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BETTER LIFE WITHOUT FEARS 

(Transcribed from a lecture given by HH Bhanu Swami Maharaj at IIT Madras)


So every week we do one verse from bhagavad gita, however since it is been a advertisement here about fear. So everyone has come expecting something about fear. I would suppose everybody wants to get rid of fear rather than increase fear since fear is not generally a very good experience or emotion. So actually the srimad bhagavatham or Bhagavad purana tells us that fear or bhaya is inherent in our material existence. Material existence means your existence as you think it is now. Of course not only this body , but previous bodies ,bodies of animals or plants or whatever. Inherent of all of these different types of existence with material bodies is fear. And of course you know fear is not a very pleasant experience , it is an experience of insecurity and threat of Non existence. So why is that fear is so much prominent in our material existence . The reason is that, actually it does not have to be there but it is an illusion due to ignorance, we develop this fear. And the fear is fear of nonexistence ,Fear that we will not exist. So this takes place because we are thinking that we are a material body and a material body we all know is subject to non existence. We see plants die, we see animals die , we see other human beings die , we see mother and father die , We see death all around us. So by common sense we know that death is also open for us. 

At the same time every moment in our life we have to struggle to stay alive. So the first thing when the child comes out of the womb , first thing it does is it starts crying because it is hungry and it is cold and it is struggling to survive. So this idea of fire is there as long as we identify our self with a material body. So for most of us that is our regular conception, that is our reality, that is our existence . I am this body, I live in so and so place , My mother and father are so and so, I have this family, my name is so and so , I am going to IIT Now, whatever taking this course. This is our identity , this is our existence . But we know that this is all temporary and therefore we are always be subjected to fear. Because this existence can be threatened at any moment , father can go. Mother can go, house can go, you can get sick , you can have accident, you can die, you can get kicked out of IIT if you fail your courses .So many variables are there in life which will change , So your identity gets threatened all the time. 

So therefore these fears are there throughout our life . However generally ,we hide our fears. We cover them up very very nicely. So mainly we can do that by occupying our self with lots of activities and this way we can forget about the fear of non existence and death. So that is why we will see that many many people are very very active in doing many many things in this material world even though they are not very significant activities. The reason is simply because we want to forget the threat of our existence. So therefore we find many useless activities are going on all the time. So we have television and movies and all sort of things to keep our mind occupied all the time. But these are only diversions to help us not come to face all the facts. 

So there is a story from mahabharat which illustrates how great illusion that our life is and also how dangerous position as long as we have the material body. This story was told by Vidura to Dhrtarashtra after the battle of kurushetra. Dhrtarashtra was favouring his sons to take over the empire against the pandavas. (Arjuna, Yudhistira, and bhima ). He was greedy to put the sons on the throne even though he was not qualified since he was blind and his sons are evil . Yet because of his attachments to his sons he did everything he could inspite of his knowledge of dharma , he did all sort of things to favour his own sons against the pandavas. Ultimately he failed and the pandavas won the battle anyway inspite of having less troops and so many factors against them , they had krishna on their side and so pandavas won and Dhrtarashtra sons all got killed. Dhrtarashtra was feeling bad about this .Dhrtarashtra was feeling bad about losing everything in life . He not only lost the kingdom but he lost all his sons as well. Inspite of the fact that he is very old now and pandavas are taking care of him, He was resenting the fact that his sons are being killed. Vidura is Dhrtarashtra half brother always trying to give him good advice. Dhrtarashtra always rejected the good advice of Vidura because he thought Vidura was favouring the pandavas. So he more or less kicked vidura out of the kingdom. But vidura came back with some affection for Dhrtarashtra .

Vidura told a story(an allegoric, symbolic one) to illustrate about the nature of Human life.( How we get attached and how we fall into illusion). Vidura said : Once there was a Brahmana and he happens to be find himself suddenly in a middle of a desert and the desert was barren. It was very uncomfortable to live there because of No water.(also cold in the night and hot in the day).So he was wandering around the desert full of discomfort and pain. He saw a forest at a distance and immediately he became happy with the hope that he will get some shelter and he will also get some water there. So he ran towards the forest and came close to it and saw that the forest was fenced with huge high wall all around. So he could not go into the forest directly and he climbed the wall with great endeavor. He climbed ,climbed and climbed and got into the top of the wall. However the nature of the wall is very strange because once he got inside he found that he cannot get outside again. He was trapped inside and he cannot get out of the forest. He cannot climb over the wall again and move out of the forest.

So he got into the forest expecting some relief but unfortunately there were wild animals in the forest and the wild animals are very hungry and they began to start chasing him and they were trying to bite him all the time. So the brahmana was running for his life because whenever he would stop the animals starts biting him and this would cause him great pain. So he had to keep running, running and running and no matter how fast he ran the animals ran just as fast and they were right there to bite him. So he became very miserable inspite of all his endeavors he was getting bitten and also he was getting tired because he has to keep running all the time.

So he was thinking, "This is not a very comfortable forest. I thought i am going to get some relief by coming into the forest but it is worse. I simply get afflicted. i cannot sleep, I cannot do anything. i simply have to run and get bitten all the time. ".

As he was running suddenly he saw a huge creature (a huge giant woman) and she was very very ferocious. She stood in his path and she had a long hair and she had a ferocious big teeth. She also began chasing him. So he had to change directions and run in an another direction through the forest. So in this way animals are chasing him, huge giant woman was chasing him and the forest was also not very comfortable for him because it was full of twigs and thorns. So he would get scratches and his feet was getting cuts because of thorns. Also there was tangled vines everywhere and it was becoming very very difficult for him. Suddenly he fell and tripped. He tripped over some vine on the forest floor because it was very tangled and he could not see properly. So then he thought that this is the end of his life (animals would eat him up and giant woman would grab him up). But then something strange had happened because he found that he was hanging upside down with his foot tangled up in the vine and the vine was hanging over a big pit ( it was like a big deep well) .So now he was hanging with his feet up and head down and below there is a huge pit. Animals could not reach him because the edge (circumference ) of the pit is big enough but they were still looking at him and they were still hungry and waiting at the edge of the pit as he was dangling there. Anyway he was little bit relieved because he did not get  eaten up by the animals. But he was hanging upside down and could not get his feet away from the vine and if he moved a little bit to one side, animals would reach over and bite him on that side. And if he moved to the other side the animals would come to the other side and bite him. 

So he could not move too much and could not struggle to get his foot down and the pit was very deep and if he fell on the pit he could not climb because it was a steep wall on the pit. So if he ever fell on the pit it would be end of his life. And when he looked into the pit he could see in the darkness, there were some little eyes on the bottom and little eyes were looking up at him. And he saw there was a big snake on the bottom of the pit. And the snake was also very hungry because if some animal or something dropped in the pit then only it would get a meal. So it was a hungry snake and he was at the bottom of the pit looking up waiting for the man to fall in to the pit. So therefore if he fell on the pit ,not only he would die from crashing down but snake would also get him and bite him. So in this position he was not very very secure. it was very very dangerous position for him. And not only that he looked up in the tree and saw there is some black and white rats sitting in the branch of the tree and the rats were also very very hungry. So they were chewing the vine on which he was hanging on his foot and they were nibbling away the vine little bit, little bit like that and they were chewing and so the vine was getting smaller and smaller. So eventually they would cut through the vine and the vine would finish and he has to fall into the pit. So these rats were diligently chewing away the vine on which he was holding his foot up and dangling. 

So that was also a cause of great insecurity because sooner or later the rats would chew up the vine and he would fall on the bottom of the pit and the snake would get him So he was in a very difficult predicament and not only that if he moved then there was some bees in the hive of the tree and they would get angry and bite him all over the body. So if he moved something like this would happen.: Either the animals will get him on the side or the vine will get littler and littler because the rats are nibbling away or the bees would bite him more and more. 

So vidura explained all this to Dhrtarashtra and explained about this man who is in such a miserable condition. No cause of happiness at all. Yet this man is smiling. Why is he smiling ?. How could he smile in this position ?. So Dhrtarashtra said " I do not know. How could he smile in that condition ? "

So Vidura said "You just see this man is hanging upside down and the rats are nibbling off his vine and he was about to fall into the pit and the snake is waiting for him at the bottom and the animals are waiting at the side and the bees are biting him. Yet that man is smiling because once in a while into his open mouth (with him hanging upside down) a little bit of honey drops out of that bee hive and falls into the mouth and he gets a very sweet taste into his mouth. So whenever he gets the taste of sweetness then he forgets all his problems and he smiles. So he is always expecting another drop of honey to fall. So he forgets about the condition around him.(animals, woman, snake, rats and bees).".

Dhrtarashtra said, " Well, That is a very nice story. But i did not understand what is the point it is making. Can you explain to me what is this?

Vidura continued, " This Brahmana is the Atma or Soul (the real person or the spirit) and hecomes into the material universe which is like a desert because actually you cannot find happiness in this material universe anywhere and then he jumps into this place this particular world we are in here ,this particular planet which is the WALL of the forest. But no matter where we are in this material world as long as we got a material body in this material world we have to get some problems in the form of sickness or harassment from mosquitoes( :lecture was given in madras) or animals or people or what not. So these are like the wild animals running after the man as he going through the forest. No matter how hard we try ,still we feel some pain or problem. We try to make a perfect arrangement for ourselves and then something happens and we feel some more problem. So like that the man is running through the forest and the animals keep biting him and no matter how fast he runs still he gets bitten. He cannot escape that and the giant woman is old age. As along as we have this material body , the material body grows and then it begins to decay and when it begins to decay people are not very happy because old age means disease, weakness, lack of memory, lack of sight and senses get weak. Everybody suffers this.(animals get old, human beings get old, devas get old and even Lord brahma who is the creator of this universe, he gets old.). when the man is trapped with the vine with his foot hanging over the pit, that is like this Particular body that he has got at the moment. We are more or less trapped in this body and once we are in this body then we have to go through the whole life and we cannot really change too much. We cannot say tomorrow i will have a different body. If our body is too small, tomorrow, we will not get a tall body or if our body is too tall, tomorrow ,we will get a short body. We are trapped in this body for certain period of time. (may be 20 or 50 or 85 years !). We cannot live more than that ,we just die. We see that doctors are trying to prolong their life but inspite of the fact that they should be able to do something, sometime they cannot do anything. The life will not prolong and the person will die anyway. So everybody has got their life span. So that life span is like that of the vine holding the man up. And black and white rats are like days and nights. And as these days and nights goes by, our life span becomes little shorter, little shorter.. like that. And when the vine is finished by the rats, he falls into the pit and Snake is Death. Snake devours us at that point. This is the human condition. 

Yet we see in spite of the condition of the birth ,death, old age ,disease and struggle, somehow people go on with their life and try to be happy anyway. That is like this man upside down with affliction because of animals, bees, snake and the rats, yet still he is saying ," I am very happy". The only reason to forget the miserable nature of this material world is to get a little enjoyment.  (Some people go to movies, some people are interested in socializing and some are interested in playing cricket etc.)They get some happiness somehow or other. Immediately they forget the condition of this material body. So this little enjoyment is Honey.

So after hearing this story we may say that this is a Pessimistic picture of existence. This is Sastra or scripture telling us something. reminding us something. Scripture does not want us to become simply depressed over our  existence and forcing us to say "This is very bad . I cannot do anything" and to become unhappy. Sastra tries to give us this illustration for us to give some Enlightenment, So that we can come to a solution. The solution is that we have to recognize that this is a very miserable place full of fear, miseries , old age and death. This is not the place where we belong. So we simply have to recognize that. When we recognize that then we are relieved from fear , anxiety and lamentation everything.

So that was what vidura trying to teach Dhrtarashtra . Vidura said ," Your position in this material world longing for power, attachment towards your sons and lamenting their death is all Illusion connected with this material body. So you have to get rid of this misconception and understand you do not belong to this material world at all. ".

So that is also what krishna teaches us in Bhagavad Gita . The first lesson that krishna teaches is "We are not this body". Arjuna was also in the same position of misery. He was in a very miserable condition. Arjuna said , " My senses are all dried up. I cannot think properly. I cannot do anything". He  threw down his bow and arrow and all the enemies are looking at him and thinking ,' This is very strange nature that he is showing here". So he was in a very difficult position. But krishna simply told him ," You are foolish. You are lamenting. your lamentation is nothing. Your cause for lamentation is useless because you are not the body at all, you are a spirit soul and everybody in the battle field here is also a spirit soul. They are not this material body. They are all eternal. No one can kill them . They have no birth, no death, no old age and no disease.". 

So our idea of I am going to get old, they are going to get old, I am going  to die and they are going to die and all these are simply illusion. Everything happens to the body. Nothing happens to the individual persons. But we do not realize that until we die. Then we get another material body . Our whole life we are thinking that we are this material body but we are not. So purpose of this human life is to get that realization when we are alive ,not when we are dead. When we are alive if we get that realization that we are spirit soul then we can work with this lifetime to raise our consciousness up very very steadily.

So this is the message that Krishna teaches in bhagavad gita and Sukadeva goswami teaches in Srimad Bhagavatham. We have to understand that we are not this material body at all. We are eternal spirit souls. That may be difficult for us to understand because we do not see the soul and if you ask me to show you the soul then i cannot show you the soul also because the soul cannot be seen by the material eyes. Even if we try to look through the electron microscope we cannot see because it is not an atom , it is not + or - charge. Sooner or later what sophisticated material instrument we have , ultimately we cannot directly perceive ATMA. Then How are we to believe this ?. So there are two ways we can do this.

One way is of course we can accept some authority just as we do not really see atoms or protons or neutrons in school but you accept the authority of the text book because the So and so text book it was mentioned that someone has saw with the help of electron microscope all these things and therefore we accept it is true. So we accept on the authority of our teachers and textbooks. Similarly we can also accept the authorities on religious matters and spiritual matters and take the proper text books for that and accept that authority. However then someone will say still , "how do we know it is true ? , at least scientist can demonstrate atoms exist or protons exist or something like that . But here we got the religious scripture has authority but we cannot demonstrate anything.". So it may look like we cannot demonstrate anything but actually everyday, everybody demonstrating the existence of the soul. And how is that ? because we accept our own existence . That is it. You exist . You set that ,when you wake up in the morning, You accept your existence:" Yes, I am Existing". All day long you accept your existence. That is the evidence of the spirit soul. It has got nothing to do  with matter. The idea that "you exist" cannot be manufactured by any combination of material elements or brain cells or whatever. It cannot give you that idea that "you exist". Consciousness cannot come from matter. it is never been proven or never will be proven. No matter how hard we endeavor we will never be able to show that matter evolves into conscious living entity. So our consciousness itself is the evidence of spirit soul or Atma and we are not this material body or something else. So support that you can go to scripture and get statements and to get for you to further support perhaps the only way is you could do is you die and in that way you understand this you are not this material body at all. After you die you realize that " oh! there is no body and i am outside my body now ".So most of us are not fortunate to do that , we do not have the memory of past lives of birth and death. So we cannot. However we do have people who had that experience. That has been documented extensively by medical scientists in different countries of the world. They document what is called ' Near Death Experiences" .

So there is many study done now in the last twenty years on this phenomenon because more and more doctors began to observe when happens to people when they almost die and they recover. They have very similar experiences of what happened when they almost died and when they went out of the body and they came back into the body and things like that. So from this we see that there is a similar experiences among all these different people. After these experiences they all become spiritual because they realize that they have a higher goal in life, Not a material goal but a spiritual goal. So this is being correlated by different scientists around the world. Some scientists are also realizing that beyond this gross material body there is something there but they do not know what it is but beyond this material body there is something in which identity of the person is kept intact. So that is one way in which people are getting convinced more and more in the modern world. of course there is another way in which you hypnotize a person , it is called regressive hypnosis in which you hypnotize a person and take him ten years back and he can remember what happened ten years back and take him back twenty years and take him back when he was a small child and he will say something what happened that time. So you can take him back to the time when he was born even and he can recollect whatever happened that time. But consciously he may not remember now but through hypnosis the person can remember this . Hypnotizing him to even when he was inside the womb ,he can remember what happened when he was inside the mother. And when you further he can remember what happened when he was in the previous body . 

In this way through hypnosis doctors take people back into their previous bodies. Of course we can say that it is all imagination. But the strange thing is they documented some cases where the memories of their previous lifetimes were quite specific. ( like names of the persons, names of the friends , Address of the house , some many things like this.) . Some of them went back four hundred or five hundred years back and they could trace down all these different things. So what these scientists do is they require all these facts that all these people gave from their recollections of previous lifetimes by this regressive hypnosis. Someone in Australia through hypnosis he says that he was in England five hundred years ago. So they trace down the place, name, birth of this person five hundred years ago with the old maps and the birth registers of that time and his relatives that time and scientists found that information given by that person is true. 

They find like this person existed was a doctor in so and so place and so and so years . So then we have to say how this is possible. The only explanation is that there is a conscious living entity going from body to body to body over many hundreds of years and he can recollect this under certain conditions like hypnosis. So who is that remembering all this ?. it is not simply a product of your genes and chromosomes in this lifetime because there is a past recollection of previous body and a previous identity. So therefore we have to say that there is a continuos line of consciousness coming from body to body to body. So that means spirit soul or Atma must be there. So that is an indirect proof that has been investigated in the modern world. Besides that we have spontaneous memory some people have in India and other places , sometimes children especially recollect their previous life times and they some funny things and parents get little worried because they talk like crazy or something , saying certain things which does not make any sense. But sometimes they investigate and find it is true that person existed in so and so time and the mother was there ,father was there and they got killed in this way and that way. So in this way there are different indirect ways of substantiating the existence of soul and the eternal nature of person. 

So that comes back to the scripture again and only lends more the credibility to the statements of scriptures, which are very old and which have come down through thousands of years and it has been accepted by all the great sages. So the more we investigate in this modern world even and open ourselves to experiences then more we see that whatever said in the scriptures and the bhagavad gita is very very true and we should not blindly accept the narrow vision of things as sometimes which are communicated by modern science like 'only the real things are atoms and protons and E=MC˛ and few other formulas. Trying to make the whole existence into few physical formulas. That is not everything .It is a little section of reality but it is not everything. It is a small portion of the real world and the real existence. So is there any questions there ? 


After 18 seconds of pin drop silence , No questions ? No fears ?.

HH Bhanu Swami Maharaj ki Jai!
Srila Prabhupada ki Jai!