KUMBH: Nothing, but immortality || Acharya Prashant (2019)

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So, the demigods and the demons, vigorous and adventerous as they were, thought of adding to their bounties. And got together, uncharacteristically, for a joint exploration mission. Together they churned the great sea using the great mountain as the churner and the great python as the rope.

One of the first things to show up was the great fuming poison. Shiv protected the three worlds by consuming the poison. And then emerged the nectar of immortality. The exploration had reached its zenith. The mission had succeeded. The ambrosia had been churned out from the utter depths of the great ocean, and was now available to be gulped down some ambitious throats. Both parties looked lustfully at their biggest exploit: the pot – kumbh – of nectar that would put an end to death, and make them invincible. But death is so overwhelming a threat that the prospect of deathlessness can make anyone do strange things. One individual, probably a devta, probably a danav, particularly inspired to make it big in life, simply ran away with the pot. Obviously the others gave him a hot pursuit. He was chased just as one chases immortality. With both the gods and demonds hot on his heels, he had it horrid. On the run, he had to pause at four places on planet Earth to catch his breath. Trembling as his hands were, thinking of his infuriated and powerful brethren, a bit of the nectar fell at these four places. The Kumbh is celebrated at the four places as a mark of immortality reaching mankind. Since millennia, devotees have been taking bath in Ganga, Shipra, Godavari – the Kumbh rivers – hoping to gain freedom from the clutch of death. The Kumbh is acknowledged as not only the biggest pilgrimage event on the planet, but also the biggest congregation of mankind for any purpose.

The story, the myth, is elaborate, multi-layered, and replete with symbolism. There appear to be many themes and ideas. However, in the middle of the rich clutter that the Kumbh saga is, there is one word that firmly dictates the narrative: Immortality. The whole celebration revolves around man’s fear of death, and his desire to taste the nectar of deathlessness.

What is death? Why does man fear death so much? Inspite of all their powers and glory, why do even gods run after ambrosia of immortality? Death is the thought of loss. Death is the fear of not existing any longer. Man is in a strange situation. On one hand, everyrhing he identifies with is perishable. His body, his thoughts, his feelings, his world, his relationships, his identities are all ephemeral. The world means change, and time is always threatening to ruthlessly change and destroy everything he bases his life on. Change and disappearance appear to be man’s inevitable lot when he looks at the world. On the other hand, this same destructible man, a puppet of time, has an inexorable love for deathlessness, changelessness, timelessness. His heart yearns for something that is so reliable, so true, so firm that time cannot touch it. All his life man randomly wanders groping around in search of something infallible, something final.

What does one make of this dissonance?

If one looks at his life truly, what does one see? A series of movements. Actions after actions. Acts, hopes, desires that are failing to find a climax, and are therefore continuing ad infinitum. Man’s eyes are endlessly searching for something. He is trying to find that through action, knowledge, possessions, relationships, pleasures, experiences, feelings, through everything at his disposal. That’s what the human condition is. To live on, man keeps bearing this condition, even glorifying it. He is compelled to call his frustration and poignant helplessness as motivation and achievement. He puts on a brave face. He calls his blind, stumbling, totter through life a challenging or heroic journey. He dons regular festivities even as he mourns within. At no point is he ever able to say: I am done. My ultimate desire has gained fulfillment. I am complete now, forever. And hence I now have unfettered freedom.

What does man really want? What did the gods and demons want despite owning the grandeurs of life? Let’s rather see what all ways man tries to satiate his want. We have already done a lot. Have our ways succeeded? If not, then an altogether new kind of exploration is needed in an altogether new dimension. What is that dimension? The Kumbh legend gives us a clue. The mythical ocean is the mind, the Bhavsagar. Its churning is needed. That’s simple to say, but what one initially gets upon churning is accumulated poison: old tendencies, suppressed desires, the haunting residues of the past that one has been carrying forward in evolution. Poison is stuff that is basically worthless and harmful, but is still preserved within due to ignorance and attachment. This churning of the mind is essentially self-observation through an honest and dispassionate seeing of one’s life, thoughts, fears, desires, actions. But most people do not proceed with self-observation for long. As soon as they counter the poison, they back off. To go beyond the poison, dedication and love towards Truth – Shiva – is needed. One has to trust Shiva to surrender one’s poison to Him. This is faith. And then, upon such cleansing, what is left is deathlessness. Deathlessness thus demands both: a burning determination to get rid of the indignations of cyclic hopes and despairs, and a great love for an unknowable, indescribable freedom. And deathlessness is not about living a million years. Deathlessness is not a huge stretch in time. Deathlessness is timelessness. Immoratlity is to live deep, not necessarily long. A moment spent deeply is a moment in eternity. What is depth? To go to one’s deepest desire and fulfill and extinguish it forever.

Another Kumbh beckons us. Can we go beyond the ritualustic dip, and honestly observe life as it is, within and around us? If we could see how desperately we want the One beyond time and death, and equally if we could see how that which we call life is one with death, would we still continue to live the same way we do? Realising that our thoughts and plans are not adequate to fulfill our innernost desire, won’t we instantly shrug off our drowsy dreamy demeanour? Won’t we rebel against our self-sanctioned sleepwalk through life?

We have been thirsty since long. The time given to a human body is short. Man’s energy too is limited. And the task is onerous. Nothing short of total immortality, total security and total rest would satisfy man. What we want is available, and we have as much claim over the nectar as the gods and demons. The magical thing is: the great pot of divine nectar is so much our own that we don’t even have to steal it away from others.

Let’s heed the real message of Kumbh.


Excerpts from the above article were also published in DNA, India: Kumbh: Churning of mind to escape cyclic hopes and despairs:

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Acharya Prashant, with students: Who is collecting your sacrifice? ||(2013)

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Question: Why do we sacrifice in the name of Life?

Acharya Prashant: Who says that? What is your name?

Listener: Ankush.

AP: Ankush, who told you that Life is a big ‘sacrifice’? And whenever there is a ‘sacrifice’, there is somebody collecting the sacrifice. Who is collecting the sacrifice? You are giving your Life who is taking that Life? Have you ever seen this?

Life is not a sacrifice. 

It was surely a very defeated, a very sad man who has said that Life is the ‘sacrifice’. Life is there to live. It is your one precious Life and you are ‘young’. It is meant to be lived. It is not even meant to be given away. But a divine part is this that

When you live your Life fully, you actually give a lot to others as well.

Like a candle. A candle shining brightly is able to light a hundred other candles as well. And that takes nothing away from its own Light. It does not have to sacrifice its own Light.

Ensure that you are up and aflame like that candle then others will also get something from you. But that will be just incidental. You don’t have to sacrifice. Sacrifice what and why?

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An Ode to Vishranti-Hyderabad!

vishThis time it was Hyderabad‘s chance
to get blessed by Acharya Prashant Ji‘s presence.

The 3-day Vishranti Retreat started on 4th of January’19
with seekers from all over the country,
coming together to get a taste of
the real Vishram (Relaxation) and the real Shanti (Peace).


Day 1

After a brief orientation by the retreat mentors, the group headed to the Osman Sagar, a beautiful, serene lake in the outskirts of the city. A perfect place for the participants to get comfortable with their small family for the coming days and also contemplate over the important issues of their lives before meeting the Master for the first time.

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It didn’t take much time, the moment they saw a glimpse of the Master, all of them sung in unison the Guru Vandana to express their love and gratitude!

गुरुर्ब्रह्मा गुरुर्विष्णु र्गुरुर्देवो महेश्वरः
गुरु साक्षात परब्रह्मा तस्मै श्रीगुरवे नमः

Guru is the Creator (Brahma), Guru is the Preserver(Vishnu),
GuruDeva is Destroyer(Maheshwara).
Guru is the absolute (singular) Lord himself,
Salutations to that Sri Guru.

The Nature Walk was an unique opportunity for all seekers to keep pace with the Master while putting forth their sincere and honest questions.

 

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Next in line was Studio Kabir with Anushri Mishra Ji!

The silence they were left with after the Nature Walk, found its depth by singing Guru Kabir Sahab’s verses with Anushri Mishra Ji at the retreat venue, and something unexpected happened.

Clock had just struck 11pm! Two hour had passed away in their tryst with Guru Kabir.

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Now, it was time for the midnight session with Acharya Ji. All the seekers were ready to take another deep dive into the depths of silence, what followed was an intense discourse which went on till late 4am in the morning, surprisingly, when the entire city was sleeping, there were some madones, burning the midnight oil to light the fire of wisdom.

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Day 2

After sleeping late in the night, the retreat mentors started their day early to explore the city of Nizams and find an ideal location for yet another Nature Walk with the Master.

After visiting all the famous places of the city, they came upon to an oasis. At the heart of an otherwise rushing metropolitan was a serene park on the banks of the famous Husain Sagar Lake, Sanjeevaiah Park.

 

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Meanwhile, after reading and contemplating over the anecdotes from various Sufi masters’ lives, the Vishranti family moved on to the new location for the upcoming nature walk. Soon, the seekers were blessed by yet another meeting with the Master. The walk offered them an opporunity to discuss topics of personal as well as social interest, to go deep into the relationships an individual has with the world.

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After witnessing the beautiful sunset, the Vishranti family headed towards the retreat venue for another meditative Studio Kabir session with Anushri Ji.

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‘It was a Myth Buster!’

That’s what one of the participant instantly said when she was asked about her experience of the second session. In this session, Acharya Ji busted a number of myths prevalent in today’s world in the name of Spirituality. And amazed with a whole new perspective of looking at the world, the seekers went on to share their heart out with the Master till 3am in the morning, again.

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A few blessed ones also got an opporunity for the one-to-one interaction with Acharya Ji.

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Day 3

The final day of the retreat started with reading and discussing an unique ensemble of shlokas from more than 20 Upanishads. After an intense churning of the first two days, the seekers were initiated with the first principles; directing their focus again on the basics of an intelligent living.

The intensity of discussions instantly turned into innocent expression of love when they started decorating the session venue for welcoming the Master.

 

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In the final session of the retreat, seekers asked their queries to understand the essence of the wisdom of the rishis and were beautifully guided across the river by the Master!

“Acharya Ji, what would be your advice to us, now, when the retreat is ending?”
asked one of the seekers.

“The retreat must never end,”
said the Master.

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Gems from the Sessions

“टुच्ची लड़ाई करने का दुष्परिणाम ये होता है कि तुम किसी बड़ी लड़ाई के काबिल नहीं बचते।”

……..

Q: How to express Gratitude?
A: Distribute it.

……..

“अच्छा कर्म करके मुक्ति नहीं पाई जाती।
मुक्ति के लिए जो कर्म किया जाए वो अच्छा होता है”

……..

“Science keeps looking at the objects but ignores the subject.
And that is why even the greatest scientists remain in darkness.”

……..

“तुमको अगर दुःख मिल रहा है तो इसलिए नहीं मिल रहा कि तुम्हारे अतीत में कुछ है।
इसलिए मिल रहा है कि ठीक अभी तुम दुःख का साथ दे रहे हो।”

……..

“Sex becomes an issue to you when you say,
‘I am going to have sex and it will satisfy me’.

When you are really concerned with your Liberation,
then such thoughts stop bothering you.”

……..

“चमत्कार सत्य की ओर से नहीं होता, चमत्कार होता है तुम्हारी ओर से, जब तुम सत्य की ओर देख लेते हो।”

……..

Q: What is your way to the Mukti?
A: Suffering. An honest acknowledgment of suffering.

……..

“आज़ादी ध्यय हो तो जीवन ही ध्यान है।”

……..

“Your questions are living proof,
that you are not alright with yourself.”

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A Glimpse of the Sessions


~ The above post is coming from one of the volunteers at PrashantAdvait Foundation

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2019 New Year Resolutions by Acharya Prashant Ji for all of us!

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1. Keep a diary aside to routinely write down how many minutes you spent of the day on your liberation/mukti and write in it how many things in the day you shouldn’t have done but प्रकृति made you do them (hormones, body, mind etc. are प्रकृति)? Show this diary every week to some one to whom showing it might be dangerous.

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2. In your monthly expenses, note down how much did you spend on liberation/mukti, food, body, sense gratification, pride, attachment and so on and after that did you have anything left to spend on liberation?

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3. In the entire month, where ever you were present, how much of your presence was liberation oriented? In all of your daily travels, how many journeys were for mukti/liberation?

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4. Every week, have a target of Upanishad/Scripture readings that you’ll complete and after reading, note down the essence in your diary.

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5. Every month, give up one thing from your food and beverages and add one or two new things. At the end of the year, 12 things should’ve been removed and added (hint: don’t give up only things that cause you harm but give up those things that cause animals harm in the form of exploitation).

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6. Every day, from any category of the world (history, science, religion, geography, etc.), you must learn atleast one new thing. For e.g. learn a new thing from a Wikipedia article every day (spend about 10-15 minutes only).

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7. Choose any one physical sport and before 2019 ends, gain enough expertise in it that you may competitively play this physical sport with any one.

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8. Learn a new skill; preferably something related to singing or playing a musical instrument.

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9. In order to raise awareness towards environment and the violence towards exploitation of animals, become a volunteer or part of an institution focussed on such a cause of raising awareness.

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10. If you don’t have a shortage of money to spend, then take the responsibility of food and education of a poor child. This doesn’t mean that you go somewhere and pay the money but in fact make sure of the proper development of the child by being actively involved in her/his holistic development. Treat her/him like your own child. It’s not necessary to bring him to your house but it is imperative that you prioritize his overall development by giving your time to the child.


Originally said in Hindi by Acharya Ji here: https://youtu.be/jwcE57tdgP8

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How to prevent myself from emotional self-harm? || (Acharya Prashant, 2018)

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Questioner: An episode in my life haunts me. It’s me who keeps on revising that ugly memory when there is a similar situation? How do I prevent myself from such an emotional self harm?

Acharya Prashant: The mind is such a bottomless abyss. An abyss tired of its own bareness, vacancy. An abyss trying to fill itself in all possible ways. A scared loneliness groping, clutching at everything, even if those things are obviously useless, or even harmful.

The past is therefore clung to. If life is insubstantial, mind tries to find substance in the past.

The question, hence, is not so much about why the past keeps haunting the mind. Mind has to stick to something. The mind cannot live alone. If, among all the objects available for engagement, the past, or an event of the past, appears the most attractive, then the mind will obviously stick to that event, and keep revisiting it by way of memory.

Hence, can we, today, give the mind something very beautiful? Something so beautiful that it enamours the mind, and something so vast it fills up the abyss? If we can bring the mind to beauty and truth, the mind would be both enthralled and illuminated. Then it will find no need, no reason, to repeatedly rush to the past.

How to find beauty and vastness today? Maybe one can begin by going to those who devoted their lives to peace and clarity. There have been those who have sung all their life of beauty and Truth. Maybe, in their company, the mind will learn what to seek and where to seek.

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Acharya Prashant: What is the best thing you can get for free?

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If you can understand the answer to this question, then you already have the best free thing. The best free thing is ‘understanding’ itself. Well, just that understanding is not a thing, and the best things in life are, as they say, not things.

Think of it. Many machines, many computers can read this answer that I am writing here. But only a human being can ‘understand’ this answer. A machine can mechanically analyze, or interpret this answer. A machine can even translate this answer to a hundred different languages. But no machine can ever ‘understand’ what I am saying. For that matter, no machine can ever ‘understand’ a verse from the Gita, or a common statement as ‘I love you’.

We get that gift free, right? Understanding. But since it comes free, many of us don’t value it and don’t live by it.

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Acharya Prashant: Difference between believing and realizing?

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It is a strange thing, and paradoxical. Must be understood with care.

Is there a need to tell the free one that he is already free? It would be absurd and useless to do do.

When I say, “You are already free”, to whom do I say that? To the free one? No!

To the free one, I say nothing. He needs no advice. He can, though, give advise to many.

I say “You are already free” to the one who staunchly believes that he is NOT free. Why do I say that? The answer must be obvious.

In spirituality, no statement is a statement of Truth. Truth cannot be contained in a statement. So, statements by Teachers are not Truth, but just useful devices.

Useful devices? For what? Useful devices to cut down that which is untrue or false, and therefore damaging.

Since “I am unfree” is a highly damaging belief, so to counter it, I say “You are free”.

The purpose is not to give the listener another belief: “I am free”. So, if someone comes to me with a strong belief that he is free, I tell him, “You are not free”.

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