KUMBH: Nothing, but immortality || Acharya Prashant (2019)

kumbh mela

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So, the demigods and the demons, vigorous and adventerous as they were, thought of adding to their bounties. And got together, uncharacteristically, for a joint exploration mission. Together they churned the great sea using the great mountain as the churner and the great python as the rope.

One of the first things to show up was the great fuming poison. Shiv protected the three worlds by consuming the poison. And then emerged the nectar of immortality. The exploration had reached its zenith. The mission had succeeded. The ambrosia had been churned out from the utter depths of the great ocean, and was now available to be gulped down some ambitious throats. Both parties looked lustfully at their biggest exploit: the pot – kumbh – of nectar that would put an end to death, and make them invincible. But death is so overwhelming a threat that the prospect of deathlessness can make anyone do strange things. One individual, probably a devta, probably a danav, particularly inspired to make it big in life, simply ran away with the pot. Obviously the others gave him a hot pursuit. He was chased just as one chases immortality. With both the gods and demonds hot on his heels, he had it horrid. On the run, he had to pause at four places on planet Earth to catch his breath. Trembling as his hands were, thinking of his infuriated and powerful brethren, a bit of the nectar fell at these four places. The Kumbh is celebrated at the four places as a mark of immortality reaching mankind. Since millennia, devotees have been taking bath in Ganga, Shipra, Godavari – the Kumbh rivers – hoping to gain freedom from the clutch of death. The Kumbh is acknowledged as not only the biggest pilgrimage event on the planet, but also the biggest congregation of mankind for any purpose.

The story, the myth, is elaborate, multi-layered, and replete with symbolism. There appear to be many themes and ideas. However, in the middle of the rich clutter that the Kumbh saga is, there is one word that firmly dictates the narrative: Immortality. The whole celebration revolves around man’s fear of death, and his desire to taste the nectar of deathlessness.

What is death? Why does man fear death so much? In spite of all their powers and glory, why do even gods run after ambrosia of immortality? Death is the thought of loss. Death is the fear of not existing any longer. Man is in a strange situation. On one hand, everything he identifies with is perishable. His body, his thoughts, his feelings, his world, his relationships, his identities are all ephemeral. The world means change, and time is always threatening to ruthlessly change and destroy everything he bases his life on. Change and disappearance appear to be man’s inevitable lot when he looks at the world. On the other hand, this same destructible man, a puppet of time, has an inexorable love for deathlessness, changelessness, timelessness. His heart yearns for something that is so reliable, so true, so firm that time cannot touch it. All his life man randomly wanders groping around in search of something infallible, something final.

What does one make of this dissonance?

If one looks at his life truly, what does one see? A series of movements. Actions after actions. Acts, hopes, desires that are failing to find a climax, and are therefore continuing ad infinitum. Man’s eyes are endlessly searching for something. He is trying to find that through action, knowledge, possessions, relationships, pleasures, experiences, feelings, through everything at his disposal. That’s what the human condition is. To live on, man keeps bearing this condition, even glorifying it. He is compelled to call his frustration and poignant helplessness as motivation and achievement. He puts on a brave face. He calls his blind, stumbling, totter through life a challenging or heroic journey. He dons regular festivities even as he mourns within. At no point is he ever able to say: I am done. My ultimate desire has gained fulfillment. I am complete now, forever. And hence I now have unfettered freedom.

What does man really want? What did the gods and demons want despite owning the grandeur of life? Let’s rather see what all ways man tries to satiate his want. We have already done a lot. Have our ways succeeded? If not, then an altogether new kind of exploration is needed in an altogether new dimension. What is that dimension? The Kumbh legend gives us a clue. The mythical ocean is the mind, the Bhavsagar. Its churning is needed. That’s simple to say, but what one initially gets upon churning is accumulated poison: old tendencies, suppressed desires, the haunting residues of the past that one has been carrying forward in evolution. Poison is stuff that is basically worthless and harmful, but is still preserved within due to ignorance and attachment. This churning of the mind is essentially self-observation through an honest and dispassionate seeing of one’s life, thoughts, fears, desires, actions. But most people do not proceed with self-observation for long. As soon as they counter the poison, they back off. To go beyond the poison, dedication and love towards Truth – Shiva – is needed. One has to trust Shiva to surrender one’s poison to Him. This is faith. And then, upon such cleansing, what is left is deathlessness. Deathlessness thus demands both: a burning determination to get rid of the indignations of cyclic hopes and despairs, and a great love for unknowable, indescribable freedom. And deathlessness is not about living a million years. Deathlessness is not a huge stretch in time. Deathlessness is timelessness. Immorality is to live deep, not necessarily long. A moment spent deeply is a moment in eternity. What is depth? To go to one’s deepest desire and fulfill and extinguish it forever.

Another Kumbh beckons us. Can we go beyond the ritualistic dip, and honestly observe life as it is, within and around us? If we could see how desperately we want the One beyond time and death, and equally if we could see how that which we call life is one with death, would we still continue to live the same way we do? Realizing that our thoughts and plans are not adequate to fulfill our innermost desire, won’t we instantly shrug off our drowsy dreamy demeanor? Won’t we rebel against our self-sanctioned sleepwalk through life?

We have been thirsty since long. The time given to a human body is short. Man’s energy too is limited. And the task is onerous. Nothing short of total immortality, total security and total rest would satisfy man. What we want is available, and we have as much claim over the nectar as the gods and demons. The magical thing is: the great pot of divine nectar is so much our own that we don’t even have to steal it away from others.

Let’s heed the real message of Kumbh.


Excerpts from the above article were also published in DNA, India: Kumbh: Churning of mind to escape cyclic hopes and despairs:

(To receive regular updates on WhatsApp regarding wisdom articles by Acharya Ji and to get an opportunity to connect to him directly, click here)


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Influences are the celebration of life

This nose, these eyes, this language, these clothes, these thoughts, they are all influences. Influences by themselves are no guarantors of suffering.

Influences are the celebration of life.

In fact, in being totally open to influences, you are leading a total life.

The teacher is one who is totally open to influences, who is totally available to the situation. The disciple is one who lives in standards in benchmarks.

To him, this directionlessness, this non-resistance is his total oneness with existence.

The real one has nothing to defend, so he never defends.

And after calling him all the names, you are left with no more names, that’s when you fall silent and that is teaching.

Do not try to judge it on your moral platforms. That judgment will not be wrong, it will be simply irrelevant.

If you have a direction then you are not directionless.

The direction does not keep on changing. Your ways keep on changing. The destination that you have set for yourself that does not change. Your destination is a pleasure.



Read the complete article: Acharya Prashant: From where do the actions of the Teachers arise?

Acharya Prashant: From where do the actions of the Teachers arise?

Listener : Seeing the actions and responses that what I call a teacher gives, so the argument comes that maybe they are coming from the influential part of the mind, they are not coming from the essential just like you said that the faces are real till the time they are not coming from the influence. So gossiping about the teacher, gossiping about the physical appearance of responses, it comes, again and again, that maybe this is not essential, maybe this is not coming from him.

Acharya Prashant: But what you are saying may exactly be what is happening yet how does that entitled us to come to any conclusion?

You see that we all are influenced entities, there is no doubt about it. But so what? If you are not influenced then you are not alive. Your very birth happens out of influence.

This nose, these eyes, this language, these clothes, these thoughts, they are all influences. Influences by themselves are no guarantors of suffering.

Influences are like people passing in front of a mirror. The moment somebody passes in front of a mirror, he influences the mirror. Does he not? What does the mirror do?

Listeners: Reflects.

AP: Reflects. But that does not change the essential nature of the mirror. In fact, that only makes the mirror more respondent, more beautiful. You through light on the mirror, the mirror reflects that light and if there are multiple mirrors, then a single ray of light can lead to wonderful celebration or total festival of lights.

Have you seen the kind of things that can happen when multiple mirrors operate in tendons?

Listeners: Yes.

AP: So there is nothing wrong that which you call as influences.

Influences are the celebration of life.

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Why aren’t you feeding the right wolf?

There is the petty within you that says that I want to dominate your life, that I want to be expressed, that I want to become your breath, your action. And there is the Great within you, which is parallelly saying, “I have a right to be expressed.” Don’t you feel the call of that great? It is impossible. 

There is so much within you that is beautiful, that is healthy, and that too wants to lead you, that too wants to take you places, that too wants to make you live an alternate life.

Why don’t you give that a chance? Why don’t you?

It’s a small beautiful story, I often recall it. So, the grandma is telling a story to the kid. And what’s the story, she says “You know what baby, we all have two wolves inside of us and they are always fighting – A black wolf and a white wolf. And they’re growling and fighting and hitting each other and trying to overpower. They hate each other’s guts.”

And she keeps on describing how they are engaged with each other in the fight. The kid interrupts and says “But granny which of these wins? The white wolf is fighting the black wolf continuously within us, which of these wins?” And grandma smiles and says, “The one you feed.”

Which wolf are you feeding? And why? Why aren’t you feeding the right wolf? It has an equal right. It is equally yours. Probably much more yours than the wrong wolf. Both the wolves are within you. Feed the right one, please. And you know which one is the right one.


Read the complete article: Just feed the right wolf

Just feed the right wolf

gen 1Acharya Prashant: Gangesh is asking about the various pettinesses that occupy the mind. He says these pettinesses are there, all the time there, and they demand expression. What do I do? Should I speak to someone? I can’t curb them. I can’t just wish them away, and they are always making their presence felt.

Gangesh, why are you reporting selectively? If you must talk of all that which is seeking expression, why do you also not talk of the immense within you that is trying to get expression? Is it only your pettinesses that want to get expressed? Does the Great inside you not want to get expressed? But you have not written a single word about that. Why are you taking sides? Why don’t you let it be an impartial battle? And if you have to take sides, please take the right side. Read more

What does it mean to be free from both happiness and sadness?

What does it mean to be free from both happiness and sadness?

It means being free from obligations to label happiness as joy.

It means being free from obligations to label sadness as loss of self-worth.

When you say, “Happiness, is happiness,” then you are free from happiness. When you say, “Sadness is just sadness,” then you have gained freedom from sadness.

Being free from happiness and sadness does not mean that you will prohibit yourself from experiencing happiness and sadness.

Let happiness come. And when happiness comes, you must allow its unrestricted entry. This boldness, to not to restrict happiness is the Truth. It is unconditional.

When happiness has notions attached to it, then happiness is no more happiness. When happiness becomes significant to you, when happiness means much more to you, then it is no more happiness, happiness becomes a proxy for joy.

Spirituality means to know happiness just as happiness.

Spirituality means happiness is not a proxy for joy. So, I do not need to label the conditional as unconditional. So, I do not need to label the changeable as unchangeable. So, I do not need to label happiness as contentment.



Read the complete article: How to be free of happiness and sadness?

How to be free of happiness and sadness?

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Acharya Prashant:

What does it mean to be free from both happiness and sadness?

It means being free from obligations to label happiness as joy.

It means being free from obligations to label sadness as loss of self-worth.

When you say, “Happiness, is happiness,” then you are free from happiness. When you say, “Sadness is just sadness,” then you have gained freedom from sadness.

Being free from happiness and sadness does not mean that you will prohibit yourself from experiencing happiness and sadness.

Let happiness come. And when happiness comes, you must allow its unrestricted entry. This boldness, to not to restrict happiness is the Truth. It is unconditional.

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Purpose of life

Slide2Question: I want to know, do we really have a purpose in life? Like, some people find their passion and that becomes their purpose in life. So, I want to know if there is a purpose. And if there is, then how can we find it?

Acharya Prashant: Is that not related to the discussion on goals?

Listener: No, but then goals are something that you’re told. Like, you should get this much salary. You should do this, you should be like any; I don’t know what I want to do. So can I find that or is there nothing like that? Read more

International Women’s Day: Together they suffer and together they will celebrate

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There is nothing called woman’s liberation in isolation.

Woman is oppressed and the man too is oppressed, albeit in a different way.

Woman’s liberation is man’s liberation.

They will always be together.

Together they suffer.
And together they will celebrate. Read more

Let work be celebration

Let work be celebration, let work be life.

You wake up, and you want to work.

You wake up, and you do not want to run away from work.

You wake up, and you want to straight away reach out to something.

Now work is holy, it is sacred.

It’s your breath, it’s your heartbeat.

On Upanishad: The difference between knowledge and intelligence

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Questioner: Can I say that intelligence is greater than knowledge, or vice-versa?

Acharya Prashant: They are incomparable.

To say one is greater than the other, you have to bring them to the same plane, have the same unit, the same benchmarks, and the same scale to compare them. They are in different dimensions. Read more

Joy – absolute happiness – is possible

Question: Sir, what is happiness? And what is the relation between happiness and Joy?

Speaker:  Whatever pleases the mind, whatever the mind likes, is called happiness for the mind. Simple, whatever pleases the mind is happiness. Whatever means whatever, could be anything. There are no complexities in this. Whatever the mind likes, is its happiness.

Obviously the question of liking something, being attracted towards something, arises only when there is a feeling of incompletion. The greater is the feeling of incompletion the stronger is the like. The stronger is the like, the more happy we are. That is the entire game of liking and disliking. The more is your suffering, the deeper is your incompletion and the greater is the intensity of your likes. You will be a very passionate man. Eager to achieve happiness. Let us just call that as the ‘plane of duality’ in which the mind usually operates. Read more

For real action, let the Real act on your behalf

Questioner: Let’s say, you have a couple of friends, they would come, they would stay, you would sit together and you have fun. And then sometime they leave. So, for that moment you think you are right but then the things turn upside down and you start thinking that they were bad people. So, if for a moment it was right, then how can it turn so bad?

Acharya Prashant: That is the nature of our friendships and that is the nature of all our relationships.

Q:  That was just an example. You have said that when we come to know that things are right, we put a full stop and we are happy with it.

AP: No! No. The full stop proves that the thing is right.

Q: But then after sometime when things turn out to be wrong, then where does that full stop come?

AP:Here is my soul mate and this and that”.

The fact of the matter is they are still looking out. The fact of the matter is it is only a question of how big and lucrative the opportunity is. The fact of the matter is the prince charming of dreams is always illusive. And whosoever you are with, the eyes are still looking out for that illusive prince charming. And if he comes, then this current boyfriend will be out. In no time will he be out. So, the search is perpetual. The search never seizes. We know that. We may claim that, “Now that I am married, things have come to a full stop and now I am no more searching”. But we all know we are always searching, like a corporate employee. You may be in a very good job but you are always looking for the next hike. Are you not? And it all depends just on whether you get a good enough offer, a good enough hike. A good enough hike and you will quit the job that you swear your allegiance to.

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The mark of a good word is that it takes you to silence

Question: When I talk about it, it is easy and understandable. But when the real moment comes, every part of the body feels fear. Is talking anymore important for me now? Do I need to be just there and not deviate when the moment comes? Read more

Love comes along with Courage

Question: Why can’t I keep my learning at the back-end, and act as a normal human being in the front-end? When I try to make people aware of the learnings I have had from you, I receive severe resistance. Is it important at all to disseminate this wisdom?

Speaker: What has the questioner just said? That the audience here is abnormal. What do you mean by a ‘normal human being’? What is your concept of ‘normal’? The one who doesn’t have any learning.  What kind of statement is this?

The one who would learn, would he still have an option to act as if he is blind? The one who is able to see with his eyes open, would he still have an option act in an unconscious way? Deep within you think that the those who are blind, unaware are ‘normal’ and anybody who realizes, is awakened, is able to see, has something wrong with him. He is abnormal.
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Gratitude – The only legitimate function of mind

Question: I once heard you saying, “A healthy man does not run away from the disease.” I have observed that after listening to this, I have become caring towards myself and for everyone else, because now I have stopped running away from my disease. I am trying to be healthier. I have started taking steps to cure the disease in me. Thank you! Read more

In victory and in defeat, you are always a winner

Question : Sir, is truth necessarily cruel and dangerous? Whenever I listen to you, I feel fear of losing something. Why is it so?

Speaker : Who is losing something? If you unnecessarily identify yourself with somebody who has possessions, only then you feel that you are losing something. We will understand a few things.

First, there is no need to take any of your possessions seriously. Because what is really yours can never be taken away. You will be wasting your energy by being serious about it. See, you are feeling serious about something, and you are afraid that you might lose it. Right? You are saying, “Whenever I listen to you, I fear that I will lose something.” If there is the fear that you might lose something, then this fear is the proof enough that, ‘that’ thing is external. It is not really yours. Read more

Beauty is to see beauty in beauty and ugly

True words are not beautiful. Beautiful words are not true. (Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching)

Speaker: Lao Tzu says, “True words are not beautiful. Beautiful words are not true.”

What could he mean probably? “True words are not beautiful. Beautiful words are not true.” And I would also want to extend this to, “Satyam, Shivam, Sundaram (Truth, Godliness, Beauty)”.  The Upanishads say that only the ‘Truth’ is ‘Beautiful’. And here we have Lao Tzu saying, “True words are not beautiful and beautiful words are not true.” How do we reconcile the apparent contradiction?

Let’s look at beauty. What do we mean by beauty? Usually, when do you say that something is beautiful?

Listener 1: When it is pleasing to our senses. Read more

Happiness cannot be the purpose of life

Question: Sir, what is the purpose of life?  Is it earning money, or happiness?

Speaker: The lady is asking, ‘What is the ultimate purpose of life?’ She has already presented us two options:

  1. Earning money or,
  1. Happiness.

But you already know. You have already discounted everything else and zeroed in on to two options. What are they? That the purpose could be either to earn money, or to be happy.

Alright. So let’s first look at these two. What does one earn money for?

Listener 1: For livelihood.

Speaker: And, why does one want a livelihood?

Listener 2: For comfort.

Speaker: What does comfort give you?

Listener 3: Satisfaction and happiness. Read more

On Celebration, Work and Living

Question: Sir, why do people celebrate festivals and are always desperately looking for holidays and vacations?

Answer:

1. It is very necessary for the insecure and terrified mind to keep looking towards future. So, some special day must always be there a week or a month ahead. New year goes, then you can look forward to Baisakhi. Then Valentine’s day, then Holi, then your birthday, and so on. Read more