Saturday, July 26, 2008

Swami Dayananda Saraswathi again on Youtube

The fourth video has very poor synchronization between audio and video. I however recommend for watching it. Read the rest of this entry >>

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Bhishmastuti from Srimad Bhagavatham

In this post in the advaitin list, Prof VK-ji asks a question about the following shloka from Srimad Bhagavatham that Bhishma recites in his final moments:

tam-imam-aham-ajaM sharIra-bhAjAM
hRRidi hRRidi dhiShTitaM Atma-kalpitAnAM /
pratidRRishamiva naikadhArkam-ekaM
samadhigato’smi vidhUta-bheda-mohaH //

It is verse 1.9.42 from Srimad Bhagavatham. An explanation of this stotra by Prof VK-ji is here.

Shri Sunder-ji responds and so does Subbu-ji in this post.

You can listen to an audio rendition of the entire Bhishma Stuti by Pt. Sunder Kidambi here. Read the rest of this entry >>

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Samadhi and Advaita: Michael Comans

Read the following paper: The Question of the Importance of Samadhi in Modern and Classical Advaita Vedanta. It is very well researched and goes with many of the arguments that happen in advaitin and Advaita-L, about samadhi, yoga and meditation. Read the rest of this entry >>

Friday, July 18, 2008

Swami Dayananda Saraswathi on Bhagavad Gita Chapter 13

Read the rest of this entry >>

Shri Gurubhyo Namah

Today Guru Poornima.

I quote from the following page of Prof VK., in which he lists the achievements of Vyasa, whose Birthday is celebrated as Guru Purnima.

If any single person in the entire long history of the Hindu religion has to be credited (or blamed!) for its multifarious facets that extend over a wide spectrum from extreme superstition on the one side to a ruthless intellectual dialectics on the other, it is the

‘faultless sage Vyasa, son of Sage Parasara,
grandson of Sage Shakti,
great grandson of Sage Vasishta
and father of the boy-sage Shuka’.

Vyasa has six achievements to his credit, each one of which alone could have conferred on him the stature of a Vyasa to such an extent that on one day in the year, called Vyasa Purnima day (this year 2005, on July 21), all religious and vedantic organisations and individuals in India, irrespective of the school of thought to which they belong, pay reverential tribute to him in all possible ways. The six achievements of Vyasa are:

· At the beginning of the Kali-yuga Vyasa codified the Vedas and Upanishads into 1180 branches (shAkhas) and thus preserved for the weak and satanic Kali age the age-old tradition.
· He codified the philosophical excursions of the Upanishads into a single treatise called Brahma-sutra of 555 terse statements or aphorisms – for the comprehension of which several high-level commentaries have been written till today.
· He produced the greatest book on Earth, the Mahabharata, an epic one hundred thousand verses long, the dimensions of which for the cultural panorama of the country are still being explored.
· He wrote the seventeen purANas (together equivalent to more than a Mahabharata) which constitute an encyclopaedia of all the mythological stories, legends and history of Hinduism.
· The eighteenth purANa, the Shrimad Bhagavatam, is his fifth achievement – because it is the monumental work of Bhakti without which, inspite of the other Puranas, it is doubtful, whether the Bhakti tradition would have attained to such a supreme status in Hinduism.
· Last but not least, he must be given special credit for the 700-verse-long discourse of Bhagavadgita, – even assuming he just heard it straight from the Lord’s mouth -- a single compendium covering the entire spectrum of Hindu religion and philosophy, almost replacing the Vedas; even though it is a part of the Mahabharata, it has a separate status for itself and Vyasa has to be given extra credit for recognising its strategical place and context in the great epic; the two fit each other so perfectly that it is not clear whether the Mahabharata was made for the Bhagavad-Gita or the Bhagavad-Gita for the Mahabharata.

From this site.

Of course, the eternal Guru is Shri Dakshinamurthy, who enlightens the first lamp of awakening in any person.

May the ever eternal Guru save us from the darkening world of ignorance. May He who has saved countless people, beginning with the Sanaka etc. including warriors like Arjuna make us see the Light behind the clouds.

May we always feel that Light, that is ever effulgent, the invocation of which spreads fear in the heart of fear.

It is the Narayana, in his form of Lord Krishna that removed the ignorance of Arjuna.
and it is the same Shankara who incarnated as Shri Adi Shankara to drive away the ignorance of everyone.

We Bow to all the above, as well as all our Gurus.

Here are some links:
Dakshinamurthy Stotram.
Totaka Ashtakam
Guru Paduka Stotram Read the rest of this entry >>

Saturday, July 12, 2008

What is Knowledge?

The question "What is knowledge?", seems like one that a philosopher (or even one with an idle mind) would be asking, with no practical applications to "daily life". This is not so, certainly not for seekers of the underlying phenomenon beyond all subject object duality. The famous Advaitic verse from Vivekachudamani says "Brahma Satyam, Jagan Mithya, Jeevo Brahmaiva Naa Parah" (Brahman is the only Truth, the world has only a fleeting level of reality and the Jeeva is not different from the Brahman). Such a statement brings us to the following questions: How do we not perceive a unified reality all around, when it is so? How is it that we do not see the fleetingness of the reality of the world, when it is so? How is it that we fail to recognize the equality of the supreme spirit with the internal spirit?

Motive behind the questions: Shri Adi Shankara, asks the same question in many places in his commentary on Prasthana Traya. For example, in his introduction to Brahma Sutras, also called as Adhyasa Bhashya, He rhetorically wonders "How can anyone confuse the unreal with the real?". This is because the BMI is inherently jada (insentient), while Atman, the seer behind the BMI is inherently chetana (sentient). How can anyone confuse the unreal with the real? If one confuses different levels of reality, then they may be excused. What is the excuse for this confusion? Where did such a kind of confusion originate from? Shri Shankara blames this confusion to adhyasa (superimposition), which is our ignorance, and proceeds to dispel it as non-existent in many ways. (Shri Shankara uses similar concepts in many places on his Gita commentary: for example on his commentary for BG 2.16 or BG 13.2).

Knowledge and its means: The above concept of superimposition is close to Knowledge and the means of knowledge. Since it is due to our ignorance that we are confusing unreal from real, the latter which is ever existent and the former never ever(!), one of the first steps should be to define what Knowledge is, what are its valid means, and what are is the answer to the *meta*-questions like: "How do we know what we can know?", "How do we know that we know?". If such a definition is made precise, then we can separate knowledge from ignorance. Also close to the concept of knowledge is the means of acquiring it. It is like constructing a precise sieve, which will separate the knowledge rice from the ignorance husk. Then, using the sieve, one can separate the superimposition from the real stuff, continually asking the question "Is it this? Is it this?" and continuing uttering to oneself "Not this, Not this". These definitions and other concepts have been done in the classic book "Vedanta Paribhasha" (VP) by Dharamaraja Adhvarindra (DA), a 17th century Advaitic philosopher from India.

Is the systematic study of pramANa required? Yes and No.

State 2: Yes because, given the all pervasive nature of the (non-existent) avidya, we need a systematic study of the tools needed to understand its nature. In the end, we will realize that none of the tools have the power to know the nature of the Self, which is beyond the reach of any of these.

State 1: No because brahman is defined to be one that is unattainable by any of these. So, how will such a systematic study help us? For people who are at such an advanced stage that they see the true nature of the fleeting universe, it is not needed.

So, it is clear that one needs to get from state 2 (of yes: they are needed) to state 1 (of no: pramanas are not needed). (Is the movement from State 2 to State 1 a application of Vedantic method of adhyaropa-apavada? I do not know.)

In short, the study of pramANas is needed to know that the study of pramANas is not needed! (Thanks to Sada-ji who used this another context.)

Here are some references:
  • Respected Shri Sastriji (the chief moderator of advaitin yahoo group) has written explanatory notes, which is very useful for understanding the basic concepts.

    1. In introduction, he explains the valid means of knowledge, according to the six major philosophical systems of India. It should be noted that the means of knowledge defined by Advaita are the same as that for Bhatta Mimamsa (a major branch of Mimamsa: after Kumarila Bhatta, whom Adi Shankara met).

    2. Here he explains inference (anumana), one of the six means of knowledge.
    3. In this link on Shabda Pramana, he explains the concept of Verbal Testimony as a valid means of knowledge.

  • Respected Shri Sadaji has been writing up his notes on VP and posting it in the advaitin yahoo list. Here is their link. (This is is an ongoing series of posts, with the current number being 13.) Each of them are worth reading multiple times, as his posts are of explanatory nature.

  • Swami Satprakashananda, a monk of Ramakrishna Order (and a contemporary of Swami Prabhavananda: Swami Satprakashananda was sent to St. Louis, while Swami Prabhavananda was in LA), has written a book "Methods of Knowledge according to Advaita Vedanta". It has a very lucid exposition of the terms at hand. (I plan to have a later post on this book.) Here are a couple of links on the book:

    1. From RK Math, St. Louis,
    2. From Shri Dennis-ji's page
    3. The amazon page
    4. a picture of Swami Satprakashananda

    Happy search for Knowledge!
    May the Goddess of Knowledge shower Her divine grace upon us. Read the rest of this entry >>
  • Thursday, July 10, 2008

    Origin of the word Devanagari in Rig Veda?

    The usual script for Sanskrit (and hence, a couple of Indic languages) is called Devanagari (देवनागरी), which literally means "City of Gods". Isn't it interesting that it has close connection with Mantra 1.164.39 of Rig Veda?

    Here is the wiki page. Read the rest of this entry >>

    Sunday, July 06, 2008

    annapUrNA Stotram by Adi Shankara

    Here are a couple of links on annapUrNA stotram by Shri Adi Shankara.
    from ambaa-l and from Sanskrit Docs.

    अन्नपूर्णे सदापूर्णे शङ्करप्राणवल्लभे . ज्ञानवैराग्यसिद्ध्यर्थं भिक्षां देहि च पार्वति .. ११..

    May the Goddess, who is eternally full/complete and bestower of anna, the nourishment to our life,
    who is the beloved of ever auspicious Lord Shankara, as if she were his life herSelf/himSelf,
    May bestow on the devotees with the eternal knowledge,
    and the necessary detachment from the snares of the lower worlds.

    May the daughter of the mountains lead us from unreal to real, from darkness to light and from death to immortality.

    Hari Om Read the rest of this entry >>

    Saturday, July 05, 2008

    Some links on Brahmasutras

    Hari Om!

    An excellent introduction to Adhyasa Bhashya by Shri Saxena.

    Location you could create PDF's of Shankara Bhashya

    Transcript of Swami Paramarthananda's lectures on "Introduction to Brahma Sutras".

    Audio of Shri Shankara's Ashyasa Bhashya (Many thanks to Sunderji!).

    Lectures (PDF link) of Shri (Dr.) Mani Dravid Sastri. More lectures are these (all PDF links): 1, 2, 3, 4.

    From advaitin files. Read the rest of this entry >>