Reflection #13: King Bharata

My teacher talks about remaining neutral in all circumstances. This brings me to the story my guru has described in His lectures. The story of King Bharata.  

In a previous era, Kings used to be honorable and kind leaders who really were invested in the well-being of their people, without self-interest. So was King Bharata. Because of his devotional life and practice, he soon realized the need to abandon all wealth and power, to deepen his meditation in God. He went to the foot of the Himalayas. He dedicated all his time to devotion to Shree Krishna. His devotion was deeply profound and understood that the world to be for the body, the soul is only spiritual. Thus, he was constantly immersed in the love for Krishna, Love personified.  

One day, as he was mediating near the Gandaki River, a pregnant doe came to drink water. The threatening roar of a lion made the doe incredibly frightened, which caused her to give birth to her baby deer. The baby dropped in the river, at risk of drowning. The doe ran away. Bharata, recognizing divinity in all beings, felt compassion for the baby deer. He took it with him. He became attached to it. He took care, fed, and protected, finding deep joy in seeing the deer grow. His thoughts turn more intensely towards the love for the deer.  

During one of his mediations he noticed the growing deer ran into the forest. Bharata came out of his meditation in concern for the young deer. He ran into the forest desperately looking for his pet. In his madly searched, Bharata accidentally had a fatal fall. Almost unconscious, all he could think of was his endangered deer. The deer came, and stood over him as he was leaving his body. Bharata’s last thoughts were of the deer, not on his Beloved Krishna. 

The Vedas teach the importance of the last thought as we leave our body. This thought will influence our next life. Thus, the very devoted Bharata, had to come back as a deer to complete his desire. However, because of his previous advance devotional state, Bharata, in a deer’s body, was aware of his intense devotional desires, and the attachment he had developed towards the deer in his previous life. He then ran away from the forest into an ashram where he was surrounded by spiritual people, saints, and devotional life. 

As I think of of remaining neutral, I think of the attachments that I create in my life, many times unwillingly. If it is true that our nature is to love, I many times place my love in the material aspect of life. I love my work, my shoes, my hair, my bank account! The material world is made to nurture the body because it is made of material elements. Our soul is spiritual. Full satisfaction on the soul can only be spiritual. That is why I am never satisfied with only one slice of vegan, gluten free, delicious slice of cake. My body can only eat so much; it suffers after the second slice, depending on the size of the slice! At the end, I am not happy; only momentarily. “I” then am looking for my next fix. My soul is not satisfied, only with true happiness. Happiness is ever increasing, ever present, infinite. 

My guru teaches that when I am looking at things with attachment (of different modes: tamasic, rajasic, sattvic), I am creating a material desire. Creating that desire, binds the mind to its reaction. Strictly spiritually speaking, my senses will not provide me but only with drops of happiness, temporary, and transitory. Sounds so incredibly simple, and absolutely hard to undo my habits. I go back to what I know. I also know to kick a habit I best replace it with another. Instead of attaching my mind to a slice of chocolate cake, or the anger towards the person that treated badly, or the excitement of a raise, or any other temporary gain, I choose to think of things above the material world. Those have the perfect spiritual reaction (karma). The more I associate my mind to the beauty, the perfection of love, the soul of my surroundings, then the more I attach my mind to spirituality. The more I engage my senses and mind in spiritual love, in any form I choose, the more my heart will attach to it. 

Remaining neutral, not reacting to the “good” or the “bad” will give me the room to pay attention to my spiritual values. It is not easy. I need a practice to remind me. I lovingly surrender to meditation and yoga for this. Through my practice I can train my mind, through my body, to understand the difference between the two. All I have is today to manage my actions and reactions. I am not naïve to underestimate how huge of a task it is. It helps when I ask myself to choose today, Love over fear…