Question 253: Kacha – Son of Brihaspati

Introspection: self-inquiryThe young Rama asks the sage about Kacha, the son of Sage Brihaspati, the preceptor of the gods, the master of sacred wisdom, charms, hymns, and rites. Kacha has quite the journey in identifying exactly what it is he has to renounce, in order to achieve total renunciation and self-realisation.


tyag Hin. tyaga San. m. (from tyaj – to abandon, let go) renunciation; relinquishing, giving up, surrender. Renunciation of attachment to the world is the key to liberation; to renounce the fruit of action is tyaga.

sarva-tyag: total renunciation

tapas, tapasya: Religious austerity, penance, mortification, the practice of mental or personal self-denial

santata: quiescence, Eternal, continual; Spread, extended; Continued, continuous

chitta San. noun. the mind (the seat of understanding and awareness, of intellect and will); memory, thought, reflection; the soul, heart. It is the individual consciousness, composed of intelligence and intellect (buddhi), ego (ahamkara) and mind (manas). In Vedanta, chitta is one aspect of Universal Consciousness (chit). The world hangs on the thread of consciousness – without consciousness, there is no world.

atma-gyan: direct knowledge of the Atma; self-realisation; knowledge of the Atmic state.

atmaswaroop: cf. atmaswarupa; Consciousness, the Self, original nature, our true essential nature. (embodiment, form of the Atma)

jivanmukta: permanently self-realised (or God-realised) person who no longer has any identification whatsoever with his or her body.


Question 253: Sir, how did Kacha, son of Brihaspati, attain wisdom? Kindly explain it to me.

Answer: Ramji, after completing his study of scriptures, Kacha asked his father,”Sir, how to cross the ocean of the universe? It is existence in the bondage of false ego-ideations.” Brihaspati replied, “My son, a jiva (person) obtains liberation from the universe of sufferings when he achieves total renunciation (sarva- tyag), not otherwise. When you achieve total renunciation, you will be liberated.”

Abandoning all comforts of the universe, name and fame, Kacha engaged himself in penances (tapas) in a forest. When he had continued his penances for eight years, his father, Brihaspati, appeared before him. Greeting his father with due respects, Kacha asked, “Father, despite the renunciation and the penances here for eight years, I have not yet attained quiescence. Kindly guide me to attain quiescence.”

Brihaspati replied, “My son, you have not yet renounced fully. You will attain quiescence when you have achieved total renunciation.” Saying so, Brihaspati departed.

Leaving his seat, deer skin and the forest, Kacha got busy with penances in another forest. After three years, Brihaspati came again to see Kacha. Seeing him Kacha said, “Father, though I have renounced totally, I have not yet attained quiescence. Kindly suggest to me the way for my liberation so that I may achieve quiescence.”

Brihaspati replied,”My son, you have not yet renounced fully.”

Kacha said ‘Father, you can see that I am left with nothing. What is with me that has yet to be renounced?”

Brihaspati said, “My son, renunciation of individual consciousness is said to be total renunciation. Renounce your individual consciousness and that will be your total renunciation. Renunciation of material objects is not total renunciation. Therefore, you should practise firmly the renunciation of mind.” Saying so, Brihaspati flew back into the sky.

Thereafter Kacha tried to reflect : “What is this consciousness that my father has asked me to renounce?” He tried to recount mentally every object and verified that each one was not consciousness, because each one was distinct. Reflecting upon his senses he realised that these too were not consciousness and that each one had its own function and could not do the task of the other. “Consciousness is still something else that my father has directed me to renounce,” he said to himself. After continuous reflection, when he felt that he could not identify the form or nature of consciousness, he went to his father in the heavens and submitted, “Sir, what is the shape of the consciousness that you have directed me to renounce?”

Brihaspati replied,”My son, the chitta (individual consciousness) is the name for ego that is created out of ignorance and it is annihilated with Self-realisation (atma-jnana). The body is unreal and the feeling of self in it leads to the arousal of mind which is just an illusion. When you abandon the false self you will realise your true self. The body-ego is the result of ignorance. You should renounce that, be established in your true self and that will be your total renunciation.”

Kacha said, “Father, how to renounce ego? I am the ego. How shall I exist if I renounce my self?”

Brihaspati said, “My son, renunciation of ego is very easy. Some effort is needed in rubbing a flower or in twinkling an eye, but no effort is involved in the renunciation of ego. My son, ego is just an illusion; and illusion is no entity. Now tell me what the difficulty is in renouncing that which does not exist. Just as an ignorant child is frightened on seeing a ghost in his shadow, and this fear vanishes when he is guided by his elders that there is no ghost in the shadow but it is he himself; so the ego is a shadow of the true self and it is cognised due to the ignorance of the true self.

You should be established as the embodiment of Atma (atmaswaroop) that is pure, free from space, time and matter, and is non-dual. You should realise that you are Atma and that there is no ego in you and that will mark your total renunciation. When such is your firm faith, you will realise that there is no ego in your awareness of Atma. Only Atma is established in itself and that is your true self and the objects of names and forms are cognised due to ignorance arising from the ideation in the mind, the consciousness. All that is perceived is Atma and nothing can exist but Atma. Just as leaves, flowers, and so forth are created out of a seed, so the entire universe is a glamour of Atma.”

Ramji, in this manner Kacha understood the instructions of his father Brihaspati and was established in his true self. He lived and functioned like a person who no longer had any identification with his body (jivanmukta). Just as Kacha obtained the guidance of Brihaspati, and with his firm practice became Self-realised, so you too should assimilate my teachings and realise awareness of the Atma. When there is no ego within you what will you accept or reject?

Acceptance and rejection are relevant to ego only. Ramji, you are Atma, free from joy and sorrow. Joy and sorrow are experienced owing to ego. When you are divested of ego and are established in your Atmic form – that is the only thing that is real – you will be free from joy and sorrow. All forms with names and shapes that you are perceiving are unreal, and only that because of which the forms are cognised, is real. Hence you should be established in the Truth and then your sufferings will be mitigated.


Man comes into the world burdened with maya and its instrument, the mind. The mind expresses itself through attraction and repulsion, raga and dwesha, affection and hatred towards the external world. Raga is rajasic in its effect; it can be used for one’s uplift, as Narada used it to fix attention on the Lord. Dwesha is tamasic, as Durvasa expressed it in his dealings with Ambarisha and others. Without raga and dwesha, the mind cannot function at all. If these two are removed, there can be no mind and no maya, and you get fixed in jnana (wisdom). Let raga and dwesha go and let Rama enter; then there will be no manas (mind) or maya. The Taittirīya Upanishad analyses the mind and its behaviour very well. It gives directions to merge the mind in God: the weapons with which you can foil the tactics of raga and dwesha. Use them for positive purposes, as Narada and Durvasa did. Have attachment to the Lord and aversion towards evil, pride, egoism. Water and fire are incompatible; fire is put out by water. But, by means of fire, you can convert water into steam and use it to haul long lines of heavy wagons.

How to overcome raga and dwesha? By discrimination, by inquiry, by reasoning. Arrive at the truth by this means. Duryodhana, though he stuck to falsehood, greed and envy had, according to the Mahabharatha, a swell time, flags flying, festoons swinging, banquets every day; but Yudhishtira, the eldest of the Pandavas, had as reward for his high morality, exile, poverty and privation. This does not mean that Vyasa who wrote all this is a cheat or a fool. Dharma stood firm in spite of hardships; sraddha (faith) was steadied and strengthened. In the case of Duryodhana, prosperity did not induce caution, humility or discrimination. So you revere Yudhishtira and execrate Duryodhana today, centuries after they died. Valmiki also pictured Rama as wandering forlorn in the forests, but He never for a moment wavered in the path of Dharma. So He is revered even today as the embodiment of Dharma. Prashanti Nilayam, 4-2-1963



Ego or Atma?
self-renunciation – what is it? How do we get to total renunciation?



Hamsa Gayatri
Om Hamsaaya Vidmahe
Paramahamsaya Dheemahi
Tanno Hamsa Prachodayat

“May we realise Hamsa that is our own Self as the Swan. Let us meditate on that Paramahamsa, the Supreme Self. May Hamsa illumine us.”



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