Source : The Hindu
The Kapilopadesa explains in detail the full sweep of the sway of samsara. The greatest wonder is that though the jivatma is endowed with the senses, mind, intellect and an inherent sense of good and evil, he is unable to transcend the cycle of births.
Sastras say that each one’s experiences of joy and sorrow are the result of past deeds good and bad and that heaven and hell are in this world, said Sri Kesava Dikshitar in a discourse.
The degree of experiences caused by old age, sickness, death, etc, varies in people but is unavoidable for all who are born in this world. Human nature is such that no one desires the fruits of bad deeds and all want only the fruits of good deeds.
But they do bad deeds easily and are not keen to do good deeds.
Yet all wish to live comfortably without sorrows and are quick to wonder why they experience sorrows and tend to think it is not what they deserve.
The Lord, who is not bound by any karma, empathises with human sorrow, in the Aranya Kanda when, as Ram, He cries out in despair on losing Sita: “I think there can be none in this world who is a greater sinner than me; that is why I am facing this kind of sorrow and grief that overpowers my mind and intellect easily. I am sure that in my past births I must have followed my desires and not abided by the rules of sastras. The effect of that is now being felt by me now. Sorrow after sorrow follows me.”
Ram does not highlight His commitment to dharma and truth, nor His devoted worship of Lord Ranganatha. This is to enable the jivatma understand and accept that his suffering is the result of past karma and that he should learn to seek to rid himself of this bondage.
Source : The Hindu
The Krishna Yajur Veda describes the Supreme One as animishah. That means He is vigilant in protecting His devotees, said V.S. Karunakarachariar in a discourse. Did not Lord Varadaraja of Kanchipuram keep watch over Ramanuja and guide him to safety when his life was in danger?
The Veda also says that He conquers without any help. He does not need help to destroy the army of sins that each one of us has. Lord Krishna’s words “maam Ekam” should be recalled here. He does not expect or need anyone’s help in vanquishing our sins. No wonder the Veda calls upon us to seek His help.
“Yudho naraha”, the Veda calls out, meaning “Oh you men who are engaged in battle.” What is the battle we are engaged in? We hanker after material possessions and are never satisfied with what we have. To fulfil our desires, we resort to wrongful means. That results in a constant battle with our conscience which tells us we are wrong. Therefore, we are all people who are always engaged in battle.
We also have to battle with our indriyas. In his Tiruvaimozhi, Nammazhvar presents a verbal picture of our battle with the senses. A commentary compares Nammazhvar’s cries to those of Sita when She was a prisoner in Lanka. So whose help should we mortals seek? We should seek the help of the One whom the Vedic mantra refers to as “ishuhastena,” that is the One armed with an arrow. Who else can this be but Ram?
Ram also fits the description of One who makes us cry to Him for help and then saves us. When Sugreeva and Vali fought, He did not save Sugreeva at once. His excuse was that since both looked alike, He did not want to hit Sugreeva by mistake. It was not as if Ram could not have killed Vali immediately. He wanted Sugreeva to express his helplessness and beseech Him for help.
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.gitadaily.com/see-temptation-as-an-attack-not-as-a-defeat-or-even-as-a-precursor-to-defeat/
Suppose soldiers guarding the national border against a hostile neighbour find bullets whizzing past them. Naturally, they will see the bullets as signs of attack and start counter-attacking.
When we start practicing spiritual life, we enter into a war against the forces of illusion, which attack primarily with the bullets of temptation. So, the rising of temptation inside us is an attack. Unfortunately, if we don’t understand the dynamics of the inner war, we see it as a defeat. We think, “I am so fallen as to have this desire. Its presence shows that I can’t follow spiritual standards. Now that the desire has come, let me just give in to it.” By so doing, we become like soldiers who lay down their arms at the sight of the first bullets.
But such capitulation is utterly unnecessary. The Bhagavad-gita (05.23) urges us to anticipate the lifelong presence of desire and anger. Rather than deeming their presence as a spiritual disqualification, it exhorts us to tolerate them by yoga practice.
Just as gallant soldiers determinedly return hostile fire, we can become spiritually gallant when temptation attacks and return fire by striving to intensify our bhakti practice, thus becoming absorbed in Krishna. Such absorption provides higher satisfaction, thereby increasing our resistance to the pleasure with which temptation allures and attacks.
Moreover, bhakti-yoga grants satisfaction not just through absorption but also through connection. That is, we can taste spiritual satisfaction not just at the end of the war when we are fully absorbed in Krishna but also in the thick of the war when we strive to connect with him through remembrance and service.
If temptation spurs us to increase our focus on Krishna, then it becomes not the precursor of defeat, but the prompter to victory.