There is no reincarnation at all, either now or before, nor will there be any hereafter. Reincarnation exists only so long as there is ignorance. – Ramana
“I can’t believe this!”
Thus many will protest after reading the above quote.
Listen to an incident that happened in the times of Swathi Tirunal Rama Varma, the king of the kingdom of Travancore.
Swathi Tirunal Maharaja had a great friendship with Tampan, the great magician. Once Tampan was asked to perform in the public. The venue was arranged. Men and women assembled. King Swathi sat in his throne along with his relatives and friends. The queen was also seated behind the transparent curtain.
Tampan greeted the king and the audience and spread a blanket on the stage. After invoking the gods, he was about to start his performance.
Suddenly a thread came down from above, with a letter tied to its tip. It gently touched Tampan’s head giving him a sudden surprise. He untied the letter, opened it and read it carefully.
He then turned to the king. “Your Highness, I am sorry. I cannot perform today. Devendra, the king of gods, has sent this letter asking me to report to him urgently to help him in the war against demons.”
He gave the letter to king Swathi. The king went through the contents of the letter which was in the Devanagari script.
Before he could even respond, Tampan had caught hold of the thread and climbed up. He disappeared within a minute. The king looked on helplessly as the audience sat spellbound. There was absolute silence.
After a while, it began to rain. But it was not an ordinary rain. It was raining blood, followed by a rain of human limbs and carcasses of horses, elephants and men, all piling up at the venue. The king soon realised that the whole thing was Tampan’s magic.
But when the bleeding head of Tampan dropped from above with a thud at the venue, king Swathi was bewildered. The audience sat terrified. The queen fainted behind the screen. King Swathi got to his feet to go to his wife, and suddenly he heard Tampan calling him from behind:
“Had enough for the day, Your Highness?”
The king turned back and saw Tampan standing near the chair with a glee on his face!
The queen regained consciousness in a few minutes and grumbled to the king for scaring the wits out of her! A sigh of relief escaped the king.
He showered many fabulous gifts on Tampan even as the audience greeted him with thunderous applause!
If even an ordinary magician can make us see and believe the non-existent, what to talk of the Maha Maya of the Lord!
Q= How can you say there is no jeeva (individual), no jagad (world), no karma (actions), etc.? We clearly experience it?
A=Our experience is not proof of the existence of a thing. The blueness of the sky, mirage waters, dream world etc., are all experienced. But they are non-existent. A magician, like the above story, makes us experience many non-existent things. Hence experience has nothing to do with Reality.
Q=Then how to know what is Real?
A=Silence the mind. What remains? The Self. That alone is Real.
Q=Then what about all this creation?
A= As long as the Self-ignorance exists, the mind will exist. As long as the mind exists, these imaginations – jeeva, jagat, eeshwara, karma(actions), karma-phala(fruits of actions), kartrtva(doership), bhoktrtva(enjoyership), punarjanma(re-incarnation) – all will exist. They are mere imaginations of the mind projected on the Self.
Q=Hard to digest!
A=Then develop your digestive capacityJ
Truth cannot be diluted to suit your digestion!
Q=How to silence the mind?
A=By silencing the ego. Know that this ego is an illusion.
There is a very beautiful incident in the life of Houdini, the great magician. His whole life was a tremendous success; he was a miracle-monger. He did so many miracles that if he was a man to cheat humanity, he could have cheated everyone very easily. But he was a very sincere man. He would say, “Whatsoever I am doing is nothing but skill; there is no miracle in it.”
No magician has ever done as much as Houdini has done. His power was almost impossible to believe. He was thrown in almost all the great prisons of the world, and within seconds he would be out. He was chained, locked, and within seconds – the
chains wouldn’t work, locks wouldn’t work – something would happen, and he would be out. He would be out almost within seconds, not even a minute. Even the well-trained police force became helpless in front of his talents.
But in Italy he failed – only once in his life. He was thrown in the central prison of
Rome, and thousands of people had gathered to see him come out. Minutes passed and
there was no sign of him. It was almost half an hour, and people started getting restless
because it had never happened: “What has happened? Has he gone mad, or died? Or has the great magician failed?”
After two hours, he came out perspiring and laughing loudly. And the people asked, “What happened? Two hours? We were thinking that you had either gone mad or you were dead! Even the authorities were thinking to go in and see. What happened?”
He said, “They tricked me; they made me a fool. The door was not locked! All my skill is to open the lock, and I was trying to find out where the lock is, and there was no lock.
The door was not locked at all, it was already open. Tired, exhausted, worried, puzzled, I fell, and when I fell and struck the door, the door opened. That’s how I am out; not
because of my skill.”
This story has a deep Vedantic message.
1. Houdini was imprisoned.
We are all imprisoned in this world, in this BMI.
2. Houdini imagined that doors were locked.
We imagine that our individuality, our ego, this ‘I’ in us is real.
3. Houdini never questioned the lock.
We never question this ‘I’.
4. Houdini tried everything except doubting the lock.
We do everything in life, except questioning this ‘I’.
5. After a long time, tired and exhausted, when Houdini fell on the door, the door opened.
After very many births, tired and exhausted, when we surrender this ‘I’, the real ‘I’shines forth.
6. Houdini became free.
We are released from the clutches of egoistic ‘I’, and the prison of birth and death.
7. The truth is, the door was never locked!
The truth is, we were never bound!
8. Who saved Houdini? Not his effort, but God’s grace.
Who saves us? Not our effort, but God’s grace.
9. But it was his effort which led to his collapse.
So too, our efforts are unavoidable for complete surrender.
While summerising the entire Bhagavad Geeta in ‘Geeta Saara’ in just 42 verses, Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi glorifies surrender by chosing this verse as the conclusion:
तमेव शरणं गच्छ सर्वभावेन भारत । तत्प्रसादात् परां शान्तिं स्थानं प्राप्स्यसि शाश्वतम्||
O Arjuna! Surrender to Him alone with all your being. By His grace, you will attain supreme peace of the Self and also the eternal Abode of liberation.
O M T A T S A T