Preyas & Sreyas - the Gita, the Upanishads , Prasad and Charanamrit and Abhisheka – The meaning

Preyas & Sreyas - the Gita, the Upanishads

Sri Krishna and Arjuna are the eternal companions. This companionship is an objective representation of the relationship between Parmatman (Super Soul) and jivatman (individual soul).
All human endeavours fall under two categories: the preyas and the sreyas. Among the human acquisitions and experiences there is not a single aspect that lies outside the pale of these two.
The Katha Upanishad II (Up. I. 2.& 3.) reads: "The good (Sreyas) is one thing, the pleasant (Preyas) is another. These two having different purposes, bind a man. Of these two, it is well for him who takes hold of the good; he who chooses the pleasant misses his end."
"The good and the pleasant approach a man; the wise man considers and distinguishes the two. Wisely does he prefer the good to the pleasant, but a fool chooses the pleasant for its worldly good."
Pleasures that are sense-bound and prone to mutation come under the category of preyas. The majority of mankind are seekers of preyas. But there are a rare few who aspire for the transcendental. Scriptures describe this transcendental experience as the sreyas.
"The senses are created with outward tendencies like a bar door with hinges that allow it to swing open outward only"
- Swami Ranganathananda. Belur Math
The Katha Upanishad, IV (Up. II. 1. & 2.) read:
"The Self -existent pierced the senses outward, and so one looks outward and not within oneself. Some wise man, however, seeking immortality, and turning his eyes inward, sees the inner Self."
"The ignorant pursue outward pleasures, they walk into the wide-spread net of death. The wise, however, recognising eternal life, do not seek the constant among inconstant  things."
All virtues, strength, self-denial, and sublimity are born of sreyas. Yoga and spiritual enlightenment are all contained in this sreyas. A life of triumph and conquest is available to all who tread the path of sreyas.
This is the core of the teaching of the Bhagavad Gita. Each of the subsequent chapters in this book is an elaboration of this theme from a particular angle.
The strong and the virile alone are fit for a life of great consequence. Achievements both here and hereafter are born of competence and manly action. Strength nurtures life. Weakness wears it away. Vitality drives away disease; debility aggravates it. Virtue and righteousness are the outcome of strength. Vice and wickedness have their origin in weakness; cowardice creates crookedness. It is the feeble that resort to foul play. Action born in manliness leads to freedom and its opposite to bondage. Strength and sreyas are identical. This is the teaching of the Gita.
The first chapter of the Gita reveals that Arjuna  was still under the sway of preyas- things that bring prosperity, pleasure, power and glory to life. Souls incarnate many times in order to acquire and enjoy these pleasures. This enjoyment has a place in the cosmic plan.
Sooner or later comes a turning point in life when the individual self sees the vanity and emptiness of preyas and hankers after something permanent. The slow, steady and imperceptible mental evolution that Arjuna underwent, the transitory nature of the earthly pleasures that he enjoyed, the conviction that came to him of the vanity of earthly splendour,- all these contributed to Arjun's changeover from preyas to sreyas.
The Gita teaches one to equip oneself for the battle of life. Without self-preparation the battles of life cannot be waged successfully.
Each science has its twin aspects- theory and practice. Intellectual grasp of a subject is theory; its application is practice. Brahma vidya - Self Knowledge - is what touches and transforms life. It is intensely practical. When applied to life, it is called Yoga Shastra. This is one of the other names by which the Bhagavad Gita is known. All the eighteen chapters of the Gita are designated, each as a type of yoga. The function of the yoga is to train the body and the mind.
If a wage earner applies the principles of the Gita to his life he will become a better wage earner. A farmer will equip himself better if he only translates the Gita principles into action. A merchant is bound to thrive in his business by putting these tenets to practice. An officer will execute his duty more efficiently when he becomes a yogi. Man becomes well equipped for life by taking to yoga. An efficient man is otherwise called a yogi.
All the eighteen yogas contained in the eighteen chapters of the Gita may be reduced to four -The Karma Yoga (the yoga of action), The Bhakti Yoga (the yoga of devotion), The Raja Yoga (the yoga of meditation) and The Jnana Yoga (the yoga of knowledge).
While playing the part of the charioteer, Sri Krishna is controlling the reins of the four white horses yoked to the chariot. They are like the four yogas yoked to the human frame. The human body is the chariot.
Arjun (the individual embodied soul) is inside the chariot. This body chariot is driven by the Supreme Lord. The four horses of this body chariot -Action, Emotions, Will and Reason should work in perfect harmony. In order to succeed in life, one must advance along all four lines in a balanced and integrated manner. Integral yoga presents a blend of the four major yogas of the Gita corresponding to the four aspects of the human personality.
This harmony can be achieved by integrating the four major yogas. - KARMA Yoga (Yoga of action) unfolds one's hidden potentials while preparing his psychological being to face and confront life's day to day activities. BHAKTI Yoga (the yoga of devotion) cultures the feelings and brings about emotional integration in the personality. RAJA Yoga (the yoga of meditation) allows one to develop a strong will and a controlled mind and JNANA Yoga (the yoga of wisdom- knowledge) trains and renders the intellect sharp and subtle.

Prasad  and Charanamrit    

By Swami Shivananda
Divine Life Society, Rishikesh

The word ‘prasad’ means that which gives peace. During any form of worship, ritual or ceremony, Hindus offer some items of food to the Lord. Puja is done with Bael leaves, flowers, Tulasi (Basil plant), Vibhuti and these are given as Prasada from the Lord.
Prasada is that which gives peace. Prasada is the sacred food offering of the Lord. During Kirtans (Singing hymns), worship, Puja, Havan and Arati, the devotee offers sweet rice, fruits, jaggery, milk, coconut, plantain and such other articles to the Lord, according to his ability. After offering them to the Lord, they are shared between the members of the house or the Bhaktas (devotees) in a temple.
Water, flowers, rice, etc., are offered to the Lord in worship. This denotes that the Lord is pleased with even the smallest offering. What is wanted is the heart of the devotee. The Lord says in the Gita :
"Patram Pushpam Phalam Toyam Yo Me Bhaktya Prayacchati;
Tadaham Bhaktyupahritamasanami Prayatatmanah" –
Whoever offers a leaf, a flower, a fruit or even water with devotion, that I accept, offered as it is with a loving heart".
It is not necessary that one should offer gold, silver and costly dress to the Lord. The devotee offers these according to his ability and position in life, thereby denoting that the whole wealth of the world belongs to the Lord. A rich man offers costly things to the Lord. He feeds the poor and serves the sick, seeing the Lord in his fellow-beings.
The mental Bhava (attitude) of the devotee offering Bhog to the Lord has very great effect. If an ardent devotee of the Lord offers anything to the Lord, that Prasada, if taken, would bring very great change even in the minds of atheists. The Grace of the Lord descends through Prasada. Go through the life of Narada. You will realise the greatness of the sacred leavings of the Lord as well as those of advanced Sadhakas and saints.
Namadeva offered rice etc., to Panduranga Vitthala and He ate the food and shared it with Namadeva as well. If the food is offered with an yearning heart, sometimes, the Lord takes that food assuming a physical form. In other cases, the Lord enjoys the subtle essence of the food offered, and the food remains as it is in the shape of Prasada. While feeding Mahatmas and the poor people, that which is left behind is taken as Prasada. When a sacrifice is performed, the participants share the Prasada which bestows the blessings of the gods. When Dasaratha performed Putrakameshti (a sacrifice performed wishing for a son), he got a vessel full of sweetened rice that he gave to his queens, by taking which they became pregnant.
A special form of prasad is the Charanamrit, which is the water or milk used to wash the feet of the idol, or of a holy saint. The Charanamrit has tremendous powers. It can change the outlook of a devotee entirely. It has the power to cure diseases. There are cases where it brought back life to the dead. Charanamrit is a tonic or medicine for misery, pain and anxiety. Intense faith is the all-important necessity for taking it. Without faith it brings very little benefit. The benefits of Prasada and Charanamrita are beyond description. They have the power to change entirely the outlook of a man’s life. There have been ever so many instances in the past in this holy land of ours (India) which bears witness to the potency and efficacy of Prasada. Prasada destroys all pains and sins. It is an antidote for misery, pain and anxiety. Faith is the important factor in testing the accuracy of this statement. For faithless persons, it brings very little effect.
Those who are brought up in modern education and culture have forgotten all about the glory of Prasada. Many Western educated persons do not attach any importance to Prasada when they get it from Mahatmas. This is a serious mistake. Prasada is a great purifier. As they are brought up in the Western style of living, they have imbibed the spirit of Westerners and forgotten the spirit of true children of Indian Rishis of yore. Live for a week in Vrindavana or Ayodhya or Varanasi or Pandharpur. You will realise the glory and the miraculous effects of Prasada. Many incurable diseases are cured. Many sincere aspirants get wonderful spiritual experiences from mere Prasada alone. Prasada is a panacea. Prasada is a spiritual elixir. Prasada is the Grace of the Lord. Prasada is a cure-all and an ideal pick-me-up. Prasada is an embodiment of Sakti. Prasada is Divinity in manifestation. Prasada energises, vivifies, invigorates and infuses devotion. It should be taken with great faith.
The prasad of the Lord is very sacred and purifying. If it is taken with faith and devotion, it brings miraculous results to the devotee.
The Lord enjoys the subtle essence of the food offered. The food is then eaten as prasad by the devotees.
While feeding Mahatmas, Sannyasins and the poor, that which is left over is also taken as prasad, because in feeding them, we feel that we are feeding God Himself.
When a ceremony is performed all the devotees should share the prasad and thus receive the blessings of the Deities. Prasad is extremely sacred. There is no restriction of any kind in taking prasad. Time, place or condition does not affect one. Prasad is all purifying.. Prasada is the most sacred object for a devotee. One should consider himself lucky to take the Prasada, and there is no restriction of any kind in taking Prasada. Prasada is all purifying.

Abhisheka – The meaning

By Swami Shivananda
The Divine Life Society, Rishikesh

Abhisheka is a part of the worship of Lord Siva. Without it, the worship is incomplete. It is the ceremonial bathing of the Siva Lingam in Siva temples.
A pot made of copper or brass, with a tiny hole in the centre, is kept hanging over the image or Lingam of Siva. The water drips (falls) on the image throughout the day and night. Pouring water, milk, ghee (clarified butter), curd, honey or coconut water over the Lingam is also Abhisheka. Whilst this is done, the Rudram is chanted loudly with devotion and love. Lord Siva is invoked by performing this Abhisheka.
Monday is a very important day for worshipping Lord Siva. The thirteenth day (Pradosha) of the bright and dark fortnights is also considered sacred. On these days, devotees of Lord Siva offer special worship with plenty of prasad.
The water of the Abhisheka is considered very sacred. It is known to grant great benefits on the devotees who take it as the Lord’s prasad. It purifies the heart and destroys countless sins. You should take it with intense faith and devotion.
When you perform Abhisheka with devotion, your mind is concentrated. Your heart is filled with divine thoughts and with the image of the Lord. You forget your body and your surroundings. Egoism vanishes. When the body is forgotten, you begin to enjoy and taste the eternal bliss of Lord Siva. The recitation of Mantras during the Abhisheka purifies the mind.
The greatest and the highest Abhisheka is to pour the waters of pure love on the Lingam in the lotus of the heart. The external Abhisheka with objects is intended to lead to this internal Abhisheka, wherein there is a flow of pure love.
The sacred prasad of the Lord and the holy water of the Abhisheka purify the heart if taken with faith and devotion. They can bring peace and prosperity.
Incurable diseases are cured by performing Abhisheka. It bestows health, wealth, prosperity, peace of mind and purity of heart. It expands the heart. It calls for self-sacrifice and self-surrender. There must be a natural feeling in the heart. "I am Thine, my Lord. All is Thine, my Lord."

Om Tat Sat

(My humble salutations to H H Swamy Sri Sivananda Saraswathi Maharaj ji and Hinduism dot com for the collection)


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