Towards the end of NBS Part – 1, we had seen that the very presence of another is a cause for fear — that is to say that the presence of an additional creature other than a ‘me’, in general, is a ‘challenge’ to my own existence. We then asked the question: “But suppose the second entity is a Savior, a Protector, a Godhead?”
That is a very comforting thought. It helps to calm the agitated, perturbed, worried mind. It feels soothing. Yes, comforting.
The idea of a Savior, a loving caring Godhead, gives me a confidence that there is someone out there to look after ‘me’, to take care of my interests, and to see that things work forever in ‘my’ favor.
And suppose, in that Savior, I pack all those qualities that I do not have — in order to make good for my shortcomings, my weaknesses, my frailties, my infirmities, then I will have a colossal strength at my back. I can rest without a worry. I can sleep peacefully. So let me think of a Super-human, omniscient, omnipotent, Lord as my Protector.
I can easily defer all my doings to Him (Her) and just act at His (Her) bid. That would surely absolve me from having to face the stark responsibility of having to bear the consequences of my actions. I can easily say, I acted at my Lord’s command – much like the clerk in the office says, “It’s not my mistake, I cannot help; the boss wants it that way.”
I just have to say with obedience: “At your command, My Lord, I submit to you.” Leave all the rest in His concern. I can sleep soundly. The scriptures come to help me here. They say in the IkshaNa part that I am after all a creature in His (Her) creation. The Lord is Ishwara. The Lord is Vishnu.
How then should I approach and abdicate myself to the Lord? What is the best way for a guaranteed acceptance of me as the most faithful devotee?
There is the general rule in our tradition (Source: not known) that says:
शिवो भूत्वा शिवं पूजयेत् (यजयेत्)
Meaning: One should worship Shiva only after assuming himself to be Shiva.
We have in the shruti:
न अरुद्रो रुद्र्मर्चयेत्
Meaning: None can worship Shiva, without first himself becoming a Rudra. So Rudra’s kalA-s or features are invoked upon oneself, becomes a Rudra oneself and then does the worship.
And also, Shankara quotes in his introduction to his commentary on विष्णु सहस्र नामस्तोत्र (viShNu sahasra nAmastotra) a shloka:
न अविष्णुः कीर्तयेत् विष्णुं न अविष्णुः विष्णुं अर्चयेत् ।
न अविष्णुः संस्मरेत् विष्णुं न अविष्णुः विष्णुं आप्नुयात् ॥
Meaning: One who is not himself ViShnu cannot sing about viShNu, cannot worship viShNu, cannot meditate on viShNu, will not attain to viShNu.
Further, the well-known devotee of Vishnu, Prahlada, who was mentored by Narada whose teachings on devotion we are going to study, says in Yoga Vasishta:
अविष्णुः पूजयन् विष्णुं न पूजाफलभाग्भवेत् ।
विष्णुर्भूत्वा यजेद्विष्णुं अयं विष्णुरहं स्थितः ॥ — shloka 40, sarga 31 – upasama prakaraNa, Yogavasishta.
Meaning: The prayer of a Non-Vishnu to Vishnu will not yield any result. Yes, I am Vishnu now. One has to become a Vishnu and then worship Him.
Well, then, what is all this? What does it mean that I have to be that very Lord to whom I have to submit myself?
Wait a minute.
Who exactly am “I”? Is my “mind,” the only tool I have for my analysis and understanding, the proper and the most efficient instrument for the job I am putting it to?
(To Continue …. Part – 3)