Litmus Tests for Self-realization – 2

Abhinava Vidyateertha (standing in front of his Guru)

There is an embarrassing plenitude of teachers of Non-duality (of different shades) accessible both online and offline mushrooming  these days from all corners of the world. Some even  claim without any qualms that they have realized the Ultimate Truth; or leave enough of hints on their web sites to impress the reader that they are Self-realized. This is undoubtedly a happy situation that we have so many gurus in our midst but one is left a bit bewildered because of what Bhagavad-Gita tells us. In the Chapter VII, the third verse says:

 मनुष्याणां सहस्रेषु कश्चिद्यतति सिद्धये

 यततामपि सिद्धानां कश्चिन्मां वेत्ति तत्त्वतः — Verse 3, Ch VII, Bhagavad-Gita. Continue reading

Litmus Tests for Self-realization – 1:

The deceptively simple looking Advaitic message “tat tvaM asi” (You are That) hides behind its elegance an enormous depth and profundity of philosophical contemplation. Either being unaware of or grossly ignoring the rigorous bodily and mental discipline that goes into prior preparation before one can appreciate fully the meaning of these significant Vedantic sentences (mahA vAkya-s) in this Internet age, one may believe that by mere hearing of that inimitable statement one is entitled to claim “ahaM brahma asmi” (I am brahman). S/he may even buttress that claim saying that “Nothing needs to be done and after Self-realization also it is all business as usual” because Shankara said that “I am already by my very nature forever blissful That” (nitya suddha buddha mukti svabhAvaH).

Fortunately for us, our ancient Advaita scriptures shine with ever-shimmering bright nuggets of ‘indicators’ sprinkled all over them. These nuggets are like the twinkling stars in the vast depths of space which help a seeker to test for himself/herself whether we truly grokked or not the message of the jIva-brahma ekatva (Oneness of the individual ‘me’ and the eternal, immutable, infinite Self). Continue reading

Topic of the Month – adhikArI

adhikariThe topic for March is adhikArI – meaning a qualified seeker, i.e. someone who is mentally ready and has the desire to learn from a qualified teacher. (The ‘qualifications’ are those identified by Shankara as sAdhana chatuShTaya sampatti.)

Please submit your quotes, short extracts or personal blogs on this topic!

Sanskrit for Seekers


Since you are reading this blog, you are presumably a spiritual seeker interested in Advaita. It is also very probable that your knowledge of Sanskrit is minimal or non-existent. I receive occasional complaints about the use of ITRANS – the transliterated ‘English’ form of Sanskrit words – so even that causes problems for many, let alone the original script (called Devanagari) which Sanskrit uses. So why would you want to learn anything at all about the language? Well, if you really are interested in Advaita (or Buddhism, if it comes to that), it is a fact of life that most of the original material from which these teachings derive was written in Sanskrit. Without any knowledge of the language, without even the ability to look up a word in a dictionary, you are forced to rely upon the abilities, and the integrity, of whichever author happened to ‘translate’ the original text on which he or she is commenting. I am currently writing a book on the Mandukya Upanishad and Gaudapada kArikA-s, and this has involved me in referencing many different translations of the original text. [Note that this is a good example why you need to know some Sanskrit. The word kArikA means ‘a verse, commentary or treatise’ but if you ignore the capitals and write this as ‘karika’, it means ‘an elephant’!] And it would amaze you how it is possible to render quite different meanings. Whether this is because of language ability or because the author has a vested interest in propagating a particular point of view is not always possible to say. What I can say, is that is essential to be able to check specific words from time to time to ensure one gleans original intent rather than a modern, possibly biased interpretation. And, before I continue, here is a confession from the introduction to the book: Continue reading

The Ghost of Bharcchu

SarvajnatmanSarvajnatman, a well-reputed advaita Acharya of the 9th-10th century, was the author of samkshepa shArIraka.  As the title indicates, this book is a brief presentation of Sankara’s sUtra bhAshya in four chapters corresponding to the four adhyAya-s of the brahma sUtra-s.

Sarvajnatman sums up the essential nature of brahman in ten words. They are:

nityasuddha, buddha,  mukta, satya,  sUkshmasatvibhuadvitIya and Ananda

(eternal, pure, knowing, free, true, subtle, existent, auspicious, without a second and infinite (or happy)).

advaita teaches that you and brahman are one and the same. You being already brahman, the above ten words, therefore, describe you also. That means you, yourself, are Happiness.  So Happiness should be known to you like you know the back of your hand. You do not have to search for or attain Happiness.

But an enigmatic question arises: Okay, I know that I am already eternally existing, knowing and  ever happy brahman.  How come I don’t I know the Happiness which should be present right here? What ghost of an obstruction would block me from feeling it, from seeing it?

The shAstra replies: Oh, Yea, something like the Ghost of Bharcchu can cripple you from seeing the very things that are right in front of you!

“The Ghost of Bharcchu?  What’s that?,” you ask in wonderment.

Continue reading

Knots and Kinks In The Way Of Knowing The Truth

The Non-dual teaching is quite simple, straightforward and very clear.

The brihadAraNyaka upanishad encapsulates it succinctly:

neha nAnAsti kincana      —     IV – 4- xix    

(No distinctions whatsoever exist here)              

The IshAvAshya upanishad expresses the same in a different way

ishAvAsyamidagm sarvam      —  mantra 1

(All this (universe) is pervaded by the Lord (= brahman))

advaita says that that there is no multiplicity here. Whatever exists is all Oneness. This Oneness does not give scope for a second thing to arise within it. It is so Absolute and Alone. If anyone sees a multiplicity of things, such an appearance to the eye of the beholder is merely an illusion arising out of the ignorant stance taken by him/her.  The word “ignorant” is not used in any pejorative sense. It simply means that the seer has ignored the truth. The upanishad even cautions that one goes from death to death if he misses to see the Oneness. By that the scripture is telling us that suffering and misery are inevitable for one who ignores this plain Truth of Oneness. Continue reading

Expert on Truth vs. Knower of Truth

Sage Vasishta

Sage Vasishta

[Sage Vasishta points out to Rama the subtle difference between actually Knowing the Truth having obtained a clear understanding after a study of Non-dual Teaching and merely acquiring scholarly proficiency as an expert  and advises further on how a sincere seeker should proceed in the matter.  This discourse takes place in the 21st Canto of the Book II (Second Part) of the Chapter Nirvana in Yogavaasishta.  A slightly edited excerpt from “Yogavaasishta, Part VI” (by Shri K.V. Krishna Murthy, English rendering by Dr. Vemuri Ramesam, Avadhoota Datta Peetham, Mysore 570025, India, 2013, pp: 356) is presented below – ramesam.]


Sage Vasishta:  A man should not become an Expert on Truth but should be a Knower of Truth.  In my opinion, it is better to be an ignorant person rather than be an Expert on Truth.

Rama:  Sir!  Who is a Knower of Truth and who is an Expert on Truth?

Continue reading