Spirituality Insight

THE GOOD SAMARITAN – CHRIST’S PARABLE

The parable of the Good Samaritan teaches us who a neighbour is and how to love a neighbour.

WORDS: MADHURI. Y

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Teachings in the form of stories have a way of lasting for centuries. In case of Jesus Christ’s parables, they have lasted for millennia. Comprising a large part of Christ’s teachings, they come to us through the gospels of Mathew, Mark, and Luke and are believed to be in the words of Christ himself, and hence from the Father, God.
The parable of the Good Samaritan is one such story, holding layers of teaching within it. The parable goes beyond the concept of simply helping someone in need.
The Parable of the Good Samaritan
A person of law once asked Jesus, “What must I do to inherit eternal life?”
Jesus asked him, “What is written in the law?”
The man replied, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and love your neighbour as yourself.” He then asked Jesus, “Who is my neighbour?”
In answer, Jesus narrated the parable of the good Samaritan. “A man was going from Jerusalem to Jericho when robbers attacked him. They beat him, stripped him of his clothes and left him half-dead. A priest who was passing by saw the man, and walked on the other side of the road without stopping to help him.
So did a Levite.
But a Samaritan took pity on him, poured oil and wine, and bandaged his wounds. He put the man on his own donkey, took him to an inn and took care of him. The next day, he gave two denari to the innkeeper, and asked him to look after the man. He also told him that he would reimburse any extra expense that the innkeeper might incur.”
Jesus then asked the man of law, “Now which of these three do you think seemed to be a neighbour to the man who fell among the robbers?”
The man answered, “He who showed mercy on him.”
Then Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise.”

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THE LEARNING

Although the story is clear in itself, the social context of the time throws light on Jesus Christ’s teaching.
During the days of Jesus, Jews despised the Samaritans. According to the social structure, the priests came first, then the Levites, then the Jews, then the tax collectors, outcasts and sinners. After these people came the Samaritans, placing them lower than the outcasts. Yet, it is the Samaritan who comes to the man’s rescue.
It is interpreted that the man who was robbed was a Jew. Yet, the Samaritan stops to help him, giving his time, effort and money for the man’s well-being.
With this parable, Jesus teaches that it is one’s actions and not social standing that is important. He also highlights three attitudes which stand in contrast to one another. First, the robber whose attitude is ‘what is yours is mine’. Second, the priest and the Levite’s attitude, ‘what is mine is mine’ and finally the Samaritan’s attitude, ‘what is mine is yours’.

Pancha Brahma – Sadashiva

Lord Shiva in the form of Sadashiva is the five-faced God who ensures creation, protection, destruction, obscuration and revelation

WORDS: MADHURI. Y

Lord Shiva symbolises moksha, which is liberation from the cycle of life and birth. As the destroyer in the holy trinity – Brahma, Vishnu, Mahesh – he gives rise to new creation. Popularly known as the destroyer, he symbolises the death of evil, and of illusion, leading to transformation.
Yet, he is also known as Sadashiva, the five-faced God who represents all these aspects and more, and the five faces are known as Pancha Brahma.
Pancha Brahma
Lord Shiva is said to have five visible faces or forms, and one which remains invisible. Shiva with the five faces is known as Sadashiva and his consort is Gayatri Devi. The five visible and the one invisible face are as follows:

Sadyojata: This is the creative aspect and faces West. It represents the earth element and refers to iccha shakti (power of will).

Vamadeva: This is the protective aspect and faces North. It represents the water element. This aspect is attained through the Sun’s energy and is the life force. It enables souls to work out their karma, allowing them to experience dharma, artha and kama.

Aghora: This is the destructive-rejuvenative aspect and faces South. It represents the fire element. It is attained through jnana shakti (power of knowledge). It is tranquil and enables one to remain aware in consciousness.

Tatpurusha: This is the concealing grace, which leaves people in illusion, and faces East. It represents the air element and is attained through ananda shakti (power of bliss) which enables the individual to merge with the infinite.

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Nataraja – Revealing the Sadashiva
The five forms reveal Lord Shiva’s aspects of creation, protection, destruction, the soul’s delusion, and subsequent illumination. Nataraja’s posture depicts these five aspects. His upper-right arm, holding the drum, which gives the primordial sound, causes the cycle of creation (srishti). The lower-right arm in abaya mudra, symbolises protection (sthiti). Fire in the upper-left arm stands for destruction (samhara). The right foot upon a person symbolises the concealing grace (tirodhana), which keeps the truth from souls. The raised left foot and lower left arm, which is held in the position of an elephant trunk, symbolises the revealing grace (anugraha) which allows the soul to see that it is one with the Lord.
Pancha Brahma Mantra
The five verses of the Pancha Brahma mantra are chanted in the reverse order (shlokas 21 to 17) and are given here in this order:
īśānassarva vidyānām īśvaras sarva bhūtānām brahmādhipatir brahmaṇo’dhipatir brahmā śivo me astu sadāśivom
tatpurushāya vidmahe mahādevāya dhīmahi tanno rudraḥ prachodayāt
aghorebhyotha ghorebhyo ghora ghoretarebhyas sarvebhyas sarvasarvebhyo namaste astu rudrarūpebhyaḥ
vāmadevāya namo jyeshṭhāya namaḥ śreshṭhāya namo rudrāya namaḥ kālāya namaḥ kalavikaraṇāya namo balavikaraṇāya namo balāya namo balapramathanāya namas sarvabhūta damanāya namo manonmanāya namaḥ
sadyojātam prapadyāmi sadyojātāya vai namo namaḥ bhave bhavenātibhave bhavasva mām bhavodbhavāya namaḥ
Kṛishṇa Yajurveda, Taittirīya Āraṇyaka 10.17-21
(Courtesy: www.hinduismtoday.com)

BHAGAVATA PURANA

Bhagavata Purana lays emphasis on dharma, bhakti and Advaita

WORDS: MADHURI. Y

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Bhagavata Purana also known as Srimad Bhagavatam is a classic Vedic philosophical treatise and includes stories on Lord Krishna. Counted among the 18 Mahapuranas, the date of its composition is around 1800 BC to 5000 BC.
Also called Fifth Veda, it comprises 12 books with 332 chapters; and 16,000 to 18,000 verses. The most popular is the 10th book dealing with Lord Krishna’s life.
Bhagavata Purana stresses on bhakti to God and speaks about Advaita or non-duality of the soul; and jiva or individual soul being part of Brahman (the impersonal one).
The sage poet Veda Vyasa wrote Bhagavata Purana. Before writing Bhagavata, Vyasa codified the Vedas dividing it into 4 parts (in honorific sense Veda Vyasa means “the one who classified the Vedas”); and of course, giving Mahabharata as gift to mankind.
THE MESSAGE
Book One speaks about the dialogue between sages Vyasa and Narada. The two discuss Bhagavad Gita and Upanishads. Narada says, ‘I meditated on “Self in Self through Self and understood what bhakti is.”’
After discussion with Narada, Vyasa wrote Bhagavata Purana which he taught to his son Shuka who as a recluse once saw King Parikshit dying on the banks of Ganges. Parikshit asks Shuka what he should do with death approaching. Shuka tells the King to control the mind and contemplate on AUM

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(the vibration that connects the entire universe) so as to merge with supreme universal consciousness. Book Seven is dedicated to Hiranyakasipu and his son Prahlada. It narrates the demon’s death at the hands of Narasimha, incarnation of Vishnu. Prahlada is considered top-notch devotee of Vishnu and personifies bhakti. It also deals with Advaita or non-dualism of the Brahman, the “immutable Self.”
Bhagavatam describes how Yadavas indulged in infighting leading to destruction of Yadava dynasty. The end comes from a brutal internecine war, described as a drunken fight.

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STORIES OF LORD KRISHNA
Book 10, the longest book of the Bhagavatam, is all about Lord Krishna and his growing up with Yashoda, stealing butter, showing the entire universe within himself, killing the demon Putana, lifting the Goverdhan hill to protect his people, and Raas Leela (dance of divine love) with Gopis.
TRUE LOVE
Gopis were the greatest devotees of Krishna and their transcendental love for the Lord was of highest order. It was divine raas leela of the Lord with the cowherd-maidens of Vrindavan. Krishna, the embodiment of bliss, was their spiritual master who taught them the esoteric science of yoga for being in Communion with God.

Krishna too leaves for Vaikuntha following the carnage.
Bhagavatam emphasises detachment and virtuousness. It gives out the essence of Dharma (universal principle of law, order, harmony, and truth); Advaita (Brahman, the supreme soul); and bhakti (highest expression of spiritual love) as means to attain salvation.

BHAJA GOVINDAM

Bhaja Govindam propounds bhakti yoga as a means to salvation

WORDS: MADHURI. Y

Bhaja Govindam, Adi Shankaracharya’s composition, is also known as Moha Mudgara, meaning, a hammer to shatter illusion. In it, Shankaracharya explains Bhakti Yoga as the means to liberation from the cycle of birth and death. He says that we must renounce our pride and ego and surrender to God.
Shankaracharya was born in Kerala during the 8th century, and had written commentaries on the Brahma Sutras, the Upanishads and the Gita. He had preached Advaita Vedanta, that the soul and the supreme soul are one. Shankaracharya gave importance to Anubhava, which is experiencing for oneself that the self is the same as Brahman, the Supreme Soul.
Of the Bhaja Govindam’s 31 verses, Shankaracharya had composed 12 in addition to the first one, which is the refrain. Hence, these verses are called Dvaadasamanjarika Stotra. His 14 disciples are said to have added a verse each, and these are called Chaturdasa Manjarika Stotra. To these, Shankaracharya added another five, making it a 31-verse composition in addition to the refrain.
Bhaja Govindam tells people to ask themselves the questions, ‘Who am I?’, ‘Why am I here in this life?’, ‘What is the Truth?’, with each verse standing on its own and helping in deep contemplation.

Bhaja Govindam, Bhaja Govindam,
Govindam Bhaja Moodha Mate
Samprapthe sannihite kale
Nahi nahi rakshathi dookran karane.

Worship Govinda, Worship Govinda,
Worship Govinda, you fool!
At the time of your death
Rules of grammar will not save you.

Punarapi jananam punarapi maranam,
Punarapi Janani jatare sayanam
Iha samsaare khalu dusthare
Krupayaa pare pahi murare.

Again and again one is born, again and again one dies
Again and again one sleeps in the mother’s womb
Help me cross this limitless sea of life
Which is uncrossable.

Kasthwam ko aham kutha ayatha
Kaa me Janani ko me thatha.
Ithi paribhavaaya sarvamasaaram
Viswam tyakthwa Swapna vichaaram

Who am I? Where did I come from?
Who is my mother? Who is my father?
Think of these, realise that this world,
Is a meaningless mirage,
And leave this dream-like world.

Kaamam krodham lobham moham
Tyakthwaathmanam bhavaya koham
Atma jnana viheena mooda
Sthepachyanthe naraka nigooda

Leave out your passion,
Leave out your anger,
Leave out your love for money,
Leave out your yearning in life,
Think and think, who you are?
Those who find it not, are but fools,
And are always happy in hell.

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THE ORIGIN
When Shankaracharya was walking through Kashi, he came across an aged scholar repeating the rules of grammar. Shankara is believed to have composed the Bhaja Govindam when explaining to the scholar that he must turn his mind to God rather than waste time on grammar.
TRUE GURU
At Kashi, Shankaracharya after taking bath in Ganga was proceeding towards the temple of Lord Viswanath with his disciples when a Chandala (outcaste) came along with his dogs and brushed one of the disciples who shouted “get away, get away – don’t touch us.”
Chandala countered “when the same Supreme Spirit pervades everywhere how could one contaminate the other”? Shankaracharya was struck speechless and acknowledged this truth. Then the outcaste revealed himself as Lord Shiva. This experience led the seer to compose his immortal poem ‘Manisha Panchakam’ which says even a low caste can enlighten the greatest of all teachers and is the essence of Advaita. In nutshell Advaita is :
Brahma sathyam jagan mithya
Jivo Brahmaiva na parah
(Brahman – the Absolute – is alone real and not this world; jiva – individual ‘ego’ or consciousness – in reality is Brahman itself – being part of Him).

VARAHOPANISHAD

Varaha shows how one can merge with the supreme self or Paramatma

WORDS: MADHURI. Y

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Varahopanishad is the discussion between the Varaha avatar of Lord Vishnu with Ribhu maharshi. It is the 98th of the 108 Upanishads.
After undertaking penance for 12 deva years, sage Ribhu visits Varaha who wishes to grant a boon. He asks Varaha to explain the concept of Brahman, the ultimate reality, the knowledge of which brings liberation.
Its five chapters in 247 verses discuss the tattvas, supreme knowledge, non-dualism, stages of learning, and yoga.

TATTVA
Tattvas are principles which, Varaha states, include the sense organs, organs of action, vital airs, principles of perception and faculties of knowledge.

He further explains the elements, the gross, subtle and causal bodies, states of consciousness, stages of change, infirmities, the body’s sheaths, foes, jiva aspects, gunas, types of karmas, the types of actions, and of thought and directions, making up 96 tattvas. The supreme is beyond these tattvas and worshipping him removes ignorance and takes a person to salvation whatever outer bodily form he maintains.

BRAHMAVIDYA
In Chapter 2, Varaha explains brahmavidya.

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One attains spiritual liberation through sincere desire for it and by building shama, the six virtuous qualities, which are tranquillity, self-restraint, not craving reward, endurance, faith and meditation.
He further explains that those who know their self, have no thought of caste or their stage of life. Discussing sankalpa, he says that a person becomes what he thinks, and it is thought that gives the world its appearance. The cycle of birth is a dream and a jivanmukta is one who is liberated from samsara through self-knowledge.
Meditating at the right time expands one’s wisdom to that of the liberated soul, bringing the soul close to the supreme soul. AUM is the means to meditate upon the nature of the self and the supreme self.

NON-DUALISM
In Chapter 3, Varaha explains that in the eyes of God, everyone is equal and is the absolute

AVADHUTA GITA

Through the Avadhuta Gita, Dattatreya explained the non-duality of existence and that liberated souls merge into the formless one.

WORDS: MADHURI. Y

Through the Avadhuta Gita, Dattatreya explained the non-duality of existence and that liberated souls merge into the formless one.
Avadhuta Gita with its teachings of Dattatreya means ‘song of the liberated soul’ and is based on Advaita Vedanta, that is, non-duality.
Also known as Avadhuta Grantha, Dattatreya Gita, Datta Gita Yoga Shastra or Vedanta Sara, it is about the nature of a spiritually liberated person. Parts of the Avadhuta Gita are found in the Bhagavata Purana and other Hindu texts. The written text dates to the 9th or 10th century and comprises 289 shlokas in eight chapters of which it is believed that the last chapter is an addition by someone else.

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The Avadhuta Gita speaks of the liberated soul who is not interested in dogmas, habits, rituals or surface morality.

THE ESSENCE
The essence and the whole of Vedanta is this Knowledge, this supreme Knowledge: That I am by nature the formless, all-pervasive Self.
Verse 1.5

The mind indeed is of the form of space. The mind indeed is omni-faced. The mind is the past. The mind is all. But in reality, there is no mind.
Verse 1.9

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Know the Self always to be everywhere, one and unintercepted. I am the meditator and the highest object of meditation. Why do you divide the Indivisible?
Verse 1.12

That which has form is visible to the eye, while formless is perceived mentally. That (the Self), being beyond existence and non-existence, is called intermediate (neither material nor mental, but beyond both).
Verse 2.18

The external existence is the universe, the inner existence is called prakriti (cosmic mind). One should try to know that which is more interior than the inner existence.
Verse 2.19

Illusory knowledge relates to what is outside, correct knowledge to what is inside. Try to know that which is more interior than the inside, that which is like water within the kernel of the coconut.
Verse 2.20

It has been said that the destiny of those devoted to action is the same as their thought at the end, but it has not been said that the destiny of those established in yoga is the same as their thought at the end.
Verse 2.26

There is never any you and I. The discrimination of family and race is false. I am indeed the Absolute and the Supreme Truth. In that case how can I make a salutation?
Verse 6.22

The enlightened one is a yogi devoid of yoga and the absence of yoga. He is an enjoyer, devoid of enjoyment and the absence of enjoyment. Thus, he wanders leisurely, filled with the spontaneous joy of his own mind.
Verse 7.9

There is neither existence nor non-existence, all is Atman. Shake off all ideas of relativity; shake off all superstitions; let caste and birth and Devas and all else vanish.

Why talk of being and becoming? Give up talking of dualism and Advaitism! When were you two, that you talk of two or one? The universe is this Holy One and He alone.

Talk not of Yoga to make you pure; you are pure by your very nature. None can teach you.

from
(Vivekananda’s translation)