In the Bhagavad Gĩtā, in one particular ślokā, the Lord talks about four types of devotees:
"chatur-vidha bhajante mam, janah sukritino ’rjuna
arto jijnasur artharthijnani cha bharatarsabha"
arto jijnasur artharthijnani cha bharatarsabha"
There are four types of devotees, and they are: ārta bhaktaḥ, arthārthĩ bhaktaḥ, jijñāsu bhaktaḥ and jñānĩ bhaktaḥ.
Arta bhaktaḥ is one who is a devotee in distress facing varieties of problems. And he wants to worship GOD for freedom from his problems. He is a distressed bhaktā wanting to get freedom from his stress and distress. Whereas, arthārthĩ bhaktaḥ is one who does not have any particular problem now; but, he is engaged in various ventures, and in all of them he desperately wants success. May be an admission in a American university! So, varieties of things a person desires. Whatever he desires is called arthaḥ. arthaḥ means, wealth also. So, arthārthĩ is one who wants success in his seeking. Both ārta & arthārthĩ bhaktās want to worship GOD either to get things or get rid of things. In fact throughout our life, we are only busy either getting things or getting rid of things.
And this bhaktās are so obsessed with his personal needs, he will worship GOD in any manner, suggested by anyone, at any place! If one person introduces a temple somewhere in a unique corner, he will go there and he will go to any temple any church any mosque or any place and offer any form of worship. His aim is: I want to somehow get what I want. I don't mind any type of pũjā. They don't want to know 'who this blessed GOD. But, they are not interested in knowing who this GOD is. How many GODs are there, whether GOD is a male or female or formless, all those details they are not interested. They go by pure faith. They do the pujas hoping their problems will be solved.
Thus, we have got many worshipers of GOD who are not interested in the knowledge of GOD or enquiry in to the nature of GOD. And Lord Krishna says, 'among these ārta and arthārthĩ bhaktās, some of them - in due course, (some of them, not all of them) may get sufficient puṇyam so that from ārta bhakti and arthārthĩ bhakti they become the third variety, a rare variety, called jijñāsu bhaktā. First, they want to know, 'is there a GOD at all?' Right from that, there is a problem; because, modern science - which is most powerful now - is rejecting the very existence of GOD. I should know what is GOD. I should know what is the nature of GOD. This desire comes. 'atatho brahma jijnasa?' (Brahma sũtra 1).
And initially, it is a casual desire. It is not very serious. But, after some time, this desire becomes a burning desire. And he reads all kinds of books in his desire to know about God. He finds that all those books are full of mystic experiences and mystic visions of GOD appearing, giving darśanam and disappearing; and miraculous events happening! God usually is full of mysticism, full of miracles, full of extra-ordinary experiences. But, all of them have got one common statement. They all say, 'you require a guru for guidance'. And he begins guru shopping.
Dayananda Swamiji calls it 'guru shopping'. Going from mall to mall, he looks for guru. And he has got his own concept of guru; and ultimately, he may identify someone or the other as the guru. According to his parameters, he fits in. Preferably, a person whose looks are extraordinary! Because, if a person is dealing with a mysterious GOD and mysterious visions, the person also should preferably look mysterious and extra-ordinary. But suppose, because of his extra-ordinary punyam, he gets a guru - looking ordinary or extra-ordinary - whatever the look may be, suppose he gets a guru who belongs to the vedic tradition. vaidika paramparāgata guruḥ, which guru paramparā we are worshiping on vyāsa pũjā day.
Nārāyanam aṇṇaamm padmabhuvam vasistham saktim ca tat putra parasaram ca vyasam suktam gaudapadam mahantam govinda yogaindra mathasya sisyam.
Sri Sankaracharya mathasya padmapadam ca hastamalakam ca sisyam tam totakam vartika karam anyan asmad gurun santatam anto’smi
So, if he finds traditional guru, coming in vaidika paramparā, he is very, very fortunate. Imagine this disciple approaches such a guru. And his expectations are based on all the GOD realisation books he had read. Therefore he thinks, the guru will teach him varieties of meditations, through which he can have mysterious experiences; mysterious visions he can get. Thus, he goes with an expectation of learning varieties of meditations. But a traditional guru, he never, never talks about meditation. Shisya is waiting; waiting with expectation. The guru's first statement is, 'GOD is the topic of this scriptures. Therefore, if you have to know GOD, first you should expose yourself to the teaching of the scriptures'. Thus, a traditional guru always introduces scriptural teaching; never meditation.
All the scriptures are full of guru-śiṣyā dialogue; and in all of them, śiṣyā approaches the guru and surrenders. And the guru says, 'let us start learning'. Arjunā in the Gita surrenders to Krishna and says - "śisyaste’hm sadhi mam tvam prapanam - - 'please teach me'. Kaivalya upaniṣad that we are studying begins - "adhĩ̃hi bhagavan brahmavidyāṃ variṣṭhāṃ sadā sadbhiḥ sevyamanam nigudham - 'may you teach'. Thus, traditional guru talks only about exposing oneself to the scriptural knowledge: "śrotavyah manavyah nidhidhyasitavyah" [bṛhadāraṇyakopaniṣat] - 'may you expose yourself to the teaching' and try to assimilate the Lord, as revealed by the scriptures.
Thus, all the scriptural words are those that the guru systematically taught the disciple. So, the fundamental difference between a traditional guru, belonging to vedic paramparā, and any other guru, who does not belong to the paramparā is: tradition starts with teaching; others start with meditation. This is one of the fundamental differences.
Once the teaching starts, all the scriptures reveal GOD in a particular form, which is unique to the prasthānatrayam. Whether it is the upaniṣad or it is the bhagavad gĩtā or it is brahma sũtram - which are the fundamental scriptures - a jijñāsu bhaktā, should be exposed to the contents of this teaching. Iśāvāsya upaniṣad says:
Isavasyam ida sarvam yatkincha jagatvyam jagat
Tena tyaktena bhunjitha ma grdhah kasyasviddhanam
The 'vision of GOD' requires the conversion of our attitude towards this universe. The vision of god involves conversion of our attitude towards the very world we are experiencing. Or, in short, everything that we are experiencing. What is the conversion of the attitude? The upaniṣad says, before the scriptural study, we are looking at everything as world or universe. You have got jagat bhāvanā or prapañca bhāvanā. (bhāvanā means what? Attitude). What should you do? You have to replace the prapañca bhāvanā, displace the prapañca bhāvanā with ĩśvara bhāvanā. That means what? Everything that I am experiencing is none other than ĩśvarā and ĩśvarā only!
Purusa evaeda sarvam yadbhutam yacca bhavyam utamrtatvasyesanah [puruṣa sũktam] sarvam viṣṇumayam jagat.
In the viṣṇu sahasranāma, the first word of bhagavān is, viśvam. viśvam means, what? The whole universe. Therefore, in the vision of the veda, that we are looking at the world as a world is a mistake; but, we have to learn to look at the very universe as ĩśvaraḥ. Therefore, ĩśvara darśanam is not seeing a 'separate' ĩśvarā, who is other than the individual and world. ārta and arthārthĩ bhaktās think: ĩśvarā is a third entity other than jĩva and jagat. There is an extra-cosmic ĩśvarā, which extra-cosmic ĩśvarā I have to see, through mysterious experience. This is the approach of ārta arthārthĩ bhaktā.
But, the vedic approach is, ĨŚVARA DARŚANAM IS SEEING THE WORLD AS ĨŚVARĀ. It is not a separate ĩśvara darśanam; but, learning to see the world itself as ĩśvarā. Therefore, when I systematically study the scriptures for a length of time, my idea of 'world' is replaced - whatever I experience is ĩśvarā. So, jĩva - jagat - ĩśvarā this is the triangle that I imagine. But, veda says, 'there is no jĩva - jagat - ĩśvarā triangle. Triangular format is wrong format'. And veda presents a new format, which is the preliminary binary format. It is individual and GOD alone. .
So, vedic ĩśvara darśanam is, changing my perspective and trying to look at the whole universe with reverence. That is why in viṣṇu sahasranāma, even though we do pũjā to the deity, one of the dhyāna ślokās - which is the most popular one - is,
bhuḥ pādau yasya nābhrviyadasuranilascandra sũ̃ryau ca netre
karnavasah siro dyaurmukhamapi dahano yasya vasteyamabdhih
bhuḥ pādau - the earth is the feet of the Lord, chandra sũ̃ryau ca netre
- chandra and sũrya are the eyes of the Lord. Yasa nabhih viyat - the entire ākāśa is the nāābhi of the Lord, karnau asuh - all the 10 directions are the ears of the Lord. So, you can never talk a secret; everywhere GOD's ears are there! Thus, description of ĩśvarā is, as viśvarũpa ĩśvarā.
Iśvarā is world. world is ĩśvarā! So, drop you obsession with a separate ĩśvarā, other than the world. Once you think of a separate ĩśvarā - other than the world, you will get in to mysticism, you will get in to miracles. veda does not want us to get obsessed with mysticism and miracles and extraordinary visions.
What is the pursuit of GOD? Gradually learning to respect everything that I experience. Every man, every animal, every women, every insect, everything is none other than GOD. In dakṣniṇāmũrti stotram we read -
Bhuur-Ambhaamsy-Analo-[A]nilo-[A]mbaram-Aharnaatho Himaamshu Pumaan
Ity[i]-Aabhaati Cara-Acara-[A]atmakam-Idam Yasya-Eva Muurty[i]-Assttakam
Naanyat Kin.cana Vidyate Vimrshataam Yasmaat-Parasmaad-Vibhoh …..
The pañca bhũtās are the five limbs of the Lord; the Sun and all the stars are limbs of the Lord; all planets are limbs of the Lord. Every living being is the limb of the Lord. Yasya eva murthy astakam - the Lord is called aṣṭa mũrti ĩśvarā. Thus, developing a reverential attitude towards the universe is ĩśvara darśanam. The eyes are the same; but, the attitude behind the mind will have to be transformed. Even in the daily puja, which many people do mechanically, the same idea is conveyed. During every upachara, the mantra is chanted mechanically.
Iam prithivyatmane gandha dhapayami, ham akastmane pushaih pujayami, yam vayvatmane dhupamvyvatmane aghrapayami, ram agnyatmane dipam darshayami, vam amrtamane amrtam mahanaivedayami, sam sarvatmane sarvopacarapujam samarpayami.
Iam prithivyatmane gandha dhapayami - even though he applies chandanam on the idol or photo, he says, prithivyatmane - 'oh Lord, you are in the form of prithivi. You are the earth. ham akastmane pushaih pujayami - thus ākāśa is also you; vāyu is also you. Thus, ĩśvara darśanam according to veda is attitudinal transformation. Miracles we need need not go into, we need not debate. Miracles are there, okay. Not there, okay. But, we are not interested in miracles. Spiritual progress requires changing our attitude towards the universe. There is no other ĩśvara darśanam that veda prescribes, other than attitudinal transformation.
This ĩśvara darśanam should lead to internal sanyāsa. Iśāvāsya upaniṣad says - "tena tyaktena bhunjitha ma grdhah kasya svid dhanam. So, may you renounce the notion that you are seeing the world. May you replace it with the attitude that you are experiencing GOD. When? All the time. Not with eyes closed. With all the sense organs open, declare, 'I am experiencing ĩśvarā all the time'. The entire human life is the rarest opportunity to appreciate the viśvarũpa ĩśvarā, all the time.
Sandhyāvandana mantrās declare, "a satyena rajasa vartamano nivesayan amrtam martyam cha - 'the sun GOD is coming, let me worship'. Every paurṇamĩ is sacred for me; because, moon GOD is available as pũrṇa candraḥ. pũrṇa ĩśvaraḥ is always available.
And once I appreciate 'everything belongs to ĩśvarā and means the totality', I have to renounce two important things. One is mamakāra, the idea that I am the owner of certain things. Since everything is ĩśvarā, everything belongs to ĩśvarā. As I progress in my study, I begin to renounce the idea of ownership and controllership. I should remember, I use everything given by GOD for a few decades. I am only the user. I am never the owner. bhagavān is the owner. He has given only for lease. Lease rent we pay is puṇyam; because, manuṣya janma is due to puṇyam. That is why, only you can listen to the talk. Therefore, because of puṇyam, bhagavān has leased us the human body, in which, I get an opportunity for enjoying viśvarũpa ĩśvarā all the time. In the evening many people go to the beach; but, there also, they eat popcorn and miss the wonderful ocean, the sky, the stars! The whole creation is wonderful. Our own body is an extra-ordinary body. Instead of appreciating the viśvarũpa ĩśvarā, I get obsessed with a few things and develop mamakāra, ownership. And thinking that I can control everything, I worry about the future. But, I should remember, 'I can contribute little to the future as a puny little individual; what is going to happen in the future is decided by ĩśvarā alone'. Thus, once I renounce the idea of ownership and controllership and do whatever I can do in life, then future worry is also not there. Because, everything is ĩśvarā. Future events are also ĩśvarā.
nāsthā dharme na vasu-nicaye naiva kāmopabhoge, yad bhāvyaṁ tad bhavatu bhagavan pūrva-karmānurūpam, etat prārthyaṁ mama bahu mataṁ janma-janmāntare ’pi, tvat-pādāmbhoruha-yuga-gatā niścalā bhaktir astu, [mukundamālā stotram] 'Oh Lord, whatever should happen in the creation according to the law of karma, let it all happen. I am ready; because, all events are nothing but the movements of the Lord alone'. That is why it is called naṭarāja nṛtyam, the cosmic dance. The whole movement of the universe, the rhythmic movement of the atom, rhythmic movement of the solar system, they are all looked upon as the dance of ĩśvarā. Therefore, I don't have to close my eyes for ĩśvara darśanam. I don't require miracles for ĩśvara darśanam. I only should change my bhāvanā, based on the scriptural teaching. Then, ownership is replaced by usership; controllership is replaced by contributorship. Life becomes an enjoyment. Then, the concept of mokṣa also will be different.
Now, we don't look upon this creation as GOD. We look upon this as world. Therefore, we have a negative attitude. Hence, our concept of mokṣa is, running away from the world. 'Somehow I should die; never to come back here again'. That means, we hate the world; which is, totally against the vedic vision. We think, 'we have a world to be hated and we have a GOD somewhere to be loved'. We have to hate the world and run away from the world; 7th chapter to the 12th chapter. He says, 'I have got one higher nature and one lower nature, called parāprakṛti & aparāprakṛti. My own (my own means, bhagavān's) higher nature is CONSCIOUSNESS principle.
parāprakṛti is chaitanyam. And, I have got a lower nature, which is called aparāprakṛti, which is matter'. And, we have to love the GOD who is somewhere else! In vaikuṇṭha or kailāsa, Vedas never accepts that. There is no hateable world and lovable GOD, as an opposite entity. The world you hate is none other than GOD. So, stop hating the world; start revering the world. Mokṣa is freedom from this ignorance.
What ignorance? The world is to be renounced and I have to run to GOD! Run away from the World and run towards GOD - this concept of escapist. Dropping this ignorance and learning to appreciate the universe in its totality and variety, is binary format, jijñāsu bhaktā's attitude number one. What is binary format? Don't say, individual, world and GOD. Forget it. Replace it by individual and GOD alone. There is no such thing called world. "tena tyaktena bhunjitha - renounce the idea that, 'what I have is a hateable world'. Everything is lovable ĩśvarā only! Advesta sarvabhutanam maitrah karuna eva cha [gĩtā12-13] Then, if the jijñāsu bhaktā survives, ... because, those who are obsessed with mysticism and miracles they will not like this. Foolish they are as they renounce the vedic teaching and go in search of mystic guru.
But, if the śiṣya is able to survive, then the guru gives further teaching, which is more profound, which I will summarise today, being gurupũrṇimā day. Bhagavān gives in the gĩtā a very beautiful teaching - from the 7th chapter to the 12th chapter. He says, 'I have got one higher nature and one lower nature, called parāprakṛti & aparāprakṛti. My own [my own means, bhagavān's] higher nature is CONSCIOUSNESS principle. parāprakṛti is chaitanyam. And, I have got a lower nature, which is called aparāprakṛti, which is matter'.
Thus, GOD consists of CONSCIOUSNESS PRINCIPLE and MATTER PRINCIPLE. Brahman andMāyā. parāprakṛti and aparāprakṛti. Everything that you experience is matter. Therefore, it comes under the inferior nature of GOD or aparāprakṛti. Why inferior? Because, it is mixed with pleasure and pain. It is a mixture of opposites. Still, it is also what? It is also ĩśvarā only. What ĩśvarā? aparāprakṛti ĩśvarā. And, there is a higher nature - parāprakṛti. That is brahman. And, how to see that parāprakṛti brahman? Lord kṛṣṇā says –
bhūmir-āpo ’nalo vāyuḥ khaṁ mano buddhir eva cha
ahankāra itīyaṁ me bhinnā prakṛitir aṣhṭadhā (7.4)
ahankāra itīyaṁ me bhinnā prakṛitir aṣhṭadhā (7.4)
apareyam itas tvanyāṁ prakṛitiṁ viddhi me parām
jīva-bhūtāṁ mahā-bāho yayedaṁ dhāryate jagat (7.5)
jīva-bhūtāṁ mahā-bāho yayedaṁ dhāryate jagat (7.5)
The parāprakṛti, the higher nature, the CONSCIOUSNESS - is never an object of experience. It is available in the form of the very 'YOU', the experiencer of everything. Thus, the ultimate teaching is, The whole material universe, including the body and mind, is aparāprakṛti, the māyā part of ĩśvarā; and 'I', the consciousness principle, which is not an object of experience, that 'I', the sākṣi caitanyam is, parāprakṛti. Everything is GOD. So, everything is to be revered. And whatever I experience is the lower GOD; it is material & changing. Whereas, 'I', the experiencer, is the higher GOD. This is the jñānĩ's binary format. '
I' am brahman, the parāprakṛti. What I experience in front is māyā, the aparāprakṛti. Both the 'observer' and 'observed' put together is the 'total' ĩśvarā. 'I' the experiencer am GOD. Experienced world / matter is also GOD. The experiencer 'I' is CONSCIOUSNESS GOD. Experienced is MATTER GOD. So, everything requires only one attitude: Reverence & reverence.
The whole life is a life of worship and reverence. Thus, the traditional vedic paramparā does not involve mysticism, does not involve miracles. Those who are interested let them go. But, our approach is what? I am GOD and whatever I experience is also GOD. sarvam viṣṇumayam jagat. sarvam śivamayam jagat. Finally, sarvam devĩmayam jagat.
This teaching between Guru and Shisya is through the wonderful guru paramparā. Whoever comes to this paramparā is fortunate and it is that paramparā we worship today. With these words I conclude my talk.