Sanskrit Times – Episode 4

Hi Readers,

Hope you’re doing well, wherever you’re in the world. Today I am going to share a couple of verses from one of the great works of an 8th century Indian Philosopher Sri Adi Shankaracharya – Bhaja Govindam. It is a song/poetry that reminds the sage’s followers to reflect on the Truth (so as to be free from illusions of the mind). It starts like this:

bhaja govindaṃ bhaja govindaṃ
govindaṃ bhaja mūḍhamate |
samprāpte sannihite kāle
nahi nahi rakśhati ḍukriṅkaraṇe

Sing the name of Govinda*, Repeat the name of Govinda,
Serve Govinda, oh deluded mind!
At the time of your death,
Rules of grammar will not save you.

bāla stāvat krīḍāsaktaḥ
taruṇa stāvat taruṇīsaktaḥ |
vṛddha stāvat-chintāmagnaḥ
parame brahmaṇi koapi na lagnaḥ
bhaja govindaṃ bhaja govindaṃ
govindaṃ bhaja mūḍhamate

Childhood flickers by in play;
in youth, one is attached to sense pleasures;
in old age, one is burdened with worry and anxiety.
Life slips by without one ever paying heed to the attainment
of Self-Knowledge, knowing Brahman**
Oh deluded mind, sing the name of Govinda,
Repeat the name of Govinda, serve Govinda.

*Govinda literally means cowherd. Historically, it refers to the God Personality – Krishna. (Replacing this name with Jesus or Buddha – wouldn’t alter the intention of the author).

**Brahman is the Ultimate Reality, commonly referred as “Self”. Advaita Vedanta (Non-duality) philosophy says our Soul is the Self – but this knowledge is hidden because of our identification with body, and mind (which are bound to pleasure and pain). Self-realization is possible through the practices of Yoga.

I hope you find this post useful. Thank you so much for reading.

A gentle introduction to Yoga

The term Yoga, though popular, remains superficially understood by most of us. Despite having grown up in India, I always had thought Yoga is a form of physical exercise. If you think of Yoga the same way, this post is right for you.

The short story is that – Yoga means Union.
– Is it the union of the body, the mind and/or the soul?
– Is it the union of God’s Consciousness with the Human Consciousness?
– Is it the union of the soul and the Holy Spirit?

I leave it to you to decide. Depending on your personal identity – this may vary.
Let’s now look into different ways of attaining such a remarkable union.

1.Yoga as Action/Service (Karma Yoga)
– Action here implies nurturing the righteous (Dharma) way of living.
– You might want to read one of my earlier posts (jump to point 3 in the post).
– For example, Mahatma Gandhi is a Karma Yogi. (NB: The scripture Bhagavad Gita played a crucial role in Gandhi’s life.)

By dedicating all your works to Me, you will be freed from the bondage of good and bad results. With your mind attached to Me through renunciation, you will be liberated and will reach Me.

Bhagavad Gita

2. Yoga as ‘Asana
– This is the Yoga as we all know of. It is a set of body postures that involve gentle twisting, balancing poses accompanied by conscious breathing.
– This also includes Meditation.

3.Yoga as Devotion (Bhakti Yoga)
– This involves Prayers, Singing the Gods’ names with deepest yearning for the divine connection and so on.
– This is also called as the path of Love.

If one offers to Me with devotion a leaf, a flower, a fruit, or even water, I delightfully partake of that article offered with love by My devotee in pure consciousness.

Bhagavad Gita

4.Yoga as ‘Inner’ Wisdom (Gnana Yoga)
– Understanding the deepest mysteries of the human mind consciousness itself is a form of Yoga. You might translate this into Intellectual form of Yoga. As an example, Socrates is a Gnana Yogi.

An unexamined life is not worth living.

One thing only I know, and that is that I know nothing.

I know that I am intelligent, because I know that I know nothing.

Socrates

Having laid out these techniques, I’d also like to state that there is no one particular path for all beings. Probably, that is why we have different options, no? It’s been said that for a sincere aspirant, the path shall be laid before him/her. However, it is also evident that none of these paths are completely distinct from the rest.

It doesn’t matter if one is an atheist or a monotheist or a polytheist, these techniques remain valid to live a righteous living.

I hope this post was useful to you. Thank you for reading.

What do you think is your path, as of now? 🙂

Three Kinds of Action (Yoga)

I’m glad you’re here to share the VoidSpace with me today!

The word Action has a huge significance in Indian/Eastern philosophy. In fact, one of the ways to interpret the word Yoga is to think of Action. We also are very much familiar with the term Karma (Fruits of Action) and its significance in our everyday life.

Let me expand the three kinds of Action as I have understood:


1. Action:

  • Performing duties to fulfill the expectations posed into us by the society, friends and family.
  • The mind is mostly restless with ever-growing material needs/desires.
  • There is a strong attachment to the outcomes of the actions.
  • There is a conflict between the Heart and the Mind.
  • External world is given a higher priority than one’s own inner being.
  • There is pleasure and pain, success and failure, happiness and depression, health and disease. i.e., there is duality.

2. Non-Action:

  • To simply put, this implies non-utilization or under-utilization of resources (The mind, the senses and the body) to live in Harmony.
  • This involves serious laziness.
  • This is ignorance of extreme kind.
  • This leads to disease, and death.

3. Actionless Action (Righteousness = Dharma):

  • This involves doing actions only for the sake of bringing more and more Peace, Harmony and Health into our lives and other sentient beings.
  • This involves renunciation of the desired or non-desired results of the action.
  • There is no space for panic attacks, depression, or ego-based pride.
  • The thinking mind is in its true “Home” – the Heart. There is no conflict between each other.
  • There is no one external to be pleased and nothing to chase.
  • It is, therefore, possible to perform the action using a ‘single-pointed’ mind and pure dedication (the success probability is higher + inner contentment is guaranteed).
  • Most importantly, pleasure and pain are alike to the doer as she is in touch with her inner being.

Feeling confused?

Jesus Christ says “And why are ye anxious concerning raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin:“. Here, the lilies of the field perform Actionless Action.

Krishna says “Those who see action in inaction and inaction in action are truly wise amongst humans. Although performing all kinds of actions, they are yogis and masters of all their actions.

Still not clear? Let’s talk in comments! 🙂