Because lust for and exploitation of women by men is virtually the basis of modern “civilization”and society, in Indian texts there is emphasis, sometimes exclusively, on the folly of attachment and addiction to women.
But wherever in this book woman is represented from the view-point of man, with a view to induce vairagya in him, the reader will do well to remember that a similar representation of man from the view-point of woman is implied therein.
Marriage is a curse and a life-long imprisonment. It is the greatest bondage. A bachelor, who is full of passion, imagines that he is miserable because he has no wife. The bachelor who was once free is now tied to the yoke of family and his hands and feet are chained. This is the experience of all married people. They weep after marriage. More beggars are brought forth into this world through lust. He who has understood the magnitude of human suffering will not dare to bring forth a child.
Woman is the source of constant vexation and sorrow and is the greatest bondage. One cannot sacrifice a noble and sublime ideal, Self-realization, for the sake of pleasing a bewitching woman.
Wife is only a luxury–not an absolute necessity. Every householder weeps after marriage. He says: “My son is ailing from typhoid. My second daughter is to be married. I have debts to clear. My wife is worrying me to purchase for her a gold necklace. My eldest son-in-law died recently.” Indeed such miseries are not uncommon to all.
Wife is a sharp knife to cut the life of the husband, and vice versa. Anasuya and Savitri are very, very rare. If the gold necklace and Benares silk saris are not supplied at the proper time, the wife frowns at the husband. The husband cannot get his food at the proper time. The wife lies down in the bed under pretext of acute abdominal colic. You can see for yourself this piteous spectacle in your own house or in the house of your friend and in daily experience. Indeed I need not tell you much. Therefore be wedded to Shanti and have Vairagya, the worthy son and Viveka the magnanimous daughter. Eat the delicious fruit of Atma Jnana which can make you immortal.
When your wife is young and beautiful, you admire her curly hair, rosy cheeks, fine nose, shining skin and pearly teeth. When she loses her beauty on account of some chronic incurable malady, you have no attraction for her. You marry a second wife. Had you loved your first wife with atma bhav, had you a comprehensive understanding that the Self in you and in your wife is the same, your love for her would have been pure, unselfish, lasting, undecaying and unchanging. Just as you love old sugar candy or old rice the more, so also you would love your wife more and more, even when she becomes old, as you have atma-bhav through jnana. Jnana will only intensify prema (love) and make it lasting.
He who is attached to his wife, children and wealth., will not derive even an iota of benefit in the spiritual path. By indiscriminate clinging to wife, children, house, wealth and objects, you have forgotten your essential divine nature. When you die only your actions, good and bad, will follow you. And God will judge you according to your motives and deeds.
A passionate bachelor is ever thinking “When can I live with my young wife?” A dispassionate householder in whom viveka has dawned is ever thinking: “When can I disentangle myself from the clutches of my wife and retire into the ashram for contemplation on the Atma?” The mind alone is the cause of bondage and freedom. Kill this mind and rest in the Atman.
You have become the sporting lap-dog of the caprice of woman. You have become a slave of countless desires, emotions and passions. When are you going to rise up from this miserable state? In the Yoga Vashishtha you will find: “Those persons 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 all 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. The wife does not care for her husband if he happens to be on the roll of unemployment. The husband dislikes his wife when she loses her beauty on account of some chronic disease. Dear man, you can find real, lasting love in God and God alone. His love knows no change.
Remembrance of the image of a woman disturbs the mind. Lust is very powerful. It carries a flowery bow equipped with five soft arrows: mohana, stambhana, unmadana, soshana and tapana (fascination, stupefaction, maddening, emaciation and inflaming). Viveka, vichara, devotion and contemplation will eradicate this dire malady. If lust is conquered, anger, greed, etc., which are all auxiliary weapons, will become ineffective. Love’s principal weapon is woman. If this is destroyed, its followers or retinue can be quite easily conquered. If the commander is killed, then it becomes easy to conquer the soldiers. Conquer passion first. It will then be easy to subdue anger, who is only one of his followers.
When a tiger has once tasted human blood, it always runs after human beings. It becomes a man-eater. Even so, when the mind has once tasted the sexual pleasure, it always runs after that pleasure. It is through constant vichara and Brahmabhavana that the mind has to be weaned out from lustful thoughts and tendencies. Make the mind understand by repeated auto-suggestions and hammering that sexual pleasure is false, worthless, illusory and full of pains. Place before the mind the advantages of a life in the Atman-bliss, power, and knowledge. Make it understand fully that the exalted, eternal life is in the immortal Atma, not certainly in sensual pleasures. When it hears constantly these suggestions, it will slowly leave off its old habits.
In the Bhagavad Gita you will find: “Therefore I tell you: be humble, be harmless, have no pretension, be upright, forbearing, serve your teacher in true obedience, keeping the mind and the body in cleanness, tranquil, steadfast, master of ego, standing apart from the things of the senses, free from self; aware of the weakness in mortal nature, its bondage to birth, age, suffering, dying; to nothing be slave, nor desire possession of man-child or wife, of home or of household; calmly encounter the painful, the pleasant; adore me only with heart undistracted; turn all your thought toward solitude, spurning the noise of the crowd, its fruitless commotion; strive without ceasing to know the Atman, seek this knowledge and comprehend clearly why you should seek it: such, it is said, are the roots of true wisdom: ignorance, merely, is all that denies them” (Bhagavad Gita 13:7-11).
“Men of demonic nature know neither what they ought to do, nor what they should refrain from doing. There is no truth in them, or purity, or right conduct. They maintain that the scriptures are a lie, and that the universe is not based upon a moral law, but godless, conceived in lust and created by copulation, without any other cause. Because they believe this in the darkness of their little minds, these degraded creatures do horrible deeds, attempting to destroy the world. They are enemies of mankind. Their lust can never be appeased. They are arrogant, and vain, and drunk with pride. They run blindly after what is evil. The ends they work for are unclean. They are sure that life has only one purpose: gratification of the senses. And so they are plagued by innumerable cares, from which death alone can release them. Anxiety binds them with a hundred chains, delivering them over to lust and wrath. They are ceaselessly busy, piling up dishonest gains to satisfy their cravings” (Bhagavad Gita 16:7-12).
In the Vishnu Purana, it is said: “If the deluded fool loves the body, a mere collection of flesh, blood, pus, feces, urine, muscles, fat and bones, he will verily love hell itself! To him who is not disgusted with the nasty smell from his own body, what other argument need be adduced for detachment?”
Lust is a potent force, very difficult to get rid of. Really, women should be adored, as Mother-Shakti. She is the creatress, generatrix and nourisher of the universe. She must be revered. In India, religion is being preserved and maintained only through the devotional element of women. Devotion is a fundamental characteristic of Hindu ladies. Hate lust, but not women.
“Where women are honored, there the gods are pleased; but where they are not honored, no sacred rite is fruitful” (Manu Smiriti).
In enjoyment there is fear of disease; in social position, the fear of falling off; in wealth, the fear of (hostile) kings; in honor, the fear of humiliation; in power, the fear of foe men; in beauty, the fear of old age; in scriptural erudition, the fear of opponents; in virtue, the fear of traducers; in body, the fear of death. All the things of this world pertaining to human beings are attended with fear; renunciation alone stands for fearlessness.
—Vairagya Sakatam of Bhartrihari.
“Happiness is within,” “What is Vairagya?” “Miseries of mundane existence,” “Body,” “Woman,” “World,” and “Essence of Vairagya-Shatakam.”
In “Happiness is within,” I have emphasized that happiness which is the driving motive of all human endeavors is not in the perishable objects of the world, but is within one’s own self and that even the very little momentary pleasure you get from sensual enjoyments is but a reflection of the atmic bliss only. Real and lasting happiness can be had only from God, or the Atman, which shines in the chambers of your heart.
The chapter “What is Vairagya” is for the sake of convenience and ease divided into thirteen headings, all useful and interesting. The need for renunciation of desire as a means to liberation from bondage, varieties of Vairagya, its various stages, how to develop it, the path of renunciation, what Vairagya is and what it is not, these and many other allied topics have been nicely handled.
“Miseries of mundane existence” is the inspiring title of the third chapter. It should be borne in mind that ignorance is the real cause of all misery and hence it should by all means be done away with and Self-Knowledge attained, if these miseries of mundane life are to come to an end. One may easily renounce wife, son and property, but to renounce name and fame is an extraordinary feat of the highest spirituality. To attain knowledge of Self such a degree of renunciation is indispensably necessary. I have condemned building of ashrams and making disciples with a reservation clause because this to me seems to be the prime cause of failure to attain the goal of yoga practice in the case of many a good aspirant nowadays.
Chapter four deals with “Body.” Attachment to body is the cause of misery and bondage and this attachment is of course due to ignorance of the Reality. When attachment for one’s own body comes, then desire for sensual enjoyments, lust, anger, greed, worry, anxiety and innumerable other miseries also come in its train. If this is cut at the root by negating the body and identifying one’s self with the supreme Self, then all miseries and sorrows will come to an end. Hence the condemnation of attachment to the body.is purely carnal; it is not pure, unselfish love. Hence condemnation of such love is justified.
“World” is the title of the sixth chapter. Due to ignorance man believes that the world in which he lives is a solid reality and that there is nothing beyond it. He therefore wants to indulge in all sorts of sensual pleasures with a view to get happiness from them. Had he known that the world in which he lives is unreal and that there is something else which is an embodiment of happiness, realizing which one enjoys highest bliss, he would not do so. With a view to get happiness from objects, he undergoes severe pain, tortures and tribulations and yet he does not get the least satisfaction from them. I have tried to convince the reader that this world of names and forms is unreal, transitory and fleeting, that God, or the Atman alone is real and full of bliss and that he should try to realize the Atman and get the happiness he wants from it.
In the next chapter entitled “Essence of Vairagya-Shatakam” I have given in a nutshell the sum and substance of Bhartrihari’s century of verses which will be found very useful to those who cannot afford to obtain each and every book pertaining to Yoga or Vedanta.
May the students of Yoga and Vedanta in the East and West be all inspired to unstinted action by a perusal of this volume is the earnest prayer of:
15th September, 1938.