117/9: Need For Change

Summary: Sadhana starts only after we feel the need for change of our various attitudes. Such a need can only be felt if we completely understand our own prejudices and how they have come about. If the basis of their existence is seen to be arbitrary, only then sufficient motivation for their change can be gathered. Note that without change, nothing can be gained.

Verse 117: Kimbahunaa Yaapari, Me Nijaprakruti Angikari, AaNi Bhootsrushti Eksari, Prasavochi Laage.

Translation: You should know that, in this way, I take on a different form and then the whole creation (that you see around you) comes into existence.

This verse asks Arjuna to take into account all the explanations given before and realise how the entire creation has come into existence. Seen in the context of Arjuna’s dilemma about fighting war with his relatives, it is saying that one should realise the exact nature of our strong views of what is wrong and what is right in our life. Krishna is exhorting Arjuna to give up his pre-formed ideas about not fighting with his kith and keen. Exactly like that, if we find that our present strong views are only based on hearsay and has no real basis in truth, we should have the courage to be able to accept this fact and if necessary, change our attitude.

In fact, if we are honest and open in our approach towards our predispositions, we will find out that there is no real basis to most of our notions of propriety. Quite often, the way we look and react in a situation depends on so many random factors (like our present mood, the position of the person involved in the given situation, our own social status, what we think other people expect from us etc. etc.) that very rarely we can keep track of them all and take a conscious decision based on the true merit of the given situation. Of course, whatever decision we take (for we always take some decision), we are clever enough to defend it with our intellect. In fact, we are so very clever that we are able convince all (including ourselves!) the correctness of our reaction. This way, we become more and more rigid about our attitudes and it becomes harder for us to fundamentally change our views.

Why change our attitudes anyway? If one is happy with the present situation, there is absolutely no need for change. A change for its own sake is bad. The real change, which brings about a fundamentally different point of view in our life, can happen only if we see the absolute need for it. A smoker or a person addicted to eating sweets can give up their addiction only if the adverse effects of their habits starts showing. It is not like they have not heard arguments against their vice before. At that time, they had understood the truth of those arguments too. However, the real change comes only after they see the existence of adverse effects in their life. Therefore, it is essential that we take our time, just like Arjuna did (he asked lots of questions during the 18 chapters of Gita and only then he picked up his bow to fight), and see the imperativeness of change. Then the change will happen with full awareness of all its implications. This is the path of realization. The real understanding of Dnyaneshwari or the Advaita philosophy is not just being able to theoretically see the possibility of its truth. The real understanding comes only after we accept that we must live our life according to our current understanding. Since living life according to our current understanding entails bringing about a change in our life, we should first try to see if there is any need for change in our life.

Here, some people may say that even if we accept the need for change and want to live life according to Dnyaneshwari, how can we? Our understanding of Dnyaneshwari is not perfect and thus we cannot be sure if we are correctly following the instructions given by Dnyaneshwari. The answer to this objection is: It does not matter if our understanding is not perfect. In fact, whose understanding of Dnyaneshwari is perfect? If we wait to have a ‘proper’ understanding of Dnyaneshwari before implementing it in our life, we can wait forever. There is no such thing as an ideal meaning of any of the verse in Dnyaneshwari. Each and every verse of Dnyaneshwari takes different forms according to the person who is trying to understand it. It is just like God taking different avatars to suit the demands of a given situation. Therefore, whatever you understand now is the right understanding for you. You should start implementing your understanding in your life. Then a finer meaning may reveal itself. At once, we should start to implement this finer understanding of ours in our life. For example, you may feel in the beginning that doing puja or doing meditation everyday is absolutely essential for understanding the meaning of life. Later you may feel that it may not be necessary to strictly observe any one (or all!) of these outer forms but it is more important to be psychologically free from these symbols of purity. Then, in your life you may begin with observing fasts and being punctual about meditation. Later, you will slowly relax the self-imposed restrictions and live life more like a ‘normal’ person but at the same time focusing your real attention on understanding Truth. Thus finer understanding of the same verse may nullify some of your earlier efforts, but then you should not feel discouraged at having wasted your efforts earlier. Those efforts were necessary at that time. Now the time has come to move on and you should be able to change without remorse. In this way of living, our way of living gets completely determined by our current understanding of Dnyaneshwari and in this sense we actualize the meaning of Dnyaneshwari in our life. This is what Saint Namdev meant in his verse ‘… Ek Tari Ovi Anubhavaavee’ (one should experience at least one verse completely in our life).

Now, lets go back to seeing the need of change in our life. Our instinctive reaction would be to say that ‘I am fine. There is no real need for change right now.’ Fine. However, sooner or later we come across an unfavourable situation in our life. Such a situation is called ‘critical point’ in my discussion on the first verse of the first chapter. This is the time for us to see if we are doing something fundamentally wrong. Are we putting our happiness in the hands of someone else? Or worse, are we equating our joy with the existence of something in our life (like a position of eminence, a piece of latest equipment, some words of appreciation from peers etc.)? How right are we in assuming these kind of equations in our life? Consistently thinking like this at each of your critical points will definitely give you the correct answer about the need for change. Have patience and keep asking these questions at the right time. Then, you will truly embark on the path of change. This change will bring a revolution in your life. It will make your life far more colourful and happy in a way that you cannot imagine right now. This is Dnyaneshwar’s promise!


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