By: Dr G. R. Vijayakumar
The first noble truth of the Guru Dakshinamurthy, ‘All is suffering’, implies that our lived life is fraught with pain and misery. Suffering is a permanent human condition. Even what we call happy and content moments are beset with the painful awareness that they would soon come to an end.
Like the Guru Dakshinamurthy, Lord Sainath also holds that everyone is in despair, sorrow, and frustration, but unlike the Guru Dakshinamurthy, he does not believe that the cause of human suffering is avidya, ignorance. Nor does he believe that human suffering can come to an end by activities like satsang, kirtan, reciting a particular individual Sai Nama mantra, Sairam, Sairam, or offering collective prayers like Vishnu Sahasranama mantra.
Without going deeper into the reasons for the chaos and misery all around us, we just assert that human suffering is because of our not following the dictates of God, or are the phalas – fruits, results of our own karmas – deeds. Such approaches towards the problem of getting rid of pain and suffering are of no value according to Guru Dakshinamurthy. We need a deeper reflection on the cause of suffering to alleviate it.
A deeper reflection, according to Guru Dakshina murthy, reveals that the reason for our existential predicament is our indolence or laziness. Because of our laziness, we always hope that some leader, guru, or an external agency will help us in ending our misery, conflict, and chaos, and creating an order in which there will be no suffering.
Discarding the efficacy of any guru or any external authority, Guru Dakshinamurthy stotra asserts, ‘We cannot depend on anybody, there is no guide, there is no teacher, there is no authority, there is only oneself and one’s relationship with another and the world, there is nothing else.’ Like Adi Shankara, he upholds that we are abandoned. He advocates ‘self-help’ for each individual to alleviate his existential suffering.
‘Self-help’ doctrine of Adi Shankara is based on the principle that ‘there can be no universal solution to individual human problems as each man’s problem is unique in its own way and as such, he has to face and dissolve his problems by himself, and accordingly, has to find out the solution on his own.’ Correspondingly, each individual has to find out the unique method through which he can come out of his miserable existence.
The ‘way’ to annihilate suffering, according to Lord Sainath, is through appropriate action that will ‘wipe out all difficulties’ coming in the way of annihilating human misery. ‘We have to act, to do something vital, energetic, forceful to bring about a different mind, a different quality of existence.’
Per Guru Dakshinamurthy the notion of action is quite comprehensive. It does not only mean physical movement in space and time but also includes action of thought, the action of an idea, the action of a feeling, of environment, of opinion, the action of ambition, of food and psychological influences of which most of us are totally unaware. It also includes the actions of the conscious as well as the unconscious mind.
His notion of action is like the one advocated in Bhagwad Gita 3.5, “There is no one who can remain without action even for a moment. Indeed, all beings are compelled to act by their qualities born of material nature, the three gunas”; and in Srimad Bhagwad Purana, 6.1.53, “Nobody can remain inactive for even a moment. Everyone is forced to act by their svabhava, modes of nature”. Influenced by these teachings, Guru Dakshinamurthy also upholds that without acting one is as good as dead.
The decision about ‘what action one should perform’ depends on his needs. It is an individual decision; it is not dictated by any other individual or external agency but is guided by what brings about the inner transformation and leads to the cessation of suffering.