Meditations on Swadharma

The Dharma of Self is called Swadharma. It is our duty to first understand what our Swadharma is and then perform that Dharma to the best of our capabilities. However, there are some variations of Dharma that stands against Swadharma.

Swadharma

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Kinds of Kukarma

Vidharma is that Dharma that affects your Swadharma. For instance, let us say your Swadharma is to protect the citizens of the country as a Police Officer. If you always ask for a fee in order to do your Swadharma of questioning a person or filing an FIR, that corruption is called Vidharma. There are so many instances of Vidharma in our society that it is almost a fever of sorts. From the highest position of society to the lowest, Vidharma is to be expected in delivery of goods and services. It is present not just in Government Service, but also in most forms of business and even in domestic family life.

Paradharma is the act of making someone else do your Swadharma. Management Principles say Delegation is a good thing. But, it should be the right kind of delegation. Our core Swadharma can never be delegated to anyone else. It may be part of our Swadharma to perform our Sadhana. Say we are a singer or a musician. We cannot let another person do our practice sessions for us. We have to do them ourselves. If you become really famous and popular, you may get an assistant to maybe string your guitar or carry your drumsticks. Someone may choose your personal microphone as well. But, when it comes to practice and performance, it is upto you in order to perform your duty.

Dharmabhasam is that Dharma that does not agree with your respective Ashrama. Consider someone in Grihasta Ashrama who chooses not to work and perform economic activity in the name of religion and Dharma. Such a person is not engaging in the Dharma that is required of him. Or consider for instance, someone who needs to engage in his Vanaprasta Ashram still hankering behind Profits. That is a clear case of Dharmabhasam. Different phases of our life require different Dharma from us, depending on the stage of our life and stage of our personal evolution. Actions based on this wisdom is necessary in our lives.

Dharma, Earnings and Satisfaction

A being with absolutely no wealth should not find work just to sustain his body. He should learn to get satisfied by what money comes by chance. This statement of the Shastras do not agree with present day thought. But, take a deeper look. A lot of us take up whatever work that comes our way just to earn that salary. The result is a population of unsatisfied people who are not satisfied with the work that they do. Some people may find their Swadharma early in life. Some have to wait to identify their Swadharma. Such waiting is totally justified in the long term. Finding a Karma just to satisfy our most immediate need of money may not result in right consequences all the time.

The man who is content and satisfied with what he gets, and refuses to act out of desire is always fixed in Meditation of the everlasting Lord. “Stay Hungry.” “Desire More.” These are the subtle messages that are thrown out to us through popular media. There seems to be a culture of always wanting to raise our earning and styles forever today. Again, this culture and tendency hits our satisfaction levels very clearly. Nature has a way of providing what each being and living form needs. As a species, we are now disconnected from our natural selves which does not always act out of desire. Satisfaction is not a wrong thing to possess. Try acting satisfied for a change. See what comes from life then.

The souls who are satisfied by what comes with chance are like feet that are protected with shoes. Even though the planet is covered with stones and thorns, a good pair of shoes can keep our feet safe and happy. The world is filled with solutions to our most pressing problems. An attitude of letting the solutions reach us rather than us working too hard to create solutions can change a lot of things for ourselves.

Transformation through Bhakti

The Atman does not have any connection with the body. But, due to ignorance we get connected with the things that see around us. This connection binds us in a cycle of Samsara of birth, death, birth, death and again birth. Till the time we connect with things that we see around us, we are connected to the gross. This is like connecting to our dreams. The dreams are not real and they will disappear with waking up. We need to awaken ourselves from the dream that we are living into pure awareness in order to attain peace.

krishna

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Awakening through Grace

In order to break the cycle of Samsara, one pointed devotion to Lord Vasudeva will help. So says Srimad Bhagavatam. The Lord is spread everywhere in the Universe. The Lord is Guru to entire Creation. We are born into the Lord and we die into the Lord. We are the Lord ourselves. But, we take time to realise this completely. Most of us take several lifetimes to reach this realisation. This is the greatest challenge of life – the Lord Realisation.

This devotion will lead us to detachment from the ephemeral and the arising of jnana within us. It is clearly visible that devotees are really a happy lot. The worldly difficulties do not bother them much when compared to others. There is an innate wisdom in people with devotion. Death, Loss, Fear and such qualities, which can derail people from their peace cannot touch true devotees. They have learned to rise above these facts.

Bhagavatam says the being who listens to stories of Lord Vasudeva and his Wisdom will soon melt in the Bhakti of the Lord. Such attention and interest in the Lord cleanses the mind. The cleansing further encourages the devotee to dive deeper into the Lord’s wisdom. Old habits and patterns dissolves off. Devotees get interested in higher ideals and truth. Selfless Service and simplicity takes a center stage in their lives. Where there are devotees of the Lord, there will be stories of the Lord that is spoken of.

Immunity of Devotees

The devotees who get totally immersed in Bhakti do not affected by Hunger, Thirst, Sadness or Desires. But, such devotees are very rare. Such a one pointed attention is the result of years of practice. Beings stuck in the effects of bad karmas of lifetimes get so immersed in the cycle of Kama, Krodha and Lobha (Desire, Anger and Greed) that they do not even develop interest in the stories of Lord. They are too distracted and drawn to the world that attention to the act of listening becomes too difficult.

The beginning of Bhakti sometimes starts with Vedic facts and truths. A seeker with an intellectual bend of mind needs something substantial to hold on to. There will be a lot of studying and discussions in such as case. They may pick a Mantra and through the Mantra start to visualise the Lord in a Physical Form. But, the concept of Lord does not have a form. The form is rather a representation used to fix the mind from being distracted.

With complete attention on Lord, we start to lose interest in the World and even the Vedas. An initial look at the Vedas may develop an interest in the rituals and yajnas prescribed the texts. These rituals are means to reach the Swarga Loka (Heaven). However, devotion is much more than reaching the pleasures of Heaven. It is a complete realisation of the Universe and Creation. A deeper look at the Vedas might however light up the route to this realisation itself, which is beyond the sense gratification of the Heavenly world.

Mind: The Biggest Enemy

Our Biggest Enemy is the Mind. It is the closest entity that we have to ourselves, even though Mind does not carry a shape or quality that can be perceived by our senses. The mind constantly watches us from birth till the end. It keeps distracting us and confusing us from reaching our life goals and binds us to the Samsara of Life and Death for lifetimes together. The right understanding and vision can help break the spell of Mind and allow us to emerge successfully from Maya – the illusion created by Mind. Devotion is the greatest means in Kali Yuga to finally emerge successfully from the Mind Prison.

mind

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Spell of the Gunas

Mind is constantly keeping score of our Gunas – Sat, Rajas and Tamas. Even Satguna can be detrimental to our progress, although we consider Goodness to be a very great ideal to look up to. Our Gunas are our ticket to coming lifetimes. It does not break the cycle of rebirths, life and death. A lot of Vedic Karmas and Sattvic Gunas may yield us a birth among the Devas or highly evolved human beings. But, it is still not liberation. On the other hand, a life spent in Rajasic and Tamasic qualities may push us to Animal births or among unfortunate humans, where life can be a huge struggle.

The lightest of realisation which helps us know where we are and what we are may help us raise from life challenges. The truth that leads us to the realisation and the experience that awakens us to evolution may be so simple and easy. But, the grace that allows us to step into such a seeing may take time to really reach us. Devotion is the most potent route to reach that goal in the present Kali Yuga.

Constant Chase

The behaviour of Mind is one of constant chasing. In the waking state, the mind chases after material possessions and positions. In the dream state, we chase after subtler objects. When we wake up from our sleep, we realise the subtle objects that we chased after in our dreams were not real. Shastras say that our waking state is also not that different from sleep. All that is required is to awaken from this “waking sleep”. It is quite possible that we have been sleeping through lifetimes of centuries. Once we awaken ourselves, we are no longer slaves of Mind, but Masters of our thoughts and actions.

11 Vehicles of Mind

There are 11 vehicles that Mind travels through. These are the 11 core routes that mind catches us with. Awakened beings realise the value of these 11 routes and maintain high alert with respect to what travels through these vehicles.

  1. Intellect or Consciousness
  2. Smell
  3. Sight
  4. Taste
  5. Touch
  6. Sound (2 to 6 through Jnana Indriyas – Sense Organs)
  7. Excretory Organs
  8. Sexual Organs
  9. Feet
  10. Hands
  11. Spoken Word (7 to 11 through Karma Indriyas – Action Organs)

Omnipresence of Atman

We realise that Air is present everywhere on this planet. It is outside of us in the atmosphere and inside of us as well in our lungs and our blood. This Air makes inanimate bodies come to life. In fact, the Atman (The Self) is much more subtler than Air itself that causes life to be. Atman does not participate in life by listening to our minds or enhancing our desires. Atman exists as the root of everything without favouring or pushing anyone.

Till beings realise Atman within us and melt in its silence, they reincarnate as many times as required in human form and otherwise. The biggest hindrance to Atman Realisation is the Mind that creates feeling of “I” and “Mine”. It creates the distinction that something needs to be done and something else should not be done. It is this that creates greed and want. It is Mind that creates competition within us.  

The Reasoning for Satsang Engagements

When we chase our desires and objects, we are prone to commit wrong actions. In order to keep ourselves free and safe, it is good to break free from attachments that do not serve our purpose. Association with beings who have reached the goals that we aspire for and of those who are guided by Realised Souls themselves will help us in our journey as well. This Association is called Satsang.

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Mind’s Attachment Game

The reason behind our attachments is the Mind. The mind is responsible for Mukti or Attachments. What we prefer is a matter of choice. Do we want ultimate freedom, bliss and joy? Or do we want to be dragged along with attachments that rise from world associations? When we are attached to the body and senses, we develop deep attachment to our possessions and relationships. How often do we brood over our house, car, electronics and people in our lives? This is a never ending loop that leads to more despair.

Dissatisfaction is a chronic illness in the planet today. A child who has just start to think is also dissatisfied due to the influence of world on her/ him. We get so influenced by what we hear and see. A news item, an object or a word that we hear from a friend is enough to throw us into a loop of desperation and depression. We feel that success in attaining small momentary goals will yield us satisfaction. The chase never ends. Desire keeps rising. Once this grip of desire leaves us, our mind starts to become pure. Imagine a situation when you do not want anything. Imagine a moment when you are entirely comfortable with the moment. This is freedom.  

Time for Scriptures

Observing the mind constantly starts a thought cleansing process. We start to feel the lightness of mind then. A sense of peace and bliss starts to rise within us. Desires and Greed loosens its grip over us. This moment is the right moment to start scriptural study. Material like this website will appeal more when you are in that state. However, going directly to the sources such as Gita, Bhagavatam, Tirukkural, Atma Bodham and so on would be more powerful.  

The insights that are born with study and detachment formed so, results in deep devotion. This devotion lays the foundation for development of Mind to become a Superpower. Such a powerful mind will raise you from being an Individual Self to merging with the Supreme Self. Our surroundings and environment fail to evoke pleasure and pain now. We realise that our Self is capable of self illumination without any source from outside. Maybe this is what we call “enlightenment”,  the emergence of light within. Wisdom starts to bubble within us and we become intuitive in nature. This is a very blissful experience. We know what we need to do at each moment. The silence within the mind becomes a powerful beacon of direction. Trust, Belief and Faith become strong feelings rather than just concepts we force on ourselves. The Faith that arises now cannot fall apart through debates and intellectual exercises.

Inspiring Company of Great People

Scriptural study eventually leads a seeker to the company of great men and women. These are beings who tolerate wrongdoings of fellow beings and not prone to taking revenge for things that has been done to them. They do react in Dharmic manners and are not door bells that anyone can ring and leave. Yet, there is an attitude of mercy and consideration in matters of life. They are called “Sadhus” in Bhagavatam.

Sadhus are defined by their clean minds. They are fixed on the Supreme Being and not shaken by the daily events that shake ordinary men and women. They wish well for all beings in the universe and do not entertain enmity with anyone. Such beings who are Loving by nature have no difficulties that bother them. They are powerful enough to eliminate the ill effects of attachments to negative elements. So, befriend them. This company is true Satsang. Satsang is a powerful tool that leads to Moksha.

Desire: That which Blocks Self Realisation

The world that we see around us and the heaven that we hear about, have limited comforts and things that can satisfy us. The Worldly and Heavenly objects do not last forever and keep supplying us with things that we wish for. However, our desires never stop. Bhagavatam says the one who seeks to realise the Atman must move beyond his desires. But the fight with desire that arises within us is the biggest war every Man should undertake in his Human manifestation on Earth.

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Have Everything. Still Need More

Imagine you are the richest man in the world. You have more money that anyone else on this planet. You have more land and property as compared to anyone. The cars you drive are the best that technology has created. You have the most talented and obedient servants and staff to fulfil your needs. Still, as a worldly human being, you will not be satisfied. Your mind will ask for even more.

Look at our planet today. The richest 1% still needs much more than what they have taken. For individual comfort and glory, they are ready to push the rest of the world to poverty and war. Most people are rather slaves to these ultra rich families and individuals who control the finance, media and governments of the world. We are born into their monetary networks and work out lives satisfying their needs. Thanks to the spread of internet, we come across many details regarding the corporate scandals and government corruption that has been taking place for centuries. But, it is only naturally human that these super rich still wants more.

Objects and Experiences cannot Satisfy us

We believe that experiences and objects would satisfy our desires and wants. If one woman does not satisfy a man, he seeks out more women. But even after lusting around with hundreds of women, we still see crazed out men falling for the pleasure of skin and flesh. Had more experiences satisfied them, they would have stopped after a while. Same with land and houses as well. We have people with more than 50 houses still buying more and not seeming to get satisfied with all the property.

It is an honour these days to claim you are a collector of expensive goods. There are people who hoard cars, paintings and other objects who become very restless and unhappy taking stock of their collection and always wanting more. Even old age does not reduce desire in us. Wisdom is very rare and difficult to arise within men. People feel wisdom might bloom with experience. Scriptures say that need not be the case. The oil of objects will keep the fire of desire alive forever. More oil (more objects) keeps the fire (desire) burning forever. Think what could help address the rising desire.

Advice for Men regarding Women

Texts like Bhagavatam do not shy away from being blatant about the biology between men and women. Men are genetically made to desire women. Sexual attraction is natural. But, those who wish to rise to a higher level of realisation and wisdom must be careful about letting their desire unchecked. It is advised to be careful regarding interactions with women. The same Bhagavatam which sings about the 16,008 wives of Lord Krishna warns the common man about the dangers of women.

We have seen many great men of the past in the highest of positions in the most liberal of nations being shamed publicly for being careless with women. Even though it is natural for alpha males to mate several women, a lot of care is still advised. The most Alpha among Men is the one who can exercise restraint and walk away from sexual interaction as it needs a lot of mental power and strength of will. Look at Lakshman, Ram and Hanuman, who either stayed loyal to their one woman or kept the vow of celibacy in spite of being Super Alpha Men. Compare them with the common man who is fighting desire day in and out.

Indifference between Good and Bad

We experience several feelings from nature. It is common to label these experiences good and bad. However, a true human does not differentiate so. The detachment from what is acceptable to us and what is not is the initial step towards realising the Atman. The true Self within us do not judge. It does not differentiate between the person being wealthy or not. It does not differentiate between happy and sad. The Self or the Atman is a constant state of being expressing itself as the truest essence of life force itself.

Rise of Peace Within

The Bhagavatam claims the most evolved humans do not hurt anyone or anything. They realise that the Body is not Atman. When this realisation do not happen within us, we differentiate between “You” and “I”. It is the differentiation we entertain from what is ours and not ours that results in hurting others. This differentiation is a result of ignorance.

Peace

The identification with our body and pride that arises within us due to this identification is Ego. From a very young age, we start to identify with our body. The first learning from the world is to identify yourself. Then comes the sense of possession. We learn to attain what is not ours and retain what we have attained. Here starts the troubles in life.

When Wisdom Blooms

When wisdom arises within us, we learn not to identify with the body. At this point, we realise we are the Atman. The Self is Atman. The attraction to external objects start to fall away. Desires start to reduce within us. Also the division between good and bad diminishes and drops away. We do not even care about attaining a human body or being born in animal bodies. All differences disappear.

A man who has transcended the clutches of ego do not get bound by human built concepts such as house, family and money. It is these concepts that build competition among human beings. We can see it in the society around us. The race to higher money, bigger houses, faster cars and brighter children continues till the very end. It is this competition that often defines us. We are known by the possessions we have. This is a very unfortunate state of affairs.

Atman and Body

The Atman is one, Body is many. Atman is the entity that covers the entire universe. Everything is a subset of that Atman. But Bodies are many. We see 6 Billion human bodies in the planet today. But, the Atman is one.

Atman is Pure. The body is made up of the elements Space, Air, Fire, Water and Earth. These elements are bound to become dirty. Atman is Life itself. Without the influence of Atman, body is a dead object. We all know that Body has qualities. Some are big, some are strong, some are lean and so on. But, the Atman does not have any qualities. Atman is also complete. Nothing can be added to the Atman nor can anything be taken away from the Atman. But, the body is imperfect and incomplete.

Atman is everywhere and uncovered. The entire universe is present in the Atman. Space is a subset of Atman. But, bodies are limited and are covered with clothes and houses. Bodies have boundaries. Atman sees through the body’s eyes. Body is the object that is seen.

We can see that Atman is not an easy concept to understand. It is beyond understanding. But, there are beings who have realised the Atman. The realisation of the Atman is Self Realisation itself. This realisation releases a man from the challenges of the world. He is no longer bound by desires or comforts of the physical world. This is the stage when the mind gets cleansed. Anger, Lust and Greed will not affect such a person.It is here that Peace arises within ourselves.

15 Hells described in Bhagavatam

Srimad Bhagavatam discusses several different kinds of Hell in the 5th Skanda, Chapter 26. It is interesting to look deeper into the causes of these hell experiences. This chapter drops many clues on morality and code of living.

hell

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Kalapasa: One who steals and takes away the wealth, children and wife of another person reaches the Kalapasa Hell.

Anthatasmisra: One who cheats a person to take away his wife and wealth reaches this particular Hell.

Raurava: One who thinks “I am this body. My wife and children belongs to me” and hurts other life forms to sustain his family reaches the Raurava Hell.

Mahagaurava: One who kills other animals to sustain himself reaches the Mahagaurava Hell. This reference has direct implications to following a vegetarian diet.

Kalasutra: One who hurts Parents, Brahmins and Brahma Jnanis (knowers of the ultimate truth) reaches the Kalasutra Hell.

Asipatravana: One who deviates from the path recommended by the Vedas and follows the route of No Dharma reaches this Hell.

Sukaramoola: A King or a Noble being who punishes a person unjustly reaches this Hell.

Andhakoopa: One who hurts God’s creation like flies, ants, mosquitoes, bugs and so on reaches the Andhakoopa Hell. This shows that all life forms deserve to live with respect, no matter what form they take up. A mosquito lives on blood. It deserves to complete its lifetime. The scriptures warn against killing even a mosquito.

Krimibhojana: One who does not share his food or consumes his meal without first offering it to the supreme reaches here.

Sandhansham: One who steals or snatches Gold and precious stones from another person reaches this hell.

A man who approaches a woman who should not be approached and vice versa, both that man and woman reaches hell.

A man who mixes with several woman and performs sexual activities with all of them also deserves experiences from hell.

Vaitharini: A King or a Noble being born of a good family, who performs activities outside his Dharma reaches this hell.

Pooyodam: A man who considers his lady servants like his wives and has no concern for purity or right conduct reaches here.

Vairasa: A man who performs yajnas and yagas without knowing the right principles behind these karmas, just to earn the approval and respect of people reaches this hell.   

There are several other sorts of hell experiences and the punishment delivered at these places in the scripture. These experiences serve as reminders for right conduct and means of life. Heaven and Hell are states of mind. A person who resorts to unlawful actions experience the results in his/ her mind itself. A disturbed and depressed mind is the most disgusting hell experience one can have.

Relevance of Devotion in the Present Age

Devotion (Bhakti) and its relevance is discussed deeply by all religions today. Srimad Bhagavatam considers Devotion as an important concept for today’s generation. Schools of thought such as ISKCON invests a lot of time and energy in developing Devotion among the masses. What would be the reason for such actions?

Prayer and Devotion

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The previous yugas (Satya Yuga, Treta Yuga and Dwapara Yuga) focussed on Insightful Knowledge (Jnana) and Detachment (Vairagya). But, these qualities are very rare today all over the world.

Business Sense of Knowledge

Knowledge is considered important only in terms of earning potential and career. People do learn a lot today. But, not without looking at tangible results out of that learning. So, detachment is not common among the masses. Even children are encouraged to learn to score marks to go to universities which would yield them high paying careers, instead of instilling a love for learning and concepts. “What is the scope for this subject?” is a common question when choosing a trade to learn. The scope refers to earning potential here. This situation is not going to change for a long time in the coming future.

For a distracted generation

People today are very distracted with low attention span and poor mental faculties. With such weakness, study and learning is difficult. Devotion is easier and practical here. Instead of understanding the principle behind actions, attention on the form and shape of a deity like Krishna, Shiva or Jesus becomes simple. Such devotion that arises in childhood often stays with people till their last breath. The deity becomes a friend, a father, a mother, a guide and a super figure who resolves your problems and difficulties. Great Masters teach us not to look at figurines of God as our Magical Problem Solvers. The way of devotion is a means of cleansing our Mind.

A Master Mind or a Slave Mind?

Mind is a good slave and a poor master. As a master, the mind keeps asking us for favours and wants. It keeps pushing us towards difficulties, sadness and pain. Most of us have mind as our master. In fact that is the default setting of humankind – Mind as Master. But, when mind becomes a slave, it uses its power to perform the tasks given by the intellect – to calculate, to estimate, to remember, to speak, to act and so on. In Indian thought, mind is cleansed and moved from the Master’s position to the Slave through devotional practices such as chanting and prayer.

Repeating one name of God thousands and millions of times over years helps in empowering us to very high levels. Failure and Loss will not be able to win over such a mind so easily. Probably this might be the reason for high levels of tolerance in this country.

Stories in Bhagavatam, Ramayana and Mahabharata are full of incidents of high tapasya. We have yogis and asuras who perform high intensity prayers for favours without food, sleep, rest and sometimes breath for years together. Devotion in the Kali Yuga does not ask for such intensity. A middle path is recommended for a devotee. Also, a devotee is not easily affected by negative elements. A person who has grown up in a culture of devotion does not become easy prey to depression, addictions and such evils. The faith in the power of God (the Self/ Atman) helps a devotee to counter negativity much more easily.

What is your take on devotion? Do you consider yourself to be devoted to any idea (even if it is Atheism)?