Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Why we suffer

A report by Mansi Choksi
In a dim room atop the Prempuri Adhyatma Vidya Bhavan in Mumbai, surgeon-seeker Shantanu Nagarkatti's stories transported a group of city dwellers to a higher plane of spiritual consciousness. Nagarkatti shared episodes from the Yoga Vashishtha, of Rama's realisation that illness, physical and mental, arises from a deep conflict within oneself. Sage Valmiki's Ramayana documents Rama's journey from being a seeker to becoming a maryada purshottam — 'possessor of the qualities of an ideal person.' In the Yoga Vasishta, Sage Vashishtha tells Prince Rama the story of the enlightenment of Leela. "This story is for those who have lost a dear one, who live in pain and for those of us who are plagued by the anxiety of anticipatory loss," said Nagarkatti. Leela was the beautiful wife of King Padma — a fair, wise and kind man regarded as the 'lotus of his race'. They were deeply in love. Often, she would be overcome with fear, when she would think of the possibility of losing him. The fear became so overpowering that it sometimes prevented her from enjoying his company and even the present moment. Leela called on all the wise men in her court to find a solution to her problem. They advised her to engage in tapasya, fasting and meditation so that goddess Saraswati could show her the way. She chanted for days in secrecy and finally Saraswati appeared. "She asked the goddess for two boons: first, that she would appear each time Leela called her and second, that when Padma's soul left his body, it would not leave the room they shared," recounted Nagarkatti. Decades later, Padma passed away. As Leela sat next to his lifeless body, she was overcome by sorrow. Read More