Sunday, July 24, 2011

a.k.a. yoga vs. bhoga

I attended Aadil Palkhivala's class on hip openers at the Yoga Journal Conference. Dharma wasn't teaching at that time, and I thought, "Why not?" I know several yoga teachers with pain in the right hip - it couldn't possibly have anything to do with decades of doing padmasana with the right foot first - and thought perhaps it could help them.... us.

After leading us through the Gayatri Mantra, Aadil began a discourse on the importance of Dharma, or figuring out and achieving your life's purpose. He went so far as to state that "The purpose of life is Dharma." Of course I loved all the talk about Dharma (for me Dharma is the guru, and the goal - once one cleans up their act - is self-realization).

Aadil said that entertainment is the opposite of Dharma. He explained that he has stayed in many, many hotel rooms over the years - and that each one of those hotel rooms had a TV in it. He said he'd never turned on a single one of those TVs.

And I thought of how I'd watched a few minutes of "Roseanne" during a bout of insomnia the night before. Oops!

But I do agree with his point: there is Dharma, and there is entertainment. There is yoga, and there is bhoga. And there is always a choice.

As Sri Dharma Mittra said at the same conference, "You can stare for three hours at the TV, but you can't find ten minutes for meditation? You must be self-disciplined. You are your own worst enemy when you are not self-disciplined."

* * *

On the other hand....

During sadhana, it can be helpful to occasionally give a treat to the senses.

This may include going to the local Indian language cinema to see the latest police-vs.-mafia action film, Singham.

It was awesome.

It was like going to India, minus the 22-hour plane trip and other hassles.

The film was up there with Dabaang, and way better than Khakee (which featured this film's hero, Ajay Devgn, as the bad guy).

It was entertainment and it was about Dharma - doing one's duty even though it seems impossible, and restoring order to a corrupt world.

Four stars (it would have been 4.5, but for its portrayal of Kannadigas and the clunker song in the second act).

The senses were well-pleased, and are now leaving the mind in peace.

And on the way home I bought a watermelon off the back of a truck....

for tomorrow's penance.


One more view on Dharma:

Swami Radha said, "If there is a conflict between the life that you are living and the one you should be living, your inner conflict will grow and grow and grow. Then the Divine will say, 'That's enough now. I have given you a lot of rope. You have tried all things that everybody else is doing. That's finished now.' And then something dramatic or painful may come into your life to make you change."


  1. C.K. said: “It was entertainment and it was about Dharma - doing one's duty even though it seems impossible, and restoring order to a corrupt world.”

    Also: “Aadil said that entertainment is the opposite of Dharma.”

    It’s hard to reconcile these two. Perhaps for me ‘entertainment’ is ‘Dharma’, or vice versa. I wish to be the judge of my actions, and not someone else. If I follow the judgment of someone else, Swami Radha’s comment is true – avoid the conflict of trying to let someone else dictate your life for you (not her exact words).

    This is all worthy of a weekend seminar retreat – which I would consider Dharma AND entertainment !!

    Ralph from DeKalb

  2. For me, the film was pure entertainment (many explosions, aerial fights and chase scenes were there). Yet - like many Indian language films - it dealt with the theme of Dharma.

    The real "judge" is inside. The trick is quieting the mind in order to hear his/her voice.

    That isn't to say one shouldn't follow Yama and Niyama. When we don't, the one we really hurt is ourself.

  3. The puranas and epics are full of "explosions, aerial fights, and chase scenes." But who cares. That movie looks like it kicks some serious a**.

  4. I agree....

    plus I forgot to mention that the villain's ego is what did him in.