तितिक्षा / titikshA

हरि: ॐ ||

Its been a long time since I've blogged, especially anything adhyAtmic. Today, while reading something, I recalled one of my favourite verses from the Bhagavad Gita:

मात्रास्पर्शास्तु कौन्तेय शीतोष्णसुखदुःखदाः।

आगमापायिनोऽनित्यास्तांस्तितिक्षस्व भारत।।2.14।

mAtrAsparshAstu kaunteya shItoShNasukhadu:khadA: |
AgamApAyinoSnityAstAMstitikshasva bhArata ||

2.14 But the contacts of the organs with the objects are the producers of cold and heat, happiness and sorrow. They have a beginning and an end, (and) are transient. Bear them, O descendant of Bharata. (Translation: Swami Gambhirananda)

What it meant to me earlier is that the opposing pairs such as happiness & sadness, heat & cold, etc, are indicative of dvandva. The contact of the senses with the objects drag along the jIva as being in contact with them and give rise to these feelings of opposing pairs, while truly the jIva has nothing to do with them, its always free. All of these pairs have a beginning and an end, so one must bear them out with patience. However, a deeper meaning shone on me now. The dvandva bhAva not only drags the jIva into association with these emotions or feelings, opposed when weighed against each other, but they in turn lead to dvaita-bhAva or duality. Left to itself, the jIva is brahman, but when associated with objects via the sense organs, duality is born.

Imagine a different set of opposites such as past & future. The mind with its tools drags the jIva into (living the) past and (planning the) future. Not only bearing them out with titikshA but weaning itself out from them, as pratyAhAra, if I may say that, jIva would be left alone in the present. While past had started and ended too, future is yet to start, but that too would end. The present, come what may, is always there. This present is the now. The ever-lasting, nityaM. The jIva. The Atman! The brahman! So only the contact of the senses with the objects gives rise to duality, but the jIva on its own is without a second. Its ekameva advitiya.

Of course, there's a contrary, critical viewpoint to the above, which is: how can the sensual contact be the reason for duality, since the object itself lies out there as a dual, doesn't it? Then again, the object as a dual, other than one's own self, comes into picture due to contact with it, via the senses, which associate the intellect to the senses via the mind. The intellect itself is a result of association of the ego with it, whereas the ego is an *OBJECT* for the jIva. This ego is the closest object which has no existence besides its individuality. And being an individual, without a second me, I am separated from another as a sentient being or an insentient object only when I, as a jIva, have an ego to separate me. The ego but has only a ghostly existence, a delusion, that vanishes in suShupti or deep sleep, where I am truly left to myself.

That brings me to conclude this post so: if this first opposing pair of individuality of ego contrasted against the other were not to happen, there would be no jIva separate as jIvAtman from brahman. Then, I could remain as what I really am: ekameva advitiya brahman. However, this root association is naisargika as Bhagavatpada Adi Shankaracharya says, so there's nothing I can do about it right away. Instead, the solution lies at the other end of the spectrum where I can bear out the opposing pairs of heat & cold, happiness & sadness, past & future, which would lead to remaining neutral in the present, the now, which in turn ends all the duality there is, right from those "objects out there" through my "mind out there" to my own "ego out there". Without the contact with those objects (of the jIva), there would be no duality.

श्रीगुरुपादुकार्पणमस्तु ||

Shourie & Vajpayee ji

Hari Om!

Today, I watched two good interviews online; one quite recent was that of Arun Shourie who talked of his recent book, his family life with ailing son & wife, his past as a journalist and his service to India in Vajpayee ji's government. If his interview was not sufficient to touch you, even make you cry, Vajpayee ji's poem would, which is the next video I saw. In his 1997 interview with Tavleen Singh, Atal Bihari ABV talks of some of past events in his several decades of service to the nation, his personal life & hobbies. While expressing concern over the state of things that India is facing and where its heading, he ends with a beautiful poem, which is really what made me scribble something in this hibernating blog after a long time. So here goes Geet nahi gata hoon!:

गीत नहीं गाता हूँ। गीत नहीं गाता हूँ।
बेनकाब चेहरे हैं,
दाग बड़े गहरे हैं,
टूटता तिलस्म, आज सच से भय खाता हूँ।
गीत नहीं गाता हूँ।

लगी कुछ ऐसी नजर,
बिखरा शीशे सा शहर,
अपनों के मेले में मीत नहीं पाता हूँ।
गीत नहीं गाता हूँ।

पीठ में छुरी सा चाँद,
राहु गया रेखा फाँद,
मुक्ति के क्षणों में बार-बार बँध जाता हूँ।
गीत नहीं गाता हूँ।

(But ABV gives hope immediately with Geet naya gata hoon!)

गीत नया गाता हूँ
टूटे हुए तारों से फूटे वासन्ती स्वर,
पत्थर की छाती में उग आया नव अंकुर,
झरे सब पीले पात,
कोयल की कुहुक रात,
प्राची में अरुणिमा की रेख देख पाता हूँ
गीत नया गाता हूँ

टूटे हुए सपने की सुने कौन सिसकी?
अन्तर को चीर व्यथा पलकों पर ठिठकी
हार नहीं मानूँगा,
रार नई ठानूँगा,
काल के कपाल पर लिखता-मिटाता हूँ
गीत नया गाता हूँ

To listen from the man himself, pls go to 08:25 on this video and watch the expressive Vajpayee ji. 

Vande Mataram!

Basic how-to of "meditation"

हरि: ॐ ||

When people ask me what I do or why I deviated from the routine work life that all have, I just tell them that I want to focus on spiritual interests. This, for some reason, means to them that I spend a lot of time in "meditation". I've written earlier too that I don't meditate, nor is it really possible to intentionally meditate, at least not how people use the term in general speech. I used to correct them but I've given up since a while unless its a natural reaction and not a controlled response. However, I do have a decent amount of theoretical and practical background in various types of meditations and related "rituals", including Kundalini and Kriya yoga. What I intend to do in this blog entry is put a general set of directions, something of a how-to (and/or how-not-to) for the kind of questions people ask me on meditation or that I've discussed with friends or my teachers while at Rishikesh. For obvious reasons, the term meditation in the following will mean what it means in a very generic usage and has a broad interpretation. I am just going to put a random list of things more than anything else, so suit yourself to use or discard the same.

0) Have faith.
i) Whatever be the reason to meditate, neither hold by that reason, nor limit your goal to that alone. The former might block your progress and the latter freedom.
ii) Most preferably, get a learned and trained teacher who himself meditates to teach you. There may be some formal initiation involved, in which case know what you're getting into and know for sure thats what you want to get in to. Else, pick a good short term course.
iii) The above also means: do not learn your practice from books, webpages, blogs (including this one), etc, unless you have some background yourself, in practice.
iv) Do not do anything fancy, including advanced or complicated yoga postures/ mudrAs or focusing on physical point of the body, all by yourself. THIS IS RISKY in the long run.
v) Do not use any bIja mantra for chanting along the meditation, unless initiated properly by a qualified Guru who himself was initiated in traditional succession. THIS IS RISKY immediately and a strict no. Not only can it not give results, but even harm.
vi) Use a simple sitting posture that keeps the body erect with a straight back/ spine, neck and head, and one that doesn't give you much bodily discomfort over long durations. sahajAsana is perfect for starters. Face North or East.
vii) Use the same time of day, when not on full stomach, to meditate. Choose the time and place such that the surrounding is clean, silent and you're not interrupted for the duration of meditation. Most obvious time is in the mornings when the mind is yet to get busy with day schedules ahead.
viii) Breathe normally without strain/ putting effort.
ix) Focus on your iShTa devata's or Guru's image mentally with as many details that you can recall, including the most minute. This is particularly safe because the deity or Guru protects one from any harm.
x) Else focus on your normal pace of breathing. Notice how you inhale and exhale, also known as conscious-breathing. Listen to the sound that the breath makes with each flow in and out.
xi) Else focus on your thoughts, without forcibly dragging them to one place or back. Just watch them and be aware.
xii) Do not be harsh towards yourself or others, no matter where your thoughts go. The very idea of meditation is to further yourself from these things.
xiii) IMHO, anything other than above is advanced territory of meditation, to be avoided initially. If you do the above right, you will be led there automatically.
xiv) Do not discuss your experiences with those who understand nothing about meditation.
xv) Stop if you feel any weird uneasiness or discomfort more than a couple of times during meditation. If it continues, approach a learned teacher.
|| श्रीगुरुपादुकार्पणमस्तु ||

The answer

हरि: ॐ ||

*The* answer to the root of all questions 'Who am I?' can never be found because the only route one knows to find answers to any question is insufficient. The ahaMkArA uses the buddhi to probe the manas leading to dig into smRRiti. The source, however, precedes all of these. The mind has never once, in countless janmAs, encountered the true Self in a way so that it could store the same in memory-- it never will either-- and no matter how deep the ego intellectually digs, there is no answer to be found to the same. Hah! All the tools at our disposal have to be thrown lock, stock and barrel for the answer to appear all by Itself, in the most unexperienced, unfelt, way, wiping out the question itself into non-existence.

What a wonderful journey its turning out to be!! It will all end some time, when time itself will have gone too.

|| श्रीगुरुपादुकार्पणमस्तु ||

The dog's tail

OM Sai Ram

Our entire TV & print media are all alike, wagging like dog's tails wherever their groups smell money. This time around, they smelled something of 40k-1.5L crores, which may well be concocted figures too. They have no idea how such money can be managed at all, let alone used well by a trust for the welfare of thousands of crores of people, Sai devotees or not! So stories were cooked up on disputes bringing reputed, well-meaning, karma yogis of the highest order in the form of Shri Sathya Sai Baba's trust and devotees taking care of him.

Being faithless, dishonest, immoral and biased by their own cheapest ilk, they first tried to attack Swami's miracles tagging them as tricks and magic, then with some scandals, with no success because Truth withstood everything. For the former, they brought in some stage magicians of high "entertainment value" or some chemistry majors to explain away how things can be hidden and made to appear suddenly or some chemicals react to produce such "effects". And this they called as proof, that because certain others can do certain things one way, so must everything be done that way be it by anyone. What a stupid logic! I can't help but give a crude example to drive home my point. Just because one can have artificial insemination and call the resultant embryo as reproducing humans, should that mean that there was never, is no natural way, and never will be, of reproducing?! They also chose some videos where it appears as if some tricky movements like the magicians are made by Swami, made a documentary around it calling everything fake, ignoring thousands of others (or crores of miracles in people's individual homes across the world including cure for dreadful diseases) where no such movement was involved that can't be explained by them with their limited tools. In this exercise, they forget that they are making a statement that billions of followers are all stupid and the media guys have superhuman intelligence, while the truth is contrary to this. Media is intelligent to the extent that they entertain the morons and keep them glued to the screens with awe, nothing more!

For the latter, they collected irrelevant data with no proof of even such number of people existing, discarded by all legal entities as bogus, and showcased those as scandals. Obviously, to brainwash the idiots who follow the idiot-box, as if their bums are glued to the chair, and all thinking capacity muted by the TV remote, they cooked more stories around these.

They also threw away decades of free education, healthcare, water supply, etc, of the best quality by the trust calling those as public's money returned to public. Not a single media-person talks of how wastefully the income-tax money is used since as many decades, also getting into corrupt pockets! And this is although the money collected in the form of various taxes without any choice whatsoever to tax-payer, forced as if in the interest of the nation. OTOH, Swami or his trust never asked anyone for donations, providing services free and highly subsidized food inside the ashram. Anyone who visits the ashram, even if with limited intellect or with highly evolved thinking, knows this for a fact. I, for one, have never seen a hundi of collections myself in a dozen years or more visits and don't remember contributing a single paisa to the trust!

Now that none of the controversies have clicked, the media had to come up with something new. So came around the creation of trust dispute of huge monies, pulling government bodies and what not. The intervening govt found nothing and called it a media creation, the trust members too did the same. Still, the TV channels continue with their blabber repeating false stories over and over, poisoning the minds of TV-watching armchair analysts, dragging names of selfless devotees that sacrificed their lives for the cause and Swami.

Meanwhile, Swami decided to leave his mortal coil to everyone's shock. Shamelessly, media took this sad moment in history, with total disregard to the faith of billions of followers worldwide, as an opportunity to pull down Swami's image with unconnected and meaningless comments from various personalities of no reputation whatsoever.

Now, media has "dug up" a new story like a dog digs out a bone, except this one too is in their never-ending imagination. That Swami's casket was ordered long before Swami's leaving the body has stirred a new controversy. Everyone who has ever visited Prashanti Nilayam knows that Swami is not only aware of each and every activity within or without, but makes them happen. Even if the casket was ordered long back, it only means that Swami had told them to arrange for it, nothing else. That there was a conspiracy to harm or poison One who can't be harmed or poisoned is all making me sick to no end. Not that they will succeed, because the faithless don't need any false story to bring down their faith and the ones with faith can't have their faith go because God stands with them.

Just like a dog's tail, media would never straighten. Sigh.


हरि: ॐ ||

 Long, long ago, one early morning of a beautiful day, Rishi Buddhakaushika was in meditation, lost in the depths of silence. Lord Shiva, in his infinite grace, blessed the rishi with Ramaraksha stotra, meaning the stotra that protects. One of the stanzas in the stotra is as follows:

राम: राजमणि: सदा विजयते रामं रामेशं भजे |
रामेण अभिहता निशाचरचमू: रामाय तस्मै नम: ||
रामात् नास्ति परायणं परतरं रामस्य दासोSस्म्यहम् |
रामे चित्तलयः सदा भवतु मे हे राम माम् उद्धर ||

There are many who do not understand Sanskrit and there are even more who not only don't care for any for the shlokas or mantras of our Vedas and dharma shastras, but think that they are based on superstition and contain no knowledge whatsoever. The fact is quite the other way around. These very people are illiterate and have no qualification to have an opinion on the subject, let alone make a judgment! For example, look & appreciate the beauty of the shloka from the words in bold. When read out in sequence as राम: (subject), रामं (object), रामेण (by/with Rama), रामाय (for Rama), रामात् (from Rama), रामस्य (of Rama), रामे (in Rama), हे राम (O Rama), they stand for all the ekavacana vibhaktis of the pullinga word Rama! That is, they represent all the cases of the singular masculine word Rama. So even if one can't understand the bhakti in the shloka, there is no way that the most educated of them all can be left out from being impressed by the grammar of Sanskrit language put together in a beautiful and melodious chhanda.

Having made a case on the educational value hidden in our shlokas, etc, lets move on to the bhakti in the shloka...

... on second thoughts, lets keep bhakti within, this Ramanavami. :) Best wishes.

|| श्रीगुरुपादुकार्पणमस्तु ||

Request for mentioning Sanskrit as your second language in the census

From: Arsha Vidya Gurukulam

Sub: Request for mentioning Sanskrit as your second language in the census

Dear Devotee,

The Census of this country has started from 09.02.2011. In their questionnaire, they will ask our mother tongue and also 2nd language. As far as possible, in this census, please show Sanskrit as your mother tongue or 2nd language. We may say that Sanskrit is the base for all Indian languages. It is the unifying Language in which our Cultural and Spiritual Traditions are enshrined. Remove and eliminate this Language and you can destroy our Culture.

Mentioning of Sanskrit by more people will enable the language get bigger slots in Doordarshan and other benefits from the Central Government. Otherwise we will lose out and hence our culture will lose out.

Please also pass on this information to as many as possible.

Arsha Vidya Gurukulam

Pt. Bhimsen Joshi

A few days back, the world of Hindustani classical music lost a giant pillar by the passing away of 89 year old Bharatratna Pt. Bhimsen Joshi. Although there are many sources where one can learn about Pt. Joshi, I'd like to mention my personal relation with his music. His soulful Marathi abhangas on Vitthala or Sant Jnaneshwar have been my source of bhakti rasa for a long time. On hearing the sad news of Pt. Joshi, I got lost in his melodious voice where he still lives on and perhaps always will. Pt. Joshi's singing spreads across several languages and one can delve into one's own spirituality be it through his bhajans or alaps. Some of his noted performances are Jo bhaje Hari ko sada, Jaya Jagadeeshwari Mata Saraswati, Sun bhai sadho dohes of Sant Kabir in Hindi and Pandharicha vasa Chandrabhagya snana, Tirtha Vitthala Kshetra Vitthala, Arambhi Vandina Ayodhyecha Raja, Dnyaniyancha Raja in Marathi.

In the past couple of days, I also came across his bhajans and awesome rendition of Dasara bhaktigeete in Kannada. Some of these are Bhagyadalakshmi baramma, Deva banda namma, Sada yenna hridayadalli vasa mado Shri Hari and Kailasa vasa Gaurisha Isha. I'm trying to dearly hold on to the spiritual depth that the last two have taken me to. When Pt. Joshi sings Sada enna hridayadalli, it feels as if my heart cries out to Hari to reside within and with Kailasavasa, the dvaita bhakti rasa itself results in advaita bhakti for me! The lyrics to the last two bhaktigeete are below.

sadA enna hRRidayadalli
sadA enna hRRidayadalli vAsamADo shrI hari
nAdamurti ninna pAda mOdadinda bhajisuvE

j~nAnavembo navaratnada maNTapada madhyadalli
veNulOlane kuLLirisi dhyAnadinda bhajisuvE

bhakti rasavembo muddu mANikyada harivANadi
muktanAga bEku endu muttinArati ettuvE

ninna nAnu biDuvanalla enna nInu bidalusallA
ghanna mahima vijayaviThala ninna bhakutara keLusolla
(ghanna muruti vijayaviThala keLo ninna bhakutara solla)

kailAsavAsa gaurIsha Isha
kailAsavAsa gaurIsha Isha
tailadhAreyante manasu koDo hariyalli shambhO

ahorAtriyali nAnu anujarAgraNiyAgi
mahiyoLage carisidenO mahAdEvanE
ahibhUShaNane enna avaguNagaLa eNisadale
vihita dharmadi viShNu bhakutiyanu koDo shambhO

manasu kAraNavalla pApapuNyakkella
analAkSha ninna preraNe illade
danuja gajamada hAri danDa praNAmamAlpe
maNisO I shirava sajjana caraNa kamaladali

bhAgIrathIdharane bhayava pariharisayyA
lEsAgi nI salahO santata sarvadevA
bhAgavatajana priya vijaya viThalananghri
jAgu mADade bhajipa bhAgyavanu koDo shambhO

The simplicity of this great man reflects in his interview: Pt.Bhimsen Joshi in conversation, a master who taught his students to develop their own style instead of imitating him or anyone else. Although an era ends with passing away of Bharatratna Pandit Bhimsen Joshi, he is sure to live on in his legendary voice for eras to come.