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On obstacles on the path - discourse reviews

nabadip - Sat, 30 Apr 2005 19:13:59 +0530
Anger, man's sworn enemy

CHENNAI, MARCH 17. The blessed are those who keep anger under check. Fortunate, indeed, are those whose intelligence keeps their ire under control verily like a raging fire put out by water. Man's deadly and sworn enemy is anger. The havoc that may be caused when a person is seized with it is tremendous and in such a state he may indulge in any type of heinous crime. Burn anger before it burns you is the warning given to entire mankind. It is but human nature to lose control, some may feel. Granted that anger cannot be suppressed, but it can be sublimated, said Sri M.R. Nagasubramaniam in his discourse. Episodes in our sacred classics refer to the damage caused by anger. A prime example can be found in Aranya Kanda in the Ramayana, where Sita's sudden outburst against Lakshmana whose sane advise she spurned resulted in her abduction by Ravana. In her distress at mistaking the pitiful cry of distress as emanating from Rama she lost all sense of proportion when Lakshmana stood firm in guarding her as ordained by Rama. Angered by the stance taken by him, with fear clouding her judgment she accused him of coveting her himself. The hapless guardian exerted himself in trying to assuage her unwarranted fears stating that she need not labour under fear of harm to Rama since none can best Him. However her anger flared further like a flame kindled with ghee. Faced with such wrath Lakshmana had no choice but to comply with her wishes, paving the way for Ravana to carry out his nefarious deed.

Anjaneya's ire is yet another example of giving way to momentary wrath without any thought to consequences. Surveying the ruins of the fabulous city of Lanka, suddenly he was seized with a fear that the raging flames might have affected Sita also who was being held at the Ashoka grove. ``Enveloped in flames, her mighty warriors slain and her army on the run, Lanka subdued by the angry monkey seemed to be curse-stricken,'' states Valmiki in Sundara Kanda. However, Anjaneya's ire ebbed and was replaced with feelings of disgust at the outrageous and thoughtless deed in reducing Lanka to ashes. Anjaneya, further, reflected on yielding to the monstrous feelings of anger without due diligence to Sita's safety, and feared he had jeopardised the entire purpose of the search mission because of thoughtless action. Fortunately, for him there appeared many good omens portending that all would be well. For her part, Sita remained unaffected, as her fidelity was of such a high order that it rendered her immune to flames.
nabadip - Sat, 30 Apr 2005 19:55:19 +0530
Impulsive behaviour

CHENNAI: Puranic lore has numerous instances of human beings genuinely admitting their mistakes, bound by an accepted law of nature and code of conduct. Even those known for their negative traits have shown an inclination to heed the inner voice or conscience. This is so with Kamsa. In spite of his cruel nature, finer tendencies surface now and then. For instance, Kamsa is genuinely happy to see his beloved sister married off to Vasudeva. But the joy is short-lived as an ethereal voice makes a prophetic statement that the eighth child of the newly wed couple would kill him.

When there is a likely risk or danger to life, human nature forgets relationships. Throwing all affection to the winds, he wants to kill Devaki immediately. Vasudeva pleads with Kamsa to spare his wife, promising to hand over to him all his children as they are born. Kamsa reveals his saner side that accepts his mistake and foolishness in planning to kill all the innocent children, when the potential killer is only the eighth child. Moreover, when Vasudeva surrendered them, Kamsa out of love did not kill the first child. Similarly Vali in the Ramyana has the grace to accept his faults to Lord Rama, said Sri M. V. Anantha Padmanabhacharya in his lecture.

The way of the world is such that the favours received from those who are fickle-minded and prone to unpredictable behaviour are short-lived, deceptive and can be dangerous. Those in power may choose to favour their underlings. But the subordinates cannot rest complacently on these favours. Neither can one be sure of favours from those in powerful positions, if these positions are unstable and temporary.

Kamsa was a fickle minded ruler whose decisions and edicts could never be taken as final or immutable. Fully aware of this nature of Kamsa, Vasudeva acts and reacts with care and judgement. He knows too well of the dangers of being favoured by such people who are not sure of themselves. So Vasudeva tells Devaki not to be complacent when Kamsa agrees to spare the children. One could not be sure of Kamsa's stance at that point of time, as it depended on the power of authority he wielded, and the fear of threat to his life. For later at sage Narada's instigation, Kamsa persecuted the Yadavas and killed the sons of Vasudeva.
nabadip - Sat, 30 Apr 2005 20:07:07 +0530
On disharmony

"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. "

see this thread, post 2
nabadip - Sat, 30 Apr 2005 22:12:28 +0530
Detachment essential

CHENNAI: A bonded soul evolves spiritually over several births. Though there are innumerable living beings it is only man who can consciously strive for liberation from rebirths as he is endowed with free will. Other beings can only work out the Karma that resulted in that birth. It becomes apparent then that human birth is rare to attain and hence must not be frittered away in worldly pursuits. When an individual pursues the spiritual path he should guard against the pitfalls, which drag him back to the world of sensory pleasures because it is difficult to overcome the latent tendencies (Vasanas) acquired in previous births.

In his discourse on the Vishnu Purana, Sri P.R.Vaidyanatha Sastrigal said Bharata's life highlighted how even a very evolved individual could suffer setbacks in his spiritual progress due to the pull of Vasanas. Bharata was a king of repute and he was equally adept in spiritual attainments, so much so, that the Puranas refer to him as a sage. He retired to Salagrama to engage in intense penance and spent all his time in devotion to the Lord. He, who had renounced his kingdom and family with the objective of attaining liberation, developed attachment to the young one of a deer, which he rescued when its mother died giving birth to it. It was pity, which motivated him to care for the helpless just-born deer in his hermitage, as he did not want it to fall prey to the wild animals. But in course of time his concern turned into deep attachment for the animal as its well-being became his paramount preoccupation and he neglected his spiritual practices. He took immense delight in its frolics and became despondent when it went missing from the hermitage imagining that it had come to harm. From the spiritual point of view it is obvious that the deer was an impediment to his liberation as he had evolved very well spiritually.

The Lord assures in the Bhagavad Gita that no effort made for the sake of spiritual evolution goes in vain. The merit of the spiritual practices ensures that the individual is able to progress in the ensuing births. As Bharata breathed his last thinking about his protégé he was reborn as a deer and by virtue of his merit remembered his previous birth. After working out his Karma as a deer, in his next life he was born as the great sage Jadabharata.

nabadip - Sat, 30 Apr 2005 22:38:33 +0530
Compulsion of Destiny

CHENNAI: There is no greater mystery in life than the role Destiny plays in one's life. This baffling phenomenon defies any rational explanation. That is why philosophy, religion, literature and science bow down to Destiny.

That human beings are subject to the compulsions of destiny is nowhere illustrated more convincingly than in the Ramayana, said Sri R. Krishnamurthy Sastrigal, in his lecture. At the news of Sri Rama's exile a pall of gloom had descended over Ayodhya that had readied itself for the coronation. Lakshmana reacts with extreme anger, and even abuses Kaikeyi, and wants to know what crime Sri Rama had committed to merit this punishment. Sri Rama restrains Lakshmana not to use harsh words against Kaikeyi. He himself is not upset with Kaikeyi, for He is able to see that she is driven by Destiny. Otherwise how could she, who had rejoiced at the news of Rama's coronation and even offered a necklace to Manthara in all sincerity to share her joy, turn so hostile and adamant and plunge Dasaratha and the whole family in distress? She who had treated all the princes with equal love and affection, turned in a trice to be an instrument at the hands of Fate. Rama is able to divine that it is by Providence that this idea of sending him away into exile to the forest, has been infused into Kaikeyi's mind through the machinations of Manthara. The course of Destiny is unforeseen and no human being can escape its effects. The unexpected has not only befallen Rama but also Kaikeyi. It is impossible to catch wind of an impending Destiny, and one can only experience its consequences after it overtakes an individual's life. Joy and sorrow, fear and anger, gain and loss, birth and death, and whatever similar experience comes to an individual, is undoubtedly the work of Destiny. That which takes place unexpectedly, without any ostensible cause, is certainly the work of Providence. Neither Kaikeyi, nor Dasaratha are responsible for the consequences.

There are times when one wonders what happens to the prayers, penance, Vratas and Tapas that one follows faithfully to overcome difficulties in life. Such was the plea of the distraught Kausalya on hearing the fate that had befallen her beloved son.

When things go wrong in spite of careful planning, it is a certainty that Destiny overrules.
nabadip - Sat, 30 Apr 2005 22:43:32 +0530
Lessons for life

CHENNAI: Human emotions, family relationships, the core values of life relating to Truth, Dharma and the code of morality, form the foundation for the epic Ramayana, and Sage Valmiki, while recording the entire sequence of events, has represented in great detail, the reactions and attitudes of the people who were part of the events in which Lord Rama played the key role, said Sri Kalyanapuram Aravamuadachariar in a lecture.

For instance, the episode that deals with King Dasaratha's coronation offer to Sri Rama, that was only to be speedily denied and countered with the banishment order, is one charged with high drama and emotions. Amidst all this uproar that had happened overnight, Sri Rama displays a remarkable equanimity of mind. Neither had he shown any sense of elation at the news of the coronation, nor did he display any disappointment at the turn of fortune that was to strip him of not only the kingship, but also the princely way of life that he had been accustomed to, and of the company of his parents, kith and kin.

There is much to be learnt from this. Extreme swings of fortune in one's life can have a traumatic effect and leave one's life shattered. Though one is aware of the unpredictability of life's course, it becomes difficult when one has to come to grips with the challenges.

Reminding oneself of the way Sri Rama had dealt with the situation can help cope with the challenges of life.

Human relationships that need to be cherished for a life of peaceful coexistence are shown in an idealised form. Sri Rama honours his father as emperor, friend and preceptor, and is willing to honour the word Dasaratha had given to Kaikeyi.

At no point of time would he question the command of his father. If this is the ideal filial love, there is love and respect between brothers, between husband and wife, servant and master, or king and subjects that are delineated with a subtle finesse.

When Kausalya bids farewell to her son Sri Rama, she expresses her implicit faith that the Dharma her son upholds will always protect him. The emphasis on upholding Dharma clearly emerges as the main message to posterity. The divine couple teach by their own example the ideal way of life.