“Bhakti brings happiness” – A translation of an Anugraha Bhaashanam by the 35th Sringeri Acharya – Part 1

Sri Gurubhyo Namahapurva mahasannidhanam and acharyal with fan standing smiling

This is a translation in my words of the Tamil Anugraha Bhaashanam given by the 35th Peethadhipati of Sringeri, Jagadguru Sri Abhinava Vidyatirtha Mahaswamiji. It is available here – https://youtube.com/watch?v=7LAwstRXs1E. A great Yogi and Jnani, He adorned the sacred Vyaakyaana Simhaasana of Sringeri from 1954-1989.

This is part 1 of a series of two posts. Some words inside brackets [] have been added by me.

Naraka Chaturdashi 2015,
Jayanti of Jagadguru Sri Abhinava Vidyatirtha Mahaswamiji,
Sri Krishnaarpanamastu,

विशुद्धज्ञानदेहाय त्रिवेदि दिव्यचक्षुषे,
श्रेयः प्राप्तिनिमित्ताय नमः सोमार्धधारिणे॥
viśuddhajñānadehāya trivedi divyacakṣuṣe|
śreyaḥ prāptinimittāya namaḥ somārdhadhāriṇe||

We prostrate, for the sake of attaining shreyas, to the One who adorns the crescent moon on His head, who is of the form of Pure Consciousness established in the Vedas, and who has the divine eye of adhyaatmic wisdom.

नमामि यामिनिनाथ-लेखालंकृत-कुन्तलाम्।
भवानीम् भवसन्ताप-निर्वापन-सुधानदीम्॥
namāmi yāmininātha-lekhālaṁkṛta-kuntalām|
bhavānīm bhavasantāpa-nirvāpana-sudhānadīm||
I bow to the one who has ear-rings adorned with the shine of moonlight, to Bhavani, to the one who is like a river of nectar to extinguish the scorching of this mortal world.

[When Karma doesn’t fructify:]

We do so many good things. Sometimes, upon failing to get the results of those actions, we assume that the karma is ineffective. We do not think about what went wrong in our carrying out of the karma; instead we develop ashraddha (a loss of trust or faith). While doing the karma, there is shraddha in the person. However, when the expected result is not obtained, then what is to be done? The doctor has given the medicine for curing the illness; but that medicine is not working. Then what does this person say – “This doctor is of no use” – that is the attitude. “Whether this doctor is useless, or have you not done in accordance with his prescription?” – if asked thus, well, the answer is that he has not even listened to what the doctor said attentively. Even if he has heard, he has not acted accordingly. Therefore, simply taking the medicine given by the doctor, and not following any other prescriptions like dietary restrictions given, he was going about as he liked. Thus his illness was not cured. But he arrived at the conclusion that the doctor is the one who is useless.

पथ्यम् औषधसेवा च क्रियते येन रोगिना।
आरोग्य-सिद्धिर्-दृष्टाऽस्य नान्यानुष्ठित-कर्मणा
pathyam auṣadhasevā ca kriyate yena roginā|
ārogya-siddhir-dṛṣṭā’sya nānyānuṣṭhita-karmaṇā
– Vivekachudamani

Only if a patient keeps up the requisite diet along with the medicines, he gets back his health. If no diet is maintained, if one eats whatever one wants, but continues to take medicine, there is no guarantee that his illness will be cured. In fact, it might increase also.

Thus, considering this, if we enquire deeply into the way we have performed karma, and if our performance is found to be spotless but yet the karma has not borne fruit, then it is agreeable to decide that shastra is not correct in prescribing this karma. But this is not how we do it.

In doing any karma, there is an appropriate procedure. If it is punya-karma (a good karma done according to shaastra), then we have to start with a process called puṇyāhavacanam. Why do we do this? It is said – तत्र आदौ स्थलसिद्ध्यर्थम् tatra ādau sthalasiddhyartham – in order to purify the place where we perform this punya-karma. It may be clean of the physical (gross) impurities. In order to cleanse the subtle impurities in that area, like those caused by bhūta-pretas, duṣṭa-śaktis, and as a result of that place being used by people who do not have the qualification to use it etc.. These also have to be cleansed. When we do our karma in a place which is physically as well as subtly clean, then we will get the result of that karma. Otherwise, the results might not come.

In the same way, a person may do a lot of Bhagavad-dhyāna. meditation on Ishwara. He will not know how to do it properly, he will follow some haphazard method told by some one who has no authority in this subject. Thus neither the meditation goes well, nor he gets any result. So he thinks meditation is not useful and keeps himself away from it.

[How to do any karma – The attitude of bhakti]

Bhagavatpaada Shankaracharya has mentioned in the Shivaananda Lahari

भक्तो भक्तिगुणावृते मुदमृतापूर्णे प्रसन्ने मनः कुम्भे
साम्ब तवान्घ्रि-पल्लवयुगम् सन्स्थाप्य-सन्वित्-फलं
सत्त्वं मन्त्रमुदीरयन् निजशरीरागारशुद्धिं वहन्
पुण्याहं प्रकटीकरोमि रुचिरं कल्याणमापादयन्॥
bhakto bhakti-guṇāvṛte mudamṛtā-pūrṇe prasanne manaḥ kumbhe
sāmba tavānghri-pallavayugam sansthāpya-sanvit-phalaṁ
sattvaṁ mantramudīrayan nijaśarīrāgāraśuddhiṁ vahan
puṇyāhaṁ prakaṭīkaromi ruciraṁ kalyāṇamāpādayan||

Thus – kalyāṇamāpādayan ruciraṁ puṇyāhaṁ prakaṭīkaromi – “being a person who desires for kalyaana (the most beneficial attainment, or moksha) I will perform the punyaaha-karma“, Bhagavatpaada said. By whom is it done? bhakto bhakti-guṇāvṛte – by the one who is a bhakta, who has bhakti.

[What/why/how is bhakti?]

What is this bhakti like? – It is said – सा त्वस्मिन्प रमप्रेमरूपा – sā tvasmin paramapremarūpā (Bhakti is that attitude of supreme love towards the Lord). Everyone who is a bhakta has some amount of love for the Lord, but it is limited to the extent that his desires are fulfilled. Like it is said – उपाध्यायश्च वैद्याश्च कार्यान्ते अप्रयोजकाः – upādhyāyaśca vaidyāśca kāryānte aprayojakāḥ –  the doctor and the upaadhyaaya are useful only until the job is done. In that category, we put Bhagavaan also. As far as what we desired for doesn’t happen, we go to the Lord and pray to him in the temple. After the desire is fulfilled, one stops going to the temple. Bhakti is not to be like that. How then? It is thus said – sā tvasmin paramapremarūpā. We may love so many things in this world. However, such love for worldly objects is always short-lived. For example, a father may adore his child who is yet a baby. When the child grows up, he begins to ask for things which the father does not want to get him. Thus there may be an argument between them. This argument can become huge, and the relationship may be completely broken.

[Atman is alone the object of love]

What is the reason for such worldly love being short-lived? Bhagavatpaada has mentioned the reason that one truly loves only one thing, and love for other worldly things is not real love or prema. What is that thing which one loves? He has said – It is that ātmākhyavastu, the Atman, one’s own self. This Atman, the “I”, alone is the object of one’s supreme love, always, it is the paramapremāspada. In and through whatever things one may love, one may desire for, it is not really those things which are loved, but only oneself. We may think that we love our children, but we love them only because doing so gives us happiness. Bhagavatpaada has said –

यस्माद्यावत्प्रियं स्यादिह हि विषयतस्तावदस्मिन्प्रियत्वं
यावद्दुःखं च यस्माद्भवति खलु ततस्तावदेवाप्रियत्वं।
नैकस्मिन्सर्वकालेऽस्त्युभयमपि कदाप्यप्रियोऽपि प्रियः स्यात्
प्रेयानप्यप्रियो वा सततमपि ततः प्रेय आत्माख्यवस्तु॥
yasmādyāvatpriyaṁ syādiha hi viṣayatastāvadasminpriyatvaṁ
yāvadduḥkhaṁ ca yasmādbhavati khalu tatastāvadevāpriyatvaṁ|
naikasminsarvakāle’styubhayamapi kadāpyapriyo’pi priyaḥ syāt
preyānapyapriyo vā satatamapi tataḥ preya ātmākhyavastu|| – Shatashloki

This ātmākhyavastu is desirable to all at all times. For oneself, one is always desirable. Whatever anyone may think about oneself, for oneself one always thinks and desires the best for oneself. This is the nature of all humans. This love for oneself is only mistakenly placed towards one’s body and mind. It is to be re-cognised as love for that primal source from which one has arisen, which is nothing but Paramashiva Himself. It is that Ishwara, Paramashiva, who Himself is appearing as the jiva, the individual. Thus, that kind of desire which one has towards oneself (as an individual, jiva), that has to be placed towards Ishwara. This is the meaning of what has been said in Shaastra – sā tvasmin paramapremarūpā. Everyone and everything except ourself will leave us, but we cannot escape ourself.

One question may come to us at this juncture – what about the man who commits suicide? Doesn’t he want to erase himself, get rid of his existence? The correct understanding however is that every individual who commits suicide does so desiring happiness or peace for himself. Moreover, in order that he may remain happy or peaceful, he seeks to get rid of his body too – this is the understanding. Thus, such a love is worthy for the Atman alone, and it is truly had only for the Atman alone. This supreme constant love for oneself is had by any common man. However, such a supreme love has to be directed towards Ishwara who is the source of everything. The supremacy of this love is that it is ever the same, and having such supreme love for Ishwara means there is no object of love greater than Ishwara.

Thus, if one has such supreme love for Ishwara, then he alone is truly a bhakta. If such a supreme love is not had for Ishwara, then what ? Shaastra says – न स भृत्यः स वै वणिक् – na sa bhṛtyaḥ sa vai vaṇik – not a bhakta but a merchant, a trader. If one claims to be a servant of Ishwara, then one has to have such uncompromising love for Ishwara. Otherwise, one is just like a trader. As long as the buyer gives money, he will sell his goods. If no money is given, then he will also stop his transactions. One should not have such a business-like mindset towards Ishwara.

[The attitude of bhakti according to Shivanandalahari]

The Shivanandalahari shloka says – bhakti-guṇāvṛte mudamṛtā-pūrṇe prasanne manaḥ kumbhe – characterising the mind of a true devotee with all its qualifications [When we do a puṇyāhavacanama ritualistic purification using water, we use a kalaśa/kumbha, a sacred pot holding sacred water, which is sprinkled to perform the puṇyāhavacanam. The qualities of a mind with bhakti is identified with the decorations of the pot] When we do a punya karma, how must our minds be? It is mentioned here – bhakti-guṇāvṛte – the pot or kalaśa which is used in the puṇyāhavacanam is covered by a thread typically. The sacred pot here is the mind itself – manaḥ kumbhe. How should this sacred pot be decorated ? – by the thread which is the supreme love for Bhagavaan – thus, bhakti-guṇāvṛte. The mind which is the sacred pot should be covered by the sacred thread which is the devotion for Bhagavaan.

What else? – mudamṛtā-pūrṇe – this sacred pot, which is the mind, should be filled with that water, amṛtam, which is contentment itself. Generally in puṇyāhavacanam, the kalaśa is to be filled with either clean water or rice. It cannot be used in a ritualistic way without filling it up with one of these two. Thus, here the mind kalaśa is to be filled with the waters of contentment – muda. One may have crores of money or just have enough to make ends meet, but devoid of contentment or santhosha, even crores of money is not useful. We hear of many powerful people falter from the path of Dharma [not clear]. Why? – because there is no contentment in their minds. If contentment is there, then whatever may be the physical situation, one goes through life without affecting others and having mental peace. It is also said – असन्तुष्ठो द्विजो नष्टः सन्तुष्ठो पार्थिवस्तथा – asantuṣṭho dvijo naṣṭaḥ santuṣṭho pārthivastathā – a wise man who understands that the physical body is for the service of Ishwara and Dharma should have santhosha or contentment. Only such a person is fit for performing Dharma, as his mind is kept calm generally. If he doesn’t have santhosha, it is not possible for him to do anything properly as his mind is ever disturbed. If the mind is not kept calm, then there is no possibility of keeping the mind fixed on Ishwara or having the power of discriminating between what is to be done or not to be done. Thus, the bhakta must keep his mind-kalaśa filled with the waters of contentment –  mudamṛtā-pūrṇe. 

[to be continued]

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