Thursday, October 27, 2011

Hanumana - The Epic Hero

"Buddhirbalam yasho dhairyam nirbhayatvam arogataa ajaadyam vaakpatutvanca hanumatsmaranaat bhavet |"
"बुद्धिर्बलं  यशो  धैर्यं  निर्भयत्वं  अरोगता  अजाडयम्   वाक्पटत्वं  च  हनुमत् स्मरणात  भवेत्  |"

The unique qualities of Hanumana are mentioned in this famous couplet. The very chanting of His name is sufficient to act as a talisman against all ills of mankind.

Buddhi, his sharp intellect coupled with common sense and wisdom is exemplified in many instances in the Ramayanam. His tackling the various obstacles while crossing the ocean to Lanka, in his introducing himself to Mother Sita, in his dialogue with Ravana urging him to take the path of surrender to Rama, each of these instances show Hanumana’s keen intelligence, alert mind, sharp wit and sound common sense.

The balam or strength possessed by Him, be it physical, mental, intellectual or spiritual was in abundance.

Yashah or renown, fame is established by Hanumana by succeeding in his mission. He not only established his renown as an indomitable warrior but also the name and fame of Rama.

Dhairyam or courage he possessed is in a superlative order and instills that courage in to every devotee who recalls his name.

Nirbhayatvam or fearlessness is another quality which is infused by Hanuman into the hearts of his devotees. He himself is a symbol of fearlessness.

Arogata or good health, freedom from sickness is synonymous with the very name of Hanumana. Physical illness, mental fatigue or spiritual depression is completely eliminated by remembering Him. The fact that he brought special herbs from distant mountains to cure stricken warriors in the battle indicates his inherent healing powers.

Ajaadyam is freedom from fatigue, sluggishness, lethargy. He rouses the down hearted, prompts them into action and instills vitality energizing the tired or fatigued minds.

Vakpatutvam, exceptional communication skills, the quality of rhetoric are powers of Hanumana’s oratory skills. How he won over Rama himself in their very first meeting, inspired confidence in the heart of Sita, extolling the qualities of Rama to Vibhishana and silently convincing him to seek refuge in Rama are all clear indications of Hanumana’s ‘vakpatutvam’.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Durga Devi- The Mother of the Universe

 Goddess Durga is the mother of the universe and believed to be the power behind the work of creation, preservation, and destruction of the world. She is worshiped as the supreme power of the Supreme Being and has been mentioned in many scriptures.

The word "Durga" in Sanskrit means a fort or a place which is difficult to overrun. Another meaning of "Durga" is "Durgatinashini," which literally translates into "the one who eliminates sufferings." Thus, Hindus believe that goddess Durga protects her devotees from the evils of the world and at the same time removes their miseries.

There are many incarnations of Durga: Kali, Bhagvati, Bhavani, Ambika, Lalita, Gauri, Kandalini, Java, Rajeswari. Durga incarnated as the united power of all divine beings, who offered her the required physical attributes and weapons to kill the demon "Mahishasur".

Durga is depicted as having eight or ten hands. These represent eight quadrants or ten directions in Hinduism. This suggests that she protects the devotees from all directions. Like Shiva, Mother Durga is also referred to as "Triyambake" meaning the three eyed Goddess. The left eye represents desire/ ‘Iccha Shakti’ (the moon), the right eye represents action/ ‘Kriya Shakti’ (the sun) and the central eye knowledge/ ‘Jnana Shakti’ (fire).

The lion represents power, will and determination. Mother Durga riding the lion, symbolises her mastery over all these qualities. This suggests to the devotee that one has to possess all these qualities to get over the demon of ego. Devi Durga stands on a lion in a fearless pose of "Abhay Mudra", signifying assurance of freedom from fear. The universal mother seems to be saying to all her devotees:  "Surrender all actions and duties onto me and I shall release thee from all fears".

Friday, September 16, 2011

"Aparokshanubhuti": Direct experience of the Truth

ब्रह्मैवाहं समः शान्तः सच्चिदानन्दलक्षणः ||  नाहं देहो ह्यसद्रुपः ज्ञानमित्युच्यते बुधैः  || २४ ||
I am that Brahman , the ever equanimous, tranquil and of the nature of Pure Existence-Consciousness-Bliss. Not this body; the unreal. This is called real knowledge by the wise. || 24 ||

निर्विकारो निराकारः निरवद्योअहमव्ययः ||  नाहं देहो ह्यसद्रुपः ज्ञानमित्युच्यते बुधैः  || २५ || 
I am the formless, changeless, without blemish and undecaying. Not this body; the unreal. This is called real knowledge by the wise. || 25 ||

निरामयो निराभासः निर्विकल्पोअहमाततः ||  नाहं देहो ह्यसद्रुपः ज्ञानमित्युच्यते बुधैः  || २६ || 
I am devoid of all diseases, without any appearance, modification and all pervading. Not this body; the unreal. This is called real knowledge by the wise. || 26 ||

निर्गुणो निष्क्रियो नित्यः नित्यमुक्तोअहम्च्युतः ||  नाहं देहो ह्यसद्रुपः ज्ञानमित्युच्यते बुधैः  || २७ ||
I am without any qualities, actionless, eternal, ever liberated and I am immutable. Not this body; the unreal. This is called real knowledge by the wise. || 27 ||

निर्मलो निश्चलो अनंत: शुद्धोहमजरोअमरः ||  नाहं देहो ह्यसद्रुपः ज्ञानमित्युच्यते बुधैः  || २८ ||
I am stainless, immobile, endless, ever pure, ageless and deathless. Not this body; the unreal. This is called real knowledge by the wise. || 28 || 

These verses are from "Aparokshaanubhuti" a text by Adi Shankara. 'Aksha' means eyes. 'Para-aksha' (paroksha) means through somebody else's eyes or second hand knowledge. 'Apara-aksha' (aparoksha) means through direct perception i.e, first hand. 'Anubhuti' means experience. Hence, 'Aparokshaanubhuti' means direct experience of the Self within ourselves. The very name indicates emphasis is more on experience than on theory. The text gives enough material to convince us that the emphasis is not a theoretical explanation but a practical guide book to those who can live the spiritual values and come to experience the Self within oneself.

The verses are a ready vehicle to enter the path of meditation. The ideas in the verses as well as the text being fundamental points of Vedanta, help an advanced seeker to directly perceive or experience the truth of the Self. 

Friday, September 9, 2011

Vedanta - 'experience the joy of clarity of thought'

Swami Nirguna Akshara being received at the inauguration of the one year basic course in Vedanta on Sept 3, 2011 at the Aiyyappa Temple, Koparkhairne, Navi Mumbai.

The inaugural ceremony well attended by people in Navi Mumbai who got the oppurtunity  to hear the Master’s words of wisdom. Swamiji in his inimitable, simple and lucid style explained Advaita Vedanta. His talk on the benefits of the course, clearly motivated all those present to learn more about Vedanta. He used the analogy of clothes being tumble washed in a washing machine and explained how Vedanta similarly can remove all doubts and unanswered questions and help us experience the joy of “clarity of thought”. He was a source of inspiration to all the participants who have enrolled for the course. Swamiji blessed each of the participants who also received their books from Him. 

Swamiji addresses the participants.


Friday, August 26, 2011

Shri Krishna says in the Bhagavad Geeta:

यदा यदा हि धर्मस्य ग्लानिर्भवति भारत | अभ्युत्थानमधर्मस्य तदात्मानं स्रुजाम्याहं || ( : ७ )

Yada yada hi dharmasya glanirbhavati bharat| Abhyutthanamadharmasya tadatmanam srujamyaham|| (4: 7)

परित्राणाय साधूनां विनाशाय  च  दुष्कृताम | धर्मसंस्थापनार्थाय  संभवामि  युगे  युगे || (:८ )

Paritraanaaya sadhunam vinashaya cha dushkrutam|
Dharmasamsthapanarthaya sambhavami yuge yuge|| (4: 8)

Whenever there is a decline in righteousness, O Bharata, and a rise of unrighteousness, then I manifest myself. For the protection of the good and for the destruction of the wicked. For the establishment of righteousness, I am born in every age, from age to age.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Maharshi Veda Vyasa

Maharshi Veda Vyasa (Krishna Dvaipayana) was born to Parashara Rishi and Satyavathi Devi at the end of the Dwapara Yuga and his birth is said to be with the blessings of Lord Shiva. He studied the Shastras under sages Sanaka and others. The Puranas say he received initiation at the hands of his twenty-first Guru, Sage Vasudeva.

He systematically compiled the Vedas under four distinct categories thus making them easily accessible. He also wrote the Brahma Sutras, for our quick and easy understanding of the ‘Shrutis’ (Upanishads). He wrote the Mahabharata, the eighteen Puranas and established the system of teaching them through Upakhyanas or discourses. Vyasa’s last work was the Bhagavata Purana which he wrote under the instigation of Devarshi Narada.

The Brahma Sutras or Vedanta Sutras (as they deal with Vedanta only) are divided into four chapters and each of these into four sub-sections. It is interesting to note that they all begin and end with sutras (aphorisms) which when read together mean, “The inquiry into the real nature of Brahman has no return.” It means going that way one reaches Immortality and no more returns to the world.

Vyasa is considered  a ‘Chiranjivi’, one who still lives and guides seekers and students of the Vedas. His Life is an example of one incarnated for the spreading of spiritual knowledge alone. His works inspires the students of Vedanta even to this day. He continues to live for the welfare of the world.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Shanti Mantra

तच्छं  योराव्रणीमहे | गातुं  यज्ञाय  | गातुं  यज्ञपतये  | दैवी  स्वस्तिरस्तु  नः  | श्र्वस्तिर्मानुषेभ्यः   | ऊर्ध्वं  जिगात्तु  भेषजं  | शं नो अस्तु  द्विपदे  | शं  चतुष्पदे  | ॐ  शान्तिः  शान्तिः  शान्तिः  |

Taccham yoraavraneemahe| gaatum yajnaya | gaatum yagnapataye | daivee swastirastu nah | Swastirmaanushebhyah | urdhvam jigaattu bheshajam | sham no astu dvipade | sham chatushpade | Om shantih shantih shantih |

May all the adversities and lack, leave us for ever, so that we can sing in/of the sacrifices and for the Lord of sacrifices (Vishnu). We pray to the Divine Lord for the welfare of one and all. May the medicinal plants grow and grow in their potency. May the human beings (bipeds) be at peace. May all other beings (quadrupeds) be at peace. May there be peace (at all levels physical, mental, spiritual and in individual, environmental and natural conditions).

Monday, August 15, 2011

Bhaja Govindam!

संसारादचिराद्भव  मुक्तः|
द्रक्ष्यसि  निजहृदयस्थं  देवं  || (भज  गोविन्दं)

Gurucharanaambujanirbharabhaktah, samsaaradachiraadbhava muktah | Sendriyamaanasaniyamaadevam, drakshyasi nija hrudayastham devam || Bhaja govindam ||

Cherishing your Guru’s lotus feet, you free yourself from the enslavement of the world soon (without delay), with the disciplining of sense organs and mind, come to see the Lord that dwells within your heart.

Saint Augustine beautifully defines ‘Faith’ as, “Faith is to believe what you do not see and the reward of this faith is to see what you believe.” This faith and devotion to the Guru is necessary, as what the Guru says we may not immediately apprehend. With faith, that secret power of the mind to hold on to what we believe, we come to experience that fulfillment which the Guru indicates.

Hence, Shankaracharya, in this verse, addressing seekers urges them to keep up their faith in the Guru and come to be liberated from ‘samsara’ or the bondage of limitedness, sense of lacking and unfulfilled. This liberation is not in some time far away, but here and now, through the discipline of senses and the mind. A blessing by the champion of Advaita is indicated here, as He says, “May you come to experience the Lord that dwells in your heart.”

Disciplining the mind is required as we need to maneuver the flow of thoughts easily and be able to shift our attention from the ever changing world of names and forms, to that constant, ever lasting Self within us, we come to the realization/seeing of that Divinity/Lord.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Seek You, O Mother !

Verses from Bhavani ashtakam:

न तातो न माता न बन्धुर्न नप्ता न पुत्रो न पुत्री न भृथ्यो न भर्ता |
न जाया न विद्या न वृत्तिममैव गतिस्त्वं गतिस्त्वं त्वमेका भवानि  ||
na taatho na maataa na bandhurna napta na putro na putri na bhruthyo na bharta |
na jaayaa na vidya na vrittimamaiva gatistvam gatistvam tvameka Bhavaani ||

I have no father, no mother, no associate, no son, no daughter, no spouse, no grandchild, no servant or master, no wisdom and no calling. In Thee is my only haven of refuge, in Thee my help and strength,
O Bhavani!

न जानामि दानं न च ध्यानयोगं न जानामि तन्त्रं न स्तोत्रमन्त्रं  |
न जानामि पूजां न च न्यासयोग गतिस्त्वं गतिस्त्वं त्वमेका भवानि ||
na jaanaami daanam na cha dhyanayogam na jaanaami tantram na stotramantram |
na jaanaami pujaam na cha nyaasayoga gatistvam gatistvam tvameka Bhavani ||

I am a stranger to giving in charity and to meditation, to the scriptures, hymns and mantras. I know not how to worship or to renounce. In Thee I seek refuge, in Thee my help and strength, O Bhavani!

विवादे विषादे प्रमादे प्रवासे जले चानले पर्वते शत्रु  मध्ये  |
अरण्ये शरण्ये सदा मां प्रपाहि गतिस्त्वं गतिस्त्वं त्वमेका भवानि  ||
vivaade vishaade pramaade pravaase jale chaanale parvate shatru madhye |
aranye sharanye sadaa maam prapaahi gatistvam gatistvam tvameka Bhavani ||

In struggles, in grief, in travel, in danger, in waters, in fire, in the wilds, in the mountains, surrounded by foes, protect me my Savior! In Thee is my only haven of refuge, in Thee my help and strength, O Bhavani!

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Narada Bhakti Sutra

Championing the path of devotion to the Highest, Sage Narada prescribes the way it is to be done in this life  ” Pursue and cultivate Love alone.” When we are in tune with ourselves, we are in tune with the Universe. We begin to see that all things in Creation are expressions of the same Love.

अभिमानदंभादिकं  त्याज्यं  || (नारद  भक्ति  सूत्र - ६४)  
Abhimandambhadikam tyajyam || (Narada Bhakti Sutra- 64)
Narada extols the methods of practice of cultivating and developing Love. He tells us to give up pride and vanity, cast aside hypocrisy and jealousy. These negative urges are great obstacles on the spiritual path. These mental habits bring agitations and dissipates our energy. The heart then no longer has the energy to grow and evolve. It's easy to love a perfect God, unblemished and infallible. But it is difficult to love fellow human beings with all their imperfections and defects. Remember, only when we love can we come to know someone. There is no wisdom without love. Unless we learn to love God's creation, we can neither truly love nor truly know God.

We must be able to see the thread that holds all the flowers together in a garland. Once we learn to see the Maker and all things made, as the Maker himself, then, this holistic perception leads us to ultimate perfection.

Bulleh Shah, a sufi poet, in his famous poem in Punjabi says, ”Je rab mildaa nahathiyaan dotiyaan .... ve Mian Bulleyan rab unhaanu mildaa atade dildaa sacchiyaan acchiyaannu”.
Roughly translated "If bathing and washing were ways to reach God then surely frogs and fish are closest to Him .... but Bulle Mian says it is the one with a clean mind and pure heart who realises God."
His poetry highlights his mystical spiritual voyage through the four stages of Sufism: Shariat (Path), Tariqat (Observance), Haqiqat (Truth) and Marfat (Union).

Dirt if any is the one inside. The rest we can simply wash off. The type of dirt that cannot be cleansed with water is the stain of hatred, envy, greed, anger that  contaminates the mind. The body can be purified through bathing, abstinence, fasting, but only love can purify the mind. Only a pure and clean mind is capable of realizing the fulfillment of devotion, such a devotion with no sense of distinction between the Lord and oneself.

”प्रेम  कार्यं , प्रेमैव  कार्यं ” || (नारद  भक्ति  सूत्र - ६६ )
”prema kaaryam, premaiva kaaryam” || (naarada bhakti sutra- 66)  

Love is to be accomplished, Love alone is to be accomplished. 

Friday, August 5, 2011

Intellectual miserliness

The shastras/ scriptures talk of moksha/ atma gyaan/ Brahman as a state of awareness/ consciousness inherent in us, realizing which, delivers us free from sorrow, suffering, all limitations and sense of bondage. This state, which is, our true nature of being, is eternal, limitless, of the nature of knowing and bliss.

This being so it also points to the fact that humans show a great sense of intellectual miserliness when it comes upon enquiring into it. Knowing that there is such a state of ultimate fulfillment we still do not seek it. This indeed is a wondrous mystery of Creation.

Misers are those who have enough money to spend but don’t have the heart to spend it on themselves or on others. The ones who do not have any money and therefore do not spend cannot be called misers. The misers do not spend as they are afraid of money going away or because their priorities are not clear and they are not clear about what the money is for.

The scriptures give us interesting definitions for misers. It is extended here to the disuse of one’s intellect (buddhi).

यो  वा  एतदक्षरं  गार्ग्यविदित्वा  अस्मात  लोकात  प्रैति स  कृपणः  | (ब्र्हदारन्यकोपनिशद : ३ : ८ : १० )

Yo vaa etadakshram gaargyaviditvaa asmaat lokaat praiiti sa krupanah | (brhadaaranyakopanishad: 3: 8: 10)

“A miser is one who leaves this world not knowing that he or she is Brahman.”

Sri Krishna too urges Arjuna thus:

बुद्धौ  शरणमन्विच्छ  कृपणाः  फलहेतवः  | (भगवद  गीता : २ : ४९ )

Buddhau sharanamanviccha krupanaah phalhetavah | (Bhagavad Gita: 2: 49)

Seek refuge in ‘buddhi’ (right attitude) and apply it to achieve the highest. Those who put this intellect to limited use and work therefore to achieve limited results alone (dharma, artha and kama alone) and not for ‘moksha’ are misers.

This person is called a miser because he or she is given an intellect but does not use it. This ‘buddhi’/intellect is the discriminative power one is endowed with. Its primary use should be for gaining Self-knowledge. Moksha, the highest fulfillment, gaining which nothing remains to be gained. Misers whose aims are small and not ‘moksha’ underutilize their buddhi.  The misers with money, leave it behind unintentionally, for others to enjoy it, but no one can enjoy their ‘buddhis’ after they are gone.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Of spiritual gurus and seekers: real and fake - part II

Shankara enumerates in ”Vivekachoodamani”, the kind of thirsty questions that would arise in the mind of a seeker of spiritual knowledge:

को  नाम  बन्धः  कथमेष आगतः  कथं  प्रतिष्टास्य  कथं  विमोक्षः |

कोसावनात्मा  परमः  क  आत्मा  तयोर्विवेकः  कथमेतदुच्यतां  || ४९  ||

Ko naam bandhah kathmesh aagathah katham pratishtaasya katham vimokshah |

Kosaavanaatmaa paramah ka atma tayorvivekah kathametaduchyataam || 49 ||

What is this bondage/misery? How has it come about? Is there a way out completely? Who is the Supreme Self? How do we discriminate between self and not-self?

These questions give us an inkling to the type of questions to be put forth to a spiritual guru and the spirit in which we approach the master. They arise from the seeker’s observations on life. They demand explanations for the sense of limitation, helplessness and confusion that one experiences from time to time. Or they may come about from a serious curiosity in knowing the truth behind all happenings of the world, within and without.

A genuine spiritual master living absorbed in the Self, does not shower a greater share of his grace upon people of his choice nor can he withhold his grace from some others. He lives in joyous perfection, cheer and bliss and it depends upon the seekers who approach him to take a greater or lesser share of it. He does not direct one’s attention to himself and expect absolute obedience or utter admiration. Instead he helps one to appreciate and admire the true inner self.

The guru living in perfection, gives out knowledge in terms of his own intimate experience and its up to the seekers to get as much benefit as they can. An ocean does not ban anyone from carrying water from it nor on the quantity. The limitations are the limitations of the containers we carry with us. Just as the sun doesn't decide to light up house to house or room to room but its the walls that restrict the entry of sunlight into the house.

Of spiritual gurus and seekers: real and fake - part I

”There are more fake gurus and false teachers in this world than the number of stars in the visible universe,” says a Sufi Master. ”Don't confuse power-driven, self-centered people with true mentors. True mentors are as transparent as glass.” 

If a seeker demands cheap, easy, effortless methods for highest gains then he sure becomes an easy prey for these self appointed ‘Gurus’. These unscrupulous gurus offer grace and glory of  curative strength, failure-proof talismans, even ‘God’s own vermillion’ all for a reasonable rate, of course, to the unsuspecting, desperate seekers. For one who wants instant and immense gains without any investment then to become such an unscrupulous guru is seen as the easiest way.

This may also happen because many a person approaches a guru for every reason other than queries on spirituality. A spiritual guru is expected to have answers for financial, property, legal or marital issues. It is common sense that such issues need to be addressed by lawyers, counselors, financial advisers and so on, though a genuine guru may also offer advice on these. Even though one or all of these constitute our life experiences, one must approach a spiritual guru for better understanding of life and for spiritual evolution.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Are you in a relationship ?

There comes a time of reconciliation/agreement in the minds of spiritual aspirants, with the highest Reality, which we call Universal Truth, Nature or God.  A reconciliation that any and all prosperity or adversity, all good and all bad events in the world, happen due to the Will of the Lord.  This agreement with the Order of Nature or the Will of God comes about easily due to the influence of ‘Satsangh’ or in the company of Saints.

A similar idea is expressed in the Old Testament as, “God hath given, and God hath taken away. Blessed be the name of the Lord.”

Guru Nanak says,"जो प्रभु कीनो सो भल मानो" All that is good to thee is good to me. He says it was on account of the Saints that he was able to have a continuous, unceasing vision of the Lord.

This vision of the Lord expresses through the Saints and this Love of God binds them together. Many Saints implore spiritual seekers to renounce those relationships that come in the way of God-devotion and engage in the only real relationship possible, which is with the Lord. 

Sant Tulsidas reiterates this point in his famous poem,जाके प्रिय न राम वैदेही, as a response to Mirabai's letter addressed to him. Mirabai had difficult situations in her family. She was troubled at home, her husband had died and her brother-in-law was giving her every imaginable trouble. She wrote to Tusidasji asking what she should do.  Tulsidasji gives certain illustrations to prove his point. He tells how for the sake of God, Bharata left his mother, Prahlad left his father, Vibhishana left his brother, the ‘vrajvanitas’/ Gopis left their husbands. In spite of the derelictions of duties they have earned praise and respect of the world.

Sant Tukaram too in his famous Abhanga expresses similar sentiments, ".... प्रह्लादे जनक विभीषणे बन्धु | राज्य माता निन्धु भरते केली || तुका म्हणे सर्व धर्म हरिचे पाय | आणीक उपाय दुखमूल ||"

Narsi Mehta in his poem (in Gujarati) says, "नारायणानु नाम जे लेता वारे तेने तजीये रे | मनसा वाचा कर्मणा करीने लक्ष्मी वरने भजिये रे || कुलने तजिये, कुटुम्बने तजिये, तजिये मा ने बाप रे | ....." He says it matters little whether it is the father or mother or anyone who stands in the way of God devotion, they should all be rejected.   

Thus the Saints urge seekers to shift our attention from being world (people) dependent to becoming God dependent. Instead of engaging/seeking permanency in the impermanence of the world, we must seek to develop Love for the Lord. Seek to be in a relationship with The One, who with attributes, form, etc or that, which without attributes, form, etc is The Eternal Truth.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Vedanta as means to know the Self

Any knowledge to take place must have three factors: the object to be known (prameya), the one who wants to know or the knower (pramata) and the valid means of knowledge (pramana). Knowledge itself is called prama.

Vedanta talks of the Self (Atman/Brahman) as ‘aprameya’ or unknowable, since it is not available as an object of knowledge. If the Self cannot be known thus what is the point in studying the scriptures then?

Just as we come to know through ‘pramanas’ of a lot of things that exist but which are so far unknown. Like a new disease, for example. Having discovered it we say the disease “is”. Then we hunt for its cause and then say the cause “is”. Then the treatment ‘”is”. The side effects “are”. So on and so forth.

The Self is not available as an object of knowledge but it is not totally unknown. “I am” and “I know I am” is self-evident, self established/svatah-siddhah. Everyone’s Self "is" and that is already established only then can study of Vedanta or an inquiry into the Self be undertaken. Vedanta cannot establish the Self nor can any Guru/God. Vedanta has the status of a ‘pramana’ because it removes the wrong notions about the Self.

The Shastras/scriptures bring into our recognition something that already is, maybe totally unknown to us before. It removes all the superimpositions/projections we build upon the Self in ignorance. The knowledge in the scriptures is nothing but removal of ignorance. If ignorance is not removed there is no knowledge at all. Ignorance and confusion centered on the Self is there and the scriptures have the capacity to remove them.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Jnanam bandhah - Knowledge binds

ज्ञानं बन्धः | (शिवसूत्र: १: २)
Jnanam bandhah:  (Knowledge binds) Shiva Sutras: 1: 2

This sutra has two readings. One is Jnanam bandhah and the other Ajnanam bandhah.

When we say ‘Jnanam bandhah’ it means knowledge is bondage.What kind of knowledge binds? The knowing that I am different from / other than the Universal Consciousness binds. In the path of Shaivism, nothing exists or does not exist that is separate from the Chitprakash (conscious self). So having differentiated knowledge is binding.

‘Ajnanam bandhah ‘is not knowing / ignorance is bondage. Not knowing 'what' can bind? Not knowing our own undifferentiated nature binds.

So ‘knowing’ our nature as individual consciousness and ‘not knowing’ our nature as universal consciousness both cause bondage. We are filled with differentiated knowledge (belief in individual independent existence) born out of ignorance and are thus bound in the wheel of repeated births and deaths. This ignorance of our oneness with the universal Self is the cause of the sprout of ‘Samsara’.

Similarly, Adi Shankara in his Tattva Bodhah says,

अविद्योपधिः सन् आत्मा जीव इत्युच्यते | मायोपाधि सन् ईश्वर इत्युच्यते |
एवम् उपाधिभेदात् जीवेश्वरभेददृष्टि यावत् पर्यन्तं तिष्टति
तावत् पर्यन्तं जन्ममरनादिरुपसंसारो न निवर्तते |
तस्मात्कारणात न जीवेश्वरयोर्भेदबुद्धिः स्वीकार्या ||

Avidya or ignorance binds the Jiva or individual. He identifies himself with his finite actions and thoughts and of his own free will binds himself. Thus engaging himself to seek what he already is and continues the cycle of birth and death. Knowing the individual self to be that infinite Existence-consciousness-bliss alone liberates from the cycle of transmigration. Hence Shankara urges us not to accept this ignorance–born difference between individual and universal and realize the essential oneness.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Bhakti - Supreme Love Divine

Devarishi Narada declares his idea on devotion after stating the different opinions of various Sages in the 3rd section of the first chapter of Narada Bhakti Sutra thus: 

नारदस्तु तदर्पिताखिलचरत तद्विस्मरणे परंव्याकुलतेति |
According to Narada ‘total dedication of all actions at the altar of the Lord, and at all moments of forgetfulness of the Lord, excruciating pangs’ is Supreme Love-Divine. To surrender all activities unto the feet of the Lord, to remember Him at all times and to feel desperate when one notices even a few moments had gone by in forgetfulness of the Lord is Supreme Devotion says Sage Narada.

मोक्षकारणसामग्र्यां  भक्तिरेवगरीयसी 
स्वस्वरूपानुसन्धानं  भक्तिरित्याभिधीयते || (विवेकचूडामणि :३१ )

Among the instruments and conditions necessary for liberation bhakti alone is supreme. A constant attempt to live upto one’s own Real Nature is called single pointed devotion, says Adi Shankara in Vivekachudamani.

Love alone is the path and by love alone can we reach Love. A life without love is of no account.  Lets not ask ourself what kind of love we should seek, spiritual or material, eastern or western. Divisions only lead to more divisions. Love has no labels, no definitions.  It is what it is, pure and simple.

We can study God through everything and everyone in the universe, because God is not confined in a mosque, temple or church. But if we are still in need of knowing where exactly His abode is, there is only one place to look for Him: in the heart of a true lover/devotee.

One of the devotees (gopies) in Brindavan told Uddhava, “We can practice yoga only where there is a sense of separation. Here to us there is nothing but total merger with our Shyamsunder (Dark beauty Krishna).”  This was the depth of perfect devotion that the Gopies had for their Lord Krishna. These loving Gopies were not sentimental lovers of Krishna as generally believed. They knew His Eternal nature as the ‘Sarvatman’, the Self in all. Thus in the giddiness of Love, the Gopies never once gave up a moment of their constant recognition of Krishna’s true nature as the ‘Supreme Self’.

The result of their faithful and deep devotion was that Lord Krishna, Himself, once confessed to them that He was indebted to them for the pure Love they showered on Him. He requested them to release Him of this huge indebtedness so that He may be saved from His obligations which he would not be able to clear even if He served them for eons. (Bhagavatam)

Truly when we step into the zone of love, language as we know it becomes obsolete. That which cannot be put into words can only be grasped through silence.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

No Mind ! Never Mind !

यदा  न  लीयते  चित्तं  न  च  विक्षिप्यते  पुनः  |
अनिगनमानभासं  निष्पन्नं  ब्रह्मतत्तदा  || ( माण्डुक्य  कारिका -अद्वैत  प्रकरण -४६ )
When the mind is not lost in trance and not distracted in desire agitations again, is motionless and does not raise apparitions of thought, it verily becomes that Brahman.  (Mandukya Karika-Advaita Prakarna-46)

यथा दीपो निवातस्थो नेङ्गते सोपमा स्मृता |
योगिनो यतचित्तस्य युञ्जथो योगमात्मनः  || (भगवद गीता : ६ :१९ )

Just as a lamp placed in a windless place does not flicker” is a simile used to describe the Yogi of controlled mind, practicing yoga in the Self (absorbed in the Self with a steady mind). (Bhagavad Gita: 6:19)

“In short, man minus mind is God; God plus mind is man. Mind exists only in ashanti. Where there is shanti there is Godhood.  When the desire- agitations, thought vibrations and disquietude created by the endless chain of appearances that rise from the heap of ignorance in us, have ended, there can be no ashanti.  Where, thus, the mind is indeed no more a mind – when a man is bereft of his mind thus, that man experiences, then, the Selfhood.” Swami Chinmayananda (commentary on Mandukya Karika)

“A disturbed soul is a mind; a quiet mind is a soul. The ‘darshan’ of your soul happens only in the moments of total silence of your mind. In the total quietening of your mind you come face-to-face with the Truth. That quiet undivided mind reaches, merges, becomes one with the soul.” Master Nirguna Akshara (Hanuman the hero in you)

“So long as you do not kill the harmful and illusory association, the prostituting mind, there will be neither bliss nor good conduct. Only when the mind dies through discriminating enquiry, will it come to shine by itself as “Shivoham”-(I am Shiva).” Bhagawan Shri Ramana Maharishi (Padamalai- 458 & 704)

On a lighter note ..
“Mind it!” (Acharya Vasudha- about the mind)

Saturday, July 2, 2011

The Cosmic Being

सहस्रशीर्षा  पुरुषः  सहस्राक्ष  सहस्रपाद 
सभूमिं  विश्वथो  वृत्त्वा  अत्यतिष्तधशान्गुलं  || (पुरुष  सूक्तं  १ )

“He, the Cosmic Lord, the Purusha with a thousand heads, a thousand eyes, a thousand legs, pervading  the entire Universe, still extends ten inches beyond.” (Purusha sooktham 1)

The universe is one being.  It is the single body of the One Self. He alone expresses through all. Therefore all legs of all creatures are His, just as all eyes and all heads are His only. A similar description is found in the Bhagavad Gita (Chapter 13:13).

In our ignorance, prompted by our selfishness we disturb the harmonious movement of the Total and in this disharmony we find all sorrows of individuals, communities and nations. In our sense of separateness, as an individualized ego, we come to feel that the world is totally and intrinsically separate and different from us.

Once this Purusha-concept, the Cosmic Oneness is recognized even intellectually, our false sense of ego dissolves to some extent. A new vision begins to arise. A new peace discovered within. We walk out of our psychological confusions to a large extent. Students of “Purusha Sooktham” come to detect and intimately feel the divine aura surrounding everyone and everything around.

Everything and everyone is interconnected through an invisible web of stories. Whether we are aware of it or not, we are all in a silent conversation.  Therefore, we must do no harm and practice compassion.  And must not gossip behind anyone's back! The words that come out of our mouths do not vanish but are perpetually stored in infinite space and will come back to us in due time.  One man's pain will hurt us all.  One man's joy will make everyone smile.


Six students approach a Guru with their individual problems and doubts. They all knew that the great Rishi was fully capable of clearing their doubts and never doubted his perfection.

 “तानह  स  ऋषिरुवाच  भूय  एव  तपसा  ब्रह्मचर्येण  श्रद्धया  संवत्सरं  संवत्स्यथ  यथाकामं  प्रष्णान्प्रुच्छत  यदि  विज्ञास्यामः  सर्वं  ह  वो  वक्ष्याम  इति  !” 
To them the Rishi said, “stay here for a year with austerity, celibacy and faith; then you may ask as you please your question; and if I know them I will surely explain everything to you.” (Prashnopanishad 1:2)

The Upanishad here clearly indicates the necessity of attunement between the Guru and the student. It clearly indicates the importance of austerity, celibacy and faith. Celibacy should mean avoidance of excessive indulgence in the world not just sexual abstinence. Austerity redeems the personality of the seeker, while celibacy relieves his psychological debilities and faith sharpens his intensity in meditation. The Guru / Hindu scriptures insist on this practice as they want good and substantial results for the seeker. The practice helps in the finite words of the Guru / scriptures passing through the intellectual comprehension of the student finally leading to his spiritual experience.

After a year of such living with the Master, the teacher promises that he will try to answer all the doubts “if I know”. This is not a declaration of his own lack of confidence or hesitation but shows extreme modesty of the man of wisdom even in the presence of his own students. A true teacher is he who knows no egoism or vanity.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Shanti Mantra

ॐ सह नाववतु| सह नौ भुनक्तु| सह वीर्यं करवावहै| तेजस्विनावधीतमस्तु मा विद्विषावहै|
ॐ  शान्तिः  शान्तिः शान्तिः ||

This peace invocation is chanted both by the teacher and the taught before commencing study. This helps each to be in tune with the study and discourse and also in unison with each other. Misunderstandings may crop up in the form of teacher’s dissatisfaction towards his students or it can be due to the student’s misjudgment of the teacher’s attitude or words, leading to clogging in the attuning between them. Transference of knowledge is immediately blocked. This verse is chanted in all sincerity in order to avoid such a sad plight and to assure a perfect tuning up both from the teacher to the student and from the student to the teacher.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

The Divine Scheme

We are all created in His image and yet we are each created different and unique. The human being has a unique place among God's creation. No two people are alike. No two hearts beat to the same rhythm. If God wanted everyone to be the same, He would have made it so. Each and every one of us without exception is designed to be God's delegate on earth. We must ask ourselves, just how often do we behave like a delegate, if ever we do so?  Disrespecting differences and imposing our thoughts on others tantamount to disrespecting God's holy scheme. It falls upon each of us to discover the divine spirit inside and live by it.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Forbearance / Patience

Patience does not mean to passively endure. It means to be farsighted enough to trust the end result of a process. What does it mean? It means to look at the thorn and see the rose, to look at the night and see the dawn. Impatience means to be so shortsighted as to not be able to see the outcome. The lovers of God never run out of patience, for they know that time is needed for the crescent moon to become full.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Bhaja Govindam

"मा कुरु  धनजनयोवन्  गर्वं |
हरति  निमेषात  काल  सर्वं ||" (भज गोविन्दं )

Take no pride in your possession, in the people at your command, in the youthfulness that you have. Time loots away all this in a moment.