The Fivefold Path of the Vedas as our Way Out and In
The Coronavirus is trying to teach all of us many lessons. One of them is especially applicable to India—a mecca of spirituality facing especial challenges today with respect to material and physical issues.
Vedic Culture provides simple—though not easy—solutions.
The Fivefold Path of Vedas—Yajnya, Daan, Tapa, Karma and Swadhyaya—has never before been brought into such clear focus as now.
First it was POLLUTION. Then it was CLIMATE CHANGE. Now it is CORONAVIRUS. Not only is the writing on the wall; it is staring at us and smacking us in our collective faces.
Nonetheless, free will never goes away. We have constant choices related to what to believe, whom to listen to, what to do. How to meander through the miasma? GO WITHIN. THE ONLY WAY OUT IS IN.
And that is the purpose of Swadhyaya, Self-Study, the fifth step of the Fivefold Path. If we shirk its responsibilities, we do so at our own risk and peril.
But doing Swadhyaya requires measures of Tapa—self discipline. At times, it may feel as if we need to ‘force’ ourselves to look within. And no, looking within requires more than a good search engine. Google is good, but as a vehicle for reaching high levels of enlightenment or even self-knowledge, it has its limitations.
Google is not God. There is no ‘d’ in the word.
The crucial aspect of Fivefold Path is the first step—YAJNYA. Specifically I refer to daily sunrise/sunset AGNIHOTRA whereby two offerings of rice mixed with ghee are put into copper pyramid healing fire at the precise moment of sunrise/sunset, accompanied by a short mantra recited once.
Is it possible to accomplish other aspects of the Fivefold Path without Yajnya? Probably yes, but with the exception of those among us who prefer to make their lives more difficult rather than less difficult, why would you want to take that route?
Aren’t things difficult enough? Aren’t there enough challenges on our plates? To not use the tools spelled out in Vedic Culture may be silly or even criminal, some might say—criminal to ourselves, our environment, our children, our grandchildren.
Atmosphere, Prana, Mind is the tagline and the ‘formula.’ Heal the atmosphere by doing Agnihotra and the atmosphere then heals you and much more.
A basic point is that the atmosphere currently enveloping our planet—be it the physical atmosphere of pollution compounded by Climate Change, or the more subtle, but not less real, atmosphere of fear, stress and unknowingness is deleterious to our health—mental and physical.
It may be true that many people try to segregate mental health from physical health. Interestingly, when a patient enters a mental hospital, the initial days are taken up by intensive physical health tests and workups.
Why? Not only can some mental conditions/disturbances be directly correlated to physical problems, but, moreover, the alleviation of physical problems of and in themselves can improve mental states.
There are aspects of atmosphere over which we have less control. Others are within the realm of purview and responsibility.
This is not a time for philosophic syllogisms but for practical, useful survival tools. In foxholes, there are no atheists, it has been said (a bit controversially). The point is let us investigate solutions to today’s challenges free of preconceived dogma.
When patients enter therapy, they are seeking relief, insight and support. Yajnya and Tapa directly benefit us by the introduction of TOOLS for relief and support. The Fivefold Path of Vedas constitute a platform of a way of living. The tools are so simple (and non-controversial) that they may be used universally without regard to religion, nationality or political affiliation.
It is not difficult to see the connections of each tool to issues of the mind, including (especially) psychotherapy.
Yajnya: first step and the foremost one, directly effects atmosphere which then transposes those effects to Prana, hence, mind.
Daan: helps us reduce attachments to material objects—a great source of difficulty and trouble during Covid-19 lockdowns. The viral video of the 7-year-old girl in tears of grief when told the family could not go to McDonalds or KFC epitomises our individual and collective angst at our having to modify our daily routines—everything from being unable to go to gyms (or cinemas or bars or bowling alleys or churches or temples) to not socialising with our fellows. And when will my favourite type of potato chip return to store shelves? The shipping disturbances are cramping our lifestyles and stomachs.
Tapa: Were we able to see and appreciate the immense value in ‘burning’ the samskaras—old impressions on our minds—we would be less hesitant to engage in simple disciplines with the full cooperation of our minds and intellects. Control over our senses certainly is strengthened by doing tapas. Or as the Rolling Stones so eloquently put it, “You can’t always get what you want (But if you try sometime you find, you get what you need.”
Karma: Worldwide reactions to Covid-19 display shocking disregard for the Law of Karma. How else can one describe the wanton disregard of medical and scientific opinions as to how to modify our routines and behaviour?
Those who claim adherence to various conspiracy theories or allow themselves to be politicised into, e.g., seeing the wearing of a mask to be akin to waving or not waving a flag, have lost the plot, are one card short of a full deck.
Roll the dice, if you will, but be fully aware that what goes around, comes around, and that the house always wins—sooner or later.
Swadhyaya: This is where the rubber meets the road, where push comes to shove, where the men are separated from the boys and the women from the girls.
Why am I here? Who am I, really? What is the work for which I have taken birth?
Here is the Fivefold Path of Vedas presented in traditional form:
HOMA Therapy is the science of purification of the atmosphere through the agency of FIRE. AGNIHOTRA HOMA (YAJNYA) is the basic HOMA. It is tuned to the biorhythm of sunrise/sunset and gives nutrients to the plant kingdom, removes diseases in a certain area and removes tension on the mind. This is the basic process in the Vedic sciences of medicine, agriculture, climate engineering and interplanetary communication.
Sharing of your assets in a spirit of humility. This corrects imbalance in financial matters and creates non-attachment to worldly possessions.
Self-discipline of body and mind. This is conducive to a change in attitudes of mind and body. It results in a harmonious state of mind.
“You reap as you sow.” Always practicing good Karma (actions) diminishes the burden of negative Karma and one begins to invest in his own future. This means that what you do today will bring its fruits. Sowing seeds of love and kindness will bless my garden with plenty of love. Do Karma for self-purification.
Practice Swadhyaya (Self-study) for liberation. Who am I? Why am I here? My work on this planet is to learn to react with total LOVE with each opportunity given to me.
This is the Fivefold Path for happy living on the planet. By practicing the Fivefold Path you become better members of your society, group, religion, community, etc.