Shrimad Bhagavatam & Advaita Bhakti - 4
Continued from SBAB – 3
Kapila Muni starts from rock-bottom fundamentals. It is the mind that is the villain of the piece. Both for the bondage of the jIva and for its release from bondage, it is the mind that is responsible. When the mind attaches itself to the sense objects, bondage arises. On the other hand if mind attaches itself to the Lord, it becomes the cause for the Release. The self-centred thoughts of ‘I’ and ‘Mine’ give rise to the vices of desire and greed. When these dirts are washed off from the mind, it becomes pure. The word used here (III – 25 – 16) is ‘kAma-lobhAdibhir-malaiH’. Desire and Greed are called ‘malaM’. The latter means ‘faeces’ as also ‘dirt’. No one wants to identify himself with the ‘faeces’. So also one should stay away from the ‘malaM’ of desire and greed. Mind should be in its own pure state. Anything that is foreign to it should not be there. Any thought of an object is foreign to it. What is foreign to it is ‘malaM. When it is rid of all that ‘malaM’, in that state, says the Rishi, mind has none of the mundane misery or happiness. That is when man sees his own prakRRiti powerless. That is when he has transcended the effects of prakRRiti. He then sees no difference, no second, no relationship to anything or anyone. There is no place in space where he is not already there. It is in that mind the Absolute reflects itself. And there is no other way to achieve this than to have association with sAdhus.
Just as for mundane benefits we cultivate
the association of influential people
who have either money, status or power,
so also for acquiring spiritual wealth we have to cultivate
the association of spiritually great people.
(NarayaneeyaM : 91 – 4)
When a holy association is there, first we get shraddhA in the spiritual quest, then enthusiasm for the same and then bhakti towards the Lord. “shraddhA ratir-bhaktir-anukramishhyati” (III – 25 – 25). It is the association with the holy that will generate, through the continuous contemplation of My glories, a distaste for sense gratification here and hereafter.
*bhaktyA pumAn jAta-virAga aindriyAt dRRiShTa-shrutAn mad-rachanAnucintayA* (III – 25 – 26).
For devotees who are attached to devotional service even moksha is not more attractive. I am their loved one like their soul, friendly like their son, trusted confidante like their friend, mentor like their guru and respected like their favourite God. Their minds are always fixed on me. This is all that is needed for mukti.
In order to attain this mukti, one should desist from the mundane distractions of prakRRiti. The knowledge of the Self is the ultimate cure for removal of Ignorance that binds the heart to the world of prakRRiti. What is the Self? The Self or the Purushha is the One who has pervaded the entire universe. He is attributeless. He is beyond the prakRRiti. He dwells in every antah-karaNa (Inner Organ). He shines by Himself. He is beginningless, sourceless.
anAdir-AtmA PurushhaH nirguNaH prakRRitaiH paraH /
pratyag-dhAmA svayamjyotiH vishvaM yena samanvitaM // (III – 26 – 3)
Wise men attribute to PrakRRiti the relationship of Cause and Effect as well as the agency of action. And they point to the Purushha, that transcends the PrakRRiti, as the cause of enjoyership of happiness and unhappiness.
The five gross elements (earth, water, fire, air and space),
the five subtle elements (sound, touch, form, taste and smell),
the four internal senses ( manas, chittam, buddhi and ahamkAra
– receiver-mind, storer-mind, analyser-mind and ego),
the five senses of knowledge and
the five senses of action
these twenty four -- constitute the prakRRiti or the manifested stage of existence, also called the qualified presence of brahman – sagunasya brahmaNaH sanniveshaH (III – 26 – 15). Time is the twenty-fifth element. What is manifested as Time outside is the Purushha within. (III – 26 – 18).
That is why, in common
‘It is divine will’ and ‘It is the work of Time’
are interchangeably used.
Even though the Purushha is situated in the PrakRRiti (the body envelopment) He is devoid of all attributes, He is unchanging and He has no claim to doership. So he is not touched by any of the GuNas (modes) of PrakRRiti. On the other hand when He slips from this state and identifies with the GuNas, then overcome by the Ego, he thinks he is the doer. And this involves him in the samsAra of births and deaths. (III – 27 – 1 to 3). Such a jIva overcome by the guNas has to come out of it by a self-analysis.
And here the Acharya Kapila gives a powerful analogy. (III – 27 – 12, 13) :
yathA jalastha AbhAsaH sthalasthenA-vadRRishyate /
svAbhAsena tathA sUryo jalasthena divi sthitaH //
evaM trivRRid-ahaMkAro bhUtendriya-manomayaiH /
svAbhAsair-lakShito’nena sadAbhAsena satya-dRRik //
The presence of the Supreme Lord can be realized just as the sun is realized first as a reflection on water, and again as a second reflection on the wall of a room, although the sun itself is situated in the sky. The self-realized soul is thus reflected first in the threefold ego and then in the body, senses and mind.
An explanation is necessary for this analogy. The topic is how one recognises that the Supreme is the One Power behind every action and every presence in the universe. Imagine a room in which there is a large vessel of water that receives direct sunlight and reflects it onto the opposite wall in the room. What is the source of this light on the wall? It is the reflected Sun in the water (contained in the vessel). And what is the source of that reflected Sun? The actual Sun in the blazing sky. So also we individuals seem to be having awareness of the outside world. The source of our awareness is our consciousness within. But this consciousness itself is a reflection of the real supreme Consciousness, the reflection being in our own ego-mind.
After elaborately detailing the process by which PrakRRiti produces the manifold of this material universe, Kapila takes up the topic of yoga-sAdhanA. First he details the prerequisites such as execution of prescribed duties, avoidance of prohibited actions, satisfaction with what one obtains by God’s Grace, worship of the Guru, moderation in eating, non-violence, truthfulness, brahmacharyam, austerities, and silence. Then he goes on to describe the different lim bs of ytoga-sAdhanA. Afew characteristic shlokas from this description may be recalled:
dhyAnenA-anIshvarAn guNAn //
(III – 28 – 11)
Meaning, By prANAyAma (exercise of control of breath) the physical faults are burnt; By dhAraNa (fixing of the concentrated mind) one burns off the sins; By pratyAhAra (withdrawal of senses from their outward attractions) one destroys the attachments to sense objects; By dhyAna (meditation) one vanquishes the undivine qualities. (For PrANAyAma, dhAraNa, pratyAhAra and dhyAna, see Meditation)
And the meditation should be on the unique form of the Lord. Here the form of the Lord is sculpted by beautiful word-bricks by Sage Kapila in 13 memorable shlokas (III -28 – 21 to 33) which deserve to be memorised and recited in the original, in order to transmit the real flavour of the description. It is not just the collective form of the Lord that is meditated thus. Each of His limbs is imagined and looked at with concentration and one goes on meditating on His limbs from toe to head. His lotus feet, His legs and thighs, the waist, the navel, the chest, the neck, the face, the smile – on each one of these one should stay long by meditation.
By such meditation one gradually develops pure love for the Lord. One’s hairs stand erect through excessive joy. The intense love generates streams of tears. The mind withdraws from all material distractions. As if attracting a fish to a hook, the mind now attracts the Lord. The real identity of the Self is seen and all pleasure and pain are seen in their true colours as products of the Ego. The jIvan-mukta that he is, has no cognition of his own body whether it is sitting, standing, moving or acting, just as person blinded by intoxication does not realise the presence or absence of clothing on himself:
(*vAso yathA parikRRitaM madirA-madAndhaH * III – 28
The body, however, of the jIvan-mukta holds on along with the senses until the prArabdha karma remains. But, for the one who has made the ascent to samAdhi-yoga there is neither the cognition of the body or the universe associated with it. Indeed, when one has woken up, the dreams that were being witnessed earlier have no more any reality.
(*svapnaM punar-na bhajate pratibuddha-vastuH*) III - 28 – 38.
yathA putrAscha vitttA ca pRRithaG martyaH pratIyate /
apyAtmatvatvenA-bhimatAt dehAdeH Purushhas-tathA // III – 28 -39
Just as offsprings and wealth are considered distinct from oneself, so also is the Purushha different from one’s body that is taken by affection to be oneself.
The blazing fire is different from the flames, from the sparks and from the smoke, although all arise from the same blazing wood. So also the Self known as the Seer, bhagavan or brahman is distinct from the senses or the mind (40,41). As fire shows up in different forms because of the shapes of wood in which it burns so also does the Self show up in prakRRiti in different manifestations according to the guNas (#43). The yogI therefore stands firm in his own svarUpa of the Self, by conquering the prakRRiti which hides his own Self and which takes the form of both cause and effect(#44).
Following this the sage Kapila answers questions of Devahuti regarding the path of Bhakti which will lead to the Realisation of all that has been explained in terms of PrakRRiti and Purushha. Bhakti, says Kapila, is known in terms of nine categories by the motivation which manifests it. The motivation could be – in the ascending order of commendability (III – 29 – 8,9, 10):
· Violent ends (This is adhama-tAmasa bhakti)
· Pride (This is madhyama-tAmasa bhakti)
· Jealousy (uttama-tAmasa bhakti )
· Sensual ends (adhama-rAjasa bhakti)
· Wealth (madhyama-rAjasa bhakti)
· Fame (uttama-rAjasa bhakti)
· Eradication of Sins (adhama-sAtvika bhakti)
· Pleasure of the Lord (madhyama-sAtvika bhakti)
· Duty (uttama-sAtvika bhakti)
But all of them have the commonality of “bheda-darshana” (which is conscious of the multiplicity of the deities and recognises the differences) as well as “idol worship” (worship of specific manifestations of the Ultimate). Over and above these, there is the nirguNa bhakti, defined as follows:
mad-guNa-shruti-mAtreNa mayi sarva-guhAshaye /
mano-gatir-avicchinnA yathA gangAmbhaso’mbudhau // (#11)
lakshhaNaM bhakti-yogasya nirguNasya hyudAhRRitaM /
ahaitukya-vyavahitA yA bhaktiH purushhottame // (#12)
Having heard about Him, one gets addicted with devotion that does not see any distinction, without any expectation of results, to the Purushhottama, who lives in the deepest hearts of all, like the waters of the Ganges that keeps on going to the ocean. That is the characteristic of nirguNa bhakti, the bhakti of the highest kind, higher than the nine categories mentioned above.
Note: This is advaita-bhakti .
And the Lord continues, as if inspired:
I am present in every living entity as the Self. Those who neglect or disregard this omnipresence and engage themselves in the worship of the Deity in the temple, they are only making a show of themselves. That is like offering oblations into ashes instead of in the Fire. He who thinks of Me, residing in the bodies of others, as different from his Self can never attain peace of mind. He never pleases Me even if he worships with proper rituals and paraphernalia. As long as one does not realise the omnipresent Me as resident in His own heart, so long has he to worship Me through images, performing all his prescribed duties. (#s III – 29: 21 to 25)
The fortunate mother, Devahuti, who had all this teaching straight from the Lord Himself, who manifested as her son, followed the path that was chalked out by Him and in due time she reached that supreme abode glorified by Him.
Copyright © V. Krishnamurthy June 10 , 2005 Onward to page 5