Physics and Vedanta – 6/6

Physics and Vedanta – 6/6

[An INTERVIEW BY Paula Marvelly – Sixteen searching  Questions probing the Depths of Physics and Advaita Vedanta – Responses from Dr. Ramesam Vemuri – 2011]

Part 6:  Effect of Meditation, jIvanmukta  and Science as pramANa:

Part – 1, Part – 5

 14.  What are the benefits of meditation on the mind?

As we understand, mind is what the brain does. But as Neuroscience found out, the pulsing of the neurons as the brain acts has a feed forward and feed backward effect. The em field produced by the activity of the neurons affects the brain. Consequently, what we do mentally has an effect on the brain.

In fact, our scriptures hold that what we do mentally is much more forceful and effective than physical performance. Manasa Puja, or silent worship within our mind, is held far superior to pompous and ostentatious prayers. The mental worship in a way is meditation. Even in athletics and other sports, the candidates are asked to rehearse first mentally the subtleties of every fine move before they perform physically. I learnt a lot of my driving more by thinking before I got into a driver’s seat in a car. Continue reading

Physics and Vedanta – 5/6

Physics and Vedanta – 5/6

[An INTERVIEW BY Paula Marvelly – Sixteen searching  Questions probing the Depths of Physics and Advaita Vedanta – Responses from Dr. Ramesam Vemuri – 2011]

Part 5:  End of the Universe, Thought and Meditation:

Part – 1, Part – 4

 11.  So then, what is the Big Crunch and what will exist beyond it?

Aha, this question is much like the first one and, therefore, we are coming full circle!

One of the significant finding in astrophysics nearly a decade and half ago was that not only is the universe expanding, but it is doing so at an alarmingly fast rate. ‘Before this discovery, the forecast was surprisingly simple. If the gravitational pull of all the matter in the cosmos was strong enough to rein in expansion — like the Earth’s pull on a rocket that can’t quite reach escape velocity — the universe would eventually come crashing in on itself.’ This is described dramatically as the Big Crunch. This is something like the Big Bang expansion reversing itself. So the Big Crunch would have happened only if the expanding universe is held back in its tracks. Continue reading

Physics and Vedanta – 4/6

Physics and Vedanta – 4/6

[An INTERVIEW BY Paula Marvelly – Sixteen searching  Questions probing the Depths of Physics and Advaita Vedanta – Responses from Dr. Ramesam Vemuri – 2011]

Part 4:  Superimposition in Quantum Physics and Advaita and The Role of The Mind:

Part – 1, Part – 3 

9.  How does the theory of superimposition in Quantum Physics relate to theory of superimposition in Advaita Vedanta?

The concept of superimposition in Quantum Physics is just that – a concept. It is a good example of what I am speaking about.

We devised the concept of superimposition to explain to ourselves some observed phenomena because the observed things did not seem to fit into the simple cause-effect relationship for which our mind is accustomed to. Let me explain a little. Continue reading

Physics and Vedanta – 3/6

Physics and Vedanta – 3/6

[An INTERVIEW BY Paula Marvelly – Sixteen searching  Questions probing the Depths of Physics and Advaita Vedanta – Responses from Dr. Ramesam Vemuri – 2011]  Part – 1, Part – 2

Part 3: Gamma wave synchrony, God Particle and Super String Theory:

6.  Returning to the subject of the mind and the brain, what is gamma wave synchrony and how does it tie in with our view of the world?

You see, we are conscious of a world out there and we are also conscious that we are conscious. How does this happen? Where is the seat of consciousness? The ancient Indian sages postulated an invisible entity about the size of the digit of the thumb to be residing in the heart overseeing the bodily functions and also providing consciousness to a human being.

To the extent my knowledge goes, the ancient scriptures did not talk of neurons or equivalent units or the working of the brain. They did, however, talk of nerves. They conceived the nerves to be the conduits of not only the life-forces but also food and other material. They said that all these nerves join in the heart. The Western philosophers, however, use consciousness in a different way. They thought of a soul.  Perhaps it was Descartes who identified the pineal gland in the brain as representing the soul. Continue reading

Physics and Vedanta – 2/6

Physics and Vedanta – 2/6 

[An INTERVIEW BY Paula Marvelly – Sixteen searching  Questions probing the Depths of Physics and Advaita Vedanta – Responses from Dr. Ramesam Vemuri – 2011]

Part – 1

Part 2: Origin of the Universe and What was there before the Big Bang:

4.  Why did the universe come into being?

Science has no answer as far as the ‘why’ question goes. No apparent ‘purpose’ is obvious and evolutionary biologists would like to say it is just ‘blind’ – no specific objective or goal to be attained.

The undiluted and unadulterated Advaitic view is that the universe is just an imagination, a fantasy. One may imagine a universe as per one’s own predilections and then one sees only such a universe. We have very interesting stories about the various types of universes imagined by different characters, fictitious or real, in Yogavaasishta to illustrate this point, for example.

In spite of the fact that the universe is purely imaginary, still we do perceive something solid out there, transact within it and identify our ‘life’ with it. Even if we say that the ‘how’ of the universe is answered to be no more than a ‘thought process’, why should it still be what it is? Continue reading

Physics and Vedanta – 1/6

Physics and Vedanta – 1/6

[An INTERVIEW BY Paula Marvelly – Sixteen searching Questions probing the Depths of Physics and Advaita Vedanta – Responses from Dr. Ramesam Vemuri – 2011]

Paula Marvelly is a Web-designer, playwright and author in search of the Ultimate Truth for over two decades. As a seeker, she carved out a unique path for herself interviewing over fifteen living Advaita teachers from India, Europe and USA and studying the lives of over twenty enlightened women. Her two books published in 2003 and 2005 received rave reviews.  Paula’s books are:

  1. The Teachers of One: Living Advaita: Conversations on the Nature of Non-Duality, May 25, 200
  2. Women of Wisdom, 2005 – The Journey of the Sacred Feminine through the Ages.

Paula now maintains a Web Magazine The Culturium which explores the interface between spirituality and the cultural arts.

Part 1:  Relation between Modern Physics and Vedanta:

1.  How does Quantum Physics or modern Physics in general relate to Vedanta in answering the question about universe? Continue reading

Deep Sleep in Direct Path

  Four years, four weeks and a fortnight ago exactly to this day, we discussed Deep sleep in these columns. As we know, the traditional Vedanta (TV) following mANDUkya upanishad and Gaudapada’s kAkrikA, considers Deep sleep as one of the three states that plays on the substratum of turIya (the Fourth). Even amongst the TV people, there are schools that hold that prAjnya is no different from turIya. Swami Ishwarananda of RK Mission, Kerala produced a short monograph expounding this theory supported by Upanishadic quotes. I presented those arguments in a three part series of posts here, here and here.   The followers of Swami Satchidanandendra Saraswati of Holenarsapur too support this contention. Atmananda Krishna Menon (1883 – 1959) who propagated the “Direct Path” (DP) approach of Self-Inquiry too taught that Deep sleep itself was Pure Consciousness knowing Itself as Itself. The actual experience of Consciousness experiencing Itself in Deep sleep cannot be known or conceptualized by the awake state mind. The Consciousness knows Itself by being Itself and another name for that is Happiness. Happiness here does not mean any state of excitement or arousal. It is simply the absence of ‘unhappiness.’ In other words there exists during Deep sleep neither a sense of lack nor any desire. It is not a state triggered by or obtained through the contact of the sensory systems. It is acausal. Continue reading

Bhagavad-Gita Translations

  Whatever may be one’s understanding and knowledge, surprisingly and embarrassingly, simple questions can sometimes throw off one face down flat on the ground. You want to hide somewhere. One such simple question used to be an outstation visitor asking me in the small place I lived in India: “What is the best place to eat in your town?”  What can I say when I myself never ate anywhere outside, having been brought up in a family where it is considered that it is a despicable thing to eat out? (Of course, this was much prior to the IT and DINK (Double Income No Kid) culture made its worldwide invasion!)

I faced a similarly embarrassing question in Vedanta the other day.  A friend on one of the ubiquitous social networks first appreciated my ability to answer lucidly on Advaita related questions. I naturally got inflated. Then she enquired if she could ask a question on Bhagavad-Gita. I readied myself to brace any challenge feeling inside me that BG cannot be a problem. When I expressed my willingness to answer, she shot at me: “What is the best Bhagavad-Gita translation that does not deviate from the original in its meaning I would recommend to her.”  There were two limiting conditions. She was a Westerner studying Advaita Vedanta on the Direct Path; and two, she did not know Sanskrit.  Though I read many BG translations, I had not read any BG version without Sanskrit. Further, Bhagavad-Gita is commonly taught in the Traditional Path of study as it is one of the three canonical texts (prasthAna trayI). I did not know any of the Western Advaita teachers who melded BG verses into their teaching. I was totally deflated.  I literally had to run for cover and hide my face. Fortunately for me, a few good friends came to my rescue. I share the information I got from them here as others may find it useful. Continue reading

Interpreting shruti vAkya for eka jIva

upanishad  The Upanishads are the records of the “Knowledge” gained by the supremely dedicated Sages and Seers in the distant times through their incisive questioning and unbiased inquiry. They are written in the idiom and style of the day, at the same time taking a great care to see that the purity and pristine nature of the message is preserved for the posterity without getting mutilated by the passage of time. Hence, access to them was highly restricted. Their wording is very cryptic, symbolical and often too profound to be apparent to a casual reader. The Knowledge Itself, however, does not come with any tags of intellectual property rights or authorship claims. But expounding the real meaning of the text (called as ‘mantras’) demands expertise in many auxiliary fields like logic (nyAya), grammar(vyAkaraNa), prosody (chandas), orthology (nirukta) and linguistics in addition to a familiarity of the cultural milieu of the times. The Upanishads were transmitted orally to a closed group of eligible and committed students either by a father to son or teacher to disciple tradition. This method of imparting the Upanishadic Knowledge is known as sampradAya. In the absence of a Guru explicating them, it is impossible to make sense of them or understand clearly the meaning in-depth. Prakashananada’s interpretation of the svetaswatara Upanishad mantra IV – 5 following a dialectical approach of taking the thesis of the opponent and then providing its rebuttal to establish the eka jIva vAda typically illustrates the point made above. It is presented here as a conversation between an opponent and Swami Prakashananda Saraswati. Continue reading

‘shruti’ support for ‘eka jIva vAda’

boxing  ‘eka jIva vAda,’ the Doctrine that says “I Alone Am” is a perpetually  fascinating as well as a perplexing topic in Advaita. It has been debated at many Non-dual discussion fora in the past, both online and offline. Enthusiastic seekers no doubt will continue to do so in the future, if for nothing else, at least as a part of their manana (reflection on the shruti vAkya learnt by them about jIvabrahmaikatva (Identity of the individual and brahman). We are no exception here at this site, thanks to the indulgence from Dennis.

Even though neither Dennis desired nor I anticipated, willy-nilly another round of discussion on ‘eka jIva vAda‘ got opened up triggered by a few observations Dennis made at his latest Post on “Q.394 – Becoming One.” First he raised a few questions, then two, and then one more. The last question was the inevitable left hook: What are the “scriptural references for EJV?”

That’s off my kilter. I jumped out of the rink. Had to look for succour. Fortunately there is help available from redoubtable experts, highly knowledgeable Advaitins. Instead of presenting them in the ‘Comments’ section of the thread, I felt that their answers to the query deserve to be posted as a separate Blog.

I am very grateful to Shriman LalitAlAlitaH, Shri Venkataraghavan and Shri Praveen Bhat for their kind and prompt response and for their ready consent to letting me post their views here. Continue reading