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Relations are unreal


The Vedas say that the Lord is the Mother, the Father and the Teacher.; mat?devo bhava| pit? devo bhava| acarya devo bhava|. This Vedic statement is the source of a very widespread confusion. This relates to two different interpretations based on treating the above sentences as either of karmadharaya or bahuvrihi samasa as per sa?sk?t grammar. Treating the above sentences as the karmadharaya samasa, its meaning becomes “Mother is God. Father is God...”. This is a fallacious conclusion since individuals (mother, father and teacher) are called God. This interpretation may have a limited utility to indicate that parents and teachers are to be treated as if they were God (giving them respect and service) as compared to any other individual in the world. They are to be placed above all individuals and material things in the world. However when it comes to the interaction of an individual with God, then even parents are to be rejected in favor of God. This meaning is not clear unless the above Vedic statement is considered as a bahuvrihi samasa. Then the meaning of the sentence becomes “God is the mother. God is the father...”. It means that He alone is all of them and that He is above all these temporary relations such as parents, teachers and others. If there is a choice between Him and anyone else or anything else in the world, one should choose Him alone even if it means rejecting the whole world.


Hanuman took the above Vedic statement as a karmadharaya samasa and took his mother to be God. At the behest of his mother, añjani devi he offered protection to yayati, and fought against Lord Rama who was God Himself. In doing so he committed an error. He realized his mistake, which was caused by the misinterpretation of the Vedic statement. He had mixed dharma with the spiritual path. He forgot that he had to give up dharma and follow God alone. In his next incarnation as Lord Sa?kara, he corrected his mistake by leaving his mother for the sake of God.


Thus in the prav?tti marga or the path of worldly activities, parents are to be treated above anyone or anything else but in the niv?tti marga or the spiritual path, parents have to be rejected in favor of God. There are three levels in the spiritual evolution of a person. The first is the lawless and chaotic life. This is the life of adharma. It can be compared to the ground (first) floor. Then there is the stage of dharma or righteousness. This is the second floor. The third floor is that of the devotee or the bhakti. The second floor is better than the first. The path from the first floor to the second is that of prav?tti, or righteous worldly action. You have to leave the adharmic or lawless way of life to go to the second floor. The third floor is the highest. The path between the second floor and the third is the niv?tti marga.


In order to reach the third floor you have to leave the second; you have to leave dharma, which is the code for righteous worldly living. dharma has to be sacrificed for the sake of God. The Lord says in the Gita, “sarva dharman parityajya mameka? sara?a? vraja...”, which means, “Leave all worldly duties and laws and surrender to Me alone. I will free you from all sins; do not worry.” Thus we have to sacrifice the bonds with parents and family and develop the single bond with God. We can follow dharma in our worldly interactions, since dharma is better than adharma but when it comes to our relation with God, we have to give up even dharma. The fruit of adharma or the unjust and lawless life is dhu?kha or sorrow.


In the mahabharata, we find that the kauravas under the leadership of duryodhana were unjust and cruel. They are on the ground floor of adharma. Lord Krishna was in the role of Yama, the Lord of death. He gave them du?kha or misery. yama is the one who controls; yamayati iti yama?. Their opponents were the just and righteous pa??avas. They followed dharma or righteousness. Lord gave them heaven. The Lord asked dharmaraja, the pa??ava king, to lie to his teacher in order to win the war against injustice. dharmaraja, who was a firm believer in dharma did not do so. He chose dharma over the Lord. This was his mistake. This proved that he was only fit for the second floor. He was not fit to be a devotee. He was given heaven. He was also given temporary happiness in this world in the form of the kingdom of hastinapura. Heaven represents happiness or sukha. This happiness, whether in heaven or on earth, is finite. It is limited in intensity and duration. The follower of dharma is inferior to the devotee but it is better than the first floor of injustice. The devotee enjoys bliss or ananda. This is infinite and permanent happiness; sukha? atisaya? aparichinna? ananda?. The gopikas were real devotees. They left all dharma in their devotion for the Lord. They were given bliss.


Sa?kara left His widowed and helpless mother for the mission of the Lord. Prahlada did not intervene when the Lord slew his unjust and cruel father. He chose God over his father. In doing so, both Sa?kara and Prahlada violated worldy dharma for the sake of the Lord. The real devotee understands that his relations in this world are temporary and unreal. Those who are his parents in this birth were not his parents in his past births and will not be related to him in the next. All the souls are just playing their roles in the drama of life. In their subsequent births the same actors will come in different roles. Enemies of the past birth may become father and son in this birth and complete strangers in the next. Sa?kara gives the logic that that which does not exist before and will not exist afterwards, does not exist in the present and is unreal; ‘yadanityam...loke’. The relation of father and son was not there earlier, will not be there in the future so it is not there in the present too. This is true for all relationships. They are essentially unreal. The individual is real in the past, present and the future. The only relation that is permanent is the relation between the Lord and the devotee (individual). He is like the employer of the actors in the drama of life.

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