Every moment we face in the Spiritual Life, every step we take is fraught with potential risk. How we can move forward


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In the Kaṭha Upaniṣad(1.3.14), Yama employs the expression, “ the razor’s edge ”( kṣurasya dhārā), when he describes to Nachiketa the delicate and dangerous path to the supreme Reality. In spiritual life every moment we face, every step we take, is fraught with implicit pitfalls. Only a constantly watchful pupil can avoid these possible risks and forge ahead. Indeed a little slip can shoot us crashing down, and it may take quite a while to heal the injuries, to rise up, and to renew our trip. 


 troubles come at both the situations, gross and subtle. Nārada’s story, described by Gosvāmī Tulasīdās in his Rām- carit- mānas, shows the kinds of hurdles spiritual campaigners are likely to face at some stage or other. The story is largely instructional. It holds before us a glass in which we can see our own faces and our own lives reflected. It awakens us and exhorts us to be always on the alert. 

                                             Nārada’s Story 

 Nārada is a reputed figure in Indian religious literature. References about him are to be set up in the Vedas, the Upaniṣads, Gita, Bhāgavata, Mahābhārata, Rāmāyaṇa, and in several Purāṇas as well. Nārada is the “ godly savant ”( devarṣi), traveling always with a vīṇā( a stringed musical instrument) in his hands and God’s name on his lingo. Our focus of attention then will be on one incident from Nārada’s life described by Gosvāmī Tulasīdās. 

 The story goes that Prajāpati requested Nārada to educate his four sons. Nārada filled their minds with ideas of repudiation and detachment to such an extent that all four of them renounced the world and came monks. Prajāpati was irked. How was creation to do if Nārada went about sermonizing repudiation to one and all? He cursed Nārada that he'd have to remain always on the move. The idea was to keep Nārada from staying too long in any one place and impacting people to embrace the monastic life. therefore we see Nārada in utmost of our books as a wandering poet, continually traveling from place to place, sermonizing the glory of devotion to God and extending help to addicts far and wide. 

 One fine day it so happed that Nārada was passing through the Himālayan region. He'd passed by that route several times ahead. But this time the place ever felt different. It was springtime. The natural setting sounded charming and alluring. Nārada spotted a delve
 there. A little down was the holy Ganga, flowing with a melodious meter. Nārada stopped. He went near the delve
 , set up there a suitable gemstone and perched himself atop. His mind came filled with studies of the Divine. Sitting there he spontaneously entered into contemplation. Hours passed into days, and days into weeks but Nārada sat still, immersed in deep samādhi. 
 This was quite a phenomenon. Prajāpati’s curse had ever lost its effect and was overpowered by the godly beauty of the place. News about cautions spreads presto. Gandharvas, yakṣas, devas and other being from different elysian worlds were all struck with wonder to hear that the ever- wandering sucker of Śrī Hari was seated in one place and that too by deep contemplation. 

                                                 Devraj Indra

Indra, the king of gods, came panicky with the study that Nārada might have begun tapas to convert his throne. A veritably typical response with which we're familiar. When weak people enthrall positions of power, they always feel insecure and suspicious. There’s the constant fear that someone someday may displace them. So we find in our myths Indra agitated on numerous occasions with the fear that he may be stumbled by some ascetic doing severe penance. 
 maybe it would be good to clarify one point before we do with Nārada’s story. Who are these elysian numbers, frequently generalized as simply “ gods, ” that figure again and again in our ancient books? Swami Vivekananda answers 
“ Those who do good work then( in this world) with the study of price, when they die, are born again as gods in one of the welkin, as Indra and others. These gods are the names of certain countries. They also had been mortal, and by good work they've come gods; and those different names that you read of, similar as Indra and so on, aren't the names of the same person. There will be thousands of Indras. Nausha was a great king, and when he failed, he came Indra. It's a position; one soul becomes high and takes the Indra position and remains in it only a certain time, he also dies and is born again as mortal. But the mortal body is the loftiest of all. Some of the gods may try to go higher and give up all ideas of enjoyment in welkin; but, as in this world, wealth and position and enjoyment delude the vast maturity, so do utmost of the gods come deluded also, and after working out their good air, they fall down and come mortal beings again. This earth, thus, is the ‘ place of action ’( air- bhūmi), it's this earth from which we attain to emancipation. So indeed the welkin aren't worth attaining to. ”( CW 3. 127) 
 Good conduct guarantee us a stay in heaven, a god- body, plenitude of enjoyments but all of this only for while. Once our graces( puṇya) are exhausted, as they must sooner or latterly, we've to come “ down ” and be born again on this earth. A sapient mind thus rejects the heaven- ideal, and seeks for commodity endless. Do good conduct, says the Gita( 2. 47), but without seeking their price. That will purify the mind and make us fit to pursue the thing of spiritual freedom( mukti), attaining which all enslavements are broken for ever. 
The gods we meet in our books, it must be kept in mind, were men and women who did good effects in their lives and had the desire to reap the price in heaven that the Holy Writ promise them. Desire is commodity they aren't free from. And desire, we all know only too well, is the ideal parentage ground for fear, abomination, covetousness, anxiety, competition, and covetousness. There's nothing to be wondered at, thus, when we see Indra in our story perturbed at the study that he may have to vacate the covetable throne he was enwrapping. 
 What did Indra do? He did what utmost others in his position would do. He tried to put obstacles in Nārada’s path in order to frustrate his attempts to continue with his tapas. Let us flash back that Nārada hadn't indeed allowed
 of enwrapping Indra’s throne. He'd simply sat down there in contemplation, attracted by the peace, beauty and saintship of the place. Indra’s fears were completely imaginary. Imagination puts on the cloak of reality in the minds of all who feel inwardly insecure and weak. The absent trouble to his sovereignty had come veritably real to Indra. He transferred for Kāmadeva, the god of love, and ordered him to go and divert Nārada’s attention and help him from continuing his tapas. 
Kāmadeva set forth with his arc, love- arrows, and his army of elysian nymphs. Approaching the place where Nārada was seated, Kāmadeva first of all filled the girding area with a kind of air that would induce lust- fever into any living critter. also he and his group tried all their tricks to drag Nārada’s mind down to the worldly aeroplane
 . cotillion, music, voluptuous exchanges went on around Nārada. Kāmadeva transferred his love- arrows one after another. But, wonder of prodigies, they failed to disturb Nārada’s deep immersion. Kāmadeva was thunderstruck. In the history a single arrow was enough for utmost beings to succumb. But then was Nārada, fully innocent indeed when a blitz of arrows was shot at him. 
 When Kāmadeva realized that his security was exhausted and it was beyond his power to shake Nārada, he was alarmed. Nothing teaches so well as agonizing gests of the history. before, when Kāmadeva was transferred on a analogous charge to Śiva, he was burnt to ashes by Śiva’s wrath. Fortunately, the fluently pacifiable nature of Śiva had averted Kāmadeva’s total obliteration and had allowed him to live without a body — hence his other name, Anaṅga( “ the bone
 without a body ”). 
Kāmadeva set up himself now in a analogous situation. What if the savant Nārada pronounced a curse upon him? What if the savant destroyed him altogether? Pulsing with fear he approached Nārada and prostrated before him. The host of hop and nymphs too fell at Nārada’s bases and sought his remission. 
 At last Nārada opened his eyes and saw the whole lot surrendering to him and seeking his blessings and remission. He blessed them happily and said that he wasn't at each offended at what they had done. Relieved by this chivalrous gesture of the savant, they hastily retreated to Indra’s palace. 
Kāmadeva reported to Indra everything that had taken place. By and large, everyone attributed Nārada’s subjection of lust and wrathfulness to his one-pointed devotion to the lotus bases of Śrī Hari, the Lord of Vaikuṇṭha. It was the Lord, they all said, who had defended his cherished sucker from falling prey to lust( kāma) and wrathfulness( krodha), the two great adversaries( Gita, 3. 37). They sang the glories of Hari and tried to strengthen the intensity of their devotion to him by holding Nārada as a model before them. 
 So far so good. But let us go back to Nārada, who was sitting there outside the delve
 in the sylvan Himalayan setting. What was the state of his mind? 
After Kāmadeva and his train left, Nārada looked around and realized for the first time that commodity unusual had indeed taken place. First of all, he set up that in malignancy of Prajāpati’s curse he'd been sitting in one place, deeply in samādhi, for such an immense length of time. Secondly, he saw that though Kāmadeva and his army of elysian misses tried everything in their power to draw his mind down from God, they had miserably failed. No lust had picked in his heart indeed when he was girdled by all manner of allurements through cotillion and music. Kāmadeva’s love- arrows had proved ineffective in piercing his heart. likewise, Nārada realized that he'd indeed conquered and subdued the other adversary, wrathfulness, for he didn't feel the least wrathfulness at Kāmadeva and his army for trying to betray him. 
 also came the fatal conclusion. Nārada felt that it was a unique achievement, and it was his achievement. What an irony of fate! While the gods and other celestials were celebrating the event as the palm of Hari, as the Lord’s defensive act to save his sucker, and were trying to emulate Nārada’s devotion to the Lord, then was Nārada celebrating what he considered to be his own palm. Nārada was too enraptured now to indeed notice that his practice of the unremitting chanting of the Lord’s name had desisted . He was now immersed in his own glory. 
Once egotism raises its hood, it eclipses everything. Poor Nārada! The “ razor’s edge ” had come to the fore. So long as we hold on to God, so long as God’s presence is conceded in all our conduct, words and studies, the path we traipse is broad, smooth and easy. Once we let go of the hold, the path becomes narrow, hard and delicate. The further we go, the narrower the path becomes, until it becomes the “ razor’s edge. ” Nārada was now traipsing on the razor’s edge and, worse still, wasn't indeed apprehensive of this. 
 Come to suppose of it, what really had Nārada achieved? Nothing so spectacular, after all. He'd only managed to stave off lust and wrathfulness for some time. This is nothing unusual. There are times when indeed the most worldly person isn't provoked to indulge in heartstrings. There are moments of malnutrition. There are times, still suddenly their duration, when we come indifferent to the charms of this world. No person is bad twenty- four hours of the day. No bone
 spends every moment of their life cheating other people. therefore there was nothing so veritably unique about Nārada’s palm. 
 Either, a great sucker like Nārada, who was cherished of Hari himself and was ever defended by him, had no real reason to be so enraptured at this veritably natural event. But egotism eclipses everything. When it casts its spell, right becomes wrong, wrong becomes right, and ordinary effects appear extraordinary. 
 No spiritual candidate can go to mistake evanescent successes for endless achievements. In matters connected with lust and wrathfulness, no bone
 can assume themselves to be too safe. A story is told of a holy man who was formerly asked, “ Sir, has your life been impeccably pure, free from lust and wrathfulness? ” The holy man said he ’d answer the question latterly on. 
 Times latterly, as he lay on his death bed, he summoned the doubter and told him, “ Yes, now I can answer your question with a positive yes. ” 
 “ Why did you stay all these times to tell me this ” 
“ Well, my friend, so long as this body lasts, one can noway be too sure of anything. Now the time has come to lay down this body and I can say with certainty that my life has been absolutely pure. ” 
 Only those who are spiritually illumined, whose body- knowledge has been fully canceled , are free from lust, wrathfulness and other heartstrings, wherever they may be and in whatever situation. As for the rest, no palladium is too important. The Nārada we meet with in this story is still a candidate. A great sucker, a cherished of the Lord, a holy savant all veritably true, but still a candidate, not an enlightened being. He ought not to have assumed that he'd achieved what he really had not. Anyway, let us go back to him and see what he's doing now. 
 Puffed with pride Nārada looked around. before he used to behold the glory of Hari far and wide and at each times. But now each that he saw around was a Himalayan timber and he its solitary occupant. Nārada felt uncomfortable. He'd achieved an absolute palm over lust and wrathfulness, while all others, he reasoned, were slaves of those two. Nārada realized that he was the topmost person living and he felt it outrageous that the world was still ignorant of this fact. It was time to go and advertise the news of his palm to one and all. 
 The first person Nārada chose to go to was Śiva, the Lord of Kailāsa. There was a special reason why Nārada wanted Śiva to know about his achievement. His hassle with Śiva and, latterly on, with Hari, forms another intriguing phase of this story. It depicts the subtle troubles in spiritual life from which we need to guard ourselves. 
Though it would not take a fortnight for Nārada to reach Kailāsa, that’s when our story will renew. 

Credit:- Wikipedia Veda,Upanishad and online Sources

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