Letters From Ramanashram BONDAGES

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BONDAGES

26th September, 1947

A devotee who had been listening to all that Bhagavan had said yesterday morning about past bondages, came and sat near Bhagavan today.

The devotee spoke: “Yesterday, Bhagavan was pleased to tell us about past bondages, but he did not tell us anything about present and future bondages”.

“That is so,” said Bhagavan, “but then has not Sri Vidyaranya, in his ‘Panchadasi’ explained in detail about future bondages and the way in which deliverance from them can be had?”

“I have not read the ‘Panchadasi’,” said the devotee.

“Then I will tell you,” said Bhagavan and proceeded to expound it: “Present bondages are said to be of four types-‘vishaya asakti lakshanam’, ‘buddhi mandyam’, ‘kutharkam’ and ‘viparyaya duragraham’. The first of these means great desire for material things; the second, inability to grasp the teachings and expositions of the Guru; the third means to understand perversely the teachings of the Guru; the fourth is to feel egoistically that ‘I am learned in the Vedas’, ‘I am a Pandit’, ‘I am an ascetic’. These four are called present bondages. If it is asked how these can be overcome, the first can be overcome by tranquillity (sama) by curbing the evil propensities of the mind (dama), by detachment (uparati) and by indifference to external things (titiksha). The second type can be overcome by hearing the teachings of the Guru over and over again; the third by reflection or contemplation; and the fourth by profound meditation on a thought. If, in this way, the obstacles are removed and destroyed, Seekers get confirmed in their belief that they are themselves the embodiment of the Self (atma-swarupa).

“As for future bondages, they arise from acts done without anyone knowing they are sinful. How can this be discovered? A Seeker should recognize it as a future bondage when some action presents itself which makes him feel that he wishes to do it because the doing of it is an act of human kindness and sympathy; and so he is tempted into doing it. He does not realise that the act will be the cause of future bondage. If he thinks that, by being a non-doer (akarta) and worldly-detached (asanga), the fulfilment of the desire will not affect him and he can therefore do the act. He will become bound all the same and will be freed from the bondage only after several more births. That future bondages result in re-births is authoritatively stated in the Scriptures (srutis and smritis), Vasudeva, for instance, had one more birth, Bharata had two more, and others many more. Hence a Seeker must bear in mind the three bondages and carefully avoid them. If he does not avoid them there can be no doubt that he will have more births. ‘Whosoever is released from these three bondages, for him deliverance (mukti) is certain,’ said Vidyaranya. All this is mentioned also in the ‘Vasudevamananam’ in which, in addition to this, a number of stories are related. The story of Bharjuva and that of Yajnapasu are particularly interesting, as also that of Asura Vasana. For each aspect of these bondages, a separate story is given by way of illustration. Have you not read even that?”

“I did read it when young but did not realise that it contains such important matters. I will look into it again, Bhagavan”.

With that, the devotee took his leave of Bhagavan.

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