योग का तत्कालीन क्रियात्मक बोध

– प्रोफ़ेसर बलराम सिंह

योग: सत्तस्य पर्याय: तस्य सार्थकेव मानव जीवनस्य लक्ष्य:।

योग सत्य का पर्याय है, उसी को सार्थक बनाना जीवन का उद्देश्य है।

वैसे तो सत्य एक सरल सी धारणा है पर अधिकतर व्यक्तियों को इसका बोध नहीं हो पाता है। इसका मुख्य कारण है कि व्यक्ति कुछ विशेष वस्तुओं, स्थानों, लोगों, अथवा बातों से ही जुड़ता है और उसी को मानक बनाकर अपना दृष्टिकोण निर्धारित कर लेता है।

जैसे कि वस्तुतः व्यक्ति परिवार से या माँ से जुड़ता है और उसे प्रेम करता है। यदि उस माँ के प्रेम को सीमित न करके उसे प्रेम के अभ्यास की प्रक्रिया मान ले तो उसी प्रेम भाव को औरों के साथ जोड़ सकता है। तभी माँ के प्रेम की सार्थकता हो सकती है ठीक उसी तरह जैसे कि स्कूल में गणित सीख कर हम उसका जीवन के अन्य पहलुओं में उपयोग करते हैं।

IMG-20180621-WA0008

इस अवधारणा को प्रथम स्तर पर हम योग अभ्यास से समझ सकते हैं। स्थूल रूप से आसन एवं मुद्राएँ हमारे मन को शरीर के उन भागों पर केंद्रित करते हैं जहाँ आसन के कारण ज़ोर पड़ता है। इसका अभ्यास करते-करते हम अपने मन को इस तरह अपने वश में कर पाने में ऐसे सफल हो जाते हैं कि आसन के बिना भी अँगो और प्रत्यंगो पर ध्यान दे लेते हैं। यही प्रक्रिया हमें जुड़ने की वास्तविक विद्या प्रदान करती है। इस विद्या को ही सूक्ष्म रूप में प्राणायाम के द्वारा शरीर के उन कोशिकाओं और अणुओं परमाणुओं तक जोड़ा जा सकता है जो की हमारी ज्ञानेंद्रियों से परे होते हैं। यही शारीरिक आसन और प्राणायाम के अभ्यास हमें हर किसी से जुड़ने की योग विधि बताते हैं।

उपर्युक्त अभ्यास से जो ज्ञान प्राप्त होता है उसके उपयोग से जब हम संसार में बिना किसी भेद भाव (प्रत्याहार अभ्यास के अंतर्गत) समस्त प्राणियों से जुड़ते हैं तभी उनके जीवन सत्यार्थ से परिचित हो पाते हैं।

IMG-20180621-WA0011

(Source of Image : Prof. Singh with his younger daughter)

अथ योग: सत्यार्थ परिचायक:। ॐ!!

Advertisements

Honoring the Father

– Prof. Bal Ram Singh

In a country where मातृ देवो भव, पितृ देवो भव, एवं आचार्य देवो भव have been the norms, designating Mother’s Day and Father’s Day may sound like a demotion of mothers and fathers. Instead, it is considered as a much needed appreciation of them in the western world.

There are several peculiarities surrounding the origin and establishment of Father’s Day here in the United States, where it is an official holiday. Interestingly, efforts to establish both Mother’s and Father’s Days were led by daughters, not sons, and both were in fact initiated by the Church (Mother May or Mothering Church for Mother’s Day and St. Joseph’s Day for Father’s Day).  While Father’s Day was established over 50 years after the Mother’s Day was already an official holiday, (in fact, after many more failed attempts at establishment than Mother’s Day) both holidays were in fact initially rejected by the US Congress: they jokingly extrapolated a future need of a “Mother-in-Law’s Day”.  Eventually, both holidays were proclaimed by presidential orders. However, the more sincere criticism from congress was that establishing appreciation for parents as holidays would lead to commercialization of these occasions, reducing a heart-to-heart moment to a hand-to-hand exchange of gifts.

During debates over the establishment of Father’s Day, it was common to argue that one parent (mother) cannot be recognized while the other (father) is not. The division of parents into distinct categories like “matriarchal” and “patriarchal” can be seen more as a lens perpetuated in my opinion by some modern social scientists than actual truth. Even in the animal kingdom, where the complexities of human society, tradition, culture, and philosophy do not exist, a child is often cared by both mother and father.  The social interpretation of the culture (sanskriti), traditions (parampara), and philosophy (darshan) needs narrational perspective and an integrative approach. Matri sattatmak (matriarchal) and Pitre sattatmak (patriarchal) societies inherently mean the motherhood and fatherhood, not simply woman and man as is generally implicated by social activists. Therein lies the narrative problem.

Indian cultures exhort raising of woman to the motherhood in perspective (not necessarily giving birth, although that reinforces it automatically). In India the nation is called motherland whereas in the West it is fatherland. Ancestors are referred to as पूर्वज in India whereas forefathers in America in a social context. Wikipedia lists 60 countries which call their native country as fatherland. Ancient Greek, Patris, fatherland, led to Latin Patrios, and finally into Patriotism. Thus father figure is a dominant cultural ethos of the western world.

In India it is, of course, Mother India or भारत माता, that is the war cry for the land. I had heard from a Swami ji (but could not find myself in any literature) that in Indian culture a child is most fortunate whose father is a dharmatma and whose mother is a pativrata. This is far cry from the competing dominance portrayed by the reference such a society as matriarchal vs. patriarchal, which Indian intellectual class apes it.

The combined differences between how Eastern and Western cultures view and treat motherhood and fatherhood indicate clearly that there is no simple mapping of words or cultural concepts from one onto the other. When comparing the two, one needs to understand the context in which terms, language, and celebrations are framed. Learning from other cultures is good, but doing so without an understanding of the differing perspectives, and without an appreciation for our own way of seeing the world, is counter-productive.

There is a book written with the title of ‘Dharti Mata aur Pita Akash’ by Pushpa Sinha, and of course the favorite Hindi song, Dharti meri mata pita Akash from Geet Gata Chal Hindi movie (1975) shows the complementarity of parents for appropriate care and growth of a child. Nevertheless, Indian culture is matriarchal right from the pauranic concept of Adya as the origin of tridevas and tridevis.  Even in modern times at least 500 years ago in Tulsi Ramayana, there is a clear mention that mother holds higher position than the father – जौ केवल पितु आयसु ताता, तौ जिन जाउ जानि बड़ि माता -as stated by Ram’s mother, Kaushalya. So, while Kerala tradition may be matriarchal (or maybe ladyarchal to be more appropriate). The matriarchal tradition of India as per Ramayana standards is widespread in the culture.

Once that narrative is accepted, it is then possible to integrate with the famous Manusmriti idea of ‘यत्र नार्यस्तु पूज्यन्ते रमन्ते तत्र देवता…’, which needs to be interpreted as, where women reach the status or level  of being worshiped (implying only motherhood) even gods frequent that place for pleasure.

There is much to learn from Indian philosophy as to what a mother is to be – life giver, guru, teacher, god, etc., which is what elevates her to the level of worship, not those who hire maids to take care of their children or those who do not have education, training, knowledge, and resources.

A father is a gyan guru, and is expected to give diksha to the son, and perhaps daughter by the time of the upanayana sanskar (there are instances where daughters undergo upanayana sanskar). In this ritual, the father utters some secret mantra (usually Gayatri mantra) in the ears of the child at the ceremony. This indicates the conclusion of education from father and commencement of the education from Guru. In the story of the Ganesha his father Shiva cuts off Ganesha’s head, eventually replacing it with the head of an elephant at the behest of Ganesha’s mourning mother Parvati.  Instead of taking only the story’s literal meaning, we can instead see symbolically Shiva playing his true role as a father: removing Ganesha’s ignorance, as symbolized by the head he was born with, and replacing it with a much larger head of an elephant, symbolizing his newly gained wisdom.

IMG-20180617-WA0003

(Image : Prof. Singh and his son)

In my own personal life, living in America, I try to emphasize on Father’s Day what a father is supposed to do on a regular basis: I normally cook breakfast for the family showing my cooking ability and skills (all three children learned formal cooking from me rather than their mother who is obviously more skillful at cooking than I am); I then make sure to mow the lawn, which I do despite my wife’s advice of hiring landscaper (quite common in United States); we spend time relishing some father-child memories; finally, I give some fatherly advice (lecture!!) to my children. I do not like to be pampered by any special treatment or gifts from children, as that encourages commercialization (the original concern of US lawmakers in opposing declaring Father’s Day an official holiday), and reduces the idea to materialism, which is quite different from what I consider my children as संतानाः, as in सम्यक तान्यते ते संतानाः those who reflect not only my material body but also my subtle body (ethereal, astral, mental, and spiritual) and spiritualism. May all of us have a Father’s Day by becoming and having संतानाः!

Prof. Bal Ram Singh, Director, Institute of Advanced Sciences, Dartmouth, MA, USA 

माता की अवधारणा

मदर्स डे पर विशेषविमर्श

-डॉ. शशि तिवारी

 

यह संसार भगवान् की अद्भुत रचना है। भगवान् के इस सृजन का हम सब प्राणी उपभोग करते हैं। रचयिता होने से ही ईश्वर को ‘माता’ कहते हैं – त्वमेव माता च पिता त्वमेव । माना गया है कि हम सब ईश्वर के अंश हैं। तो जो गुण ईश्वर में हैं वे प्राणियों में भी हो सकते हैं या कि प्राकृतिक रूप से होने चाहिए। मातृत्व एक ऐसा ही गुण है। केवल मनुष्य ही नहीं पशु-पक्षी भी किसी न किसी प्रकार के सर्जन और निर्मिति की कला में निपुण देखे जाते हैं। हर किसी में रचनाधर्मिता होती है- कभी कम कभी अधिक। तभी देवी की स्तुति में कहा गया है –

            “या देवी सर्वभूतेषु मातॄरूपेण संस्थिता। 

            नम: तस्यै नम: तस्यै नम: तस्यै नमो नम:॥”

वेद में माता-पिता के युग्म को ‘मातरा’ या ‘मातरौ’ कहते हैं यानी माता और पिता दोनों माता ही हैं। इसी तरह द्यावापृथ्वी का नाम ‘मातरा’ है; पृथ्वी हमारी माता है और आकाश पिता। सांसारिक माता और पिता के जोडे के लिए ‘पितरौ’ या ‘पितरा’ शब्द भी प्रयोग में आए हैं; यानी दोनों ही पिता हैं। यह ठीक वैसे ही है जैसे पति-पत्नी के युग्म को ‘दम्पती’ कहते हैं। भारतीय मनीषा ने शब्दों में ही जीवन-मूल्यों को सूत्र में मणियों कि भांति पिरोया हुआ है। तात्पर्य है कि महत्व की दृष्टि से माता और पिता लगभग समान ही हैं। इसीलिए कहते हैं – ‘मातृ देवो भव, पितृ देवो भव’। परंतु जब बात जनन की होती है तो जनि, जनी, जनयित्री आदि नामों से मां को जाना जाता है क्योंकि वह उत्पन्न करने वाली है। केवल उत्पन्न ही नहीं उसके बाद जो लालन-पालन की आवश्यकता है वह भी वही करती है। एतदर्थ उसमें स्नेह और ममता की आवश्यकता है और इसके वाचक अंबा, अम्बि, अम्बी आदि शब्द मां के लिए वेद में प्राप्त होते हैं। इन सब नामों से माता जननी, स्नेहमयी, पूजनी्य़ा, आत्मीया बतायी गयी है। उत्पन्न करने वाली का साक्षात् स्वरूप ‘माता’ पद में दिखाई दे्ता है, इसलिए उसे इस सम्मान से विभूषित किया गया है कि वह जननी है और ईश्वर के समकक्ष है।

5f1515b7fc93c2e205cdf3362b404c92

(Source of image : https://www.pinterest.com/pin/31806741093104880/)

सतत् स्मरणीय है कि साक्षात् माताएं हमारी सम्माननीय हैं; क्योंकि ‘मातृत्व’ मानवीय गुणों में सर्वोपरि है। रचना करना तथा पालन करना – प्रत्येक मनुष्य का धर्म कर्म होना चाहिए, तभी सामजिक संतुलन बना रह सकता है। जब हम मातृ-दिवस मनाये तो ये याद रखें कि यह अपने दायित्वों को वहन करने की शिक्षा देने वाला दिन है। यह रचनाधर्मिता का दिन है या फिर रचनाधर्मिता के अभिनंदन का दिन!

– डॉ. शशि तिवारी,अध्यक्ष, वेव्सभारत 

Bases of Dharma in the Gita

– Dr. Shakuntala

454295-bhagavad-gita

(Source of Image: http://zeenews.india.com/entertainment/and-more/what-bhagavad-gita-teaches-us-top-10-lessons-we-must-remember_1849199.html)

The Gita, through Krishna declares a two-fold bases of dharmaSamkhya or reason and yoga or discipline – “In this world a two-fold basis (of dharma) has been declared by Me of old, blameless one: By the discipline of knowledge of the followers of reason-method and by the discipline of action of the followers of discipline method” (III.3). But before we try to understand reason with discipline of knowledge or jñana-yoga and discipline with discipline of action or karmayoga, we need to appreciate the fact that the term ‘discipline’ is used in two senses in the Gita. One of course is the basis of dharma. The other is defined by the Gita through Krishna as indifference: “discipline is defined as indifference” (II.48). We can take it that it is discipline in the latter sense, that is, in the senses of indifference that is used when the Gita is talking about discipline of knowledge and discipline of action. In other words, it appears that whether we are followers of reason or followers of discipline, discipline in the sense of indifference is a necessary feature of it.

In the Gita, Discipline (basis of religion) appears to be, on one hand, renunciation and, on the other hand, non-attachment: “For when not to objects of sense nor to actions he is attached, renouncing all purpose, then he is said to have mounted to discipline” (VI.4). That is, if we want to understand discipline, then we need to understand what renunciation and non-attachment mean in the Gita. Renunciation in the Gita comes forth as renunciation of actions of desire (XVIII.2). Further, in the Gita, he is recognized as renouncing action who does not ‘loathe or crave’ which is also termed as being free from pairs of opposite (V.3). But if this is renunciation, it appears that it is non-different from what the Gita calls as discipline of mind or buddhi-yoga. In its discussion on discipline of mind, the Gita says about longing and loathing that “one must not come under control of those two, for they are his two enemies” (III.34). But this is how renunciation is understood in the Gita. Again, it says that “Whom all desires enter in that same way he attains peace; not the man who lusts after desires” (II.70). This can be understood as meaning that who is nor driven to act by desire goes to peace. And this is the way renunciation has been defined – giving up acts of desire. Further, this renunciation is also discipline in the sense of indifference: “Content with getting what comes by chance, passed beyond the pairs (of opposites), free from jealousy, indifferent to success and failure, even acting he is not bound” (IV.22).

Discipline, however, in the Gita also means non-attachment. The actions that the Gita has asked one to perform without attachment to fruits are actions of worship, gift, austerity (XVIII.5) as well as natural born action of the individual (XVIII.48). Worship is another kind of action the Gita says one should perform (IV.23). The Gita suggests that if one performs actions without attachment to the fruit of action, one does not get bound (III.7). In fact Krishna tells of himself that he is not bound even though he keeps performing actions because he is not interested in fruits of actions: “Actions do not stain Me, (because) I have no yearning for the fruits of actions. Who comprehends Me thus is not bound by actions” (IV.14). Such actions do not bind because in truth they do not bear fruits, though performed they are barren (IV.20). In other words, it appears that according to the Gita, it is the mental attitude that binds and not mere action.

Of the two elements of discipline, if they can be termed as such, renunciation and non-attachment to fruits of action, the Gita shows its certain inclination towards the latter (V.2). The reason for this can be explained in the following way: renunciation is more an attitude than performance of action. Giving up certain action by itself cannot be called action – at least in the sense of performance. Renunciation is giving up acts of desire. But non-attachment involves performing of certain kinds of actions without attachment to fruits of action. In other words, in the latter case one gives up certain action but goes on performing the required kinds of actions. That is, non-attachment involves both giving up action as well as performance of certain sort of actions while renunciation does not imply performance of action.

Of the ‘two-fold basis’ of the world, the Gita declares reason as one of them. Reason in the Gita comes forth as understanding of the nature of the soul. When Arjuna asks Krishna regarding a way for right conduct, Krishna answer tells of the right way as suggested by reason. The way, as we find it, involves a description of soul’s nature: “He is not born, nor does he ever die; nor, having come to be, will he ever more come not to be. Unborn, eternal, everlasting, this ancient one is not slain when the body is slain” (II.20). Further, it is said that the soul in reality does not feel pleasure and pain. Whatever feeling of pleasure and pain the embodied being feels is due to its contact with matter (II.14). Thus on one hand, the Gita tells that the soul actually does not feel pleasure and pain and on the other hand, that they belong to matter. Reason, according to Gita, thus lies in understanding that pain, pleasure etc are not felt by soul but belong to matter. Likewise, the Gita also tells that according to reason, action does not belong to the soul, but to matter. Having said this, the Gita says that the one who understands reality in true nature – that the immortal does not in actuality feel or perform – in reality he does not perform action. That is, though actions take place, even after one realizes that himself is not the doer, such actions no more bear fruits, that is, they more bind (XVIII.17).

Knowledge is the means for the followers of reason. This knowledge comes forth in the Gita as knowledge that reality is one which can be understood under its ‘lower’ and ‘higher’ nature. The first, the ‘lower nature’ constitutes the universe (VII.4), while the second, the ‘higher nature’ is the soul, the support of living being (VII.5). And then there is the Lord in whom “this (universe) is strung, like heaps of pearl on a string” (VII.7). These two natures of the ultimate reality again have been explained in Gita under different headings – the Field and the Field-knower. And this knowledge of the Field and Field-knower is considered as true knowledge in the Gita (XIII. 2). In another place of the Gita we come across knowledge as knowledge of the Lord and Brahman as well as that of the Strands as the binding factor. The man of knowledge thus knows that the actual agent is matter. As such he can be assumed to be acting with the knowledge that it is not he who is acting. This is also the way how disciplined man is defined: ‘I am in effect doing nothing at all?’ – so the disciplined man should think, knowing the truth, when he sees, hears, touches, smells, eats, walks, sleeps, breathes, talks, evacuates, grasps, opens and shuts his eyes; ‘The senses (only) on the objects of sense are operating’ – holding fast to this thought (V.8-9).  Thus it can be said that the man who performs with knowledge is practising discipline of knowledge.

A study of the bases of dharma reveals the importance of mental attitude in performance of dharma in the Gita. That the Gita has attached indifference to both the ways of reason and discipline is indicative of this very feature. In fact that this is so is clear from the very beginning of Krishna-Arjuna conversation. Arjuna asks Krishna what is dharma: “My being very afflicted with the taint of weak compassion, I ask Thee, my mind bewildered as to the dharma” (II.7). But Krishna does not answer by telling what dharma is. Rather what Krishna says reveals the importance of mental attitude: “Abiding in discipline perform actions” (II.48). And this indifference is certainly of mental nature. However, though the importance lies in the mental attitude, the Gita cannot be taken as advocating mental attitude alone. What it advocates is performance of action with certain mental attitude and not mere mental attitude. And that is why the advice to Arjuna is not just to carry the attitude but to fight with the right mental attitude: “Holding pleasure and pain alike, gain and loss, victory and defeat, then gird thyself for battle” (II.38).

Dr. Shakuntala, Associate Professor, Department of Philosophy,  University of Gauhati, Guwahati, Assam

 

Hanumān Approach after Overcoming the Hanumān Syndrome

Prof. Bal Ram Singh

[Editor’s noteA version of this article had appeared in MyIndMakers ( www.myind.net)]

hanuman sun

(Source of Image: https://sites.google.com/site/hanumanlivestoday/hanuman-s-birth)

People have heard many miraculous and not so miraculous things about Shri Hanumān, many times erroneously referred to as Monkey God, including by the former President of America, Barrack Obama, who kept a statuette of Hanumān as part of his lucky charm collections in his pocket.

ob

Whether Hanumān was a monkey or vānara, which mean people who lived with nature in forests, there are numerous stories of Hanumān which could inspire or at least provide learning lessons. As a young boy I had chosen Hanumān as my personal deva or ishtadeva to whom I used to offer sweets after my annual exam results were announced. I started wearing dhoti-kurta on the days I went to offer sweets. That skill of wearing dhoti kurta has remained with me even today. Many a time it is not as important what one believes when one performs particular action, rather the lessons one learns in performing the action. The lessons are for the life where the beliefs are for the moment.

Hanumān Background

Hanumān was son of Kesari, a vānar king of Sumerū, for which there are several claimants in Jharkhand, Maharashtra, and Karnataka, and Anjana, a wise woman with divine background. It is known that Hanumān was born with blessings from Shiva and Pārvati, and also was helped by Vāyu devatā. All of them are well grounded in mountain, forest, and air. In other words Hanumān was influenced mostly by the nature and was connected to native people with wisdom from nature.

Hanumān State

Hanumān state of mind is that of someone who is bereft of ego and arrogance. “Hanu” means to kill and “mān” means the ego. That is why one sees and hears about Hanumān being very powerful yet always seen with folded hands and humble in service. There are stories about him getting a curse so that he would forget his power. However, given the Hanumān state of mind it will in fact be considered a boon. Certainly going by his great accomplishments and virtues, and the following even today, his traits can easily be considered as footsteps of success.

Hanumān Syndrome

Hanumān ji’s humility and determination are considered part of his real character that led him to win any mission he embarked upon. In the infinite states of consciousness, most people are focused on only limited tracks of the consciousness, and are in fact not aware of the existence (ego) of the other domains of their consciousness until they are reminded of by someone they believe and trust, such as parents, teachers, guru, etc.

Children and students are particularly vulnerable to the hidden capacity and potential unknown to them. This is the Hanumān syndrome that the whole humanity suffers from. This syndrome is treated by only wise and caring teachers or elders, who remove the syndrome with inspiration and infusion of courage through a series of steps to build confidence via knowledge and practice. This is what was done by Jāmvant, represented by as a Rikshraj and mānsputra of Brahmā, the creator of the universe. Jāmvant is not an ordinary bear, rather an individual with power and adaptability of a bear. He along with Hanumān and Paraśurām has distinction of being present in both Rāmāyana and Mahābhārata time. In other words, for Hanumān syndrome to be removed, an extraordinary teacher or guru is needed, by awakening the hidden consciousness.

Hanumān Approach

Once the Hanumān syndrome is treated, a person can achieve extraordinary feats. There is nothing that such an individual cannot do. Their approach becomes that of in improvisation rather than strategic and tactical. Since they are capable of doing anything they do not sit down to plan and process the goals. They actually begin to do what needs to be done, notwithstanding what may seem impossible to others. This is what Hanumān did when Lakśmana was hit with Shakti weapon of Meghnād. With Suśen (an Ayurvedic Vaidya) suggesting a prescription requiring Sanjīvanī from Himalayas in less than 12 hours, everyone is Ramā’s army had given up, except for the Hanumān free of his syndrome. He was the only one who could leap forward to Himalayas without any forethoughts, driven only by what needed to be done. He did not spend a semester learning the geography of Himalayas, asked for a GPS to reach there, or a long lesson on different types of plants, shrubs, and herbs.

r16

(Source of Image: https://ramleela.wordpress.com/2012/10/22/ramayana-viii-the-vanar-sena-to-the-rescue/)

He reached Himalayas after overcoming intentional hurdles thrown in his way represented by Kālanemī, which also means the perimeter of the time. Symbolically it means that Hanumān had to cross the limit of time to reach Himalayas and return. One there, he could not identify Sanjīvanī from many other medicinal herbs. He decided right then and there to bring the entire mountain so that Suśen can pick what was rightly needed. This is the Hanumān approach. Once awakened of one’s hidden capabilities, one does not look for everything favorable and in place to do one’s duty. In Hanumān approach, you do whatever is needed to accomplish the goal. If the world’s system does not allow one to do right things, then begin changing the world, whether it is for peace, food, health, equality, education, or the planet.

So, go ahead try the Hanumān approach, and let the world know the results! The Hanumān principle lives in all of us.

Prof. Bal Ram Singh, Director, School of Indic Studies, INADS, Dartmouth, USA

Ram’s Dharma: Leadership Secrets of the Ultimate Warrior~Sage~Prince

michael sternfeld head shot

-Michael Sternfeld

[Excerpted from the audio-bookRam’s Dharma: Leadership Secrets of the Ultimate Warrior~Sage~Prince— published by Vedic Audio Knowledge (VAK). VAK created by  author, an independent scholar has made a tradition of preserving the essential oral tradition of the Vedic literature with dramatic productions in English. ]

Introduction

Now begins the inquiry into Dharma.  This one line, expressive of much of the potency within all Vedic knowledge, is an apt beginning in our exploration of the epic Ramayana.  The Ramayana can be seen as one grand heroic quest into all the power and subtlety of Dharma.  Dharma means more than just duty, as it is often understood in the West.  At its most comprehensive level, Dharma is the inexorable movement of evolution in the universe. All activity in the universe is orderly because of that inexorable flow of Dharma.

Alignment of Our Dharma With the Big Picture

To the degree that we align our own nature with this grand vision of Dharma, the more we align ourselves with the natural flow of all that was meant to be.  This seems to be the true quest—to move our own consciousness, our own deepening awareness–to become more and more in-tune with Dharma at every step of our evolution.  There is not one “be-all, end-all” state that captures this, because Dharma, as structured in consciousness, is a sequential process of unfolding deeper and deeper levels of order or Dharma in the fabric of our own awareness.

Hierarchies of Dharma

Dharma is structured in layers, or in hierarchies, which reveal more and more comprehensive levels of intelligence in nature.  On one level, we could experience our personal career Dharma–expressive of the work we do to earn a living.  At a deeper level, we can own our soul level Dharma–expressive of our own fundamental nature and the development of higher states of consciousness.  On a more expanded level, there can be a Dharma of a country or civilization, which may express the unique design or “chosen-ness” for a group of people to serve and enrich the world in a particular way.  The Dharma of a star is to spread life-giving light into the world, while the Dharma of the universe may reach to the fields of unfathomable infinity.

Evolution of Dharma

Every level of life has a Dharma that is woven together with all the other streams to create a majestic tapestry reflecting the never-ending flow of life from lesser states to more and more fullness of life and evolution.  From this perspective, all of our growth can be seen as an opportunity to continually deepen our understanding of our own Dharma and how it fits into the larger Dharma of the world.  As we grow and evolve, we find that those values that seemed so significant when we were younger fall away and new doorways open to greater and greater levels of service, authenticity and an expanding sphere of influence to enrich the world.

Ram’s Dharma and the Ramayana

Now this is where the power of Ram and the Ramayana enter the picture.  Ram is an embodiment of the total potential of Dharma.  All different levels and streams of Dharma seem to converge into his comprehensive personality. This power is first expressed on the human level, the level of heroic action. Like all the great heroic figures that have preceded us, we gain so much from following in his epic footsteps.  Ram’s heroic quests become our own; and his journey—imbued with near-impossible challenges as well as great victories and blessed boons–become the cherished guideposts in the journey of our own lives.

But this outer value of Ram is only a projection and expression of the deeper, absolute level of life, from which the full potential of being fully-human emerges—a divine being in human form. Ram is an extraordinary personage in that he is both an ideal man and an avatar. Human and divine. The juxtaposition of these two values stretches our comprehension to span its gulf.

Rama

Why is Ram So Special?

In the pantheon of all great epic heroes, Ram seems to hold a special status. On a human level, his entire life and story are based upon explicitly discriminating and integrating finer and finer levels of Dharma.  Our behavior can be refined at each step of this journey by integrating these deeper values into our lives. But the deepest level of Dharma reveals Ram’s full potential as an embodiment of the Absolute level of life–Ram Brahm Paramarath Rupa.

The great modern-day Vedic sage Maharishi Mahesh Yogi explains this mahavakya by describing Ram as the embodiment of Brahman, the supreme Totality of life. This Totality is not just outside of us as some ruling power, but inside us as well. In this view, Ram represents the essential nature of ourselves and the whole creation, governing and sustaining it from the transcendental level.  Maharishi clarifies: “Ram is the embodiment of pure spirituality, of pure being–totality in its absolute unity. All activity in the universe is orderly because of that eternal law of life, the administration of Ram, which establishes and maintains harmony in all relationships; which harmonizes everything with every other thing in the universe.”

This quote underscores why experiencing the Ramayana yields such profound results. If Ram embodies all the diverse relationships in the universe, then the study of his story is essentially the study of our Self and our evolving relationship with creation—the full potential of Dharma. In this view, the impulses of the Ramayana are the structures of our own consciousness, our own Self, and challenge us to grow towards our own divine status as humans.

This vision may sound quite cosmic, but we must remember that this divine story unfolds on a completely human level, as Ram was born a mortal man–the son of the illustrious King Dasharata in Ayodhya.  The story begins as the wise sage Valmiki pondered the question he had often reflected upon: “Is there a perfect man among us?”.

We now begin our journey following the footsteps of Ram—along with Sita and all the characters of the Ramayana–on an epic quest to discover Ram’s Dharma on all its levels.  Our ultimate goal: to emerge with a profound ownership of that full potential of Dharma that animates the entire universe.

Audio Sample Link:  http://www.ramayanaudio.com/otherproducts.html#ramsd

Michael Sternfeld, MA, is an independent scholar and  a producer/director, USA 

 

वेदों के प्रकाश में अपने स्त्रीत्व को खोजें व सही अर्थों में स्वतंत्रता प्राप्त करें

– Mrs. Suvrata Vinod

[ Editor’s Note – शास्त्रार्थ की संवाद शैली का प्रयोग करते हुए लेखिका ने अपने विचारों को यहाँ रखा है।]

शंका – वेद है क्या?

समाधान – वेद एक नियत शब्दराशि है।

शंका  – फिर ये शब्द दूसरे शब्दों से विशेष क्यों? इतिहास के गर्त में न जाने कितनी संस्कृतियाँ, राष्ट्र, समाज, व्यक्ति आए गए।बहुत थोडों का स्मरण शेष रहता है।वह भी अंशों में।वेद भी तो किसी के द्वारा बनाये गये थे और अत एव नष्ट हो रहे है।

समाधान – क्या सब कुछ मनुष्यकृत होना जरुरी है?

शंका – अर्थात् नही।

समाधान – तो सब वाक्य मनुष्यकृत होना जरुरी है?

शंका – हाँ।

समाधान -क्या कोई मनुष्य बिना किसी का वाक्य सुने, वाक्योच्चारण करते देखा गया है?

शंका – नही।परंतु पुरा काल में ऐसा हुआ होगा।

समाधान – अदृष्टपूर्वकल्पना बिना हेतु के करना अंधश्रद्धा है।फिर देखो जीवित कोष से ही कोषांतर देख रहे हो, मान भी रहे हो। ऐसे ही गुरु के पूर्वोच्चारण से शिष्य का अनूच्चारण होता है ऐसा दीख रहा है। फिर सदा से ऐसा हो रहा है ऐसा मानने में क्या आपत्ति है। इन वेदवाक्यों को गुरुशिष्य परंपरा से अत्यंत पवित्रता व परिश्रम से हृदयाकाश में सुरक्षित रक्खा जाता है। वेद किसी लिखित-मुद्रित पुस्तक का नाम नही है।वेद गुरु के हृदय में निवास करते है। उपदेशद्वारा गुरु उसे शिष्य के हृदय में संक्रामित करते है। तब शिष्य भी गुरु होने योग्य हो जाता है। जो वेदों को हृदय में धारण करते है उन्हें हम वेदवित् कहते है। ऐसे व्यक्ति के लिए उसके अपने राग-द्वेष, likes-dislikes, अच्छा-बुरा एक तरफऔर दुसरी तरफ वेदों के विधि-निषेध दोनों ही सामने उपस्थित होते हैं। यही पर पुरुषार्थ का अवसर है जो हमे प्रत्येक व्यक्ति में भिन्न भिन्न स्तर का ज्ञात होता है। जिसके पास पूर्ण स्वातंत्र्य हो उसे सिद्ध वा स्थितप्रज्ञ कहा जाता है।

रागद्वेषवियुक्तैस्तु विषयानिन्द्रियैश्चरन्।आत्मवश्यैर्विधेयात्मा प्रसादमधिगच्छति। श्रीमद्भगवदगीता २.६४

(राग और द्वेष से वियुक्त होकर विषयों का इंद्रिय से ग्रहण करते हुए, उन इंद्रियों को अपने वश ऱखते हुए, न कि उनके दास बनकर, जो व्यक्ति शास्त्रविधि से प्रेरित होकर कार्य करता है वह प्रसन्नता को पाता है। )

यह स्वतंत्रता ही आर्य जीवन में श्रेष्ठता का मापदंड है। जिसमें यह स्वतंत्रता नहीवत् होती है उसे दूसरों के द्वारा नियंत्रित करना आवश्यक हो जाता है। एवं जो व्यक्ति राग-द्वेषों पर नियंत्रण रखते हुए विधि-निषेध का पालन कर सके वह दूसरों को अपने अधीन रखने की योग्यता पाता है। विचारशील व्यक्ति को स्वयं के राग-द्वेष तो विना उपदेश स्वयमेव ज्ञात होते है परंतु विधि-निषेध का ज्ञान तो मनुष्यमात्र को उपदेश से ही प्राप्त होता है।

शंका – उपदेश ग्रहण करने की योग्यता वा पात्रता क्या है?

समाधान – पवित्र वेदों के धारण के लिए योग्य शिष्य चाहिए। जैसे पानी भरने के लिए मजबुत साफ घडा चाहिए।

नाविरतो दुश्चरितान्नाशान्तो नासमाहितः। कठोपनिषद् २.२४

(दुश्चरित से जो बाज नही आया, जो शान्त और समाहित-चित्त नही है, वह केवल प्रज्ञान से उसे (परमात्मा को) नही पा सकता।) 

तदेतत् सत्यमृषिरंगिराः पुरोवाच नैतदचीर्णव्रतोऽधीते। मुण्डकोपनिषद् ३.२.११

(इस (औपनिषदिक आत्म) सत्य को ऋषि अंगिरा ने पहले कहा, इसे वह व्यक्ति न पढे जिसने व्रताचरण न कर लिया हो।) 

तस्मै स विद्वानुपसन्नाय सम्यक् प्रशान्तचित्ताय शमान्विताय प्रोवाच। मुण्डकोपनिषद् १.२.१३

(विद्वान् गुरु उसे उपदेश करे जो पास रहकर सेवा करता है, जिसका चित्त ठीक से शान्त है और जिसकी वासना भी शमन हो गई है।) 

यतन्तोऽप्यकृतात्मानो नैनं पश्यन्त्यचेतसः। श्रीमद्भगवदगीता १५.११

(प्रयत्न करते हुए भी, जिसने अपने कर्तव्य को पुरा नही किया है, वैसे मूढ जन उसे (परमात्मा को) नही देखते।) 

शंका – कहाँ से आयेगा ऐसा शिष्य?

समाधान -परमेश्वर ने यह दायित्व स्त्री को दिया है।

मातृमान् पितृमान् आचार्यवान् पुरुषो वेद। बृहदारण्यकोपनिषद् ४.१.२-७

उत्तम माता, उत्तम पिता और श्रेष्ठ गुरु हो जिसका वही पुरुष उसे (परमात्मा को) जानता है। 

माता पतिव्रता यस्य पिता यस्य शुचिव्रतः। वाल्मीकि रामायण

माता जिसकी पतिव्रता हो और पिता जिसका शुचिव्रत अर्थात् वेदानुयायी है, उसी का मन ललचाता नही है। 

वह क्या है जो स्त्री के पास विशेष है? क्या में इस बहुमूल्य योग्यता को पहिचानती हूँ? क्या मैं इसका सही मूल्य कर पा रही हूँ? इसे संजोए रखने के लिए कुछ त्याग करने को भी तैयार हूँ?

शंका -आप किस बारे में बात कर रहे है हमें नहीं पता।

समाधान -यूरोप अमेरिका में 50 % स्त्रियाँ विवाह करना ही नहीं चाहती।क्या आजकल इंद्रिय-संयम ब्रह्मचर्य बहुत आसान हो गया है? 16 साल से कम उम्र में ही 90% से अधिक कन्याएं अपने कौमार्य को खो देती है।क्या हम भी इनके पिछे चल नहीं रहे? हमारी वेशभूषा तो कुछ ऐसा ही कह रही है।

शंका – क्या ऐसा होने से योग्य शिष्य पैदा नहीं हो सकेंगे? आजकल तो सब बहुत चमक-धमक वाला दीखता है।चारों ओर सुंदर-सुंदर स्त्री-पुरुष।कितना मनोहारी दृश्य है।कितने रंग! कितने स्वाद! कितनी सुगंध! इतनी विविधता प्रचुरता क्या पहले कभी थी? विज्ञान ने हर क्षेत्र मे नई ऊँचाईयों को छु लिया है। हमारे कई प्रश्नों के उत्तर दिये है। मानव आज अधिक सामर्थ्यवान् है।

समाधान – बिलकुल ठीक।मेरे अपने अनुभव से गत 30-40 वर्षों में हम बहुत बदल गये है। हमारे सही-गलत के मापदंड ही परिवर्तीत हो गये। कई बाते जो पूर्व में निंदात्मक थी वे आज प्रतिष्ठित है।जैसे मदिरापान, विवाहपूर्व संबंध, भ्रष्टाचार-रिश्वतखोरी।सर्वत्र दोगला व्यवहार दीख रहा है।अंदर एक बाहर एक।हमारे मापदंड तो परिवर्तनशील है पर क्या प्रकृति के मापदंड भी बदलते है। और अगर प्रकृति के मापदंड नही बदलते तो क्या हम अब सिर्फ नाम के फलाना-फलाना रह गये। संज्ञामात्र! वस्तु बदल गयी लेबल पुराना। प्रश्न है, वेद को धारण करना, आत्मज्ञान प्राप्त करना, इसकी योग्यता पात्रता हमारे मापदंड बदलने मात्र से क्या बदल जायेंगी? क्या पोथी-पुस्तक पढ कर पंडित हो जा सकता है क्या? शुद्धचित्तता हमारी कल्पना का विषय नहीं अपितु नितांत वास्तविकता है जैसे की सुवर्ण की सुवर्णता। हमारे purity standard घटाने मात्र से क्या सुवर्ण अपने स्वरूप को पा सकता है? यदि नहीं, तो हमे याद रखना होगा की वेदों को धारण करने की योग्यता भी हमें यथार्थ में प्राप्त करनी पडेगी। ऐसे अधिकारी शिष्य को जन्म देना और उसका संगोपन करके पिता एवं अनन्तर आचार्य के अधीन करना यह स्त्री का अनन्य कर्तव्य है।

women-body

(Source of image: https://www.menstrupedia.com/articles)

क्या हमे सोचना चाहिये कि नारी स्वतंत्रता हमे कौन सिखा रहा है।क्या हमारे सुसंस्कृत समाज को इसकी जरूरत थी।कहते है-

न स्त्री स्वातंत्र्यमर्हति । मनुस्मृति

स्त्री को यथोचित पुरुष को पुछे बिना कार्य नही करना चाहिए। 

यह अन्याय है। परंतु स्त्री ही नहीं धर्म किसी को भी स्वतंत्र मनमाना व्यवहार करने की अनुमति नही देता।

कः स्वतंत्रः यः ईश्वरतंत्रः।कः परतंत्रः यः इन्द्रियतंत्रः ।मधुसूदन सरस्वती

कौन स्वतंत्र है? जो ईश्वर के अधीन है। कौन परतंत्र है? जो इंद्रियों के अधीन है।

या तो आप साक्षात् वेद को धारण कर आत्मानुशासन में रहें या…। पर समाज में बहुत कम लोगों की यह काबिलियत होती है। इसलिए अधिकांश लोगों को उन आत्मानुशासित वेदपुरुष के मार्गदर्शन में रहने को कहा।जो कि निरहंकार भाव से देखने पर आसान विकल्प है सुखकर भी। If benefit is the same then why carry the burden of freedom.जो तो आत्मनियंत्रण से अथवा स्वेच्छा से किसी के नियंत्रण में रहकर प्रकृति के नियमों का पालन करते हुए निर्दिष्ट दायित्वों का निर्वाह करता है वह उन दायित्वों से मुक्त होकर अधिकाधिक आनन्द अनुभव करता है।इसके विपरीत स्वेच्छाचारी अधिकाधिक बंधनों मे जकड़ता चला जाता है।

उद्धरेदात्मनात्मानं नात्मानमवसादयेत्।आत्मैव ह्यात्मनो बन्धुरात्मैव रिपुरात्मनः।।बन्धुरात्मात्मनस्तस्य येनात्मैवात्मना जितः।आत्मनस्तु शत्रुत्वे वर्तेतात्मैव शत्रुवत्।।जितात्मनः प्रशान्तस्य परमात्मा समाहितः। श्रीमद्भगवदगीता 6.5-6

अपना उद्धार करे न की अपने आप को गिरा दे। स्वयं ही अपना बंधु है, जिसने अपने आप को जीत लिया। अन्य व्यक्ति जिसका इंद्रिय एवं चित्त स्वयं के वश में नही है, वह तो स्वयं ही स्वयं का शत्रु है। जितात्म-प्रसन्नचित्त व्यक्ति के परमात्मा सदैव पास ही है। 

आइये! वेदों के प्रकाश मे अपने स्त्रीत्व को खोजे व सही अर्थों मे स्वतंत्रता प्राप्त करे।

– Mrs. Suvrata Vinod, Anandavan Bhakta Samudaya, Institute of Advanced Studies in Veda and Science.