Tuesday, March 16, 2010

large shoes, small footprint - भोगा न भुक्ता वयमेव भुक्ताः

pleasures weren't consumed, only we were; penance weren't 'done'; only we were 'done';
time didn't pass, only we passed; thirst was not 'over', only we got 'over'.

bhogā na bhuktā  vayameva bhuktāḥ,  tapo na taptaṃ  vayameva taptāḥ ।
kālo na yāto vayameva yātāḥ, tṛṣṇā na jīrṇā vayameva jīrṇāḥ ॥

bhogA na bhuktA  vayameva bhuktAH,  tapo na taptaM  vayameva taptAH |
kAlo na yAto vayameva yAtAH, tRiShNA na jIrNA vayameva jIrNAH ||

भोगा न भुक्ता वयमेव भुक्ताः, तपो न तप्तं वयमेव तप्ताः ।
कालो न यातो वयमेव याताः तृष्णा न जीर्णा वयमेव जीर्णाः ॥

we all have desires, for pleasures. even the ancient upaniShads accept it "this human is made of desires." but we don't have enough time and money to pursue them all. a lot of hollywood movies also reinforces that. we think that if we have enough money, we will pursue all pleasures, fulfill all our desires and be happy. but interestingly, the pleasures are innumerable and never get over.  e.g. the number of pizzas we can consume is only limited by our stomach, not by the taste buds or pizza makers.

we think we are consuming the pleasures by pursuing them, but they are consuming us, eating us up all the time. to enjoy all the pleasures coming at us at a rate of gushing oil-well, we must earn more, work more, have less time or patience for others and family, get more loan, stick to our current job that pays bills but sucks blood, ... and one day we realize we can't consume any more pleasures because the doctor has advised against it and god might be calling soon as well, but the pleasures are still there!

we don't consume pleasures, they consume us.

this refers to those tapas, austerities done for show off, to get a boon etc., or with a competitive attitude 'i can do it too' rather than the true purpose of refining, distilling, purifying oneself. when we do hardships, bend our back backwards for competition, show off, pride then we are not getting any benefits from it, except that we are burning, spending ourselves. of the eight qualities of great people including austerity, charity, knowledge, yajna, restraint, truthfulness, simplicity and mercy, the first four usually end up being used for showing off, i.e. because others are watching, because we are getting fame, good PR.

we are not burning the competition, the competition is burning us.

time flies when we are having fun! and stops when we are bored. in reality time is not even moving. it is just us moving by, passing by, passing on and passing away! we are all like small airplanes at an airport, each taking off and landing at its own schedule. a little time spent together at a non-descriptive airport and we get attached. and we think time flies or stops. but time is always constant, no matter what relativity says, it is our perception of time that changes.

time is not spent, we are spent. next time, don't try to kill time, for it is only us that are being killed, every minute, every moment. some think of what long life they have lived, some at how little is left. be content with a good life, or else rush on to do some good before the flame goes out. don't just let time pass, do something worthwhile, while the worth is still there, for after a while you won't be worth (doing) or while!

there is pleasure, and there is thirst. one is outside, the other inside. there was a time when the variety of pleasures was less, and maybe desires got stunted for the very rich, after having tasted all pleasures. today, with technology, even the variety of pleasures has gone up.

even if the pleasures, already innumerable, were to be limited, the desires are never limited. the thirst never gets over, we get over. unless we learn to be content, there is no getting over thirst.

desires never get over by pursuing them, but only by our conscious effort to get over them. sure, if you eat 5 mega-size pizzas in one sitting, you may seem to have got over it. or maybe not! it is your stomach rebelling, the tongue could still have had more of the taste! the desire never subsides on its own.

desires are like the fire, the more ghee (butter) of pleasures you put in it, the stronger it grows. all the addicts of the world (addicted to anything - alcohol, drugs, sex, work, limelight ...) will tell you that.

there are three types of seekers - the one who wants to know (curious, जिज्ञासु, jiGYaasu), he one who wants to experience (thirsty, पिपासु, pipAsu), and the one who wants to go beyond both (seeking liberation, मुमुक्षु, mumukShu). e.g. if there is a glass of water on a table, one person wants to know everything about water, its chemistry, physics, geography, environmental importance and what not. but he has not much interest in drinking the water. yet another may not know much, but wants to drink the water, for s/he has experienced thirst and wants to quench it. but yet another may want to go beyond thirst, for its keeps coming back.

yayAti was one such king. due to his transgressing the lines of right conduct, he was cursed to be old much earlier, and had not fulfilled his desires. so he asked his sons to loan him their youth, and one of them agreed. but even after thousand years, yayAti was not able to satisfy his desires, at the end of which he returned the youth to his son, and took renunciation. he said, "desires don't stop by succumbing to them, fire doesn't stop by putting more fuel into it, and all the wealth and resources of the world are not enough for even one addict of pleasures. desires doesn't get old even with old age, only the body gets old."

you are the know-er, not the known. you are the seer, not the seen.
realize your true self, and get beyond the consumption identity.

have a small footprint but large shoes to fill.

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this shloka appears in bhartRihari's (भर्तृहरि bhartṛhari) vairAgya-shatakam. usually, when someone talks about topic A, then every other topic is considered worthless, to emphasize the importance of topic A. similarly, in vairAgya-shatakam, hundred verses on renunciation), the stress is on giving up, and the poet does at times cross the line for ordinary joe-householder.

yet this shloka, simple in language, does remind us of spirituality without offending our limited sensibilities about mundane world.

and now the language aspects of the shloka -

bhogA = bhogAH = consumables, pleasures of life (singular - bhogaH)
na = not
bhuktA = bhuktAH = the one that are consumed (singular - bhuktaH)
vayameva = vayam (we all) + eva (only) = we only
bhuktAH = (are) consumed

tapo = tapaH = heat, austerity, penance, hardships
na = not
taptaM = heated up, hot
vayameva = we only
taptAH = (are) heated up, burnt, spent, used up

kAlo = kAlaH = time
na = not
yAto = yAtaH = one that has passed
vayameva = we only
yAtAH = those that have gone (singular - yAtaH)

tRiShNA = thirst, desire
na = not
jIrNA = tattered
vayameva = we only
jIrNAH = (are) tattered

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(c) shashikant joshi । शशिकांत जोशी । ॐ सर्वे भवन्तु सुखिनः ।
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  1. Thanks for the great post.

  2. Very nicely composed article!! Brings out the common phenomenon of this transitory world, but which most people overlook so very easily!!

    Thanks for your efforts in writing this excellent write up! May sensible people gain something out of it!

  3. Namaste,
    Could you tell me what the etymological meaning of the word 'Makara' (as in Makara, the sea monster mentioned in the Vedas) is?

    Is it Ma-kara (don't do).

    Many thanks.


  4. Beautiful, simply beautiful. Thanks for bringing this wonderful sloka to light and giving it contextual relevance in today's world.


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