[Advaita-l] samsaara

Venkata sriram P venkatasriramp at yahoo.in
Fri Oct 7 00:03:26 CDT 2011

Why is worldly life compared to an ocean?  Why is it called 
"ocean of samsaara" or "bhava sagara"?  Is it because it is an 
unending sequence of cause and effects?
This term "ocean" has been expressed in vedas, puranas as sindhu, arNava, salilaM etc.
In Durga Sukta, Durga in the form of Agni is invoked to protect oneself from dangers &
obstacles just as the boat takes us across the ocean (nAvEva sindhuM duritAtyagniH).
The vedantins can invoke this mantra and contemplate on it's meaning by pleading the
Jatavedas to protect oneself from drowing in the samsAra sAgara by lending the helping
hand and cross this ocean just as the boat. 
In nAsadIya sUkta also, the mention is there as "aprakEtaM salilaM".  
It is the "inconscient waters" that holds the "Seed of Creation" in itself. 
This seed of creation is in the form of avidya, kAma & karma. 
That is why the next mantra of this sukta starts with:
kAmaH tatagrE saMvartatAdhI mansO rEtaH....
The first seed was "desire" in the form of kAma that arose in the mind.
The catalysts were "avidya" & "karma".   And, thus, the Creation projected
So, the roots of samsAra are avidya, kAma, karma which were in potential 
form in this salilaM (Waters).  When these three are unleashed, this
samsAra sAgara flows eternally.  
These avidya, kAma & karma are compared with crocodiles that catch hold of
jivas who are trying to swim along. Acharya Sankara in His stotra called 
"Lakshmi Nrimisha Karavalamba Stotra" says that:
saMsArasAgaravisAla karALakAma
nakragraha grasana nigraha vigrahasya
magnasya rAga lasadUrminipIDitasya
lakshmInrisimha mama dEhi karAvalambam
In this samsara sagara, a gigantic crocodile in the form of kAma, 
is waiting to swallow me. O Lakshminarasimha, offer me your 
divine helping hand and protect me from drowing in the 
ocean having the tides & waves as attachments, desires etc.

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