CHAPTER – 10
- Human life is supposed to be short; in the earlier Yuga especially the Krita Yuga, people did thapas for hundred to thousands of years. How can one in Kali Yuga make up or even excel the quantum of thapas reputed to have taken place in earlier Yugas?
According to the Rishis, as the life span is short, the kind of Thapas done in the earlier yugas is protracted. Thapas is not expected in Kali Yuga even by Divinity. There is one more reason why Thapas in Kali Yuga can be far disproportionate to one in Krita Yuga. Here the reason is very simple. After a long period of hibernation of a jeevan of 400 human years, the innate faculties of the said jeevan will have become so dormant and tamasic. The degree of maturity of a large number of people in Krita Yuga is much lesser than the average maturity in Kali Yuga.
So in Krita Yuga, one takes a longer time than one does in Kali Yuga for enlightenment. In Kali Yuga on the other hand, not only the life span is limited but the health problems may be unlimited.
It is for these two different manifestations of condition in Krita Yuga and Kali Yuga, Divinity in general and the Rishis in particular have devised a rather secret way of beating time vis-à-vis longevity and succeed with a lesser duration of tapas in Kali Yuga. The following methods of adoption and pursuit of tapas are recommended by the Rishis (for quick results):
“Grihaat eka gunam” – whatever may be the japa quantity done at home, its benefits will not multiply. The ratio of benefit to japa effort is 1:1.
“Gavaam goshthe dashagunam” – japa done in a cowshed will multiply ten fold. The multiplier is 10.
“Nadee there sahasra gunam”- here, japam done on the banks of a sacred river is 1=1000. The multiplier effect is 1000!
“Siddhikshetra sarvesha sahasra-sathakoti phalam” – in all Siddhikshetra the multiplier is 1000 X 100 crores!
“Anantham Vishnu Sannidhi” – infinite will be the product multiplier if done in Vishnu Sannidhi.
Secret places of attainment of the Brahman by great ones in the past- Doing our meditation in those secret places when/where some great individual has had the benefit of Supreme Divine grace.
- What can be achieved by “Thapas”?
Everything in fact can be achieved by Thapas. There is nothing in all the three worlds that cannot be gained or attained through Thapas. Indeed all aspirations can be realized by and things amenable to Thapas. The immediate benefits of meditation and Thapas are better health and longevity.
- What happens when a person carries on intense Thapas? What should be his sankalpa? His aim?
The great asura Hiranyakashipu, son of Kashyapa Prajapati and Diti Devi, sat for intense Thapas – in fact for a very rigorous one. His sole aim was to get the Supreme blessings of Creator Brahma. As his Thapas reached a climax, an indescribable but powerful flame of fire emerged from his head (Brahma-randra of the asura) and enveloped even Indra loka. Taken aback by the threat of destruction of Indra loka, Indra asked Sri Narada Maharshi about the fiery flame. “It is” said Narada, “The tapo agnijwala of Hiranyakashipu”. If the Thapas was allowed to continue, the entire universal creation could be burnt to ashes! This was the further counsel Indra and other Devathas got and without hesitating for a moment , they all offered prayers to Brahma (the focus of Hiranyakashipu’s Thapas) to bring an end to his Thapas by granting whatever boon the asura asked. Brahma granted the boon of the a well thought out longevity the asura desired. In order to honour the terms of commitment of the boon, Maha Vishnu took the incarnation of Narasimha to kill Hiranyakashipu and bless Hiranyakashipu’s son Prahlada who was an ardent devotee of Maha Vishnu.
What happens when one indulges in Thapas is obvious from the above legend. When one does Thapas for a material benefit, one gets it – and only the one he desires materially. But if the focus is not on any material acquisition but the grace of God, until the sought after grace is given, the flame of fire emerging from within starts burning the three worlds! Normally, if one has no evil designs in aspiring for Divine Grace, one will get it without fail and also all the material benefits one has not asked or thought of! So one’s aim should be for Divine Grace only.
- How can we get over our internal enemies like kama (desire), krodha (anger), lobha (parsimony), moha (attachment), mada (egoism) and matsara (prejudice) ?
All departures from perfect qualities attributed to the six internal enemies of mankind can be conquered through Thapas beyond all shadow of doubt. There are countless examples, in mythological works of far reaching nature and value, of those who developed a pure and irreproachable nature immediately after or during Thapas. Thapas burns the bodily impurities – i.e., internal enemies named above. When the internal enemies are conquered it is easy to attain peace; propitiation of the Swadhistana akshara devatas (from 39th to 44th) from Bandhinee to Lamboshtika will help a great deal in this matter.
- If Thapas brings about a sea of change in a person, how is it that some people refuse to accept a change for the better?
There is no doubt about the impact of Thapas on one’s life; those who did ugra thapas (intensive Thapas) were the rakshasas too and Gods were kind to answer their prayers and recognize the merit of their penance. Time and again it has been said by all the Rishis that there is nothing on earth that cannot be acquired by Thapas.
Those who do not want to accept a change for the better can only mean their Thapas, if any, is too small or little to undergo a change. This apart, there are few individuals, according to the Chinese thinker Confucius, who are determined to accept change. About the imperviousness, he says,” In the whole world, there are two people who do not change—one who is an extremely intelligent one and the other is the most ignorant”!
- Is there an element of “Thapas” involved or implied in Yaksha’s question to the repository of righteousness, Dharmaraja?
The element of Thapas is more vividly contained in Dharmaraja’s answer to Yaksha prashna than in the question itself. What indeed was the vital question?
Yaksha asked Dharmaraja,” What is the most amazing thing in this world? Dharmaraja’s answer was spontaneous: “ What could be more amazing in this world than a man who thinks he will live till eternity when Death is staring at him”!
The implication here is paradoxical though it may appear, the average man does not know
- The true end and aim of human life.
He should do Thapas to free himself from the shackles of the bondage of physical frame.
That he does not make any effort to seek a Guru for performance of Thapas which can promote his long life especially from a young age.
That he deludes himself into thinking that he will live for a long period of time.
That death could, in the mean time, take away his life before embarkation on remedial measure.
That one does not think of merits of starting at a very young age or that one should take up early in age the assiduous study of scriptures in order to prompt one to the threshold of success to banish impediments.
Sri Adi Shankara – The Adi Guru of Kaliyuga, bemoans the loss of time and dismays that in Balayavastha (i.e., during boyhood) he will be immersed in games, in Yauvanavastha (i.e., during youth) he will be interested in youthful damsels and in Vriddhavastha (during old age) he will constantly be engaged in mental worries.
- What is the cause of unhappiness?
The root cause of unhappiness is attachment. Until the avoidable attributes of attachment are annihilated, no one will be able to claim real happiness. As long as the mind is seated in material world and the consequent concomitants of disappointment, hatred, prejudice and such unpleasant reactions, unhappiness continues to pester one. Mind has to be turned towards knowledge of the Paramatman. Commentaries on Brahma Sutras underline the categorical assertion:
“..na chanyatra Paramatma-jnanat sokari-nivrttirasti..” meaning that unhappiness cannot be banished until the dawn of knowledge of the Paramatman.
- Janaka, the great Thapasvi, was called a “Videhi” though he was a “Dehi”. Why?
Janaka was a Rajarshi. He was as exalted as a King (Raja) as He was as a thapasvi. Dehi is one possessed of the body and Videhi is one dispossessed or bereft of the body.
Fittingly, Janaka, a Jeevanmukta, was called a repository of detachment. Sri Shuka Paramarshi, another Jeevanmukta was asked by His father Vyasa to spend considerable period of time in the atmosphere of palatial comforts and glory of Janaka’s kingdom. But far from getting attached to the pleasurable surroundings in Janaka’s palace. Sri Shuka Paramarshi was a picture of total detachment, oblivious of palatial comforts and immersed as He was in the constant contemplation of the innate Atman. He was not conscious of any bodily attachment. So was Janaka!
Janaka has a legend of His own to prove the doctrine of Videha. Once His mantri/minister asked Janaka, “ Rajan! Why are you called a Videhi, though you are a dehi right now”? Janaka said He would answer this question after a couple of days. He issued a proclamation that the mantri would be sentenced to death for an unpardonable crime on a certain afternoon. On the same morning, He invited the mantri for lunch at the palace. The mantri arrived on time for lunch. Several special items of sweet, spicy food mixed with tasteless items adorned the agenda of the lunch table. The mantri whose mind was preoccupied with the death sentence could not do even a modicum of justice to the luncheon interval.
Janaka asked the mantri how he felt about all the dishes. A visibly shaken mantri replied, “Maharaja, The fear of death had engulfed me into a state of detachment so much that I could not find out anything about the food served to me, nor the needs of the body”.
Janaka said,” Mantri dear! During the luncheon interval, although you were a “dehi” because of the mortal fear – with the sword of death hanging over your head, you were a “Videhi” for all intents and purposes. So far as I am concerned, I am fully aware that this body (deha) is liable to fall one day. I have not thought about the impermanent body even for a moment! People had known my trait about the total lack of consciousness of the body. So what wonder is there about my being called a “Videhi”?.
Janaka played this drama to convince his mantri about the state of bodily detachment; when a thapasvi’s mind is ever fixed in the contemplation of God!
- What according to Sri Krishna should a man give up in life and is there anything that should not be given up?
Bhagawan says that the following should not be given up:-
(b) Dana or charity is the one which as an attribute and an embellishment of one’s life should not be given up.
(c) Loka seva or humanitarian service should not be given up but continued throughout life.
Then what should be given up?
(a) Benefits of all good actions should be given up.
(b) Even before good action, the desire to expect something out of all actions should not have genesis in the mind. Giving up what is an interested pursuit bringing a benefit is Sanyasa. Disinterested pursuit is Thyaga or sacrifice; so material benefits and expectations thereof must be escheived. (It is not possible to give up good karma, but karmic results or benefits should not figure in man’s mind.
- What are necessary for success of a karmic action?
Whatever is intended to be done, the following five factors are essential for success:-
(a) Place of action
(b) Instruments of action
(c) Circumstance or timely factor
(d)The Doer and his interaction and
(e) Divine Grace
The doer must have a pure heart. He must possess the “seed” for action . He must have an objective or purpose. And, he must know the methodology.
- There are many paths to God realization, some of them complex and even confusing! Some of them are seemingly contradictory! Which is the best path for the sadhana?
There are indeed numerous paths to God realization. For example, there are not less than 108 Upanishads which constitute the end portions of the Vedas viz., the Vedanta. There are different approaches to the attainment of the ultimate reality of existence as enshrined in the several chapters of Bhagwad Gita such as Japa Yoga, Karma yoga, Raja yoga etc. One can choose any of the paths and choose embellishments of others to make one’s sadhana perfect.
Confusion or Contradiction is a product of lack of guidance. For sadhana, one invariably needs the constant guidance of a Guru or Sadguru. In reality, there are no conflicts among different paths as the basic focus is only the One and only God by whatever name called! “Ekameva adviteeyam Brahma”: Brahma is only one bereft of a second! All paths focus on the sole Brahman.
- Should faith precede reason or reason precede faith especially in matters of divinity or religion?
The Hindu religion is one of immemorial antiquity and origin. Many thinkers, thapasvis and giants of enlightenment endowed with encyclopedic knowledge of the subtleties of religion and philosophy gave to posterity the benefit of their vivid experience! Their experience is our faith! Our faith is therefore based on reason and not what may be called “blind faith”! Swami Vivekananda said, however, that faith itself is blind (if we can understand the meaning of the word faith). Faith is a product of not mere tested reason or rational exercise but generations or centuries of experience and confirmation of reason placed in or embraced by faith. Reason presupposes mere caution, commonsense or wisdom. But faith carries the stamp of tradition. Follow the traditional path and you will discover there is reason behind it and authenticity of value innate in faith!
- Is there any prohibition to women for Vedic studies or picking up Vedic philosophy ?
There is no prohibition for women to pick up Vedic studies. While Vedic studies are optional for all, Vedic philosophy is a must for everyone irrespective of caste, sex, language or religion.
- Why are astrological remedies so numerous?
Astrological remedies are numerous because there are numerous horoscopes and not one is identical or identifiable with another. There are countless number of astrological permutations and combinations of planetary disposition. There are equally a considerable number of mantras applicable to different situations or circumstances vis-à-vis problems
Time, distance and genetic factors are equally numerous.
For example, let us imagine that an astrologer advises the application and use of Krishna mantra for the blessings of the Bhagavan required by a childless couple or for the growth and prosperity of the blessed child.
But the Vedic scholar should know:-
(a) that he should use the “Devaki-Suta Govinda” Krishna mantra for the conception, pregnancy and birth of a child, and
(b) that from the moment of birth of a child, he should use “Yashoda-shishu” Krishna mantra for the growth and well being of the child to glorious boyhood, to achieve appropriateness and perfection!