we live a modern world, with very few people who take interest in Bhagavad Gita. Fewer still try to understand the verses. Even fewer try to practice it. Sadly the larger majority with roots from Sanatana Dharma will be glad to work on the same qualities, if packaged as a western idea or self help book. In fact, many of the popular self help books exactly do the same without even crediting the source. This bigotry and hypocrisy must be avoided. It merely shows how as a community we are plagued by a poor self image and lack of belief in our own strengths. Also by directly going to the source we can get more gems which the translators and digesters have omitted.

            Let us return to Krishna’s eloquent insights to what attracts and endears HIM.

यो हृष्यति द्वेष्टि शोचति काङ्क्षति
शुभाशुभपरित्यागी भक्तिमान्यः मे प्रियः ॥12-17
Yo Na Hrishyati Na Dveshti Na Shochati Na Kaankshati|
Shubha-ashubha Pari-thyaagi Bhakti-maan Yah Sa Me' Priyaha||

He who neither rejoices, nor hates, nor grieves, nor desires, renouncing good and evil, who is full of devotion, is dear to me.

यो न हृष्यति न द्वेष्टि न शोचति न काङ्क्षति  Neither rejoices, nor hates, nor grieves, nor desires – This verse is a good example of western Indologists who are bent on word to word translation can end up misunderstanding and misinterpreting Indian scriptures.  To a western mind, it will appear that Krishna is recommending people to become like a statue, emotionless, dead. To the twisted perverted interpreter like we have dime a dozen these days, this verse is a proof that Krishna is trying to make Arjuna heartless and then make him a killing machine, almost Zombie like. Really, is that what it even implies?

            We dealt with the modifications of desire in detail in Desire – A Genalogical Approach .  Rejoice is the reaction when a desired object has been achieved.  Hate is the reaction when the desired object is being obstructed or when undesired objects, contrary to Vasanas (A Key to understand our Past, Present and Future) keep coming in contact with us.  Understanding these two concepts outlined in these two articles are essential to train along the direction Krishna is pointing to. Grief is the reaction when a desired object parts contact with us. Desire is a vritti, mental wave that bubbles from the depths of the mind, when objects of the world, vasanas of the mind and sense objects favorably intersect. 

            Great minds from Sanatana Dharma, Rishis, have highlighted this with a wonderful analogy of a dream. This is something everyone is familiar with. We all have basic idea about Dreaming, Wakefulness, Deep Sleep state. Rishis add the fourth state, Turiya, which is described as Sleepless Sleep.  In our dreams we project the entire dream world from our mind, yet we transcend it when we wake up. We do not rejoice or hate or grieve or desire for the dream objects. Swami Chinmayananda has eloquently described this analogy as:

            I dreamt yesterday that in spite of my enemies I got my kingdom back and then desired to annex to my domain my neighbouring kingdom also. At that time my only child died. The war ended in a disastrous defeat. Routed from the battlefield, all my army shattered, I was flying for my life, pursued by a gang of my enemies. Exhausted and weary, panting and perspiring I woke up!
            On awakening, now, I cannot rejoice at the kingdom I got, nor hate my enemies; nor bemoan my child’s death in the dream, nor continue desiring to extend my kingdom. ‘Renouncing victory and failure’ I live in myself as myself, as awakened. Viewed from the waking consciousness, the dream experiences have become a mischievous play of my own mind – a totally unreal delusion.
            Similarly, when a true devotee, being awakened to the God-Consciousness, evaluates life from his new height of experience, he cannot rejoice or hate, grieve for or desire anything in this world and he comes to renounce totally the very concepts of good and evil.

शुभाशुभपरित्यागी Renouncing good and evil, auspicious and inauspicious – Let us examine this wonderful phrase. This is connected to the idea from the earlier verse where Krishna describes the Man of Perfection as सर्वारम्भपरित्यागी (renouncing all undertakings or commencements). In Tamil, this idea was expressed few thousand years ago as தீதும் நன்றும் பிறர் தர வாரா –(Theethum nandrum pirar thanthu vaara) Good or bad doesn’t come from others, implying it’s a matter of perspective, attitude. When the sense objects perceive the events of the world and they get processed by our mind, based on its condition, its vasana baggage, it may perceive the incident as either beneficial or not. 

            The above was purely from a laukika way of looking at Krishna’s expression. Krishna suggests that the Man of Perfections transcends the dualistic nature of experiences that constantly oscillate between two relative extremes. This is possible when the mind gets stilled in a higher consciousness. At this level, the common world of O-E-T (Objects-Emotions-Thoughts) fails to make a dent. If we revisit the above Chinmayananda’s quote, it makes more sense to the awakened person, the world of dream experiences make no impact.

समः शत्रौ च मित्रे च तथा मानापमानयोः ।
शीतोष्णसुखदुःखेषु समः सङ्गविवर्जितः ॥12-18
Samah Shatrau Cha Mitre Cha Thathaa Maanaapa-maana-yoho|
Sheetho-shna Sukha-duhkheshu Samah Sanga Vivarjitaha||

He who is the same to foe and friend, and also in honour and dishonor, who is the same in cold and heat and pleasure and pain, who is free from attachment.

समः शत्रौ च मित्रे च तथा मानापमानयोः शीतोष्णसुखदुःखेषु समः Same to foe and friend, and also in honour and dishonor, who is the same in cold and heat and pleasure and pain – We will observe all the three pairs of expressions together. The idea of BMI as expounded by Swami Chinmayananda has been examined in greater detail in BMI Chart - Swami Chinmayananda's teaching aid. We interact with the external world through three major mechanisms – Body, Mind and Intellect (BMI). Krishna chooses one example from each mode to illustrate using these idioms. Every language has its own special idioms and when literally translated, the real meaning gets mistranslated. In English, when we say Feet smell, Noses run, we do not imply a word for word meaning.

            Treat the foe and friend as same. Isn’t it ironic that Krishna is using this idiom to make sense to Arjuna to make him understand his Kshatriya dharma of fighting and killing his foes? It is the faculty of the mind that enables one to be identified as a friend or foe. Also depending on the circumstances, the same mind may interpret the friend as foe and vice versa. Krishna challenges Arjuna and through him all of us to rise above the dualities of mind.

            Treat honor and dishonor as same. The intellect is the faculty at play here. Let us examine it with a simple analogy.  We typically associate jail as a place filled with criminals. It is definitely not an honorable place. Yet when we look at the great freedom fighters of India like Mahatma Gandhi who championed non-violent ways of overthrowing the colonial rule, we realize they spent so many years behind the bars. Suddenly the stigma associated with the jail gets cleared in our mind, at least for those great individuals. Depending on the clarity or confusion in the intellect, one is able to assess a situation as honor or dishonor. Krishna urges the intellect to rise above these dualities by margining it with the higher Consciousness.

            Treat cold and heat as same – This does not imply put your hands in fire or plunge into frigid cold water. Krishna urges to observe the experiences pertaining to the body are at the body level, yet the observer is not affected by the vicissitudes that affect the body.

            Krishna’s advice to overcome the extreme pairs in other words can be simplified for the practical laukika world as avoid extremes by taking the middle path. This constant refinement in laukika is possible by keeping the mind on higher goals or ideals. But as we have repeatedly seen unless this ideal is the highest – Brahman, Paramatman, this cannot be achieved.

सङ्गविवर्जितः - Free from attachment - This is a very key idea that’s often repeated by Krishna. Even Buddhists and Jains hold this as a central precept. Many great saints throughout the millennia have highlighted the importance of detachment. Thiruvalluvar calls it succinctly as
பற்றுக பற்றற்றான் பற்றினை அப்பற்றைப்
பற்றுக பற்று விடற்கு (patruka patratraan patrinai appatraip
patruka patru vidaRku)

            He recommends having the only attachment to constantly be detached.  Bhagavad Gita is perhaps the best commentary for itself as there are numerous internal cross references to highlight and strengthen any argument placed.

उद्धरेदात्मनात्मानंनात्मानमवसादयेत् |
आत्मैव ह्यात्मनो बन्धुरात्मैव रिपुरात्मन: || 6-5

How is detachment possible? Can we live emotionless like machines? Are we to ignore the body’s needs? Is careless being preached?  The answer lies in using the above Gita verse as a key. Krishna’s solution is very ingenious and simple to comprehend, but requires lots of discipline and rigor in implementing it.

            Normally, we let the mind be dictated by the sense objects and the sensory feeds. The modern world justifies it as human experience. While this is partly true, many times, we are slaves to the senses. Since Mind is tightly coupled with Senses, the intellect takes a back seat. After a point in time, it does not even perform its normal role. We can see a sort of democracy where two out of three are needed to steer us in a direction.
            Krishna’s recipe is to reverse this process. The grosser body needs to be reined in with a higher subtler principle, Mind, which in turn guided by the Intellect. Now we have a situation who will the Intellect yield to. When Intellect is merged into the Higher SELF, ATMAN, there is no attachment. There is no duality. 

            In Kathopanishad, the same idea has been very poetically described as a beautiful analogy. The five senses are likened to five horses in the chariot (body). The reins are the mind that can control the senses of the horse. The charioteer is the intellect who transports the rider, Jeeva. If the charioteer falls asleep or is distracted or absent, then the rider does not end up at the right destination.

            Detachment from identifying experiences wrongly attributed to BMI (Body-Mind-Intellect) is overcome with Krishna’s recipe, which echoes the Upanishadic truths.

तुल्यनिन्दास्तुतिर्मौनी सन्तुष्टो येन केनचित् ।
अनिकेतः स्थिरमतिर्भक्तिमान्मे प्रियो नरः ॥12-19
ये तु धर्म्यामृतमिदं यथोक्तं पर्युपासते ।
श्रद्दधाना मत्परमा भक्तास्तेऽतीव मे प्रियाः ॥12-20
Thulya Nindaa Sthuthir Mounee Santhushto Yena Kena Chith|
Aniketah Sthirah Mathir Bhakthi-maan Me Priyo Naraha||

Ye Tu Dharmyaam Amritam-idam Yathoktam Paryupaasathey|
Shraddha Daana Mat Parama Bhaktaastetiva Mey Priyaaha||

He to whom censure and praise are equal, who is silent, content with anything, homeless, of a steady mind, and full of devotion – that man is dear to Me.
They verily who follow this immortal Dharma (law or doctrine) as described above, endowed with faith, regarding Me as the Supreme goal, they, the devotees, are exceedingly dear to Me.

तुल्यनिन्दास्तुति Censure and praise are both equal – This is a continuation of the previous verse. Since most of us are led by emotions and the mind plays an axis role in uniting the Body and Intellect, it appears that Krishna was to highlight this aspect again and again. Censure or Praise is a matter of the mind. Constancy in the attitude towards what comes its way makes the mind more stable. A calmer mind has more sattva and is more inclined to merging itself with the intellect. A rajasic or tamasic mind lacks the ability to equanimity.

र्मौनी One who is Silent – Unless one makes an effort to understand this subtle truth, it may seem odd, why Krishna is adding this as an important milestone. Rishis of the past have studied mouna of different types. When one restrains the tongue from making any sounds, it is called Vak Mouna. It is very difficult for most amongst us to control the organ of speech. To add to this silence, if one were to cease all physical activities, not even nodding the head or writing to convey thoughts, such a silence is called Kashtha Mouna. But as noted in the above two steps the mind is free to wander. When one can achieve Patanjali Maharishi’s second sutra, yogash chitta vritti nirodaha – a cessation of mental waves, this state is called Mano Mouna. There is a higher state of consciousness, where nothing is perceived outside Brahman, this is called Brahma Mouna or  Maha Mouna. This ladder of mouna has been variously celebrated by saints, sages, siddhas. In Tamil literature, lots of siddhars have sung in detail about the Mano Mouna. Swami Chinmayananda aptly put it as Be silent and understand how really silent silence can be. 

            Another way to look at this phrase is to read it along with the previous one, almost like a prescription to treating censure and praise as equal. Apart from giving a standalone Mouna as a message, I am wondering if this Mouna is the prescription how to handle censure or praise. Not to let the world of OET (Objects-Emotions-Thoughts) to create ripples in the chitta, thereby creating or strengthening vasanas.

सन्तुष्टो येन केनचित् Content with anything The western mind or the one that is buried in sensory world experiences is unable to even comprehend the validity of such a state being practical. The usual question is doesn’t such ideas promote laziness, rob motivation of the individual? Contrary to the misunderstanding, it is not activity that is given up, but only the hankering of the fruits. Actions are not driven by outcome of motives, but as a dharma, karma, sense of duty. The Man of Perfection is fully aware that the results are a factor of the actions performed, but not the only criteria in the outcome. The western mind believes outcome is only conditioned by actions, hence the promotion of desires, motivated actions. All modern self-help books prescribe this notion. 

            A man of higher understanding understands that both the extreme outcomes are the result of the same action. They are also the reflection of the same Consciousness beneath. He is also fully aware that the emotions he feels to these karmaphala (fruits of karma) are merely interactions with his vasanas that get interpreted as good or bad, desirable or not. This contentment is also a factor of Sanga Vivarjitaha, free from association, as explained in earlier verse.

In Shanti Parva of Mahabharata, Moksha Dharma (246-12), it is said, he who is clad with anything, who is fed on any food, who lies down anywhere, him the gods call a brahmana.

अनिकेतः Homeless– He who dwells in no location, has no abode. Is Krishna’s remedy to get HIS Love being homeless on the streets? Well if we let western Indologists dictate our mind, yes that is how they will translate. What is a home? A place where one resides. In a mind that only sees duality, it perceives a spatio-temporal location as its place and the rest as outside. We can take this body as an experience and remain centered. Great sages have led the way by expanding the Consciousness to match the Universe. Just like we feel the same pain when pricked in the leg or the arms, due to Consciousness pervading throughout the body, once Consciousness is expanded throughout the Universe, we do not feel localized, centered only in a body or home.
The same idea can be expanded to the mind and intellect. Due to the vasana baggage we are constantly limited in our experience translation. The prejudice in our understanding in on one side, whilst the limitations in our point of view make our minds and intellect perceive the Universe with ONLY limitations. To compound this, the self arrogating principle, EGO, hijacks this limited experience as its own creation or perception. 

With lots of limitations to interpreting this way, I would still venture to apply aniketa, homeless, as not being tied to the physical body (not necessarily a place of residence) at the Body level, not being tied to any certain emotional baggage we all tend to carry at the mind level (as we can realize the ephemeral nature and the limitations of our perception due to the vasana baggage we carry) and not to have boundaries established as mental dogmas, due to prejudices and incorrectness of our intellect and also lacking a charitable view to include beyond the Body or mental boundaries.
In other words, we expand continuously to include an expanding circle, which may begin being charitable to family, society, nation, humanity, all living beings and eventually match the Universe. This is how the adage, Charity begins at home, needs to be interpreted. When we expand our Consciousness to the Brahman level, we find that there is no duality and lack of duality implies that we do not have a particular spatio-temporal location or set of ideas or emotions as home.

स्थिरमति Steadfast mind – A mind where vasana pressure is continuously pummeling from both inside and outside world of objects can never be steady. Steadiness of mind is directly proportional to the Sattva percentage. Though no measurement of scale is possible, it is very easy to discern the preponderance of any Guna (Sattva-Rajas-Tamas) by the way the individual carries out in the world.  

         We saw in the Sanghavivarjitha section, the recipe from Kathopanishad on how to train the mind, by giving the reins of the mind and the controls of the body chariot guided by the five sense horses to a superior intellect. But this is not an intellectual exercise. The intellect needs to merge itself with the Cosmic Self for it to expand and see things properly.  This is highlighted by Krishna in sloka 6-5, as noted earlier.

श्रद्दधा Faith – Shraddha is hard to translate. The maximum English vocabulary allows is Faith. This Faith is not blind, but based on action, devotion to the spirit of the message in words, thoughts and deed. Krishna adds this quality to highlight and emphasize the importance of Shraddha as the foundation to build on. This is not akin to Abrahamic idea of faith, if you don’t believe and accept, you are doomed to rot in hell forever.  Shraddha also involves an intellectual understanding, emotional connection, but grounded in physical action.

            Krishna clearly goes at length in the above verses to help us build clear characteristics which will aid in our spiritual evolution. Note that these are not miracles conferred on special people. Each one of us can begin where we are and start working on our strengths. As we acquire some roots for each characteristic, one may be surprised to find the same strength develop a new facet and reveal it as a new trait. A contented mind is also steady and by its nature takes the higher route. 

            Let us all take these few verses to our heart. Ponder incessantly on these characteristics and acquire them. These traits will not only help us with this inward journey but also make life more enjoyable in the outside world.

Om Tat Sat
References / Recommended Reading
·            The Bhagawad Geeta – Swami Chinamayananda
·           The Bhagavad Geeta – Swami Sivananda
·           How to cultivate Virtues and eradicate Vices – Swami Sivananda

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