Is life after Moksha pretty boring because you can’t have sex there? Doesn’t Moksha mean slave soul who can’t do anything?

At the age of one, a child loves and craves for breast milk. At four, it does not have that craving. At the age of 8, a girl loves and craves for ice cream. At her 40, she may no longer have any attraction for it.

At 18, a youth could withstand pain in order to maximize his enjoyments. At 50, he may perhaps not like those pains, nor be keen to maximize the enjoyments.

At 30, a promotion in office was the best thing one may strive for. At 58, he may perhaps long for just one thing —retirement!

At 70, one may have no longing for any enjoyment, because life taught him that “joy and woe are woven fine”. If you long for pleasure, pain too comes with it as a free attachment; if you want to get freed of pain, you have to discard pleasure seeking too. Peace may be the one thing he may seek at that age.

Of course it depends on person to person as to when one realizes this truth.

For many, sex appears to be the best of all enjoyments, but those who are very watchful know for sure the pains attached to it. There are indeed many saints who had no craving for sex at all right from young age.

So, a stage of realization comes to some people at some age at some birth (after going through several births and deaths to finally grasp the hopelessness of running behind pleasure seeking and ending up with inevitable pain) . That realizaion is this: a life of perfect bliss with total absence of both pleasure and pain is the most valuable thing.

That is state of longing for moksha.

At that state, doing anything (any karma either to seek pleasure or to ward off pain) becomes unnecessary and unattractive. It is not forced on you and hence it is not slavery! You sought for it, opted for it; once you get it, you are in perfect peace with it. That is moksha for you.

Will it be a bad karma on my side if I run for safety when I see a mob or somebody assaulting another?

Safeguarding oneself from any form of physical hurt is a natural human instinct. Most people have this tendency to run away for personal safety when seeing a mob or somebody assaulting another.

Particularly when we are not part of the mob fury or when the cause of someone assaulting another is unknown, I would say it is better to run away rather than trying to interfere. It may be considered selfish or cowardly. I would still personally believe that it is ‘karma neutral’. It means you would neither acquire bad karma or good karma.

But if you are a policeman and you try to run for your safety, then it is definitely adharma and you will acquire bad karma.

If the mob is trying to molest a girl and the girl is appealing for our help, then our running away selfishly will have an element of adharma in it and we will acquire bad karma, I think.

Suppose the person getting attacked is a known person and there is injustice in that attack, then too it would be adharma to run away without doing something to protect or support him.

Suppose we are forced to be part of the mob (because of our allegiance to a community, caste, political party or a group of vested interests) and the mob suddenly turns violent; in this case, if our personal ethos is against indulging in mob violence, then I would say running away is not adharma and it will not add bad karma to us.

What is Love? Where is love? How does love work? Does true love exist?

What is Love?

Love is an emotional feeling of attraction, closeness, intimacy, strong liking, and source of enjoyment to be together with someone or something.

Love can take different forms with different things and beings. Examples:

“I love coffee”; “I love my new dress” : “I love my native place” – these are to do with things.

“I love Ilayaraja songs; I love watching thriller movies”  – these are to do with abstract things.

“I love my dog”; “I love my cat”  — these are to do with living beings other than humans.

“I love my friend”; “I love the comedian Vadivelu” – these are to do with third persons

“I love my cousin brother; I love my brother in law” – These are to do with distant relatives.

“I love my mother/ sister/ son/ daughter/brother/ grandfather” – these are to do with blood relatives.

“I love that girl; I love that boy” – these are to do with a specific person of opposite sex with a marital or sexual intent in mind.

“I love my husband/ wife” – these are to do with existing intimate relations

“I love Lord Shiva; I love Lord Krishna” – this is bhakti – devotion to God.

It is quite obvious that the intensity of love, the reverberation of the joyful feeling that love generates is not same in the various categories of love that we saw above.

The love a boy develops on his girlfriend is not of the same frequency or intensity as the love the boy has on his sister. The love one has on his father is not same as the love one has on the pet dog. Strange it may seem, but the present day truth is that many people are able to love their pet dogs better than their fathers!

When it comes to love, all of us are both givers as well as receivers.  All of us, with varying degrees of intensity, are capable of giving love and receiving love. No one can constantly be giving love without getting back any love in return. No one can keep on receiving love without giving something back. Think of it: If pet dogs don’t reciprocate any love, no one will ever keep them at home!

What is the source of Love?

Where from does love spring? Why at all does a person express love to another? Why does a wife love her husband? Why do parents love their children?

According to Sanatana Dharma, God is the in-dweller in all beings. God permeates the entire creation. Even though each of us seem to have different personalities, our Self – Atman is one. It is like different beads of a necklace strung together in a single thread. It is like a single sun reflecting in hundred pots of water. Atman is that thread; Atman is the sun. Atman is Sat-chit-ananda – Existence-knowledge-bliss. It is the bliss of the atman that gets expressed in the form of love.

In the Hindu scripture Brihadarayanka Upanishad, The saint Yagnyavalkya says

 ‘A wife loves her husband not for his sake, but for the sake of her own Self.

‘A husband loves his wife not for her sake, but for the sake of his own Self.

‘You love the sons not for the son’s sake, but for the sake of your own self

‘You love wealth not for the the sake of the wealth, but for the sake of your own self

‘You love the cattles not for their sake, but for the sake of your own self……

Is love really pure?

It is really an uneasy question to answer.  At the highest ideal level, it is true, but at practical level it is not always so.

Behind every expression of love, there will always be some dose of selfishness lurking. Perhaps only in one human relationship – the relationship between a mother and her little child, the love may be closest to purity. It is so because, there is a divine dispensation behind it. This mother’s love on her little kid seems to be pre-programmed by the Higher Power for the continuation of progeny in the earth; it is the reality in animal kingdom too. Mother animals carry their intense love on their little ones through instinct. To a large extent, such an instinctive feeling of love exists in human mothers too which transcends any scientific analysis.

But, in the present times, it is a fact that even this motherly natural love is also is also getting a beating. Now a days, children are born out of mere sexual union without the sanctity or commitment of marriage; Children are born out of live-in relationships; Children are born out of deteriorating husband-wife relationships ending up in divorces; children are born out of serial monogamy (i.e. a woman bearing children of different males out of different wedlock done one divorce after another). As a consequence, the natural love that a mother has on her children has definitely deteriorated.

Even when there is a pure love existing between the mother and her young child, the purity gradually deteriorates as the child grows up to a man/ woman.  Parents start expecting several things from their children – obedience, respect, help in family chores, monetary help, heeding to their advice regarding finding a partner for marriage, the monetary expectations (in receiving or in avoiding to spend) behind conducting son’s/ daughter’s marriage, obedience, respect from daughter-in-law, the need to take care of them at their old age, the need to conduct the rituals post their death – the list goes on this is how the once-pure parental love gradually changes colors towards a personal, selfish agenda.

Selfishness and love

Mostly, the selfish motive behind love gets smartly camouflaged. The giver of love may hide and underplay the selfish motive. The receiver of love too, out of love towards the giver, may overlook the play of selfishness behind the giver out of gratitude. Example: A father wants to construct a house and he wants his son to apply loans and assist him financially.  He says to the son: “To possess my own house is my dream; unfortunately, I could not do it because I had to ensure getting your sister married off and to educate you decently. I have done my duty. But with my present financial status, I cannot buy my dream house with my savings alone. I want you to help”. The son, out of gratitude to his father, willingly gets into a debt trap so as to help his father realize his dream. Interestingly, the son too may hold a hidden selfish motive –‘In future, this property or a portion of it will anyway come to me’.

In the above case, the father’s selfish interest is obvious, but is hidden behind sentiments.  The father does not think ‘I would not like to put my son into a debt trap at this young age just because of my selfish motive to fulfil my dream”.

Likewise, if we analyze threadbare keeping sentiments aside, we can locate some selfish motive (small or big) lurking behind every act or expression of love in most of our relationships.

That’s why, Amma (Mata Amritanandamayi) says: “We love others because they give us happiness or fulfil our desires; obeying, respecting, or having high opinion about us. Otherwise, we do not love them. When somebody hates us, revenge often takes the place of love. This is the case with even with those closest to you. If you disobey or disrespect them, you may not love them. Where there is real love, there is no selfishness.  We must be able to love without expecting anything from anyone”

Ego and love

“Whom do you love the most?”

If you pose this question to people, most of them will tell the name or a relation that they believe to love dearest. But it is a wrong answer. The unshakable truth of our existence in this world is that all of us love ourselves dearest first and then only any other person or thing.

This self-love as such is natural and fundamentally it is not wrong. It is natural because we are all self (Atman) in essence, but we have forgotten it.

When someone says ‘I love myself’, he does not refer to his atman which is the source of pure unadulterated love; what he means is he loves his own personality – his ego. All of us have different degrees of egoism in us, some very strong, some moderate, some subtle, but nevertheless the ego is very much there.  This ego wants us to be selfish, self-centered, receive appreciation and pampering, garner importance, ensure one-upmanship and so on.

Another face of ego is sensitivity. Some people may look meek, non-assertive, soft-spoken and so on, but they may be extremely sensitive to criticism, censure, sarcastic comments and so on. They will behave like touch-me-not if they are hurt even a little. Sensitivity is nothing but subtle, but strong, hidden ego.

Love and Hate

Ordinary love is just like one side of a coin. The other side of the coin is hate. When the coin is flipped and ‘love side’ goes under, the other side – hate gets exposed.

The greatest truth about love is that it will flourish well as long as ego or sensitivity is not hurt. The moment the ego is hurt, the coin flips! The other side – hate becomes visible. When our selfish interest is not met, love reverses. When we fail to receive appreciation, pampering etc or when our self-importance or one-upmanship is denied, the love reverses.

The swing from love to hate may be slow and graduated in some people and very fast in some people. Normally, women, being essentially very emotional, swing from love to hate very quickly without any intermediate stops.  It is also observed that a woman can hate a person as intensely as her erstwhile love.

Reversing the hate back to love is also possible when the hurt ego is pampered. A genuine apology, a corrective action of mistake done can pave the way for the reversal.

Amma Mata Amritanandamayi says “The difficulty is not in expressing love, but in letting go of the ego. Love is our true nature. It is already present within us, but we are held back by our individual boundaries. We have to outgrow our individuality (ego) in order to merge into universal love. The ego stands in the way of love. Once removed, it flows like a river.”

Time is also a great healer. This can be seen particularly in blood relationships. Any hurt caused in the past leading to a crack in love gets healed over time and people come back to revive relationships. That’s why it is said that the blood is thicker than water.

Love and possessiveness

Ahankaram (Ego) and mamakaram (possessiveness) are like twins.  Our love is mostly available for consumption within our own limited circle — covered within the boundary ‘mine’ (possessiveness).  If true love transcending limited boundaries can be called (with upper case L) “Love”, the ordinary love we see within limits is just ‘love’ with a lower case ‘l’.

Amma says: “There is ‘love’ and “Love”. You love your family: Your father, mother, sister, brother, husband, wife etc., but you do not love your neighbor. You love your son or daughter but you do not love all children. You love your religion, but do not love all religions. Likewise, you love your country, but do not love all countries. Hence this is not “Love”. It is only ‘love’. Transformation of this ‘love’ to “Love” is the goal of spirituality.”

Love in Man-woman relationship – Love-Romance-Lust

The very sustenance of life in earth depends on the factor of love between man and woman. May be as a consequence, this love is the most basic, emotion laden, complicated, joyful, painful and stressful. It has the widest scope of expression — from the meanest to the divine.  

In Sanatana dharma, considerable priority and importance has been given to the man-woman relationship, clearly specifying the scope, purpose, boundaries and dharma associated with it. Man and woman leading a life of mutual love and togetherness in proper wedlock, with the aim of spiritual advancement together, begetting worthy and responsible children for continuation of progeny and contributing to the welfare of the society – that is the core purpose married life and such an ideal life is a dharma by itself – Grihasthasrama dharma – The righteous way of living a family life. Sexual energy, instead of getting uncontrollably dissipated in lustful, unbridled way of living, is channelized and streamlined. Proper control of passions, self-discipline and restraint with the twin goals of spiritual progress and social welfare – that is the hallmark of Grihastasrama dharma of Hinduism.

Triangular Theory of Love

Even from the point of view of modern Psychology, the love between man and woman is still set within the conventional scope of good marital life and bonding.

One of the most popular and widely acclaimed theory on love in man-woman relationship is Triangular Theory of Love, conceived and elaborated by Dr. Robert Sternberg (born December 8, 1949), American psychologist and a Professor of Human Development at Cornell University.

His theory is depicted in the form of a triangle in which the three faces are Romantic love, companionate love and Fatuous love. Its 3 corners are passion, intimacy and commitment. A love is consummated in full satisfaction only when all the 3 ingredients – passion, intimacy and commitment are present.  See picture below:

 

When a man/woman gets attracted to the other with passion only (without intimacy and commitment), it is just infatuation.

If in a man-woman relationship there is intimacy but no passion (sexual attraction) or commitment (for marriage or long term togetherness), it is just liking or friendship.

If there is only commitment in relationship without passion or intimacy, it is empty love. Such a thing is possible in arranged marriages, but intimacy and passion may develop subsequently.

Only when lines exist connecting these corners, the triangle of love is complete.

A romantic love (as one side of the triangle) exists when passion and intimacy are present.  In a romantic love, commitment is yet to come. For the romance to end in marriage, commitment is essential.

A companionate love (as the second side of the triangle) exists when intimacy and commitment are present.  In this love, romance is yet to come. Only when romance gets added to this relationship, there is color and spice in the married life.

In fatuous love (as the third side of the triangle) passion and commitment are present. Loving at first sight and getting married quickly fits into this form of love. Here there is no romance or a prolonged courtship. If romance is also added, then the love-life is wholesomely consummated.

Ideally when all the three faces of the triangle are present, it is a successfully consummated marriage.

Love equations that end in disappointment

  • Lust: When the attraction to the person of opposite sex is purely physical with the overt or covert intention of having just a sexual relationship for enjoyment, it is lust. It is fired by passion. If at all romanticism is added, it is more as a ploy to woo the opposite sex. Commitment to a long time relationship will be very elusive.

    If the motive of one of the partners is just to satiate the lust whereas the other partner mistakes it for genuine love hoping it to end in a marriage, then the relationship heads towards an ugly end as and when the moment of realization of truth dawns.
  • Romance: When the attraction to the person of opposite sex is based on passion (where lust is not too obvious or blatant but very much exists hidden) and one finds joy in the company of the other person even without a sexual relationship. Both attraction and intimacy are strongly present in a romantic relationship.

    In a romantic relationship, both the partners will behave their best to keep the mutual attraction and the joy of company alive and vibrant. It also means any dark, unpleasant or ugly side of their personalities or behaviors  will be very skillfully hidden. Even if such things get revealed now and then, the other partner may not notice it and register it but opt to ignore it or sideline it as long as the romanticism is burning.

    When romanticism is all alluring, at least one of the partners may tend to delay the commitment. It is because people have an inherent inkling in them that most of the charm of the romantic love will fade away once the relationship gets committed to a marital bond!

    In romantic love too, when the commitment part of the love becomes elusive, then the relationship starts drifting towards disappointment.

What is true love and where is true love in man-woman relationship?

Since love or attraction (be it infatuation, lust or romance)  between man and woman is extremely emotional and has the undercurrent of sexual intent behind it, human mind creates all sorts pretences to generate an image that the love indeed it “true love”. The coining of the phrase ‘true love’ itself is an indication about the common existence of ‘untrue love’!

Swayed by emotions and sentiments, if we are developing mere attachment to someone, it is not love.  Amma (Mata Amritanandamayi) says: “ ‘Am I really in love or am I too attached?’ Contemplate on this question as deeply as you can. Most people are craving for attachment, not real love. In a way, we are betraying ourselves. We mistake attachment for love. Love is the centre and attachment is the periphery. Aim for the centre”.

Suggested additional reading: Reading and discussions on an additional document provided herewith  (see at the bottom: What is true love, where is true love?) may be helpful for youngsters to grasp very practically how our minds caught by emotions can hoodwink us into justifying our own failings in understanding what is love.

Lack of Love

The source of all love is divine. Amma says “Love is the foundation of life, but consciously or unconsciously we forget this truth. When we do not express love in our words and actions, it is like honey trapped in a rock — it is of no use to anyone. When families are able to express love with each other, peace and harmony will prevail in the home and society”.

Every being receives its essential doze of love right from birth from the mother first.  In a family where cordial love exists amidst its members, the child, as it grows, gets love from father, siblings, grandparents and other relatives.  The home is the birth place of love and the fertile soil of love for growth.

Conversely, when a child born in an atmosphere where love is lacking, and is brought up in a home where exchange of love is in short supply, the child grows with lots of psychological issues. Many of the emotional problems in the adulthood where this longing of love or absence of love gets expressed in myriad ways in man-woman relationship can be traced back to lack of love in childhood. That’s why Amma says: “Only those who have received love can give love. Hearts of such people who have never received love will always be closed.  They will neither be able to receive love or give love. It is very important for parents to give love to the young”.

That’s why Grihasthashrama (Family life) is a dharma in Hinduism

A child born and brought up with proper love and care in a family is a wealth for the future generation.  In Hinduism, continuation of progeny and having children of worthy qualities for the welfare of future generations was considered as an essential dharma of worldly life.  

If this dharma has to sustain, there are several things that need sustenance in the social fabric:

  1. Respect, belief and  commitment to the institution of marriage
  2. A marital relationship is not just for releasing animal passions
  3. A marital relationship is a lifelong commitment.  Man and woman have to essentially agree and live to a committed life of togetherness for life based on mutual love, trust, respect and companionship.
  4. There is nothing like live-in relationships. Divorce is an anathema.
  5. Women were expected to be housewifes predominantly because child rearing was considered as the prime responsibility, more than any financial or other considerations
  6. In order to ensure the purity of mother’s love, a woman getting remarried after an untimely death of husband was highly discouraged by the society.

Despite the onslaught of western culture in India, we are still able to see quite a lot of family bond amidst Indians. Divorces and remarriages are not still fully accepted in in Hindu culture.

Loving God – Bhakti

All said and done on love, the obvious ground reality is that love between human beings gets tainted in some way or other by egoism and selfishness. When a man longs for pure love — a love where the giver of love simply gives without any expectation in return — he understands that only the creator can give such a love.  The creator has given us sunlight to see, the air to breathe, the earth to live, the trees and plants to give us food, rain for our drinking water and so on. Man feels he is indebted to the creator for giving us everything without any expectations. This indebtedness makes him love the giver. He is also sure that God being omnipresent and omnipotent can give him all that he needs by sincerely praying to Him.

Such a trust and faith becomes the basis of love on God which is called devotion — Bhakti. Love on God at the initial levels may be based on expectations from God. We want money, wealth, comforts, position and power in life and believe we will be happy if we get all these in good measure. We pray to God lovingly for blessing us with all these. We face difficulties, suffering and worries in life. We want God to remove them all. We lovingly pray to him for support.

As our love and relationship with God gets deeper, our understanding about God also get refined.  Based on our experiences, we grasp that God in any case is always taking care of us irrespective of our praying him or otherwise. We also gradually understand that God is not freely giving us whatever we pray and ask for; sometimes he gives; sometimes he does not give; sometimes he gives something that we do not want. But over time, we analyse, experience  and understand that whatever he has given or not given have all been for our good only. We grasp that we are limited in our own understanding of what is good for us or what is bad for us, whereas God knows only what is good for us and he arranges everything accordingly — by giving or by denying.

The more we grasp this fact, then our ‘love with agenda’ on God comes to an end. We don’t find the need to pray to him. Our love on him too starts reflecting his love on us — unconditional. We start loving God for love sake. Such a deep love on God is called “Prema Bhakti”. A devotee gripped by prema bhakti forgets everything; he has no care for his own body, its needs or comforts. He wants love of God for love sake. He wants to become love. He wants to merge in God. He melts in God and becomes ultimately God himself.

This the the story of evolution of the unadulterated pure love of the divine.  We have several examples of such great personalities who demonstrated the path of pure Bhakti to attain Godhood. We have had great saints and Avatars  like Bhakta Meera, Sri Gouranga, Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa, Ma Anandamayi, Papa Ramdas and Amma (Mata Amritanandamayi) in this great land of Bharat.

Amma says: “There are three expressions of love that awaken us from within: love for oneself; love for god and love for the entire creation. Love for oneself does not mean the self-centered love of the ego. it means to love life, to see both the successes and failures in our human birth as God’s blessing, while loving the divine power inherent within us. This grows to become love for God. If these two components are present, then the love for the entire creation will manifest naturally.”

Sharing Pure Love

it is no wonder that Avatara Purushas and Mahatmas carry this divine love with them for unconditional distribution to others. Their source of love is unlimited because it is divine.

It is this pure, divine love that attracts people who are emotionally suffering in their loveless lives, to mahatma’s like Amma (Mata Amritanandamayi).  Why a dark skinned, rustic woman from a remote and unknown fishermen’s hamlet in the faraway state of Kerala in India is so much sought after by white skinned, educated elite of the west?

Because they have lost love in their lives. A vast majority of them  have been born and brought up in an atmosphere where lust is essentially mistaken for love; brazen selfishness with very poor faith in the sanctity of marriage is the norm of life;  The mindset for give and take or for any sacrifice for the sake of the other person has been missing among the majority. Life in the west gradually has turned to become filled with ‘beggers of love expecting other beggars of love to feed them with love’.  When they encounter a person like Amma where every nerve of her is bent upon giving, giving and more giving, caring, sharing and absorbing others’ woes and worries, they get floored! Their long and unsatiated thirst for love atlast finds a spring of love rising and flowing for everyone to come and take.

And this love elevates the receiver from evolving from the clutches of selfishness. From a beggar of love the seeker evolves to a lover of God.

-=0O0=-

Why many secularists who are basically Hindus criticise Hindus & Hinduism?

I feel there could be many causes for such a state of affairs in India where most secularists are born from Hinduism and end up criticizing Hindus.

  • Avenue for self criticism being available only in Hinduism:  Only in Hinduism we have multiple ways and paths of worshiping different God forms, different schools of faith, philosophies etc. Contradictions between one school of faith to another always existed. People in Hinduism enjoy lot of freedom in engaging in arguments, criticisms and denials of practices and philosophies. Such a freedom does not exist in other religions.
  • Born and brought up in elite class:   Where parents are English educated, belong to socially upward class, having admiration for western culture, erstwhile beneficiaries of British Raj, having no deep-rooted faith or respect in Hinduism or its spiritual aspects, then their children may end up as pseudo-secularists. Having born and brought up like that, they do not get any exposure to Indian Hindu cultural traditions, values or scriptures. Money, position and status become the yardsticks for them for success. They don’t come across any situation needing a deeper understanding or appreciation about true Hinduism. They look at the superficial weaknesses of the religious practices and pseudo-sanyasins and start developing secularism as a better idea.
  • Suffering under the class and caste domination of Hinduism:  By experiencing the evil effects of untouchability, upper-caste vs lower caste discrimination in life, not getting any chance to come across proper spiritually evolved Hindu saints or sage in life, by getting cheated by dubious Godmen and so on, some people develop hatred on Hinduism and they start believing secularism to be of a better value.
  • Negative effect of too orthodox and strict parenting:   If by chance the Hindu parents are too orthodox, too strict and critical about their children, do not offer any logical replies to children asking questions about their faiths and practices but only demand obedience, then their may children grow up antagonistic towards parents. Their hatred extends to the parents’ religious beliefs and practices too. They develop a negative mindset about the religion itself. They won’t be inclined to study deeper into Hindu religion and spirituality. They find secularism as the right choice and criticize Hinduism openly based on their past bitter experiences.

To conclude, Hinduism does not feel threatened by criticism and denials. Hinduism is very broad minded. One can bitterly criticize Shiva or Vishnu or any other Avatars or saints and still live peacefully in India. It is not possible for a Muslim to criticize Allah or the Prophet or any archaic practices of Islam openly and hope to remain alive and safe for long.

If God has given us the power of choice (free will), why he has not given us any choice about our taking birth here or not?

According to Hindu beliefs, this earth is the karma bhoomi, where the fruits of actions of your past births (other than the effects of extreme evil deeds that have to be suffered in hell till a period and extreme good deeds that have to be enjoyed in heaven till a period) have to be exhausted through your experiences in the current birth. Till a person attains self-realization/ god realization/ sakshatkarNirvana, the repeated cycles of births and deaths shall continue.

It is like the process of alchemy to turn a rusted piece of Iron to pure gold. Till the process ends, the chemical treatments (the births, pains and pleasures and deaths) will continue.

Whether you are going to accelerate the process (by doing more of good) or decelerate it (by engaging in evil deeds) – the choice is given to you.

Whether to pass or fail in an examination is up to you. But you have to necessarily sit for the exam. No choice!

Is admiring Ravana a sin?

Admiring Ravana may not be a sin. But if that admiration ends up, over a period of time, in justifying sinful thoughts in you, then there is trouble. Thoughts lead to actions and actions bring punya or papa.

Imagine thoughts like these:

  • “I am a great scholar; most people around me are idiots. Idiots are meant to be banished”
  • “I am a great devotee if God. I always have had the blessings an protection of my God. I can do whatever I feel like and get away with it”
  • “I am the Managing Director of this massive corporation; none else is as powerful as I am. That Secretary in accounts dept. is so beautiful. I want to enjoy my night with her. She is married? Very devoted to husband? So what? I can even abduct her, woo her with my power and wealth! Who on earth will not fall for my personality and stature?”
  • “Well wishers around me say that it is wrong? Hell with them! Who are they to advise me so ignoring my greatness? If you can’t say yes to whatever I say or do, get out! I just don’t care.”

Get the point? Whatever be the goodness in a person, if evil qualities in him are more predominant, better to be watchful of the evil tendencies rather than just admiring the goodness, brushing aside the evil.

Do people who undergo much suffering in life eventually attain happiness one day or other?

Let me share a funny story that Amma (Mata Amritanandamayi) narrates:

A person was suffering from one hardship after another in life and got very much dejected. He went to consult an astrologer to know what he holds for the future.

The astrologer, after going through the horoscope said “ Your planetary positions are too unfavorable.You will have to go through sufferings till your age of 50”.

The man felt somewhat relieved. He asked eagerly, “It means I will lead a smooth and happy life after that, right?”

The astrologet said, “No. You will get used to facing troubles and managing them afterward!”.

Amma used to say that ‘parasthithi‘ (external circumstances) cannot be changed easily, but with effort, it is possible to change our ‘manasthithi‘ (state of mind). When, by spiritual effort, we manage to acquire mental strength and eaquanimity, we will be able to face joys and sorrows with lots of balance. We will not get over joyed in moments of fortune, nor get too disturbed and depressed against adversities.

When mindset changes, by divine grace, there is every chance that trials and tribulations too diminish in life.

Amma offering consolation to the sick

Do Hindu scriptures prohibit eating non-veg? Is it true that even Brahmins were non-vegetarians in the distant past?

Eating non-veg is NOT prohibited in Hinduism. Actually,  the concept of vegetarianism as an extension of non-violence (in the matter of eating) came to Hinduism from Jainism/ Buddhism.

In any case, non-violence is part of ‘yama’ (right practices) for a Hindu spiritual aspirant and consequently, vegetarianism is part and parcel of it. Most Hindu spiritual masters do encourage vegetarianism only.

Ramakrishna Paramahamsa, being a Bengali Brahmin was eating fish (since fish is not strictly treated as non-veg by Bengalis). During his early days in Dakshineswar temple, he was reportedly eating goat’s meat too coming from Temple kitchen as prasad (off the goats offered as sacrifice to Bhavatarnini Kali) but later years, he stopped eating it. However, he has said that sacrificing goat to Kali (and eating it as prasad) on specific occasions was permitted as per Tantra scriptures.

Since Brahmins by nature and nurture were more satvic, they easily adopted to vegetarianism, even though Brahmins too were non-vegetarians in the distant past, as we could see in Mahabharata. When Padadvas were in exile, living in the forests, several Brahmins were staying with the Pandavas and giving them company in the forest. Pandava’s priest Dhoumya wanted to give a grand feast to these Brahmins one day and he requested Pandavas to hunt lots of animals and bring them for cooking and serving to these brahmins. It was when Pandavas went for this hunting that the King Jayatratha tried to misbehave with Draupati who was alone.

Interestingly, at a later time, there is a conversation that Yudhishtra has with his brothers. He says that he had a dream in which the animals living in that specific segment of forest came and pleaded to him that their population was fast dwindling and prayed to him to save their kith and kin! Yudhishtra, then decides to move to another forest from there. So much of eating of meat by Yudhishtra and bros along with their team of servants and the brahmins giving them company!

They say some things cannot happen. I ask why can’t they happen when you want them to happen so passionately. Won’t God listen to you?

According to Hindu Karma Yoga, we have got only the freedom to work on whatever we want to accomplish, but giving the result is only in God’s hands. Agreed that you want something to happen so passionately. But who is the judge to decide whether your passion is really for your good, or for others’ good?

I may not be the best judge to decide what is the best for me because my thoughts, ideals and desires are highly contaminated by my ego. My vision of what is right for the future is also highly questionable. Suppose I want to have a huge bungalow near the sea shore for me to live and relax after my retirement. I have the money, I have the land, I have everything to satisfy my desire. But what if a huge tsunami strikes my dream bungalow and washes it away totally on the 3rd day I occupy the bungalow in the future?

Suppose I start my construction of the bungalow and somehow some hurdle or other keeps coming up and frustrating my construction plan. Naturally I will get angry and agitated and start blaming God for not paving the way for the fulfillment of a genuine desire of mine. But think of my mindset when the Tsunami strikes in future!

Of course, the above is only a fictional example. Now I will share with you a real life example that happened to one lady. This story was shared by a relative of that lady in a popular Tamil Weekly magazine some 25 years ago. Since the story had such an impact on my spiritual bend of mind, I still remember it to share it here:

This lady was an ardent devotee of Lord Ganesha. Every little wish or big wish she had in life, she would pray to Lord Ganesha. She experienced that most of her wishes got fulfilled by God that naturally increased her faith in Ganesha.

She had one ambition in life: She wanted her only son to go and study medicine in USA. She was particular that the University should be the top class in its category. She was quite rich and hence spending on her son’s education was no issue.

She motivated him constantly to fulfill her ambition right from his school days. She was constantly praying Lord Ganesha to make her dream come true. The boy was also reasonably brilliant who was willing to satisfy his mother’s dream.

He wrote the necessary Entrance examinations but he failed once or twice. This lady was disappointed. In the next attempt, he passed, but he could not get admitted to that specific University but got some other. The lady could not accept it. She wanted her son to attempt again with renewed vigor to get entry to that specific university campus only.

While motivating her son on one side, her prayers too were quite feverish. She was even questing Lord Ganesha why he had suddenly become deaf and not answering her prayers as he used to do earlier!

Finally, after one more attempt (this way, some 3 years have passed), he scored good ranks and managed to get a seat in the specific, coveted University campus.

The lady felt very happy. She showered praises on her Lord Ganesha for having listened to her ‘genuine prayers’.

The son went abroad and joined the University. After the passage of few weeks, there happened some student unrest in that University and some ethnic clashes took place within different groups of students. A shoot out too happened and in one of the cross firings, her son was unfortunately got shot by a bullet and he died at the campus.

When the news came to the lady, she was shattered beyond redemption. She started hating Lord Vinayaka and became an atheist.

Mind you, this is a real life story.

Can Partners with Diametrically Opposite Qualities make a Success of a Marriage? Do inter-religious marriages have more risk of failures?

In magnets, opposite poles attract each other; in marital relationship, similarity in tastes and qualities attract the partners initially. However, it is mostly when the honeymoon period ends, that the partners get exposed to the presence of diametrically opposite qualities in each other!

The diametrically opposite qualities may range across many aspects of personality, habits, beliefs, principles and values, ethics and convictions, cultures and so on. The trouble really starts when one of the partners starts displaying a “holier than thou” attitude, justifying, glorifying or emphasizing his/her side of qualities to be superior to the other; when he/she expects the other partner to drastically modify and adapt to suit his/her preferences, the problems get compounded.

While what one of the partners claim as a better trait/ quality/ value may even be true, the resistance

to accept the other becomes strong when one starts trumpeting one’s superiority at every opportune moment and starts attempts to “reforming” the other.

Let us take an example. The man is an owl type who goes to the bed late and gets up late in the morning. His wife on the other hand is an early bird who rises up briskly even before dawn and goes to bed early. The wife has been indoctrinated to believe right from her childhood by her parents that rising early is the best of all habits. She starts chiding her husband for his sloth and dullness in the mornings. She tries to reform him by forcefully waking him up early in the morning and compelling him to go for jogging!

To make a success of marriage in such diametrically opposite qualities, here are some guidelines:

 

Accept and respect biological differences

Early rising or late rising, taking a nap habitually in the afternoons, disliking certain food items that are really good for health, sumptuous eating or sparse eating, excessive desire in sex — these are some basic biological differences that exists in nature in the individual constitution of people. There is really no point in forcing the partner on such matters. It is best for the cordiality of the marital relationship for one partner to accept and adopt oneself to the differences in the other.

Accept the views of the partner whose ethics and values are better

Let us consider another example. The husband comes from a family where accepting or giving bribes is considered highly unethical. On the other hand, the wife comes from a family where accepting money or goodies in return for doing out-of-turn favors is never considered wrong. The wife may pester her husband, who works in a Government office where bribing is taken for granted, to accept bribes (like the other colleagues in the office who have no qualms about it), in order improve their financial status. This puts the husband into a very disturbing mental agony and moral dilemma. Whose resolve should succeed in such a situation?

In the interest of long term mental peace and wellness of the family, it is always best if the morally sound partner takes the upper hand and convinces the spouse on the importance of sticking to time-tested principles and values.

Take another example — one of the partners is a spendthrift while the other is miserly. Lots of tempers can raise in such a combo! In such a scenario, only through healthy discussions, arguments and give-and-take, the couples can pull along. The spendthrift has to curtail her instincts while the miser should learn to open his wallet wider and more frequently to satisfy genuine needs of the partner.

 Tread extra cautiously in matters of religion and cultural differences

Thanks to the mind blowing advancements in communication, traveling and globalization of businesses, people get lots of exposure to other cultures, religions, languages and communities. Naturally, men and women are exposed to falling in love with persons having diametrically opposite religious and cultural moorings. In fact, even such differences have the potential initially make the love affair extremely attractive and thrilling!

But unfortunately affinity to one’s religion or sub-sect of religion, culture, language, food habits etc are so strongly and fundamentally interwoven in every individual’s psyche that, sooner or later, one-upmanship on these sensitive issues are bound to sprout in a marital relationship.

Unless the husband and wife look at each other first as a human being, next as a loving and lovable personality and lastly as a person of religion/ cultural deviation, conflicts cannot be brushed away. Mostly one of the partners who has better adaptability many have to adjust more than his / her due share and sacrifice for the sake of sustaining the marriage in the interest of long term bondage.

These steps may include a high degree of tolerance to criticism on one’s basic religious faiths at the lower end to conversion to the spouse’s religion at the extreme end. Other adjustments may include changing dress codes, learning the spouse’s mother tongue, learning to cook to the weird tastes of the other and sacrificing most loved food items (for example, a husband accepting vegetarianism for the sake of his wife). It may be painful to miss the joyful family get-together functions in the erstwhile relatives’ families, celebrating favorite religious functions, visiting and praying in traditional places of worship (of the original religion) etc. One has to tread very carefully if he/she feels tempted to laugh at the cultural idiosyncrasies of the partner, because many people have very sentimental attachment to religion and they may react angrily rather than logically.

Love Jihad — (Hindu girls getting lured by Muslim men through love affair to get converted to Islam) – Is it real? (Click onto the picture to know more)

An overpowering love for the partner, desire to retain the sanctity of marriage, lots of give and take, a broad-mindedness, a high degree of sense of humor, a drastic surrender of egotism, tenacity to withstand the negative counseling by relatives and friends – these are some of the essential qualities needed in one or both the partners on the matter of differences in religion, culture etc. Only with these qualities, the couple can make a success of marriage under very trying conflicts.