Archive for the ‘Chapter 13’ Category

755/13: A Common Confusion

November 20, 2006

Summary: A common cause of confusion is the relevance of social work in our sadhana. We often ask: Is it possible to reach God by doing good to others? Why is it that Dnyaneshwar or Tukaram or other Indian saints do not advise excessive social work as a form of sadhana? The true answer to that is: social work is not enough to realise God. The only way to reach God lies within us and therefore all the saints have advised purifying our own mind as the path towards God.

Verse 755: Kadaadi Lotalaa Gaadaa, Kaa Shikharouni Sutalaa Dhondaa, Taisa Na Dekhe Pudhaa, Vardhakya Aahe.

Translation: A cart thrown of the cliff or a boulder rolling down a hill (doesn’t see its impending doom), just like that (he) doesn’t see the old age looming large in front (of him).

In the thirteenth chapter, Krishna gives the means (laxana) by which we may recognize a Dnyani. Once the list of points through which we can identify a Dnyani (like Amanitva, Adambhitwa, Gurubhakti etc. etc.) is over, He adds at the end of 11th shloka ‘Adnyanam Yadato Anyatha’. This means ‘All the rest signifies ignorance’. The point to note that is: Krishna does not classify ignorant souls based on how close they are to knowing truth. Some of us may think that we have understood 90% of Gita and with a little bit of more effort we will attain liberation. While most others may think that they haven’t even started on the path of sadhana. Krishna doesn’t make any distinction between these two types of people! All are simultaneously included in the ‘yadato anyatha’ category!! Therefore, people who have started doing sadhana in earnest shouldn’t feel too proud of their achievements. As long as I am not a dnyani, I should see no difference between me and the guy on the street who is keen about his worldly desires. We should first learn this humbling lesson from this shloka. In Dnyaneshwari, these last three words of the 11th shloka has been expanded to about 200 verses (655 to 850)! Today, we have taken one of these 200 verses and we will try and see what it may mean to us.

All of us equate old age to being close to death. Therefore, I would like to interpret the word ‘Vardhakya’ (old age) to the time of death. Viewed this way, this verse may mean the following: during our young age we behave without any thought of what happens at the time of death, and the cart thrown off the cliff, the boulder running freely down a steep slope are examples of our behaviour when we are young. So the questions are: 1. What happens at the time of death? And 2. The given examples point to which of our actions? Let us have a look at them.

One can imagine death as an examination of our lifetime behaviour. Depending upon our performance, we will be placed in various categories. Some of us may pass this examination and attain liberation. Some of us may fail but get good enough marks to go to the heaven and most of us fail miserably so that we are born again. If this is what happens at the time of death, what are the questions of this examination? Unlike examinations from schools, this one is very crooked. There is one question carrying 80 marks and all the rest carry about 20 marks! The 20% marks deal with the way we lived our life in the society. Are we a good citizen or not, are we a good father or not etc. etc. While the one question carrying 80 marks is this: How many times have you thought of God for its own sake? How many times have we thought of God without any ulterior motive? In shlokas 16 and 17 of the Seventh Chapter, Krishna says that amongst the bhaktas some are Aarta (In Need), some are Jidnyasu (Looking for Knowledge), some are Artharthi (Looking for worldly betterment) and the rest are Dnyani (the Liberated). He also says that the only real bhakti is that of a Dnyani because he takes my name for its own sake.

At our best, we might call on God to help someone else. This kind of remembering is also with some motive. Actually, in our whole life, we hardly do anything without a motive. So why should we take God’s name without a motive? Therefore, unless we have become Dnyani in our lifetime, there is no hope for us to get 80% of the marks in the final examination. While studying for this final exam, that means while living our life, we have conveniently put this reality for option! We thought that this part of the syllabus of Life, which entail us to take God’s name for its own sake, as not worth studying (either is looks too tough or too uninteresting to us). Therefore, we have no hope of passing the examination. At best, depending upon how many marks we get out of the remaining 20, we can go to the heaven. Going to the heaven is a path about which Dnyaneshwar has repeatedly warned us as the road to be avoided (for example, Verse 315/9: Maj yetaa pai subhataa, yaa dwividhaa gaa Avhataa, Swargu, naraku yaa waataa choraanchiyaa.). From this point of view, we can think of all the literature of the great saints like Ramana Maharshi, Ramakrishna Paramhans, Gondawalekar Maharaj, Dnyaneshwar, Tukaram etc. as the leaking of the final examination paper!! These people were so close to the God, the paper setter, that He confided in them the contents of this important paper. Upon which they, out of sheer kindness, came back to us to tell its contents!!! If you see all their literature, you will see that they are not telling anything else but to take God’s name for its own sake. But we do not believe them. May be it is because they don’t charge any fee for this paper!!! All through our life, we have been conditioned to mistrust anything that is free. So we say that it can’t be so simple a paper at the end… Anyways, this is what happens at the time of death and an Adnyani is a person who is completely unaware of this fact in his/her youth.

Now we come to the second question. What do we do in our youth that leads to our ultimate failure in the final examination? Dnyaneshwar Maharaj has graphically pointed outthat our failure is as spectacular as the complete disintegration upon reaching the bottom of the cart pushed down a steep cliff or the rolling boulder. There are basically two extreme types of people. These two examples deal with them. When we are in full control of our senses, one type of people tend to decide that I will live my life fulfilling my socially acceptable and hence reasonable desires and while doing that I will try not to harm others as much as possible. While other types decide that whatever I want is correct and I am willing to do anything to get what I want. The first type people are like a cart flying through the air after being pushed off the cliff. The cliff symbolises the height of our physical capability (when we are young, our capabilities are at their best). The cart had a simple wish of being able to fly and it is fulfilling it without causing too much trouble to most of the living creatures. That wish of the cart is like our wishes like trying to help others by going to teach in a slum, volunteering for social work, improving our lot in this world by morally right means etc. etc. We feel that by doing work for fulfilling these type of wishes we are helping others. Thus we conclude that, at the time of death we can give a good account of ourselves. However, it can at most get you 20% marks and at the very best will take you to the heaven. We are still far far away from Moksha, the freedom from repeated births and complete union with God.

Now, some of us may question the logic behind this rule of the God. Why is it necessary to remember Him for its own sake and why can’t we reach him through doing good deeds? If you think for a moment, you will realise that you can give others only what you have. It is not possible for us to give away things that we don’t have. Now, are we fully happy in our life? If we are not, then how can we do deeds that give complete happiness to others? At best, you can exchange their current set of worries to the set of worries that you yourself have! For example, if you help someone from the slums to get a decent job, his set of worries has been changed from finding food for himself to the worries of a middle class man. Can my children have the same kind of life? How do I ensure that this current life continues and that I do not go back to my old existence? etc. etc. This means that by apparently helping him we have merely changed his set of problems. In this sense we cannot claim that we can ever help someone completely. Now, you may say that at least he is better off than before. But this is so from YOUR standpoint or from the standpoint of the majority of the people. God is not obliged to follow your standpoint. His definition of helping is to make others completely worry-free. Only a Dnyani can do that because he himself has become worry-free and therefore he can give that kind of help. This is the logic behind the rule that you can never reach God by doing so-called good deeds in your life. That is why Dnyaneshwar or Tukaram or Namdev do not insist upon a sadhak to do social work. That is why all our sadhana is internal, involving our own improvement. Not the improvement of our wife, or mother or son.

Therefore, it should be clear to us that only trying our best to fulfill our socially acceptable ambitions without causing unnecessary injuries to others during our youth is not enough. Worse, while living life this way we will never even be aware that we are hurtling towards disaster at the time of death. Just like the cart never knew what hit him when it reaches the ground.

Now we look at the boulder rolling down a slope. Everything that comes in his path is steamrolled. This signifies those of us who are so single minded in attaining our aims that they do not care about others. For them, achieving their aim is the most important thing in life. For that, they are willing to sacrifice and crush all opposing feelings and people. Their aim might be for the good of someone else, not necessarily their own physical good. But to achieve even such a reasonable aim, these people employ tactics that are questionable. This is like a boulder rolling down a slope, crushing the life out of whatever comes in the way.

Of course for a sadhak, who has started on the path of sadhana, it is clear that this way of living will never bring someone close to realizing God. What will be surprising to most of us that even the first type of people have the same end result as the second type. This should open our eyes and we should shy away from doing social work for its own sake. If some social work comes our way, we should accept it as the wish of the God and do it. Not do it because it is good in its own right. Without this attitude, we will end up in a situation that Dnyaneshwar maharaj has so graphically explained in this verse.

(This is an abridged version of the ‘pravachan’ given in Bangalore on 11 November 2006)