Let us become nobler

Sanskrit word 'Arya' or 'Aryam' stands for nobility. Let us implore everyone to become noble, the Arya or Aryam. Christians, Muslims, Hindus or Jews, communists or capitalists, rich or poor, clever or dumb, weak, meek or bully. Uncomfortable perhaps are they with other, threatening peace. Ray of hope for the world is ‘include-all’ ideas of ancient Indian wisdom popularly known as Hinduism. Only they knew how to celebrate individuality of each person. Aryas respect ideas of others, respect way of worship of others, help others and become a noble citizen of this wide and varied world. Idea behind this blog is to bring out those ideas and help each of us become better than what we are. 'N' in the 'Aryan', by the way, was a mistake made by colonial 'experts' who wanted to underplay and undermine the culture and religion of those who they clandestinely enslaved.





Saturday, June 18, 2016

25- Kailash, Kathmandu and Kashi – A story of Shiva and me.


(A decade ago after a trip to Tibet, Nepal and India, I wrote down my impressions. It was not meant to be a book, however after it was read by some, it was suggested that if it gets published, interested persons can use it. However I thought (and still think) that the narration was more of a personal quest into Bhagavan Shiva and that it may not interest a wider audience. Therefore instead of commercially publishing it, I thought of placing it on a website of Publishing house Harper Collins’s website known as Authonomy.com. It remained on their website for people to review my narration for many years. However, last year, when Harper Collins shutdown Authonomy.com and I realized that some people still wanted to read my account, I decided to place all 26 chapters of that travelogue on this blog. Reader views and comments are welcome)

Chapter-25.   BORN ANEW


In the end, after those twenty days, if I were to say, I am born anew, then, it was because what I saw and felt there. Not that all answers were found, because they can not be, but vicinity of Kailash and Manasarovar provided a unique experience, describable as sense of fulfillment, satisfaction or happiness that one feels after having cleaned up something important, having cleaned up something valuable that was otherwise not cleanable, that something which is more important than any worldly matter. All kinds of misplaced understanding, misplaced priorities and misjudged things had accumulated in my mind when I began my journey. Behind one’s ‘fine’ exterior how many skeletons are hidden in their closets! It was the wonderful satisfaction having rid myself of some of those ‘trash’, those ‘rubbish’

 

But beware! you are not done yet. I know a lot of trash yet remains…

 

Think of your laptop, you have happily rid the unwanted file by deleting or dumping in the recycle-bin. But remember, the recycle-bin is now loaded with those unwanted files. Just with a click of the mouse, all of them can be restored. Smart user uses right click and commands its laptop to empty the bin. We however can not do so simply for our Karmas. Mouse of the human computer has a different software, restoring the ‘skeletons’ into ‘closet’ is easy but not so easy it is to empty the bin. The skeletons would continue to remain in your recycle bin by the law of Karma and the user should be very careful, firstly not to restore those skeletons and secondly not to create, import or save new ones.

Bhagavan Shiva, No More Perplexing


 

So long as you are up there near Kailash, the ideas of cleansing and story of recycle-bin and mouse clicks may sound nice, but it is easier said than done once you are facing hard realities of life upon reaching home. However, every ‘Guru’, would tell you that it is doable by regular contemplation of God. I agree but also disagree. Because hardly anyone from the ‘advising’ fraternity, who seems to be good only at parroting this advise and good at doing oversimplification of a complex problem, know any workable method. What is God contemplation? Prayers to God to say thank You? Seek His forgiveness? Pleading for His mercy? Yes, we do these all the time. Who does not do it? But in no time we are back to square one repeating the same ‘sins’. Is there anything further that can help me avoid being a guy who would commit crimes and needing to plead for mercy? Is there a way to improve my behavior in such a way that it becomes my real nature? How to achieve a permanent shift from bad to good, from sinfulness to no-sin-ness? For that we need positive stimuli, positive suggestions. Instead of sermons and instead of begging for mercy, what if we can work on our own self, holding our head high to become good humans?

You Are What You Think


 

Ancient Indian sages knew the trick. They seem to have monopoly in having used innate ability of humans to mould itself by use of iconic symbols. We become what we think of. This is where those ‘perplexing’ imagery surrounding Bhagavan Shiva comes in play.

 

In every language and culture, some words or objects denote certain characteristics or values. An Olive branch signifies ‘offer of peace’ or a white pigeon signifies ‘messenger of peace’. Similarly, the Sanskrit literature and scriptures are replete with icons, signs and suggestions connected with several words and objects. River Ganga is connected with  “Gnyan-Yogi” (Knowledge-Yogi), ‘spreading knowledge’ and ‘Cleansing  of body and soul’. Crescent Moon is connected with a “Karma-Yogi” or an efficient worker and a ‘confident donor’ who does not shirk from helping others by donating his wealth even to the extent of giving away every bit of it. For, he has confidence on his ability to be able to earn again using his efficiency and efforts. Himalayas represent High Chair. White color (of Snow) represents purity and stigma-free-ness. Drum represents love for music-arts-crafts-dance and world of creativity. Clothlessness suggests fit body and renunciation of non-essentials. Proximity of wife and children indicates glory of family life. Cremation ground indicates death, ashes and loneliness. Ultimately one has to leave the world alone. Ash represents ultimate remainder, the essence after death. Trident represents either protection or attack respectively for friends and foes. Third eye is indicative of extra-vision, to see something not visible to usual two eyes. His good, bad and ugly assistants (Shiva-Ganas) represent true universal loving acceptance of every individual, whoever he may be. That is “Bhakti-yoga” (Yoga of devotion and love). Blue throat is indicative of poison frozen into inaction. Skulls represent, like ash remainder or essence of man. Snakes around Bhagavan Shiva’s neck represents our desires, once the sting is removed from the snakes they become harmless. Also snake can be said to represent us. We are like snakes, always making others afraid of us. May be necessary for survival but as most snakes are harmless, most people are harmless. As some snakes are poisonous, some people too are poisonous. We use the poisonous snakes and use their poison for good medical use and render even poisonous snakes useful. A smart society could put their poisonous people to good use.

Method of God Contemplation: Art of Becoming a Better Being


 

Visualize your own self sitting in the God contemplation, all alone in a peaceful, quite, and pleasant surrounding looking intent fully at Bhagavan Shiva thinking of metaphors surrounding all the images on and around Him. Visualize further, if you were to say: “God, You value knowledge and you like those who spread knowledge, I too would become knowledgeable and would spread knowledge. Bhagavan Shiva would then honor me like he does to River Ganga. The crescent moon has a great confidence that he would be able to earn his livelihood and more, so why not I donate what I have for good cause or give to needy? I would follow Crescent moon’s style to be honored by Bhagavan Shiva. His is a high chair on the top of the world. If I was to be in power and was ever to sit in a high chair, I should keep it stigma free by controlling my bad or inappropriate actions, then can only I claim to be worthy worshipper of Him. If You, Bhagavan Shiva, can do without clothes, I too can do with minimum of luxuries and my body should be physically fit to be able to withstand vagaries of climate. I can use my wealth on others rather than spending away just on me alone. Moreover I should be able to indulge or not indulge in sensual activity at my own will and not on the will of ‘outside agency’. If I became master of my body, just as You, I would not degrade myself by dancing at the tunes of every Tom, Dick and Harry.  Family life is very important to You, Bhagavan Shiva. I see how nicely the entire family is living together, respecting and supporting each other. Even their animals and vehicles are respectfully treated by them. I should try and imitate these great qualities. Bhagavan Shiva, You love arts, crafts, music and drama, I too should value creative bug within me, my family and society to enrich everyone’s life. Bhagavan Shiva, You do not forget even those who have died doing good work. You apply their ashes on Your body and keep their skulls in remembrance. I will do good work so that Bhagavan Shiva meets me in the cremation ground and honors me by retaining my skull in his garland using my ash upon my cremation. God, I must learn to view world not only through my two physical eyes but also with the third eye. This third eye is eye of knowledge, love and discrimination. Before making any conclusion from the visible facts, I must apply my third eye to every issue. Many a time, the apparent good is in actual fact bad and the apparent bad prove to be good later on. Bhagavan Shiva, You, do not exclude anyone; good, bad or ugly. God, I too would cultivate broadness of mind and include everyone in my thinking. But God, the world is full of people who emit poison. If I accept their poison, I would die and if I spit out the poison someone else would die. What should I do? God, I would follow your example, I would just keep that poison within me neither gulping it down nor throwing it back at society. God, you are so powerful yet you never claim it. Bhagavan Shiva, I too would be silent on my abilities. If I brag about my accomplishments I would fall in my own esteem.

 

Contemplation of Bhagavan Shiva, on above lines give us positive stimuli for development and improvement. A man can become a yogi, efficient at knowledge(Gnyan), work (Karma), love and devotion (Bhakti). With this done everyday, slowly but certainly we would begin our journey of change. The path to perfection.  My life is my chance for evolution into a great good being. I know that the feel of guilt or embarrassment or dependence on someone’s mercy is not conducive for my healthy growth. With above style of God contemplation, I can use my own innate natural abilities borne out of my body mind, heart, ego, wisdom, ego to develop and become a great and yet a good individual who helps himself and the world around him without suffering from any guilt, phobia or dependence of any individual, any material thing, time, health or age. Simple auto suggestions.

 

With contemplation of Bhagavan Shiva in this style provides one with another significant but invisible boon. It is virtually impossible for us humans to be good and not feel proud of it. This pride is like a ‘snake’ in the game of “Snake and ladder”. Pride when becomes arrogance, suddenly takes a man well below even after climbing great heights. It is a boon if one can become a great person and yet remains humble. It is my ego that helps me challenge myself and rise above my limitations, but if that ego makes me egocentric, I would become a harmful and arrogant self far away from the heights of divine greatness. History is full with such people. How can I simultaneously be great and yet humble? How can I be good and great without giving rise to sense of arrogance or false pride? Bhagavan Shiva contemplation done in the style described above is the answer. Because my reference is Bhagavan Shiva, who is way ahead of me and I a in constant struggle to bridge that gulf, thus at no time can I feel that I have achieved enough greatness now. I am always below par and hence false pride can not touch me. I know I am not in competition with fellow humans in my quest for perfection. There is no race. Everyone would one day sooner or later reach the destination, the door of divinity. If it is race, it is a race with me alone. This knowledge and this in-built ability to remain humble is that secret boon.

 

The imageries and iconography surrounding Bhagavan Shiva begins making sense gradually. And there is no end to this quest. As one goes further, road ahead opens up.….endlessly, well almost. I realize in the end that it is not Bhagavan Shiva, who wants me to say Om, Namah Shivaay’; it is me who would like to say that and inculcate within me Shiva-ness by His contemplation. I do not want to just appreciate the great idea contained in Shiva-imagery and symbols, the Shiva-experience is much more important and that can come only after my efforts at really becoming a Shiva (Kalyaan-Kaari, having become agent for betterment or goodness) by developing the characteristics that are adored by Bhagavan Shiva. We can claim to be his real worshipper if we were to follow his path, not mere parroting ‘about’ His path.

 

It is me born anew if I could continue my quest.

 

Bhagavan Shiva has been extremely merciful to me. I am not young any more. I have undergone four procedures of angiography with three of them having ended up as angioplasty. Cardiac surgeons have placed five stents in my heart. Last was put about five years ago. Two of them are concentrically placed, one within the second; when a 4 mm one got clogged a 2.5 mm was inserted within that older one. Poonam too is not in her best health, gets tired from long walks. On this trip, to make things worse, I had a mini accident at Nyalam on the third day when my left knee was sprained, seriously putting in peril any walking.

 

Under the circumstances, if every sensible person told us to hire a pony, they can not be faulted. They insisted that under no circumstances should we trek on foot. Among the well wishers were all my relatives including my mother, my children and cardiologist cousin. Many friends too had warned us about trekking on foot. However, unless I did it on foot, I would find it hard to convince myself that I did a Parikrama. Therefore throwing caution to wind, we both went around the Mount Kailash on foot. Homage to Bhagavan Shiva has to be paid properly as long as one can physically manage.

 

It could have ended up as a misadventure. But it did not.

 

We were certainly cautious knowing my cardiac status and the status of knees of both of us, however, very curiously, we never felt seriously worried except once when I did feel exhausted on Parikrama’s second day at Mount Kailash. It was then that I had instructed Poonam on how to dispose off my body, should I not pull through the Mount Kailash ordeal.

 

Having once accepted imminent death, if I am still alive, in itself, it is a rebirth. However, what was more akin to rebirth followed later.

 

Post Kailash-Manasarovar trip, I think, I have changed. My uncontrollable hunger seems to have become slightly manageable and my sensitivity towards physical pain has decreased. My anger has reduced and I seem not to care about many things that were once occupying most of my brain-space. I feel, I am now more restrained in my speech. None of these changes I had coveted or had even thought about. I do not know why those changes came; I do not know how they have come. With no answer forthcoming, I am left with no other conclusion except to think that perhaps they would be for some spiritual help.

 

I recall my earlier trip to Himalayas and what changes I had noticed then. Post that trip; four years ago, I noticed significant increase in compassion towards animals. Unexpectedly, love for the animals grew as if it was switched on, just like we switch on a light bulb. I even lost disdain for the worms, insects and mosquitoes; I look at them in amazement at their aerodynamics and at powers their tiny brains have in performing intricate maneuvers. That is not to say that I let them crawl all over me and let them suck my blood; I certainly avoid that, but if bitten, I am not perturbed enough to swear at them. I no more become ‘that’ angry (I mean really angry to hate or wish bad for anyone). I found that the changes that I noticed at that time were also unsought out. This change has stayed with me since.

 

I am sure that Himalayas change people. It has changed many, including those who are not even from traditional Hindu faith. It is the spirits of Sages, Saints, Devas and Gods at work up there in the rarefied Himalayan atmosphere and soil trodden by divine entities.

 

However, this time around, I have taken my experiment further. I am convinced that people change for better when they become God-sensitive; when God’s vicinity, communion and relationship with us is discovered. I am sold on those ideas that King Divodas worked on, that his emissaries and people of Kashi worked on. Of doing just that, I made promise to Bhagavan Shiva.

 

I am sure; gift of God, in terms of changes in me would help me fulfill the promise.  

 

That I am alive today is like new birth. That we can work on Divodas-path, the path of selfless-work is a new birth. That we can worship and appreciate Bhagavan Shiva is a new birth and if we can appreciate Mata Parvati is a new birth.

 

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