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Your Wretched State

by Swami Sivananda

Desire, anger, jealousy, worry, anxieties, cares and excitements torment you every second. Deaths of persons whom you loved most give you severe shock. Yet you will never renounce these momentary pleasures of the senses of this unreal, mundane existence. Such is the depth of sensual enjoyment! You will say with pride: Oh, I am a powerful man. I am very clever and intelligent. I can do anything. There is no Isvara. But when a mere scorpion stings you sharp, you will call out bitterly: O Narayana, help me! If the hair becomes grey you will invent various dyes to blacken it. You will invent 'monkey-gland grafting' for rejuvenation. If the teeth fall, you will put on a new false dental set. You will never leave the 'will to live and enjoy.' Hopeless specimens!

There are scorpion-stings on one side; flies, bugs, mosquitoes, thorns trouble you from another corner. The sun scorches you in summer and the biting winter sucks your blood. Influenza, plague, leprosy, fashionable appendicitis, pyorrhea, small-pox are ready to devour you. Fear, delusion, grief, sorrow and misery kill you every moment.

Renunciation comes only to those who were once kings in their previous births, who developed discrimination between the real and the unreal in their previous births, who have done meritorious actions in their previous births, who led the life of a Sannyasin in several births. Only those who have tremendous will-power, spiritual strength, dispassion, discrimination, and who thirst for salvation can renounce the world. Renunciation demands superhuman strength. Renunciation or Sannyasa is stern stuff.

After all, what is this world? It is like the foot print of a calf when compared to the Infinite Brahman or the Absolute. It is a small bubble in the ocean of Existence. It is less than an atom. The worthless nature of the joys of this world is already known to a Viveki or a man of discrimination or an aspirant or an ordinary worldly man even in whom there is not even an iota of spiritual awakening or a little opening of the eye of wisdom.

But this world is a very great thing or solid reality for a passionate, worldly-minded man. As his mind is soaked in worldly thoughts, worldly Vasanas, and worldly Samskaras, as he is surrounded by Asuric environment, as he is breathing the atmosphere emanating from sensual filth, he is not able to comprehend subtle things which are transcendental. He has forgotten all about the glory of divinity and super living.

Just reflect for a while on your state. As a baby in the womb you are covered with urine and pus and scorched by the fire of hunger. At the age of adolescence you are puffed up with the enjoyment of the sense-objects, etc. As a senile old man you become extremely weak in body and mind. A life of delusion amidst money and sensual objects is your pitiable lot.

The Jiva undergoes unbearable suffering in the womb of the mother for ten months, being placed in the midst of faecal matter, urine, blood, flesh, phlegm and marrow and being burnt by the Jatharagni.

At the time of birth, the child's head should come first. If the child gets obstructed by change of position, either the child or the mother must die. To save the mother, the child has to be cut to pieces. Even if the delivery becomes normal, the pain caused to the mother and the baby is immense.

A big officer, a big landlord is only a big fool if he nourishes this body only and forgets all about his Soul, if he indulges in sensual objects only and does not attempt for Self-realisation.

Knowledge of the Self or Brahma Jnana is more precious and important than the kingdom of all the worlds. King Janaka said to Yajnavalkya, I will give thee, O venerable Guru, my kingdom and also my own self to become thy slave. Such is the glory of a Sage or a Brahma Jnani.

If you do not possess Viveka, if you do not try your extreme level best for the attainment of Salvation, if you spend your whole lifetime in eating, drinking, sleeping, marrying, divorcing and propagating the race, how are you better than an animal? As a matter of fact, they are better than you! You will have to sit at the feet of the animals and learn several lessons from them. Even animals possess self-restraint to an astounding degree. O man! where has your self-restraint gone?

O man! Never say: My body, my son, my wife, my house, my property, my garden, etc. Attachment is the root cause of the innumerable miseries and troubles of this world. Discipline your mind well, realise the illusory nature of all that appears here in this world.

The Bhagavadgita says: The delights that are contact-born are verily the wombs of pain, for they have a beginning and an end, O Kaunteya! the wise do not rejoice in them (Ch. V-22). Indifference to the objects of the senses, and also absence of egoism, insight into the pain and evil of birth, old age and sickness (Ch. XIII-8). That which arises from the union of the senses with their objects is at first as nectar, but in the end is like venom (Ch. VIII-38). Having obtained this transient, joyless world, worship Me (Ch. IX-33).

O man! Are you not ashamed to call this filthy body as I and to say this is mine, he is my son, when everything is perishable? This identification with the body is the seat of the great Raurava hell. What is the difference between the worms and men that rejoice in this ill-smelling body?

Maya, the great juggler, prepares a skeleton, covers it with flesh, and hides the various impurities with a shining skin. O deluded man! How long are you going to call this body as yours? How long are you going to cling to this perishable body? Give up this deluded imagination, and identify yourself with your real Nature, the Satchidananda Svarupa. Are you not tired of saying: My son is ailing from typhoid. My second daughter is to be married. I have so many debts to pay. My wife is worrying me to purchase for her a good necklace. My eldest son-in-law died recently. Indeed, such miseries should open your eyes now at least.

The Yoga Vasishta rightly says: Those per sons who, in spite of the knowledge of the non-existence of happiness both in the past and the present in the baneful objects of the world, do yet entangle themselves in them with their thoughts clinging to them, deserve the appellation of an ass, if not a worse one.

Human love is hollow. It is mere animal attraction. It is passion only. It is carnal love. It is selfish love. It is ever-changing. It is all hypocrisy and sheer show. Dear man! You can find real, last ing love in God and God alone. His love knows no change.

Raja Bhartrihari says in his Vairagyasataka:

Even though you may roam about heaven and earth with a view to obtain riches at the sacrifice of dignity of birth, rank in life and self-respect, your efforts will not be attended with success; and even if perchance you succeed, your desires will never he satiated. O ignoble man! What horrible sins and crimes have you not committed just to fill the cavity of your stomach and cover this body with a piece of cloth?

Hope is a flowing river. Desires are its waters. Longings are its waves. Attachments for objects are the animals of prey living therein. One cannot cross this river because of the countless whirlpools of ignorance in the waters and the precipitous nature of the river banks. Only Yogis of pure mind can cross this river and enjoy highest bliss.

Insects jump into the blazing fire and the fish seizes the bait attached to the hook. But this is because of their sheer ignorance. But man who is supposed to have discrimination, and a knowledge of right and wrong should do better. But does he? So, he does not abandon sensual pleasures that are attended with various defects! How inscrutable is the power of delusion!

How dare you say there is happiness in this world, when you have come forth from within an impure womb, when in youth you are polluted by sensual pleasures and mental distraction, and in old age you become the laughing stock of youngsters ?

The span of man's life is very shortsaid, at the maximum, to be a hundred years, Half of it is spent in sleep; and out of the rest, half is passed away in childhood and old age. Then there are periods of illness, bereavements and troubles, and serving others. What happiness can there be for a man in this world?

O, let us eat begged food, let the sky be our clothing. Let the earth be our bed. We have absolutely nothing to do with riches.

The Upanishads emphatically declare: Yo Vai Bhuma Tat Sukham Naalpe Sukhamasti! You can not have real happiness in this world. The real 'Santi', the Peace which the mind is hankering after is only to be found in the 'Bhuma'. Bhuma is unconditioned, beyond time, beyond space and causation. Bhuma, the Great, is Freedom, freedom from the trammels of flesh, freedom from the tricks of the mind, freedom from the plays of delusion. Bhuma is Perfection, beyond all limitations. Bhuma is Brahman, the eternal Absolute! You will have to remember all this constantly. You will have to write this and read this, talk of this and preach this, meditate on this and live in this, 'Yo Vai Bhuma Tat Sukham.'

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