The Eight Fetters that are a Hindrance on the Path to Mukti
Mukti ke Pratibadhak Aath Paash
Translated from the book ‘ Lekh aur Updesh’ Compiled in Hindi
by Smt. Dhiruben Patel Pravachan on 13-8-1938.
Today we shall learn about the ‘Cheer Haran Leela’ (the stealing of clothes).
Earlier we had told you that the Lord had stolen the clothes to stop the tradition of bathing without clothes. He did this very cleverly. This was the Adhibhautik meaning and today we shall speak of the Adhyatmik meaning.
People blame and tarnish His name without understanding this leela. By understanding and knowing its significance, we can prove that He was an Avtaar.
Have you ever thought about the reason for wearing clothes? Perhaps your answer would be that because of shame, both men and women wear clothes. Embarrassment arises only when our desires and sexual instincts are activated and it is this desire that catches both men and women in a trap.
A child has no ‘kaam bhav’ (sensual desire) and so he happily moves around without clothes. He feels no shame or embarrassment being in the nude. He does not even know the dichotomy of man/woman in the correct manner and thus he has no shame.
Such a state is of a ‘Paramhans’ also. They are ‘BrahmGyani’ and see no difference between man and woman. They are happy within themselves and due to that; they have no sexual desires or instincts. They are free from the trap of shame. They automatically shed their clothes. ‘Param Pita Paramatma’ sees to it that their clothes don’t stay and then perhaps, such a person can stay in the lap of ‘Prakruti devi’.
When there is no separate identification, the feelings of shame vanish. You all must have experienced this emotion while having a bath all alone. You see no one but yourself and then have no hesitation being in the nude. It is in this state that ‘Kamdev’ offers his throne in our hands and it is because of this we express shame.
Let us now understand how and when the clothes of a Paramhans shed. A person can become a Paramhans only when all sexual desires are exhausted.
This is possible only when a devotee considers all women as manifestations of Maa Jagdamba Katyani devi. He also considers the whole world as the creation of Parmatma. For such a person, sexual instincts will never arise even staying amidst the ‘samsaara’ of males and females
The Lord stole the clothes of the Gopis when they had reached the highest spiritual level. They saw Krishna in every creation. Their state was that of a Paramhans. They were fasting and doing the Katyayani Anushthan, to procure Shri Krishna as their husband. They wanted to give up this world of Maya. Bathing was an essential ritual of this fast. The Lord wanted them to reach the state of a Paramhans and for this reason He stole their clothes.
Had He not done that, He would not have been called a Bhagwan. His title of an ‘Antaryami’ (a knower of everything) and Ishwar would have been ridiculed. If this was the reason, why then did He return the clothes? A Paramhans wears clothes prior to attaining that state and as the Gopis felt ashamed and embarrassed, the Lord had to return the clothes to them.
To become a Jeevan Mukt or to reach the abode of mukti one has to be
free from the following 8 traps:
‘DAYA’ (दया-Compassion). To try and relieve someone’s pain is called compassion. This emotion can at times be binding. Bharat was attached to the deer and was thus caught in this emotion. He brought the deer to the ashram and looked after him and began loving him. This love became his weakness and thus Bharat had no time for ‘bhajan’. His constant fear was that the wild animals might attack the deer. Even at the time of his last breath, he still worried about the deer and due to this reason, he was born as a deer in his next birth.
‘LAJJA’ (लज्जा-Embarrassment). It is due to this emotion that many people do not come to satsangs. They are apprehensive and proud of their position in society and feel embarrassed to be seen amongst those not at their level. There was a famous person in Lahore whose wife came to our satsang regularly. Even though she insisted that her husband accompany her, he refused, as he was embarrassed of sitting with common people. When special arrangements were made for him, he started attending the satsangs.
‘BHAY’ (भय-Fear). Many ladies are afraid of their husbands, in- laws and relatives and thus are not able to attend satsangs
‘SHANKA’ (शंका-Doubt). Some people doubt the success of sadhana and think that it may not fructify. The fear of being trapped in the activities of Yog-Sadhana and not being able to fulfill household duties. Even work could suffer. The doubts regarding the integrity of the teacher may surface and the fear of money being usurped can arise.
‘JUGUPSA’ (Slander). People can blame even the good qualities of others. A Mahatma in intense meditation can, to a doubting person seem like a farce. A person who is serving the nation or humanity may be considered hankering for name and fame. To nurture such un-pious thoughts for people who unconditionally devote their life to humanity, is a great sin and offence. We can embrace all humanity if we refrain from speaking bad about people. It is said that one can attain the whole world by merely removing this one shortcoming —- and that is not to talk against people (‘ninda’).
‘KUL ABHIMAAN’ (कुल अभिमान-The pride of one’s family name). This pride can be the reason of a downfall. Many people of a higher caste refrain from seeking knowledge from a person of a lower status. They do not want to acknowledge the presence of such people even if in close proximity. A sandalwood tree spreads its fragrance to all the vegetation but the bamboo tree is not able to absorb its fragrance. This is due to the four limitations of the bamboo tree and its height is one of the main reasons. Kabir Sahab says:
“Baans Badai budiyo jyo,Mat budiyo koi,
Chandan ke nikat basse,baans sugandh na hoya”
Like the height of the bamboo, in man, the pride of status is the main mistake.
He thinks he is the highest due to the name of the family. All 4 obstacles are described in one doha by the learned. For the ‘Jignyasu’ (the seeker) there is another couplet-
“Uncho kul Aapo agni ,Bharam Pol ta Mahi ,
Hiya Vich gaanth kapat ki, taate lakhyo na jaahi”
A person from the higher strata of society having ‘Kul Abhimaan’, can be called ignorant and even a fraud. Such a person will never be able to achieve the highest knowledge of Brahma-Vidya even though staying with learned people who have knowledge (that can spread like the fragrance of sandalwood).
‘SHEEL’ (शील-Behavior). To be proud of one’s activities. Some people are proud of the rituals performed by them like prayers, tilak, yajnas etc. They consider it below their dignity to associate with people who do not meet their standards and due to this arrogance; they are not able to assimilate any of the virtues of great mahatmas. Once I was staying in a village where a learned mahatma arrived. He was a Jeevan Mukt and was reveling in the joy of Brahmaan. He sat in the temple without bowing to the Lord. There was a ritualistic and a traditional person amongst us who was offended by this attitude of the mahatma.I told him that such great saints are free from duality and they revel in the self. They have risen above ritualism and thus no rules are applicable to them.
‘VITT’ (वित्त-The pride of one’s wealth). Many wealthy people are unable to be blessed by saints because of their pride. They do not even go near them due to the arrogance of their money. The intoxication of wealth is the worst kind of intoxication.
These are the eight obstacles on the path of Self Realization wherein a human being can get trapped. It is not possible to attain liberation if one is not free from these eight traps. The Lord freed the Gopis from the trap of ‘lajja’ (embarrassment) and thus paved the way for their mukti.
An animal that is free from the trap is a ‘Jeeva’. When liberated from the trap he is ‘SadaShiv’ (identified with the Lord). The Lord wanted to liberate the Gopis from this trap so that is why He stole their clothes.
To reach the state of liberation, the Gopis had to arrive at the state of a Paramhans. They had to be devoid of any embarrassment like a Paramhansi. The Lord made them worship the Sun Lord and the Gopis attained the status of a Supreme Renunciate (Paramhans). Clothes or no clothes they were reveling in the joy of Brahmaan.
A great saint named Mathradas, who was a dear friend of my Gurudev , stayed in Haridwar. A road was also commemorated in his name. He was a realized soul and wore only a small piece of cloth (kopan) that covered the private parts. Sometimes it would open up. If someone tied it for him it would remain there or else he was happy just like that.
Once a lady who saw him wished to attain a similar realized state. The Mahatma told her that merely wishing would not make that happen. If she had the guts to move around without clothes then perhaps the possibility could be there.
There was a milkman. People would come to him with two or four annas to buy the milk. A cat came near the milk and starting saying –meow –meow. The milkman told the cat to go get some money as merely by saying meow she would not get the milk. The Mahatma had similar advice to the lady. To become like him she had to be like him.
The Lord stole the Gopis’ clothes only when they were realized. Their fasting and their wish to be one with Him were fructified. In the end, the Gopis, through the power of love as prescribed in the Bhakti shastras offered their complete self, body, mind and atma to Krishna and experienced the bliss of Brahmaan.
This is the mystery behind the Cheer Haran Leela.