January 2015

Carefully navigate around the dangerous rocks of thy own lower nature. Thou shall reach the eternal heaven of peace and bliss. –  Chinmaya

Our higher nature is Sat-Chit-Anand – the Supreme Self. But when we identify with the lower in us – the body, the mind and the intellect – then the lower nature is born. This lower nature, otherwise called as Ahankar or the ego, is the root of all evil.

Our lower nature has a perverted vision. It has a magnified vision of others’ vices but is totally blind to one’s own. A subject of great interest to our lower nature is self-flattery. When tempted with baser urges, it can give enough reasons to yield to them. It has got ample justifications to prove that “I alone am right.” Under its influence, we refuse to admit that we can ever be wrong. It is an expert in twisting and misinterpreting the truth to make it turn to one’s own favour.

Thus, enthroning the king of ego on the throne of ignorance, this lower nature rules the kingdom of delusion where the real (God) is seen as unreal and the unreal (the ego) as real!! Under its rule, one holds the head high in arrogance and haughtiness. Even God is helpless in bringing a ray of wisdom when our lower nature affirms and asserts in us.

This is a story from Tulsi Ramayana which tells us how the lower nature can pull one down, even if one be as great as sage Naradji.

Once Naradji, while roaming all around, found a scenic place at the foothills of the Himalayas and sat there for meditation. Effortlessly his mind soared high and entered into samadhi. Indra, fearing that the sage was meditating to usurp his kingdom, sent his retinue of Kama deva, Gandharvas and heavenly damsels and tried to disturb his meditation, but to no avail. Fearing that the sage might curse him, the god of love, along with others fell prostrate at the feet of Naradji and begged for pardon. Without any anger or revenge, Naradji reassured all of them in a very friendly term.

The news of Naradji’s victory spread over all the three worlds. Soon the sage was filled with an air of arrogance. He visited Lord Shiva to narrate his unparalleled feat. Knowing him to be His most beloved friend, Lord Shiva admonished him as follows, “O sage, I pray you again and again – never repeat this story to Lord Hari as you have repeated it to me. Even if the topic comes up, hush it up.”

But Lord Shiva’s advice fell flat on the sage. Naradji felt that Lord Shiva was jealous of him as He could not control His anger while confronting the cupid. Naradji went to Lord Hari and again narrated his achievements. Lord Hari outwardly praised Naradji, but detected that a huge tree of pride had sprouted in his heart. The Lord decided to eliminate this sense of pride in His devotee.

While returning from Vaikunta, on the way, Naradji saw a beautiful city which he had never seen before. (The illusory city was created by Lord Hari with the help of Maha Maya). He went to the king’s palace there and came to know that a grand swayamvara (choice marriage) ceremony had been organized for the king’s daughter, named Vishwamohini. When the sage saw the king’s daughter, he was stunned by her divine beauty.

“Somehow I must possess her. How am I to get this girl?” Soon this thought gained deep root in Naradji. Becoming extremely restless and increasingly impatient, he intensely prayed to Lord Hari and lo! The Lord appeared.

After narrating the whole story, Naradji pleaded, “O Lord, please bless me with Thy unmatched beauty. That is the only way I will get her.” The Lord smiled and said, “Indeed, I will do only that which is good for my devotee.” So saying the Lord disappeared.

In a hurry, the sage left for the swayamvara ceremony and thought within himself, “My beauty is so surpassing that she cannot choose anyone else for her husband.”

Naradji didn’t realize that he was blessed with a monkey’s face. (The word ‘Hari’ also means monkey!)

Accompanied by her female companions, the Princess glided from one king to the other, and when she saw a monkey’s face eagerly waiting in the line, she was filled with rage and swiftly walked away. She did not care to look even casually at the quarter in which Naradji sat, elated with pride. Again and again, the sage would rise and fidget about.

The gracious Lord too went there in disguise of a king. The Princess joyfully placed the wreath of victory around His neck. The Lord carried off the bride to the despair of all the assembled kings.

The sage felt much perturbed. Infatuation had robbed him of his reason. Later, when he saw his reflection in a mirror, his fury knew no bounds. At once he proceeded to meet Lord Hari. But the Lord met him right on the way with Goddess Lakshmi and the Princess. Trembling with rage, Naradji cursed the Lord thus, “You made me a monkey. Therefore You shall have monkeys as Your helpmates. And as You have grievously wronged me, so shall You suffer the pangs of separation from Your wife.”

Gladly accepting the curse, the Lord made many entreaties to the sage, and withdrew the irresistible charm of the Maya. When the spell of Maya was lifted, there was neither Lakshmi nor Princess by the Lord’s side.  In dire dismay, Naradji clasped the feet of the Lord and said, “O Lord! Save me! Forgive me!! May my curse prove ineffectual.”

“It was My will,” replied the Lord.

“I poured many abuses to You,” the sage repeated, ”how shall my sins be expiated?”

“Go and repeat the name of Lord Shiva a hundred times. Your heart will be disburdened at once. My Maya shall haunt you no more.” Thus reassuring His dear devotee the Lord disappeared.

If this can happen to sage Naradji, what to talk of we little creatures! Needless to say, total surrender unto the Lord is the only way out.

The dhyana shloka of Bhagavad Gita says:

भीष्म द्रोणतटा जयद्रथजला गान्धार नीलोपला शल्यग्राहवती कृपेण वहनी कर्णेन वेलाकुला ।
अश्वथामविकर्णघोरमकरा दुर्योधनावर्तिनी सोत्तीर्णार् खलु पाण्डवै रणनदी कैवर्तक: केशव:||

(In a river, there can be innumerable dangers – currents, whirlpools, treacherous rocks etc. So too while navigating along the river of life, our lower nature can bring out various dangerous moods like anger, pride, greed etc. which can destroy our life.)

But with the Lord as the ferry-man, there is nothing to fear. Let us lay our trust upon Him Whose experienced Hands have helped countless devotees cross over this river of life with the utmost ease. 

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Posted in: Chintana

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