December 3, 2020 at 7:01 am #10908
Why is study of Sankhya philosophy or development of Kundalini shakti not encouraged? As you detail in your article that this can unlock abilities in humans. Is this similar to or different from tapasya that we hear of puranas to get boons / siddhis?
A musician who sings for a living, wouldn’t he be able to sing better with unlocked abilities? He anyway has to invest time and energy in practicing his craft. Would it not serve him better in investing some time to unlock some abilities too to get an edge. It is analogous to how a cricketer doesn’t only practice cricket but also goes to the gym to raise the general health of his body.
One of the risks that you point out is of identifying with those abilities and forgetting that they are actually God’s powers. Is there any other risk?
Forgive me if its too many questions, but the gist is after one has “necessary mental, intellectual and moral development” (quoted from your post) is there any benefit in pursuing yoga/tapasya for siddhis to do your vocation better?December 3, 2020 at 8:22 am #10909
The character of an institution, society, or organization is determined by the priorities of its leaders. These leaders set the incentives for various behaviors, and according to those incentives, the rest of the people in that society, institution, or organization respond. In case of India, there are historical reasons why the Brahmanas were disincentivized or changed their priorities, and over time, both the knowledge, and the practices that they used to advocate, have been lost.
It is also a fact of the modern time that people are not prepared to invest time and energy in developing various capacities. These capacities are not earned easily. They require considerable investments of time and energy, and long-term dedication, if they have to be developed. As a result, for common people, the best method recommended is the chanting of the names of God. There are still some people who invest some time and energy into it, and they reap some benefits out of it. But the problem is that all these endeavors are mixed up with so many materialistic ideas that over time the efficacy of the method is almost completely destroyed.
The purpose of Yoga is union with God. And health is defined as mental strength due to which bodily strength is automatically attained. But it requires discipline, which people don’t have. They are more interested in building muscles and a toned body, rather than mental stamina. So their body can look very strong, but they are not able to control their mind and the senses. Every small problem seems very big to them, and there is no courage to tolerate the difficulties of Yoga. Eventually they practice some watered down version since they start with the wrong idea.
As far as why it is not encouraged, the reason is India lacks leaders. Everyone is looking at someone else to do something first. Nobody wants to take an initiative to do something on their own. And when someone takes an initiative, people wait for them to become successful, and then participate or share in their success. This is not India-specific, but it is more in India. There is a greater tendency for followership rather than leadership. So, if some leader emerges, he quickly gathers a lot of fan-following, but most of these fans are ignorant and fanatic. They cannot do anything useful to propagate things further, so after some time, the fandom also dies.
Instead of asking why someone else is not doing something, we should ask: Why am I not doing it? The answer cannot be that “nobody else is doing it”. So, if we become determined to make our lives better, then we can perhaps influence some other people to make their lives better. But we cannot ask others to change, unless we are prepared to change ourselves. And nobody wants to change. So, that is the chicken-and-egg problem. We have to desire change ourselves.December 3, 2020 at 8:52 am #10910
Thank you for your wonderful analysis as always. You are right in saying that one should point the finger at oneself first and ask – why am I not doing it. One reason I had this doubt is that in my encounter with practitioners of Bhakti yoga, they discourage any endeavour other than the core prescribed practices such as chanting, reading Bhagavad Gita etc. For eg., learning sanksrit is discouraged citing “Nahi nahi rakshati dukrunkarane” from Bhaja Govindam.
As I understand, perfection in Bhakti is not dependent on knowing Sanksrit, but can’t it be useful? Similarly asana and pranayama are said to help keep the body healthy and the mind stable, so won’t they help in chanting better? Can’t they be seen as anukulyasya sankalpah?
Would really appreciate your understanding regarding this.December 3, 2020 at 9:59 am #10912
All the methods of yoga are useful and can be practiced. As an example, I practice karma-yoga in my day job, where I do the best that I can do, honestly, and don’t worry about the results. Sometimes, there are there good results, and sometimes there are not. Similarly, I practice jnana-yoga in teaching people the knowledge from the Vedic texts, and all my writing can be understood as one form of jnana-yoga. Then I practice some asana and pranayama everyday to keep the body healthy and relieve the stresses of various activities. And then I practice bhakti-yoga, and treat my job, my teaching, and my body as an instrument to serve the Lord. So, everything can be used if one has the proper understanding. The trouble is that people think that jnana-yoga is by itself sufficient or necessary. The answer is that it is neither necessary, nor sufficient. Similarly, karma-yoga and jnana-yoga are neither necessary nor sufficient. Ultimately, bhakti-yoga is both necessary and sufficient. But if this principle of necessity and sufficiency is understood, then with that understanding everything can be used to serve the Lord.
The great Acharyas have demonstrated an understanding of Vedic texts, they have written extensive commentaries, and it is recommended that we read them. Similarly, it is important to keep the body and mind healthy. If these two are not sane or healthy, then none of the other processes can work. Similarly, even while performing bhakti-yoga, the results may not come immediately, but we have to be patient, and undergo various kinds of tribulations, so karma-yoga is important so that we can keep performing an activity without a desire for results.
Ultimately, rejecting something is rejecting a part of God as being irrelevant and unimportant. That is not the proper understanding. Science, logic, philosophy, art, literature, music, and all other ordinary things can be engaged in the service of Krishna. But the principle is also that the source of everything is more important than those individual things. So, if Sanskrit is used in the service of God, then it is valuable. If it is used merely to make better computers (as many people are doing) then it is as much a waste of time as any other mundane activity. So, if someone is using these things for God’s service, then there is no distinction between sweeping the floor or speaking Sanskrit. But the principle of bhakti-yoga has to be understood properly.
Yes, there are many people who have a selective biased opinion of what bhakti-yoga means. In my opinion, they have not read the words of Acharyas, and are not following their examples. The principle is not viraga or anuraga. The principle is yukta-vairagya or renunciation by using everything in service of God. If that principle is followed, then by every activity one makes spiritual progress. If that is not followed, then no activity leads to spiritual progress.December 3, 2020 at 10:04 am #10913
That was very helpful. Thank you.
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