Kannada Article by: Tarodi Suresha
English Rendering: Padmashri Mohan
AnubhootaVishayaaSampramoshahS mrtih” This is the definition of Smrti given in the Yogashastras. Smrti is the word employed to refer to an experience that does not evanesce from the mind. When an experience does slip from the mind, it is Vismrti. All of us have experienced such retention or loss of memories of different experiences at one time or the other.
Smrti and Vismrti are not limited to temporal happenings in our daily lives. The rishis, who are our forefathers, did Yogic Sadhana and discovered the Sookshma (subtle) and the Para (the Infinite, the Immortal) states within each of us. Our understanding of our own lives or the presence of God within us is superficial; it is nowhere close to the deep realization of the rishis. Hence we may say that we have run intoVismrti here. Although Deva (God) has been coming along with the Jiva (the individual soul), persistent unawareness of it has brought aboutVismrti.
We need people to remind us of what we have forgotten; especially when what we have forgotten is of unparalleled importance in life. Otherwise we are likely to forfeit our fundamental birthright and squander away our life. Once again, the rishis-our forefathers-have given us a way of life that will consistently revive Smrti from the domination of Vismrti. Such a way of life is Samskrti. It can be taught only by those rishis who have had the experience of the Sookshma and Para and retain its Smrti.
Consider the following example from the Garbhopanishad. It tells about the outward appearance and the inward state of mind of the foetus when it is in the womb. The baby floats in the womb with both its hands folded together. This folding of its hands comes to it naturally and is called Namaskara Mudra. It is a Yogic mudra that manifests spontaneously. Such a position of the baby is also essential for its easy passage through the birth canal. According to the Garbhopanishad, the baby is experiencing and savouring Paramatman in the form of Jyoti (Light) within itself. Hence, even after birth, playing with babies includes actions that correspond to folding hands in front of God and elders. We just need to observe how our grandmothers have laid babies on their laps and have clapped the babies’ hands together saying refrains like “Ram-Ram, Sita-Ram.” Even grown-ups greet each other with hands folded together in salutation as a mark of recognizing the presence of God in all people. Practicing this repeatedly and consciously throughout our life will keep alive the Smrti of the Paramatman seen in the womb in the form of Light while the hands were folded of their own accord.
It is also an age-old practice to keep a lighted lamp in the labour and delivery room. The reason for this practice goes back to the baby’s experience in the womb. In its eighth and ninth month of gestation, the baby has uninterrupted darshana of Paramatman in the form of Light. It rejoices in this experience. Both the darshana and the consequent joy vanish immediately upon birth when the effects of karmas (deeds) in previous lives tighten their grip on the new-born. Hence to remind the newborn of the Light it knew inside the womb, the rishis have directed us to keep a lighted lamp in the baby’s line of sight. There are rules about the kind of ghee (in a certain proportion)and the wick (made of lotus fibres) that facilitate the closest recreation of the Jyoti (the flame) in complete likeness to the Jyotiin Yogic darshana. Such a lamp reminds the new-born of its recent darshana in the womb and revokes Smrti. Even though a few weeks pass before a newborn recognizes its parents and smiles at them, it immediately recognizes the Jyoti in the lamp and shows its glee.
Neyam sajjana sange cittam - say the realized sages and emphasize cultivating the company of sajjanas - good people. Being with such sajjanasinfluences our mind and inspires us to similarly undertake Saadhana (spiritual endeavour) that eventually wipes out Vismrti.
When Arjuna forgets his true nature and gets caught in the confusing mire of dharmaand adharma, Krishna teaches him the Bhagavad Gita to instil clarity. In the end, Arjuna says:
meaning that his confusion is shattered; and having regained Smrti of his previous, clear state of mind, he is ready to take up his responsibility to fight. The dharmic texts that give us directives and restrictions do so to revoke within us the memory of God. For this reason, the dharma-shastras are also called Smrtis.
By overcoming Vismrti, we can constantly experience oneness with the Light within. The Jyoti is in the form of Jnaana (Knowledge) and Ananda(Bliss). Such constant Smrti delivers us from the bondage occurring due to repeated cycles of birth and death. Samskrti is the means to achieve this.
Note: The Kannada version of this article can be viewed at AYVM blogs
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