Archive for the ‘Bhagavat Gita’ Category

Sankaracharya’s Eka Sloki

March 15, 2011

I chanced upon an Eka Sloki from Adi Sankaracharya, while listening to some lectures on Advaita/Vedantic philosophy. Sankaracharya has successfully encapsulated the essence of Vedantic philosophy in this single (eka) Sloka

Eka sloki goes like:
Kim Jyothistava Bhaanumaanahani Me Ratrau Pradeepadikam
Shyaadevam, Ravideepadarshanavidhau Kim Jyothiraakhyahi me
Chakshuhtasya Nimeelanaadisamaye Kim Dheehrdheeyo Darshane
Kim Tatraahamatho Bhavaanparamakam Jyothihtadasmi Prabho

It is presented as a dialogue between a teacher (Guru) and student (SIshya), in response to a question by the student on realization of self.

Dialogue translates as:
Guru: How do you see (What is that light/power which helps you see?)
Sishya: I see with the help of sunlight
Guru: How do you see in the night?
Sishya: I see with the help of a lamp
Guru: Let that be so. How do you see the light? How do you see (your visualizations) even before you open your eyes?
Sishya: It is with my intellect
Guru: What helps you see (know) that intellect?
Sishya: This is me (me as pure consciousness)
Guru: (Indeed) You are that supreme light
Sishya: I realize that I am

Disclaimer: Translation is limited by limitations of my own understanding, power of explanation and loss of meaning due to translation (for instance: words used like Jyothi translated as light and dhee translated intellect are compromises made for want of better choice

Though simple and profound, only a very few gets to truly understand vedantic philosophy. It is still harder to explain because it is not (to be) understood by intellect but rather experienced by being, and being aware of that experience.

As Lord Krishna has pointed out in Bhagavat Gita:
Ascharyavat Pasyati Kaschitenam Aascharyavatvatathi Tateva Chaanyah
Aascharyavatchaenamanyah Srunoti Sruthuaapienam Vednachaeva Kaschit
Some sees it and marvels
Some speaks about it in awe
Some listens to it and wonders
but hardly anyone knows it

I salute the master for this brilliant piece of gem.

The famous speech of Swami Vivekananda

January 17, 2011

Jatilo mundee lunchhitakesah, Kaashaayaambara Bahukritaveshah
Pasyannapi cha na pasyati moodho-Hyudaranimittam Bahukritaveshah

Just as cautioned by Sankaraacharya in Bhaja Govindam, plenty are those who adopt an ascetic form with matted locks, shaven head, dressed in saffron clothes, etc purely for a livelihood. They may appear to know the absolute but they truly don’t. These turn out to be disguises and deceptions for getting their own desires. (It is not so much the external appearances but rather the internal state that matters)

It reminds me a zen story which I heard long back which goes:

One day there was an earthquake, so hard that even many of the monks were terrified. Master took all monks to a safe place, the strongest part of the temple. After a while, the earthquake stopped and peace was back. Then, the master explained how he as a master has demonstrated how to avoid panic and stay cool even in the face of adversity. Yet, he admitted that situation was so grim he had to drink a large glass of water before he himself could regain poise. One of the monks smiled, and said: “That wasn’t water, Sir,  but a large glass of soya sauce.”

Quite relevant is words of Lord Krishna in Bhagavat Gita which goes as below:

Karmendriyaani Samyamya Yah-Aasthe Manasaa Smaran

Indriyaarthan Vimoodhaatma Middhyaachara Sah Uchyate

The one who claims/attempts to control his senses without control on the mind (which drive these senses), he is a fool who confuses himself and is only a pretender

In such context, it is hard to find a true leader, a true master, a true Guru

I came to know of Swami Vivekananda as I read out stories about him to my grandfather in childhood. He inspired me then, and he inspires me still. I read about his speech from The World’s Parliament of Religions 1893 and I am hearing it now.

I am glad that technology preserved it for us to hear it even after a century has gone by

Salute to a true Guru!

Essence of Bhakti yoga

December 11, 2010

Karma yoga presents a way of practical living.

It might look apparently straight forward and simple. Yet adopting it is very hard in day to day life. In my experience, key challenges in living by Karma yoga is that setting the right goal, having the strong conviction, retaining the self-belief in hard times and working towards the goal set. It is easier said than done in the face of conflicts of interest that we deal with in everyday life.

In comparison, adoption of Bhakti yoga is much easier. Bhakti is sanskrit word standing for devotion, generally to a specific form of God. Spiritual practice of this devotion is Bhakti yoga. I think, it is best explained by famous words from Bhagavat Gita Sarvaan Dharmaan Parityajya Maam Ekam Saram Vraja. These words are spoken by Lord Krishna. It is a promise from God that you can forget everything else and just come to me. That surrender includes distinction between happiness and sorrow, love and hatred, … even right and wrong

Bhakti yoga, for me, is living with a total trust in God, and total surrender to the will of God.

Essence of Karma yoga

December 6, 2010

I have heard many philosophers in India propagating the idea that our every day experience and world around is the great illusion, or Maya. I refuse to believe that the world is an illusion.

My view is, our experience of the world is largely dictated by perceptions of the mind. Often, mind acts as a veil, and therefore perceptions are taken as the truth.

For instance, we perceive that earth is flat as we walk on it. Yet we know that the truth is far away from it. In case of earth we know now the reality through advancement of science but in most other cases, mind deceives effectively.

The truth, and what we perceive as truth, may not be the same
. This act of deception of our own mind, I believe, is the great illusion.

There is no emotion now attached to perception of earth being flat. But remember, that Galileo Galilei (Italian physicist, mathematician, astronomer and philosopher who played a major role in the Scientific Revolution), was convicted for challenging the prevalent geocentic view. With many of our everyday perceptions, there is emotion and a potential for explosion when the perception is challenged

My understanding of Karma, as I have explained in earlier blogs, is to escape from the trap of great illusion through spirited action, directed towards a goal; not to escape from having to act. Karma yoga is not an excuse for idling as some make it out to be

It is not possible for anyone to do nothing at all, and be alive. At the minimum, one needs to breathe. I believe, Karma yoga is beyond just that. It is somewhat like an active state of action without action

When you must anyway act, put your best effort. Nothing worthwhile in the world is ever achieved without such spirited action, and passion is critical for such action.

Karma yoga is about everyday life, where we setting a goal, and passionately working towards it. It is also about holding on to what we believe as right and living by it, yet at the same time appreciating that another person may have diametrically opposite view. Appreciation of a reality that day for me in India is night for some one on the other side of the globe.

Karma yoga, for me, is also about tolerance as much as it is about spirited action

Pilgrimage to Sabarimala, and Karma Yoga

December 4, 2010

I think I went to Sabarimala in 1991 for the first time, if I remember it right. I have been going almost every year since then, barring a couple of exceptions here and there.

It has always been a spiritual experience for me as much as it being religious practice. I have always found the pilgrimage to symbolize the essence of Karma Yoga, Bhakti Yoga, Jnana Yoga and Sanyasa Yoga; all combined into one, depending on the perspective through which I look at

I shall detail on how I see the pilgrimage as representing Karma Yoga in my point of view, in this blog post, taking up others some other time.

Pilgrimage to Sabarimala represents working towards a lofty goal, ultimate happiness and union with God. Happiness and well-being is not just for oneself but rather for everyone else as well.

Journey commences with a ritual called ‘Kettunira” in which coconut is filled with ghee. It is cleared of its water and it is filled instead with ghee. This coconut is now called ‘mudra’, which roughly translate to mean ‘symbol. This coconut is a symbol of myself, cleared of its routine digressions to stay focused on my goal.

From this moment onwards, my goal is only one, that is to reach the Ayyappan temple at the peak of Sabarimala

Journey is hard due to various factors. One of the factors that make journey hard is uphill climb, barefoot, with a bag containing mudra. Being used to living in the comforts of moden urban life, there are times when I felt I just cannot move on.

When I look around, I see many others as well some of whom are much worse off but still pulling on with undying spirit to reach the destination. I realize that life is not a rat race. It does not so matter how slow or fast I go, what is key is that I move on.

Journey is seldom alone. We travel as a team, helping each other. Achieving goal is better and easier when we are working as a team.

I believe, the recipe for success in everyday life too is likeminded people coming together and working as a team towards their common goal. We see ourselves in every one, and we see everyone in ourselves, and call each other Swami or Ayyappa, in the true spirit of Advaita philosophy.

As we climb the holy 18 steps to reach sannidhanam, we see the message Tat Tvam Asi (That Art Thou). That is, a realization that the God, and ultimate happiness, that we seek are within ourselves, not outside of us.

We submit the ghee in mudra to the God, in total surrender of ego, and burn the coconut shell symbolizing realization of the Self beyond confines of the body and related perceptions

Then, we commence our return journey.

Every goal, howsoever lofty that be, is part of history once it is achieved. One has to leave it behind, and continue the journey to set yet another goal and get going

Essence of Ashtavakra Gita – Chapter IV to VI

November 4, 2010

I have combined Chapter IV to VI into one blog post as these are relatively small chapters describing the actual  state of  self realization. Cautioning against mix-up, the sage Ashtavakra goes on to explain the state in self-actualization

Man in self realization may not have any difference in what he does. That is, he might be doing everything that anyone else does. That is, it is not much the act but the state of mind. It is all in the mind.

Man in self realization would live in this whole world as he pleases. That is, he may be very active in his worldly roles, or may not. Difference is that, even if he is  active in worldly matters, he is not bogged down the baggage of perceptions and emotions.

Desire, aversion, fear, pain, pleasure, hope, disappointment, etc does not happen to such person. Even the word renunciation loses meaning as there is nothing to renounce (either everything is mine, or nothing is; what is left to renounce?)

Note:

1. Similarity with description of the same state in Bhagavat Gita

These words are very similar to advice given to Arjuna in Bhagavat Gita as:

na eva tasya krutena arthah na akrutena iha kashchana

Whether a person in true realization does something, or does not, is of not any relevance for him.

na me partha asti kartavyam trishu lokeshu kimchana
na anavaptamavaptavyam varta eva cha karmani
yadi hi aham na varteyam jatu karmani atamdritah
mama vartma anuvartamte manushyah partha sarvashah

There is nothing at all that I must do.  Therefore, I still do what I do though there is nothing binding me to because if I sit idle, others will also sit idle considering me as role model.

2. Clarification on conduct of daily life

Acquisition and possession of wealth, pursuit of career growth, acts of sex, etc are perceived by many as in conflict with spiritual pursuit.

Many religious/literary text from ancient India  like Gita Govinda, Kumarasambhava etc have many explicitly erotic content. Even the great sages like Vedavyasa have performed acts of sex, and great sage Atri had Anasuya as his wife.

Note that the real problem is not with the objects or acts of desire but  mind which is involved in these, and its attachment to these.

dhyayato vishayan pumsah sanghahsteshu upajayate
sanghat sanjayate kamah kamat krodhah abhijayate
krodhat bhavati sam-mohah sam-mohat smriti vibramsah
smriti brimshAt buddhi nAshah buddhi nAshAt praNashayti

When your mind dwells on objects (and acts) of desire, you get attached to these if you leave it unchecked. These attachment, if you leave it unchecked, leads a desire to acquire them.  It leads to cycles of further desires and indulgence, resulting in unfulfilled desire at some point.  If you leave it unchecked, it further leads to anger due to unfulfilled desire in him.

If you leave it unchecked, anger leads to a delusion, fatally influencing mind, its attachment and memories. This, in turn, affects perceptions and balanced state of mind resulting eventually in total collapse.

Words of wisdom: Destiny and human effort

October 3, 2010

I have seen inaction or halfhearted actions justified by wrong interpretation of popular quote ‘Karmanyevaadhikarathe Maa Phaleshu Kadaachana’  from Bhagavat Gita.  ‘Karmanyevaadhikarathe Maa Phaleshu Kadaachana’ roughly translates to mean ‘you have right (and duty) to perform action but never you have say on the results of your actions’ . It is but a statement of universal truth ‘a flower falls, even though we love it, and a weed grows, even though we do not love it’.  Cause/effect relation is not a simple fairy tale kind of perception but rather complex interplay of many factors. No wonder, Lord Krishna has said ‘Avyaktaadeeni Bhoothani Vyakta Madhyaani Bharatha, Avyakta Nidhanaanyeva Tatra Kaa Paridevanaa’.

Beyond doubt, the actual invocation of Bhagavat Gita is not inaction but rather spirited and focused action.

Following words of advice, of course not from Bhagavat Gita  extols importance of action over destiny

Nadaivamithi Samchinthya Tyajedudyohamaatmanah

Anudyogena Thailamhi Thilebhyetnaapnothumarhathi

Man cannot fail to act, giving up everything to fate. For instance, oil cannot be extracted out of sesame without any effort

Yatthahyekena Chakrena Na Rathasyagathirbhavet

Evam Purushakaarena Vinaadiavam Na Siddhathi

Chariot does not move on one wheel. In the same way, God/Fate alone will not fetch you anything. Human effort is mandatory

Idam Na Mama

September 29, 2010

I heard a story about Ramana Maharishi which goes like this: One of his disciples came to him one day and exclaimed that he saw God. Ramana Maharishi asked this disciple who was there before the God became visible, who was there after….It appears to me that the suggestion is to seek the observer within

Despite all invocations against the great illusions of life, I prefer the living in the thick of it all. Despite all cautions against susceptibility of human mind, I love its pleasures and pangs

Oru Thaarakaye Kaanumbol Athu Raavu Marakkum
Puthumazha Kaanke Varalcha Marakkum
Paalchiri Kandathu Mrithiye Marannu , Sukhiche Pokum

Words roughly translating to mean:
Forgets darkness of night in the beauty of even a lone star
Forgets droughts in the glory of rain
Forgets death on innocent smile of a child

Courtsey: Poet Sugathakumari

Mind defines, and defines subjectively. Mind presents the world through veil of definitions. Mind colors the observation of reality .

Beyond the veil, within me, is Sat-vic observer observing Rajas-vic do-er:

Lessons from history

September 7, 2010

This is in response to a discussion in Google Buzz on ‘what in life will keep you happy and satisfied forever as an individual?‘.

Can any thing achievable make any one happy and satisfied for ever? I doubt. happiness and satisfaction as states of mind based on some possessions can be but momentary, given the fickle nature of mind. Anything achievable implies that it is not with you now and hence external to you. What is external to you must be lost either from possession or in value, or both, just as it is achieved. Therefore, any feeling attributed achievement of anything external to you cannot stay with you for ever.

I am reminded of the famous anecdote about Alexander the Great.. Story goes like: Alexander had set out to conquer the work; towards end of his life, it is said that he instructed his people to put my hands outside his coffin; that is, he is leaving behind all his acquisitions.

Let me clarify lest I get misinterpreted. I am not vouching on authenticity of the story but seems plausible. I am not denouncing worldly materialistic achievements either. I respect every human effort behind every accomplishments in the world. I respect the human spirit that make things happen. I salute the indomitable spirit of Alexander, the great Macedonian King. I believe, what he achieved (what is that? may be, I shall write on my perspective on that at some other time) was far greater than what he sought to.

My reading of history tells me that he hardly ruled over the vast area that he conquered, in a true sense. Whatever he has done, was it right or wrong? Was he successful or not? I am not venturing into all that because I do not think it is right. I believe, every individual must choose their life and no one else has any right to comment on it.

I do not subscribe to the theory that every thing is Maya (a great illusion) and one should strive to get out of it. Yes, I accept the illusion and I prefer to live it, enjoy it, rather than running away from it.

What I am trying to practice, and advocate, is a holistic perspective. When what you do, what you work for, what you achieve is in sync with the person that you are, life is a great experience. Follow the role models of Maryadapurushotham Ram, Playful Krishna, benevolent Christ, …. but seek within to know yourself, choose a life in accordance with that, work for betterment of self, those around you and the world at large; let your actions be guided, and powered, by the force within.

Happiness and satisfaction if you find within self, and in the moment NOW (not attributed to anything external), shall stay with you.

Bandhura Kaanchana Koottilaanenkilum Bandhanam Bandhanam Thanne Paaril (Cage is a cage even if cage is made of gold)

Believing in God rather than fearing God

August 31, 2010

As a person believing in God, I found it always curious that even many religious institution in the name of God promote fear of God!

I wonder, can God be vindictive? Can God be punishing? If He does, if He submits Himself to trivia like a man does, can He be considered superior to man?

I find Gandhi’s speech on God is resonating in my heart

God is purely benevolent, for me.

God is life; Even in the midst of death, life persists.
God is truth; Even in the midst of untruth, truth persists.
God is light; Even in the midst of darkness, light persists.
God is life, truth, light.

God, who merely satisfies the intellect, is no God.
God rules the heart and transform it
God expresses himself in every smallest act of His votary

God satisfies the intellect, rules the heart and transforms, expresses himself in every smallest act because He is but yourself, your inner consciousness, integral part of global consciousness