Krishna and Arjuna-On the imperishable soul

 

Value- Truth

Sub value- Wisdom

The first chapter of the Bhagavad Gita is about  Arjuna the great warrior who is leading the Pandava army to fight against Kauravas  which included his cousins brothers, uncles and other relatives, teachers, guru and other respected elders, kings, allies with whom he had close relationships. His  own army  includes  his own brothers, cousins, uncles and other kings. Lord Krishna is his friend , charioteer who is giving guidance and is the support of Arjuna. The war is about to commence in the battlefield of Kurukshetra.

krishna arjuna 01

Arjuna asks Lord Krishna to drive his chariot into the center of the battlefield so he can see whom he is facing in battle.  As he recognizes so many familiar faces, his feelings get the best of him, his whole body reacts and he is overcome with sorrow.

He loses his will to fight, saying even if they wish to kill him, he does not wish to kill them. He sees no point in the battle – if it is gaining ruler ship of the earth, it is not worth it and if it is to gain glory in heaven – it is also not worth killing his own kinsman.  Arjuna becomes confused, discouraged and lays down his weapons saying he will not fight.

krishna arjuna 02

Having spoken thus, Arjuna throws aside his arrows and his bow in the midst of the battlefield.  He sits down on the seat of the chariot benumbed  and despondent and on the verge of  psychological breakdown.

Krishna tells Arjuna that in times of such danger, it is not befitting for him to throw down his weapons.  This will be seen as cowardice and will bring disgrace  to him and his lineage,  thereby urging him to stand up and fight.  Unable to  reconcile himself to bloodstain on his  hands even if he is victorious in battle;  Arjuna falls into a  state of benumbed  mental collapse or utter delusion.

It is at this point that Lord Krishna delivers his first teaching on life and death and outlines the philosophy of the Bhagavad Gita and the central themes of its teachings.  He teaches what true wisdom is, the nature of the Atman, the futility of grieving over the inevitable, the difference between knowledge and experience,  the importance of following one’s dharma and the philosophy of Karma Yoga.  Krishna teaches Arjuna to use his discrimination and tries to guide him out of his spiritual confusion, which Arjuna mistakenly takes for compassion.

Even though Arjuna’s words seem wise, the truly wise mourn neither for the living or the dead.  True wisdom is able to discern between the real and unreal. Life is continuous – there is never a time when anyone ceases to exist.  Human beings live through a cycle of birth into the body, they age, die and then take new bodies.  True wisdom is not deceived by the appearances of the cycle.  Human life in this world of duality is made up of the opposites: pain and pleasure, heat and cold which are impermanent and Lord Krishna’s advice to Arjuna is that he must endure these. Whatever is unreal can never come into existence and whatever is real cannot cease to be.  The Imperishable pervades everything and everyone.  The real Self is embodied in these bodies but does not die when the body dies.  Lord Krishna compares the changing of bodies to the changing of clothes.  The wise are not deceived by the illusion of death.

For the soul there is never birth nor death. Nor, having once been, does he ever cease to be. He is unborn, eternal, ever-existing, undying and primeval. He is not slain when the body is slain.

Learning

For most of us, the battlefield is not a physical war, but symbolic of the challenges of living one’s life.  We are, in a way, on a battlefield, where we are faced with our positive ambitions and desires, duties and obligations to self, family and society and poised against us, are negative characteristics and temptations. We are overwhelmed by the array of problems standing against us.  We get confused, paralyzed when we have to make decisions, weighing our own interests, those of others whom we love, our duties, possible outcomes, possible consequences of our actions or the actions of others with whom we have struggles. Then we look out for help and if we have the grace like Arjuna, an enlightened Master comes to guide us and help us understand the difference between real and unreal.

Courtesy- http://bhagavadgitamodernlife.blogspot.sg/p/chapter-2-yoga-of-knowledge.html

 

 

King Janaka and Ashtavakra

Value- Truth

Sub value- Strength within

ashtavakra

Once King Janaka became enlightened, he fell at Sage Ashtavakra’s feet. He said to Ashtavakra, “What am I going to do with my kingdom and my palace – these things are not important to me anymore. I just want to sit at your feet. Please let me stay with you in your ashram in the forest.”

But Ashtavakra replied, “Now that you have attained, your life is no more about your likes and dislikes. Your life is no more about your needs because you have none actually. Your people deserve an enlightened king. You must stay as their king.”

Reluctantly, Janaka stayed back in his palace and governed his kingdom with great wisdom.

Janaka was a true blessing to his people because he was a fully enlightened master, but he functioned as a king. In India, many sages and saints were once kings and emperors who willingly and voluntarily gave away everything they had and walked as beggars, with great dignity. There have been many like this – Gautama Buddha, Mahavira, Bahubali – but an enlightened king was a rare being. Janaka remained a king but as often as possible, whenever his regal responsibilities gave him some time, he would visit Ashtavakra in his ashram.

At the ashram, Ashtavakra had gathered a few monks who were being taught by him. These monks slowly began to resent Janaka because whenever he came, Ashtavakra went out of his way and spent a lot of time with the king because they had such a good rapport with each other. The moment Janaka came, both of them lit up. With the monks whom Ashtavakra was teaching, he did not light up the same way. There was something between Janaka and Ashtavakra, which was resented by the monks.

The monks would whisper to each other, “Why has our Guru sold out to a man like that? It looks like our Guru is getting corrupted. This man is a king. He lives in a palace. He has got so many wives and so many children. He has so much wealth. Look at the way he walks. He walks like a king. And look at the way he is dressed. Look at the ornaments he wears. What is spiritual about him that our Guru should even pay attention to this man? We are here totally dedicated to our spiritual process. We have come here as monks but he is just ignoring us.”

Ashtavakra knew that this feeling was growing among his monks. So one day he arranged for something to happen. He was sitting and speaking to the monks in a hall and king Janaka was also present. As the discourse was going on, a soldier came barging into the room, bowed down to Janaka but not to Ashtavakra, and said, “Oh king, the palace is on fire! Everything is burning. The whole kingdom is in disarray.”

Janaka got up and just yelled at the soldier, “Get out of here! How dare you come and disturb the sathsang[1] and how dare you bow down to me and not to my Guru! Just get out of here!” The soldier fled from the room. Janaka sat back down and Ashtavakra continued to speak.

A few days later, Ashtavakra set up something else. All of them were once again seated in the hall and Ashtavakra was giving a discourse. Right in the middle of the discourse, a helper in the ashram came running into the hall and said, “The monkeys have taken the clothes off the clothes-line and are playing havoc with the monks’ garments.”

All the monks immediately got up and ran to save their clothes. They did not want the monkeys to tamper with them. But when they got to the clothes-drying area, there were no monkeys and their loin cloths were still hanging on the clothes-line. They realized what had happened. They hung their heads down and walked back.

Then as a part of the discourse Ashtavakra said, “Look at this. This man is a king. A few days ago his palace was burning. His whole kingdom was in turmoil. Wealth at its peak was burning, but his concern was that his soldier disturbed the sathsang. That was his concern. You are monks. You have nothing. You don’t have a palace, you don’t have a wife, you don’t have children, you have got nothing. But when the monkeys came and picked up your clothing, you ran. Most people would not use your clothing even as mop cloths. That is the kind of clothing you wear. But for that loin cloth, without even paying attention to what I was saying, you just ran out to save those worthless pieces of cloth. Where is your renunciation? He is the true renunciate. He is a king but he is a renunciate. You are monks. You are using things that other people discard, but there is no renunciation in you. This is where you are. That is where he is.”

Learning

One’s progress within oneself has nothing to do with what a person does on the outside, what is most important is, what a person is doing within him or herself. What we are doing with the outside world is just social; we conduct ourselves as it is suitable for the situation in which we exist. It has social relevance but no existential or spiritual relevance. How we are within ourselves is all that matters.

Courtesy-http://isha.sadhguru.org/blog/podcast/the-story-of-ashtavakra-and-janaka/

Jambavan and Hanuman

 

Value- Truth

Sub value- Recognise your true self, inner strength

In the story of Ramayana, we know that Sita Devi was kidnapped by Ravana when Lord Rama went in search of the golden deer. Lord Rama and his brother Lakshmana set off in search of Sita Devi when they met Hanuman who took them to his monkey king Sugriva.

After Rama helped Sugriva to eliminate Vali and made him the king of Kishkinda, Sugriva promised to help Rama to search Sita by sending his monkey army. They came to know through Sampati, the brother of the bird Jatayu that Ravana had kidnapped Sita and taken her to Lanka. So the Vanara team got into a discussion to see how to reach Lanka and save Sita devi.

Angada the crown prince of Kishkinda says, “I am still small and cannot cross this distance”. Hanuman wasn’t sure of his capability and sat quietly. This is when Jambavan the bear and the wise old one of the army reveals to Hanuman secret about his strength.

As a young monkey, Hanuman could easily fly, even to reach out to the Sun. He is the son of Vayu (Lord of Wind) History says that Hanuman learnt all the Vedas directly from Sun God. He was well learned and powerful even as a child.

hanuman baby

But he was also very naughty and proud of his strength. To put a stop to his mischievous behaviour, he was cursed to forget all his strengths. But, there was a reprieve. He could realise his strength again when others remind him of that and praises him. Jambavan, knew this and reveals Hanuman’s strengths and capabilities.

hanuman and jambavan

Thus realising his strengths, he sets out to cross the ocean single-handed, overcomes all the obstacles and later plays a key role in the war with Ravana. At many crucial points during the war Hanuman helps Rama and His army to win Ravana.

Learning

Lord Hanuman symbolically stands for pure devotion, complete surrender without any trace of ego. As a monkey he represents the lower self of man which thinks and behaves that he is just that body with limitations. But when he is reminded of who he is and what his strengths are; he gets connected to the higher and then serves and works for the higher after which he merges with that higher. All of us have that inner core strength and potential which when revealed to us can lead us to success both in the material as well as the spiritual world.

Pain and Pleasure

Value- Truth

Sub value- Perseverance, faith

prahalad

Hiranyakashipu was the king of the Daityas. He was a wicked king and often harassed the devas, and godly people. He declared himself to be the God of the whole universe and proclaimed that there was no other God but himself, and strictly enjoined that the Omnipotent Vishnu should have no worship offered to Him anywhere; and that all the worship should henceforth be given to himself only.

Hiranyakashipu had a son called Prahlâda. Now, it so happened, that this Prahlada from his infancy was devoted to God. He showed indications of this as a child; and the king of the Daityas, fearing that the evil he wanted to drive away from the world would crop up in his own family, made over his son to two teachers called Shanda and Amarka, who were very stern disciplinarians, with strict injunctions that Prahlada was never to hear even the name of Vishnu mentioned. The teachers took the prince to their home, and there he was put to study with the other children of his age. But the little Prahlada, instead of learning from his books, devoted all the time in teaching the other boys how to worship Vishnu. When the teachers found it out, they were frightened, for the fear of the mighty king Hiranyakashipu was upon them, and they tried their best to dissuade the child from such teachings. But Prahlada could no more stop his teaching and worshipping Vishnu than he could stop breathing. To clear themselves, the teachers told the terrible fact to the king, that his son was not only worshipping Vishnu himself, but also spoiling all the other children by teaching them to worship Vishnu.

The monarch became very much enraged when he heard this and called the boy to his presence. He tried by gentle persuasions to dissuade Prahlada from the worship of Vishnu and taught him that he, the king, was the only God to worship. But it was to no purpose. The child declared, again and again, that the Omnipresent Vishnu, Lord of the universe, was the only Being to be worshipped — for even he, the king, held his throne only so long as it pleased Vishnu. The rage of the king knew no bounds, and he ordered the boy to be immediately killed. So the Daityas struck him with pointed weapons; but Prahlad’s mind was so intent upon Vishnu that he felt no pain from them.

When his father, the king, saw that it was so, he became frightened but, roused to the worst passions of a Daitya, contrived various diabolical means to kill the boy. He ordered him to be trampled under foot by an elephant. The enraged elephant could not crush the body any more than he could have crushed a block of iron. So this measure also was to no purpose. Then the king ordered the boy to be thrown over a precipice, and this order too was duly carried out; but, as Vishnu resided in the heart of Prahlada, he came down upon the earth as gently as a flower drops upon the grass. Poison, fire, starvation, throwing into a well, enchantments, and other measures were then tried on the child one after another, but to no purpose. Nothing could hurt him in whose heart dwelt Vishnu.

At last, the king ordered the boy to be tied with mighty serpents called up from the nether worlds, and then cast to the bottom of the ocean, where huge mountains were to be piled high upon him, so that in course of time, if not immediately, he might die; and he ordered him to be left in this plight. Even though treated in this manner, the boy continued to pray to his beloved Vishnu: “Salutation to Thee, Lord of the universe. Thou beautiful Vishnu!” Thus thinking and meditating on Vishnu, he began to feel that Vishnu was near him, nay, that He was in his own soul, until he began to feel that he was Vishnu, and that he was everything and everywhere.

As soon as he realised this, all the snake bonds snapped asunder; the mountains were pulverised, the ocean upheaved, and he was gently lifted up above the waves, and safely carried to the shore. As Prahlada stood there, he forgot that he was a Daitya and had a mortal body: he felt he was the universe and all the powers of the universe emanated from him; there was nothing in nature that could injure him; he himself was the ruler of nature. Time passed thus, in one unbroken ecstasy of bliss, until gradually Prahlada began to remember that he had a body and that he was Prahlada. As soon as he became once more conscious of the body, he saw that God was within and without; and everything appeared to him as Vishnu.

When the king Hiranyakashipu found to his horror that all mortal means of getting rid of the boy who was perfectly devoted to his enemy, the God Vishnu, were powerless, he was at a loss to know what to do. The king had the boy again brought before him, and tried to persuade him once more to listen to  his advice, through gentle means. But Prahlada made the same reply. Thinking, however, that these childish whims of the boy would be rectified with age and further training, he put him again under the charge of the teachers, Shanda and Amarka, asking them to teach him the duties of the king. But those teachings did not appeal to Prahlada, and he spent his time in instructing his schoolmates in the path of devotion to the Lord Vishnu.

When his father came to hear about it, he again became furious with rage, and calling the boy to him, threatened to kill him, and abused Vishnu in the worst language. But Prahlada still insisted that Vishnu was the Lord of the universe, the Beginningless, the Endless, the Omnipotent and the Omnipresent, and as such, he alone was to be worshipped. The king roared with anger and said: “Thou evil one, if thy Vishnu is God omnipresent, why doth he not reside in that pillar yonder?” Prahlada humbly submitted that He did do so. “If so,” cried the king, “let him defend thee; I will kill thee with this sword.” Thus saying the king rushed at him with sword in hand, and dealt a terrible blow at the pillar. Instantly thundering voice was heard, and lo and behold, there issued forth from the pillar Vishnu in His awful Narsimha form — half-lion, half-man! Panic-stricken, the Daityas ran away in all directions; but Hiranyakashipu fought with him long and desperately, till he was finally overpowered and killed.

narasinha

Then the gods descended from heaven and offered hymns to Vishnu, and Prahlada also fell at His feet and broke forth into exquisite hymns of praise and devotion. And he heard the Voice of God saying, “Ask, Prahlada ask for anything thou desires”; thou art My favourite child; therefore ask for anything thou may wish.” And Prahlada choked with feelings replied, “Lord, I have seen Thee. What else can I want? Do thou not tempt me with earthly or heavenly boons.” Again the Voice said: “Yet ask something, my son.” And then Prahlada replied, “That intense love, O Lord, which the ignorant bear to worldly things, may I have the same love for Thee; may I have the same intensity of love for Thee, but only for love’s sake!”

Then the Lord said, “Prahlada, though My intense devotees never desire for anything, here or hereafter, yet by My command, do thou enjoy the blessings of this world to the end of the present cycle, and perform works of religious merit, with thy heart fixed on Me. And thus in time, after the dissolution of thy body, thou shalt attain Me.” Thus blessing Prahlada, the Lord Vishnu disappeared. Then the gods headed by Brahma installed Prahlada on the throne of the Daityas and returned to their respective spheres.

Learning

Prahlada demonstrated to mankind that during tough times–and even otherwise–we should resort to the chanting of the divine name just the way we cover ourselves with a blanket when it becomes extremely cold. The painful circumstances we are subjected to are like the purifying fire. A slab of gold when passed through a furnace becomes malleable and worthy of being molded into precious ornaments. Our essence is like pure gold and when we pass through painful situations, we are purified and become worthy of being molded into worthy instruments that can be adorned by the Divine.

Story- http://www.ramakrishnavivekananda.info/vivekananda/volume_4/lectures_and_discourses/the_story_of_prahlada.htm

Essence- Sathya Sai Speaks Chapter 2, Vol 1

The wallet

old-man-train

Value- Truth

Sub value-Illusion

Once an old man was travelling by train on a pilgrimage to Brindavan. At night, whilst he was asleep, his wallet fell from his pocket. A co-passenger found it the next morning and enquired as to whom the wallet belonged. The old man said it was his. A picture of Sri Krishna inside the wallet was proof that the wallet really belonged to him.

krishna

The old man then began to relate the story of the wallet. He soon had a group of eager listeners around him. Lifting up the purse for all to see, the old man said: This purse has a long history behind it. My father gave it to me years ago when I was a mere schoolboy. I kept my little pocket money in it and also a photograph of my parents.

Years passed. I grew up and began studying at university. Like every youth, I became conscious of my appearance. I replaced my parents’ photograph with that of my own and I would look at it often. I had become my own admirer.

Then came marriage. Self-admiration gave way to the consciousness of a family. Out went my own picture and I replaced it with that of my wife’s. During the day I would open the wallet many times and gaze at the picture. All tiredness vanished and I would resume my work with enthusiasm.

Then came the birth of my first child. What a joy I experienced when I became a father! I would eagerly rush home after work to play with my little baby. Needless to say, my wife’s picture had already made way for the child’s.

The old man paused. Wiping his tearful eyes, he looked around and said in a sad voice: Friends, my parents passed away long ago. My wife too died five years ago. My son- my only son- is now married. He is too busy with his career and his family. He has no time for me. I now stand on the brink of death. I do not know what awaits me in future. Everything I loved, everything I considered my own, has left me.

A picture of Lord Krishna now occupies the place in my wallet. I know He will never leave me. I wish now that I had kept HIS picture with me right from the beginning! He alone is true; all others are just passing shadows.

Learning

Earthly ties are transitory. Today they seem to be the be-all and end-all of life, and tomorrow they vanish. Our real tie is with God. God is one’s very own. It is the eternal relationship. He is ever looking after us. Call on the Lord who pervades the entire universe. He will shower His blessings upon you. Our wealth will remain on earth; our cattle will remain in the stables, our spouse will come till the entrance door, our relatives and friends will come till the cremation ground, our body will accompany us till the funeral pyre, but on the way beyond this life only our Karmas will accompany us; hence we must strive to do good.

Courtesy-http://www.hinduism.co.za/stories-.htm

The importance of Guru

Value- Truth

Subvalue-Wisdom, Guidance

In the early years when Swami Vivekananda first visited Ramakrishna Paramahamsa, Swami Vivekananda  asked ‘I have read the Bhagavad Gita and other scriptures several times, I lecture and give discourses on the Gita and Ramayana. Do I still need  the harbor of a saint; do I still need a guru?’

rk

Ramakrishna didn’t reply to Vivekananda’s question. After a few days Ramakrishna called upon Vivekananda and handed him a parcel to be delivered at a nearby village a few hours away by the sea route. Early morning the boat and sailor would be ready and all he needed to do was to go to the village and deliver the parcel to the designated person.

Vivekananda agreed and decided to start early. He found the boat and the sailor ready to put out to sea. While seated  in the boat, Vivekananda suddenly realized that he didn’t know the road to the village. He checked with the sailor  to find out if the sailor knew the way to the place, but the sailor  had no clue, either. Vivekananda decided to go back to his guru to ask him the shortest way to the village.

Upon this Ramakrishna said, ‘Narendra, this is my reply to the question you asked me when we met the first time: Today, you have the medium (the boat), you have the resource (the sailor), you have the road (the sea), you know what to do (deliver the parcel) and you also know where to go but you don’t know the way. Likewise you have read all the scriptures, and you can conduct wonderful discourses on them. However, to realize the wisdom of scriptures one needs a guru, someone who has already traversed that path so that he can guide you through the journey and encourage you to not give up.’

Learning

A teacher or a guru especially who has traversed or experienced life is the one capable of teaching and guiding us. If we find such a Guru we must hold on to Him so that we can face our life in a better and more easier manner.

Winning or losing

Value- Truth, love

Sub value- Awareness, compassion

One day, a young boy came into the monastery and asked the Chief Monk, to give him some work and also food.

monk

The Chief Monk asked him: What have you read? What work can you do? What do you know?

The boy replied: I have not studied in school; I have no proficiency in any work excepting some stray jobs like washing food plates, cleaning up the cottage etc., I do not know anything else.

The Chief Monk asked ,’ Are you sure you do not know anything else?’

The young boy replied, ‘Oh, yes, Sir, now I remember. I can play a decent game of Chess.’

The Chief Monk said: Oh that’s good. Now I shall test you in your game.’
He asked another monk to come with chess board and coins and asked a table to be placed so that the game could start.

Before start of the game, the Chief Monk said,’ Now see, I have a sword on my hand. If any one is defeated, his nose will be severed.’

The boy became nervous. However, without any other way to go, he agreed.

The game started. Initially, the boy made some mistakes in moves. His position on the board became almost hopeless.

chess

He then concentrated completely on the game and improved the position to a winning level.

Then he noticed that the monk, his opponent,  was not nervous but obviously a little disturbed.

The boy then thought,
“I am a useless fellow in life. Nothing will change the world if I lose the game and lose my nose.

But this monk, is well read person, doing meditation and is sure to attain Buddha Hood Why should he lose?’

So the young boy deliberately made a wrong move, so that his opponent  could take advantage and win the game !

The Chief Monk suddenly flashed his sword on the table. All the coins flew into different directions.

He then said, ‘ The game is over. Oh boy! you are IN. You will be with us in the monastery hereafter.’

The boy did not understand.

The Chief Monk explained, ‘I did not ask you to play chess to find out your caliber in the game. But I was looking for two essential qualities that are necessary for Self realization.

One is *Maha Prajna*. The Great Awareness. I found that in you. When you were losing badly, you put your entire concentration and attention on the game turning to your advantage.
This is Maha Prajna.

The second is *Maha Karuna* – The Great Compassion. I found that also in you. When your opponent was about to lose the game, you looked at him with great compassion and deliberately made a wrong mistake so that he could win.

These two qualities are adequate to do sadhana and make the life ‘Meaningful’
‘YOU ARE IN.’

Learning

Life isn’t about winning or losing there is nothing to win and nothing to lose.We can at best enjoy or suffer our limited time called ‘Life’ but enjoyment or suffering is also only a figment of our imagination.

Going beyond enjoyment, suffering, winning or losing is the path that few choose to walk.

 

 

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