The Journey of the Soul – III

Continued from the Journey of the Soul – II A satsang by Gururaj Ananda Yogi

by Ramon Leonato

If the mind is empowered by what we are calling the right hemisphere, the intuitional level which has its roots in the core’s of one personality, which we also call the heart, then “me” and “mine” disappears and it is “thee” and “thine.” For the core of the human personality, though outwardly seeming individualized, also exists in its universalized form. So what happens to a person is this: He can exist as an individual and yet at the same time be universal, for he has now realized, through his spiritual sadhana , how vast he is. When this happens, a person, being divine, recognizes and experiences this Divinity.

IFSU emblemIf anybody tells you this comes overnight, forget it. It takes time.

You’ve got this big load you are carrying, this load of samskaras- all the experiences that you have been gathering up, gathering up, and gathering up in this journey. This bag of imprints through which you cognize existence form the bundle that you are carrying.

That is why Christianity says we are born in sin. There is great truth in that. We have brought with us all those samskaras which form our tendencies in life. Essentially the human being is divine; but he does come with this burden.

By doing meditation and spiritual practices, properly assigned by a spiritual teacher you draw upon the superconscious energies, the subtlest energies within the relative sphere of life, which flood the dirt away in the subconscious. Continue reading

The Journey of the Soul – I

Gururaj Ananda Yogi used to speak in his satsangs about the path of unfoldment, to emphasize the fact that there is no development, the soul is completely developed, there is just an unfolding. But in this path, that  goes from Silence to Silence: What is traveling? Have we traveled a path or have we not traveled at all. And if it has been a journey: Who experiences this journey?

We “know” that the spirit of the human being, or the universal spirit, is omnipresent. It has nowhere to go and nowhere to come from. It just is. So what journeys? Is it really and experience, or is it an illusion? Even if it is an illusion, then how is illusion experienced? All illusion or delusion is just a counterpart of reality, as it’s own “non-existence” exists within that It that we call reality.

We come from nowhere and we are going nowhere, but just give a little space between the “w” and the “h”. You are now here and that is the important factor to recognize in practical life. Nevertheless, the mind has a habit of inquiring.

IFSU Flag

IFSU Flag

The  mind is conditioned through the process of evolution into going through various stages whereby it gains these experiences. Who gains the experiences? The mind gains the experiences.

A HUMAN BEING HAS THE CAPACITY TO EXPERIENCE THE ENTIRETY OF THE UNIVERSE; THE SPIRIT CANNOT

So, the experiences having been gained by the mind, of the mind, and from the mind bring us to a simple idea: There is nothing outside the mind. The human mind is as vast as the entire universe, and if you individualize it, it only means that you are viewing one bubble in a vast pond. And that bubble has no separate existence from the pond. A human being has the capacity within himself to experience, with the mind, the entirety of the universe; while the spirit remains aloof, for the spirit cannot experience this journey. Therefore we say, “From Silence we proceed, and we return to Silence.” It means that the mind that has been manifested, as fragrance is from a flower, goes through this journey, be it illusion or not, and then finds itself at total “at-one-ment” with the spirit. That is the journey, so in reality there has been no journey.

But the mind assumes that this is a  journey, that there is a journey. What are the reasons for this? The spirit just is, while the mind travels thinks it is traveling from here to there. From the beginning of the present cycle of this universe there is a manifestation, wrongly called creation, because creation requires a will behind, while manifestation is just an emanation. It is the nature of the manifestor to manifest, like it is the nature of a flower to give off fragrance, but there is no will involved. The powers in the manifestation are known in sanskrit as the three gunas, tamas rajas and satvas. It is this interaction between darkness and light that operates in the manifestation of this universe, which is the Universal Mind also.

THE MIND CREATES EXPERIENCE

The entire mind, or the universe, is nothing else but a propulsion which seemingly goes forth in our concept of linear time and space. In the third dimension that we exist in, we find this movement proceeding from A to B, while beyond the mind there is no space and no time. Like Blake said, “Eternity in an hour”, we would rather say, in a moment.

Gururaj Ananda Yogi fed by Raman Leonato in Cyprus

Gururaj Ananda Yogi and Raman in Cyprus

In this process put forth through manifestation in which the three gunas operate, the mind feels itself traveling. Why does it feel itself traveling; why does itself feel mixed up in the process of evolution? In this process of contraction and expansion generated by the three gunas, matter and it’s various atomic structures is always in motion. The mind enmeshed in this process of contraction and expansion thinks it is moving.

If you watch a wave in the ocean, you think the wave is coming from a distance and going to the shore. This is not so. There is a rhythm in the ocean created by currents where each wave is bobbing up and down where it is, and the next then bobs up and down, and so on so forth giving us the illusion that the wave is moving from that end to the shore. Likewise there is the flux of the universe, the perpetual motion that perpetuates itself, within itself, by itself, because its nature is motion. What we are trying to find is that which is silent behind all the motion: for that which is motion cannot be silent, and that which is silent can have no motion. Very simple.

The mind because it has the ability to act and interact within its own components, becomes more and more complex, and it is this very complexity that adds onto the motion of the mind. The  mind creates the experience, and the mind itself is the experiencer, for the eternal spirit within humanity is beyond all experience of motion or anything else. It just is. Here it is a question of a superimposition.

Heat rises from the sun. The sun does not intentionally create the heat: it is the nature of the sun to give off heat. Similarly, that eternal energy, in its very silent form, first manifests itself as mind.

When mind assumes this motion, it also finds a direction, and this direction is what we term as will- Divine Will. Because there was Divine Will, all this you observe, including our individual wills, has come about.

This is very true from from the theological point of view and the philosophical point of view. But from the mystical point of view, this truth assumes a totally different approach: In the manifestation which one could call Divine Will , the Will itself becomes the individual mind. Here there is no differentiation between mind and will. Ordinarily it is the directed activity of an individual mind, which is self-created, that is called will.

When manifestation occurs, this divine force, in the process of manifestation, has to grossify itself in the form of matter, or grosser energies. From the subtlest level of that silent energy, ever inaccessible like in limits in mathematics, this divine force assumes the form of activated energy, and the more that energy is activated, the grosser and grosser it becomes. This is why science today can neither reach nor explain the entire structure of atoms. Scientists talk of sub atomic matter and sub-sub atomic matter, but when coming to experimental experience it will be impossible to capture the nature of that energy, as the very test-tube they are using is made of the same energy in which they are trying to trap it in.

What can be proven is only that which has motion. Yet motion  is such that at the moment you view it, it changes, and viewer in it’s own changing cannot have a true picture of that motion at its most subtlest level. That is why we know so little, from laboratory experiments, of the mind.  (to be continued…)

Gururaj Ananda Yogi

International Foundation for Spiritual Unfoldment

Meditacion Barcelona

Bhagavad Gita and the Sattvic Diet: By Dr. Harsh K. Luthar

Fruits

Sri Ramana used to say that of all the yogic rules and regulations, the best one is taking of Sattvic foods in moderate quantities. This view is consistent with that expressed in the Bhagavad Gita, and indeed most of the Yoga Shastras.

The logic is that since food consumed has a major effect on the body and the mind, a Sattvic diet should be adhered to in order to enhance both the health of the body as well as purity, strength, and calmness of the mind. An agitated person will find it difficult to sit quietly and meditate.

A disciplined and one pointed mind is an aid to ones’ learning and education as well as having success in business and other worldly affairs. A clear, pure, and a reflective mind is, of course, essential to self-enquiry which leads to Self-Realization.

The question then becomes, “What is a Sattvic diet? What is the authority for saying that certain foods are Sattvic and lead to good health, mental clarity, poise, and spiritual advancement, while other foods do not?”

There is much yogic literature on this topic and also some disagreement among experts depending on their school of thought and background. Since most Hindus generally accept the Bhagavad Gita as the final word, I will refer to that as my primary source on the Sattvic diet.

We should keep in mind that Sri Krishna, who speaks in the Bhagavad Gita with complete spiritual authority, is also considered the model of exceptional and abundant physical health and perfect mental poise. He is depicted in the ancient writings as slim, active, energetic, graceful, and attractive.

In the Bhagavad Gita, Sri Krishna demonstrates profound insight into not just the spiritual nature, but also human nature and physical nature. By inference, Sri Krishna’s words on food and the Sattvic diet carry much weight for those who study the Bhagavad Gita.

What foods should one minimize according to the Bhagavad Gita?

In Chapter 17 (verses 8, 9, 10), Sri Krishna makes clear the type of foods to be avoided by those who seek good physical and mental health, worldly success, and progress on the spiritual path.

According to the Bhagavad Gita, foods which are too bitter, sour, salty, pungent, dry, and hot can lead to pain, distress, and disease of the body. Further, Sri Krishna says that foods cooked more than three hours before being eaten, foods which are tasteless, stale, putrid, decomposed and unclean should be avoided by spiritual aspirants and those who seek excellent physical and mental health.

What foods should be eaten according to the Bhagavad Gita?

In Bhagavad Gita, Sri Krishna states, “If one offers Me with love and devotion a leaf, a flower, fruit, or water, I will accept it:” (Bg.9.26). To me this seems to suggest that Sri Krishna is sanctioning a diet based on leaves and fruits and water as the best one for spiritual growth. I am no scholar on the Bhagavad Gita, but my liberal interpretation of this verse would be that the Sattvic diet is generally plant based and includes all or most vegetables, fruits, legumes, grains, nuts, seeds, etc.

Because Sri Krishna gave cows sacred status similar to that of a human mother and favored raw butter for personal consumption as a child, one could reasonably argue that dairy products (such as yogurt, milk, kefir, lassi, sour cream, etc.) belong to the Sattvic food category.

Many yogis hold the view, however, that dairy products can only be considered Sattvic if these are obtained respecting the cows and goats who are shown kindness, love, and humane treatment. According to the principle of Ahimsa (nonviolence), any food procured through violence to living beings cannot be considered Sattvic.

Yogic Sattvic Diets

Some yogis that I have met favor a completely raw vegetarian diet with a primary focus on sprouted grains and beans (such as Garbanzo, Blackeyed peas, etc.) along with raw fruits and vegetables. Their diet is essentially vegan and contains no animal products. However, modern science teaches us that since vitamin B12 is missing from a purely vegan diet, supplementation is necessary.

A number of medical and scholarly references can be found on this issue on the web.

Other yogis have felt that a raw vegetarian diet is too limiting and include cooked foods as well as dairy products (milk, yogurt, lassi, etc.) in their diet. This diet, known as the lacto-vegetarian diet, is probably the most wide spread among Indian Hindus and Jains.

A few well known yogis have also traditionally included not only dairy but also eggs and egg products in their otherwise vegetarian diet. This is known as the lacto-ovo vegetarian diet.

Although very few Indian yogis include any kind of fish, fowl, or meat in their food, there are exceptions. Buddhist yogis, for example Dalai Lama, do eat meat. A few Hindu yogis also eat meat pointing out that some ancient scriptures sanction meat eating for certain religious rituals.

For most Hindu and Jain yogis, however, there is no convincing argument for eating meat if one wishes to uphold the supreme principle of Ahimsa and follow the philosophy of nonviolence.

What is the best Sattvic Diet?

The general answer from my study is that foods which cause the body to gain health and for the mind to be calm and peaceful constitute the Sattvic diet. To some extent, this requires knowing the needs of one’s own body and being sensitive to the effects of various foods on our system. Foods which are very suitable and nutritious for one person may not be right for another. Common sense and wisdom are the essential ingredients to find the best Sattvic diet for yourself.

In terms of particular foods to be eaten, the yogis and sages have answered this question, but the answers have different variations. One common element of a yogic Sattvic diet is that it is primarily vegetarian. This is true at least for Hindu and Jain yogis.

Within the broad framework of vegetarianism, a number of dietary systems are possible where certain foods are included and some are excluded. In the most liberal vegetarian diets, eggs and dairy products are included. Some people include dairy in their vegetarian diet but not eggs. Some include eggs but not dairy. In the most strict vegetarian diet, eggs and milk are excluded. Supplementation through certain vitamins is needed in such diets, according to modern medical opinion.

My personal experiences

Having experimented with a variety of diets for decades, I feel that a vegetarian diet can be healthy or unhealthy depending on many factors. For example, if I am a lacto-vegetarian and eat too many pizza pieces, the feeling of discomfort is likely to follow. In fact, after experimenting with eating pizzas thousands of times in my younger days, I am fairly certain that this is indeed true. I believe this also holds if one eats bucket loads of ice cream on a frequent basis. So, is lacto-vegetarian diet healthy? It depends on how lacto you are and how often you go lacto with heavy fat and fried lacto foods!

The point is that a vegetarian diet can be either healthy or unhealthy depending on the nature of food eaten as well as the quantity of food consumed.

In Chapter 6, verse 16, Sri Krishna specifically emphasizes moderation in eating and sleeping. He states, “There is no possibility of ones’ becoming a yogi, O Arjuna, if one eats too much, or eats too little, sleeps too much or does not sleep enough.”

Clearly, overconsumption of food leads to problems and one can logically conclude that the quantity of food consumed is probably an important element in a diet being considered Sattvic.

Sattvic diet is also a matter of degree. Some diets may be very Sattvic, while others may be moderately Sattvic.

Finally, the thoughts and the emotional balance while eating the food have an effect on our system. This is why in many religions, prayers and showing of gratitude for the food being consumed is offered. This mental state while eating helps the diet become more Sattvic.

What does it all mean?

So what does it all mean and what are the lessons from Bhagavad Gita and our discussion of the Sattvic diet? Here is what I think some of the lessons are. See if you agree.

1. Whatsoever you eat, eat in moderation.

2. Educate yourself on proper nutrition, be sensitive to your body, and see what foods work for you.

3. Emphasize fresh vegetables and fruits and eat a diet which is mostly plant-based.

4. Do not eat foods which are too salty, bitter, or have gone stale and putrid.

5. Regardless of the food being eaten, eat with gratitude, prayerful attitude, and with mental poise.

6. Chew the food carefully and taste it deeply without rushing.

There are literally thousands of great sources on the web and hundreds of books in stores to help you educate yourself on the Bhagavad Gita, vegetarianism, and nutrition. Go do some research and find out for yourself!

That’s my homespun wisdom for today. Like Captain Planet used to say, “The Power is yours!”

Given below are some pictures of plant based dishes that I made keeping the principles of Sattvic food in mind. Wishing you all abundant physical, mental, and spiritual health. Namaste.

Bliss – The Source and Meaning of Life: By Michael Bowes

This article was originally written on May 9, 2006 and posted by Michael Bowes on the old HS blog.

Picture below is by long term HarshaSatsangh member Alan Larus at http://www.ferryfee.com/tree.htm

One weekend in the early 1990s, my friend Narayan and I went to Saint Louis, Missouri to visit with Swami Chetanananda. Narayan and I have known Swami since the late 1980s. On Sunday morning of that weekend we were eating breakfast with Swami and the other residents of the temple, and according to the custom there, we were all reading a portion of the newspaper.

When reading the paper, Narayan nearly always goes straight to the “funnies”.

We were all reading and eating. Swami was at the head of the table, I was to his left, and Narayan was to my left. At some point Narayan nudges me and hands me the funnies. He pointed to the “Donald Duck” comic strip.

Donald Duck was in the Himalayas searching for his guru. And there were signs posted in the mountains that said “Guru”, and then an arrow would be pointing to a certain direction. And Donald followed the signs and arrows until finally, at the top of a mountain peak sat the guru with a personal computer in front of him.

Donald Duck asked the guru, “What is the meaning of life?”

The guru didn’t answer; but the computer started printing out something that couldn’t be read on the comic strip.

The gag was that personal computers were becoming the rage, and now even the guru was using one to divine the mystic truths.

But another peculiar thing was that Narayan and I were searching for a guru and a spiritual home; and now, thanks to Donald Duck, the stage was set for that possibility.

I nudged Swami and handed him the funnies while pointing to the Donald Duck comic strip. He read it and handed it back without saying a word, and continued to eat breakfast. After breakfast Swami went to prepare for his weekly public talk. The rest of us cleaned up after the meal and relaxed until the beginning of the service.

Swami began his Sunday morning talk and I really don’t remember the topic; but near the end he announced that he was going to reveal the “Meaning of Life”. He was going to reply to the question in the funnies.

Swami started by saying, “The meaning of life is bliss.”; and the following is a very loose paraphrase of what he said to explain that statement:

There is an “ocean of bliss” that is the source, the cause and support of all that we see; And in its manifest forms that bliss is experienced as amrita, rasa, love, joy, happiness, fun, hope, peace and even as pain and suffering. Pain and suffering serve as motivation for us to find a way to return to our original state of bliss.

We were all born from bliss. We arrive in this world because one day or one night our parents engaged in a blissful activity, and as a result we were born. From that day on, all of our conscious and even subconscious activities are meant to help us either directly or indirectly to achieve bliss and happiness.

As children all we really wanted to do was play. Our true unconditioned nature is playful. But, as we start to get a little older, we are forced to go to school and we are conditioned by society to perform certain useful functions.

But bliss, happiness, satisfaction, etc. are still the primary objective of all of our behaviors. Our parents and our society force us to go to school so that we can get a job, so that we can earn money, so that we can be happy.

We marry because we believe that another person will fulfill us and make us happy. We have children because we think that will make us happy. Everything that we do is ultimately for happiness and bliss. Even so called, “selfless love” only serves to satisfy ourselves. We believe that by performing our self-ordained duties that we will be satisfied.

A short time after I heard these words from Swami, I directly experienced that “ocean of bliss”. Our own true nature is something that cannot be imagined, and it is truly inexpressible. Since then, even though I have gone through some dark times, it isn’t possible for me to worry or lose my connection to that blissful being, the “ocean of bliss” that is our own true nature. And I have a lot of fun. I can’t seem to avoid it.

I began to experience this truth because of an encounter with the “funny paper”.

Love and peace to all,
Michael Bowes

The Story of JaDa-Bharata By Professor V. Krishnamurthy

Professor V. Krishnamurthy is well known to the Advaitin Hindu community and deeply revered as both a practitioner and a scholar of the Upanishads, Bhagavad Gita, Shrimad Bhagavatam, and other ancient scriptures and texts. He has touched our lives through his healing words, wisdom, and authenticity.

Before his retirement, Professor Krishnamurthy was a professor of mathematics with a distinguished record of service and leadership in the academe. Along with that, he also demonstrated brilliant scholarship of Hinduism. His insight into the ancient texts should come as no surprise. He was trained from childhood by his father Sri R.Viswanatha Sastrigal who was a living example of the ideal Hindu way of life.

A more comprehensive description of Professor Krishnamurthy’s contributions to his profession of mathematics and to Hinduism can be found at the end of the article.

The Story of JaDa-Bharata the Jivan-mukta

By Professor. V. Krishnamurthy

The JaDa-bharata story in Shrimad Bhagavatam is the story of a superlative Brahma-jnAni. There are very few Brahma-jnAnis known to us either through the Puranas or through history. The example of Ramana Maharishi, of the 20th century, known to us in modern times, cannot be missed.

Going back in history, there is Sadashiva Brahmendra (of whom there is very little recorded history), Adi Shankara himself (of whom we know fairly well through his works), and Shuka Brahmam (whose Bhagavatam is very revealing).

The story of JaDa-Bharata is, however, unique among all of them. Lord Krishna describes a Brahma jnAni once each in the 2nd, 12th and 14th chapters of his Gita and also off and on in the fifth chapter.

The Lineage of Bharata

The history of Priyavrata, the first son of Manu Svayambhuva, occurs in the fifth skanda of Shrimad Bhagavatam. Priyavrata’s son was Agnidhra and his son was Nabhi. Nabhi was a great and devout ruler and to him was born another avatar of Mahavishnu, by name Rishabha.

Rishabha, also called Rishabhadeva, had one hundred sons of whom the eldest was Bharata whose story is the content of this article. Incidentally it is this Bharata after whom the country (India) was called BhArata-varsha; before that it was called aja-nAbha varsha.

King Rishaba Retires

King Rishabha on retirement from the duties of the state called his sons before him and gave them all a long sermon on the need to lead a spiritual life. This sermon constitutes the first 27 shlokas of the fifth chapter of the fifth skanda. It is sometimes called Rishabha-Gita. For a sample we take the first shloka here.

“This body is not meant to be used for sensuous enjoyments as done by lowly animals. There are two doors out of this life. One is the door for moksha and the other is the door for the darkness of hell”. (V – 5 – 2 –first half). “The door to moksha is by service to great people.”

Here the words used are *yoshhitAM sangi-sangaM*. To go upward on the spiritual path one needs a direct contact with great people. But to cause a slide downward even a secondary contact with the vile ones will do. The lesson is that one should select one’s friends very carefully.

“By the union of man and woman attachment arises to home, family, sons, wealth and property. Those who want to reach God must see to it that they should advise their children as a father, train their people as a boss or a leader, and teach their disciples as a Guru. A father who does not do so is not a father; a king who does not do so is not a king; a guru who does not do so is not a guru”.

After elaborating such teaching in very forceful words King Rishabhadeva relinquished his kingdom, left his palace and roamed about as one intoxicated with God and the godly, completely nude, with disheveled hair and uncouth appearance. Actually he moved about as if he were senseless, blind, dumb and deaf, a ghost or a drunkard; even though others spoke to him he did not speak, because he was observing total silence:

*jaDAndha-mUka-badhira-pishAchonmAdakavat avadhUta-veshaH abhibhAshhyamANo’pi janAnAM gRRihIta-mauna-vrataH tUshhNIM babhUva* (V – 5 – 29).

This avatara of the Lord is to teach us worldly minded people to change our ways and reach Moksha.

*ayam avatAro rajas-opapluta-kaivalyopa-sikshhaNArthaH*

[Note to Scholars: Incidentally the author Shuka adopts a prose style of narration for most of this fifth skanda. In the other skandas it was all verse; probably he wanted to stick to the way the narration was given by Maitreya to Vidhura in the earlier portions. But now in the fifth skanda he is himself telling the story and this time it is about two great Brahma-jnAnis – Rishabha and Bharata – and as a Brahma-jnAni himself Shuka probably did not want to be bound by meter, prosody etc. which usually are obligatory restrictions in the verse form of narration.]

Bharata As King

Bharata accepted his responsibility as the next king after his father Rishba renounced the world.

Bharata ruled the country for a long time in the most notable manner, without ever swerving from the dharmic path, the path of the holy ones. As a noble king of India, he set a wonderful example for his subjects. Not surprisingly, his people were also following dharma in a remarkable manner.

The yajnas and pUjAs that he performed incessantly purified his mind to such an extent that the Lord was residing in Bharata’s heart almost visibly. Eventually Bharata wished to spend all his time in meditation and solitude. Like his great father Rishaba before him, Bharata ultimately decided to take Sannyasa and retired from the world.

Bharata Leaves the Kingdom

After making his family and subjects aware of his decision, Bharata distributed his kingdom to his sons and and went over to distant pulahAshrama for a period of penance and whole-time spiritual pursuit.

Entirely devoid of any mundane desires or attachments, he was worshipping the Lord with all the flowers, leaves and fruits that he could get in the forest there. His bhakti towards the Lord increased day by day and he was living all the time in a state of total bliss in the company of the Lord in his heart.

The constant contemplation of the lotus feet of the Lord generated a superlative joy of devotional experience. In that joy he forgot himself as well as the very worship he was doing. He just lost himself in divine contemplation in a kind of spiritual trance.

Forming of a New Attachment

One day, after his daily routine bath, Bharata was sitting on the bank of the river for four and a half hours doing the japa of AUM. A solitary doe approached the river for drinking water. Suddenly there was a terrifying roar of a lion. By nature the doe trembled with fear on hearing the roar; frightened and shaken by that roar, the doe jumped across the river. In that frightful jump she gave birth to a young one which fell into the river. The mother doe, due to shock, process of delivery, and the act of springing, fell dead on the other side of the river.

Bharata saw all this and was overpowered with compassion at the poor little deer that had now lost its mother and was about to be itself lost in the current of the river. Instinctively he caught hold of the little one, brought it to his own ashram and started taking care of it. From that day onwards he started feeding it, searched for the proper grass for its food, protected it from wild animals and was doing everything for its care, nourishment and growth.

Gradually Bharata’s time was more and more occupied with caring and tending to the needs of the infant deer. The time that he usually allotted for his spiritual disciplines got reduced steadily to almost nothing.

Compassion and affection are not wrong; in fact they are very noble qualities. But when they become an attachment, the spiritual fall is imminent. Affection ennobles, but attachment enslaves. Love elevates, but desire entraps. This is what happened in the case of this great King Bharata.

Infatuation Clouds Bharata’s Mind

With the attachment to the deer growing in intensity day by day, Bharata started thinking all the time of this deer that was now dearest to him. *Asana-shayana-aTana-sthAna-ashanAdishhu* — whether he was sitting or sleeping, walking or standing, or was eating, he was not wanting to be separated from the young deer. If the deer even for a little time was away from him he worried about its safety and began to wail over the matter. Even when he was trying to do his daily japa the deer would come near him and cuddle around him and he would take pity on it and put it on his lap and appreciate how this pet of his behaves like an own son!

Let us recall that this great king Bharata had renounced his vast kingdom and all the riches which he acquired as well as his family and people, for the sake of pursuing a life of total renunciation and tapas.

How could such a renouncer fall into the trap of worldly affection for a deer-cub and forget even his daily spiritual routine like this? What else could it be but his prArabdha (fate) in the form of this deer? Time passed like this and all his Atma-vichAra had come to a dead stop.

Death Of Bharata

Death comes to everyone and Bharata was no exception. The hour of Death does not wait.

Bharata knew the end was coming. He worried about what would happen to this poor deer-cub when he was gone! He was thinking about it, when he breathed his last. According to Hindu scriptures, a person’s last thoughts and state of mind determine the next birth.

Rebirth of Bharata

Subsequently, in his next life, Bharata was born as a deer!

(Recall Gita: *yaM yaM vApi smaran bhAvam *.. . (VIII – 6).

But because of the intense pUjA and tapas Bharata had been doing in all his previous life, even in the body of the deer, his mind, by the Grace of God, remembered his life as King Bharata and the calamity that had befallen him at the end of that life.

A Meditative Deer

So now Bharata, even as a deer, decided that he would not develop any more attachment or VAsanA. The deer Bharata deserted his surrounding deer-family and somehow went over to the same Pulahashrama where he was doing his tapas in the previous life.

The deer Bharata did not eat tasty green grass or any of the other things that deer are fond of, lest any attachment to food may develop. He only subsisted on a minimum dried grass and lived aloof from any of his own species. He lived in the company of Sadhus who were doing tapas in the Ashrama and was waiting for this life to pass and his prArabdha (destiny) to spend itself. He had decided not to acquire any more vAsanA even if he got a human life.

The end came. When it came, the deer Bharata went to the river and stood up in neck-deep water and for the first time as a deer, raised his voice and ‘spoke’ God’s name, dipped in the water and died!

The Last Birth of Bharata

Bharata’s next birth was in a noble Brahmin family. This was his last birth. His father was a great, scholarly Brahmin with purest intentions who led a religious life, with his nine sons from his first wife and a twin-child from his second wife. Of the twins one was male and the other was female.

The male of the twin was JaDa-bharata, our hero. The name that applied to him in this birth is not mentioned by Shuka. So, to continue our story we shall still call him Bharata. But expositors refer to him as JaDa-bharata. ‘JaDa’ means inert; from his very birth Bharata remained totally silent and was behaving like an idiot, not responding to any provocation. By the Grace of God he had all the memory of his two previous lives, one as King Bharata and the next as the lone deer of Pulahashrama; naturally, he was scared of accumulation of any more vAsanA. So he showed himself as mad, inert, blind, deaf and dumb.

The father, wanting to discharge his responsibilities, and hoping that this jaDa nature of the boy might be cured by a proper samskAra, performed the Upanayanam (thread ceremony) for the boy and prodded him on to do the daily Sandhya worship. But the boy would do no such thing! He was already a Brahma-jnAni and was in that state all the time, though the outside world, including his own family, could not recognize him as such. All their teaching of the Vedas or the Gayatri was a failure as far as they were concerned! The father died in due time and the second wife, the mother of JaDabharata also followed him immediately.

JaDa-Bharata’s Indifference

The nine brothers of JaDa-bharata who were knowledgeable only about the karma-kANDa of the Vedas and had no idea of the Brahmavit among them treated him as a good-for-nothing fool. Consequently they simply extracted work from him and fed him only some rotten food, that deserved to be thrown in the garbage.

JaDa-Bharata came to be known in the entire neighborhood as a robust young man but a confirmed idiot. Whatever menial work anybody gave him he did it, but not intelligently. They put him as a sentry in the fields to ward off birds and he sat there unendingly. Some one gives him instructions to dig and he digs ; someone else comes along and asks him to stop and he stops. Some one gives him a beating for not doing his work properly and he receives it without murmur or protest. Whatever he gets he accepted it, without ever caring whether it is more or less, good or bad. Whatever they gave him, be it rice flour, oil-cake, chaff, spoilt pulses, or charred food – he ate up everything as if it were nectar.

*YadA tu parata AhAraM karma-vetana IhamAnaH sva-bhrAtRRibhirapi kedAra-karmaNi nirUpitaH tadapi karoti kintu na samaM vishhamaM nyUnaM adhikaM iti veda kaNa-piNyAka-palI-karaNa-kulmAsha-sthAlIpurIshhAdIny-api amRRitavad-abhyavaharati //* V- 9 – 11.

It went on like this day by day, year by year. He had decided not to care for this body and so his body was usually filthy, his dhoti dirty, and his face, with a long beard, looked like that of a caveman. He was living as a Brahmavit totally aloof from his body.

The Goddess Saves JaDa-Bharata

It turned out that some rich man wanted to give a nara-bali (sacrifice of a human) to Goddess Kali and had arranged for a captive intended for the nara-bali. But just on the previous night the captive escaped and they needed immediately a substitute for the next morning’s ritual. The rich man sent his assistants to look for a substitute.

They roamed about and found our JaDa-bharata sitting alone in the fields. His robust appearance and youth tempted them to choose him as their victim for the nara-bali and they simply led him on to their boss.

Never had a victim for nara-bali come along with them for his own human sacrifice, as this man did, without the least protest! It appeared to them he was almost willing to die for them.

The next day the ritual started in the presence of the Kali deity. JaDa-bharata was bathed in oil, washed clean, dressed gorgeously, decorated with sandal paste and other cosmetics. Finally the leader of the group got ready to cut off JaDa-Bharata’s head as a sacrifice.

At that time Mother Goddess Kali Herself appeared from the deity and chopped off the heads of the entire gang and saved JaDa-Bharata. We don’t know where JaDa-Bharata went from there.

Upholding Ahimsa (Non-violence) and Jolting the King

The story is picked up by Shuka in another scene. There was one King of Sauvira country, by name Rahugana. He had great intentions to have spirituality lessons from Kapila Muni and so he traveled, carried in a palanquin, to the northwest corner of this country in the hope of meeting Kapila. On the way, one of his eight palanquin-bearers became unable to do his duty and so they needed a substitute. They looked for one and they found our JaDa-Bharata roaming about as if for no purpose. Again his robustness and youth attracted them and he was used as the substitute palanquin bearer.

The strength of the vAsanAs that one inherits from the actions of the past is very great. Noble Sadhus, particularly in the Sannyasa-Ashrama, are so careful even while they walk to see they don’t trample on a living creature. It is an extreme discipline of this kind which is one of the reasons they have cAturmasya-vrata (the vrata during the rainy season of four months), the observance of which requires them, among other things, to stay in the same place and carry on their daily worship or meditation routine.

Our JaDabharata must have gone through such disciplines in his previous lives. That VasanA of ahimsA (non-violence) was so strong in him that as he was walking along carrying the palanquin of King Rahugana in the woods, now and then he jumped forward, still carrying the portion of the palanquin resting on his right shoulder. The jumping was to avoid trampling on some small crawling creature on the ground below. But this jumping of one of the bearers, without the concordant activity or consent of the other bearers, naturally created a sudden jolt and jerk to the occupant of the palanquin. The King opened his window, looked out, and faulted the bearers for jolting him like that. All seven of them said it was not their fault; it was the newcomer who joined them just a little while earlier who was jumping out of step unnecessarily!

JaDa-Bharata Speaks

And that was the starting point of a remarkable dialogue between the King Rahuguna and our hero JaDa-Bharata. The King chastises him in a satirical way, referring to his robust health, fat body and youth. When a second time this chastisement happens, JaDabharata, for the first time in his life, opens his mouth. This portion in the Bhagavatam, going through four chapters, is one of the most treasured pieces in the whole work.

My dear King, says JaDa-bharata, whatever you have spoken sarcastically is certainly true. Actually these are not simply words of chastisement, for the body is the carrier. The load carried by the body does not belong to me. There is no contradiction in your statements because I am different from the body. I am not the carrier of the palanquin; the body is the carrier. Certainly, as you have hinted, I have not labored carrying the palanquin, for I am detached from the body. Your words about my stoutness or otherwise are befitting a person who does not know the distinction between the body and the soul. The body may be fat or thin, but no learned man would say such things of the Atman. As far as the Atman is concerned, I am neither fat nor skinny; therefore you are correct when you say that I am not very stout. Also, if the object of this journey and the path leading there were mine, there would be many troubles for me, but because they relate not to me but to my body, there is no trouble at all.

Fatness, thinness, bodily and mental distress, thirst, hunger, fear, disagreement, desires for material happiness, old age, sleep, attachment for material possessions, anger, lamentation, illusion and identification of the body with the self are all transformations of the material covering of the Atman. Only a person who has identified himself with his body is affected by these things. Consequently I am neither fat nor skinny nor anything else you have mentioned.

My dear King, you have unnecessarily accused me of being dead though alive. In this regard, I can only say that this is the case everywhere because everything material has its beginning and end. As far as your thinking that you are the king and master and are thus trying to order me, this is also incorrect because these positions are temporary. Today you are a king and I am your servant, but tomorrow the position may be changed, and you may be my servant and I your master. These are temporary circumstances. The differentiation is temporary, and it expands only from usage or convention. I do not see any other cause. In that case, who is the master, and who is the servant? Nonetheless, if you think that you are the master and that I am the servant, I shall accept this. Please order me. What can I do for you? You said you are going to punish me severely. What will you gain by punishing me? You will be only punishing my body; but I have actually punished this body by never tending to it. You are only powdering the already powdered chaff. There will be no effect.

King Recognizes JaDa-Bharata As A Self-Realized Soul

The King was stunned and amazed when he heard this. He jumped from the palanquin, fell at the feet of JaDabharata and asked for being taught spiritual wisdom. There ensues then a three-chapter dialogue between the King and JaDabharata containing the essence of advaita. The King asks questions and the Brahma-jnAni JaDabharata answers them meticulously.

Material pains and pleasures are only external. People interested in them are far from spiritual advancement. It is the mind, contaminated by the three modes of Nature, that makes the living entity wander through different species of life. If the mind can become unattached to material enjoyment, it becomes the cause of liberation.

All things on earth, moving or unmoving are nothing but different combinations of substances coming from the earth. We are all but dust and dust shall we end in. This universe itself has no ultimate existence.

Non-duality is the ultimate truth. This material existence is a forest. The Jiva through various births wanders through this forest and suffers untold miseries but does not know how to get out of this. The only way to get out of this is through satsangh. And the Brahma-jnAni concludes his teaching with the following emphasis:

*rahUgaNa-etat tapasA na yAti na cejyayA nirvapaNAd-gRhAd-vA /

nac-chandasA naiva jalAgni-sUryaIH vinA mahat-pAda-rajobhishhekaM *// Bh. V – 12 – 12

Rahugana, Unless one bathes in the dust from the feet of the devotees, this Absolute Truth cannot be learnt. Not by penance, nor by yajna, nor by renouncing the household, nor by Vedas, nor by torturing oneself in water, fire or the Sun (can it be learnt).

Summary

To sum up we shall only recall the following four shlokas from the Gita which describe a Brahma-jnAni. There is perhaps nothing more telling than the story of JaDa-Bharata to illustrate these profound declarations of the Lord Himself:

V-17: Their intellect absorbed in That, their self being That, established in That, with That for their supreme goal, they go whence there is no return, their sins dispelled by knowledge.

V -18: The wise men look, by nature, equally upon a Brahmana, rich in learning and humility, on a cow, on an elephant, and on a mere dog and on a dog-cooker (an out-caste).

V -19: Here [i.e. even while living in the body.] itself is rebirth conquered by them whose minds are established on sameness. Since Brahman is the same (in all) and free from defects, therefore they are established in Brahman.

V- 20: Resting in Brahman, with steady intellect and unclouded, the knower of Brahman neither rejoices on obtaining what is pleasant nor grieves on obtaining what is unpleasant.

Om ShAntiH ShAntiH ShAntiH.

Prof. V. Krishnamurthy
profvk@yahoo.com

Also see, http://www.harshasatsangh.com/ProfVK/Raasa/LeelA.htm

Prof. V. Krishnamurthy M.A. of Madras University and Ph.D, of Annamalai University, is an ex-Director of K.K. Birla Academy, New Delhi. Formerly he was Dy. Director and Prof. of Mathematics at Birla Institute of Technology and Science, Pilani for two decades. While at Pilani he was one of the top-ranking academic administrators who were responsible for the multifarious academic reforms for which BITS is now well known. His wide and varied interests in teaching and research include assignments at the University of Illinois, Urbana, Ill., U.S.A. and University of Delaware, Newark, DE., U.S.A. His mathematical research contributions are in the areas of Functional Analysis, Topology, Combinatorics and Mathematics Education.

Professor Krishnamurthy has been the President of the Indian Mathematical Society, President of the Mathematics Section of the Indian Science Congress Association, Executive Chairman of Association of Mathematics Teachers of India, and National Lecturer and National Fellow of the University Grants Commission. He has been Leader of the Indian team for the International Mathematical Olympiad, held at Bombay in 1996. His books in Mathematics include: Combinatorics: Theory and Applications; Introduction to Linear Algebra (jointly with two others); The Culture, Excitement and Relevance of Mathematics; Challenge & Thrill of Pre-College Mathematics (jointly with three others)and, The Clock of the Night Sky. and What is Mathematics? – An explanation through two Puzzles (In Tamil).


Professor Krishnamurthy was also trained systematically in the traditional Hindu scriptures by his father Sri R.Viswanatha Sastrigal, a scholarly exponent who was himself a living example of the ideal Hindu way of life. Prof. Krishnamurthy has given several successful lectures on Hinduism, the Ramayana, the Gita, the Upanishads, and Srimad Bhagavatam to Indian and American audiences. His expositions are known for their precision, clarity and an irresistible appeal to the modern mind. His books on religion include: Essentials of Hinduism; Hinduism for the next Generation; and, The Ten Commandments of Hinduism. He has also authored a series of 18 poster-size charts on Hinduism, entitled SADHARMA (= Sanatana Dharma Ratna Mala). These are unusual expositions with visual support, on the concepts ideals and traditions of the Hindu way of life, presented by an incisive scientific mind in a totally novel manner never before tried by any exponent of religion formally or informally.

A number of writings of his on Religion and Philosophy are on the web at http://www.geocities.com/profvk/ entitled: Science and Spirituality and Gems from the Ocean of Hindu Thought, Vision and Practice.

His recent books on religion are Kannan sorpadi vaazhvdeppadi (in Tamil) with an appendix on Dhruva-Stuti – An Upanishad Capsule (Published by Alliance Co., Mylapore, Chennai) and Science and Spirituality – A Vedanta Perception (Published by Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan).

Live Happily the Gita Way – An Advaitic approach” is under publication. He was given the Distinguished Service Award by the Mathematics Association of India in 1995, the Seva Ratna award by the Centenarian Trust, Chennai, in 1996, and the Vocational Service Award for Exemplary Contributions Education by the Rotary Clubs of Guindy and Chennai Samudra in September 2001.

The Guru Came As Ramu – Conclusion: By Michael Bowes

Michael Bowes is well known to us as an authentic and genuine and a very experienced yogi and a devotee of Sri Bhagavan Ramana. Internationally, he is well travelled and has been to India. He has visited various Ashrams and Gurus and Swamis in both the U.S. and abroad.Michael has an uncanny ability to see to the heart of the matter and his spiritual insights pierce through the veils of sentimentality and conceptual baggage. Michael is a long term member of the HarshaSatsangh community and his presence has been a gift.

Given below is the conclusion of a three part story from Michael about his visit to a Swami in India.

You can see Part I at the following link. https://luthar.com/2006/01/page/2/
Part II is at https://luthar.com/2006/01/

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By Sri Michael Bowes

In the first two parts of this story, I related some events that occurred during my association with a certain Swami. In part one, I told about the coming of a starving dog named Ramu, and how his presence began to unravel the Swami’s fragile facade. I wrote of the Swami’s callous statements that he made after Govindan’s wife, Mother, offered her heartfelt thanks for a small gift that I had given her.

I had planned to reveal more of the shameful actions of this Swami who initially had seemed to be a blazing spiritual light. But I realized that I cannot.

There are many blind guides in all religions and sects, persons who misuse their followers either intentionally or unintentionally. And there are many persons of faith who should carefully consider where they place their trust. And that is the question – In whom or in what may we trust?

We can trust in the ONE who sent Ramu to help me. Before I met this particular Swami, I already knew that the true Guru is always radiating grace through a myriad of ways, always guiding us through all beings and events. There is one immortal Being, unborn and undying, always providing the necessary grace to help us to recognize our own true nature. That is the message that I want to convey.

The surest spiritual path for one and all is to awaken to the love and grace of the sadguru. The Sanskrit word “sadguru” means different things to different people. Sadguru is a combination of two Sanskrit words, “sat” and “guru”. The basic meaning of “sat” is existence. It is also translated as “truth” because there is no truth apart from what exists. Of course the word “guru” is usually not translated; but refers to a spiritual guide or teacher. Some persons interpret the word “sadguru” to mean the “true guru”. But I interpret the word to convey the fact that all existence (sat) is the guru.

That is my experience.

The longer I live this life, the more I see that nothing whatsoever exists except for love, and bliss, and unimaginable communion with the sadguru as it manifests as all that we encounter. The wise spiritual aspirant will trust in the ever present sadguru and will not blindly follow any other guide.

Once I had been associating with a certain spiritual group for quite some time. I had benefited immensely from my exposure to their guru. I had developed close friendships with some of the members of the group, including the president of the organization. Occasionally, some of the members of the group would try to convince me to take initiation from their guru.

One day, my friend, the president, also tried to convince me to take initiation. He was trying to impress me with the necessity of accepting a spiritual authority. He was implying that his guru was such an authority.

He asked me, “Who is the final authority?” Suddenly, without consideration, I answered, “Me”. “I am my own final authority.”

It goes without saying. I am responsible for my own life and my own decisions. If I want to consider making a choice between different spiritual paths or spiritual teachers, I then become the ultimate authority. So do you. It’s easy to see. The buck stops with our own self, which is the same as the self of all.

But we don’t ever really need to decide between one teacher or another. The surest, most effective means to truth and happiness is to invoke the true guru, the ever present guru, which is the same as one’s own self.

When one makes that connection then there’s no doubt about the path or the method. After receiving initiation from the sadguru no spiritual or philosophical questions about life arise because life is revealed as a mysterious, blissful and wonderful existence for which there is no explanation.

Then there is nothing to accept and nothing to reject. After the touch of the sadguru one becomes free by always residing in the presence of the sacred ONE and its fantastic and mysterious manifestation.