In the previous episode we commenced an important discussion on the seven important steps that would lead us to the ultimate level of “Bhakti” or “Devotion” towards Bhagawan. In due course we had discussed three out of the seven steps – Viveka, Vimoka and Abhyaasam. We saw that the first step towards Bhakti is cleanliness – both externally and internally. Once we pass through this step, we need to put a check on our desires and expectations from something or somebody. We should be able to practise detachment in whatever actions that we perform. The third step was “Abhyaasa” wherein we witnessed the significance of chanting a “manthra” repeatedly. It gives us immense power and a positive aura around us. Moreover, “Abhyaasa” is required to enhance our understanding about Bhagawan – About his appearance, about his significance, etc. This is extremely fundamental for the practicing of “Meditation”. Nowadays, why do we find it difficult to focus our mind even for 5-10 minutes at a stretch? It is because we lack the quality of “Abhyaasa” and thus we do not have the “prototype” of Bhagawan in our mind. Thus we can see here that only with “Abhyaasa”, we can be able to think about Bhagawan continuously without a break in the middle!
Now moving on, we shall see the next important step leading to “Bhakti” in today’s episode: Till now we’ve seen the steps that are quite easily understandable for all of us. Starting from today we are going to discuss a few tough steps and I request readers to be more focused and vigilant while reading through. There might be a few terminologies that we might not be able to understand – I shall try and explain them as lucidly as possible.
4. “Kriya” – To explain this important step of Bhakti, we need to understand an important term called “Pancha-Mahaa-Yagnya”. All of us should perform this as per our sect and sub-sect. The “Pancha-Mahaa-Yagnya” consists of five (“Pancha” means Five) important “Yagnyas” namely, “Brahma-Yagnya”, “Deva-Yagnya”, “Rishi-Yagnya”, “Manushya-Yagnya” and “Bhootha-Yagnya”. When I use the term “Yagnya”, please do not feel scared that all of this need to be done on a grand manner. It’s not like that! All these “Yagnas” are a kind of “Puja” or “Prayer” that all of us need to do every day at our home, during our regular prayer time. Thus, this forms an integral part of our “Nithya-Anushtaana”.
We might immediately ask the question, “Why should we do this “Pancha-Mahaa-Yagna”? I shall briefly explain the significance – All of us in our daily lives are entangled in a situation called “Pancha-Suunai”. This means that, even without our knowledge, we are doing five different types of sins – Wherever there is a grinding apparatus (with which we make food stuffs at home), a vessel with water, stove and a cleaning apparatus.
Let’s understand this in a lucid way. Whenever we have to cook some food dishes, we need to grind some raw materials like rice, dhal, etc. in a grinder. During this process, we would be unknowingly killing innumerable number of small insects, germs and microbes! Whenever we have to light the gas stove, innumerable germs and microbes lose their lives because of the heat! When we have to purify drinking water, nowadays many of us have sophisticated water-purifying mechanisms like Aquaguard, “Reverse-Osmosis” technology, Ultra-Violet filtration, etc. While performing all these, we would end up killing thousands of bacteria and other living organisms. Also, nowadays for cleaning our house we use technology like “Vacuum cleaning” and also use some chemical solutions for mopping our floor. This again kills innumerable viruses, bacteria and other organisms. Eventually we also dust our house regularly and by that, we destroy spider webs, kill many spiders, cockroaches, mosquitoes, etc. The list goes endlessly! Thus summing up the whole thing, every passing day we are ending up killing thousands and thousands of living organisms knowingly or unknowingly! This is exactly what our Vedas term as “Pancha-Suunai”.
Killing so many organisms is a sin, isn’t it? How much of sins are we accumulating even without our knowledge? If we’ve to prevent all these sins from happening, we should stop cleaning our house everyday, stop cooking and drinking clean water! Can we do that? Is it possible? The answer is “no”! Then how do we escape from these sins? Is there a solution for all this? This is where our Vedas prescribe the “solution” called the “Pancha-Mahaa-Yagnya” and this is what is described as “Kriya”. Thus, if we do not perform this “Pancha-Mahaa-Yagnya” regularly and allow the accumulation of our unknown sins, Bhakti would not prosper! If we’ve to focus on Bhakti, the primary important step is to reduce our sins. For reducing our sins on a daily basis, we should meticulously perform our “Nithya-Anushtaanam” along with the “Pancha-Mahaa-Yagnya”.
Normally, as Brahmins, we perform this ritual called as “Brahma-Yagnya” along with our daily “Sandhya-Vandanam”. This “Brahma-Yagnya” would satisfy majority of the requirement of performing the “Pancha-Mahaa-Yagnya” since it has three main parts – “Deva Puja”, “Rishi Puja” and “Pithru Puja”. This will take care of all our unknown sins that we do regularly. Thus, the significance of performing the “Brahma-Yagnya” is that, this would destroy all our sins that we do unknowingly, just like how a fire would burn a piece of cotton roll into ashes! Along with the “Brahma-Yagnya”, chanting our regular prayers, helping the needy, sharing food with those who are our guests, providing food and shelter for animals, etc. would also enhance the requirement of the “Pancha-Mahaa-Yagnya”. Thus through all these techniques, we are trying to weed out all our sins slowly and slowly so that we are able to propel ourselves towards Bhakti.
Thus so far we’ve seen four steps for attaining progress in our “Bhakti” – Viveka, Vimoka, “Abhyaasa” and “Kriya”. The next step is “Kalyaana”. What does the term “Kalyaana” mean? What is the significance of this step? Let’s wait till the next episode to find out! 🙂