Supreme Benevolence and Mundane Pleasure (Shreya and Preya)

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Caetra Púrńimá 1956 DMC, Patna

The subject of my discourse today will be Brahma Vijiṋána or The Intuitional Science of the Krśńa Yajurveda. There is an educative story in the Kát́hopaniśada of Krśńa Yajurveda. I will tell you something from the story, which discusses mainly pará and apará, introversive and extroversive knowledge, and shreya (supreme benevolence) and preya (mundane pleasure).

Naciketa the son of King Vájashravas, had been to Yama, the god of death, to learn Brahma Vijiṋána or any Intuitional Science. Yamarája did not at first want to teach him the Science but afterwards, being impressed by his ardent zeal, he started slowly unfolding the science.

By way of elucidating the differences between introversive knowledge and extroversive knowledge as well as between shreya and Preya, Yamarája said –

Anyacchreyo’nyadutaeva preyaste ubhe nánárthe Puruśaḿsiniitah;
Tayoshreya ádadánasyasádhu bhavati hiiyate’rthád ya u preyovrńiite.

Shreya and preya are both completely opposite in principle. But inspite of their being at variance, their dual influence are sometimes discernible on the human mind at the same time. The mixed influence of these two agitates the human mind simultaneously, and those who, without having discerned the implication of this agitation, get caught up in the sádhaná of preya distract themselves from their Paramártha or spiritual goal. “Artha” means that which causes the cessation of pain. This cessation is of two kinds – one is the momentary or temporary and the other is permanent. In temporary cessation, the possibility of the recurrence of pain has not been extinguished; with the removal of the temporary cause of the cessation, the previous state of pain comes back again. That which causes momentary or temporary cessation is called artha, and that which causes its permanent cessation, which destroys pain at the root or consumes it with seed, is called Paramártha. Preya or extroversive tendency gives human beings artha or temporary pleasure and relief, but keeps them away from paramártha, from spiritual bliss. But shreya is essentially benevolent, for it relieves pain forever and thus it is called Paramártha.

Preya is a matter of mental enjoyment only, not a means for the expansion of one’s soul. Suppose, some one is hungry; in such a case, Preya of food will help appease his hunger pains momentarily, but will they be appeased permanently? Today after eating some sweets one’s hunger may be satiated for the time being, but tomorrow you will find that hunger is its hungry self again. Try giving a certain amount of money to a person who is “hungry” for money. Will his greed cease? He will achieve only a temporary satisfaction, and he will continue to nurture this “hunger” in his mind. Similar is the case with crude medicines: the patient is cured temporarily but not permanently. There are but few ailments that, once gone, never return.

So, you see, preya is that which provides the wherewithal for apparent happiness. Even a wise man, inspite of his knowledge that such fleeting happiness is only short-lived, still runs after it, because human beings in general are not far-sighted. They are concerned only with the near future. Inspite of having a presentiment of some misfortune in the distant future they prefer to keep themselves absorbed in the oblivion of the present and the dreams of the near future. Such is the nature of human beings: they prefer to grab anything good or bad that comes their way, leaving the consequence for the future instead of proceeding firmly and assiduously to successfully attain some long-range goal.

Consider government servants for instance. If they go on discharging their duties honestly, their promotion is ensured; and in this way they will benefit not only themselves, but the government and the masses as well. But for lack of proper moral education and mental strength, many such government servants have failed to resist the temptation of taking bribes out of greed, for their temporary pleasure. They do not consider their good name and future prospect, which they treat as something remote. Rather they try to harm those who are honest and conscientious workers, considering them to be fools or enemies. Only those who are very much afraid of possible suffering run after temporary happiness. It is the weak-minded people that adopt preya sádhaná on account of their cowardly minds. This fear of approaching sorrow is the root of all evils, the only stumbling block in the path of advancement. If you try to give neem (margosa) to a boy suffering from worms, he will refuse to take it. Although he knows that the neem will cure him of his worms still he will not take it, because he is afraid of its repulsively bitter taste; yet he will gladly take sugar, for it gives him momentary pleasure. Sugar is his preya. He does not care that this very sugar will aggravate his disease. The road to preya is an easy one and that is why human beings run after it, stretching out their longing hands to grasp it with ease. But this preya, which is one attained with little or no difficulty, will one day recoil on them with the fiery scourge of a thousand scorpion stings.

Slander or malicious gossip is mental disease. But do you know why those who suffer from this disease give indulgence to it? Evidently they get some pleasure out of it. Gossip-mongers are generally lazy people: they never have the opportunity of enjoying the pleasure of working, for they themselves do not work. Hence, they seek to fill the void of their minds, to some extent, by maligning others. They are the champions of preya, for they fear the slight difficulties that the practice of shreya entails. These cowards only unleash their own mental pretensions before the public, glossing over their own hidden faults with the colourful language of slander. The climax of their cowardice occurs when any one of them is asked, “Did you say such-and-such things?” They reply without the least hesitation, “Not I – someone else said so – I don’t remember who.” Here, too, the only reason for their falsehood is the fear of suffering, lest their role in the slander be revealed and they have to suffer some disagreeable consequence. It is only out of fear that they seek to hide their misdeeds behind the screen of falsehood.

A truly intelligent person will never give any indulgence to the baseness of preya, for after giving momentary happiness, it will only become a source of a million-fold troubles. In preya grief is postponed only for the time being, but not permanently – seeking the services of a doctor for the treatment of some chronic ailment, morning and evening, all the year round, like momentarily forgetting the trials and tribulations of life under the intoxicating influence of wine – like forgetting the hard realities of the world in the benumbing drowsiness of opium. A wise person will seek lasting deliverance from sorrow, and this is the ultimate result of shreya sádhaná, not of preya.

Shreyashca Preyashca manuśyametastao sampariitya vivinaktidhiiráh
Shreyohi dhiiro’bhipreyaso vrńiite preyomando yogakśemád vrniite.

What do the wise people do? First, they judge within themselves with cool heads which is shreya and which is preya. The way of discrimination and judgment is to distinguish shreya from preya after close analysis. Humans are not inanimate but conscious beings. Their dominant feature is their mind with its power of judgment, and through this judgment, their intellect finds proper expression. It is not the way of human beings to run heedlessly after things regardless of whether they are shreya or preya; in every human action there should be the appreciable stamp of their intellect.

That humans are mind-preponderant beings – that in this regard they are the greatest of all living beings, is substantiated by the facts of their day-to-day activities. Inspite of being given kicks and blows, a dog or a cat runs after dried crumbs as soon as it sees them. But after insulting a man you will find it very difficult to appease him, no matter how many delectable dainties you place before him; for although human beings are living organisms, they are certainly not beasts.

When foolish people fail to make proper use of their intellectuality, they do behave like animals to some extent, for they run after the readily-pleasing preya, instead of shreya, the true path of virtue.

A man thinks his wife and children, wealth and property are his life’s sole objectives – the essence of his life. And as a result not only he himself suffers untold miseries from his pursuit of preya – he becomes instrumental in causing misery to others as well. Wives, husbands, and children are not everything in life. This the preya-sádhaka refuses to understand, but the shreya-sádhaka does indeed realize it. The Yama says to Nachiketa, “You are truly wise, since you have chosen shreya not preya. You do not want to rob your life of its worth.” The Yama says –

Sa tvaḿ priyán priyarúpámshca
Kámánabhidhyá yáyánnaciketo tyasráksiih
Naetáḿ srunkáḿvittamayiimavápto
yasyámmajjanti bahavo manuśyáh.

Preya is of two kinds – priyabháva or endearing sentiment, and priyarúpa or endearing features. What is priyabháva or endearing sentiment? The paper-money or coin of aluminium and zinc of today has the same attraction as it had when money used to be of pure silver. An ungainly uncouth son arouses the same affection in his parents as a handsome son does. Does this attraction for money or son pertain to their features? No, this attraction is sentimental: it has nothing to do with external features.

On the other hand, people at times run after the external features of things, instead of taking into account their intrinsic worth. Generally it is noticed that people run more after charming and glittering objects: such attraction is not sentimental but superficial – they are running after extrinsic splendour. These sentimental and superficial affections are both preya, not shreya, for here the intrinsic factors are not taken into consideration: there is not desire for lasting peace. Those objects of preyas which are enjoyable by the unit mind, are fragmentary. Such attraction for fragmentary objects of pleasure is called káma or mundane longing. And the attraction for the integral One, for the Great “I”, is called Prema or Divine Love. The movement of káma is towards unit entities and hence it is extroversial; the movement of prema is towards the Soul, towards Supreme Peace, and thus it is introversial.

Átmendriya Priiti-iccá táre bali káma,
Krśnendriya priiti-iccá dhare prema náma,
Kámer tát parya nija sambhoga keval,
Krśńa sukha-bánchá hay premete praval.

–Caetanya Caritámrta

[Passion is towards the ego inclined
Passion divine is Love Divine
Passion’s aim is self-gratification
Passion for bliss is Love’s inspiration.]

Sensual objects are naturally crude and mean; and those who take these as their goals in life, naturally become crude and mean as well – they gradually turn into brutes. Often a man who appears to be a gentleman of refined taste, integrity, charm and position, is actually a rogue, a liar and a swine: although he seems to be a man from his outward appearance, he is actually a depraved brute. In modern society you will find a horde of such types. In a meeting a man delivers a lofty, heart-rending lecture, on the upliftment of the masses – all the while ruminating in his mind about the prospect of becoming a minister and gaining fortune. You will encounter many people who are not farmers or labourers themselves but shed a flood of crocodile tears for the woes of farmers and labourers, carefully hiding their own selfish motivations. These knaves who used to drench their breast with tears for the sufferings of the common masses, forget them in a trice the moment they get a powerful position – and then their true colours are revealed. Those who were deceived can then easily understand how terribly dangerous and vile are their deceivers’ minds. The Yama has said, “Many people in this world harbour in their hearts such base and crude desires and merge their minds in their sensuous pursuits.”

Attraction towards material objects is called káma or passion. Here káma does not mean the desire of any particular organ. Some psychologists have maintained that the sexual urge, a particular expression of káma is the root cause of all types of mundane attractions and activities. This statement is wrong, for attraction is the characteristic of all unit entities and such attraction will certainly not always be sexual. Those psychologists that give undue importance to sexual lust, betray their own vulgar and licentious mentality. As I have already said, not each and every attachment or attraction is born of sexual desire. Each unit being is vulnerable to attraction but the cause of this attraction is the imperative urge for self-preservation. It is only because of this urge for self-preservation that unit beings run after crude, subtle or causal expressions. And this urge for self-preservation, too, arises due to the desire for happiness in every living being. So it is clear that behind every attraction between one entity and another, which we call by the name of káma, lies the pure desire for attaining happiness. Happiness is the ultimate desire of life, not lust. It is not a matter of sexual or sensual passion at all.

Propelled by this urge for self-existence or desire for happiness, one who gives indulgence to káma, and runs after crude, subtle, or causal expressions (in other words, becomes a preya sádhaka) is a fool, because none of these crude, subtle or causal expressions can impart lasting peace or protection – for the simple reason that they are all fragmentary parts. For the sake of their self-existence if people give indulgence to preya, preya will eventually be unable to sustain them and their pyre of passion will reduce them to ashes. Those who seek final beatitude and eternal shelter, should strive for the achievement of spiritual perfection, then the urge for self-existence or happiness will find the ultimate consummation. They will live eternally; they alone will be truly immortal; they alone will establish themselves in deathlessness. The rhythmic peculiarities of the crude and subtle causes, the recurrence of birth and death – none of these will be any longer of importance to them. They will attain final emancipation and become established in the Infinite Entity of Supreme Shreya or Bliss.

There are some psychological causes behind the “endearing” attraction of one object for another, although the basis of all these causes is the desire for happiness and self-preservation. Why is there so much attraction between the hearts of a brother and a sister? The reasons are: living together in one environment for a long time, sharing the same kind of food and the same type of education in the family, sharing the bond of the same parental affection. The absence of any of these causes results in the lack of heartfelt attraction of the children for their parents or for each other. The tender affection for the parents or brothers or sisters of a girl who lives for a long time in a hostel or in a distant country away from her parents, is somewhat diminished; for in this case, her natural preya or desire for happiness and self-preservation, is not fulfilled by her family environment. That is why wise parents generally do not like to educate their children by keeping them in hostels.

I have already said that the desire for happiness does not depend on “endearing sentiment” alone; rather the attraction of an “endearing features” or a pleasing form confuses the general mass even more. The attraction of a pleasing form cannot be so easily eradicated by discriminating judgment as the “affectional attraction.” It is for this reason that many knaves in the gard of sádhus are being worshipped in today’s society. Their bestial mentality that is well-hidden behind their ashes, matted locks, tiger-skin and kuańdala, the common people cannot and do not want to discern. They merely remain awe-struck at the sight of a sanyásii’s saffron gard. When to speak of ignorant people – even so-called intellectual and refined people under the spell of superficial charm, very often become involved in crude, antisocial activities.

It is only when the Eternal Entity that lies behind superficial charm and affectional feeling, is recognized that really lasting attraction or divine love comes into being. In divine love the affectionate feeling is not merely enjoyed as an emotion but its essence is realized; and the veneer of superficial charm will not just impart an external dye to make a so-called yogii but, when its essential colour is realized, will transport sádhakas to profound spiritual meditation by dyeing their minds.

So you see, preya or káma remains busy with finite units only, and thus, the ego, who is the enjoyer of such fragmentary units, must be the small ego. It is impossible to develop such an ego which remains always absorbed in these units. Even people of wisdom, of high social status – even so-called intellectual and accomplished scientists and philosophers who are always concerned with earning high respect for themselves or saving their own prestige – even they pursue sensuous or fragmentary objects for the gratification of their egos. Perhaps they deliberately refuse to realize that these petty objectives of their egos will infuse their minds with meanness, as a result of which all their egoistic respect, prestige and status will ultimately be pulverized into dust.

A part is necessarily small and limited: it has a beginning as well as an end. After attaining it, people do not realize that the limit of the limited will soon be reached, and then the past memory of its enjoyment will heighten the pang of the loss a million-fold and consume their hearts in the fire of that loss. Those who do not try to attain shreya while there is still time, become so encircled by the wreathing flames of preya that it becomes almost impossible to escape.

The Object of shreya is limitless; It has neither beginning nor end. From beginninglessness to endlessness, the one unbroken current of pure Bliss that has been flowing eternally, is Brahma, the effulgent, indivisible essence of the Soul. There are many who could see, and yet do not seek to see Him – who could know, yet do not want to know Him. Without striving to see and know Him they try to remain in smug oblivion, in the darkness of passivity.

Dúramete vipariite viśucci avidyá yá cavidyeti jiṋátá
Vidyábhiipsinannaciketasammanye na tvá kámá bahavo’lolupanta.

Shreya and preya are totally divergent in principle – one is guided by vidyá or the introversive principle, the other, by avidyá or the extroversive principle; one leads to discrimination, the other to ignorance – one to light, the other to darkness.

Pará-vdyá that leads to shreya guides people towards perfection, towards the ultimate state of desirelessness; and Apara-vidyá that leads to preya propels them into dense darkness, the thrall of ultimate negativity and crudeness. Why do people prefer preya to shreya? Why do they deliberately adopt the worship of animality? The reason is very easy to discern: it is due to their gradual evolution from animal life by which they have today attained the stage of the human species. But the accumulated saḿskáras of their past animal lives are still present in them, inspite of their attaining human status. These saḿskáras repeatedly superimpose animalistic tendencies on their minds; and it is due to the vibration of these saḿskáras that people are impelled towards animal propensities, towards preya; the irresistible attraction of crude gratification is leading them astray. In their human bodies they repeatedly reveal their animality through their thoughts and actions. An animal is not a thoughtful creature, for consciousness is not clearly evolved in it. Being irrational it has no discriminating judgment regarding vidyá and avidyá. Yet the experience it has accumulated through its sensuous animal life is that of preya, not shreya – that of avidya, not vidyá. Human beings understand preya through the empirical knowledge of their past animal lives, but shreya remains absolutely unknown to them. Naturally people with weak minds would prefer to hold on to their familiar ways of life; they do not want to run the risk of embarking upon an unfamiliar path. So even those who know both shreya and preya very often follow preya due to their mental weakness, for the road to preya appears to be smooth and easy – a veritable highway, reinforced with concrete.

The followers of the path of shreya will naturally have to fight against their saḿskáras of preya, their animal propensities. They will have to control their crude tendencies like greed for money, craving for name and fame, desire to maintain a sanctimonious facade and longing for praise through misrepresentations and lies. That is why the Yama said, “O Naciketá, you are the real aspirant of vidya and thus you have not been attracted towards the sensuous world. You deserve to learn the madhu vidyá (the science of conversion of matter into spirit) and brahma vidyá or intuitional knowledge.”

Avidyáyámantare vattamánáh svayandhiiráh panditammanyamánáh
Dandramyamánáh pariyanti múdhá andhenaeva niiyamáná yathándháh.

Vidyá or Avidyá – select any one of the two and the other is sure to stand athwart. I will elucidate it a little more clearly for you. Whenever a person does something, there results a clash between two opposing forces and in this clash when the operative or actional force wins, then alone the action materializes. People sit down for rest after being tired of a long walk. What is the reason behind it? Their struggle with the opposing forces eventually dims their actional forces. Similarly, the avidyá force declares war on those whose desire or inclination is towards vidyá; this gives rise to a hostile tendency in the recesses of their minds, against which they have to struggle. At home the husband, wife or the other members of the family become dissatisfied with them, and create various obstacles. In the field of their activities the opportunities arise for depravity, meanness, bribes etc., and they have to maintain their self-control. The locusts of desires come swarming in to destroy the very bud of their sádhaná. So they must carefully avoid such temptations for their own safety. But those whose movement is truly towards vidyá, who are determined to follow the path of vidyá by sacrificing their all, will eventually become immune to all obstacles. No amount of scornful taunts or diatribes will be able to check their lightning speed. They will emerge victorious, weathering and defying all storms, and eventually stand firm and erect like the Himalayas; and the storms and squalls will rebound back in disappointment. For the bud will certainly not remain the same bud forever, will it?

When the Sádhaka or the spiritual aspirant will stand untrammelled and resolute, with the courage of his conviction, and self-confidence, all snags and dangers will gradually wither away – will timidly disappear from his path. Thus shall proclaim the Sádhaka thunderingly to the obstacles and dangers, “You do your work and I will do mine. I have no road behind to retrace my footsteps.” What fear of loss there can be for those who have sacrificed their all for the attainment of their goal? At whose threatening finger will they stop short?

Rukhá-shukhá gamká dáná loná aor aloná kyá?
Sar diyá to rona kyá?

[Dainty or coarse, salted or not
Hard-earned food, a welcome lot
Dedicated my all to the power Divine
Who cares what or which is mine.]

Obstacles are the concomitants of sádhaná, struggling is a good sign. By these obstacles sádhakas can understand that their spiritual practice is on the right track. Spiritual philosophy comes into being only when sádhakas struggling with avidyá’s hindrances, vindicates their move towards Brahma after defeating the base propensities of avidyá by their own intellect and judgment.

I have already said that without obstacles there is no action, and the victory of the operative energy over obstacles is the materialization of action. These obstacles are not solely the lot of sádhakas on the path of vidyá. Those who follow the path of depravity or avidyá, and run after preya are also confronted with obstacles, which issue from the force of vidyá as a warning to desist from such base activities. Those who steal for the first time, find their hands feet trembling and see nightmarish visions even after the commission of theft. Why does this happen? It is because the force of vidyá keeps dinning into their minds that the act which they are going to do or have done, is extremely base and low, and that its consequences are disastrous. But afterwards when the constant cultivation of avidyá makes that force take a strong root in their minds, then they smother the obstacles of vidyá in the first stage. And so after some time the experienced thief’s hands and feel do not tremble anymore, nor does he see frightful hallucinations of the dreadful consequences of his acts. The intermediate condition between an immature thief and a mature is there just the same as the intermediate condition between a struggling spiritual aspirant and one who has attained the divine goal. Thus, those who are on the path of preya weave a web of rationalizations in their minds to support their activities. With this mental attitude behind their tall talks, they produce their materialistic philosophies.

Just as in the constant pursuit of avidyá a force of invulnerability is created against the influence of vidyá, similarly in the constant sádhaná of vidyá, sádhakas gain immunity to the influence of avidyá. Those who are reared in the cradle of materialistic ideologies, feel shy or ashamed at first to sit in meditation in the presence of others. Overwhelmed by the influence of avidyá, they think, “People may perhaps think that I, an ultramodern boy or girl, am emulating the pre-historic mode of worship!” There are many who may try to conceal their devotion from others and there are many who try to maintain their position among their friends by feigning skepticism – and then mentally beg God’s forgiveness. But inspite of such an attitude of shame, after a few days of regular spiritual practice, they will acquire the strength to overcome the influence of avidyá; and finally casting aside all the vagaries of shame and shyness, they will then be able to freely express their genuine devotion to God.

Now the question may arise in your mind; why do some people seem to disregard the stumbling block of shame from the very first stage of their sádhaná? This is due to external pressure or internal urge. Suppose someone’s son or husband or wife or nearest relative has suddenly died, or he or she has lost an enormous wealth or had a providential escape from a dangerous calamity. Such a person, regardless of what others say or think, throws all consideration of shame, fear, prestige or insult to the four winds and turns into a strong-willed sádhaka of shreya within a very short time. This has a negative side also. Suppose someone is faced with starvation. Goaded by need he starts stealing openly, regardless of the consequences and shamelessly takes refuge in avidyá. And if those who, knowingly or unknowingly commit such a crime, then receive abundant materials for their enjoyment, they too, become shameless sádhakas of preya like the aforementioned thief. The collection of the thoughts and desires of this type of shameless preya-sádhaná form the Charvaka and other materialistic philosophies. In order to hide their own weakness they call the devoted and godly people weak or mentally diseased. Incidentally, the word “godly” and “god-fearing” do not have the same meaning. Behind godliness is a soul-stirring sentiment – an ardent zeal to realize one’s true Self; and the reason behind the fear of God is the important attempt to escape from the consequential suffering of one’s misdeeds. Yet the latter is still superior to the atheists, because at least for fear of divine punishment they refrain from sinful acts. The greatest advantage of the theists is that they do not endure the pangs of internal clash. But no matter how brazenly sceptics indulge in tall talks or sharpen the edge of their verbal weapons to win in an argument, there is always a fight going on in their minds. Reading a few pages of a book or listening to the eloquences of a few speakers, they seek to violate their own nature. With their fragmental external knowledge they try to struggle against the indivisible Supreme Entity, and in the end, being defeated, the say, “If He does exist, then why can’t we find Him?” Yet all the while their inner selves lament within them:

Mon bale tumi ácha Bhagaván
jiṋána bale tumi nái.

[Knowledge denies existence Thine
Yet mind insists – Thou art Divine.]

Here the curse of fragmental knowledge impedes the development of their mental characteristics. In such a condition they are constantly alert to hide the outward expression of their inconsistent, irrational minds. They masquerade as scholars in order to hide their weakness behind their high-sounding words. In our society we often hear of learned people professing atheism or materialism. Modern India also abounds in such so-called pańd́itas. But to call them pańd́itas is to abuse the word.

Ahaḿ Brahmásmiiti bhuddhirtámitah práptah pańd́itah.

The realization that “I am Brahma” is called Pańd́á and the one who has attained pańd́á is called pańd́ita. Hence nástika pańd́ita or “atheist-pandit” is a contradiction in terms. The Vedas have said that these materialistic apostates never walk a straight road. How can they? Straight forwardness in life is achieved only through sincere and dedicated sádhaná. In such atheists there is a clash between good and bad going on within them day in and day out in which the bad always emerge victorious, for their souls do not nurture the good. In order to satisfy their sensual desires they very often pretend to be pious. While pointing out the faults of others, they also have to project consoling hopes of comfort and good cheer to people or else no one will fall into their trap. But this constant inculcation of two opposing tendencies brings about an ugly distortion in their minds. The incongruity of their internal and external expressions ultimately turns them into crude beasts in human form. They scramble and scuffle madly among themselves to grab leadership in different spheres of life, and consider the ability to lead people their sole monopoly. But those who are misled by them into their vociferous trap progress from one darkness to another; for how can those who are blind themselves show the path to another blind person? How can a dull and inert mind awaken consciousness in another?

Na sámparáyah pratibáti bálampramádyataḿ vittamohena múdham
Ayaḿ loko násti para iti mánii punarpunarvashamápadyante me.

All people should have proper knowledge and understanding of what is shreya and what is preya, what is vidyá and what is avidyá, for lack of this knowledge causes their downfall, and with its help, they progress onwards through proper sádhaná. Behind human desires the sweetly benevolent inspiration that the soul imparts, leads human beings to consciousness, not crudeness. That is why the wise try to develop their wisdom and intelligence more and more. No one wants to remain a fool: not even a simpleton wants to be called an idiot. To acquire true wisdom, judgement is necessary and judgment involves discrimination. The proper applications of this discriminating judgement is wisdom. This is why the discriminating people take Brahma, the ultimate stage of their consciousness, as their objective. But the ignorant or foolish ones who do not utilize their discriminating judgement but are tempted on to the path of materialistic sádhaná for their temporary enjoyment, eventually become crude themselves. The Yama said, “Allured by the paraphernalia of enjoyment these fools do not understand nor do they want to understand, the Supreme Entity. They cannot even imagine a subtler world beyond this material quinquelemental world and so they totally deny it. Those who take the crude as their objective, have to come again and again into this material world in crude forms to enjoy and endure the crude. Trudging along a dark path they are gradually transformed into matter. Thus, they come under my sway again and again, for it is impossible for them to redeem themselves from the cycle of birth and death.”

The greatest drawback of materialistic thought is that materialists think that this visible world is the ultimate reality. They deliberately refuse to understand that their existence is completely transient, subject to time, space and person. They deliberately refuse to turn their eyes towards the original causal entity of the world, in whose body the rhythms of changes appear and disappear. Matter resides in energy and energy resides in thought; energy begets matter and thought begets energy. Rejecting this simple, obvious truth, their palsied minds cannot face all problems with courage. Thus, they become avidyá’s slaves by worshipping transience as eternity, impurity as purity, sorrow as happiness, and self-ignorance as self-consciousness. Truly speaking, any molecule, atom, electron or proton which is taken to be the fundamental stuff of this world, are but the manifestations of energy, for matter is nothing but bottled-up energy. But energy is not an original entity either; it is simply consciousness under the bondage of Prakrti. Hence for the true comprehension of the essence of matter one must accept the theory of Brahma composed of Puruśa and Prakrti. Whether He is considered in His all-pervasive aspect or in any of His individual aspects, His Macrocosmic State manifests the same characteristic that is manifest in His individual aspect also.

The Yama said, “The materialistic sádhakas are bound to take birth repeatedly in order to fulfill their materialistic saḿskáras. They cannot attain the supreme final death of the emancipated sádhaka.”

Sádhaná for the attainment of introversive knowledge or bliss is the path of final beatitude and human beings have to proceed on this path while adjusting their behaviour to the environment. With a feeling of scorn for the world, sádhaná is an impossibility. You may become superhuman in the eyes of the people – you may even achieve the reputation of a renunciate by rejecting this visible world that is all around you – but still your mental thirst will remain unquenched, and your heart will never be satisfied.

Why are human beings afraid of sádhaná – why do they hesitate to seek introversive knowledge? Let me tell you the reason. Human life is the result of evolutionary progress from animal existence. Energy is expressed through the clash of belligerent forces, and through these clashes the various so-called “inanimate” entities of this quinquelemental world such as sand, iron, stone, etc., are transformed into self-activated entities like primitive plants and unicellular protozoa. Indeed through these clashes they attain the power to gradually convert their passive energy into active mental energy. We encounter the manifestation of this mental energy in some particular plants and organisms. Where life is averse to struggle, no progress is possible. That is why in some countries we find pre-historic creatures of undeveloped intellect that are alive even today; and elsewhere creatures of developed intellect have come into being out of the dust of those very pre-historic carcasses. The intellect of a monkey is not in the same category of that of an earthworm.

Through these clashes animality has attained humanity. It is the residual momentum – this credit balance of the balance sheet of our pre-human struggles with animality – that has made us the possessors of human minds. That is why the momentum of animality can understand only in terms of material enjoyments, for that momentum does not imbibe the untasted joy of consciousness; and the attainment of that joy is inspired by the human soul, the subject of the mind – such an inspiration could not be properly utilized by the animal mind, but may be used to better advantage by the strong human mind.

Thus it is the empirical knowledge of previous animal life that leads human beings to material enjoyments on the one hand, while the more developed inspiration of their soul seeks to lead them to consciousness; and thus a constant clash is going on in the human mind between crudeness and consciousness, between vidyá and avidyá. Human beings are normally afraid of struggles; so it is hardly surprising that materialistic-minded people are averse to such struggles in the beginning.

To attain the opportunity to learn the esoteric practice of sádhaná, the secret strategy of psychic struggle, is a rare good fortune. Until such an opportunity presents itself, success in the struggle is impossible. The Yama said,

Shravańáyápi bahubhiryo na labhyo, shrńvanto’pi bahavoyannavidyuh;
Áshcaryo vaktá kushalo’syalabdháshcaryojiṋátá kushalánushiśt́ah.

Suppose there is a virtuous discussion going on somewhere. If you invite two hundred people to this discussion, you will find that only sixty invitees have turned up, at the most. Out of these participants about ten or twelve people at most listen with patience and devotion to the talks; and out of these listeners, only some properly understand the subject discussed. Then again, out of this small group that has understood, only a very few may retain in their minds what they have understood. Lastly, only one or two persons of this last group may practice in their daily lives what they have learnt and understood. This is only due to the clash between vidyá and avidyá in the mind, and in this clash the triumph of avidyá or the extroversive force means running from the introversive bent of vidyá. It is because of the saḿskaras of animality that the introversive momentum is rare in the average human mind. The sensuous desires of avidyá continue to infiltrate into every thought process. Such a situation continues for a long time in a sádhaka’s life.

Look into your minds and look at the visible world. Whenever you do something, you repel some opposing force. Through this repulsion you acquire greater strength to counteract still greater opposing forces. So you see, it is only through the clash between the two opposing forces that you are able to make your mind stronger.

The Yama said, “It is not only the disciples who are scarce, there is also a flagrant dearth of competent preceptors as well to teach the esoteric practices of sadhana.” Through the grace of a truly competent Guru, a meditative tendency of mind may be awakened in every human being. It is not only the scarcity of competent teachers that is hindering spiritual advancement on the world; there is also a great lack of true spiritual urge among the people.

Na nareńavarena prokta eśa suvijineyo bahudhá cintyamánah
Ananya Prokte gatiratranastyańiiyánhytarkyamańupramáńát.

What should these experienced teachers and intuitional masters be like who are supposed to guide people and teach them the practices of spiritual sádhaná?

The answer is very simple. The guidance must come from true human beings, not from those inferior, sub-human creatures, who are manifesting animality in their human frames. Who is a human being or “nara”? Nara means puruśa. Who shall we call puruśa? One in whom consciousness is prominent, in whom the manifestation of the soul is in greater degree, is alone the puruśa. Those who have not performed the sádhaná of that puruśabháva or Consciousness are not fit to teach others. Even if they do, their students will not be able to carry out their instructions properly, for their words are not able to touch their students hearts. How can such people teach? In their very own minds there is a stormy clash going on. They have not attained the serene calmness of the Great Sea. Some of them quarrel over the corporeality or incorporeality of God, some waste time in arguments whether God is white or black, some present a plethora of millions of gods and try to convince others from the pages of the scriptures of the might and power of these different gods, the various amounts of rewards for their worship and the dangerous curse of not performing such worships. Some want to shed human blood over the type of music or procession that is performed or over the type of food eaten, or over the question of untouchability regarding the use of food. They will try to convince others that these are the genuine ways of God and religion. These lowly sub-human creatures masquerading as human beings, take advantage of human sentiments and weaknesses and place all types of obstacles in the path of human progress. Their utterance, however, do not and cannot touch the core of anyone’s heart. With their lack of the universal vision, they remain extremely remote from Consciousness. They always seek to disintegrate the One into many fragments. That is why they want to see humanity divided into nations of British, Soviets, Indians, etc., or into many creeds of Hindus, Moslems, Christians, or Árya Samájists. Normally the words of those who are fanatic Britishers cannot move the hearts of those who are not British; and the words of those who think of Hindu interests certainly do not sound sweet in Moslem ears.

When people are initiated by those who have realized the divine Truth, they are around to universalism. They cease to regard any entity of the universe as separate from themselves. Every entity of the world is the limited manifestation of the one Cosmic Consciousness. Whom will you fight against, or whom will you flee from? You are undecaying, immortal and birthless. When you are established in your own true self, none of the belligerent unit entities can stand against you, nor can your mind be disturbed by their limited forms. Such an all-embracing Cosmic Sentiment cannot be inculcated in others by sub-human individuals with narrow views. That is why some people created divisions between human beings by combining religion with politics, with patriotism, or with idle metaphysical speculation. Under the pretext of preserving their religion and establishing peace, they encourage the genocide of millions of innocent people in the name of jihad or religious crusades. Propagating discrimination and discord in the name of religion, certain groups ruthlessly exploit the ignorant masses. They may keep some people blinded and confused for a long time but they cannot misguide the majority of people for long. People are already beginning to realize the truth, and they will realize still more in the future. Ananda Marga is sounding the clarion call for the sleepers to wake up. Those religious fakes will be compelled to quickly withdraw from their hypocritical role of religious hegemony, and at the time of their withdrawal they will have scandalization or malicious propaganda as their sole capital to fall back upon. You all know, where reasoning fails, vilification becomes the sole stock-in-trade. When you hear abuses from these frogs-in-the-well, you can take for granted that the grey matter in their frenzied brains have no functional residues left and that they have come to you only to convince you of their helpless and fey condition.

Brahma is the unarguable entity. He is beyond all arguments, for only an object which the mind can hold within its small compass can be the subject of argument. Your mind can comprehend such qualities like what is dark and what is fair, and thus you can also argue on such points. But regarding that Consciousness where your mind ceases to exist you certainly cannot say whether He is dark or fair. Brahma is unarguable, because He is beyond the ambit of mind.

If someone says that God came and told him, “Thou art my dear Son” or “Thou art the last Prophet” – these statements may command respect from the credulous but to those of discriminating judgment they will not be acceptable, for the one who appears in person, will immediately come within the scope of argument and logic and will naturally have a shape. On this point, there will be no correspondence with the Nirákáraváda or the doctrine of shapelessness or incorporeality of God. Human beings are conscious beings. As long as their mental apperception is functioning, they should not accept anything that is illogical or fallacious. Where mind does not exist, what will God say, and who will be there to listen to Him? Sound can only be received by a crude organ, otherwise it is audible only in the internal waves of the Cosmic Mind. Something which is formless is not perceivable by the organs and so His voice cannot be heard. The Cosmic Mind is devoid of duality and so there is no scope for anybody’s hearing anything about the Nirguńa or Objectless Brahma, whether “It is” or “It is not,” or “good” or “bad”. His disciples did, of course, ask him, if He existed: Buddha was speechless. When they asked him, “Does He not exist then?” Buddha remained speechless again. With the result some people assumed that Buddha wanted to say that God did not exist, and then again some inferred that He did exist. But those who were real intuitionalists understood that He was an Entity beyond the scope of the mind – beyond the purview of “Is” or “Is not.”

Jo mano goar álá jálá
Ágama pothi Iśt́á málá
Bhan kaese sahaj bola vá jáe
Káa vákcia jasu na samáe
Ále guru uesai shiiś
Vák pathátiita kahiba kiis
Já teṋi boli te tabi tál
Guru bob se shiiśá kál
Bhańai Káhńu jina raan bi kaesá
Káleṋ bob samvohia jaesá.

–Buddhist Sádhaka Krśńácárya

[Relative truth what mind compasses
Beyond philosophies, It all surpasses
Scriptures and myths are indeed but bricks
That make no sense, confounded tricks
The teacher and the taught, both in a mess
What is beyond discourses cannot be expressed
For whatever is said, mind must contribute
The disciple deaf, the teacher mute
“What is It” beyond verbal domain
Except deaf-dumb mimes in symbolic strain.]

That which comes within the orbit of the mind is but a relative truth, not an eternal truth, and so it will come and go. Scriptures and mythologies are like stacks of bricks: they are only arranged in layers, bearing no significance or intrinsic value. How can they describe or explain that ultimate entity which is beyond the scope of the mind? Here both the teacher and the disciple are helpless, because this subject, which is beyond the domain of any academic discourse and discussion, is simply inexplicable and inexpressible. Whatever is said and discussed comes within the scope of the mind and so it is a relative truth – true today, false tomorrow. That is why a teacher becomes mute when he or she is asked to explain Brahma Vijnána or the intuitional science and consequently the disciple, too becomes deaf. So Krishnacharya says that the best metaphor to describe this profound mystery is the soundless communication between a deaf and a dumb person for this intuitional science is so extremely subtle that the mind or the senses cannot adequately express it.

Naeśátarkeńa matirápaneyá proktányenaeva sujiṋánáya preśt́ha
Yántvamápah satyadhritirbatásitvádrunno bhuyánnaciketa praśt́á.

The Yama said, “But the minds of those who have the opportunity to learn this Supreme Science from a knower of Truth, are not agitated by irrelevant arguments,” for I have already said that Brahma is above all arguments. Those who have realized even a portion of true knowledge, even a semblance of the Truth, are not deluded by the false logic: arguments cannot distract them from their goal. For example, those who are convinced that ghosts are the play of the sub-conscious mind, are not afraid of them, nor do they ever experience any theophanic or demonical paroxysm or trance. But ignorant persons who believe in the existence of ghosts or various gods, develop such type of sentimental momenta or saḿskáras in their minds. When, either due to their intense concentration or in their weak moments, the activity of their crude mind is temporarily suspended that sentimental momentum is manifest in their minds’ eyes and they think that they are really seeing such-and-such spirit or god, or that a spirit or god has directly spoken to them. When the subtler kośa or layer of the mind is self-hypnotized, they think that they themselves have become such-and-such spirit or god: this is a temporary paroxysmal demonomania or theomania. But such superstitious saḿkaras cannot disturb the minds of those with developed knowledge, who have realized that spirits and gods are the visionary products of mental weakness due to ignorance; and so they will not see spirits nor be possessed by them. No matter how much they hear the tales of ghosts, they will never believe in their existence. Story-telling – the emotionally excitable language of the story-teller – may temporarily thrill them and make their hair stand on end – but nothing more than this. Similarly, there are many people who become terrified of ghosts, seeing extraordinarily strange things like a cat suspended in the air or bones being thrown by sorcery or black magic. But those who know that these are all merely but the plays of the atimánasa kośa or the astral mind, do not become at all disturbed; rather they try to expose these antisocial criminals to rectify their nature. Planchette (“ouija board”) also falls in the same category: it has nothing to do with spirits.

So said Yama, the Lord of Death, “With the attainment of true knowledge, all the extroversive tendencies of Avidyá disappear from the mind of human beings, O Naciketa! This true knowledge is introversive knowledge. You are eager to establish yourself in truth: so you are the fittest person to learn this introversive science and then you alone will be able to ensconce yourself in the Truth.

“Just as there is no difference between the sun and its radiance, similarly there is no difference between Brahma and Truth: both are immutable and imperishable, but know, Naciketa, that I am not imperishable or eternal. I am transitory.” Do you understand the meaning of the Yama’s words: Yama is the prototype of restraint: he is also the controller of this evolved world. Naciketa is a seeker of Truth, a seeker of Brahma and so he is the prototype of a sádhaká or spiritual aspirant.

Jánámyahaḿ shevadhirityanityaḿ na hyadhruvaeh prápyate hi dhruvantad
Tatomayá naciketashcitágniranitaerdravaeh práptavánasminityam.

Karmaphala or the consequence of an act, whether pleasure or pain, is transient. No matter how much sin or virtue you may commit or earn, it cannot be eternal and so you cannot endlessly enjoy or suffer the consequence of your sinful or virtuous actions. The unit entity is activated only by the help of a unit and since that activation or process of action cannot keep itself concerned with one unit alone for a long time, no action can be the cause of boundless pleasure or boundless pain. Hence the pursuit of transitory objects cannot give you everlasting happiness. Brahma is an eternal Entity: It is impossible to attain It only by paying lip-service to Brahma-Sádhaná. When the mind is all the while absorbed in external transactions. “So know Naciketá, that the rank of Yama – whatever I have not attained through the sádhaná of virtue – is not eternal.”

Although the sphere of Yama is extremely vast and pervasive, still it is not eternal: it is relative to objects. That which is dependent on objects is a relative truth – that is not an eternal entity. Analysed philosophically, it cannot be accepted as truth. Hence it is untruth – almost in the category of falsehood. The city of Patna exists today, but a few centuries ago it did not exist, and it will not exist a few centuries hence either. Thus, Patna’s existence is not an absolute truth. Similar is the case of Yama. When does the Yama or the controller exist, when the system of control is in force, or even if only a certain number of things are under control. So, if the Yama or controller exists, two or more entities – control and the controlled – will also have to exist. In other words, the existence of the Yama is completely dependent on those two entities: it is not a fully independent supreme post. That is why the Yama said, “Naciketá, this post of mine is absolutely short-lived.”

Kámasy áptiḿ jagatah pratiśt́haḿ kratorá nantyamabhayasya páram
Stomamahadurugáyaḿ pratiśt́háḿ drśtya dhrtyádhiironaciketo’tysráksii.

People generally act with some ulterior motive, and all their motives and desires end in Saguńa Brahma. This Saguńa Brahma is the only well-established Entity of the Cosmos. Limitless karmas or actions and their fruits are implanted and accumulated in His mental body for He is the ultimate refuge. He is the only worshipable and desirable Entity of every evolved being of the universe, and all the actions of all living beings end in Him. This great, vast Saguńa Brahma or Hirańyagarbha is omni-present and endlessly dynamic, for He is surging through all the regions of this vast universe through His mental momentum. “But, O Naciketá, even after having fully understood the status of the Hirańyagarbha with your intellect, you have relinquished your desire to establish yourself in it. You only yearn to attain true knowledge, and you are eager to merge yourself in that singular Truth, the Nirguńa Entity. Naciketa! You are great – You alone are great.”

Caetra Púrńimá 1956 DMC, Patna

Published in:
Ananda Marga Ideology and Way of Life in a Nutshell Part 4 [a compilation]
Subháśita Saḿgraha Part 3