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Friday, June 08, 2007

The meaning of "Bramarpanam" Mantra - 3

The ghee is also Brahman; it is identified as self. There is a great significance to ghee. It is a product of milk. When you pour milk onto a fire, even if there is ghee in it, the fire will die. The milk has to go through an entire process; the first step is to boil the milk and cool to a suitable temperature. Then the milk is curdled and must pass through the whole process of churning to become butter. The butter is then simmered in low heat with a lot of patience and then the ghee will be separated from the rest of the butter milk. After the processing of the milk, the ghee assists in increasing the strength of the fire while also decreasing the amount of smoke.

The example of the Ghee is analogous to our Vasanas and Samskaras or tendencies or bondages. Like milk, we are unprocessed and raw. We are not useful to kindle the fire within; we cannot even recognize the fire, or Brahman within. In order to merge into Brahman we must remove our tendencies of attachment, likes and dislikes. We need to go through the Tapasya. The ‘tapas’ are symbolically presented in stages. The first stage to make ghee is boiling milk; similarly we need to go through the deep urge for the journey of spirituality. Then we need to shift our environment and priorities. This is followed by churning which symbolizes the discipline such as yoga and other practices. Then the product of these stages will be heated on the fire to remove the remaining dirt; this is the final dissolving of the ego. Once we purify ourselves with this purification process that comes from within, we are fit to be an offering to Brahman.

In our journey of spiritual growth, we attempt to initially give up our likes and dislikes. For example, when we eat, we discontinue eating to satisfy our desires and instead, we feed only our hunger. Maintaining this awareness helps us refrain from abusing our body through food and allows us to eat in harmony with our hunger and thus, our body. By remaining in harmony with our body we do not eat in excess nor do we under-eat; this is Yagna, otherwise we are violent to our bodies.

I was watching the animal channel on television one day. There was a tiger resting comfortably after just having eaten. Directly in front of the tiger was a deer grazing in the grass, oblivious to the tiger. Having heard the sound of the deer, the tiger raised his head and looked at the deer. The deer then noticed the tiger and looked at him with suspicion. Usually the deer would be food for the lion, but now since his stomach is full, the tiger just yawned and went back to resting without harming the deer. The deer also continued to graze. The commentator made a point worth noting; he said the tigers are not violent; they eat food when they are hungry. This is an example of how eating food when you are not hungry is violence, and this violence is not against anyone but against your own body. Our body totally depends on us, and if we abuse it, who else can save it? Both, under feeding and over feeding harms our body and this can be avoided only if we are aware that eating is not to fulfill our desires and ego, but it is Brahma Karma. Thus, let us make it a point to recite this mantra before every meal to remind ourselves of Brahma Karma. The concept of Brahman and the discipline that we should not be violent against our body does not belong to any religion, thus this mantra does not belong to any religion per se, it belongs to mankind.


Monday, June 04, 2007

The meaning of "Bramarpanam" Mantra - 2

The concept of yoga is unique with Sanatana Dharma; it indicates that all aspects of creation should be looked upon with a holistic point of view, or ‘Samhita way of the universe.’ Modern science has been developed with the idea of ‘divide and conquer’ while Indian wisdom has looked at everything as a unit with all of its possibilities. For example, the human being is not looked upon as only a physical personality but also as a holistic being at all five levels, referred to as ‘Pankta’ or ‘Panca Kosa.’ Similarly, another concept is that of the five bhutas or the basic elements we find in the nature called the earth, water air, fire and space which are the basic ingredients of the created universe. Interesting thing in this space is also a part of the gross substance and is connected with fire air etc and not mind or Prana indicating Prana or mind do not belong to the category of space or its modifications.

The sutra also indicates that Yagna is also a part of Brahma Karma. Yagna is a unique concept in Indian philosophy. Yagna is a concept developed to determine the various harmonious combinations of creation. A fire ceremony is used to symbolize this concept during Hindu rituals. The ritual may be anything from a house warming to a festival or even someone’s death. In all of these rituals, the fire ceremony is an important aspect. During a fire ceremony, a small fire is created and clarified butter, or ghee, is spooned in while chanting mantras. This is called Yagna. The moment an activity is accompanied by these rituals it obtains a spiritual significance.

Although the sutra originated in the Bhagavad-Gita, it has been adapted by many as a peace chant before eating. We are reminded of the spiritual Sadhana, or discipline, that is a part of experiencing Brahman. The offering process of eating food is Brahman. The food is being offered by Brahman and there is no ego of ‘I am eating.’ This whole process is Brahma Karma, or the activity of Brahman.

- to be continued...