Tree of Knowledge
By Niranjana KarthigaiRajan
As William Arthur Ward said, “Another fresh new year is here. Another year to live! To banish worry, doubt, and fear. To love and laugh and to give.” The new year is almost upon us and there is jubilation all around with exchange of wishes, dance, parties, live concerts, and what not.
Are we not just restricting the celebration only for the perishable body? Wouldn’t it be wise to extend this ecstasy to the immortal atma?
For the coming year, it’s high time for us to indulge in retrospection and decide on some life choices to transcend the veil of Maya.
I’d like to suggest to readers to think about goal-setting differently, with a focus on moral and spiritual excellence. As we bid farewell to the year that’s drawing to an end and prepare ourselves to welcome the new year, similarly it’s time for us to free ourselves of bad qualities and cultivate good ones instead.
Trio of Purity
Our scriptures lay great emphasis on “Tri Karana Suddhi” which encompasses purity and unity of thoughts, words and deeds. That is, one has to align one’s speech and deeds with one’s thoughts. Generally, thoughts, words and deeds are not synchronized since the mind is easily attracted by sense objects.
In the Bhagavad Gita, Lord Krishna talks about ‘Arjavam’ – meaning speaking what we really think, and doing what we speak. While we understand and pay attention to purity of the body by bathing and nourishing it, we forget to cultivate sattva guna (the quality of being virtuous) which is crucial for the purity of the mind. Like a mirror that attracts dust easily, so is the mind. It has to be consciously cleansed on a regular basis to rid ourselves of negative tendencies.
While it is evident and possible to remove external impurities, how do we go about to get rid of the impurities of the mind? Again, we have to seek His help to do so.
Chanting his holy Names (sahasranama) and remembering His incarnations is the only way to achieve purity of mind.
In Bhagavad Gita, chapter 17, from shlokas 14 to 16 Lord Krishna explains about three forms of meditation, which involve the body, speech, and mind.
First, worship of the Supreme, devotion to preceptors, respect to the brahmins, elders and wise men, which is done with purity, honesty and non-violence are regarded as meditation of the body.
Second, words that are spoken without causing distress to others, and which are spoken with truthfulness for the well-being of all living beings, and the practice of recitation of Vedic mantras and chanting of the Holy Names of the Lord are regarded as meditation of the speech.
Third, clarity of mind (without anger, confusion, jealousy and lust), being compassionate towards all beings, practising silence, steadfastness and purity (without mere indulgence in pleasures) are regarded as meditation of the mind.
Trio for Happiness
A few positive changes in life have the power to bring remarkable benefits. Here are three simple practices for happy living.
- Don’t hold grudges against anyone: One of the five places where the Lord resides is ‘Antaryami’ – within the individual self (jivatma). In Bhagavad Gita chapter 18, shloka 61, Krishna says,” īśhvaraḥsarva-bhūtānāmhṛit-deśhe”. This means, “O Arjuna, I dwell in the hearts of all living beings.” Next time, when you get angry with a person, remember that even within that person resides the Lord. Furthermore, it is imperative to have consideration for all living beings.
- Read at least 10 shlokas a day: Worldly sufferings are only due to ignorance. Reading scriptures like Ramayana, Srimad Bhagavatam and Gita daily helps to alleviate sufferings.
After the Kurushetra war, while Krishna leaves for His divine adobe – Sri Vaikuntam – Uddhava tells Krishna that he can’t contemplate life without Krishna. To which Krishna responded that in this Kali Yuga He Himself dwells in Srimad Bhagavatam.
With Bhagavad Gita being His divine words and Srimad Bhagavatam being His abobe, they are like nectar for us to devour.
- Meditate for at least 15 minutes daily: Make it a habit to meditate upon the Lord, sparing at least 15 minutes from your daily routine to contemplate on His beauty and divine qualities. Meditation calms down the mind and induces positive thinking, love, compassion, and helps one to get rid of anxiety and depression.
As Mark Twain said, “The secret of getting ahead is getting started”. Hopefully at least one of the Trios suggested above will resonate with you in the coming year and help you achieve spiritual excellence for a happy and contended life!
Happy New Year 2020.
* Published in print edition on 27 December 2019