jnaanam naasti gurum vinaa

One can't get knowledge without the guru. Thats what the subject means. Now, there have been people who argued that the guru doesn't need to be an external entity to oneself. Agreed, theoretically at least. The examples have been the great personalities of Ramana Maharshi, Sw.Ramakrishna, Sridhara Swami, etc. Well, Ramana did consider Arunachala as his guru, but lets keep that aside for a moment. Also lets sideline the fact that Ramakrishna walked many a paths being guided at each following. I'm also unwilling to ignore that Ramakrishna spoke to Kali every moment. Even forgetting that Sridhara kept Ramadas Swami in his guru's position. But... but, do we really need to say that we're akin to any of the above? If so, you may not even be reading this nonsense I write here!

So, a guru is needed. Be it in any form that you yourself are willing to accept and submit unto, at times arguing in order to learn. This requires one to sideline one's ego and accept that the guru would only do good unto him spiritually. Its a mandate, be it unwritten if you may. The guru's features have also been mentioned. He has the capacity to take one across the darkness of ignorance so that one may see the light for oneself. He makes the most complex brahmajnaana simple to understand. Take Adi Shankara... the beauty of his following words makes you wonder the utter simplicity of it all:
shlokaardhena pravakshyaami yaduktam granthakotibhih
brahmasatyam jaganmithyaa jiivo brahmaiva naa parah

("What crores of scriptures have to say I'll tell in half a stanza: brahmaN is real, the world is not-real, the individual soul is same as brahmaN, not different")

Amazing, simplistic beauty, incomparable... all that there is to know is here and now. Thats the importance of a guru. This is what a guru does to us! The dumbest of the students need understand this... the guru comes down to your level and pulls you out of the clouds of ignorance into the clear skies of the sun rays.

The guru I talk of is a spiritual, self-realized, brahmajnaani, nothing less. Any other comparison to teachers of academia or religion are of no further use in adhyaatma. Why? A reason is that anyone who's not a jnaani, can teach others only bookish knowledge. Putting it to use is left unto you, that you yourself alone are incapable of handling! Rather blunt, but true... thats the reason one's after a guru in the first place. Okay, let me accept, still, that one can make use of the shruti teachings even from an unrealized teacher.

There's one beautiful analog that I'd particularly like bringing in at this juncture to make a point how important a guru is. One may have learnt all the veda shaastra-s or all that there is to learn but still jnaana *won't* surface without a guru. Consider the ladle in the paayasa (kheer; a savoury dish) being/already cooked. Its in the paayasa all the while, is it not? Still, does the ladle get the taste of it? jnaanam naasti gurum vinaa.

ajnaanatimiraandhasya jnanaanjanashalaakayaa
chakshurunmiilitan yena tasmai shri guruve namah

Decide what you want

The so-called "people on the spiritual path" are always looking for something else. They go on reading many a leader, in their eternal search, not following one thing. They confuse all paths and mix up and do something on their own accord. Then they go on to make arbitrary statements quoting many a different path to make you see their point. You give in.

Its one thing to say that all roads lead to God, and quite another to walk as many paths. See, if you decide that you like one path, why not walk it instead? A good example of this sort of a thing is mixing up of neo-advaita, zen and nihilism and concluding that what all of these mean is advaita! Another classic example is to say that Sw. Vivekananda talked of four yoga-s, following any means the same. Then yet another would be to quote Ramakrishna and say that the paramhamsa said that saguna and nirguna mean the very same! More than some times have I heard people randomly quote Ramana or Nisargadatta that there's no one to search for, no one to liberate, etc. Or Jiddu Krishnamurthy, for that matter, to say that there's no guru needed. My recent readings of UG Krishnamurti also brought a new angle for this posting. So here, I'm going to try to say what I understand by these paths myself and where they lead and why mixing more than one can have disastrous results! I'm not saying that one path is better than the other. Its quite subjective in the sense that what you may be looking for may be different than what I might be having my mind towards.

Advaita's moksha: Shankara's moksha, led unto by adhyaaropa-apavaada, followed by neti-neti, with shravaNa-manana-nidhidhyaasana on shruti vaakya-s, is being one with nirguNa brahmaN. Only jnaana can liberate and any other path has only purificatory value.

Dvaita's bhakti: Madhava's moksha means being in the eternal bhakti of the lord at Vaikuntha, reached by naamasmaraN and the like.

Ramana Maharshi: Enquiry is the direct path to get moksha because any other path will finally reach you at the question: who am I?

Nisargadatta Maharaj: He believed in his guru's mantra and reached self-realization. There's no causality and anything exists so because everything exists so, be a witness to everything.

Buddhism: Momentariness of everything, nihilism. Do not believe in Vedas; advocate meditation as the basis and lead one into Buddha's silence.

Jiddu K: No guru is needed to liberate you.

UG Krishnamurthy: No path, no gurus, no moksha. The (no) state is where the question and the questioner are the same. No one can do anything about it. Its something that happens, no one can give you anything, no one can get himself anything. Looking for eternal bliss is delusion.

Whats necessary now is for one to decide if s/he really thinks that all paths are same, much less, lead to the same goal! Can we see now how futile is the exercise of walking multiple paths, with mixed up ideas, at the same time? It may be opening a new path with unfounded ends, if thats what we're looking for!



Yesterday, someone talked of Swami Sivananda's miracles. What are miracles? They're trump cards to attract people, to put them on the path. On the other hand, they're side effects that benefit the devotees! The greatest miracle, as Sathya Sai seems to suggest, is love.

I've seen that the eight maha-siddhis are given too much importance by some. They don't realize that these powers are traps in spiritual progress. I'm reading The Pilgrimage by Paulo Coelho and a lot of miracles are written about! I might comment more on the book once I'm done with it a couple of days down, but overall its average, still interesting and of course, the nice fable-styled writing of Paulo can't be ignored.

Back to miracles, over the past many years, I used to be impressed by Maharshi Mahesh Yogi's flying yoga or Kundalini powers, not to see & read about, but I wanted to *get* those. Not of much value, but it seemed interesting... a kiddish academic interest. Of course, the former's FY also has a lot of peaceful effects on the universe, but I was purely interested in the magical experience. As of now, I don't know if I want to spend the valuable vyavhaaric time in such meaningless play; I always feared the traps. What if I get addicted to those powers and such? Not that I would make bad use of it, but what if I just get indulged so much that I turn a yoga-bhrashta? (Someone even had told me that in my past life I was a yoga-bhrashta. All the more reason then, to stay away :) Someone asked Nisargadatta Maharaj once about the miracles that happen around him. He said that the questioner or people around see them and he denied that he is *doing* those. "Miracles happen".

Holy Waters

I finished my long postponed trip what started as a small plan of just Rishikesh, expanding through Gangotri-Yamnotri-Rishikesh, to a full-fledged Mussorie-Yamnotri-Gangotri-Gaumukh-Rishikesh. As fate had it, we couldn't make it to Gangotri/Gaumukh, but only 50kms earlier, due to a series of landslides following an earthquake. Here's a brief account of happenings (and a long detailed one, I hope, would follow sooner than later; till then check the snaps):

13th a'noon: Flew Blr-Bby.
14th morn: Flew Bby-Delhi.

Here, we met...
The men: Sriram & me.
The machine: Hertz's Maruti-Suzuki Esteem (diesel).

14th morn-night: Drove Delhi-Mussorie.
14th night: Camped in the car at Mussorie... didn't get a hotel.
15th morn-even: Drove Mussorie-Hanuman Chatti.
15th even: Taxied Hanuman Chatti-Janki Chatti.
15th night: Trekked 2 kms and tented en route due to rains and slippage.
16th morn: Trekked to Yamnotri, found a hidden hot water stream among the cold water gushes, had a cold & hot water bath!
16th a'noon: Trailed, Taxied, drove to Uttarkashi.
16th night: Camped in a hotel due to diesel issues & barrier on the ghats. This hotel, next to the Ganges had a beautiful view from the balcony.
17th morn: Drove to near Gangneni, spent half a day stuck due to landslides.
17th eve: Drove back from near Gangneni, but got stuck amidst fresh landslides.
17th night: Drove back to near Uttarkashi & camped in the car.
18th morn: Drove to Uttarkashi, checked into the same hotel for a brief rest.
18th morn-even: Drove Uttarkashi-Rishikesh.
18th even-20th morn: Stayed at Sivananda ashram, Rishikesh, had great satsanga, took Ganges dip on 19th & 20th.
20th morn-even: Drove Rishikesh-Delhi, got lost in Delhi after visiting MLBD book stores & had a wild drive to Hertz/airport in order to not miss the flight.
20th even: Flew a delayed Delhi-Bangalore.
20th night: Hit the sack.

That thought

That thought, follow that thought, out there
Tells me a thought, trapped in a thought or two
I miss many of these, not knowing who started who

Where do I get led from here I know not, its true
I've tried over and over, reaching nowhere
Knowing still, staying just here, I shouldn't dare

I haven't a clue what becomes next of me
Wasting every moment I believe in my days that go
Waiting for the dark tunnel to end up in light, that must show

Aaj jaane ki zidd naa karo

There was this Asha Bhosale sung song with a music video that I saw the other day. While the song was melodious, I looked up a young *modern* couple on screen and went on to conclude that its a run-of-the-mill junk video! But there was one scene that I particularly liked: a small kid pulling her dad's hand. For once, I was impressed that someone considered a father-daughter (or son, for that matter) relation in the video. Of course, the relation with one's mother can't be overstated. In fact, right here on my desk, I've today's quote by Swami reading: "You may be able to pay back any debt; but the debt you owe your mother, you never can repay."

I'm reminded of Amir Khan's dialog" Kahaan likhaa hai ki ek maa apne bete ko ek baap se jaadaa pyaar de sakti hai?" in the movie Akele Hum Akele Tum. I liked his character in the movie, where apart from having the overstated male ego, he also has this immense love for his child.

I would also like to say at this point that the new-age liberal women while saying that they're equal to men, they also want to keep the fatherly love below that of maternal love. I wonder why!

Sannyaasa, a pre-requisite for jeevanmukti

This is actually a follow-on to my earlier poem. Since two days, something guided me to a study on this topic; I've spent a considerable amount of time reading debates on whether sannyaasa is a pre-requisite for jeevanmukti.

Let me start by saying that I've no doubt whatsoever to raise such a question at this stage. I'm well convinced of this in the affirmative. There have been heated debates that I read of that dragged in quotes from the Gita, jeevanmukti viveka, various upanishads, etc. Swami Sivananda's article was torn to pieces, Krishna's words were interpreted to suit their statements and then, the moderators put a forcible stop to a viewpoint similar to mine!

What surprises me is that the so-called advaitins have kept tradition aside in this discussion! I can understand the neo-advaita and other example masters' references, but when you're talking advaita, you can't afford to mix up the new age non-duality, pure non-duality, neo-advaita, direct path, buddhism, zen, et al, where Shankara is the sole authority; of course supported by earlier acharya-s such as Gaudapaada and following bhashyakaara-s works. Be it so, the ego seems to play a major role in their convincing themselves that they're well off doing what they're doing, while at the same time equating their path to sannyaasa! They've brought up things such as mental sannyaasa too. Mental sannyaasa may well be what a karma yogi does, but please do not equate that to the status of a no-bounds sannyaasi. Also saying that not all sannyaasis are jeevanmuktas is uncalled for, since no one claimed so. Its just a first step to learning vedaanta the traditional way. Else all study of vedaanta is just to accumulate a little purity and perhaps gaining some virtues, as Sw. Dayananda clearly states.

There's not much use in picking some things from each discipline/following and not practising one of these in all seriousness. I always believed in jack of all, but master of (atleast) one kind of a thing. I just mention this here to say that one needs to pick up one path in its entirety even after doing lots of peeking in other paths, and that happens to be sannyaasa in sanaathana dharma tradition. There's one thing that I really liked in the entire discussion that I followed: when asked on the subject by a visitor, Ramana said "you're well off doing something that you're doing now", but later he told his devotee that it hurts to recommend something contrary to truth! Ramana clarified on some questioning that when he himself left home, he didn't go about asking people on what to do! Meaning, if the question still lingers on whether sannyaasa is a pre-requisite for jeevanmukti, one is not ready for it yet.

om tat sat


Adi Guru Shankara

I know yours is the only way
There's no reason for me to stay

Since you showed me the light
I can't but think whats right

To my karmaa-s goodbye I need bade
And tread the path that you've so made

No king settles for less than an empire
How can I be any different, my Sire?

Quote unquote 9-10

9. Doing good is noble; telling others to good is also noble, only less trouble. :)

10. Those who can't do, teach!
My take: (strongly disagree) If all only practised, who would preach?

Mumbai rains again

Life is God's way of preserving meat!

Prayer to Vishnu

Grant me that silence as a blessing
My thoughts, words and deeds
have gone worse, in passing

You have the power to loosen this trap
To let me escape Maya,
on my head whose devils tap

This evil dance has drawn me away from your feet
If I continue so, I'll be lost
and these vaasanaa-s will have me eat

Cut me free with your sword!
Cut me free from this umbilical cord!

Cut me free from this cruel world!
Cut me free to be your Garuda bird!

Dear God

Give me those days of ill health
If thats what it takes to share your wealth

Bless me with that fever again
So the spirituality I can regain

Take me away from this worldly life
You know I'm not their type

I'm living the dirt due to my sins
You & only you can make it rinse

Call me back to your abodes
I'm done & dusted on these roads

Potential ads

Potential ads, unknown, unintentional-- thats what they all are -- all the blabberings of a talkative soul. The best is not to reduce but to give up in its entirety. Sanyaasa starts with it. The less I talk, the more time I'll spend with myself. Although its true that if all practised what they preached we wouldn't have teachers at all, the fact remains that one can't become a teacher of spirituality without the lord's permission. This may or may not happen. One needs to be careful of advertising things that he may preach. There is a huge risk in letting out loud thoughts. I'd rather live my thoughts than lessen their strength by talking them out. Till I act on what I plan to do, I needn't broadcast my thoughts openly.

satyam vacha dharmam chara


Overdoing something in order to get bored and to quit the habit is a high risk zone to get into. Even with all your alertness, the vaasanaa-s drag you into it. Someday you'll realize that you're trapped and way far from you goal of quitting the habit. Instead, the habit starts eating you then! It becomes the corpus callosum or substratum around which your life gets built.

Best way is to give up the acts, altogether, outright. Not only one habit, leave a couple other things with it. eg, to quit drinking liquor, quit tea and coffee too! It will have a greater impact of overall improvisation then.

Funnily, the mind's strength in avoiding things is measured by the mind; it is downright foolish to trust its assertions!

*nityaanitya viveka vichaara*

The witness

In real life, terror, madness and each such is a pain to live through or watch. However, this same thing is bought and enjoyed at movies!

When, in a movie, something happened that you missed watching, you're inquisitive on how it happened so. This same thing, even weirder or wilder, done by our own mind is missed by us, but still we pay no heed to it!

Suppose that this madness of the mind is *viewed* by us, assuming that, this *mind* is *someone else*. Would it not be like watching a movie with a good mix-- adventurous, horrific, thrilling, inspiring... wavering? It sure would! This act of witnessing and not participating would take us away from the binding that we were born with; some sort of bonded labor that we were dragged into since birth -- nay, even earlier! Timeless journey that it has been, is it not wiser to even try a little to break free? This observer pattern of life's design would be like turning tables unto mayic aspects of life! It would help cut the umbilical cord making the most complex *knot* (as Ramana calls it) between our own Self and the taamasic body.

Sw. Venkatesananda says that to witness one's own mind, to watch the chitta vritti, itself is yoga as interpreted from Patanjali's "Chitta Vritta Nirodha" that makes up the crux of yoga.

Mumbai tragedy

Surviving Mumbai provides links to all emergency information that one might need in these times of Mumbai's tragic rains. While Amchi Mumbai is moving very slow from the standstill and falling back again due to the cyclonic rain lashes, one might want to look up the tips given in the link before venturing into the city.

My friends had scary stories of survival to tell from their Tue-Wed experience. While one friend spent the night on Andheri station and walked the next day through chest-high waters to her Bandra home, another chap walked it through the night from Worli to Dahisar for 16 hours in such a stream! Another friend of mine went in search of his son and had to stay in his kid's school overnight due to the flood, while the kid spent the night in the schoolbus hungry!!! My brother was lucky to have been at Lilavati on Tuesday and making it home at Vasai, the next evening, without a lot of trouble. Electricity, phones, food & water all have taken a bad hit.

I don't have such information from other parts of Maharashtra, but I dare not. There've been an unbelievable weird number of deaths and those who met up with accidents have little hope in remote hospitals that've flooded themselves too.

God, show a little mercy at times please. We've seen enough of your power already and no one seems to be challenging you!