Sunday, January 28, 2007

Sridakshinamurtistotram Stotram (Part XI) at Advaitin -- Conclusion

Shri V. Subrahmanian concludes his beautiful exposition of Sri Dakshinamurthy Stotram in his Part XI. Here, he explains the 10th shloka, the phala sruti, of the stotra:

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

Here is the link to previous ones. Read the rest of this entry >>

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Ramana's Dakshinamurthy

"The carving of Dakshinamurti over the Patalaling Siva shrine, where Ramana Maharshi spent much time doing sadhana."

The above photograph is part of a collection of Atmajyothi's tour to Ramana Ashram at Arunachaleshwara. Read the rest of this entry >>

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Sridakshinamurtistotram Stotram (Part X) at Advaitin

Shri V. Subrahmanian continues the exposition of Sri Dakshinamurty Stotram. In part X he translates the verse 9 of the stotra:

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

Link to previous ones. Read the rest of this entry >>

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Swami Prabhavananda and Swami Nikhilananda

This post is about two of my beloved monks of the famed Ramakrishna Order. Online links to their biographies: Swami Nikhilananda (1 and 2) and Swami Prabhavananda (1 and 2).

Lives: The similarities in their lives simply cannot be missed. Swami Prabhavananda was born in 1893, while Swami Nikhilananda was born in 1895. Swami Prabhavananda was an initiated disciple of Swami Brahmananda, the spiritual son of Ramakrishna while Swami Nikhilananda was a initiated disciple of Sarada Devi, the spiritual wife of Ramakrishna. (It is interesting that both have the same Ramakrishna-number -- similar to Erdos number in Mathematics -- 2.) Both of the Swami's were sent at a very young age to USA to continue the work started by Swami Vivekananda.

Both of the Swamis established their Vedanta centres (as Ramakrishna Maths outside India are called) in the west at Los Angeles by Swami Prabhavananda and in the east at New York by Swami Nikhilananda. They both became famous in the modern world for their books and lectures mainly centering around Vedanta. Swami Nikhilananda was well known for his translations of Shankara's works while Swami Prabhavananda was well known for his collaborations and interactions with people like Aldous Huxley, Frederick Manchester and Christopher Isherwood (the latter two are his collaborators). They both continued to be the presidents of the centres they started till the day they left this world. Swami Nikhilananda left this world at 1973, while Swami Prabhavananda left this world in 1976.

Works: I think that Prabhavananda gives a simple from the heart commentary, while Nikhilananda gives a more scholarly translation (I wanted to, but did not use the phrase more-accurate for Swami Nikhilananda).

  • Upanishads: Upanishads: Breath of the eternal by Swami Prabhavananda was simple, refreshing and introductory. Swami Nikhilananda wrote two translations of the Upanishads. One of them a 4-volume edition (amazon-link) is considered a master piece in itself and also has the commentary on the Upanishads by Adi Shankara. It also has a near 100 page introduction. So that lesser souls like us can read the Upanishads, The Swami has also written one volume abridged edition. Even the latter has a detailed introduction (mostly taken from the introduction to the former). Both of these introductions are a great introduction of the Vedanta to any serious student. A major portion of the introduction -- in both the 4 volume and 1 volume editions -- is aptly titled "Discussion of Brahman in the Upanishads".

  • Bhagavad-Gita: The Song of the Lord Bhagavad Gita by Swami Prabhavananda was very simple and beautiful. The translation by Swami Nikhilananda included a translation of the commentary by the Great Adi Shankara. It also includes a great introduction.

  • Biographies of their Parama Acharya: Swami Nikhilananda is well known for his translation for the excellent translation of Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna (which I have not read) and its abridged version (which I have read). Swami Prabhavananda's disciple Christopher Isherwood has written Ramakrishna and his Disciples which is enchanting. I put it in the category of Swami Prabhavananda because of he is a disciple of Swami Prabhavananda. In the introduction of the book, he begins with the striking words: "this book is about Ramakrishna, the phenomenon".

  • Other Works by Swami Nikhilananda: Swami Nikhilananda has translated Mandukya Upanishad including Gaudapada Karika (book not available online in USA. Only in RK mission book shops in India.), Drg-Drsya-Viveka and Adi Shankara's Self-Knowledge (Atma-Bodha). The latter book is commendable for its introduction that has a good introduction to Vedanta Philosophy, and its appendix that has a beautiful translation of many devotional hymns written by Adi Shankara.

  • Other works by Swami Prabhavananda: The Swami has translated Adi Shankara's Viveka Chudamani Crest Jewel of Discrimination as well as Patanjali's Yoga Sutras: How to Know God. Swami Prabhavananda's Sermon on the Mount according to Vedanta is a book I would recommend to any Christian for the simplicity with which the core of Christianity (the Lord's prayer) echoes Vedanta.

May you read the works of the great men and progress towards realizing Brahman within Your Self.

[This post is another in admiration of Ramakrishna Math in spreading Vedanta in the west. Previous one is here.

About spreading of Vedanta in India, there is a third monumental figure, Swami Ranganathanananda. Describing him would be attempted in another post. Until then, read these wiki-entry, quotations from Ranganathananda, his obituary (he passed away in 2005) review of his biography.] Read the rest of this entry >>

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Articles by Arun Shourie

A pointer to some articles written by Arun Shourie. His clarity of thought, preciseness and knowledgeability and the honest to call a spade as such, make each of his writings a piece in itself.

In Weak to the Strong, Strong to the Weak, he argues how partisan has been the practise of extreme-liberalism in India, atleast in the depiction of pictures of Dieties:

"But nude representations are a part of our tradition. Look at Konark, look at Khajuraho," the advocates have been shouting.
What basis is there for declaring the women portrayed there are Saraswati or Sita or Lakshmi ?
Many Hindus also notice the other thing -- the one I mentioned as the reason as against the rationalization for no artist ever being galvanized by the creative urge when it comes to painting the features of the Prophet. They notice that the artists do not do so, not because these masters cannot do so, nor because their muse never goads them in this direction, but because they know that, were they to do so, they would be set upon.

On Anne Besant and the current president of the congress. (This article was written in 1999, when the congress sychophants raised a hungama for the window of Rajiv Gandhi to become their president.)

Every act, every thought had been in the public domain for forty years in Mrs Besant's case. Every act, every thought has been shrouded behind the speech-writer's script, the PR advisor's sheen today.
The Congress-presidency came after twenty years' unremitting labour in the service of India in Mrs. Besant's case. It has come as a measure of desperation by persons who have no other way of acquiring office today.


Many more at The pointer was found in a comment to an excellent post (read it) on Atanu's blog. [Thanks to him, and the blogger.] Read the rest of this entry >>

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Drg-Drsya-Viveka available online

Thanks to a post on advaitin mailing-list, I discovered a complete online edition of Drig-Drsya-Viveka by Swami Nikhilananda.

This short work of 46 verses, whose title means "Wisdom of the Seer and the Seen" talks about the Self as Consciousness (pragyanam-brahma) and perceiver/witness of everything. That the translation has been done by Swami Nikhilananda, who is well known for his translation of many wonderful books (my favorites: Self-knowledge and Bhagavad Gita) adds credit to this book. Even Shri. Subrahmanya Iyer says in the introduction:

The Swami's great literary merits are already so well and so widely known that this work of his needs little introduction from laymen like me. It is a time-honoured belief, a belief as old as the oldest Upanishads, that Vedantic Truth is best taught by those that live it, not by those that merely talk about it. Bhagavan Sri Ramakrsna Paramahamsa, the 'Real Mahatman' of the late Prof. Max Muller, was one such rare and great teacher. And the Vedantic works that are published by the reverend Order of Sannyasins founded by such a Guru have so great a spiritual charm that they make these works most welcome to all earnst seekers after Truth.

Here are a couple of verses:

Verse 1: The form is perceived and the eye is the perceiver. It (eye) is perceived and the mind is the perceiver. The mind with its modifications is perceived and the Witness (the Self) is verily the perceiver. But It (the Witness) is not perceived (by any other).

Verse 2: The forms (objects of perception) appear as various on account of such distintions as blue, yellow, gross, subtle, short, long, etc. The eye, on the other hand, sees them, itself remaining one and the same.

Verse 3: Such characteristics of the eye as blindness, sharpness or dullness, the mind is able to cognize because it is a unity. This also applies to (whatever is perceived through) the ear, skin, etc.

Verse 4: Consciousness illuminates (such other mental states as) desire, determination and doubt, belief and non-belief and non-belief, constancy and its opposite, modesty, understanding, fear and others, because it (Consciousness) is a unity.

Verse 5. This Consciousness [eternal Witness of all changes] does not rise [meaning birth] nor set [death]. It does not increase; neither does it suffer decay. Being self-luminous, it illuminates everything else without any other aid.

In veses 13-15, the book talks about the two powers of Maya: avarna (one that viels/conceals Brahman) and vikshepa (one that projects something else as Brahman). The next verses describe the differences between Nirguna and Saguna Brahman and the modes of attaining each of these.

Note on Saguna Vs. Nirguna Brahman: It is perceived by many that the Upanishads are ambivalent about Saguna vs. Nirguna Brahman. They have case because MahaNarayana Upanishad seems to declare Brahman as Naarayana, Svesavatara Upanishad declares Rudra as Brahman and Ganesha Atharva Sirsha Upanishad declares Brahman as Ganapathi. On the other hand, Mandukya Upanishad and verses from BrihadAranyaka and Chandogya seem to declare Brahman as Nirguna. The learned Swami points out in his introduction to Upanishads that many Upanishads are very clear about which Brahman they are talking about by the use of pronoun "He" for Saguna Brahman and "It" for Nirguna Brahman.

A recommendation: I found that reading Ramana Maharshi's commentary on Drg-Drsya-Viveka helped in understanding it. His commentary is in the book "The Collected works of Ramana Maharshi" and also available online from the website under downloads.

[The original post at advaitin mailing-list also links a classic Advaita text: Yoga Vasistha. I am yet to read it.]

Read the ancient text (including the commentary by Swami Nikhilananda and Ramana Maharshi) and contemplate on the nature of the Self!

Postscript: The following link is also relevant. Read the rest of this entry >>

Monday, January 01, 2007

Happy New Year!

Asatoma Sadgamaya
Tamasoma Jyothirgamaya
Mrutyorma Amruthangamaya
Om Shanthi Shanthi Shanthi.

May the New year bring intellectual-discrimination and the destruction of the Ego consciousness in the minds and hearts of all human beings. Read the rest of this entry >>