Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Desire - A power or distraction?

Sri Gurubhyo Namaha.
I often spend a lot of time deliberating on this one. Even after many years of looking at it from different view points (inspired of course, by many a herbal mix) and thoroughly studying the various texts and scriptures in relation to the subject of desire, I must confess that there is still a lot left to be understood as to its 'true' nature.
Many unnecessary modifications have been attached to the subject of desire in the various interpretations of vedic texts and upanishadic thoughts of latter day Hinduism. And quite a lot of these modifications in the actual interpretation is due to the ever changing 'morality' of the Hindu people, as we progress through time. What was perfectly acceptable practice only 200 years ago, could land you in jail today. Thus, in trying to understand desire (or anything else for that matter) in the right context, a lot of veils have to be pierced or downright removed. Here are a couple of interesting arguments taken from different texts of authority. Let me know how you get on with the piercing of the veils!

* When there is passion, or dispassion, there is concentration, [in the latter case, and] creation, [in the former]. Sankhya Aphorism - book 2, aph 9. (of Kapila)
The above is an aphorism from the Sankhya system of thought (one among the six systems of thought in Hinduism- collectively known as the Shaddarshana). Speaking on the subject of creation &c in connection to the supreme Soul (Purusha), the author Kapila, makes it clear that passion/desire (the field in which the rajas guna is active) is responsible for creation. That is, only Prakruti (Nature - the primordial Nature and not the natural world around us which is but a later evolute) because of the dominance of passion in it has the power to manifest this extended creation. While the Purusha (supreme Soul) exuding pure dispassion (the state acchieved through the dominance of satva guna over the other two) is in concentration. That is, the Purusha (Soul) abides in its own nature. Without modifications of the thinking principle.
Is then this passion/desire a power (to create and fulfill) or is it a distraction (to concentration)??

* Raagasvaroopapaasaadhyaa - Lalitha Sahasranamam, 8th name.
In the 1000 names of Lalitha, after describing the birth of the supreme Goddess and Her physical appearance (with 4 arms), it is mentioned that She is ' holding the noose of desire' (in Her lower left hand) as one of Her weapons.
Sometime back, I was in the company of some holy men who were of the view that desire was but an obstacle to overcome in one's path to knowledge (not that it is a rare view point, why, its the most prevalent attitude in modern day Hinduism). To further strengthen their argument, one of them quoted the above mentioned name from the sahasranamam - describing that desire had been equated to a noose, with which the lower beings were kept in bondage! That is to say, those unable to rise above their desires were in bondage (unconsious of their true nature).
But to one with even the slightest bit of knowledge, it is obvious that the above mentioned name is conveyed in an altogether different sense. Desire (Raaga) is a mental modification, it is a wish (iccha). This desire is the supreme Vaasanaa (latency) form, one that is incredibly powerful. The noose is the gross form of the same. That can be understood as follows, desire corresponds to iccha shakti (the power of will), without which there can be no creation.
The above name is explained in even more depth by Bhaskararaya (in his commentary Sowbagya Bhaskara) - however, you will need a bit more than a few herbs to understand this!! He says that the above name contains in it the secret weapon mantra. The word Raagasva can be divided into ra+aga+sva. Aga means mountain, sthanu (post), i.e. it represents Siva (as sthanu is one of the aspects of Siva). The letter of Siva is ha. Sva is said to mean i(ee) the bija of desire taken with the bindu(m). Thus the subtle and hidden form of the noose is the mantra that is formed by combining ha, ra and i (ee)with the bindu (m) - i.e. Hrim.
I did tell you that you will need a bit more than a few herbs to understand it ;)


Kanna said...

Bhole Nath! Is the deep desire to understand this, and the incidental deep desire to imbibe the said herbs to aid in the comprehension, count towards the iccha shakti? If there indeed be shakti in iccha, then step aside, superman! Here I come :) Let me be cursed that should any bond ever tie me down, be they may, the bonds of desire!

mooligai sidhan said...

Bhole naath! As is made explicitly clear in the KamaKala Vidya, Kama (desire)or iccha is better compared to a life saving rope thrown to draw the drowning man to safety(rather than a rope that binds). The deep desire to understand and to imbibe the herbs is comparable to the line used by mountaineers summiting the most precarious peaks - a tie that promises more safety and a better chance to summit.

K said...

Commentary by Narayana Menon


" She who is holding the rope of love in Her hand. "

Love is the emotion that binds all life together, and it takes the form of a rope. It is this noose of love that binds life to the universe. This love-noose is in Devi's lower left hand.This fundamental emotion is a weapon in Devi's hand. Love is indeed the rope that binds everything and forces its will on everything.
There is wisdom in seeing the divine nature of the poetic concept that describes this emotion as one of Devi's weapons.

mooligai sidhan said...

Re Commentary
Desire, when cleansed of the taints of prejudice (which is accquired as a result of vaasana and ahamkaraa)transforms into Love. Perhaps the simili of a noose is used here instead of,say,a 'string'like one holding the beads together in a japa mala, to highlight the difference between the lesser emotion of desire (which is really love,though tainted by the aforesaid associations and hence may 'bind'one so tainted)and Love - which as Narayana Menon so beautifully puts it binds everything and forces its will on every one.
The Tantraraja in the section dealing with Vaasana says : Mind is the bow of sugarcane,desire the noose,anger the goad and the five tanmatras (subtle elements)the five arrows of flowers. Whereas in the Yoginihridaya (chap I.53)it is said : The noose is icchaashakti, the goad Jnayanashakti and the bow and arrows kriyashakti.