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Topics - Dr. Sadananda

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Discussions on Vedanta / Question on Self-Realization-I
« on: November 07, 2016, 08:03:16 AM »
Question On Self-Realization -I

Respected Sadaji

I am recently studying "Discourse on Kenopanisad" 

Chapter II, On page 101 5th paragraph, Pujya  Swamiji Chinmayanadji explains:

"Intimate and Intense subjective experience of his own self" again on page 102  para 3 "subjective experience of our real self"

I realize that Swamiji is pointing to something else as we know that there is no trinity of experiencer, experience relationship when "Subject I" is concerned.

Please help me to understand what exactly is the meaning of ‘intimate and intensive experience of our real self – without having the experiencer – experiencing- experienced, triad – that we have in our any normal experience. How is the experience of the Self different from that of any other experience?


Yes, you are right - experience of Self is not like the normal experience that involves the triad - the experiencer-experienced-experiencing., since the object of experience is the self and the experiencer is also the Self and there is really no act of experiencing.
When Swamiji says it is an intensive subjective experience –it implies first it is not an objective experiences or experience of the self as an object. Every object is inert, while the knower, the subject who says ‘I Am’ is a conscious entity. Hence self-experience is intense recognition that I am the self- which is of the nature of sat-chit-ananda. It is intensive in the sense that it is akhandam or unbroken since knower the self is there in every experience. In essence, there is never a time I do not experience myself – however in all experiences I am paying attention to the objects of my experience rather than to the subject, the experiencer, the conscious entity. Intense experience then is the shifting the attention of the mind not to the objects per sec but to the knower, the conscious entity. The self is a ‘knower’ when there is a ‘known’ (technically called phala vyaapti – since there is a fruit of knowledge that ‘I know this’, etc). However, when the mind does not pay attention to the known but its shifts attention to the knowing principle- constantly and continuously – then only it becomes intense self-experience. There is no fruit of this experience as ‘I know this’ – but only as I  am – I am – I am.. etc. Bhagavan Ramana puts this simply as – aham aham taya, spurtati hRit swayam, paramam puurnam sat. I am, I am, I am – raises spontaneously in the core of one’s personality, one’s heart. Here the heart is the mind that is in meditation, and that ‘I am’ is different from previous I am that arises in all the objective knowledge as I know this, etc. This ‘I am’ is supreme, infinite or full and of the nature of SAT swaruupam, says Bhagavan Ramana. 

These are the general statements. Now let us look at this problem more carefully.

Discussions on Vedanta / On Reincarnation
« on: May 17, 2016, 03:34:56 PM »
Q: Does Advaita believe in reincarnation of a soul?

A: To answer simply, Advaita is not based on any single soul – there is no soul and not-soul at that ultimate understanding – there is only one non-dual sat chit and ananda. Existence-consciousness-ananda that cannot be divided. If one sees divisions they are only apparent and not real. If one takes the apparent as real, then all others factors become as real.

Jiiva (soul) itself is a notion; and when that notion is taken as real – all other problems become as real as jiiva. Hence reincarnation and transmigration of soul are all real in that frame of reference.

Look at this way: gold, iron and copper look different if these difference as taken as real. They can exist in different forms, for example gold can exist now as ring, now as bangle, now as chain, now as bracelet – gold undergoing transmigration or reincarnation into different forms.

You may say gold is different form copper. However fundamentally they are not. At fundamental level they all are nothing but electrons, protons, neutrons etc  From that perspective gold, iron, copper are just bunches of electrons, protons and neutrons – which themselves are nothing but energy-states.

I can understand as a scientist they are all one – yet I can transact in the world taking gold is different from iron and copper. Transactions are done at one level while understanding is at the ultimate level – there is no confusion if one understands correctly. I know that the sun neither rises nor sets; but I can still appreciate the beauty of sunrise and sunset.

That is advaita in spite of dvaita – that is no incarnation in spite of reincarnation. Karma (action) is at the transactional level. At the absolute level I realize that I am never a doer, or kartaa. That is Advaita. Advaita, in spite of dvaita.

How to know if someone has realized or not?

Someone who joined recently in the facebook - friend’s list asked me that I should meet real sage (who is now in Kerala) that he has found one, and he wants me to meet him so that I can be with real-sage. It appears that his joining in the friends-list is to recruit disciples for his teacher. I have to politely decline him saying that I have already been blessed by a teacher who taught me the essence of Vedanta.

Swami Tejomayanandaji once jokingly mentioned in his discourses a question posed by a seeker. The seeker asked – Swamiji, Have you met in your life any realized soul? Swamiji said, in that very question, the seeker has already decided that I have not realized nor my guru, Swami Chinmayanandaji?  We go around trying to find a teacher, who has realized since the scripture itself says approach a teacher who knows the shastras and how to teach them (shotriyaH) and the one who is firmly abiding in the knowledge that I am Brahman- shotriyam brahmanishtam – Mundaka Up.

Here are some questions posed in this advaitin list in the past - related to this topic.
a) Can anybody gain self-knowledge? b) Does the study of scriptures needed for realization? c) How to know if someone has realized or not? There are several aspects involved in these questions. One is about jnaanam and the other is recognition of a jnaani.

1. Can anybody gain jnaanam?
Ans: No. Only those that have purified mind. Sadhana chatuShTaya sampaanna - one who has the four-fold qualifications – viveka, vairagya, shamaadi shtka sampatthi and mumukhutvam. To gain any knowledge there are always a pre-requisites. I cannot just go and sit in the Quantum Mechanics class without having necessary background and expect to understand the subject. Even to gain action oriented expertise, I have to get trained by an expert as in say how to swim or play tennis or basket-ball. Viveka involves discrimination of what is eternal and what is ephemeral, vairagya involves dispassion to give non-essentials, shamaadi shatka sampatthi provides the disciple of the wagering mind to re-channel toward the goal and mumukshutvam is strong desire to become free. These four Ds (Discrimination, Dispassion, Discipline and Desire for liberation) provides the purity of the mind or chitta suddhi which is needed for abiding in jnaanam. The mind has to be subtle to inquire within without objectification of the truth.
This is nothing to do where he/she comes from or where he is born or what gender etc. Swami Chinmayandaji used to interpret the word yaH used on the Geeta slokas as.
yaH = who ever he/she may be he/she who.

Q2. Who will know that I have the sadhana chatushtaya sampatti or the required purified mind?

Ans. Only I will know and no one else can know. By observation of my behavior for prolonged length of time my teacher can infer about the quality of my mind. In olden days only after observing for a long time, the teacher would teach to those to whom he feels that he deserves the knowledge.

Q.3 How to know who is a Jannai or Real Sage as my facebook friend is trying to impress on others.

Ans: Jnaanam or absolute knowledge is different from being recognized as a jnaani? Krishna gives sthitaprajna lakshaNas in Gita Ch. 2, and also discussed these in some form in the 12th Ch. and then again in terms of guNaatiita in 14th Ch. Jnaani does not care if one recognizes him as a jnaani or not – and that is the essence of being a jnaani too.
In principle others cannot evaluate if someone else is jnaani or not, since others cannot know one's mind, excluding some rare siddha purushas who can know others minds.

A child once asked Swami Tejomayandaji. Swamiji, Can you read other’s mind? Swamji answered, ‘No I cannot. I cannot read others minds’. Then he said, ‘I have a method to know what is in other’s mind?’ The child asked, ’How? Swamiji replied, ‘If I love that person enough, he will tell me what is in his mind. That is how I can know what is in other’s mind’. Who wants know others mind anyway, when our minds themselves are so–messed up?
Hence whether someone else is jnaani or not, one cannot judge, and more importantly, it is useless to judge. One has to judge oneself, if he has the jnaanam or not.

It is, however, important for a disciple to think that my teacher is realized – otherwise, he will not have sufficient shraddhaa or faith in the teacher's words.

Since it is difficult to evaluate who is a jnaani or not, we have many Bhagavans, and real-sages, some are real and some are self-proclaimed and some are proclaimed by their disciples.

From the truth point, everybody is Bhagavan only, since there is nothing other than Him or He is one without a second; but to understand this truth, one needs to be a jnaani.

In principle, no jnaani will declare that he is a jnaani. Ultimately it is for others to feel that my teacher is a jnaani, based on their faith only. A disciple will feel strongly based the knowledge he has received from his teacher. He becomes ever grateful for the teaching he received out of love.
Q3. Now we can ask, ‘Are there any realized person in other cultures today?’ That question itself, from my point, becomes an academic question. However, from what he teaches, we can examine the teachings and make a judgment call for our own benefit. That is whether the teaching is in tune with Vedanta pramANa or not. For that only Vedanta provides PramANa. - it is not for evaluation of others, whether someone has realized or not, but whether the teaching is in tune with Vedanta or not.

The truth involves three aspects as Shankara condenses based on Vedanta and mahavaakyas - 1. Brahma satyam 2. jagat mithyaa 3. jiivo brahma eva na aparH. - This teaching whether it comes ultimately from, ‘Who am I enquiry’ or not, one has to examine what that ‘I am’ stands for - if that I am involves understanding ‘aham Braahamsmi’ then that is the full inquiry of who that I am. Bhagavan Ramana has dealt with this clearly - what that I am stands for. The disciples have to understand what it means, whether they study the scriptures or not. Study of the scriptures will help in having clear understanding of what that I am is - as described clearly by mantra 7 of Mandukya Up.

The above aspects have to be clear. Vedanta shravanam is only meant for that. If that can be understood by any other means then the other means are in tune with Vedanta only. For, example – ‘How I understand the gravitational force’ makes no difference as long as I understand it correctly and teach that to others. That is what pramANa implies. If the teaching is not in tune with physics then there is a problem in that teaching. Whether the teacher knows or not, we can only address based on what he teaches. Same thing applies for the absolute truth. We cannot question if someone has realized or not, but we can question whether the teaching is in tune with Vedanta or not. There are no other litmus tests available.

Hari Om!

Discussions on Vedanta / Litmus test for jnaani.
« on: May 14, 2016, 06:16:14 PM »

There is litmus test one can take to check if one has realized or not. This is to test oneself not others. This test has been discussed in the Chandogya Up. in the 6th Chapter, where the famous quote – tat tvam asi – statement occurs.

The teacher, Uddaalaka tells his son Swetaketu – a story related to this.  Once the security people arrested a person and brought him to the King to decide. They said there was a theft, and no one knows who was a thief. The circumstantial evidence points out to this person as the thief, but he denies it. Hence we brought him to you to decide.

The king asked the person, whether he was the thief who stole things. The fellow said that he was not. Then the King ordered to bring a red-hot iron rod and asked him to touch it with bare hands. The king said, if you are telling the truth, then your hands will not burn when you touch the red-hot iron. If the hands burn, then it implies that you are not telling the truth. That means you are a thief and therefore you will be severely punished. Thus he will get double punishments – one getting his hands burned and the other the further imprisonment by the king. If your hands do not get burned, it implies that you are telling the truth and therefore you are not the thief.   We will honor you and also provide compensation for arresting you and giving inconvenience. This test is prescribed in the context of self-realization. Hence one can take this test to check if one has realized or not – that is by touching a red-hot iron. If you think you have realized then your hands will not get burned, otherwise they will.

Now any volunteers to check if they are realized or not?

The implication of the test is a realized person will not get burned when he touches or transacts with the red-hot burning world. He will be immune to the ups and downs of the happenings in the world since he knows everything is just mithyaa or not really real. If one is getting burned while transacting in the world, it is clear litmus test that one is not a  jnaani  or jnaana-nishita. Bhagavan Ramana calls this as dRiDaiva nishTa or firm abidance in the knowledge of I am. Those who have the knowledge and still get slightly feels the heat of the world, implies that they have still remnant raaga-dweshaas or likes and dislikes that affect his transactions in the world. The scripture recommends for him constant nidhidhyaasana or constant remembrance of his real status and the unreal status of the world.

Hence Krishna says that for stitaprajna:

duHkeshu anudvigna maanaH sukheshu vigata spRuhaH|
veeta raaga bhaya krodhaH sthitadheeH muniruchyate|

He is unaffected by the turmoil in the world. Jnaani will see the world either as mithyaa or Iswara Vibhutti or his own vibhuuti.

Hari Om!


Discussions on Vedanta / Questions and Discussions related to Vedanta
« on: April 16, 2016, 07:08:43 AM »
PraNAms to all

When you want ask or what to discuss anything related to Adviata Vedanta, please send me the question or discussion also by an email so that I can immediately answer the question posed.

Hari Om!

Discussions on Vedanta / Free will and/or destiny - II
« on: June 26, 2015, 07:01:34 AM »
Laws of Actions and Results:
One cannot but act as that is the essential expression of Life itself. As a human being I only have the choice of action. The results are dictated by the laws of nature that is beyond my control. If I have a stone in my hand, I can throw it this side, that side or up into the air and pray that it does not fall on my head, or not to do anything with it. But once I throw the stone, its trajectory is determined not by me but by the laws of nature such as gravitational force, the frictional forces, etc. Lord Himself expresses in the form of creation, and thus the laws too, says Vedanta. Hence He is called karmaphaladaata or giver of fruits of actions. The factors that frame the results that I have no control on are grouped under daivam or in normal parlance may be considered as ‘luck’. Hence Krishna’s statement – maaphaleshu kadaachana – you have no choice in the results, once the action is performed. You can perform another action to counter the effects of previous action – like saying I am sorry when you made a mistake. That is called repair action or prayaschitta karma; the result of that action also does not depend on you. Another way of looking at this law of action and result is that action can be performed only in the present, including the planning of future action. The result follows the action and hence future to the action. I have no control on the future. Thus Krishna provides an absolute law of action. I cannot act in the past, since past is gone; and I cannot act in the future, since future has not come. I can sit down and ‘brood over’ my past actions or worry about future. These two only dissipate my energies and make me inefficient in the present action. Life involves action in the present. We can only live in the present since past is gone and future has not come. The irony is that most do not live in the present since their minds are always thinking about either their past or the future. Hence efficacy in the action comes by involving completely (body, mind and intellect) to the fullest extent in the present action. To arrest the habitual tendency of the mind to run to the regrets of the past (or glories of the past) or worry or excitement about the future result and devote entirely in the present action requires the mind that is disciplined. A man of success lives in the present and enjoys the present. Another way to live in the present is to surrender the past and future at the feet of the Lord, and perform the action to the best that I can do as an offering to the Lord, that is, become a karmayogi. Krishna says – yat karoShi yad ashnaasi ... tat kuruShva madarpaNam –
whatever you do, offer it to me with devotion. When we offer something to the Lord, a) it should be our best b) it should be dhaarmic – otherwise He would not accept it. Hence a karmayogi is one who becomes very efficient in action, says Krishna – yogaH karmasu koushalam dexterity in action follows karmayoga, and he also becomes a righteous or dharmic person, which are essential ingredients for evolution of the mind. Hence Vedanta says for proper action in the present one has to follow the four purusharthas, namely, dharma, artha, kaama and moksha.

Four Purusharthas:

artha involves earning money and kaama involves fulfilling the desires but these two are bounded one side by dharma or righteousness and the other side by moksha – a freedom from all limitations. Thus one should earn the wealth as much as one can but by the right means or dhaarmic way, and also enjoy the life in dhaarmic way. In the marriage one takes an oath – dharmecha, arthecha, kaamecha naati charaami – I am taking this woman as my wife for fulfilling my dharma, and enjoy life in dhaarmic way, with the wealth acquired in dharmic way. Moksha is left out in the marriage vow since it involves Vedanta sharavana, manana and nidhidhyaasana that require individual sadhana at personal level. Moral Laws Governing Action: Dharma forms the fundamental basis for life itself and hence Hinduism is actually called Sanatana dharma or that which is followed by time immemorial. Dharma has several connotational meanings; the most prominent one is that which supports the life itself. The whole Geetopadesha starts with dharma (dhrma kshetre..) and ends with mama meaning mine. Thus it involves discussion of what is my dharma or swadharma, with Krishna stating that it is better to do one’s own dharma than to follow that of others- swadharme nidhanam shreyaH. The basic foundation for dharma is accountability for one’s own action. We have legal laws that we need to follow in any society, and ignorance of the laws is not defense for violation in any court of law. For example, I have to pay taxes on time, otherwise I can be prosecuted. Thus legal laws of the land have to be followed; that forms the local dharma. There are subtle dharmas that need to be followed at individual level which can be considered as moral laws. A simple example is I have to do what I expect others to do towards me and I should not do what I expect others not to do towards me. For example, I expect others to be kind to me, help me when I am in need, forgive my mistakes, etc. Then these become my dharma or duties towards others. Similarly I do not want others to lie to me, steal my property, hurt me or abuse me, etc. Then there are my dharmas to follow with respect to others. Some of them are called universal values that are independent of time and location. Any violation of these will leave marks in the mind for which I have to bear the consequence. Religions call this as sin. Swami Chinmayanandaji defines sin beautifully. Sin is defined as the divergence of mind and intellect. That is intellect or buddhi knows what is the right thing to do, while the mind or manas feels like doing something opposite. For example, the intellect knows one should not steal. Even a notorious thief also knows this since he does not want his stolen property to be stolen by others. He is ready to compromise the value for his benefit. While legally he may escape but morally he gets bound. He has to bear the consequence of this violation of moral law in this life or in the next life. This is the basis of theory of karma in Hinduism. One is accountable for one’s action, here or in the life after. That karma account is expressed as praarabda karma or destiny which is nothing but deliberate compromises against moral laws committed in the past. These are absolute laws that govern the birth-death cycles of all life forms. Hence one’s birth, in terms of the type of life form (human, animal or plant etc), place and time, gender, parents, siblings, etc. are all determined by one’s karma as well as the karmas of those who are affected by that birth. System is well governed by laws beyond human intellect. The karma of all being put together becomes the cause for the creation, says Krishna.

Hence dharma forms the essence of purushartha or determining factor for Freewill. Krishna calls this as eternal wheel of action and results that is set in motion from time immemorial or sanatana dharma – which forms the essence of Hinduism, nay the very foundation of the creation. This does not depend on one belief system or opinion. Krishna says - evam pravartitam chakram naanuvartayateeha yaH, aghaayurindriyaaraamo mogham partha sa jiivati. Whoever does not act in accordance with this eternal wheel of dharma that is set in motion from the beginning-less creation, he suffers. The choice is ours and we are accountable for the choice we make.

Thus freewill and destiny play together reminding ourselves – what we have is destiny and what we do with what we have is our freewill. The Free-will is there until we are free from will –which forms the essence of the fourth purushartha, namely moksha, which in essence is freedom from will. Freedom from will involves understanding that I am never a doer or enjoyer. The prakRiti itself does all actions –the prakRiti includes the Body, Mind and Intellect and the whole jagat or the world.  prakRityavacha karmaaNi kriyamaanaani sarvashaH –declares Krishna in Getopadesha.

Hari Om!

Discussions on Vedanta / Free Will and/or Destiny - I
« on: June 26, 2015, 07:00:58 AM »
Free-Will and/or Destiny
Acharya Dr. Sadananda
Chinmaya Mission, Washington Regional Center

I find myself in this world, definitely not by my freewill. I have no knowledge of where I came from or where I am heading after death. I did not have any choice in terms of where I should be born, who should be my parents, male or female, and even who should be my siblings. I am here now; and that is a fact. One day I am destined to die, whether I like it or not. These are truths. Whatever is born has to die, says Krishna, jatasyahi dRivomRityuH. When someone dies, people say, ‘ He is dead and gone’, ‘mar-gaya’ in Hindi, with  similar statements in all languages, implying that there was  someone else who was living in the body and now left, as the current body appears to be no more useful for his transactions. The one who left does not seem to die and he seems to be eternal, therefore must not have born too, echoes Krishna – najaayate mRiyateva kadaachit. In essence, everybody dies but nobody dies, forms the foundation of Krishna’s Geetopadesa. We do not know what that ‘LIFE’ is- yet everybody  claims that they are living. Some say, ‘Life is very precious’.  Doctors have no clue what Life is, yet ready to certify if someone is alive or not, based only on physiological functions. We all know that these functions are only expressions of Life, but not Life itself. The objective scientist has no tools to investigate LIFE. Yet he is ready to deny that which he cannot objectify using his objective tools.

Everyone feels that their life is very important, some even at the cost of other life forms; and yet in the end everyone seems to disappear into the oblivion, without leaving any trace. Life continues independent of anybody’s opinion of it, including this one. It looks like the drama of life will go on forever. In a cemetery, one finds engraved on the stone, a date of birth and a date of death, with a dash in between, indicating that there nothing more to say. It looks like everybody is dashing from birth to death, making as much noise in between. Of billions that lived we only remember those that make a mark in the History, by their good or bad deeds. One day, we will also become history, with some rare ones leaving a line or two in the books of history, for those who care to read. It looks like what counts in the final analysis, is only our deeds, while we are living.

There are billions of people living on this face of earth; what for, God only knows. Scriptures say God created this world? Don’t know why? Some say, it is a play of the Lord or ‘leela vibhuti’. He can have His play, but not at my expense – questions a rational intellect. Of course, sitting in heaven, God only smiles, and being God, He (or She) need not have to answer. Some others say, the first born, Mr. Adam, eat an apple against God’s command, and thus he sinned; and that is why we are all born. The question `Why should I be born since someone ate an apple’ is not asked, or perhaps is not allowed to be asked as they do not have an answer. Of course, the recommended solution is that you have to follow their faith, so that you will be granted eternal happiness that you are longing for; however, not here but in Heaven.

Unfortunately no one has returned to tell us that he is in eternal heaven or in eternal hell by following or not following a particular religion, declares a pragmatist. He wants eternal happiness here and now, as these are the only ones that count, and not promises that will be fulfilled in future. These are dogmas, claims an atheist. He wants an objective proof using objective tools, without recognizing the subject ‘I” cannot be objectified. Why bother with all this, let us make best out of the present, says a practical minded person. However a rational intellect in me cannot but ask – why me?

Why does an apple fall down? – asked one scientist. Any irritated bystander perhaps might have responded – Why bother with your silly questions? Thank God these apples are always falling down from beginning-less time; just eat and enjoy and rest in peace. Well, being a human, I cannot but ask why I was created or the world for that matter. Curiosity to know the cause for everything is in born for humans; some rare ones pursue these questions till the end.

Autobiography of a Human Life:

Examination of everyone’s life across the globe, that includes, of course, a pragmatist, an atheist, a theist, a rationalist, etc., seems to indicate that there is only one purpose for living. That is to get maximum happiness out of this world. We run after objects of our desire with the assumption that we can get happiness when our desires are fulfilled. We love objects/people that give us happiness says, Yagnavalkya, while teaching his wife Maitreyee, in Brihadaranyaka Upanishad – na vaa arE (maitreyee), aatmanastu kaamaaya sarvam priyam bhavati.

In this very pursuit of happiness, there is inherent assumption that we are not happy as we are, and will be happier when our objects of our desires are fulfilled. Interestingly, when the objects of desires are fulfilled, no one seems to be contented or fulfilled, since we go after happiness again by trying to fulfil more objects of desires. Thus rat race has set in. In the final analysis, everyone wants inexhaustible infinite happiness for him to feel that the very life purpose is fulfilled, and he does not have to run after objects of desire anymore. Then, there is no more longing mind or desiring mind or a mind that feels inadequacy, seeking fulfillment. The tragedy of human life is no one can ever get that infinite inexhaustible happiness by any pursuit or even series of finite pursuits; for logically finite(s) cannot give infinite happiness. At the same time, one cannot give up the pursuit of happiness throughout his life. Thus the rat race continues until the rat cannot race anymore and kicks the bucket. This seems to be autobiography of every human being; nay every lifeform too.

The logic says that there is no happiness in any object, including in our good-old hot cup of Madras-Coffee that one longs for as the first desirable thing in the morning. Vedanta says you are trying to solve a problem where there is no problem to solve; and that itself has become a problem, not only in this life but life after life. It says you are the very source of happiness. Hence you are searching for yourself all over the world, as in the missing 10th man-story; some even travel continents. Hence the very desire for happiness deprives one from having one. No doubt one feels happy when an intense desire is fulfilled. However in those moments the mind becomes calm, and in the momentary stillness of the mind, you feel happy, until another desire props in. That desire-fulfilled momentary happiness is the reflection of your own nature, says Vedanta. Hence we can conclude based on our experience that a pre-requisite for enjoying uninterrupted inexhaustible happiness is to have peaceful and serene mind all the time; which seems to be impossible task for all people; except for some rare ones. When there are no desires for objects, the mind ceases to run after objects for happiness as it is self-contended by itself with itself. Such person revels in himself by himself, since he understood that the self that he revels is the very source of happiness that one is longing for – says Krishna.

prajahaati yadaa kaamaan sarvan paartha manogataan, atmanyeva aatmanaa tuShTaH, sthitaprajnastadochyate...II-55.

He is called as Sthitaprajna or jeevan mukta– or liberated while living

In spite of understanding of this essential truth, which is logical and also scripturally ascertained, many of us still run after the objects of desire, or name or fame, trying to chase for happiness that is not there in any object. Mind habitually runs after objects of desires, even after knowing that there is no happiness in any object. Eternal inexhaustible happiness that one is longing far is one’s own true nature, and can be realized right here and right now, as it involves no action but mere recognition that you are complete or full by yourself, says Vedanta. The fact is, the very longing for happiness prevents one to gain that happiness. There is an inherent problem in seeking what you already have. It is like searching for a key all over the world when it is there all the time in your pocket. When the seeker himself is the sought, any seeking is bound to fail, since in the very seeking one presumes that the sought is not there where the seeker is. To stop chasing for happiness through any pursuit, one has to make the mind turn inwards and examine the nature of one’s own self. To do that inquiry, the inquiring mind has to be subtle enough to inquire within, since it is habituated to look outside for answers– as in the search for happiness in the hot cup of Madras-Coffee in the morning. I am a subject (an existent-conscious- limitless entity) and not an object. Every object by its nature is inert and limited. Subject, a conscious entity, can never become an object, an inert entity, and vice versa. Subject ‘I’, cannot become an object of my own enquiry (nor anybody else’s), since in the very objectification conscious subject ceases to be a subject. To understand these subtle truths only Vedanta becomes a means of knowledge or pramaana. Knowing the truth about oneself and to gain this understanding one has to stop looking for happiness outside. One cannot stop looking for happiness outside unless one
understands this simple truth.

Fundamental Human Pursuits:

 Life involves action. No one can remain idle for a moment without action – says Krishna. na hi kaschit kshaNamapi jaatu tuShTasya karma kRit.... and everyone is propelled to act because of his vasanas or likes and dislikes. At the same time, action does not give the result that one is longing for. Hence Krishna provides the laws of action and results in the famous sloka –karmanyeva adhikaarastE maa phaleShu kadaachana, maa karma phalaheturbhuuH, mate sangostvakarmaNi. One has only choice in action and not in the result at any time, let the result not be the motivating factor for action, nor one should stop from acting when action is required- says Krishna. Some interpret the word adhikaara as right to perform action; however what one has only the choice of action – that includes to do, not to do or to do another way-

kartum shakyam, akartum shakyam or anyathaa karthum shakyam.

As a human being, I have no choice but to choose the course of action. Not to do is also a choice that one has to exercise and be accountable for that choice. Some interpret this as we have no choice in action and all our actions are predestined, while some others think we have free will at any time to perform. Freewill vs Destiny has become a debatable issue in some circles of Philosophical discussions. The best answer to this was provided by Swami Chinmayanandaji. He said – what we have is praarabdha or destiny and what we do with what we have is purushaartha, or freewill. Future praarabdha is past praarabdha modified by the results of present action.

Thus while we are prisoners of our past, we are also masters of our future too. Krishna packs this idea in His statement:

uddharet aatmanaa aatmaanam, naatmaanamavasaadayet, atmaiva hyaatmano bandhuH, aatmaiva ripuraatmanaH.

One has to uplift oneself by oneself, and not to degrade oneself. By uplifting oneself one becomes his own friend and by degradation of oneself, one becomes his own enemy. Thus choice is ours. Thus a human being is endowed with freewill to evolve himself. The scriptures provide some guidelines for evolution. Thus being born in a particular environment is also due to result of our own action in the past and to be born in a better environment in future one has to work for it. In addition, by following the scriptural guidelines, one can evolve rapidly and end this cycle of births and deaths. The choice is ours.

More in Part - II

Hari Om!

Discussions on Vedanta / Jnaani and Life Problems-1
« on: June 09, 2015, 04:49:36 PM »
Jnaani and the Life Problems-I
The following write-up is based on the Notes taken during Swami Paramarthanandaji’s class on Vicharasagara of Nischaladaasa – I am attending Swamiji’s class after 6 months gap. Posted as 3-parts due to its length. My PraNAms to Swamiji.
Aatma is adhiShTaanam or substratum for everything. It is the seer, experiencer but it cannot be seen or experienced.  Bri. Up statement says –na dRiShTeH draShTaaram pasyeH, na shruteH shrotaaram shRiNuyaat, na manteH mantaaram manveethaaH, na vijnaateH vijaataaram vijaaneeyaaH| Esha ta aatma sarvantarH. III-4-2.  That which sees but that which cannot be seen, that which hears but that which cannot be heard, that which thinks but that which cannot be object of thought, that which knows but that which cannot be known. That is your own self which pervades everything as the substantive of all. 

It is adhiShTaanam for the universe – universe is adhyaasa or superimposition on the adhiShTaanam aatma that you are. It is like snake is adhyaasa on rope. Snake is mithyaa. It is like the mirage waters on the dry-sand.

The world is mithyaa that is, it is only apparently existing but not really existing. That which changes is only experientially real or transactionally real but not really real. Hence it comes under neither real nor unreal, sat asat vilakshaNam. Since it is neither sat nor asat it is called mithyaa. Every mithyaa vastu or object must have an adhiShTaanam or aadharam or support for its existence. I am, as pure existence-consciousness, is the very substratum for everything and I am the projector, sustainer and experiencer (PSE) of the whole universe. The above Bri. Up. mantras, for example, provides the scriptural support.

World is mithyaa and samsaara therefore is also mithyaa. That which appears and experienced is not really real but apparently real, since it is ever changing. When there is something changing then there must be a changeless entity with reference which the changes can be noticed. Thus there are two realities one changing entity and the other the changeless substratum that supports the changing entity. The order of reality, therefore, must differ between these two. For example, at relative level, gold is the changeless substratum in all changing ornaments, such as rings, bangles, etc. A ring can become a bangle and a bangle can become a bracelet. However as gold there is no change in these changes. The order of reality of ring, bangle  bracelet, etc., must be different from the gold from which they came, by which they are sustained and into which they go back. Hence Gold is adhiShTaanam or substratum for all gold ornaments. Gold is more real than the rings, bangles, etc, the forms that Gold appears. Names and forms of gold are not gold as they are only appearances. The functions or utilities of these names and forms also do not belong to Gold.  The gunas or attributes of ring, bangle, etc, that differentiate one form from the other do not belong Gold. The same principle applies for the world that involves names and forms of all objects. These names and forms or attributes or gunas which differentiate one from the other do not belong to the adhiShTaanam or substantive of these names and forms of objects of the world. 

From the scriptures we learn that the adhiShTaanam or substratum for the entire universe is sat alone, which is really real as it is changeless. Any finite can undergo a change since it is finite. Only infinite cannot undergo a change. Hence sat is infinite. Infinite cannot exclude anything, therefore sat is the essence of everything. Infinite cannot be perceived.  Therefore sat because of which the whole world exits is imperceptible.

Elimination of mithyaa is not possible. Samsaara is mithyaa and therefore its elimination is not possible. Then the very seeking for moksha is futile since it involves elimination of the limitations and thus samasaara. Hence elimination of samsaara or negation of the perceptual world is not possible since it is mithyaa. Seeking to eliminate samsaara is therefore is wrong and illogical. In fact this notion that I want to eliminate all my problems forms one of the biggest obstacles for moksha. Hence any pursuit to eliminate the samsaara which is mithyaa is bound to fail since one is trying to eliminate that which has no reality of its own.

The very seeking to eliminate samsaara or the world of appearance by a process itself will result in two problems.
1. Seeking will not be successful since one is trying to eliminate samsaara or limitations which are not real.
2. More importantly the very effort to eliminate the mithyaa object or vastu gives more reality to the mithyaa object. By the very process to eliminate that which is not real or mithyaa will only give more reality to it but also makes problem more difficult. It is similar to trying to kill the rope-snake that is perceived. Rope-snake cannot be killed by any means. And the very pursuit to kill the rope-snake gives more reality to the snake than it deserves. Hence any pursuit to eliminate the rope-snake will bound to be a failure. What need to be understood is that it is really rope, and there is no snake at the place and time where the rope is. 
Similarly by the process of giving reality to day-to-day problems or samsaara, we hurt ourselves more since the problems that haunt us have become more real. Hence the statement is asked to uplift himself by himself.  uddharet aatmanaa aatmaanam, aatmaanamavasaadhayet, aatmaiva hyaatmano bandhuH atmaiva ripu raatmanaH|| I become my own enemy by giving reality to that which is not really real. The very effort to eliminate gives power to the world of plurality to empower us. That which appears has to disappear also. That which comes will go. Hence Krishna advises the ups and downs that come due to praarabda one has to forbear by ignoring them as apparent and not real. Going to the temples, doing prayers to relive the suffering, etc., all imply that I am giving more reality to the problems than what they deserve. Hence Krishna says aartho arthaatii are devotees alright but are of lower category. The highest bhakta is the jnaani who understands that he does not have any problems or samsaara. The problem becomes more intense since I cannot solve the problem by any process and I also cannot give up solving the problem. The real solution is to recognize that I have no problem to solve to begin with. This is not recognized easily while immersed in the problem. Surrender the ego that has the problem at the feet of the Lord is a suggested solution as sharaNaagati, suggests some daarshanikas. The real surrender occurs only when I recognize that I am free from all problems since I am the adhiShTaanam or the substratum for the whole universe, says scriptures.

Tat Tvam Asi / Index of Topics
« on: April 06, 2015, 01:14:20 PM »
Index of Topics

What is success?
Is the world real or unreal? Acharya
Is external sanyaasa necessary
  for self-realization?
Switching from karma yoga to
  jnaana yoga on the way to self-realization
An introduction to the
  mahaavaakya - the key to self-realization
Why knowing  'tvam' is  first
  step in self-realization
Knowing  'tvam' using 
  anvaya-vyatireka method of logic
4  factors  inhibiting  correct
  understanding of  mahaavaakya and self-realization
Mind not ready to switch to
Principal factor: Not
  appreciating the intended meaning of $(Atv(Bam$(B p(Badaartham as means to
The four-fold confusions
  impeding self-realization
Nature of the vasanas impeding self-realization
Analysis  of the entire
  mahaavaakya 'tat tvam asi'
Knowing which I will know
The subject "I"
Saakshii or witnessing
Saakshyam, the witnessed
Who am I inquiry : Surrender of
  the ego
Who am I inquiry: Is scriptural
  study necessary or is "who am I" inquiry not sufficient for
Role of the mind in
Role of the mind in
  self-realization - the perception process
Does jnaani possess praarabda?
Test of a jnaani
Jivan Mukta
Gayatri Mantra
Sarva karma sanyaasa
Obstacles in spiritual progress
  - ignorance
Obstacles: Knowledge
  communication through words
Obstacles in spiritual progress
  - the 10th man syndrome
Obstacles in spiritual progress
  - lack of shraddhaa
Obstacles in spiritual progress
  - SamShaya
Obstacles to jnaana nishTa
Fourfold obstacles during
I and the World- Kshetrajna and Kshetra
Is Sat Chit Ananda an attribute?
What is Nidhidhyaasana? Part 1 of
  Acharya Sadanandaji
What is Nidhidhyaasana? Part 2 of
  Acharya Sadanandaji
Intellectual Bhakti

Tat Tvam Asi / Obstacles in spiritual progress - lack of shraddhaa
« on: April 06, 2015, 12:12:39 PM »
Jnana Yoga and Self Realization XIX

Obstacles for Spiritual Progress - III

We are discussing the obstacles for self-realization based on the Krishna’s statement in Gita 4-40, where He states that 1. avidya (ignorance), 2. ashraddha (faith), 3. samShaya (doubt) form there major obstacles.

avidya is mula avidya or primordial ignorance and is termed as self-ignorance, that is, the lack of knowledge of our intrinsic nature. All other problems we have become secondary problems arising because of this muula avidya or fundamental ignorance. Not solving this fundamental problem will not help in solving other problems that are bounded by space and time. I can take the help of others or designate others to solve all other problems on my behalf. For example, all karmas or all the rituals one can do by proxy; but any knowledge can be gained only by self study. Not even Bhagavan can help me in this.  He may send a good teacher for teaching or he may himself take the role of a teacher, but knowledge has to be gained by the individual intellect alone. Other than the intellect, there is no other instrument available for knowledge.  Hence knowledge, by definition, is intellectual. With the intellect we need to understand that I am not the intellect.

The ignorance, we said, is anaadi or beginningless. This is true for any ignorance, such as ignorance of physics or ignorance of chemistry. Even though it is anaadi, it can be eliminated when one gains the knowledge of that subject. The same is true for self-knowledge. The self-ignorance can go away only by self-knowledge. Another  point to note is that any knowledge is gained only by a pramANa, an instrument of knowledge. Advaita subscribes to six means of knowledge, of which the prominent ones are pratyaksha or direct perception, anumaana or logical inference and shabda or word of a trustworthy person. Since self is the subject which cannot be objectified, the perception and anumaana cannot reveal self-knowledge. Perception and anumaana or logic work only in the field of objective world. Hence only pramANa for understanding the Self is Vedanta or Upanishad pramANa. Vedas are considered as apourusheyam or not authored by a human being and therefore are free from defects associated with human intellect. We accept any teacher’s teaching as long as those teachings are in tune with the Vedanta. We need a live teacher from whom we can learn Vedanta, with the full faith that the teachings of the Vedanta by the teacher are indeed true – that is shraddhaa which Shankara defines as – shaastrasya guru vaakyasya satyabuddhaavadhaaranaa. We analyzed the role of shraddhaa or faith required in the teaching. For the teaching to work, absolute faith is essential. Question people ask is, can one have a teacher who is not alive. Not so, because there is no way a student can clarify his doubts from a dead-teacher. If he has to relay on someone else to clarify his knowledge, then he should have full faith in the teaching of that person that they indeed are true and are in tune with Vedanta. Therefore a live teacher is a must. Krishna says clearly – that one has to approach (obviously a live-guru) a teacher with full faith and ask relevant questions pertaining to Vedanta – tat viddhi praNipaatena paripraShnena sevayaa. Munduka Up. says – tat vijnaanaartham sa gurum eva abhigacchet – one has to approach a teacher alone (gurum eva) to gain that knowledge, approaching that teacher with samit paaNiH – with fire wood that was needed in those days,  indicative of readiness to serve and to be disciplined.

Now-a-days there is no need of fire-wood. Tai. Up says the teacher obligation is to teach freely but at the same time the student’s obligation is to give back to the teacher – aachaaryaaya priyam dhanam aahRtya, ..( the obligation is to procure and give the wealth that pleases the teacher). Obligations are two fold. 1. Providing the required support to the best that one can do for the sustenance of that teacher or the teaching institution and 2. After learning, the obligation is to pass on the teaching to others who come to him with full faith. Propagation of the knowledge to the worthy students who approach the teacher with the attitude of learning is the foundation of our Vedic culture. Hence student prays the Lord in advance–(Once I become a teacher) please send many worthy students from all directions – aa maayantu brahma chaariNaH swaahaa| vimaayantu brahma chaariNa swaahaa| pramaayantu brahma chaariNaH swaahaa| damaayantu brahmachaariNaH swaahaa| - The request is very specific - to send students who are well prepared and who have shama, damaadi Shatka sampaathis – or mentally well disciplined and brilliant students. Thus guru-shishya chain is indicated by that very prayer.

Krishna, while glorifying the Vedantic teacher in Gita Ch.18, says to whom one can teach and to whom one should not teach. One should teach only to those who have shraddhaa or faith in the teachings and in the methodology. We respect all realized masters but all cannot be the teachers. Only those who have learned Vedanta, not only the truth but how to teach also – who is termed as sampradaaya teacher – can teach properly the truth knowing very well the pit-falls that the student can fall into.   This is one of the problems in trying to gain the knowledge by listening to JK where he himself dismisses the teacher – although it is claimed that he himself wrote a book – at the feet of the master – when he was associated with Theosophical lodge.

The moment jnaanam raises it removes ignorance – like the moment a light is brought in all the darkness instantaneously disappears, even if that darkness has been there from the beginning of the creation.  The moment ignorance is removed all duality is falsified in the wake of knowledge.

Ignorance being beginning-less along with its mushrooming effects of  sanchita-aagaami-and praarabda karmas, it appears that it is very difficult to get rid of all these. Krishna says sarvam karmaan akhilam paartha jnaanena parisamaapyate both sanchita and aagami karmas get destroyed with the jnaanam. Sureswara says knowledge being fact is always stronger than thousands of misconceptions. Falsehood cannot stand in front of truth. satyameva jajate, na anRitam - is the Vedic proverb. Jnaanam destroys ignorance and errors. In addition only knowledge can destroy ignorance – samyak jnaanam na baadhyate –however, knowledge cannot get destroyed;  since it is born of proper instrument of knowledge, once it arises it never gets destroyed. Hence a jnaani cannot become ajnaani again.

In addition, knowledge does not require any other support like meditation or saadhana for negating samsaara. Even meditation is not required to strengthen the knowledge. It does not require even karma. The role of karma yoga is only to convert the student into a worthy listener. Meditation is only to internalize the knowledge that has taken place. Knowledge also involves recognition that there is nothing more is needed to know – yat jnaatvaa naaparam jneyam, knowing involves recognition that there is nothing more to know.  Knowledge also cannot be negated or falsified by the experience of duality. Knowledge recognizes the falsity of the experiential duality. It is similar to the knowledge that sun never rises or sets does not negate the experience of the sunrise and sunset – it only helps to recognize the falsity of the experiential sunrise and sunset. That means a jnaani still sees the duality but recognizes the falsity of the duality that is experienced. Therefore, samyak jnaanam – right understanding born out of proper study of Upanishadic scriptures – is more than sufficient for the negation of the ignorance. That understanding takes place only if I have a faith in the teaching.

Related to the lack of shraddhaa is the doubt about the pramANa itself, and the teaching that says that you are seeking the fulfillment in life and what you are seeking is what you already are. However, that knowledge, tat tvam asi, does not get registered in the mind, due to lack of a strong conviction of the truth of the teaching. One wants a further proof of the statement, mainly because of strong personal experiences or impressions that are contradictory to the teaching itself. People generally say advaita is very difficult to understand. That statement itself is an immediate red signal. The implication of that statement is my intense transactional experience contradicts the teaching of advaita that says what you are experiencing is not real.  It further says that which is real cannot be experienced, since it is not an object for experiencing. If I see a chair out there, advaita says there is really no chair out there, because I am seeing it, dRisyatvaat.  What is really there cannot be seen. The pramANas that I use to perceive the world contradicts the teaching itself. Hence only pramANa is the Shaastra pramANa. One cannot use any other pramANa to confirm or to deny the teaching. Hence Krishna says shamshaya or doubt about the mahaavaakya as pramaaNa, where the identity of the self and the total self, will cause degradation of the individual since he will relay objectivity as reality which is inherently erroneous. That Brahman is alone is the ultimate truth cannot be proved by any other means, and that Brahman is none other than myself says the scriptures. Therefore, no proof is also required. Other than advaita no other philosophy subscribes to oneness of the ultimate reality. The great aachaaryaas of other philosophies, including both theistic and atheistic philosophies namely, sankhyaa, yoga, nyaya, vaisheshika, puurva miimamsa, dvaita, vishiShTaadvaita, bhuddism, jainism, etc, all have problems in appreciating the non-duality at the absolute level. They all interpret the mahaavaakyaas emphasizing the duality. They all subscribe to multiple jiivas and some even claim that each jiiva is all pervading - nityaH sarvagataH sthaaNuH acaloyam sanaatanaH – that which is eternal, all pervading, firm, immovable and beginning-less; all-pervading yet finite are contradictory in terms. Hence Dattaatreya says in avadhuuta gita – Iswaraanugrahaat eva pumsaam advaita vaasanaa – only by the grace of God one acquires the inklings towards advaita philosophy.

The next prominent obstacle is longing for some Brahman experience: Lack of clear understanding of the nature of the truth or mahaavaakya causes one to long for some Brahman-experience.   Understanding of the nature of the truth is recognition of oneself as ever present and eternally liberated or free from all limitations. Realization is the realization that there is nothing else to realize but recognition of the fact that I am, by nature, complete and full. All are in me but I am not in any of particular thing, including this body, mind and intellect. There are those who claim that they have studied Vedanta and then claim- I have understood Vedanta. I do not want to waste any more time in these intellectual discussions, and all I want to do now is to sit down and meditate for self-realization or experience of aatma or the self. Some claim that there is no need to study Vedanta – there is a direct path and that is to sit down and enquire –who am I?. The proper inquiry of- who am I -can only take you to the understanding that I am existent-consciousness or saakshii swarupam or tvam padaartham. Without the clear understanding of mahaavaakya that shows the identity relation of tvam and tat, one has not discovered that one is free. Any idea to the effect that I have understood Vedanta intellectually, and for self-realization I need to sit down now and meditate on it, or one has to take sanyaasa to realize is a definite red signal, showing that Vedanta mahaavaakya is not understood correctly. Implication in all these misconceptions is that the realization is an event in future in the seat of meditation.  It should be recognized that meditation is not a means of knowledge or pramANa to provide the self-knowledge. It should also be recognized that only through intellect one can know that I am not the intellect but the very substratum of the intellect – similar to recognition that while looking at the pot that there is no pot there. What is there is only clay in the form of a pot. Similarly intellect is required to recognize that I am not the intellect and I am that because of which I am able to make a statement that I am not the intellect using intellect. Kena says – yat manasaa na manute ye na hurmano matam, tat eve brahma tvam viddhi na idam yat idam upaasate| - that which mind cannot think of (mind can only think of the objects) but because of which mind has the capacity to think of – that alone is Brahman not this that you worship. Then what is nidhidhyaasana for?

Vedantic meditation involves sitting down and inquiring into the meaning of the mahaavaakyas staring from tat tvam asi is only to recognize and establish my self in that identity of my true nature.  Understanding is different from abidance in that understanding. As we discussed before the knowledge takes place by Shravana and manana since it is direct and immediate since the statements concern about myself which is ever present. PramaaNa operates by shravana, as in the case of the tenth man. Manana eliminates all the doubts related to the pramaaNa. Doubt-free knowledge alone is complete knowledge.  Then, Nidhidhyaasana or meditative inquiry into the nature of reality will help in eliminating the habitual mental notions formed before the dawn of the knowledge. These habitual notions, which involve the notions that I am not that, will side track the background understanding. Habits die hard. Only way to overcome these habitual notions and for the mind not to get entangled in the external world of plurality is to have constant reminder of my true nature that I have understood through shravana and manana. Krishna says by abhyaasa and vairaagya, that is by practice and by withdrawing from unnecessary involvements one can achieve this. This is what is emphasized in the jnana-karma-sanyaasa – jnaanena karma sanyaasa or by knowledge one can withdraw mind’s indulgence in the involvement of the day to day transactions. In this respect the jnaana sanyaasa or vidhvat sanyaasa is helpful for a jnaani to abide himself in the jnaana. Krishna gives an elaborate analysis of a jnaani or sthitaprajna in dealing with the day to day transactions which cannot be avoided as long as one is living with BMI. When the understanding of the mahavaakyaas gets one firmly established, then the praarabda-vaasana-generated emotions in the mind do not perturb the equanimity of the mind gained through the absolute knowledge of the self. Hence Krishna say a jaani is one whose mind is devoid of attachments,  – dukheShu anudvigna manaaH sukheShu vigata spRuhaH| viita raaga bhaya krodhaH sthitadhiiH muniH uchyate|| The one whom mind is not perturbed when sorrow comes or excited when objects that bring pleasure come, one who is devoid of attachments, fear, anger and who is firmly abiding in his knowledge is called muni. Obviously jnaani has the mind but he is not affected by the fluctuating emotions in the mind. He can withdraw the mind like the tortoise withdraws it limbs when he sees that the mind is getting lost in vyavahaara.

Longing for an experience of the absolute is therefore constitute a big hurdle in the self-realization. The fact of the matter is the absolute truth cannot be experienced and also need not be experienced, since it is the experiencer himself in all the experiences. Yet the constant nagging question remains; if I am already complete or full or limitless, how come I feel I am terribly incomplete and utterly inadequate person, wanting many things that I do not have. How can one prove that I am complete and full already? Implication is I am looking for an independent objective confirmation, other than the scriptures, the confirmation that does not depend on one’s faith, or subjective assertions. Even if any realized person comes and says – yes what the scripture says is indeed true - such statements also do not provide the proof since there is no litmus test to prove that he has realized. Ultimately it is only shabda pramANa where faith in the statement of the scriptures is essential for knowledge to take place.

Even those philosophers or Vedic scholars, dvaitins and vishiShTaadvaitins, who have the faith in the scriptures do not consider that the mahaavaakyas provide the absolute truth with identity of jiiva-jagat and Iswara as one – adviatam – that is beyond the waking, dream and deep sleep states – …advaitam, caturtham manyante sa aatmaa, sa vijneyaH, Man.Up. For them duality is the ultimate reality, in spite of the fact that the scriptures says even a speck of duality will cause fear – udaramantaram kurute athathasya bhayam bhavati – Tai. Up. Even the Patanjali yoga that stresses on the nirvikalpaka samaadhi ascertains that the absolute reality is not advaita or non-duality but plurality involving Iswara and multitude of jiivas. Obviously the nirvikalpaka samaadhi of Patanjali does not give the knowledge of advaita, since it is not a means of knowledge or pramANa. Mind is required to gain any knowledge including self-knowledge. Mahaavaakya as pramANa will work in the hands of a competent teacher. A competent teacher is one who was a competent student before. Thus Vedantic tradition and a proper means of study are ascertained. There are always exceptions to the rule but we do not make rule out of exceptions. Self-realization is not by intuition but by being in tuition.

Hari Om!

Preliminaries / BRAHMASUTRA BHASHYA - Mangalaacharana
« on: March 01, 2015, 02:08:35 PM »
      ShR^iti smR^iti puraaNaanaam aalayam karuNaalayam.h |
      namaami bhagavat paada.n sha~Nkara.n lokasha~Nkaram.h ||
      My humble prostrations to Shri Shankara Bhagavatpaada who is the very abode (for the study) of the Vedas, the Bhagavad Gita and Puranas and who is the very source of compassion and auspiciousness for the world.

Preliminaries / Preface
« on: March 01, 2015, 02:06:42 PM »

The purpose of these notes is primarily for my own learning. If it helps others in the process, it is due to His blessings. Any discussions, comments and criticisms on the topics are most welcome, since it helps the stated objective. I intend to present first my understanding of Brahmasutras based on Shankara Bhashya. These notes closely follow the teachings of the sutras by H.H. Swami Paramarthananda of Madras. My humble prostrations at his holy feet. Shri Swamiji was a graduate of Sandeepany Sadhanalaya of Chinmaya Mission, and studied under Swami Chinmayananda and Swami Dayananda. He has been teaching for many years in various parts of Madras City. I had the privilege of attending his lectures when I was in Madras on my sabbatical. After discussing the first four sutras based on Advaitic interpretation, it is my intention to examine the other interpretations, particularly from Vishisht-advaita and Dvaita points of view. Emphasis will be specifically on their primary objections to Advaita doctrine and on the examination of the validity of their objections. In this connection, I had the benefit of helping Shri Gururaj, who was well known in Madhva community as former Pejavar Junior mathadhipati, Shri Vishwavijaya Tirtha, in translating the condensed version of Nyaya Sudha of Shri Jayatirtha of Madhva Tradition.

      I am a student of Science and Vedanta, and therefore I do not claim myself to be an expert in Brahmasutra or Advaita Vedanta. If the learned members find errors in the contents or in the logic, I will be grateful if these are brought to my notice. If alternate interpretations are possible, those are also welcome. Editorial corrections in terms of English and in typing are also appreciated. As Shri Gummuluru Murthy pointed recently that it is difficult to translate some of the technical Sanskrit words into English; the meaning will not be exact. Hence initially both Sanskrit and English words are used with the hope that readers will get familiar with the Sanskrit words. Later mostly Sanskrit words will be used. This is not to discourage those who are not familiar but to encourage them to become familiar with the words since in the final analysis one gains better understanding of the subject. This being a serious subject one cannot just read and expect to understand. It has to be studied. Because of unfamiliarity of the words it may not be clear in the first reading, but the second and third readings should help. As the time permits, I intend to post one lecture a week, giving enough time for discussions and assimilation. As we proceed, many of the doubts get cleared slowly. A commitment or 'shraddhaa' is always essential to gain any knowledge and more so for Brahmavidya.

Preliminaries / Introduction
« on: March 01, 2015, 02:06:06 PM »

   We will discuss what is the prasthana-trayam in Hinduism, what are darshhaNa-s, give a brief ourtline of the Brahmasutras and provide some definitions

Preliminaries / Prasthana-trayam
« on: March 01, 2015, 02:05:33 PM »

      Brahmasutra forms one of the three basic texts of Hinduism or more correctly to be called 'Sanatana Dharma'. The three basic texts are called 'prasthaana-trayam'- the three pillars of Vedanta. They are ShR^iti prasthaanam, smR^iti prasthaanam, and nyaaya prasthaanam. The Upanishads or uttaramiima.nsaa forms the ShR^iti prasthaanam, Bhagavad Geeta is the smR^iti prasthaanam, and Brahmasutra is the nyaaya prasthaanam. Brahmasutra discusses the essence of Upanishads or Vedanta in a concise form. It establishes the coherency or consistency in the Upanishads and shows that the central theme of the Upanishads is related to the nature of Brahman.

      Hence the sutras are called Brahmasutras. It is also called Nyaya prasthanam since it uses nyaaya or logic to establish the superiority of Vedanta over other philosophies. It is not necessary to study Brahmasutra to understand Vedanta. For most of the seekers, the study of basic Upanishads and Bhagavad Gita is sufficient. Only if one wants to understand the intricate logic involved and wants to appreciate the logical soundness of Vedanta over other systems of philosophy, one needs to study Brahmasutra. The sutras being in a concise form, they need to be studied through bhaashhya-s. There are many bhaashhya-s by many aachaarya-s each reinforcing their philosophy using Brahmasutras. There are commentaries on the Bhashyas and commentaries on these commentaries.

      Thus it is a very vast mushrooming literature, and it is very easy to get lost in these studies. Hence it is advisable to study sutras under a teacher.

Preliminaries / DarshhaNa-s
« on: March 01, 2015, 02:05:04 PM »

      Human beings are different from animals in the sense that they are endowed with intellect, what is commonly called as 'conceptual thought'. There is a famous shloka that says:

      aahaara nidraa bhaya maithuna.n cha saamaanyam etat pashubhiH naraaNaam.h |
      buddhirhi teshhaam adhiko visheshhaH buddhyaa vihiinaaH pashhubhiH samaanaaH ||
      Hunger for food, sleep, fear for security, and desire for progeny are common for both animals and human beings. Only one thing that is special for human is the intellect. If intellect is not there (or if it is not used properly), then man is not different from animals.

      Because the human being is endowed with such an intellect (buddhi), birth as a human being is glorified in our scriptures. Because of the intellect, the man is given a choice to accentuate his evolution to a state of God-hood. To accomplish that Vedanta insists that contemplation is essential for evolution and contemplation involves application of the intellect.

      Because of the gift of this rational intellect, man cannot but inquire into the cause for an observed phenomenon. For example he begins to question: who is he? Wherefrom he came and what is the cause for his birth? What is death and what happens after one dies? What is this Universe? Wherefrom it came or what is its cause? What is life and what is its purpose? Why there is so much suffering in life? How to get over this suffering? These are some of the questions that an intellect cannot but ask at one time or another. In fact one can formulate six topics of inquiry that a seriousstudent of life can pursue. In Vedantic terminology these are related to:
      1. Who is Jiva -or who is or what is an individual?

      2. What is this Jagat, world?

      3. Who is Ishwara or what is the cause of these two - the source for jiva and the world?

      4. What is bandhana or bondage, which is the cause for human suffering, or sa.nsaara?

      5. What is the nature of Moksha or Mukti or Freedom from this bondage or Liberation from the human suffering?

      6. What is the means or Sadhana for liberation, or means for a person to go from bondage to liberation or what is the link between the bandha and moksha?

      The six topics are related to jiiva, jagat, iishvara, bandha, moksha, saadhanaani (individual, the world, creator, bondage, liberation and means for liberation, respectively). A serious thinker of life cannot but think deeply and come to a consistent or self-consistent explanation for these.

      A consistent and logical view or a teaching arrived at by a serious thinker regarding these six topics is called 'darshanam' or a Philosophy, and one who founds such a philosophy is called 'daarshhanika'. Because of the consistent and philosophical approach to life, there are always others who want to follow these daarshanika-s. Thus a daarshanika becomes a preceptor and propagator of his philosophy, darshanam. In India there are twelve such well known 'darshana -s', of which six are called 'naastika darshana -s' and the other six are 'aastika darshana -s' The former are those systems which do not accept Veda as pramaaNa, or means of knowledge. Hence they rely mostly on 'pratyaksham' or direct perception and 'anumaana' or inference or reasoning as the means of knowledge. In contrast 'aastika darshana -s' are those that accept Veda as the valid or reliable source of knowledge.

      The six naastika darshana -s are as follows: The first one is called 'chaarvaaka darshanam' or materialism. The source of this philosophy is said to be bR^ihaspati, who is the deva guru. The original purpose of this philosophy was to mislead the demons so that they can be destroyed. The first disciple of bR^ihaspati is said to be chaarvaaka (meaning the one who speaks very sweetly), and because of that he could popularize this materialistic philosophy. This philosophy does not accept - Veda-s, soul or aatmaa, re-birth, heaven, hell, dharma or adharma- but it emphasizes the sense pleasures as the ultimate goal or the very purpose of life. The modern science and technology may come close to this philosophy, since the existence of a soul is not conceived, and consciousness is assumed to be a temporary product of matter. 'yaavat jiivet sukham jiivet |' 'R^iNam kR^itvaa ghR^itam pibet.h |' Enjoy the life as long as you live - if you don't have it, then borrow and enjoy - the American way. How about paying it back?- That is not important since it is the lenders problem and not ours. How about heaven or hell? It says: 'bhasmii bhuutasya dehasya, punaraagamanam kutaH | Once the body is burned into ashes, where is the question of returning back and who has seen life after death? No one has ever come back and no one has seen any one coming back. Hence death is the end of life. They believe only 'kevala pratyaksha pramaaNa' -that is the direct perception as the only means of knowledge. chaarvaaka darshanam is not discussed in Brahmasutra, since it was not considered as worth discussing. But it is recognized that materialism was not new and was prevalent in those days along with theistic philosophies.

      The second is Jaina darshanam. It is given by 24 aachaaryaa-s called Tiirthaa~Nkaara-s, beginning from R^ishhabha deva ending with vardhamaana mahaaviira. Vardhamana Mahavira is also called Jina -meaning one who has conquered himself. He is responsible for the wide popularity of this darshanam and hence is called Jaina matam or Jainism. Jainism has two branches; shwetaambara and digambara. There is no differences in their philosophies but only differences in their practices. Philosophical aspects of Jainism are discussed and refuted in Brahmasutra.

      The third is Bouddha darshanam or Buddhism, founder being Buddha who was Siddhartha before he became Buddha. Buddha did not teach systematically any system of philosophy. He only had various dialogues with his disciples. Hence initially Buddhism was not well developed. But later, the teachings of Buddha were collected into three books called tripiTakam (three baskets), during the specially called assemblies of Buddhists called 'Sangha-s'. The three are: suutra (sutta) piTakam, abhidharma (abhidamma) piTakam and vinaya piTakam. suutra piTakam deals with the statements of Buddha in a simple form. abhidamma piTakam deals with philosophy, which is based on the statements of Buddha and third one deals with the Code of Conduct or aachaara. Later on, Buddhism gave birth to four branches: 1. soutraantika, which is based on sutta piTakam. 2. vaibhaashhika, based on the commentary of abhidamma piTakam known as vibhaashha. 3. yogaachaara - got its name due to its emphasis on the practice of Yoga and aachaara. 4. maadhyamika, since they claim to follow the true teachings of Buddha which is called 'golden middle path' which is moderation or avoidance of extremes. All of these philosophies are analyzed and criticized in Brahmasutra. Thus there are four from Buddhism, one Jainism and one chaarvaaka - total six 'naastika darshanam-s'.

      There are six 'aastika darshanam-s': 1. Saa~Nkhya of Kapila muni 2. Yoga of Patanjali 3. Nyaya of Gautama 4. Vaisheshika of Kanada 5. puurvamiimaa.nsaa of Jaimini and 6. uttaramiimaa.nsaa of Vyasa. All of them accept Veda pramaaNam. Even though all of them accept Veda as pramaaNa (valid means of knowledge), three of them, Sankhya, Vaiseshika and Purva mimamsa do not accept Brahman. Of these six, the first four give more importance to tarka or reasoning. That is tarka is primary or pradhaana for them while Veda is secondary or apradhaanam. In that sense, they are similar to naastika darshanam-s, which also give emphasis on tarka or reasoning. Shankara calls all of them, that give primary importance to tarka over Veda, as taarkika-s. The last two darshanams give more importance to Veda and only secondary importance to tarka. Of this the puurva miimaa.nsaa darshhaNam, as the name implies is based on puurva bhaaga or the first part of the Veda-s or on Karma Kanda of the Veda-s. For them the Upanishad portion or the uttara bhaaga is of less importance or unimportant compared to karmakaanDa. In contrast in uttaramiimaa.nsaa, the importance is to the last portion of Veda or Veda anta bhaaga - or veda uttara bhaaga. In this philosophy, veda puurva bhaaga or karma kaanDa is considered as supportive or only of secondary importance. One common feature of all these six darshanams is that all of them have been presented in the suutra form by their founders. uttaramiimaa.nsaa suutra-s are called Brahmasutras since they deal with Brahman. They are also called as vedanta suutraas, shaariiraka suutraas (shaariiraka means aatmaa), vyaasa or baadaraayaNa suutraas.

      About the author of Brahmasutra: The author is Badarayana. The authors of bhaashhya-s identified him as none other than Vyasacharya, who is the editor of Veda-s and the author of puraaNa-s including Mahabharata, where Bhagavad Gita is a part. There are some questions identifying Badarayana with Veda Vyasa since Mahabharata is considered as prehistoric while Brahmasutra-s must have been composed after Buddhism became prevalent. But from the point of our discussion the true identity of the author is immaterial, and we accept bhaashhyakaara's identification of the author with Veda Vaasa.

      What is a suutra? Sutra is a very brief statement packed with an idea. It is the most concise statement possible to express a given idea, like a mathematical equation. It will not be a complete sentence. Hence a simple translation of the suutra will not make any sense to the novice. Therefore many commentaries exist explaining the suutra-s and they are called bhaashhyam-s. Since the statements are brief, there is always a possibility for some ambiguity or doubt regarding the intention of the original author. Hence different bhaashhya-s have come for different types of teachings, each claiming that their bhaashhyam represents the intended meaning of the author of the suutra-s or suutrakaara. Thus Brahmasutra-s themselves gave birth to more than ten types of philosophies. Of these three are very popular. One is the nirvisheshha advaitam that is Brahman without attributes, by Shankara, popularly known as shaariiraka miimaa.nsaa bhaashhyam, next is vishishhTaadvaitam by Ramanuja and his commentary is called shriibhaashhyam, and the third one is dwaitam based on commentary due to Madhvacharya called anuvyaakhyaana. We will consider here only Shankara bhaashhyam.

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