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Harih Om Tat Sat. Harih Om Tat Sat. Jai Guru. Jai Guru.
We have got a very very ancient documentation, cultural documentation. It is called Prasthāna trayam. Trayam means three. Prasthāna Trayam - a set of three cultural documents. All of them equally discuss Prasthāna. It means the voyage of knowledge. If knowledge were to take up a voyage, what will it be - that is clearly documented in the Prasthāna Trayam. What are the three constituents of Prasthāna Trayam? One is the most ancient and ageless Vedic Upanishads. From them we developed the other two texts. The second text is called Bhagavad Gita which itself is a very small part of Mahabharatam. And Mahabharatam is considered to be a Smriti. It is actually a historic rendering of the decline and fall of the Kuru dynasty which ruled India for many many years.
You know that we have great, glorious and powerful Raja-vamśas, Kingly dynasties. None of them is alive now. On the other hand, we have Rishis and their vamśas and these vamśas are even now continuing. We have Kashyapa Gotra, Sreevatsa Gotra, Vasishtha Gotra, Kaudinya Gotra, Uddhālaka Gotra. So many gotras are there and they are still continuing whereas the Raja-vamśas have become totally extinct. This is something for every one of you to think about and take your lessons from.
Mahabharata is a record of the decline and fall of the Kuru dynasty. The famous Kuru dynasty started declining when there was a value downfall. So value is necessary for sustaining the individual life, the familial life, the societal life, the national life and the global life.
Yesterday I read in the newspaper that Russia has made a statement which makes us think that we are on the verge of a war which can destroy the entire world. We are already at the brink of it. Previously we had world war but they did not destroy the entire world. It had a global consequence, that’s all. But here people have started speaking about destruction of the whole civilization, of the whole Earth. Why is it taking place? Only when there is a value fall, value decline, this kind of a destruction will follow.
So while narrating the value decline and the downfall of the Kuru dynasty, Veda Vyasa had to go to Kurukshetra and understand the whole of the Mahabharata war in which he came to know that Arjuna totally crumbled after coming to Kurukshetra battlefield and Krishna engaged him in a dialogue and that dialogue redeemed Arjuna and made him ready to stand up and fight. So this became part of his historic narration.
This Bhagavad Gita is completely a discussion of the human personality, life and interaction, the problems and the confrontations one faces during life and how all of them can be met, resolved and dissolved. So it became a textbook for all people, full of messages. This is the second of the Prasthāna Trayam. And then we have Brahma Sutras written by Vyasa Deva. Cryptic statements, something like 556 or something like that. These together constitute the Prasthāna Trayam.
In the Prasthāna Traya, Brahma Sutra lists what are the truths and principles, siddhāntas discussed in the other two texts, Upanishads and Bhagavad Gita. Who will be able to study this Brahma Vidya discussion in Brahma Sutras as well as the other texts? He says, one must have the requisite qualification for it. And what makes him qualified? Sādhana chatushtayam, fourfold sādhana qualities that will enable him to study Brahma Vidya. While listing he says, the first is nityānitya vastu vivekaḥ, the discrimination between the real and the unreal. The second is vairāgya or virāgata to whatever seemingly allures us here and elsewhere, and the third is a set of six qualities and one of them is śraddhā about which Mā wanted me to speak today.
Śraddhā. People say that this word does not have an English equivalent. What is śraddhā? It is actually assiduous application of one’s mind to anything whatsoever. If you are able to apply your mind assiduously, in a fixed manner, in a sticking manner, in a concentric manner or centric manner, then that is called śraddhā. Attention means what? It is not a bodily quality or even a sensory quality. That quality belongs to your mind and intelligence. You must be able to apply your mind, apply your intelligence, exclusively towards something in a consistent manner, assiduous application to any given task. That is called śraddhā.
In the Ashram, we speak quite a lot about Brahma Vidya, we only speak about Brahma Vidya. Sometimes the Upanishads are discussed, Bhagavad Gita is discussed definitely and we discuss so many Prakaraṇa Granthas. Srimad Bhagavata also becomes a subject of discussion, especially the Vedantic elements of Srimad Bhagavata. It is in Srimad Bhagavata that you find Krishna giving the last gospel of his life to Uddhava. That is a very important text, even more important than Bhagavad Gita. Krishna spoke Bhagavad Gita in Kurukshetra and Uddhava Gita from Dwaraka before he departed when he was 125 years old. These are the two primary gospels which Krishna has given us. All the rest is written by others about Krishna.
Though people listen to all that we say in the way of spiritual and philosophical Brahma Vidya discussions, they are not picking up the important and fundamental ones and then pocket them or make them their own. They hear. What is to be done later, I think they are not able to do it as much as they should. The missing factor is attention, attention, attention, attention. It is attention that makes you understand people and copy elements which are good and discard elements which are bad. You get exposed to an assembly. If the assembly is good, educated and refined, you will learn their habits and ways, how they sit, how they talk to others, how they look at others, what are the words they employ, are they submissive or are they assertive, are they receptive, can they make themselves felt by others, all these are observed and learnt. For all these, what you require is attention. If you attentively observe others, automatically all the good elements will be absorbed by your system. So the entire secret is śraddhā, śraddhā, śraddhā.
Śankara would put it this way: “Guru-Vedānta vākyeṣu Bhakti Śraddheti viśrutā”. Guru-Vedānta vākyeṣu Bhaktih - Devotion to whatever the Guru says and whatever the Vedanta as a science lays down, devout devotion to them is called śraddhā. Many things are spoken, often repetitively. So you should listen to them with attention and pick up whatever are the fundamental points, then try to make them your own. Your mind and intelligence should be firmly fused into them or the concepts that you have heard should be fused into your mind and intelligence so much so whatever the mind thinks, whatever the intelligence understands, in all their pursuits, these qualities will be inevitably present.
Say I have defined śraddhā: Guru-Vedānta vākyeṣu Bhakti Śraddheti viśrutā. The devout devotion to what is mentioned by the Guru and also the śāstras. So instantly you should think – “Do I have that devout devotion? And what do the śāstras and the Guru say?” So you are obliged to think about and find out what they have said and how is it important, how it is the last item in human life. So this śraddhā is the one factor.
A cook is able to cook well provided he is able to put attention into what he does, while pouring water, while cutting the vegetables, while washing them, putting them on the oven to boil it, putting salt, putting the other items, everywhere, how much of fire should be there, it should be more or less, how much it should boil, how much salt shall I put, how much chilly if necessary I shall put, what determines is the śraddhā.
I always find that a preparation will be like X today, tomorrow it will be like X+ or X-, I am wondering why. The same item is being prepared and you must be able to prepare it well, better and better. That is why this mechanically prepared food comes into vogue because they regulate the temperature, they regulate the time and it does not depend upon any cook as such. Everything is calculated, rosterised and they are following the roster. But then also, attention is necessary from the person who follows the roster.
So śraddhā is something that every one of you will have to think about and see whether you have it in ample measure. If not, try to cultivate it by applying your mind, spending mind hours as I say and ensuring that you have it in the required measure. Attention, attention, attentiveness, attentiveness.
Harih Om Tat Sat. Jai Guru.