Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Kaushika and the Crane...

This is a story from Mahabharata that brings to light that our spiritual achievements are useless if we neglect our duties or Dharma.

Kaushika, a Brahmin boy was his parents' only son. One day he told his mother that he wanted to go off to the jungle and devote himself to spiritual studies.

His mother was concerned as her husband was very sick and they needed someone to take care of them. But Kaushika was adamant and he was determined to study the Vedas. His mother cried in vain as she watched her son turn his back on her and leave for the jungle. Eventually Kaushika acquired great mystical powers after doing a lot of penance and acquired completed knowledge of the Vedas.

One afternoon, as he was meditating under a tree, a crane flew up, and perched herself on a branch above Kaushika. Some bird droppings fell on Kaushika's head. Kaushika furiously threw a fiery gaze at the crane. The crane immediately went up in flames and fell dead. The sage felt sorry for what he had done. He felt bad for letting his anger control him that way.

Later in the day, he went to a village to beg for alms. The lady of the house asked him to wait and went to get some food. Right then her husband arrived. She immediately set aside the pot of food she was taking to the sage and went to attend her husband. After washing his feet, giving him food, and attending to his needs, she came back out to give the alms to the sage. The sage felt very insulted as she put her husband before a pious Brahmin like him. She calmly said that a true Brahmin is one who has patience and who has mastered his anger. She said that she is not a crane who will die by his fiery gaze. At this the sage was amazed. He was wondering how she knew what happened with the crane.

The lady said to him that he was a learned Brahmin but one who has not understood the truth about virtue. She asked him to go meet Dharmavyadha in Mathura to know more about it.

The sage thanked the lady and hurried to Mathura thinking that Dharmavyadha must be a great and learned sage. But when he finally reached Dharmavyadaha's place, he found it to be a butcher shop! A very ordinary looking man came out and and said that he was Dharmavyadha. Kaushika couldn't believe how a butcher could be spiritually enlightened??!!!

The sage could not contain himself and blurted that he is in the sinful profession of butchering animals. So he asked him if he doesn't feel ashamed of himself. Dharmavyadha replied that he wasn't ashamed as he was just engaged in a family trade and that he worked hard and honestly. He also said that as we walk we trample numerous creates under the soil, so there is really nobody who doesn't harm another living creature knowingly or unknowingly.

The butcher then took him to his house where his wife was doing her house hold chores and his two boys were playing. The butcher introduced the sage to his wife and boys. Then the butcher entered the house and touched his parents' feet. The butcher remarked that his parents were God to him and that his wife and himself attend to them with devotion and love. In doing one's duty cheerfully lies true virtue said that butcher.

The butcher said that the brahmin has run away from his worldly responsibilities by deserting his aged father and mother. He said any level of spiritual achievement is useless if one has neglected one's Dharma or duties.

Hearing this Kaushika felt very ashamed of having left his parents and immediately returned to them and served them lovingly until their end.

There are two things to be learnt from this story:

1. To achieve spiritual enlightenment there is no need to relinquish everything and make the Himalayas as your abode...but you can be a completely connected person living in your current state of life and executing your routine duties.

2. If a person is well-read or if he / she is born in a particular caste / creed it doesn't mean that they are automatically superior in spiritual terms to another fellow person. At a human level nobody can measure the level of spiritual prowess, so it better left to the Divine to gauge us.

Having ego blinds us to so many truths and makes us deaf to other people's pleas. So in order to deflate this balloon of ego which is a major hurdle to our spiritual ascent and be completely at ease executing our duties effectively just try Sahaja meditation. The meditation also teaches anger management techniques which will ensure that you do not burn down any endangered species with your fiery gaze ;-)

Pencil Sketches

A couple of sketches I made of my meditation guru Shri Mataji Nirmala Devi...

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Who is the greatest saint of them all?

Today's story talks about egotism with a historical instance at the foreground...let's proceed...

There were 2 great saints in Maharashtra during the 1600s namely Sant Namdev and Ghora Kumbhara. Sant Namdev was a very deep spiritual saint who used to get daily visitations from Lord Vishnu himself. One day saint Ghora Kumbhara who was also a deep saint and a potter by profession, was asked by a few seers to keep his stick on every saint’s head to measure their depth in devotion to the Lord. Ghora Kumbhara placed his stick on Sant Namdev’s head and announced that his devotion was not very deep. Sant Namdev was immediately irked by the comment. He asked him how he dared to place his ordinary stick on his head and make an atrocious judgment like that. He said that he was one of the great saints of all times as Lord Vishnu himself visited him every day, so how could his devotion be half baked? He was then directed by another seer to go to the deep woods and meet a great Yogi to find the answer to his question.

Namdev thought within himself that all the saints present there were jealous of him and hence were asking him to perform this task. So he decided to go and meet the other Yogi thinking that he would prove to the other Yogi also that he was the greatest one. Thinking this he set out on his way and after walking for many many days reached a spot where an old man was sleeping with his feet placed on top of a Shiv Lingam. Seeing this Sant Namdev was furious and he told the old man to take his feet off of the Lingam. For this the old man said that he wouldn’t be able to do it as he didn’t have the strength for it. So he asked Namdev to help him move his feet away from the Lingam. So Namdev lifted his feet and placed it to the side and to his surprise another Lingam arose from the ground under the old man’s feet again. He moved his feet to a different location and the same thing happened. Seeing this Namdev realized his folly and understood how egotistical he had been all this time. He fell at the feet of the old man and begged for forgiveness.

This story teaches us an important lesson that in life no matter how great or how learned we are we should always remain humble and down to earth because that is the right way of living. No arguments on that one!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

In search of the King!

This is a very interesting story which I heard first from my spouse. This story provides us a metaphor for how we may feel when we reach the deep state of meditation. Let's get on with the story...

Once upon a time there was a poor man living in a great kingdom. He one day decided to travel across far away lands and visit the king's court to meet the king. He thought that if he met the king all his problems would be resolved.

So he set out one fine morning and after walking for several days encountered a man who was dressed in rich robes. He thought, "Oh, this may be the king! But I am not too sure, let me ask somebody!". So he asked a passerby, "Is this the king?". For this the passerby laughed and said, "No, he is just an ordinary sentry who works for the king". Next he saw a man on a horse with 4 soldier's following him. He thought this might be the king and he again inquired with a passerby who said he was one of the king's Senadhipati (aka Defense Minister). Disappointed he walked further and came across a man going in a palaquin (aka caravan) followed by several foot and mounted soldiers. "Wow, this surely is the king", thought the man to himself. But alas another person on the street told him, "Nope, he's not the king, he is just the king's minister."

By this time the poor fellow was crestfallen and was thinking of returning back to his village. But then he thought of giving one last try. After walking for several more days, he entered a grand palace and after entering through several sentry guarded gates came upon a grand court where several bedecked Senadhipatis and Ministers were seated. At the head of the court was a throne made of gold and adorned with several gem stones. On that throne there was a man seated in all glory wearing the most expensive clothing and the most glittering ornaments. The man just had one look at the man on the throne and exclaimed aloud, "O Great King...I get to meet you finally!"

So the underlying moral of this story is that when we can feel that we have achieved the absolute greatest right for us then we will not need a third party endorsement to believe it. This kind of an achievement may be at a worldly level like securing a high paying job or scoring a top rank in an exam. But the true doubtless truth which we can all achieve and know and trust that it is the absolute, is the state achieved via meditation. In the meditative state, we know that we are there in the present, we know that we have tasted the greatest nectar of them all...we just know! So try meditating and enjoy meeting 'the king'.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

My world is different from your world

Today I will be telling the story about Lord Ganesha and Karthikeya which many of you must have heard at one point or the other during your childhood years. This story is based on the basic philosophy that a person's ego ultimately leads to their downfall. This story also gives an interesting angle about different perspectives, i.e, even if two people are given the same object they may take it differently because their line of thought is entirely different. So without further ado let us get on with the story...

Long, long ago when Lord Shiva and his wife Parvathi were bored as the administration on Earth was being handled well, they called their two children Lord Ganesha and Karthikeya. When they arrived their parents told them that they would give them a competition and whoever comes first would be given a special prize. Both the children got excited and asked their parents what they were supposed to do. For this Lord Parvathi said, "Whichever one of you goes around the world three times and comes back first will the declared the winner". Lord Karthikeya possessed a very quick moving peacock and so hearing this he was very thrilled since he knew that all that his brother Ganesha had was a small little mouse. So off he went on his peacock to revolve around the Earth. Ganesha on the other hand was confused. He kept thinking for a while and he had a flash of brilliant idea. He smiled to himself and he started walking around his parents. Lord Shiva and Parvathi were also confused. Lord Ganesha quickly finished his three rounds around his parents and then held out his hand for the prize. Lord Shiva and Parvathi looked at each other and understood what their little son Ganesha just did, smiled at each other and handed him the prize.

When Karthikeya arrived he was flabbergasted to see the prize already in Ganesha's hands and he couldn't understand what had happened. Ganesha quickly explained to him saying that for him his 'world' were his parents and hence he decided to just go around them.

This story talks about perspectives. Say for instance, for Person A, a rock may mean just a rock but for another person B it may signify a deity. In today's world as we have exposure to so many different ideas, thoughts thanks to the advancement in communication media. This also creates room for plenty of confusion and friction in a variety of relationships be it personal, formal or informal. To avoid such delicate situations, it is always good to not jump to conclusions but be patient. Also try to put yourself in the other person's shoes to understand how you would view the same situation...that's enough dose for today...

The emperor's new clothes...

This is a story that many of us may have heard several times in our younger days.

A vain and egotistical Emperor who cared for nothing but his appearance hires two tailors who are con men that promise him the finest suit of clothes from a fabric invisible to anyone who is unfit for his position or "just hopelessly stupid". The Emperor cannot see the cloth himself, but pretends that he can for fear of appearing unfit for his position; his ministers do the same. When the swindlers report that the suit is finished, they mime dressing him and the Emperor then marches in procession before his subjects, who play along with the pretense. The Emperor rewards the duo handsomely for their remarkable 'craftsmanship'. Suddenly, a child in the crowd, too young to understand the desirability of keeping up the pretense, blurts out that the Emperor is wearing nothing at all and the cry is taken up by others. The Emperor cringes, suspecting the assertion is true, but holds himself up proudly and continues the procession, deciding never to be so vain again and to take his position more seriously.

Hmmm....find anything similar between the emperor's pitiful situation and yours...??? So many of us today are trying to keep up with so many pretenses just like the foolish emperor. Some of them we do knowingly and some even unknowingly. The key word here is 'ego'. Today we are all muddled under layers and layers of expressions of our ego that we have forgotten our own self, we have completely lost track of who we are...deep down. Deep down we are the 'Pure Spirit' and as a spirit the first and foremost thing on our minds should be to venerate the Divine. But instead the first and foremost thing on most of the people's mind today is money, lust, revenge, hunger for more. People today identify themselves with something they do or some idea they have in mind. If you are a Doctor then you are just that, you develop an ego based on your profession. If you are an investment banker then you are just that. There is no other identity for you! You start thinking that based on your position you need to get a certain amount of money, certain amount of respect, interact with only such and such type of people, do only such and such everything going wrong with the world is because of man's ego, is because man is not able to see beyond himself. If you for a moment come out and see all the modern world setups you will realize how people have built establishments based not on just their ego but also on the past ego of so many others.

Today the state is such that only 'Money' gives a man security, only 'Sex' satisfies a man, only 'Scientific Know-How' quenches a man's thirst for the name of progress man has driven himself deeper and deeper into the realms of self-destruction because all his activities today are anti-Divine. if you refer to my previous post about old Doordarshan serials then we see that most of the programs airing on TV those days were 'family oriented' but today there are individual channels even for a toddler...then where is the question of sitting and watching a program together as a family??? When we are unable to get over our egos even at the level of a family setting then how will we get over our regional and national problems without letting go of our ego and thinking of the greater good? Today a wife is too ego-oriented to depend on the husband for money or vice-versa, today everybody wants to be independent in everything and all modern day amenities are directed towards that. What we do not realize is that the burgeoning world population and the gradual failure of all man-made edifices go to prove that only a collective community living in harmony without imposing individual egos on one another is going to succeed. It is only a matter of time when this truth will prevail. Until then, try not to be like the foolish emperor but like the innocent child who sees the world as-is...without the weight of his ego! Oh and I know it is very difficult to get rid of Mr. Ego because that is the bane of human civilization but still there is a very hard-to-believe-it-is-so-simple-and-actually-works technique called Sahaja meditation...try it and see if you can bring your Mr. Ego under control and enjoy the change in your perspective....

Friday, January 15, 2010

Raja Janaka and Narada

My New Year's first blog...I am still continuing with the series of stories with a moral...Today I am going to write about Raja Janaka's story. He was the father of Sita.

Raja Janaka was a great king who ruled over a great kingdom. One day Narada, the messenger of Gods came down to him and said, "O Great King...I have heard so much about your greatness. I have heard that you are a powerful and generous king. At the same time I have heard that you are a 'Vidhehi' (one who is above everything)...How can it be possible as you are such a powerful king having so many responsibilities, have so many luxuries, have so many things to worry about and still how can you be above all this? "

For this Raja Janaka responded, "Narad, I will answer your question in the evening. But please do me a favor. Can you please hold this pot filled with milk to the brim and not allow even a drop to spill. Please have this pot with you and return it back to me in the evening."

The sage Narada came back in the evening and was looking all irritated. Raja Janaka asked him what happened. To that Narada retorted, "I have been carrying this pot all day and have not been able to do anything else lest the milk spill from it. All my attention has been on this pot. I didn't see anyone, talk to anyone or do anything else."

Raja Janaka said, "My friend, that is exactly how my attention is. My attention is all the time on my spirit and hence I do not get bothered with any mundane things. My attention is always at a higher level."

Narada said, "O Great one, you have opened my eyes. I now understand the importance of attention. Long live King Janaka!"

This story talks about the importance of attention in our daily lives. If we keep our attention on something pure, then we rise above all other evils. So always keep your attention on good things and remember attention is different from concentration. You may ask how can we keep our attention on pure things when there is so much evil around us. We keep hearing, watching and reading so much negative stuff. That is very true, so to help improve your attention power, try meditating. This will take away all the negative thoughts and ideas and help focus your attention only on the positive.

So until next time, be purely attentive ;-)