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

kumbh mela

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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: Has India lost its spiritual heritage?

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Questioner: We have such a rich heritage and history. India is the land of the vedas, the Upanishads and so many perfect masters. As a country, how did we get so far from the Truth or was the Truth always for just a limited few?

Acharya Prashant: Taruna, the misfortune of India is that it is the land of Upanishads, it is the land of the Budhas, the Kabirs, the Nanaks and the Farids, that which is too abundantly available becomes unavailable.  And, the one who is very abundantly available, must become little unavailable, so that he becomes again available.

Masters after Masters, scriptures upon scriptures, the common folk start taking things for granted.

Every village has a dozen fakirs. You throw a stone in any direction and it is going to hit a sadhu!

That’s the way the human constitution is, we respect that which is rare.

What do you value? Everyday events or festivals that come once in a year?

If you meet Kabir every two hours, then you will start avoiding him. It is too much!

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Thought is not bad

There is the mind, and the mind has the ability to think. The question is not whether you are thinking or not. The question is, who is the thinker? If the thinker is devoted to the Truth, then thoughts are just like the dance of Shiva.

Is the river of your thoughts pure enough to allure Shiva to dance in it? And Shiva will not dance in a stream impure.

There is understanding without thought and there is understanding with thought as well. Just as there is Truth, formlessly, and there is Truth, formed as well. There will be occasions when the Truth will strike you like a thunderbolt, like a flash of lightning. And understanding will be complete in a split second. And there will be occasions when you will be required to think.

But I understand your predicament. All the spiritual masters are treating thought as the worst offender. As if thought has brought in sickness and disease to your life. Not really. Thought is your expression, just as action is your expression. As you are, so your thought is. In fact, thought is so very helpful. You cannot look at your tendencies, your vrittis, directly. But thought is gross, palpable, definite, it can be watched.

When you think, you come to know of yourself. Otherwise, you wouldn’t have known. The thought of jealousy or the thought of fear arises, it helps you know that deep within somewhere, you are? Afraid.

Thought is not bad. ‘Useful’ or ‘Useless’ is the place, thought is coming from.



Read the complete article: Acharya Prashant: Is physical proximity to the Guru necessary?


 

Acharya Prashant: Is physical proximity to the Guru necessary?

Acharya Prashant: The next one is from Roosmarjin, from the Netherlands. And she has tried the devanagari script today. That’s what I say, you Love playing games. And you keep trying your games upon me as well. I too am a sportsman. Right? If you offer me a game, I won’t refuse.

So, yes Rosie, let’s have a ball.

“Acharya Ji pranam.” Rosie ji, “Pranam.”

Freedom is compulsory.” Of course.

“At a grace given moment, no thoughts come up in the mind any longer. I want to do or drop, whatever it takes in order to not resist the process. Day by day, the pull to be in physical proximity with you and devote my life to you, the Truth, grows stronger. Most of the thoughts that are in my mind are related to moving to India, to be in your physical proximity. Only if it would be wanted for the sake of the mission at large, will I stay there? But the thought of not coming to live close to you literally makes my heart contract. Maybe this message is not suited for the class, but it is ‘the one thing’ I am serious about. If you don’t stop me, I will come. Please tell me, what is being wanted.

Yours Roosmarjin”

[Holding a cat in his hands and showing the cat towards the screen] Say “Hi” to Roosmarjin. So what do you want from her (asking the cat), she is the Oracle (referring to the cat). So, what do you want from Roosmarjin?

Silence.

Yes, Oracle, speak !  (still holding the cat)

Nothing. Please. Just a meow would be enough. Say something, say something!

She is not refusing. She is not even saying, that consent is needed. She wants to sleep (lets the cat off his hands, and while she goes, comes a meow). And to this, she said, Yes.

A few things you have said.

You have said, “at a grace given moment, no thoughts come up in the mind any longer.” When you were here in India, I had spoken about this, I will repeat!

It is not at all necessary or advisable, to target a state of ‘no thoughts.’ To extend the metaphor of the last answer, will the Sun ever be without its radiance? It’s rays? Will the ocean ever be without its waves? Will there ever be God, sans godliness? Will there ever be the creator, without the creation?

Thoughts are like waves. And waves only give dance to the substance of the ocean. If the ocean itself has somehow become contaminated or spoilt or corrupted. Then the waves too would have that corruption.

There is the mind, and the mind has the ability to think. The question is not whether you are thinking or not.

The question is, who is the thinker?

If the thinker is devoted to the Truth, then thoughts are just like the dance of Shiva.

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You cannot have a spiritual culture

You cannot have a special land that enables the coming of the spiritual mind. You cannot have a spiritual culture, where it is easier to be spiritual. But for sure, you can have a mind that is attentive to its own falseness. That you can have! Not something definitive or particular, like a culture. Not something positive and affirmative. But, rather something reductive and destructive. Getting it?

“You know, nothing can lead me to God, let me just find out what keeps me away from God.” That kind of an approach.

Instead, we have cultures that claim to lead you to God. And that’s what all God-men do, right? They say, “I’ll take you to God.” The approach must be! You cannot be taken to Truth or God. You only need to find out what keeps you away. What makes you think that you are away. That kind of a thing can be there. That rigor, that…you can even equate it to the intellectual rigor, so it is not really intellectual. That rigor, even if it is found, even if it has been found in India, has been found only intermittently and that too very privileged and very tiny pockets.

You know, the people from whom, this…from whom the holiest…why even call them holy? Let’s call them “Intelligent Scriptures”. From whom these books came, they were in extremely tiny minority and most of them were not socially absorbed. We cannot even call them a part of society or a part of India. The fellow is living on the top of the hill. He has nothing to do with the country, nothing to do with the society. Would you call them belonging to a certain nation? He doesn’t even know whether nation exists, or has been conquered, or an earthquake has wiped out the entire population. He is so absorbed in his own meditation. So, he hardly has a nationality.

And those numbers, they were  extremely small, very-very small. The common masses were doing what they were doing. They had nothing to do with all this. In fact, even in India today, you see, all kinds of spiritual myths are popular. But if you go to somebody and you ask him to name even one Upanishad, one out of hundred people can do it. There are more than 200 Upanishads but when you do the general survey on the streets of India, and ask them to tell the name of even one of the Upanishads. I might be over-estimating in saying one by hundred.



Read Complete article: There is no such thing as a spiritual place or spiritual land

There is no such thing as a spiritual place or spiritual land

Presentation6Question: Do you think that with this modernization of INDIA, this global modernization or to say Post Industrial…so called Post Industrial! is, in a way, destroying Indian culture? At least our Spirituality…or its health?

Acharya Prashant: You see , no culture is spiritual. Indian, Western, Martian…no culture is spiritual. Spirituality has nothing to do with culture. All culture is just a social phenomenon. Spirituality doesn’t have much to do with that. India is said to have had so called spiritual culture since centuries. As you have gone about… Is it your first visit to India?

Listener:Yes.

AP: As you have gone about travelling here, do you really feel this is a spiritual land?

L1: No. I mean I have met a few. Not land but some people. Some people, not the complete.

AP: And those people are probable to be found anywhere. If you have met a few good people here, you would surely meet a few good people even in Russia or Germany or you know in your home country or you know even on some God for-saken satellite. So, that is just by chance. Continue reading

On Anger, observation, middle path, and right action

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Question: It is said that the sage doesn’t get angry for long time. Can you talk about this?

Speaker: Do you bother about how other people love? If you have a real relationship with anybody; with a child, with a dog, with a woman, do you bother about how other people love? Why must you bother so much about how that particular sage was behaving or acting or performing miracles? You have your own heart, and your own God, your own lover. Why don’t you look directly at Him? And if you are really a lover, would you look directly at your beloved or would you look around?

There is a beloved and you are experiencing a distance between you and Him, and that distance is your only desire. You want to get rid of the distance. Your eyes are set on your beloved. Now would you talk about this and that? Would you talk about what is happening in the neighbour’s house? Would you talk about how they behave and perform and talk? Tell me. Would all of that be of any importance to you?

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