July 4, 2008

Blinding flash of the Obvious

Alright, this post is a little heavy reading. Its about a deep experience I had some seven years ago..

As Hindus, we are all familiar with four different paths or margas to Moksh, namely, Bhakti, Karma, Gnana, and Raja, and that one can opt to pursue any of the above, depending on one's inclinations. I was often baffled when I read the Bhagwad Gita that speaks of one path being superior over the other three, and then later recommends another path in a different context. While there are obvious benefits that our commentaries are full of contradictions (it accommodates all viewpoints and therefore very inclusive in philosophy), (un)fortunately, this gives us

• ample food for thought,
• stimulates the mind into reflection
• gives each one an option, thereby space and freedom

but also confuses and forces the mind to decide a particular path. Most of us can relate to a little of each of the four paths; then how does one choose one over the other? Elders in the house often add to the confusion by suggesting that one path follows the other and that their order is also fixed and rigid; some others have chided me for being confused!

I realized the need to decide my own path but didn’t know how. I was therefore totally amazed when one day it came to me as a flash that

"There are no different margas, there is only one; just as there are many forms of Gods and Goddesses under various names, but there is only one God".
They appear to be different, but if man truly follows one path, he is automatically following the other three too; just as "if you are a true Christian/ Muslim, it follows that you are also a true Hindu". Since it is so obvious, it follows that it must also be true!

The rational mind also found support for by relating to the lives of some of the great men who lived in our country, namely, Adi Shankaracharya, Gyanasamandar, Meerabai, Ramakrishna Paramahans, Thyagaraja, Shri Aurobindo etc. All these great saints practiced all the four margas simultaneously. I am fortunate to have found a Guru in H.H. Sri Sri Ravi Shankar whose life completely validates this theory.

Let me elaborate with an example; lets take the life of one of them, say Adi Shankaracharya; he wrote the commentaries on the Brahmasutras, Gita and single handedly unified the highly divisive Hindu community of his time - he practiced the path of Karma marga. He simultaneously, on more occasions than one, showed the path of total surrender to God, which gives man the strength to face the world without fear. He wrote Bhaja Govindam which extols the virtues of chanting God's name - he practiced the path of Bhakti marga. He also held debates and won over all the contemporary scholars and philosophers by his sheer brilliance and clarity in thought - he practiced the path of Gyana marga. He travelled far and wide under difficult and hostile terrain, only because he had total control of his physical body and kept his body amenable for travel - he practiced the path of Raja marga.

Likewise, think of all the great souls you have heard or read about, different languages they spoke maybe, but each one would have practiced all the four margas simultaneously. This theory is probably not new to some people but appears to be quite different from those that one comes across at various discourses and satsangs.

This theory that all the margas are indeed one has brought great restfulness to my mind as I am no longer confused about which path I am in:-).

Ok, those of you who managed to read this far, I would love to hear your comments.


Sivasubramanian Muthusamy said...
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Sivasubramanian Muthusamy said...

You have concluded by saying "All the paths are one" just after your analysis of Adi Shankara's life as an example of one where each of the four paths was practiced at different point of time, or in different forms.. This contradiction is allowed in a blog that has already explained that contradictions indicate inclusiveness.

Good topic. May be you need to break up the passage on Shankara's life into four sections, each pertaining to the path as you have analyzed, for greater readability and clariry

Raji said...
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Raji said...

Infact I gave the example of Adi Shankara's life as it epitomises the theory (that all the four paths are actually one). What I am attempting to put forth is that all great Saints have confirmed this theory.
Apparently (on the surface), it may appear to be different paths, but with little careful reflection, I realised the validation of the theory.

Also, I wrote this theory in the background of people at home who told me, 'you can either follow Bhakti or Gyana or Karma or Raja margam'.

devarajan said...

To my knowledge, Bhagawad Geeta is like a magic mirror where one can see one's own view point and justify one's view point. It is like our legal system, where lots of laws are written and enacted and their interpretation varies according to the bent of mind, education, social status, objectives etc. of the interpreter. That's why, we are getting different judgements from the lowest court to the Supreme Court, situations of the case being the same. Therefore, it is my humble conclusion that if one really wants improvement in one's spiritual life, one should study with deep devotion (that will occur automatically) the Sirmad Bhagawatham. Studying Bhagwad Geeta may give oneself intellectual improvement, but, not certainly spiritual improvement.
Devarajan MK

Raji said...

Yes Devarajan. The Gita is such a bundle of Contradictions but I think its complete by itself. The contradictions helps us go deeper and stimulates relection. This has been my experience