A valued reader of this column has confronted me with questions that deserve attention for the sake of clarity of all concerned: “Sir, from your articles it appears that you are against ritualistic pujas. But you keep talking about mantras and symbols. Mantras demand few preliminary steps, which in itself is a ritual. Even yantras too demand systemic worship. Pujas were performed in previous yugas also and they gave results. Why holy mantras chanted by priests and repeated by common man may not give result? It is said that if any step goes wrong in chanting of the mantras, especially dedicated to Lord Hanuman, give bad result. Please clarify.”
It appears that you have read me wrong. I am not against rituals as such. True, few preliminary steps before puja or meditation is nothing but a ritual, but they help prepare yourself to put in your whole into the process.
It is, however, difficult to digest that transactional pujas conducted by pundits – appeasing a particular deity out there in the higher realms of the cosmos – could selectively grant our wishes to one’s asking. The perception that such desire driven pujas conducted in the previous yugas yielded result, is a myth perpetuated by the charlatans in a planned way to serve their vested interest. If such pujas could offer desired results, it implies that the law of Karma can be defied at will easily, and so, doesn’t carry much of importance. Then, nobody will have to bear with the consequences of even evil doing, particularly the resourceful ones, in case pundits conduct puja for them. The irony, however, is that primarily out of fear, the ignorant keep blindly following the pundit’s advisories, as if ignoring them will mean defying divine will. Having no direct exposure to Upanishads, the founding pillars of Ancient Indian philosophy, they tend to believe that if such practices have sustained so long, it must have some valid ground. And even if it doesn’t work, at least it may do no harm. That’s how the myth has sustained for so long.
Those having exposure to Upanishads would know that such myths are not tenable. Instead of commandments, they actually take us forward through awareness route. They first enlighten us with a holistic understanding of the dynamics of existence, thus offering with clues on how to conduct in life. Second, they offer ways and means to rise above our mental limitations and unfold full human potential, mostly lying dormant out of ignorance. Remember, an ordinary mortal has access to hardly 5 percent of the faculties of mind. Even if that could be optimally used, we may be able to do justice to the usual callings of life. The paradox, however, is that our minds, flirting with various tempting influences of the seeming world and indwelling desires, doesn’t let us remain focused to the tasks in hand. And when we are left behind in the run of time, we fall prey to the charlatans.
Remember, the genesis of all human problems is primarily rooted in the mind. Even Karmic carryover from the past, with all the good and bad, are imprinted in the form of thought-seeds, and which precondition our minds one way or the other. So, all remedial measures should be directed towards correcting our thought process, the onus of which lies in the person concerned. It is difficult to digest that a pundit could invade your mind space and do the needful.
What if we could expand our mind power to its optimum best? We may then know no limits. Meditation is the way forward to that end. It calls for looking within, which lets you identify and acknowledge mental limitations, address them, and then optimise the mind power to come out with its best. With attention turned inwards, the process calls for chanting a specified mantra with focus on the related imagery. The mantra is a sound body of consciousness that lets you be in tune with the specified symbolism, which through its educative import helps give a right turn to the thought process. The process, if followed regularly, eventually may lead you to a seamless awareness over a period of time, where after you could effortlessly lead yourself to a better tomorrow. The process, however, needs to be followed under the guidance of a learned Guru who could intuitively figure out and suggest the mantra and related imagery that may suit individualistic needs. Otherwise, a wrong choice, may augment such energies as would prove counterproductive.