Tattvabodha – Part 15

Part 15 of the commentary by Dr. VIshnu Bapat on Shankara’s Tattvabodha.This is a key work which introduces all of the key concepts of Advaita in a systematic manner.

The commentary is based upon those by several other authors, together with the audio lectures of Swami Paramarthananda. It includes word-by-word breakdown of the Sanskrit shloka-s so should be of interest to everyone, from complete beginners to advanced students.

Part 15 continues to look at the metaphor of the five sheaths, from the Taittiriya Upanishad. This part explains the bliss sheath and then goes beyond the sheaths to examine the nature of the Self – Atman.

There is a hyperlinked Contents List, which is updated as each new part is published.

Teaching Vedanta in Germany

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A while ago Ramesam inquired about the way I teach students in Germany. After receiving my answer he suggested to post it on Advaita Vision and was so kind as to help me put it into better English.

I feel blessed to have the opportunity of teaching Advaita Vedanta to select students who are sincerely committed to explore the ultimate truth. The program I adopt is highly flexible and tailored to the particular needs of the students, yet I have a general approach that I apply with variations.

I have to admit that my way of teaching is quite time consuming compared to other teachers. But it works. That’s why so far I keep sticking with it. In the future I may have to change it because with more and more students joining I will have to find more practical solutions.

Medium of Instruction:

The medium of instruction is German, and usually I do not give classes in English. Even though most Germans have a working knowledge of English, some don’t (especially those who grew up in Eastern Germany where they learned Russian, and not English, as the second language). Most of my students are very intelligent and educated, but I also have a few who failed in school and do not know English. What I look for in a student is whether he/she wants to discover the ultimate truth and yearns for liberation (mumukshatvam). So if they have mumukshutvam, I accept them as students, with or without English. However, as the student advances in his studies, it usually becomes necessary to shift to English because I find that there are no suitable German translations of Vedantic texts, let alone Shankara’s commentaries on the Upanishads etc. Fortunately for us, so far there has always been one or the other student who could translate the texts from English to German with me carrying out the corrections. I use these translations in my classes. Continue reading

The Mystery – Part 5

Continuing this new, short series presenting the booklet by Bimal Prasad, in which he answers some ‘Rarely Asked Questions’ on Life. Primarily from the perspective of Advaita, questions addressed include the nature of happiness, consciousness, mind and ego. There is also practical guidance on meditation in the final chapter. Answers are relevant and succinct, so that many of the issues of interest to the seeker are covered.

This fifth part looks at how we can be ‘in the present’ and at how the mind functions. See the Contents List or go straight to Part 5 of the series.

The complete (electronic form) booklet may also be purchased from Amazon.

Overview of Western Philosophy – Part 4

(Read Part 3 of the series.)

Part 4 – Sceptics, Epicureans and Stoics

Sceptics

The Sceptics, noting that different peoples had differing opinions on many subjects, wondered how one could ever justify holding a particular belief. Arguments for one view rather than another were founded on unproven premises and there seemed to be no means of ever being certain about anything. They concluded long before Kant in the 18th Century that we could have no real knowledge about the nature of things and believed that in situations where we were essentially ignorant we ought not to make judgements. This course of action (or perhaps we should call it ‘inaction’) was thought to lead to peace of mind. The outcome was that adherents behaved in whatever way those around them behaved and did not really believe in anything themselves  (what we might now call cynically!). Again, this philosophy offered some consolation to those seeking escape from a difficult life – don’t worry about the future since you can never know anything about it anyway. In fact, the above description seems remarkably similar to the way that the modern generation seems to behave so that it has clearly lost little of its force as a philosophical outlook on life. Continue reading

dhyAna and samAdhi

Meditation

dhyAna and samAdhi are quite fascinating, pretty alluring and romantically inspiring terms for an aspirant on the spiritual path. They are almost always spoken in a tone that creates an awe. They sound mysterious, other worldly and ethereal. Many stories are told in the Purana-s about highly revered Sages lost in deep meditation or samAdhi to the extent that they were unaware of their own body being buried in heaps of sand or eaten away by critters and crawlers. Hair-rising narratives too are often reeled out about the powers that dhyAna and samAdhi lead one to – clairvoyance, multiple accomplishments (aNimAdi siddhi-s), infinite longevity (ciranjIvatva), visitations to subtler worlds inaccessible to normal human beings and so on. There is hardly a spiritual Guru who does not harangue about the glories a seeker will be bestowed through practicing dhyAna and samAdhi. Some teachers would even make these as a pre-requisite before any true ‘knowledge’ is imparted. As a result, the words dhyAna and samAdhi acquired varying meaning. Teachers too historically used or interpreted them in different ways. We shall attempt to take a synoptic view particularly from a Non-dual perspective what these terms connote and their role and relevance for a seeker who has adopted the jnAna mArga (The Knowledge Path) in his/her pursuit of liberation.

The write up is structured as a Power Point Presentation downloadable as a pdf file at: http://www.advaita.org.uk/discourses/downloads/dhyAna_samAdhi.pdf. Continue reading

Time for the Wind – Ending

time_for_windAn Explanation of the Ending

One or two readers of this book have expressed some mystification over the ending; and maybe the other three were too polite to comment…  Accordingly, it occurred to me that it might be helpful to write this brief essay to provide a little more explanation.

WARNING: If you haven’t yet read the book, what I am about to write will not be relevant to you and will spoil the experience if you do decide to read it later.

Here is the link to download the PDF document but, if you still haven’t read the book, here are links to purchase from Amazon first:

Buy from Amazon US (book)
Buy from Amazon US (Kindle)
Buy from Amazon UK (book)
Buy from Amazon UK (Kindle)

If you would like to read the Prologue to whet your appetite, read it here! The initial announcement for the novel also contained a further extract from the book.

Serialization of Yogavasishta 6

Professor Sri Kuppa Venkata Krishna Murthy, Chairman and Managing Trustee of I-SERVE, the Institute of Scientific Research on Vedas, has kindly given permission for Advaita Vision to serialize his 6-volume ‘Musings on Yogavasishta’. Written in Telugu, the work has been painstakingly translated by our Dr. Ramesam Vemuri and published by Avadhoota Datta Peetham.

Rather than reproducing successive extracts from the books each month, as has been done with our other two serializations, the books themselves will be made available for download in PDF format. Each part will be associated with a page at the main website, which will contain a Contents List for that volume. Links to all of the volumes will be provided on a general Contents Page.

The present volume, “Musings on Yogavaasishta” – Part V The Calm Down, is a presentation by Brahmasri Kuppa Venkata Krishna Murthy, the Vidyadhikari of Avadhoota Datta Peetham, Mysore and forms a part of his lectures on “Yogavaasishta” telecast by GEMINI T.V. in Telugu. This volume is a rendering of the same into English by Dr. Vemuri Ramesam. In it: The 5000 stanzas of the fifth chapter on The Calm Down (Upasama)   have been ably condensed and lucidly explained in simple words. Possible methods of alleviation from the state of Bondage and annulment of mind are described through the stories of Janaka, Bali, Prahlada, Uddalaka, Gadhi, Sraghu, Parigha and others.

Please go to the Contents Page to read the Announcement and general introduction from Ramesam. The page for this Fourth Volume, Part 5 (THE CALM DOWN) also contains the download link for the PDF file (0.9MB).

Q. 387 – Value of Self-knowledge

Q: At the end of the day, what does knowledge of self give us ? It does not help to answer the burning question of why the appearance/dream/mAyA that we are experiencing as humans or animals exists. Also, it appears that even if one attains knowledge of self in one life, he/she can actually become a cockroach in the next due to karmic effect, ie we are not really liberated from the brith-death cycle. The only benefit I do see in a life in which one attains knowledge of self is that one might lead a life devoid of misery in the mind as we sail through good and bad times, even though we may experience physical pain.

A (Dennis): Self-knowledge removes Self-ignorance and it is that which makes us think we are limited, unhappy, doomed to old age and death. With Self-knowledge we realize that we are not human, living in an inhospitable world; we are brahman. The world appears as separate because of our ignorance. On gaining Self-knowledge, we realize that it’s substance is nothing but brahman.

From the perspective of the ignorant person, there is rebirth (possibly as a cockroach) and we are subject to karma. With Self-knowledge, we realize that there is no person, no birth or rebirth, no death, no creation.

The idea that knowledge is pointless is actually the main argument of the pUrvamImAMsika philosopher. They believe that only the karmakANDa portion of the Vedas is relevant – rituals that we have to perform in order to gain benefits. They say that the Upanishads etc are only supporting material to be meditated on. In the Brahmasutras, I.1.4, Vyasa effectively refutes all those philosophers who deny that brahman is the principal topic of the Vedas. But he does this with the single word ‘tu’ (tattu samanvayAt). Fortunately Shankara takes the opportunity to take up arms against pUrvamImAMsA. Whilst he agrees that knowledge in itself is often useless – we need actually to do something in order to gain some benefit – there is one situation in which ONLY knowledge bears fruit. That is when the problem is one of ignorance. The classic example is the rope mistaken for a snake. As soon as we find out that it is a rope, all our fears etc disappear. And our essential problem in life is that we believe we are a limited person. The knowledge that is to be gained from Advaita is that we are brahman – and that reveals that we have no real problems at all.

Vedanta the Solution – Part 29

VEDĀNTA the solution to our fundamental problem by D. Venugopal

Part 29 concludes the discussion on adhyAsa – how we superimpose false attributes upon brahman – and begins the section on the nature of brahman itself.

There is a complete Contents List, to which links are added as each new part appears.

Tattvabodha – Part 14

Part 14 of the commentary by Dr. VIshnu Bapat on Shankara’s Tattvabodha.This is a key work which introduces all of the key concepts of Advaita in a systematic manner.

The commentary is based upon those by several other authors, together with the audio lectures of Swami Paramarthananda. It includes word-by-word breakdown of the Sanskrit shloka-s so should be of interest to everyone, from complete beginners to advanced students.

Part 14 continues to look at the metaphor of the five sheaths, from the Taittiriya Upanishad. This part explains the vital, mental and intellectual sheaths.

There is a hyperlinked Contents List, which is updated as each new part is published.