"It is not what you do that matters, but how you do it – with what attitude and aim. The spiritual effect that a seemingly spiritual activity brings, can also be had by the domestic pursuit, provided you preserve a spiritual attitude and dedication."

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

Swami Bhoomananda Tirtha


Articles for Saadhana

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

As you know, I have been writing on the Varnāśrama Dharmās as exposed by Narada to Yudhishthira. This is the first time that Srimad Bhagavata in its narration in twelve skandhas takes up the subject of Dhārmic exposition and it is rendered by Narada. That means, it is rendered by Veda Vyasa first and re-rendered by Narada and this exposition is given to no less a person than Yudhishthira, the son of Dharma. He is considered to be the son of righteousness - God Yama.

Narada exposes it at the specific instance of Yudhishthira. Just imagine, Yudhishthira himself is a son of righteousness. And why it should be necessary for him to seek Narada to expose Dharma to him? Another point is, why should he choose Narada who is otherwise considered to be a Saint of devotion? It is very clear that in the path of devotion, one has to be very dhārmic in his life style, in various disciplines and restraints to be adopted, the bhakta or the devotee is no exception. Narada, in spite of his famous devotional sainthood, certainly incorporated in him an adequate measure of dharma.

So these are some of the thoughts that came to my mind in explaining the dialogue. Narada proceeds to say that the sanātana dharma is based upon thirty limbs, thirty factors. And the first factor he enjoins is, truthfulness. The other day, somebody was asking me how is this purity related to spirituality or otherwise. Is it necessary?

Truthfulness is one of the limbs of purity. There is a constant compulsion, persuasion or delusion in the human mind to become untruthful. Every time, we like to circumvent truth, factuality, truthfulness and try to do something so that the objective is won. This kind of a slipping from the path of truthfulness is to be detected whenever it occurs or is likely to occur and to be set right.

Srimad Bhagavata in explaining the Varnāśrama Dharmās, when it comes to the śūdra level, śūdradoes not do anything by himself. His role is to place his body and mind at the disposal of the others and the dharma enjoined for him is he has to serve with a lot of fidelity his yajamāna, the master; and in doing so, he has to be truthful and avoid stealth. So the truthfulness plays an important part even in serving another person. The śūdrais allowed to do worship but without the chanting of the Veda mantras; he may not be able to do it. I have seen such things being done in our parts. So I was wondering, “How this practice has come into vogue?”

In our Ashram which was previously a farm land, there used to be a little worship offered by non-Brahmins. So they used to have the pūja vessels, water and all that. And they will start knocking it with their thumb knee to produce a little sound and they will do all that but without chanting any mantra. I was wondering how this culture has come into vogue. I did not know about it. Now I am able to link it up that whatever is written there, the society has accepted and has been adopting and pursuing it for a long time.

Now, let us go to the Upanishadic statement –

सत्येन लभ्यस्तपसा ह्येष आत्मा
सम्यग्ज्ञानेन ब्रह्मचर्येण नित्यम् ।
अन्तःशरीरे ज्योतिर्मयो हि शुभ्रो
यं पश्यन्ति यतयः क्षीणदोषाः ।।
satyena labhyas-tapasā hyeṣa ātmā
samyag-jnānena brahmacaryeṇa nityam |
antaḥ-śarīre jyotirmayo hi śubhro
yaṁ paśyanti yatayaḥ kṣīṇa-doṣāḥ ||
(Muṇḍakopaniṣad 3.1.5)

Two points are emphasized here. In the matter of pursuing ātma-sākshātkāra, self realization, he says “satyena labhyaḥ”. This Ātmā or Self can be attained by satya, by truthfulness, by being wholesomely true and pursuing truthfulness in all walks of life.

Then the second factor is – tapasā, austerity. Whenever we are told that when you sit or when you lie, let your head be on such and such a side, either east or south. What does it literally mean? Whenever you lie, you cannot lie with inattention or carelessness. You have to subject your mind to an examination as to which direction my head is going to be. So that is an awareness that you have to cultivate. When you are wearing a dhoti or a sari, wear it in this manner, in that manner. When you keep the broom-stick, let not the tip face the south or be towards the south. The idea is in doing everything there must be a bridling note, attention!

So tapas can be physical, oral, mental, intellectual. So this is a second factor. Finally he says, “yaṁ paśyanti yatayaḥ kṣīṇa-doṣāḥ”. When the defects, blemishes, stains and evils in one’s nature, they become attenuated then the ātmā will be completely comprehended, realized. So truthfulness which is part of purity is very important, and purity element is perhaps everything of spiritual life and even religious life. When you decide to become pure, that purity has to be your nature whatever you do, wherever you be. It is not that you try to invoke purity in half-an-hour’s pūja that you perform but you try to make your mind pure constantly and wholesomely.

So, remember these words, truthfulness on the one hand, tapasya - austerity on the other. It is not mere rituals. The ritual part we are not interested. Always try to find out whether it imposes a measure of austerity, attention and discipline in you. Then, all the defects of the mind will have to be purged before this realization or the goal is achieved.

Harih Om Tat Sat. Jai Guru.

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