The Sage Meets The Seductress

I can still hear my husband(in my head) cautioning me on the title of this post, he thinks it is contentious for such a blog. I answered him, saying, “This is not a made-up story; in fact, I borrowed it from the great epic Mahabharatam. So how can this title be controversial?” He is my in-house editor, you see! 🙂

But you know what? I think for our early ancestors, no topic of human need was either discountenanced or controversial. Every basic human need was explored carefully before they declared that indulgence in any NEED beyond the BALANCE point could turn even something pleasurable into a painful experience.

The real seekers don’t care about being judged. Neither do they deny themselves nor shy away from any basic need. Be that be sex, hunger or thirst.

Mahabharata itself is replete with instances of great men trying to keep them safe when the fire of need aroused. Just off the top of my head, I do remember reading 2 stories on Sage Viswamitra willing to eat Dog’s meat to keep his body alive and the Guru Ashtavakra smitten with a beautiful woman.

Now did they mention these stories to belittle them? No. It was put there for all of us see that they were just like us, battling the same emotions and yet striking a balance.

Those snippets from their lives had encouraged many to achieve that BALANCE by looking into the eye of any distraction that came their way. By doing that they understood that pair of opposites/dualities/Dvandas can all be transcended because they are just so trivial and momentary compared to their own self. And that is why, Bhagavat Gita says “Dvandva-Atitah”, meaning Transcend the Dualities(4,22) and you will stay put in Yoga.

yadrccha-labha-santusto
dvandvatito vimatsarah
samah siddhav asiddhau ca
krtvapi na nibadhyate//

He who is satisfied with gain which comes of its own accord, who is free from duality and does not envy, who is steady both in success and failure, is never entangled, although performing actions.

Now, this is why I am so much in love with the Vedic literature.  It explores every aspect of human personality and looks at none with disgust. You have to learn to look everything with the same eye to keep your mind in place. And that comes with the knowledge of things that can draw you away from your own self. Else the mind will take you wherever it goes and you will have to partake in its guilt and pain.

So here it is, the story shared by Bhishma to Yudishtra about the Sage Ashtavakra meeting the Seductress Uttara.

Ashtavakra decides to marry Suprabha, daughter of the sage Vadanya. He conveyes his desire to Vadanya, who decides to test Ashtavakra.

Vadanya then asks Ashtavakra to proceed north to Kailash, greet Shiva and Parvati, and then go further north to visit the abode of the damsels, stirajya, and to speak with their ruler, Uttara. On the return, Vadanya promises to marry his daughter to Ashtavakra.

Ashtavakra sets forth and reaches the Himalayas, there he meets the King Kuber. He stays there for a year, watching the dance of the apsaras, and Kuber was both surprised by this Sage’s unusual behaviour and was equally happy to serve him.

Almost after a year with Kuber, he decides to continue his journer after meeting Lord Shiva. Atlast he reaches his destination and is greeted with seven beautiful women. He couldn’t but admire those beautiful beings but then takes control and asks for Uttara.

Uttara welcomes him and she tries her best to engage him in discussion revolving around love and erotica. Ashtavakra then prepares to leave but she begs him to stay back and marry her. Ashtavakra declines her offer but she tries in every way to seduce him. 

Ashtavakra slowly moves away and tells her of his conversation with Vadanya and how he is in love with Suprabha. To that Uttara smiles and reveals that she was asked to test his resolve. She blesses him and wishes him happiness.

 

 

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Your Cheating Mind Will Tell On You

“And try to sleep
But sleep won’t come
The whole night through
Your cheatin’ heart
Will tell on you”

Remember this song by Hank Williams?

That was my case last night. But before you think that was because of someone or me cheating- that wasn’t the case but yeah, my mind cheated on me. So much for my mindfulness(pun intended).

It all started when my husband surprised me with a tunic he shopped from Shoppers Stop. When he gave it to me, my mind was all over my face.

I couldn’t understand how this caught his attention and that will remain a mystery I’ll never figure out. The cloth is beautiful but the cut isn’t for me. To make it easier for you to understand let me post a picture of the tunic from the web. And if you are wondering how I looked, pretty much the same with the curls. Only that the model is more beautiful than I.

rhesonSo when I asked why this out of all the other interesting pieces from Rheson brand, he responded with, ‘I thought this would be a nice change to your collection.’ And that settled it.

I did not say a word after that but poor guy, he didn’t understand what ticked me off. He was more than happy to have it exchanged.

But with that, I know, it would put a stop to all the future surprises. Why would I want that? So I decided to keep it and unconsciously my mind should have battered around ways of pairings it with jackets or belts to add some definition.

I didn’t even notice it thinking as I went by completing the work that I had on hand. And then I remember retiring to bed and sleeping. And suddenly I wake up feeling thirsty and with that, the thoughts over that dress come back. I noticed my mind thinking of the many ways of wearing it. Can you imagine me watching this whole chatter in the head and the mind unwilling to sleep? I tossed around and tried to reason it out, nothing worked for a while.

That’s why I said, “so much for my mindfulness!” My cheating mind clearly bypassed my notice and thought so much around the tunic that the minute it was awakened it went back to that very thing.

This is what it does best, when we aren’t noticing- taking us on a ride 😉 Last night through the chatter I remembered a verse from Gita- Dhyayato Vishayan Pumsaha Sangasteshoopajayate(Chapter 2, 62).

Truly, those early seekers who became our teachers were so right about the mind. And today being Guru poornima, we could take a minute to remember all the teachers who selflessly shared their wisdom. Can we?

What is “Ashubh” acc to Krishna?

I was watching this Netflix’s documentary “Wild Wild Country”. And While I was on it, I could also see the judging mind. It was busy pointing fingers sometimes at the protagonist and other times at the secondary characters.

Are you aware of your judging mind?

It happens so fast that we barely notice it. Many a time, we don’t even realize we are doing so. But if we took notice, we’d be more open-minded and less opinionated. So dogmatic and biased are our thoughts that if we miss it during its baking process then it would be too late to discern its dark side.

Not only are we quick to judge others but if you observe what attracts us to news, television, series or movies is the dark side. We do not want it in our lives but we sure are interested in people who have witnessed it at close quarters.

On the other hand, I think it is the way of the mind to enrich its own knowledge by also learning from others experiences. But unfortunately, all our learnings are filtered and are dependent upon our current values. So if a teaching is not in agreement with our values at the moment then it barely gets registered. And slowly but steadily, unaware of this judging mind, we will fall among those boring people who could only see the world in black and white, good and bad.

But do we really know what’s bad?

If we were to ask Sri Krishna then according to him it is not our business to judge anything here. The whole truth is somewhere in between the good and the bad.

His idea of Ashubh or bad is being bound by our own actions(KARMABANDHAH)-Bhagavat Gita, chapter 4 Shlok 16th.

He says “we all suffer from this bondage” If we aren’t a karma yogi then we are perpetually stuck in the vicious cycle of cause-effect. It is never ending like Maya, the goddess of illusion and also is indestructible like the Truth.

So the next time when someone would ask you to have a Sankalp(vow) before you act then visualize yourself going round and round in the cycle of cause and effect.

Then what are we to do? A karma yogi would look at the situation at hand and do what is necessary.  Knowing very well that it is not him in the doing and neither are the results his.

It is absurd to think that we alone are responsible for a thing/situation. Everything here is nothing but a ripple-effect. Before a thing landed on your lap it has been transformed by multiple lives already. So it is not your doing alone that has created something here. So we should back off and stop being arrogant by owning the results to the actions 🙂

hqdefault
Haven’t we heard about the butterfly effect?

Srimad Bhagavat Gita Chapter 12 , 17

Yo na hṛiṣhyati na dveṣhṭi na śhochati na kāṅkṣhati
Shubhāśhubha-parityāgī bhaktimān yaḥ sa me priyaḥ//

Image: Internet

What’s Krishna’s take on Rebirths?

In 4:4 of Gita, Arjuna asks an interesting question to Krishna.

Arjuna is inquisitive as to how Krishna had instructed the science of Yoga(union) to the Sun God who thereafter passed this knowledge to Manu.

Arjuna wondered how is it possible for Krishna to have taught the Sun God and Manu had died long time ago. How the heck did Krishna exist then and now.

A genuine doubt, isn’t it?

To that Krishna’s answer was that anyone who is situated in wisdom,like himself and who had slained Maya for good would remember all his births.

And, what about the rest?

They go round and round and remain in this cycle of rebirths till they are ready and willing to fight Maya, the Goddess of Illusion 🙂

Bhagavad Gita Chapter 4, Shlok 5

śhrī bhagavān uvācha
Bahūni me vyatītāni janmāni tava chārjuna
Tānyahaṁ veda sarvāṇi na tvaṁ vettha parantapa//

The Supreme Lord said: Both you and I have had many births, O Arjun. You have forgotten them, while I remember them all, O Parantapa.

Image: cartoonstock.com

Sentimentalism & Spiritualism

  • Are you a sentimentalist?
  • Do you cry when you see your favorite star in tears?
    Related image
  • Do the attractive young people in cheeseburger commercials lure you to the closest burger joint?
  • Don’t you fall for the idea that eating junk and staying healthy is very much possible?
  • Don’t you believe that doing well here will fetch you a place in the heaven?
  • Do you indulge in adult bullying with your sentiments gone haywire?

Sentimental Dhritarashtra

Sentimental Dhritarashtra

If your answer to the above questions is ‘yes’ then you can be called a sentimentalist. However, from the researchers’ point of view, we all are naturally sentimental.

According to them, our feelings and emotions rule over our logic.

If you are curious about how they arrived at this conclusion?
Their answer is pretty direct-that all our decisions are driven by self-interest. Hence most of our decisions are sentimental in nature.

Well, that is to do with being sentimental and decision making. Sentimentality sure does have a place in literature but do you think it stands any chance in spirituality?

There is a lot on this subject by Advaitans both in Gita and Mahabharatam(Shanti parvam). And the text’s advice is to pull the sentimental veil away and to see the world as it truly is.

If you say you would love to do that but just can’t figure out how to do it. Then their response to that is also fairly simple-that every problem has its roots in our identifications and so does this.

Even in the vyavaharika world, we say that we have a body, a mind, and an intellect.  We do not state that we are the body or the mind or the intellect. Yet, we end up identifying with all of them and inevitably their imagined problems add up as our own. But what if we identify ourselves to that Invincible Atman and believe that everything is but an explicit expression of the Atman, including the intellect, mind and the body.

Imagined Boundaries

With that knowledge, if we could discern that neither the body nor the mind or the intellect has an individual existence. They all are nothing but the self-just like how the clay pots and plates are nothing but clay.

If we could realize this then the same knowledge could be extended to other beings around us.

love-your-neighbor-sign-god

I know this whole thing sounds simple in theory but in practice, it demands all our patience and perseverance. Yet entirely doable 🙂

Srimad Bhagavad Gita:

Bahūnāṁ janmanām ante jñānavān māṁ prapadyate
vāsudevaḥ sarvam iti sa mahātmā su-durlabhaḥ// 7,19

A man who has attained this true knowledge(knowledge of the Self/Atman) worships me as Atman. He understands that everything is Atman and there exists nothing except Atman. Such a man is extremely rare.

Pictures: Internet

 

Balance Of Intimacy and Independence

“Let there be spaces in your togetherness,

And let the winds of the heavens dance between you.

Love one another but make not a bond of love:

Let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls.

Fill each other’s cup but drink not from one cup.

Give one another of your bread but eat not from the same loaf.

Sing and dance together and be joyous, but let each one of you be alone,

Even as the strings of a lute are alone though they quiver with the same music.

Give your hearts, but not into each other’s keeping.

For only the hand of Life can contain your hearts.

And stand together, yet not too near together:

For the pillars of the temple stand apart,

And the oak tree and the cypress grow not in each other’s shadow.”

This difficult balance of intimacy and independence is what the great Lebanese-American artist, poet, and philosopher Kahlil Gibran (January 6, 1883–April 10, 1931) explores with uncommon insight and poetic precision in a passage from his 1923 masterwork The Prophet

 

Credit: brainpickings

Are ‘You’ The Seer, The Seen or The Seeing?

Gullible conversations between Calvin and Hobbes do keep us hooked, don’t they?

This one was featured yesterday in the DC’s coffee-break section. While I went through it, I found Calvin very relatable and naive and the answer of Hobbes had a striking effect on me. For a minute, I found the conversation between them to be that of a seeker to a saint.

BTW, who do you think is the Real Person?

  1. The person in the puddle (or)
  2. The Person looking into the puddle

Which is the truth/reality?

  1. The Ripple-less Puddle reflecting the person the “truth’ (or)
  2. The reflection of the person the ‘truth’ (or)
  3. The person himself is the Truth

The Vedic philosophers would say that the “person’ should be the reality; for only in the presence of the Person, the Reflection and Puddle can be known.

Okay, Let us assume

  • the Clear Puddle to the Mind/Drik/Seeing,
  • Calvin to the Seer/Drashta/Subject and
  • the Reflection of Calvin to the Seen/Drishyam/Object

Like a learned person, Hobbes goes on to say that if you were the reflection then the minute the reflection of the world moves from the mind, the world too should disappear. Or is it the other way round?

If you see any truth to that, then a new set of questions should arise:

  • Can the Mind survive without the reflections?
  • Will the Observer disappear too?
  • Does the duality of the Trinity(seer, seeing & seen) really exist?

Let me ask you this: Can we call someone an observer when he is not actively observing something? Can the observer be separated from the act of observing and the observation itself? I think so. As the act of seeing & the seen only comes when there is a seer who wishes to see a thing, right.

The seer with or without the sight could exist but the act of seeing and the seen is dependent upon him. Like the saying, we only see what we wish to see and not the reality. So, I believe we can safely say that seen and the seeing are because of the Seer.

You might wonder so much for that fictional comic characters. Yeah, I am guilty of that but when you are interested in a subject that kind of streamlines your thought process. It is all good as far as I believe my way is not the only way to seek the truth 🙂