[Based on the Deivathin Kural by Kanchi Paramacharya]
Atma Vichara, Dhyana, Yoga all these will truly make the mind fixed, and blissful. Then why am I not talking about these spiritual practices but about Bhakthi? Even Adi Shankaracharya says the Moksha is being in a state of mind where even a thought doesn’t arise, even that of doing Bhakthi. But I am talking about doing Bhakthi. Shankara himself says that the best method to Moksha is doing Bhakthi, but what he defines by Bhakthi is to realize one’s true self and being in that state is the true bhakthi. This method is only through atma vichara, dhyana or yoga, not in the way I describe Bhakthi.
In spite of Acharya Shankara’s definition of Bhakthi, He has himself set forth certain rules, upasana to a personal God and established the Shan Matha (Ganapathyam, Kaumaram, Shaktham, Vaishnavam, Shaivam and Souram). He went kshetra after kshetra and sang praises on those murthis. Seeing this, it becomes clear that He agrees to our way of devotion as well.
Gnana is very high. Higher so is atma vichara, dhyana, yoga. Bhakthi, Pooja, visiting Kshetra are inferior. More so lower is achara, anushtana, vaitheeka karma are superstitions. The bhakthi is merely emotional and only dhyana, yoga or atma vichara (self inquiry) are the only ones related to Atma (spiritual) – such is the prevailing talks now.
But take this test, take a sthothra or parayana (recitation) that lasts for at least 15 minutes. Sit down and start doing it, better if it is a known one for you or else you will focus in reading an unknown thing afresh, so fixing your mind in it is easier. Pick the one which you know and start reciting. See how your mind wanders while your lips reciting the verses. Easy. Our mind’s nature is to wander. A greatest controller of mind Arjuna himself asks this question to Krishna on how to control the mind that runs like a restless monkey. We need not have to say about ours. We know it is impossible to stop thinking. Our happiness, sorrow, our attachments, desires, they keep lashing us in the mind. Plus we plan our days and weeks in the mind.
But why are we not able to stop our thinking? It is our karma, accumulated over births.
We have done different kind of things birth after birth, accumulated desires after desires. Till we let go of our desires and till the sins we accumulated gets over, we won’t attain Moksha. How do we get rid of the sins is only by doing good deeds, punya. Through His mercy, the lord gives us another chance to do good in the next birth but what we end up doing is to accumulate even more sins in the birth we’ve taken. So the Acharya kept such rituals and procedures for us to reduce our sins and to focus on good and God.
Sins are of two kinds (here Sins refer to Papa done by us, not to be confused with the Abrahamic reference of sin) – one that is done through the bodies and the other through the mind. To get rid of sinful thoughts, one should encourage good thoughts that gives Punya. What is Punya Karma? It is described in the Vedas. To lead the life rightfully, that happens in the governance, business, that which is done with the physical labour and that which is done with the brains. So the Vedas gave us four different methods of doing the Punya Karma which is as per their mental temperaments, the type of work they do. There are prescribed rules and regulations under all four sections. If people comply by these, they accumulate punya karma.
When someone deviates from these rules, they tend to commit sins and accumulate Papa. When someone follows what the Vedas mention, there is no jealousy, greed or any such stains, no grief therefore. Doing such karma will increase punya and destroys the accumulated sins. The mind and body aligned in doing proper deeds when done by thinking of the welfare of the world becomes the habit and this slowly takes off any evil thoughts from the mind.
Deed and Thought has closer relation. When sitting idle, all sorts of thoughts arise. Hence they say that the idle mind is the devil’s workshop. Hence it is important to cleanse the mind. In the initial stages, it is only through karma or work that the mind will be cleansed. Hence the Acharya prescribed Veda karma. The first step is to do karma, work and good work that is. Then it is Seva or service, sacrifice, all these with the baseline of love towards everyone. This love, should be diverted to the one which caused everything in this universe. So you start doing good work, love others and do good to others and divert the love towards the Lord. This makes the mind devoid of any negative thoughts and thereby, action. This mind becomes pure and then becomes non-existent where only the atma remains.
These are steps which are prescribed by the Acharya as we see.
Merely talking ‘Advaita’ does not help. We must climb these steps. Start with parayana, bhakthi, visiting kshetra, singing the glory of the lord, start doing good deeds and slowly get the mind aligned to the Paramatma. He does not care whether you think of him with form or formless, for you are working towards your salvation. So we need to have this bhakthi to start with and to experience the advaita, the oneness with God.
~ to be continued…!