All sentient beings ardently desire happiness without even the least admixture of sorrow. And man, who has acquired the power to think and to reason out, endeavours to seek this untainted joy in the objects of nature wrongly hoping that he so assiduously aspires after. Modern scientific civilization is mainly based on an ever- increasing knowledge of the secrets of nature, and utilizing material objects as a means for obtaining sensual pleasures. Even though man, in Francis Thomson’s words “drew the bolt on Nature’s secrecies”’ and has gone a long way towards mastery of nature in order to make his physical and mental life free from woes, yet inspite of all the scientific advancements he could not completely satisfy his soul’s hunger for lasting happiness. His incessant efforts in this direction clearely indicates that he has not as yet reached anywhere near his goal. For, once you get what you seek for your struggle automatically stops. After all this infructuous search for joy you are at last faced with the disconcerting fact that you cannot get abiding bliss through material means. For instance, one may pour ghee into the burning fire but the flames shoot up with redoubled vigour. In the same manner the more you pander to your sensual pleasures the more they grow and become infinitely insatiable. And ultimately thwarted desires dry the well-springs of healthy happiness in life. Consequently, anger, greed, lust and other base passions multiply. And owing to ajnana or nescience, the propensity to seek in vain, happiness in mundane things, becomes tenacious and thus the vicious circle gets started, and man helplessly turns round and round for ever in the wheel of births and deaths.

We are passing through strange times, and never before has there been such a plethora of instruments and gadgets intended to multiply physical comforts. Real refinement and good- taste have disappeared from all walks of life. As a result of this, man has necessity to exert to the utmost for acquiring even elementary requisites such as food, clothing, dwelling, education and health. The insatiable thirst to invent newer and more up-to-date devices to get pleasant sensations from material objects, has brought things to such a pass, that man has become a slave to them, and runs after them in sheer madness. The sole aim of all thoughts and activities has come to the acquirement of only bodily needs. And in this feverish attempt to get these things, truth and morality are flung to the winds, and no reluctance is shown to indulge in all the base passions. Besides this, the depraved men of the present day take also an asuric pride in such indulgences. Everywhere, in all departments of life from the governance of big empires, to the management of little families we find deplorable decline of what the Bhagavat Gita calls “divine qualities” and a pernicious growth of “demonic characteristics”. It is true that modern science has done good things for humanity, and has to its credit many precious additions to its stock of knowledge. But all such scientific discoveries have unfortunately turned out to be the causes of the destruction of human civilization. Thus the development of modern nuclear physics, has presented to the world such deadly weapons as the hydrogen bomb. When these destructive things are utilized and controlled by the slaves of passions and of wrath, human civilization itself is in jeopardy, and may be blotted out from the face of this earth at any moment. Thus in trying to gratify desires through dependence on external nature man has brought about quite a lot of misery and fear in this world. All this is the result of an ignorant extroversion.

Now, let us turn our gaze inwards, and ask ourselves the questions, “who is it that desires happiness?”, “what is the nature of the joy we long for?”, “why do we try to avoid misery?”. It is the utter disregard of these significant problems that makes for the miserable condition that we are in.

Paranchi khani vyatrnat svayambhu stasmat paran pasyati nantaratman kaschitdhirah pratyagatmanamiksda mvrtta chaksuramrtatvamicchan “The self-existent has pierced the doors of sense outward, therefore one sees things outwardly and sees not in one’s inner being. Rarely a sage desiring immortality, his sight turned inward, sees the self face to face” (Sri Arabindo). The indriyas or the senses, are created in such a way that they always tend to be out-going. The objects of sense attract those who concentrate on them. Attraction develops into desire and desire breeds anger. From anger delusion is born and by delusion right reason is shattered. With the destruction of discrimination, there is a loss of understanding of the Atmatatva. He who constantly dwells on the objects of sense, gets himself removed farther and farther away from self-knowledge and in the end completely forgets the fact that in reality he is the infinite truth, knowledge and bliss. As he has forgotten the great truth of his being, he mistakenly takes himself to be his body and nothing more. Only that rare courageous soul who is firm in mind understands that he is really Atman, and that his essential nature is Bliss itself, and to establish himself in this bliss, he has nothing else to do but to know this great truth of his existence. Such a sage is indeed immersed in that uncaused eternal delight or ananda, which is the very essence of his self. The Jeevatman we mistake ourselves to be is but a reflection of that infinite indivisible knowledge and bliss. That is the reason why we have an insatiable longing for happiness, and an inveterate hatred for misery. The reality of man is veiled over by his antahkarana or his inner prakriti, and that is why every man should make an effort to conquer his inner prakriti, and to remove the darkness that hides the face of the truth. The whole of nature could be classified into two categories, the inner and the outer. The outer is the gross, and the inner is the subtle, and the former has evolved from the latter. Thus the subtle prakriti is the cause, and the gross prakriti is the effect. If we conquer the subtle, the gross can be easily subjugated, when the inner prakriti is subdued, the outer prakriti of itself will be brought under control.

After all, man is a part of Nature or the Cosmos, and as such what is in the Macrocosm is contained in the microcosm too, which is himself. In addition to this, sentient beings have instruments of knowledge which may be called the inner nature. And this instrument of knowledge has reached its perfection and full evolution in man. In the immensely vast, infinite ocean of matter which is the universe before us in its totality, the sun, the moon, different whirlpools of (matter, or more accurately) electrons. And man’s physical body is just another tiny aggregate of swirling electrons.

From an atom to a star, everything is an expression of that power which our ancient rishies called ‘Prana’. It is this prana that moves everything; electricity, magnetism, atomic energy are all different modifications of Prana. Sa(prana) visvakarma, Visvatma visva rupah, prajapatih, srsta, dhata vibhurvishy, samharta, mretyurantakah.” Thus the creation and dissolution of this gross universe, and all kinds of motion and actions are being produced by Prana. Pranasyedam vase sarvam tridiveyet pratistitam”. So says sruthi.

Continued in the next article.

– Kumarakom P. Parameshwaran Pillai


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