"Every moment of your life you are being carried to fulfilment, irresistibly. Everything that comes to you does so to improve, correct or alter your nature, thereby taking you nearer perfection. So, whenever agitation assails your mind, ponder over this truth again and again."

The Guiding force of Narayanashrama Tapovanam & Center for Inner Resources Development

Swami Bhoomananda Tirtha

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According to our scriptures, human life is meant to achieve a fourfold purushartha : dharma, artha, kama and moksha. It is not that man is given the choice to select any one of the four. Say, one man takes to dharma, another takes to artha, a third takes to kama and the fourth becomes a votary of moksha. No, the four purusharthas are not detached from one another. It is the one and the same individual who has to undertake the fourfold pursuit.

 

Renunciation –– a crowning development

Prabhaata-rashmih 3rd July 1997

Harih Om Tat Sat. Harih Om Tat Sat. Jai Guru.

या निशा सर्वभूतानां तस्यां जागर्ति संयमी ।

यस्यां जाग्रति भूतानि सा निशा पश्यतो मुनेः ।।

(Bhagavadgeeeta 2.69)

Last night I was telling you how obstinate the minds and thoughts of the ordinary people are. You know, X came here a few years back wanting to take to an exclusive spiritual life. He was quite happy with his parents, wife and children. He was successful in his business too. Even then he wanted to renounce. I asked him to wait till renunciation becomes indispensable. I advised him to intensify his sadhana and grow more and more mature in spirituality till renunciation becomes favourable and natural. A few days back, he told me, “Swamiji, the relatives may reconcile to a person becoming alcoholic; they may bear with him if he turns licentious; they will even accept his death; but they will not agree to his leaving home in order to pursue an exclusive spiritual path.”

In other words, leaving home and taking up a life-style meant for the benefit of oneself as well as the entire mankind, will not generally be accepted by the dear and near ones. They may honour it as an ideal, but as a fact they resent. You like to come to a Sannyasin, but you cannot agree to your son becoming a Sannyasin. See how contradictory the thoughts and behaviour of people are!

Bhagavadgeeta says (2.69): “What is darkness for the ordinary people, there remains awake the man of wisdom; and whatever the ordinary people find interest in, appears to be mere darkness to the man of wisdom”. This conflict of perception of real worth and values will continue to be there. That is why in our traditional society, a proper insight about the life and its supreme goal was being provided right from childhood.

Now the education system has changed. But the wise guidance is still available in the books. If people don’t make use of the literature, whose fault is it? If we keep away the great lessons and values bequeathed to us by our wise forefathers, then whom can we blame for our pitiable plight?

According to our scriptures, human life is meant to achieve a fourfold purushartha : dharma, artha, kama and moksha. It is not that man is given the choice to select any one of the four. Say, one man takes to dharma, another takes to artha, a third takes to kama and the fourth becomes a votary of moksha. No, the four purusharthas are not detached from one another. It is the one and the same individual who has to undertake the fourfold pursuit.

Dharma or righteousness is the way to be adopted to live your life. Think righteously, speak righteously and act righteously. In doing so, you should not become idle or unproductive. Be useful to the world, be useful to yourself. Through righteous pursuit you are supposed to acquire wealth (artha) for your livelihood. Once a person grows, he must strive hard to make his own fortune. Wealth received from the parents or through matrimony is never regarded as dignified. The parent’s duty ends in providing us the right growth and vision, in making us worthy citizens –– productive, effective and creative.

The entire earth is supposed to be productive. So many plants come up every season. They survive for the season, give flowers, fruits and leaves, and then perish. There are trees that last for decades, and even centuries. They survive by drawing nourishment from Nature, and throughout their life they serve Nature in their own way. So, everyone has to sustain himself by making use of the resources provided by the earth, and also everyone has to contribute something to the world, to the people around.

Then comes kama. The wealth acquired through righteous pursuit should be used righteously for enjoying the sweet aspects of life. Don’t think that it is a crime to have desires, but the desires have to be righteous. The righteous desires are not to be left unfulfilled. Utilise your resources to have the comforts and conveniences you need, but be moderate and righteous in doing that, be considerate and graceful to people around.

So all the three go together - dharma, artha and kama. But how long? It is not going to be an endless game ! The body will grow old and perish one day. Before it perishes, the mind must be prepared to accept this fate joyously. The mind must find its fulfilment from the life led. When you grow old and look back, the mind must not come up with a feeling of ‘vainness’.

There comes the fourth purushartha –– moksha or liberation. In fact the other three purusharthas are meant to lead man to moksha. Live righteously, acquire wealth through righteous pursuit, use your wealth to fulfil the righteous desires –– but while pursuing all these, understand the ephemerality of life and its acquisitions, and prepare yourself to attain the final state of freedom and fulfilment. Living and outliving through the various stages of life, as you become deep and mature, there comes a time when you have to say : “No ! I want to be redeemed of all these”.

This is the phased programme of human life. Without moksha, the pursuit of the other three purusharthas is never going to be complete. Our satras are very emphatic in saying that he who grows too much of attachment to the body –– the bodily needs and pleasures, the bodily relationships –– verily commits ‘suicide’ ! He is an ‘atmaha’ –– by holding on to ephemeral things he kills his own Self ! Only when the other three purusharthas are pursued with an eye to the final relaxation called moksha, the life becomes harmonious and fulfilled.

I would like at least some in our society to be inspired by this concept of the phased programme of human life. In my life for the past 40 years, I have been telling people that spirituality is not antagonistic to worldly life. It, on the other hand, harmonizes, strengthens and deepens our life. It makes the worldly life fulfilling and complete. If in the advanced mature stage of spiritual pursuit, one leaves the household, renounces the so-called worldly pursuits and relationships, it is always a greatly auspicious step –– for himself as well as for the world. So many people are living in the household and dying in the household. If there are a few who prefer to live away from home dedicating themselves to the pursuit of purity, refinement and perfection, devoting their life to the welfare of the entire society, I think it is a very welcome development, and all people should be happy about it.

11 September 1997

Does sincere seeking necessarily call for renunciation of family relationships and professional life ? This is a point that has been discussed threadbare in our sastras. Usually the mind finds joy through external involvements. But a discriminating intelligence will soon discover that no external gain can give one the fulfilment he looks for. The ephemerality of all worldly attainments and enjoyments finally makes the mind turn to the fourth purushartha –– the pursuit of moksha or liberation. The state in which the mind produces the fulfilmental joy and relaxation irrespective of the external situation or objects, is called moksha.

This moksha can be had only by pursuing the Subject. The Subject by its very nature being different from and opposed to the objects, the mind has to withdraw from the objects –– from all worldly attractions. As one advances in the pursuit of moksha, his whole focus shifts from the external world to the Subject. Gradually, lucrative jobs, blood and matrimonial relationships –– all lose their binding influence on the mind. A sincere seeker at this stage would naturally want to make his spiritual life exclusive and wholesome. It is at this point that the question of renunciation or leaving the profession and family relationships comes up.

Why ? First of all, that is in the very nature of this pursuit. The withdrawal takes place by the natural law of seeking. Secondly, your seeking advances due to your maturity and refinement. The others around are generally not expected to have similar maturity or discrimination. Naturally there will be differences. Neither can you force others to think in your way, nor can you leave your own pursuit. So, parting cannot be avoided. But it should always be a comfortable and smooth one –– carried out with enough understanding, love and harmony.

So, I think, today or tomorrow the seekers of liberation will have to keep away from the world, keep away from the usual social, domestic and professional involvements and pursuits. It cannot be avoided. Sincerity in seeking necessarily implies leaving. The question is only when does one become exclusive in his sadhana and when will he have to leave.

Suppose you take up seeking before getting involved in matrimonial relationships. Then, I think, you must choose a life of exclusive seeking right then. Because you know, married relationship is very strange. It is very strong too. Once you get married, you get bound to your partner, legally as well as psychologically. Then suppose a child is born, there will generally be an age difference of about 25 years between the parents and the child. And by the time you are able to say “OK, now you look after yourself”, another 25 years would have passed. By then you have already crossed 50.

So, until you have become 50 or 60, you cannot get much time for your seeking. And in most of the cases, by that age you get trapped by the affection towards the grandchildren.

That is why our sastras say

Yad-ahareva virajet tad-ahareva pravrajet

(Jabalopanishad)

––”The day dispassion graces you, that very day you must leave”. That means, when vairagya has graced your mind and you have decided to take to the spiritual path exclusively, simply renounce. No other consideration should hold you back.

Suppose you try an experimental stay in your own house with the family relationships, nevertheless pursuing spirituality exclusively, today or tomorrow they will say, “Well, if this is your way, it is better that you go to an ashram.” These words will surely come from the house people ! Sreemad Bhaagavata clearly says that the people living in households will never be able to grow supreme devotion to the Lord. They cannot imbibe it from anyone at home, because everybody there is ‘grha-vrata’ and ‘indriyaramah’. They only have household as their vrata; they don’t have bhakti or moksha as their vrata. And they are all given to sensory pleasures. The life of sensory delight is completely opposed to the life of Self-delight.

Bhagavadgeeta speaks of Karma-nishtha and Jnana-nishtha. The karmayoga, if understood and pursued sincerely, will naturally take you to Jnana-nishtha. And in the Jnana-nishtha level, automatically you will have to leave home. So, sincerity in seeking necessarily means leaving today or tomorrow. But once you get involved in the Garhasthya life, the leaving becomes complicated. Because, after all, it is a natural law that the parents will have parental feelings towards the children and the children will have filial emotions for the parents. These feelings and emotions are to be taken care of.

12 September 1997

We were discussing about the reluctance and resistance in the minds of householders when a member of their household takes to renunciation. The opposition comes basically from ignorance and delusion. But I don’t think that all families will have this resistance.

To the extent I know I have not found any resistance from Ma’s family or Swami Nirviseshananda’s family. There was no resistance either from Swami Nirupamananda’s family. I don’t know of any opposition from my own family. The opposition comes only because people are not prepared to think with a broader perspective and they refuse to develop the quality called viveka.

Viveka is the ability to distinguish between right and wrong, to know what is promotional and what is demotional in character. If people are prepared to exercise their viveka, I think all this resistance will go and they will come up with the response : “What you are going to do is necessary and should be done by all of us some day or other. But we are not able to do it. Of course, we will have a lot of difficulty in accepting your renunciation, but because it is right and auspicious we cannot say you should not go.” This should be the attitude of friends and relatives. Crying, resisting, showing intolerance –– that is not the elegant behaviour.

All human beings, placed in any station of life, must have this viveka. Viveka and vairagya. With these two qualities we can steer our mind, sublimate our mind, in any situation. In the absence of these two, a person will become weak, and any extent of education, glory or resourcefulness will not make him shine well.

Viveka and vairagya are the watchwords on the path of spiritual wisdom. The seekers are supposed to develop these two qualities through constant association with the Guru. See, how I am moving around in the Ashram. The Ashram is not what it was earlier. There is a lot of work, a lot of responsibilities. So many people are coming. So many workers are being employed almost permanently. How is it that we are managing all these things ? With viveka and vairagya, there is a way of living in this world without getting bound by anything. Doing whatever is necessary. Undertaking whatever is to be undertaken. Through all these, viveka and vairagya only stand increased !

So, people should pause to be tutored by viveka and vairagya. Then everything will be harmonious, every step in life will be auspicious and graceful.

Harih Om Tat Sat. Jai Guru.