To live or to lead?

Some years ago, a wise gentleman told me thus: "Many people think that living a life is sufficient, but its really leading a life" or something to that effect. It made sense alright, but I was so blunt that I didn't think that that rule applied to me. I had come down from neck-deep of spiritual following to only knee-deep. Still, I'd hopes. And hopes are what have brought me this far through nowhere land!

Success is a difficult thing in spirituality, more than it is in the world out there. People, unfortunately, have a common worldly yardstick to measure even your success on the spiritual side, not knowing that the units are totally different and cannot be even converted by your regular math! Now then, how are we to prove our spiritual worth to the world that stands as a witness, whether or not you want it there at your doorstep? We needn't! The day we feel the need for others to tell us about how well we are doing on the path, thats the day we can throw our beliefs aside and pump up the ego, slip down, fall and rethink our priorities.

Coming back to the original question then, I agree up to an extent. We do lead our lives, and that comes naturally to us since birth, the way we are taught. However, that is the precise reason we are in this karmic debt of needs and wants. We are repaying for our wanting to lead not only our life but others' lives as well. Plain vanilla living, first letting go of our wants and then slowly moving toward letting go of what we consider as needs too, is easier said than done. Its a moment of truth when we give into the belief that I'm alive not due to my leading the life, but despite it; some higher force-- that prANa-- takes care of me, without my involvement, whatsoever. All my involvement just increases this span of surviving across lives, dragging me further away from the truth than I stand today.

So, instead of leading my own life into eternal set of lives, I'd rather go with the flow and say so: The same force that made me give up my job might make me take up another, and that is okay... I'll be ready when I'm ready.

om tat sat

Let the sun shine

On this occasion of the longest solar eclipse of the century, I woke up to my sAdhana and had a blog coming to my mind. This one is about that series of thoughts that occurred to me in my morning oblations to the sun. A solar eclipse is supposed to be an auspicious time for religious and spiritual pursuits since it brings more fruits than other regular times. Its a time when people take a holy dip in the rivers around India and take to mantra japa or such.

Be as it may, grahaNa or eclipse has a different meaning for me. The sun being hidden by the moon to make it disappear from the earth's vision is of a deep philosophical significance. It has a hidden spiritual import; the prayers do too. Its a time for us to pray and ask the Sun to shine and bring us out of the darkness that moon has caused us to be in. The moon has not affected the sun, but only us earthlings. One is blinded by the darkness of ego and cannot see the Self. In other words, jIva is blinded by an ashuddha antahkaraNa that cannot shine the reflection of the Atman just as the moon doesn't shine anymore during the eclipse as we can see only the dark side of it.

As the chitta cleanses itself of all the dark habits, the Atman shines again as a reflection, at first in the antahkaraNa and then as the reflection itself burns the dust off the chitta, the Atman shines brightly, swallowing all the darkness there ever was. The sun alone remains when seen at directly, even with closed eyes. Wherever you look then, the sun will appear in bright spots on the vision elsewhere. That Atman once looked at directly (that is,by shravaNa, manana and nidhidhyAsana) too will appear in all our vision.

The prayers during the eclipse are really prayers for us to see that Sun which shines even during the nights, even in our deepest of sleeps; that Sun is the Self. The eclipse to get over is a wait for moksha. The moon covering up the sun is a natural occurrence, just as day-to-day things cause darkness in our lives. And this, my friends, doesn't happen to just you and me. Since its a karmabhoomi, - this Earth is - it occurs to anyone born here in any form. It happened to Bhagavan Rama as well!

As the legend goes, Rama was upset about his failing triumph over Ravana. Thats when Rama prayed to Agastya Rishi and took the upadesha on prayers to the sun, which came to be known as Aditya hRdayaM. Since time immemorial, stories in India are made in such a way that the meaning is applicable to daily life as it appears on the face of it, as well as containing a hidden teaching that will open up and become sAdhaka's tool during manana! Surely, this hymn helped Rama know the Truth and win over Ravana in the battle that followed thence.

The last two stanzas of Aditya hRdayaM go thus:

esha supteshu jAgarti bhUteshu parinishThitaHesha evAgnihotraM ca phalaM caivAgnihotriNAm (A.H. 23)
Salutations to the Lord who abides in the heart of all beings keeping awake even when they are asleep. He is both the sacrificial fire and the fruit enjoyed by the worshippers thereof.

vedASca kratavaScaiva kratUnAM phalameva cayAni kRtyAni lokeSu sarva esha raviH prabhuH (A.H. 24)
The sun is indeed the Lord of all action in this universe. He is verily the Vedas, the sacrifices ordained therein and the fruits thereof.

bhAskarAya namonamaH

Hats off to BSNL jokers!

I returned home after a gap of almost a month, which means my internet was untested all this while. I've voiced earlier of the painfully incompetent services of BSNL broadband and thirdrate Chinese modems of theirs.

This time around, I was not getting many ADSL failures like earlier, but DNS failures. I'd set the DNS to opendns and tried. Then DDNS. Then static DNS IPs. And of course, auto discovered ones too. Well, I tried everything that there was to try with DNS, including putting my own DNS cache on the laptop. I still get DNS failures. Forget technicality, lets get to discussing the unique BSNL support...

Three days back, I called my local BSNL JTO who, on complaining, went on so:

JTO: Do you use Windows Vista?
me: No Sir, I use Ubuntu Linux now.
JTO: Saheb, we know nothing about Linux.
me: (pissed off) Why does that matter? I can log onto your modem and test it and see failures. ADSL passes, ATM OAM segments pass. DNS fails.
JTO: DNS will pass only if you can connect and login. So it can't be DNS problem.
me: Thats what I'm saying; everything passes, DNS doesn't. This thing's happening since the past 3 months and the BSNL DNS servers are almost always down.
JTO: Oh, I'll give you a no. call there, we can't do anything about DNS issues.

I take the no. and try endlessly to get through and finally I do after half or one hour. They listen to everything and I hear in the background someone saying "Ask him to complain in writing". The fella says that his Saheb will call back! Of course, no one does. Their own phones are out of order when I try again!

I'm back to my local JTO now some time back and this is how that went:

me: Saheb, namaskar. I called up three days back regarding a DNS problem and your people said they'd call back. They didn't.
JTO: I gave you that no. because we can't do anything abt DNS stuff. If its username issue, ADSL not "glowing", we can look into.
me: Sir, I think its the issue with the modem now. I've tried everything and now I do suspect the modem.
JTO: It can't be the modem. It just communicates. Thats all.
me: (huh!) The modem may have some cache/ memory issues and overflow errors because it conks off every 15 mins and works on reset again and DNS workaround settings for another 15 mins.

The JTO gets into warranty talk and all that. Then this happens:
JTO: Do you have a laptop?
me: Yes.
JTO: I don't have a computer here. If you're free, get your laptop here. You don't need to bring the modem, I've plenty. What I'll do is hook you up to your line here, you can login and test here. You'll know if its a modem problem. I'm here in office today.
me: (what the heck!) Yes, yes, I'll call up and come over. Thanks a bunch, Sir.
JTO: Thank you, saheb.

I'm banging my head now. I got an unpaid job offer from BSNL to check and troubleshoot my BSNL broadband for which I pay and they get salaries! BSNL has awesome and one-of-a-kind support, won't you agree? BSNL zindabad. Since then, I've tried calling and surfing for an option to BSNL broadband and of course, failed, thanks to godforsaken place called Vasai. :)

Thoughts 102-103

102. Life is a happening.

103. Death is a temporary painkiller.

Yet another tribute to Shani

Shani troubles every sentient being in many ways, either as a part of his being in the daSA-bhukti or as his sAde sAti cycle that goes on for 7.5 yrs. This is just another story of his achievements.

Shani was set to trouble Shiva in his regular way. In negotiations, Shani had asked for a short period of time, when he has to affect Shiva and Shiva refused. Shiva being Ishvara himself felt that he shouldn't be affected by Shani and so he wouldn't be affected by Shani! This came out as a challenge between the two, one trying to trouble the other and the other thinking that he wouldn't be affected at all, being all-powerful. Shiva had a plan, he decided to hide during the time Shani was to influence him, meaning Shani will have to find him first. That seemed to work. Now, one version of the story says that Shiva hid under a pond and another that he hid inside a horse becoming tiny, but the fact remains that he did hide during the time. Obviously, Shani couldn't find him, at least thats what Shiva knew, because the time period of challenge had passed without Shiva confronting Shani's laid out troubles.

At the end, Shiva came out of his hiding and claimed to have won the challenge saying that Shani couldn't find him at all. To this, Shani responded that the troubles can come in any way and may not even be obvious, but they are troubles nonetheless. Why else would the ruler of the three worlds, Ishvara himself, give up his ruling for the time he was affected by Shani and hide instead?! And so did Shiva agree that Shani had, indeed, influenced him. :)

nilAnjana samAbhAsaM raviputraM yamAgrajaM
chhAyAmartanda sambhutaM taM namAmi shanaischaraM