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

kumbh mela

(To receive regular updates on WhatsApp regarding wisdom articles by Acharya Ji and to get an opportunity to connect to him directly, click here)

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:

(To receive regular updates on WhatsApp regarding wisdom articles by Acharya Ji and to get an opportunity to connect to him directly, click here)


Slide1


Acharya Prashant Books and Merchandise are available on Amazon and Flipkart.

To explore: http://studiozero.prashantadvait.com/

coverpage

 

Acharya Prashant on Veganism: Vedas and Milk

Blog-11

Question: Acharya Ji, there are people who quote the Vedas and say “A Hindu is a good Hindu only if he drinks milk from the mother cow.” What is your take on that?

Acharya Prashant: See if you have named the Vedas, what is the central teaching of all the Vedic literature?

If you want to really know what the Vedic teaching is, you will have to go to the Upanishads. The Upanishads are called the “Vedanta”, which means the summit or the climax of Veda. And they go into the reality of man. What is the reality of man? The Upanishads are very forthright and unequivocal about it. They say, “Man is the Truth itself (Aham Brahmasmi).” Nothing else except the Truth. You are the ultimate finality. You are the total.

Now, if this is the position that the Vedic literature takes, then one cannot operate from a point of incompleteness, hollowness or desirousness. A lot of what we do, please see we do just in order to gain fulfillment. We say that the purpose of human Life is progress, don’t we? And we asses a human being according to how much he has been able to progress and contribute to progress.

And what is progress for us?
Knowing more; collecting more.

I’m not trying to unnecessarily be simplistic. Please go into it.

When you know more, when you collect more, is it something that happens only on the outside or does it also affects your self-worth? When you know more, your self-worth rises; when you collect more, again your self-worth rises. The Upanishads say, that your self-worth, that which you are, is any way infinite, you are anyway total. Now, go out and play. You are anyway perfect and complete. Now, do whatever you want to do. But do it from a point of perfection. Do it from a point of completion.

Do not do in order to gain something. Do not do in order to rise.

Act as if you are already there as if you are already complete.

That is what Vedas are all about.

Now, around this center, a lot has been said. Just a whole lot.

Continue reading

You are born, so that you may totally die

All Karma, all action is for the actor. And if the actor is a desirous actor, then all action just leads to a continuation of the cycle of desire!

When you start from a wrong place, then you cannot reach a right place.

A wrong place is a wrong dimension.

More action will not take you out of action. More effort will not lead to effortlessness. More desires will not lead to desirelessness.

Seeing is effortless. Desiring is an effort.

“Mumukshtva” is realization.

You are born, so that you may totally die.

The purpose of life is total death. That is the only purpose of life.

Immortality is to feel so fulfilled that you are not counting years anymore. You are not asking, am I going to die at 50 or 80? That is ImmortalityWhen you are no more bothered about time, then you are immortal.

When you are looking at the decomposition of compounds, you are actually studying your own decomposition.

Karma is always associated with desire. That is why, to give you pure Karma, Krishna talks of ‘Nishkama Karma’. Karma, without the expectation of Karmaphal. Then you are acting without the actor.

“I” tendency does not differ. “I” tendency is the same. The objects that the “I” tendency gets circumstantially attached to, they differ. And the object that you are currently associated with, guides the next object that you would be associated with. But this craving for association and subsequent association; the tendency to get attached is the same.

Read the complete article: Acharya Prashant: No action can lead to liberation

Acharya Prashant: No action can lead to liberation

Question: Acharya Ji, can you please speak something on Karma (Action) and Karmphal (Fruit of action)?

Acharya Prashant:

All Karma, all action is for the actor.

And if the actor is a desirous actor, then all action just leads to a continuation of the cycle of desire!

You look at your Karma and the Karmphal. Does any Karmphal ever mean a ‘full stop?’ Is any result, ever so very satisfying that it is final? So, Karma and Karmphal are a continuity. They are a cycle and they are a cycle of ignorance. The doer, the actor, behind the Karma keeps feeling that, action will lead to Liberation. Now, action cannot lead to Liberation.

Action emanating from the actor, that is the ego, the “I” tendency, can never lead to Liberation. Because the very beginning is flawed. The beginning itself is ‘loneliness,’ the beginning itself is in ‘incompleteness.’ The results of such beginnings cannot be auspicious.

When you start from a wrong place,

then you cannot reach a right place.

That sounds counterintuitive because we do see this happening in the world, right? You are standing at some undesirable place, and from there, you can reach a desirable place. But in the domain of Truth, there is no interdimensional-ladder.

A wrong place is a wrong dimension.

You will keep moving in that dimension. Starting from a wrong center, a wrong place, you will keep moving in a space that is wrong. In that space, you can travel far and wide. The space of the ‘Ego’ too is an infinite space.

Continue reading

All suffering is false

That’s what the Aatma does. It keeps relaxing, in its seat.

All suffering is false. So, where is the question of tragedy?

Complain, and you lose even what you already have. Be grateful, and you get more than what you are grateful for.

When you are being the most serious, the Truth pokes fun at you. In fact, your seriousness is the biggest joke.



Read the complete article: Acharya Prashant on Katha Upanishad: Why do the wise call the Aatman, ‘the enjoyer’?


 

Acharya Prashant on Katha Upanishad: Why do the wise call the Aatman, ‘the enjoyer’?

Question: Acharya Ji, why do the wise call the Aatman, ‘the enjoyer?’

Acharya Prashant: Enjoyer, in the sense of the watcher. Just as in the cinema hall, you enjoy the show. How do you enjoy the show? By leaping into the screen? In Cinema Hall, how do you enjoy it? By relaxing, in your seat.

That’s what the Aatma does. It keeps relaxing, in its seat.

Listener: That means, enjoying our sufferings.

AP: Yes.

Don’t you enjoy even tragic scenes, on the screen? That’s what the Aatma does. For Aatman, there is no tragedy. We talked of it yesterday, right?

All suffering is false. So, where is the question of tragedy?

Reminds me of my college days. So, you know, young students, how they are? Brash, hard, mocking at everything sentimental. That’s the environment in hostels. Nobody likes sissies there. If you are a mama’s boy, if you display lot of emotions, then you become a butt of lot of jokes.

So, it was an inter-hostel dramatics competition. And one of the hostels was trying to enact a sentimental play, in which one of the characters was particularly sentimental. So, with due respect, the student crowd tolerated that play and that expressive actor for some one-minute twenty seconds. And then, we all as part of the audience came into our own! Now, this sentimental actor, playing an even sentimental character, is wailing, weeping, sobbing his heart out. And the more he is crying on the stage, the more is the audience laughing! Can you visualize? He is screaming with pain, and the public is going mad with laughter. People are rolling down the aisle. And hearing a lot of commotion in the audience, he is thinking he is being applauded. So, he is beating his chest, even more ferociously. And now, the public has started throwing their clothes and stuff. After around three or four minutes of such rioting, the actor finally realized that something is wrong.

That is how the Aatman probably watches us! That is why the Katha Upanishad is saying that the Aatman enjoys! We are such stupid actors. It becomes obvious that the suffering we are displaying on the stage is a false suffering. How can any intelligent watcher empathize with us? The more you cry, weep, shriek, the more the Aatman enjoys!

That is why all the Buddhas of the world, have a great time. That is why the first thing he said was, “the world is suffering.” What you missed seeing, is his faint smile, (chuckles) when he said that. Why else do you think is he smiling all the time? When the world is suffering, why else would he smile? Because even your suffering is so imperfect, fake, superficial. The actor on the screen is beating his chest, and the audience too is beating their chests. That is how the Aatman enjoys.

Continue reading

There is only conditional love, there is nothing called unconditional love.

You said that the love of the mother to the newborn baby is unconditional. In no way, in no way. And it should be apparent. Does the mother love the baby of the neighbor? And, is this not the condition that I will love the baby only if she is my baby? This is the biggest condition that there can be.

Unconditional love means, my love is totally free of all kinds of terms and conditions. I am not setting any boundaries. The baby is there and it doesn’t matter whether the baby belongs to me, or to the man next door or to somebody from an adjacent country. The baby is lovable.

And, why must only the baby be lovable, why must not the same quality of love extend to grownups?

Why must only human grownups be lovable, why must not the same love reach out to plants, animals, and birds, and insects?

And, why must only be the sentient beings be lovable, why must not the same warmth of love envelopes trees, and mountains, and rivers, and sands, and the entire universe?

And, why must one stop at one universe then, why must not all universe – real, imaginary, substantial, or conceptual be loveable?

So, never say that the love of a mother to the baby is unconditional. Of course, not. There are huge conditions attached. And you remove those conditions and the love will vanish. Tell the mother, the baby doesn’t belong to her and see what happens to that love. In fact, the love to the baby varies with the gender of the baby. Don’t you know that? Don’t you read that daily? How do you call it unconditional then?

How exactly?

There is only conditional love, there is nothing called unconditional love. And that doesn’t make conditional love despicable. That doesn’t mean we are labeling it as inferior, or aberrant. We are only seeing things as they are, we are only seeing facts as they are. And the fact of our humanness is, everything about us is conditional. Simply, because we too are products are conditions. The one who is a product of conditions, how is he going to know un-conditionality? Are we not products of conditions?

We are products of evolution, we are products of climate, we are products of our economic situations, we are products of religion, our upbringing, our education, our knowledge, the times we live in, our age, our gender. All about us is just conditional. So, there is no surprise in it that our love is conditional. And let love remain conditional. Man falls in love with woman; why only woman? Don’t you see this is such a huge condition?

Woman falls in love with man, and that too man of a certain age bracket. Don’t you see this is a certain condition? And this condition will remain, there is no need to call it foul. Are you seeing this? Till the child is of a certain age, mother loves him or expresses her love in a certain way. The child reaches a certain age or adolescent and a way of relating changes. It must change, let it change. Or, will we say that the love was false, and hence it has changed with time?

Just as everything about us is conditional, our love too is going to be conditional, let us not cultivate a utopian belief in unconditional love. Many spiritualists tend to do that. They say that unless love is unconditional, love is rotten. And we don’t want to have any of that. That will only lead to hypocrisy because you will never be able to come to achieve unconditional love.

Love will always be conditional and at the same time, you are saying conditional love is poor. So, you will be doing two things parallelly – one, engaging in conditional love, and second, calling conditional love as poor, or unconditional. Which will result either in hypocrisy or in loss of self-worth. Hypocrisy would mean I am labeling my conditional love as unconditional. And, loss of self-worth would mean I know that it is conditional and I would fall in my own eyes.

I come to know that my love is conditional and my self-worth drops. None of them is needed, neither of this is needed. Neither do you need to lose self-worth, nor you need to engage in hypocrisy.



Read the complete Article: All love is conditional