चिंता ऐसी डाकिनी, काटि करेजा खाए
वैद्य बिचारा क्या करे, कहां तक दवा खवाय॥
[Worry is a Dracula who slices our heart and eats it,
How long can the poor doctor sustain us on his potions]
Last month we discussed Pratyahara the fifth stage in sage Patanjali’s Ashtanga Yoga prescription. Pratyahara comes after Yama, Niyama, Asana, and Pranayama. These four, in a way, prepare us for Pratyahara. Pratyahara in turn is the preparation for subsequent stages of Dharana, Dhyana and Samadhi. Samadhi is the stage where the yogi or the seeker has attained oneness with Superconsciousness.
We understood that Pratyahara is withdrawal of senses from their respective objects. We also understand that ‘Pratyahara’ is not as easy as said. It is very difficult for most of us. In the external world there are innumerable beautiful and desirable things which we want or even need. In such a scenario it is next to impossible to keep our mind away from them. Consequently, we worry endlessly to acquire the things, people and situations that we desire in our lives.
Ironically, about every desire that raises its hood in our head, we have same thought process. We think that after this one desire is fulfilled, we will not need anything else and we will stay at peace. However, it is common experience that each desire that we put to rest, is replaced by a thousand sister-desires. So even if each one of our desires is fulfilled, the situation remains the same - we are always under the clutching pressure of one or the other desire. We are not able to live desire-free or worry free. The worries from unfulfilled desires suck our physical, mental and emotional energy and dry out our ‘Pranashakti’, our very life force.
Ghalib mentions this fatal aspect of desires in one of his couplets :
“Hazaron Khwahishein Aesi ki Har Khwahish pe Dam Nikle
Bahut Nikle Mere Armaan Lekin Phir bhi Kam NIkle”.
[A thousand desires I had and each one so urgent that I could die of it . Many of them were fulfilled yet that was not enough for me].
This is clear that even fulfilled desires don't bring permanent joy. Buddha’s first noble truth, “Desires are the cause of suffering” was stated more than two thousand years ago yet we keep on embracing the cause of our suffering and yet crave for joy in life.
Some of us who have the wisdom to analyze the principles of life from the level of a seer like Buddha are able to find solutions to endless chain of desires and worries. Hence, that one of us who can see deeper becomes free and attains the joy which is fleeing from most of us. Qualities of such a person are described in The Bhagavad Gita where Lord Krishna says to Arjuna :
Sukham atyantikam yattadbuddhigrahyam-atindryeeyam
Vetti yatra na chaivayam Sthitatashchalati Tattavatah//
Yam labdhva cha paramam labham manyate na adhikam tatah
yasmin sthito na dukhena gurunapi vichalayate //
[Ultimate joy is subtler than the joys received from the senses and their objects. This joy can be experienced only by a refined intelligence. The one who has refined his/her intelligence with discipline of Yoga knows this essence and never moves away from it. Obtaining this, the seeker considers it to be the highest attainment and does not get restless even in the face of the most intense sorrow.]
Let us refine our intelligence by the discipline of Yoga and learn to discern the most subtle joy and to establish ourselves in that . We must give ourselves a chance to stop worrying over the grosser joys and sorrows of fulfilled and unfulfilled desires respectively.
Ashvin Navaratri happens this year from 13th to 22nd October.
Significance of Navaratri is many fold. Primarily, these are considered to be the nine nights of Shakti. Shakti is worshipped in its various forms each night. Durga Shaptashati anushthan is done in many households and hermitages. Fasting is taken up and all the auspicious acts are executed during these days. The various rituals remind us to recognize the love as well as the strength aspect of feminine principle in existence. May the Goddesses Durga, Lakshmi and Saraswati bless our lives and the spaces we inhabit!