Search This Blog

Friday, April 10, 2009

Sarve Bhavantu Sukhinah

Sarve bhavantu sukhinah= may every one be happy
Sarve santu niramayah= may every one be free from all diseases
Sarve bhadrani pashyantu = may every one see goodness and auspiciousness in every thing
Ma kaschit duhkha bhaag bhaveet- may none be unhappy or distressed
Om shantih, shantih, shantih-Om peace, peace, peace!
May all be happy, may all be free from sickness, may all see things good, and may none have misery. Om peace, peace, peace!

This is a very simple prayer applicable to one and all. Millions and millions of Indians have been offering this prayer for last five thousand and odd years. The prayer is so simple that one can easily remember the simple meaning as ‘ may all be happy and healthy’. As we go into the depth of its meaning there is lot more to understand about the psyche of the sages who offered this universal prayer which is wholesome, all encompassing, purely socialistic and highly spiritual. It brings out the uniqueness of a spiritual master who develops enormous love for the entire creation so that he not only does whatever best he can do for others and also offers prayer to the higher forces that are beyond one’s control .Thus, this prayer is not just a simple prayer but becomes a mantra, a goal for a sadhaka (spiritual seeker) to meditate upon and move on in the path of spiritually to achieve universality. Let us dwell on these thoughts in. Today’s satsang .

Why do we need to pray?
Before I go on to explain the meaning of the mantra, let me give you an example from Mahabharata to show how the great warrior Bhishma was a living example (now there is enough proof through archeological studies that mahabharata is a history and not just an imagination of a poet) of this Indian (Hindu) advise that ‘we only have the right to pray for others and never for seeking favours for ourselves’. This is brought out beautifully by the poet through Bhishma’s own statement in the warfare.
When every one had assembled for war at Kurukshetra, Krishna and Arjuna stood in the battle field discussing about the vital questions of life which turned out to be Bhagavad-Gita, the divine hymn, an all time message for humanity at large. Although the conches were already blown with full readiness for the orders from the leaders , the entire army had to wait and could not start off the war as Bhishma the senior of the two captains did not give the orders. The restless Duryodhana asks Bhishma ‘what is happening there? What are they discussing in the middle of the battle field? Why don’t you give the orders to start off?” Bhishma in turn replies ‘My dear son, let us wait for a few moments to start the destruction. They must be discussing some thing important’. Duryodhana says with arrogance, “Oh, what else could it be, I know it! Arjuna must be terrified looking at our army and he must be discussing how to run away from the war field!’. Bhishma replies to Duryodhana, “Why do you want to show off you ignorance.” and adds, “in all my life, I have never prayed for any favour for myself; whatever was given to me I accepted wholeheartedly. Only at this moment I feel like praying to wind God to blow towards me so that a few of those divine words of wisdom pouring out from Krishna’s lips may fall on my ears”. . This shows how great masters like Bhishma were living examples of this prayer that we only have the right to pray for others and not for self and it had percolated as a living culture of the Indian society. Thus, this prayer that carries such a great message has been sung and chanted heartily all over on this Indian soil over five thousand and odd years for the welfare of ALL.
In the first place one may ask ‘what is the need for a spiritual master who has mastered all laws of nature, to pray to Gods (higher forces of creative intelligence), either for himself or for other? This is because the sage who has gone through this highest experience of oneness of the universal consciousness or self realization knows that praying is the mode and tool to manifest that experience and compassion for the fellow beings. In fact you will realize through your own experience that we cannot really change a person, unless he wants to, except to pray and pray for his or her well being which can fructify if done with full sincerity and integrity. You know that happiness is not something that you can get by possessions of material things. One may possess every thing one can think of that is meant to give happiness, but he may be the most miserable person. Money or position or power or authority can never ensure happiness. In fact, with a small introspective observation of the society and friends around you, you will realize that these two are not connected to each other at all. I am sure you have come across many people who do not have any luxurious possessions and do not have big laurels to their credit and live a very simple life, but they are very happy .You can see the pure genuine smile on their faces always. You also have examples of persons who have every luxury you ask for, but the happiness is not there. A person who is poor but unhappy, at least has a hope that one day he can find money and that he would become happy in future by satisfying his wants. But a person who has tons of money but is not happy is all the more miserable because he does not even have this hope that money can bring happiness. Similarly, the so called educated and knowledgeable person can be much more unhappy than an uneducated and ignorant person!. Upanishad goes on to unravel this truth systematically to reach the right understanding. These sages realized that real happiness is to ‘Know’ that ‘I’ am made of the stuff called ‘Ananda or happiness’ and also that ‘prayer’ is a wonderful tool to tap this divine happiness for one and all. Thus, having realized that satisfying the material wants of an individual cannot give the lasting happiness, what else can a sage who is established in this eternal happiness do as an expression of the great compassion that he nurtures for the fellow beings? How can he express his universal love? How can we the mortals who have not yet attained that highest experience of eternal happiness culture ourselves? Only thing any one can do is to pray that may every one be happy!
Seeds contain the entire tree within them. Just this knowledge about its potentiality is of no use. You should allow it to express itself as the fully grown tree by preparing the soil and providing the necessary nourishment. If you do not prepare the ground and give the right type of environment the seed cannot sprout and yield a healthy and useful tree. In addition to this, once the sprouts have come up, it is also very important to deweed the wrong sprouts around. Prayer is like weeding out the wrong sprouts. It is important to carry on our duties with utmost care and efficiency and then the prayer works by deweeding the unseen obstacles. Rishis give these prayers with love, compassion and deep concern. But the prayers do not eliminate the need of our efforts to work with efficiency and commitment. Prayer is not for a lazy person.. Now, with this understanding let us try to understand the ideas in this prayer “Sarve Bhavantu Sukhinah…”

‘May every one be happy…’
Every one here refers to the entire creation, to all sensuous beings including plants, animals and human beings. Although this prayer is in Sanskrit and though this is given in the so called Hindu scriptures, when the sages say “sarve…” they do not exclude non- Hindus. The prayer does not say, I pray God to give happiness to Hindus only and you do not deserve my prayers if you are not a Hindu!
Some times the religious institutions can be so narrow that the God you believe in may be the same, the heaven and hell are the same, and the prophet also is the same, but you cannot pray for the well being of people of other sects. One of my Christian friends was saying that when she was a young girl in US, the church school she was going to, taught her that they are supposed to pray only for those who go to that particular church and those who are associated with other churches do not deserve their prayers. She realized the shallowness of this when she grew up, but for many of her friends this remained as a belief for life time! Religious fundamentalists in every religion have been responsible for creating such illogical unhealthy beliefs and even wars have been waged for protecting such doctrines. This is rampant even today when we are in this 21st century of science and technology, when man is considered to be dominated by logical thinking. Thus we see that our prayer shall reach every one , every human being, every one belonging to all religions, all castes, all creeds, all races, all animals and all plants not only on this planet but to all living beings on any planet in the galaxy. Then a question arises as to why we should pray for the protection and well being of bad people? Is it not important that we protect the good and destroy the bad? Does it not appear very logical that we pray only for protection of the good?

No one is bad by birth
When the sage is saying ‘sarve…’ he is so large hearted that he includes not only the believers of God but those who do not believe in God. One may believe in god but he may be totally anti-social and inhuman, but on the other hand one may be a non=believer of God but very highly spiritual. Therefore the prayer does not exclude the non-believers of God!. This mantra says that we are supposed to pray for the well being of every one including the good and the bad, the lazy and the hard worker, a burglar and a savior or the downtrodden and the knowledgeable , Sarve…. therefore appears to be beyond all differentiations and denominations. How can the intellect accept this idea ‘May the good people be happy and the bad people also be happy!’ If good people are kept happy, they will continue to do good, but if the bad people are happy then they will continue to be bad. Only if they are unhappy or suffer then they have some chance of becoming good. This is the simple logic which appears to be the basis on which we have created courts and prisons to punish the bad and protect the good to maintain social peace.. This concept believes that if the criminals suffer tortures in the prison cell, then he will change into a good man. Hence the persons who manage the prison are trained to be cruel in their appearance and behaviour. I have never seen any prison myself but that is what is shown in the movies!
Let us ask ourselves as to how many criminals have changed truly through these prisons and tortures? . We know that, a person who has been a criminal out side and who has never gone to a prison may have some fear about the life in the jail and the torture he has to face but once who has come back from the jail he will not even that fear any more. Not only that, once he is in jail he will have an opportunity to see several people who are more professional than himself and he would have had an opportunity to learn more tricks of committing crimes without getting caught. Out side they may to have had gurus to guide them, but once they are in side there are maha- gurus to guide them in many more tricks of the trade! Do you think cheating can not go on within the prison? One can pretend to be an obedient inmate, so that he can cleverly escape difficult jobs.
This I have seen happening in many Ashrams, churches, organizations and amongst politicians too. In Ashramas , if you are close to the chief guru, you can be exempted from waking up early in the morning and sitting for meditation sessions like other inmates of the ashram!
.Nadir Shah, the emperor was known to be some one who used to invent new types of tortures for the criminals every day. He thought that this may stop people from revolting against him. There is a story about him that once he asked his minister, ‘they say sleeping for long hours is bad for health according to scientists; is it true?’ The minister replied , “sir, the scientists’ findings are true in case of ordinary people but you are an exception .This does not apply to you, In your case the longer you sleep and lesser you are awake, the more healthy people will be!”

Thus, you can understand that, the fear of punishment may not change a person to become a good man and in fact it can make him worse. It is all hypothetical to say that punishment can change a bad person to become good. Of course it is necessary to punish the wicked and keep them away from the society so that they will not team up to destroy the entire society. But for individuals or groups to change we need a different approach. . These days revolutionary thinkers and reformers of prisons like Ms Kiran Bedi of Tihar jail or Mr Vyavahareji of Vivekananda Yoga research foundation, teachers of Sri Sri Ravishankar who teach the ‘art of living program’ etc have successfully introduced methods of vipassana meditation, and yoga in prisons with positive results of real change in these criminals . There are examples of a few of these criminals who have taken to teaching yoga and leading a respectable life in the society after they came out of the prison..
Hence, this assumption that ‘bad people will become good through unhappiness’ does not seem to have a solid foundation. In addition, saying that good should be happy and bad should not be happy presupposes the idea that basically there are two different categories of people namely originally good and originally bad people. This also is not true by the simple logic that good people can turn bad and vice versa over time. How can we think that God creates originally good people and bad people! Why do you think that God would create some one bad? Is it by chance that some one is good? Is the creator partial to someone? How can we accept a universal creative intelligent being which is very partial to be ‘the God’?! Some religions posit other assumptions to explain this discrepancy that we see in the world. They say that God created good people and Satan created bad people! All these assumptions are so illogical that it cannot be the truth.
According to the sages this prayer has a deep presupposition that by birth every one is good. If so, then why do we have bad people in the society? Why some people create problems to others? Why are there people like Hitler?
God has not created any one originally bad or good. In their original nature every one has only goodness as his true nature. The real self, the “I”, the auspicious being, the changeless, the basic stuff of this universe made of Ananda is free from any taint of badness. Hence every one in their true nature is good and it is only the situations that make men behave badly. The difficult circumstances have forced them to become bad. In the given circumstances they found it so difficult to survive as good people and it pushed them to become bad as he had no other choice for survival. Even a bad guy, is only bad in his business hours and tries to be good wherever possible and expects others to be good to him. Even the worst of the criminal, a dacoit, wants his subordinates not to tell him a lie or be disloyal to him. Most of the Indian movies on any criminals show how caring he is for his mother, wife and children and can do anything to protect them.
Intuitively, can you not feel this goodness in everyone? I do not think it requires any great spiritual master to tell you this .This is the reason that when you happen to get introduced to a new person for the first time ,you spontaneously greet him and say, “hello, nice to meet you or good to meet you!!”, even before you have known anything about the person. This is the wonderful expression of the positivity that you are able to see in the stranger about whom your mind has not yet formed any opinion... You never greet a person in a negative tone and not even in a neutral tone. It is spontaneously positive .You will never say, “ok, I am meeting you now, let me decide later on after some time whether it is nice to meet you or not!” At the outset you presume that he is good and only later when you find out that he has many unacceptable qualities you may change your opinion. Even then we need not say that the person is bad. You will only conclude that this person’s behaviour is not acceptable to ‘me’ and to the society at large.

Seeing good in every one is the beginning of spiritual journey
You start a great spiritual journey when you nurture these spontaneous expressions that are inbuilt into our system and make it a Sadhana that you will consciously dwell on this thought that’ every one is good’. You don’t have to be defensive. The very thought that every one is good irrespective of gender, religion, colour or creed, brings out the feeling that every one belongs to me. You start recognizing that everyone is ‘my own ‘. And there is no need to be defensive about the people and society around you... This simply paves way to peaceful coexistence. It will add strength to your personality and makes you feel secure. When you think of goodness all the time, then all good aspects of your personality such as love and compassion, sharing and caring become visible and you get controlled by these good qualities... On the other hand when you become defensive you start looking at all the wonderful qualities in a person with suspicion. When we assume a positive attitude, the world becomes a heaven the same world appears to be a hell if you look at this with a negative attitude. Just because you want to look at things in positive attitude it does not mean that you could be careless and reckless. Chanakya says you lock the house not because the people around you are thieves but let your unlocked house not tempt people to become bad.. We don’t require to be policing the so called bad people all the time. On the other hand when you approach them with love, care and concern and pray for their well being, there are better chances that they change to become good people.
Another question that you may ask is,’ if every one is good, then why do we have bad people around us? Why do we have criminals all over?’We have already answered this. To start with, a person was made good, but when he could not cope up with circumstances, he must have felt that he has exhausted all the fair means of overcoming the intense distress and was left with only one choice-either to take to wrong means or commit suicide. He did not know that he had yet another choice, a third option. He is stuck with the wrong notion that the cause of his unhappiness is the world around and the people around him. With this wrong notion, when he faces difficult situations and cannot come out as a successful happy person, he decides to take revenge on the society that caused the problem by torturing or disturbing or creating unhappiness to others. Generally this tends to show up as a torture for the innocent and the gentle ones in the society. Do you think he would have turned to be a bad person if he did not have to face such difficult situations? We said there is a third option that could have helped him to continue to be good. What is this? This is the notional correction; a cognitive correction; a correction at the level of perceiving the situation in an entirely opposite way; i.e. to recognize the inbuilt freedom to change your perception of the situation and correct the wrong notions about happiness and unhappiness itself. To understand this and find a permanent solution requires a small twist in the question. This shift in the question provides the answer. It removes the root of all distress and unhappiness. What is that shift? Ask yourself ‘what is unhappiness?’ instead of ‘what makes me unhappy?’ Or ask ‘what is happiness? Instead of asking “what makes me happy?”

What is Happiness?
No prayer will give happiness. Nothing from out side can give you happiness. No out side situation can give us sorrow too. If out side can give us happiness the same out side can take away our happiness too. No outside agency has the authority on you more than you have. Out side can only create good or bad situations, but whether the situation makes you happy or unhappy is in your hands. The sage is one who has realized that he is the master. His prayers are therefore his wishes. He wants every one to realize this truth. He is not going to more happy or less happy by this prayer. It is his heart’s wish and enormous love for the creation that pours out in this form. Then it becomes a mantra.

Unhappiness is a learnt habit
Our wrong understanding has given us unhappiness. For example, we feel very unhappy when we do not win in any game or feel miserable when some one gets more points. Playing any game is actually is meant for recreation and at the end of the game winners are happy and losers are miserable. It is obvious that all can not win. We forget that playing a game was for recreation and as a part of the game we created teams and rules etc. If we are not caught up in success or failure then we can always be happy. I watched a tennis game wherein the loser was so happy and cheerful that the winner became confused and dazed and lost his happiness. The crowd in the gallery turned and cheered up the loser as they found it very strange! Thus the loser won the hearts of the spectators than the winner.

Unhappiness is a learnt habit.
As parents, we have created higher value for unhappiness in the minds of our children. We create the feeling in the child even before he knows any thing about the world that we love him and care for him only if he is unhappy or at least he shows he is unhappy and he is suffering. Only when the child is suffering then the mother leaves every work to take care of the child. The child learns that if he is happy the mother has no time for him at all! Dad will talk only when he is sick! If the child falls but is not hurt then the parents brush it aside. But if he cries for the hurt, then the parents are with him all the time. This way, unconsciously we are giving the message to the child that if you have to be important then you have to be sick and suffering. When he comes back from the school happily and shows no strain then he is not paid attention. On the other hand if the child shows he is tired and exhausted then he receives a lot of care. This message is used after he grows up also. The husband working in a government department comes back home tired and exhausted whether he works or not. These days in government offices who does any work? Every work in every country is out sourced! Then wife will come to him to take off his shoes and she serves him fresh coffee. Thing come to him... He has all sympathies. If the same person comes back home normal and not tired then he will only hear an instructions about where the milk is, where the sugar is etc and he has to fix his own coffee. Same thing happens to the wife too. She has also understood the trick of the trade. Child may have behaved very fine through out the day. But when the husband returns home, she has to show that she is exhausted taking care of the child whole day so that she deserves his sympathies! I therefore tell people that I and my wife have equally shared the burden of work and responsibilities this way. “She is busy and I look busy”!
Another peculiar concept is ingrained in our minds right from our childhood. If one is happy for some time then he has to face unhappiness immediately after that. We are all the time
living in the fear of unhappiness when we see a child happy and joyfully playing; we say ‘oh, now child is laughing so much that certainly it is going to cry soon’. If a child drops some thing on the floor and the thing breaks then it gets scolding but if the child breaks it and also cries, it gets sympathetic remarks from the parents! When we have given so much value for suffering, how can we expect that one can be happy always under all circumstances? Everywhere suffering has gained an upper hand and therefore it is hard to believe that every one should be happy and could be happy always.
There is a difficulty in the education we give to the child. On one side we expect the child to get all top marks and top ranking in every thing he takes up. Even if he gets the second position, every one around him starts questioning why he did not get the first position? The child hears this so frequently that he feels his life is useless because he did not stand first. We forget that in every class only one person can be the first one and the rest are losers and every loss can make one miserable.
Even the so called spiritual practices have also given too much importance to suffering. If you torture others, law is there to punish you but if you torture yourself then the society respects you as great spiritual person. When we portray the lives of great spiritual masters also, we tend to emphasize the torture they have undergone in their Sadhana. Talking about Buddha, I heard someone saying how much torture it was that he was not even getting enough food to eat and he had to go through so much humiliation etc. I am sure Buddha never felt that it was a torture or distress to go for alms. His only goal was to find what is there after death and this was so intense that nothing could disturb him. Buddha’s focus was some thing different and the emphasis given by the onlookers about his Sadhana was different. About Ramakrishna and Sharada Devi also people take so much joy in portraying as if it was a life of torture. If you torture others you will be prosecuted whereas if you torture yourself you will be decorated. What we need to learn from the life of these saints is that, being happy or unhappy does not depend on the circumstances and what appears to be torturous need not make you unhappy. If one wants to be unhappy and tortures himself then no one can help him and he will continue to be unhappy. Hence it is not the circumstance that is making us unhappy but it is the learnt habit of responding to the situation that has made us suffer and be unhappy. Thus, Sarve bhavantu sukhinah is essentially said to remove the wrong notion that suffering is valuable.

Does this mean that a spiritual seeker should not be looking for comfort? Even the notion that comfort will give me happiness is as wrong as suffering takes you close to spirituality. Material can not give any thing. Simplifying life is the essence of spirituality and not to subject to self torture! Dukha or suffering can not give us spirituality; therefore let us aspire for every one to be happy through this prayer Sarvebhavantu sukhinah.
Let me sum up the ideas about happiness. Let us not have a wrong value for unhappiness and let us also not be confused that happiness can be achieved from out side or given by some one else. The sage realized that happiness is his true nature and he has a compassionate appeal and prays ’may everyone realize this truth’ that ‘happiness is my true eternal unchanging nature’.

Freedom from sickness
Next sentence in the prayer is Sarve Santu Niramayah meaning ‘May every one be free from sicknesses.
In Sanskrit we have a very interesting word for health. It is Swastha or Swaasthya, which means ‘to stay in oneself’ or ‘being oneself’. It implies that when you are Swastha, you are in total harmony with yourself which means that you have realized your original nature that ‘you are made of the stuff called happiness’. Thus, if health can be defined as being in oneself, then it is obvious that sickness or unhappiness is, being away from oneself. Thus our original nature is to be blissful and unhappiness is something that comes and goes like the violent waves on the surface of an ocean. We cannot think of an ocean without waves. The waves are soft sometimes (happy mind). They may be violent sometimes (distressful). The non moving stable unperturbed water is not visible on the surface. We tend to conclude ‘an ocean is made of only the waves’. Life appears to be made only of these waves of happy or unhappy moments. But what one needs to realize is that it is all water. The waves on the surface and the non moving deep waters underneath are both made of the same stuff, the water. The entire stuff of our existence is the quiet non moving blissful awareness that forms the background or the screen on which all experiences happen. Thus blissful awareness whether you have realized it or not is the basic swa- stha state or the healthy state of being.
Look at every child. They are naturally blissful. They don’t need any thing to be happy. Only thing that happens with them is that they some times go away from the happiness and there is a reason for that. Those situations which bring them away from their nature called happiness are only the hunger, thirst and sleep. Some children are very conservative. They come away from their very nature only in the last second. Until that time they are happily playing and when the situation occurs that they can not stay any longer without food then suddenly they start crying. Mothers tell the children “wait my baby, don’t cry. Why don’t you give me two minutes so that I can fix your food?” But if there was one more minute’s time the child would have been blissfully playing! The same way the child gets irritated when they feel sleepy and they fall off to sleep within a minute .They are playing until the last second of their wakeful state. Once they get up again they are blissful. Thus the baby comes away from happiness when the basic needs bother the original nature. As adults these basic needs of drinking and eating are no longer guided by thirst or hunger but we have made it a habit to go on and on with eating and drinking incessantly. We need to have a bed coffee and then a small breakfast, followed by another coffee and then a small munch and another small coffee etc. This story of repeated coffee and munching goes on and on. Especially on a holiday when you are not doing any thing then the requirement goes on multiplying.
When we grow to become adults, it is not only the physical needs of thirst; hunger and sleep that take us away from our natural state of bliss but the wants are at subtler levels of our personality, the mind. Our needs are now completely at the level of intellect and emotions that takes us away from our natural state. Hunger, thirst and sleep no longer give us an alarm because all other things at a subtle level have silently taken over. These keep us so much preoccupied that we get lost in the ocean that is full of waves and waves alone and forget to see the bed of non-moving layer of water. The events of life that result in multitude of reactions including distress, agitation, depression, fear, excitement etc occupy all our wakeful hours. We wake up with problems and sleep with problems. We wake up into violent waves of activity and keep our mind and body active until the last second before we go off to sleep. Thus what was a natural state of happy blissful swastha state as a baby now became a state preoccupied with worries and unfulfilled desires. We have forgotten our basic blissful true nature .But remember you have not lost every thing. You have not lost anything, although you feel that you are always miserable and unhappy. The fact is that this state of bliss, whether we recognize it or not is still the background screen on which all this drama of unhappy violent waves can exist. The unchanging vast blissful existence and consciousness is always the base like the water under the waves. It is the background blissful awareness that is reporting to you that you are happy or unhappy. It provides the base on which we experience suffering or joy. Thus the agitations and waves are visible on the surface at different levels of our personality as shown in the table below. The remedy is to enter into the background by recognizing the freedom that is inbuilt into our system by using techniques to get back to our natural state. These are at different personality levels namely annamaya pranamaya manomaya and vijnanamaya and anandamaya kosas. The details are given in the table below.

Note: Yoga practices take us back to our nature consciously!
In the modern life style, stress related problems are on the increase. Medical professionals are talking about mind body medicine indicating the need to deal with these diseases at a psychological level. Yoga texts said that all unhappiness and bondage including physical illnesses are traceable to an imbalance that starts at the mind level (Mana eve manushyanaam karanam badha mokshayoh). They also gave a model to explain how these diseases that begin in the mind level percolate into the physical system through these kosas. They also went on to describe how practice of these techniques can take us to our original nature and help in prevention of many of these diseases. When the sage is saying ‘niramayah’ he means ‘may every one live in harmony and balance of all these kosas so that one can prevent and /or cure diseases’.
I have an earnest appeal to you all. Please do not allow doctors to pump in medicines and carry out surgeries for diseases that are born out of mismanagement of your life style. Learn to recognize the root cause of the problem within yourself, do yoga practices that are therapeutically designed so that you can remove the root cause of the problem. Surgeries and medicines do have a role for immediate relief and taking care of injuries, infections etc.
Since deep inside our true nature is this blissful awareness which is the basis of spirituality we need to nurture the spiritual attitude consciously as much as possible. This requires constant awareness and regular practice.
May all see things good and auspicious!

Next sentence of the sloka is sarve bhadrani pasyantu…

This requires again our own awareness. There is so much comfort in looking at every thing as auspicious and good. Several people are of the opinion that if we do not look at the defects, then we can not improve ourselves or help others. This is not true. Appreciating the goodness in others does not disturb growth. On the other hand the growth that takes place by a positive feeling is the real spiritual way of growth. In fact if you appreciate the work done, your employee will put his heart and soul to function better each time. Seeing the good and treating every one as a manifestation of divinity helps you to develop a positive attitude towards life and be happy under all circumstances. This also helps the people around you to unfold their innate ability to keep growing continuously.

Let there be no sorrow.
And finally the sage says ‘Makaschit duhka bhagbhavet!’What a universal prayer. He has no enmity towards any one in the entire creation. This is the true wish of a great master who has seen the unity of existence. By saying this prayer the sage is leading us through the real spiritual journey which will lead us to the realization that our nature is bliss. Life is full of events. Some events lead to happiness and some are unfortunate and can make us miserable. Here the sage is giving us this spiritual lesson that even these difficult moments of life triggered by unfortunate events need not make us miserable. He is hinting that you have the inner freedom to accept them without any complaint.

Once again let us recollect that a prayer is complimentary to hard work .It is not some thing some one can give us with out putting our effort. It is also not some thing which can reject the unseen higher force behind any activity. Prayer is to give additional inner strength that can give us confidence to work with full energy. When we pray, you are tuning yourself to the un-manifest good forces in the web of universal consciousness that can help you to get the desired results. It tunes you to the natural laws. Many a times when your prayer was very deep and heartfelt it worked wonders, is it not? The results were so rewarding, you got more than what you expected. You wonder and say ‘Oh God, thank you so much. Your grace is so great. Things are too good. ‘I’ could never have planned it this way, Thank you my Lord!!.
Let us remember that all this process of spiritual satsang is useful and meaningful only if we recognize that ‘peace within is the basis of establishing peace in the entire globe here and now!’

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Ego According to Vedantha

The concept of ego is neither ontological nor philosophical in my view. It is a practical instrument in our hands. When we consider any thing as an instrument, then it is neither good nor bad intrinsically. But unfortunately it is the most misunderstood and wrongly punished aspect of our being. Normally, in most spiritual circles ‘ego’ is looked down and is considered to be a big hurdle in the path of one’s spiritual journey. Several questions come up while accepting this concept. Let us try and find a logical understanding of this ‘ego’, so that we can utilize this highly simplified introspective knowledge for the healthy growth of the individual to live a happy life free from all distresses which is the goal of any spiritual seeker. Let us pause and think without any prejudice, if the ‘ego’ was only a big hurdle and, a poison why such a thing was created by God?? Like many things which are good in one area and dangerous in another area, my feeling has always been that ego also must have its good and bad aspects. It may be that we have interpreted it wrongly and overplayed its bad aspects and made it a big hurdle to one’s evolution. It is like the food which can be nourishing when taken in the right way, in the right place, in the right quantity and at the right time (in empty stomach) and can become a poison and destructive when the conditions are not right. It is not the fault of the food but the application is wrong. Similarly, according to Indian philosophy there are both the good and bad aspects of the ‘ego’, just like a sharp edged razor which can be used for killing some one brutally or saving someone through a life saving surgery. We discuss about ‘ego’ and think that only adults can understand and realize the impact of ego on one’s life as it is too philosophical. But an incident happened which surprised me to realize how even a simple child can also recognize this concept of’ ego’. A group of our friends were watching a documentary on yoga and its relevance to modern man in which there were several elite people who were being interviewed to give their ideas about yoga, yoga research and its application as a science etc.. The anchor person questioned one of the participants of the panel, about his opinion on yoga. He started talking about how much he is committed to scientific experimentation, how many papers in science he has published and how rigorously he is scientific in his temperament etc. Listening to this for about two minutes, a small girl of not more than eight years sitting next to me said very innocently, “Why is he talking about himself and not coming to the topic?” It was interesting to realize that , while an innocent young girl could understand what is ego and also that it is bad which the elite adult , the speaker, could not .What could be the reason ? There are several reasons. Let us understand how Indian scriptures understand this inner stuff called ‘ego’ and how it camouflages itself as we grow into adults.

Ego , the self, can have dual existence, (a) as a distinct entity (the observer mind) or (b) connected inseparably with all aspects of our personality ,the entire body mind consciousness complex. Ego exists not only in human beings but you can find it in entire creation. That means every thing in this manifested world has its own ‘being’ which distinguishes its ‘self’ from others. Hence it cannot be good or bad; it is only a self distinguishing quality of the organism. Animals have ego, plants have ego and even the matter has its ego. In case of physical matter, we may not use the word ‘ego’, but we call it as its innate property .Thus, ego of physical matter establishes its identity and individuality, manifests as its fixed property and is predictable. .For example water follows the law that under normal pressure and temperature, it becomes steam at one hundred degrees centigrade and turns into ice at zero degree temperature. It is the property of the water. This property inbuilt into its nature distinguishes it from other substances. This is what I call as the ego of nonliving physical world and all objects share their distinct ‘self’ or ‘ego’. Similarly plants also have their own individuality. For example, roots grow downwards into the soil in search of water. The genetic programming is to find water and not just a downward growth. Hence, if the roots happen to come across an obstacle of a huge rock on their way, they know how to negotiate themselves to reach the water. This clearly indicates the inbuilt intelligence that helps the plant to survive and is achieved through this programmed effort to strive to reach a goal. This ability and intention to pursue its goal is the ego of a plant. Thus, in case of living organisms the ego takes on the property of trying to protect its own existence in addition to its physical property .This can be established so clearly when we see small plants which start their small roots in small cracks in a wall. These little ones, as they continue to grow, send their roots into the wall in such a complex network that even the huge stone structure may give way over time although their aim was never to destroy the wall. This ‘ego’ makes the widespread roots of huge trees break open and lift off the heavily concreted road surfaces for their survival. This is the ego of living things that is characterized by the law of ‘survival instinct’.

Further in case of insects or animals, we can see this ego for survival or the survival instinct has an added advantage of mobility. Try to disturb an ant that is resting, you can see the ant becoming alert at once and trying to run away or fight for its survival. This survival instinct can be found even in the new born.

In the’ Animal World Channel’ of the television i saw a live video, wherein the baby

Turtles coming out of their eggs early in the morning on the sea shore, were swiftly rushing towards the ocean! They were millions of them and not one of them missed their direction. Who told them that the ocean is in that direction and they have to go to the ocean for their survival? Even though at some places the sand dunes were going up and the ocean was far behind them, the turtles made no mistake. The anchor of the program picked up one of them and turned it around and left it on the sand in the opposite direction, the turtle wasted no time to turn around and proceed on its journey to the ocean! It is the ego of the turtle which makes it to do this way. It is the individuality which ensures its survival. This I call as the ‘good ego’, the very nature of the individual described as ‘Asmita’ in Vedanta. This ‘Asmita’, the ego, is the first aspect of our personality to take birth as we evolve as an individual and then comes the other aspects of our being that includes the mind and the physical body.

As human beings also, we all have this ego that strives for survival. This exists from the time of birth. This is very much visible within seconds after birth even in human babes. I was watching a documentary where the doctor puts the baby on the mother’s tummy as soon as it is born (even with out cleaning it) and in less than ten minutes, it crawled on the mother’s tummy to reach the breast! How did the baby know that the food is available there! This is the ego of survival.

In the case of human beings, apart from this survival ego which is programmed into our physiology, we have evolved enormous degree of free will which we may perceive as psychological ego. There are three aspects of this psychological ego that we use for our day to day functioning. These are- the doer ego, the identifier ego and the experiencer ego, which are called Kartrutva Asmita, Bhoktrutva Asmita and Jnatrutva Asmita respectively in Indian scriptures.

Let us try and understand what we mean by these three types of Asmita.



Doer ego is responsible for carrying out the actions that we do and we need to do.

For example we have legs and in order to keep the legs in good shape we need to walk. ‘I’ have to walk;’ I’ need to walk and this requires the ‘ego’ which is the good ego. If we do not have this ego we can not take care of our legs. We can not keep our body in a healthy state. Say you are convinced that doing yoga is good for your health and you have made a resolve that you shall do yoga regularly. If there is no strong ‘doer ego’, you can miss out on the regularity in spite of being convinced about its benefits. Thus a strong ‘doer ego’ is necessary under all circumstances so that we do not become parasites on the society. In order to promote this good doer ego, wise people said that if you do not take care of your ‘self’, you are a sinner. This concept of sin in this context was probably introduced to encourage us to recognize that if one does not put in the right amount of effort through a strong doer ego, he cannot be happy.

A young man saw a caterpillar just turned into a butterfly and fighting to come out of its cocoon. With lot of sympathy for the struggling insect, he took a pair of scissors and very carefully cut the shell to release the butterfly out of its cocoon and was very happy about his success in helping a small creature.

Side by side, another butterfly also struggled and came out of its cocoon by itself.

Finally when both of them were out in the free world, the butterfly that did not fight or struggle could not fly because the wings had not grown fully. On the other hand, the one which had struggled through its life had strong wings and flew freely. We realize that even a butterfly has to nurture a strong doer ego in order to grow fully! Same way we have to do what we need to do, in order to grow. This is the positive ‘doer ego’.

There are two ways in which one can utilize this Kartrutva. The doer ego can be called Asmita when we do the work with a sense of duty which is the good Kartrutva ego. The same Kartrutva becomes Ahankara or ‘bad Kartrutva ego’ when we try to claim the ‘doership’. In the present day life style we see many stress related problems in high profile performers (executive stress) that can go on to many killer diseases such as hypertension and heart disease. The doer ego of such a workaholic person is very strong and effective that produces great results .But the problems of stress that goes with it is basically created by the ‘ahankara’, (‘I am the doer’) that goes with it and not the Asmita ego. The problem of such an activity is not created by the activity, but by the doer. Hence the solution does not lie in giving up the activity but changing the inner ‘doer ego’ through right understanding and introspectively change from Ahankara to Asmita. Of the several techniques that have been recommended for this, Sri Krishna in Bhagavad-Gita says ‘the fire called true knowledge of the self burns the action’ .Through the right knowledge, the Ahankara is removed resulting in complete freedom from the distresses of life including the so called executive stresses. How can knowledge burn an activity? Spiritual knowledge has especially no connection with activity. Knowledge has nothing to do with action directly. It is directly connected with ignorance. Knowledge has its role in removing the ignorance. Ignorance gives rise to Ahankara. What is this right knowledge of self? The right knowledge is to realize that it is really the universal intelligence that is doing the work using ‘me’, the doer ego, as an instrument .Ignorance of this knowledge obviously results in doership and Ahankara. With the dawn of the right knowledge that ‘ I am only an instrument in the hands of the divine universal will or the universal ego’, the Ahankara gets burnt. The moment the identification with this limited ‘I’, the Ahankara goes, the ‘doer’ falls and the attachment to the action also drops. Then the burden of ego is dissolved.

Here, the question that needs to be addressed is, how can such a person with no ‘doer ego’ function in this world after it has been completely burnt ? How can any one function efficiently without an intense commitment to the activity on hand? The answer comes from the following proclamation of the scriptures. After attaining this true spiritual knowledge, although the doer ego does not exist in its earlier form, its functional aspect continues to be available with all its capabilities. Hence the practically useful functional abilities that are necessary for survival and doing good to others etc., do not go away, but the snow balling effect of the repercussions of good and bad actions(called vasanas) are completely erased. The example for this is that of a burnt rope.

Krishna says that even after the action is burnt by the fire of knowledge, he continues to function with an ego with utmost efficiency. A burnt rope that is not disturbed has exactly the same appearance as before but cannot act any more like a rope. Another useful example of a burnt ego is that of a burnt seed which has the same size, shape and appearance as a live seed but it has lost its potential to sprout any more. This seed does not give rise to any branches and reproduce more seeds. Same way a burnt action cannot gather unconscious impressions (vasanas) of suppressed emotions such as unfulfilled desires, hatred, anger, frustration etc. The activity goes on with a sense of duty and joy without any distress. Sri Ramakrishna says that the realized person goes on working like a wheel that continues to rotate and function with gathered momentum without collecting any mass on itself. It is like the way light removes the fear of darkness. Light literally has nothing to do with fear, but it was the non visibility of the obstacles in the room due to darkness that created the fear of a non-existent danger. And the moment he light is lit, things become clear and the fear drops off. If you were holding a gun to protect yourself from danger in the dark room, you drop that gun too. Light directly can not drop the gun but it appeared that light dropped the gun from your hand. Same way knowledge drops the identification of the doer. Once the doer is dissolved, the fever of activity also disappears.

The difference between an ordinary person’s Karma (the unconscious non erasable impressions created by any action )and the Karma of a Jnani is that, in the case of a Jnani, karmas are like lines drawn on the water and in case of an ordinary person the Karma is like line drawn on a stone. Even of you take a sharp instrument and draw a line on water the line will not last even for a second. On the other hand even if a soft substance like water falls on the stone repeatedly it can make lasting impressions as we see in river beds. This is to say that in case of a Jnani even if he does work of killing as a worrier he will not be affected but in case of an ordinary person who does the work with ahankara, even a respectable action of giving a charity, can lead to intense attachment and result in deep impressions (called punya vasana).

We claim credits for things for which we are not really responsible and we become a Kartru for that action. For example, we say ‘I breathe’. We cannot take even a single breath by our own effort if the system fails. If the “I”, the ahankara type of (bad) ego had to decide to do the job of breathing, we would have been dead by now. Many things which we are supposed to do, we conveniently forget and this can be one of them because taking breath is such a monotonous activity and hence this has been programmed into our nature and is the Asmita type of doer ego. God has given us legs and we are supposed to walk. How many of us walk regularly? God has given us joints and wanted us to regularly exercise them but we don’t do it and land up with ailments like arthritis. That is why God kept the activity like breathing to go on by itself but we claim that ‘I breathe’! Similarly we say ‘I have given birth’ to my son. Giving birth to another human being is such a great act of creation that only God can do that and in this process he uses us as an instrument .We are only the birth canal and nothing more than that! But we do have the responsibility to take care of them to develop into a healthy human being. When we say ‘I gave birth to him or her’ it is Kartrutva Ahankara which is bad, but when we take the responsibility of bringing up our children that is Kartrutva Asmita which is good.

When Buddha came back from his tapas of several years, his father said to him ‘I gave birth to you!’ Buddha replied, “Oh Father, when you were not born ‘I’ was there. I am coming from the time when this universe was created and you are also coming from the time of creation. We are meeting here in this life like two passengers meeting in a train. We both only happen to meet here as father and son!”

Another form of Kartrutva Ahankara is found in organizations. There are many responsible members in the structure of an organization to run it efficiently. Some times, some people want to take on every thing on their own shoulders and are never satisfied with any one else’s way of functioning and they tend to suffocate the other functionaries. Here the intentions may be good but the ego of one person wanting to be the Ahankara Kartru is the sickness that prevents him from functioning with a peace of mind and getting the joy of performing! In addition it also comes in the way of the growth of the other persons in the organization. Here, the litmus test is whether the activity is done using Asmita or Ahankara type of ego. If one can nurture the capacity to move from Ahankara to Asmita, then it will help them to enjoy the work they are doing .This helps one to grow. But if the work is done with Ahankara Kartrutva then the person will not grow.

When I was working as an engineer, one of my colleagues- a senior executive, wrote a very unsatisfactory report about his junior and sent it to the administration asking them for extension of his probationary period and not to make him a permanent employee although he was his close friend at a personal level. But we all knew that the junior was very capable, intelligent, and hard working. The administration asked me to solve this problem! I observed their way of functioning in the office for ten days. I noticed that, whenever there was any work in the office, the senior would ask the junior to attend to it and within a few minutes he would go back and check whether the work has been completed. If it was not completed he would conclude that the junior is not confident to tackle the problem, immediately jump in and complete the work himself. Poor fellow, the junior employee had to stand there as a mere spectator with folded hands! Now, this senior executive has a valid point when he said ‘look at his way of doing. How can you expect me to give him a good report?’ I interfered and explained to him that he, as a senior is not allowing the junior to grow. I advised him,’ give him an opportunity, give him time, let him do mistakes and you please correct his mistakes and help him to grow’. The senior understood and gave him time to finish the work at his own pace. When the junior was given the freedom and opportunity, in less than three months, he came up so well that the same senior, not only sent a good report but also mentioned that this junior should be working under him only. This is a very subtle Kartrutva ego! This Kartrutva ego undermined the Kartrutva responsibility of training a junior. This can be seen happening in many organizations where very efficient seniors cannot create and recognize capable juniors to take over!. Thus the Karturtva ego is not always bad . One needs to grow from the doer ego to the responsible ego



The second type of ego is the ‘experiencer’ ego or the Bhoktrutva Asmita. We require this experiencer ego to perceive and experience the inputs from the world around us through our sense organs such as eyes, ears etc. Hence the experiencer ego is incorporated into the act of perception. For example, the eyes carry the experience of light and its diversities.

Seeing is an experience and we are continuously guided by this experience.

Sense perception is a direct experience for which we don’t have to depend upon anybody else’s experience (This is called pratyaksha pramaana). We say, ‘I have seen with my own eyes’. I see through my eyes and not through your eyes. We see using my experiencer ego and not someone else’s experiencer ego.

This ‘I’ who sees cannot be replaced by any amount of technological development. When I was a boy of ten years, I went to an ophthalmologist to get my eyes tested. At that time the sophisticated technology was not developed. The doctor put a frame on my eyes and mounted a lens and he asked me whether I see clearly. After a few trials, I said that ‘wow, this lens is the best as ‘I’ can see clearly with this’. Then the doctor gave me a prescription of that particular power of glasses. Recently I had an eye checkup in USA and this time it was they used the latest computerized technology. A gadget was mounted on my eyes and some computer signals were generated. But this time also the decision was made based on my inputs as to when I see it blurred or when I see it clearly. The experiencer is important for right perception happen and it can not be replaced how ever much the technology develops. This experiencer ego is a life saving mechanism. The experience brings about responses that can invite immediate self protective actions. Like the experience of pain or suffering, experience of a foreign and dangerous virus entering our system through the nasal passage or a wrong food put in the stomach etc.. This perception immediately sets the system into action and helps us to protect ourselves. If there is discomfort, immediately the child cries to indicate that it is experiencing some thing which is not agreeable with the system and the mother immediately responds. That is the experiencer ego which is present even before the intellect is born. Therefore, the experiencer Asmita does not belong to intellect. For example, when a wrong and unhealthy material enters through the air that we breathe, immediately the nasal passage responds by sneezing.

This is the experiencer ego which is the good part of our ego. Every part of our body has its own experiencer ego which protects not only itself but has the ability to respond suitably to protect the whole body.

The experiencer ego is also responsible for our sensitivity. We have the capacity not only to experience our own pains and sufferings, but we do experience the pain, suffering and joy of others. Even the pet dog in your house is sensitive to your pleasures and pains, your anger and joy etc.

Thus we have seen how important the experiencer ego is, for the sake of healthy survival. It also becomes a problem when it functions the ahankara way and not the Asmita way..

Sensitivity is a gift and a sign of evolution, but oversensitivity or wrong sensitivity can create problems. This oversensitivity can lead to unnecessary responses that can upset our emotional balance resulting in agitation, anxiety, depression etc. with the resultant health problems. For example, many do not have the sensitivity to be clean and neat .That is the reason the preparatory steps of ashtanga yoga prescribes shoucha or cleanliness (outside and inside) as one of the important steps to promote and maintain cleanliness and orderliness. This is one of the niyamas, the individual disciplines. But some times people can be so obsessed with cleanliness that their whole time is spent on cleaning and arranging things that they can do nothing beyond and their life revolves around that for ever. At that point they can only see dirt every where and that can turn into a disease called obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) !

Same way, our good Bhoktrutva ego aids in healthy perception of smell so that we can smell good fragrance to enjoy and smell bad things to protect our system. But if one becomes over sensitive, he not only perceives unwanted smells but can be so sick that his life becomes miserable. On close observation, we can see that this is not because of sensitivity of the sense organ that he is in trouble but he is suffering because of his attachment to the sensitivity. Therefore the experiencer is Asmita which is useful and the attachment to the experience is Ahankara which is suffering!



The third aspect is the identifier ego which is known as Jnatrutva Asmita. This identifier ego is very important and exists even in plants and animals. Because of this ego, a dog can recognize a dog, and not only as a dog but can distinguish a ‘she dog’ from a ‘he dog’. A he-dog not only recognizes a dog but he also recognizes whether the other one is she dog or he dog. If the other one is a she dog then he approaches it a wagging tail but the other dog happens to be a male then he is ready to fight or run away for life. This recognition is necessary for the sake of maintaining the species. This shows, though the dog does not know the word called dog, he knows that the other one belongs to his own species. This is its Jnatrutva ego. Similarly we also have identification ego, the Jnatrutva Asmita.

Even in human beings also, this Jnatrutva ego has the two dimensions of species and sex identity as seen in animals. The moment we see another human being we feel a form of comfort that we can not experience with animals or plants around us. We also have the ego that identifies ourselves as a man or a woman. This identification is so strong and deep that it will not leave us even in our dreams. In dreams also we belong to the same gender. This is the power of Jnatrutva Asmita. This identification is very important to maintain the social order and discipline.

In the society, the Jnatrutva Asmita has other forms of identities. A father has father’s Asmita, mother has mother’s Asmita, a child has child Asmita, a citizen has his citizen Asmita etc. this identity or Asmita provides the necessary social bonds and fixes their roles in the social organization.

For a family to survive healthy and happy, all these forms of Asmita are very important. In the Indian society particularly there are such strict adherences to family structure that they observe their roles with religious rigor. We have such stories from Ramayana.

Lakshmana, the younger brother of Rama had identified so intensely with his role of protecting them that Seeta, the elder brother’s wife, became his mother for the entire period of their stay in the forest. His deep respect for her made him always look at her with head down. This aspect has been brought out poetically by the poet Valmiki. When Seeta was abducted and was being taken away by air in Pushpakavimana by air by the evil Ravana, very thoughtfully Seeta bundled some of her ornaments and dropped on a hill when she heard some voices so that this may guide Rama to find her. . The monkey army on the hill had found them and had preserved them. When ram reached that place in search of Seeta and Sugreeva the chief of the monkeys showed them to Rama ,he says ‘Oh, lakshmana ,The memories of Seeta by looking at these ornaments are filling my eyes with tears .I just cannot identify them . Can you please help me?’ Lakshmana examines them and indentifies only her toe rings and says, ‘My dear brother, I am sure these are her toe rings as I would see them daily when I bow down to her feet. In the morning’. He could not identify the necklaces or bangles as he never would raise his head in front of mother Seeta.

That way, he sets an example for how a brother should respect his sister in law.

Just like we all have our roles (role ego or role Asmita) and responsibility for the health of the family, we also have a responsibility in the society too. In society a teacher has teacher’s Asmita and an executive has executive’s Asmita etc. Same way all the roles have their respective egos. If a person who is a teacher does not have that teacher’s ego he can not be an efficient teacher, like the way a father who does not have a father’s ego is not an efficient father. In an organization it is also necessary that we not only have to take care of our own Asmita but we also need to protect the organizational ego. For example if you are the chief of an organization and if you cannot uphold the ego of your juniors in the company in front of others, then not only the outsiders do not respect the organization but they loose their respect for you also.

The role ego is important. One has to have the core competency. Adi Shankaracharya in this context says that those who have this core competency are Adhikarinah. Therefore it has to be understood that the role ego is actually the responsibility of a person and is not for feeling egoistic about it. But unfortunately today when one assumes administrative positions, they become egotistic and tend to lose their responsibility. Especially when one gets into political positions it becomes a matter of Ahankara and not Asmita. It generally happens that people who occupy high positions end up as poor administrators because they are not competent to adhere to their Asmita ego to function with responsibility and end up becoming egoistic and self centered due to the Ahankara Bhoktrutva.

In Ramayana, when it was decided that Rama was to be enthroned as the prince, Sage Vasishtha says to Rama, ‘my dear Rama, this is a time for people of Ayodhya to celebrate as they are going to have a great prince, but for you, this is the time for contemplation as you are taking up the responsibility for the kingdom. Becoming a prince is to take up responsibility for the entire community by nurturing the king Asmita and give no room for the king Ahankara to capture your mind’.

When Asmita ego is at work the person identifies with the position, only during the work because this ego belongs to the position and not to the person. But ordinary persons do not understand this. The ignorance of the Ahankara ego is to identify with the position inseparably. This identification results in making a teacher behave like a teacher even while he is not teaching. A doctor becomes a doctor even in the shopping place. He may be playing cards in a club, but he thinks that he is doctor there too. They don’t realize that it is a big burden to carry that title wherever they go. We tend to forget how to be a simple common human being. When he is giving medicine to a patient, identifying with the position of a doctor gives him the freedom and authority to function efficiently as a medical doctor. But in the market place, being a doctor takes away this freedom which a common man can enjoy. We tend to forget that we are a common man and want to ride over others. This is like an actor is doing a role where he becomes a murderer or a criminal but he is not so otherwise when he is not on the stage. In fact, if only he actor does the role like that then only he can do it much more effectively than when he gets lost and becomes the role that he is playing! Once the famous Indian scientist and highly respected person in early nineteenth century Eswarachandra Vidyasagar was watching a stage drama being played in Calcutta sitting in the front seat he was totally absorbed in the play. A person who was acting like a bad person was giving such a trouble to the young lady character. It was all in the drama but Eswara Chandra Vidyasagar felt it so real that out of total rage he got up and hurled his shoe at that actor. The person immediately caught the shoe and paid his respects to the professor saying, “Sir, I received many many mementos for my acting but to day what I received in the form of your shoe is the most precious one and I would like to preserve it for the life time. Please allow me not to return this shoe to you,”

Only then Eswara Chandra Vidyasagar, realized what happened! An actor does much better wok than a person who forgets this and gets attached to what role he is playing.

Once the governor of Kyoto Mr. Kitagagi went to a Zen master and gave his visiting card to the young boy sitting at the front desk to be presented to the master. The moment the young boy saw the card , he was alerted, filled with fear, because such a great person had come to see the master, and responded saying “Sir, please wait here , I shall show this card to the master and come back to you to take you in”. The boy rushed in and presented the card to the master.

The master was busy in talking to some body and casually looked at the card and continued his dialogue. The boy became restless and tried to draw the attention of the master to the card. Master replied, “Wait! Let me finish my work on hand before I attend to the card”. After a while, he slowly looked at the card from top to bottom and with a harsh tone said, “Why is this man here? Ask him to get out immediately!” The boy was surprised at the harshness in the tone of the master. The boy could not say any thing and hesitantly came back to Mr. Kitagagi who was eagerly waiting expecting the answer from the master to bring him in. But the boy said “sir, the master is busy.” Kitagagi said, ‘I can wait I am not in a hurry’. Now the boy was in trouble and and had to say, ‘Sir, may be he is not available today’ as he did not want to repeat the harsh words of the master to the governor. Looking at the discomfort of the boy the Governor asked him, “Tell me exactly what the master told you?”

The boy narrated every word that the master had said very apologetically. The governor went in to deep thinking for a moment. Suddenly he took the card and scratched the word ‘governor of Kyoto’ and asked the boy to produce it to the master. The boy did not feel comfortable. But very reluctantly he went in and showed the card. The moment the Zen master saw the card, with a great joy he told the boy ‘why is he sitting out side? Please bring him in”. In fact, the master got up from his seat, walked towards the door and said ‘Kitagagi, please come in’.

In this anecdote, one can see that the governor is necessary for a state. But he was carrying this burden of a governor even when he came to the Zen master.

A seeker of truth has to drop all burdens. We tend to carry the burden and suffer because of inseparable identification of our ego with the position we hold.If this identifier ego can identify only at the time of being in that position, then it is Asmita and if the Jnatrutva ego becomes identified inseparably all the time and carries the burden around, then it becomes Ahankara type of Jnatrutva ego.

Thus we find the clear distinction between good ego(Asmita) and bad ego(Ahankara) ,in all three aspects of our being, i.e. the doer ego(Kartrutva), the experiencer ego( Bhokrutva) and identifier ego( Jnatrutva).This clear and useful distinction portrayed in Vedantic scriptures should help a sincere seeker to culture Asmita and get out of the bondage of Ahankara which is the ignorance that is repeatedly recognized as a hindrance to one’s spiritual growth . Let me summarize this in the following way.

AspectAsmitha or good egoAhamkara or bad ego
Kartrutva or doer egoNeed for doing like exercising, learning etc

Allowing others to grow and develop taking the team in collective way

1.Instead of doing a work as responsibility but taking pride of it

2. Interfering in others works with a feeling I can do better…

Bhotrutva or experience egoBeing sensitive to not only the sensory perceptions but to others feeling and caring for that1.Not only sensitive but also over sensitive and developing allergic tendencies due to attachment to sensitivity.

2. Growing sensitivity to that degree that one only sees negativity and bad!

Jantrutva or identifier egoWe have identification not only of ourselves but about others and giving respect to thisIdentifying self with the responsibility.

Carrying the position where it is not necessary.