The answer is found in Shree Tulsidasji’s Shree Ramcharitramanas, Aranya Kaandam, Descent 3, pgs. 752 -756
During Shree Raama, Mata Seeta and Lakshmana’s stay at Panchavatee, near the Godavari river, Lord Lakshamana who was a great role-model of Bhakti yoga asked Lord Raama for a discourse on –
– spiritual wisdom,
– maya (cosmic illusion)
– bhakti (devotion) and the
– Difference between God and the individual soul.
Lakshmana wanted these answers with the aim to remain devoted to the Lord’s feet and his sorrow, infatuation and delusion may disappear. Lord Shree Raama explained in a nutshell these concepts, as per the Vedas, and asked Lakshamana to listen with his mind, intellect and reason, fully absorbed. So, he was asked to concentrate and understand these with full mind control. Lord Shree Raama explained as follows:
- Maya (cosmic illusion): The feeling of ‘I’, ‘mine’, ‘you’ and ‘yours’ are Maya (illusion). Maya sways people. Maya is controlled by the 5 senses: eyes, ears, nose, mouth and intuition (gut feeling). Maya is limited or unlimited by the mindset and extent of reach within the mind.
– Maya is about sense perceptions
– Maya (illusion) is divided in two types:
b)IgnoranceThese are controlled by the 3 gunas (human attributes/virtues/modes) of Sattva (goodness/ balance), Rajas(passion), Tamas (darkness/ destruction/ ignorance/ chaos).
– In the mode of ignorance, perceptions are strengthened by EGO. These cause destruction through destructive actions, thoughts and deeds.
– Knowledge: brings creation which also holds sway (push and pull) over the 3 modes of human existence (goodness, passion and ignorance), which are directed by the Lord and has no strength of its own. Hence, the Lord is the ultimate controller of all movements and movable energy (even explained in Bhagavat Gita, Chapter 13, text 32).
- Spiritual wisdom: is free from blemishes brought on by e.g. pride, hence sees the supreme spirit equal in all God’s creations.
a) Man: So, the divine Lord explains: Who can be called a Man?
The answer is, ‘he alone of supreme dispassion, who has spurned all supernatural powers and the 3 gunas composing the universe and not affected as if they’re a blade of grass. We know, Lord Shree Krishna says in Bhagavad Gita (Chapter 9, text 6, pg 389) that “not even a blade of grass moves without him directing it.”
b) Individual soul: Lord Shree Raama explains what the individual soul or Jeeva is:
– That alone deserves to be called a ‘jeeva’ which does not know Maya (illusion) nor God nor one’s own self. Hence, it is very clear that man and animals are physical bodies with sense perceptions using eyesight, hearing, smelling, tasting and feeling. The outer physical body allows Maya to enter by the degree to which these openings are sensitized. Remember the concept of “see no evil, speak no evil and hear no evil” we are told which disciplines our mind.
c) If we practice these, we can control our senses, hence our
reactions based on our perceptions, either through ignorance or knowledge.
The individual ‘soul’ (jeeva or atma) on the other hand simply gives life to the physical body which is the vehicle of the 5 senses.
Here, Lord Raama explains that it is Lord Shiva who awards bondage and liberation according to one’s ‘deserts’, transcends all and is the controller of Maaya or illusion in our temporary lives. Hence, Lord Shiva is Mahakaal or the controller of time.
Lord Shree Krishna says in (Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 10, text 23, pg 452) of all the Rudras, I am Lord Shiva. Ultimately Lord Shiva is the mirror image of Lord Shree Krishna.
Hence, the practice by Sadguru of the Isha Foundation of ‘inner re-engineering’ and the immense value of Yoga (Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 6, text 47). One’s ‘deserts’ are served based on one’s karmas caused by actions or inactions, as per Shree Krishna in Bhagavad Gita, (Chapter 18, text 15, pg 681). We use ‘grass’ in a lot of poojas – it represents ‘dispassion’ and spiritual wisdom in its simplicity and significance. Grass is the nutritious food of Gou Mata to produce nutritious milk for us and parsadam for God. This should be the aim for all human beings to evolve their ‘jeeve atma’ if we need to connect with our ‘Paramatma’.
We are currently in the age of Technology and ArtificialIntelligence (AI). Therefore, on Shivaratri remember that our soul is like a ‘computer chip” with immense energy and memory stored of our actions and inactions committed in our lifetime on Earth. Our mind needs to be strong like a central processing unit (CPU) to receive, assimilate and disseminate information. As humans we therefore need to avoid the GIGO principle garbage in, garbage out, rather ensure goodness in, goodness out.
All our actions, thoughts and deeds are performed by the physical body as the sense organs internalize through ‘our mind’ on ‘matters’ which accumulates our karmas, good and bad. Therefore, the individual soul or ‘Jeeva atma’ is what our focus should be, as it is in our human DNA to acquire spiritual wealth; we have intellect through the left and right brain lobes (logic and creative processing), hence we have internal capacity to do this.
At the time of death, all the above matters, as our soul carrying our computer chip data goes into ‘Cloud’ storage waiting for our new chip (soul) award to be determined from Lord Shiva ie: of either bondage (rebirth) or liberation (eternal moksha and bliss) in the Lord’s abode of spiritual realms. Death occurs when the soul or God’s life-living force leaves our physical body, with accumulated memory from our past-life but the new physical body is unconscious of our back-up memory in our soul when we are reborn. We forget everything in our past life, this is Gods design. Hence in earthly bondage we are given a new lease on life based on our past karma, good or bad. Very seldom we are fortunate to reincarnate with some memory but this usually causes pain or happiness for everyone.
Rebirth brings a new place, body, gender, family, friend and work life relations. We all aim for a better life than the one we have here and now. Hence, this Shivaratri Lord Shiva, the all merciful, gives us another chance to connect through our mind to our soul, connect with our creator, preserver and destroyer (the Trinity energies) so that we increase our spiritual wealth and detach from materialism, with mind control. As we meditate, we must remember to enhance good intuition, distinguish good from bad, right from wrong, using perceptions based on knowledge of oneself, and control our senses so that we control our actions and reactions. Shivaratri is a night for Yoga (concentration of the mind), to live a life of mindfulness. We rely on the Yoga of Meditation to make our life’s journey easier in terms of choices we make through transformed knowledge into spiritual wisdom through dispassion.
Finally, Lord Raama explains that ‘dispassion’ results from the practice of virtue while spiritual wisdom come from the practice of Yoga. Good virtues give us strong character, which liberates us as declared in our Vedas. The Lord explains to Lakshamana about devotion or bhakti of devotees. This is a stage in our life that requires no other support, not even from the Lord because bhakti is what most pleases the Lord, i.e.: complete surrender and service to the Lord in all that we do: actions, thoughts and deeds.
Devotion to the Lord, naturally brings dispassion and spiritual wisdom to serve the Lotus feet of the Lord with one’s mind, speech and actions to saints, father, mother, friends, the Lord, deities that will give bliss, removed from lust, pride, hypocrisy. As devotees, we must be fully conscious that Lord Raama says that he stays in the heart of those who depend on him in thought, word, deed and worship him in a detached manner. This is our relationship with the Lord and the Lord’s with us. As devotees we take one step towards the Lord and he takes 100 steps towards us. This Shivaratri remember that Lord Raama prayed to Lord Shiva on the beach for blessings before he went to Lanka to bring back Mata Seeta. Lord Raama defeated King Ravana, such is the glory of worshipping Lord Shiva, the destroyer of human vices which only mind control can achieve.A blessed Maha Shivaratri to all.