Q: Can you please explain the meaning of this verse, ‘Indriyarthesu vairagyam anahankara eva ca, janma-mrityu-jara-vyadhi-duhkha-dosanudarshanam. ’
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Indriyartheshu vairagyam, we see so many things, such beautiful sceneries, but till when can we keep seeing? At some point, our eyes get tired and we close them. Similarly, with smell; people who work in incense factories, they cannot stand smelling any fragrances. Sometimes their nose stops functioning, they can’t make out whether the fragrance is jasmine, or chamomile, or rose. After constantly smelling fragrances, they like being in places where there are no fragrances.
Similarly, with taste, how much can you taste? Then, touch, how much will you touch? For 24 hours in a day? If people keep touching for 24 hour s a day, then both will start getting fed-up. They will feel like saying, ‘Don’t touch me, stay away!’ So even touch has a limit.
Indriyartheshu means taking the mind away from the sense of sight, smell, touch, taste and hearing. Having a feeling a dispassion towards the senses.
Anahankara eva cha, means a personality without ego. Letting go of the ‘I’, ‘Me’, ‘Mine’, and becoming empty. This I adds a lot of weight to us; it gets attached somewhere or the other, like ‘My house’, ‘My country’, ‘My language’, ‘My religion'.
People are ready to give up their lives for religion, why? It is not because of the religion, but because of the I. I am Hindu, I am Buddhist, I am Christian, or I am Muslim; this is the reason. When people get attached to the I, they become blind about the issue. Let go of this I and be-free. Look at everything from a free state of mind, separate from yourself, from the I, that is anahankara.
We need to realize that we are stuck in our own shoes. Take your feet out of those shoes, and try a different pair of shoes and see, there will be a whole new world before you. In India, the prophets have adopted such practices.
Don’t remain stuck in I. Don’t say, ‘My religion is bigger’. If there are shortcomings in your religion, recognize them. View all religions together, and then you will see the virtues and limitations about each religion. If you continue to be stuck in, ‘My religion’, neither will you be able to spot the shortcomings in it nor will you be able to live in peace. Nor will any magnanimity or vastness manifest within you. If magnanimity does not arise in you, and if your mindset remains closed then knowledge of the self will not dawn in you; neither will you experience devotion or any blossoming in your life.
You must have heard about Ramakrishna Paramahamsa (a famous mystic of 19th-century India). He experienced different religions, Christianity, Buddhism, and Islam. He adopted each religion for three days and performed all the practices and rituals of that religion. That does not mean everybody should do the same thing.
When I was young, about 8-10 years old, I too went to a Church, listened to the priests and saw the practices. I also went to a Mosque and learnt the Quran from the Muslim clerics. We shared a good relationship and discussed knowledge. I have also had discussions with Buddhists, learnt their methods. We should share the joys and sorrows, trials and tribulations of the people of every region.
When I go to Europe, I live like an European. When I go to Mongolia, it feels like my own country. Similarly, when I travel to South America it feels like my own. I do not know a single syllable of their language and they do not know my language, yet there is a feeling of oneness. So, this feeling of oneness is a sign of no ego (anahankaar). It arises from no ego; ahankara is where there is a feeling of being stifled, of smallness.