Daily Readings

The Song of God - February

enlarged 4th edition - 1984 - isbn 062007583 CYT, Cape Town, SA

Om Namah Shivaya

Om Namah Venkatesaya

February 1

the ultimate experience

2 - Sankhya Yoga - The Yoga of Self-Knowledge.

II:29 - One sees this self as a wonder. Another speaks of it as a wonder. Another hears of it as a wonder. Yet, having heard, none understands it at all.

Wonderful is self-realisation.
The ultimate experience is non-dual and therefore inexpressible.
It is not had by the mind.
The self is conscious of itself.
It cannot be put into words, nor even formed as a concept within oneself, yet one who has had that experience tries to speak of it and can only say: "It is a wonder"!
The disciple listens to the master's inexpressible wonderment at the transcendental experience.
He is thrilled.
Yet, it remains beyond the three acts of seeing, description and hearing.
The self alone exists.
The one appears as many.
The unconditioned appears to be conditioned in the individual.
That is the power of maya, God's illusory power.
Just as the blueness of the sky and water in the mirage are optical illusions, this is cosmic illusion.
Do not question further.
When the house is on fire, the first requirement is not a fruitless research into its cause, but to put it out.
The Upanisad also declare that the self is not realised by much learning or discussion, but only by God's Grace earned by self-surrender.
"The verse may also be interpreted in this manner: He that sees, hears and speaks of the self is a wonderful man. Such a man is very rare. He is one among many thousands. Thus the self is very hard to understand." Swami Sivananda.

February 2

life cannot be destroyed

2 - Sankhya Yoga - The Yoga of Self-Knowledge.

II:30 - This self, the indweller in the body of everyone, is ever indestructible. Therefore, thou shouldst not grieve for any creature.

This is the summing up of the philosophic argument.
The body undergoes change: even the elements are not destroyed in the sense that they cease to be.
Matter, too, in its ultimate analysis, is indestructible, because, as has been proved by science, mass is a static or inert energy!
Life cannot be destroyed - energy itself is indestructible.
Its apparent destruction is mere transmutation.
Body and life are themselves tools in the hands of the soul which is of the nature of pure consciousness.
Body is inert.
Life is blind energy.
It is the soul which is the conscious director within these two.
There is no power greater than this, for this consciousness is all-pervading and therefore one without a second.
"This Brahman, this creator, all these gods, these five great elements, all these small creatures, and others, the seeds of creation, the egg-born, the womb-born, the sweat-born, the sprout-born, horses, cows, men, elephants, whatever else breathes and moves or flies, or is immovable - all these are guided by consciousness and are supported by consciousness. The universe has consciousness for its guide. Consciousness is the basis or stay of all. Verily, consciousness is Brahman", declares the Aitareya Upanisad.
That Brahman is the self of all.
In the words of sage Yajnavalkya of the Brhadaranyaka Upanisad: "When the self alone is all this ... how can it be destroyed? It is incomprehensible, imperishable, unattached, free and not subject to pain or destruction."
Hence, this soul is not physical or psychological - not a concept or an entity totally independent on other entities.
Though incomprehensible, it 'realisable'.
It is realized by the one in all.

February 3

secular duty

2 - Sankhya Yoga - The Yoga of Self-Knowledge.

II:31 - Having regard to thy duty, thou shouldst not waver. For, there is nothing higher for a ksatriya than a righteous war.
II:32 - Happy are the ksatriya who are called upon to fight in such a battle that comes of itself, opening for them the doors of the heavenly realms.
II:33 - But, if thou wilt not fight this righteous war, then, having abandoned thine own duty and fame, thou shalt incur sin.

Society cannot be conducted nor can man live on transcendental knowledge alone!
A synthesis of high ideals and practical common sense is essential: this is achieved in our smrti or dharma sastra which are codes of morality and which, therefore, recognise the existence (relative and fleeting) of phenomena.
As we shall see, the Bhagavad Gita emphasises one's adherence to one's own dharma at all costs.
'Righteous war' was fought only in the days prior to the discovery of the aeroplane and gun-powder.
Now, no war - hot, cold or lukewarm - is righteous because there is no battlefield and there is indiscriminate destruction of all everywhere, without any restraint by proper rules of conduct.
Innocent children are killed.
Non-combatants and people who have no idea what the war is about are killed.
In the present context, all wars should be banished - hot war with guns and bombs, cold war in the field of propaganda and commerce, and lukewarm war over a conference table.
Though the philosophy of the indestructibility of the self could be applied to both commandments 'fight' and 'do not fight', it is the dharma sastra or secular duty that gives it the right direction.

February 4

honour and dishonour

2 - Sankhya Yoga - The Yoga of Self-Knowledge.

II:34 - People will recount your dishonour. And, to one who has been honored, dishonor is worse than death.
II:35 - The great heroes will think that thou hast withdrawn from the battle through fear, and thus they will consider you a coward.
II:36 - The enemies also, disputing thy power, will speak many abusive words. What is more painful than this?

A wise man does not seek honour, knowing that its loss is worse than death.
When Krsna insists on equanimity in honour and dishonour (XII:19), why does he say here that dishonour is worse than death to a ksatriya?
We should not confuse the two.
They belong to two different aspects of our life.
Discipline has two aspects: self-discipline and social discipline.
A wise man does not sacrifice one for the other.
For instance, if a taxi-driver speaks disrespectfully to a judge on the seashore, the latter puts up with this personal effrontery as a matter of self-discipline.
But the same judge should charge even a minister with contempt of court if the latter said anything derogatory of the judge in his official capacity.
Social discipline, on the other hand, should not lead you to take upon yourself the burden of reforming society and maintaining what you consider to be law and order in the whole world.
Then you might lose sight of self-discipline.
An undisciplined man cannot promote social discipline either.
This is an extremely delicate manoeuvre, more difficult than tight-rope walking!

February 5

mental modifications

2 - Sankhya Yoga - The Yoga of Self-Knowledge.

II:37 - Either you will be killed on the battlefield and attain the heavenly realms, or you will conquer and enjoy the earthly realm. Therefore get up and fight with determination.
II:38 - Having made pleasure and pain, gain and loss, victory and defeat the same - by so doing, you will never incur sin.

Here is a clever argument based on the highest wisdom!
In karma yoga, the action itself is the goal, and its performance its sufficient reward.
Hence, whatever happens in consequence is joyously welcomed.
Duty-consciousness at once lifts one's mind above the pairs of opposites given here by Krsna.
Pain and pleasure, etc., are mental modifications brought about by the contact or identification of the soul (purusa) and the world (prakrti) - (XIII:20).
But here, what we need bear in mind is the central fact that we are prevented from doing our duty in this world by perverted notions of pain and pleasure, gain and loss, and so on.
Instinctively we avoid pain and we refuse to do that which (we fear) might cause pain or loss to us, even if that is our sacred duty.
Our own intellect now comes to the aid of this behaviour, and we weave very clever arguments to justify our action and make it appear righteous.
This is precisely where man with his intelligence can be worse than beast which is totally instinctual in its behaviour.
Equanimity and a balanced mind which regards pain and pleasure alike are the indispensable prerequisites to the performance of one's own dharma and, hence, to the attainment of salvation.

February 6

action and knowledge

2 - Sankhya Yoga - The Yoga of Self-Knowledge.

II:39 - This is wisdom (buddhi) concerning sankhya. Now listen to wisdom concerning Yoga, endowed with which you shall cast off the bonds of action.
II:40 - In this there is no loss of effort, nor is there any harm. Even a little of this knowledge (practice of Yoga) protects one from great fear.

There is a vital synthesis here.
It is between action and knowledge.
Philosophy carried in the brain is an intellectual burden.
Life or action not guided by philosophy (in the sense of wisdom) or an altruistic outlook (which implies an unceasing investigation into truth) is blind.
As Socrates said: "The unexamined life is not worth living."
We should learn to 'be good' and 'do good'.
The welfare of society depends upon our good actions - so we should 'do good'.
Society does not bother even if our motive is bad and attitude commonplace.
But our own good and our salvation depend upon our inner motives and attitude.
Therefore, we should be good.
Knowledge and action must be integrated.
Learning and life must blend.
The word 'yoga' introduced here has a variety of meanings, as we shall see in due course.
Yoga means 'union' or 'integration'.
Roughly: 'integration of man and the transcendent being' is sankhya or inward knowledge, and 'integration of man and the immanent Godhead, the universe' is buddhi yoga.
When we take this path of yoga, we are on the right road to salvation.
Every step takes us nearer the goal and thus there is no loss of effort at all here.
The knowledge and confidence that we are on the right path itself frees us from all fear.
The very movement of investigation saves us from sorrow and hence fear.
Fear arises only in the darkness known as ignorance.

February 7

brahmacarya is concentration

2 - Sankhya Yoga - The Yoga of Self-Knowledge.

II:41 - Here the buddhi is resolute in purpose, and the aim is one. The intelligence of those who are irresolute is many-branched.

Having taken this path, one must not waver or stray into the by-lanes.
'Vyavasaya' is a word commonly used to mean 'agriculture' too.
If a man wants to cultivate a piece of land, he should apply himself with one-pointedness to his task.
If he tills the soil and then changes his mind, or if he sows the seed and neglects the farm on account of other interests, he will not reap a rich harvest.
'Yoga' is self-culture and is governed by the same laws as agriculture.
Here they are in brief:
1. We burn the bush. We remove the evil qualities in our nature.
2. We plough the ground. We resort to several yoga practices in order to prepare the ground. We 'turn' the soil, bringing the hidden part to light: the dark, hidden evils must be brought to light and thus removed.
3. We sow the seed. We resort to the Guru who sows the spiritual seed in the form of a mantra and also of spiritual knowledge.
4. We water the field. We vitalise the mantra by faithful repetition and by meditation on its significance, and the instructions of the guru by augmenting our faith in and devotion to him.
5. As the young sprouts come up, we carefully guard them against weeds, animals and thieves. As we progress on the path of yoga, we guard our faith and devotion against evil activities and evil company, by ever-alert watchfulness.
Such one-pointed attention ultimately yields us the rich harvest of spiritual experiences and self-realisation. Such one-pointedness is brahmacarya.

February 8

intelligence and free will

2 - Sankhya Yoga - The Yoga of Self-Knowledge.

II:42 - The unwise take pleasure in the flowery words of the vedas, saying, 'there is nothing else'.
II:43 - Full of desires, having heaven as their goal, they utter speech which promises birth as the reward of actions, and prescribe various specific actions for the attainment of pleasure and power.
II:44 - For those who are attached to pleasure and power, whose minds are drawn away by such teaching, that determinate reason which is steadily bent on meditation and samadhi is not formed.

'Veda' means 'knowledge'.
The veda prescribe certain actions calculated to lead us to heaven.
In modern parlance, even 'science' can be included here.
Does not science promise to bring heaven on to earth?
All these may be noble professions.
But an element of our personality which neither science nor ritualistic religion is able to keep in check, destroys what they build.
That is desire which is cause of sorrow.
We should liberate ourselves from sorrow inherent in birth and death.
Krsna has given a clear psychological picture of our life here.
We are all goaded in our activity only by these two: lust for pleasure and lust for power.
Everyone wants to become Isvara or God (as the word aisvaryaprasakta in verse 44 implies), even with powers to create (e.g., the scientist who wants to create the living cell), to protect (every father feels he is protecting the family) and to destroy.
Though it is not openly admitted for fear of blasphemy, such desire is there in our hearts.
Man has intelligence and also free-will.
If the former is overwhelmed by desire, he is left with mere free-will goaded by base instincts.
When lust usurps the throne and dethrones wisdom, free-will follows.
Yoga is beyond the reach of such a one.

February 9


2 - Sankhya Yoga - The Yoga of Self-Knowledge.

II:45 - The vedas deal with the three attributes of nature. Be thou above these three attributes. Free yourself from the pairs of opposites, and ever remain in the quality of sattva, free from the thoughts of acquisition and preservation, and be established in the Self.
II:46 - To the brahmana who knows the self, all the veda are of as much use as is a reservoir of water in a place where there is a flood.

These two are tricky verses!
The veda (the ancient scriptures and the modern scientific scriptures, too!) deal with the created universe.
We should go beyond them, i.e., the three qualities of nature (inertia, dynamism and goodness).
But, Krsna wants us 'ever to remain in the quality of goodness'!
That is: be above even that, but now, of your own choice and not out of compulsion, be good.
Do not treat goodness as a passport to heaven or as a testimonial needed for a good living, or even as a sound policy, but as something you wish to be and to do, because evil is foolish and dangerous.
The second verse has a double-meaning!
The universe and the scriptures dealing with it are of no use to the sage of self-realisation.
Or: Do we not find that in a place flooded by water, we cannot use it for drinking?
A reservoir is still useful, and has its limited use.
Even so, the sage of self-realisation would still use the veda and modern science in their own limited spheres of utility, realising that self-realisation is infinitely superior to these.
He is carefree for he has no desires.
He is not anxious to acquire anything in particular nor to preserve what he has.
Where is the good in clinging to passing shadows?
He holds, without a sense of possession!
If you abandon all care concerning yogaksema (acquisition and preservation - material welfare), and if you are totally devoted to God, he takes care of you! (IX:22).

February 10

right and duty to act

2 - Sankhya Yoga - The Yoga of Self-Knowledge.

II:47 - Thy right is your duty only, but never to its fruits. Let not the fruits of action be thy motive, nor let thy attachment be to inaction.

This is the central teaching of the Bhagavad Gita.
Its many shades are dealt with in several other verses, but here it is good to stress a factor often ignored.
'Thy right is to work only' implies that we have a right to work and to do, a right which we should exercise.
This sentence is often read with the emphasis on 'only', but every word deserves emphasis and every emphasis will reveal a new interpretation!
Karma will create the necessary circumstances around us and bestow on us the rewards of our own past actions.
But, in those circumstances and with those rewards, we yet enjoy the freedom to work and to do what we care to.
We are not asked to surrender this right, but to exercise it and thus not to 'let thy attachment be to inaction'.
'Not to the fruits thereof' implies that there is someone else in charge of the reward - God.
('Reward' is euphemism for a 'future event'.)
Leave it to him.
This is not slave-mentality or fatalism.
It is joyous participation in his plan.
Joyous participation brushes aside ideas like: 'Is God a capricious being who will visit us with pain though we do everything selflessly?'
The joy of doing what we can and should is itself the greatest and immediate reward.
On the contrary, it is the man of hope who always suffers, even from the fear of the hope not being capable of realisation!
"I do not long even for the fruits of dharma.
Dharma is my nature.
He who wants to milk the cow of dharma for his own pleasure, does not get it!" - Yudhisthira, in the Mahabharata.

February 11

duty discharged is success

2 - Sankhya Yoga - The Yoga of Self-Knowledge.

II:48 - Perform action being steadfast in yoga; abandoning attachment and remaining balanced in success and failure. Evenness of mind is called yoga.

Yoga is 'union'.
We should be in union with God.
That is to be steadfast in yoga.
It is not possible if we have attachment to 'the world' which includes the little self, its actions and motives.
A simultaneous achievement of this twofold yoga is conducive to a balanced state of mind; in Gurudev's words, it is "Detach the mind from the world and attach it to the Lord."
Man, in his eagerness for the desired results of actions, is intensely attached to the actions themselves.
'I do' and why?
Because 'I expect this to happen'.
If this happens, it is success and 'I am happy'.
If that happens, it is failure and 'I am unhappy'.
Even if it is success and even if I am happy for the moment, it is in the shadow of a terribly oppressive fear that it may not last; and the success is eclipsed by fear of loss!
Hence, man grieves all the time - in success and in failure.
To the truly wise man, therefore, everyone in the world is in misery; the only difference is of degree.
Happy is the man who has a balanced mind; balanced in success and failure.
To him success is not success: it is duty discharged.
To him failure is not failure: for even that is duty discharged.
He has done what had to be done - the appropriate action - in the right spirit.
That is one's duty.
Duty discharged is success.
Therefore, in a way, it is perennial success, though that success does not belong to him, but to the Lord with whom he is united.
God is the master: for his is 'the kingdom, and the power and the glory for ever and ever'.
Man shares them, for he is a cell in the great body of God, but if he is not in tune with God's will, he degenerates and dies.

February 12

skill in action

2 - Sankhya Yoga - The Yoga of Self-Knowledge.

II:49 - Far lower than the yoga of wisdom (buddhi yoga) is action. Seek thou refuge in wisdom. Wretched are they whose motive is the reward.
II:50 - A man engaged in devotional service rids himself of both good and bad actions even in this life. Therefore strive for Karma-yoga of Seva - the art of all work.

Mere action, however philanthropic or humanitarian, is but labour!
Even a mule may convey great learning by carrying a huge load of the best literature ; but no-one will confer a doctorate on it!
The word 'refuge' is important.
Before performing any action, look to buddhi for orders.
This buddhi should be 'attached or united' to God.
This is buddhi yoga.
This is 'skill in action', another characteristic of yoga.
History extols the great deeds of men of extraordinary skill who have shaped nations.
History is concerned with social values, not with inner wisdom.
But our scriptures (which are also historical documents) exalt only men of wisdom who excelled in buddhi yoga and who were, therefore, in tune with God.
Our scriptures, again, abound in instances where the material part of an action was insignificant but the spiritual content was great: the spirit is vital.
When thousands of tons of earth are crushed, you get a small but most precious diamond.
The yogi goes beyond good and evil deeds.
Is this a licence? No.
Ask yourself: "Am I a yogi? Am I in constant and conscious communion with God?"
If you are, you will never indulge in evil action.
All your actions will be the manifestation of God's will.
That is true skill in action: to do ... to put your whole heart and soul into the doing itself ... yet, to be free from selfish motive ... to do one's duty knowing it is the will of God.

February 13

a practical idealist

2 - Sankhya Yoga - The Yoga of Self-Knowledge.

II:51 - The wise, possessed of knowledge, having abandoned the fruits of their actions, and being freed from the fetters of birth, go to the place which is beyond all pain.

In this and the last few verses has been compressed food for years of contemplation.
Yoga is balanced state of mind; yoga is skill in action; yoga is renunciation of the fruits of action; yoga is uniting the buddhi with God.
A one-sided approach lands a pseudo-yogi in a ditch.
To justify his failure in the daily battle of life, he invents a fictitious line of demarcation between mundane life and divine life!
Krsna's promise is not of a distant paradise to be reached through vales of tears, but freedom from grief here and now.
The yogi must be discriminative and wise.
He must be calm and clever.
He must be desireless and dexterous.
He must be selfless and sensible.
He must be a practical idealist!
He must be a blend of the best of both the worlds!
For it is the omniscient, omnipotent God whose will works through him; and even as every cell in our body shares the life of the whole body, the little finite man lives in tune with the infinite, happy and blissful here, now and forever.
The fetters were forged by ignorance.
Buddhi yoga loosens them.
The free yogi soars into the region of eternal light.
Evil, pain, grief, delusion and all the negative fancies of his world-dreaming life disappear.
To the enlightened, there is no evil.
To even the smallest candle there is no darkness.
The enlightened one is totally free from evil in himself; and he does not see evil in others the 'others' are his own self!
He is no longer bound by birth, even if he, to fulfil the Lord's mission, is reborn here.
He is never tainted by sin nor is he harassed by pain; they do not exist for him.
He is a step higher than the yogi mentioned under verse sixteen.

February 14

hear, read, and know

2 - Sankhya Yoga - The Yoga of Self-Knowledge.

II:52 - When thy intellect crosses beyond the mire of delusion, then thou shalt attain to indifference as to what has been heard and what has yet to be heard.
II:53 - When thy intellect, perplexed by what thou hast heard, shall stand immovable and steady in the self, then thou shalt attain self-realisation.

The mind is filled with wrong thought-forms - the traditions, dogmas, preconceived ideas, prejudices - all from the dead past.
We have dead, crystallised and fossilised ideas of good and evil.
We want to do what is regarded as good, at least to win the favour of society!
Completely unselfish, desireless or egoless spontaneous action is, therefore, meaningless to us!
This delusion will not disappear when we utter a magic formula!
We hear the truth from the great ones, and then hear it again and again.
(Reading is a form of hearing through the eyes!)
As truth slowly sinks in, delusion gets shaken.
But what is heard does not produce yoga any more than removing the bandage from your eyes creates the sun in the sky!
As the Zen Buddhists, in particular, believe: truth shines as a flash of lightning of its own accord, not in response to any action on our part.
When the mind is 'shocked' by the understanding that all the thoughts entertained so far were false and others which may arise now and later are equally false, it is perplexed and becomes still.
That stillness is samadhi.
That is yoga.
There is no more need to hear.
The young girl buys a number of books on obstetrics; she has read a few, but a few are still on the shelf.
In the meantime, she has a baby.
She knows now.
There is no need to read those books!

February 15


2 - Sankhya Yoga - The Yoga of Self-Knowledge.

II:54 - Arjuna said: What is the description of him who has steady wisdom, and is merged in the super-conscious state - how does one of steady wisdom speak, how does he sit, how does he walk?

The state of unruffled wisdom or cosmic consciousness is within the apprehension of neither thought nor speech.
One cannot grasp it by thought nor can it be described in words.
Teaching or instruction necessarily involves description.
If that is ruled out, how is anyone even to aspire to cosmic consciousness?
Hence, our great scriptures are replete with stories illustrative of the ideal man.
For instance, even the simple virtue of 'endurance' can be misunderstood to suggest impotent submission.
What is the difference between enlightened surrender and helpless slave-mentality?
Outwardly both of them might look similar.
To bring out the inward distinction, we have the stories of the trials and tribulations which the Pandavi had to endure.
In reply to Arjuna's query, Krsna gives the vital characteristics of a sage: they are illuminated in great detail in the lives of Rsabha, Jada Bbarata, and devotees like Prahlida and Sudama.
It is from their personal example that we derive direct inspiration.
They can (and should) only inspire (breathe into) us.
Having received the breath of religious life, we should live it and not even try to compare ourselves with or blindly copy them.
Study of the lives of great saints is the greatest spiritual tonic or food, which no yoga aspirant can afford to neglect. Spiritual truths live in them.
Studying their lives and studying scriptures bear the same relation as eating sugar and eating paper with the word 'sugar' written on it - without, of course, discounting the value of scriptural study, which has its own place of secondary importance in the aspirant's life.

February 16

a cell in the body

2 - Sankhya Yoga - The Yoga of Self-Knowledge.

II:55 - The blessed Lord said : When a man gives up all varieties of sense desire which arise from mental confection, and when his mind finds satisfaction in the self alone, then he is said to be in pure supernatural consciousness.

To the modern man, thoroughly prejudiced by the psychologists emphatic declarations that an action invariably springs from a desire (almost always selfish) and a personal motive, the Gita-ideal is incomprehensible.
The biologist, in his study of the behaviour of an individual cell, often forgets that it is governed by the over-all life of the whole organism.
It is the life and activity of the total organism that motivate the life and activity of the single cell.
Man is part of a whole.
Cosmic consciousness expresses itself in cosmic life.
Man himself is a cell in the body of God.
When personal and selfish desires pull him in a direction away from that of the divine will, he experiences pain.
If he lives in tune with the divine will, he is free from pain and he enjoys a sense of fulfilment, since he consciously desires the divine will and is thus saved from frustration which would be inevitable if he desired the contrary.
Desirelessness or indifference to the result of action should not make us callous.
Often people cover up their inefficiency with 'See, I am not bothered about the outcome' .
If you did not do it well, then you deserve nothing but failure!
Only if you did your best, and did your duty well, and then remained unconcerned about the result, have you understood the spirit of the Gita.
Surely one should learn to distinguish between 'natural desires or urges' like hunger, and 'desires of the mind' like craving for chocolate.
When off and the mind is relieved of selfish motives and desires, we joyously participate in the divine will, and, therefore, in supreme bliss or cosmic consciousness.

February 17

steady wisdom

2 - Sankhya Yoga - The Yoga of Self-Knowledge.

II:56 - He whose mind is not shaken by adversity, who does not hanker after pleasures, and who is free from attachment, fear and anger, is called a sage of steady wisdom.

This is a vital teaching of the Gita, repeated by the Lord over and over for emphasis and clearer understanding.
The yogi should greet pleasure and pain, prosperity and adversity and such pairs of inseparable (or complementary) opposites with unshakable equanimity.
Obviously, he, too, becomes their target in due time, and he, too, is human enough to know what it what!
He should also be free from 'attachment, fear and anger'.
Raga is inordinate liking.
Bhaya is fear.
Krodha is anger.
These three are relative and depend entirely on our mental attitude or conditioning.
The 'object' does not demand attachment, evoke fear or rouse us to anger.
But our attitude generates these emotions.
Our attitude is the product of the sum-total of our tendencies or the past impressions left in our mind by our own past actions and experiences.
All people are not afraid of rats nor does everyone feel attracted by sweetmeats!
The tendencies are different.
However, these tendencies can be altered, slowly but steadily and surely.
That is the purpose of yoga.
We do not readily see the hidden springs of these tendencies in the subconscious.
We are aware only of their peripheral manifestation in the conscious mind.
When, through meditation, we quieten the conscious mind, the subconscious sources will be revealed.
First sublimate these emotions.
Be attached to God and a holy life, fear sinfulness, and be 'angry' with the veil of ignorance that hides the self.
When thus the sensual tendencies are crushed, even these sublimated emotions will be merged in their own goal, which is God-realisation.
We shall then shine as sthitaprajna, sages of steady wisdom.

February 18

happiness is its own prize

2 - Sankhya Yoga - The Yoga of Self-Knowledge.

II:57 - He who is everywhere without attachment, who neither rejoices nor despises on meeting with anything - good or bad - his wisdom is established.

The foremost principle to be grasped in dealing with these pairs of complementary opposites is that they are vital to all growth.
Heat and cold, rain and sun, night and day are necessary for plant growth, and for the growth of our vital 'vegetable' nature.
Pleasure and pain, success and failure, honour and dishonour, are necessary for the growth of our 'mental' nature, the psychological aspect which should thus be purified of its dross and cleared of misunderstanding to arrive at the saner stability of mental equilibrium.
Good and evil are necessary in the same way in order to raise us above them!
It is only because we have a much too narrow vision which prevents us from seeing life as a whole, that we seek and cling to what we regard as pleasant and fight to get away from what we come to feel as unpleasant.
If we rouse our wisdom and raise ourselves from the purely earth-earthy life, we shall, from the lofty heights of yoga, enjoy the enthralling vision of the whole life, and perceive the wondrous pattern of these opposites ironically blending to create divine life.
The pairs of opposites will lose their dreadful significance and will reveal their true nature as essential factors for our spiritual growth.
The seed destroys itself to create the plant.
The plant sacrifices itself to feed man.
Man voluntarily sacrifices his pleasure to promote others' welfare.
The whole universe is constantly subjecting itself to this endless alternation of opposites in order that the soul may be liberated from their thraldom. He who sees thus is a sage of steady wisdom.
Happiness seeks him unsought: happiness, when sought, is a worthless prize - for it is its own prize.
Steady wisdom pursues its own source - the self, eternal, infinite fountain of bliss.

February 19

the meditation-current

2 - Sankhya Yoga - The Yoga of Self-Knowledge.

II:58 - When, like the tortoise, which withdraws its limbs on all sides, he withdraws his senses from the sense-objects, then his wisdom becomes steady.

This is a vital yoga practice which should be applied to our daily life.
The tortoise is a slow-moving animal which is therefore most vulnerable to enemy attack.
Yet God's wisdom has provided it with natural protective armour.
Our spiritual progress or evolution is also very slow.
All our life, all the way to spiritual perfections we are extremely vulnerable to adverse influences.
Unless we provide ourselves with a spiritual armour, we shall not reach the goal!
Our Master used to stress our spiritual need to have a background of thought which is our spiritual shell into which we can withdraw our limbs (the senses and the mind) whenever they are threatened by temptation or 'sneha' .
(This word 'sneha' which usually means friendship or attachment, also means glue!)
Before we get stuck in the world, we should withdraw our free 'limbs' into this 'shell,' into this background of thought.
The best way to build this shell is thus: have a mantra (a name of God) and a mental image of God.
Repeat this mantra constantly and also visualise the image of God as much as you can.
This must be done specially and intensely in the morning and at bed-time.
The meditation-current must be generated then; the armour must be 'built inside' then.
Even without any provocation, we should withdraw the mind into that shell whenever the mind is not actually occupied in essential activity so that the mind is never idle and is therefore not vulnerable.
Especially when we are subject to temptation, we should immediately and intensely repeat the mantra and contemplate on God so that the mind is protected by the spiritual armour - the background of thought.

February 20

a divine life

2 - Sankhya Yoga - The Yoga of Self-Knowledge.

II:59 - The objects of the senses turn away from the abstinent man, leaving the longing behind; but this longing also turns away on beholding the Supreme.

Which shall we restrain first - the mind or the senses?
If we starve the senses, they temporarily lose their keenness for sense-enjoyments.
But the complacency is deceptive and often dangerous; for the taste is still lurking unperceived in the mind!
Unless the mind is also controlled, we are not out of the woods.
But the mind cannot be controlled unless and until the senses are under control!
The two must go hand in hand for success to be achieved.
Cravings, desires, hatred, fear, anger, etc., are all deep-rooted habits formed in the citta or the subconscious mind.
This throws up ripples (vrtti) which manifest on the surface as thoughts and emotions.
When the vrtti arises, we should endeavour not to act upon it but to let it drop back into the citta itself.
At the same time, we should discover and deal with the real cause.
Cravings give birth to evil actions.
But the craving (and the wrong mental attitude to life) itself springs from distorted exaggerated values of worldly objects and enjoyments.
Let us never forget that neither indulgence nor rejection can help us in getting complete mastery over the mind.
The mind will run after only that which it has been taught to value.
Hence Krsna asks us to become 'mat-parah' (that is, we should regard God as the only stable value in our life, worth seeking).
When God is seen thus, even roots of cravings die.
The world and its pleasures will then lose the glamour that tempts the worldly man and repels the ascetic.
They will drop away as valueless factors in the life of a sage of steady wisdom.
The mind and even the senses will seek only God and rest in him.
It is then that one becomes a true devotee, directing the functions of all his senses and mind towards the realisation of God's indwelling omnipresence.
It is then that daily life becomes divine.

February 21

sama and dama

2 - Sankhya Yoga - The Yoga of Self-Knowledge.

II:60 - O Arjuna, the turbulent senses violently carry away the mind, also of a wise man, though he be striving to control them.
II:61 - Having restrained all the senses, he should sit steadfast, intent on me. His wisdom is steady whose senses are under control.

The senses are powerful, too!
The wise spiritual aspirant can never ignore this in the belief that since they depend upon the mind for their functioning, all that he has to do is to sit and brood over the methods of controlling the mind!
The very fact that the senses still function is proof that the mind is 'leaking' through them.
As long as we are alive, the senses will continue to function in however feeble and restrained a manner.
A small hole in the side of a very big dam can break the whole dam, however strong it is.
Only when attachment to the body (or the false notion 'I am this body') is completely removed can we 'seal' the inner holes of the senses.
Then the senses will not react in the ordinary way to worldly impressions; this is illustrated in the story in which Bhagavan Rsabha Deva walked into a forest fire!
Till that state is reached, one should practise both sama (control of mind) and dama (control of the senses).
One-sided control here is no control at all.
It is like filling a pot without closing the holes through which water leaks.
This two-fold control will be truly effective only if our stable value is God, which is meant by 'intent on me'.
When the mind is intent on God, the senses function only by past momentum or according to God's will and their pleasure-seeking impetus is cut off.
Our wisdom is rooted firmly in God, our stable value.

February 22

meditation of god

2 - Sankhya Yoga - The Yoga of Self-Knowledge,

II:62 - When a man thinks of the objects, attachment for them arises; from attachment desire is born; rrom desire anger arises.
II:63 - From anger comes delusion; from delusion the loss of memory; from loss of memory the destruction of discrimination; from the destruction of discrimination he perishes.

This is somewhat parallel in construction to Arjuna's words in chapter I, verses 40-42.
What are the 'steps to destruction' (anartha-parampara)?
Arjuna had traced it from war to the destruction of traditional religion.
Here, lord Krsna points out that the trigger of self-destruction is within oneself.
It is the very act of thinking!
Self-willed and desire-motivated thinking leads man away from his own self.
Going away from his own centre, the self, he roams on the periphery of worldly life, and, like a rudderless ship on the stormy uncharted sea, wanders aimlessly, helplessly and hopelessly, till he 'destroys himself' .
What can be more self-destructive than to miss the goal of human life, which is self-realisation or to be established in the self?
'Dhyana' or contemplation is the channel by which the mind goes towards construction (integration or self-realisation) or destruction.
When it thinks of the worldly objects, it takes the path to destruction.
This thinking is an important idea.
It can be positive or negative.
The man who dislikes wine is thinking about it as much as the man who likes it!
Failure to appreciate this thwarts the well-intentioned efforts of ascetics.
Thought itself must be dropped, not by the suppression of thought - which is done by another thought - but by becoming aware of its root and source, which is the 'I' thought.
The self is right 'next' to this.
Enquiring into the self or God is meditation.
'Meditation' must be of God and this is possible if our stable value is God and only God, which implies the dropping away of every conditioning - for God is the unconditioned.

February 23

the buddhi of the wise

2 - Sankhya Yoga - The Yoga of Self-Knowledge.

II:64 - But the self-controlled man, moving among the objects with the senses under restraint, and free from attraction and repulsion, attains to peace.
II:65 - In that peace all pains are destroyed, for the intellect (buddhi) of the tranquil-minded soon becomes steady.

This is the technique of yoga in essence.
The mind and senses are controlled by the yogi.
Control is not suppression, repression, ignoring evil and thinking of the opposite, or resorting to a routine method - all of which though initially helpful and desirable, will inevitably fail.
It is inner alertness.
As life flows on, the yogi watches the mind and the senses constantly; the enlightened buddhi which is in constant contact with the self within watches over the mind and the senses.
Desires and the latent psychological impressions which give rise to them are thus effectively monitored.
It is difficult to decide where the world is!
The objects outside have no value for you if you are not conscious of them.
When the mind alights on an object either directly or through resurrection of past experiences stored as memory, the object is reproduced in the mind.
This causes a desire to arise, because the mind selects particular objects on account of its past tendencies or conditioning.
Desire in turn gives rise to anger and one loses his temper; losing one's temper means losing the temper (keenness) of the intelligence within.
When thus one's discrimination is lost, the ego identifies itself with the mind (and therefore the object in it) and forgets its substratum, the atman.
This was described in verses 62-63 above.
The wise man's buddhi treats both the mental image and the external object, as objects of perception.
He develops the witness-consciousness.
Even as a spectator is unaffected by the events in the ring, the yogi is the blissful, peaceful and silent witness of this world-play.

February 24

inner and outer harmony

2 - Sankhya Yoga - The Yoga of Self-Knowledge.

II:66 - There is no knowledge of the self to the unsteady; to the unsteady no meditation is possible; to the unmeditative there can be no peace; and to the man who has no peace, how can there be happiness?

'Peace above all' should be the wise man's motto to guide his life.
For if there is no peace of mind, one cannot have the least happiness here.
Peace cannot be had in the market!
One cannot strive for this peace which is disturbed by the very effort!
It has to be discovered within oneself, and what is more important and difficult, too, it has to be preserved without being disturbed by anything that happens around one.
This is possible only if we meditate regularly and build a 'shock-proof' protective armour around ourselves.
Meditation will provide us with the background of thought (like 'I am the immortal atman, a witness of this world-play untouched by pain') and, by diligent, effortless alertness we should maintain this background of thought.
This background of thought is, however, not thought, but an awareness of truth beyond thought.
It is this truth which is realised in meditation.
Peace is happiness: they are indistinguishable.
Even worldly happiness is not possible if we do not enjoy peace of mind.
Craving for pleasure drives pleasure or happiness away by creating a tension or stress.
Satisfying this craving only temporarily allays the tension by weakening it.
But soon the tension is built up again: it is pain.
The peace sustained by regular meditation and coupled with the fourfold bhavana or sane attitude towards our neighbours (friendliness towards equals, happiness at the status of superiors, compassion for the less fortunate, and indifference towards the wicked) will ensure unperturbable inner tranquillity and, thus, supreme and perennial bliss.
The awareness of truth beyond thought - the inner light - will make it impossible for any disturbing thought to arise, though natural life (with the natural functions, thought, word and deed) will continue to flow in inner and outer harmony.

February 25


2 - Sankhya Yoga - The Yoga of Self-Knowledge.

II:67 - For the mind which follows in the wake of the wandering senses, carries away one's discrimination, as the wind carries away a boat on the waters.
II:68 - Therefore, O Arjuna, his knowledge is steady whose senses are completely restrained from sense-objects.

Krsna does not encourage us to run away from the world.
It is the most unintelligent way of self-restraint, even if it were possible.
Nor does he favour violent suppression of the senses and the mind.
His yoga is one of intelligence and common sense.
Elsewhere, he reminds us that the senses will always respond to the sense-objects and foolish, violent restraint is useless.
The wise aspirant will sincerely, silently and non-violently change his mental substance and effect sublimation of his nature.
The yukta or yogi views the world from his point of union with or awareness of the reality; his inner values are radically different from the values of the worldly man.
He is not carried away by emotions and sentiments, desires and cravings.
It is not easy; the old morbid habits must be changed.
Here a few practical hints can be of use.
Make an involuntary habit voluntary.
Then substitute a new mental response to external stimuli for the old response.
Start the new habit with the greatest possible enthusiasm.
Avoid slipping into the old habit.
Exercise the new habit consciously and voluntarily as often as possible.
In this process, you will come face to face with the conditioning which sustained the old habits.
They will drop away, unwanted.
The new, healthy habits will become effortless.
You will go beyond all conditioning and be established in the wisdom of God.

February 26

vision of the unconditioned

2 - Sankhya Yoga - The Yoga of Self-Knowledge.

II:69 - That state which is night to all beings, to the selfcontrolled man is wakefulness; when all beings are awake that is night for the sage who sees.

The worldly man is ignorant.
The sage 'does not understand' how the worldly man finds his pleasure in the objects of the world, in spite of the fact that the daily deep sleep experience teaches him that all happiness is within and life teaches him that pleasure is inseparable from pain.
The worldly man is ignorant of the path that leads him to bliss of the self.
The sage turns a blind eye on worldly pleasures which do not attract him.
For him they are like an object lying in a dark chamber.
At night one who is in a brightly illumined room sees only darkness outside, even if there is moonlight; in the divine light of his self-realisation, the sage sees the world as a pale and misty illusion!
Tamas or darkness or ignorance is exceedingly difficult to remove.
Illusion dies hard.
It is possible to remove the pain in an aching hand; but sometimes there is pain 'in' an amputated hand - the hand that is not there or the phantom limb!
This pain is extremely difficult to cure.
The worldly man has no idea at all of the inner world of the qualities of nature , the senses, the mind, the buddhi, etc.
He is completely at the mercy of nature which, in his case, is base nature, the large residue of past incarnations.
The sage is aware of this inner world and is also aware that the outer world is part of the body of God.
The earth disappears from his view; the whole space looks blue - the colour of the body of God!
A word of caution: there is no use in attempting to gain this vision without practising self-control.
This vision is not imagination nor is it psychedelic experience.
It is the vision of the unconditioned when all conditioning has dropped away.

February 27


2 - Sankhya Yoga - The Yoga of Self-Knowledge.

II:70 - He attains peace into whom all desires enter as waters enter the ocean which, filled from all sides, remains unmoved; but not the man who is full of desires.

The mind which runs outside, carried away by the senses is full of evil qualities, the chief among which is ceaseless and insatiable desire, born of rajas and tamas.
The mind that is controlled by buddhi is pure.
The pure mind is peaceful.
Desirelessness is peace.
Krsna gives us a beautiful picture vividly illustrating this wonderful truth.
Water rises from the ocean as vapour.
The wind drives it over the land where the clouds drift over hill-tops and the water comes down as rain.
As little streams and rivers, it is then drawn down, and its fate before it reaches the plains is one of extreme uncertainty and restlessness.
As it flows over the plains, it is a bit calmer, but not till it reaches the ocean does it attain that supreme peace which was its own original nature!
However, the vapour that rises from the ocean regains its original state at once if it rains on the ocean itself.
The ocean itself remains the same all the time.
The man who is ignorant and full of rajas and tamas is like the cloud driven over the land - restless and unhappy.
Only when he reaches the plain of the guru's feet and satsang does he have a little peace.
After much restlessness he attains God, the ocean.
But the desireless, sattvika man knows how to redirect every desire into its own source, the self.
When a desire arises in the mind, let it get reabsorbed into itself, the source of bliss.
The self or what-is does not undergo increase or decrease, though all life apparently emerges from it and returns to it.

February 28

the threshold of liberation

2 - Sankhya Yoga - The Yoga of Self-Knowledge.

II:71 - The man attains peace who, abandoning all desires moves about without longing, without possessiveness, and without egoism.

The egoless man is not a lifeless stone.
He lives; only he lives.
He lives in God and God lives in him and works through him.
His actions are not governed by profit-motive.
He is not egoistic in whatever he does.
The egoless man is an inspiration to all mankind.
He is God on earth.
He possesses nothing, yet even an emperor is a pauper compared to him.
My Master used to say: "A sannyasin is one who has no bank balance of his own, but operates on the purses of all; one who has no house of his own, but dwells in the houses of all."
The man who constantly uses the two words 'I want...' is a pauper even if he is an emperor; only a beggar is constantly in want.
On the other hand, he who is free from the sense of want is the emperor of emperors.
He is a sage, a man who has no desires, no sense of possessiveness and no egoism.
This is the greatest teaching.
This is the message of Krsna.
My Master was fond of this verse.
Meditate on this verse every morning.
Study daily stories of great sages like Jada Bharata who lived such a life of total renunciation, and yet moved about and even worked (Jada Bharata carried Rahugana's palanquin!) in this world.
Desire is the cause of our woes.
Desire binds us to samsara.
Desire keeps us away from God.
Desirelessness is the threshold of liberation.
You cannot even desire to be desireless.
True, desire for self-realisation ends all other desires and, if it is genuine, ends itself.
But, even that desire has to be abandoned.
Desire for God is desire, 'for God' is an after-thought. Desire and self come to an end when source is investigated.

February 29


2 - Sankhya Yoga - The Yoga of Self-Knowledge.

II:72 - This is the seat of Brahman, O Arjuna. Attaining to this, one is not deluded. Being established therein, even at the end of life, one attains to oneness with Brahman.

To be totally desireless, mine-ness-less and egoless, is to live in tune with the infinite.
The ego is the limiting factor.
It is this sense of separation that is subject to grief and suffering, to sin and to sorrow.
Since even this arises in the reality or cosmic consciousness, it is experienced as if it (the sense of separation) were real!
In fact, it is a non-entity.
It is but the aggregate of beginningless ignorance, conditioning and thought.
In its shadow, the cell which is one with the body of God, an integral part of the body of God, forever inseparable from it, assumes individual, private, limited and egoistic existence.
It enjoys for a moment now and then, and suffers over long periods.
The momentary joy arises when a 'desire' subsides; sorrow when the desire prevails.
It is deluded into thinking that there is diversity here, feeling that some are good and others are evil, some friends and others enemies.
This delusion-created conditioning or diversity is the field for the ceaseless play of manifold evil.
All sins have their origin in it; all problems arise in it; it is restlessness itself.
One who is free from this egoism is rid of this delusion and thus the offsprings of delusion.
He is never deluded.
He has experienced the infinite in the egoless state.
No words can describe this experience; the mind is powerless to grasp it.
Here is a hint and a warning: if one is established in this cosmic consciousness, one will not be deluded.
In other words, if one is inclined to be deluded, obviously one is not established in it.
If, however, one falters in it (as Jada Bharata did), even at the hour of death, one is subject to birth and death.
If one is firmly established till the last hour, he attains to brahma-nirvina, final liberation.
This is the goal of life.
Eternal vigilance or ceaseless awareness is the path.

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