Acharya's Call Part-II

H.H. JAGADGURU’S Madras Discourses


Part II

HH Mahaswamiji
37    Purpose of Life

God has endowed us with some special powers which insects, birds, and animals do not have. We are able to think, to speak, to meditate and to probe into the secrets of nature. We are capable of great achievements, with the aid of the machines we ourselves invent. Generally speaking, the lower order of creation, like insects, birds and animals, live happily in furrows, nests or caves. They eat, grow, multiply, and then die. They do not live in constant fear. They are affected by lust (kaama) and anger (krodha) only occasionally. On the other hand, human beings are subject to constant fears, some real and some imaginary. We are afflicted by lust, anger and hatred. We also suffer pain and grief.

In God’s creation, there is a purpose in everything. Flowers that blossom at dusk are white, which is the only color distinguishable in darkness, and bees are attracted to them both by their whiteness and their fragrance. The immense powers with which we are endowed are similarly intended to serve some purpose, because they are unnecessary if we are merely to eat, grow and die, like the other forms of creation. It is our duty to use our intelligence and find out the purpose of God in blessing us with those special powers. Such an intellectual enquiry will lead us to think of the purpose of life. Great saints and thinkers who have conducted such an enquiry have all come to the identical conclusion that the purpose of the present life should be to strive for eliminating future births. That is Vedanta.

A ball rebounds from a wall with the force with which it is thrown at it. Similarly every thought and action has its own reaction, which again leads to further thought and action. This process of action and reaction will go on endlessly, unless checked in time. Therefore, our concern should be to end this cycle of action and reaction. Mind is the cause of both bondage and liberation – Mana eva manushyaanam kaaranam bandha mokshayoh मन एव मनुष्याणाम् कारणम् बन्धमोक्षयो:. We must learn to control our mind, thought, speech and action, conquer kaama (desire) and krodha (anger) and not succumb to fear and sorrow. This can be done by listening to and digesting and practicing the advice of good men, eschewing evil thoughts, and meditating upon goodness and the source of all goodness. He, who is able to achieve this, even when he is alive, gets liberated from further births and attains bliss. Sri Krishna says in the Gita:

शक्नोतॊहैव य: सोदुम् प्राक्शरीरविमोक्षणात्।

कामक्रोधोद्भवम् वेगम् स युक्त: ससुखी नर: ||

Saknoteehaiva yassodhum praak sareera-vimokshanaat;

Kaama–krodhodbhavam vegam sa yuktah sasukhee narah.

After death, a man is what he has been just before his death. If he has not controlled lust and anger in this life, and acquired peace of mind and joy, he cannot have them after death. That is why Sri Krishna said ihaiva  इहैव (here, in this life itself) and explained the meaning of ihaiva by saying praak sareer vimokshanaat प्राक् शरीरविमोक्षणात् (before the body is cast off). Such a moksha before death will alone bring about moksha after death.

It may be asked whether it is not necessary for the average man to go through the avocations of his life in order to fulfill his worldly obligations and whether he could afford to spend his time and energy in meditation. One is not asked to give up one’s legitimate pursuits necessary for one’s livelihood. But, while being so engaged, one should not lose sight of the essential purpose of life. One should constantly endeavor to purify one’s thoughts and speech and seek the grace of the Divine Mother, by which alone one can get the strength to control kaama and krodha. A dancer balancing a pot on her head, while going through the various movements of the hands and the feet to the accompaniment of music, never for once forgets the pot on the head. Similarly, we should not lose sight of the purpose of life while engaged in our day-to-day activities. This idea is brought out in the following verse:

पुङ्खानुपुङ्ख विषयेक्षण तत्परोपि

ब्रह्मावलोकनधियाम् न जहाति योगि ।

सङ्गीत ताळ लय न्त वशम्गतोपि

मौलिस्थ कुम्भ परिर्क्षन धी: नटीव ॥

Punkhaanupunkha vishayekshana tatparopi

Brahmaavalokana dhiyaam na jahaati yogi;

Sangeeta taala laya nritta vasamgatopi

Maulistha kumbha parirakshana dheeh nateeva.

We should all invoke the grace of the Divine Mother to enable us to fix our aim on the ultimate goal of life and to make ourselves qualified to achieve the state of Eternal Bliss.

May 23, 1958.

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