Source : The Hindu
The discussion between Parikshit and Sage Suka in the Bhagavata Purana on how the force of sin can be expiated by ritualistic karma also known as prayaschitta karma brings to the fore many interesting issues in this regard, pointed out Sri Kesava Dikshitar in a discourse.
Parikshit wonders about the efficacy of such expiatory karmas since people continue to commit the same sins in spite of themselves. The analogy of the elephant that throws up mud on itself even after it has been washed and bathed is quoted to show how it is difficult to eradicate habits that are ingrained in each one. Suka says that ignorance is the source of all karma including acts of expiation. Expiation can certainly wash off the effects of a particular karma but not the tendency to commit the acts again as long as one remains ignorant of one’s self.
By practising austerities, cultivating virtues such as kindness, truth and compassion, and engaging in disciplines like meditation and worship, a man of righteousness and faith can overcome even great sins committed by thought word and deed.
The comparison of a forest fire that can easily destroy all the reeds in a trice is pertinent here since it also implies that the vasanas are not eradicated in toto just as the roots of reeds can sprout again with the advent of rains.
So Suka refers to the more appropriate illustration of the sun that removes the mist totally without any trace to show that the practice of devotion to the Lord as most efficacious in uprooting evil tendencies.
Krishna’s advice also focuses on the urgent need for each one to unravel the mystery surrounding one’s existence. This exercise alone can lead to an understanding of the purpose of one’s life and of what is eternal and permanent and turn one’s mind to remain devoted to God at all times.
Source : http://www.thehindu.com/society/faith/kinds-of-devotion/article18788328.ece
There are different kinds of devotion to God and we see examples of both Seshatva and Paratantriya in the Ramayana. Seshatva is to not let anything stand in the way of the desire to serve God. Lakshmana wanted to accompany Lord Rama to the forest. Rama tried His best to make Lakshmana stay back in Ayodhya. But Lakshmana refused to be dissuaded by the Lord.
Lakshmana was keen to be with Rama and serve Him at all times. So he was prepared to refuse to obey the Lord’s request. This is an example of Seshatva, said Kidambi Narayanan in a discourse. Nammazhvar too wanted only to serve the Lord and prayed for this.
But Bharata was in a different category. No doubt he too wanted certain things, namely the return of Rama to Ayodhya and the assumption of kingship by Rama. But when Rama said He would not come back to Ayodhya and ordered Bharata to go back to the city and rule as king, Bharata implicitly obeyed his brother. He did not think of himself. He did not insist that Rama go along with what he (Bharata) wanted. This is an example of Paratantriya.
While other Azhvars prayed for being rid of repeated births and for the chance to serve the Lord, Periazhvar only sang for the Lord’s welfare, thereby demonstrating bhakti, which asks for nothing.
Paratantriya is when a person simply obeys the Lord and does not act on his own or for his pleasure.
Suppose a person possesses a doll, decorates it and looks at it thinking how beautiful it looks. Does this act of decorating give any joy to the doll? If a man who has grown saplings in his field transplants them, it is because they are under his control.
So being controlled by another superior being and not acting volitionally is Paratantriya.
Source : http://www.thehindu.com/society/faith/the-end-and-the-means/article18490302.ece
Bhakti in its highest form is itself a Purushartha, a fifth one added on to the four usually accepted values of Dharma, righteousness, Artha, wealth, Kama, pleasure and Moksha, liberation.
This is the crux of the teaching in the Bhagavata Purana and it is shown how a devotee’s entire being is filled with intense love for God and with a desire to serve Him at all times. This in itself becomes the highest delight for him, and is extolled as Prema Bhakti, pointed out Sri B. Damodhara Dikshitar in a discourse.
Prema bhakti is often compared to a mother’s selfless love for a child when her entire concentration governs the way she takes care of the child at all times.
Great devotees such as Narada and Uddhava see the Gopis’ love for Krishna as an expression of the highest form of devotion. It is a state of mind that even yogis and sages steeped in meditation find it hard to attain. Each one has to work his way in this effort. Devotional practices such as offering worship in temples, or engaging in prayer in one’s home, or singing the names of the Lord, individually or in a group, are means towards cultivating intense and selfless love for God. There is no room for ostentation or outward show in this path where bhakti is an end in itself and is also the means. The only criterion is sincerity and genuine love to the Lord.
None can know the mind of a devotee better than the Lord for He is the in-dweller in each and every aspect of creation. Unique are the ways in which He responds to each one of them.
Is not Vidhura overwhelmed when Krishna chooses to have food in his humble abode in preference to the hospitality of Duryodhana and others? What a divine vision is granted to the devout Akrura?
Source : http://www.thehindu.com/society/faith/staunch-devotion-the-key/article18475184.ece
Immediately after the revelation of His cosmic form, Krishna explains to Arjuna that only through unswerving devotion to Him can He be known and realised. “He who does work for Me, he who looks upon Me as his goal, he who worships Me free from attachment, who is free from enmity to all creatures, he goes to Me.”
Adi Sankara, in his commentary on the Gita, shows that this statement reflects the essence of the entire Gita teaching, pointed out Sri K. Ramasubramania Sarma in a discourse. It clearly teaches whatever one has to imbibe and practise in life, namely, that one who leads life with his mind fixed on God at all times and remains devoted to Him automatically reaches the goal.
The answer to Arjuna’s doubt regarding the relative merits of jnana and karma is provided here. The two paths are not mutually exclusive and intersect very often and only when being practised one realises this truth. Spiritual knowledge has nothing to do with theoretical or empirical learning or intellectual attainments. It is the direct and intuitive experience or vision of the Absolute Reality. For some it is felt as a moment of illumination in the inner recesses of one’s understanding which soon gets submerged in the rising waves of worldly experiences.
In the case of Arjuna, the vision of the cosmic form of the Lord confers an understanding of the grand design of creation in which all beings subsist in the cycle of birth, growth and death in a somewhat endless manner. But the Lord makes it clear that beholding the vision, which is itself a divine gift, is not attainment of the goal. This vision should help one to gain a permanent experience of the divine truth. Such an awareness that forms the backbone of one’s existence is possible only to one who has staunch devotion to the Lord.
“Those who are demoniac do not know what is to be done and what is not to be done. Neither cleanliness nor proper behavior nor truth is found in them.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 16.7)
Due to duality in a material existence, there is constant conflict among various forces. Happiness goes against sadness. Heat contrasts with cold. Light dissipates darkness. As far as the way to enjoyment, there is both pravritti and nivritti.
In a verse from the Bhagavad-gita, Shri Krishna mentions both. Pravritti is translated as “what should be done” and nivritti as “what should not be done.” In comparing the different religions of the world, the focus is often on the latter.
Imagine the scene of attending a fair. The various religions each have their own booth at the venue. You can visit any one that you like. The person interested in religion goes up to the…
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