13. Ajnana - The cause of sorrow

Rupa complains to her husband Venu, `I am sick of this Narmada'
`Why ?'
`She always wants to be one step ahead of me.'
`What do you mean ?'
`If I tell her we bought cooler, she will say oh, we bought A.C. If I tell her we bought colour T.V. , she will say we bought plasma TV If I tell her we bought computer she will say Oh we have laptap. If I tell her I cooked for five guests today, she will say this is nothing. I cook for no less than ten guests everyday.
`Is that all ? Don't worry. You go and tell her that you have cancer. She can't outwit you.'

But the next day Rupa was still in her bad moods.
`Why, what happened ?'
`This wretched Narmada. I told her I have cancer. You know what she said `?

`She asked you not to come to her house again ?'
`No, that would have been better. She said she has AIDS '

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 ?
Lord Krishna has explained it beautifully in this sloka.

Naadatthe Kasya Chitpapam nachaiva sukratam Vibhahu
Ajnanenavrutam jnanam tena muhyanti jantavaha ------ Bhagwadgeetha 5-15

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 ?
A. Because we have taken up the human form
Q- How did we get the human form ?
A. Because of our actions
Q- How are actions done ?
A. Because of feelings and emotions.
Q- How are feelings or emotions caused ?
A. Because of foolishness
Q- How is foolishness caused
A. Because of ignorance
Q- How is ignorance caused ?
A. Ignorance is caused by anything.

It is indefinable. It had come from time immemorial.
Our ignorance is the root cause of all our suffering or all
the miseries we face in this world.

Swami Sundara Chaitanya has beautifully summed up all our miseries into three broad categories.

1. I don't have something
2. I lost what I have
3. I don't like what I have

1. I don't have something
We may have many things but we also don't have something. We brood over what we don't have.

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
openly, `Why do you stare at me thus ?'

The beggar answered, `How lucky you are.'
The man was surprised, `Do you know me?'
`No !'
`Then what made you say so !'
`Oh ! you have a wide range of slippers and shoes arranged
neatly. You can wear as many as you like. Don't you deem it luck ?'

`Is that so ? Why don't you come in once ?'
He went in.
Remove the shawl over my shoulders'
And lo! The owner had neither hands nor legs! The beggar couldn't believe his eyes !

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
Maharaj. My wife decided to celebrate today. I hid an ardhana (3 paise) in the bark of a tree. I am going to get that. `The king pitied him and said, oh please don't bother, I will give you that amount. You go and celebrate.'

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 ?
The bewildered devotee asked, `But how Swamiji ? How is it possible ?'

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.
`I played cricket the wholeday. My legs are aching terribly.
When I go to bed, I am not able to sleep due to the pain.'

`Then don't go to bed !'
It looks silly but some times the solution is as simple as that. Krishna himself explained in the next sloka.

Jnanena the tadajnanam yesham nasitha matmanaha
Tesha maditya vajnanam prakasayati tatparam (5-16)

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
I don't like something, but I have God's Grace.