New President of India Shrimati Draupadi Murmu’s personal life - how it demonstrates a Gita 6th chapter verse and Sankara's commentary

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Sundar Rajan

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Jul 23, 2022, 12:47:06 PMJul 23
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Shrimati Draupadi Murmu’s personal life is a story of resilience and ‘self-pride’. There was an unforgettable moment for her in 2009 when her 25-year-old son Lakshman died unexpectedly after attending a gathering in Bhubaneshwar. His death broke her. Supriya Kumari, head of the Brahma Kumari ashram in Rairangpaur, Odisha says, “She was completely shattered. She wasn’t having any life within her to even talk.”

In one of the talks on Brahma Kumari’s television programme, Draupadi Murmu herself narrated this event, “The tsunami came into my life in 2009. It was a huge jolt to me. I couldn’t hear anything for a few days. I slipped into depression. Log kehte the ye to mar jaegi (People thought I will not survive). But, no, I wanted to live.”

After two months, she visited Supriya Kumari in the Brahma Kumaris ashram, completed a course and learnt Sahaj Rajyog. She recovered by changing her life. Since then, she gets up every day around 3.30 am and retires to bed by 9.30 pm. She does yoga and meditation unfailingly and is punctual as well. The spiritual bent of life not only survived her but stabilized her too.

But tragedy befell Murmu again when her younger son, Shipun, died in a road accident. When his body was brought home, she was broken completely, once again.

Rajesh Sharma, a local journalist who was present at her home, says, “She was crying uncontrollably. She broke down before her son’s body. She raised her hands to the sky, asking, ‘God, what more do you want from me? What is left now?’” The catastrophe came in droves.

In an indescribable series of events, her mother and a younger brother died within a month. And a year later, due to deep depression, her husband, Shyam Charan Murmu, died as well.

At that point, Droupadi Murmu told a TV anchor with pain in her voice: “When my second son died, the jolt was a little less than before because I was doing meditation. My husband wasn’t as strong as me, so he couldn’t survive.” She insisted on her only daughter, Itishree, to marry and lead a normal life. After the deaths of five family members, she turned to spirituality and vegetarianism. When she was the governor of Jharkhand (2015-2021), she made the kitchen completely vegetarian. She is likely to bring many fundamental changes in the running of the government in the Rashtrapati Bhavan if she becomes the President.

Draupadi Murmu has donated her family’s land in Pahadpur for public causes. She runs the SLS residential school in memory of her husband and two sons. At the exact location, she has made samadhis in their memory. It’s a heart-wrenching sight.

At the same time when you see tribal girls and boys getting free education and decent surroundings around samadhis, you can visualise carving out a beautiful future out of a deathly past.

Take a bow Her Excellency Droupadi Murmu, to be the President of India!
>>

Sundar Rajan

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Jul 23, 2022, 1:17:25 PMJul 23
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Namaskar,

Please ignore previous message, it was incomplete. Blame it on ‘fat’ fingers, I pressed submit too soon 😏

Here is the message I intended to send:

I am not much of a political person and living abroad, don’t have much insight into Indian politics.

One thing that did struck me while reading the newly appointed President’s personal life, overcoming tragedies was her reference to how meditation cushioned the jolt (see highlighted below under Quote-End Quote).

 I am referring to the following section of the verse in the Sixth chapter

यस्मिन्स्थितो दुःखेन गुरुणापि विचाल्यते।।6.22।।

yasmin sthito na dukhena guruāpi vichālyate

being established in which (Samadhi) one is not perturbed even by great sorrow

And  Sankara’s commentary explains: na vicalyate, one is not perturbed; api, even; guruna, by great; duhkhena, sorrow, as may be caused by being struck with weapons, etc.

Of course what is spoken of here is the highest state of Samadhi as Sankara clarifies The yoga that has been spoken of as a particular state of the Self

I am not implying the new President has attained the highest state of Yoga (of course she did politically!). Nevertheless, solid meditation does provide a cushion to the jolts of life. While it is hard to create a chart quantifying great dukkha of the Gita verse, here is a little illustration. Normal person is easily perturbed and the scale goes up..
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 Quote

Shrimati Draupadi Murmu’s personal life is a story of resilience and ‘self-pride’. There was an unforgettable moment for her in 2009 when her 25-year-old son Lakshman died unexpectedly after attending a gathering in Bhubaneshwar. His death broke her. Supriya Kumari, head of the Brahma Kumari ashram in Rairangpaur, Odisha says, “She was completely shattered. She wasn’t having any life within her to even talk.”

 

In one of the talks on Brahma Kumari’s television programme, Draupadi Murmu herself narrated this event, “The tsunami came into my life in 2009. It was a huge jolt to me. I couldn’t hear anything for a few days. I slipped into depression. Log kehte the ye to mar jaegi (People thought I will not survive). But, no, I wanted to live.”

 

After two months, she visited Supriya Kumari in the Brahma Kumaris ashram, completed a course and learnt Sahaj Rajyog. She recovered by changing her life. Since then, she gets up every day around 3.30 am and retires to bed by 9.30 pm. She does yoga and meditation unfailingly and is punctual as well. The spiritual bent of life not only survived her but stabilized her too.

 

But tragedy be fell Murmu again when her younger son, Shipun, died in a road accident. When his body was brought home, she was broken completely, once again.

 

Rajesh Sharma, a local journalist who was present at her home, says, “She was crying uncontrollably. She broke down before her son’s body. She raised her hands to the sky, asking, ‘God, what more do you want from me? What is left now?’” The catastrophe came in droves.

 

In an indescribable series of events, her mother and a younger brother died within a month. And a year later, due to deep depression, her husband, Shyam Charan Murmu, died as well.

 

At that point, Droupadi Murmu told a TV anchor with pain in her voice: “When my second son died, the jolt was a little less than before because I was doing meditation. My husband wasn’t as strong as me, so he couldn’t survive.” She insisted on her only daughter, Itishree, to marry and lead a normal life. After the deaths of five family members, she turned to spirituality and vegetarianism. When she was the governor of Jharkhand (2015-2021), she made the kitchen completely vegetarian. She is likely to bring many fundamental changes in the running of the government in the Rashtrapati Bhavan if she becomes the President.

 

Draupadi Murmu has donated her family’s land in Pahadpur for public causes. She runs the SLS residential school in memory of her husband and two sons. At the exact location, she has made samadhis in their memory. It’s a heart-wrenching sight.

 

At the same time when you see tribal girls and boys getting free education and decent surroundings around samadhis, you can visualise carving out a beautiful future out of a deathly past.

 

Take a bow Her Excellency Droupadi Murmu, to be the President of India!

End Quote



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putran M

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Jul 23, 2022, 2:40:25 PMJul 23
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Namaskaram Sundar-ji,

I was initially in the middle of writing that the post is out of scope for the list. Reading your second mail made me read more carefully the contents of the first. One can reframe it to address our forum in more relevant ways.

I think this quality expressed by Murmu-ji is Titiksha and it is a necessary qualification for a mumukshu. 

Yes it is understandable that meditation helps bear difficult situations. But how and why so?

In that context, it would be interesting to ask what are the types of meditations and their goals within the advaita sampradaya. Titiksha would likely be claimed as a benefit by almost all professors of meditation and the word meditation gets thrown around everywhere nowadays. But one does meditation on the content of mahavakyas or advaita tenets, another on an Ishta devata, some on nama/mantra, a fourth on the tip of the nose or a candle flame, a fifth on the mind as it runs here and there including on pain experienced, a sixth on some indicator of emptiness, a seventh on not thinking, and so on. 

Does it matter in advaita sampradaya, and are we advised clearly on what is right and wrong ways of meditation? 

thollmelukaalkizhu

Sundar Rajan

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Jul 23, 2022, 3:17:36 PMJul 23
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Namaste Putran-ji,

As I had clarified, my second message was supposed to be the first, pressed submit too soon.

While it is great to by heart (memorize) , chant Bhagavad Gita and dwell over commentaries , I think it is more important to connect it to daily life events. It is great to see you have come up with a different 'quality' from the same news story.

>> In that context, it would be interesting to ask what are the types of meditations and their goals within the advaita sampradaya
>>
>>  
the word meditation gets thrown around everywhere nowadays
>>
The two points you made are intriguing, I was already worked on a writeup related to this and will send a email on this shortly (busy with other stuff..). 

One thing I do want to mention is a series of articles by Swami Bhajanananda  (Vedanta society of Southern California) in the 1980's.
 I love his analysis - it is a superb discourse on meditation. Here is a prelude:

>>

Today “meditation” is enjoying unprecedented popularity in the East and the West alike. A form of spiritual practice once restricted to a small number of fairly qualified aspirants is now being followed by large numbers of people and applied to a wide variety of human situations. To satisfy the spiritual needs of different types of aspirants, ancient techniques of meditation are being modified and new techniques are being evolved by spiritual directors. Indeed, so diverse has meditation become that it now stands for a generic term denoting several forms of concentration rather than a specific spiritual technique.

The various types of meditation now prevalent all over the world may be divided into two broad groups: secular and religious. To the former group belong all forms of concentration practiced for the sake of health. It has been scientifically proven that certain types of meditation relax the body, reduce blood pressure and mental tension, and cure psychosomatic disorders. They have thus become a boon to a large number of people living under conditions of stress, especially in the West. There is nothing wrong in practising meditation for its therapeutic effects, but one should not think this is all that meditation means or can do.

>>


My take on Murmu's meditation is, it is probably more of the 'secular' kind. Nevertheless the benefits are there and it is important to relate to the ultimate benefits of  the Advaitic kind spelled out in the Gita. You can't graphically chart an 'infinite' benefit on a bar chart :-)

Sundar Rajan

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Jul 23, 2022, 6:38:01 PMJul 23
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Namaste Putran-ji,

I updated the 'model' based on your feedback. So the narrative goes like this:

On a scale of 1 to Infinity on the ability to withstand sorrow  

A normal person struggles under the turbulences/sorrows of life, a secular meditative person is cushioned somewhat, while the Yogi can withstand great sorrow.

None of these are my own, these are interpretations from the news items about Ms Murmu and the words of the Gita. 

 
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On Saturday, July 23, 2022 at 11:40:26 AM PDT, putran M <putr...@gmail.com> wrote:


Indian Rediff

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Jul 24, 2022, 8:50:10 AMJul 24
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Hari Om,

I am reminded of Sw. Paramarthanandaji's metric to gauge your own progress in the spiritual path. Measure the amount of time it takes to go from shocked state to a state of equanimity. As you progress in the spiritual path, this should reduce.

He puts it very beautifully: "The gap (in time) from 'What?!' to 'So what?', upon hearing any perturbing news (whether pleasant or unpleasant) is a very short for one who has firm knowledge" (Of course, I am paraphrasing).

Sai

Srini Nagul

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Jul 24, 2022, 4:48:13 PMJul 24
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Hari OM
It is easier to describe Brahman than describe the knower of Brahman, as Brahman will not object or say anything no matter what the description might be, unlike knower of Brahman.

Equanimity can be discerned and known only within and cannot be reliably estimated from without.

One incident that left an impression in my mind occurred when I met Swami Chinmayanandaji in 1992 in Isabel Taylor's residence in Washington DC.
My friend and I prostrated to Swamiji and were sitting at his feet. And apparently a senior Chinmaya Mission member walked in, who had lost a close family member and grieving and 
entire group including Swamiji consoled the person and missed the departed soul. My friend and I were novices and had no idea who that Mission member was, who the departed soul was,
or anything about their association and contributions, but still felt very sad even though we do not know any one involved in the loss.
Anyway, as the group walked out to the next room to complete preparations for Bhiksha, there was, likely, few seconds of time left when my friend and I were alone with the Swamiji in the room
before Swamiji was ushered into the next room where dining table was being prepared for the Bhiksha. Just in those few seconds, Swamiji looked at both of us, realized our predicament
of being sad for reasons unknown for us, snapped his fingers exclaiming as if sharing a great secret only to just both of us saying in hushed voice:
"Only body is lost, nothing else. You see" and smiled with a twinkle! 

Immediately that lifted the mood of us and the statement stuck with me all these years. But Swamiji consoled the grieving member feeling as much pain as any one else there or in fact more,
but inwardly, I learnt much later, was always rooted in the knowledge of the Atman. That incident happened so quickly, and after so many decades it takes time to type this, but the precision and
promptness with which Swamiji taught the truth both with his words and actions has been a living lesson.  He grieves, or not grieves, laughs, or cries, not out of his predicament, but only out of
compassion to console and lift the others. Even his tears, whether out of sorrow or even joy, are only to help others and teach and not a barometer of his inner loss, as inwardly they always seem to be
experiencing the fullness- "poornamadah poornamidam"

Hari OM
Srinivas

Subu

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Jul 25, 2022, 2:30:39 AMJul 25
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Thanks for sharing this Amazing experience Srinivas Ji !

And the entire thread is so uplifting , so thanks to all

Namo Namaha


regards

Subu

Sundar Rajan

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Jul 25, 2022, 9:22:18 PMJul 25
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Namaste Srinivas-ji, 
True, the incident you narrated is a good illustration of nānuśocanti paṇḍitāḥ (Gita 2.11 )
na = never; anuśocanti = lament; paṇḍitāḥ = the learned.;

 guruṇāpi vicālyate >>> nānuśocanti paṇḍitāḥ 

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Sundar Rajan

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Aug 6, 2022, 11:34:45 AMAug 6
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Namaste,

I was wondering if I am an odd ball explaining Vedantic concepts with numbers and charts, got unexpected confirmation yesterday that Sankara Himself uses similar similes. Browsing the internet, I came across this Vivekachudamani verse (commentary is from a course) ..


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Of course, if you put the data in Excel, it charts nicely (you have to downplay Samadhi and assign it a large number instead Emoji)

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Regards
Sundar Rajan

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