Thursday, 2 June 2011

Bhagti Ego

Something has come to my mind and I thought I would share it as a warning for others.

While on the path of bhagati, one of the major pit-falls is ego. If a spiritual seeker begins to feel ego over his own accomplishments and lifestyle and begins to consider himself the reason he is living a spiritual life and it is because of his own efforts and that he is better than others, he is punished. And this punishment often comes in the form of the most embarrassing mistake a spiritual seeker can make: falling into the trap of lust.

The example that jumps to mind right away is that of Bhai Joga Singh jee. Bhai Joga Singh was a Sikh of Guru Gobind Singh in Peshawar. He was in the middle of his Anand Kaaraj when he received a message from Guru Gobind Singh to immediately come and see him. Bhai Joga Singh got up in the middle of his Anand Kaaraj and despite the pleading of his family to stay a bit longer at this important time, he left right away for Anandpur Sahib.

On the way Bhai Joga Singh began to feel proud and think "what Sikh could do what I have done? Who else would leave their own Anand Kaaraj and leave like I did? I am truly a great Sikh" He began to see himself as great and feel pride over his sacrifice.

On reaching near Hoshiarpur, there was a brothel. Bhai Joga Singh feel prey to kaam. He felt the intense desire to visit the brothel. Imagine that. A Singh who had just made such a great sacrifice just a few days after wanting to visit a brothel. When he went near he saw that a guard was standing there and told him to go away. He thought perhaps a customer was inside and decided to come back later. When he returned, the guard still stood there and said to him, "you look like a Sikh with your dastaar and kacherra…what are you doing visiting a brothel? Go away from here!". The guard was Guru Gobind Singh himself and when Joga Singh arrived in Anandpur he saw Guru Sahib and realised it was the same person. Guru Sahib himself had to save Joga Singh from such a great sin. He realised he had fallen because of his ego and pride over being such a great Sikh. He begged for forgiveness and could not express his thanks to Guru Sahib for having appeared there and stopped him from destroying his spiritual life.

I have also heard the story of a young Singh in the time of Bhai Sahib Randheer Singh. He was very strict in rehit and even did seva in Punj Pyaaray. He began to feel proud of his accomplishments. Some Singhs warned him not to involve himself with worldly women too much as it was dangerous, but he was so sure of himself, he did not pay attention to them. He kept talking to them and visiting them. He too fell. He appeared before the punj pyaaray but even there when the punj pyaaray asked him for details and questioned him, he did not show any humility and felt offended they would question him. He was sent out of the darbaar and he never returned. The most promising Singh fell into the trap of ego and lost everything.

The final story that comes to mind is not of Sikhs, but a Hindu story. Naarad Muni was the son of Brahama and his meditation was famous everywhere. No one had meditated as much as him before. Naarad Muni was tested many times and each time he passed. He began to feel proud of his achievement. He went to his father Brahama and asked, "Has anyone ever been a devout as me? Has anyone ever meditated as much as me?" Brahama replied, "Son, I am your father and it is my job to cover your mistakes and so I will. Never say such a thing again. Don't let others hear such a thing." But Naarad did not heed the advice. He simply said, "I'm asking the truth and why should I feel afraid of speaking it?" He then went to Shiva and asked the same thing. Shiva said, "don't say such things and don't say this further to anyone else". "But there is no one else like me? I'm calling myself the greatest and I am the greatest, so why should I be ashamed? It's the truth". He still did not listen and then went to Vishnu. Vishnu heard his boast and stayed quiet. But he decided that Naarad should have his pride shattered.

Naarad went to a Kingdom and there the King approached him and said, "My daughter will be choosing a husband from my court in two days, can you tell me who her husband will be? " Naarad looked at the princess's hand and saw she would marry Vishnu. But he had faltered and fallen for the beautiful princess. He thought, "I want to marry her, but how will she ever pick me? I have long white hair and beard and am old. And her hand says she will marry Vishnu." Naarad had an idea. He approached Vishnu and said "I have meditated so long, and I have one favour to ask of you. Give me your body for one day." Vishnu agreed and said he could take it when he wanted. The day the princess was to pick her husband, he took Vishnu's form and sat in the King's court. He sat on the very first chair there. The Princess entered and looked at the court for a person to pick as her husband and walked by the first chair. Naarad was confused and thought perhaps she had not seen him. So he moved his seat in front of her again, but again she walked past him. She ended up picking a man near the back of the court (who was Vishnu himself) and Naarad was very disappointed. Once the princess left, the court began to mock and laugh at Naarad and say "You look like THAT and want to marry a princess??!! Have you ever seen yourself?" Naarad was confused and ran to a pool of water to look at his reflection. He had the face of a monkey. He was completely embarrassed and ashamed. He went to Vishnu and expressed his anger and said, "why did you do this to me?" Vishnu replied that it was to break his pride and to highlight that he too had faltered from his spiritual life because of lust. Naarad then cursed Vishnu that he too would suffer because of a woman and that his saviours would be people that looked like monkeys (Vishnu in his incarnation as Rama had to suffer the kidnapping of his wife and he had to take the help of Hanuman and his monkeys to recover her).

In my own life I have seen young Singhs who have done seva in punj pyaaray start to feel pride and feel as though nothing can affect them. I have then seen them have to be peshed for bujjer kurehits.

When on the spiritual path, a Sikh must always be careful to remember that everything is because of the Guru and without his grace, no one can remain stable. No one is invincible. It is all his kirpaa. If we forget this, the protection around us is lifted and we are shown just how weak we really are.

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