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This discourse is a chapter from the book "Yoga Samhita".
Sri Swami Sivananda
Study daily the story of Avanti Brahmin that occurs in Srimad Bhagavatha (Book of God). You will be greatly inspired. This story places before you the great ideal of egolessness. The Avanti Brahmin was persecuted in a variety of ways by his own kith and kin and the other people. He bore it all with a smile on the face and was ever immersed in his Self-knowledge.
Similarly a person is praised by some and criticised by others. Patience and perseverance is necessary if you are to receive something grand. Become an embodiment and exemplar of the Mahamantra that I always sing "Bear insult: bear injury: this is the highest Sadhana (spiritual practice)." Spiritual growth should not be measured by the length of time you are able to sit on Padmasan (lotus posture), by the number of Siddhis (psychic powers) that you possess, by the lights that you see during meditation and the sounds that you hear; these are all minor things. Spiritual growth can be truly measured by the extent to which you have got rid of the egocentric irritability that is found in great abundance in a worldly man. This is the most difficult thing. When a person abuses you, criticises your work, vilifies you and scandalises you, are you able to maintain the equilibrium of mind and ignore these things as mere vibrations in the ether, which do not touch the majesty of your resplendent Atman (Self)? Then you have truly progressed in your Sadhana; you have achieved something.
Therefore whatever be the other forms of Sadhana that you practise, I always say you should develop the great virtue of adaptability which contains in it all the element of humility, simplicity, patience, tolerance, perseverance and sincerity. The aim of Sadhana is the curbing of the ego which veils the Truth, the supreme Self that resides within your heart, the Satchidananda Atma (Existence-Consciousness-Bliss Absolute Self) that you are in reality. Adaptability and the diligent practice of "Bear insult and bear injury" will enable you to achieve this aim. But it is not so easy. A small word will upset you to such an extent that you would instantly fly into a rage. You will lose your temper in no time. You know it is bad to get angry; yet, when the time comes, when your patience is put to test, when someone criticises you or abuses you, you will instantly lose control over your temper. This is Maya. Eternal vigilance is necessary to guard yourself against this evil. Service of humanity is indispensable if you are to acquire perfect control over the mind, if you wish to eradicate this egoism (Abhiman), the greatest and the most inveterate enemy of a true Sadhaka (aspirant). When you see some light during meditation, do not imagine you have attained Self-realisation. It is not so easy; after several births only you can hope to attain Self-realisation. BAHUNAAM JANMANAAMANTE JNANAVAN MAM PRAPADYATE. But, if you practise this supreme virtue of adaptability, if you are patient, forgiving and loving, you will attain the goal very quickly.
There are different types of people in this world; and in moving with them all you have constantly to adapt, adjust and accommodate. This is the relative world, of good and evil; so you have to be tolerant, forgiving, loving. That is the way to Eternal Bliss. That is the way to regaining your essential divine nature. That is the goal of life; attain this by selfless service, cosmic love, meditation, living a simple life, taking Sattvic (pure) diet and entertaining sublime thoughts.
Please read Gurudev's article, Conquest of Anger for more information on how to get rid of this dire disease.
The story of the Avanti Brahmana is narrated in the 23rd chapter of the 11th book of the Srimad Bhagavatam (Book of God). Sri Swami Venkatesanandaji has translated this book into English and has beautifully arranged it into a form for daily reading. The story of the Avanti Brahmana is reproduced here from his translation.
THE BRAHMANA OF AVANTI
Lord Krishna instructed Uddhava:
It is easier to bear physical injury than insult. A good man is deeply hurt by insults hurled at him by wicked people. There is a story to illustrate this:
There was a brahmana in Avanti. He was a very rich miser, hence his own close relations and even the gods, the ancestors, holy men, human beings and animals turned against him, as he failed to perform the five great daily sacrifices enjoined upon a householder. Hence, all his merits exhausted, the wealth (in the acquisition of which he had exerted so much) left him. His relations took a portion, robbers another and the rest was lost either by accident, taxation or by being corrupted by time.
Now a destitute, the brahmana grew despondent and cursed himself: "What a dreadful thing this wealth is! It is root-cause of all evil and of all sin and suffering in this world. Theft, cruelty, falsehood, pride, lust, anger, arrogance, hypocrisy, disharmony, hostility, mistrust, love of gambling and misery - these are all evils which arises directly from wealth. Hence one who aspires for final beatitude should never aspire for wealth (artha) which is truly evil (anartha). Wealth estranges friends and close relations and transforms them into enemies. I have wasted my life and energy in amassing and hoarding this mortal enemy, while death is forever knocking at my door. Yet, I am sure I have the supreme grace of Sri Hari on account of which I have grown despondent and also wise, before it is too late. Whatever time is left for me on this earth I shall devote to the adoration of the Lord. It is not impossible for me to attain his feet: Khatvanga attained it within a short time by whole-hearted devotion."
Immediately he took to the mendicant order of life. With mind and senses fully controlled, with the knots of egoism and mineness undone, he wandered about as a mendicant. People, however, did not understand him. Some took him for mad man, spat on him, caged him and tortured him. Whatever sufferings (natural, divine or physical) came to him, he cheerfully welcomed as his lot.
The BRAHMANA said to himself:
Neither these people, nor a god, nor the self, nor the stars and planets, nor karma, nor time is responsible for my pleasure or pain; mind alone is the cause, for it is the mind that keeps this wheel of birth and death revolving. The mind activates the three guna (qualities of nature) and from them proceed different kinds of actions and their consequent reactions (involving one in repeated birth and death). The Lord who is seated in my heart is a pure witness of all this. He is my true friend; but I, the jiva (individual soul), get involved in the modifications that the mind undergoes and hence become bound. They extol virtues like charity - but if one's mind is tranquil, what does he achieve by means of charity, and if his mind is uncontrolled, what does he gain from charity and so on? He who is unable to control his greatest enemy (his own mind) treats others as friends and enemies!
If another person is held responsible for my sorrow, does it not imply that one body is hurting another body; if the teeth bites the finger, who is to be blamed? Even so, if a god is held responsible for one's sorrow, the god inflicts pain on himself (as he presides over the different organs of the body), not on the atman, which is distinct from the mind and the senses. If one's own soul, the atman, is responsible for one's sorrow, then where is the sense in rebelling against one's own nature? The stars and planets can exert their beneficent and malefic influence only on the physical body, so why should I, the soul, get angry with them? Even so, karma affects only the body which the karma gave birth to. Body is material and the soul is pure consciousness. If karma means action (and its consequent reaction), such a thing possibly does not exist in reality, as neither a material substance nor pure consciousness can act. If time is held responsible for our sorrows it incurs no blame either, for the soul and time are identical with the supreme being. Hence, the atman which is omnipresent and therefore not limited, which is pure consciousness and therefore not subject to materiality, has nothing whatsoever to do with sorrow. He who has realised this truth is never afraid of any being. Firmly established in this realisation I shall shake off the illusion of samsara (cycle of birth and death) , by the grace of the Lord Krishna.
Lord Krishna continued:
Even so, with your whole being focused on me, control your mind. This indeed is the highest yoga. He who contemplates this sublime and inspiring narrative of Avanti Brahmana is not affected by dualities like pleasure and pain, happiness and unhappiness.
Last Updated: Monday, 21-Feb-2005 21:24:54 EST
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