Beach 2: First steps in the Ascent to the Divine

Wave 6: An Overnight Capsule of Dharma ( Part II)

(Continued from Part I)


Sanatsujata now anatomises how pramAda can be  considered as death.

abhidhyA vai prathamaM hanti chainaM kAma-krodhau gRhya chainaM tu pashchAt /

ete bAlAn-mRtyave prApayanti dhIrastu dhairyena taranti mRtyuM // (Sanatsu I – 11)

Meaning,  First the whole thing starts with abhidhyA, that is, contemplation on sense objects.  That kills you first. Then Desire and anger take hold of you. These take you, who are now a puppet in their hands, down the alley of Death.  But a self-composed man (*dhIraH*) transcends death by his courage and composure. The word dhIraH is a very important word in scriptural literature, pregnant with meaning. Ordinarily it means just ‘a brave soul’.  But the etymological derivation gives:  *dhiyaM Irayati iti dhIraH*  The verb Irayati means: agitates, excites, confirms.  The intelligence is convinced and confirmed about the real Truth and this Truth Shankara says is the oneness of JIvAtmA and ParamAtmA. Therefore a dhIra is neutral  and unattached to all duals: pleasure and pain, favour and disfavour, cold and heat, blame and praise, profit and loss, victory and defeat, happiness and suffering, joy and sorrow, friend and foe, success and failure, good and bad, likes and dislikes, honour and humiliation. Refer also to the characterisation  of dhIra that the poet gives in two immortal lines in his poem Kumara-sambhavam:

VikAra-hetau sati vikriyante

yeShAM na chetAmsi ta eva dhirAH.

‘Those whose minds are not perturbed even in the presence of causes for such agitation, excitement or distraction – only they,  are the dhIras’!

Blessed are these brave souls! They see what is within! The meaning of the word dhIra given will be confirmed if we note that the only three times that Krishna uses the word in the Gita he uses them only in this connection!:

dehino’smin yathA dehe kaumAram yauvanam jarA /tathA dehAntaraH prAptiH dhIras-tatra na muhyati // 2-13 As the soul passes physically through childhood, youth and old age, so also it passes on to another body; this does not blind and disturb a dhIra.

yaM hi na vyathayantyete puruShaM puruSharShabha / sama-dukha-sukhaM dhIraM so’mRtatvAya kalpate // 2-15 The man whom these (material touches) do not trouble or pain, that dhIra, who is equanimous in pleasure and suffering, is the one who is ear-marked for immortality.

Note that Sanatsujata is also talking of dhIra in answer to the King’s question as to who attains immortality! While talking of the great man who transcends the three guNas, in the fourteenth chapter of the Gita, the Lord also uses the epithet dhIra for him “who regards happiness and suffering alike, gold, mud and stone equanimously, to whom the lovely and the unlovely, praise and blame, honour and insult, are equal things” :

sama-dukha-sukhaH svasthaH sama-loShTa-kAmchanaH / tulya-priya-apriyo dhIraH tulya-nindA-tma-samstutiH //(14-24).

The Kathopanishad also uses the word dhIra in the same connotation and in the same context with reference to Immortality!.  “The Self-Existent Lord made the senses turn outward; accordingly man looks towards what is outside and sees not what is within. It is the rare dhIra who, longing for immortality, shuts his eyes to what is without and beholds the Self within”:

parAm-ci khAni vyatRNat svayambhUH tasmAt parAng pashyati nAntarAtman / kaschit dhIraH pratyagAtmAnaM aikShat AvRtta-cakSWhur-amRtatvam-icchan // (Kathopanishad: II – 1 – 1)

Incidentally, the verb that the Upanishad uses for ‘made’ in “made the senses turn outward” is *vyatRNat* which means also ‘punished’ thus giving a beautiful meaning that the senses were ‘punished’ not to be able to look inward. One is also reminded of the words of curse in the Old Testament cast by God on Adam and Eve.

‘Thou art That’ as anAdi-yoga.

Dhritarashtra now and then intercepts the discourse and asks very interesting questions. One of the earliest questions he asks is: Who is it that directs this Soul, what is it that it achieves by so doing? The answer comes from the highest spiritual point of view. In Hinduism a question has sometimes more than one answer depending upon from which level of evolution you are talking or to which level you are answering. The simple answer to this question of Dhritarashtra could have been that the paramAtmA who is the indweller of all, directs each soul in its ways and the purpose is to take the soul upwards in evolution – this is the answer which will be understood by the neophyte. But Sanatsujata prefers not to compromise on such fundamental issues. He replies: “Default will arise, we will be making a Himalayan blunder, if we make a distinction between the Supreme reality and the individual soul; everything happens by what may be called anAdi-yoga. The Sanskrit word ‘Adi’ means, original, the source, oldest. The word anAdi means that which has no source, is the most original. So anAdi-yoga means the yoga or technique that has been in vogue from time immemorial. This anAdi-yoga therefore refers to the composite existence of PrakRti and PuruSha from the infinite past. The Gita uses the same word anAdi in reference to PuruSha and prakRti. (B.G. 13-20/21).

The concept that one should not distinguish between the individual soul and the Supreme Reality is an echo from the Taittiriyopanishad. The theme there is: Brahman is without multiplicity; even the smallest difference between Brahman and JIva is not to be accepted.

yadA hyevaiSha etasmin adRshye anAtmye anirukte anilayane abhayaM pratiShTAM vindate / atha so bhayam gato bhavati / yadA hyevaiSha etasmin udaramantaraM kurute / atha tasya bhayaM bhavati / tattveva bhayam viduSho-manvAnasya / Taittiriya U. II – 7

‘The individual soul becomes fearless only when it obtains firm and peaceful ground in that invisible, selfless, undefined, nameless, supportless Reality; whenever it assumes the tiniest  difference in that state of identity, then it has fear.  That is why even a wise man has fear when he is not reflective’.

The Kathopanishad says: (II – 1 – 10)

yadeva iha tad-amutra / yad-amutra tad-anviha /mRtyos-sa mRtyum-Apnoti ya iha nAneva pashyati //

What is within us is also without. What is without is also within. He who sees difference between what is within and what is without goes evermore from death to death.

Sanatkumara himself tells Narada in Chandogya Upanishad (and note that there is the same connotation with Immortality here): (Ch.U.VII – 24 – 1)

yatra nAnyat pashyati nAnyat shRNoti nAnyad-vijAnAti sa bhUmA / atha yatra anyat pashyati anyad-shRNoti anyad-vijAnAti tad-alpaM /yo vai bhUmA tad-amRtaM / atha yad-alpaM tan-martyaM //

Where one sees nothing else, hears nothing else, cognises nothing else, that is Infinite. Where one sees another, hears another, cognises another, that is finite. That which is infinite is immortal That which is finite is mortal.

Continued on Part III

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Feb.28, 2007  Copyright Ó V. Krishnamurthy