Saturday, September 13, 2008

Deivathin Kural # 43 of (Vol 2) of 05 Nov 2007.

Om Namah Sivaya.

Deivathin Kural # 43 of (Vol 2) of 05 Nov 2007.

(Continued from DK # 42 of 02 Nov 2007. We are to remind the readers that herein, 'he' as a word stands for 'she' as well. As the Sanskrit originals are not available, the spellings and thereby the pronounciation of names may be at variance from what it should be!)

Brihad Aranyaka Upanishad.

257. We started looking at the biggest of the Upanishads. It has a total of six chapters. First two are called, 'Madhu Kandam', the next two are 'Muni Kandam' on Yagnavalkya Rishi and the last two are 'Kila Kandam'. Once we know that the whole world is yet another form of the Paramatma, it will all be sweet nectar. We will also be sweet to others as honey. Atma is honey for all. This is the message of the Madhu Kandam. Later in this Upanishad is described the process of analysis known as 'Neti Vadam'. You take each item of this worldly existance and analyse it as to whether it is 'Brhmam' or not. The touch-stone is "...nitya anitya viveka vichara:...", that is the analysis as to whether that item is temporary or permanent. Even a mountain is not permanent. Not even the Sun, Stars and Galaxies! When you say, 'No it is not', you are saying, 'na iti, na iti', which when combined becomes, 'neti, neti'. Atma can only be known by discarding everything else that is non-atma! By this process, once Atma is identified, you will come to recognise 'Atma' in everything, including those that you earlier discarded.

258. Now-a-days, what is being used as a prayer in all meetings, "asato ma sat gamaya, tamasor ma jyotir gamaya, mrutyor ma amirtam gamaya I Om Shanti : Shanti : Shanti : II", (meaning, ' take me from the unreal to the real; from darkness unto light; from death unto immortality',) is to be found in the early portions of Brihad Aranyaka Upanishad (I.3.28). The story of Gargya as a Brahmin, getting 'Upadesam' from the Kshatriya King Ajatashatru, is described in the second chapter. There were Statesmen Emperors who were also Brhma Gnanis such as, Ajatashatru and Janaka, those days. People are at logger heads, for equal rights between the sexes, now-a-days. But, in the golden days of yore, there were 'Brhmavadinis' ie., women who could debate and participate on oratorical contests about high philosophical matters! Gargi was one such, in King Janaka's Vidvat Sadas. This Upanishad talks of another very interesting conversation between Rishi Uagnavalkya and his wife Maithreyi, another 'Brhmavadini'. This interaction between them is given in two versions, with slight variations, in 'Madhu Kandam (2.4.)' and 'Muni Kandam (4.5.)'. Rishi Yagnavalkya decides to become a Sannyasi and so is about to leave his household. Before leaving, he apportions his assets, between his two wives. The first one by name Kathyayani, is happy with what she gets and so, accepts her husband's decision and apportioning of assets.

259. Maithreyi, however asks her husband, "You are giving away all this and taking up Sannyasa. Evidently there should be some great happiness you are looking forward to in Sannyasa. What is that?" Rishi Yagnavalkya replies, "Yes. You have always been very dear to me. By this question, you have become dearer still. First,let me explain as to what this attraction between husband and wife is due to!". This 'Love' or 'Priyam' that husband has for the wife; wife has for the husband; parent have for the children; love for money, material, power and position et cetera; are not for their sake but for his or her own self satisfaction! It is the 'Self' that is the 'Atma', which is pleased. The love is not for this or that item or person or position or condition or any Object. It is the Subject that feels fulfilled temporarily. The Swaroopa of the Subject is Anandamaya. The incident or action or possession, temporarily enables the Subject to Realize its Swaroopa of Ananda. To become a Sannyasi, the purpose is to leave everything thought to be near and dear; so as to realize the Self. Then instead of loving something and hating the other things; everything will be seen as Atma Swaroopa and Ananda Maya. With that nothing will be disliked anymore." That is his Upadesa for his wife Maithreyi.

260. Then before he takes the final plunge into Sannyasa, In the Rajya Sabha of Janaka Raja, he has detailed discussions about Paramatma Tatva with, Kaholar, Uddalaka Aaruni, Gargi and others. Then he gives his considered views to Janaka. These are covered in Muni Kamdam. Visishtadwaitam of Sri Ramanujachariyar, relies mainly on the Paramatma being immanent in all living things as, 'Antaryami'. This principle is clearly spelt out by Yagnavalkya, in his replies to Uddalaka Aruni. If the whole world is a body, the life in it is the 'Antaryami' Paramatma. Though here he accepts the Visishtadwaita principle, mostly his views are based on Adwaita philosophy only. While finishing his advices to Maithreyi, his words are pure Adwaitam. He says, "Even the slightest deviation into Dwaitam will throw up the whole spectrum of touching, smelling, tasting, hearing and thinking about the Second! When you get to know the Atma the Subject without a second; who can do what to whom?" This same Upanishad also contains, Janaka's Upadesa that, "The one who has completely got rid of his desires, remains as a Brhmam while living and gets absorbed in Brhmam on his leaving the body, as water mixes with water and becomes water!"

261. At the end of this Upanishad are two chapters known as 'Kila Kandam'. They give a collection of miscellaneous data and observations. 'Akilam' means all or total. 'Kila' means, bits and pieces. Depending on the reciepients level of maturity and perspective, the same advice could be interpreted differently; is brought out in a story. Devas, Humans and Asuras, listen to the Upadesa of Prajapati, which is the single letter of 'DA'. The Devas, who are normally lacking in control over the Senses, take it as, "Daamyata", meaning 'control and regulate'. Humans take it to mean, "Datta", that is, 'give or donate'. The cruel Asuras recieve the Upadesa, as a direction to be more kind and considerate, as "Dayatvam". The interesting point is that, each lot of those sets of people, drew a lesson in the positive direction of self improvement. We readers can do with all the three advices, "Damyata, Datta and Dayatvam", as Upadesa meant for us!

262. There is one Mantra in Brihadaranyaka Upanishad, occuring towards the very end, which appeals to my mind as very appropriate. What does the Mantra say? It says, "A diseased being suffering in the intensity of it, should interpret the experience as an opportunity to do 'Tapasya'. Once this recognition comes that your disease is also a 'penance', you do get the benefits of expiation, including Moksham or Nirvana!(V.11.1). You may ask me as to what is so great about this Mantra that appeals to your mind? Let me try and answer you. When you take a 'vratam' ie., a vow of abstinence, you deny and delay gratification of the senses and thereby, the effect of your past sins are expiated and your 'body consciousness' as your self; gets diluted. The earlier sins by the body and mind; are erased when you strive with your body and mind in Tapasya / penance. That is why the greats of the past are said to have done Tapasya. The Mother Ambal Herself transgressed the words of Parameswara and went to Daksha's Yagna. She was aware of his antipathy towards her husband, Parameswara. But as a daughter of Daksha, the filial loyalties, took precedence; and she went to the function. There when Her father was openly exhibitive of his dislike for the son-in-law, not wishing to retain any connection with him, She terminated her bodily existance, by jumping in to the Homa Kundam!

263. In Her next life, she was born as the daughter of Himawan. So as to expiate her past sins of transgressing Her Husband's wishes, The Mother Ambal undertook extremely difficult Tapasyas, at a very young age! Read Kalidasa's descriptions in 'Kumara Sambhava', about this. In the winter either sitting on frozen rocks of ice or standing inside the freezing lakes, she did Tapasya. During the summer, she would light up fire in all four directions, with the Sun as the fifth fire on top, she would do, 'panchagni tapas'. There are many great saints who have done such penance. What is our state? They might have done one or two mistakes. For our committing of sins, there is no accounting. But we neither have physical capabiity nor the mental strength to put even a fraction of their effort in expiation of our sins! How then can our papam / demerits be made amends for? It is then that Mantra of the Upanishad, gives some solace. Since we do not live a life of discipline, we are subjected to all varieties of infections quite often. It is to us only that the Upanishad has said that all our headaches, fevers and other bodily inconveniences should be taken as 'Tapasya'. Thus our sins will be made amends for and there is some scope for redemption, even for people like us! Though it does not say so, this is the meaning of the Upanishadik statement.

264. We say, 'jwara tapam or tapa jwaram'. 'Tapam' means boiling or frying or cooking. For 'tapas' and 'tapam', the root word is 'tapa', meaning burning. Actually the Sun has a name as, 'tapana' the burner. So though we may not do the 'tapas' as required in the 'Sastras', this natural occurrence of 'tapa jwara' should be considered as a 'tapasya'. Greater the fever better the 'Tapasya'! If you are running a fever of 105 to 106 degrees Fahrenheit, due Typhoid or Neumonia, you should tell yourself, "Thank God. Instead of doing 'Panchagni Tapas', God has given me an opportunity to make up for my past sins and given me this fever!" Are you having Malarial fever and shivering despite covering yourself with a number of woollen blankets? You should think, "Very good. We will never go to Himalayas and do Tapasya in winter in shivering cold. Out of His endless compassion, God has given me the chance." Like this, attitudinally, we can look at our diseases and injuries due to accidents, as a God given opportunity to expiate our sins! This will prove to be the best immunity against diseases and infections. We will not run after doctors and medicines. We will not only be saved from liability of the medical bills but also the stress and strain. More than anything else, when we accept life as it is and do not look at the problems of life as problems 'per se', we are imbibing the most important quality of 'titiksha', to mean, a combination of endurance, tolerance, patience and forbearance.

265. What I have explained in the last three paras, Upanishad simply conveys in one mantra of a few words or a phrase! Having done countless actions of horrendous magnitude, when we are conscience-stricken with remorse, this Mantra from the Upanishad comes as a boon from God. The Ten Upanishads or 'Dasopanishad' come to an end in the last portion of Brihad Aranyaka Upanishad, which clearly establishes that there is no contradiction or enmity between, Karma Kandam in the early portions of the Vedas and Vedantam; by emphasising that householders have to do 'Tapasya'.

(To be continued. Having come to the end of a cursory glance of the Dasopanishad, we will look at the main message of Vedas, in our next e-mail)




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