13. Ajnana - The cause of sorrow
Rupa complains to her husband Venu, `I am sick of this
But the next day Rupa was still in her bad moods.
`She asked you not to come to her house again ?'
It's just a joke, but people nowadays are competing with their miseries thus and they feel all others are enjoying while they only suffer.
What is the cause of their sorrow or suffering ?
Naadatthe Kasya Chitpapam nachaiva sukratam Vibhahu
Vibhuhu - the omnipresent Lord, na- not. Kasyachit - of anyone, papam - sin, cha - and, sukrutam - virtue eva - eicher, ha aadatte - doesn't receiver, ajnanena- in ignorance, jnanam - knowledge, avrutam - is enveloped, tena - thereby , jantava - human beings, muhyanti - are falling a prey to delusion.
The omnipresent God does not receive anybody's papa or punya. Knowledge is enveloped in ignorance. Thereby, human beings are falling a prey to delusion i.e., are suffering.
This sloka means, every human being is an atma but not a body. But unfortunately we associate ourselves with the body being engulfed by ajnana. We do some good or bad things and we have to reap the consequences of these actions. God has no responsibility in this.
So if we raise the questions why are we suffering, the answer is because we are ignorant. To the question why are we ignorant , no sastra has an answer. Sankaracharya answered this way -
Q- Why are we suffering ?
It is indefinable. It had come from time immemorial.
Swami Sundara Chaitanya has beautifully summed up all our miseries into three broad categories.
1. I don't have something
1. I don't have something
Once a beggar was walking across the market street in
the scorching heat of the sun. He was walking barefoot. Unable to walk
too long he took shelter before a shoe palace. He was throwing furtive
glances at the shopkeeper. The shopkeeper ignored him initially, but he
couldn't bear his stare for long. He asked
The beggar answered, `How lucky you are.'
`Is that so ? Why don't you come in once ?'
The shopkeeper explained, `Don't pity me. I didn't show it to you for that . I must have done something wrong. So I am born thus. I must also have done something good. So I have two good brothers. They serve me as a loving child. They provide every small thing I require !'
The poor beggar realized that instead of crying over what he did not have he should feel happy that he has something else. This reminds us of the saying, `I cried for shoes, until I came across a man who had no legs.'
2. I lost what I have
This is even more a peculiar worry. A business man keeps brooding over the loss of 1 lakh he had one year. He gets a profit of 2 lakhs next year, but he doesn't feel happy even once. He keeps referring to the loss.
A woman lost her jewellery worth fifty thousand some
ten years ago. After that she must have purchased jewellery worth five
lakhs atleast, but she doesn't live happily. She broods over that loss.
She associates every incident in her life with that incident. For eg.
she says this happened two months after I lost my
This reminds me of a chandamama story I read years ago.
It is called Ardhana Raju. One day one beggar was almost flying in the
air. The king happened to watch him from his palace. He was surprised
to see him going so merrily in the hot sun. He sent for him and asked
him the reason for his merriment. He said, Oh
The beggar said, `Oh Maharaj you give me your share. I will add it with my amount and celebrate.'
The king offered an anna. Still he wanted to go. The king increased his stake. However much he offered, the beggar was keen on his ardhana. The king wanted to make him forget it. He even offered half his kingdom. You know what he chose? That part of the kingdom in which the tree was where he hid his ardhana !
That's how we are ! However, much we are given, we can't forget what we lost and so we can't be happy.
There is yet another type. They tell you, `I lost ten lakhs' you ask how, the reason they give is silly again. They have had shares of some company. They sold them for a profit of ten lakhs but after some time the shares of the company shot up much more. Had they retained those shares, they would have had a great profit. So they don't count the 10 lakhs they got, but they talk about the 10 lakhs they lost.
Some people say `Fine, I shouldn't brood over money. I agree. But I lost my only son. What do you say for this ? Many lose their husbands, wives, children, mothers, fathers etc. It is a loss no doubt. But as Sundara Chaitanya Swami put it, we have no right to complain. God has given us a son or a mother or wife to play with and he felt like taking him back, so he took him back.
For instance, the swami stayed in his devotee's house for 10 days He was given their tape recorder for those days so that he could listen to music. It was only a temporary arrangement. He should give it back when he left them. He couldn't hope to possess it forever because he liked it. So is the case with our bondage.
`Jatasya hi Dhruvo Mrutyu hu' said Krishna. We cannot get over their loss because of our Ajnana. As I already mentioned we don't know that we are atma, we have a mistaken identity. We think we are the body. We don't know that atma cannot be destroyed.
3. I don't like what I have.
According to our neighbours we have many things but we don't like them. We find fault with them. We think we are not as beautiful as Aiswarya Rai. We think we are not as rich as Bill Gates. Computer Engineers today are paid a minimum of thirty thousand per month. Very much more than their fathers with more than 20 years of experience. You tell them that, they tell you, `Oh I am the least paid in my company. My project leader gets one lakh per month. He hardly does any thing. I do everything for him.'
One devotee complained to the Swami it seems, `Swamiji my neighbour has a big bungalow where as I have a small house. In addition to that he has two cars and four servants. Whenever he goes out of station, he goes by air. I am not happy with what I have.'
Swamiji answered, `Don't worry. Shall I transfer all
that he has to you ?
You don't worry about that. I know a tantric vidya. But there is a condition. Your neighbour has heart trouble, his wife is suffering from cancer. Their lives are at stake. Along with these riches, I have to transfer these problems also !
You can guess the man's reaction. He ran away from the scene ! Let us analyse for ourselves under which category we fall. When we know the problem, the solution is easy.
We hear jokes like this.
`Then don't go to bed !'
The diagnosis is our ajnana. The medicine is to attain Jnana. We know we got a dream only after we wake up. Accordingly we know we are in ajnana only when we attain Jnana. When we are walking in a dark room, there is no point in keeping aside the furniture. We can avoid tumbling down, by just lighting a lamp. Mind you a small candle will do. We don't require a table light.
The same way, we don't have to probe into philosophy or sastras , to drive out our Ajnana. If we just learn a simple lesson, `we are brooding over life unnecessarily, it is caused by us, it is not given by God, we will not suffer again.'
I don't have something, I lost something