Original article by: Subrahmanya Somayaji
Suddhodana, the King of Kapilavastu, father of prince Siddhaartha sent his son on a tour of his kingdom. Having exposed his son only to the pomp and gaiety of the palace, with no exposure to any suffering, the king wanted to make sure that his son was not subjected to this sight even outside. To this end, he made elaborate arrangements so that the prince witnessed only fun and merriment. However, as fate would have it, during his travels, Siddhaartha saw a lame man, a sick person and a corpse. Upon being questioned as to what it was, his charioteer guide told him that these were normal things in life and everyone passed through these phases. Siddhaartha was shocked, cut short his trip and pensively returned to the palace. These sights had such a profound impact on him that he soon left his palace, his beautiful wife and his young son and wandered as an ascetic, and as we all know, became Buddha.
“All of us see these sights everyday but why is it that we do not become Budhhas?“ the great Sriranga Mahaguru used to ask. If these happenings by themselves could bring such profound changes in a man’s life, why do these not happen to everyone. The question is very valid. All of us have a past condition about which we are not aware. For the light to glow, it is not enough if there is a bulb, a switch and a connection. Even if all these are present and working, light would not glow until and unless current flows with the switch on. No amount of manipulation of the switch, without all these pre-requisites, can make the bulb blaze. Siddhaartha’s impressions or samskaaras from past lives had prepared him for his inner life. That is why the three incidents that he witnessed just pressed an inner ‘switch’ and made him to embark on his journey to become a Buddha. If we do not possess the required samskaaras, the sight would leave very little impact on us. A person with samskaaras is very different from a common man. Though all of us carry the same human body, we are not aware of its capabilities. We use this body only to enjoy the pleasures of the senses. But the Jnaanis say that there are centres within us, which when opened, give us billions of times more joy than what the senses can provide. These Jnaanis, through intense penance, had unlocked these yogic seats and understood thefull faculties of this machine called body, its nature and enjoyed its potential to the fullest extent. Only with this kind of preparation and saadhana can we understand the capabilities of this body and the entire nature. If not, we will be like the proverbial six blind men describing the elephant. We have not used the inner bases for a very long time, over many births. Just like something not used for a long time gets rusted, our yogic centres are rusted. Only when we remove the rust and use them constantly, we can truly enjoy all that the body can offer.
Let us pray to the Almighty that He bestow upon us His grace and give us the motivation to prepare us for such a condition. Let us wish that we too rise to the pinnacle of life just as Siddhaartha rose to become Buddha.
Note: The Kannada version of this article can be viewed at AYVM blogs
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