In the last couple of episodes we had been witnessing seven important steps that would potentially lead us in the path of “Bhakti” or “Devotion” towards Bhagawan. In that sequence, we witnessed the first three steps day-before-yesterday and the fourth step yesterday. Thus the steps that were covered so far are Viveka, Vimoka, Abhyaasa and Kriya. In the last episode we had witnessed a detailed description of “Kriya” wherein we understood why are we focusing on our daily prayers along with the importance of performing the “Brahma-Yagnya”. We offer this Yagnya to purify ourselves from the innumerable sins that we keep accumulating day after day unknowingly!
Now moving on further, we are going to discuss the fifth step towards “Bhakti”, which is nothing but “Kalyaana”. What does this word “Kalyaana” signify? It is nothing but our “character” or our “Gunas” that we are comprised of. When we were discussing the Valmiki Ramayana in our previous season, the readers might remember that we had a detailed discussion on Lord Rama’s sixteen “Kalyaana Gunas”. We learnt innumerable important lessons for life as well as successful leadership from these sixteen “Kalyaana Gunas” of Lord Rama. This is what exactly we are going to recall at this step. If we’ve to list out a few of those important “Kalyaana Gunas” that we require to travel in the path of Bhakti, they are “Dayaa”, “Sathyam”, “Shoucham”, “Dhaanam”, “Soulabhyam”, “Sousheelyam”, etc.
If we come across the people who are needy, we should have the Guna of “Dayaa” wherein we would automatically empathize with them and help them in whatever way we can. Given any circumstance or situation in life, we should always stand by the “Sathya” or “Truth”. We should always speak only the truth and be straightforward to everybody irrespective of who they are and what is the situation in hand. “Dhaanam” is nothing but donating one’s property to someone who is in need. “Sousheelyam” is a very important Guna, wherein we go to the level of other people and move with them, so as to understand their problems, thus making them feel comfortable. Thus, all such “Kalyaana Gunas” are extremely important as we progress towards “Bhakti”.
Now moving on, we shall look into the sixth and seventh steps together – “Anavasaadha” and “Anuddarsha”.
What is this “Anavasaadha”? This is a phenomenon wherein we tend to feel bad and uncomfortable whenever we encounter a change in lifestyle. For instance, when we are travelling from one place to the other, the climatic conditions, varieties and tastes of food items, water, etc. keep changing and are not constant. Thus, if we start cribbing about these changes and if we are unable to adjust quickly to the practicality of that particular place, this is called as “Anavasaadha”. So from this step, we can understand that we should not feel bad about such changing conditions and we should develop the capability to adjust and tolerate tough situations.
At the same time, if we happen to go to a place that is more luxurious and posh compared to our present place, we shouldn’t feel overwhelmed and jump up and down with happiness too and this is called “Anuddarsha”. Thus we should realize from these two steps of “Anavasaadha” and “Anuddarsha” that we should develop a balanced frame of mind irrespective of whichever condition and whichever place we are subjected to!
We shall now discuss the implications of these two steps in the modern day life scenarios. In short, we can summarize this into one term called “Tolerance”. This tolerance is extremely important if we’ve to progress forward towards Bhakti. For instance we would have heard from many sources that if one has to be a “Brahmachaari”, he should sacrifice all the luxuries of life – Refraining from using a pillow or even a proper bed to sleep, refraining from involving oneself into worldly pleasures like travelling by a luxurious car, sitting under an air-conditioner, using expensive gadgets like mobile phones, etc. Why do we have this many restrictions as a “Brahmachaari”? It is only to test if that person is able to exhibit real tolerance in facing life as it is, without giving into any worldly pleasures. Given man’s advancement into technology and luxuries so much today, this is why we say often that it is extremely difficult to practice “Brahmacharyam” in the modern day scenario.
Moreover, we also see in the modern day that more and more people are becoming intolerant. (Of course the word “Intolerance” is politicized heavily today, and readers should not mistake the meaning of this important word). What is real “intolerance”? Intolerance is our failure to adjust and cope up with the surroundings. Forget “brahmachaaryam”! Nowadays people are becoming more intolerant towards any situation and this is one reason why we see innumerable people suffering from “Mental depression”. For instance, our level of patience is declining day after day and we keep running here and there, always wanting all things to be completed instantly without any delay! If there is some delay due to some reason, we are not able to tolerate it! Our patience runs out and we start fuming and yelling at others! Why? This is because, most of the time nowadays, we are living so much in an “imaginary” world that our expectations have become so high! Once those expectations do not get satisfied, we cannot accept it and thus go into the “depression” mode! In a nutshell, we are nowadays failing to accept life as it comes! Thus, if one can overcome all these luxuries and still tolerate (we hardly can see handful of such people), it implies that we are in the right track of Bhakti and we’ve fulfilled the fifth and sixth steps called “Anavasaadha” and “Anuddarsha”.
Lord Krishna in his Bhagawath Gita also emphasizes the importance of having this balanced frame of mind. He says,
“Sukha duhke same krithvaa laabhaa laabao jayaa jayau!”
Through the above verse, Lord Krishna preaches to Arjuna that we need to develop the attitude of seeing happiness and sorrow on the same plane and not to get carried away by both!
Immediately we would think, “Oh! Am I a lifeless stone so that I do not react to any of the instances that life throws at us?” It is to be noted here that a mere stone or any non-living object cannot differentiate between happiness and sorrow. But we as human beings have the ability to differentiate between both! However, we should strike the balance between the two, and that is the challenge! Thus we should have the patience to tolerate both! If we’re happy, normally we enjoy like heaven and when we’re sad, we cry like hell! This is what needs to be avoided!
There is also one more important reason why we emphasize on “Tolerance” – In the modern day lifestyle, we are under tremendous work and family pressure and this gets reflected both on our job as well as within the home. For instance if there is a bad fight within the house between the husband and the wife, and if both are intolerant towards each other and are not willing to compromise, they tend to take their personal problems to someone else and vent out their frustration to a third person. Now we’ve to understand that a third person should never come in between matters that happen between a husband and a wife. However, if this wife or husband is going to share their personal problems with a third person (We do not know the intention with which this third person is coming forward to console us) and unexpectedly this person might take an undue advantage to get closer to this wife. This is where all illicit and extra-marital affairs start blooming and this would pose a serious threat to a peaceful family life! How many such instances are we witnessing in today’s stressful world? If we do not get the love and affection that we require from our home, we tend to go after it with someone else from outside! This is why we say that we need to treat problems and happiness in the same plane and shouldn’t get carried away by both!
Thus for today, let us think about this societal menace and try to introspect this within our lives. If we have an impression that we are failing in these two steps of “Anavasaadha” and “Anuddarsha”, let us try and correct ourselves and progress further! There is another important point to be emphasized with respect to this context and for that, we shall wait till the next episode to do so! Stay tuned! 🙂