Sunday, December 30, 2007

Ranade: The Doctrine of Maya in the Upanishads

A Constructive Survey Of Upanishadic Philosophy: Being An Introduction To The Thought Of The Upanishads by R.D. Ranade. This is from p 163-165. Here is a link.

As we have said, we shall examine the ideas instead of words in the Upanishads, and see whether the traces of Maya doctrine cannot be found in them. The Isopanishad tells us that truth is veiled in this universe by a vessel of gold, and it invokes the grace of God to lift up the golden vessel and allow the truth to be seen [Is. 15]. The veil that covers the truth is here described as golden, as being so rich, gaudy, and dazzling that it takes away the mind of the observer from the inner contents, the rivets it upon itself. Let us not be dazzled by the appearance of gold, says the Upanishad, everything that glitters is not gold. Let us penetrate deeper and see the reality that lies ensconced in it. We have thus, first, the conception of a veil which prevents the truth from being seen at first glance. Then, again, we have another image in the Kathopanishad of how people living in ignorance, and thinking themselves to be wise, move about wandering, like blind men following the blind, in search of reality, which they would have easily seen had they lodged themselves in knowledge instead of ignorance [Ka 1.2(4,5)]. We have here the conception of blindfoldness, and we are told that we deliberately shut our eyes to the truth before us. Then, thirdly, ignorance is compared in the Mundakopanishad to a knot which a man has to untie before he gets possesstion of the Self in the recess of his heart [Mu. 2.1.10]. Fourthly, the Chandogyopanishad tells us how knowledge is power, and ignorance is impotence [Ch. 1.1.10]. We, who are moving in this world without having attained to the knowledge of the Atman, are exhibiting at every stage the power of impotence that lies in us. Not unless we have attained to the knowledge of Atman can we be said to have attained power. Then, fifthly, the famous prayer in the Brihadaranyaka, in which a devotee is praying to God to carry him from Not-Being to Being, from Darkness to Light, from Death to Immortality, merely voices the sentiment of the spiritual aspirant who wishes to rid himself of the power of Evil over him. Unreality is here compared to Non-being, to Darkness, or to Death [Br. 1.3.28]. The Kathopanishad declares that Sages never find reality and certainty in the unrealities and uncertainties of this world [Ka. 2.4.2]. Maya is described as an adhurava -- an unreality, or an Uncertainty. The Changogya again tells us that a cover of Untruth hides the ultimate Truth from us, just as the surface of the earth hides from us the golden treasure that is hidden inside it. We, who unconsciously move to the region of Truth, day after day, do yet labour under the power of Untruth for we do not know the Atman. This Atman is verily inside the hearts. It is only he, who reaches Him everyday, that is able to transcend the phenomenal world [Ch. 8.3(1-3)]. Maya is here compared to an untruth, an "anrita". Then again, the Prashnopanishad tells us that we cannot reach the world of Brahman unless we have shaken off the crookedness in us, the falsehood in us, the illusion (Maya) in us [Pr. 1.16]. It is important to remember that the word Maya is directly used in this passage, and almost in the sense of illusion. In the same sense is the word maya used in Svetasvarata where we are told that it only by meditation upon God, by union with Him, and by entering into He being, that at the end there there is the cessation of the great world-illusion [Sh. 1.10]. Here again, as before, the word Maya can mean nothing but ilusion. It must be remembered, however, that the word Maya was used so far back as at the time of the Rigveda in a passage, which is quoted by the Brihadaranyaka, where Indra is declared to have assumed many shapes by his Maya [Br. 2.5.19 and RV. 6.47.18]. There apparently, the word Maya meant "power" instead of "illusion" -- a sense in which Shvetashvatara later uses it, when it describes its God as a Mayin, a magician, a powerful Being who creates this world by his powers while the other, namely, the individual soul is bound again by Maya [Sh. 4.9]. Here is must be remembered that there is yet no distinction drawn, as in later Vedantic philosophy, between Maya that envelops Ishvara and the Avidya that envelops Jiva: for both, the generic word Maya is used, and in the passage under consideration, it means only "power", almost in the same sense which Kuno Fisher gives to the "attributes" of Spinoza. Then again, in the Shvetashvatara, Maya is once more identified with Prakriti [Sh. 4.10], a usage which prevailed very much later, as may be seen from the way in which even the author of Kusumanjali had no objection in in identifying the two even for his theistic purpose. The Shvetashvatara also contains passages which describe the Godhead as spreading his meshes and making them manifold that he catches all the beings of the universe in them, and rules over them [Sh. 3.1, Sh. 5.3]. Here we have the conception of a net of meshes inside which all beings are entangled. Then again, a famous passage from Brihadaranyaka, which we have already considered, which speaks of "as if there were duality", implying thereby that there really is no duality, signifies the identification of Maya with a semblance, as-it-were, an appearance [Br. 2.4.14]. Finally, in that celebrated conversation between Shetaketu and Aruni which we have also had the occasion to consider, we are told that everything besides the Atman is merely a word, a mode and a name [Ch. 6.1.4]. We thus see from an examination of various passages in the Upanishads that even though the word Maya may not have been used for many times in the Upanishads, still the conception that underlies Maya is already present there and even though we do not find there the full-fledged doctrine of illusion in its philosophical aspects as in Gaudapada and later writers, still we do find in the Upanishads all the material that may have easily led Shankara to elaborate a theory of Maya out of it. When we consider that we have the conceptions of a veil, of blind-foldness, of a knot, of ignorance, of not-being, of darkness, of death, of unreality and uncertainty, of untruth, of crookedness, and falsehood and illusion, of the power of God, of this power as identical with nature, of meshes, of semblance, an as-it-were an appearance, and finally, of a word, a mode and a name, let no man stand up and say that we do not find the traces of the doctrine of Maya in the Upanishads!


Also, must read is this article, titled "Bhagavad Gita and Upanishads" (posted by Shri Ram Chandranji). Read the rest of this entry >>

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Happy Gita Jayanthi!

Wish everyone a Happy Gita Jayanthi. May Lord Krishna show us the way through right action, right meditation, right devotion
and right knowledge and discimination. As it is said in the famous shloka,


The Upanishads are as a herd of cows; Krishna the Son of a cowherd, is their Milker. Arjuna is the calf, the supreme ambrosia of the Gita the milk, and the wise man the drinker.


As Shri Shankara says in the introduction to his Gita Bhashya,

The Lord, the eternal Possessor of Knowledge, Soveignty, Power, Strength, Energy, and Vigour, brings under His control maya -- belonging to Him as Vishnu -- the primordial Nature, characterized by the three gunas. And then, through the maya, He is seen as though born, as though endowded with a body, and as though showing compassion for men; for He is, in reality, unborn, unchanging, the Lord of all created beings, and by nature eternal, pure, illuminated, and free.

Though the Lord had nor purpose of His own to serve, yet, with the sole desire of bestowing favour on men, He taught this twofold Vedic dharma to Arjuna, who was deeply sunk in the ocean of grief and delusion; for a dharma spreads and grows when accepted by high-minded persons.

It is this dharma taught by the Lord that the omniscient and venerable Vyasa, the compiler of Vedas, embodied in seven hundred verses under the name of the Gita.



The previous 12 postings were excerpts from Shri Ranade's Dhyana Gita. It is a short book which contains the translation of 366 verses from Bhagavad Gita, which were specifically translated by the Philosopher-Mystic Shri (Prof) R.D. Ranade.

Let us lead a Gita way of life.


Om Tat Sat! Read the rest of this entry >>

Monday, December 10, 2007

Dhyana Gita 12: Lord's Assurance


  1. Crossing the ocean of calamities: If you firmly fix your mind in Me you will, through My grace, be saved from all calamities [18(57,58)].

  2. Compulsion of Nature: Nature will overpower you and compel you to perform action, in spite of your wish to the contrary [18(59,60)].

  3. Whirling of God's wheel of illusion: Submit with all your being to the Lord, who resides in all beings and whirls them all with his mysterious power [18(61,62)].

  4. Self-surrender: If you surrender all your duties and seek refuge in Me, with all your being, I shall free you from all sins [18(65,66)].

  5. Devotion in the form of imparting the supreme spirit: If you import this Supreme Secret to My devotees, you will be the dearest of all, both in the past as well as in the present [18(68,69)].

  6. Submission of Arjuna: Arjuna's promise to act up to the advise of Sri Krishna [18(72,73)].

  7. A thrilling dialogue: Who will not be filled with wonder and joy, by hearing this thrilling dialogue and seeing this supremely marvelous Form of God? [18(74,76,77)].

  8. Attainment of Victory and Prosperity: Victory and prosperity will surely be there where Krishna -- the Lord of Yoga and Arjuna -- the great archer are present [18(78)].



Om Tat Sat! Read the rest of this entry >>

Dhyana Gita 11: Cosmic Vision


  1. Longing for the Vision of the Form: Arjuna's longing to see the real form of God [11(3-4)].

  2. Gift of divine vision: God's form cannot be seen without divine vision [11(5-8)].

  3. Vision of the divine form: Supremely wonderful and Lustrous Universal form of God [11(9-12)].

  4. Terrible and marvelous sentiment: The description of the Cosmic form made by Arjuna, full of terrible and marvelous sentiment [11(15-31)].

  5. Slain already: God is all-powerful; He has slain the heroes of the enemy already [11(32-34)].

  6. Mingling of joy and fear: Mingling of joy and fear in the heart of Arjuna [11(45)].

  7. Entrance into the universal form: It is only through single-minded devotion that devotees like Arjuna can enter into the Universal Form of the Lord [11(47,48), 11(53,54)].


Om Tat Sat! Read the rest of this entry >>

Dhyana Gita 10: Yoga of Devotion


  1. Nature of worship:

    1. The worship of the unmanifested is very troublesome [12(1-5)].
    2. Those who work for me and meditate on Me with single-minded devotion will soon be taken by Me across the ocean of worldly existence [12(6,7)].


  2. Crossing the cosmic illusion:

    1. Absolute surrender to Me alone is the means of crossing my Maya (Illusion) consisting of three Gunas [7(13,14)].
    2. Several persons have become one with Me till now, by giving up passion, fear, and anger, by purifying themselves through the penance of knowledge and by taking refuge in Me [4(10)].
    3. The wicked cannot surrender to Me [7(15)].
    4. Only those in whose sin has vanished is born devotion for Me [7(28)].
    5. Even a vile man endowed with intense devotion and right resolve, can become Sage [9(30,31)].
    6. My devotees belonging to any race, caste, class and class, are equally dear to Me [9(32,33)].
    7. Persons desperately calling on Me for liberation from old-age and death, can alone realize Me [7(29)].


  3. Joy from glorification of God:

    1. Those persons are the great souls, who know Me to be the source of all beings and constantly glorify Me with an undistracted mind [9(13,14)].
    2. He who always meditates on Me with an undivided mind, can attain Me quite easily [8(14)].
    3. Knowing that I am the origin of all, they are filled with devotion and with their minds fixed on Me, they are absorbed in one anothers' bliss [10(8-9)].


  4. Union of God and devotee:

    1. To such a devout Yogi I show the path of intellect -- I give a particular bent to his intellect and volition and with the object of showing compassion, enkindle the lamp of Atman before him [10(10,11)].
    2. I bear the burden of acquisition and preservation of those who worship Me with constancy and single-mindedness [9(12)].


  5. The devotee is the crest-jewel of the wise:

    1. Of the four types of devotees, the realized devotee who worships Me with one-pointed devotion, is the best [7(16-18)].
    2. The realized devotee visualizes the whole world as God [7(19)].


  6. Entrance into God:

    1. If you place your mind and intellect in Me, you will have residence in Me alone [12(8)].
    2. After the seeker realizes My nature through intense morality, meditation and supreme devotion, he can get entrance into Me [18(51-55)].



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Dhyana Gita 9: Yoga of Meditation


  1. Synthesis of the four paths: Meditation, Knowledge, Action and Devotion -- these are the four paths leading to God [13(24-25)].

  2. Steadiness of Posture: The Yogi who sits in a steady posture in solitude and worships Me with a fixed mind, attains the supreme peace and bliss of Mine [6(10),6(11-15)].

  3. Restraints and regulations:

    1. Practice and dispassion: Restraint of the supremely fickle mind is impossible without practice of dispassion [6(33-36)].
    2. The fire of self-control: Some offer the objects as oblations in the fire of senses and others offer senses and oblations in the fire of self-control [4(26,27)].
    3. Temperate food, sleep and recreation: He alone who is temperate in his food , sleep and recreation, can accomplish Yoga [6(16,17)].
    4. Equality of happiness and sorrow: The yogi who regards cold and heat, pleasure and pain, friend and foe alike, finds God to be quite in his vicinity [6(7-9)].
    5. Disgust: Let your mind feel disgusted for what is heard (or seen) and what is to be heard (or seen), and remains steady in Samadhi [2(52-53)].


  4. Equality of inhalation and exhalation: A steady gaze at the middle of the eye-brows, equality of Prana and Apana, Restraints and Regulations, and Passionate devotion for the Lord -- these are the means of Liberation [5(27-28)].

  5. Withdrawal, concentration and meditation: Through utter disgust (for the world) we should gradually turn our mind away from desires and make it steady in the Atman [6(23-26)].

  6. The Lamp of Samadhi: He may be called a Yogi, whose mind remains steady in the Atman like a lamp undisturbed by the wind [6(19)].

  7. Vision of the Atman: Realization of the Atman [6(20)].

  8. Bliss is Brahman:

    1. The supreme bliss which a Yogi attains through the vision of the Atman, cannot be dislodged from him even by a stupendous sorrow [6(21,22)].
    2. The supreme Bliss enjoyed by a Yogi means Self-realization [6(27,28)].


  9. Attainment of the bliss of Brahman everywhere: Brahman hovers about one who has experienced the bliss of Aman within [5(24-26)].

  10. Vision of God everywhere: Such a Yogi experiences the Vision of Equality in both the ways [6(29-32)].

  11. Combination of Yoga and Devotion: A yogi is superior to a man of knowledge as well a man of action; and a Yogi full of devotion is superior to all other Yogis [6(46,47)].


Om Tat Sat! Read the rest of this entry >>

Dhyana Gita 8: Yoga of Knowledge


  1. Annihilation of Action:

    1. What is the highest knowledge? Sri Bhagavan said: I shall fully explain to you both knowledge of the Self and of the Cosmos by learning which nothing more shall remain to be known here [7(2)].
    2. Sacrifice in the form of knowledge is superior to all other sacrifices, for all actions culminate in knowledge [4(33)].
    3. The fire of knowledge burns all fuel of actions [4(37)].
    4. He alone deserves the epithet of a sage, who has burnt all his actions with the fire of knowledge [4(19)].
    5. Since doubt is the cause of ruin, he who attains Self-knowledge beyond doubt, is alone free from bonds of action [4(40-41)].


  2. Self-knowledge, very difficult for man:

    1. The river of Yoga disappears and appears again after a lapse of time [4(2,3)].
    2. Rare is the man who has realized God [7(3)].
    3. Time is required for acheiving perfection in Yoga as well as for the complete assimilation of that all-purifying Self-knowledge [4(38)].


  3. Initiation in Knowledge: You can know the path of Knowledge from the realized seers, through humble service [4(34)].

  4. The beginning of knowledge: [Even the beginning of this Yoga will put an end to grear fear.] When once we begin to tread the Path of Knowledge, it will enable us to reach perfection -- our goal -- without any obstacles [2(40)].

  5. Attainment of the supreme person:

    1. Through one-pointed devotion it is possible to attain the all-pervading Almighty God [8(21-22)].
    2. He alone merges in God, who realizes that God is the source and abode of all things [8(30)].
    3. That knowledge will remove the darkness of your delusion and will enable you to perceive all the beings in the Atman [4(35)].
    4. The night of the common people is the day for the wise [2(69)].


  6. Vision of equality: He who attains equality in the vision of God, can alone be entitled to the epithet of a realized Seer [13(27-28)].

  7. Attainment of supermoralism:

    1. Even if you are the foremost of all the sinners, you will cross over all the sins by the raft of divine knowledge [4(36)].
    2. Unlimited is the merit in the form of this knowledge [8(28)].



Om Tat Sat! Read the rest of this entry >>

Dhyana Gita 7: Yoga of Action


  1. Transcendence of actions:

    1. Renunciation of fruits and attachment: We must perform all actions with an equanimous mind, by giving up the desire for fruit as well as attachment [2(47,48)].
    2. Equanimity in success in failure: He who remains satisfied with whatever he gets by chance and who treats success and failure alike is not affected by actions [4(22)].
    3. Holy actions: We must give up attachment and fruits even while performing holy actions [18(5-6)].
    4. Bodily actions (permission as an only expectation): If we perform bodily actions alone without any expectation, we will not be affected by their sins [4(21)].
    5. We cannot completely abandon our actions, so long as we possess our body [18(11)].
    6. If we practise the Yoga of action like King Janaka, we contribute to the social welfare as well [3(20-21)].
    7. Attainment of actionlesssness: Renunciation brings about the attachment of actionlessness [18(49)].


  2. The Vedic teaching confined to three Gunas Only:

    1. The lovers of Vedas attached to enjoyment and splendor, cannot keep their intellects in steady contemplation [2(42-44)].
    2. As the Vedas are confined to the three Gunas, he who is eager to attain the state of actionless, should give up the desire for acquisition and preservation, and fix his mind on the Atman [2(45)].
    3. The Vedas are like a well, while Atman is like an ocean enveloping it [2(46)].


  3. Keep the wheel of sacrifice moving:

    1. Sacrifice is free from bonds of action [3(9)].
    2. Even though sacrifice is a Cow of plenty, we must first offer to God, and what He has granted us, and accept only what is left over [3(10-13)].
    3. To taste the nectar of the remains of a sacrifice means attachment of the Absolute [4(31)].
    4. Sinful is the person who will not push forward this wheel moving from times immemorial [3(16)].
    5. As all the five items of sacrifice partake of the nature of the absolute, sacrifice is free from the bonds of the action [4(23), 4(24)].


  4. Attainment of God:

    1. We can even attain God if we perform our actions without attachment [3(19)].
    2. By depositing all your actions in Me, you can even carry on your fight with an attitude of detachment [3(30)].
    3. With the flowers of action, we should worship the Lord from whom all the beings proceed and multiply [18(46)].
    4. Work with the hands and meditate upon the Lord Hari [5(8-10)].
    5. What remains for one who enjoys the bliss of the Atman [3(17)].



Om Tat Sat! Read the rest of this entry >>

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Dhyana Gita 6: Bunch of Virtues


  1. Individual virtues:

    1. Self-control: One's self alone is one's brother. One's self alone is one's enemy [6(5-6)].
    2. Single-mindedness: The reason of the resolute is one-pointed, while that of the irresolute branches out in many ways [2(41)].
    3. Endurance: Cold and heat, pleasure and pain are fleeting. Therefore, they should be endured [2(14-15)].
    4. Non-lamentation: [2(28)].
    5. Equality of vision: [5(18,19)].


  2. Social virtues:

    1. Triple penance: Penance of the body speech and mind [17(14-16)].
    2. Devotion to duty: The duties enjoined upon the four varnas according to their Gunas [18(41-45)].
    3. We must perform our own duty even at the cost of our life [3(35)].
    4. Divine heritage: The characteristic of the divine heritage [16(1-3)].
    5. Demoniac heritage: The characteristics of the demonaic heritage [16(4)].
    6. Detailed description of the persons belonging to the demoniac heritage [16(7-20)].
    7. Liberation and bondage: Divine heritage leads to liberation and demoniac heritage to bondage [16(5)].
    8. Virtue is Knowledge: Concourse of virtue itself is Knowledge [13(7-11)].
    9. Culmination of virtues in devotion: Fix the gems of virtues in the socket of Devotion [12(13-19)].


  3. Characteristics of an equanimous man:

    1. Steady intellect: He alone is equanimous man who is engrossed in the bliss of the Atman, by abandoning passion, fear and wrath [2(54-57)].
    2. The state of the tortoise: He alone is an equanimous man who withdraws his senses and mind like a tortoise and steadily stays in Me [2(58-60)].
    3. Control of a boat: He alone is an equanimous man who stabilizes his mind-boat floating headlong along with the rushing current of the senses [2(67-68)].
    4. The poise of an ocean: The mental ocean of the wise does not overflow with the inflow of the streams of desire [2(70)].


Om Tat Sat! Read the rest of this entry >>

Dhyana Gita 5: Destruction of the Arch-Enemy


  1. The amnion of desire: The enemy of desire envelops knowledge and impels even the wise to commit sin [3(36-39)].

  2. Seats of desire: Let the mind wander but not the body [3(40-41)].

  3. Hypocrisy: Mentally brooding over the objects of sense, by controlling the senses, is also a sin [3(6)].

  4. Sorties of passions: The chains of evils arising from the unrestrained musing on the objects of sense [2(62-63)].

  5. The supreme transcendence of the Atman: This enemy of desire cannot be destroyed except through self-knowledge [3(42-43)].

  6. Disappearance of relish: Even though the sense objects turn away, the relish for them remains; it cannot be destroyed without the vision of God [2(59)].

  7. The joy of clear vision: Self control lends a clear vision which in its turn grants peace and peace brings bliss [2(64-66)].

  8. The supreme goal: A man who is freed from desire (lust), anger and avarice, achieves his spiritual welfare and attains the Highest Ideal [16(21-22)].


Om Tat Sat! Read the rest of this entry >>

Dhyana Gita 4: Transcendence of the Three Gunas


  1. The bond of the Gunas: The nature of Sattva, Rajas and Tamas and their bondage [14(5-8)].

  2. The growth of the Gunas: The growth of Sattva, Rajas and Tamas and its results [14(11-13),14(18)].

  3. The function of the three Gunas:

    1. Knowledge: Three kinds of Knowledge [18(20-22)].
    2. Happiness: Three kinds of happiness [18(37-39)].
    3. Intellect: Three kinds of intellect [18(30-32)].
    4. Doer: Three kinds of doer [18(26-28)].
    5. Food: Three kinds of food [17(8-10)].
    6. Penance: Three kinds of penance [17(17-19)].
    7. Charity: Three kinds of charity [17(20-22)].
    8. Renunciation: Three kinds of renunciation [18(7-9)].


  4. Predominance of Gunas:

    1. Even wise men are required to behave in conformity with nature only [3(33)].
    2. There is no object in these three worlds, which is not caught up in the three Gunas [18(40)].


  5. Transcendence of the triple Gunas: This transcendence can be attained only through unswerving Yoga of Devotion [14(20), 14(24-26)].



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Dhyana Gita 3: Nature of the Self



  1. Stay and departure:

    1. I am Myself assuming the form of the Self in this world, with a single spark of Mine [15(7)].
    2. The stay and departure of the Self is directly visualized by the wise sages and the yogis [15(8-11)].


  2. Memory of past births: You don't remember the past births while I do [4(5)].

  3. Death is a mere change:

    1. Like childhood, youth and old-age death also is a change in the body [2(11-13)].
    2. The soul abandons the old bodies and puts on new ones [2(22)].


  4. Thought determines the future:

    1. He who meditates on God with undivided mind as a result of constant practise, at the time of death, reaches the form Divine [8(8-10), 8(12,13)].
    2. The last thoughts decide the next birth [8(6)].


  5. Non-return:

    1. There is no further worldly existence for those who are solely attached and devoted to God [5(17)].
    2. The sages who attain My likeness as a result of this superior wisdom, are not caught in the whirl of creation and dissolution [14(2)].
    3. None can return to this miserable worldly existence when once they merge in Me [8(15)].
    4. He who remains in this state of God-realization at the time of death alone attains Divine-bliss [2(72)].


  6. Perfection through many lives: He who has faith but cannot put forth requisite effort, can attain perfection by taking right birth [6(37,38), 6(40-45)].


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Dhyana Gita 2: Nature of the Absolute



  1. Imperishable:

    1. The Reality is imperishable - immortal; It has brought forth all this extension (universe) [2(16,17)].
    2. The Atman is not born; neither does He kill, nor die [2(19,20)].
    3. The Atman is neither cut by the weapons, nor burnt by fire [2(23,24)].


  2. Uncontaminated: Atman is uncontaminated like ether [13(32)].

  3. Illuminating: The Atman illuminates all the objects like the sun [13(33)].

  4. Non-doer:

    1. The Atman transcends the five senses of action; He is absolute and non-doer [18(13-16)].
    2. The Lord does not connect actions with their fruits; not does he accept the merit and sin (of the people) [5(14,15)].
    3. Non-enjoyer: The supreme person, who is a witness and sustainer, but not an enjoyer, may be called the supreme person [13(22)].
    4. Unknowable: That which is far and near, within and without, which has its eyes and ears everywhere -- that alone is the highest object of knowledge [13(12-17)].
    5. The greatest wonder of all wonders: Who has known God who is all wonder? [2(29)].



Om Tat Sat! Read the rest of this entry >>

Dhyana Gita 1: Nature of God


  1. Supreme Person:

    1. We should cut down the Ashvatta (tree of creation) with the sword of detachment and begin our search for the supreme person [15(1-4)].
    2. The Perishable, the Imperishable and the Supreme Person [15(16-18)].


  2. The Thread: I am the Thread passing through all the existences and souls. [7(4-7)].

  3. Mellifluous Essence (rasa) (taste, essence and bliss): Universal immanence of God in the form of qualities and seed [7(8-12)].

  4. The Highest Individual and Supreme Spirit: I am the individual and the supreme spirit, immanent in all existences and it is I who illumine the sun and the moon [15(12-14)].

  5. The Sacrifice: I am sacrifice and the sacrificer; I am the father and the mother; I am the abode and the goal; I am the goal and the Giver and remover of things [9(16-19)].

  6. The Great Artificer: As I create around Me a camouflage,through my supernatural power of Yoga, no one is able to know me [7(24-26)].

  7. Divine Incarnation: When righteousness declines and unrighteousness reigns supreme, God is required to take a birth to protect the good and destroy the wicked [4(6-8)].

  8. The Absolutely Transcendent Being: Everything that is endowed with strength, glory and splendor, is the product of a spark of My lustre [10(41,42)].

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Saturday, December 08, 2007

Translation of Sayanacharya's Commentary on Vak

The book "Lights on the Ancients" by Shri T V Kapali Sastry has an appendix which has a translation of Mantra 1.164.45 of Rig Veda Samhita. It is the mantra which refers to chatvari vak, the four levels of speech, for the first time. Since Rig Veda on the whole can be considered to be a eulogy to the Vak, speech itself, this mantra is quite important.

There was and still is quite an amount of speculation as to what the seer of Asya Vamiya Sukta (diirghatamas. His name itself is interesting!) meant by the levels of speech. There are Vedic classifications and Tantric classifications about levels of Vak. Since Shri T.V. Kapali Sastry is a direct disciple of Shri Aurobindo, who is considered to be one of the modern day seers who could decipher some of the meaning of Rig Veda mantras, the interpretation by Shri T.V. Kapali Sastry becomes significant. I am quoting the who appendix for reference.

As a side note Prof. Abinash Chandra Bose notes in chapter 5 titled "Raja Yoga" of his book the following

...
But in describing these profound experiences, the Vedic sage expresses his sense of the inadequacy of language. The Veda speaks of four grades of speech known to wise men of divine knowledge: "three of these kept in secret make no motion; people speak only the fourth grade of speech" [RV 1.164.45]. So language as popularly spoken can give utterance only to a part of what the sage has realized; the rest has to be in silence. "For the finite the eloquent man, for the infinite, the mute", says the Yajurveda [YV. VS. 30.19]. The silence is broken symbolic language which expresses a little and suggests much more. Symbolic language does not yield to simple logical meaning, it goes beyond logic to hint at transcendental significance.
...

Further, in p.297, he does the following translation for 1.164.45

RV 1.164.45 Rishi Diirghatamas, the son of Ucatthya, Metre Trishtubh.
Four are the grades of speech that have been measured;
men of divine knowledge who are wise know them.
Three of these kept in secret make no motion,
people speak only the fourth grade of speech.

RV 4.3.16 Rishi Vamadeva, the son of Gothama, Metre Trishtubh.
To thee who knowest, to thee. O Disposer!
all these musical and secret words,
these speeches of a seer for a seer
I, a poet, have uttered in hymns and praises.


Here is the translation from Shri Kapali Sastry's book.

Rig Veda 1.164.46 Catvari vak parimita padani tani vidur brahmana ye manishinah
Guha trini nihita nengayanti turiyam vaco manusha vadanti

Sayana's commentary:

Vak (1st case for 6th case)
vacah krtsayah = of the entire speech
padani = steps
catwari = four
parimita padani = are measured out. (Tr. Speech in its entirety is measured out in four steps.)
Loke = in the world
ya vak asti = whatever speech is there
sa = that
caturvidha = into four kinds
vibhakta = divided
iti arthah = this is the meaning (Tr. whatever speech there is in this world is divided into four classes)
tani padani = these steps
brahmanah vedavidah = Brahmanas who know the Veda
ye manishinah = manas inishinah = who are the movers of the mind
medhavinah = men of understanding
viduh janati = know (Tr. these steps Brahmanas who know the Veda and have understanding know).


tesham madhye = of them (the aforesaid division of steps),
trini = three
guha (seventh case is dropped)
guhyam = in the secrecy
nihita sthapitani = established
na ingayanti na cestante = do not move
na prakasante = do not come to light
iti arthah = this is the meaning (Tr. Three of the four divisions of steps, established in the secrecy, are not manifested.)
Vacah = of the speech
turiyam = the fourth
padam = step
manushah = men
ajnah those = who do not know
tad-jnah ca = those who know that
vadanti = speak
vyaktam uccarati = distinctly pronounce
vyavaharanti use (in their dealings) (Tr. The unlearned as well as the wise speak the fourth step of the speech in their dealings).


kani tani catwari ityatra bahavah svasvamantanurodhena bahudha varnayanti in regard to the question what are these four, many (schools) describe in many ways each according the view of the school.
sarvavaidikavagjalasaya of the collection of all the Vedic words
sangrahrupa comprehensive or inclusive or summary forms
bhuradayah Bhuh etc.
tisro vyavratayah the 3 vyahritis (sacred utterances) (pranavah eka = one Om, iti = thus vedatrayasaratvattasam those Vyahritis being the essence of the three Vedas)
vyahrtinameva sarasamggrahbhutatvat (Pranava being)
the summary substance of those Vyahritis, containing the letter A etc. (AUM) - for this reason
sapranavasuvyahritisu = in the Vyahritis along with the Pranava
sarva vak = all speech
parimita = is measured out
iti = thus
kecana vadavadino = some Vedists
vadanti = say (Tr. Some Vedists say that all speech is measured out in the Vyahritis which Pranava is constituted of the letter A etc. and which itself is the summary substance of the three Vyahritis which again are the Bhuh. etc. the comprehensive and all inclusive forms of all the collections of the Vedic words. This the three Vyahritis and one Pranava make up the four in which all speech is measured out).


apare vyakaranamatanusarino namakhyatopasarganipata-bhedena Others, followers of the school of grammarians say (that the four consist of) the division of naama, akhyata, uparasga and nipata.

kriyapradhanamakhyatam That is the verb akhyata in which action is prevalent.

Dravyapradhanam nama Nama (noun) is that in which substance is predominant.

Pragupasrjyata akhyatapadasyetyuparasargah pradih

The Upasaraga pra etc. is so called because it is placed before a verbal word.

Uccavavesvartheshu niparanannipatah api tu ca ityadih
Nipata, a particle
api tu ca etc. is it so called because it falls down upon (words of) uneven meanings.


Etesveva sarva vakparimita iti (vadanti) In these four alone all speech is measured out -- so they say:
akhandayah krtsnaya vacah caturvidha vyakrtattvat because the all speech which is indivisible is separated or analyzed into four divisions.

Vagvaiparacyavyakrtavadat tamindromadhyatovakramya vyakarot tasmadiyam vyakrta vagudyata iti sruteh (This is the passage from Taittiriya Samhita quoted by Sayana to support the statement of fourfold differentiation of the Speech which was beyond and undifferentiated.)

Speech verily was beyond and undifferentiated. Indra stepped down into her and spoke, therefore she became differentiated, and this speech is spoken (This is quoted part of Shruti).

Anye tu yajnikah mantrah kalpo brahmanam caturthi laukiki Others, votaries of Sacrifice (say) Mantra, Kalpa, Brahman and the fourth ordinary speech in the world.

Yajnikaih samamnatonustheyathaprakasako vedabhago mantrah The Mantras are that division of the Veda that is recited which illumines the meaning of what is performed or observed.

Mantravidhanapratipadako vedabhaga iti mantrah kalpotah urdhvamityadinoktah kalpah (this is a quotation of Sayana from the Kalpa Literature.) The division of the Veda which teaches the use of mantras, the Kalpas etc. has been declared (in the Sashtra)

Mantratatparyarthaprakasako vedabhago brahmanam The Brahmana is the portion of the Veda which throws light on the meaning of the purport of the mantras.

Bhogavishaya gamanayetyadirupa vyvahariki The speech of which worldly enjoyment such as 'bring the cow' etc. is the object is
vyavahariki the speech of the common dealings in the world.

Esveva sarva vak niyamiteti yajnikah The votaries of Sacrifice hold that in these (four) all speech is (contained), 'measured out'.

Rgyajuhsamanicaturdhi vyavharikiti nairuktah Those of Nirukta school say that the rik. yajus, saman and the fourth is the common speech for dealings in the world.

Sarpanam vagvayasam ksudrasarispasya ca caturthi vyavaharikityaitihasikah The followers of legendary tradition hold the speech of serpents, of birds, of vile reptiles, and the fourth is the speech in dealings of the world.


pasusu tunavesu mrgesu atmani ca iti atmavadinah The atmavadins (votaries of Atman) say: in the animals, in musical instruments such a flute, in the beasts and in the soul, the four fold speech is contained.

Apare mantrkah parkarantarena pratipadanti para pasyanti madhyama vaikhariti catvariti Others of school of Mantra (Tantra) teach in a different way: the four are Para, Pashyanti, Madhyama, Vaikhari according to them.

Ekaiva nadatmika vak muladharadudita sati para ityucyate The speech, only one in the form of sound, rising from the centre of the solar plexus is called Para. Being subtle and not demonstrable, the same sound entering the heart is called Pashyanti because of Yogins being able to perceive it.

Saiva buddhim gata vivaksam prapta madhyama ityucyate The same entering the buddhi, understanding, and desiring to express (to speak) is called Madhyama.

Madhye hradayakhya udiyamanatvat madhamayahSame in the centre or middle called Hridaya the Madhyama rises.

Atha yada saiva vaktre sthita talvosthadivyaparena bahirnirgacchati tada vaikhari ityuchyate Then when the same Nada comes out for expression through the exertion of the lips, teeth etc., it is called Vaikhari.

Evam catvari vacah padani parimitaniThus are the four steps of Speech measured out.

Manisinah manasah svaminah svadhinamanaska brahmana vacyasya sabdabrahmani dhigantaro yoginah paradicatvari padani viduh jananti Wise men, masters of mind, with mind under their own control, Brahmans, knowers of Shabdabrahman to be expressed, yogins, know the steps to be four, Para etc.

Tesu madnye trini paradini guha nihitani hrdayatarvartittvat Of these, three steps Para etc. are placed in the secrecy because of their being inside the heart.

Turiyam tu padam vaikharisanjanakam manusyah sarve vadantiBut the fourth step, Vaikhari by name, all men speak.

Vyakaranaprasiddhanamakhyatadipakse manishino brahmanh prakrtipratyayadivibhagajna vagyogavidastani padani jananti On the side of Nama, Akhyata etc., celebrated in Grammar, the wise Brahmans, knowers of the divisions of base suffix etc., knowers of word arrangement (speech set-up) know those steps.

Avgyogavidah pamara vaco vangmayasya turiyam caturvidham bhagam vadanti, vyavaharanti Those who do not know the arrangement of speech i.e., the unlearned, speak the fourth part of speech in their dealings.

Arthaprakasanaya prayunjate They apply it (knowledge) for making the meaning clear.

Ayam mantro nirukte vyakhyatah This mantra is explained in Nirukha.

So'trapranusandheyah Here also that must be calmly considered.

[Quotation from Nirukta 13.9.]

Athapi brahmanam bhavatiThen there is the brahmana text (in this context),

sa vai vak srsta caturdha vyabhavatthat very speech released became manifested into four,

esveva lokesu trini pasusu turiyam in these (three worlds) there are three steps of speech and the fourth is in the creatures.

yo prthivyam sagnau sa rathantare That which is in the Earth that is in Agni that is in Rathanthara (name of a Saman).

Yantarikshe sa vayau sa vamadevyaThat which is in the mid-air region, that is in the Vayu, that is in the Vamadevya (Saman).

Ya divi saditye sa brhati sa stanayitnauWhat is in the Heaven, that is in the Aditya, that is in Brihat (Saman), that is in the Lightning.

Atha pasusuThen in the creatures,

then what ever speech remains transcended that was placed in the Brahmanas.

Tasyamadbrahmana ubhayim vacam vadanti ya ca devanam ya ca manishayanamiti Therefore the Brahmanas speak the twofold speech -- that which is the speech of Devas and that which is the speech of the men.

[Transliteration errors: mine.] Read the rest of this entry >>

Friday, December 07, 2007

On Sandhya Worship

While browsing through the archives of advaitin list, I came across a beautiful dialogue between a devotee and HH Sri Chandashekara Bharati on Sandhya Worship. It is long, but should be read by anyone interested in the ancient meditation practice of Sanatana Dharma. Also, people interested in meditation would benefit from by reading it. Further, the dialogue gives an idea on how teaching is done in Sanatana Dharma in a progressive way, with concrete answers to seekers at different levels of maturity, leaving no one with a sense of missing the big point. I am reproducing it in the full.


A touring Educational Officer once met His Holiness and said,

"I have occasions of being in constant touch with young boys, mostly Brahmanas, studying in schools which I have to inspect. I have found that even the boys who perform their sandhya do so more as a form than as real worship. I shall be very grateful if Your Holiness would give me some valuable hints which I could convey to them"

I am very glad to see that you are not content with mere official routine of inspection but desire to utilise the occasion for the betterment of the boys. It will be well if all educationists, inspecting officers or teachers, realise that they have been entrusted with the very grave responsibility of training up young men in the most impressionable period of their lives. In my opinion they are really to blame if they confine their attention only to the prescribed text books and neglect the spiritual side of the young generation.

I always keep that end before me and I don't miss any opportunity of talking to the boys and giving them some useful advice. It is mainly with a view to do that work better that i request Your Holiness to give some practical suggestions.

Even if the boys to whom you propose to convey such suggestions may not benefit by them, you will certainly be benefited.

Certainly.

You may therefore, for the present, ignore the boys and ask such questions the answers to which are likely to be useful to you.

The first question which suggests itself to me is with reference to the sandhya worship. What is the deity or upasya devata in the sandhya Worship?

Before we consider that, please tell me what you understand ordinarily by the sandhya worship?

By sandhya worship we mean the worship of the rising Sun, the setting Sun or Sun in the mid heavens.

Quite so. Comprehensively speaking, you mean worship of the Sun?

Yes.

You tell me that sandhya is the worship of the Sun and yet you ask me what is worshipped in the sandhya. Don't you think it is an unnecessary question?

Put so, it may seem an unnecessary question, but my real question is, what is the Sun that is worshipped?

What do you understand ordinarily by the Sun?

We mean the bright celestial orb in the sky.

Then it is that bright celestial orb that is worshipped.

But that orb is, according to science, mere inert matter in a state of high combustion and is certainly not worthy of being worshipped by intelligent beings like ourselves. It can neither hear our prayers nor respond to them. I cannot believe that our ancestors were so ignorant as to address their prayers to a mere burning mass of matter

I quite agree with you. They could never have been so foolish.

What then did they see in the Sun to justify their prayers being addressed to it?

You said just now that addressing of prayers to inert matter cannot be justified by reason.

Yes.

What then must be the nature of the entity to which a prayer is addressed?

The primary condition is that it must not be mere inert matter, but must be endowed with intelligence.

And the second condition?

That it must be able to hear our prayers and be powerful enough to answer them.

Quite so. If our ancients were not fools and yet addressed their prayers to the Sun, their conception of the Sun must have been quite different from that of mere inert matter, in a state of high combustion.

Yes, they must have also postulated of it intelligence, the capacity to hear us and the ability to help us.

The 'us' including not only all those who are now living to raise their hands in prayer to the Sun, but also the generations, past and future, infinite in number though they may be?

Of course.

The entity that is worshipped as the Sun is therefore one whose intelligence or ability knows no limitation of space or time.

It must be so.

You have now got your answer to the question as to who is worshipped in the sandhya? It is an intelligent Being, omniscient and omnipotent in the matter of hearing and responding to its votaries.

Your Holiness then means that it is a deva who has his habitation in the solar orb?

Quite so. He has not only his habitation there, but the solar orb itself is his physical body.

Your Holiness means that the deva enlivens the solar orb, just as we do our physical bodies?

Just so.

If then he is embodied just like us, how does he happen to have such high intelligence or power as to merit our obeisance?

He attained that status by virtue of the appropriate karma and upasana done by him in a previous life.

Does Your Holiness mean that he was at one time just like ourselves and that he attained that status by his endeavour?

Yes.

Then he is no more than a jiva, which I aIso am. Why should a Jiva make prostration before another Jiva, howsoever superior?

Why should your son or pupil respect you and why should you show respect to your superior officers? Are not both of you jivas?

No doubt we are. But we respect our superiors as it is in their power to help us or injure us, if they so desire.

That is a very low kind of respect. Anyhow, taking even that kind of respect, we must respect Surya devata if it is in his power to help us or injure us, if he so desires.

Of course.

Being a jiva as much as your superior officers, he will help you if you appeal to him for help or injure you if you ignore or despise him. In your own interest then, you are bound to worship him and secure his goodwill.

But 1 need not court the favour nor fear the displeasure of my superior officer, if I carry out the duties of my office faithfully.

Quite so.

If I preserve that attitude, there is no reason why I should propitiate my superior officer

Certainly not.

Similarly, if l carry out strictly the duties enjoined on me by the sastras, I need not propitiate any other jiva, be he the highest devil.

Quite so.

Then, should I not give up the worship of Surya devata?

Certainly you may, unless of course such a worship is part of the duties enjoined on you by the Sastras.

How can that be?

It is true that an honest and strict officer in performing the duties of his office need not mind the pleasure or the displeasure of his immediate superior. But the mere fact that he thinks it necessary or obligatory to perform those duties properly, shows that he has as the ultimate end the pleasure, or avoidance of the displeasure of a still higher officer who is superior to him as well as to his immediate superior. Even if he has no personal acquaintance with that higher officer, he always has in the background of his mind an undefined power, call it the King or the Government, when he performs the duties of his office. And that power has the ability to benefit him by a recognition of his services or to punish him by taking note of his delinquencies. Further, that power rules both him and his immediate superior officer. If therefore that power requires him to behave in a particular manner towards his superior officer, he cannot afford to disobey that injunction, for if he disobeys, not only does he incur the displeasure of that officer but also of the higher power.

That is so.

Similarly, if a power which rules both you as well as Surya devata requires you to conduct yourself in a particular manner towards that deva, you cannot afford to neglect that injunction, but must conform to it or take the risk of incurring the displeasure of that deva as also of the higher power.

It is no doubt so. But in that case, in prostrating myself before Surya devata, I shall be really worshipping the higher power even when my worship may seem addressed to the Surya.

What of that?

If I am able to conceive of such a higher power who rules even the Surya, that power is really the worshipped entity although to all appearances the worship is addressed to the Surya only.

Quite so.

But Your Holiness said that it, was Surya devata who was worshipped?

Yes. It is correct so far as persons who are not able to conceive of a higher power are concerned. To those however who can conceive of that power, He is the real upasya. That power is called Hiranyagarbha. He enlivens and ensouls not only the Surya, but all devils. He enlivens and inhabits not only the solar orb but all things. He is the cosmic personality who is the soul of all things.

I suppose just as we have the sense of I 'in our physical bodies, so does that cosmic personality has the sense of "I" in the entire cosmos.

He has.

If so, the difference between Him and me lies not in the presence or the absence of the sense of 'I' but only in the degree, the range or the magnitude of that sense. Mine is restricted, His is extended.

It is so.

if it is the sense of "I" that is responsible for the concept of a Jiva, he must be as much a jiva as myself

Quite so. In fact He is called the First Born.

Then, even if this higher power happens to belong to the category of Jivas, just like myself, the same objection which I mentioned against the worship of Surya devata holds good in his case also.

What then would you like to worship?

A transcendent power which is not a jiva.

Have it then that it is such a transcendent power that is worshipped in the sandhya. We give Him the name of lswara, the Lord, or the antaryami, the inner ruler.

But I have heard it mentioned that the terms Lord' and Ruler' are only relative terms which are used in regard to Him when we want to describe Him in relation to the universe, which is 'lorded over 'or 'ruled' by Him.

Yes, it is so.

It cannot be that we can have no conception of him apart from his relationship of some sort to the universe. His relationship to the universe can at best be only an extraneous circumstance. In His essence, He must have an independent existence quite unrelated to anything else.

You are right. We call that unrelated essential existence Brahman.

If it is so, that must be the real object of worship rather than the relative aspect called lshwara.

It is even as you say. It is really the unqualified Brahman that is worshipped in the sandhya.

I cannot really understand Your Holiness. You first said that it was the solar orb that was the objector worship, but when I pointed out that it was only inert matter, you said that it was Surya devata that was the object of worship; when again I pointed out that he was only a limited jiva like myself, you said it was Hiranyagarbha, the cosmic soul, that was the object of worship: when once again I pointed out that he was after all a jiva, however cosmic his sense of 'I' may be, you said that lswara the Lord and Ruler of the universe was really the object of worship; and lastly when I said that even he is but a relative aspect of Brahman, you said that the object of worship was Brahman itself

I did say so.

But I fail to see how all these statements can be reconciled.

Where is the difficulty?

The object in a particular worship can be only one. How can it be the solar orb or the deva enlivening it or Hiranyagarbha or Iswara or Brahman at the same time?

I never said that it was the solar orb or the devil and so on.

Does Your Holiness mean to say then that the object of worship is the solar orb and the devil and Hiranyagarbha and Iswara and Brahman all put together?

Nor did I say anything of that sort.

How then am I to understand Your Holiness' statements?

When did I tell you that the upasya was Surya?

When I mentioned that the physical mass of burning matter cannot be the object of worship.

Before you mentioned it, I said that it was even that mass that was the upasya.

Yes.

I never mentioned that it was the solar body or the deva as an alternative. To one who cannot conceive of an enlivening soul, the upasya is the physical mass; to one, however, who declines to accept inert matter as an object of worship, I said the upasya was Surya devata. The upasya is ever one, but its exact nature varies with the competence of the worshipping aspirant. The upasya gets further refined when even the concept of a devata does not satisfy the enquiring devotee. We say then that it is Hiranyagarbha. When even such a concept seems meagre or unsatisfactory, we tell the devotee that he is really worshipping the Supreme Lord himself When he begins to feel that even the Lord-ness is a limitation of His essential nature, we tell him that it is the infinite Brahman itself that is really worshipped. Where is the difficulty?

Does Your Holiness then mean that it is not possible to definitely say what the object of worship in the sandhya is except with reference to the mental equipment or intellectual advancement of the worshipper?

How can there be an object of worship if we ignore the worshipper? The nature of the worshipped necessarily depends upon the nature of the worshipper.

How?

Take me for example. All of you show me respect. But the object of respect, though it is, roughly speaking, myself, does differ with each one of you. Ordinary people respect me and like to see me surrounded by glittering paraphernalia; their attention and respect are claimed by those articles rather than by my personality. Such people will show the same respect to others who have similar paraphernalia. Their homage is not therefore really paid to me but only to the paraphernalia. Some others respect me for the position that I hold or for the Asrama in which I am. Such people will equally respect others who are or may come to be in such a position or in such an Asrama, their homage is therefore not paid to me but to my position or to the Asrama. And some others may not care what position I hold or in what Asrama I am, but give me homage wherever I go and however I may be; their object of respect is my physical body. A few others will not mind if my body is dark or ugly or even diseased, but will nevertheless give me homage if by purity of mind and character or by the power of my intellect and learning or by any spiritual merit that I may possess I command their respect. Very few indeed will respect me for the spark of divine intelligence which inheres in me, as it does in all of you.

Of course it is not possible to say that all the devotees that approach Your Holiness are of the same mental equipment.

Quite so. But, ordinarily all these people, whether they really tender homage to the paraphernalia or to my status and Asrama or to my body or to my mind or to my intellect or to the divine spark in me, prostrate before me to show their respect. Can you tell me, apart from any reference to the several devotees, to whom or to what they prostrate?

It is no doubt very difficult to answer

Similarly, with every kind of worship. Externally viewed, there will be no appreciable difference between the one who respects me for the paraphernalia and another who respects me for the divine spark in me. Externally viewed, there will similarly be no appreciable difference between the devotee who in his blind faith is content to address his prayers to the luminous Sun and another who turns to it as a visible symbol of the infinite Brahman. The question as to what is the upasya in the sandhya worship can therefore be answered only in this way.

I now understand how in the simple worship of the Sun all possible stages in spiritual perception have been provided for

It is not only this, for you will find if you consider the matter still further, that all the three ways known as karma, bhakti and Gyana have been given places in the daily worship, but that is a different matter. Simple as the sandhya worship seems to be, it is sufficient to help us on to the highest stages. It is as useful to the highest aspirant as it is to the beginner. It is a folly, therefore, to belittle its value or to neglect it in practice.



At the beginning, I had hinted at progressive teaching employed in Sanatana Dharma. Even beyond the profound example of HH Sri Chandashekara Bharati holding the hand of the questioner, and leading him to realize the essence of Sandhya on his own, is the example of how the Sandhya worship itself is designed, so that its regular practice leads the seeker to realize the higher reality in a progressive manner. Beautiful, isn't it!
[PS: This was originally posted on 12/13/07 at 9:04AM.]
Om Tat Sat! Read the rest of this entry >>

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

उपनिदे ब्रह्म नामानि

अथातो ब्रह्म जिज्ग्य्नासा nirguna brahman, saguna brahman, karya brahman, ishvara, parameshvara, para brahman, apara brahman, paramaatma, atman. Read the rest of this entry >>

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Some more links on Dakshinamurthy Stotram

There was a question asked in advaitin mailing list about sources of text and audio-renditions of Dakshinamurthy Stotram. This post collates some information and links, as I think it will be useful for seekers of truth.

Disambiguation: First some clarifications on what Dakshinamurthy Stotram/Stotra (also written as Dakshinamurty and Dakshinamurthi, Dakshinamurti and even Dakshinamoorthy, Dakshinamoorty, Dakshinamoorthi, Dakshinamoorti) is, because there are quite a a few of them. This post refers to a Dakshinamurthy Stotram with the shloka mouna vyakhya prakatitha parabrahma tattvam as one of its dhyana shloka, and beginning with the words vishvam darpaNa drishya maana nagari tulyam. This stotra text is included at the end of this post. This stotra is also called as "Shri Dakshinamurthy Stotram" and incorrectly referred to as Dakshinamurthy Ashtakam (probably because one of its shlokas has the word ashtakam, in an entirely different meaning). It is not an ashtakam as it has 10 verses. This stotram is extremely famous for Shri Adi Shankara its author, is said to have put in the entire Vedanta into it. A commentary on the stotram named manasollasa, was written by Sureshvara, one of Shri Adi Shankara's main disciples. This fact is surprising because commentaries are usually written for philosophical treatises, not stotras. Here is the disambiguation (1, 2, 3 and 4) by learned members of the advaitin list which confirms my understanding.

My preferred translations: A translation of this stotram is available from advaitin files as a PDF file. This translation was posted as a series of articles by Shri V. Subramanian taking it from a book from his Guru Sri D.S.Subbaramaiya, who wrote a two volume, 1200 pages commentary on a 10 verse stotram (The reader can grasp the amount of Vedanta Shri Shankara has packed into the stotram!). Another translation linked here is by Prof. VK. Though I simply cannot recommend any of these translations highly enough, it is also my opinion that it will take some time and serious effort by a sadhaka, to understand the true and complete meaning of Sri Dakshinamurthy Stotram. This is because the verses are packed with upanishadic meaning.

Other translations on the web: Here is the translation from Sanskrit docs (PDF format). Here is the one by Shri. P. R. Ramachander (which incorrectly refers to the stotram as ashtakam).

Maanasollasa sources and translation: And finally, for the really interested reader, here is the manasollasa (in Sanskrit) by Sureshvara, the famous disciple of Shri Adi Shankara [link from Sanskrit docs]. A translation of the Manasollasa, done by Swami Harshananda is available from Ramakrishna Mission book stores.

Audio commentaries on the stotram: I highly recommend the excellent audio discourses by Shri Swami Paramarthananda and Shri Swami Dayananda Saraswathi from Sastra Prakasika. They can be bought from here, with D30 being the code for the commentary by Swami Dayananda Saraswathi, and P05 for the one by Shri Paramarthananda. (I recommend the MP3 CD's, rather than audio cassettes.)

Audio links (just the stotram): Quite a few artists have done audio renditions of this stotram. Here is a audio link (more specifically, here) of the same. In this page is available another rendition. This page has another one (these last two again incorrectly refer to the stotram as ashtakam).

Transliteration: Here is a transliteration of the stotram text, done by Shri. V. Subramanian on advaitin list.
==================================================
Sri Dakshinamurthy Stotram by Adi Shankaracharya
==================================================
--- Prarthana to Shankaracharya ---
Shruti-smrti-puraanaanaam Aalayam Karunaalayam |
Namaami Bhagavatpada-Shankaram Lokashankaram ||

--- The Stotram ---
Vishwam Darpana-drshyamaana-nagarii-tulyam nijaantargatam
Pashyan aatmani maayayaa bahiriva udbhuutam yathaa nidrayaa |
Ya: saakshaat kurute prabodha-samaye svaatmaanameva advayam
Tasmai Srigurumurtaye nama idam Sridakshinamurtaye || 1 ||

Biijasyaantariva-ankuro jagadidam praang-nirvikalpam punar-
Maya-kalpita-desa-kaala-kalanaa-vaichitrya-chitrii-krtam |
Mayaviiva vijrmbhayatyapi maha-yogiva yas svecchayaa
Tasmai Sriguru-murtaye nama idam Sridakshinaamurtaye || 2 ||

Yasyaiva sphuranam sadaatmakam asatkalpaarthagam bhaasate
Saakshaat Tat-tvam-asi-iti vedavachasaa yo bodhayatyaashritaan |
Yat-saakshaat-karanaad bhaven-na punaraavrttir-bhavaambho-nidhau
Tasmai Srigurumurtaye nama idam Sridakshinamurtaye || 3 ||

Naanaa-cchidra-ghatodarasthita-mahaa-dipa-prabha-bhasvaram
Jnanam yasya tu chakshuraadi-karana-dvaara bahiH spandate |
Jaanaami-iti tameva bhaantam anu-bhaatyetat samastam jagat
Tasmai Srigurumurtaye nama idam Sridakshinamurtaye || 4 ||

Deham praanamapi indriyaanyapi chalaam buddhim cha shunyam viduH
Stri-baala-andha-jadopamaastvahamiti bhraantaa bhrsham vaadinaH |
Maayaa-shakti-vilaasa-kalpita-mahaa-vyaamoha-samhaarine
Tasmai Srigurumurtaye nama idam Sridakshinamurtaye || 5 ||

Rahu-grasta-divakarendu-sadrsho maya-samaacchaadanaat
SanmaatraH karanopasamharanato yo'bhut-sushuptaH pumaan |
Praagasvaapsamiti prabodha-samaye yaH pratyabhijnaayate
Tasmai Srigurumurtaye nama idam Sridakshinamurtaye || 6 ||

bAlyaadhiShvapi jAgradaadiShu tathA sarvAsvavasthAsvapi
vyAvR^ittaasvanuvartamaanamahamityantaH-sphurantam sadaa |
svAtmaanam prakaTIkaroti bhajatAm yo mudrayaa bhadrayaa
tasmai shrIgurumurtaye nama idam shrIdakShiNAmUrtaye || 7 ||

Vishvam pashyati kArya-kAraNatayA sva-svAmi-sambandhataH
ShiShyAchAryatayA tathaiva pitRR^I-putrAdyAtmanA bhedataH |
Svapne jAgrati vA ya eSha puruSho mAyAparibhrAmitaH
Tasmai ShrIgurumUrtaye nama idam shrIdakshiNaamUrtaye || 8 ||

bhUrambhAmsyanalo-`nilo-`mbaramahar-naatho himAmshuH pumAn-
ityAbhAti charAcharAtmakamidam yasyaiva mUrtyaShTakam |
nAnyat-kinchana vidyate vimRRishatAm yasmAt-parasmAd-vibhO-
stasmai shrIguru-mUrtaye nama idam shrIdakShiNaa-mUrtaye || 9 ||

--- Phala Sruti ---
sarvAtmatvamiti sphuTIkRRitamidam yasmAdamuShmin-stave
tEnAsya shravaNAt tadartha-mananAt dhyAnAccha sankIrtanAt |
sarvAtmatva-mahA-vibhUti-sahitam syAdIshvaratvam svataH
siddhyEt tat punaraShTadhA pariNatam chaishvaryam-avyAhatam || 10 ||

Gurave sarva-lokaanaam bhishaje bhava-roginaam |
Nidhaye sarva-vidyaanaam Dakshinaamurtaye namaH ||
========================= Om Tat Sat ================= Read the rest of this entry >>

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Shri. Sadaji on Advaita

Replying to a question on the (again revived) thread "the three states", Shri Sadananda posts a beautiful explanation of many terms of Advaita. Read it in full!

This was posted in the same thread "the three states", in which a lengthy discussion happened on sushupthi and brahman. I have a previous post (with the title "How is sushupthi different from Brahman"), that is a notes of that thread.

Also, read Shri Ram Chandranji summarize Satya and Mithya. Read the rest of this entry >>

Friday, November 02, 2007

100,000 to 55

A whole genre of short-stories has the theme that a story should consist of just 55 words. There is a book The World's Shortest Stories of Love and Death, which is a good read.

Our own blogosphere also had its own 55 word contributions. Read about the contributions from here.

Here is a contribution by your's truly.

How can they be like this? Aren't we their brothers?

Five versus hundred. Let it happen. Can we do it?

We have Truth, in person.

Oh, did all of it have to happen?

He is gone too! We are done. Let's go.

Dharma is all we are followed. Like a dog it will follow us.


Actually, the title should have been "3,200,000 to 55" The mahakaavya has 100,000 verses, mostly in anusthup (8+8+8+8) chandas. Read the rest of this entry >>

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Bhagavad Gita and Basket Full of Water

Shri Ram Chandran, who is the owner of advaitin mailing list has posted a beautiful story on why should people read Gita. Here it is reproduced in full.


Namaste:

I have received an email with this message from a friend and the author of this story is unknown. The punch-line of this story comes at the end. This is a typical Hindu way of communicating powerful message through story (great oral tradition) by the elders to the young generation,

Enjoy!

Ram Chandran

=======================
An old Farmer lived on a farm in the mountains with his young grandson. Each morning Grandpa was up early sitting at the kitchen table reading his Bhagavad Gita. His grandson wanted to be just like him and tried to imitate him in every way he could.

One day the grandson asked, "Grandpa! I try to read the Bhagavad Gita just like you but I don't understand it, and what I do understand I forget as soon as I close the book. What good does reading the Bhagavad Gita do?"

The Grandfather quietly turned from putting coal in the stove and replied, "Take this coal basket down to the river and bring me back a basket of water."

The boy did as he was told, but all the water leaked out before he got back to the house. The grandfather laughed and said, "You'll have to move a little faster next time," and sent him back to the river with the basket to try again.

This time the boy ran faster, but again the basket was empty before he returned home. Out of breath, he told his grandfather that it was impossible to carry water in a basket, and he went to get a bucket instead. The old man said, "I don't want a bucket of water; I want a basket of water. You're just not trying hard enough," and he went out the door to watch the boy try again.

At this point, the boy knew it was impossible, but he wanted to show his grandfather that even if he ran as fast as he could, the water would leak out before he got back to the house.

The boy again dipped the basket into river and ran hard, but when he reached his grandfather the basket was again empty. Out of breath, he said, "See Grandpa, it's useless!" >

"So you think it is useless?" The old man said, "Look at the basket."

The boy looked at the basket and for the first time realized that the basket was different. It had been transformed from a dirty old coal basket and was now clean, inside and out.

"Son, that's what happens when you read the Bhagavad Gita. You might not understand or remember everything, but when you read it, you will be changed, inside and out. That is the work of Krishna in our lives"
Read the rest of this entry >>

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Tao on Problem Solving

The following excerpt on problem solving by Terence Tao (winner of last year's Fields medal), is worthwhile reading a couple of times:


How does Tao describe his success?

"I don't have any magical ability," he said. "I look at a problem, and it looks something like one I've already done; I think maybe the idea that worked before will work here. When nothing's working out; then I think of a small trick that makes it a little better, but still is not quite right. I play with the problem, and after a while, I figure out what's going on.

"Most mathematicians faced with a problem, will try to solve the problem directly. Even if they get it, they might not understand exactly what they did. Before I work out any details, I work on the strategy. Once I have a strategy, a very complicated problem can split up into a lot of mini-problems. I've never really been satisfied with just solving the problem; I want to see what happens if I make some changes.

"If I experiment enough, I get a deeper understanding," said Tao, whose work is supported by the David and Lucille Packard Foundation. "After a while, when something similar comes along, I get an idea of what works and what doesn't work.

"It's not about being smart or even fast," Tao added. "It's like climbing a cliff; if you're very strong and quick and have a lot of rope, it helps, but you need to devise a good route to get up there. Doing calculations quickly and knowing a lot of facts are like a rock climber with strength, quickness and good tools; you still need a plan – that's the hard part – and you have to see the bigger picture."

His views about mathematics have changed over the years.

"When I was a kid, I had a romanticized notion of mathematics -- that hard problems were solved in Eureka moments of inspiration," he said. "With me, it's always, ‘let's try this that gets me part of the way. Or, that doesn't work, so now let's try this. Oh, there's a little shortcut here.'

"You work on it long enough and you happen to make progress towards a hard problem by a back door at some point. At the end, it's usually, 'oh, I've solved the problem.'"

Tao concentrates on one math problem at a time, but keeps a couple of dozen others in the back of his mind, "hoping one day I'll figure out a way to solve them. If there's a problem that looks like I should be able to solve it but I can't, that gnaws at me."

Does theoretical mathematics have applications beyond the theory?

"Mathematicians often work on pure problems that may not have applications for 20 years -- and then a physicist or computer scientist or engineer has a real-life problem that requires the solution of a mathematical problem, and finds that someone already solved it 20 years ago," Tao said.

"When Einstein developed his theory of relativity, he needed a theory of curved space. Einstein found that a mathematician devised exactly the theory he needed more than 30 years earlier."

Will Tao become an even better mathematician in another decade or so?

"Experience helps a lot," he said. "I may get a little slower, but I'll have access to a larger database of tricks; I'll know better what will work and what won't. I'll get déjà vu more often, seeing a problem that reminds me of something."

What does Tao think of his success?

"I'm very happy," he said. "Maybe when I'm in my 60s, I'll look back at what I've done, but now I would rather work on the problems."


The above is an excerpt from a longer article, aptly titled Terence Tao: "The Mozart of Math". Terence Tao is not just the winner of Fields medal. He has won a whole lot of prizes. Lance's post on the same subject is worthwhile reading. My earlier short post on this subject. Read the rest of this entry >>

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Sanskrit in Bhagavad Gita

I am reading the book The Bhagavad Gita by Winthrop Sargeant. It is a beautiful book, worth reading by anyone who loves both Bhagavad Gita and Sanskrit. This is what the author notes on on the Chandas used in Bhagavad Gita (Page 8):

The metre of most of stanzas of Bhagavad Gita is what is known as shloka metre, consisting of four lines of eight syllables each. The verse is blank, i.e., there are no rhymes. There are, however, a number of stanzas, particularly at dramatic moments, in which the tristubh metre, consisting of four lines of eleven syllables each, is used. The shloka is the all-purpose metre of Epics as well as much of poetry. The tristubh metre originated as the commonest metre of the Vedas, and is supposed to convey a warlike or powerful impression.


To understand the notion of relationship between chandas and tenor, one should observe chapter 11 (as well as verses 2-5 of chapter 12) of Gita, where most of the core verses are in in "another metre". I agree with all of this, but for the names of the metre "tristubh". I know for sure the following about vedic chandas (from my Vedic Guruji):

Vedic Tristubh 11-11-11-11 = 44
Vedic Anusthup is 8-8-8-8 = 32

The question are: Is this (the chandas of the verses that Winthrop Sargeant is talking about) really tristubh? If so, is it the same as Vedic Tristubh Chandas? If it is so, does it follow the same rules (breaking of the words and the like), as Vedic verses? More importantly, "Which are the verses in the Gita, where the tenor change has been emphasized by change in Chandas? What is the meaning of the change of chandas in these verses?"

So, further research brought me to the beautiful "Sadhaka Sanjivani" by Swami Ramsukhdas. In that book, every chapter has detailed notes on the Chandas used in that particular chapter. It also has other details, like count of number times some words like "uvacha" etc. have been used and further, it has a count of number of syllables in that chapter!

Here is a tabulation of the Chandas in various chapters of the Gita, according to the information in the book:






















Chandas in Bhagavad Gita
Ch# Verses VipulaPv-AnuUpajati Misc
1 47 5 42
2 72 15 49 8
3 43 10 33
4 42 9 33
5 29 3 26
6 47 10 37
7 30 7 23
8 28 5 19 3 1
9 34 7 25 2
10 42 6 36
11 55 5 14 33 3
12 20 3 17
13 34 5 29
14 27 7 20
15 20 5 10 3 2
16 24 6 18
17 28 9 19
18 78 19 59



Where
Vipula = Vipula-anusthup chandas of na/ra/bha/ma/sa or jatipaksha or sankirna variety.
Pv-Anu = Pathyavaktra-anusthup.
[Note: Both the above are varieties of Anusthup Chandas.]
Upajati = Upajati
Misc = Indravraja/upendravraja.

So, most of the verses (645/700) in Gita are in anusthup chandas, of the vipula-anusthup variety or pathyavaktra-anusthup variety. The rest of the verses (55/700) are either in upajati chandas (49/700) or in indravraja/upendravraja chandas (6/700).

Here are the various uses of upajati metre









Upajati Chandas in Gita
Chapter Specific Verses
2 5-8,20,22,29,70
8 9,10,11
9 20,21
11 15-27, 30-44, 46-50
15 2,3,4


and here are the various uses of indravraja/upendravraja







Vraja-Chandas in Gita
Chapter Specific Verses
8 28 is indravraja
11 28,29,45 are upendravraja
15 5,15 are indravraja



It would be interesting to know why Bhagavan Vyas used these special chandas at these particular places. Is there any deeper meaning to the use of these special chandas? Can someone explain? When asked the same questions on advaitin list, respected Shri Sadaji replies:

Interesting info. My understanding is sloka format normally refers to AnuShTup chandas as you pointed out. AnushTup is easy to follow since it has four quarters, as the emphasis is on the message rather the literature. Since the communication is by word of mouth, the meter is changed whenever some thing has to be emphasized or for registering a change of topic
or to draw attention to some serious point of discussion, where the student's attention is required.
...

In Telugu lot more work has been done with chandas - where the meters (like raagas) are selected to project the proper moods of the characters. But for Vedanta, emphasis is not on emotions but on understanding. anuShTup is simple and best suited and is used extensively.


Read the whole reply. On a related noted, but in another thread posted some time back, respected Shri Sunderji notes:

...
There is a legend about the composition of Mahabharata by Vyasa. Vyasa requested Ganesha to be his scribe for this opus. Ganesha agreed to do it on condition that Vyasa would do the dictation without any interruption. Vyasa accepted it, but put a counter-condition that Ganesha would not write anything that he did not understand! Ganesha too agreed.

Thus, whenever Vyasa wanted to pause for a breather, he would compose a verse like a riddle, that made Ganesha stop and think!!

There are said to be about 3400 such riddles in the @100,000 verse of the Mahabharata.

I have often wondered which some of these riddles may be in the Gita!

...


Read the whole message and the thread. This message leaves the chandas-puzzle, if there was any in the first place, unanswered.

Also, this article from Kamakoti has some more details about chandas.

PS: Here is a place to get a very good quality PDF of Bhagavad Gita. Read the rest of this entry >>

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Vijaya Dashami Shubhakaanshalu



praNo devi sarasvathi vaajEBHirvAjinIvatI | DHinAmavitriyavathu ||






May the Maya sakti who manifests herself as the Goddess of desire, Goddess of Knowledge and Goddess of action inspire the creative desire so that we realize the truth of self-knowledge. May the Goddess Kali remove our demonaic tendencies. May the Goddess Lakshmi increase our desire for Knowledge. May the Goddess Saraswathi increase our Knowledge and Wisdom so that we realize both the immanent as well as transcedental Knowledge. May the Lalitha, who is none other than the eternal Guru Dakshinamurthy grace us with the essence of Apara and Para Vidya. May the Raajareshwari, who directed the victories of Raama and Arjuna (the Vijaya) bless us with the same.

aanoBhadra kratavo yanthu adaBDhaso uparitaaso udBhidah
deeano yaTHa sadamid vrudhe asannapryuvo rakshitaaro divedive
(My good thoughts come to us from all sides, in an uninterrupted fashion, in their purest form.) Read the rest of this entry >>

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Advaita Cartoons

Advaita Cartoons is a blog that has cartoons on Advaita. Here are a couple:





Go see all of them here. Read the rest of this entry >>