Monthly Archives: September 2014

Why do I need “Self” Knowledge

Swami Sarvalokananda’s address at Sri Ramana Ashrama – Tiruvannamalai, Tamil Nadu (August 2014)


All saints and sages preach the universal truth – we are the Self

Sri Ramakrishna and Ramana Maharishi are two spiritual giants. They did not preach anything new. Both preached the Universal Truth according to the need of the age.

The truth which exists forever, which is permanent in nature, which doesn’t undergo any change is called Universal Truth. The saints and sages of all ages preached the same thing – the one Universal Truth. In Scriptures it is mentioned that “Ekam Sat Vipra Bahudha Vadanti” – the truth is one, sages call it by different names.

Universal Truth proclaims the real/ true nature of all beings – whether it is living or non-living being.

Unfortunately due to our ignorance and illusion, we have mistaken our physical body – the body-mind complex for the real identity/ entity. Due to this wrong notion about the nature of the human being, we undergo all kinds of suffering, misery, worries, anxieties, strain, stress and mental tension.

Because of this wrong notion, we suffer from a kind of fear psychosis. Bhartrihari in his Vairagya Shatakam pointed out that all material things that we see around us are permeated with fear “sarva vastu bhayanitam’.

Says Bhartrihari:
“If a person be attached to physical enjoyment, he will have the fear of disease.
If he be attached to social status, he will be afraid of losing it.
If he be attached to his beauty, he will fear his old age.”

So all worldly things are permeated with fear. Always there is fear of losing something.

Self knowledge brings fulfillment of life
In this context, there is a very interesting mythological story.

There is a story in the Chandogya Upanishad of Narada going to the great saint Sanatkumara to unburden the agony of his soul. Narada approached Sanatkumara and humbly requested to be taught. Sanatkumara said: ‘Please tell me what you already know. Then I shall teach you further.’ Narada then give huge list of things he had mastered. The list is so impressive that anyone of us in modern times would proudly declare that such a person is so highly ‘educated’ that he is on the top of the world! Narada declared: ‘Venerable Sir, I have mastered all the Vedas, Puranas, itihasas , grammar, the vidya relating to manes (pitrs), science of numbers (number theory), the science of portends, the science of time, logic, ethics, etymology, the science of pronunciation, ceremonials, prosody, etc., the science of elemental spirits, the science of weapon (warfare), astronomy, the science of serpents, the fine arts, namely, the art of making perfumes, dancing, singing, playing on musical instruments. etc.

The Sage Sanatkumara went through the huge list and said you have mastered all subjects on the Earth. You are knowledgeable person. Despite that you are not getting peace of mind and feeling emptiness and void within you because you have not known Self (Atman).

Self Knowledge helps us transcend the fear of death
The fear of death is the greatest fear on the earth.

Death is pertaining to physical body only. Beyond this death there is something which is not pertaining or relating to birth and death.  Beyond this body-mind complex, there is some truth – which is our real nature, our real identity – the Self. This is called Self knowledge.

In the Bhagavad Gita we find Arjuna had the fear of death. When he went to the battlefield of Kurukshetra to fight with his cousins the Kauravas, he was totally perplexed, dejected and nervous. He was mentally and physically broken. Arjuna was not an ordinary person like us, then why did this happen? He was a great warrior, the best Archer of his time – a Dhanurdhara. He had never seen defeat in his life. Such a great personality like Arjuna experienced the fear of death. Not the fear of death for himself, but for his cousins, his grandfather Bhishma, his Acharyas – Drona and Kripa, his relatives and near and dear ones.

Arjuna tells Bhagavan Krishna – How can I kill my grandfather, my teacher, my near and dear ones, cousins and relatives? If I kill them, I will incur sin. That is why he declared in the battlefield of Kurukshetra that he would not fight.

Bhagavan Krishna told Arjuna – you do not have the knowledge of Atman, the knowledge of Self. That is why you are thinking that you will kill your near and dear ones. You cannot kill them. You can destroy their physical body, but not the Atman residing in them. Because they are not the physical body not the mind or the Buddhi or the senses or the vital organs. They are beyond all these. In the scriptures it has been clearly said again and again – Shivoham, Shivoham – Chidananda Rupah. That is their real nature, their real identity. And unfortunately Arjuna had forgotten it.

Arjuna was hypnotized about the real nature of human being. His spiritual guru, Bhagavan Krishna dehypnotized Arujna, and he realized the real nature of human being the Atman or Brahman. All his fear distress and delusion were destroyed and he got himself prepared to fight and ultimately won the battle.

Self Knowledge is the higher purpose in life
We generally understand that the purpose of life is to eat, drink, and be merry. I have come into this world, I eat, drink, make merry, and go away from this world. We must understand that there is a higher purpose of life. In this context, I will tell you about an incident form the life of Sri Ramakrishna.

Sri Ramakrishna was invited by his devotee Adhar Chandra Sen – who was a deputy magistrate. He also invited other friends and relatives to his house because Sri Ramakrishna was coming. One of his friend was the great personality – Bankim Chandra Chaterjee. He was a man of literature. In those days people would call him Sahitya Samrat. He had composed our national song – “Vande Mataram”.

On that day, he was also invited to the house of Adhar Chandra Sen. He introduced Sri Ramakrishna to Bankim Chandra Chaterjee. When talking with each other, all of a sudden Sri Ramakrishna asked him – “Bankim Babu, tell me what is the purpose of human life”. Like an ordinary person, Bankim Chandra said, “Sir, the goal of human life is nothing but Ahara, Nidra,maithuna, etc.” – the goal of life is to eat, drink and be merry. After hearing his answer, Sri Ramakrishna got very annoyed, and said you a wretched fellow – you are a great man and you are saying this?! You should not say this”. Sri Ramakrishna said – “the purpose of human life cannot be to eat, drink and be merry. The purpose is to realize your Self i.e. Self-realization.”

How to realize the Self?: Through one or all of the four path
Four main paths are mentioned –jnana yoga, bhakti yoga, karma yoga, and raja yoga.Swami Vivekananda has said –
“Each soul is potentially divine. The goal is to manifest this divinity by controlling nature, external and internal. Do this either by work, or worship, or psychic control, or philosophy – by one, or more, or all of these – and be free. This is the whole of religion. Doctrines, or dogmas, or rituals, or books, or temples, or forms, are but secondary details.”

So each soul is potentially divine. This is very important – that we are all one and the same. We see differences on the surface. But essentially we are one and the same because we are all divine. How to manifest that divinity within? To realize that Self? It can be done by the synthesis of the four yogas, or by anyone yoga alone.

Our identification with the small ego comes in the way of Self-realization
Most of the time we identify ourselves with our false ego. And ego is the root of all evil. Sri Ramakrishna used to say when the little, false ego, dies, there will be no quarrel, no problems, no anxiety, no worries, no suffering. This little ego gives us so much of trouble. All of us experience how the little ego gives us trouble.

There is stained I and unstained I. Our I is impure I. But there is another kind of I which is  pure I. When I the ego has become one with the Cosmic Ego, that ego becomes the pure ego –the universal ego. We have to become one with this Universal Ego. Unfortunately we are identified with our small ego, and because of this small ego or this false ego, we suffer.

Our real nature is the source of peace, happiness and bliss
Everybody wants to get rid of dukkha, suffering and misery. Everybody wants to have happiness. What is happiness? Happiness is your real nature. But what is wrong is to seek happiness outside because it is not in outside, it is inside.

Your very nature is Sat-Chit-Ananda – Being-Consciousness-Bliss. You are full of Ananda-bliss but we do not know it. We do not go to the source of Ananda – the source of happiness, the source of peace. Our real nature is the source of happiness and peace, of bliss. We seek outside, but we have to seek inside. If we seek inside, we will get the source of joy, bliss, happiness and peace. That is what Sri Ramakrishna used to say. Dive deep inside your heart, if you dive deep, you will get the source of joy, happiness and bliss.

Musk deer runs here and there in the jungle in search of a fragrance. It wonders from where the sweet fragrance is coming, doesn’t know that the fragrance is coming from its own naval – i.e. kasturi. Without knowing this he runs here and there in search of it. After running there it gets tired and ultimately it dies.

We are in the same condition – we are running here and there in search of happiness. We think we will get happiness if I go to a club, if I go to a hotel, if I go out with a friend, or I get some material object, then I will get peace and happiness.

We will not get peace and happiness in outside things – in material objects. If at all you get it in worldly objects, it is very very impermanent in nature. We all experience it. But if we want to have permanent, lasting peace and happiness, we have to search within. We have to seek within. If we do this, we will get the source of peace, happiness and bliss, and that is called Sat-Chit-Ananda – your Self, your real nature.

Through Self-realization we get rid of suffering (Dukkha)
Bhagavan Buddha was born in a royal family. When he was born, the astrologer forecast that this new born prince will become a Chakravarty Raja or a great Sanayasin. His father got nervous and perturbed that his only son will become a Sanayasin. So he put Prince Siddhartha in the midst of all luxuries and comforts so that worldly misery couldn’t touch him. But Siddhartha was disgusted with all the material luxury. One day he called his charioteer and went out from his palace to the city of Kapilavastu. In the city he came across the four scenes which are the turning point in the life of Prince Siddhartha.

First he came across a person lying on the roadside crying with suffering and Siddhartha asked his charioteer what has happened to him? The charioteer replied that he was suffering from a disease. Siddhartha had never come across disease. He asked – will it come to me also? Charioteer said yes, it is inevitable and will come to everybody. It will come to you also.

Then he came across four people carrying a dead body. He asked what are they carrying? When the charioteer told him they are carrying a person who is dead, Siddhartha asked the death will come to him also? Charioteer said yes one day you will also die. Siddhartha got perturbed. Next came an old man walking with a stick. Again he asked the charioteer why man was bent and could not walk properly? The charioteer told him that this is called old age and will come to you also.

Coming across these, Siddhartha realized dukkham, dukkham, sarvam dukkham – the whole world is full of dukkham. How to get rid of this dukkham? What is the cause of all these sufferings, sorrows, worries and anxieties? He realized that the cause of dukkha is trishna – desire. This is the root cause of all suffering.

To achieve real happiness, we need to control desire and realize our Self
If we want to have happiness, peace of mind, then don’t run after material and worldly things. Don’t crave for desires. Control your desire, regulate and moderate them. If you do that, you can realize yourself. And when you realize the self, you can go beyond birth and death and will have real peace and happiness.