17.2 SEEING ROPE IN THE SNAKE (BHUJAGE RAJJU-DHISHHANAA)
(TAKING THE UNREAL AS REAL)
‘Bhujaga’ means snake. ‘Rajju’ means rope. ‘dhishhaNA’ means intellectual understanding. So the title above simply means ‘taking the snake as the rope’. The appropriateness of the title will be obvious after one starts reading the following.
I start with a bunch of two shlokas, namely, B.G.IX – 11, 12.
avajAnanti mAM mUDhA mAnushhIM tanum-Ashritam /
paraM bhAvaM ajAnanto mama bhUta-maheshvaram // 11 //
Deluded minds despise me lodged in the human body because they know not My supreme nature of being as Lord of all existences.
moghAshA mogha-karmANo mogha-j~nAnA vicetasaH /
rAkshasIm-AsurIm-caiva prakRRitiM mohinIM shritAH // 12 //
All their hope, action, knowledge are vain things (when judged by the Divine and eternal standard); they dwell in the Rakshasic (rajas-dominated) and Asuric (tamas-dominated) nature which deludes the will and the intelligence.
In Shrimad-Bhagavatam, III skanda, under Kapila’s story, Sage Kapila instructs his own mother Devahuti (who is the daughter of SvAyambhuva Manu, the first Manu) through an elaborate teaching, well-known as Kapila Gita. The relevant shlokas for our parallel reading are five: III-29- 21 to 25:
ahaM sarveshhu bhUteshhu bhUtAtmAvasthitaH sadA /
tam-avaj~nAya mAM martyaH kurute.arcA-viDambanam // 21 //
I abide in all beings as their innermost soul. Disregarding My Presence within them, men make a show of worshipping Me through images.
Yo mAM sarveshhu bhUteshhu santam-AtmAnam-Ishvaram /
hitvArcAM bhajate mouDhyAt bhasmanyeva juhoti saH // 22 //
If one disregards Me present in all as their soul and Lord but ignorantly offers worship only to images, such worship is as ineffective as sacrificial offerings made in ashes.
dvishhataH parakAye mAM mAnino bhinnadarshinaH /
bhUteshhu baddha-vairasya na manaH shAntim-RRicchati // 23 //
A man who persecutes Me residing in others, who is proud and haughty, who looks upon God as the other – such a person will never attain peace of mind.
aham-uccAvacair-dravyaiH kriyayotpannayA-naghe /
naiva tushhye.arcito.arcAyAM bhUtagrAmA-vamAninaH // 24 //
If a man disregards and persecutes fellow beings but worships Me in images with numerous rituals and rich offerings, I am not at all pleased with him for proferring such worship.
arcAdAvarcayet-tAvat IshvaraM mAM svakarmakRRit /
yAvanna veda svahRRidi sarva-bhUteshhv-avasthitam // 25 //
A man should, however, worship Me in images, side by side with discharging his duties, which include the love of all beings, until he actually realises My Presence in himself and in all beings.
In adhyAtma-rAmAyaNa, (I am not able to quote the context or the exact reference) in the delineation of Shri Rama as the Supreme Person present in every one and everywhere, the behaviour of the unknowing ordinary persons is described as follows:
jaganti nityaM parito bhramanti yat-sannidhau cumbaka-lohavaddhi /
etanna jAnanti vimUDha-cittAH svAvidyayA samvRRita-mAnasa ye //
samsAramevA-nusaranti te vai putrAdi saktAH durukarmayuktAH /
jAnanti naivaM hRRidaye sthitaM vai cAmIkaraM kaNThagatam yathAj~nAH //
The universes go round Him like metal around a magnet. They, of foolish minds, do not know that they are confounded by their own Ignorance. They just are immersed in their own samsAra (transmigratory life), being only interested in offsprings and engaged in wrong-doings. They do not know the Lord seated in their own hearts just as fools don’t recognise the golden necklace hanging around their own necks.
In Valmiki Ramayana, (Ayodhya kanda, Sarga 105, shloka 24), Rama in his beautiful sermon to Bharata who was insisting that Rama should come back to Ayodhya and not go to the forest, says, among many beautiful passages):
nandantyudita Aditye nandantyastamite ravau /
Atmano nAvabudhyante manushyA jIvita-kshayam // 24 //
People revel in joy over the rising of the Sun and the setting of the Sun; but they do not realise (that it is nothing but) the passing away of their lifetime.
Bhartrhari’s VairagyashatakaM shloka #43 says:
Adityasya gatAgatair-aharahas-samkshIyate jIvitam
vyApArair-bahu-kArya-bhAra-gurubhiH kAlo.api na j~nAyate /
dRRishhTvA janma-jarA-vipatti-maraNaM trAsashca notpadyate
pItvA mohamayIM pramAda-madirAM unmattabhUtaM jagat //
Each day and night is taking away our lives but we are not even aware of the passage of time because of our deep involvement in the weight of our businesses; we don’t seem to get a jolt of fear even after watching, almost daily, the inescapable sequence of birth, old age, adversity, misfortune, disaster, failure and final death. We are just overdrunk with the delusion of attachment which is our own making.
In the Gita itself, we have,
AvyaktaM vyaktimApannaM manyante mAM abuddhayaH /
paraM bhAvam-ajAnanto mamAvyayam-anuttamam // VII -24 //
Petty minds think of Me, the unmanifest, as being limited by manifestation, because they know not my supreme nature of being, imperishable, most perfect.
In the Mahabharata, Bhishma parva, Bhishma relates to Duryodhana a dialogue between Lord Brahma and other celestials about Lord Krishna, where he quotes ‘Those who insult Him holding Him to be an ordinary mortal, and fail to recognise Him in His true colours, are possessed of a tAmasika disposition. He who treats Him with abusive language is condemned to the most terrible hell. (Bhishma Parva 66-23).