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The scriptures - discourse reviews



nabadip - Sat, 30 Apr 2005 19:31:02 +0530
Practical manual - the Gita
http://www.hindu.com/2005/03/11/stories/2005031100310900.htm


CHENNAI, MARCH 11 . The popular scriptural text, the Bhagavad Gita bestows spiritual merit when chanted but it is also meant for providing guidance for man in daily life. When the Gita is studied with this practical approach it can solve whatever problem one faces in life. As the problems faced by the modern man is due to disharmony this scripture enables the seeker to restore harmony, as no problem can be resolved without addressing the root cause. The reason for disharmony is the frustration arising out of unfulfilled desires. One of the ways in which it is expressed is hatred towards those who are successful assuming out of ignorance that they are the cause of one's unhappiness. By reading the Gita the person learns to hate others less by understanding that one's Karma is the cause of one's joys and sorrows.

In her lecture, Srimathi Prema Pandurang said the modern man did not have time for God occupied as he was in pursuing his short-term goals necessary for leading a comfortable life in the world. One must remember that God gives us 24 pearls (hours) at midnight everyday and we cast them away in frivolous pursuits without making efforts towards realising the long-term objective of human life (liberation). It is possible to reorient our life towards this end. The stress man faces is due to the ego that he is managing his life. On the other hand if he understands that he is only a puppet in God's hands he will become a perfect instrument in His hands and be successful, and attain perfection in whatever he does. The Gita enables the devotee to realise that by surrendering the ego man can enable God to take charge of his life.

Man today does not know that he can communicate with God. Prayer is not just going to temples, chanting hymns and the scriptures. It is constantly remembering Him in everything one does total submission to Him. The Gita also teaches how to overcome pride and develop humility. There was a gradual progression in Arjuna's outlook from the "I" at the outset to "Thou" after listening to the Gita. A problem a person faces during his spiritual quest is remembering his sinful past and becoming diffident that there is no redemption for him. An Azhwar reiterates that no individual can commit so many sins that God cannot condone. This is a pointer to the Lord's infinite mercy and is a harbinger of hope to erring humanity.
nabadip - Sat, 30 Apr 2005 19:36:32 +0530
Relevance of the Gita
http://www.hindu.com/2005/03/09/stories/2005030901520900.htm


CHENNAI, MARCH 9 . A doubt that often arises is whether the Bhagavad Gita, which is the most popular scripture, relevant to day-to-day life or it is meant only for chanting. Such a reservation is due to the reason that we fail to remember that the Gita is the voice of God. It is as vibrant as the life breath and he who reads the Gita is never alone for there is a definite message for him. It is Lord Krishna's song and He makes it clear that His devotee shall never suffer from loneliness. Why does the Gita appeal? It appeals because it is a song that has auditory impact and thus enters the heart whereas speech will only appeal to the mind, which has its limitations.

In her lecture, Srimathi Prema Pandurang said there was disharmony in human lives today. So a person is out of tune with his family members, with nature and with life in general. It is imperative then to know from where disharmony starts, what its cause is and the remedy for it. The root of disharmony is unfulfilled desires. Modern man has become insensitive and does not have time for others the reason being he has lost the quality of compassion. Education unfortunately has become a tool to benefit the individual and hence makes the person become self-centred in the process. He also does not believe in God, and as God and Dharma are one, he has lost belief in values. The other factors that result in disharmony are jealousy and loss of Sattvic traits.

Disharmony results in shirking of duty and it is a sign of the mind's state. Hence minding the mind is the aim of spiritual practice. It is telling the mind to behave itself. One has to constantly remind oneself that this human birth has resulted after innumerable lives and hence this opportunity should not be frittered away. Bringing harmony to the mind is the cure for the human condition. Every day will become a fruit of grace if a person peruses the Gita even if he is able to read only a verse and reflect on it.

The Gita helps to learn not to complain about life and accept life as it is and as it comes. It assures that the soul is eternal and that only the body is mortal, which will promote detachment. To complain about life is impudence as it amounts to daring God's will. All man can do is pray. However great a celebrity a person maybe he is only a speck of dust in God's creation and so remembering this fact should enable him to submit to the Lord's will. Study of the Gita helps to accept one's lot in life with total submission to God.
nabadip - Sat, 30 Apr 2005 19:47:06 +0530
Guide for virtuous conduct
http://www.hindu.com/2005/03/07/stories/2005030700670900.htm


CHENNAI, MARCH 7. The fundamental aspect common to all religions is that all the edifying texts be it the Holy Koran, the Bible or the Vedas are revelations by God, with the stated objective of lifting mankind above the trivia of transient pleasures, and pointing in the right direction to eternal bliss. It is often said that the Vedas are abstruse in nature and beyond the ken of ordinary people. It is for the purpose of putting scriptural knowledge within reach of all people that saintly men of learning have embarked on providing lucid commentaries encapsulating great truths readily interpreted by any casual reader.

The `Sabhasara sangraha' by Sri Satyagnana Thirtha is one such granth, enumerating practical guidelines for virtuous conduct, said Sri K. Narasimhan in his discourse. Encapsulating the nine principles of Madhwa philosophy, which can be annotated from the Bhagavad Gita, the essence of Vyasa's teachings work reflected here, this work in the traditional question and answer format is an eye opener in many ways. That Narayana is the Supreme Being who should be propitiated, that the universe is created by Bhagavan is the truth, that the `jivatmas are numerous but all of them are under Him, that discrepancies in individual lives between one person and another is a reality, that all can aim to attain eternal bliss are some of the aspects dealt with here.

Why should there be any gradations in life, one may wonder. Just as how there will be difference in the performance of a musician who has taken the stage after rigorous practice spanning years, as against another who embarks on the same after a few weeks of effort, similarly there will be variance in the lives of people, due to the actions of individuals. If from his very first birth a person had led a virtuous life, would he not have attained liberation? The tendency to be good or bad is latent in all, and left to individual choice by God. The choice of growing bitter gourd or sweet mango is left to the cultivator the field is the same for both crops. The difference in produce comes not from the soil, but from the seeds sown. To further clarify the importance of individual effort, scholars point out that although siblings consume food prepared in the same kitchen, their natures are rarely similar? Instead, it is because human beings waver between the traits of sattva (good), rajas(irresolute) and tamas (deplorable) that repeated births become inevitable, until virtue cancels out the balance of sins, and one is blessed. Even then one has to pray for God's grace.
nabadip - Sat, 30 Apr 2005 22:51:24 +0530
An exemplary life (on the Ramayana)
http://www.hindu.com/2005/04/13/stories/2005041302320900.htm



CHENNAI, APRIL 13 . Countless are the incarnations that God has taken in order to establish Dharma and protect the righteous. As vouched by Lord Krishna in the Bhagavad Gita, He descends on the earth time and again for that purpose. Among them, the Rama Avatara is considered exemplary in several respects. In that incarnation, God has by His own example showed to humankind the noble principles that should govern an individual's conduct. The way Sri Rama conducted Himself also brought out the delicate balance between human relationships. Saint Nammazhwar, who had a fascination for Lord Krishna, has assigned a high status to Rama Avatara, said Sri K. Narayanan, in his lecture.

It was destined for Sage Valmiki, an ascetic of high order, to pen the 24,000 verses of Srimad Ramayana, through the grace of Goddess Saraswathi. This happened after he had given vent to a spontaneous curse on the hunter who had killed a krauncha bird, as he was moved by compassion at the pathos of the sorrowing mate. This verse became the starting point of the invaluable work Valmiki Ramayana.

Sage Valmiki had asked the celestial sage Narada with utmost humility to identify a person (a human being, not a celestial) who is endowed with the sixteen Gunas, and who is a contemporary. As an answer to the query, Sage Narada had briefly narrated the story of Lord Rama.

Mastery of scriptures, scholarship and proficiency in Sastras, are attainments obtained through diligent pursuits. This learning can also cause a sense of pride in these attainments, which undermines the sense of humility. The hallmark of true Gnana is humility, as is evinced by Sage Valmiki. It is important to go beyond learning to strive towards the stage of Gnana, when one becomes aware of the Universe and one's role and relationship to it. This is something that has to be caught and cannot be taught.

There are nearly 140 versions of the Ramayana in different languages by great composers. The Kamba Ramayana in Tamil, Tulsi Das's Ramacharitamanasa in Hindi and Saint Thyagaraja's songs of devotion on Rama, reflect the influence and inspiration of Valmiki Ramayana. There are also excellent scholarly interpretations of various admirers of Valmiki Ramayana that throw light on the hidden beauties and intricacies of the verses. Lord Rama's life continues to hold a contemporary relevance to our lives.

nabadip - Sat, 30 Apr 2005 23:07:04 +0530
Subtle nature of truth (Kenopanishad, Puranas)
http://www.hindu.com/2005/04/07/stories/2005040702090900.htm



CHENNAI, APRIL 7 . The Absolute Reality (Brahman) is one but it is spoken of as many to enable the human mind to grasp it. As it is infinite it can assume any name and form according to the capacity of the person to understand it. Just as gold can be known only in the form of different ornaments made of it so also can Brahman be intuited from the various names and forms. But, it should be understood clearly that the Absolute is beyond the diversity apparent to human experience, and also that the entire creation owes its existence to Brahman.

In his discourse, Sri Goda Venketeswara Sastri said it was after countless births that an individual was blessed with human birth. Hence it is very rare to attain and for this reason not to be frittered away in worldly pursuits. Its significance can be appreciated from the fact that among the innumerable living creatures only human beings are endowed with freewill to lead a life of their choice and evolve consciously towards the goal of liberation from bondage.

The Upanishads teach the subtle truth through stories and riddles so that the human mind can grasp it by reflecting on it. The Kenopanishad relates a story, which also occurs in the Purana tradition about the battle between the gods and the demons in which the gods started losing. The gods then sought the help of the Supreme Being and won eventually but they became vain and celebrated the victory as theirs. The Supreme One without punishing them instead taught them a lesson by appearing before them as a Spirit (Yaksha). Terrified that their enemy had returned, the gods sent Fire-god, Agni to find out the Yaksha's identity. When Agni neared the Yaksha and introduced himself and said he had the power to burn everything, the Yaksha placed a straw before him and asked him to burn it. Agni tried repeatedly and failed.

He reported his failure to the gods and then they sent Wind-god, Vayu and he also could not ascertain the Yaksha's identity. Finally Indra, the chief of the gods went himself and the Spirit vanished from sight. Indra persisted in his quest unlike the other two and Uma, daughter of Himavan appeared before him and enlightened him that the Yaksha was Brahman. This story is a metaphor for the spiritual quest in which virtues (gods) must win over the vices (demons). It highlights that the senses and the mind cannot know the Self. Uma represents the scripture, which is the authority on Self-knowledge and Indra's victory, the spiritual aspirant's perseverance.