May 2013, No. 153
IN THIS ISSUE
Upcoming Events / Announcements
Previous CMWN Issues
The Krishnas of My Life
by by Anjali Singh
Worship in Vrindavan
by Swamini Aradhanananda
What is Sadhana Chatushtaya? (Part 2)
by Swami Advayananda
by Chetana Neerchal
Dissolving Appearance, Apprehending Existence: The Sequence of Understanding What I Am
Talks by Brahmachari Prabodh Chaitanya
To Be with Rishis
by M. Kani
The Krishnas of My Life
by Anjali Singh
Continued from CMW News, March 2013
On Swamiji’s 75th birthday in Sidhbari, the Great Witness (Krishna) presented him with the first gold pendant made in the style of Swamiji’s signature OM. Swamiji asked me to remake it into a tie pin, as this one seemed to “hang on the gallows,” he said. I kept the first one and made another as a tie pin and gave it to him in Piercy. He can be seen wearing it on his button hole throughout the Bhagavad Gita video recordings, from Chapter 6 onward. Later, Swamiji gave the idea to Mala Daswani, a devotee and jeweler in Hong Kong, to copy the same. Thus, Krishna’s gift to Swamiji became the rage in fashion.
Lord Krishna took four forms in our home, each equally important as the other. When Swamiji completed his first world tour in 1965, he gave me a beautiful ivory Krishna whose expression and beauty remain unsurpassed. To this day, I have not seen an idol as beautiful as this.
Swamiji loved Him so much that in 1992 he borrowed Him from me to have Him copied in marble. The copy was a huge fiasco, wherein the head was not in proportion and the expression wasn’t anywhere near the original. Swamiji also seemed disappointed. Still, he put the marble idol in the satsang room next to his office in Powai, Mumbai, and gave me back the original (though I offered that he could have Him).
Swamiji kept a photo of the original one in his bedroom in Sidhbari and one on his desk and one in his study in Uttarkashi. These photos are still there. In 1997, the original idol was given to my daughter, Nanki.
As Krishna became 16 years old, Swamiji gave me a little grown up Krishna made of sandalwood. He was installed in a rosewood temple, illumining my home on Divali, 1977. This Krishna had been presented to Swamiji by CM Thrissur members. He remains with me next to Swamiji’s mahāsamādhi chair in our house. He helped me through some bad times.
The fourth Krishna is the one who has always been in our home. He belonged to my mother and is in the form of an oil painting by the famous Allah Bux of Lahore, a Muslim artist who always painted only Lord Krishna. Swamiji loved this Krishna. When I printed copies of Him in 1976, I gave 200 to Swamiji, and he put them in every room in the Powai ashram. In return, he gave me the special edition of his Bhagavad Gita commentary bound in silk and wrote in it: “The secret of Krishna’s smile in the midst of His boisterous life is the theme of the Geeta. May my Anjali come to live life in Krishna bliss. Live Geeta. With all love, your own, (signature).” Coincidentally, this Krishna was painted in 1942, the same year that I was born.
In the 1980s, Swamiji asked me to give him this Allah Bux Krishna, but I could not part with Him then. Instead, I made Swamiji a beautiful photo in a beautiful frame and presented it to him in Sidhbari. He did not put it into his room as the room was going to be painted. Apparently, it landed in the attic where it got spoiled during the monsoon rains with fungus.
So the next year, I made another one, got it nicely framed, and gave it to Swamiji. He immediately gave it to a foreign devotee who was sitting in the courtyard in front of Hanumanji. I got the hint. “The original or none!” was Swamiji’s message. Was he testing my love for him or my love for Krishna? In June 1993, I finally thought I would give it to him, but he never came back from San Diego to take it. I have given it to my son, Jujhar, though it is still with me in my room.
Swamiji never really meant to take the Allah Bux Krishna, but this is how he taught the lessons. The four forms of Krishna have equally gone to four members of my family, Swamiji getting the Great Witness, which he has kept in CM San Jose.
The Thrissur Krishna is surrounded by a dark rosewood temple-like canopy. He reminds me of what Swamiji once said to me in Sidhbari around 1991: “You have to go through the dark and then you will see light. And then you have to go to That which is beyond both the dark and the light.”
To be continued . . .
Worship in Vrindavan
by Swamini Aradhanananda
What is Sadhana Chatushtaya?
by Swami Advayananda
Continued from March 2013; Originally published as "Vedanta Unveiled" in Tapovan Prasad
Sādhana-chatushţaya is the four-fold means that makes one an adhikārī, a qualified aspirant for the knowledge of Brahman.
- Viveka (discrimination)
- Vairāgya (dispassion)
- Shamādi-shaţka-sampatti (six disciplines or inner-wealths beginning with shama)
- Mumukshutvam (desire for liberation)
Of the four, we have seen in detail, the first—viveka. Viveka, which literally means discrimination, stands for the firm and decisive conviction (nishchaya) that Brahman alone is permanent and all else – the whole perceivable world (dŗshya-prapańcha) is impermanent. Such a viveka, an ‘intellectual-heartfelt-sureness’ is a great achievement in one’s spiritual path. Decisiveness in this matter has far-reaching results. In fact, viveka is the very foundation of sādhanā (spiritual practice). It transforms the individual into a sādhaka (seeker of Truth) and also paves the way for the birth of the other three aspects of the sādhana-chatushţaya.
In this part, we shall elaborate on vairāgya, the second aspect of sādhana-chatushţaya. The word vairāgya literally means the “state of absence (vigata) of attachment (rāga).” It can be translated as detachment, desirelessness, or dispassion. Vairāgya is of three types: manda (dull), madhyama (mediocre), and tīvra (intense).
Manda vairāgya is only a temporary vairāgya. When near and dear ones die, or when all of one’s hard-earned wealth is lost in some unexpected calamity, there arises an intense sorrow, and spontaneously one exclaims, “This worldly life is too painful to bear!” At that moment of heart-wrenching pain, one feels like giving up everything. But this feeling of renunciation is only momentary. After some time, when things cool down or become a little better, it is back to square one—whipped by desires, we are once again sweating and toiling for fleeting sense pleasures.
Madhyama vairāgya is such that though there is dispassion for things of this world, therestill remains a strong desire for the pleasures of the other worlds. Due to some small collection of merits (puņya), one understands the painful nature of sense enjoyments; the tensions to acquire and hoard; the fear of loss; and even after acquiring, the possibility of prolonged disease or sudden death ever hanging over one’s head like the sword of Damocles. Yet, the individual has dreams of subtler and greater enjoyments in more permanent realms like Svarga-loka, Brahma-loka, and so on. And he plans to go there after death by living a life of virtue here, by meticulously performing various Vedic rituals that promise those realms. He believes that he can be truly happy with those heavenly pleasures. Thus, the individual has only substituted the desire for objects of this world with those another world, but the passion for sense enjoyments has not faded.
Tīvra vairāgya is true, intense, and complete vairāgya, wherein one is totally dispassionate to everything—objects of this world and other worlds. This arises out of tremendous merit (puņya) and from a clear perception that all enjoyments whether of any world can never give permanent happiness—because they are all born of actions, and actions can only give reactions. If the actions are within the realm of time (finite), then so are the results. One sees the impermanence of such pleasures and knows that pleasure-seeking will only push one neck-deep into samsara. It is this kind of firm, absolute, and true vairāgya that is the means for Knowledge.
Bhagavadpāda Shankaracharya defines tīvra vairāgya in Vivekachudamani as:
tad-vairāgyaħ jugupsā yā darshana-shravanādibhiħ
dehādi-brahma-paryante hyanitye bhogavastuni
“Vairāgya is revulsion from all things seen, heard etc.; from all transient objects of enjoyment beginning with the body up to Brahma (-loka).” Here, the word Brahma does not mean the supreme Brahman, but stands for the joys of Brahma-loka, the highest realm of worldly enjoyment.
The anaslysis of vairāgya according to the five-fold criteria (as done for viveka) is as follows:
Hetu (Cause): The cause for vairāgya is viveka. When one sees clearly that sense pleasures, here or hereafter, are no solution to the emptiness within, one understands that they are temporary and impure; that running after them means creating rāga (likes) and dvesha (dislikes), strengthening vāsanas (impressions), causing further births, and this bringing more trouble than joy. When the intellect is firmly convinced about the hollowness of sense pleasures, it will no more blindly rush toward them.
Svarūpa (Nature): Just as one feels a revulsion (jugupsā) to one’s own vomit or the feces of a crow, so too, one has a strong dislike towards sense pleasures and even starts fearing their enjoyment. Thus there is an absolute cessation of desire and the consequent pursuit of worldly enjoyments.
Sant Jnaneshvar Maharaj, in his commentary on Bhagavad Gita, brings out the true nature of dispassion beautifully in a series of similes that jolt the mind. He says, “A man of true detachment will run toward sense objects with as much enthusiasm as rushing to embrace a dead queen’s rotting body, with as much satisfaction as quenching one’s thirst by drinking the pus flowing out of a leper’s wound, and with as much readiness as entering a boiling cauldron of molten iron to take a refreshing bath.”
Kārya (Effect): The effect of dispassion expresses as the absence of desire even for objects that can be easily enjoyed, e.g., daily food. Further, even while experiencing these objects, the vairāgī finds no sense of enjoyment as such.
Avati (Perfection): This is the indifference (upekshā) towards the entire gamut of pleasures—from kāmini to kańchana, to kīrti (lust, wealth, fame), as Shri Ramakrishna puts it—of this world, up to the extremely subtle celestial pleasures of Brahma-loka. This indifference is like the sheer unconcern one has for, say, a torn cloth or piece of straw laying on the wayside.
Phala (Result): Vairāgya results in the rise of the next aspect of sādhana-chatushţaya, namely, shamādi-shaţka-sampatti. Certain texts also indicate sāmīpya, one of the four kinds of mukti, in case of a seeker’s death before attaining Self-realization.
Vairāgya is the practical application of viveka. If viveka is the knowledge that all sense pleasures are impermanent in nature, then vairāgya is not hankering after them. What is the purpose of knowledge if one cannot reap the benefit of it? Viveka without vairāgya is like having wealth that cannot be used in one’s need. Viveka reaches its fulfilment only in vairāgya, and without vairāgya, there is no spiritual progress at all. Spiritual progress is measured by the amount of true vairāgya one has. Hence, cultivating firm vairāgya is very, very important.
Three wrong estimations about the world stagnate us in a mire of sensory pleasures:
- Satyatvam: The sense of reality given to the objects of the world
- Nityatvam: The sense of their permanence
- Sukhitvam: The false imagination that there is joy in them
As long as a seeker entertains these three notions about worldly objects, he cannot but seek them for his happiness. It is only in the removal of these three false notions that brings freedom from desire. Satyatvam should be removed by understanding the mithyatvam (illusory nature) of objects; nityatvam by anityatvam (ephemeral nature); and sukhitvam by duħkhitvam (pain-giving nature). Once one recognizes that the world of objects is illusory like mirage waters, impermanent like bubbles in water, and the cause of pain and sorrow, one will never run after the world. Nachiketa of Kaţhopanishad fame reveals viveka beautifully when he says to Lord Yama:
shvobhāvāmartyasya yad-antakaitat sarvendriyāņām jarayanti tejaħ
api sarvam jīvitam-alpam-eva tavaiva vāhas-tava nŗtyagīte
“O Death! Ephemeral are these and they waste away the vigor of all the organs that a man has. All life, without exception, is fleeting indeed. Keep your chariots, dances, and songs!”
When one steadily applies such viveka, the mind weans away from its foolish, dangerous, and habitual pursuits of sense pleasures. The neverending hunt for joy and comfort from objects of the world makes us go in purposeless, painful circles. The frustration and gnawing emptiness within that one tries to escape by revelling in sense objects only becomes stronger; momentary thrills do not satisfy us. Real happiness is in realizing the Supreme, which alone is satyam (true), shivam (auspicious), and sundaram (beautiful). The Mahabharata declares the glory and greatness of that state of total vairāgya:
na sukham deva-rājasya na sukham chakravartinaħ
yādŗsham vīta-ragasya munerekānta-shīlinaħ
yachcha kāma-sukham loke yachcha divyam mahat sukham
tŗshņākshaya-sukhasyaite nārhatam shodashī kalām
“The happiness of Indra or an emperor is nothing compared to that of a saint who is devoid of all attachment and living alone. The joy of sense pleasures, or even the most marvellous celestial joys, cannot approach even a sixteenth of the joy of a man in whom all desires have disappeared.”
To be continued . . .
by Chetana Neerchal
by a wispy thread,
by a wispy thread
to feel them
rise up from
the red ember
to make them
not snap . . .
Dissolving Appearance, Apprehending Existence: The Sequence of Understanding What I Am
Talks by Brahmachari Prabodh Chaitanya on Kenopanishad; transcribed by David Brown
As the scriptures state, rare it is to find these three unique graces in life: (1) manhood, (2) a burning desire for liberation, and (3) association with the enlightened man of wisdom who is well-versed and abides in the Truth of the scriptures.
The student who has the maturity to absorb subtle scriptural concepts, an intense desire for moksha, and the good fortune to find a wise teacher grounded in Truth must be clear that the objective of the scriptures, meditation, and other spiritual practices, is not to provide any new experience of Brahman that was not experienced previously by the student. On the contrary, the purpose of the scriptures and all sadhana is to reveal the Truth that is ever present in waking, dream, and deep sleep, throughout infancy, childhood, youth, and all ages. The experience of Consciousness is in all states and stages of life, in all conditions—wherever “I” am—for Consciousness illumines all experiences.
Earlier, prior to shravaņam, or hearing scriptural truths, the student was certain that “I am this body.” The guru teaches him he is not the body, but the Consciousness that illumines the body and all experiences. Now the student thinks he is the Consciousness “in” the body, which again is a limited understanding. The teacher tells the student again that Consciousness is all-pervading, not merely “in the body,” and It cannot be contained within any physical boundary; “That Consciousness you are”, he tells the student. The student asks, “Then what is this body?” The teacher says, “The body is in Consciousness.”
The sequence of the student’s understanding follows this pattern: (1) The student thinks he is the body. (2) The student thinks he is the Consciousness in the body. (3) The student understands he is Consciousness, and in Consciousness is the body.
At the next level, the student understands that, in actuality, there is only Consciousness, and the body is merely an appearance in Consciousness, without any independent existence of its own. What is the body? Name and form (nāma and rūpa), made up of five grossified elements, which have come from the five un-grossified elements, which have come from maya. Maya rests on, or is supported by, Brahman, which is Consciousness. So what is the body now? Merely an apparently changing expression of Consciousness, an appearance of seeming change in changeless Brahman. So, are there two things—Consciousness and body? No. The body is part of a movie on the screen of Consciousness, a movie appearing with diverse names and forms.
The student starts with the perception of the body with no Consciousness, and ends up with the understanding of Consciousness without the body. This Consciousness, which is expressing in the body, is also expressing everywhere. In fact, the body is only an appearance in “Me,” the Consciousness. The appearance of “me” as a separate body is like a wave on the ocean of Consciousness. It comes and goes. Let it remain or let it go.
Pujya Guruji told us about discourses he once gave on the sequence of understanding that progresses from perception of the body to the apprehension of Consciousness. A student who was attending the lectures invited his friend to attend also, saying, “This teacher is great.” The friend attended a few lectures, but never showed up again. After some time, the student who was attending regularly met his friend and asked why he stopped coming to the lectures. His friend said, “Your teacher is confused. First he said that you are the body. The second day, he said that you are Consciousness, and the body is in you. The third day, he said that the body is in Consciousness. And the fourth day he said that you are Consciousness and there is no body. Your teacher is confused. Let him figure it out first and then I will listen to him.” The fact is that all four understandings are true based on where the individual stands in his apprehension of Truth. The student has to properly comprehend the sequential progress of the teachings.
How does this sequence of understanding that culminates in the ultimate Truth apply to our relative, transactional plane? The wise teacher says that this Truth, which I have understood as my own Self, alone is present in all beings; the same Consciousness is in every being. Therefore, once I realize I am Consciousness, this particular body, which I considered earlier as mine, is now perceived as one among billions. From the standpoint of Consciousness, can it be said that this is my body? Consciousness does not have a body. The moment I shift my attention to, and identify with, Consciousness, this body becomes like any other body. From the standpoint of Consciousness, the new understanding is that bodies are so many piņđas (parts of the whole) or lumps made up of the five elements. This body is one more lump among many others. There are so many minds and “my” mind is just one more. So, the revelation should come that so many objects with names and forms are appearing, and this body is just one more.
However, remember that when you feel hungry, you have to know that the body is hungry and food has to go in this body. When another body is hungry, food has to go in the other body. That much at the transactional level we must remember. If this body needs a shower, we have to take care of it. At such a time, do not think that so many bodies are taking showers, so what if my body does not take a shower! The key point is not that I should ignore the needs of the body, but that my excessive attachment and obsession with the body, mind, etc. should drop. Up to this point, since I have been viewing myself as “this” body or through “this” mind, I have to work on undoing this misidentification. If I don’t drop my attachments to the body and mind, I will suffer, and there will be no true liberation for me. The best attitude would be to consider that this body now belongs to God, or Īshvara, and therefore I will take care of it, considering it as His property.
Self-realization or God-realization is known as mukti. For one who attains this while living, it is known as jīvanmukti, and such a person is known as a jīvanmukta, or “one who is liberated while living.” The jīvanmukta is one who has clear knowledge of Brahman as his own Self and firmly abided in this Truth.
The systematic study of Vedanta brings the concepts of Self-realization repeatedly to mind and helps eliminate the mind’s erroneous notions. These notions are removed by contemplating on the truth that the world appears in me and will go eventually, but “I” am always present. The body will continue according to its prārabdha karma. The jīvanmukta lives in the body, but with the clear understanding and direct experience that “I am not the body.” He abides in the Truth of “Aham Brahmāsmi,” or “I am Brahman.”
To Be with Rishis
by M. Kani
How do you feel when you see the personal and used belongings of people like Mahatma Gandhi, or Bhagat Singh, or Sukhdev, or Rajguru, or anyone you love and hold in high esteem? What if someone gifted you today a bat owned and used by Sachin Tendulkar or the clothes worn by Amitabh Bachchan in some famous movie? When we love and respect someone, we get tremendous joy from just seeing such objects, let alone touching and possessing them. It all boils down to whom we really love and respect.
For some, the great culture of this land of Bharat is the most precious. The true fathers and mothers of this great nation are our rishis of the Vedic period and the saints and sages who have graced, and continue to grace, the land of Bharat. Now, imagine if you could touch, feel, possess something that is theirs—what would be the joy, the exhilaration. The eyes close to experience this bliss without interference from any other thing or being around.
Can we actually touch and feel something of the great rishis of Bharat? Or of the great Adi Shankaracharyaji? Yes, we can. It is readily available for all of us—the knowledge given by our great rishis, on which Adi Shankaracharyaji wrote commentaries as well. As we read the Upanishads, we have the chance to tune in with the rishis through whom these mantras were revealed. What could be closer to being with them?
But for some of us, there is one problem: The words of the Upanishads are not easy to understand if one tries to read them independently. So, we are lucky that the ever-compassionate Adi Shankaracharyaji wrote, in a matter of 16 years, so many masterpieces. In his commentaries, it feels like he is holding our hands most lovingly, making us sit still, patiently explaining the deep import of the words of the Upanishads. Close your eyes, and when you listen, you are transported to that realm. You feel you are sitting in front of him. He, and the rishi through whom the Upanishad was revealed, seem to be one. His deep, loving eyes look into yours and he explains the great Truth in such a simple way. Suddenly, it feels like everything is so clear. You feel elevated; you feel fearless; you feel inspired. You look at him, speechless. For a fraction of time, you feel one with him—what a union this is! You feel like closing your eyes,but you can’t. You want to keep gazing, to keep watching, to keep seeing his calm and beautiful countenance.
Many of us have experienced this joy albeit, in different ways and environments, the knowledge of the Upanishads remaining the same. Words can’t describe the joy that we get in just listening to and trying to understand the import of the words of the Upanishads. Imagine when we actually do understand and come to discover our own Self—that joy, they say, is immeasurable and beyond description. Self-realization may seem far away for all of us, but for now we can at least take a long dip in the immortal nectar of the life and breath of our rishis and sages—if we can think their thoughts even for a fraction of a second. We can tune in to feel their presence, hear their breath—it is a great, elevating experience, indeed.
To study the scriptures under a teacher, a rishi of today—how can one get such an opportunity? It is actually quite simple. One just has to have an intensely sincere desire and longing for the Truth, and the Guru we need in our life appears. The Lord knows and He provides for all. We can start with the desire to know, to study, and to serve. The rest will fall into place. Before long, we will have the most precious belonging with us—the presence of the Guru, the presence of the rishis and sages in our lives.