Attachment & Love

– Understandings from a talk of Swami Mitrananda for Youth Empowerment Programme 6th batch

There’s a lot of difference between Love & Attachment, yet we often get confused between the two. Krishna tells Arjuna ’88 times’ to Detach in the 700 verses of Bhagavad Gita. To understand what Detachment is, we need to understand the difference between Love & Attachment.

Expression of Attachment is when we demand something for our happiness. Expression of Love is when we supply something for others’ happiness.

In Attachment, selfishness dominates. In Love, selflessness dominates.

Attachment is lower. Love is higher.

Attachment is a sign of weakness. Love is a sign of strength.

In Attachment, one loves ‘because of’. In Love, one loves ‘inspite of’. We love our children mainly because they are ‘our’ children. Had they been the same children but not ‘ours’, then we wouldn’t have loved them so much. This Attachment we have for our children is ‘because of’ the my-ness feeling. It can definitely become a cause of our sorrow tomorrow.

Detachment is not ‘not loving’ someone. Detachment is de-attachment from the lower and Attachment to the higher. Our great freedom fighters Loved our motherland. They Loved their families too, but Love for the country was higher. Hence they did not get Attached to their families even though they loved them.

Detachment born out of Pure Love is Freedom because there is no expectation from anyone. Attachment is Slavery because in Attachment, we define our Happiness Quotient depending on what others give us. People who ‘fall’ in Love are probably the ones who fall due to Attachment. ‘Love-Failure’ is a wrong term. One who truly Loves cannot Fail in Love even if he doesn’t receive Love in return. But ‘Attachment-Failure’ is a certain thing.

One may ask, ‘How can we Detach from anything? Can refrainment from something be called Detachment?’ Detachment is not refrainment. Refrainment is physical. Detachment is mental. One can Love, yet remain Detached. Such is a person is indeed Liberated/De-Attached/Freed from all sorrows.

Some say, it is easy to say all these things but hard to practice Detachment. But hard does not mean Impossible. Some say Detachment is not just hard but Impossible. To them the Optimist replies, “Impossible for you does not mean it is impossible for all. You know that it is impossible for you. I know that it is possible for me, not because I’m superior to you. But only because I know I want to (get Detached) and you don’t. Our mind is always right in such cases. If you think you can, you can. If you think you can’t, you really can’t. I may not be able to achieve it today, but I’m sure I’ll be able to…someday!”


Firm Bow – Self-Knowledge | Vibheeshana Gita

– Understandings from Swami Swaroopanandaji’s talk for Youth Empowerment Programme – 6th batch

Ees bhajanu saarathi sujaana
Birati charm santosh kripaana
Daan parasu budhi sakti prachanda
Bar bigyaana kathina kodanda

is the avadhi word for Sanskrit word ‘Para’. Bigyaan (Vigyaan) means Knowledge. Bara bigyaan means ‘Paravidya’ Self-Knowledge. Kodanda means Bow (bow of bow and arrow). Kathin kodanda means ‘firm bow of Rama’

In Mundakopanishad (2.2.3), Bow refers to Pranava (Om / The Self). Vishnu Sahasra Nama verse #92 is Om Dhanurdharaaya Namah; Meaning: The wielder of the bow.

What’s so significant about the bow? Bow is signifies Self-Knowledge. Self-Knowleldge is the only weapon that can kill the ultimate enemy ‘Ignorance’. But why is Self-Knowledge considered the most important? To understand this, we need to discuss about ignorance.

If we try to analyse the cause of all negative actions, emotions, desires, etc, we can see that all of the rise from ignorance. All our actions are prompted by two aspects of the mind: Dukha Nivritti (removal of sorrows) and Sukha Prapti (achieving happiness). That means all our actions are aimed at achieving maximum happiness. Some feel power gives happiness, some feel wealth, some feel its pleasure, some feel its fame. Whatever is one’s thought accordingly one performs the actions to enjoy happiness. Be it a nation attacking another, be it a man who likes drinking, be it siblings fighting over property matters, be it a celebrity striving for fame, all are running a race in which they feel that if they achieve their goal, then they can be happy. No doubt they can be, but the question is – For how long? Will they be satisfied after they achieve their goal? Will the objects they run after give them happiness at all moments of time? If happiness resided in the objects, it should give happiness to everyone.

Any intelligent person will say that all the above statements are not true. Objects cannot give permanent happiness. If happiness is in an object, say Music, then will music give happiness to a person when he has lost a dear one? Is it necessary that the same music will give happiness to another person? So, music, or any object, cannot give happiness to everyone nor can it give happiness to the same person at all points of time. Hence, the Rishis concluded that Happiness does not reside in the objects. If that is so, then how can we find permanent happiness when we are looking for that in the wrong place?

It was on such questions the Rishis enquired and realised that Happiness is in the Subject, it’s in Us. We discover this happiness when we come in contact with something that we like and it disappears when we lose contact with it. But it is sure that Happiness resides within us. In fact, Happiness is nothing but our True nature – Bliss! We become sad when we view the world from our body (B), mind (M) or Intellect (I) thinking that we are the BMI.

In the discussions between the teacher and the student of the Upanishads, this Self-Knowledge is revealed. That is why we are advised to study the Upanishads. Once a person is Self-Realised, he lives in the world but is never of the world. The ever-changing world no longer affects his level of Happiness. He has come to a point where he is beyond the BMI. Just like how gravity pulls everything that is within its purview but cannot touch anything that has gone beyond its reach.

There were others who carried the bow, but there was none like Rama. That’s why Rama is given the name – Dhanurdhara Rama: the wielder of the Bow of Self-Knowledge.

Upanishad Ganga – Episode 4 | UNIVERSAL WELFARE

Points to Ponder from this episode:
Aham Nirvikalpo Nirakaara Roopah
Vibhur Vyapya Sarvatra Sarvendriyanaam
Sada Me Samatvam Na Mukthir Na Bandhah
Chidananda Rupah Shivoham Shivoham

 The episode begins and ends with the above lines (6th verse from Nirvanashtakam) which means – I am formless and devoid of all dualities I exist everywhere and pervade all senses. Always I am the same, I am neither free nor bonded I am pure knowledge and supreme bliss, I am Shiva, I am all auspiciousness, I am Shiva.

The above lines explain the Highest philosophical Truths of Vedanta which cannot be apprehended at mere reading of it. Yet, it was mentioned at the beginning and at the end of the episode, probably so that we would think over those lines.

 The episode shows the story of Ashtavakra, a very young sage, who goes to the court of King Janaka to re-educate the scholars of his court and eradicate a wrong tradition that was prevailing at that time, of killing scholars who would get defeated in debates. There, knowledge was not used for Universal Welfare.
The explanation of dialogues exchanged between Ashtavakra and Acharya Bandi during their debate can run into pages, for they convey the very subtle Truths of Indian Philosophy. In this note, we will try to discuss a few points among them.

 What is ‘Vidya’?
Vidya literally means ‘Knowledge’. In Vedanta, Vidya is classified into two – Paravidya and Aparavidya. Paravidya is that Knowledge of the Self and Aparavidya is the Knowledge of anything else. In this context, the knowledge that is quoted refers to Paravidya. Ashtavakra says, Vidya is that which removes Duality. One may ask, what is this Duality? The world we see comprises of different objects and beings. You and I are not one and the same, we are different. No two things seem to be the same. Even twins are different; they look different and even think different. Then how can Indian philosophy make such a statement that sounds so absurd?

When an ordinary man sees a gold bangle and a gold chain, he may look at it as two different ornaments. But a goldsmith will see it as gold. A goldsmith, having more knowledge in the subject, looks at the essence – the substance – Gold.

If we ask a scientist, what is this world; he might say that it is nothing but Energy in different forms. He sees the essence as Energy. In the same way, spiritual seers realized that the world is nothing but different form of the same Essence; different manifestations of the same Energy, the same Power. It is this power that we commonly refer to as God. So, when everything we see around is an expression of the same Power, how can we say that you and I are different? How can we say that there is Duality?

The Knowledge that makes us Realise this Truth is called Vidya (Paravidya).

 Which are the two ways of Realising Brahman (Brahman means God and not Brahmin or Lord Brahma)?

One way is – neti neti – Negating everything else. Let’s look at an anecdote to understand this method. A devotee comes to a Realized Master to ask some doubts and the Master puts this question to him.

Guru: Who are you?
Devotee: I’m Shri ____ (so and so)
Guru: Did I ask your name? My question is – Who are you?
Devotee: I’m the son of Shri _____
Guru: Did I ask your father’s name? My question is – Who are you?
The devotee tries to answer by using Nationality, gender, relations, etc but still couldn’t give the correct answer.
Guru: You are trying to explain yourself using different references. But those references are not you. Then who are you?
Devotee: I’m the mind.
Guru: When you are disturbed, what is happening inside you? You are getting disturbing thoughts in your mind. So, that means you have a mind and you have thoughts but you are not the mind or thoughts. When I say I’ve a buffalo, can I be the buffalo? When I say, I have a mind or intellect; can I be the mind or intellect? So, you are not your name, not the body, not the mind, not the intellect. (This is the method of negating). So who are you?
Devotee: I’m the Soul that resides in the body.
Guru: Where is God?
Devotee: God is everywhere.
Guru: In that case, is God there inside your body?
Devotee: Yes
Guru: Is God in your blood vessels, bones, internal organs, brain, heart?
Devotee: Yes
Guru: So, God is there inside your skin?
Devotee: Yes
Guru: So, God should be there in every cell of yours.
Devotee: Yes
Guru: Is God there in the gap between every cell?
Devotee: Yes
Guru: You mean to say that God is there in every cell of yours, God is there in the gaps between cells; so tell me where are you in this body?
Devotee: (wondering)
Guru: Tell me, where are you in this body?
Devotee: (still wondering)
Guru: In our discussion we have analysed that there is God everywhere in your body. If God is everywhere in your body, then there is no space for you to exist. Hence, you, meaning – what you think is ‘you’, don’t exist. Therefore, you and God are one and the same; or in other words; only God exists.

The first method of enquiry was negating all those things that are not you and then realizing Brahman. The enquirer adopting the first method will go on negating everything saying, “I’m not the name, I’m not the body, I’m not the mind, I’m not the intellect,…etc and whatever is finally left, is me.” And that which is finally left will be the essence of the whole creation. Hence, what I perceive of myself as a weak individual is nothing but the insurmountable power that is responsible for this creation”. Then why didn’t I realize it earlier? Because of my ignorance (Avidya).

The second method of realizing Brahman is also the path of Enquiry but instead of negating, one starts enquiring about the nature of the Self. He starts enquiring – If God is the essence of the whole world, what is the nature of God? What are the properties by which we can identify or see God? God cannot be a changing entity; it has to be the Unchanging factor. What is the Unchanging factor in me, in you and in the world we see?

Such goes the enquiry and the seeker can realize Brahman. However, this method might be more suitable for highly evolved persons in spiritual path. For normal people like you and I, the first method can prove easier.

 Knowledge is Power. And one needs to be wise enough to use it. There are many people who are knowledgeable, yet all of them need not be good. Ashtavakra wanted to make Acharya Bandi and the other scholars realize this fact so that he could put an end to a false practice where Knowledge was not used for general welfare. Ashtavakra says, “Shaastra maanav ka vikas karta hai and Shastra maanav ka vinash. Shaastra ko shastra na banaiye.” Meaning: Shaashtra (Scriptures) helps man to progress / evolve. Shashtra (Weapons) lead to man’s destruction. Please don’t use Scriptures (Knowledge) as your weapon. He adds, “By violence, no one has ever won over anyone.” (Using Power one can conquer lands, but not hearts)

• The reason for fights and wars is the notion of Duality. Paravidya removes the veil of ignorance and helps a person realize the Non-Dual nature of the Self.
• Knowledge is Power and power if misused will only lead to destruction. Misuse of power is due to incomplete knowledge (lack of Paravidya).
• How can one realize Brahman? There are two ways – negating everything and realizing Brahman; or enquiring more on the nature of Brahman and realizing the Self.
• The sloka of Nirvanashtakam answers the question ‘Who am I?’. We should keep enquiring about this question until we gain that knowledge. It is for that purpose we have got this human birth. Without realizing our true nature, human birth is a waste.