Sunday, 22 July 2012

The Winds of Erosion

||Sri Ramakrishna Sharanam||

Aum Namo Narayanaya

Our ancestors and elders used to utilise certain important prayers to ascertain the season - for example, Puratassi and Pongal reflects the rainy season, whilst Aadi indicates the windy period. Weather wise, it actually signals a very horrendous time - when the vicious blend of the wind and chill arrests one to a very subdued mood. At times, the very thought of being outdoors invokes such uneasiness. However, I doubt that an invitation for a hot cup of porridge and crispy fried vedai will not coerce you to leave your abode of warmth for a little while.

Whilst thinking of how the Aadi winds remove with relative ease, the warm comfort smiles off our faces, I am reminded of a question I was asked by a journalist. She asked why a religion which preaches Ahimsa (non-violence), speaks so much about war (she was referring to the Ramayan and Mahabharat). It is at these moments that we instantly look to the heavens and pray with gratitude for being blessed with great souls like Swami Vimokshananda who have armed us with knowledge of these profound truths. Essentially Swamiji has elaborated how the pure Vedanta has been interwoven and impregnated into their great Puranas so that they will be passed down from generation to generation intact. It is up to the aspirant in search of the truth to extract the amrith or nectar out of them, for his liberation and spiritual journey.

A very dear friend of mine always says to me, never to answer a question with a question, but at this moment I feel insanely obliged to respond with the question: When did the war ever stop? Both works that she referenced are metaphors for the eternal war that is being waged upon us by two very persistent and strategic enemies. We must be warned about degenerating these terms into a trite, as their seriousness and ability to cause inflictions of mind and body are great. From time immemorial, they have lured and tricked mankind with the promise of treasures beyond the imagination. Yet history tells a story of how lives, empires and respect have abandoned people under the command of these ruthless enemies.

Sri Ramakrishna in the Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna throughout His entire field of conversations never failed to briskly proclaim: “There is no doubt that anger, lust, and greed are evils”. Through His constant repetition of the dangers of lust and greed, the Master aims to condition us to the disastrous consequences of allowing these desires to take control of our minds. The Bhagavad Gita which is described by great authoritative personalities as the essence of Vedanta says in Ch 16, Verse 21: “There are three gates leading to hell — lust, anger and greed. Every sane man should give these up, for they lead to the degradation.”

It is so unfortunate how these winds of desire effortlessly erode any semblance of peace and deflect the mind onto the turbulent seas of this existence. There is an interesting and practical analogy by the Master in this  regard. 

In our part of the country, I have seen peasants bringing water into their paddy-fields. The fields have low ridges on all sides to prevent the water from leaking out; but these are made of mud and often have holes here and there. The peasants work themselves to death to bring the water, which however, leaks out through the holes. Desires are the holes. You practice japa and austerities, no doubt, but they all leak out through the holes of your desires.

They catch fish with a bamboo trap. The bamboo is naturally straight. But why is it bent in the trap? In order to catch the fish. Desires are the fish. Therefore, the mind is bent down toward the world. If there are no desires, the mind naturally looks up toward God.

Do you know what it is like? It is like the needles of balance. On account of the weight of lust and greed, the two needles are not in line. It is lust and greed that makes a man stray from the path of yoga. Haven't you noticed the  flame of a candle? The slightest wind makes it waver. The state of yoga is like the candle flame in a windless place.

How then do we build a fort against this gale that erodes and makes us vulnerable to the forces of emotions and obsessions?

Master said: 

You are no doubt in the world. What if you are? You must surrender the fruit of your action to God. You must not seek any result for yourself. But mark one thing. The desire for bhakti cannot be called a desire. You may desire bhakti and pray for it. Practice the tamas of bhakti and force your demand upon the Divine Mother.

Swami Vivekananda in His poem, The Song of a Sannyasin, writes:

Truth never comes where
lust and fame and greed'
of gain reside.
No man who thinks of woman
As his wife can ever perfect be;
Nor he who owns the least of things, nor he
Whom anger chains, can ever pass
thro' Maya's gates,
So, give these up, Sannyasin.
Boldly say Hari Om Tat Sat.

Master, Swamiji and all contemporary saints of our time have prescribed plugging the holes created by lust and greed with thoughts of God’s name through meditation; words of God by doing japa and singing bhajans; speaking in a divine manner; and action for God by doing seva like feeding the hungry, nursing the sick and clothing the destitute. When you fill your life with God, then there is no room for things like lust, greed, anger, hatred and other vices to play havoc in your mind. 

I conclude with these divine words of Saint Thiruvaluvar in the Thirukurral:

Uranennum thottiyan oraintum kaapan
varanennum vaippirkor vittu
The one who has strength to control his five senses,
Prepares the way for a higher place in life. 

In this auspicious month of Aadi, may the Mother in Her form as Ma Lakshmi also bestow Her bounty on you this Friday on Varalakshmi Viratham. 

May we all take this opportunity of human birth with the faculty of intellect to renounce these vices and attain the highest peace (ananda) is my sincere prayer.

With Love and Prayers Always

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