Monday, November 8, 2010

Just a bottle opener.

Reading Upanishads on day offs  and trying to make sense.

Following is a story from the Brhadaranyaka Upanishad.

The great seer of the times (somewhere between 400 to 800 BC), Yajnavalkya, was once visiting king Janaka.  King Janaka being a very learned man himself had an immense thirst for seeking self knowledge.  He asked the reverent sage to pass on some of that divine knowledge and enlighten him.

The discourse that took place between the two in the king's court is here;
King Janaka asked Yajnavalkya ;  Tell me, what is it, that lights my human experience?
Yajnavalkya: Sun. We get up, go about the world, we see things, cognize objects and do our work.
King Janaka: Okay, but what happens when night falls? What lights my experience then?
Yajnavalkya: Moon lights up your experience in the night.
King Janaka: But, moon waxes and wanes, what happens on the night of Amavasya (no-moon night)?
Yajnavalkya: Dear king, it is Fire that lights your experience then.
King Janaka: But, fire burns out eventually..
Yajnavalkya: Then it is speech. If you are totally in dark, you can be guided by my voice and I can tell you where you are.
King Janaka: But what if you are not there?
Yajnavalkya: Well, dear king, then it is 'self'.
King Janaka: And what is this 'self', great sage?

Yajnavalkya
The last question asked by King Janaka is the mother of all questions. The answer can be simple yet one of the most difficult things to understand. It is what Upanishads try to explain. You see, Upanishads were not written by scholars so, they are not a thing of logic and reason. They are the records of the experiences of transcendence, first hand.

For anyone who has a working knowledge of Sanskrit (no, not me)can see the origins of the word within itself. ; Up-ni-shad
up- near, ni-down, shad-sit
Image of a disciple sitting at the feet of an enlightened soul and seeking knowledge comes to one's mind.
A less popular but probably a  more meaningful dissection of the word could be ;
up- near,  nishad- destroy utterly.
Coming near to the truth destroys utterly the illusion that makes us think we are what in fact we are not. The illusion that the world is real when it is not.And why should one come near to the truth at all and what is this 'truth' that is being talked about? Answers lie in another set of questions.

Tell me, what is that one thing that connects a poor rickshaw walla and a big shot CEO of a fortune 500 company. Can there possibly be a thing that links them? And how?Yes, there is.  Both were born in this world. Both mortals.  Live their lives a certain way and with at most certainty both will one day leave for the heavenly abode. So, why did they ever come to earth. What was the purpose of their existence for this brief a period in the 4th dimension.
To drive a rickshaw?
Yes and no.
To head a company, take it to NASDAQ?
Yes and no.

God-realization, or Self-realization, is the ultimate purpose of human life, says Vedanta. In Sri Ramakrishna’s words, "Futile is the human birth without the awakening of spiritual consciousness.”
And why?  Because we can. Because it is that one thing that distinguishes a human being from animals? Otherwise they both are alike working for (or out of) food, rest, fear and the desire to leave a progeny. So, any person thinking that he/she is just an individual , limited and temporary is making a terrible mistake.

And how do we go about it, understanding the macro-cause of the galaxies of this universe we live in and continue fulfilling the micro-causess of day to day life ? (damn that sounded weird... I know!)
Well, there are a lot of ways. Quoting Upanishads Vahini. You know I love to quote (read cut-copy-paste ;p).
"Seeking to reach Paramatma, the source and
core of the Universe, the Individual or Jivi, has to overcome, by
discrimination and steady practice of detachment, the
bonds one by one. He who wins in this struggle is the
Jivanmuktha-“Liberated even while alive.”

Whoa, was that light? Or did they just mix profound jargon with a few Sanskrit words?
Yes and no. ;p

To me, Upanishads are fascinatingly challenging or shall I say disturbingly provocative mix of stories. I know it is much much more as pages unfold. And so is looking at the vast blue sky or listening to Jimi Hendrix or learning from life experiences or understanding quantum physics or mastering the art of picking your nose without getting caught.
Or reading a book on Vedanta.
I mean, all that a bottle of fine wine needs is a bottle opener (a cork screw) so that you can get drunk on it. 
If Self-realization were fine wine then Upanishads is nothing more than a bottle opener...
...good enough to consume my "day-offs".

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

You have RGV's blog in your list. Don't tell me you read Friedrich Nietzsche too. Did you?

miro said...

Haha, you noticed!
I bought "Thus spake Zarathustra", (RGV's influence) but never started reading it.

may$ky said...

I feel philosophy sucks... or may be it just meant for people who are otherwise too weak to face the world or stand for what they believe in...what unnecessarily complicate the things.... tell me what's the point..

Pallavi said...

Come back after 5 years. You are too young (apparent by your comment questioning the existence philosophy) to reason.
Jokes apart, the post is about self realization/spirituality. No?
And I guess I am too young to write philosophy . Lol

may$ky said...

But then you are too young for self realization :):)..... btw I had my more than fair share of philosophy and stuff in undergrad only... try implementing some of your stuff you talk about... it's would only confuse you.. :)

mohitparikh said...

Have you read Tales Of Power by Carlos Castaneda?

Also, Yoga Vashishtha is awesome.