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Monday, May 29, 2006

PANCA KOSA -7- Epilog

Another important aspect can also be examined. Today man is after plundering the nature for the sake of his happiness. Unfortunately he is ignorant that his nature is happiness, so he thinks that he derives happiness from the objects outside. It is because of this region, the competition, jealously and increasing the material wealth has become the order of life. If only man can find that his nature is happiness, all this abuse of nature will stop. When outside has to give him happiness, he became the consumer.

In god’s creation, every creature has something or the other to add to this creation to make it better. Plants add flowers, to make the world look colorful, flower add aroma to the world to make it more fragrant, birds chirp around adding music to the world, every creature had something or the other to add, even the earthworm makes the earth fertile. Only the human being has nothing to add to this god’s creation excepting making it dirty, and polluted. Out of three hundred and fifty million species very unfortunately only human being is the consumer! If only he can find that his nature is bliss and the happiness does not lie in the outside objects of the world, he will become a better species on the earth. He not only lives in harmony with the nature outside, but he can also develop harmony and the health within. The study of Panca kosa should be able to help man to realize this truth.


Friday, May 26, 2006

PANCA KOSA -6- Being versus Doing

If you look at this situation of tension, speed etc., they are qualities of “doing”. On the other had relaxation slowness etc., are the state of “being”. We can simply therefore says, yoga is a conscious journey from “doing to being”. Yoga is therefore not doing but it is undoing. Yoga is never a workout as it is often called these days. Yoga on the other hand is working in. A poetic expression of yoga is, it is a conscious process of “home coming”.

We are inaccurately referred to as “human beings,” when we should actually be called “human doings”. Only when we practice Yoga we can accurately be called as human beings.

Why do we come out of our nature? Why did God provided us this way of coming out, what is the use of it? Why did he not create us without being able to come out of our nature?

There is some usefulness in coming out of our nature. It is actually a life saving facility at the time of crisis, let us look at the classical example, explained in a modern way.

You are walking in a dark place, down a hazy path, where you cannot see anything except the ground that is directly ahead of you. Suddenly, you come cross a snake lying down right under your next step. You are shocked! The body becomes tense, the heart palpitates more quickly, and the mind is agitated. You are ready to jump! All of these changes are necessary for life saving decisions, but you cannot go forward or backward, you are arrested. Fortunately, the snake is sleeping, but you don’t want to disturb him.
In the mean time, somebody walks behind you, nonchalantly putting his flash light on the path. Oh! You no longer see a snake, it is a rope. You breathe a sigh of relief. The fellow coming from behind doesn’t even notice you, you are sure now that it is not any more a snake. But it is only a rope. Even then, you cannot cross. You want to double check before you cross. You allow him to walk first, and then slowly and carefully you walk. May be the snake wakes up. And after crossing you look back. Making sure it is still only a rope and not a snake. Even then, for the next few hours, your body is still tensed. The prana is heightened. Your mind is agitated. Your blood pressure is up only for the next few hours. All these things take a long time to come back to its normal level!

The changes occur momentarily. But it takes long time to come back to the original state. The blood pressure goes up instantaneously at the moment of fear. But it takes long time to come down. This we can observe when we suddenly hear a big or unexpected sound. If there were a long pause between one incident and the other, then there is sufficient time gap for the blood pressure to come down and the body to relax. Earlier it was like that, but in today’s life style, before the body comes back to its original state, another incident occurs and then a third incident and it continues. The body continues to be tensed; the prana continues to be fast. The blood pressure, which has gone up, wants to comedown but before it comes down, you push it again and again. So the blood pressure stays up. It becomes a habit.

Thus the episodes of tension, speed etc., having repeatedly occurred become a habit. So all these altered changes are our habits, and the habit can be reversed by consciously working with a counter habit. If the tension has been our habit formed unconsciously driven by circumstances, yoga is the counter habit consciously practiced. Relaxation in doing asanas should be a conscious reversal. Similarly at the prana level, pranayama is the conscious reversal of speed into slowness. Meditation is a conscious process to calming down the mind.

If we don’t correct at the habit level, it percolates deep into us forming “vasanas”. Vasanas are hardened habits. Habits are superficial and they have not yet interfered with the pathology, but the vasanas are percolated into pathology. At the habit level, it is simple restlessness. Given an avenue, the habit would like to take over, but it does not disturb the physiology. But when the habit becomes a vasana, it interferes with our physiological function. It becomes pathological

People have the habit of drinking tea or coffee. It is habit acquired from outside. It has not come from birth, it is acquired from the world outside. When the tea drinking is at the habit level, if we don’t get tea, you feel little restless and uneasy. When it becomes vasana, it becomes pathological. It stars interfering with the natural body function. When the habit of drinking tea or coffee reaches the level of vasana, then without that one starts getting headache or one might not have his normal body functions in the morning. It means our body becomes a slave to the vasanas.

Our name, our religious faiths etc., they all percolate at the vasana level, which is definitely deeper than the conscious level, immediate unconscious level, like sleep. That’s why when a group of persons are sleeping along with you, and if your name is called out you will respond because only you hear and others may not respond for your name. That shows your name has gone into ‘sleep conscious level’. The same way in the dream state your religion does not change, a Hindu is still a Hindu, a Muslim is a Muslim; a politician is still a politician.

When not corrected at the vasana level, the same habits percolate deep in our body, affecting even the genetic level, which is called samskaras.

At the samskara level, they are at much deeper subconscious levels, and they percolate life after life. Anger, hatred, fear etc., all can percolate in us from life after life.

When I first joined in my job, I was still in my probation; I had a super boss, a superintending engineer, deeply wanting to become chief engineer. Just to illustrate how passionately he was nurturing the desire to become chief engineer, every morning when he came to the office, the first thing he said is that he had a dream last night where he became a chief engineer. Any temple he comes across, he goes to pray to god to make him chief engineer. The moment he sees any person with an ochre robe or otherwise religious looking, he falls at his feet and begs them to please bless him to become chief engineer.

One day I came to the office late, rushed into the elevator, and found ,this super boss in the elevator. Smilingly I said good morning. The elevator closed with only two of us in and started moving to the fifth floor. Like lightening, I found in a moment, this man touching my feet and saying “Raghuram, bless me; I have become chief engineer”. I said, “Sir, what is this I am so junior and you are senior, how I can bless you”. He replied “I heard people talking that you also do meditation, maybe you have powers so please bless me”. I blushed and said, “Sir, what if people see us. He replied “that’s’ why I am at your feet in the lift”.

And the lift stopped at the fifth floor and we both came out. At once he stated in strong tone, “Raghuram, why are you late?” I was surprised! Moments back he was at my feet and now he became my boss! It is just to show how he was so caught up wanting to become chief engineer.

He was also given to all vices, he was drinking so much that his liver is spoiled; he developed jaundice, which developed into liver sclerosis and hewent in to deep coma. In the hospital ICU he was connected to heart lung machines. The doctors lost hope and were waiting for the final moments. We colleagues were talking turns to be by his bed side.

It is said light glows big before dying, the same way a person also gets a glow of life before finally departing. So after ten days that evening I saw an activity in him indicating coming in to slight consciousness, I immediately held his hand, pressed it and wanted to give positive suggestion, “Sir, you will become alright, things are fine! In a day or two we will go from this hospital”.

He gently open his eyes halfway, requested me feebly, “Raghuram, save me, I want to become chief engineer!”

I wondered, how deep this desire wanting to become chief engineer has gone into him to subconscious levels. Ten days of deep coma did not erase this desire. I am sure it has gone into subtler layers, which cannot be destroyed by death. So I was feeling these desires will hang on to his soul and will become the bondage for the next birth and then struggle continues.

That’s why our people used to say, it is the deep rooted desire which is the bondage for our rebirth.

So the incidents unchecked become the habits, not controlled become vasanas. When they percolate deep into subconscious levels or genetic levels these vasanas become samskaras. So our vritties or disturbances and disharmony can be at the habit level or may be at samskara level, we may not know about them. One happy note about this way of looking is, if a habit can be reversed by a few days of counter habit, vasanas can be reversed by conscious practice of counter habit for a longer period of time. Samskaras can also be reversed by working for a longer period of time. Deep rooted samskaras or the nature of anger, hatred, fears, phobias or even physiological dysfunctions can be reversed by long and conscious practices of the counter practices.

When tension, speed, agitation etc., are habits or vasanas and samskaras, practice of asanas, pranayama, meditation etc., can help to reverse them. If tension, speed, agitation are percolated at samskara level resulting in to hypertension, diabetes etc., the practices of yoga for sufficient period of time consciously can reverse and health can be restored.

In Sanskrit health is called “Swastha” (swa=self; stha=being) which means “being in self” and sickness is called as “Aswastha” which means “being away from self”. Tension, speed etc., are being away from self therefore they are the cause for sickness. When you practice yoga, conscious practice of slowness, calmness and peace are swastha, which is the state of bliss, and the nature of all of us.

-to be continued...


Monday, May 22, 2006

PANCA KOSA -5- Nature of Bliss

What is this natural state of bliss?

In this creation of God, the nature of the fish is the swim in water, and the fish swims in the water. The nature of the bird is to fly in the air; birds fly in the air. The nature of a rose plant is to grow a rose flower; the nature of the water is to flow downwards. Every other creature exists according to its nature. In these millions of species, it is the human being who is not in his natural state. Ask anybody, ‘Are you happy?’ His/her reply would be, ‘Well I will be once I get this promotion.’ Or ‘ I will be happy once I go on vacation.” It is always, when something happens, then we will be happy. How is it that we are so far from our inherent nature? At every personality level from the physical personality level right up to intellectual level (vijnanamaya kosa), man is always away from his nature. It is the external influence which takes man away from his nature. The following table outlines our nature at every personality level and how we deviate from it.

A child is in the natural state, excepting some deep rooted disturbances which come from the previous life. But the same child as he grows up, becomes distant from his nature. The child walks relaxed, runs relaxed and even falls relaxed. As a child grows into an adulthood, each activity is full of tension. The child is slow and natural at the prana level . This can be easily observed in his eating. He eats slowly, never in a hurry. Mother keeps a morsel of food in his mouth; he goes playing around for ten minutes and comes back to the mother. She says open the mouth and the food is still sitting in his mouth. Now she shouts at him to eat faster. So this is how we gradually introduce speed. Once we grow up we don’t eat slowly any more. We eat in a hurry, as if somebody is driving behind us. Why eat fast? We don’t know, but it is now a cultivated habit against our natural state.

Likewise, at a child level, the mind is calm. But we are constantly worried. Necessary or unnecessary we continue to worry. If we don’t have anything to worry about, we start worrying about not having anything to worry about! To worry has become our second nature. We are also caught up in wrong notions and emotional disturbances. As a result of all of this, we have lost our inner harmony.

Another vital question that comes up is why does a child loose his nature as he grows up?

Though we were as children, slow, relaxed and in harmony, we didn’t know this is our nature. In other words we were not aware. We were ignorant. Though we were blissful as children, we didn’t know that being blissful was our nature. We did not earn it. We got it by birth. We have not put effort into it. What we get by birth, we do not recognize the value of. For example it is common that wealthy parents’ children are said to not know the value of money, because the children are born with money. The same way, we do not know the value of our nature, because we are born with it.

Mullah Nasuruddin was going in the forest when a robber stopped him and threatened him with a dagger, “Give me all your money and jewelry, otherwise, I will take your life.” Mullah replied, “Don’t touch my money and jewelry, they are hard earned! Take my life, I got it free of charge.”

We let go what we get ‘free of charge.’ In the same way the calmness and bliss we are endowed with when we are born is let go because we don’t know the value of them. We let go because we are not conscious of them. Yoga is a conscious process of going back to our nature, namely relaxation at the physical level, slowness at prana level, calmness at mental level, wisdom at intellectual level, and ultimately harmony within.

-to be continued...



Sunday, May 21, 2006

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An Incident from Mahabharata

The philosophy of yoga is portrayed in the epics of Hindu scriptures, including the Mahabharata. It is in this epic that we see a story that exemplifies the philosophy of knowledge: knowledge does not belong to you, rather you belong to knowledge. When we realize this concept, we do not become arrogant of our knowledge, and thus, we begin to realize the spiritual dimension of knowledge. Knowledge may be of the world, but the wisdom that we belong to the knowledge and not visa versa, is spiritual knowledge. Let us further explore this concept through a story found in the Mahabharata.

Upon the recommendation of Bhishma, King Dritarastra appointed Drona as the teacher of both the Kaurvas and Pandavas. Drona’s son, Ashwatthama, is also learning under the tutelage of his father since he is around the same age as the others. One of the Pandava brothers is Arjuna, a great archer.

One day, while being trained, Ashwatthama approaches his father, who is also his teacher, and impatiently states, “Father, I heard some people talking and I want to know if it is true.”

“What is it my dear son?” Drona was concerned about is disturbing his son. Ashwatthama asked, “I heard you are teaching a special archery technique to Arjuna. Is this true?”

“Yes, my dear son, but why are you asking this?” Drona asked.

Ashwatthama continued, “Why are you not teaching me this technique? Why are you teaching it to Arjuna?”

Drona calmly responds with a question, “Who is asking me this question? Are you asking as my son or my student? Please clarify this first.”

Ashwatthama was surprised by this question. “Of course, I am your son and I am asking. Don’t you love me? Don’t you think that what belongs to you first belongs to your son before it is shared with others? Is this not true father?”

Drona patiently, yet firmly responds, “My son, I really love you. I love you so much that I live only for your sake. If I ever hear that you have died, I shall die the very next moment.” (During the epic, when the war occurs and Drona hears of his son’s death, that very moment Drona dies)

“But if you love me so much, why do you not give me the knowledge?” Ashwatthama asks.

Drona gives his son great wisdom in the context of his answer which is full of love and affection towards him. “My dear son, as you are my son, all of my property and wealth belongs to you. But my knowledge belongs to my student and not to my son. In reality, it is so because the knowledge does not belong to me, I belong to it. By coming to someone, knowledge gives one freedom and happiness. Because knowledge gives all of that, you have to be humble and respectful to the knowledge. Therefore, you belong to the knowledge and not otherwise. I, therefore, belong to the knowledge. The knowledge does not belong to me. Therefore, I have the responsibility towards the knowledge to pass it on to someone who deserves it.”

Ashwatthama still did not completely understand. He seeks further clarification in this regard, “But I am your student as well. So why do you choose to pass this knowledge on to Arjuna and not me?”

Drona patiently explained, “The knowledge will only be given to the deserving student and not anyone else.”

“But how do you say that I am not the deserving student?” Ashwatthama further questioned.

“My son, the very fact that you are asking this question is evidence that you do not deserve and have not proved your deservedness in the eyes of the teacher. I do not really owe any further explanation. However, out of my compassion for you, I shall answer your question. I shall show you tomorrow, on the exam, that Arjuna is the only deserving student.”

The next day, Drona gave the exam and proved that Arjuna has been the only student who actually obeys his orders perfectly.

This is a beautiful incident where has been a great teacher who did not deviate from his Dharma, or duty, as a teacher and did not come under the spell of his attachment to his son. Though Ashwatthama is his son and he loves him absolutely, he could discriminate the difference between his love and his attachment.

Drona also exhibited that knowledge does not belong to him but he belongs to knowledge and that he must be humble to this knowledge. The stories of the Mahabharata are not just stories giving incidents but they are lessons of a higher and subtler reality told by several characters. It is the story of yoga in practice.


Question on different types of Bhakti

Question: "Thinking of the life of Mira or Prahlad, we see absolute fearlessness(abhayam) and willingness to go through anything for the sake of the love of God. be it drinking poison or sitting in fire. In the same lines, we also see freedom fighters like Bhagat Singh, etc. who were again fearless and were happy to die for the love of Bharat Mata. On the other hand, we can see terrorists and suicide bombers who also have no fear and die happily for the cause they believe in and killing few others. What is the difference in the type or gradation in their love here?"

Answer: this is a very important question in the minds of several people especially those who are sensitive about the nation and their religion etc.few important things need to be clarified before we go to analyze the terrorists behavior. once our ex-Prime minister ( actually he is real prime minister even though he is not in power because he has shown his capabilities to be a real prime minister]. Vajpayee has said to Pakistan those same people who fight in our parts of the world you call them as terrorists and the same people who fight in India you call them as freedom fighters of Azad Kashmir. What is right?

giving the qualities of a bhakta, one who practices bhakti, Krishna in Bhagavad-Gita says, "advesta sarva bhutanaam maitri karuna evaca nirmama nirahankara sama dukha sukha kshamee...".

bhakti is an ennobled form of love, it is ripened form of love and in the beginning love itself is some thing where hatred anger and possession does not exist. in love you can forgive any thing that is seen as a very important manifestation of love. if love is having those qualities how can an ennobled form of love called bhakti has anger hatred destruction in it? have we truly become embodiments of love to say we have bhakti? if we became embodiments of enriched form of love how can hatred enter into us or thought of injuring some thing enter into us!

that is why I always emphasize bhakti as our nature it is subjective thing and not objective. once I practice bhakti then that bhakti can be on my family on god and on the nation and on inside the temple or outside in side mosque or out side, in side church or outside. inside the school or outside! antara ramahi bahira ramahi....

bhakti is an experience within. once a person practices bhakti he develops love and supreme love in his heart He starts seeing every thing divine. he has no hatred in his dictionary or in his heart. it has nothing to do with out side. There was no animosity in the hearts of Mira or Prahlad. They did not even have disrespect for either Ran in case of Mira or Hiranya kashipa in case of Prahlad. When Prahlad's father asks him do you believe that god is every where Prahlad replies that I don't believe Dad God is every where I know. Believing comes only when you don't know. But because of your grace I could find out that I experienced him being there on hill and valley. in wild beasts and in poison I see the same chaitanya protecting me. therefore I don't require any belief. And I am ever grateful to you. He has no disrespect for his father. Can we separate our love from having hatred can we separate our state of Abhaya, which is freedom from fear, from an act that we do out of brain washing and indoctrination. then we can see that there is no room for hatred or anger, because the root cause of anger and hatred is ego or the boundary that we draw. Our ego can manifest in ever so many ways that we create such boundaries and bind us so many ways and become rigid. our land can be boundary our party can be boundary and our religion can be our boundary. these are all various avatars of our ego. what was India before independence. did it not include Karachi Dhaka and even Kabul. have we forgotten the story of Rabindranath tagore Kabulivalla. what is religion. If this body happens to take birth in Muslim family I am Muslim and if this body happens to take birth in Buddhist family I am Buddhist. it is purely associated with this body and also only because that religion is born. what were the earlier generations of a Muslim before Mohammad was born or Islam was born. Same way what were the earlier generations of a Sikh before Sikhism was born. Look at individual and look at the ignorance individual has that in the name of religion or in the name of any other identity I torture some one and that not only gives me joy or pleasure or in a slang 'kick' . IS there a way I can remove this ignorance of the people and remove the suffering of such a individual. should I give this kick a glorified name as jihad or patriotism etc. I say that man has been blessed with so many great thinkers and visionaries from all over the mankind from times immemorial. who could give us guidance it can be an Aristotle or a Zen master jha zin or a Mevlana the saint from Konya, or a Confucius from china or a vasishta from Bharat. with the birth of religions man has been blocked form taking the message from such great saints. we there by became poorer. Now the new trend started which says my guru only knows and he is the wisest I don't even follow scriptures. Some go to the extent to say I don't even follow anybody I follow my conscience!!! I am my own guru..

About the freedom struggle India is a great nation which has a very unique feature which other nations do not or did not have that is its variety and harmony. this is the message world needs. For giving this message India needed the freedom that is what the diagnosis of Swami Vivekananda. This has to be achieved by satvic rajasic and tamasik means but not by animosity. If some people adapted satvic means some adapted rajasik and some tamasic. some created terror in the heart of British and some frustrated them with non cooperation. Some have wisely convinced them that India can rule itself some have carried masses to show that we are united. I respect all of them I respect their unique way of thinking and tenaciously executing their plans but I am not looking that it is their hatred or anger which has contributed. Because anger comes from weakness hatred comes from weakness. freedom is not that simple. in fact as the efforts of freedom are increasing the resistance also increases. and Any individual as individual can to get freedom To think that one can do is again an egoistic statement It was the grace of god which acted in eh form of several things including the two world wars have contributed

Of course there is always free thinking is available in India because of its deep rooted culture So there is no need for indoctrination of brain washing. But unfortunately the terrorist groups in Islam are brain washed and they are caught up in their belief. Let us understand one ting that the moment we are caught up in belief we refuse to grow and become wise. Pariprashna is always the supreme recommendation in Indian way.

There is a very important difference in the concept of Abhaya and Daring. Bhaya, fear according to our thinking is the most fundamental form of Vrutti. Mental disturbances. Abhaya means one who has given up the last form of mental disturbances. DO you see that all the persons who are daring are they free from all vruttis. Then they have no Kama krodha no dwesha no ahankara. I don't certainly include Azad etc in the category of the people who are suicide bombers. Because suicide bombers are only brain washed they are not even sane human beings!. But I don't also consider Azad at al as saints because their vruttis are temporarily clouded by their mission of violence means of stirring British. Now want we require is alright so many people have given us freedom and the freedom is not for us but for this culture. Why did we stop there why are we not taking the steps to see that this culture which belongs to mankind let us dust it and give it to others in the language that we they are eager to take it. You don't have to push it through somebody's throat. I see that happening in All parts of other world. Muslim countries are no exception.

Let us not stop with freedom workers. let us remember those who have helped this cause after the freedom till today.

now let me say some thing about the types of bhakti and grades.

Bhakti essentially requires a relationship. Indian thinking has given there are different types of relationship. they re the relationship between father and son, mother and son, brother servant, teacher and student. friend to friend. until we develop relationship with god we can not bring him close or intimate to us. we need the relationship which acts like a glue, or the bond. God can not be alien. Then only we can be free with him or her. freer than the freedom we feel with anybody else and infact freer than with self. these are different relationships.different types. each of them again can be practiced according to ones own nature of rajasic or sattvic or tamasic way of practices. there are no grades really. if we have to achieve any thing then there can be grades of higher and lower. but if our goal is to develop humility and if the goal is to surrender and give up 'I' and mine then there is no question of grades. especially the love bhakti yoga talks has nothing to do with the terrorism and killing and fighting.

I hope I have answered your questions which I am happy about and this way I can present some thing in different aspects other than routine ideas of yoga and its streams.
Please don't hesitate to ask me of any doubts.


Saturday, May 20, 2006

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Friday, May 19, 2006

PANCA KOSA -4- Vijananamaya kosa and Anandamaya kosa

Who is there? Who exists beyond mind?

A very simple observation shows that it is our intellect which gives instructions to the mind. Not only the mind but the instructions of the entire body are from the intellect.

When you are at a shop buying a pair of items, each costing twenty rupees, and the person in the shop says fifty for two of them. You will at once be alerted and say, “Why fifty? Two of twenty each should only be forty”.

Who said this? Who directed you to say this? It is our intellectual personality called Vijnanamaya kosa. Vijnana or intellect is the one, which does all the calculations. It is the intellect which says, this is big and this is small. This is okay and this is not okay. It is the intellect which says in a work of engineering what formula should be applied. It is the intellect in the work of medicine, which says what count of blood is normal. So, it is the intellectual personality Vijnanamaya kosa, which not only guides you, but the whole world. When you say you are responsible, it means it is the intellectual personality, Vijnanamaya kosa.

The whole world goes by Vijnana. If the Vijnana says, ‘Yes’, the world says, ‘yes’. And if the Vijnana says, ‘no’, the world says, ‘no’. Vijnana saying means intellectuals saying. Earlier intellectuals said that cholesterol is bad for body and the ghee, butter, adds to cholesterol. Therefore, ghee is bad. Everybody stopped eating ghee. Recently, other intellectuals said the body needs what is called good cholesterol and ghee is of the good cholesterol variety. Once again, people started eating ghee.

At the individual level, it is the intellect which is responsible for all the activities. That is why we identify ourselves with the intellectual personality. If my intellect is trained in medicine, I am a doctor; if my intellect is trained in science, I am a scientist; and in architecture I am an architect. If my intellect is trained to lie I am lawyer; if I have no intellect I am a politician! We thus identified ourselves with intellectual personality as the Vijnanamaya kosa.

The student is excited, rushes back to the teacher, and says with joy, “I am the Vijnanamaya kosa, intellectual personality”. The teacher is not yet satisfied, he asks him to go further to investigate.

Tapasaa Brahma Vigijnasasva.

The whole world recognizes the intellect as something supreme. All the universities exist to train the intellect. All diplomas, certificates, and convocations are essentially to recognize intellect. A Nobel Prize is for intellectual excellence. It easily looks like the supreme aspect of us and like there can be nothing higher than the intellectual personality!

How can there be any thing subtler, deeper and nearer to us than the intellect?

The intellectual personality functions and survives on the natural laws on one end and rules and equations on the other. These are the boundaries. Once there are laws and rules, there is bondage. Therefore the personality, Vijnanamaya kosa, is bound within the laws and equations. There is no freedom at the intellectual level or intellectual personality. When there is bondage of laws and rules, how can there be freedom? And once the freedom is not there where is the happiness? Happiness has to constantly conform to remain within the boundaries, so there is no rest at the Vijnanamaya personality!

Intellect is important, because it can help a person to fully understand the universe around him/her. This intellect allows us to judge what is right and wrong; okay and not okay; and how to learn from mistakes. The intellectual personality is consistently taking laws and regulations into consideration. Therefore, it cannot be happy and restful. Therefore, one has to withdraw one’s sellf from the intellectual personality and rest in happiness. We do this everyday in our sleep where we shut down the intellect and go to the inner shell where we are happy.

Thus the teacher asks the student, what are we when we are free from the intellectual personality? What is that which is subtler than the intellectual personality? Is it an experience for all or for only a fortune few who meditate? If it is our nature, it should be there whether we do spiritual sadhana or not.
It is a very difficult question to answer. But once we begin investigating this, we can see this personality is in our daily activities because it is our inherent nature and that it alone is responsible for all our activities. On a simple observation it appears that the intellect is everything and is guiding our experience. But a more careful study shows that it is not the intellect, but rather, bliss which is propelling all our activities.


So the natural question of the student is, “How?”

If I ask my intellect if I should put my hand in the fire, the intellect will respond by saying that the fire will burn you. But the only way that the intellect knows this is through experience or another person’s advice. The intellect says I can only tell you if you put your hand in the fire it burns. And I cannot guide you beyond my preview whether you would like to put in your hand in fire. What we trained the intellect can only guide you in that. The intellect trained in medicine cannot talk about electronics. An intellect trained in electronics cannot talk about surgery of a heart valve. What information you give to the intellect, the intellect can only work within that fold.

I remember an experience. While I was in high school, I was teaching my younger sister, simple mathematics - ideas about addition and subtraction. She was very intelligent and her grasp was excellent. I was teaching her with simple day to day examples like 10 oranges plus 15 oranges equals 25 oranges; minus 5 oranges is equal to 20 oranges etc. She went for the exam and came back depressed. When I asked what happened, she replied, “The exam was too difficult and had questions that I didn’t know.” When I looked at the exam, I was surprised because it was what we had discussed. I asked her why she felt it was too difficult. She replied promptly, “You taught me orange math, and they give me question about apples”

What is given to intellect, intellect is bound within that, intellect does not go beyond.

I have a friend in Texas in a small town. Coming from Bangalore, his house is like a small Bangalore with decorations, food, culture, music etc; it was like a mini Bangalore. He has a brilliant child 6 year old, who is fond of any thing of from Bangalore. Every summer they would come to Bangalore and spend their vacation! The child is very inquisitive. Anything that Dad brings home, he has to rip it open and see. Dad wants to ensure the child does not spoil precious things like a camera, TV etc., so he gave instructions to the child, “These are electronics, so do not touch them.” He cannot play with electronics. The child is very well-behaved. The first day when I went to their house, Dad took me to the house and I was sitting on the couch. The boy was hiding behind the dad looking curiously at the stranger. The dad pulled him forward and said to him, “Do namaste to uncle Raghuram. He is from Bangalore, speaks your language, and you can enjoy his company”. But seeing the glow on the child’s face, the dad thought If he lets the child loose, he will jump on me. Not knowing how I would take it, dad cautions the child, “He is from Bangalore all right, but don’t touch him. Ok?”

The child whispered in dad’s ears about me, “Is he electronics?”

Intellect takes what is given to it. Intellect cannot advise whether you should put your hand in the fire or not. So what guides your intellect? It is happiness which decides. There is no happiness in burning our hand, so we don’t put our hand in fire. It is not because the fire burns.

One might raise a question, “Why should we make such a hair splitting distinction between intellect and bliss or happiness”?

Take the example of a smoker. He smokes not because his intellect is telling him to smoke. No, his intellect is also telling him smoking is bad for his health. But he still continues to smoke. Why? A friend of mine, a brilliant engineer, took up smoking, and I wanted to advise him against smoking. An engineer, a brilliant scientific mind, can easily be convinced with numbers and statistics. So I asked him, why you do you smoke when 59% of lung cancer patients are smokers?
He replied to me, “Where have you been Raghuram? The latest statistics show it is not 59%, it is 86%.” I was speechless. If he knows this, why does he go on smoking?

When I asked him repeatedly, he felt as though I was nagging him. Any good advice repeated few times will be nagging so one as to be careful!

He felt nagged and countered me with a question, “Raghuram you advise me not to smoke. Did you ever smoke?” Nobody had ever asked me this question. I mumbled saying, “Well, no, I never smoked”. Like an arrow his comment came, “That’s why you advise me not to smoke. You don’t know the joy of smoking”.

It is therefore not the intellect which guides us but it is the happiness, joy which guides us. All our actions are because of happiness. Smoking we do for the sake of happiness. We eat because it gives us happiness. All of our activities are done for the sake of happiness, consciously and unconsciously. Even in sleep, in the unconscious state, it is this happiness which is responsible for even simple activities, like rolling on the bed unconsciously.

Consciously or unconsciously we are guided by happiness alone. Nobody else or nothing from outside is guiding us. It is this happiness that is there within us, which is our nature, and which is guiding us. One slight objection could be, I see every activity which gives happiness has an object or situation or recognition behind but how can we say happiness is our nature. It appears contradictory to our experience.

Our experience is that the object outside gives us the experience of happiness. And you seem to suggest happiness is our nature.

To answer this objection, observe your state of deep sleep experience. We all experiencer joyfulness in deep sleep. We are happy and in that state without the need of external objects. The reporter of the deep sleep is absent but the experiencer is there in deep sleep. That is the reason why when we getup, we indicate that we had very good sleep. It is the reporter who was absent in deep sleep and he comes back when you wake up. It was pure bliss; it indicates that we are happy even though when there is no external object to give us happiness. Even the most cherished object of your choice like a music or dance etc. can not enter into your deep sleep state. When somebody plays your favorite song when you are in deep sleep, you tell them to turn it off so you can sleep.

In this deep sleep, we have experienced happiness without the interference of external objects. This is where we begin touching the state of happiness within. Hence, it is said that happiness lies within. It is responsible for all of your activities. When there is happiness or joy independent of the influence of external objects, it is referred to as bliss. Both happiness and bliss are the same in regards to the experience felt. But bliss is independent of objects. This bliss is our innate nature.

The source of happiness, since it is our nature, is our soul and it flies on the wings of joy on one side and ecstasy on other. It is beyond the intellectual boundaries. That is why both, a wise man and a stupid man, can both be equally happy. The happiness experience does not depend on the pairs of opposites. For example, both silence and noise can give us happiness and good and bad can give us happiness. Deep within our nature, or soul and the actual self, is happiness

Once the student knew that his nature is bliss after his thorough investigations, he is still confused, “Why am I so far away from happiness, when my very nature is happiness?” With this realization that he is bliss, he established himself in it.

The Upanishad states that not only the student establishes in bliss, but any person who recognizes that his nature is bliss and happiness will automatically establish themselves in bliss.

It is thoroughly convincing to know that our nature is bliss and all other kosas are out side of the bliss. In order to make one understand this I have not taken any example from any saints sitting in the forest of the Himalayas and meditating and found he has all these personalities. Instead, I quoted the examples from simple day to day experiences of life. The Upanishad asks, are you convinced about it. The student today says, “Yes, I suppose.”

But once we are convinced we are in big trouble!

to be continued...


Monday, May 15, 2006

PANCA KOSA -3- Manomaya kosa and Vijananamaya kosa

Manomaya kosa
The student wonders what can be there which is beyond body and praana. The body alone is not sufficient. He then determines that we also need the functioning of praana beyond hands to move, beyond eyes to see, beyond ears to hear. Many times our experience is that the eyes are there physically, and praana is also there beyond, but these two are not sufficient to see.

For example, we stop at a traffic light while driving because it shows red light. The eyes are there and the praana is also there. So you see the traffic light showing light. But then while you are waiting for traffic signal to change, the mind begins wandering, you start thinking about your career, your family, the long journey ahead, etc.

The eyes are there physically and are open, praana is also there but the mind has wandered away. The red light turns green and do not notice until somebody honks and you realize where you really are versus where your mind was.

If the mind is here, I am here and if the mind is away, I am away. Only when the mental personality is here I am here, if the mental personality is not here, I am not here. If the mental personality is there behind the eyes to see eyes do see and if it is not there, the eyes don’t see. Similarly ears do not hear if the mental personality is not there.

Therefore we are the mental personality, Manomaya Kosa.

In Sanskrit, man is referred to as Manushaya which is derived from the root word meaning Mind. So, the student is excited and goes to the teacher to share his findings, “I figured out that I am the mental personality, manomaya kosa”.

The praanic personality is like the prana filled in the mould of the body. So our physical body is the outer cover. Within the same dimensions, we are manomaya kosa. This is pervading throughout the body from head to toe.
That is what the teacher suggests the student. . This personality has been compared to a bird. Manomaya kosa is a bird whose wings are Rig-Veda and Samaveda. One indicating the natural laws and the order of creation and the other is the meaning of the esthetics. Mental personality shall sail like a bird on the two wings and the place of head is taken by the Yajur-Veda. Yajna is the way we need to do the activities in this world, Yajur-Veda gives us essentially activities as a yajna way. Heart of this manomaya-kosa according to the Upanishads is the instructions. Mind takes the instructions from above, but that above is not ultimate.
What is subtler and much fuller than the manomaya kosa? He instructs the student to find out by tapas.

Vijnanamaya kosa
It is not very difficult to know that the instructions given to the mind are followed and carried out by the mind. Hence, the Mind is not ultimate. When we are in traffic and the mind wanders, we tell the mind to focus on the traffic. We put our minds on what we see, on what we are trying to read and understand.

Mind can be handled and we are handling the mind so we are subtler than the mind. Both adults and children know how to handle the mind. A very simple incident is exemplified in a household; the Mother is sitting with the child and doing homework. It is often the mother doing the homework and not the child. The TV is switched on in another corner where somebody is watching the news. Suddenly, the Cadbury advertisement comes on with a superhero and the child’s mind is in the ad. The child is engrossed in the commercial because he only sees them on TV and not in real life. At that moment, the mother tells the child, “Put your mind here,” and continues, “We are doing homework.” And the child instantaneously puts his mind back on the homework.

This means even the child can handle the mind naturally. We are not mental personality. Mind or mental personality is something that can be handled. The child is handling the mind; you are handling the mind. So, you are somebody deeper and subtler than mental personality manomaya kosa. Now the question arises, who, then, is handling the mind?

Further, it can also be witnessed that the mind may not be there but we still exist. You are there. A person can exist when apparently the mind is totally damaged. A person may be in a coma, where he is existing but the mind is not. I have a friend whose wife went into a deep coma. There is no mental activity, no cognition, nor any retinal movement following the object. Yet, she is still alive.

to be continued...


Thursday, May 11, 2006

PANCA KOSA -2- Annamaya kosa and Pranamaya kosa

Annamaya Kosa:

In the Taittiriya Upanishad, the teacher has asked the student to look inwards and identify his experience. The student thus discovers the first layer of existence, Annamaya Kosa.

He explains to the teacher that he is the physical, or physiological personality, consisting of various limbs, organs, etc. He notes that as long as this physical body is there, so is he. And the moment the physical body is gone, so is he.

The physical body is what we consider we are, and therefore we care so much for this body. There is so much attraction for this physical body as it is the source of glamour, so we spend most of our time and energy focused on this body and often feel it is the most important thing in our lives.

The teacher understands his quick conclusion, and asks the student to further investigate this answer, indicating this not untrue, but needs deeper consideration. The student further researches this question and comes back to the teacher with another answer.

Pranamaya Kosa:

The student says, “I am the Pranamaya Kosa, or the life force, which is spread through out the physical body and is responsible for all its functions and activity. As long as there is a life force, I exist and the moment the life force is gone, so am I.

The student noticed that the body does not function by itself. He may have come across a dead body which people where mourning for. He inquired as to why they were crying. The answer they gave was that the Prana, life force, has gone so he is no longer alive. The physical body was still there, but the Prana was not.

Only when there is Prana, the life force, exists, does the body function. The eyes see because of Prana, the ears hear because of Prana, the legs can walk because of Prana, the mouth can talk because of Prana. Therefore we are Pranamaya Kosa. When Prana is not there, we are not there. Even in our bodies, when there is no life force, we are not affected. For example, there is no Prana in our hair or nails so when we cut them, we do not feel pain. But see how much time and money we spend to maintain the hair and nails where we are not there! It is no better than house keeping.

When Mullah Nasiruddin got off at Bangalore railway station he found a foot path vendor selling some herbal oil for remarkable hair growth. Mullah followed all the instructions very carefully, applied the oil for one month religiously. At the end of the treatment, he found the little hair that was originally on his head had grown longer, but no new hair appeared on his head! He went to barber hesitatingly. The barber smiled and asked, ‘ Do you want to cut it or color it?’ Mullah replied, ‘Neither. Curl it’.
We care so much even when we are not really there! Recently, there was news that the oldest living man in Japan died at the age of 134 years! Even after that the body is still there but the life has gone from it. Once the life has gone the person is no more even though the body is there.
In Taittiriya Upanishad the rishi says,
“Tasmadva etasmat anna rasamayaat, anyontara atmaa praana mayah. Te naihsa purnah.”
Subtler than this self of the form of food sheath, (physical body), the self of praana is there. He is more complete than the food sheath.

Adi shankaracharya explains, in his commentary, that the physical personality is filled by the praana having the same shape as the person, much like the way molten metal poured into a mould takes the shape of the mold. Praana, too, is in the shape of the body and the subtle sheath is more complete than the gross, meaning it is more in command!

Further the Upanishad says,
“Praanam deva anu praananti,”
Meaning, the forces, like fire, etc, in the form of food, are dependant on the praana for their activities.

This indicates that even the food depends on praana for its digestion, and if praana is not there, food itself can not do any thing for us. This praana is the cause for life.

“Yaavat asmin shareere praano vasati taavat ayuh”
As long as there is praana in the body, so long there is life.

By relaxing the physical body or by experiencing the feeling of satisfaction at the physical body level one can transcend to prana level recognition. All those practices that we do at the physical body level are essentially to facilitate us to detach from that physical level. Once when we detach from physical level and go to subtler, unconscious levels, we experience sleep. But when we maintain consciousness and feel satisfied at the physical level, we transcend to the praana level which is cognized by only a gentle activity going on. Prana itself cannot be perceived but its effects in the body (i.e. in the form of respiration or pulse) are some sensations which occur in the body and can be perceived.

Although the student’s answer of prana being the source of creation was not wrong, the teacher asked the student to continue investigating, indicating that the truth can only be found through self investigation alone, not only for the Upanishad student but for any one of us. The teacher requested the student to look further within in the form of tapasya.

to be continued...


Wednesday, May 10, 2006

PANCA KOSA -1- Five Sheaths Of Existence

Who are we? This fundamental question has been instinctually investigated by humans at every level. As we are born, we explore our physical being by looking at ourselves and others. This human nature of curiosity began investigating living organisms and their physical properties. By taking the investigation of the human body one step further, we began dissecting and evaluating corpses where we discovered the various parts of the human body and its functionality. And we further investigated the aspects of human existence that can not be seen, the intellect and mind. This investigation of life has led to the advent of modern day science.

As we further investigate human existence, especially our own, we begin to look inwards, at our emotions and thoughts. This is explored in the Upanishads, an exploration and understanding of the human being based on what one experiences through feeling, rather than seeing. The path adapted is an inward journey which cannot be explored without the help of external sensory but the inward journey is deeper than pure sense perception. This inward journey is referred to as “Tapas” in the Sanskrit language of the Upanishads.

The introduction to this inward journey is explored indirectly when the student actually approaches the teacher and asks, “ What is the origin of all creation?” The teacher understands that this question is actually asking, what is that from which the universe or creation comes and into which the universe dissolves itself? In order to answer the question, the teacher turns to the student and tells him to look inward and find out what he is and what his original nature is.

Immediately, the student is perplexed, how does his teacher’s instruction to look withinfor the answer correlate to what the student is asking, what the essential building block of creation is. These seem totally unrelated. Adi Shankaracharya correlates the question and answer with two points:
1. An individual is also part of creation and thus, there is no way he can isolate or separate him/herself from creation. Therefore, turning inwards for investigation is just investigating the deepest part of creation one can know.
2. When one investigates outside one’s self, the sense which facilitate your investigations, also become your limitations. One cannot know anything which is subtler than one’s senses. They are limited to what is touched, seen, smelt, or heard, and nothing beyond. One’s experience is deeper, it includes fear, courage, hate, love, and etc which are all beyond sense perception. This sense perception is also often influenced by what is felt, and thus dually distorted

Hence, the Upanishad has given a totally different turn to the whole area of investigation, and has given birth to the knowledge of what is our essential being. The student, or investigator, shows us five layers of existence, called “Panca Kosa.” These five layers of existence are within us in common man’s experience, not outside. It is apparent for all, not only those who go into an altered state of consciousness. As the student further investigates the answer to his question, the five sheaths become apparent.

The Upanishads briefly state the ideas of this investigation, and thus it is the duty of the commentator to give the connecting explanation at each step of the investigation. Many commentators have given their explanations and although the details may vary, the final position and meaning of the Upanishads remains the same.

to be continued...