The demeaning of Sanatana Dharma

Over a year ago, there was a push by authorities in India to censor a book by a US professor, that they deemed did not properly appreciate, and distorted Hinduism.  There was even a group called the Hindu Intellectual Warriors.  And rather than being condemned for their antics, they were even given succour by Vedantic ‘scholars’ including some moderators on the yahoo advaitin list.

The presumption that censorship is justified is based on assumptions which are antithetical to what Advaita means.  Firstly it presupposes that my interpretation is right, not anyone else’s.  Secondly that you are not capable of making up your own mind on such matters, and therefore need to be told what you can read.  If differentiates between those who think they know truth and those who they think don’t know the truth.  It is simply a power play.

And anyone with any sense of history knows that it inevitably presages a descent down a slippery slope.  The article today in the New York Times amply demonstrates this.

Ironic that those who, because of their insecurity, set out to defend and promote Sanatana Dharma, end up through their antics demeaning it.

Ramana, Nisargadatta, Krishnamurti, never sought to impose their views on anyone.  If people came to them they were free to smell their flower, and either linger or tear it apart.  It mattered little to them.  That is the difference between scholars and jnanis.

Vedanta the Solution – Part 22


VEDĀNTA the solution to our fundamental problem by D. Venugopal

Part 22 concludes the chapter on ‘Enquiry into the Self as subject’, equating Consciousness and Existence and looking at the relationship between the body-mind-sense complex and Consciousness.

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

Non-duality exchange within Internet group

A. Well….I’m done seeking. Truly now for the past few years, I have watched, listened, contemplated and glimpsed and whatever else.; relief would come and go a lot. Now that I’ve watched and re-watched Tony Parsons, Jim Newman, Robert Wolfe, Sailor Bob, Paul Smit and many more (of the radical nonduality type)….there’s just nothing left to look at..I have to admit now that I’ve let go of seeking on the computer (or seeking has dissolved mostly), I experience depression….

B. I am in the same place/state, A. Some days I just wish it would all just end as soon as possible. On those days I take comfort from something Richard Sylvester said.”All are liberated at death, it just seems more chic to do it before !!”. Love and peace to all the lost and lonely ones who are crying out for release. I have been reliable informed that I will laugh about this all one day. Its the apparent time in between now and that day that gets

C. A, depression is an invitation of watching it without touching it. It is energy. Maybe it’s time you apply what you read and embody non-duality.

A. Thanks for the comment…but, (always a but lol) I would like to see your instructions for ‘applying what you read and embody non-duality’…just sayin’

D. I can totally identify; A seemed to get a fix from reading or watching nonduality speakers of the radical type… i’m going to see Lisa Cairns in november but the fix is very short lived and i wish it would all end. Sending big hugs to you xx

A. I don’t understand myself….lol…and also not lol…

Tattvabodha – Part 7

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAPart 7 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 7 begins the section on Atma vichAra – investigation into the nature of Atma – and in this part specifically asks the questions ‘What is true knowledge?’ and ‘Who is Self?’. There is also a hyperlinked Contents List, which is updated as each new part is published.

Swami Dayananda

dayanandaIn case anyone has not yet heard, Swami Dayananda passed away yesterday, the 23rd September, at 10pm in Rishikesh. Unquestionably the greatest teacher of Advaita in our lifetimes, he must certainly rank as one of the most important ever. Fortunately the legacy of his own writings and transcriptions, and that of the institutions he founded and the teachers he taught, will live on to the benefit of future seekers.

As a topical example of his teaching, I would like to reproduce the following pieces on the subject of manonAsha. These are extracted from the excellent book already recommended in these pages: ‘Pujya Swami Dayananda Saraswati – his uniqueness in the vedanta sampradaya’ by D. Venugopal.

manonaSha or Thought-free-mind Confusion

There is also a widespread contention among the adherents of aShTANga-yoga that the truth of the self is covered by vRRittis (thought-forms) and it has to be uncovered by stoppage of thoughts (citta-vRRitti-nirodha). Pujya Swamiji clarifies that thought is not the problem. He says:

“The confusion comes from the statement that AtmA is undivided (nirvikalpa). The vision of the ShAstra is that while the knower, known, and knowledge are not separate from AtmA, AtmA is independent of all of them. In MANDukya UpaniShad and in the kArikA, the dreamer is cited as proof that there is no real division (vikalpa) such as dreamer, dream and dreamt, even though during the dream, the division was taken to be real. Continue reading

A-U-M Awakening to Reality – Review of book

‘Lucid and exhaustive of most important book in Advaita Vedanta’

The Mandukya Upanishad, the shortest (it has just 12 verses) and , according to a general opinion, the most important of the 12 main Upanishads, has the added interest in being associated with the authoritative karikas of Gaudapada, grand-mentor of Shankaracharia, the initiator of Advaita Vedanta. Of the former it has been said that his is ‘a rational analysis of the totality of our experience in all three states: waking, dreaming, and deep sleep. Incomplete and insufficient will be any philosophy that is based on the waking state alone’ (Swami Brahmananda).

‘When everything has been said, the fact remains that Vedanta is the only way of thinking that claims to study life in all its aspects in a scientific manner. It treats of truth, wisdom, and happiness, subjects of eternal interest to mankind. The credit of having brought to the notice of thinkers the value of its all-comprehensive method revealed in the Upanishads, and of having successfully built an impregnable system on that solid basis, will ever belong to Gaudapada.’ (Swami Satchidanandendra Saraswati).

This new book, authored by the well-known (and, one could say, prolific writer in the field of Advaita Vedanta – this is his 7th book), Dennis Waite, has several features that make of it an important addition to the literature in this specialized area, one that is becoming much better known than it was some 10-20 years ago.

Beginning with a few general remarks, something that strikes the reader is the clarity of the writing and the logic of the exposition of its contents which, at first sight, appears to be an introductory text for the un-initiated. Far from it! – and it is not a question of its length (420 pages) or even of the exhaustive coverage of everything that is relevant to the Upanishad itself and Gaudapada’s running commentary in the karikas. Clear and didactic it is, but the tools (armamentarium), organization of the work, and employment of many important Sanskrit words together with their English translation, plus a long Glossary (41 pp.), make of this book an indispensable reference for the modern reader of both this important Upanishad and Gaudapada’s contribution.

An important feature of the book consists in the numerous references (81 in all!) – most of them with short-to-medium length descriptions of the tenets or arguments of the, mostly modern, authors consulted when DW was in the process of preparing this work (Annotated Bibliography – 33 pp.)

Apart from the illuminating Introduction (36 pp.) and ‘What the Mandukya Upanishad is About’ at the beginning, the following 7 sections are: The World Appearance, Causality, Creation, Nature of Reality, Self-Knowledge, Practical Aspects, and Conclusion. They are all important, certainly, but I found ‘Nature of Reality’ to be like a centre-piece.

There are 7 Appendices at the end, comprising altogether 95 pp. To give one an idea of the completeness of the work, one of the Appendices (No. 5) deals with pronunciation and transliteration, using a recently proposed method: ITRANS. Lastly, a full Index, containing also a list of all the karikas mentioned in the book. AM

Yogavaasishta – A Review


Excellent new modern translation of Yoga Vasishta, September 9, 2015
Amazon Customer (AM)

DSCN7289This review is from: Musings on Yogavaasishta Part VI – Book II of Nirvana (out of the Set of 6 Volumes) by K. V, Krishna Murthy, Avadhoota Datta Peetham, Ooty Road, Mysore 570025, India , English rendering by Ramesam Vemuri, 2013 (Paperback)

The Yogavasishta is a work attributed to the ancient Indian sage Valmiki, in which the sage Vasishta teaches his pupil Prince Rama and others how one may come to the immutable reality that is veiled by the fleeting world of sensory impressions. It has a pride of place in the tradition of Advaita Vedanta comparable to the Bhagavad Gita (the Indian gospel) and the Mandukya Upanishad. The reading of this monumental work on the rigorous advaitist (non-dual) doctrine and its profound philosophical thought is quite pleasurable as it is punctuated by entertaining and imaginative stories or tales that sound like real-life examples. One can dip into the narrative repeatedly and at leisure in order to regain that pleasure and edification – nay, real wisdom that it is.

The present new translation into English uses a modern idiom which, when the text permits, is consistent with present cultural (Western as well as Eastern) ideas and experiences, but without detracting from the overall intent and even style of the work. The actual flavour comes from the exchanges between the master and the disciple, and also from the stories themselves. I highly recommend this excellent translation of the classic that the Yogavasishta, by its own merits, is.


Rama: Agreeing that the world is nothing but a phantasmagoria, can’t we help a person to avoid the troubles in the world using some clues from the world itself?

Vasishta: No, that is not possible. Will any amount of hammering by us here break the mountains in the dream of another? Any clue, any method, is a part of your imagination. Misery is part of his imagination. The two imaginations cannot meet in the same place. Hence each man has to get rid of his sorrow on his own through Self-Knowledge.’

How could we merge absurdist and Buddhist philosophies?

M. Provisionally we could put side by side ‘absurd’ (or illogical) and ‘unprovable’, even if they are not synonymous; and the main tenets of all religions are such. They are not ‘rational’. On the other hand, neither science, ‘common sense’, or rationality are the ‘end all’. There are many things that escape explanation with the current state of our knowledge and understanding.

Paradox is a term related, one way or another, to the above. Just consider the following:

i) “How wonderful that we have met with a paradox. Now we have some hope of making progress”. Niels Bohr (famous physicist)

ii) Is there anything more absurd to ordinary understanding of the world and us than the following (taken from my blog): “That truth, put into words, is paradoxical: you are all (as Consciousness) and ‘you’ (as perceived individual) are nothing, or a phantom; you are the final witness, but ‘you’ are not a witness; the world is illusory (as appearance), but in essence is reality itself. That revelatory, transcendental experience is non-transferable, not provable to another.”

GL. If by absurdism you mean acknowledging that there is no absolute truth, then zen buddhism when asked what is enlightenment, answers “6 pounds of flax”, which is, I believe, trying to point out that absolute truth is impossible.

M. You probably mean ‘impossible to demonstrate, or to know, with the ordinary mind’, but ask a zen buddhist if it (absolute reality or truth) is impossible to grasp, to grok.

GL. I think the point of the flax koan is that you can’t know satori with certainty.

M. Is it not rather that the experience cannot be explained – or transmitted – with words, being ineffable? Such is a transcendental experience, where there is no individual per se present.

GL. Isn’t “ineffable” the same as saying we can’t know with certainty?

M. No, it means ‘inexpressible’, the experience being overwhelming (rather than being too sacred – another meaning).

GL. If you can’t describe it, then it isn’t knowable.

If it is purely a matter of experience, then there is no way for me to know you are experiencing something the same way I am. Color is ineffable. You experience red and green the way you do, and I experience it the way I do. And unless we have an objective test for color blindness, there is no way to know if you see what I see. Some people see color when they hear sound. And as long as that experience is ineffable, there is no way to know if we see color the same way. Only when we establish some objective explanation and some objective testing can we know with certainty if we are experiencing similar things.

M. You refer to what are called qualia, but I am not sure how far you want to go (can nothing be known? In what sense?) Most empiricists/scientists tend to disregard this question or deny that it presents any problem for their physicalist stance. In non-duality, which is what interests me, there are not, cannot be, any objective tests referable to either external or internal experiences of what generally is understood as reality (the world and oneself) except, perhaps, in one’s facial expression and/or demeanor. That agrees with what you say about qualia but, aside from non-duality (or as a preliminary to it), it doesn’t mean that there cannot be agreement, concurrence, in the realm of thought, sensations, and feelings. Two people reading the same book or page – if they are on the same wave length (let’s say interest in non-duality, or in a particular modality of art, like Baroque or modern) – will have similar thoughts and feelings. Language is for communication – even about the understanding of non-duality (like zen) – but certain experiences cannot be communicated, such as particular intuitions or epiphanies, regardless of what we understand as qualia, though related to it.

Consciousness/Awareness, the brain, and memories

(Q&A published recently in QUORA)

Q. ‘Why wasn’t my consciousness generated by another brain? Why am I linked with this brain?’

I heard that everybody experiences consciousness, but then why am I my consciousness and not another person’s consciousness? It’s hard to explain.

Paul Bush. Yes, it’s hard to explain. Basically it’s because the most important part of consciousness, which is awareness*, is the same for everybody. There is only one awareness, and in fact nothing else. All the other aspects of consciousness, the contents, are projections of awareness as it identifies with small parts of reality such as bodies and minds. Such misidentification creates a perspective. From each perspective the part of reality not identified with is seen as the external world. The observer with a particular perspective and the world observed as a consequence of that perspective are both inferences created at the moment of identification.

So, there is only one awareness that is continually pulled into the illusion of being this or that observer. The ongoing personal identity that we think of as ourselves maintains coherence through the construction of the concepts of time and space; memory and an apparent (though not total) physical separation from the rest of reality. Awareness has no personal identity, it is exactly the same for you and everyone else, because it is singular awareness that creates each experience depending on the perspective of the entity that it is identifying with.

*(AM Awareness and Consciousness are generally taken as equivalent in Advaita Vedanta – no distinction being made) Continue reading

Bhagavan’s mouna upadesa

Neo-traditional Vedantins are fond of claiming Bhagavan Ramana as their own, and acknowledge him as a great saint.  However they are conflicted because his teaching is diametrically opposite to what they say.

He says scriptures are fine, but need to be left behind, and self-abidance / enquiry should be pursued in order to permanently dissolve the ego.  This cannot be done by simply adding scriptural concepts, such as “I am Brahman”

The neo-traditionalists say scriptural knowledge is the only means to jnana, that teaching cannot be done in silence, and that “who am I”, self-enquiry can in no way be a means to jnana.  And they do not accept that the mind / ego can die.  Some also go on to say that Bhagavan’s primary teaching was not who am I, and that he has been mis-interpreted; and also that we was not interested in teaching, and that was why he remained in silence.

So lets consolidate what Bhagavan himself said about these issues.

Continue reading