Thoughts 80

80: Its possible to be alone only in the crowd, if you're crowded with thoughts when alone!

The Meaning

The meaning of life, says Alan Alda at the end of his biographical sketch, is life itself! Thats perfectly well put, I must say. Another one that I heard was that life is purposeless, in one discourse of Swami Nithyananda. Don't get it wrong, both mean the same thing, factually. One says that you're living as long as there's life and thats what brings in meaning to it, while the other says that no matter what you do, thats the most you'll ever know about life and its so-called secrets. No answers will ever be found to whys and hows and such. To that effect, life is purposeless too, since you may try to find something or the other to make you happy, run after something, run away from others, make something, break others, build some, ruin some, search, hunt, dig, but thats that. Its an abyss, that levels only to the same place that you begin, making the journey endless. The only way to find the source is to give up and say that neither do I know, nor will I ever do.

Jan 2008: Long-postponed MH trip

Its high time I make the long-postponed trip into Maharashtra, where I feel my Vitthala calls me now, after a long wail over years; a wait that has been a sob story in the cruel worldly life with the grossest of desires. I also know it would be a cleansing journey readying me for the righteous choice that I've been denying so far. The dip in the Urvadi is what I long for, with a darshan, at Pandharpur, of Panduranga Vitthala, that beautiful black deity that bestows jnAna to his beloved disciples, moving into their hearts and washing away the darkness with his all-illuminating presence! I also wish to bow at the lotus feet of my paramaguru Shri Samartha Ramdas Swami at Sajjangad, who thrashes all ignorance with his piercing words even in the simplest of his compositions, the Manache Shloka. I hope to get a glimpse of Truth there. Thats all I know I want to do this trip for; anything other than that would be an additional blessing for my path further. After the trip, when I return to wherever He may want me to go, I'd go happily... happier than now, I blissfully know so.

I cry my heart now for this sickly, impure, mortal bag of desires, to be invited onto this trip. May it happen this time, shri hari vitthalA; may it be Thy wish too, to accept me, for my eternal good.


Neither mine, nor for me

May it* perform all the rituals
And may it focus on the duels
Let even the passion for heavens be
Its neither mine, nor for me

May it gain pleasures, earning
And may it cry in pains, burning

Let even the lure for wealth be

Its neither mine, nor for me

May it eat to hearts content

And may it have health if its meant

Let even the taste for wine be

Its neither mine, nor for me

May it crave across generations
And may it even build many nations

Let even the lust for women be

Its neither mine, nor for me

May it create and destroy all that is

And may it claim over war and peace

Let even the (endless) chase for happiness be

Its neither mine, nor for me

May it renounce and live on alms

And may it wait for the bliss that dawns

Let the dreamer sleep and wake to see

Its neither mine, nor for me

*it = body, mind, intellect complex; that is, the insentient that feels sentient, but is not!

idam na mama

The Magic

After watching the movie The Prestige that Gourish sent me, a novel question crossed my mind: what is it that attracts us to magic?

Suppose you witness a trick that you never saw, thought of, or imagined, you'd be astonished, even dumbstruck, wouldn't ya? Whats the first thing that you'd ask then? Obviously, "How did he do it?" Even as a child, when an elder showed a simple trick, we'd think of it as magic and would love to know the *how* about it! I think the way the root cause of all fear is the fear of death, so too the root curiosity of hows behind all magic and all tricks, and also all that we want to learn and know, is the curiosity of wanting to know how *all this* began! The first magic is the magic of creation, the magic of existence. "How did He do it?" is the bigger question, that even so unconsciously for all, puts forth smaller amazements in question. The fact of the matter is that we do not stop learning after having learned just one trick or having known one thing. We want more knowhow, we're hungry of more knowledge. Why that is, is clear to me that we want to know the origin, the trick of creation. And until we've known that, all knowledge, all tricks are merely stepping stones towards It.

We'll not stop till we've solved the how of the greatest magic of all times, ever, eternally so... and from what I hear, the way knowing the secret of the magic trick makes that trick looks simply a child's play, so too after knowing the Truth, the creation looks like a child's play. No wonder the man laughs at his idiocy on having learnt that he's the Tenth, nay -- The One!

The Sony craze

My possessive Sony possessions started way back when I read Akio Morita first. :) As I recall, following were/ are my collections in Sony so far:

--Cassette Walkman
--Double cassette player and radio
--Mini HiFi
--Studio headphones
--CD and mp3 discman
--Cell phone with camera
--7MP digicam (recently gifted by Sriram)

Why, you may ask, and all I'll have to reply is: well, its a Sony!

The regretted past

When time's not right
Don't look back to fight
Hold no grudge
And don't you budge
Let it go loose
Tie your shoes
March ahead
Never feel dead
Trust the grace
Thats the ace
Its not due to you
Only Him, its true

For love of Hawkeye!

Sriram and I have, many times, been buying 2 copies of things that we liked, for each other. This time around, however, he decided to get me the best gift without duplicating it: a personally signed book (Things I Overheard while talking to myself) by Alan Alda, and his autobiography (Never have your dog stuffed) too! I'm going to be selfish and say that Sriram got his gift in meeting the charming Alda. :)

This is how I took pleasure in hearing out their meet:

Alda: Who's this book for?
Sriram: Its for my brother who introduced me to M*A*S*H and since then we've been big fans of it.
Alda: Where would you like my autograph?
Sriram: Right next to your picture. (He made sure that there were no typos by handing the exact words on a PostIt)
Alda: (signed so): -------------->

To Praveen R. Bhat

alan alda

It turned out to be the best gift from my best friend Sriram and the best actor that Alan Alda is, the Hawkeye I know.

Mindless ramble about problems

I'm fed up... with what, you may ask! You name it and I'm fed up with it! The govts, yes; the banks, yes; the employers, yes; travel, yes; stay, yes; people, yes; the routine, yes; time, yes; space, yes; life, oh yes!

I may have well gone nuts in all my interaction in the worldly. I may have even failed on all fronts. But its just that I don't care much that all things have been going wrong, wronging every now and then, that is, since almost two years, and finally, all at once now! This reminds me of the PSB song: Its a sin. Every bit that I've worked on in recent years, has taken a wrong turn. Simplest of things, too, have jumped to unsolvable complexities. Either something is wrong with me or something else is wrong with me! I don't even know if I wish I knew what it was! The world is seeming a deluded asylum, rather asylum-for-the-deluded, with possibly me being the only one who finds everything wrong with it! Obviously, as they say, when many things have been going wrong around ya, you're the one who's in the wrong! Thats how things are, I know. Even with all that I take from the world, be it this very air that I breathe to stay alive, I've nothing to return. I don't feel like, I can't; thats how thankless life has made me yet! Trying to do or undo something for the greater or smaller good has seen ridiculous turns, if not ends. It could only happen in a tragic movie.

I'm perhaps wanting to move from my own personal, selfish nonsensical problem, to a greater problem; from Socrates' individual to the State, if you will. Recently, I saw a documentary on global dimming. We've trapped ourselves into multiple problems since ages, that are graduating into a juggernaut: an all-at-once-unsolvability. Global dimming follows the global warming issue and they are no longer separate issues. You solve one and the latter becomes more drastic; you solve neither and it ends the world faster. You solve both together, hah, well tried! :) Even if we succeed there, something grave is going to pop up sooner than we can enjoy our selfish success. Thats how much we've managed to harm nature already! In The Matrix, Agent Smith puts it rightly so: "Every mammal on this planet instinctively develops a natural equilibrium with the surrounding environment humans do not. You move to an area...and you multiply... until every natural resource is consumed. The only way you can survive is to... spread to another area. There is another organism on this planet that follows the same pattern. Do you know what it is? A virus. Humans beings are a disease, a cancer of this planet." I'm sure many of us would get offended by such a statement, but I'd be surprised if we can refute it!

I'm fed up... well, aren't we all?

Thoughts 79

79: The truth about philosophy is that philosophy is about truth!

Mindless ramble of politics and philosophy!

Plato, they say, spent a little time on the bank of Ganges during his unrecorded 12 years of leaving Athens and living elsewhere. For that matter, most of the world's greatest philosophers and spiritually inclined people have learnt much from India, if not actually lived here. But thats all the credit we can claim: spirituality. How do weigh in the worldly system? How close are we to our own dharma, or a similar system that is echoed by Greeks too, which a simple overview of Socrates' voice in Plato's Republic confirms.

I wonder what kind of times would now have been if a state were to be continued on the grounds of Plato's ideal state or our own varNAshrama dharma had existed now. The reverse is equally mind-boggling: what if Socrates were to live in today's India? Perhaps, he would have taken the hemlock before the verdict! A philosophic life has always seen problems everywhere. Plato was seemingly sold as a slave for teaching, to an aristocratic-king, the ideal of a philosopher-king, later to be rescued by his friends! Aristotle ran away from Athens being scared of meeting an end like Socrates declaring that the Athenians sin twice against the philosophers. Only a rare Socrates exists in eras who would rather die than lie! Socrates refused to even flee Athens, because after the Apology and accepting death, it would be lying if he took flight. The truth about philosophy is that it is about truth.

Its important to notice that all philosophical systems, that are eligible to be called as systems, have come to a common conclusion, be from independent analysis of their own people, or being guided by mysticism, or by influence of the Indian system. Its also interesting how all of them tie very closely to their own social order and political system, all based on truth, morality,ethics, virtue, justice, being guided by *right* education and only the ones that survive in the intellectual and moral run, were to be the leaders. While that meant a philosopher-king in the Greek system of The Republic, it meant a kshatriya king guided by a brahmin, in the Rama Rajya system, here in India. It means the same thing, doesn't it? Socrates, says in the dialogue that a state may not become an ideal state, but if it comes close, they've succeeded. In that, Socrates seems to have said that if you go away from that ideal state, you've failed and possibly, doomed!

Lets try to approach it another way. Justice, in the end, is put by Socrates simply as each person doing is own work, so that the state does its own work. Clearly, one doing someone else's job means injustice, obviously leading to an unjust state! What else was our varNAshrama system, but each person doing his own work, guided by right education and filtering mechanism? And what else is the existing injustice due to? Many of us would say the solution is education. To me, its quite clear that the failure of the state to educate all and to identify the right person for the right job is what needs to be fixed. Thats what the varNAshrama system was, and thats what Plato's ideal state is, and thats what can save us all. The physically strong ruling the weak is a barbaric system, while the intellectually weak ruling the strong is worse than that. Thats what our reservation system has brought us. Funnily enough, the Indian politics has brought us a dichotomy of "no superior caste" but "reservation for the backward caste". Its sadistically funny actually that while we don't base reservations on economically-backward grounds, but socially-backward, with worser-yet less threshold marks, we are leading to an utterly ridiculous and intellectually-backward India. Socrates' definition of a state leader is a poor person who can have nothing more than his needs-- bare necessities-- met. In India, there's a well-known myth that Lakshmi (the goddess of wealth) doesn't stay in a brahmin's house where Saraswati (the goddess of learning) stays. Some may say I'm a caste-ist and I'd agree since, to me, the Indian caste system was based on birth-and-ability as I voiced earlier in my blogs. This is hardly different from the Greek Republic and there's no doubt that Greeks were once one of the best races, as much as Indians were. But its also a shame that such systems have fallen to the crime of time and a handful of dimwits have somehow always managed to harm the entire system that was formed in the larger interest!

Animals live better in the forest than we people do in today's society. While the animals hunt only when hungry, we humans hunt for greed; we accumulate, we stock. And thats how we intend to secure our place in the society, progress and grow to rule others. Such has become of us so-called God's greatest creation, or Darwin's most evolved (read selfish) beings! Socrates' or anyone's virtue has no meaning in today's world. Where people cannot do right things without bribe and do the wrong ones with bribe, where you pay taxes to fill individual pockets, where what goes-around-doesn't-come-around, where truth leads to no good end socially and yet those that want to remain virtuous are dragged into falsity, is all leading to an overkill; the unseen harm is worse than what we see. While the philosopher chalks out a perfect tomorrow for us, we sacrifice the philosopher to meet our bogus today!


Drunk on the words of the wise
Breaking away all the ties
And counting that as the only wealth

Identifies oneself as truly the Tenth
Discarding life with all its opposites
And hugging death, leaving the parasites
To eat away only the attached
While the renunciate has been snatched
To walk away into freedom
The choice bestowed only to some!

Funny calculations

The math of recent years
Has brought plenty tears
Without my own roof over the head
And another's land for bed
My land and money both going
Will leave me nothing before dying...

...None of it was ever mine,
Yet, the habits make me whine!
For the love of body,
Created off the shoddy
Craving to be pleasured
While the pains are assured...

...Enough of the burden
Time to do the undone
To untie the thin thread
And let go the passion of the dead

Oh! Rama!

(Written many months back, don't know when; found in the Rishikesh YVFA notebook)

May I sleep absorbed in you

May I dream of you alone
May I wake up with your vision
May I die if I live not for you
May I eat only offerings at your feet
May I be blind to the world if its not you I see
May I breathe only the fragrance of your mAlA
May I touch only Thy Lotus feet
May I not hear anything but Thy name
May I cry only for you
May I not laugh if in not your madness!

shrI rAma jaya rAma jaya jaya rAma


(Originally written around mid-Sept... along with another entry of Sep 19th that I published from the drafts today!)

Led astray
Still hope from a ray...
...the reflection of the sun

Yet with surety of none!
Not a moment to waste
Climb, run, haste!

Endless debates continue

(I've not been able to blog all of what I planned yet and so am putting in something off Orkut debates here instead...)

Even subject to ridicule, I want to say that the discussions based on Ramanuja's seven untenables tend to close *open-ended* with no one agreeing on the other's philosophy. I'm an advaitin and find Ramanuja's objections as well as justifications ridiculous, just like Ramanuja may have found the untenables. IMHO, Shankara avoided these questions, not because he didn't find them interesting, but interesting is all it is, not in seeker's interest though!

All the work (explanations/ arguments/ debates/ whatever) on avidyA following Shankara is for the inquisitiveness that never saw an end, and never will see perhaps, with most seekers. Some find the locus of avidyA to be jIva as satisfying, while brahmAshraya suits others. As long as it helps one move ahead in manana, either is fair, but still anirvachaniya after a point. Ramanuja attacked this anirvachaniyatva *repetitively*, twisting the same question in many ways, without being able to replace *similar* questions with effective answers in his own philosophy. And arguments eventually end up in advaitic statements like what purvapakshi made (I'll take 3 examples):

i) "Are you saying it is anirvacaniya or ultimately unreal?"
What Advaitins meant here is both of the above. What is ultimately unreal from the pAramArthika is anirvachaniya in the vyAvhArika!

ii) "I think Ramanuja is basically repeating here that Avidya is NOT unreal.. but rather just an attribute of Brahman."
This is very similar to saying that avidyA has brahmaN as its locus (except that advaita doesn't qualify it as an attribute) and that avidyA is NOT unreal since it feels real for a baddha jIva!

iii) "Cognition IS real.. just not the Ultimate Reality. .. that’s all"
Precisely the point that advaitins make. But when we make it, a ridiculous Q is thrown at us, "Oh, then is it unreal?" Why does it have to be real or unreal if Ramanuja can make one as ultimate reality and the others as "not ultimate reality, but real". That somewhat real leaves scope for somewhat unreal and thats why advaita leaves it as anirvachaniya. All philosophies are faced with some questions that do not have an answer, or are not known to us, or where all known logic fails, or lead to infinite regress. Such Qs are neatly put in the category of anirvachaniyatva by advaita vedAnta and locked as unnecessary for sAdhana. To quote Swami Vivekananda about such Qs: Advaitins boldly say we do not know (since the answer is not known by *anyone*; but they beat around the bush)

purvapakshi also wrote: "It is actually absurd to assume that God doesn’t listen to prayers or is an entity that is devoid of any kind of interaction with His creation. That puts Avatars, shlokas, bhakti etc as void! This is preposterous. God is capable of granting His grace to his devotees.. and the Ultimate Realization is a combination of Both Bhakti and Jnana.. However what really pulls the final trigger toward Realization is nothing but Divine Grace…. There is NO fixed formula, following which, one would achieve realization."

God listens to prayers and answers them too, but thats the kind of thing that an advaitin sannyAsi renounces of asking God for things, since all of that is mithyA. Ishvara anugrah is needed only for chitta shuddhi leading to that mumukshatva and vairAgya. If there is no fixed formula, then that is something that throws all of bhakti and jnAna aside! But advaita sAdhana of shravaNa, manana and niddhidhyAsana, IMHO, guarantees moksha.

That bhakti is needed after jnAna has no foundation whatsoever in shruti, and no amount of nArada bhakti sutra, etc, can make room for it. Advaita has a grand place for bhakti that is clear in Shankara's works, but nowhere does Shankara say bhakti results in liberation. If anything, bhakti makes the jnAna mArga beautiful and journey itself seems its own reward! On that account, Advaita Vedanta upholds bhakti. In the end, bhakti is jnAna since that bhakti is interpreted by advaitins as Atmabhakti, the love for the Self!

In conclusion, I've no arguments with anyone. Its my opinion as well as conviction and no amount of anyone's banging much will help me see otherwise. So, to each his own path.

If I *seem to have* misinterpreted and/ or misrepresented anything, apologies anyways.

satyasya satyaM

Shankaracharya's Eka Shloki

Thanks to Shri Aravind-ji who provided me this topic to write on.

शङ्कराचार्य विरचितम् एकश्लोकी

किं ज्योतिस्तवभानुमानहनि मे रात्रौ प्रदीपादिकं
स्यादेवं रविदीपदर्शन विधौ किं ज्योतिराख्याहि मे ।
चक्षुस्तस्य निमीलनादिसमये किं धीर्धियो दर्शने
किं तत्राहमतो भवन्परमकं ज्योतिस्तदस्मि प्रभो ॥

Is it your light that shines in the day as the sun and as the bright lamp in the night? Let it be. Which light shines when I close my eyes? (in mental vision) Which light illumines in my mental perception? You are that supreme light that illumines the awareness of 'aham' and I am that light.

(Translated by: Dr. Saroja Ramanujam)

The entire *light* of Upanishads is put there beautifully in that one shloka in such a simple manner. Let me try to elaborate the same with my limited understanding in the following post.

I bow down to that Guru Shankara who is the ever guiding light.

गुकारश्चान्धकारोहि रुकारस्तेजोच्यते
अज्ञानग्रासकं ब्रह्म गुरुरेव न संशयः ||

When there is darkness at night, one can't see anything around, he has to light a lamp to illumine those things. But when the sun rises, the same dark world is now visible owing to sun rays. The commonness in both the sun rays and the lamp's fire is the light by which the objects are illumined. The objects thus illumined are seen by the eye. The same eyes, when closed, still make the objects visible in the antahkaraNa, in our imagination and dreams! Where is the sun then? Where is the lamp then? Where is the world and its objects then? How are those same objects visible with the eyes closed? So the objects are neither seen by the eye nor illumined by the sun/ lamp. That light which illumines is within.

While the mind fades away into deep sleep, what is seen? I see darkness. When the sun sets, the objects are darkened, but still darkness is visible. That darkness, even, is illumined by the inner light. For me to know that I slept blissfully, or to know nothing during deep sleep, I need to exist. That avashtAtrayAtita Self is the one that illumines the darkness of sleep, the waking and dream worlds; the Self illumines the intellect, antahkaraNa, the eyes (senses), the sun and the lamp and thus the objects are perceived!

In other words, if the sun illumined the world, how would I see the world when the sun sets? By the lamp's light? If so, how would I see the darkness without the lamp and the sun? How would I see the world in my dreams without the sun and the lamp to light them? How would I know of deep sleep, or not know it, or see darkness without the sun and the lamp? And to close the loop, how would I see even the sun during the day and lamp during the night if I didn't exist? So I exists as the guiding light. That I, the Self, is the brahman that the shrutI declares as the substratum of everything, that illumines all that is sentient and insentient.

Chandogya 3.13.7 says:

अथ यदतः परो दिवो ज्योतिर्दीप्यते विश्वतः पृष्ठेषु
सर्वतः पृष्ठेष्वनुत्तमेषूत्तमेषु लोकेष्विदं वाव
तद्यदिदमस्मिन्नन्तः पुरुषे ज्योतिः॥३.१३.७॥

There is a light that shines beyond all things on Earth, beyond us all, beyond the heavens, beyond the highest, the very highest heavens. This is the light that shines in our heart.

Katha 5.15 says:

न तत्र सूर्यो भाति न चन्द्रतारकं
नेमा विद्युतो भान्ति कुतोऽयमग्निः ।
तमेव भान्तमनुभाति सर्वं
तस्य भासा सर्वमिदं विभाति ॥१५॥

There the sun shines not, nor moon nor stars;
These lightnings shine not, let alone this fire.
All things shine with the shining of this light,
This whole world reflects its radiance.

Kena 1.2 also declares:

श्रोत्रस्य श्रोत्रं मनसो मनो यद्
वाचो ह वाचं स उ प्राणस्य प्राणः ।
चक्षुषश्चक्षुरतिमुच्य धीराः
प्रेत्यास्माल्लोकादमृता भवन्ति ॥१.२॥

The Self It is the ear of the ear, the mind of the mind, the speech of speech, the breath of breath, and the eye of the eye...

The world here, the world of the dreams, those heavenly abodes that the कर्मकाण्ड rituals provide for... beyond all those exists a light that illumines all those. That very light is the one in our heart. How else can they be illumined without the existence of I? Who will witness it, who will provide for jIva to be bound to those worlds without being illumined by I? What will the jIva erroneously enjoy or suffer if not illumined by I? How will the jIva even exist without That I? All the worlds that the jIva binds to, gives reality to, thinks of, assumes, errs, enjoys and suffers, including its suns, lamps, and the objects, is but the reflection of the ever-free, ever-shining I, the very Self, the brahman of the shrutI.

ॐ तत् सत्

PS: The mind is in layA in deep sleep, it has not met its end, per se. So, it wakes up to a memory that tells it of darkness in the deep sleep, or of not having any knowledge of time and space, akin to one recalling the samAdhi bliss or sleep bliss in meditation or at other times. That too is *attributed* to the Self, for the mind being illumined in sleep when merged too.

As for the Self being illumining, its not as if it shines on purpose of reflecting in the mind... its self-luminous, thats all. The mind being illumined is a side-effect, so to say, totally unwilling of the Self!


avidyA: anirvachaniyatva

avidyA, ignorance, nescience or some may say mAyA, is absence of Knowledge of brahmaN. Various persons have opined on avidyA as to its positive existence, negative non-existence or both/none/inexplicable (anirvachaniya) nature. One of the examples is of the snake in the rope, wherein the snake is projected on the substratum rope due to ignorance of the rope in dim light.

i) Since the snake was seen at some point of time gives it a positive nature during that time.

ii) Since it disappears after knowing it to be a rope gives it a negative nature not only after knowing the rope to be a rope, but also the same person will not see, and not be able to see, the snake again even if he wishes to and can not be scared by it after knowing the rope!

iii) But since it was a snake *once*, even while being a rope, gives an apparent reality to the snake from an unbiased neutral analysis. How the snake made its first appearance cannot be known, beyond the absence of knowledge of rope. So the "when?" or time factor of avidyA formation also becomes a moot point! A question if posed to the person in (i) as to "since when do you see the snake?" will amount to a reply "since ever". So avidyA is said to be anAdi, without a beginning, or to mean untraceable beginning, inexplicable, indescribable or anirvachaniya.

To my understanding, Shankara left the description of jagat as mithyA (apparent reality, not illusion) and didn't describe it further is for this reason, since it cannot be described. Logic falls short of understanding timelessness of anything; we are tuned to think in finite dimensions, avoiding ad infinitum.

If you ask a person who doesn't know German since when does he not know German, what kind of answer do you expect? Similar is the case here. But on learning and knowing German, if you ask him to go back to not knowing German, can he do that? Impossible. German would have become a part of him. With this example, I intended to present that the Q is ridiculous, not the answer of anirvachaniyatva!

To extend the example further, if a person who doesn't know German and French was to be taught German through French, he would laugh it out as a joke. This leads us to a logic that one cannot learn another language without knowing one first. So not even going as back as how did the world bring languages, even to think only as back as how we learned our first language in this life, we face a seeming logical flaw that goes against the earlier logic that we established! These kind of things are inexplicable to logic, as we know, but still perfectly reasonable and justified.

The discussions on avidyA are meant to hone the intellect and understand the subject better; they are not to be taken beyond that since what the words can't describe can never be described. A person may take any of the above stands as long as it helps ones sAdhana to move ahead and not get stuck, since all are valid, invalid and somewhat valid from various angles of pAramArthika, vyavhArika and pratibhAsika satta. The thing to remember is that in either of the stands, one of the questions will still remain unanswerable and hence lead to anirvachaniyatva. A detailed analysis, of course is possible, with nyAya shAstra and things like that to refute/ support everything, but only to jog the brain and intellect, and thats that. :)



Most of the traditional Advaita Vedanta and direct path followers are against each other in a battle of words. While the latter interprets the former directly and "appears to have dropped" everything preceding it, this is my humble effort to show why it is not really so!

The direct path, as Bhagavan Ramana's or Nisargadatta Maharaj's path is often tagged with, is an interpretation of Advaita Vedanta's last step in nidhidhyAsana. Or a direct inversion of mahavAkya to lead to a Q. What is important to note is that the Maharshi didn't invent something that the tradition already didn't have. In many of Shankara Bhagavatpada's works, its obvious, especially for the uttama adhikAri. However, in spite of it, the Acharya recommended formal saMnyAsa, after the sAdhana chatushTaya and all that is possible for chitta shuddhi. The later advaitin acharyas have also opined that formal saMnyAsa is not necessary for moksha, so the direct path is not divorced from tradition that way either.

For the madhyama or Adhama adhikAri, practice is utmost important, that cannot be discounted. In AV, this practice is to remove avidyA; its an undoing. To do that, all the shravaNa and manana is necessitated to bring chitta shuddhi and gradually increase the adhikAraH. And the ones that disagree with this, in the direct path, are either realized or are deluding themselves to think that they are realized! Maharshi's "Who am I?" question when not resulting in immediate moksha means that the person is *not* an uttama adhikAri. He has much of his karma to burn to achieve chitta-shuddhi. And in the direct path, its no different than it is in traditional AV. When a person is inquiring, he is also questioning "whence am I?" which is questioning in the manner that avidyA is found! Its an effort to not do anything else and just be close to this question day in and day out, meaning an effort for chitta shuddhi! Its so very clear in the face, but people would still say: "no practice needed, I'm ever free". Sadly, these very people will do anything else but sAdhanA!

Coming to the final point of saMnyAsa, it would interest us to know how Maharshi reached the Arunachaleshwara temple and the things that *happened* to him to indicate a saMnyAsa vidhi that nature bestowed upon him! Why did he leave home and sit in a cave for near 20 yrs are other points to note and reconcile tradition! I've mentioned this earlier too, but again I recall the incident here: when Maharshi was asked by someone if its necessary to leave home and family, He said no. But after the person left, Maharshi's aide asked why did Bhagavan say that it wasn't necessary to leave home and family, while Bhagavan Himself ran away from home long back? Bhagavan Ramana just smiled and said: "I didn't go around the town asking everyone if I should leave home"!


jnAna, anubhava and anubhuti

Discussion to define and differentiate between jnAna, anubhava and anubhuti

Background: How Vacasapati's Bhamati defines aparoksha jnAna and differs from Vivarana's niddhidhyAsana, brought us to a terminology of anubhava, initially interpreted differently by me, from Aravind-ji (Antharyami). Following is what transpired further in order to come to an agreement of what jnAna, anubhava and anubhuti are:

Antharyami: ... and mere scriptural knowledge can give only paroksa jnAna.

me: True :) Wouldn't samAdhi be liberation otherwise! :D

Antharyami: Why samAdhi ?

me: Because samAdhi can give an experience of not having avidyA! But avidyA is not gone!

Antharyami: anubhava is simply not possible by scriptural study. anubhava is more emotional and is subjective, which can be done only by the practice of AtmopAsana.

me: anubhava can't be emotional per se! anubhava at such a stage means being That. I think I fail to capture whatever the subtle difference is being indicated in practice of AtmopAsana versus niddhidhyAsana.

Antharyami: I personally feel that we must be careful with usage of the terms anubhava and anubhuti. anubhava according to my understanding is subjective and emotional, while anubhuti is "being That".

me: Ah ok, agreed. Sorry, I assumed anubhava to mean anubhuti, since we were talking of achieving aparoksha jnAna.

Antharyami: So then, you accept with three fold notions: jnana, anubhava and anubhuti?

me: I don't know these as notions, but I agree with difference between anubhava and anubhuti though. As for jnAna, if meant as brahmajnAna, I think its anubhuti.

Antharyami: There seems to be an indentity between jnAna and anubhava, not jnAna and anubhuti. jnAna is vritti rupa, while anubhuti is not. So the difference is clear.

But look at jnAna and anubhava! Both seem to sound synonymous. This is because of the influence of nyAya definition, since they classify jnAna into two: smriti and anubhava.

me: (hmmm hmmm) Agreed, but brahmajnAna can't be vritti rupa!

Antharyami: Exactly. brahmajnAna is not vritti rupa . So to say "jnAna" here is gauna pada - aupachArika - figurative. It is actually anubhuti, and not jnAna.

me: Okay, then we are on the same page. :)

Antharyami: So with that influence we tend to confound with jnana and anubhava. But to Vedantins, it must differ for the fact that jnAna is objective (vishaya gata) while anubhava is subjective.

me: The difference could mean that jnAna is generic understanding, while anubhava is internalizing for a particular understanding. Thats perhaps why one person finds one example more befitting than the other for the same topic, but both agree on the generic understanding!

Antharyami: (hmmm) You mean anubhava is inclusive of jnAna and jnAna is inclusive of anubhava? Oops! This seems to be hair splitting .. man

me: Something like that :) God is in the details :D

Antharyami: How do you mean "anubhava is inclusive of jnAna and jnAna is inclusive of anubhava"?

me: I think the way I read that is... "both mean similar things but not exactly same"...

Antharyami: Similar things are apparently not the same.. continue...

me: One means generic and the other means particular; now: generics are made of all particulars, while particulars are built over generics. So both include each other!

Antharyami: So which one is generic?

me: That one is generic over which you and I both (and others) would agree, but build different examples for particular understanding.

Antharyami: For example?

me: (hmmm) Well, ... lets say... we both were told that there's place to sit in the park. Thats generic jnAna. You think it to be chair, in your anubhava since it has a back rest and accommodates one person, etc, while I think it to be a bench in mine!

Antharyami: Wait wait wait, to my understanding, chair and bench are generic by nature which is jnAna. But the chairness and the benchness that actually refers to the place where we can sit is subjective and this is what I call anubhava. What do you say ?

me: Thats nyAya there! :)

Antharyami: :)

me: I didn't mean it so literally, but only as an example... you went a step further with the same example. And in that sense, I agree. :)

I think anubhava when added up there, between you and me, can bring more generic jnana out!

Antharyami: jnAna is invariably related with smriti and not anubhava. In this case, you and me can have the generic sense of jnAna in relation with smriti, *but* for anubhava, my dear!

me: I don't know if you'd agree if I say that jnAna is some anubhava, made verbose?

Antharyami: (laughing) There you are! Its not anubhava; it is smriti!

me: Agreed; but smriti of what? smriti of anubhava! :) (laughing)

Antharyami: Why so much in love with anubhava? It seems to be regressive kind when you say "jnAna is some smriti made verbose" !! Am I making sense ?

me: Yes... it seems so! Then its the right time to end! It was good satsanga, thanks.

Antharyami: Without the pratipatti vAkya?

me: Everytime you use sanskrit terms, my smriti fails. :) pratipatti vAkya is?

Antharyami: Statement of conclusion (SOC)!

me: And how do you say statement of confusion? :)

Antharyami: I wont let you tumble down to bed unless you sign an MOU with proper SOC. (laughing)

me: (laughing) I think that will have to be that jnAna is objective & generic, anubhava is subjective & specific... anubhuti is beyond both!

Antharyami: Thats a good SOC!

Beginner's selfish sAdhanA!

The individual sAdhanA is a lazy path. Unless there's a satsanga around a sAdhaka in immediate access, the mind poses a potential threat using many of its tools. The first and foremost among those is the set of vAsanAs that a person may have carried across lives and at the very least, this life. The immediate past is what one must look back to, learn and scale up plans to prevent anything that affects sAdhanA from recuring. Very closely following pitfall is laziness. This results in procrastination on a minute by minute basis. A person may think that sleep is helping him recharge, but the sAdhaka doesn't have much time to recharge. He should be clear enough that any extra sleep, especially the ones after the sun has shone, is a trap, unless he is really very sick. Any sickness too needs to be analyzed; the very reason a sAdhaka has fallen sick is because he didn't do what needed to be done! Rarely ever will there be a reason that couldn't have been avoided in the first place. There are other traps which are also as important. These ones form up in the shape of fear at times of loneliness when the sAdhaka has missed discipline in his daily sAdhanA. Fear may result in the person sleeping more too! There are worldly bindings that pop up to trouble the sAdhanA. These take the shape of emotions, or other things such as insults, ego issues, hurtings, etc. A sAdhaka may get carried away with these ill intended occurrences and notice much later that all of it was a waste and the time lost can never be recovered. He should also be aware that the money lost in anything other than a basic support of livelihood and sAdhanA is a waste, while time lost in similar activities is equivalent to money lost if he is not earning. A luxury of travel is to be afforded only in case of satsang and darshan when in dire straits. Its also to be remembered at all times that any journey means disrupting discipline that one has taken pains to setup in years in thoughts and acts. Also seclusion is lost in totality in travels, brings more worldly contacts with potential vAsanAs and/ or obligations. Any trip, therefore, is best avoided!

Finally, I'd stress more on money. If a sAdhaka spends more money than required, he's not only lost the money and time with it, but he'll have to earn the same by spending more time. Thats already four times what is lost in monies! Next, every earning cycle is more time spent and more worldly interaction! Of course, its *only* money, but for sAdhanA, spiritual time is the most expensive resource!

isAvAsyaM idaM sarvaM

Caste, Women and Vedas

This is one of those ageless, endless, inconclusive debates of what Hindu's caste is all about, why are shudrAs and women treated as inferior, why are some allowed to learn and chant the Vedas, while others aren't, and such things that pop up in passing these topics. You may ask if its inconclusive, where do I get the ego and guts to write on it? Interesting question and I do say that the debate is fruitless... my intention is only to establish my opinion and conviction that the shAstras say what they say, we understand what we understand and that doesn't change the shAstras. One may say that he or she understood a point properly or improperly, but saying that the shAstras are not applicable in this era, they are backward in this modern scientific knowledgeable world and such is all utterly foolish. I may well be smart in this age, for this age, but calling the entire tradition as wrong, directly or indirectly, without even having data of when the Vedas were formed (they are timeless, whether or not it fits my stupid modern logic), being a frog in the well, thinking that "this is all the logic I'll ever need", "I've learned all that there is to learn; there cannot be anything else", "All that doesn't pass my test is wrong", is an arrogant ego-satisfying feed, nothing more. In fact, its a destructive thinking that will not only not take me anywhere closer to freedom, but also tie me up in things that I'll myself have to painstakingly untie in years or lives ahead.

Before moving on to repeat what Vedas proclaim as caste, a few words of caution:
  • Vedas are to be learned from the tradition to understand the real meaning... that in itself takes decades, if not a lifetime!
  • The Sanskrit used in the Vedas could be much different than what exists today. Also, some of the Vedas have their own grammar covered in separate sections provided therefor! Sanskrit, unlike English, has many different meanings for each word and the meaning is contextual. Most of the arguments are due to such interpretation, with individual biases and fanaticism.
  • It is impossible that a person will understand the true cryptic meaning of scriptures without faith in them, God and Guru, *equally*. Revelation by the scriptures is a thumb rule, mostly beyond understanding for many of us. The Veda mantras, etc, are attributed to a seer to whom the mantra was revealed!
So what the caste is, is defined by the capability of the person. The capability is identified in the childhood when many branches of knowledge are taught. Based on these, we have the brahmins or priests, kshatriyas or warriors, vaishyas or businessmen and shudras or worker class. Now, this classification is utterly and ridiculously misunderstood as based-by-birth alone in this age; however, it is on birth-and-ability. You may well ask why is birth *also* to define the class, and the answer to that is clear in my mind as:
  • Birth defines the family, relations, geography, friends, opportunities, etc... in fact, everything, based on purva karma. Without the karma theory, no one can justify why one person is born poor and the other rich; one handicapped while the other has an additional intuitive sixth sense too; else it ends up in a flaw of calling the God as a racist! (Atheists do not have a place for an argument at all here! They are stuck with explaining the law of averages too!) So too, birth defines the work recommended for the person in this life, for his own spiritual growth.
  • A person born in one family usually learns the family caste better than others and so better fits the caste.
  • Yes, there are exceptions to the rule, but extremely rare.
  • Mixing up the above has resulted in the confused society as it exists today!
Lastly, it is not to be understood as a privilege of one caste to do something, but a responsibility and a liability to do it, failing which, one becomes a dharma brashTa that results in bad prArabdha in the following life/ lives. So a brahmin's is not a privilege to learn and teach Vedas, but he is obliged to do it. Only then will he and the society with his caste and others' benefit largely. That is a brahmin is duty-bound to chant the Vedas, perform rites, and teach others, while using the kshatriya's protection, vaishya's business provisions and shudra's services in exchange. Similarly: a kshatriya protects everyone as his inherent nature in return of brahmin's chantings, prayers, rites, and teachings for his and his family's benefit, vaishya's provisions and shudra's services; a vaishya meets for the society's demand for commercial enterprise, using shudra's services, kshatriya's protection and brahmin's teachings; and a shudra serves with various works in return for brahmin's chanting, kshatriya's protection and vaishya's provisions. Thats how a tightly-coupled society is.

The purusha-sukta describes Narayana to be a conglomerate of all of these castes. Imagine that Narayana as a society, as a person in the society: whose productive and sustaining forces are his shudratva, commercial and business enterprise are his vaishyatva, administrative and military prowess are his kshatriyatva, while his spiritual wisdom and splendor are his brahminatva. It would be ridiculous, then, to say that one quality is better than the other. But to give one example, can the Purusha even stand tall without his legs?

Even so, I reckon the problem arises when any person looks at one thing as a privilege and not as a duty. Its also an issue when one wants to do what the other does, without even caring as to why! These two things, IMO, are the cause for the downfall of man and society as it stands today. Everyone wants to do what the other does, so to say as a fashion statement and a good example of that is the way everything has come under the umbrella of yoga. Let me quote here that the caste comes from the Vedas on what is now famous as: Better his own path though imperfect than the path of another well made!

Similarly, women are exempted from following the Vedic injunctions due to the way they are made by God! There is a clear physiological and psychological difference between man and woman that I think is obvious for all. Those are the reasons why women have a clear edge on some things where men are hopelessly lacking and vice versa on others. No amount of a man's wanting to learn motherhood, inclusive of carrying a child, is going to bring him that. In that way the woman has been blessed more with emotions. There are more Gopis, Radhas and Meeras than Tukarams, since bhakti is natural to women. A child is naturally attached to his/ her mother while s/he learns about the father. But its foolish to say that the nature is biased towards women. So too, Vedas are prescribed to be chanted by the man as his duty since he has more of what is termed as dhAraNa[1] than the woman. Now, this is not a biased statement against women, please, since the woman is exempted from doing it while still getting the benefit of Vedic chanting by father/ husband. If anything, its a bias favoring women! Why women have less dhAraNa is because women mature earlier than men and undergo very many changes in their physiological and emotional states during the monthly periods. This reduces the time that women could devote otherwise to Vedic learning in terms of continuous effort on a daily basis as needed! Its to be remembered at this juncture that the Veda mantras were *seen* by the seer; thats the perfection called for in a Vedic pandit of being able to *see* the mantras, mandating continuous revision. Chanting without mouthing the words, but just mentally, also is to be avoided during these days and its almost impossible to avoid if a woman is learning the Veda mantras, since its more of a continuous effort to retain and improvise dhAraNa. Even among men, only those who start learning Vedas at a very young in childhood can use their dhAraNa to learn, memorize and chant the Vedas without errors, after over a decade of learning at least; its not something meant to be read off the book! Any error in chanting can bring about negative effects since the mantra words carry a potential power (shabda brahma).

None of doing-what-the-other-does is necessary for moksha or liberation from the cycle of births and deaths. dharmo rakshati rakshatah doesn't simply mean protection; it also means that the dhArmik following itself will take one ahead into the greatest good, naturally. The Vedas form the basis of dharma, artha, kAma and moksha. Without following the prescribed dharma, the money earned is adhArmik and so are the desires met; how then will it lead to moksha? Its important to note that balance is an essential feature of nature and whenever things have forcibly been taken out, it has resulted in the imbalanced nature to retort with greater force! I'm well-convinced that lack of following one's own dharma has led to a disastrous social and moral order today, that is clear to most. Of course, some may see that as a wonderful progress [including the technology that allows me to blog this :) ] and I have no arguments with them!

I'm also aware that there are a good many exceptions of women pandits in the scriptures, since they overtook all boundaries imposed by womanhood, physiologically and psychologically, and therefore, are a rarity. The way the tradition is by discounting the exceptions, by and large. All said and done, the women carry the respect of a mother through the Vedas, the Vedas themselves called as shruti mAtA, barring a few extracts taken out of context and/ or ridiculously translated by fanatics and people with ill intentions!

[1] I'm thankful to Shri Syam-ji, a Vedic pandit, for his scholarly contribution on this subject on Orkut's Adi Shankaracharya community.

Upcoming blogs

Most of the times, I just put blogs in draft mode and forget about it. Quite a few of them have got published, but some remain incomplete, as mere topics, or as some thoughts that never got elaborated. Since a long time I haven't been able to blog, or even read. I want to revisit another way today: another meta blog entry that talks of upcoming blogs. I hope to write all the following, most of them refutations of endless stupid debates on controversial topics, in arrogance against such arrogance in order to present my conviction that shastras: Veda or Vedanta are ever humble; its a foolish mind that sees them as biased or befitting another *backward* era or things like that.

May Ganesha and Guru bless my journey on blogs that will cover, in bits:
--Caste, Women and Vedas
--Jnana mArga and why it is moksha dAyaka
--Science and Vedanta

And then on, perhaps, I intend to cover:
--ashTAnga yoga of Patanjali Maharshi.

I may or may not delete this placeholder entry after those entries! :)


Thoughts 78

(originally written on April 17, 2007 and forgotten in travel!)

78: While the worldly merges into certainty, the world fades away into uncertainty!

123 politics!

The nuclear interest of two countries were made a joke by the same countries, first at US and now at India. Indian scientists with what 123 is all about, but the Left is too dull to understand anything, far be the 123! Funnily, the BJP is using the opportunity to make a political statement over this by making the 123 a 1-2-3:

1: PM goes back on his commitment and loses his credibility.
2: The Left goes back on its words and loses its credibility.
3: Early elections.

I'm sure that all, including the BJP, know that 3 is hardly a possibility thats why the first two statements by BJP! :)

Things that don't go well with me...

  • Resume: "hardworking", "honest" in strength. If you can't identify a strength, don't write it; but if you've to say you're hardworking or honest, what kind of world are we living in?
  • Management: "We have to execute". So what were you doing so long? Sleeping?
  • Leaders: "I did this...". So your team comes into office for free lunch?
  • IP: Forget the business we are in, lets make money somehow or recover what we've lost! Lets also give those jobless lawyers a livelihood.

Thoughts 77

77: One man's freedom that causes hindrance to another's is not freedom.

Helpless wail

(Its been a year since I started looking for a solitary place)

A year after...

... waiting for You
things still the same...
... worsening every moment
will I ever trace You...
...will You ever call for me?
the pain in wait is unbearable...
... superposed pleasure is a joke!

Thoughts 76

76: The worldly pleasure poses a spiritual pain and the worldly pain is spiritual pleasure!

Thoughts 75

75: The thoughtful may, perhaps, never be happy in *this* world in their search for perfection!

Eternal Sunshine

There awaits another Sun
Beyond this bright one!
To Him, even this sun is dim
Someday I'll rise up to Him!

For He is always still
Without even a rising will!
No, He doesn't vanish at night
The One, thats always torching the light!

Thats the only way I'll ever win
Getting away from this world of sin!
Thats the Truth I must wholly adopt
Everything else is all for naught!

Thoughts 74

74: Forgive and forget, they say, to mean that one must forgive the person and forget the event. I prefer it the other way now, to forgive the event and forget the person! :)

(This was written sometime around April end, but was saved as draft with another blog on the great void!)

Thoughts 73

73: The choice you make is imposed upon you with a belief that you chose it.

Zilch life!

Endless fights
Sleepless nights
Lifelong blues
Heedless clues
Pointless probing
Wayward groping
Ticking clocks
Hitting blocks
Switching tracks
Trying hacks
Failing tests
Ailing rests
Risking death
Every breath!
Common strife
Zilch life!

Thoughts 72

At death's door,
Expecting more,
Is digging your grave
For another life!

Sudden recovery

They say that a Guru's wish can turn around things for a seeker. To a good extent, I feel the power of such things right now and that too with a very simple example. I partook some Badrinath prasada today and since then, I've felt a turmoil with things I've been thinking of in the past so many weeks. Suddenly, its clear now that grace does work in so many more ways than I can ever understand.

Although I keep feeling that all is lost, there's still hope left!


On a related note, how does the Lord's name work in different ways for different modes and different people? This was my topic of contemplation yesterday. If I think of something gross while doing nAmasmaraN or vice-versa, will it still aid or could it do damage? I'm contrary to the opinion on the latter, but it could give various helpful results. Depending on the depth of worldly thoughts, the level of purification varies. The same utterance of God's name with more focused attention could bring in fruitful worldly results. But the only spiritual progress would be when the utterance is heartfelt, without a worldly thought, without a spiritual demand... as in when its purely namesake, perhaps!

To hell with Mt. Everest

Those are the choicest words from my thoughts over some news that I caught up with yesterday. If you're not comfortable with curse words, please do not read ahead since I'm going to vent it out here... (you've been warned)

China has decided to rape the eco-system by making a road to the base camp of Mt. Everest! I've no better words to express my disgruntlement for such disrespect towards nature. As ridiculous as it sounds, they are doing it to present themselves in as many ways as possible for the upcoming 2008 Olympics there!!! Mt. Everest is not your regular bungee-jumping game or some Olympic fete. She's someone whom innumerous followers worship as a Goddess, nature lovers want to witness her sheer glory survive unto eternity, trekkers for whom she's a lifetime achievement, something so close to heart; she's someone who stands tall on the top of the world whispering to the heavens!

On one hand, we have US killing the environment with GHG while on the other, China planning something unthinkably absurd. I wonder what China plans to do post-Olympics 2008, perhaps a decade down, when Mt. Everest, a mother to many glaciers, starts receding? To hell with the world too, as its always been with China, but what are the Chinese going to drink for survival? Their own waste, I suppose!

The only sane suggestion I've heard as a movement against such inhuman step is that the Olympics board should put their foot down against Beijing 2008.

Against nature

If we stop for a moment before we *produce* something and think how we can safely *destroy* it, then that would be a wise thing to do. Looking back, have we ever done so? Look at plastic, for example; did anyone ever think that plastic cannot be destroyed and hardly put to good reuse? The toxic effect of plastic is less understood even now. We go on throwing them away, those plastic bottles and carry bags, 50 microns or whatever thick they are. Not only are they damaging natural beauty and adding to drastic health hazards by mixing with nature-provided resources, but are also eaten by animals, posing them a threat of life! This is but one example of how we have taken nature for granted, as if its an infinite resources' pumping machine! When we damage nature we are always in a hurry, but when it comes to cleaning things up, we take a back seat, start pointing the finger around (pun intended), and wash away our hands from the issue as a whole, opining that its beyond us!

There's obviously a bigger problem than visible in these seemingly simple mistakes of inventions and productions. Every such step forward should have a systematic study *beforehand* on the entire chain of its effect from produce to disposal, including handling, ill-effects, environmental effects, etc, that questions the justification of the produce itself! Only those who feel ownership for the nature, who think widely, globally, for current and future generations can take an unbiased decision, then, on whether or not does the new product outweigh the side-effects by as many times as to make the latter negligible.

As a simple test, all of us should take some time off, jot down a list of most useful utility products, think how they have damaged nature, how they pose a threat to us now and tomorrow, and bring up options to them that are safe, and thrive to replace them in totality. A better tomorrow, all said and done, lies with us, if we do agree that today's rotten enough!

In the end, I link ya to some things that we can start now on this simple reuse/ disposal mechanism, thanks to Gotya:


(I do have another pending blog to complete on global warm(n)ing, but I think the way postpone issues till we are neck-deep in them, so do I on blogs too!)

The sin

I read quite a perfect explanation of sin in an article on Vegetarianism in Hinduism by Sadaji. I`ll put it in my own words, expanding his definition, here.

Every individual is stuck between a dvandva bhaava, or duality. This applies to the conflict between the mind and intellect too. Humans being gifted with intelligence, are the only species that can discriminate the good from bad. That viveka vichara of the intellect is hijacked by the mind and replaced soon by some ill thought of the mind, fed by purva karma vaasana. So the mind crosses the intellect and the intellect falls prey to the mind. A strong intellect needs to be alert to fight it out at this juncture and not let the good to be replaced by evil. Else, knowingly a person ends up doing something that his intellect doesn`t permit him to do! Thats killing one`s conscience.

This conscience comes back alive after the evil act and wakes up the intellect questioning, asking for a justification! This is what amounts to sin: the mind`s want taking over the intellect`s wisdom. So the evil act leads to the person being punished by the sin! Note those important words from Sadaji. The hell is created due to the sin and is not an outside punishment or something like that. Had it been a strong intellect, there wouldn`t have been a sin to punish us in the first place. What needs doing is to wake up to this conscience that warns the intellect to not die or sleep off making things easy for the mind. The mind needs to be scrutinized every moment in waking, dream and sleep. This is by no means easy or effortless. One has to put lives in this activity to perfect one`s intellect to master the mind. That is sadhana, waking up to the conscience and living up to it. It needs satsanga and tough decisions with oneself and others. One who fails there, fails everywhere. Only then can one even think of walking the spiritual path... people who have taken to the path without being ready, have been routed back into the sinful system to return later!

The path is not for the weak, its a sword`s edge, full of sacrifices for one`s own selfish goal. The seeming contradiction there with sacrifices and selfishness is understood by the wise so: The intellect should be selfish while the mind needs to sacrifice itself unto its own death.

Another chapter of brahmacharya

Lets take a very routine example to understand brahmacharya: A beautiful, attractive, person of the opposite gender walks by me. Now, one of the following happens:

--I follow the person in thought, in a fantasyland and/ or deed.
--My eyes follow the person.
--I take a peek.
--I do not even take a peek.
--I remain unmoved, unaware of the person walking by!

That last unmoved, flawless state is brahmacharya. And this same example graduates from that *person* that walked by to the *world* that moves (mAyA)! The person who is absorbed in the Self is a true brahmachari, to whom the world has died, since He is all that is alive.

A stupid question

And then there are stupid questions such as: if all remained brahmacharis or took to sannyasa how will the world continue to exist? I wonder if people who ask these questions also ask whether if all sorts of works would remain if everyone moved on to become engineers or doctors? Don't people always want the very best of their interests to be satisfied? Doesn't everyone want the topmost in this world? But, do all of them get it? No! Do we stop trying then?

Similarly, ours is to try to achieve the best across lives, moving away from the animal nature through human, to the divine. The divine goal doesn't get fetched at once; its a tapasya of many lives, trying to crawl, before we can stand up, walk and finally run -- nay, fly! One must start now so that the long journey is not put onto another time. Only the very lucky few would get the blessings of all to continue flawlessly, only those would get godspeed.

To remain crawling and satisfying oneself of being close to the ground, avoids risking the fall, of course, but thats all that it does!

Questions 1

(I start another series today, the way I started Thoughts, just for the record of how my spiritual quest progressed in terms of questions faced by fellow advaitins or purvapakshins (opponents), that I tried to answer in various forums/ modes. Some of this has already been blogged earlier but I hope to be able to actively get into the mainstream now)

shrI vakratunDa mahAkAya koTisurya samaprabha
nirvighnaM kuru me deva shubha kAryeshu sarvadA

ajnAnatimirAndhasya jnAnAnjanashalAkayA
chakshurunmilitaM yena tasmai shrI gurave namaH

Q: What is that maya? If brahman is every thing and he is all pervading and truth and blissful then what is maya? How can maya, an illusion, originate in absolute truth brahman?

prb: You're answering your own Q, aren't you? There are many ways to understand this, some might seem suiting, or none! If the former, use those. If latter, no one can convince ya. In any case, no one but a brahma jnAni knows it. And you'd appreciate that even brahmajnAni-s have *not* described the (moot) question.

How avidyA originates, if at all, purely in a vyavhArik viewpoint, is itself within avidyA. So when you say brahmaN is everything, its not a vyavharik standpoint at all, else you wouldn't be asking this Q and I wouldn't be replying. That duality (or multiplicity) is very much a part of vyavharik.

You translate mAyA as illusion; lets go with that. With the above para, the illusion doesn't arise in the absolute brahmaN at all. Now don't mix up the statement that "where else does it arise if everything is brahmaN?" If you accept that such an illusion does exist, that something is within brahmaN, is brahmaN, but it *appears different to itself*. *Why* is not a good Q, since it meets no ends, its a purposeless curiosity, which is a good teaser at best. Compare it with an example of a concave or a convex lens used as a mirror changing our own look (of course, the lens and us are made of different material, scientifically, but I'm going with the panch-maha-bhutas... you could replace the lens with someone's eyes if that helps understand a "similar material" asserting sarvaM khalvidaM brahma). So, that mirror image is an illusion, not the true you. Can you see your own self without the mirror? No! How do you know then that you exist? You *feel* it. Suffice it then that brahmaN doesn't even *see* itself without the so-called mithyA mAyik jagat (as a reflective mirror, made of itself, but not in real), and it just *feels* itself by the *all-pervading consciousness*.


Thoughts 70

70: Not knowing food to be mere medicine to cure hunger causes more diseases. (Inspiration: P. Sankaranarayan)

adhyAropa apavAda: a short note

The oxymoron, advaitic dichotomy, is an issue that a lot of opponents bring to the argument-desk justifying duality! They term the teacher-student, teaching-taught, real-unreal, original-reflection, God-world, and you-me relation to exist due to the duality and call advaita bogus or ridiculous. The argument itself is ridiculous, to me. Every example that advaita takes up to explain its stand is seen dualistic. This is precisely where advaita is misunderstood. A smart opponent will call the earlier statement dualistic and run away under the cover of duality again. But advaita stands bold in the face of duality, by saying that the journey is dualistic to the end that is non-dual. That is, dvaita has its use in the path, but its not the end. Well, that has been voiced over and over by all, including me, so I'll return to the points I want to make.

Advaita is difficult to understand since someone who understands something else would mean duality and that blocks the merging step. Keeping that aside, one must take the examples intuitively. Just because a dumb person like me doesn't understand infinity, doesn't term the mathematical expression tending-to-infinity as junk. Lets take another example that we can relate to: I take a bath to cleanse myself. To clean it, I need to add soap, which is factually another impurity! Now, the question is why I add an impurity to remove another impurity? We all know that the latter would remove the former. So, I superimpose to remove the superimposition. That is adhyAropa apavAda. Removal of superimposed world needs a superimposed dvaita bhAva that removes both and advaita shines on its own then! No one says after the bath that I've soap over me and thats why I'm clean, but I washed myself with soap and therefore I'm clean. So too, one washes oneself off dvaita and advaita shines forth.


Who am I? is a question that technically gives rise to a lot of other questions which are important to be analyzed. They also hold a potential gift in their hands to lead to a better self-inquiry. However, one must be careful not to get into a loop of these questions that lead wayward to a different goal, in that they take one away from the Self than closer.

Having noted this, lets move on to see what these questions are:

i) Whence am I?
The initial question of Who am I? has no direct answer for us mortals. That, therefore, leads to a parallel question of Whence am I? Anybody who has done any troubleshooting knows that to know what (an insentient equivalent of the sentient who) is it, has an interrelated question of where did it come from? (Either may be answered first, of course). To a newbie, one may be as hard as other; while for some seekers, one might be an easier problem to inquire into, if not solve, than the other. Having solved one, even so to an extent, the other becomes an easier one to delve into.

The idea I'm trying to bring out is that whichever the question we choose, we need to follow the instinct into more questions that make the bigger problem smaller-and-simpler to analyze. If we are not doing that, we are clearly getting lost towards the worldly, if not directly into it!

Anyone who's tried a little bit of this going around the *consciousness-hunt* would know that the I doesn't answer on its own. Only a deluded fool would make-believe oneself (or worse still, others) that I know from where I arise or who am I! From

yasyAmataM tasyAmataM mataM yasya na veda saH |
avijnAtaM vijAnatAM vijnAtaM avijAnataM || Kena 2.3 ||

we can get a gist that *one who thinks he knows, knows not*. So there are simpler Vedantik truths hidden in other questions that arise from Whence am I? This is common to the second issue dealt with below, so it will be listed later in a set of self-answering questions.

ii) Whence is avidyA?
To even pose this is a big achievement on one hand and a big stumbling stupidity on the other; the former because one knows what avidyA is, while the latter since one is stuck with a question of the order of solvable magnitude of Who am I? or Whence am I?

Lets try to see what avidyA is and then the whence about it. avidyA in plain vanilla English means ignorance, which in plain vanilla dictionary terms means lack of knowledge. So, in our journey, its to ask lack of knowledge of what? Thats the initial question that we began with. So avidyA is lack of knowledge of who I am or whence am I! A common question, even so invalid, pops up for a lot of us: why am I ignorant, (or properly put, ) unaware of myself? which in eventuality, could be read as: since when am I ignorant?

For both of these, there's supporting questioning that we need to do: do we ever ask ourselves, why am I ignorant about, say, German (language)? Or since when am I ignorant of German? The only valid answer to this question would be: since ever, beginningless. So too with ignorance, its beginningless avidyA.

Now, moving back to our original problem of whence is this avidyA, we lead to the self-answering questioning that was arrived at even in (i) above. These are:

Whence is the sweetness of the sugar candy?
Whence is the saltness of sea water?

The impossibility of finding a locus of the entity sweetness or saltness is quite clear, isn't it? The only answers we can arrive at are: its within, all over, pervading the whole. So too with consciousness and so too with avidyA, the former being covered with latter, the former being self-expressing, but the latter stopping the self-expression, and therefore, the only way the former can be expressed is by removal of the latter!



I was thinking of writing something, thinking loudly, on my current state of affairs. But just when I logged into the blog dashboard, I saw in the list of drafts, an old entry somehow moved back from the published state! Its quite on similar lines of what I want to express, except that its practically much deeper an affair now! I'm in no mood to extend or detail it further... so I leave it to some other time, if at all.

More on US patents...

This time around, there's a joke on the technical front of US patents (unlike the yoga-asana patents thats a complete joke in itself)

I was reading an article about MS alleging that Linux violates some 283 patents, seemingly based on some 2004 survey conducted for an insurance-like co that sells legal protection against Linux copyright-infringement claims! Whether Linux actually violates (if so, OSDL is willing to *remedy* matters) any patent is immaterial to me, since the crux of the matter is as quoted below: (hehehe, emphasis mine)

#An artifact of current patent law in the United States is that companies and individuals are discouraged from seeing if their products infringe, Ravicher (FSF representative) said.

"If you have knowledge and are found to infringe, a court can punish you," tripling financial penalties, Ravicher said. "If you say you didn't know and didn't see it, a court can't punish you. It's a screwed-up rule."

Patenting the mind!

With the US issuing patents for yogasanas or yoga postures, they're a step away from patenting the body and two steps behind patenting the mind! Yes, what I say sounds ridiculous, but patenting the body postures seems equally ridiculous to me.

Yoga is not something thats meant to be sold. It'd be like selling the air you breathe. As the teachers at Shivananda ashram, Rishikesh, say about their YVFA course being free: all thats *necessary* is available free# in this world. But US seems to be saying "what I make is mine, what you make is not yours. You pay me for what I make and you pay me for what you make too (whether or not you want to sell it)". Leaving aside the $3B yoga-generated monies at stake in America, think what else it could mean.

Yoga asanas were and are actually meant to keep the body healthy to remain in a position for long enough to meditate single-minded. Getting healthier by the day is a good side effect while getting attached to the body is a bad side effect. Throwing all that, including yoga itself, a newer side to all of this is the money game!

Yoga is defined as chitta vritti nirodha meaning: cessation of modifications of the mind. So, aren't we really moving towards patenting the mind in coming times?

#Of course, you may say that food, water and shelter aren't free anymore. But by food, its not your pizza, noodle, dosa... we make that want a necessity. Nature takes care of everyone naturally, but the unnatural advances have made us pay for needs too! The way yoga is being made money out of, way back in the past, some wise guys must have decided to make money out of the basic needs too! Anyway, just a thought.

Thoughts 69

69: Focus on the changeless and the change takes care of itself.

Where's the Guru?

So then, where's the Guru... and in the same breath... His grace?

It seems contradictory to consider that the Guru is omnipresent and still stay in close proximity to his mortal body or samadhi, doesn't it? To me, it does. But, if the Guru's everywhere, he's also in his body and in his samadhi too; this is a point that many miss! So why not stay there? There are reasons why sadhakas prefer to stay near the Guru's worldly presence, while some call it seva, some others do so to keep the Guru's principles alive, while others do it to express their bhakti, gratitude and following.

Why did I decide (earlier) that I'd like to reside as close to my Guru's samadhi and accessible to another (both, being One, of course) Guru's peetha/ ashram(s)? My thinking was that sometimes the laukik interaction with the ashramites would help me deepen my sadhana or bring me back to the path if and when I slip. Its also a good opportunity to recharge myself with the vibrations in the vicinity of satvik surrounding or satsanga.

I say that all that was past. Now its anywhere-is-Guru's-home. For a *true* sadhaka, it doesn't matter if the Guru's samadhi is far, since the Guru is hridaya-nivaasi for him. For other than true sadhakas, it doesn't matter if he's in the vicinity of the samadhi. Anyway, its not helping him. I don't know which category I fall in, but in any case, my Guru has announced it in fair terms to not get attached to his proximity and to take what comes as grace and move on. This is also to mean that I-will-stay-near-Him attitude had to go. It also meant that the effort, money, land, etc, that has come as grace can also go as grace, if I become attached to one or more of those! So it doesn't feel a thing anymore. The fear that I'll lose it is not a question. whats lost somewhere is gained elsewhere and whats gained elsewhere is lost too, continuously. Its that holding onto the change and trying to make it permanent that brings in the *attached-pain*. Let it go, hold on to the changeless, don't try to convert whats changing to permanent... it will never happen. Focus on the changeless and the change takes care of itself!

This is not to say that I'll not try to make money; its also not that I'll try to make money. Its just that if I'm to make money, I'll make it and on the same terms, if I'm to lose it I'll lose it. I'm just not to hold on to the money I make and/ or lose!


Neither get surprised nor shocked on the title. Picking up the topic from a fellow-blogger's posting, this is about my answers to marriage inquiries:

--Why can't ya see me happy?
--Why marry only one?
--Marriage is for losers!
--(To people who said they've the *right* to get me married...) Of course, you have... I haven't given the right to my parents, so think *how much* right you have!
--(Touching my ears...) Brahmachari's apmaan!
--(When the above reply follows with "One must get married after brahmacharya as per dharma"...) Hah, how many of us follow it and take to the forests and/ or Sannyasa after married life? Anyways, Brahmachari can take Sannyasa.
--In our tradition, Sannyasis don't get married; I don't know whats your custom!
--I've a verbal contract with my parents: they don't ask me to marry and I don't take to Sannyasa.
--What if I leave my wife and run away post-marriage? You'd be responsible for ruining an innocent girl's life then!
--I'm not refusing marriage; well, I'm not accepting it either! I'm neutral to it.

Yeah, all that in fun and harshness; I choose whatever works for the purvapakshi, er, opponent! :)

These are as far as I remember my replies. I don't think more are necessary. Most of those who ask such Qs are satisfied or put off with one or more of above.

The great void... part II

In the past 2-3 months, surprising and shocking events have taken place in such rapid succession that I've lost sync with life; the whole existence is a dream right here, right now! Any doing seems meaningless... the talk, the act, eating, sleeping, breathing, everything. Even the reading or meditating or rituals or whatever, seem as too much of involvement. Its as if the body is dead weight, living is a tiresome effort, all the belongings are a wasteful accumulation. Every moment is thankfully discarded. The fights, the love, all of those opposite emotions are a bunch of meaningless things. The righteous and the evil are equally unimportant. The why remains unanswered and the why is no longer an interesting question since no answer will ever be convincing.

Living is a habit and no matter what the conditions, be it the crowded markets or lonesome whole, till the end, its not the end, however hard you try or give up.

Life has finally become the dark night of the soul. The movie has become a trailer and I'm no longer interested to even watch the movie, leave alone acting in it! What happens tomorrow or what went in the past is not a concern at all, even the now is a null that acts on its own, drags me with it, whether or not I want or need it... helplessly witnessing it in happiness and sadness, in anger or fear, all but just emotions. I have nothing to say, nothing to do, no matter what I seem to say or do. I want nothing, I need nothing, I have nothing, no matter what people say or think. My usual answer "I'm alive" to the question "How are you?" is no longer valid! Even the *I am* while being true, is looped into its own Self. I know I am, but even why am I?

The supreme silence
where the tears flow
without caring of
the high or the low

Merging in that
which is behind all facts
The bliss of which
nullifies all acts

The thoughts
driven meaningless
leave neither a talk
nor a path to walk

The act acts on its own
Self witnesses passively
not thinking why
or even stopping the try

The great void... part I

The emptiness with which we live beating the boring existence, is a sure shot way to understand the meditative void. After all, the goodness and the badness of thinking, saying and doing is projected on the Self. The emptiness of the feel that falsely projects that I'm nothing attempts to say I am, nothing else beyond that. The same entity that identifies with nothingness is the expresser of the void. The void so expressed by that something can't be void and hence makes it completely opposite to void. The great void is not for I to reach it, but I to negate all that there seems to be to witness the great void. That witnessing of meditative void is not the end of journey but a convincing experiment to verify the existence of void in all that is materialistic, only an apparent reality of pratibhasika satya.

What singing competition?

Well, am I glad that Sanjaya Malakar is out of the American Idol contest! Nah, I'm not following it or anything, but a few days back, the newspapers caught my attention when there was all that nonsense talked about Sanjaya of the American Idol fame. The funny point is, if Indians or whoever it is that voted in bulk for him, whose fault is it? If people vote in a show that bases winners on votes, you can't define who votes for whom. Why have such a show in the first place if all people can think of is making racist remarks later, in support or against!

Till the last airing, if Sanjaya was leading, it was said to be due to the *outsourced Indians* voting for him or even faking votes since he's half-Indian!!! Now that he's out, they seem to be saying that justice prevailed. Back here in India, we call such nonsense as "chit bhi meri, pat bhi meri" or put in the Andaz Apna Apna way, "chit main jeeta, pat tu hara". (That is, heads I win, tails you lose!) :)

Now for my own perspective on Sanjaya. Only today, I came across it while switching channels, and incidently it was returning home time for Sanjaya. I just heard him sing "Let's Give Them Something To Talk About" after his losing cry and I *liked* his singing, not the weird hairdos that he presented himself in the recap shown! In recaps, I also saw that quite a few judges and singers liked him. I think the judges do understand that he's a 17 yr kid and has a lot of growing up to do. However, I did read his answers on American Idol website and he's done a fair job at it. I'm not sure if he deserves to be the American Idol; if he really likes singing, thats the wrong show to compete in anyways!

For closing remarks, I don't care if Sanjaya rocks or sucks, what I do care is to note that shows such as American Idol or the Indian version of it, Indian Idol, are not *singing* competitions since they are not on the *quality* of singing, but a *popularity* show based on votes and votes alone. Had it been a singing competition, we would have had quality judges judging singing and not those stupid hairdos or questioning races, again, whether for him or against!

PS: By the way, if all of you missed the big point that these shows are all about, here it is: money. Ads, news, interviews, telecom companies, etc... sell it while Sanjaya's case is still hot! Let whoever hate him, people who are making money using him really must be loving him! :)

Waking up to daily news

Every day is atleast a tragedy! Each morning you wake up to see the newspapers stained with blood, only with varying counts of deaths and rapes! Cheating and robbery don't even make it to the papers these days, since they have become commonplace and we are no more surprised with any such incidents. The keyword *trust* does not exist anymore as an essential unmentionable feature of individuals. Instead, if such a thing does exist, its a rarity enough to become news material! Yesterday, I read that a Bambaiyya taxidriver returned a necklace and a (licensed) revolver forgotten behind by a businessman. Well, I'd have liked to live in a place and time where thats expected normal behavior. Wouldn't we all?

The only pleasing thing I've read in days was today. An article mentions Denmark to be such a place, where people are the happiest in Europe (perhaps, the world), due to work-life-balance, responsible family life, responsive and approachable government, safe streets, etc. Thank God, for some piece of heaven on earth, atleast for some!

(By the way, I'm going to try and live in denial of such nonsense surroundings as I start this entry with and see if it helps me be contented more than I already am. In that effort I attempt to list out funny incidents in Virar local trains, that make one survive the suffocating crowd! Coming up next...)

Nuclear India!

I'm immensely happy that we tested the 3,500 km-range Agni-III ballistic missile yesterday itself, loudly announcing that we're committed to our nuclear and missile research programme. More reasons on why so, follows.

The country that has built a paradise over bloodshed of countless Red Indians has voiced nonsense again! This time around, they've managed to call India greedy for our want of nuclear capabilities! Hah, US has *always* been greedy in everything, though. They are the people who want(ed) to patent turmeric-as-a-medicine thats used in almost every household in India since time unknown! They are also the same people who want(ed) to patent basmati rice, the one that makes festive food here, if not of daily use in many Indian homes! If thats not enough, they are also the people who fought several wars for the greed of oil in the gulf countries, killing millions, including nuking Japan! US has even gone for war against UN requests; the latter can go to hell for all they care! Ending wars, they also leave a trace of feel-nothing to the country, if they leave at all, once having entered for a so-called *police-action*.

Knowing history so, I do not know what US calls its military as, but ours is a defence and we've a no-first-use, but second strike, policy. We're a country surrounded by military dictators who haunt us not only grabbing boundaries inch-by-inch, but are also a cause for concern due to the terrorism within. We're a country where some cities pay as much as five times than what US cities pay for electricity, needing nuclear energy badly!

As it is, the Indo-US nuclear tie-up began with a bad taste. One needs to really understand why we in India are being called as nuclear greedy now that we want to keep to technology exchanges that would help us keep our nuclear (factually, civilian safeguarded) reactors going. US has imposed sanctions upon India due to Pokhran nuclear tests. Later, when we had found our own resources for nuclear fuel, suddenly US came back, for a hug this time. Well, they just want what they want, but if we ask for return in kind, we're nuclear greedy!