The following essay (which will be published in five parts) is taken from the introduction to the book Indian Conception of Values by Prof. M Hiriyanna (Mysore: Kavyalaya Publications, 1975).
The Western tradition uses the word ‘philosophy’ (love of wisdom) to denote the study of the fundamental nature of reality. In the Indian tradition, we use the word ‘darshana’ (point of view) to denote the study of existence, meaning, consciousness, and the ultimate reality. It provides us the means to the same ultimate goal, called by different names – ananda (bliss); moksha (liberation); or oneness with brahman, the Supreme Being.
“Who am I?”
This question has haunted thinkers and philosophers from the earliest times. It is the question that drove the sixteen-year-old Venkataraman to eventually become Ramana Maharishi. It is the question that pops up every now and then, only to remain unanswered. Once it is answered, the question never recurs, for one would have transcended all questions by answering that one.
So, who are we?
The Geeta exposition is essentially contained between the words 'अशोच्यान्' (BG 2.11) and 'मा शुच:' (BG 18.66). The central message is quite simply ‘grieve not’; for what really is, is of the nature of pure joy ("नासतो विद्यते भावो नाभावो विद्यते सत:"). How not to grieve is what Krishna seeks to explain.
Bhaja Govindam is a popular poem attributed to the scholar-saint Adi Shankara, one of the foremost advocates of the Advaita Vedanta School of philosophy. A short work, of 31 verses, it urges us to pray to Govinda (‘the herder of cows,’ another name for Krishna).
अभिमानदम्भादिकं त्याज्यम् । ६४
64. Abandon pride, hypocrisy, etc.
तदर्पिताखिलाचारः सन् कामक्रोधाभिमानादिकं तस्मिन्नेव करणीयम् । ६५
65. Having offered all activities (to the Supreme) if (still troubled) by lust, anger, pride, etc. then offer them (to the Supreme) as well.
[The Bhagavad-Gita says, “Whatever you do, whatever you eat, whatever you offer in yajna (worship) or give as dana (charity) or give up as tapas (austerity), dedicate that to me.” (BG 9.27)]
दुस्सङ्गः सर्वथैव त्याज्यः । ४३
43. Always avoid bad company.
कामक्रोधमोहस्मृतिभ्रंशबुद्धिनाशकारणत्वात् । ४४
44. It (evil company) is the cause for lust, anger, attachment, decline of learning, and the destruction of the intellect.
तरङ्गायिता अपीमे सङ्गात् समुद्रायन्ते । ४५
45. The ripples (of lust, anger, attachment, etc.) take the form of the ocean because of such company.
In the second part of this series, we take a look at the next twenty-one sutras of Narada on bhakti (verses 22 to 42).
तत्रापि न माहात्म्यज्ञानविस्मृत्यपवादः । २२
22. Even so (in the case of the cowgirls), one can’t criticize them of being oblivious to the awareness of divinity.