Saturday, September 24, 2016

Why many Hindu Gurus are wrong

            Guru Parampara is very unique to the Dharmic religions. A Guru plays a very critical role in the evolutionary ladder of every Jiva. In Sanatana Dharma, a realized Guru is worshipped as Paramatma in flesh. Another unique feature of Sanatana Dharma is that in every century there has been some thought altering, mind raising Guru has appeared in Bharatvarsha and kept the purity of Sanatana Dharma for the posterity. While not all Gurus will be in the highest class of Rishi, it is safe to assume any good Guru as a co-traveler in this cosmic journey that has tested the road ahead, yet compassionate enough to trace a few steps back, to hold the hands of the ones who seek out and be a guide.

            It is very easy to get off this larger purpose if one is not grounded in Dharma or in Truth experience. It is not a belief based idea like a religion, not even an experience of Truth, but the Guru is verily the Truth. So it is obvious that many Gurus we know do not measure up to this Sanatana Dharma Standard

            A Guru without Self Realization is a very big danger not only to the disciples, but also to Sanatana Dharma. I bow my head to the lotus feet of the Gurus of all the generations that have passed, the ones who are alive and the ones who are yet to appear. With their blessings, I endeavor to shine light upon how some of Today’s Hindu Gurus are not only patently wrong, but also hurting Sanatana Dharma at its very roots. 

            I will not be naming any negative names, but I do agree that the description of certain behaviors of Gurus may invoke the memories of certain personalities. I leave it to the reader to make this connection in their head. 

            We are aware of a lot of fake gurus who exploit the society who get caught in due time. Our focus is not on such a social menace. These parasites merely exploit the sentiments in the society for personal gains. Hence, we will be excluding these characters from our discussion. It may be noted that faking using a saintly guise is at least as old as Ramayana, where Ravana used such a ploy to trick Sita. 

            Let us turn our attention to those relatively evolved atmas, yet due to a whole host of behaviors are causing serious dents in Sanatana Dharma, unknowingly or knowingly. The following will be only a short checklist to initiate discussions and there is no order followed.

            This is a classic Sanskrit idiom of describing a frog in the well, someone who is not only an alpabuddhi, but feels having complete mastery. Rajiv Malhotra in this video explained how many White Americans during the 60’s, 70’s and 80's approached many Indian gurus for mantra diksha. He narrates an eye opening incident he witnessed, where the guru who has no understanding of either Christianity or Judaism, assumes a white Jew to be a Christian. Suggests him to chant “Om Jesus” as a mantra - neither understanding that it is an idea not tenable to a Jew nor with any regard to Sanatana Dharma.

            The majority of today’s gurus do not have depth in other mathas under the Sanatana Dharma umbrella, worse still about other religions. Yet they make audacious teachings like all religion is one. Rajiv Malhotra in this brief talk demolishes the myth – “All Religions are NOT same”. He raises a simple question, if one does not understand other religions; on what grounds can a guru claim the sameness with Sanatana Dharma. This makes even their claim of understanding Hindu Dharma suspect.

            The tradition of PurvaPaksha – studying the other person’s POV is almost non-existent, yet the modern guru comes out with a swinging bat of sameness. The worser issue is their lack of understanding of how Digestion (read more of Rajiv Malhotra’s works) and U-turn works, and how Breaking India forces are operating.

Market focused:
            There are a growing number of Hindu gurus who masquerade themselves as New Age Gurus or Mystics. They suck and digest all Hindu concepts, yet lack the backbone to announce their roots or the source of such traditions, practices, and meditations. They need the hip upscale crowd or their expanding abroad disciple market. They give a twist to even the most time honored traditions to suit their business. Not that such guru is bad person. Many support wonderful humanitarian causes which make them very dear. They are not committed to Sanatana Dharma, yet they like to suck the essence out of it and present the digest to the audience as if it is their own experience. Claiming to be mystic is their argument to why they claim not to be leaning on their source dharma.

            Many gurus establish personality based cults. Even leaders of century old traditions/institutions still get mired in their founder’s personality. While it is wonderful that many have created numerous ashrams, institutions and a reproducible methodology, very rarely we see a leader of the same caliber reappearing from such a school. In majority of the cases, the institution is revolving around the one big person who walked few paces ahead.

            Such cult based, personality oriented gurus tend to center the explanations and interpretations around their over patterns. Obviously the larger idea of Sanatana Dharma is out of the window.

            This is another aspect of the above two. It may arise due to a complex following a particular sect, guru or set of guidelines, which make them feel separated. While any introspecting individual or a real truth seeker will immediately discern that such a differentiation in the mind is a serious sign of immaturity and a danger to swerve away from, it is a tragedy that many Gurus or leaders fail to notice it. The worst part of this duplicity is that the same leaders preach tolerance, accepting different mindset while highlighting their path is superior.

            Ego is also evident when we see break away gurudoms or intense rivalry with competing ideas, even if they are within the umbrella of Sanatana Dharma. We also see this when

Secular bug bites modern Hindu Gurus only:
            We already observed how either due to their limited knowledge or due to their market focus they are oriented towards the sameness message. In any case, such gurus seem to be hastening the dissolution of Sanatana Dharma identity. Many times, they take populist stance on certain time honored practices to suit to their audience, rather than standing firm on dharma.

            Instead of preaching Sanatana Dharma, they suddenly end up being constitutional experts in preaching sameness. We have had one Ramakrishna Paramahamsa who experimented with the different religions and if HE tells from an experiential POV, it makes sense.  We find many Hindu Institutions celebrating Christmas so they can attract foreign audience. What they do not understand, in this cheap gimmick, is the real charitability of Sanatana Dharma’s philosophy. Do we see a church wishing us Deepavali, but nowadays we have many temples wishing Christmas. In US, some temples loan Bible as a part of spiritual library.

Despite this lack of standards, our gurus fail to convince even one non Hindu to think as all religions as Same, yet they keep brainwashing the Hindus to lose their identity and believe in a mythical sameness, which no monotheistic religion will ever agree. Our Gurus must show more dharma nishta (not their own small sect, but to Sanatana Dharma), rather than their efforts to win a bigger following or peddle some merchandise.

            In the past when there was a good ecosystem to sustain different viewpoints to aid the different flavors of spiritual needs, different gurus appeared to provide insights about the Brahman. The different sects of Vedanta, which constitutes the bulk of modern Hinduism, is one among the many. Apart from vedic outlook, other dharmic mathas also existed like sramana(Jainism), baudha(Buddhism). It was customary amongst the intellectuals to not only study other traditions (PurvaPaksha) but also engage in intellectual clashes (UttarPaksha). This also helped the followers to stick to their traditions.

            Over the last millennia, we find enormous influences from the Abrahamic religions and more recently the western hedonism and the motivated Breaking India forces having strong disruptive influences in India. But in today’s context many gurus (we will be forced to use this word even for a person who has not realized the SELF) without understanding the dangers faced by Sanatana Dharma, merely wishes to amplify their sectarian ideas.

            A classic example can be the strong Vaishnavism vs Saivism intellectual clashes, which also resulted in many excesses by their supporting rulers. Today many puritanical scholars and gurus exist who still profess by these petty divisions. The same is true for other non vedic dharmic mathas which try to still settle score with Sanatana Dharma.

            The tragedy and hypocrisy behind this bigotry is that we have vedic mantras, behing chanted in every SandhyaVandana like the one given below, which keeps highlighting the bigger picture:

आकाशात् पतितं तोयं यथा गच्छति सागरम्
सर्व देव नमस्कारः केशवं प्रतिगच्छति

AkAshAt patitam tOyam yathA gacchati sAgaram
sarva dEva namaskArah kEshavam pratigacchati

As rain drops falling from the sky meet their end in the ocean; all the prayers offered to all the Gods reach Keshava (ParaBrahman)

The need of the hour is to look at Sanatana Dharma as a whole; dharmic mathas as a whole and not amplify the diversities that exist within. It is this diversity that gives strength and identity to Sanatana Dharma, unlike monotheistic religions which preach their way or the highway to eternal hell.

Satchitananda’s Prescription:

            Sanatana Dharma is all about the individual, unlike the mass based monotheistic religions.

  •  Can we work more on our inner sadhana? The quality of our Sadhana will drive us towards the right Guru. To get started we have a huge cornucopia of spiritual information in Sanatana Dharma to match our vasanas and gunas.

  •   Can we stop personality worship and follow principles more? Unless one is wedded to a guru the way Narendra was to Ramakrishna Paramahamsa which enabled the transition of an agnostic into Swami Vivekananda or emulate an atheist Balakrishna Menon who came in contact with Swami Sivananda and morphed into a dynamic Swami Chinmayananda, we cannot talk of our Guru Bhakti.

  •  We have identified several categories of flaws where Hindu gurus are cutting the very branch they are seated. Can we be strong enough to confront them or avoid them to say the least?

  • Can we raise our standards and accept all Mahatmas under Sanatana Dharma to be venerable, rather than our favorite cult or sect? Can we be a torch bearer for not just tolerance but also of MUTUAL RESPECT and accommodate the variations with dignity?

  • Can we focus on cultivating good virtues within ourselves and raise our standards, rather than trying to be the Scotland Yard for other’s badness? Despite the critique on our gurus here, the focus must still be on ourselves.

  •  Can we educate ourselves about the trends happening around us? We may not be in the same league like Rajiv Malhotra, but we sure can read his books, listen to his talks to understand the concepts like Digestion, U-turn theory, Dharmic traditions vs Abrahamic ideas, Academic Hinduphobia, the importance of preserving one’s identity.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Question & Answers - 4 - Why can I not feel the God within

Q4a: If God is within why do I not feel the presence?

Q4b: I can feel that there is more to me than the body, mind, intellect, but it is not clear. I can call it life, but that is it.

Q4c: If God is inside everyone, why is (S)HE not stopping the bad guys from doing bad things?

Q4d: What does God/SELF do in an individual?

Ans: Numerous questions analogous to the above can be raised in the same direction. To understand better one must understand the field and its knower. The best and only complete source that gives a through treatment to this topic is the Thirteenth Chapter of Bhagavad Gita. It is also referred to as Kshetra Kshetrajna Yoga.

            To stay focused on the questions on hand, we will merely take one sloka – 13.22 and get a thorough grasp of it. This sloka when studied along with the other slokas of the chapter shines a different light, yet as a response to these questions, we will take a more simplistic approach.

उपद्रष्ट अनु मन्त च भर्त भोक्ता महेश्वरः।
परम आत्मा इति च अपि उक्तः देहे अस्मिन् पुरुषः परः ।। 13-22   

Upadrashta  anu manta cha bharta bhokta maheshwarah
Param atma iti cha api uktah dehe asmin purushah parah 

The Supreme SELF in this body is also called the Spectator, the permitter, the supporter, the enjoyer, the great Lord and the Supreme Self.

उपद्रष्ट - Spectator - This is the most common experience of all of us. The Supreme SELF is relegated to the role of a Mute Spectator, a Silent Witness. We studied the external and internal instruments – Bhahishkarana (Body) and Anatahkarana (Mind-Intellect) in detail in BMI Chart - Swami Chinmayananda's teaching aid

            Due to the ahamkara (ego) of the Jeeva, it constantly reiterates its separation from the Paramatma. This I-ness principle is at the root of all our miseries. Despite its separation, the Jeeva is completely dependent on its source, its root and its very existence – Paramatma, just like a gold ornament is completely dependent on gold for its existence.

            So when a heinous criminal is performing a crime, the Supreme SELF is merely playing the role of a Spectator, as it does in most of us.  Swami Sivananda explains in his commentary, that in Vedic times (and even now during Yagnas), a priest was appointed to silently witness the ceremony. His title is Upadrashta. Swamiji also gave another insight. The body, the mind, the intellect are all Seers. The body is the grossest and external Seer. The SELF is the most closest and internal and important Seer. Beyond the SELF there is no other Seer.

            Even to recognize the Spectator role of the SELF, one needs an increase in Sattva. Once we recognize that there is a Spectator SELF involved, the next levels start unraveling themselves.

अनु मन्त - Permitter – Just as a King permits the different ministers to perform some role; the SELF allows the functioning of the body, mind and intellect. It is very evident in a dead person; such a role of Permitter is absent. 

I have heard this analogy in this context from great mahatmas. There is a normal citizen, who saves money after hard toil, praying to the Lord for the safety of his treasures. A thief is praying hard to get an easy break, while at the same time the Policeman is praying to catch this thief who has been giving his department a hard time. Who will the Lord Bless?

            The Supreme SELF is enabling all to partake the fruits of labor – karmaphala. How many of us can relate to the proverbial slip between the cup and the lip? Is that luck at play? It is HE who is the Permitter. Krishna says though we may rightfully feel that we deserve the fruits of our labor, it is HE alone who distributes the Karmaphala. From our own lives, we can ascertain HIS role as Anumantha. A little awareness is of the order if one were to understand and conclude the role of SELF as Anumantha.

भर्त - Supporter – When we are fully aware of Dharma and fulfill our responsibilities to the best of our abilities; we can rest in the fact that we will get the results. This is like a studious student, who prepares for his exams diligently, after writing his exam with focus, can feel confident of high scores. Bhartha is also a term used to denote the husband. Just like the husband is responsible for taking care of all the needs of the wife, the supporter of the family, the SELF is the Supporter of the Body-Mind-Intellect complex, life force and the senses. Yet just like the husband being a different entity from wife, the SELF is distinct and different from them.  (Now that is an analogy given traditionally, it does not mean like the twisted feminist’s interpretation of not equating with a woman who does support her family even more)

भोक्ता - Enjoyer – This role of the SELF is very hard to discern. The layer of ego is tightly coupled with the Jeeva and hence a perception without this ego prism is a task for the spiritually evolved. We attribute all our experiences to the “I” as the doer. In reality it is the SELF that illumines itself through the body-mind-intellect complex.  The realization of who the real enjoyer comes from either prolonged atma-vichara, like the WHO AM I question of Ramana Maharishi or through protracted study of the scriptures followed by intense introspection or through association of the Liberated.

महेश्वरः - Great Lord – Paramatma or ParaBrahman is in the essence of everything, yet HE is bigger than everything. The modern man is able to understand Space as all pervading the Universe. Maheshvara, the Great Lord, is bigger than this Space.  In the Hindu pantheon of Gods, the Trinity of Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva are always shown as meditating. A simple question who are they meditating can really usher a fresh insight. They are not sitting in those poses for us as an example, nor is the explanation given by the devotees of each sect, telling that others are meditating upon their Lord, correct. In Vedanta, Ishvara encompasses the entire Universe and exhibits Prabhuthva or Lordship. Yet there is a principle more subtle and higher than this Ishvara.

पुरुषः परः - Supreme SELF – Krishna elaborates this aspect further in Sloka 15.17. The Supreme SELF, very elusive, except to the highest Rishis who get a small glimpse. The ParaBrahman as noted above is the Source of all Consciousness.

            As understood from this Sloka, we can infer that the Supreme SELF plays different roles. Just as the naked eye needs a telescope to see some farther objects or a microscope to view the extremely smaller objects, the antahkarana needs to be adjusted. Just as a muddy lake agitated by wind will not be able to provide a good reflection of any object, a mind that is agitated by Rajas and muddied by Tamas cannot be a good instrument. When those two influences cease, the Sattva automatically provides an opportunity. Yet it must be understood that even Sattva has limitations, just like a mirror does lateral inversion of the objects reflected.

            Now one may wonder, why all of us cannot perceive this?  Depending on our vasanas, we erect different levels of opaqueness to this inner light shining in all of us. That is why it is even difficult for many of us to even perceive the first step – Upadrshta. As we work on ourselves and knock down these self-erected barriers, the inner SELF starts shining more brightly, though it was the same even before we worked on ourselves. In many cultures we refer to this echo of our SELF when making a mistake or violating dharma as a prick in our consciousness. We also observe that one who has conditioned to look the other way around whenever such a consciousness prick happens, eventually finds even that echo fades away until sattva is increased.

            Elsewhere in Gita, Krishna tells us that the entire universe is based on the three gunas. Though the external universe is beyond our reach, the internal universe can be rearranged. We see this happening all the time in ourselves as the gunas keep changing. As we work towards reconstituting our gunas to facilitate the understanding of the SELF, the different roles played by the SELF becomes evident.

            Let the Supreme Self, Paramatma, Narayana in all, SadaShiva, TripuraSundari and variously described provide us the Grace to work on ourselves. May we continue to work on ourselves to gain access to our TRUE SELF.
Om Tat Sat