Friday, 18 January 2013

New Year Satsang

The New year opened with a satsang at my friend Ramesh’s place on the new year day.  After Vedic chanting, chief guest Swami Paramananda Saraswathi gave a brief talk on Chapter 4 of Narada Bhakthi Sutra. In this chapter in five sutras, from 46 to 50, Deva rishi Naradji outlines the means for breaking the hold of Maya that not only veils Reality but also misleads one to believe the unreal as Real.

Maya is difficult to transcend and only those who are devoted to the Lord can cross over this illusion, Sri Krishna says in Bhagavat Gita (7-14). This devotion which is in the nature of supreme reverential love to Lord is defined as  bhakthi by Naradji and that is discussed in the sutras. So the bhaktha here is a mumukshu bhaktha, one who has chosen moksha as his goal, in preference to the other three purusharthas, artha, kama,and dharma. Naradji also describes earlier that in this state of total devotion, which he calls para bhakthi,  the bhaktha feels totally peaceful and totally happy intoxicated with the supreme love for the Lord (Sutra 6).  

Sri Adi Sankaracharya describes Maya in his Viveka  Chudamani as the power of Nirguna Brahman, the cosmic Supreme without name and form, and goes on to say that Maya is of the nature of three gunas, satva, rajas and tamas and is also known as avyaktha, the unmanifest. It cannot be described in words as it does not exist separate from Brahman but cannot be called a part of Brahman and its existence can only be inferred (verses 110 & 111).  It is also called prakriti, nature, as universe has come out of this in creation. Maybe Maya is the cosmology’s point of singularity, the state before big bang. More on this you can find in

Out of Maya is this universe projected and so the universe is only apparently real, like Maya its cause. Maya does not mean real or unreal, only it is not what it appears to be. To twist Swami Vivekananda’s statement, Maya is a simple statement of apparent facts, what we are and what we see around us. Advaita Vedanta has a word for it, transactional reality (vyavaharika Satyam). For instance, we speak about sunrise and sunset, medias also give time of sunrise and sunset, while all of us know that sun does not really rise nor does it set, only the earth’s motion around the sun creates this apparent vision.Under the influence of Maya, the universe is mistaken to be absolutely Real (paaramarthika Satyam) instead of the Lord, who is the absolute Reality behind and pervading this apparent reality of the universe. So a bhaktha to realize the Lord and remain in the state of para bhakthi, while remaining in the world, has to get out of the spell of Maya.

In the sutras 46 to 50, Sri Narada  spells out how one can free oneself of the hold of Maya.  Some of these are: 
  1)      By giving up attachments to objects – It is not the objects themselves but it is our attachment to objects in the fond belief that they will give us fulfilment which is to be given up. 
  2)    By serving great devotees – Service to really great devotees (Bhagavatha seva) is considered as even greater than service to the form of Lord (Bhagavat seva). 
  3)  By giving up sense of possession – It is the feeling of ownership over possessions (the feeling of mine, mamakara,) that is to be given up not the necessary required possessions themselves.  
    4) By being alone in a place of quietude with thoughts of Lord – The important thing here is not the solitude or external quietitude    but the inner freedom from the constant chattering of thoughts, to have the steady flow of thoughts towards the Lord in the seat of solitude. 
     5) By being a karmayogi -  though Sri Narada does not mention karma yoga as such, he lists all the virtues listed by Sri Krishna in Bhagavat Gita verses 2- 45 & 47, such as giving up the anxiety for acquisition and preservation of material possessions (niryogakshema),   renouncing all ego-centric actions and thereby the sense of doership in actions,  renouncing the attachment to fruits of actions, rising above the pairs of opposites (nirdwanda), transcending the three gunas (nistrigunya).  
    6) By giving up even the vedic rituals for engaging in uninterrupted ananya bhakthi . Here ananya bhakthi does not mean hatred towards or belittling of  Gods other than one’s chosen one (Ishta Deavatha) but seeing his chosen form in all forms of gods as Sri Tulsidas saw only Rama in Mathura or as Chaithanya Mahaprabhu saw only Krishna in Ayodhya. A true bhaktha while extolling his own Ishta Devata, does not show any disrespect to other forms in word, deed or thought.  
  In the summing up that followed the discussion after his talk Swamiji advised that one should take up and follow one sadhana earnestly and sincerely, be it karma, bhakthi, meditation or study of scriptures, without being tricked by Maya to keep on speculating which path is better and which comes after what, endlessly. The sadhaka must have a deep longing for God realization and must practise the presence of God in all his actions. He must eschew attachment to people and possessions, including his body, being conscious of their transitoriness. Then God’s Grace will guide such an earnest, sincere, serious seeker in right time to Realization and he should not have any anxiety or worry about when and how of it, Swamiji concluded.  The last point that Swamiji made Sri Krishna gives as assurance to Arjuna  in verse 6-40 of Gita, where He says that anyone who strives earnestly for God-Realization will not come to grief, failing in his goal, and  then goes on to explain how in subsequent verses.

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