Human body as the means to our goal

Human body as the means to our goal

Recently a friend, 70-year old gentleman, has written to me: “In today’s generation, people have become pleasure seeking animal, living a very materialistic life. They can’t move beyond body level and give no importance to spirituality. Think for a moment – what are we doing for our soul?”

I replied to him: “Sir, I do not understand anything about being materialistic or spiritual. And I do not know about soul – what is it? What are its properties?”

“God created our body out of nothing and has given soul to it. After our death, the soul will go back to god…”

“Sir, I don’t believe that god had created our body. My ancestors taught me that physical body or physical existence is created using ‘Annamaya
Kosha’ which is made of ‘Panch Maha Bhoot’ (Earth, Water, Air, Sky, Fire). Our gross body is made up of this ‘Annamaya Kosh’. And they told me that a physical existence has this gross body, mind and beyond. But they didn’t tell me about any such soul…”

“I bet, your ancestors may not have told you to give over-importance to body and live a material life….”

“As a matter of fact, yes, they did…They said: Sharirmadhyam khalu dharmasadhanam” (Sarga 5:33 of Kumarasambhavam by Mahakavi Kalidasa)

“What does that mean?”

“The body is the means of fulfillment of dharma, hence it is most important. This was the expression of Lord Shiva indicating the importance of body for any penance. He said the physical existence is the best expression of Universal Energy….”

“So body is important than anything else?”

“Yes – Physical strength is very important; body has to be strong to have a strong mind. When you have healthy body and mind, you can perform your dharma and duty….”

“So what is your duty?” 

“Our dharma sastra says: ‘Paropakaram Vahanti Nadya, Paropakaram Duhanti Gaaya, Paropakaram Phalanti Vriksha, Paropakaram Idam Shareeram’ meaning ‘Rivers flow for Paropkar, Cows give milk for Paropkar, Trees bear fruits for Paropkar, similarly this body is also meant for Paropkar’. Paropkar = helping others without expecting anything in return by them. ”

“I don’t understand, Uday” he said.

“Our ancestors have taught us yoga, pranayama (breathing) and dhyana (higher form of meditation) to take care of our physical existence (body-mind-beyond). There is nothing wrong in seeking pleasure for body and mind – that’s why they taught us kamasastra, various classical dances and music. And we should use our physical existence to serve the universe – to do our part, our karma.”

“But what about spirituality…”

“Manava seva is Madhava seva” (Service to man is service to God)…there is no higher spirituality than this. Happiness and bliss will come only from sharing and caring. Ancestors taught us to take good care of our body and thus our environment.”

“But I don’t subscribe to your views that body is the most important thing…”

“As I said, for us, body means the physical existence (the body-mind-beyond) and yes, there is nothing more important than this. The “beyond” part of the physical existence is the connectedness. Bhagavad-Gita says ‘one must get over tamoguna (lethargy and lack of proper understanding), by cultivating rajoguna (activity or dynamism). From rajoguna, one must graduate into sattvaguna (purity and the other virtues) that enable a person to have realisation about this connectedness…”

“But the real winner in life is those who go beyond body level…”

“I shall tell you a story from Mahabharat. Everybody was preparing for the great Kurukshetra War. The heroes of Mahabharat began penance to get sacred and secret weapons from the gods. Bhim didn’t go for any miracle weapons. Krishna asked Bhim “Bhima, why don’t you do penance for getting any mystical weapons?”

Bima said: “Krishna, I don’t believe in any godgiven mystical weapons. If one person get a mystical weapon, his opponent can do penance for a weapon to counter it. A Nagastra (a serpent-shaped missile) can be countered by Garudastra (an eagle-shaped missile). Agniastra (A missile emitting flame) can be nullified by Varunaastra (a shower producing missile). I better trust in my own physical existence – I use my hands and the raw club.”

And who was the real winner of the War?

It was Bhim. Eventually Bhima was responsible for slaying all hundred Kaurava brothers in the Kurukshetra. He killed all, including Duryodhan,
with bare hands without any mystical weapons. And going by tradition that Pandu(the second son) was the emperor, Bhim would have been the emperor, that he had declined for his elder brother Yudhisthira. Bhim was Krishna’s favorite, not Arjun as is being popularly

“Strength is life and weakness is death”, said Swami Vivekananda. Sir, even if I go by your belief that this is god-given body, shouldn’t we take care of it on behalf of god? Unfortunately, we (including me) have been abusing our body. That is why, even at a young age, we hear of people suffering from ailments. Body is the means to the attainment of all dharma or right living and thinking… We can be at our true nature – Happiness, Joy and Abundance- only if we realize the importance of the physical existence.”

~ Udaylal Pai