Rishabha’s Sermon and after

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Once, while moving about the country, Rishabha was in Brahmavarta. There, in an assembly of sages, where a large audience was present to listen to him, Rishabha delivered a sermon especially to teach his sons, though they were endowed with self-control, humility, affection and discipline in all matters of life.

Rishabha was referred to as Rsabha in the Mahabharata, Vishnu-Purana and Siva-Puruna.

Rishabha said:
Oh children! The sacred human body that you have got in the world is not meant to be utilized for sensuous enjoyment as by low creatures, which too get such enjoyment through the filth they consume. It is to be used for observance of austerity with noble spiritual ends. By such austerity the mind becomes pure, enabling one to attain to the bliss of the Brahman.

The seekers that realize God without practising any spiritual discipline are called the Nityasiddha-the eternally perfect. Those who realize God through austerity, japam and the like are called the Sadhanasiddha-the perfect through spiritual discipline.

The practice of mortification does not necessarily lead to a virtuous life. The mortified may practise all the cardinal virtues such as prudence, fortitude, temperance and chastity and yet remain a thoroughly bad man. This is for the reason that his virtues are accompanied by, and connected with, the sins of pride, envy, chronic anger and un-charitableness assuming the proportion of active cruelty. Mistaking the means for the end, the puritan fancies himself holy because he is austere. But austerity is just the exaltation of the ego of the individual. Holiness, on the other hand, is the total denial of the separative self and abandonment of the will to God. To the extent that there is attachment to ‘I', ‘me' and ‘mine', there is no attachment to God and only affirmation of self. Austerity coupled with holiness is what attains the Brahman.

The association with holy ones is the door for entrance to the realm of liberation. And the entrance to hell (spiritual degradation) consists in association with worldly-minded men who are intensely attached to women.

Holy men are those who are even-minded, tranquil, peaceful, unperturbed, friendly to all, and endowed with all good qualities.

One is to free oneself from likes and dislikes, and to engage oneself in righteous self-effort to reach the supreme Truth. Self-effort is that which springs from right understanding of the scriptures and the teachings of holy persons.

The samskaras (tendencies, impressions) brought forward from the previous lives are of two kinds. The pure ones lead one to liberation and the impure ones keep one in bondage. One is pure consciousness oneself, not inert physical matter. One is not impelled to action by anything other than oneself. It is open to one to strengthen the pure latent tendencies in preference to the impure ones. That is the reason why the holy men advise that one shall tread consciously the path that leads to the eternal good.

The wise seeker knows that the fruit of his endeavor is always commensurate with the intensity of his self-effort. Fate or destiny or god does not ordain it otherwise. The seeker is, therefore, to endeavor for his true good - his salvation by a keen and intelligent study of the scriptures, by having the company of the holy ones and by right self-effort.

Or, holy men are those who consider the intense attraction they have for Me as their noblest attainment in life, who have no attachment to worldly-minded people, wife, children, properties, etc, and who are satisfied with such requirements as are enough to live on.

When there is non-attachment to family, property, worldly minded people, etc, the will turns away from the normal life. Man attains to the state of voluntary renunciation, resignation, true indifference and perfect willessness. The phenomenon by which this change is marked is the transition from virtue to asceticism. Voluntary and complete chastity or the denial of the will to live is the first step in asceticism. Second, it shows itself in voluntary and intentional poverty. It arises either as possessions are given away to mitigate the sufferings of others, or it is an end in itself as a constant mortification of wills itself, its visible form, its objectivity and the body. He nourishes the body sparingly lest it excite more strongly the will to seek expression in the worldly possessions. He is absorbed in the inward, direct, intuitive knowledge from which alone all virtue and holiness arise and which is expressed in precisely the same way in the conduct of life.

Intuitively every man is conscious of all philosophical truths. Only the ascetic realizes and lives the truths.
Whoever struggles to satisfy the senses is bound to be morally and spiritually lethargic and bound to do many evil deeds. I find no meaning in men doing again and again the very kind of karma which has brought into existence this body which, besides being short-lived and ephemeral, is the cause of all suffering. The repetition of the karma is bound to result in new embodiments in a series, and more suffering.

Samsara is a series of lives with birth and death with no enlightenment. In ignorance, man binds himself to family and friends, to wealth and possessions and to pleasures associated with body. He gets involved in the cycle of samsara with no effort at redemption. He makes no effort to realize the ultimate Truth or the Reality. He lives the life of a beast, caring for satisfaction of the physical senses and appetites.

If a seeker is intent to overcome the series of lives, he is to associate with realized souls to know the way to overcoming samsara. The enlightened persons, having realized themselves, will be of help to the seeker in his effort.

As long as man does not make an earnest enquiry about the Spirit within, so long will he, out of ignorance, be debarring the dawn of spiritual consciousness in him. As long as he works for selfish attainments, so long will his mind be inclined only towards such actions (and not for spiritual enquiry). And for such body-centred men given to selfish actions, embodiments are caused again and again.
There are three kinds of reality - the Supreme Spirit, the individual spirits and the material principle. There are three kinds of relationship - the relation of the Supreme Spirit to the individual spirits, the relations of the individual spirits to matter and the relation of matter to the Supreme Spirit. Each of the three terms is related to the other two. So each relationship has two directions.
One must practise discrimination to enquire the pros and cons of each issue and to choose the one that leads to God. For instance, ‘lust and greed' is impermanent. God is the only Eternal Substance. Discrimination is the knowledge of what is real and what is unreal. It is the realization that God alone is the real and eternal Substance and all else is unreal, transitory and impermanent. One must cultivate intense zeal and love for God and be attracted to Him as the Gopis of Brindavan. The magician alone is real; his magic is illusory. This is discrimination. As long as the seeker does not practise enquiry and discrimination ultimately resulting in realization, so long does he continue to be in samsara - the repetition of birth and death.

When ignorance clouds the mind, it is enslaved by samskaras -the impressions of actions done earlier. As long as the mind does not develop attraction and love for Me, Vasudeva, so long release from embodiment does not arise.
The samskaras are creative and dynamic. They are of two kinds - cosmic and individual. The birth and the way one has been born, which is common to all individuals are due to cosmic samskaras. The samskaras, which are peculiar to one, are due to one's own actions in one's past births. For example, of two children born in a family, one may become a saint and the other a criminal. This is because of the personal samskaras of the individuals carried from their previous births.

Likewise, the new samskaras acquired during the present life may influence future activities in this life itself or in the next lives.

Buddhism believes that the samskaras become constituents of one's personality by being passed on from moment to moment of its duration. The action-samskaras are transmitted from moment to moment of one's existence, stay in one after one's death and become active in producing one's next birth, and so on. Ethical action will produce samskaras in the individual self for future action in this life or the later ones, paving the way for ultimate realization.
As long as man, unconcerned of the purpose of life, fails to perceive that the actions of his body-mind are not of the Atman, the spiritual Self, he will be completely oblivious of his spiritual nature and behave like an ignorant person, a merely body-centred being, seeking delight in the sex-dominated life of the householder suffering from its endless woes.

Ignorance arises when craving envelops the mind-stuff. This craving dries up the good and noble qualities of the mind and heart. It makes one hard and cruel. It is this craving that is responsible for bondage and misfortune. It breaks the heart of man and creates delusion in him. Caught in its whirlpool, man is unable to enjoy the pleasures that are within his reach. Though it appears that the craving is for happiness, it leads neither to happiness nor to fruitfulness in this life.

The union of man with woman is spoken of by great men as a new knot in their heart, added to the already existing knot of ego-sense. For, from that springs the terrible infatuation causing the extension of the sense of identification, consisting in the sense of ‘mini-ness', with regard to house, property, son, friend, money and so on.

The ego is the thought ‘I'. Of all the thoughts that arise in the mind, the ‘I' thought Is the first. Other thoughts arise later. Holding a form, it comes into being. It stays on as the form is held. It breeds on it and grows strong. It changes form as suddenly as it assumes form.
All suffering revolves around egotism. Egotism is the sole cause of mental distress. Spreading the net of worldly objects of pleasure, it is the egotism that traps the living beings.

Indeed all the terrible calamities in this world are born of egotism. Egotism eclipses self-control, destroys virtue and dissipates equanimity. When one is under the influence of egotism, one is unhappy. Free from egotism, one is ever happy.

This knot of the heart, the ego-sense (Ahamkara), which is the result of tendencies created by past actions, is identical with the mind. So if man is to be totally free from the bondage to sensuous enjoyment, his mind, free from all modifications, should be dissolved in the category superior to it. Then man becomes free from the cause of bondage, namely, ignorance.

In all the experiences of happiness and unhappiness, as also in all the hallucinations and imaginations, it is the mind that does everything and experiences everything. It is the performer of all actions.

The seed of this world-appearance is ignorance. Man acquires this ignorance or mental conditioning effortlessly. It seems to promote pleasure though, in truth, it is the source of grief. It creates a delusion of pleasure only by the veiling of self-knowledge. When one becomes aware of the unreality of this mental conditioning, one's mind ceases to be. As long as there is no natural yearning for self-knowledge, so long ignorance or mental conditioning throws up an endless stream of world-appearance. This ignorance perishes when it turns towards self-knowledge.

The means to be adopted by one who wants to break this knot of the heart are as follows: Devotion to, and service of, an enlightened guru who is only Myself - the Supreme Divinity; renunciation; equanimity in suffering and enjoyment; the constant remembrance that suffering is there in any attainment in this world or in the hereafter; intelligent reflection on the true nature of all experiences; abandonment of works for personal gains; austerity;

dedication of works to Me; hearing the recitals of My divine actions every day; contact with great devotees having Me as their object of adoration; singing about My excellences; non-entertainment of animosity towards any one; equanimity; tranquility; cultivation of intense desire to get over identification with home and one's own body;
study of scriptures; living in solitude; conquest of the senses and vital energy; strong faith; celibacy; vigilance; restraint of speech;

the knowledge and insight to see My presence in everything; practice of samadhi; cultivation of equanimity; firmness, perseverance and discrimination. By practising all these, an earnest aspirant can get over the knot of the ego-sense.
A variety of ways to overcome ego-sense is listed above. The egotism covers everything like a veil. All troubles come to an end when the ego dies. Then, though living in the body, one is liberated. The ego is like a cloud. The moon cannot be seen on account of a thin patch of cloud. When the cloud disappears, one sees the moon.
Samadhi is the state in which the ego-sense is overcome completely.

When all functions of the Reason including sleep are stopped, the Reason stays in itself. But Reason is conscious and its consciousness is due to the reflection of the Cosmic Person. The reflection, with no object to know, stays in its original nature. This staying of rational consciousness in it is the samadhi. This is the aim of yoga.

When this rational consciousness does not stay in itself, the knower in it identifies itself with the functions of the Reason and assumes its forms. The final samadhi is the staying of the Cosmic Person in Him, not even as the knower. This is the stage of final liberation while in body. The earlier samadhi is only the beginning, the gateway to the final one. In the final stage, the three attributes of Prakrti will be in perfect harmony, maintaining perfect equilibrium.

The states of samadhi - the first and the final - cannot be had merely through physical and mental exercises. The most important preliminary is the purification of one's Reason, which is the ‘I-am'. So long as the ‘I-am' is activated by inner functions, it cannot be pure and stable. It can be made steady by practice and detachment. Practice is effort repeated. Detachment is equanimity and non-egoistic.
To obtain these faculties one is to practise friendliness with generous people, compassion for those in distress, affection instead of jealously for those who are meritorious, and indifference towards the evil of evildoers. One is to practise self-control such as non-injury, non-stealing, truthfulness, celibacy and non-acceptance of gifts. It is significant that the preparation for achieving the states of samadhi is based on ethical action.

After one has, by the instruction of the guru and the careful practice of the above disciplines, completely overcome the knot of the heart (the ego-sense), which is born of ignorance and forms the seat of tendencies leading to works, one can give up all practices of yoga.
If, by the grace of the guru, one's ego vanishes, then one is liberated. For, once the ego-sense or self-centredness is shattered, sadhana by conscious effort becomes redundant.

These instructions should be given by a father to a son, by a teacher to a disciple, and by king to a subject, if they wish to attain to My state or aspire for My grace. It should be done patiently without getting annoyed even when they are found unreceptive. They should not be allowed to get more involved in works for sensuous gratification with which their discriminative faculty has already been dulled. What gain can a teacher have by inducing such men, already blinded spiritually, for want of discrimination, in their involvement in the whirlpool of samsara, to works and rituals for worldly advantages?

The ignorant men of the world without a proper awareness of their ultimate good acquire objects of enjoyment out of their intense desire for them. In mutual competition for these petty objects of enjoyment, they quarrel and fight among themselves and suffer misery without end.

God exists timelessly as the Godhead, as the Brahman whose essence is Being, Awareness and Bliss. God who is Spirit can only be worshipped in spirit and for His own sake. The ultimate good is to be sought in an eternal divine now, which those who sufficiently desire this good can realize as a fact of immediate experience. The peace that passes all understanding is the fruit of liberation into eternity. In everyday life, peace is also the root of liberation. Where there are violent passions and conflicts for petty enjoyment and sensuous pleasures, this ultimate good can ever be realized. This approach promotes tolerance and non-violence. Every event of violence or one-upmanship interferes with the normal and natural relationship between individual souls and the divine eternal Ground of all being. Such conduct is a sacrilegious rebellion against the divine order.

No wise person, who knows what is good for man and is endowed with a kindly disposition, would, on seeing another man steeped in ignorance and perverted in intelligence, encourage him to persist in the wrong path he is following, even as he would not do so with a blind man going towards a pit.

One, who would not save another from the path of death, on which the latter has entered, cannot be called one's guru if he is the guru, one's relative if he is a relative, one's father if he is the father, one's mother if she is the mother, one's deity if it is the deity, one's husband if he is the husband.

A guru is in the nature of an inner being sent to the seeker (disciple) by the Divine at the appropriate stage of his sadhana (spiritual practice) to attain realization. Age, caste, creed, gender, vocation, etc of the guru is of no relevance to the seeker. The seeker is to feel the guru in his soul and accept him as such. He is the true guide to elevate the seeker to the realm beyond his mind. One who does not satisfy these criteria is no true guru.

This body of mine is of an inexplicable nature, as it cannot be accounted for by karma. My mind is dominated by the quality of sattva by virtue of which devotion to God flourishes in it, and adharma finds no place as it has been left far behind. So wise men call me Rishabha.

Every embodied being has a two-fold body. One is the mental body which is restless and which acts quickly and achieves results. The second is the physical body, which does really nothing. When the mind confidently engages in self-effort, it is then beyond the reach of sorrow. Whenever it strives, it surely finds the fruition of its striving. On the other hand, the physical body is only physical matter. Yet the mind deems it as its own.

The mind experiences only what it contemplates. If the mind turns towards the Truth, it abandons its identification with the body and attains the supreme state. Hence one is to endeavor with the mind consciously to make it taking to the pure path.

Rishabha was so called on account of his constant consciousness of the inherent bliss of the Atman and, as a result, absolute indifference to everything else in the physical world.

Hence all of you, who have sprung from my heart, serve, without any reservations, Bharata, your brother, who is adorable for his excellences. Serving him is equal to looking after the subjects.

Among objects that have existence, plants with life are superior to lifeless things like stone. Among living objects, moving beings like animals with consciousness are superior to plants. Among creatures with consciousness, man is superior. Higher than man are astral beings; higher than these are beings like gandharvas, siddhas and kinnaras.
Greater than siddhas and kinnaras are the asuras; greater than they are the Devas with Indra at their head. Greater than them are the sons of Brahma, the Prajapatis. Among the sons of Brahma, Rudra is the greatest; greater than Rudra is Brahma who is the devotee of Mahavishnu. And Mahavishnu is the devotee of holy men.

I do not consider any one to be equal to a holy man. I do not find any one higher. I accept whatever food men offer Me through holy men with faith and devotion wholeheartedly. This food is dearer than even what is offered in fire at the Agnihotra.

In this world, it is the holy man who holds within himself my primeval and the most worshipful form, the Veda. I do not find any one equal to the holy man in whom the supremely pure qualities of sattva, control of mind, control of the senses, austerity, forbearance, truth, benevolence towards all and realization are present.

Attachment breeds desire. Desire leads to anger when desire is frustrated. Anger clouds mind. Such clouding destroys memory and then reason is destroyed, for reason and memory are intimately connected. So the holy man is neither attached to the temporal objects, nor hates them. He performs all actions without any egotism and seeks to attain oneness with the Supreme Being-Nirvana.

These supreme devotees who have nothing to call their own do not pray for any personal advantage even from Me, the Infinite and the Absolute Being, and the grantor of heavenly enjoyment and liberation. Why will they then seek small perishable worldly advantages?

One cannot attain God if one has even a trace of desire. Subtle is the way of dharma. If one is trying to thread a needle, one will not succeed if the thread has even a slight fibre sticking out.

Seeing that all things, moving and unmoving, are ensouled by Me, you must salute them every moment with sincere feeling. This indeed is real worship to Me.
True worship of the Supreme Spirit is true knowledge of IT-jnana. What is jnana (knowledge)? It is to know one's own self, dissolving the mind in it. It is to know the pure Atman, which alone is our real nature.

Knowledge is discriminative understanding of WHAT IS. Sri Sathya Sai defines it thus: Advaita Darsanam Jnanam - Knowledge is realization of Non-dualism.

The means for attaining it are the scripture, tapas, tradition, reasoning and experience. It consists in the understanding that the Brahman - the Supreme Spirit alone had been before the universe came into being, is what exists in the middle and will continue to be when the universe including Time dissolves itself into IT. The Brahman alone is the Reality and the Truth.

The true meaning of all that man does by mind, speech, cognition and actions is only adoration of Me. Without this kind of worship of Me, man will not be able to rid himself of the noose of Yama, which consists in the great infatuation of looking upon the body as the spirit.

Supreme consciousness is ongoing action or creation, consciously done with an awareness and sublime intention to experience the Self. This is "being at the spiritual game". This is to say that one is to dedicate one's whole soul, whole mind and whole body to the process of creating self in the image and likeness of God. This is the process of self-realization or salvation or in whatever way it is called. This is a moment-to-moment conscious action in pursuit of the sole - soul goal.

Sri Suka said:
Though his sons knew all the above teachings in a way, he made his sermon in order that the world at large might understand this doctrine. After this, Rishabha, the friend of all, desired to teach and demonstrate to the world the dharma of the paramahamsas characterized by repose in the Self, renunciation of actions, devotion, knowledge and dispassion. He, therefore, installed in succession to him as the ruler of the country, his eldest son Bharata, who was himself the embodiment of sattva and who was devoted to the servants of the Lord, and dependent on them in all matters. Then Rishabha left his residence, taking with him nothing but the body. He was henceforth like one inebriated, completely nude, and having dishevelled hair. Withdrawing into his heart the sacrificial fires like the Ahavamya maintained by him, he took to the life of a sannyasin and wandered away from his country, the Brahmavarta.

A sannyasin is the renouncer of the world or the ascetic. At this stage of life, he gives up all connections with family and all rights and duties. He renounces the world. He spends the rest of his life as a man of God. He owns no property, lives by begging and changes his name so that others do not know his family connections. He wanders about and teaches spiritual truths to whosoever seek them.
In the midst of men he appeared from time to time as a senseless man, blind man, dumb man, a ghoul or a drunkard. In repulsive attires, he was found to remain silent, not answering even any one's questions.

He traveled through towns, villages, military cantonments, cow-pens, cowherd settlements, travelers' shelters, mountains, forests and hermitages. All along the way, as an elephant in rut is pestered by flies, evil men persecuted him by threatening, beating, urinating on him, spitting on him, throwing stones, cow-dung and dust at him, and insulting and abusing him. Being firmly established in the knowledge of the real and the unreal, and in the conviction that one was nothing but the Universal Spirit, he had no identification with the body, which, for men in ignorance, is the most real entity, but was, for him, unreal. So none of these persecutions disturbed him, and he traveled all over the world alone, his mind merged in the Atman.

One cannot have the knowledge of the Brahman as long as there is the slightest trace of worldliness. One is to keep one's mind aloof from the objects of sight, hearing, touch and other things of worldly nature. Only then, does one realize the Brahman as one's own innermost consciousness. As the all-pervading Spirit, the Brahman exists in all beings. IT is the beingness of all that exists. IT alone is.

By nature, he was endowed with very handsome and well-proportionate hands, legs, chest, arms, shoulders, neck and face. His face always had shone with a natural smile. His eyes were long and red like a lotus petal, having pupils that assuaged the grief of men. The parts of the face like the ears, eyes, cheeks, neck and nose were all well-proportioned and symmetrical. The veiled smile on his lips had always attracted the interest of women. This handsome form of his now presented the appearance of a ghoul with dishevelled hair, dirty and unwashed, owing to lack of body consciousness.

The signs of God-vision are that a man who has seen God behaves sometimes like a child, sometimes like a ghoul, sometimes like an inert thing and sometimes like a mad man.
There are other signs, too. One is intense joy. There is no hesitancy in him. He is like the ocean; the waves and sounds are on the surface; below are profound depths.
When one finds that the very mention of God's name brings tears to one's eyes and makes one's hair stand on end, then it is known for certain that one has freed oneself from attachment to lust and greed, and attained God.

Rishabha realized from the persecutions of ignorant people that society was hostile to the practice of yoga. To retaliate against the persecutors would be still worse. So he gave up the habit of moving about and adopted what is called ajagaravritti, the way of life of a python which remains at a spot without going for food anywhere. He lay himself in one place, took whatever food he had there, performed the functions of excretion and stretched himself there rolling in the faucal matter, and got himself covered with it.

Pure love of a devotee has two characteristics. So intense is one's love of God that one becomes unconscious of outer things. One forgets the world. The second is that one has no feeling of "my-ness" toward the body. One wholly gets rid of the feeling that the body is his. Chaitanya, like Rishabha, experienced this kind of love.

His excreta, however, were so fragrant that the atmosphere up to ten yojanas was filled with its sweet smell.
Experienced practitioners of Yoga engage in meditative practices all through their life resulting in their attainment. It is often that whatever is excreted of their bodies fills the atmosphere with fragrance. It is also that, often, their bodies do not begin to decay until long after they are clinically dead.

Similarly, he followed also the ways of cow, deer and even of crow - walking, sitting, eating, drinking and excreting like all those creatures.

Bhagavan Rishabha then practised various forms of yogic discipline, experienced the unbroken bliss of the Spirit, and attained to the sense of oneness with the all-pervading Being. In the course of it, various yogic powers like movement in the sky with the speed of mind, power of disappearance, entry into another body, clairaudience, etc came to him automatically without his striving. But he rejected them all.

The yoga enables the seeker to realize the identity of his particular being with the whole world of nature (Prakrti) just as he realizes his identity with his physical body. He can have as much control over the world, as over his body. The extraordinary powers resulting from such a control are not supernatural, but natural. He has to distinguish himself from every aspect of Prakrti, realize his separateness from it, then enter it and be one with it, without at the same time losing his discriminatory power attained, and then controls its movements from within. The first requirement is a kind of detachment from Prakrti, which results in its control.

As the final realization of such discriminatory oneness with the evolutes of Prakrti arises, at every stage, some extraordinary powers are attained. The achievement of siddhis or psychic powers such as becoming infinitesimally small (anima), becoming infinitely large (mahima), becoming infinitesimally light (laghima), becoming infinitesimally heavy (gurutvam), the power of touching anything at any distance (prapti), obtaining anything desired (prakamya), lordship over everything (isitva) and control over everything (vasitva) is dependent upon four factors - time, place, action and means. Among these, action or effort holds the key to all endeavors. All achievements are possible through the practice of pranayama.

At the end of the ultimate samadhi, the cognition of the seeker (yogi) is always truth. It is direct intuition of anything in the world like the intuition of the existence of one's body. How much of the cosmos can be known depends on the perfection of the samadhi. But one can obtain other powers (siddhis) by following other methods of concentration, at different levels.


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