ICPR: Stories of Illumined Seers, Poets and Heroes 20 July 2004 - Part 5: Adverse Forces; Curse; Love

Adverse Forces and the symbolism in Nala Damayanti Story

Anyway, the question is so nice that I cannot ignore this question, although the questioner is not here

Q: An evil Kali wanted to destroy Nala due to which he committed mistakes, do you believe in such evils as shown in the story in today's world?

It’s a very important question. My own answer is: yes, I do believe. This world is a world of great battle. Whether one wants to enter into the battle or not, the moment you come on the earth you have already decided to join the battle, and this battle is a battle between good and evil. It’s also a fact. There is a constant invasion of evil on every effort which goes upwards. It’s not only in this story, for example Buddha. I don't know if you read the story of Buddha. Anybody has read the story of Buddha? Can you lift your hands, who has read the life of Buddha? Only two people.

Now, I don't know if you have read the story so well as to find out and tell me: where do you find the invasion of evil in his life movements? Have you read this portion? No, there is what is called mara yuddha in the life of Buddha. Mara is an evil force. Buddha himself has told the story according to the texts which are available to us when he was doing his tapasya and he had very much neared his goal. At that time Buddha says mara the evil force came to attack him. All kinds of emotions of anger, lust, desire, ambition, lobha, moha, matsara, ahambhava, all these tendencies invaded him and he had to fight the battle valiantly, it's a very important story of Buddha's life. It is only when he conquered this force that he then entered into the state of nirvana. So you can see, even at that moment of life when you are very near the goal, even at that point, the force of evil comes in life.

Nala’s story is very important because the story of Damyanti and Nala can be recognized as a story of human life as a whole. It’s one of the greatest stories of the world from this point of view. If you want to analyse life, the joy and the sorrow of life, the majesty of life and the misery of life, the battle between the good and the evil, every aspect of the story is symbolic in the story of Nala and Damayanti.

There is also a question here about Nala's story:

Q: Do you believe that a swan represents the supreme love?

Now again, it's a question of symbolism. Swan stands in our whole mythology as the inmost soul of love and delight. What you cannot speak in words, what you cannot communicate by any means, you can communicate through your soul. Now Nala and Damyanti story is a symbolic story in which it is said: Nala fell in love with Damyanti and Damyanti fell in love with Nala through the help of the swan, hansa.

What does it mean? There was inner communication between the two. It was the attraction of the soul to the soul, merely hearing the name of Damyanti stirred the deepest layers of the being of Nala and vice versa. Every aspect of the story is symbolic. The way in which Nala is invaded by kali at the height of the glory is also a very important element in human life. When you arrive at a great stage of comfort in human life and people say, now I want to rest. It is at that moment that kali begins to act, and it has many ways of acting. One has to be very careful in life about what is called in yoga adverse force, hostile force.

In human life you will find so many small little things happening, everything is going on well, suddenly one guest will come to your house, just dropping to tell one little thing to you exactly what you do not want to hear. Only one little thing, the son wants that father should not know one little thing which he has done and exactly when he is talking to his father very nicely, somebody will drop in and say, oh your son, this is your son, oh he did this yesterday and finish. He will go away. Damage is done. Human life is extremely subtle. The forces of life are so intertwined, the good and evil are so intertwined. That is why it is said you should be very vigilant. Tapasya has to be done all the time, particularly you will see in tea parties, you have to be very careful, in excursions you have to be very careful. These are the things in which life is very smooth, very nice, but two three four people will come inside, they will just whisper a little and the whole evening is finished. Human life is a web, a constant weaving, various forces are constantly woven, and we may think this happens by chance. No, it doesn't happen merely by chance. In fact, nothing in the world is a chance. We all meet together. We all meet together because of so many circumstances, working together. Why is it that Manthra was able to inject the poison into the mind of Kaikeyi just just on that day when Rama was to be coronated, neither one day earlier, nor one day later? It just happened at that time and prevented a big event. Why should it happen? Why should it happen on that day when Sita wants that deer, that golden deer? Why should it happen? Everything was going so smoothly. Life was so beautiful. You were in the forest and the golden dear appeared. The surprising fact takes place, and why should she feel at that time, I must have it? Why? Why should she implore Rama to have it, to get it for her? Just a negligence, we might say of a few moments and the whole life is disturbed.

There is this force of kali in this world and we have to be very careful in this world. There is only one way of conquering kali. First, to be extremely humble. Humility is the one thing which are manifested makes you conquer kali. Whenever you have adverse conditions of life, we must remember this remedy, be absolutely humble. Second, find out a vibration in your being. This is more difficult. In your own being, there is a vibration. Actually, if you see your mind and heart, it is nothing but a seat of vibrations. The whole world is nothing but variations, and these vibrations are constantly interacting with each other.

A student here, for example, will be inattentive and usually the teacher says: why are you so much inattentive? Is it the fault line with the student? But no, in your own heart you see that you are somewhere not concentrated. Every good teacher will find out that when he itself is distracted, there is destruction among the students. The moment he becomes really concentrated in his own mind on his own heart, there'll be stillness all around, there's a vibration of concentration. If, therefore, there is any disturbance in your life by any force, see that force vibrating your own being somewhere, repair that vibration there and the situation will be under control. This is the second method.

The third method is two greatest advices - do not act at that time from egoistic assertion, when there is an attack of evil force, do not react with egoistic assertion and, secondly, make a sacrifice of something that you desire very much, balidan. In our Indian tradition balidan is constantly demanded of us, and this is the inner reason, inner psychological reason, yogic reason. Why all yogis when you have difficulty, they say you perform a yajna. Now yajna is a very ceremonial sort of thing, very mechanical sort of thing. It may succeed. It may not succeed, but it is symbolic. If you can really make a sacrifice inwardly, then it causes a real remedy.

So do not act in egoistic assertion and make a sacrifice. If you meet all these things together, then life comes under your control and that is what is called truly swarajya. You are in control of yourselves.

The story of Nala and Damyanti is basically a story of swarajya when kali is conquered. Ultimately Damyanti’s sadhana, Nala’s sadhana, if you read the whole story from this point of view, there's a tremendous sadhana, tremendous tapasya done by both. They go up to the extreme points when Nala has completely given up any possibility of finding Damyanti again in life, completely sacrificed, when Damyanti is completely sure she's done everything to find out Nala, there is no way by which she can find Nala, at that stage when everything is lost, everything is gained. This is one of the great messages of the story of Nala and Damyanti.

Therefore, it gives us a courage, do not lose heart. In India there is a very important theory. If you read Greek literature, the most important thing in Greek literature is what is called tragedy. The greatest dramas in literature are dramas of tragedy. Sophocles, for example, the greatest dramatist of Greek literature, in every drama he has pointed out human life is basically tragic, at the end of everything there is zero, at the end of everything there is darkness. Oedipus for example a great king, ultimately he becomes blind and he dies by saying light more light, light more light, but without gaining light. In Indian literature there is hardly any tragedy. It’s very important. You take all the dramas, even in Mahabharata, which is a great tragedy in a sense, the last is Shanti Parva, the end is not tragedy. The end is shanti. Shakuntala, for example, is almost a tragedy, but at the end there is reconciliation.

In Nala and Damyanti the whole life is tragic, at the end is a reunion and a victory. This is because, in India, we discovered that all tragedies arise because of the conflict between good and evil. But this conflict is not ultimate, it's not the final stage. The battle ends ultimately in the victory of good over evil. On one condition, you should persist your battle, tragedy comes only if you cease to battle, but persist in your battle, victory is certain. This is the message of the entire literature of India.

Power of Curse and its Ethics

Let me now come to the next question:

Q: If Dushyant really loves Shakuntala, then what was the need to hand over the ring as a token of remembrance?

I think it's not correct. This is not the story that yet he gave the ring as a token of remembrance, it was simply a gift of love. We now talk of remembrance because of another event which takes place in the drama. I don't know if you read the story sufficiently well, you tell me how Shakuntala takes records to the ring as a token of remembrance, when exactly it happens, how it happens. Can anybody tell me this aspect of the story: when does Shakuntala refer to the ring as a token of remembrance?

When she tries all methods on making him remember about the past days. She goes in that same dress.

Quite right. It is when she wanted to remind Dushyant of everything, to shake him out of his forgetfulness. Then she refers to the ring, and this is also a part of the curse given to her by Durvasa. The real story is.. very often this aspect is not told in the story. Even the two films of V Shantaram on Shakuntala, this particular episode is missing. When Durvasa gives a curse to Shakuntala that the one whom you are remembering and you are lost in memory, he will forget you and the two friends of Shakuntala run after the rishi to ask for the method by which the curse could be mitigated. So he says if she can show something by which he can be made to remember, some personal gift, then the memory will come back.

Now this also is symbolic. We all have forgotten our soul, and the question is: how can we be reminded that we have forgotten our soul, something which has happened in our life in a very striking manner, if you can go back and remember it, your entire soul realisation will come. That is why very often many yogis when they teach their disciples, they try to take them to that intimate experience of life which had happened just near the soul of the individual, and then the memory comes back. So it was not given by Dushyanta on his own as a token of remembrance, but it was used by Shakuntala, at least attempted to be used because when she tries to see the ring was already gone.

There are many other questions also, the second level:

Q: Durvasa ka shrap kahan tak uchit hai?*

I don't think it was proper at all. This is actually a very important question. Is there something like curse? Has it effects? Should one curse? Should one be cursed? Should one be subjected to curse? In our present side scientific world, the whole idea of curse, to be cursed, and so on has no meaning and therefore the modern student, when they read this kind of a story where Durvasa gives curse and that the whole story depends upon that curse and the whole story is thrown out of the bag, something irrelevant.

But these stories are not written only for the modern age. They are written also for post-modern age and also for post-post-modern age. These stories are eternal stories. They are valid for all time, whether you believe them or not. Is there something like a curse? The answer is yes. It is as simple as saying, is there anybody who gets angry? The answer is yes, anger is something not brought from somewhere else in all our hearts and our minds. There is an emotion of anger and curse is nothing but an expression of anger. The question is: has anger any effect? It is so simple as that: has anger an effect? The answer is yes. If somebody is angry with you, what happens? If one is angry with you, sometimes anger is like fire. You can't stand the anger of somebody, you go home and your mother starts scolding you. What effect it has got on your delicate heart? It's a simple kind of anger. Only anger of the mother, it is a simple anger. Anger of the husband towards the wife and anger of the wife against the husband is a much more serious anger, much more serious effect. No, it's a fact. Even the bravest man cannot stand the anger of his wife, it's a scientific fact. No? tremendous power, and vice versa also.

A teacher's anger towards the pupil is also very powerful. You may be a beloved student of a teacher and one day the teacher does not smile at you and imagine the condition in which you are the whole way. The teacher whom you love, whom you revere the teacher who loves you very much and one day when you go to him, he does not even look at you. Imagine the condition of the pupil. The whole day you'll feel like dying the whole day.

Now, if anger has an effect, then there is a question of expression of that anger and the words and the effects. Our Indian psychologists have made a great study of words and the effect of sound. Sound has a tremendous effect in the world just as light. Without light you cannot see. Similarly, without sound there is no continuity, just as without light, you cannot see. Similarly without sound, there is no continuity.

Now this is a big secret of human life. All continuities in physical life are because of the sound there's a constant continuity. This was the reason for what is called japa in Indian yoga. What is japa? You take a word, repeat, repeat, repeat that word by continuity of the repetition a state of consciousness is created and it is a fact. All japa is nothing but the application of the magic of sound, sound is magic. Just as light is also magic. Nobody knows what is light. Actually light is light, but this is a miracle on the earth. What is light? It is a miracle. Colour is a miracle. Sound is a miracle. These are the basic miracles of life which are so familiar to us that we don't even see that they are strange, they are miracles. But they are miracles.

So, similarly, a word which is spoken with a great force, it continues and it has a great effect. We speak of blessings and people say it is India's ceremony, it can be a ceremony, but it may not be. A real blessing received by somebody in the real heart with a real sense and a real blessing given by a great heart by great consciousness, is a tremendous source of force. Basically, we only see the physical, but physical is nothing but a conglomeration of constant sound, constant light. In fact, when you streak of pancha mahabhuta, this is nothing but panch tanmatras and panch tanmatras are nothing but vibrations.

Now these vibrations constitute the whole physical world. So this huge world is nothing but tanmatras. That any word which is spoken and words spoken by a particular person who has got a great force of consciousness, it has a tremendous effect. That is why one should live a life in which there's a constant blessing on you. That is why, in the Veda it is said, there is a big prayer, let all people see me with the eyes of a friend, let the whole creation look at you all the time with the eyes of a friend:

ॐ सह नाववतु।
सह नौ भुनक्तु।
सह वीर्यं करवावहै।
तेजस्वि नावधीतमस्तु
मा विद्विषावहै।
ॐ शान्तिः शान्तिः शान्तिः ॥

(krishna Yajurveda Taittiriya Upanishad (2.2.2))

Let there be no enemy anywhere. Peace, peace, peace. This is the real reason why Indian culture, we have emphasised these vibrations. If India has survived in spite of all troubles, it is because of the operation of this knowledge, whether we like it or not, it is going on. In India still, the corners exist where the great aspirations are still kept alive and the vibrations are allowed.

So my answer to this question is: can there be a curse? Answer is yes. Now, the second question is:

Q: Was it right on the part of Durvasa?

My answer is: no. You may have a great power, but the power which is used under impulse.. Durvasa does not write for himself a good biography by having cursed Shakuntala and created this problem. So, according to me, Durvasa should not have cursed and should not have produced this kind of problem and therefore there is one warning in it. Remember, when you grow up, your words will have effects. Every word has an effect, as you grow up in the power hierarchy, one day you may become prime minister of the country, and your mere word yes or no will make a great effect on the destiny of the nation. It’s quite possible. Your one word will have an effect, therefore be very careful. Knowing Durvasa’s shrap, remember that you yourself will not commit the mistake which was committed by Durvasa. You can create a havoc in the life of the nation merely by one fault.

There are many good questions, but I want to run faster. Already it is six o'clock. Half an hour is left now.


Q: Is love a magnificent feat of poetic imagination? If not, then why is it suppressed in reality?

The author of this question is not written here, but I’m sure it’s a good question: is love a mere poetic imagination, or is it something genuine, true, real and if so, why is it suppressed in reality? The question of love is a very difficult subject in human life. I don't know what any love is, because it appears that we have a few examples of Romeo and Juliet, Shireen and Farhan, and then we have stories like Dushyanta and Shakuntala. It is also a love story. Nala and Damayanti is also a love story of a kind, but I don't know if any one of you can give me a definition of love, because it is one of the most difficult subjects of human life. I don't know actually, because statistically one has to verify it, it looks sometimes one way sometimes looks otherwise. That is your view. What is love? Can anybody try here to define love, because the question is: is love a magnificent feat of poetic imagination?

Love is caring and sharing.

I like the answer that she has given. And with young people, particularly this question of love should be understood very sympathetically, particularly because today there is hush hush about love and there's no need to be that kind of hush hush about it. The role that love has played in human life is so great and so important, and the tapasya that is needed in love is so important that children, students should know the real meaning of love and what it really means.

Let me analyse for you, because what she has told me just now—caring and sharing—, these two words are very important. Caring and sharing implies what is called mutuality. This is another word. Mutuality, we gave the example of mother and the child. Why is that relationship is of intense love? Perhaps uncomparable with any other form of love. Why? Because there is a spontaneous flow of warmth from the heart of the mother and on the side of the child there is a tremendous need for warmth: the child needs warmth, and the mother gives warmth. The mutuality is complete, both need each other absolutely and then both give to each other helplessly, you might say. So whence.

Q: If you don't have trust for each other then there is caring and sharing.

I fully agree. Very good, you're right. So let us put in our analysis the element of trust. So first mutuality; second is the element of trust. Any other element in love?

Magnet and madness also.

Alright. This is also an element which has to be taken note of.


Alright, at present we'll be making a note as to how many points there are in love, because it's a very important subject for young people and since it has come up, I would like to dwell upon it, because young people should really analyse love actually because it is a very important subject of education. In fact, elderly people should explain to the children what is love instead of punishing the children for falling in love, which is barbarism. You should really understand the children. You see the needs of love and then nourishing the love in the right manner and, as she pointed out: sacrifice. If love cannot lead you to sacrifice, you should put a question mark against the love. It’s very important element.

Any other point. The most important element in love is joy. It’s a simple thing, but if everything is there, there may be madness, there will be magnetic force, there may be trust, but if there is no joy in it, it is not love. It is said that love is actually the manifestation of ananda. All love is basically a movement towards union. Unfolding of souls, it is a movement of ananda. Warmth, love, joy, mutuality, trust, sacrifice—put all these things together and you should tell children, you should tell young people: Love is not merely a magnificent feat of poetic imagination, it's not something to be suppressed, but love like life is a dangerous journey that much we have to tell everybody.

But dangerous, therefore you should not resist it, you should understand it. It is a responsible journey. To love and to be loved is great. Sometimes, as I said, there is madness, you can't help it, but if you are not careful to take into account all the aspects of love, then you may have difficulties in your relationships. Tagore had said at one point, which is very important, very significant: the greatest problems of human life are problems of relationship. There are many problems of human life, but nothing is as important and as difficult as the problem of relationship. If there is one thing in which human beings are so brittle, so fragile, so delicate, it is in the field of relationships, and it is in the movement of relationships that all the elements that you have analysed now come into the picture.

You can fall in love, but to maintain love, hazaaron pyar karte hain par nibhana kisko aata hai.. It was a big song at one time. Who knows how to sustain love? You can fall in love, but how do you sustain it? The art of sustenance requires sacrifice as Anjali said, if you cannot sacrifice, you can't sustain. Madness may remain for a minute, for an hour, for a day, for a year, for 5 years, 10 years, 100 years, but not for 200 years. Madness is not enough.


That’s very important: understanding. It’s a tremendous art to understand. Good! You have now touched the kernel of the problem. Love is not of one level. There are many levels of love. There is bodily love, there is vital love, there is mental love, spiritual love, there are different kinds of love and the higher you go, ethereal it becomes, much more intangible physically, but much more concrete spiritually.

The greatest enemy of true love is mixtures. It is very easy to fall in love with a woman with a woman who is very rich easier, because it's not only love. It’s also the riches, riches also is an attracting force and one must be quite pure and very often its purities are not easily understood. You find that, for example, many students fall in love with the teachers. It’s a fact: men, women fall in love with the teachers. In fact, the whole story of My Fair Lady is a story of a student falling in love with the teacher. Why? Because it is attraction of the intellectual power. It’s not exactly love, it's admiration and then very often when the actual life starts, then it is not sustained and then there is a collapse because there was an impurity of that particular relationship. It was based upon a certain level mixed up with physical, vital love and mental love is very difficult to sustain.

To sustain mental love both should be extremely refined in intellectual powers, which may not be available for a long time. It wears out. When the teacher himself is admirable and is found to be very poor in life in many respects, admiration collapses, the varnish of love falls away. That is because it is not pure love, it's varnished love. So what she said is very true. Unless and until there is a constant purification of your consciousness, in which you say that you love for the sake of mutuality, you have to see that the joy works out of mutuality, it is a tremendous tapasya, and that is why, in India, some of the greatest examples of love are examples of tapasya.

Ram and Sita are great examples of love, what a tremendous tapasya. Nala and Damayanti is the same, what a great tapasya it was. Purification is the hallmark of true love. Where there is no purity, mutuality cannot be sustained. The real joy cannot be sustained. The true relationship cannot be sustained.

Let’s now go forward. It is good to stop at love. Ah, that's a good question:

Q: In all these stories why is it that the woman has to sacrifice?

First of all, these stories are written in the world where man is a tyrant. Our present world is a tyrannical world. We have still not become civilised, perhaps we are now about to become civilised, when women like you are becoming so conscious and begin to assert themselves saying why why. It's a long cycle as Sri Aurobindo says humanity is only one year old, is infant. Humanity is only an infant, in terms of civilization we are very primitive and in primitive times brutality is power and largely human beings, men are brutal, it's not the fault of man either. It is the fault of nature's distribution of energy. We are all nature's children. Therefore, in Sankhya it is said, basically there is no man in this world, all are women, basically, because that is why it is said all this is prakriti, the whole world is prakriti. We are also children of prakriti. We are all women basically. And then you say in feminine energy, there is a male energy and a female energy. But all this is feminine basically. But this is their question that you say the woman is a shakti, she is goddess, and then you tyrannise over her. That is correct criticism.

Women have to suffer because they are the mothers of men. It's a fact. All women are mothers of men. Therefore, if men are tyrannical, mothers have to be soft so that this tyranny is wiped out. Yes,, that is true. I mean women have got many great virtues and this power of suffering. That is, that is true. You are right. Actually, one can write a big poem on woman.

All this is love and Sri Aurobindo says the world is nothing but kiss of Radha and Krishna. Even in atoms, everything is love, vibration of love. very fluid. All right. I think we can finish now at the beautiful praise of woman.

Q: Why, at one point of time in a relationship, one feels so helpless?

There is one very good author, Manoj Das, a good friend of mine, and he told me, if you read my stories, there's only one thing: helplessness. He said a human being comes to terms with himself only in a state of helplessness. So the question that you ask: why is it that a human being at a given time begins to experience helplessness, whenever a human being does his very best, at the end he finds that he is helpless. By no human strength can you resolve the human problems. The human problems can be solved only when in a state of helplessness, you allow a greater power to come into you and to manifest it. So if you find a test at a given stage, you remember you have come to a very crucial stage of your life. It is a stage where we must open the gates to a strength which is not yours, a strength which has to come to you from above. It’s a good experience. If you have anything, you should thank yourself.

Q: Sir, you said that the story of Rama and Sita was an example of true love, so then why did she have to go to Agnipariksha?

It was not to prove to Rama that she was pure. There is a social question. I believe you but I want to tell my people to believe in you. I love you because I love when I know you quite well, but if I want you to be accepted by them, then merely my saying that look, I love her very much, it will not bring that effect.

Q: If moksha implies freedom from obligations, then the question is: why are we required to undergo obligations? If the world is maya then why should we be asked to go in this world at all?

First of all, your definition of moksha is not correct. Moksha is not freedom from obligations. It is true that some people do speak of it: humko kya hai, yeh sab to maya hai. This is what is said very often by many sadhus and so on. This, according to me, is very pernicious. It is not correct. If you ask anybody who has become liberated, he will say: I have now got a greater obligation than before. A truly liberated man, you see Buddha for example, when he got nirvana, he took a vow and said I have now an obligation to see that everyone on the earth becomes liberated. It’s a great obligation he gets. Therefore, whoever defines moksha as the state of becoming completely devoid of obligation is a wrong definition.

Now, if moksha is a state of attainment of the highest obligation, then if you are asked to undergo obligations, now it is education for you to undergo lots of obligations one after the other is one answer. Second answer is: it is true that when you undergo this training of obligations, you come to learn very great secrets. The secret is that you attain to a condition in which you find no burden. Obligation remains, but normally obligation has two aspects: an action to be done and a burden to do it. In a moksha action remains, obligation remains, but there's no burden. You reach such a stage that effortlessly you can do what you have to do and that is moksha, to be absolutely calm within and a torrential fire in outer life, to combine silence and activity. Peace on the one hand and an intense activity on the other, that is moksha.