Who is called a relative?
Shilpa Shah, Associate Professor HKBBA College
The worldly understanding of “relatives” is quite different from the spiritual or scriptural understanding. Generally we considered our own people as relatives to whom we have blood relation or friendly relation or people who are useful or helpful in our daily life or routine we normally accept them as relatives. Often even very close relatives with very personal or blood relations, if they are not useful to us or in critical times or time of trouble and difficulty they are not supportive that is they do not help us when we want, we never considered them as our own, even though they are close relatives.
If we look at the SANSKRIT word of relative that is “SWAJAN” it is mixture of two words, in which “SWA” means “our own” and “JAN” means man, person or individual. Thus, according to common or worldly understanding, one’s own beloveds means relative. One with whom we have close relation is called relative. It can be blood relation, love relation, helping relation, guide or mentor relation or benefactor. But spiritually or according to scripture, such personal contacts (relatives) who are related by blood or personal object or interest are not considered to be “relatives”. But “the one who awakens the sense of God in us or increases the sense of spirituality is considered as true relative”. SRIMAD BHAGAVATA Purana has given a detailed definition of relative according to which one who help in self-realization or become helper in God realization is known as relative.
Now the question is, what does it mean to awaken or increase sense of God or sense of spirituality in us or what does it mean to help in the self-realization or realization of God? In scientific terms, God means omniscient or eternal existence and divine energy. A portion of Divine Energy is already within us. Energy is nothing but power which can be physical, mental and spiritual. A person who imparts physical, mental and spiritual strength in us is called relative. Realization of God in spiritual terms means realizing the real nature of soul and supreme soul or the whole of existence which is usually made possible through tools like yoga-meditation-bhakti. To experience that divine power, supreme energy or existence in our own self (as the soul is a part of the supreme soul) is nothing but God realization and the helper in such realization is called relative.
Do you really think that so-called blood relatives are actually useful in doing any of this thing in life? If the answer is “yes” it means that you are very lucky to have true relatives in life but if the answer is “no” then it means all those are not real relatives. It is well known that the so-called relatives instead of actually channeling the energy in our lives, usually take away the energy by causing excessive pain or stress. Be it the relationship between husband and wife, parents and children, other relatives or siblings. Almost every relationship causes many pains and problems in life. That is probably why divorce or separation is becoming common in today’s age. Humans join relationships for the noble purpose of energy accumulation and want relatives in life for that only. But not succeeding in the predetermined purpose, they get frustrated and leads to break up.
It is also a question whether the so-called relatives help in terms of the desire or spirit for the realization of God or the awakening of spiritual spirit or self-realization. I know many parents whose spiritual children express a request or desire to take SANNYAS or initiation (DIKSHA), but instead of helping them, the parents become a hindrance to them. As the various expectations that they have from their children such as that they will support, help, serve in old age haunts the elders, many dreams that they have seen from their children seem impossible and they do not allow their children for SANNYAS or DIKSHA. In terms of the BHAGAVATA Purana’s definition of kinship or relative, such parents can be considered not as benefactors of the child but as obstacles to the spiritual progress of the children.
Even at the time of death, those relatives who wish for the peace and welfare of the deceased with the help of true knowledge are considered as his true relatives. Relatives who cry and mourn in ignorance cannot be considered as relatives because such action hinders the good fortune of the deceased according to the scriptures. In fact, even the reason for crying, mourning after death is nothing but the difficulties that will be caused in one’s life due to the departure of the deceased, i.e. the hardships or difficulties that the surviving members will have to bear in life due to the absence of the person who has left, is only responsible for the crying or mourning. In fact, praying behind the deceased patiently and quietly from a broken heart is beneficial for the peace of the soul and is the true service. Only those who do such service are considered true relatives.
To put it a little differently, what helps in changing the “JIVADASHA” of a human being is true kinship. The state of mind with desire and ego is called “JIVADASHA”. Relatives are the helper in life change. “JIVADASHA” means lust. The condition of living under the control of desire and ego is “JIVADASHA”. All of us must have experienced that all our lives we live as slaves of desire and are engaged in ignorant egoism. Where there is lust or desire, ego is natural. To be freed from ego one has to be freed from desire or lust. When desire is gone from life, means ego also goes because the existence of desire and ego is relative. If one exists, the other must be exist and if one goes, the other will automatically disappear. The state of mind or physical position with desire and ego is nothing but JIVADASHA. The relative who is beneficial in getting rid of this painful state of mind is called true relative. Once freed from the grip of desire and ego, even the ordinary living being becomes Shiva, i.e. attains his real power, energy and supreme consciousness. All human beings who are responsible to help, guide or assist in attaining such energy are our true relatives. If one finds even one true relative in life, then his life journey is definitely successful. So let’s become everyone’s true relatives, recognize true relatives and be determined to get true relatives.
Shilpa Shah, Associate Professor HKBBA College