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Swami Bhoomananda Tirtha

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

Bhagavad Gita contains seven hundred verses. The first verse is an enquiry by the blind Dhritarashtra. He was enquiring from Sanjaya who was nominated by Vyasa Maharishi as the narrator for Dhritarashtra Maharaja. Maharaja was blind. He asked the King, his own sons, hundred of them participating in the war, would the father like to see it, then he could gift him with a special vision for the purpose. Dhritarashtra said, “No. I would not like to see. I know my sons are wicked. And in this war, like jackfruits from jackfruit tree, one after the other will fall dead. Which father would like to see such a sight? So I don’t want.”

Then Veda Vyasa decided, “Nonetheless you would like to know all the details about the war. So I am gifting Sanjaya with a very special power by virtue of which he can go anywhere in the battlefield and witness everything, go to the camps also unseen and unhurt by any weapons used in the fight.”

Sanjaya started narrating but because the war had not begun, he was narrating about the greatness of our country, which are the boundaries, which are the huge mountains, huge rivers and pilgrim spots etc. When the narration was on, the war was on. So he rushed to the battlefield to witness the scenes. He got involved there for nine days and on the tenth day when hit by Arjuna’s arrows, Bheeshma fell from the chariot. He(Sanjaya) was so unnerved that he could not control his mind. He immediately ran to Dhritarashtra, the blind King to tell him that this has happened. Dhritarashtra also was equally unnerved and he started blabbering quite a lot of things.

One point that he said was, “How could the righteous Pandavas commit this mistake? My sons could commit sin but not Pandavas. So far I thought that Dharma, righteousness was on the ascendant. Now I feel adharma has become topmost and Dharma is subdued. At the same time, I cannot find fault with Pandavas. Whenever a crisis comes and a war crisis of this nature, everyone will take to the course that Arjuna has taken to.”

“After all, the fight is between two camps, each given to a certain value. Whoever comes and sides, they are supposed to be representing the value they have in mind. So anybody in the opposite camp has to be faced; they also have to face this side. So I cannot speak anything bad. At the same time, I am wondering this is not a simple affair. So was Arjuna or anybody else very much affected by the possibility and compulsion and was there any kind of a moral or ethical discussion about the matter before the actual war began? If there was and in all probability there was, there would have been, tell me that first so that I will also gain some strength to listen to the war narrations that you are going to give me.”

So whatever incidents Sanjaya was narrating, Dhritarashtra put a stop to it and he enquires, “What did my people and Pandavas who came to the battlefield with a view to fight to the last, what did they do?”

So he wanted to know how the war began and what was the detailed behavior of the leaders of the two parties, particularly his son and Pandavas. Then Sanjaya started giving a narration. Both parties came to the battlefield, the armies were arrayed, they were given identification marks, they wrote down a memorandum, that manifesto was signed by both parties and the war was to begin.

Suddenly Duryodhana went to his teacher Drona and told him. Actually, who should speak to whom? The teacher should speak to the student but here Duryodhana, the youngster was trying to instruct Drona, the great teacher. So he spoke very arrogantly and finally ended up saying, “I don’t want you, my teacher to take any initiative in the matter. My grandfather will look after it but he has got some loopholes in his life. So I am afraid of them. So all that I want is to protect the body of my grandfather, nothing else.”

When it came to such a climax, Bheeshma felt very bad. This boy is speaking so unparliamentarily, so he raised a lion’s roar and then blew his conch that signaled the commencement of the war. All in his side raised all kinds of war cries and nobody was there to reciprocate from Pandava’s side. Drishtadyumna being the commander-in-chief should have been the person to reciprocate but he felt “I am no match to Bheeshma”, so kept quiet.

Then Krishna, though he had promised, “I would not fight. I would not take war weapons”, he said, “I will blow my Pānchajanya”, so he blew. Following that, all the people in the army in the camp blew only conches. No other war cries were made but the conch blow, that chorus blow was so powerful that it permeated the entire sky, earth and then penetrated and frightened the army on the opposite side, Sanjaya says.

It was at that time that Arjuna felt, “I should examine the armies in general and decide upon my strategy, where to fight, whom to fight, in what manner, how to begin etc.”. So he asked Krishna who was a charioteer with a lot of assertiveness, “Drive my chariot in front and station it in such a manner that I can survey the armies.” Krishna literally obeyed, stationed the army right in the front of Bheeshma and Drona, the commanders-in-chief and told Arjuna, “You wanted to examine the army. Examine. Let me see whether you have the strength and wisdom and clarity to fight the war”.

Arjuna found that one was a grandfather, another was the teacher, both of whom were not his enemies nor was he their enemies. Then on both sides stood a number of relatives. He found the war was not between enemies but between friends, related people, respectable people on the one side. How can such a war be fought by a Kshatriya? “True, I came here with a long preparation and austerity to fight the war. War is between enemies but this war is not between enemies, so I cannot fight”. He placed his bow and arrow down and sat unable to stand. Gāṇḍīva slipped from his hand, the body started burning and becoming weak, mouth went dry, mind started burning like a whirlwind and intelligence said it was sinful to fight. In a human personality, what all faculties are there - the body, the senses, the mind, the intelligence, the ego and material possessions, all of them were found useless and they deserted Arjuna. He began to cry.

Krishna decided that this condition should not be allowed. So he exhorted Arjuna in very strong terms that all these symptoms were unbecoming of a good fighter. It was a shock to Arjuna. This is how the Bhagavad Gita makes its beginning. It is a fully historic representation of the war events that took place in Kurukshetra and all the events that took place before precipitating this war. In one sentence, Mahabharata of which Bhagavad Gita is a part, Mahabharata is describing the decline and fall of the Kuru dynasty. Why I said all this, to give you an idea that this Bhagavad Gita is not a religious book; it is a historic narration of what transpired 5155 years back in Kurukshetra which is about 165 kms from New Delhi in the state of Haryana. The place is being revived with its legendary glory.

There are many verses in Bhagavad Gita which do not have any religious or even a spiritual tinge. No reference to God, no reference to morality, ethics, soul or anything else. I will say about one verse and then stop.

न प्रहृष्येत्प्रियं प्राप्य नोद्विजेत्प्राप्य चाप्रियम् ।
स्थिरबुद्धिरसम्मूढो ब्रह्मविद् ब्रह्मणि स्थितः ।।
na prahṛṣyet-priyaṁ prāpya nodvijet-prāpya cāpriyam |
sthira-buddhir-asammūḍho brahma-vid brahmaṇi sthitaḥ ||
(Bhagavad Gita 5.20)

Na prahṛṣyet-priyaṁ prāpya - Our life is constantly confronted by, met by, priya and apriya - pleasant and unpleasant, things which you like and dislike. Krishna says, whenever you meet the pleasant, whether it is at home with the relatives or in the professional front or in the societal front, whenever you meet the pleasant, do not exult over it, do not rejoice unduly; just take it moderately.

Nodvijet-prāpya cāpriyam - when the unpleasant meets you, then also you should not have very serious depression or dislike or disgust. What does this mean?

Right from the morning, when you wake up till you go to bed and sleep, you will find you are coursing through likes and dislikes, domestic and residential likes and dislikes, professional likes and dislikes, societal likes and dislikes, religious likes and dislikes, secular likes and dislikes. And Krishna says, Na prahṛṣyet-priyaṁ prāpya - whenever you find something pleasant, immediately watch your mind and see that you do not have any undue delight over it. So what is the sādhanā here? The sādhanā is to watch for anything that comes in a likeable manner overtaking your mind. Understand it first hand, right beforehand that, “I should not unduly delight over anything pleasant. Similarly, I should not unduly grieve over anything unpleasant.”

When your attitude towards pleasant and unpleasant in whichever form it is, in the form of people, in the form of developments, in form of places, environments, be even and moderate. And in this process, sthira-buddhiḥ, never slip from this evenness and moderation. If you take to moderation from moment to moment, hour to hour, day to day, fortnight to fortnight, you will have repeated occasions to practice it.

Sometimes even what your mother says you may dislike; your married partner says you will dislike. To cause dislikes and likes is the very nature of the mind. So when this happens, do not fret or fume, do not fight, simply understand that you have to take it with moderation. Nodvijet-prāpya cāpriyam - whenever you meet the unpleasant, you should not lose your temper, become irritable or become intolerant. So the sādhanā is towards these two, and because it is towards these two, it will continue throughout the wakeful hours when you are awake. Then in that remain stable sthira-buddhiḥ and then have no delusion.

The entire world is likes and dislikes for you, pleasant and unpleasant for you, sukha and duhkha for you. The world consists of infinite number of things but when you interact with them, they get reduced into pleasant and unpleasant, that’s all. When you remain like that, what is present in you when you have an even attitude towards pleasant and unpleasant, that substance, I cannot call it a substance because it is not comparable to other things, so ‘that’ presence is Brahman, the Supreme Reality, know it. Brahmaṇi sthitaḥ, because your position is not in pleasantness and unpleasantness, naturally your position is on the in-between and that is Brahman.

What is the sādhanā? Evenness towards likes and dislikes caused at home, in the professional front and societal front. So be even-minded and be stable in it, understand that in the even-mindedness is the presence of Brahman, the Supreme Reality. Tell me now, is it a religious proposition? We are looking into the mind, probing into the mind and we are trying to understand the mind’s constant and repeated reactions which are only two. And you develop an acceptance of both, a non-preferential and non-prejudicial approach and assimilation of both. He says this is spirituality, yoga and fulfillment.

Harih Om Tat Sat. Jai Guru.

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