I gained interest in spirituality after my paternal grandmother’s death. I saw her dying in front of my eyes just after my brother and I had finished up with chanting the ‘Mahamrtyunjaya’ mantra. A strange feeling of ‘vairagya’ or disgust entered into my mind after that. I began looking forward to study life, not in a laboratory but in a temple. Everything in this universe seemed to me like a player in an enormous game, just when one is finished playing it, he’s gone. It started with great sadness and then transformed into a philosophical view.
After the last rites were completed in the presence of the priests, my father, his elder brother, my elder brother and I took her bone remains, packed them into a bag and left for Haridwar. Just when I entered the ‘holy’ city, heard the bells ringing, the mantras being recited, saw the Sadhus passing by, my philosophical eye turned sharper and clearer. It was like an indirect confirmation of my new thought process.
After letting the bone remains flow into the Ganga River, I happened to purchase a book on Vedas from a nearby stall. I then started reading it. The first impression was that the stuff written in it was something really serious and deep about which some Hindu philosophers say ‘beyond the human intellect’. Then the second part was the language. I don’t know if anybody feels this way but I found the Vedic language to be really cool, which then transformed into my interest in the language itself.
Honestly speaking, I didn’t find it much useful for my philosophical thoughts. They were more like praises of the natural and celestial gods. I found only a few verses clearly talking about what I wanted to listen to. Maybe the mantras weren’t selected properly for the book. But whatever it is, the mantras belonged to the Vedas only.
Then I moved on to the other scriptures like Brahma Sutras, Bhagawad Gita, other Upanishads and all. The thirst was increasing day by day. I was getting obsessed with the idea of Siddhis and Yoga. I even went on to declare to my family that I would lead my whole life as a celibate. But natural the family members were uncomfortable with that. Then one day I happened to read an online article on celibacy. As I went on reading it, I came across very disturbing viewpoints. The author said that a celibate (male) shouldn’t talk to women, he shouldn’t appreciate women for anything, and he should imagine women in a dirty manner so that he develops a feeling of disgust towards them. I felt seriously offended. Thus began my aversion to this form of brahmacharya.
My thoughts gradually evolved out of the box. The negative impact of the past was that I felt too shy to talk to my female classmates. This is the reality. The celibates actually become more sensitive towards the opposite sex, strength is an illusion. I finally accepted myself as a human being. I accepted my body as a critical part of my life. I feel a lot lighter now, unlike then where I would unnecessarily develop sexual thoughts for any woman involuntarily; because I was becoming too sensitive about the issue.
I then again went into the philosophy of Yoga. It appears very lucrative to a man in stress or a man of ideals. But I found it practically not feasible at all. The reason is that it tells us to view everybody and everything as equal & inseparable. This kind of equality isn’t healthy for the judicial system of an individual or of a group. For a Yogi, a criminal and a sadhu/saint is one and the same thing. So I couldn’t follow this philosophy as a whole. I then made it custom designed for me or rather I have a separate philosophy inspired by ‘inseparability and equality’, as in thinking that everybody is an individual and should be inseparable from his or her freedom & liberty.
As far as Brahmacharya is concerned, its meaning is far deep than we know. ‘Brahma’ is ‘that which expands’ and ‘charya’ means ’behavior’. So it would imply ‘open behavior’ instead of celibacy. Proponents of celibacy say that a man should look at every elder woman as his mother, at every similar aged woman as his sister and at every younger woman as his daughter. Can’t we just think of a woman as a woman? Can’t she be just an individual? The Brahmacharya that I follow teaches me to view a woman as a woman. Her body is a beautiful creation in itself. If I get attracted towards it, if I happen to develop a sexual urge towards it, it is natural. I do not understand why people want to stand in the way of nature.
The traditional spirituality makes you feel separate from the body, teaches that there is a ‘spirit’ independently existing, and puts a fear in the mind that we are caught in some cage which gives nothing but pain and suffering. It starts from fear and then ends in disgust, which is nothing but Vairagya. So many negative thoughts poured into the mind at once. I do not find it healthy anymore. If a person has really become a Vairagi (a person feeling Vairagya), I would suggest him to visit a psychiatrist so that he could recover successfully from this kind of a deadly depression.
So I follow practicality (not ‘spirituality’ because I am skeptical about the existence of any ‘spirit’ and also about its ways and means) which has made me more open, now I am like a bigger bowl which can accommodate more stuff in it. Just when you start to feel open, fear begins to leave you. Fear and practicality can’t stay together for long. People say that if there is no fear, there would be more crime. Go deep into it, fear is the very root cause of crime. A criminal has a fear that he would not succeed in his task if he doesn’t go out of the way, if he doesn’t become violent and break the law of the land. Fear stops us from thinking big, every obstacle becomes so magnified that it seems as if the road is totally blocked forever. Consequently we develop such a negative attitude towards life and society that it even attacks people and beings all around us.
We need to remind ourselves of the fact that the tendencies which these spiritual leaders call as sins (lust, anger, greed, delusion, etc.) are given by nature itself. If you stand in the way of nature, but natural the nature would harm you real bad. Accept the existence of these tendencies as a gift, because these very tendencies make you alive, make you human. Only a person with a dead central nervous system would be strong enough not to respond to such tendencies.
I have learned to never take anything in the traditional manner just like that. Test it if it is practically feasible and healthy, check if it doesn’t come in the way of nature. Let us go hand in hand with the nature, and journey would be the most beautiful journey ever.
© Satyan Sharma 2014