Thursday, June 30, 2011

Samaadhaana - Part 10 of 15


Without being swayed by emotion, it is the intellect as the component of the internal organ that weighs truth and falsity and makes judgments in all worldly matters.

That same buddhi has now to be withdrawn from that function and coordinated to converge on matters relating to Brahman. He says that is samAdhAnaM.

It is not only the feelings of the mind that run helter-skelter; the intellect also does the same. But we usually think it is the play of emotional feelings that is bad; we do not think in that manner of the goings-on of the intellect.

In the name of ‘Pursuit of Knowledge’, the intellect goes in search of all sorts of information and all of us are in the habit of praising such action.

It is generally an acceptable thing to say: “We should know everything; all arts and science. Even thieving is an art. (Recall the Tamil saying: *kaLavuM katrumaRa*). Even the Acharya got the award of ‘sarvajna’ (all-knowing)”. In fact I myself have told you many times the same things.

But note that such things are not told to a spiritual sAdhaka who is advancing in the second stage. They were all said to one who is far behind; that was the stage when the intellect has to be sharpened.

It is that sharpness of the intellect that had to be used to do the ‘nitya-anitya-vastu-vivekaM’ (the discrimination between the ephemeral and the transcendent). This viveka (discrimination) is totally a function of the intellect.


Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Samaadhaana - Part 9 of 15


In this kind of environment it will be odd if I tell you to do such things with buddhi; I did not want to appear different, right from the start. So I tried to be smart and without saying it is the mind or the intellect that should be brought under control, I mentioned ‘cittaM’ which is common to both.

Also the Acharya himself has shown me the way for that. In AparokshhAnubhUti (Verse #8) he says
“The unitary focussing of cittaM on the goal of Absolute Reality (*sat*) is said to be ‘samAdhAna’*:
*cittaikAgRyaM to sallakshhye samAdhAnam-iti smRtaM*.

Having made all this introduction, we shall now see why the Acharya has mentioned the intellect here (instead of simply, the mind). When he was talking about shraddhA earlier, though he made it clear that buddhi (intellect) has to be kept aside and it is only the mind that has to posit the faith, still he said that it is the confirmation by the intellect (*buddhy-avadhAraNaM*) that is called shraddhA.

And we explained by saying that it is the intellect itself that has to decide that it has to play no role and thus make way for the mind to accept the words of the Guru and the Shastras. The present context where he says that buddhi (intellect) has to be focussed on brahman, and that is samAdhAnaM, is being done in the same strain .


Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Samaadhaana - Part 8 of 15


In other words, we equate ‘manas’ and ‘antaH-karaNaM’ in all our ordinary exchange of ideas. ‘Control the mind, Let the MAyA covering the mind be removed, May the dirt of the mind be erased’ – these are the statements in the literature of spirituality and Atma-SAdhanA.

The reason for all this is that it is the mind (manas) that draws the JIva by its feelings into all directions.

When the Acharya defined ‘shamaM’ in this sextad, he says it is “the state wherein the mind (manas) is anchored to the goal (lakshyaM) of the Atman” -- *svalakshhye niyatAvasthA manasaH shama ucyate*.

The next one ‘damaM’ is also the controlling of the mind’s agents, the senses. ‘uparati’ is also another component of mind-control.

Holding back the channels (vRtti) from proceeding to outside attractions is ‘uparati’ and the channels are nothing but flows of the mind. The tolerance or patience implied in ‘titikshhaa’ is also a work of the mind. Thus all that we have seen so far are SAdhanAs that correct the mind.

Here when he talks of ‘samAdhAna’ he talks about the ‘fixing’ of the intellect (buddhi). We have heard many speak “The mind has to become still; the mind has to be drawn and made to be fixed on one thing; it is the mind that has to be anchored ..”.


Monday, June 27, 2011

Samaadhaana - Part 7 of 15


Ahamkaara is the mood (bhAva) that arises first in all thoughts. The thought of separate jIva as differentiated from the ParamAtmA, with an ‘I’ of its own, is what is known as ahamkAra (Ego).

When and only when that is destroyed then only the separate JIva-hood will go and the status of the Atman in its Realisation of one-ness with the ParamAtmA arises. This destruction/end of the Ego is the apex of SAdhanA.

When he defines ‘samAdhAna’ the Acharya talks of the intellect (buddhi) – the role/pose of ‘cittaM’ when it exercises the power of discrimination –and says that this intellect has to be fixed in Brahman. Ordinarily, cittam is equated with manas (mind). In the same manner, what is to be monitored and controlled with effort is the manas (mind) – this is the common understanding.

Even if we do not understand the meaning, we are in the habit of saying ‘The mind does not have samAdhAna (peace or rest)’ or ‘Rest your mind, pacify the restlessness of the mind’. In ritual mantras they say ‘manas samAdhIyatAM’ in the sense of ‘Let the mind rest in peace’.

And in reply to that prayer, one says *samAhita- manasaH smaH*. Note that in all this, it is the mind (manas) that is talked about.


Sunday, June 26, 2011

Samaadhaana - Part 6 of 15


I have been telling you of ‘the mind’ so far.

But the Acharya has referred to ‘buddhi’, the intellect. *samyak AsthApanaM buddheH* are his words – namely, ‘the intellect must be caught hold of and fixed in Brahman’. The intellect (*buddhi*) is only one particular aspect of the mind.

Cit is Knowledge. The organ that the JIva has that is associated with knowledge is ‘cittaM’. This is an internal organ; called ‘antah-karaNaM’.

By ‘Knowledge’ is not meant just what is done by the intellect (buddhi). Though what is done by the intellect is part of this Knowledge, ‘cittaM’ is not just that. The feelings that arise in the mind (manas) is also part of it.

The work of the mind, the work of the intellect, what the mind thinks, feels, what the intellect knows – all these together constitute what is called ‘cittaM’. Because of this combination of works of both the mind and intellect, it is customary in advaita works to refer to the process of cleaning up the mind and the intellect and of focussing them as ‘citta-shuddhi, citta aikAgriyaM’.

There are four: cittaM, manas, buddhi, ahamkAraM. The four together constitute ‘antah-karaNaM’. ‘Thought’ is something that is common to all the four. But its source is ‘cittaM’. The ‘cittam’ that produces thought associates itself with the other three.

Manas is the instrument of feeling. It does not know good and bad. It drowns itself in all kinds of feelings. It is the intellect that is the instrument of discrimination between good and bad. Only the intellect has the power of judgment.


Saturday, June 25, 2011

Samaadhaana - Part 5 of 15


Our SAdhanA is Atma-SAdhanA.

The SAdhanA is for the Realisation of Brahman which is attributeless (nirguNa) and which is the Atman . Therefore it is necessary to keep the mind unshaken in the Brahman which transcends the MAyA, instead of in the Ishvara with His MAyA.

By Ishvara is meant all the different forms of God. Originally it was one such form that was worshipped by us and that is why the mind was trained to focus itself on one thing. That was the first stage.

In this second stage, the mind has to have its ‘AdhAna’ in the Brahman without form. Off and on one will recall the saguna form of Ishvara. When it comes, don’t think of Him as the administrator of this mAyic universe but think of Him as Grace Personified (*anugraha-svaruupaM*) which granted us the thought that we have to transcend this MAyA.

And with the determination that ‘It is He (that saguNa form) who shows us the path of JnAna towards the nirguNa Brahman and so we should no more cling to the saguNaForm of His’, one should turn one’s mind towards the Atman principle.

He is the One who shines as our Atman.

So holding on to the Atman is as good as holding on, doing bhakti, to Him. The mind should always be turned towards the nirguna brahman; even if the memory of the saguna Brahman recurs, knowing that the basis of that saguNa one is only the nirguna brahman, we should dissolve the saguna in the nirguna.


Friday, June 24, 2011

Samaadhaana - Part 4 of 15


Brahman is the only thing which is unmixed with MAyA. What is referred to as the substratum of the entire universe is Brahman; the same thing when referred to as the substratum of the jIva is called Atman.

Brahman which is the same as Atman is the only thing which is untouched by MAyA. Hence it is called ‘shuddha brahman’ – that is why the shloka has ‘shuddha Brahmani’. Even a little mixture of MAyA will make it different. Ishvara Himself has such a mixture of MAyA.

The universe which is totally mixed with that MAyA is being administered by that Ishvara, who has MAyA with him (*MAyA-sahita Ishvarah). Brahman does not do any such thing as administration of the universe. Brahman has nothing to do with the universe or its affairs.

Of course it is the substratum, basis of the universe; but from that Brahman it was MAyA that produced the vision of the universe. Brahman is not related to the universe. The dim light produces the vision of the snake from the rope, but the rope in reality has no relationship with the snake. It is an unmixed rope all the time.

That kind of unmixed thing-in-itself is what is called shuddha Brahman. Instead of the saguna form of Ishvara, if the mind is focussed on nirguna Brahman, that is said to be ‘samAdhAnaM’.


Thursday, June 23, 2011

Samaadhaana - Part 3 of 15


‘sama’ means equality – no high, no low. There are other meanings also. What is full or complete is also said to be ‘sama’. ‘samAdhAna’ means to unify the mind and establish it completely in one place.

It should not be allowed to move this side or that side. We all know the mind thinks of several things at the same time. To converge it into one place and firmly establish it there is ‘sama AdhAnaM’ or ‘samAdhAnaM’. The one who has so established the mind by fixing it in one place is a ‘samAhita’.

By doing this the perturbations of the mind are all calmed and it becomes focussed completely at one place. By such a ‘samAdhAna’ the peace of a calm restful mind is obtained. What is that one thing into which the mind is to be focussed without running into all directions?

*shuddhe brahmaNi* : ‘In the pure unmixed Brahman’. To establish the mind always and in all manner, completely in Brahman is ‘samAdhAnaM’.

*samyak AsthApanaM buddheH shuddhe brahmaNi sarvadA / tat-samAdhAnam-ityuktaM …. //*

This is how the Acharya defines it in Vivekachudamani shloka 26 (27). ‘samyak’ means ‘correctly’ or ‘completely’. Here both meanings have to be taken in. ‘AsthApanaM’ means ‘ the establishing of’.

‘The intellect has to be always (*sarvadA) established completely in Brahman in the right manner (*samyak*); this establishing is said to be (*ityuktaM*) samAdhAnaM’.


Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Samaadhaana - Part 2 of 15


However, -- There are two grade-levels in shraddhaa, as there is in bhakti. The samAdhi I talked about just now is the higher grade; there is another one of a lower grade. The lower grade samAdhi is the ‘samAdhAna’ of the ‘shamAdi-shhaTkaM’ spoken by the Acharya.

‘samAdhi’ has generally the connotation of being in unison with the goal of brahman; so in order to make a distinction he calls this as ‘samAdhAna’. I told you already how the Acharya adds ‘shraddhaa’ to the five accomplishments mentioned by Rishi Yajnavalkya in Brihadaranyaka Upanishad. And Yajnavalkya calls the person who possesses them as ‘shAnta, dAnta, uparata’, etc.

The Acharya calls the accomplishments defining them as ‘shama, dama, uparati’, etc. and makes them as components of the SAdhanA. Yajnavalkya names the one who has the last (the fifth) accomplishment as ‘samAhita’. That which makes him a ‘samAhita’ is named by our Acharya as ‘samAdhAna’. ‘sama’ + ‘Ahita’ is ‘samAhita’. ‘sama’ + ‘AdhAna’ is ‘samAdhAna’.

The two words ‘Ahita’ and ‘AdhAna’ have the same meaning; namely, ‘to unify, confirm, establish, in one place’. What is supposed to be established, confirmed? Where?


Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Samaadhaana - Part 1 of 15

After Shraddhaa the Acharya lists *Samaadhaana* as the sixth item in the sextad of spiritual accomplishments. The words *samaadhaana* and *samaadhi* have the same meaning.

The six ‘treasures’ starting with ‘shama’ are known as ‘shamAdi shhaTkaM’ [shama-Adi (beginning with shama) – shhaTkaM (sextad)] and this ‘shamAdi shhaTkaM’ terminates with ‘samAdhi’ !

SamAdhi is the final goal. The final aim is brahman. To be totally immersed in brahman is samAdhi. Being the final goal it cannot be termed as a part of the SAdhanA. It is the final state of accomplishment.

Accordingly the Acharya does not also mention it in the second stage of jnAna path, namely, the SAdhanA-chatushTayaM (the four components of SAdhanAa) . Thereafter, in the third stage, where one adopts the renunciate stage, when one goes through the regimen of shravana, manana and nididhyAsana, this is not mentioned as one of those exercises. Because it is just the end-result of all this SAdhanA.

In the state of samAdhi one experiences it and does not do anything by one’s effort . Thus it is that the Acharya never mentions samAdhi as a component of SAdhanA.


Monday, June 20, 2011

Shraddha - Part 15 of 15


In the defining shloka for ‘shraddhA’ that we were discussing, it says, ‘by means of shraddhA is the reality obtained’ *yayA vastu upalabhyate*.

Ordinarily though we call everything that exists in the operational world as ‘vastu’, when enlightenment comes upon us all these will be known as existing only in our imagination, because it is the absolute Brahman only that really exists in the absolute sense.

That is the ‘vastu’ ultimate. And that ‘vastu’ is obtained only by shraddhA.

In this definition of shraddhA, it is the intellect that realises its limitation and gets the conviction that shAstras and the words of the guru are true and this conviction is shraddhA, says the Acharya.

But in his ‘aparokshhAnubhUti’ he does not even rely on this role of intellect to voluntarily limit itself. There he does not give any such leeway to the intellect and accordingly he gives the simple definition in the commonly understood way:

*nigamA-chArya-vAkyeshhu bhaktiH shraddheti vishrutA *

meaning, ShraddhA is the exhibition of bhakti (faith and dedication) towards the words of the Guru and of the ShAstras.

It is very customary to link the two words bhakti and shraddhA. ‘bhakti’ denotes the aspect of love and liking and ‘shraddhA’ denotes the aspect of faith. But if we think about that, faith or trust comes only if there is a liking and the liking comes only if there is a trustworthiness.

The two are inseparable. In the words of the guru and the ShAstras, we should have this faith coupled with liking and this love coupled with trust. That is shraddhA.

Love is what involves our heart in the thing. Such involvement of a heart-felt trust in the guru and the shAstras is shraddhA.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Shraddha - Part 14 of 15


*avadhArana* has two meanings. One is ‘a deep conviction’. The other is ‘a limitation’. Both the meanings have to be integrated here. The intellect limits itself by concluding that this is ‘beyond my own jusrisdiction’ and therefore is determined to consider Shastras and Guru-words as true.

By shraddhA one can reach the Truth is what is implied by *yayA vastu upalabhyate*. ‘She’ (*sA*) is called shraddhA – the word is feminine – by which the Absolute Reality (*vastu*) is obtained (*upalabhyate*).

In the Tamil region we use “vAstavaM” and “nijam” for something true. The word “nijam” does not mean that “nijam” means ‘what is in its own nature’, or ‘what belongs’. Probably our usage that gives the meaning ‘true’ to it must have arisen thus.

When we dress up for a particular role in a drama we play the role, don’t we? That is only a role, a pose, a disguise. When we are off the disguise, we become what we are usually. So a disguise or a role presents only a falsity, whereas when we take off the role we become our true personality, whatever we are.

Since a disguise means falsity or untruth, its opposite, namely, the role to which we naturally belong, -- that is our ‘nijam’ – is taken to denote truth. This is how ‘nijam’ must have come to stand for ‘truth’! But let that be.

But the meaning of ‘vAstavaM’ as something that is true, is a correct one. The word has been derived from ‘vastu’. The nature of ‘vastu’ is ‘vAstavaM’. ‘vastu’ means a ‘thing’ ordinarily; but its most important connotation is ‘that which truly exists’.

Things and objects are not in our imagination; they actually exist and that is why a thing is called ‘vastu’. Thus ‘vastu’ means something that truly exists and so we also use ‘vAstavaM’ the property of ‘vastu’ for ‘truth’.


Saturday, June 18, 2011

Shraddha - Part 13 of 15


Ordinarily we take faith or shraddhA to be that which discards the function of intellect (and takes things on faith).

Here it says the ShAstras and words of the guru are taken to be true by an analysis of the intellect -- *buddhyavadhAraNA*. There is no contradiction.

Because, analysis or confirmation by the intellect does not mean one takes shAstras and words of the guru as true only if the intellect confirms them after an analysis. Then what does it mean?

It is the intellect that has to decide after an analysis: “I cannot expect to know everything. It is not possible to offer a judgement all by ourselves.

Regarding matters connected with after-life and with the Self, things incomprehensible to us, but intuited by the jnAna-dRRishhTi (intuited wisdom) given by the Lord Himself and by one’s own experience by the authors of the ShAstras and the Guru who knows the ShAstras; what they say have to be accepted by us without further inquiry”.

To arrive at this conclusion by use of one’s intellect is what is called “buddhy-avadhAraNaM”. It is not that the intellect is used to decide on the Truths; the intellect decides that there is no place for intellect here!

Mark! This is not what a stupid who has no power of the intellect accepts anything without question. Such a one will get cheated. When we said ‘nitya-anitya-vastu-vivekaM’, we did mean the process of discriminating between the good and the bad and that would certainly imply the use of the intellect.

In order to discriminate, one has to develop and train one’s intellect to become sharp. On the other hand when the Shastras and the Guru are saying something which is not comprehensible by that intellect, he has to accept that without allowing the intellect to intervene.

It is more difficult not to allow the intellect to intervene, rather than allow it to do its function. This is possible only if there is modesty to the extreme. One has to develop that kind of modesty.

Instead of having a stupid man’s faith, one has to cultivate an intelligent faith in the words of the Guru and of the Shastras, without countering them by objections – this is the shraddhA that is being talked about.


Friday, June 17, 2011

Shraddha - Part 12 of 15


Another point has to be noted here.

A shadow, a trace, of the bliss of the Atman will however be there right from the beginning, just as one feels a cool breeze slightly sneaking through a hot summer day, because of a distant rain somewhere. That trace of bliss is the grace of the Almighty.

And that grace increases to light showers – but not a downpour. Hot sun, and off and on some cool air, now and then some showers. This is how it goes, because the bliss of the Atman comes only after numerous lives. We forget the fact that through all that journey through several lives we have been immersed in the non-self.

We think we have not been compensated well enough after all the SAdhanA we have done in this life. We feel a sense of disappointment and there is an intense anguish. By the steps of our SAdhanA we think we have achieved quite a bit of tolerance and endurance (titikshhA), but this anguish for the blissful experience of the Atman comes from nowhere, as it were.

It actually comes because the Lord Himself is testing you. This is the time when you need shraddhA so that you don’t leave off your SAdhanA. That is the reason for shraddhA, the higher level shraddhA, being kept after titikshhA.

The definition that the Acharya gives to shraddhA is:
shAstrasya guru-vAkyasya satya-buddhyA-vadhAraNA /
sA shraddhA kathitA sadbhiH yayA vastU-palabhyate //
(Verse 25/26 of Vivekachudamani)

“The noble ones say: ShraddhA is the conviction arising through the intellect that shAstras and the words of the guru are indeed true; by this shraddhA is the Reality attained”.


Thursday, June 16, 2011

Shraddha - Part 11 of 15


We were going to see why shraddhA has been kept after titikshhA.

The discretionary enquiry about the transcendental and the ephemeral (nitya-anitya-vastu-viveka) results in a certain conviction about what is impermanent; but the conviction is not so strong about the permanent.

Isn’t the permanent one the Atman? Unless one has an experience how can conviction about it be strong? But the experience of the Atman is to be had right at the very end.

By all the enquiry, by all the listening to the teachings of one’s Masters, by all that reading of the various works of the Acharya, and by all that exposure to the Upanishads and other philosophical works, one intellectually arrives at the conclusion that there is certainly a thing called Atman and it must be of the nature of the fullness of sat-cit-AnandaM.

But the conviction in this conclusion will not be as strong as the conviction that arises about the impermanence of the universe of objects, because the latter is experiential. The clarity with respect to the Atman cannot be expected to be that perfect.

In other words, we are more knowledgeable about what is to be discarded rather than about what is to be merged in. Thus a disgust-cum-dispassion starts with what is to be discarded. Following that, instead of running after the impermanent non-Self, one, through that very dispassion, engages oneself in the control of the senses and the mind – shama and dama.

In due time the craving for the ephemeral objects of the universe disappears and the mind becomes empty. This is uparati. But even here there is no experience of the Atman. The misery of experience of the non-self is not there, but still the bliss of the fullness of experience of the Atman is also not there.

Then comes the stage of titikshhA – the unaffectedness by the happiness and misery of the outside world. Even here the progress is only on the side of the discarding of the non-self, and not on the side of the experience to be.


Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Shraddha - Part 10 of 15


That is why when the Acharya decided to to keep ‘shraddhA’ – the basic prerequisite for any spiritual venture – also as a component of SAdhanA at the higher stage of entering sannyAsa, he decided to keep it before ‘samadhAna’.

Because ‘samAdhAna’ is the stage when the mind is settled enough to receive the sannyAsa rigour. So naturally it comes after the first four, namely, shama, dama, uparati and titikshhA.

The SAdhanA components though sequenced thus do not turn out to be that sequential. I already told you how they have all to be practised simultaneously. By continued practice of the SAdhanA, one rises on the spiritual ladder but one also slips.

Very often it happens that the fall through a slip is more than the rise. You rise by two steps, but you also fall by four steps! So further practice of SAdhanA makes you rise by two steps but you now fall only by three or two steps!

Practise further. Practise, practise, practise.

This persistent and consistent practice gives even more than the expected success, if it is coupled with the intensity of the SAdhanA, the strength of the will to do it, and the power of the Lord’s Grace. One may even jump like a frog from a lower step of the spiritual ladder to a step several steps higher!. And for all this it is the shraddhA that gets things done. And that is why shraddhA is kept before ‘samAdhAna’.

The Acharya himself has given a deep meaning for ‘samAdhAna’. But we shall come to it later. Before that we shall see how he has defined ‘shraddhA’. And still before that, just as we saw how it comes before ‘samAdhAna’ we shall also see how it comes after ‘titikshhA’.


Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Shraddha - Part 9 of 15


The Acharya keeps emphasizing, in all his works, the shraddhA in Shastras and the words of the Guru.

He has added ‘shraddhA’ as one of the ‘shamAdi-shhaTka-sampat’ (the treasure-sextad beginning with shama), along with shama, dama, uparati, titikshhA, samAdhAna. But he has not added it as a sixth, following the five mentioned.

The first four are mentioned in that order in Brihad-Aranyakopanishad; he keeps that order and now adds shraddhA as the fifth. So shraddA comes after titikshhA but before samAdhAna.

The word ‘samAdhAna’ has several meanings. One of them is the establishment of truth after meeting doubts. Usually the proponent of one school makes a claim and the opponent from the other school raises objections to the claim. These objections and the arguments laid in support of the objections are collectively called ‘pUrva-pakshhaM’.

Now the original proponent meets all these objections, and establishes his proposition. This process of meeting objections is called ‘samAdhAnaM’. And the established proposition is ‘siddhAntaM’.

When one listens to the arguments of the purva-pakshha side, even the disciples of the proponent himself, may begin to doubt the truth of the proposition of their own master. In other words their faith in their own master’s proposition would waver. This loss of faith, which is the opposite of shraddhA, is what is ‘pacified’ by the ‘samAdhAna’ of their own guru.

When the Acharya includes ‘shraddhA’ as one of the components of SAdhanA, the implication is there is what is called ‘ashraddhaa’ (the opposite of shraddhA, namely, lack of faith). To conquer that lack of faith is ‘shraddhA’.

Having conquered that, one reaches the ‘samAdhAna’ stage. Just like Peace after War. When faith has to duel with lack of faith, more faith (shraddhA) is needed. Afterwards, when there is no more duel, it is the ‘samAdhAna’ stage.

All this means that ‘samAdhAna’ has to be preceded by ‘shraddhA’.


Monday, June 13, 2011

Shraddha - Part 8 of 15


One of the six accessories to Vedic knowledge is called *niruktaM*. It was done by Yaska. It delves into the word-meanings of words found in the Vedas.

When dwelling upon the meaning of the word ‘shraddhA’ he says it originated from the two root words ‘shrat’ (indicative of Truth) and ‘dhA’ (which means ‘fixing’). So the integrated meaning of the word ‘shraddhA’ is to ‘fix something in the mind as the truth’ – in other words, to believe in something with conviction.

In Chandogya Upanishad (VII-19-1) there is a mantra which means: “This is the kind of shraddhA that we should have in that fundamental invisible subject, that should always occupy our mind; only then can we think right” -- *When there is shraddhA then and there is right thinking*.

Brahma-vidyA (Knowledge pertaining to the subject of brahman) should be taught only to those who have shraddhA – says Mundaka Upanishad. Who are those so qualified? The Upanishad gives a list of such qualifications. (III -2-10). Those who discharge their obligations (karmas) in the right manner; *shrotriyas* (those who have excellent scholarship of the vedas); those who have an intense anguish to be in brahman; and those who have shraddhA.

In Prashnopanishad also (I – 10) it says those who seek the Atman become eligible to do so by their tapas (austerities), celibacy (brahmacharya), shraddhA, and learning.

In the Gita, Bhagawan explains in one whole chapter the details of divine qualities as against the ‘asura’ (undivine) qualities and when he finishes this chapter, says: “He who transgresses the rules and regulations of the Shastras will get neither success nor happiness; therefore, O Arjuna, keep the Shastras as your pramANa (basic law) and decide on what to do and what not to do”.

Having said this, right in the beginning of the next chapter he says there could be an inborn shraddha, totally unrelated to Shastraic issues, and this could be in three different kinds, namely, rajas and tamas which are not desirable, but also a desirable sAtvic shraddhA. All this only shows the importance that one has to attach to the concept of shraddhA.


Sunday, June 12, 2011

Shraddha - Part 7 of 15


In fact he frightens us with a warning, at the same time very compassionately. It is not just a false warning; it will surely happen that way. We should not allow it to happen.

We have to develop an unshakeable faith in the thought ‘I have come to this Guru. Let him appear to others in whatever way they think. As far as I am concerned, God will not let me down; He will certainly grace me, through this Guru, with the Release that I seek’.

The conviction and faith that we usually develop in our Vidya-Guru (the teacher who instructs us with the basics of education) in our early days, -- that same conviction and faith has to be there in the dikshA-guru (the Guru who finally grants us the sannyAsa status). It is important to cultivate this shraddhA-cum-bhakti-cum-sharaNAgati.

Of course it is true that one should resort to a guru only after thorough enquiries about him. But suppose you land yourself with a fake guru. Even then, if without losing faith in him, if you surrender to him, the All-knowing Lord will bless you with Enlightenment through that Guru, though he may not himself be a JnAni!

“Conviction comes only by actual perception by ourselves as truth; instead of this if one goes on faith by the shAstras and the Acharyas who repeat those shAstraic statements, that cannot give a firm conviction” – such thinking is nothing but absence of shraddhA.

On the other hand shraddhA is the faith that says: “By the very fact that something is not comprehensible to my little intellect it must be higher than what can be revealed by my own inquiry; it must be the truth revealed to the Rishis and passed on to us by the Shastras”.


Saturday, June 11, 2011

Shraddha - Part 6 of 15


This is the mahAvAkya that is at the lofty peak of Vedanta that is taught as the great first step to SanyAsis at the time of their taking sannyAsa. And when this upadesha is being given first to that supremely qualified celibate youngster, the Rishi finds it necessary to say *shraddhasva*.

This just means that one has to have shraddhA as his only armour even at the last moment when the stark reality of Realisation of Brahman takes place.

Not only in the trust that we place on the concepts and the like. The trust has to be also that, ‘by that Guru who gives them to us one would also see the final gate open for us’. This is very important.

Even though he might be a JnAni, he has to play his role of a human, just as God plays the part of an Avatara. Even that would be only a way of showing the right path to some one. But when he involves himself in some of these human activities, the disciple may land himself into a doubt about whether his guru is indeed a JnAni.

Once he starts doubting why the guru is acting like an ordinary human, and whether such a personality can ever deliver the spiritual release that he is seeking, there begins the disciple’s downfall. That very doubt assumes gigantic proportions and like a ghost occupying his brain, does not allow him to continue his SAdhanA.

The constant thought that one has been cheated devours him as well as the dreams about his goal. “samshayAtmA vinashyati” (B.G. IV – 40) says the Lord -- ‘He who doubts, goes to ruin’. And when He says this he adds the words *ashraddha-dAnascha*, meaning ‘one who has no shraddhA’. In IX – 3, He says *ashraddha-danAH purushhaaH nivartante mRtyu-samsAra-vartmani* -- ‘the man without faith (is ruined and) comes back to this transmigratory cycle again and again’.


Friday, June 10, 2011

Shraddha - Part 5 of 15


The Acharya says in his introduction to the second chapter BrihadAranyaka Bhashya *shraddhA ca brahma-vijnAne paramaM SAdhanAM*. The Lord also emphatically says (B.G.IV-39) *shraddhAvan labhate jnAnaM* ((only) he who has shraddhA gets the enlightening wisdom).

A special status is attached always to the mantras of the Upanishads called *mahA-vAkyas* that declare the identity of jIva and brahman. Even among those mahAvAkyas, one of them gets a further unique status, because it is the one which is directly imparted to a shishhhya (disciple).

It is the one in Samaveda, where it is given to a celibate youngster who is not a renunciate. The Absolute ParamAtmA who is denoted by ‘That’ is what You, the jIvAtmA, are – This is the message there.

The father Uddalaka Aruni is the one who doles out the teaching; and the receiver of the teaching is the son, Svetaketu. The father keeps on reeling mantra after mantra and ends up with the emphatic refrain: “That is what You are”.

As he goes along, right in the middle, he says, “Go and bring a banyan fruit, my child”.

“Here it is”, says the son and produces the fruit.

“Break it” says the father.

[Note by R. Ganapathi, the author of the Tamil rendering: ‘Here the Swamigal gives the conversation in a dramatic fashion feigning two voices, one of the guru and one of the disciple.]

“Done, my Lord”

“What do you see within the broken fruit?”

“Seeds, and seeds, like small small particles”

“Well, my child, break that seed also”


“What do you see inside, now?”

“Nothing, my Lord”

“The nothing that you are referring to has an invisible subtle thing in it. “It is from that subtlety the entire banyan tree springs out” says the sage Aruni, and it is at that point, he addresses the child with affectionate warmth : “Saumya (Smart one), Believe me. Have faith in what I say. *shraddhasva*”

*shraddhasva* means ‘Have shraddhA’.


Thursday, June 9, 2011

Shraddha - Part 4 of 15


Even on the spiritual side, rather than simply bragging about belonging to the glorious advaita tradition without knowing anything worthwhile about the Atman, except one’s body and the goings-on of the mind, those experiencers of other traditions who are convinced that their soul has been born only to worship and propitiate the Divine are certainly greater.

One who thinks that his pure mind which is full to the brim with that kind of bhakti is the Atman is superior to some one who has had no experience of anything connected with the Realisation of the Atman.

Once the mind becomes that pure, automatically in course of time there is the chance of that very mind eradicating itself leading to Self-Realisation.

But let that be in the future. Right now, those followers of other traditions have, as I said, because of their shraddhA, obtained a divine contact and a divine grace and benefics. That is the very reason there are great souls in all our traditions, known the world over.

It is the play of Mother Goddess – Bikshaa of Illumination – that, at a certain stage, one rises on the strength of his shraddhA alone, without any effort on the part of the intellect. That is when shraddhA becomes most significant.

Even those who have taken several steps on the SAdhanA path should simply continue in the path of shraddhA and ask no questions; questions will not get any answers palatable to the intellect, nor will it be able to elicit any answers from the Guru understandable by the intellect.

It is for this reason that shraddhA has been placed as one of the parts of the SAdhanA regimen.

This kind of shraddhA, that is the opposite of “I shall find it myself; I will be able to intellectually understand it”, has to be there not only in the beginning but till the end. “The shAstras say so; our guru says so. Let me go on doing what they say – whatever may happen in between. It will automatically take me to the Goal” – this attitude is shraddhA. It is not just one of the components of SAdhanA ; it is the peak component.


Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Shraddha - Part 3 of 15


Had the Acharya told us all the secrets, there would not have been a necessity for Ramanujacharya to establish a VishishhTAdvaita.

Somewhere in the philosophy of advaita Ramanuja asked an intellectual question and not finding a reply to that, he thought he had a suitable reply to it and that became his vishishhTAdvaita.

OK, but did that reveal all the hidden secrets? No. That is why a Madhwacharya had to establish his dvaita. But even then intellectual questions remain unanswered.

That is why still there are many advaitins and many vishishhTAdvaitins. And we are arguing and arguing. Though these arguments are going on at the intellectual level, those who came thereafter, without worrying about testing everything on the touchstone of the intellect, simply follow their own Acharyas with shraddhA on the plea “I am born in this particular Smarta or Vaishnava tradition; let me follow with faith what my Acharyas in my tradition have taught us” – and they have reached great spiritual heights accordingly.

A smarta (belonging to the advaita tradition) may say that nothing would equal the experience of identity of JIva and Brahman, whatever these followers of other traditions may claim about their spiritual achievements. Let him say so.

But they are certainly greater than many of these smartas who don’t practise any SAdhanA with shraddhA. Maybe they have not reached the peak experience of realisation of nirguna brahman, of which the smartas speak. But isn’t it the same brahman that appears as the Ishvara or saguna brahman?

Those achievers of the other-tradition-followers do somehow establish a rapport with that Ishvara. And they do obtain a certain godly nature, blessing of Divine Grace and a heart of compassion.


Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Shraddha - Part 2 of 15


In the beginning he was likely to have had some modesty and naivety and a consequent shraddhA because at that zero stage one is rather scared about the strict requirements of discrimination, dispassion and sense-control and one wonders whether all these are achievable.

At that time it was easy to believe that perhaps in the spiritual field there might be many things which cannot be understood or argued out by the rational mind and one must trust the words of the scriptures and the wise.

But now after one has made some progress on the spiritual SAdhanA path, one is likely to think that the mind is now clear and hereafter it will understand all that has yet to be achieved on the path of Self Realisation.

This is a kind of ego – an unrecognizable ego that creeps in. Things do happen even upto the stage of Self-Realisation, that cannot be understood by the smartest intellect .

Even a JnAni who has achieved that Self-Realisation will not be able to explain them by his intellect. One has to continue with the same regimen without questioning them until the Self-Realisation sprouts up like the rise of the Sun.

When those things happen, one has to take them as they are, without analysing them by the intellect. One may have to be content with the thought:

“The SAdhanA that has brought me so far will certainly take me further by the same Grace of the Lord that brought me up to now; I shall not subject it to any intellectual questioning.”

Even after one has obtained Enlightenment, the things may still be inaccessible to the intellect. Even our Acharya – there cannot be a better Acharya than he – does not try to tell that secret of achievement to us in the language of the intellect. “I cannot describe it. Simply keep on proceeding with Faith” – this is his message and accordingly he keeps this shraddhA at this advanced stage of SAdhanA.


Monday, June 6, 2011

Shraddha - Part 1 of 15

In the sextad starting with ‘shama’ the next one is ‘shraddhA’ (Faith/Dedication). When one is involved in something by the sheer conviction – not by any direct ‘proof’ -- that what the shAstras or the righteous ones say must be right, that is known as ‘shraddhA’.

Compared to men, women stand higher in ‘shraddhA’ – so long as they do not involve themselves in academic research. In fact, I think, even after their modern involvement in studies, they are still one step higher in shraddhA. Maybe in the days to come this will be different.

Shraddhaa leads to Belief (AstikyaM) as I already mentioned. Among those who have become non-believers, women are probably just one-fourth of the number of men. Even the wives of leaders of parties of non-believers, have faith in temples, austerities and worship.

I think the ‘shraddhA’ word is rightly feminine! Right in the beginning when I talked about ‘shraddhA’ I told you this topic will recur again at the end of the SAdhanA. We have now come to that second level ‘shraddhA’, the higher grade one.

At this stage the seeker has taken several steps towards his spiritual maturity. To inquire and convince oneself what is eternal and what is ephemeral; to develop a dispassion towards the ephemeral; to quell the thoughtful mind by self control and convert it into an emptiness; to cultivate patience and tolerance – in all this he has made sufficient progress. So at this stage what is this shraddhA for?

That is something to be there right at the beginning, when he was putting the foundation for all his SAdhanA. In the beginning when he was nowhere near any familiarity with spiritual conduct and regimen, there was a meaning in prescribing a shraddhA for him by saying, “This path does not allow intellectual proofs and verifications; many things have to be taken on faith from the shAstras and the words of the Guru”.

Now that he has taken significant steps towards spiritual progress, why bring the shraddhA back again? It is because, by the very fact of his progress gained upto now, there is danger of his losing the very faith that has brought him so far!


Sunday, June 5, 2011

Uparati & Titikshhaa - Part 15 of 15


Action indicates a masculine power (*paurushhaM*) and so is indicated by ‘saH’ (he) whereas the inaction-like inertness of dispassion is denoted by a neuter ‘tat’ (that).

The words ‘shama’ (mind control) and ‘dama’ (sense control) both occur in the masculine as ‘shamaH’ and ‘damaH’.

Both imply control. Accordingly they adopt the gender that implies action, namely the masculine gender.

After saying what ‘shama’ is, he says ‘manasaH shama uchyate’ – this is what is known as ‘shama’ of the mind -- and here the masculine ‘shamaH’ is used. He does not say ‘shamaM uchyate’ in the neuter gender. But he does not use the explicit ‘saH’ (he) here as in the case of ‘viveka’ (discrimination) where he said ‘ayaM saH’ – this is he.

Also when he defines ‘shama’ instead of saying just ‘mind control’ he says ‘sva-lakshhye niyata-avasthaa’ meaning ‘what stays in its own goal’. After the active masculine work of controlling the mind, one stays in the peaceful state of resting in the Atman; it is this state that is meant by ‘shama’.

So, maybe, the Acharya did not want to emphasize the masculine aspect of shama, by using *saH* (he) for ‘shamaH’.

On the other hand, when he talks about ‘dama’ (control of the senses) he says *sa damaH parikIrtitaH* meaning “he is called damaH”, where the masculine gender is explicitly emphasized. When the senses run amuck, to control them and draw them behind a lot of masculine activity is needed, certainly.

The word ‘uparati’ is feminine. When we equate activity with masculinity then the actionless restful state has to be feminine. And so he says *uparatir-uttaamA* -- the highest is ‘uparati’ (cessation) – using the feminine for ‘the highest’. And, for the subsequent ‘titikshhaa’, he specifically uses the ‘sA’ (she).

Forbearance is known to be a special characteristic of women in general – the quality of a mother. Don’t we usually refer to the Goddess Earth as the ideal for tolerance?

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Uparati & Titikshhaa - Part 14 of 15


The vanishing of duality means there is only One. And the One is Atman, no doubt.

In summary the Acharya’s clarion call is : “One should not worry about either what is directly an unhappy thing or about what appears to be pleasant but in reality is also a miserable thing.

‘Not worrying’ means ‘not wailing’ about it. Nor should one look for anitdotes for either the sukha (happiness) or the dukha (unhappiness). Silently one should be forbearing both”.

*sahanaM sarva-dukhAnAM apratIkAra-pUrvakaM /
cintA-vilApa-rahitaM sA titikshhaa nigadyate //* (Viveka Chudamani #24 (or 25))

sA titikshhaa nigadyate : She is said to be ‘titikshhaa’

sarva-dukhAnAM sahanaM : forbearing all unhappiness Note that so-called happiness is also included in the ‘unhappiness’.

apratIkAra-pUrvakaM : without searching for steps for nullifying (the ‘sukha’ or ‘dukha’) Note ‘pratIkAra’ means ‘antidote’ or an ‘annihilating step’.

cintA-vilApa-rahitaM : without worry (*cintA*) or lament (*vilApa*).

Now let me take up the feminine gender used here. *sA titikshhaa* says the Acharya. ‘titikshhaa’ is a feminine word. But it is not just grammar that is involved here.

When he talks about ‘nitya-anitya-vastu-viveka’ (Discrimination between the eternal and the ephemeral) he says *so’yaM nityAnitya- vastu-vivekaH*; here he uses *saH ayaM* -- ‘that is he’ – thereby invoking a masculine construction. The word ‘vivekaH’ is masculine.

Maybe because of the age-old traditional opinion that a feminine mind is prone to vacillation and a masculine mind has a discriminating tendency. On the other hand the concept of dispassion is indicated by the neuter gender specification *tad-vairAgyaM* -- That is dispassion.

Maybe because, by means of dispassion one’s mind becomes immune and inert! In the process of discrimination there is an inherent analysis involved. Consequent to that, the mind becomes desireless.

So in discrimination there is an action (though mental) whereas in dispassion there is not so much action.


Friday, June 3, 2011

Uparati & Titikshhaa - Part 13 of 15


To prevent the rise of such ‘spRhaa’ is also ‘titikshhaa’. Recall the Lord’s words:

*dukhesh-vanudvigna-manAh sukheshhu vigata-spRhaH* (Gita. II – 56)

In other words, ‘titikshhaa’ stands for not being perturbed by a miserable happening as well as not being affected by *spRhA* at the onset of a happy occurrence.

One is not to be influenced by the dualities like pleasure and pain. To be away from duality means non-duality.

When duality disappears, the bondage of samsAra is cut and the gates of mokshha are already open. In Gita V – 3, Bhagawan has shown the ultimate goal itself as the end result of ‘titikshhaa’:

*nirdvandvo hi mahAbAho sukham bandhAt pramucyate*

meaning, He for whom duality is gone easily releases himself from bondage.

One who has ‘titikshhaa’ is called ‘titikshhu’.

Such a one is characterised by our Acharya as one who tolerates or endures dual opposites -- *titikshhuH dvandva sahishhNuH* -- in Brihad-AraNyaka bhAshya (IV – 4 - 23).


Thursday, June 2, 2011

Uparati & Titikshhaa - Part 12 of 15


When we do not think of a weight as a burden, it does not any more weigh with us. When there is no weight on either side the needle of the weighing balance is steady and straight.

Think of the ‘good’ and ‘bad’ as the two side-plates of such a balance. On whichever side you may place a weight, the balance is going to tilt.

So neither the experience of the unpleasant nor the emotional excitement that might be caused by the pleasant should be allowed to tilt the needle of the balance from its normal equanimous position.

The ‘good’ also should not ‘weigh’ with us. That is the ‘titikshhaa’ of the ‘good’. In all that we have said what we call ‘good’ is not with respect to our spiritual progress.

It is what we ordinarily call ‘good’ from our mundane material world, that is, what pulls us away from progress on the spiritual path. There is a certain negative aspect in these ‘good’ things, that is not there even in the ‘bad’ ones.

When we meet with something that is pleasant and happy for us, we always wish that it should happen again; we want ‘more’ of it. This peculiar desire that the ‘good’ should repeat is called ‘spRhaa’ in Sanskrit.


Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Uparati & Titikshhaa - Part 11 of 15


Any experience in the world of duality is opposite to that jnAna and therefore is only to be considered as unhappiness, not happiness.

At least what appears to be an unhappy thing now gives us a distaste for this worldly involvement and thereby it moves us a little towards enlightenment; whereas, what appears to be a happy experience binds us further to the world of involvement.

Consequently one will have to develop an attitude of treating those happy experiences only as unhappy ones. At a later stage , just as one bears misery with forbearance, so also one should be able to forbear with what appears to be happiness. That is why the Acharya says *dukhAnAM sahanaM* (forbearing the sorrows) and stops with that.

All our scriptures recommend to us the forbearance of both pleasure and pain equally; in other words, even what appears to be a happy pleasing thing should be ‘endured’ as indifferently as we are expected to endure the unhappy things.

Of course that happens after we reach a certain stage of maturity. But even at an earlier stage, at a ‘lower’ stage, we have to observe ‘titikshhaa’ of good things in another way. When a good thing happens our mind gets excited about it.

The excitement is as bad as the one we get when an unhappy thing occurs. In both cases the equanimity of the mind is the victim.

Only when the mind is steady without any vibration can one have the enlightening realisation of the Atman. Thus even the excitement that naturally follows a happy feeling should have to be ‘endured’. It is another kind of forbearance.