Drop Desires | Bhaja Govindam

(Understandings from Swami Mitrananda’s talk to Yuva Veers of Youth Empowerment Program 6thbatch)
In the following verses of Bhaja Govindam, Shankara and his disciples talk about Desire. Why did they give so much stress on ‘Desire’?

Verse 2: Oh fool! Give up (here, in this world) the greed for amassing wealth.
Verse 12: In the play of time, life goes away. Even then the storm of desires does not go.
Verse 15: Body has weakened, the hair has turned grey. The teeth have been lost, and the old man needs a stick to walk. Even then he is not able to drop the lump of desires.
Verse 16: A person, even though has done renunciation externally, can still have desires internally.
Verse 28: Even though he knows these pleasures will kill him slowly, still he commits such wrong actions.

How is a desire born? Repeated thinking over an object creates desire for the object. Suppose, every day a man watches an advertisement of the latest mobile handset which has a lot of advanced features. After repeatedly seeing the Ad, he gets a Desire of buying that mobile. Since he has the capacity, he goes to the shop and purchases it. On satisfying the Desire he is happy. He puts a nice cover to it, keeps it always safely, is very cautious while travelling, cleans it with a nice cloth very often and also flaunts it in his office. He is now so Attached to his phone that he is always glued to it most of the time. After a week or so, his neighbour’s son accidentally pushes the wife who’s standing in the balcony and using that phone. The phone slips from her hand and falls down from his fifth storied apartment. Within a fraction of a second, the man’s face turns exactly into the colour of a tomato. He is now so Angry at his wife that he accuses her of being so careless and starts yelling at her. Being a woman of today’s age, she cannot tolerate this and shouts back. The argument gets more heated. Both of them start pointing out flaws in each other’s nature. Till this time they were a happily married couple but this argument created a Delusion in their minds about each other. There’s a total Loss of Memory. They forget how they fell in love and with what great efforts they convinced their parents for their marriage. The fight goes on to such an extent that he hits her. Thus he Falls from his true nature.

Since we are not interested in their personal lives, we end the story here. The happiness he experienced lasted only for a short while. In the process of he lost his money, peace of mind, behaved so badly with his wife and caused a lot of stress for both of them. What could have saved him from this situation? When he saw the Ad, had he questioned himself if he really needed a new mobile, this problem wouldn’t arise if the answer was No. If the answer was yes, he could have bought it. Had he accepted the fact that ‘Nothing in this world is permanent / Even This Will Pass Away’, he wouldn’t have got Attached to it. When he’s Detached, he wouldn’t be angry at the loss. The scenario could have been different in both cases – with or without the mobile.

Desire – Attachment – Anger – Delusion – Loss of memory – Fall of man

Isn’t this the story of everyone? How miserable our lives become when we lose something that we are so attached to? How can we prevent such a situation? How is it possible that a person can have no Desires? Having such a thought is itself a Desire. Let’s try to analyse this to get better clarity.

Q: How do Desires arise?
A: Repetition of same thoughts. So, repetition of good thoughts lead to good desires and repetition of bad thoughts lead to bad desires.

Q: How a Thought is born?
A: If Thought is the Cause and Desire is the Effect, then Thought must be the Effect of something else? Thoughts are the results of the food that we taken in…not just through our mouth but also through our eyes, nose, ears & skin. Thoughts arise in our mind as a result of the materials that we supply to it. Once we give in the materials through our sense organs, we cannot have much control over our mind or thoughts. But we do have a choice for choosing our food for thought. The type (Satvik – noble, Rajasic – stimulating & Tamasic – lethargic) of food we eat, the type of programs we watch, the type of discussions we engage in, etc. decide the quality of our thoughts and actions.

Desires by themselves don’t cause sorrow. It’s the motive behind the desires that causes the problem. When my desires are of a lower nature (only to satisfy my needs and wants) then those desires start ruling my Mind. But if the Desire is directed towards a Higher Ideal, then it is no longer a selfish desire to acquire wealth, fame, etc. It becomes a selfless desire born out of Detachment. Such a desire helps a person to Evolve.

Many people think being spiritual means running away from family duties, going to Himalayas and staying there or stopping all his actions. To them, 16th Verse of Bhaja Govindam explains that Detachment is not external but internal. If renunciation comes at the thought-level, then the actions will follow accordingly. Such a person, even if he is amidst all wealth and comforts, will not be the least affected by the changes in his surroundings. And for those who fail to understand the nature of Desires, they become a victim of their own Desires and suffer terribly in this world (as explained in Verse 15 & 28).

We can escape the miseries caused by Desires if –
• We keep a check on the quality of food we feed our mind through our sense organs.
• We ask ourselves the four questions (when we get a desire) we discussed in Verse 26 (Do I need it? If I get it how long will I be happy with it? What will happen if I don’t get it? Do I have the capacity to get the desired object?)
• We always have a Higher Ideal in life towards which all our actions are intended to.
• We always keep in mind – Even This Will Pass Away.
• We spend some time regularly for our spiritual studies, contemplation & Satsang.

Advertisements

TRP (The Real Prosperity) | Bhaja Govindam

(Understandings from Swami Mitrananda’s talk to Yuva Veers of Youth Empowerment Program 6th batch)

We have discussed Bhaja Govindam in brief verse by verse. Now, let’s discuss further on certain topics which are common in many of these verses. One of those topics is about Wealth. It is really confusing indeed when so many Acharyas warn us about wealth. Without wealth, how can we live? However, in Bhaja Govindam, it is explained very beautifully the places where one falls in the process of acquiring wealth. Below are the instructions given in five verses that mention about wealth.

Verse 2: Don’t be a fool and lose your life in running behind money.
Verse 5: As long as one has the capacity to earn, till then his family members will be attached to him.
Verse 10: Where are one’s family and retinue once wealth is gone?
Verse 11: Do not take pride in the wealth you have, or in the people around you, or in the youth. Everything can be taken away in a moment by Time.
Verse 29: Wealth is calamitous, thus reflect it constantly. Even one’s own children can turn out to be his enemy for wealth.

Whenever we do something, the most important thing is ‘Our Objective’. Even in one’s resume, the Objective is the first thing that appears. Inorder to achieve the best result, we need to be very clear about the purpose before undertaking any action. Earning wealth is never a wrong action. In fact, it is said that good-hearted people should earn as much wealth as possible in the right means so that it can be used for noble purposes. We need to remember that wealth is only a means to an end and it should never be the end by itself.

Suppose a person spends his whole life only to earn as much wealth as possible. That is his only objective in life. He might want to earn wealth so that he & his family can live in maximum comforts, he can earn name & fame, etc. Then what can be the result? The above verses 2, 5, 10, 11 and 29 are self-explanatory. And the saddest thing is that he loses his life. That is the warning Shankara gives us first in Verse 2.

People go for work in the Gulf (UAE, Saudi, Kuwait, etc). When they get a job there, they think that they’ll go and work there for a few years, earn some good amount of money and then come back so that he can spend the rest of his life happily. But in majority of the cases, they spend their good youthful days slogging physically and rotting mentally, doing nothing purposeful in their life. They give their full attention on earning wealth and gaining nothing else because they feel only wealth can give them a good retired life. Once they are retired, they realize that their emotional needs are not satisfied. Suddenly they feel lonely and a ‘not-required person’ of the family. They have money, but have also accumulated diseases like Blood pressure, diabetes and other ailments. Their money is no longer able to fulfill their physical and mental needs. Some people lose all their savings in some tragic accident. For them, it’s not just money that they lost; they lost their whole life that they sacrificed to earn that money. How to live such a life at that stage? They had never expected they would land up in such a situation. Had they known that they would have to see the light of this day; they would have definitely done something to make themselves stronger when they were very young.

Bhaja Govindam is advising us to look around…to look at the old people we see today. How many of them are truly happily? Except for a very few, everybody else will tell us how miserable their present state is. Somehow they are killing their time and the only thing to look forward to is – Death coming and taking them back. However, if we observe the happiest among the old people, there would be definitely signs of spirituality in them. Despite the odd situations, they would be happy and contented with the life they have led.

The Real Prosperity is the Spiritual Knowledge which can truly buy Happiness! Blessed are those who wake up to this reality at whichever stage of their life.

Final Frontier | Bhaja Govindam 31st stanza

(Understandings from Swami Mitrananda’s talk to Yuva Veers of Youth Empowerment Program 6th batch)

Gurucharanaambuja nirbhara bhaktah, samsaaraadachiraadbhava muktah
Sendriyamaanasaniyamaadevam, drakshasi nijahrudayastham devam || 31 ||

Meaning: Oh devotee at the lotus feet of the teacher (willing to learn and willing to follow), May you soon become liberated from samsar by disciplining your senses and the mind; and come to experience the Lord in your own heart.

In the first verse of Bhaja Govindam, Shankara instructs on the importance of seeking the Lord (Bhaja govindam bhaja govindam…). In the second and third verse he talks about the insignificance of wealth and delusion caused by seeking pleasures. He concludes the text in the last four verses (28 – 31) talking about disease & decay caused by pleasures, sufferings caused by wealth, how to handle ourselves so that we don’t get trapped in this samsaara; and best wishes for us to get liberated. Look at the chronological order in which he started and is concluding the text. Not every knowledgeable person can share knowledge and ideas so systematically. Shankara was excellence beyond comparison. He was an institution in himself. That is why Swami Chinmayananda called him as – The Spiritual General of India.

In Hindu culture, it is a practice that a student touches the Teacher’s feet out of respect. But why does he touch the feet? Why not the head or hands? A person stands on the ground on his feet. The feet of a Master represent ‘what he stands for’. The feet of the teacher or the sandals of the teacher represent two ideals of his life –

1. Get awakened (the Goal of life)
2. Awaken others (the way of life)

These are the ideals of a teacher and a student seeks These ideals for himself. In a dream, is there anything better than waking up? Spiritual urge should never become less important at any point of time. It is natural that while we are engaged in the rat race of life, we might not remember many of these lessons all the while. But if we can take out some time every day for contemplation and Sadhana, it will go a long way.

For a Master who has realized the Self, there is no more need for him to act in this world. But still he does for the sake of others. Visionary Saints like Vyasa, Swami Chinmayananda, Swami Vivekananda, Shankara, etc; could have retired into the forests or to the caves and spent their lives in solitude. But they chose the Other Way. After they Woke Up, they chose to come down (from the heights of Knowledge and Wisdom) to the common man just as how river Ganga comes down to serve humanity from the least accessible glaciers of the Himalayas.

Many have a goal. But most of them think that their career or ambition to be their Goal of life. In which field we choose to work is our Way of Life and we should never it to be our Goal of Life. Because if we misinterpret so, once we achieve our ambition, then we don’t have anything more to achieve. There’s no meaning in life when we don’t have anything to look forward to. While we choose our Way of Life, we should have this prayer – ‘Oh Lord! I’ve to cross. Let me be instrumental to cross’. We can pass through this process smoothly if we operate through our Swadharma. Swadharma is ‘My Dharma – The Purpose for which I am born’. It is discovering the talent in us and taking that as our way of life. If we are able to do that, then we shall not only cross but also make it happen smoothly. Majority of the people are not happy and successful in life because they are working for a living and not working as per their Swadharma.

In this way, having got the right Teacher, when one gets clarity of the purpose of his existence and lives an intelligent life by controlling his mind and senses, he shall experience God in his heart. It is not creating God; it is recognizing that God was always there.

That brings an end to this text. What Shankara tries to explain us is very subtle and cannot be fully perceived through mere reading or listening. We need to reflect upon it again and again. Contemplation is a must. The best way to absorb it would be learning it by-heart and chanting it daily. When we develop that habit, somewhere in our daily lives when we lose track or when we go wrong, these lessons will ring in our mind like an alarm and remind us –

• That we are not limited and finite as we think we are.
• That we can become free and liberate ourselves from all the bondages in this very birth – Here and Now – and need not wait for our death.
• That we are born as a human because of some good deeds we did in our past lives and this is a bonus round we have got where we can go beyond human and become Divine.
• That we have come here not by accident but with a purpose. Forgetting that purpose is a waste of our coming to this world.
• That we are still living in a dream and we need to wake up…and awaken others!

Hari Om!

Handle with care | Bhaja Govindam 30th stanza

(Understandings from Swami Mitrananda’s talk to Yuva Veers of Youth Empowerment Program 6thbatch)

Praanaayaamam pratyaahaaram, nityaanitya vivekavicharam
Jaapyasameta samaadhividhaanam, kurvavadhaanam mahadavadhaanam || 30 ||

Meaning: Do Praanaayaama (controlled breathing techniques). Enquire with the discriminative mind what’s permanent and what’s not. Do Japa and Meditation. Do all this with utmost care.

Praanaayaamam & Pratyaahaaram are techniques in Yoga using which one can calm his mind using regulated breathing exercises and similar practices. When one sits down in the correct posture with closed eyes and focuses on his breath, his mind is withdrawn from the outward thoughts and is centered on only one aspect – his breath. Another way of calming the mind is becoming conscious of one’s own body and focusing his attention to each and every part of his body. These practices helps a person calm down his mind, but for some time. Once the person is back in his daily routine, he gets back to his earlier nature.

Second aspect of Praanaayaamam here is, being conscious of whatever that goes in through our sense organs. The quality of our mind depends on the quality of our thoughts. The quality of our thoughts is a result of the food that we supply for thought. If a housewife is constantly engrossed in the soap operas on TV, then the quality of her thoughts will be according to what she sees. We cannot expect the mind to be pure if we supply impure material to it. Our only choice is on the food (what we see, what we hear, what we speak, what we touch and what we eat) that we take in through all the five sense organs. One should be very conscious of these aspects because mind does not discriminate. And it is the mind that gives instructions to the sense organs. To train the mind, we should seek the advice from the Intellect. Intellect starts functioning better when we become conscious of every single action that we perform.

Mind and Intellect, though we use different terms, are one and the same. When we become conscious of our actions, our discriminative mind (Intellect) starts its enquiry. When we are not fully conscious of our actions, our mind cannot discriminate. It is then controlled by impulses, emotions & feelings. In Vedanta, such a state of mind that cannot discriminate between good and bad is called ‘Mind’ and when the same mind starts enquiring; it is called ‘Intellect’. Intellectual thinking helps us set the right value for things that we perceive. E.g. Mind may get depressed if the power goes off while watching a movie. But Intellect will remind that it’s just a movie. Big deal! This way we can discriminate between what’s important and what’s not; what’s good and what’s bad; what’s permanent and what’s temporary.

All the prominent religions, be it Hinduism, Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, give emphasis on Japa (chanting the Lord’s name by rotating beads on a chain). Irrespective of all the different practices in different religions, this is one common thing. Despite having known this, have we tried to enquire the reason behind it?

When a person does Japa, his eyes are turned inward, nose is engaged in breathing, tongue chants only one name (usually a mantra or a name of the Lord) and the body becomes conscious only of the touch of the bead in its hand. This way, all the sense organs and mind are directed towards one common action which helps in taming the mind and sense organs. Such a tamed mind is like a tamed wild animal whose energy can be put to use for achieving great things. An untamed mind is like a wild horse or an elephant that has tremendous strength and energy but its Master is unable to use it for any good purpose.

After doing Japa, one has to do Meditation. Now, meditation is one of the most misconceived things today. Meditation that we hear today is not meditation in the truest sense. It can only be called as an aid that can help in Meditation. Meditation is not concentrating upon something. Meditation, for that matter, is not an action but a state of mind where there are no thoughts. In other words, Meditation is a noun and not a verb. That state cannot be attained by thinking of something. Thinking of anything is the opposite of Meditation. After practicing Japa, when one practices to sit quietly focusing on one thing, say a form of the Lord, then the number of thoughts in his mind gradually gets reduced. Only with regular practice one can experience the state of meditation. So what is expected is, to sit quietly for some time after Japa and try to reduce the thoughts.

Shankara says, do all these practices with utmost care. Swami Chinmayananda used to say this in two words – Hasten Slowly. If one is slow and irregular in such practices, he cannot expect a miraculous change in his personality. Neither can he control his mind if he does all these things in a hurry. The only way to reach the goal is ‘Regular practice’. Sant Gondavalekar Maharaj used to say, “No matter how many barrels of water you empty on a rock, its shape will not change. But if drops of water fall on the rock regularly at the same place, it definitely will.”

To tune a guitar, to what extent we should tighten its string? Too loose will not produce good music and too tight will break the string. Our Sadhana (regular practices) are also like that. Not too loose. Not too tight. Just right.

The Wily Wealth | Bhaja Govindam 29th stanza

(Understandings from Swami Mitrananda’s talk to Yuva Veers of Youth Empowerment Program 6th batch)

Arthamanartham bhaavaya nityam, naastitatah sukhaleshah satyam
Putradapi dhana bhaajaam bheetih, sarvatraisha vihitaa reetih || 29 ||

Meaning: Wealth is calamitous, thus reflect it constantly. Even one’s own children can turn out to be his enemy for wealth. This is how the way is everywhere.

The History of Mughal Empire is the best example to show how people kill their own fathers and brothers to inherit the throne. The wealth they possessed became the very reason for their death. We can also see how families fight over property issues. For the sake of money, the people who lived together lovingly as a family, who played and grew up together, who share the same genes, become bitter enemies of each other. A brother cannot stand his own brother’s sight. A father is scared that his son may cause some harm to him for the sake of money. The sense of family values is totally lost. How sad! How does such a situation arise?

They say, flowing water is pure and stagnated water can cause diseases. Same is the case with anything. If we hoard things, then the very thing can become poisonous. Earning money is not bad. But the same should be spent in the welfare of others too. As children if they grow up seeing the charitable nature of their parents, they will also develop that habit. If the parents themselves amass money without charity, then they shouldn’t be surprised if their children turn against them for the sake of money.

The great freedom fighter & philosopher Vinoba Bhave who started the Bhoodaan Movement (Gift of Land) was inspired as a child from his mother. One day an old lady came to their house begging for alms. He saw shocked when he saw his mother give away an expensive saree as charity to the lady. He asked her surprisingly why she gave such a costly saree and that she could have given away an old saree. Her reply was, “When you give something to others, make sure that you are giving your best”.

But, why do people hoard money? Somewhere in life, they must have learnt a wrong lesson that wealth can buy happiness, and probably nothing else can buy happiness. Since everybody is aiming for happiness, the means for happiness (for such people) is only money. So, they are not ready to share it with others.

Money cannot buy a good friend, but it can definitely attract good enemies. Money can increase bank balance but makes one lose his mind’s balance. Money can buy comforts, luxuries & conveniences but it cannot buy happiness. Because, if somebody or something can make you happy, it can definitely make you unhappy too. This we should always remember.

Happiness is something that is available 24 hours. Any time we can have it. All we need to have is a little bit of wisdom and a habit of contemplation. Wealth can make us achieve lower goals, like name & fame; but it can definitely not help us achieve the higher goals of life – Happiness, Love, Peace, Moksha.

3-D’s | Bhaja Govindam 28th stanza

(Understandings from Swami Mitrananda’s talk to Yuva Veers of Youth Empowerment Program 6th batch)

Sukhatah kriyate raamabhogah, pashchadhanta shareere rogah
Yadyapi loke maranam sharanam, tadapi na munchati paapacharanam || 28 ||

Meaning: Verily one indulges in all types of pleasures. Alas, comes the diseases of the body. Even though he knows these pleasures will kill him slowly, still he commits such wrong actions.

Chaturdasha manjarika stotram (bouquet of fourteen flowers), each verse composed by one of the disciples of Shankara, was from verse fourteen to twenty seven. Hearing these verses, Shankara is very happy with his disciples and gives out four concluding verses (Verse twenty eight to thirty one) to wind up the whole composition.

When we desire any object, it is pleasure that we seek in the object. Be it eating a chocolate, having a drink, smoking a cigarette or watching a movie, ultimately we are aiming at the pleasure behind all of them. Most of the habits start with pleasure, turns into addiction and ends up in becoming an obsession. We have common examples of people who become chain smokers. It might have started off as an occasional attempt of relieving tension but before the person realizes, it becomes an addiction. Later, even if he doesn’t have the money or gets affected by some terrible lung disease and despite the doctors warning him that cigarette could be fatal for him, he cannot help but continue to smoke. Same is the case with drunkards. There are towns in Kerala (South India) where the BARs open at 5am everyday. And by 7am, the usual collection everyday in each BAR is 1 – 1.5 lakhs. This is an excellent example to show to what extent people can fall to addiction. Every person thinks that he is mentally strong and can control himself. He knows how this habit is going to bring an end to him. Yet, his own mind becomes his enemy when it convinces his intellect to fall for the temptation.

All of us may have some or the other habit that we know is harmful for us but cannot avoid it. How can we get out of such temptations? Dada Jashan Vaswani gives a very practical solution – ‘Avoid a situation that can create a temptation. Be on guard before the situation comes’. A smoker who wants to quit smoking can avoid the company of smokers till the time when he feels he’s strong enough to resist it. But when is beginning his struggle, he should not go and challenge himself by being in the company of smokers. We can try this technique in different areas. When parents can’t help their children stop watching T.V., the best way is to cut off the cable connection. People who are addicted to Facebook these days; they can just delete their account or disconnect internet connection. Be aware of the situation or temptation rising in us. After practicing this for some time, we can gain sufficient strength that the temptation cannot pull us down. However, one should not discount these temptations for they are the result of our own Vasanas, and Vasanas are very powerful. They can slowly sink us down even without our knowledge. That’s why we see people who have overcome a habit at one point of time but later on become addicts in the very same habit.

What begins as a Desire, results in Decay and ultimately Death.

Alertness is the price we have to pay to avoid a fall.

Workout Within | Bhaja Govindam 27th stanza

(Understandings from Swami Mitrananda’s talk to Yuva Veers of Youth Empowerment Program 6th batch)

Geyam geeta naama sahasram, dhyeyam shreepati roopamajasram
Neyam sajjana sange chittam, deyam deenajanaaya cha vittam || 27 ||

Meaning: Chant Bhagavad Geeta and Vishnu Sahasranaamam (1000 names of Lord Vishnu). Meditate upon Lord Vishnu. Lead the mind to the company the wise / seekers. Distribute wealth to the needy.

Various people come up these days with different techniques promising the attainment of peace and happiness. Astrologers recommend doing rituals and offerings in different temples. There is Vaastu Shaanti to remove various obstacles. A variety of Chinese systems like Feng Shui have come up. Some claim to have Aura-cleaning techniques (!!!). Various therapies & theories like Hypnotherapy and Regression Theory claim that it can take us to our past lives and help us overcome our current pains and sorrows. There are crystals, healing stones, diamonds and what not, that can remove our miseries.

All these techniques talk about removing problems. Sadly, none of them suggest ways to strengthen ourselves inorder to face any challenges in life. And unfortunately, these techniques come with a huge price tag. It’s not that all these are farce, maybe there are some knowledgeable people doing it. However, if any problem could be solved using these techniques, why did Krishna have to waste so much time in giving out eighteen chapters or Geeta to Arjuna? He could have just hypnotized Arjuna, or done some Regression Therapy on him or just give him a precious stone according to his birth star! Moreover, are the lives of these practioners free of problems? When they themselves are unable to solve their problems, to what extent can they help us?

In contrast to these, our scriptures (like in the above verse) are very straight forward. They give their path directly which is simple and sure. That too, given either by Bhagavan Himself or by Self-Realised Masters who moved around in nothing less than the state of Godhood. And of course, without a price tag.

Here it is said to chant Geeta & Vishnu Sahasranamam. Why? Knowledge is in so much abundance in these two scriptures that even if we take up a few verses from them and stick on the teachings in them, then that is enough to bring a transformation in our lives. We saw a few verses from Bhagavad Geeta in the earlier discussions. There’s nothing mystical in them. How systematically the process of Evolvement or degradation is described! The teachings described are logical and very much practical. On top of that, this knowledge is not thrust upon us saying that ‘So and so book says so. And hence we need to follow. Or else, we will go to hell on Judgement Day’. No! A process is described. If we are find it true according to our intellectual understanding, we can follow it. Else, reject it. The choice is ours.
Second point is meditating upon the form of Lord Vishnu. The name used for Vishnu here is Shreepati which means the husband of Goddess of wealth. He is not a slave or a victim of wealth but the one who has mastered it. Wealth does not mean only money. It also includes Knowledge, Happiness, Peace, Health, etc. Lord Vishnu is the Master of all of these.
When we meditate upon the Strong, we become Strong. Hence, it is told to meditate upon the form of Vishnu.

Our mind is like a mobile battery. Once it is charged, it can operate for some time. However powerful the charge might be, eventually, it drains out. It needs to be charged regularly. The intensity to seek is there in many, but not everybody is able to retain it. To maintain the urge to seek the Truth, one should be engaged in regular discussions, talks, reading and contemplation on spiritual matters, only then the urge can continue. Otherwise, spirituality can be almost equal to spiritual entertainment.

Charity is considered as a great virtue. It is not mere donation of wealth. Anything that we have in abundance has to be given to others. All of us have some skills or the other. It can be the ability to sing, dance, sport, or knowledge in a particular subject, or a cooking recipe, etc. A knowledge that we possess should be shared. Shared with whom? With the needy. This is very important. Otherwise, it can be dangerous. An army officer should not think of doing charity by sharing military information with the enemy country. It may sound silly, but even to avoid this confusion or misunderstanding, it is mentioned in the verse ‘deyam deenajanaaya – distribute wealth to the needy’. We also saw in the earlier verse, charity is an antidote for greed. Sharing knowledge to the needy is a way how we can become Direct Contributors in making the world a better place to live in.

Four direct and sure steps to purify ourselves –
1. Chant Bhagavad Geeta & Vishnu Sahasranamam
2. Meditate upon the form of Vishnu
3. Maintain the company of seekers / the wise
4. Distribute to the needy what you have in excess

Traitors within | Bhaja Govindam 26th stanza

(Understandings from Swami Mitrananda’s talk to Yuva Veers of Youth Empowerment Program 6th batch)

Kaamam krodham lobham moham, tyaktvaatmaanam bhaavaya koham
Aatmajaana viheena moodhaah, te pachyante narakanigoodhah || 26 ||

Meaning: Drop lust, anger, greed and desire. Contemplate on your Real nature. Those who can’t see their true nature are indeed fools and they suffer miserably in hell.

In many of the earlier verses, Shankara has explained the miseries caused by lust (3rd verse), greed (2nd verse), anger & desire (9th verse). His disciple reminds us of it once again.

Lust / Desire – One may say, even though we have learnt all these things but putting them to practice is very difficult. For that, there’s a solution. We need to ask us four questions when we feel the desire for something. Let’s say, we go to a shopping mall and see a beautiful dress. We can ask ourselves the below questions.

Q1: Do I need it?

Q2: If I get it how long will I be happy with it?

Q3: What will happen if I don’t get it (is it the only source of happiness that has been snatched away from me? Or have I become blind of all the possibilities of happiness around me? Is my mind cheating me that it is so important to satisfy this desire?)

Q4: Do I have the capacity to get the desired object?

Today, our questions are in the reverse order. First comes Q4 and our mind gets the answer by reminding us of our credit card. End of the questioning session.

Anger – Talking about anger, some might say that anger is not that bad. True. Anger is not at all bad if and only if

• It is issue-based and not person-based
• It is used as a tool for showing off

Some people do not understand any other language. For them, anger might be required. In such cases, we can use it as a tool, provided we are not angry at that person from our heart. Just like a mother who shouts at her child when it does some mischief. The anger is not against the child. It’s only against the act. The mother is only using it as an effective tool and can go and hug the child the very next moment.

Greed – Greed is the result of strong desires. If we cannot get what we want, greed will make us compromise on our ideals. Greed has to tackled by reducing brooding over desires and keeping our ideals high. An effective antidote for greed is doing just the opposite act – Charity. Give, Give and Give.

The Hindu scriptures promise everything Here & Now. Heaven and Hell are not posthumous. It can be experienced right now, at this very moment. A person who has Kaamam, Krodham, Lobham & Moham, does he require something external to cause misery to himself? He’s experiencing Hell whenever he goes through these emotions.

Who’s Responsible for his grief? He himself.
What is the Cause of his misery? Ignorance.
What is the Solution? Knowledge of the Self. Realise who we are.

So What? Who cares?

It’s the festival of Diwali once again. People have started celebrating with smoky & loud fireworks. Everybody seems to be happy except for a few people who keep cribbing always that fireworks cause air and noise pollution and that it should be avoided. These people have no sense of enjoying such an awesome festival. How can we enjoy the festival if the fireworks are taken away?

So what…
• If it causes so much sound that all animals and birds have to live in fear for a whole week? It’s OUR planet. We decide the rules.
• If it can cause permanent health problems to infants? We can live life thinking about the wellbeing of everyone else.
• If old & the diseased have to suffer due to the air & noise pollution? Why should we stop enjoying our lives just for the sake of a few people who are anyways going to die?
• If anybody’s health is affected? Just one person stopping crackers is not going to solve the problem of pollution.
• If we have to clean our own houses thrice a day due to the dust settlements caused by the air pollution?
• If our rockets crash into somebody else’s homes? They should be knowing that it’s Diwali and they should be taking the necessary precautions.
• If we have forgotten that it was the day Lord Rama killed Ravana in the battle to establish Dharma. Those are old stories, probably mythology. We have got a chance to celebrate & enjoy. Why lose the opportunity?
• If we pass on the message to our next generation that – This is the way to enjoy life. Never care about others. It’s your life. You live as you like to. Let others go to hell. It’s your hard earned money that you spend on such things and you have every right over it.
• If people can’t get sound sleep at night due to the sound of the crackers?

So what? This is not the first time Diwali is celebrated like this. It has been this way since so many years. Nobody seemed to be bothered by it earlier. Why should we be affected by it then? So what if all these things happen? Who cares about others anyways?

firecrackerh

Thy Own Self | Bhaja Govindam 25th stanza

(Understandings from Swami Mitrananda’s talk to Yuva Veers of Youth Empowerment Program 6th batch)

Shatrau mitre putre bandau, ma kuru yatnam vigrahasandhau
Sarvasminnapi pashyaatmaanam, sarvatrotsruja bhedaajnaanam || 25 ||

Meaning: Waste not your energy to fight against or make friends, foes, children and relatives. Learn to see your own Self in all beings and give up the feeling of difference.

Mind lives in relationships. Why do we seek so many relationships? Why does a person feel the need for a friend, wife, children, etc? It’s because when he is among these people whom he loves, he feels complete. Without them, he believes he is incomplete. He’s happy in their presence and his life is miserable when they are not with him. A normal person spends so much time and energy to seek friends and relations. His happiness quotient is complete only if he is in their company. But what’s wrong in it, one may ask?

Such a person, who seeks happiness in the company of others, usually finds it miserable to live without them. Slowly he becomes so attached to the relations that he turns into a slave to the relationships. It is also commonly seen that he cannot stand if someone betrays him. May be it’s his children who grow up and choose their own way. May be he gets cheated by his own relations for whom he sacrificed a major part of his life. At such an instance, the pain and anger caused in his mind is so much that he can’t help himself but keep thinking about them. He then spends a lot of time thinking these relatives and is unable of think of anything else. Once again, his happiness percentage is determined by what he receives from his relations. Is not such a life demanding, or rather begging, for happiness a pathetic life? But the poor fellow feels that others are responsible for this situation of his. Imagine a whole life spent in being happy at the mercy of others!

Where does one go wrong here? All his life he has lived as an extrovert. He has been seeking happiness when he is in the presence of others. Never has he tried enquiring – Why do I feel happy in their company? Honestly, why do we feel so? When we see our wife, children, relatives, friends, etc, we identify them as My wife, My children, My relatives and My friend. Would we love someone else’s wife or children as much as we do our own? Why not? Because we feel they are ‘Mine’. Do we love the children because of who they are or because they are My children? Isn’t it true that it is the feeling of My-ness which makes them close to us? Truly speaking, we love Ourselves more than anyone else. We love all these people because we see a My-ness in them. We see Our presence in all these people (either biologically or in terms of qualities, personality, etc) and that is the reason they become so dear to us.

When a person seeks His Own Identity in others he is, unknowingly though, seeing His Own Nature in others, at least in a few people. In his letters, Swami Chinmayananda used to sign off by writing ‘Thy Own Self’. That is how great saints and sages see everybody and that’s why they could love & accommodate everybody irrespective of their good and bad qualities.

Once a person does this deep enquiry and a critical analysis, he starts seeing His Own Self in everybody and the feeling of indifference is dropped. He no longer searches for happiness in others but understands that this happiness he is searching for is His Own Nature.