Swami Dayananda Saraswati on Inadequate Self



To be born a human being with the unique faculties of discrimination and choice is both a great blessing and a terrible curse. This is because exercising one's choice often creates conflicts.

The source of all conflict is the feeling we get of being incomplete – of being inadequate and wanting. This wanting, inadequate self, the only self of which one is aware, is like the sruti in Indian music. The singer produces various melodies, but always keeps her voice in tune with sruti, the constant background drone of the tanpura. Similarly, there is constant sruti in our hearts which drones on: ‘I want this...I want that…’ This constant wanting finds articulation in various specific wants, each an expression of the conclusion that one is an inadequate being.

What one does to achieve comfort varies from person to person. What is common is that everyone wants to acquire or get rid of something. A person's desires keep changing –something which was once desirable, may no longer be so. What never changes is the ‘I want’ sruti in the background.

The Bhagavad Gita can help us deal with this inadequate self. It addresses the eternal problem of the inadequate self, because of which we are unable to face topical problems.

Arjuna, too, was faced with the problem of inadequacy. He was an accomplished warrior – hero and intellectual; yet, he was overwhelmed by personal conflict which left him feeling helpless. Krishna taught him to know the adequate self. Once Arjuna understood himself to be complete, all conflict and sorrow were resolved. This is in fact the theme of the Gita.

The essence of the Gita applies to all human beings. It unfolds the solution to the fundamental human problem of conflict and want. Then, like Arjuna, you too will say, ‘My delusion is no more!’

Swami Dayananda Saraswati

(Swami Dayananda Saraswati is a disciple of Swami Chinmayananda and a distinguished, traditional teacher of Vedanta.)

(Source: Excerpts from an article that appeared in the November 4, 2003 edition of Speaking Tree in Times of India.)