Sunday, 30 June 2013

Natures Nature

Ganga Aarthi
courtesy Google images
||Aum Sri Ramakrishna Sharanam||

||Aum Namo Narayanaya||

It was a few years back... I recall how I made my way with much resistance through the madding crowd. Unable to even hear my own thoughts, my feet panicked for some ground to land on. Amidst the bargaining and yelling I tried to manoeuvre towards the stall to purchase my offerings. Finally, bereft of any energy to continue, I made my way back to the hotel foyer and explained my predicament to the hotel assistant who immediately smiled and offered to make the purchase for me. I gladly accepted his offer. Within 10 minutes, he returned with the provisions for the Ganga Aarthi which was scheduled to start in the next 15 minutes. I rewarded him handsomely for his efforts and made my way towards the bank of the Ganga.

The hotel was only a few blocks away from the Temple and Ghat where the pooja was to be performed... but the journey was prolonged as I had to find my path around thousands of devotees who had planted themselves at vantage points to make their offerings. The heat of the day still hung over the air, but the gushing waters of Ma Ganga brought forth a breeze from the Himalayas. The chimes and gongs blared from the direction of the Temple, huge flames were then waved... and immediately in chorus everyone started to sing the Hanuman Chalisa followed by the Ganga Aarthi. At the conclusion, with immense faith, devotion and appreciation -thousands of devotees including me- lit our ghee lamp, held it to our heads, and offered it at Her feet. It was such a glorious scene to watch as thousands of prayers, love and devotion floated like tiny illumined bubbles towards the 'ocean of mercy'.

This week... I stood in horror as I watched that very river become the destroyer - carrying on Her lap buildings, bodies and causing extensive damage to infrastructure... leaving thousands stranded and marooned along Her causeway. It is only the ignorant, who devoid of any understanding of the nature of nature, who will see the Ganga in a negative light. Nature has its own way of evolving and maintaining a balance in the eco-system. If we out of our ignorance choose to defy the laws of nature and out of our own convenience operate dangerously within Her areas of flexibility, we have but ourselves to blame. Like Mother Ganga, we offer salutations and prayers to the sun, wind, ocean, rain and other forms of nature. We have also seen apart from their contributions to our wellbeing, that they can also be very destructive. It is only by a proper understanding of the nature of nature that we can live comfortably and safely.

Lord Krishna said in the Bhagavad Gita:

yuktaharaviharasya yuktacheshtasya karmasu
yuktasvapnavabodhasya yogo bhavati duhkhaha

"The path of meditation requires a moderate, regulated life, avoiding too much or too little food, work,and sleep, or use of the senses. The attention must abide in the soul all the time. For such a person,yoga destroys all sorrows."

It's a beautiful lesson we take from the incidents that unfolded over the past week. Over thousands of years, we have placed so much of emphasis on the external worship and we have become so fixated upon it, that when such calamities face us, we become disillusioned and loose our faith. We have failed to understand that these paths of worship are a means to an end and not the end itself. They help us through our evolutionary process, but many people have based their lives on it.

As Bhagwan Krishna explains above, we should not become extremists or fanatical about things we do, but should approach all things in moderation with most of the emphasis being placed on the inner-self.

This is where the beauty and brilliance of Swami Vivekananda’s practicality and brilliance as a Guru comes out. His words come with a punch of reality because He was a knower of Brahman. Swamiji said: "If you have faith in the three hundred and thirty millions of your mythological Gods, and in all the Gods which foreigners have now and again introduced into your midst, and still have no faith in yourselves, there is no salvation for you. Have faith in yourselves, and stand up on that faith and be strong; that is what we need."

The external shall provide joy as per its temperament, but within us is the nucleus of this universe which is eternal and a constant source of peace and bliss. Utilise whatever we need for our sustenance from the world, but tap on the internal for peace and joy. Swamiji went further to say that the ideal of 'faith in ourselves' is of the greatest help to us. If faith in ourselves had been more extensively taught and practised, I am sure a very large portion of the evils and miseries that we have, would have vanished. Throughout the history of mankind... if any motive of power has been more potent than another in the lives of all great men and women, it is that of faith in themselves. Born with the consciousness that they were to be great, they became great.

Swamiji added: “There is a great tendency in modern times to talk too much of work and decry thought. Doing is very good, but that comes from thinking. Little manifestations of energy through the muscles are called work. But where there is no thought, there will be no work. Fill the brain, therefore, with high thoughts, highest ideals, place them day and night before you, and out of that will come great work. Talk not about impurity, but say that we are pure. We have hypnotised ourselves into this thought that we are little, that we are born, and that we are going to die, and into a constant state of fear".

There is a story about a lioness going about in search of prey; and seeing a flock of sheep, she jumped upon them. She died in the effort; and a little baby lion was born, motherless. It was taken care of by the sheep and the sheep brought it up. It grew up with them, ate grass, and bleated like the sheep. And although in time it became a big, full-grown lion, it thought it was a sheep. One day another lion came in search of prey and was astonished to find that in the midst of this flock of sheep was a lion, fleeing like the sheep at the approach of danger. He tried to get near the sheep-lion, to tell it that it was not a sheep but a lion; but the poor animal fled at his approach. However, he watched his opportunity and one day found the sheep-lion sleeping. He approached it and said, "You are a lion." "I am a sheep," cried the other lion and could not believe the contrary but bleated. The lion dragged him towards a lake and said, "Look here, here is my reflection and yours." Then came the comparison. It looked at the lion and then at its own reflection, and in a moment came the idea that it was a lion. The lion roared, the bleating was gone. You are lions, you are souls, pure, infinite, and perfect. The might of the universe is within you. "Why weepest thou, my friend? There is neither birth nor death for thee. Why weepest thou? There is no disease nor misery for thee, but thou art like the infinite sky; clouds of various colours come over it, play for a moment, then vanish. But the sky is ever the same eternal blue."

That is our foolish nature, when all that we need is within, we place faith on the external nature, which has the tendency to bring but symptomatic relief. The cure for all our misery is right within us.

May we all make the effort to know ourselves, is my sincere prayer.

With love and prayers always

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