Thursday, December 18, 2008

Maya-2: The fight against lust

A key factor generating Maya or illusions is lust. Lust, for money, power, prestige and so on are a key factor in degradation of once powerful societies, and their eventual conquest and extermination by barbarians with little social values standing at the gate. They too are guided by lust, a lust for the riches and booty that a rich society can give.

But there is a difference. The barbarians have some sort of unity between them. They are united by their lust for the opponent's wealth. On the other hand, the opponent, the rich and powerful society has fights in between itself. So, it's house is divided.

Sounds familiar?

Sounds like current affairs?

It should. The same situation has played over and over, generations after generations, centuries after centuries, millenia after millenia. It seems that mankind can never permanently evolve beyond a particular stage. The end of times (good/bad) also seems to be a rule along with the ultimate truth in the world.

Avoiding lust is simple. We must be able to draw a line, between what we can achieve, how much to achieve so as to be able to live a comfortable life without damaging the self, or the fabric of the society. For if the lust to get wealth or power grows beyond a certain extent, it will start affecting the society. It starts coming in the line of duty, and when duty is neglected for one's greed, the system starts to fail.

Breach of duty doesn't happen all of a sudden. And so doesn't lust. It happens unknowingly. It starts with a trickle. Say, one day a policeman happens to spend his day's earnings from the police station on booze. He needs to give the same amount of money to his wife who was expecting to buy something that day. He's in a fix now. For once, he accepts a bribe from a person who breaks a rule and sets him free. The cop gets the money, gives it to his wife . Case closed.

That is if he feels guilty for what he has done. The chains of duty are sometimes very feeble on people. It involves sacrifice, selfless labor, doing that extra hour to ensure that something has been done correctly. In comparison, breaking the call of duty is so attractive and soothing for the mind. Once greed/lust has been tasted, it keeps growing until it devours the man as a whole. If this is replicated on a larger scale, the whole society is at stake.

A second place, apart from the specimen of corruption described above, where lust is particularly discerning is Indian politics. It is known by all that for far too long, politicians have indulged in the lust for the power. Coalition politics is a natural outcome of this lust. Parties with like ideologies but differing in matters of governance unite after the elections to form the government. In this, they let governing the nation on the backburner. Policy making becomes insanely difficult since the policy has to cater to all the members of the coalition. Time taken to form the policy also increases dramatically as a result. Moreover, ideologies of political parties that are not the interest of the majority populace of the nation are enforced into decision making only because that party has got some seats in the Lok Sabha. Another place where one finds lust in the 'largest democracy' is when we find regional parties mushrooming in states instead of having few large national political parties that rule the nation.

These regional parties are (IMO only) born when a national party doesn't give local candidates a preference over their loyalists. Again, lust for power and nepotism from the national party come into question over here. Now what happens is that the regional party might not have very vast resources compared to a national party with nation wide reach and a larger number of fund-raisers. So how do they set out getting votes? They then resort to caste based politics by propping up somebody from a majority caste of the region. Caste issues then triumph over public issues. Throw in religion based politics, quota demands, and voila! we get a lip smacking recipe for disaster.

These are the enemies within the Indian state that our nationalist minded folk have to root out. We might explore the solutions for the above impasse in another post.

As far as barbarians at the gate are concerned, India is safe only as they have their own troubles to tend to. The moment they convince each other to unite for the booty, for our resources, we'll be done.

Consider as well the following dialogue between Shri Krishna and Arjuna about solving the problems of lust. The focus is on controlling the senses, knowing that mind and intelligence are above the senses. I wish that no call of duty is averted just for the short term comfort of the senses. It would only bring long term disaster.


Chapter 3:

अर्जुन उवाचा
अथ केना प्रयुक्तो ’यम्
पापं करती पुरुषः
अनिच्चान्न अपि वर्स्नेया।
"Arjuna said: O descendant of Vrishni, by what is one impelled to sinful acts, even unwillingly, as if engaged by force?"

श्री-भगवान उवाचा
कम ऐसा क्रोध ऐसा
महासनो महा-पाप्मा
विद्ध्य इनाम इह वैरिनाम।
"The Supreme Personality of Godhead said: It is lust only, Arjuna, which is born of contact with the material mode of passion and later transformed into wrath, and which is the all-devouring sinful enemy of this world"

धुमेनावृयते वह्निर
यथादार्सो मलेना का
यथोल्बेनाव्रतो गर्भास
तथा तेनेदम अव्र्तम ।
"As fire is covered by smoke, as a mirror is covered by dust, or as the embryo is covered by the womb, the living entity is similarly covered by different degrees of this lust"

अव्र्तम जनानाम एतेना
ज्नानिनो नित्य-वैरिना
कम-रूपेण कौन्तेय
दुस्पुरेनानालेना का।
"Thus the wise living entity’s pure consciousness becomes covered by his eternal enemy in the form of lust, which is never satisfied and which burns like fire"

इन्द्रियानी मनो बुद्धिर
अस्याधिस्थानाम उच्यते
एतैर विमोहयाटी ऐसा
जनानाम अव्र्त्य देहिनाम।
"The senses, the mind and the intelligence are the sitting places of this lust. Through them lust covers the real knowledge of the living entity and bewilders him."

तस्मात् त्वं इन्द्रियान्य आदौ
नियम्य भारतार्सभा
पाप्मानं प्रजाही ही इनाम

"Therefore, O Arjuna, best of the Bharatas, in the very beginning curb this great symbol of sin [lust] by regulating the senses, and slay this destroyer of knowledge and self-realization"

इन्द्रियानी परानी अहुर
इन्द्रियेभ्याह परम मनः
मनसस तू पारा बुद्धिर
यो बुद्धेह परतास तू सह

"The working senses are superior to dull matter; mind is higher than the senses; intelligence is still higher than the mind; and he [the soul] is even higher than the intelligence"

एवं बुद्धेह परम बुद्ध्वा
सम्स्ताभ्यात्मनाम आत्मना
जाही सत्रुम महा-बहो
कम-रूपम दुरासदम।
"Thus knowing oneself to be transcendental to the material senses, mind and intelligence, O mighty-armed Arjuna, one should steady the mind by deliberate spiritual intelligence [Krishna consciousness] and thus—by spiritual strength—conquer this insatiable enemy known as lust."

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