Archive for the ‘Misc’ Category

New clues to the basics of conscious mentality

May 24, 2013

Professor Dr. Sir Roger Penrose’s lecture on new clues to the basics of conscious mentality

Vairagya Satakam, and detachment

April 2, 2012

In my philosophical pursuit, I came across Vairagya Satakam of Bhartrhari, which literally translates to mean ‘100 verses on detachment’. Personally, I find it to be a very powerful statement of disillusionment and detachment.

Detachment and disillusionment is something that always fascinated me right from my childhood. It is probably easier to practice in absolute renunciation as in Sanyasam but hard to practice in day to day life of Grihasta. Yet it is not impossible as story of Janaka, as explained in the context of Ashtavakra Gita indicates. Again, as I look around, I believe there are quite a few people who lived in the same spirit in recent times, and are living now as well.

An interesting verse from Vairaagya Satakam’ is:
Bhoge Rogabhayam Kule Chyutibhayam Vithe Nripaalaat Bhayam
Maane Dainyabhayam Bale Ripubhayam Roope Jaraayaat Bhayam
Saasthre Vaadibhayam Gune Khalabhayam Kaaye Krithaantaath Bhayam
Sarvam Vasthu Bhayaanvitham Bhuvinrinaam Vairaagyamevabhayam

It roughly to mean (in my knowledge):
When we indulge in pleasure, deep down we run a fear of missing it. When we belong to a socially respected group/family, we are afraid we might loose it sometimes. When we are rich, we are afraid of (too concerned about) money being apportioned by authorities. When we are a respected person, we are wary of situation which compromise respect. When we are powerful, we fear defeat (from someone more powerful or deceitful). When we are young and smart, we are afraid of aging. When we are scholar, we are afraid of being defeated in debates. When we are well off, then we are afraid of vandals (bad elements who are out destroy your peace), When you have good health, you are afraid of death. Fear is associated with everything and only detachment is the refuge.

This may sound too negative in the first reading. On a closer reading, it should be obvious that what is denounced not riches, knowledge, health, position etc but rather too much of attachment to these. Such attachments prevent you from enjoying the very moment now as well as the true joy. As a result, we end up in a self defeating a rat race.

It is clear in the lines:
Bhogaa Na Bhukthaa Vayameva Bhukthaah
Thapo Na Thaptham Vayameva Thampthaah
Kaalo Na Yaatho Vayameva Yathaah
Thrishnaa Na Jeerna Vayameva Jeernaah

That is:
We have not consumed worldly pleasures, they have consumed us (our life). We have not done any Tapas but we burned out ourselves. Time has not gone but we are gone. Desire has not been reduced but we are reduced.

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 XI

November 19, 2010

World around, and everything in it, as we see would change (hard to accept sometime but that is a fact; change is the only constant!) because change is its very nature. (What is perceived as) fortune and misfortunate, pleasure and pain, birth and death happens. (There is nothing, seriously, anyone can do about these. It may be hard to accept , and many have tried to sugarcoat it. Yet the fact is world around does not go by your dictates or wishes).

(When you hold on to anything, there is subjective perception and it hurts sooner or later). Do not hold on to anything. Realize that neither you are the body nor you have a body. Then, for you, everything becomes a simple experience of a pure consciousness, pure awareness.

Cosmic beauty reveals itself as a realization. Realization of God, and that God created the world and everything in it. Everything that we perceive, including God, is only a perception. The only reality is self.

There is nothing to gain or lose. There is nothing to be happy or sad, There nothing to do or not to do. (It does not mean inaction. It is, in fact, the most powerful form of action)

These reminds me of a zen story that I heard sometime back which goes as follows:
Once upon a time, a someone approached Zen master and asked him to write something for his family to keep for years to come.

Master wrote: “Father dies, son dies, grandson dies.”

The man became very angry asked the master: “I wanted you to write something good for my family. Why have written something so bad?”

Master replied: “If your son die before you die, it would be very sad experience for your family. Again, if your grandson die before your son, that would also be very sad. Everyone has to die one day or other. If everyone in your family die in the order that I described, for generations after generations, then that is a natural order of life. That, in itself, is a reason for being happy. If it does not, it is unfortunate”

Essence of Ashtavakra Gita – Chapter IX

November 7, 2010

It is mind that holds on, it is mind that forms perception, it is mind that defines what is good and what is not, it is mind that creates feelings of happiness and grief, it is mind that desires and hates.

Mind always worked with such dualism, and it leads to subjective perception, leading further to bondage and pains. It is these desires of mind that are called ‘samsara’

Perceptions are formed by the mind, in the mind. Perceptions of happiness, grief etc formed in mind related to acquisitions and possessions of objects of desire, including knowledge, are truly transient. No objects, acts, or events external can have any significant influence on you unless you let it.

World of subjective perceptions formed by mind is the great illusion ‘Maya’, not the world, outside of you. What is outside of you does not truly affect you unless you let it.

True renunciation is renunciation of these desires and subjective perceptions. When you realize this, when your mind withdraws from these desires and subjective perceptions, you are beyond renunciation and you are liberated from the illusion.

After that, one can remain where one is, continue to do whatever one does, with no bindings of desire

People like us, who believe in physics, know that the distinction between past, present, and future is only a stubbornly persistent illusion – Albert Einstein

Essence of Ashtavakra Gita – Chapter VII

November 5, 2010

King Janaka reflects on caution and clarification in the words of Sage Ashtavakra, and replies as below:

My mind is like a vast ocean. Waves (of thoughts and emotions)  rise, clash, move and fall in mind, just as in the ocean.

World itself is a creation of mind. It floats and drifts in my mind, like boat caught in the wind.

I, myself, just as the infinite ocean, am not affected by rise and fall of waves or drifting of boat. (It affects me when I am concerned about it; only such subjective context)

I am not within boat, or any object for that matter. I am  neither attached to any of these, nor I truly have any desire for these.

That is, when my mind is attached to these, all these had influence on me in the context. Devoid of attachment now, these  holds no significance for me any longer.

What is  there for me  to accept or reject, as  pure consciousness?

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?)


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.

Essence of Ashtavakra Gita – Chapter III

November 3, 2010

Chapter III to VI is response of the sage Ashtavakra to points mentioned by King Janaka in chapter II. Response spread over four chapters are inter-related.

The sage realizes that King Janaka is on the threshold of realization but not yet there, and guides him by cautioning against mix-up. He cautions that the very question is indicative of the mix-up.

Craze of acquiring wealth comes from a feeling of insecurity and dissatisfaction deep within. It based out of notion that acquisition of wealth will give comfort and security. Unbridled lust in based out of a feeling of dissatisfaction (and other negative feelings), seeking relief albeit temporarily. Both comes from a position of weakness, rather than strength, contrary to popular perception.

When you truly know yourself as truly indestructible pure consciousness, you are unlikely to be interested in these trivia. Conversely, interest in these very questions indicate that the realization is not set. It indicates that shades of ignorance still remains, albeit on the wane, and could work against achieving true realization.

In true realization, you would be clear about what is permanent and what is not. It would be obvious to you that events and objects of desire give neither pain or pleasure by itself . Pain and pleasure are subjective perceptions of your own making. When that subjectivity is removed, you would see yourself as if it were of someone else’s. Therefore, you will not be affected by praise or blame, and you will be neither pleased nor disappointed on acquisition or loss of anything.

Having explained mix-up in the current state of mind, the sage goes on to explain the state in actual realization in Chapter IV – VI.


I have seen similar arguments being misused and misinterpreted by many to justify lethargy and inaction. Novices tend to get influenced by these, just as I myself was in early stages of my career.

These are not arguments which should be used as an excuse to shun responsibilities but rather to perform these in in high spirit, and right spirit.

Note that discussion is between two individuals who have almost all needs met, considering relative difference in needs between a king and a hermit. Sage is beyond self actualization stage and King is seeking sage’s guidance to reach beyond self actualization.

Then, does this not apply to every one of us? To understand that, consider for a moment, why does a mother give birth to a child despite all the pains? Why does parents take the troubles to bring up the child? Is it in expectation of something in return? Are great discoveries of science motivated by rewards and awards? Are all disaster rescue efforts undertaken in lieu of any benefit?

I think, it is much deeper. These represent human effort which are motivated by our inner voice, our true self. These are done irrespective of getting or not getting any rewards, and even in face of discouragements, problems and failures.

These make our lives better. These makes our lives better lived.

Essence of Ashtavakra Gita – Chapter II

November 2, 2010

Tone of discussion here is distinctly different from that of Bhagavat Gita.

In Bhagavat Gita, advice is given to an Arjuna who is emotionally shattered, in the middle of battle field. On the other hand, King Janaka is already an enlightened soul, leading a pious life, in midst of privileges, responsibilities and problems of routine life, as different from world of a hermit who has dedicated his life completely to spirituall pursuits.

King Janaka’s questions are of subtle nature that one experiences as one tries to adopt values and ideologies into practical life under pulls and pressures of every day. Though himself a hermit, sage had come to the King for realizing a specific mission, and had successfully accomplished that mission. He is aware of subtle dimensions of questions of King Janaka and answers are given in that context.

King Janaka understands advice of sage, in context, and brings out his thought process declaring that, indeed, I am the pure awareness beyond natural causality, spotless and at peace with itself and everything else. I realize that I am the spirit that enables the body and everything else. My essential nature is Shining, and nothing else.

My everyday perception is that I am the body. Closely linked is the perception that I am part of world,and there are many things in the world that are different from me.

Perception of a world as different from me, and relating every experience in the prism of my mind, is at the very heart of all human sufferings. Bubbles, forms and waves in water are water only, though it appears differently. These appear to me as different because I have chosen to observe them as differently.

Reality presents itself, as I remove the subjectivity in my perception, in the light of knowledge of my true self just as I see rope, that appeared as snake in the darkness, a a rope. I realize that all these notions begins and ends in me, just as a vessle made out of clay end up as a clay eventually

My body, and even the whole world, is meaningful for me only in the context of my awareness. That is, it is me that gives light to body and to the world. Therefore, either the whole world is me, and mine, or nothing is. There is nothing specific about my body (which I normally perceives to be me) that does not apply to world.

There is no bondage from which I need to be liberated, as all my bondage was making of my own mind. Notions of body, bondage, heaven, hell etc vanishes naturally, with the realization of my true self as pure consciousness. My experiences are like waves of ocean moving in the wind of consciousness, rise, clash and fall happening all within myself

I am not a living being, as in the normal usage of the word ‘living being’, where we are concerned about its contextual existence, behavour patterns, etc. That leaves me in a situation that there is nothing left for me to do as I am only awareness, not a doer. What difference it makes if I am in the midst of of people or lost in a desert?