Life… In Pursuit of Perfect Happiness
Aum Gurbhyo Namah.

Dear Friends,  It gives me immense pleasure to be part of this Satsang at Siddhasrama and feel honoured for the invitation from Sri Balaji and the Guruji of Siddhasrma on this special occasion. I thank Balaji for his generous good comments and I am not sure I deserve them, but pray to qualify as such.

Life … pursuit of perfect happiness… This is the caption that occurred in my mind when Balaji phoned me and asked for a title of the discourse. Is here anyone who does not seek happiness? Is not happiness the only true goal we seek? Is not all our life’s ordeals are nothing but the search of true happiness? if so, don’t we need to discuss and understand this very essential goal of life and ensure that all our efforts lead towards achieving this goal? This is what I thought the caption would lead us to evaluate! I also learnt that the Satsang has been conducting recital and classes on three key treasures of Sanatana Dharma – Sri Bhagavad Gita, Vishnu Sahasranama (VS) and Lalitha Sahasranama (LS). As the main goal of these treasures of knowledge is to steer us towards the perfect happiness, I thought the title would be appropriate for this first anniversary occasion.

You see, all form of expression be it art, literature, kavyaas, ithihasa, purana etc in our Sanatana dharma, when teaching the highest of all ideals, only reflect or paraphrase or elaborate the eternal truth of Vedas and in particular, the essence of Vedanta – the Upanishad. Therefore an understanding of Vedanta – today mainly in the context of our topic – would help to us to get a better understanding and the application of Gita, Vishnu Sahasranama and Lalitha Sahasranama. As the time is short, we shall look only briefly in this discussion. What is perfect happiness….? You may “Sir…. forgets ‘perfect’ happiness… any happiness would do for me… my miseries are insurmountable…. my needs are plenty and hard to get; my wants are far more recurring, far more difficult to fulfil…. So please happiness in any measure is welcome….” Such is the state of affairs for many of us. We give importance to what we lack rather than what we have. To us, things not possessed seem the best… so we go after these. We compare with others only to confirm what we do not have… thus fill our minds with emptiness rather than the fullness; misery settles in our hearts… In such sad state of affairs, it is true, any trace of happiness is welcome! It does not need to be like this.

What is happiness? Is it just another sensation like fear, hunger or anger? What makes us happy? Are sensory pleasures and material possession giving us true happiness? How do we know we are happy? You know that recently the UK Government surveyed the happiness index of the country. It drew interesting debates among the statisticians, socio-psychologists, economists and philosophers! The index drew some inference based on the ‘feeling of well-being’. Surely ‘feeling of well-being’ is an important indicator of happiness, but is it real, is it complete and in the context of our discussions, is it perfect?

When such questions arise, we seek answers from great seers of religions and spiritual doctrines of the world. All scriptures – great religions – ask us to lead a good life that will give happiness. For example, in the Quran in Surah al Baladm, it is said that “good life” is happiness itself, to be realized through faith and good deeds, in spite of men is made to toil in this world. The Bible offers happiness through love and sacrifice – for a good life on the earth and on the Heaven. Our Sanatana Dharma says that we are happiness embodied…. happiness is our true nature! But we do not understand and remain ignorant of our nature which is ever blissful. It is due to such ignorance, we long for happiness and search in the external objects.

Seeking happiness in such external objects and through sensory pleasures is known as ‘vishaya Indriya Ananda’ or simply vishayaananda in the Upanishads. Ordinarily, we only associate with ‘vishaya aananda’ and think happiness exists in the external objects of desire. Money, ornaments, real estate, position, fame and such material possessions are believed to provide the happiness we seek! But these are eventually proven to fail. The Vedanta offers some help to understand this. Generally, the happiness from the external objects is of thee types. The knowledge about the existence of the object of desire creates s a sense of anxiety and excitement towards the object of desire. This is known as priyam or attachment. Once we obtain the object of desire, we have different type of emotions known as moham or passion.

Finally, when the object of desire is enjoyed, there is yet another type of emotions raised, which is referred to as pramodam or possessive pleasure. Each of these emotions is transient. When the object of desire is not reached, it gives distress. Even when reached, anxiety or fear of losing the object arises. The possession of desired object also increases the dread of loosing or the boredom of its prolonged ownership. Even the enjoyment is mixed with fear and sadness. Excessive consumption breeds distaste. None of these are true happiness and none of these external objects are the source of true happiness. So we give up interest on one object and go after other. Those of us who truly seek perfect happiness analyze this folly….and by analyzing the efforts/results of Vishaya Ananda, we deduce that only complete objects can give complete happiness. The reason why the external objects of desire are not able to provide complete happiness is that none of these are complete. This is the first stage of learning. Therefore to seek complete, perfect happiness, we need to seek that complete, perfect object. Our quest must therefore to know that complete, perfect object. At the same time, we also observe that even ordinary happiness, in fact, is not on the objects of desire, but only on the completion or termination of the desire.

When a desire is fulfilled, there is happiness. In another words, when a desire is released, happiness arises. So we conclude that in the existence of desire, there is no true happiness, but in the release of the desire, there is. Those who understand this and to pursue an efficient path to happiness change their view that the happiness is not in the desire at all, but only in its absence. But our life is full of actions… So to have happiness through our life, all our actions have to be ‘desire-less’. So every action when done without any desire of its benefits, must give more lasting happiness. We understand the need for ‘Desireless Action’. This is what Sri Bhagavad Geetha describes as ‘tyaaga aananda’ or the joy of detachment. By dispassionate service and through unconditional sacrifices, more refined and more enduring happiness is achieved. This is better and it reflects an evolved state. With the enjoyment of tyaggananda, a different, but a nobler desire roots in our heart that seeks the absolute and complete happiness. We deduce another lesson from our pursuit so far. Experience teaches that the happiness is not on the external object but our feeling towards it. It must be… because if happiness is an attribute of an external object then such object must give happiness to every one! Does it? The same object creates happiness to some and distress to others! Also even to the same person, the same object does not provide the same happiness all the time…. So happiness cannot be the attribute of external objects but something internal. This means, the so called, complete and perfect object that we seek must be within. This wisdom gives us much more refined happiness. This is called gyaana aananda’. The yearnings for such knowledge, coming to satsang such as this today, are the indicators for our pursuit for gyaana aananda’.

Lord Krishna shows three types of happiness in Gita also. Krishna is the greatest of all teachers. In chapter 18, a verse 37 to 39, He shows three types of happiness. The vishaya indriya pleasures are of a type of happiness which is very attractive initially, tastes like nectar but ultimately drowns us into bitter poison.

visaendriya samyogad yat tad agre mrtopamam
oariname visam iva tat sukham rajasm smrtam (18-38)

These external, sensory pleasures are set to be of rajasic (passionate) in character. But we are living in the world of external objects. It is necessary therefore to experience Vishaya Ananda. You do not need to shun these but do not be a slave to them. Before such a vishaya ananda turns bitter, give it up; Be moderate… that is the lesson here. There is another type of happiness which may look unattractive and bitter like poison to start with but ends in eternal sweetness like nectar. That is satvic (serene purity) in nature and that is only from the Self-inquiry.

yat tat agre visameva pariname mrtopamam
tat sukham saatvikam proktam atmabuddhi prasadam (18-37)

This is Gyana Ananda…. This is what we need. This is what takes us to the perfect happiness. Of course there is another category… which is devoid of duty. It starts and continues to seduce our mind and bury us in illusive pleasure. That is tamasic (laziness) in nature and we must not seek them and shun them at all costs.

yadagreca nubandheca sukkham mohanam Atmanah
nidralaysa pramaadottham tat taamasam udahrtam (18-39)

So for the perfect happiness, we require and apply the Gyannam. Why is this special gift to the human beings?

aahaara nithraa bhayam maithunani saamaanya metath pashubhir naraanaam
gyaanam naraanaam athiko vishesho gyaanenaheena: pasubhisamanaa: ||

Food, sleep, fear, passion etc are common qualities in both animals and men. But only the gyaanam is special for men, and if a man does not use this faculty, he is no different to an animal. Well, What is the use of such gyaana? Gyaana leads us to the complete, perfect object that we seek within us. It shows the Self – the light within – as complete perfect object we are seeking. We learn from the Vedanta that the indwelling spirit in all life forms is the same, the Self or the Atman is the ocean of Absolute-Bliss (Ananda). Its nature is said as ‘saukyam’ meaning the state when one is absolutely and completely happy – in body, mind, and intellect. ‘suakasvarupam saukyam’ – implies that happiness is our nature. When we learn that within us is the eternal Atman as the Self, our self-worth is understood. Is it not? In the worldly pursuits, the reason we often feel sad is because we lack self-esteem. Self-esteem is necessary…. It is not ego or arrogance but the understanding the true goodness of oneself within.

Self-esteem is not the product of material possession or external attributes of a person. It is the realization of one’s one infinite potential and the desire for the projection of such goodness to others. When Self-esteem lacks, fear sets in and misery creeps. Now we know that the indwelling light is the Self – the Atman – which is true and eternal happiness. This is what the Vedanta calls as ‘gyaana aananda’. So if the Atman is Ananda and if the Atman is indwelling in our hearts as the Self, why can’t we see them? If the Self is the light eternally shining within, why is not directly comprehensible? It is so, because the Self is eclipsed by the mind. How is it possible! How can the mind eclipse the Atman? If the mind itself is lighted by the Atman, how is it possible for the mind to hide the view of Atman? This riddle is solved by an example from Jagadguru Adi Sankara.

In Manisha Panchaka, Sankara says thaam bhaasyaih pihitha arkamandala nibhaam – meaning that cloud hiding the Sun as an example. Sun cannot be hidden by the clouds. Yet we speak of the Sun being hidden by the cloud, only to mean that the cloud is blocking our view of the Sun. The cloud does not and cannot hide the Sun. In fact, even the existence of the cloud is due to the light of the Sun only. Similarly, the mind exists only due to the Atman. Yet, due to Avidya or ignorance, the mind is blanketing our comprehension of the Self. So we need to surpass the mind to witness the bliss. How can we surpass our mind to see the complete, perfect Self? Is such perfect happiness achievable for ordinary people like us? Is desire-less karma good enough? Do we have to give up our worldly life and wander to the woods and follow the path of sanyasin to achieve such knowledge? Is there a way we can continue to perform my desire-less actions, fulfill our duties and yet witness the Self within to achieve perfect happiness? Is such perfect happiness possible? Is it attainable even though we are not endowed with perfect attributes, health or beauty or wealth? Are there teachers and teaching to guide us towards such perfect happiness? Such teachers and teachings, if exist, must be universal, eternal and apply to all forms of life in the word… should they not? What are they? What is the core of these teachings…. How do we understand the teachings? How can we transform ourselves in such pursuit. These are the benchmarks that we should employ when we validate the preachers and their preaching….. teachers and their teaching…. religions and their rituals…. Philosophies and their spiritual doctrines….and our own practice and progress…… This is where we seek the greatest treasures of wisdom in Sanatana Dharma.

You are fortunate to learn Gita, VS and LS in the classes for the past one year.

What do these teach in our pursuit of perfect happiness?

Firstly, the search for perfect happiness may not be easy but most definitely engaging and interesting…. Surely it becomes easier and natural, when the search is not a separate act outside the chores of life, but as the essential underlay to all our routine acts of our life. It is not a Sunday-morning-satsang agenda or Friday evening prayer item. Pursuit of happiness should be the underlay for all our actions. So do not separate spirituality from the commonality of your routine life. This is most important. • Perform ‘Desireless Action’; • Offer Absolute Surrender to the truth, to the Guru, to God whatever, whoever guides you to the Self; • Meditate; and • Seek the Self within You may say don’t we need God’s grace…. Of course we need. But if we perform these duties, God has no business but to grace with all His might. He is a karma-bhala data…. He is waiting to unload His grace on you, the moment you qualify…. But instead of getting the qualification, we use prayers to trade… like this man, who kept on praying to God.. God appears in front of him and asks him…. ‘Child, what you want’. The man thinks he is smart…. ‘God, what is million years for you?’, he asks. God says ‘ perhaps a second’. ‘What is million pounds for you God’, he asks. God says ‘ a penny!’. The man is relieved. He asks, ‘God, have small mercy! Grant me a penny!’. God says ‘ gladly, just wait a second!’. You can’t cheat…. Take the route to qualify….. These instructions are fine… But how can we follow?

Our life is busy, our days or packed with scores of chores…..is not our life already hectic! No says the Vedanta…. Life is a play, it is fun. That is why Krishna demonstrates playfulness throughout his avatar; everything is a play for him; as a child, as a grown man, as a friend, as a guide, as jagad guru His avatar demonstrates enjoyment of life – no matter what life throws at Him. That is why Maha Sakthi is noted as Sri Lalitha… Lalitha means one who is playful… She plays through Her divine tasks of creation, sustenance, dissolution, projection and grace as shown in Lalitha Sahasranama! How can we treat our life as a mere play? How can we treat the chores of our life into the acts of fun and game?

To understand this, we need to understand life itself. As Vedas say life is ‘anubhava dhara’ – a garland of experiences. When there is no more experiences, there is no more life. This is such a simple but deeply contemplative definition of life. If you agree to this definition, then it is easier for us to build our path towards our pursuit. So to handle the life, we must learn how to handle each experience. If each experience is good, the life will good. Is it not? Since the garland of experience is built on discrete flowers of individual experience, each of the experience must be a happy one – no matter how small these may be. This means, both the experiencer – the Self within and the experienced objects must provide a complete and perfect experience for our happiness. We must also understand what experience is! Our worldly experiences are what the mind presents to the consciousness, within the space-time domain. What does space-time domain mean? It is an abstract idea not just a spiritual or philosophical construct but a scientific one too.

Just to visualise, you can think of space-time as the carpet woven by the use of time and space threads…. imagine time threads are laid horizontally and space threads are woven vertically and the gird makes the carpet…. All worlds are place on the carpet… this is what cosmologists presume in their scientific pursuit. Vedanta gives simple and striking definition. Space is the container of objects or forms. Wherever there is form, there is space. Since we all live in a world of forms, we live within Space; God may be formless, but we assign forms to God and also contain Him within our Space. To transcend space, One needs to transcend the forms. Time is creation of mind! There are lot of interesting and challenging definition for time. We are not going to dwell on this now…

Upanishads define time as the interval between the ideation and action of our consciousness! So when there is consciousness of thoughts, there is time; To transcend time, One needs to transcend thought. Transcending space and time therefore means transcending the mind. Why do we have to do this? Because the Upanishads say that the Self is beyond the mind. The Self is an abstract existence. Is such an approach of scientific? Absolutely! Abstraction is fundamental to science. In Science to understand the origin of the universe or from where all existence came from, we need to know what we are left with when we abstract or remove everything that in our physical experience which we call the universe. With this approach, the abstraction results in something which is indeterminate – known as ‘nirguna’ in Sanskrit. An indeterminate object does not yield to our understanding but its existence must be assumed in order to further our understanding.

For example when we vaguely see a distant object, we may assume it to be some sort of animal but as we approach the object and gain more insight, we are able to determine more attributes to finally understand what it is. So abstraction is absolutely necessary firstly to establish the existence – ‘that it is’ even though it is indeterminate and then to gain better understanding of attributes – ‘what it is’. In elaborating the Big Bang theory….. not the famous television Sitcom…. science leads to an abstract point of singularity. Science does not claim that the origin of the universe is some physical point but confirms its existence only as an abstract thought. This only implies that ‘Mind’ must exist before the existence of the universe and so study of ‘Mind’ must lead to complete knowledge. This is what the Upanishads teach as ‘Atma Vidya’.

With that understanding, let us look at Gita.

Sri Bhagavad Gita needs no introduction and many of you know this. It forms part of Mahabhrata, one of the two greatest epics of India, nay, the world, the other being Ramayana. We must understand the significance of these two epics.

Let me say few words about Ramayana. Normally people think Ramayana is the story of Rama’s life. Although Tulsidas set the title as ‘ramcharitamanas’ for his version of the epic – the original title Ramayan means the path of rama. Ayana अयण like in prayanam, dakshinayanam etc – refer to the path or the way. The word अयन mean abode, stay etc. So Ramayana refers to the way of life of Rama.

For ordinary readers, what is Ramayana? There was a king called Dasaradh, ruling in India with Ayodhya as his capital, supported by the guidance of Vashista and Visvamitra. He had three wives and four sons, the eldest being Rama. Rama married Sita, who had a mystical birth out of mother earth. To meet his obligation, Rama left with Sita to the woods. Laxmana as a devoted brother followed them. In the forest, Sita got mesmerized by an elusive deer; When Rama and Laxmana went after the deer, Sita was abducted by Ravana, the villain. Rama and Laxmana searched for Sita, finally with the help of monkeys, they pave the path to reach Sita; Rama fought and won Sita back. Sita merges with Rama and disappears in the mother earth. So it is a nice story, history, great poetry etc…. For those who seek to emulate the paths of Rama, Rama is seen as the embodiment of dharma; he is the ideal human being; Ramayana is the story of love – love between parents and children, love among the brothers, love between husband and wife, love to your children, love to your friends, love to animals and even love to your enemy. But when you contemplate deeply, and seek the tatvartha or the philosophical meaning, a completely different interpretation emerges.

Ayodhya means the place where there is no yuddha or war…. Absolute peace…. Where there is peace, and where there is control of senses – Dhasaratha – one who rides over 10 chariots – or 10 indriyas, where there is harmony of three gunas – sattwa (tranquilty), rajas (passion), tamas (latent ignorance), where there is control of intellect – there reveals the indwelling Self – the Rama. It is said ‘sarve ramanti yasmin iti Raamaah’ – the One that indwells everything is Rama. Rama represents the Self within. The jeevatman – reflected ego of the Self – which is illusive – is Sita. When Sita is married to Rama, there arises the ‘I’ concsiouness. When that occurs, multiplicity occurs; Ayodhya – the place where there is no conflict – is no more the place!. The Self has to witness the ordeals of Jeevatma in the conflicts of jungle, the forest of desires. Such outward desires, in the shape of golden deer mesmerize the ego! Self is lost in such desire! Seetha, the Ego ignores Lakshmana, the vairgaya (steadfastness) and thus loses the Self, Rama. That is the beginning of the rule of our indriyas! The dashamukha (ten headed Ravana) – compared to Dasharatha – is ruled by external desires and influenced by the indriyas. Jeevatma is now abducted by these indiryas! This is distress! Happiness is gone! The jeevtama – Seetha – struggles! However wisdom dawns and her focus turns to the indwelling Self – Rama. She has pursued the path for perfect happiness! When that happens, the ten indiriays could not touch her. The Jeevatama stays under the Ashoka tree. ‘Shoka’ means sorrow in Sanskrit. ‘Ashoka’ means no sorrow. It may not be perfect happiness but there is no fear or distress. Why? Because jeevatma is now focusing on the Self – the paramatma. Absolute surrender has taken place. What happened to Rama, the Self that was lost by the ignorant ego? By the intensity of focus by the Jeevatma, the Self arranges the vacillating mind – like monkey – to bridge the gap between the Self and Ego. Mind has both aspects… the holiest of holy, like Hanuman as well as the bad part as the fallen Vali! So by annihilating the bad thoughts (Vali), controlling the good thoughts (Sugreeva), the mind (Hanuman) is used to bridge the gap. Greeva means the reins, like the reins of a horse, which control the horse. Sugreeva means best reins! With that path established, destruction of ignorance is certain. The Self realization occurs. With that realization, the Ego completely vanishes back to where it came from, like Sita vanishes to the earth. This is the spirit of Ramayana! This is how great Seers see Ramayana.

On the other hand Gita is the song of God. It forms part of Mahabharat. Contrary to Ramayana, Mahabharata is a story of hatred – hatred among brothers, deceit among friends, unjust, absence of love. Sounds more like todays’ world, is it not? In such complicated web of relationship, in a world of declining dharma – happiness is rare! This is where you need a teacher to guide us clearly! This is where Sri Krishna comes to show us the path. Gita is therefore what Krishna tells to Arjuna. The message is the scripture! Understanding the message of Krishna and abiding by it, is the pursuit of perfect happiness. What is the message of Gita? The greatest among the Seers, Sri Sri Kanchi Maha Periva has beautifully explained the message of Gita by its first verse itself. Let us draw the inspiration from his teaching.

dharmakshetre kurukshetre samveda yyutsava:
mamaha  pandavaschaiva kimakurvada sanjaya (1-1)

Dhirutarashtran is asking Sanjaya, “in the holy kurukshetra, there is assembly of warriors for my children and Pandava, what is happening, tell”. If we read as ‘kshetre dharmakshtre kuru” – then it means, your embodiment if it is righteous or fit to perform righteous duties, then perform such duties. Why? There is a war – samveda yyutsava – between who? Within us, between the ego – the rajasic/tamasic qualities and satvic or righteousness. Pandu means white. Shiva is also called as Pandu. Here Panda means purity. What is the benefit of performing righteous actions? Eternal victory.

The word Sanjaya is seen as San + jaya. Jaya means victory. San is the noumenal case of Sat which is a derivative of ‘asti’ meaning eternal or reminder. So Sanjaya means eternal victory. So the first verse itself is the condensation of the whole Gita. Now what happens in the physical field..You all know the context in which Arjuna was given the message. There is war. The 5 brothers and their only wife were deceived and humiliated by Kavuravas. Kauvravas did not heed to Krishna’s advice… So a mammoth war is imminent. Arjuna is the only one who has the fortune to see in Krishna, both the divinity of Lord and the leadership of Guru. Although he enters with with courage but tainted with ego, the initial round of inspection of the battle ground baffles him. He is dumb bounded; He is unwilling to fight and therefore build number of excuses for his stand… Finally he says

na yotsya iti govindam uktvaa tushnI babhuvaha (2-9).

Having said to Govinda “I will not fight”, Arjuna became silent. Tooshnim – silent. Silent is not just the absence of words… it is void of thoughts and actions…

Silence is a beautiful language among those who have absolute trust on each other. There are two places where silence occurs. One, where there is absolute surrender, complete ignorance and refuge. Another, where there is absolute knowledge, complete benevolence and peace. The only difference is the latter will be with a beautiful smile. ……Like Dhakshinamurthy, like Krishna, like Ramana Mahrisi. Silence is the language to impart of Wisdom. Here Silence is the indication of perfect surrender and the perfect grace. After all the anxiety and doubts, leading to utter confusion and helplessness, Arjuna surrenders to Krishna, make it clear that he cannot take-up the fight. He became silent. Absolute helplessness but complete surrender….This is the time, on the face of the Lord, is the harbinger of grace… beautiful all knowing smile…..

tamovacha hrishikesa prahasan eva bharatha
senyop yormadhye vishitantham idham va cha (2-10)

Arujuna’s silence is accepted as the surrender and Krishna’s smile comes as the grace…. The most profound wisdom is imparted by the Lord from 2-11 to 2-53. He hits with the ultimate truth. He teaches Brahma Gyaanam. Having heard Gods words on the most profound wisdom, Arjuna is not worried about performing his duty but his concerns now are how to go about doing this as the wise would do. Having listened to Krishna, Arjun’s question is not about how to fight this battle, but how to be wise…. so he asks

sthitaprajnasya kaa bhaashaa samaadhisthasya kesava
sthitadhih kim prabhaaseta kim? Asita vrajeta kim? (2-54)

O Kesava, what is man of the man of steadfast wisdom, steeped in Samadhi? How does a man of steady wisdom speak, sits, walks how? You know, when your child does not want to go to school…. as a good parent what you do..you tell her that she must go, study well to become a good doctor or a teacher in her career etc… The child accepts your advice and prepares to go to school but her mind is now on different world, …… start imagining the role. She will ask, “OK , what does a doctor do? How does he walk, how does he talk’ etc…. This is exactly what is happening to Arjun. This is necessary. This is what all management trainings offer…. if you want to be a good sportsman, dancer or singer, yes, you must learn and practice.. but you must also follow your role model and visualise them within you… This is the sure way to perfect the art you practise. To this, Lord defines who the brahmajaani is in the rest of the verses of chapter 2.

That is why chapter 2 is very important. It defines, specifies the state to be in… whereas the rest of the chapters provide instructions to achieve these. Then the most important lesson that we are keen comes in 3-19

tasmaad asaktah satatam kaaryam karma samaachara (3-19)
Therefore, constantly perform your obligatory duties without attachment – is the message.

But even if we perform our duties as desireless actions, we may be burden with our ego. To remove this, the Lord says

prakrteh kriyamaanaani gunaih karmaani sarvashah
ahamkaara vimUdhaatma karta aham iti manyate (3-27).

The gunas of nature (prakriti) perform the karma…. but the eluded ego makes the man to think that he is the doer.Therefore wisdom and humility is required. When true knowledge is achived, to such men, all are equal. So we not only leave the desire behind, but the ego too. Such is a true learning…. Knowledge with humility. Vidya with Vinaya.

vidyaa vinaya sampanne brahmane gavi hastini
shuni cha eva shvapaake cha panditah sama darsinaha (5-18).

When there is Vidya with Vinaya, for such men – everyone – be it a Brahmin or cow or elephant, a dog or an outcast….- is same. You know that a demonstration of Vidya and vinaya occurred in Adi Sankara’s life. When a drunken outcast with dogs on his hold, Adi Sankara’s pupils scold him to move away. The outcast questions Sankara ‘what should move… the body or indwelling Atma?’. Adi Sankara bows down to the outcast and adores his wisdom to demonstrate vinayam. This is demonstrated in Manisha Panchakam. Arjuna learns a lot from Lord Krishna. But to ease him of the burden, the Lord offers him the Supreme Secret. You see secret is only possible between the most trusted partners. When trust is there, doubts not there. For example, the mother gives a parcel to the child and says ‘take it and give to that person’. The child simply trusts the mother, she does not need to worry what she carries, why etc… If someone tell me ‘Rajja, just do this, this and this, I will take care of the rest’, I will be very happy. Why should I toil my brain on the intermediate chores…. That is the benefit of faith. It is the power of surrender. By absolute surrender, you build trust and there is transference of responsibility. Then work is a pleasure. Here Krishna, although He has given vast knowledge on many things – gives simple instruction to Arjuna.

manmanaa bhava madbhakto madyaaji maam namaskuru;
maam eva eshyasi satyam te pratijaaane priyosi me (18-65);

Fix your ind on me; be devoted to me; sacrifice to me; prostrate before me; so shall you come to me. This is my pledge to you, for you are dear to me…. Let us now move from Gita to Vishnu Sahasranama. The Kurukshetra war is over. Pandavas won but lost everything… including their children.

Thanks to Krishna, who had the foresight to send Abhimanyu and Utthara away before the war, now Utthara is carrying the only heir for the Pandava clan… Pareeksit. Arjuna is a realised soul now. Yudhistra, the eldest of Pandava’s carry the responsibility for re-establishing the world order. His mind is full of misery and he worried about Samsara.. So Krishna has asked Yudhishtra to go to Bhisma for advice. Bhisma who is waiting to choose the time of his departure from the bodily existence. He has seen all, A great warrior, teacher, king maker now lying on his own.

Yudhistra asks Bhisma the following questions… • 1. Kim ekam daivatam? Who is the Only God? • 2. Loke kim vapyekam Parayanam? What in the world is the supreme goal? • 3. Stuvanta: kam? By praising whom, (one can attain good?) • 4. kamarchanta prapnyurnvaa: subham? By worshipping whom, one can attain good? • 5. Ko darma srvadharmanam bhavatL pramo mata: Which Dharma is regarded by you as the supreme? • 6. Kim japan muchyate jantur janma samsara bhantanaat? By reciting which hymn is mankind freed from the bonds of samsara? This comes in the Aunusanika parva of Mahabharat… this chapter is to teach the Kings the code of conduct….. Bhisma looks at Yudhistra… he knows the reason for Krishna to send them to him. None of the worldly possessions remain permanent. Bodily existence is temporary in the continuum. Yet, the life on earth must be run for the absolute fulfilment. These questions are right and coming out of desparate need. So Bhisma answers him….. When someone comes to you and let out a series of questions, what do you do…. As a good counsellor, you understand the context of the questions and frame the answers such that they form an order and appeal…. Like someone’s house is on fire and if he comes and ask questions like what is the cause of fire, what are the impact of fire, how do we claim insurance, and by the way how do you put out the fire, you are not going to answers his questions serially…. You will ask show him the water first…. The immediate answer and actions he needs… Like so is Bhisma… answers his last question… Yudishtra raised,

“Kim Japan Muchyate Jantu Janma Samsara Bhandanat”

as the sixth question. Bhisma hastened to answer that first. “ The Lord of the universe, the God among Gods, the infinite, that grandest of personage, is to be praised on his thousand names ceaselessly”. Samsara is not just being in a family life. Ramakrishna Paramahamsar says, “boat can be on the water, but water cannot be in the boat… same way, you can be in Samsara, but Samsara cannot be within you” Then, he answers the fourth question. He reiterates his previous answer. “Chanting, meditating and worshipping that changeless being with devotion, is the only answer”. Then he answers the third question and then the fifth. Bhisma then addresses the second question in the next five verses. You see Yudhistra has asked in the 5th question what was Bhisma’s goal. In the second question he has asked what is the supreme goal of the world. Perhaps to assert this point, Bhisma explains in 5 verses. Bhisma tells “ I will tell you about the origin of all that is created at the beginning of every yuga and where everything goes to rest at the end of every yuga, Listen to this thousand names of Lord Vishnu, describing his wonderful attributes ………”. The answer to the first question “Who is the Supreme Almighty, is obvious and explained in the previous five responses themselves. Let us look at the very first sloaka:

Viswam (Viswasmai) and Vishnu

Larger than the largest (Viswam) and smaller than the smallest conceivable (Vishnu). The root “Visati” of the word Viswam means “enter or interpenetrate”. Having projected the Universe, He entered into it. Similarly, the term “Vishnu” is derived from the root “Vis”,( indicating presence everywhere), These names are not just random poetic justice. They have deeper meaning. For example

Tatvam tatvavid ekatma janma mrtyu jarathiga:

This is such a long name; Tatvam – meaning tat + tvam. The indwelling Self is tat, is you, tvam. Tatvavid is the one who is learning the Tatvam. Tatavvid signifies duality. Then comes Ekam – meaning Oneness. So the Lord is the eternal Self, individual Self and their division less union. When this is understood, He allows you to transcend birth, death, old age and such miseries. Such is the beauty and holiness of Vishnu Sahasranamam. Lalitha Sahasranama While Gita is the essence of Vedanta, VS is the direct adorations to the God that the Vedas portray as the Paramatman and LS is the essence of Gita, to instill self realization through mantra, tantra and yantra doctrines… Lalitha Sahsranamam portrays the Maha Sakthi, the dynamic portrayal of Brhamam as the most beautiful, benevlont mother Lalitha. Lalitha means one who plays….

While VS is the adoration of Vishnu as the formless Para Brahmam in the form of stotra, the LS is pregnant with mantras, adoring Maha Sakthi as Para Brahmam. It brings the essence of Gita, the salient points of Vedanta with the wrapper of tantric doctrine. It adores the Sakthi as both form and formless nature… One may get confused…. Just now we have learnt Vishnu Sahasranama is the One to adore. Now we say Lalitha Sahasranama… Are these different? No! What Vedanta calls Brahamam, is also known as Adi Narayanam, Sivam etc. The power of Brhamam is Sakthi…. Skathi is Vishnu… Sri is Shivam. The term Sri has at least four meanings: Sivam,Lakshmi, Poison, Spider….. When the Parabrhamam is worshipped in the pair of static and dynamic aspects, it is known as Siva Sakthi or Sri and Vishnu. For example, Lalitha is Srikari in Lalitha Sahasranama and Vishnu is Srikara in Vishnu Sahasranama.. There are many such examples. In the context of our topic, let us look at LS for the Self Realization. The first verse:

Sree-mata shree maha-ragyni shreematsinha-saneshvaree
cidagni kunda-sanbhuta deva-karya samudyata – 1

Ambal is Sree – Shivam/Laksmi. She is the Mother. She evolves in Cid – agni. From the light of our consciousness. The source of Gyanna. Why? To perfrom deva-karya. Generally it is said that the deva karyma is to kill the asuran (Panda). The tatvartha is to perform the dynamic role of Paramatma – within us as the Self. There are five karays – creation, sustenance, dissolution, projection and grace. These karyas are the result of the dynamic power or sakthi of Para Brahmam. These powers exhibit everywhere…. As we are looking at Lalitha Sahsranama in the context of Self Realization, the power of Self within, must exist in us.

Let us try to understand. Imagine that my hand is moving to pick this microphone. What is evident here is an action on my part – the motion of my hand. By analyzing this activity, it is learnt that the action is due to the motor-effect of the physiological faculties such as the movement of muscles, the impulses on the nerves etc. By inquiring, we infer that the cause for this motor-effect is due to a particular mental-state or volition, which we shall call as ‘the will’. We confirm that it is the will that caused the action of picking up the apple. By further analyzing, we infer that the will has its cause on another mental-state or volition, namely ‘the desire’; It is the desire that caused the will to act. We also observe that the awareness of the existence of an apple, or simply the knowledge is the root cause of the desire and thus the root-cause of the action. If we pursue the analysis, it becomes clear that the knowledge, the desire and the will are the effects and possible only because there exist the corresponding powers, namely, the power-to-know, the power-to-desire and the power-to-will. These powers are possible only for the witness, the Self. This would mean, these powers are the potentials of Atman and when manifest, exist as the temporal powers of nature.

The Upanisads call these three powers – the power-to-know, the power-to-desire, the power-to-will, respectively as gyaana-shakthi, icchha –shakthi and kriyaa-shakthi and the derived results of exercising these powers as gyaanam, ichhai and kriayai. The combination of these powers or the Shakthi when is not manifest, is the potential power in the Brahmam. When it manifests, the Brahmam is differentiated and known as ‘Ishvara’. We also learn from the Upanisads that the manifestation of the Maya corresponds to the three aspects of the Atman, namely, Sat- Chit-Ananda, such that the power-to-will (kriya Shakthi) corresponds to the ‘Sat’ , the power-to-know (gyaana shakthi) to the ‘Chit’, and the power-to-desire (ichcha Shakthi) to the ‘Ananda’ aspects respectively. These powers depending on the balance of the gunas create different manifestations. Tamas represents dark ignorance and comparative inactivity or inertia. Rajas refers to the illusive light and the passionate and divisive or disruptive activities. Satvic refers to the pure light or knowledge and the harmonious flow of activities. When the Self or Atman is exhibited through ‘Satvic’, it is known as Ishvara or Paramaatman. Through ‘rajasic’, the Self is seen as Jeevaatman and under ‘tamasic’ as inert matter. In the inert matter, only the ‘Sat’ aspect of the Atman is predominant and the Chit and Ananda aspects are completely subordinated. Contrary to this, in the case of Jeevaatman, both ‘Sat’ and ‘Chit’ aspects prevail and the ‘Ananda’ aspect is marginally indicated. Only in the Ishvara is the fullness of absolute Sat-Chit-Ananda. That is why, as human being, we keep on trying to evolve to reach the Ananda – to be the Sat-chit-ananda. That is why we long for perfect happiness. The verse in Lalitha Sahsaranama

icchāśakti-jñānaśakti-kriyāśakti-svarūpiṇī |
sarvādhārā supratiṣṭhā sadasadrūpa-dhāriṇī || 130||

indicate this.

So what we conclude….

The pursuit of perfect happiness is our goal and this is perfectly possible. We need to make sure our search is not selective but natural. Let us pray for happiness…. Ordinarily, we never say that we are looking for happiness.. We somehow reason-out that Money, Job, This object, That object etc as what we need for happiness and therefore we seek only these… we pray for these…. After getting these we realize their futility and we start again. Why don’t we pray for happiness? Happiness not only for you but for everyone. It is because, to be happy one has to be among the happy beings, is it not? So pray for happiness to all. See, when you have happiness within you, there will not be any desires and so worries.

As we discussed lot of topics – even though only as an overview – will you remember them?

Perhaps remember this. For perfect happiness, the Safeway* is when you have ASDA* and M&S*…. Do you recall…? ASDA = Absolute Surrender, Desireless Action. M – Meditate, S- Self-aware…. These four are the essence of Bhakti Yoga, Karma Yoga, Raja Yoga and Gyanna Yoga of Sri Bhagavad Gita. I thank you for your patient listening.

God bless.

Mee. Rajagopalan

* Super Markets in the UK

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