About Śuka

Śuka, 48, has been a student of Vedanta since 1980 and has learnt traditional Vedānta from Arsha Vidya Gurukula Teachers. As a Certified Public Accountant, he worked in India, Africa and the Middle East. Later he pursued a successful business career in Software and BPO industries. He has since retired from active business, and back to studying Vedānta full time. Having completed Masters in Sanskrit, he is currently pursuing a research programme in Advaita Vedānta...

Vedas – A body of knowledge or belief?

Vedas are primary/independent pramāṇa (means of knowledge) as regards the truth of oneself, for, all other means of knowledge are about the object, and not the subject. Holding it as such with an open-mind, pending discovery/assimilation of its revelation, is called śraddhā, loosely translated as belief.

A relevant xtract from Swami Paramarthananda lectures…

“We continue to accept the validity of the eyes inspite of occasional optical illusions. Similarly we have to accept the validity of the Veda, in-spite of certain seeming aberrations in certain portions of the Veda. If we reject the eyes because of occasional optical illusions, we are the losers. Similarly, if we reject the Veda because of certain seeming aberrations, we are the losers”.


Adhikāri means the one who is qualified. On hearing this, there is ākāṅṣā, expectation, in our minds, as to qualified for what?

So, adhikāri is a contextual word. This has to be understood.

Adhikāri in this context means, one who is qualified for ātma-vidyā, self-knowledge. And a number of the qualifications are listed.

A key point to note is, it should not be given to one who is not an adhikāri. Kṛṣṇa says in Bhagavad-gītā 3.29, that one who is not discriminative, one of the qualifications for being an adhikāri for ātma-vidyā, should not be distrubed.. he should be left alone.

Ātma-vidyā is to be given only to those who seek it, and amongst those who seek it, to only those who are qualified.

Action – to-be-done

One cannot, but act. After all, isn’t that regarded as living?

I act, I get into trouble. Verdicts are passed about my actions, that it is right and wrong, whether I ask for it or not. Based on my actions, judgments are made and sentences pronounced that I am a selfish person, etc. That hurts me and makes me feel guilty. Makes me unhappy.

Therefore, can I be without acting? No. Even to maintain the body, one has to act.

Then how to ensure that I always act the rightful way? Bhagavad-gītā, 3.08, Kṛṣṇa says “niyatam kuru karma tvam, karmajyāyo hi akarmaṇah. – do what is to-be-done, for action is better than inaction”.

How do I know what is to-be-done? Śāstra – scriptures are the source – but then reading / understanding / arriving at its purport seems to be a life time endeavor. Can you please give me a simpler thumb rule?

Ok – here you go. I shall give you two.

1  1. Don’t do unto others, what you don’t want done to you, and viceversa.

2. 2.  All actions are related to the role. Always remember that you are playing the role. What is to-be-done will always be evident if you remember you are playing the role. What is to-be-done becomes blurred when we confuse the role with the actor, and the actor’s likes and dislikes start influencing what’s to-be-done by the role that he plays.

Am I different from the role? Well, yes, but that’s another topic. 🙂

Tat Pada Vicāra – 4. Īśvara – Dharma manifest

DharmaEverything that there is, is īśvara. That is why we can invoke mahāgaṇapati  in a small mound of turmeric and even worship a milestone as īśvara. For us, trees, rivers, mountains, pillars, vāyu, ākāśa, bird, insect, snake, anything and everything is īśvara.

Though there are many Hindu’s who might not understand the philosophy, ask even a supposedly illiterate villager as to where God is, and prompt will come his reply “God is everywhere”. It is only the Hindu religion where all its practices have arisen from its underlying philosophy.

There are a number of philosophies, both in the past and the present, from the west, such as those of Aristotle, Socrates, Satre, Descarte etc. which are not religions; there are religions such as the Abrahamic, actively practised and proselytized, which do not have any meaningful philosophy behind them. That we are able to worship īśvara in every form, conceivable and inconceivable, is an example of applied philosophy practiced as religion.

We do not worship idols. We worship īśvara who is form manifest. We are not mere form worshippers. We worship the formless, on whom all the forms are superimposed. How can anyone worship the formless? The formless is to be understood as the truth and the substratum. The forms are the one that can be worshipped.

There are theologies that say there is one God. The problem with this thinking is which or whose “One God” is the true God. Everyone lays claims to their own God as the real, ultimate, and final one. It is this issue that has been plaguing the world. It is in the name of this issue that millions were persecuted in the past, and massacres are being committed currently.

We do not subscribe to this view of one God. We say there is ONLY God. All that there is, is only God; because he is the upādāna kāraṇa of this entire jagat.  kāryaṁ sakartṛkaṁ kāryatvāt ghaṭavat. Therefore, all that is experienced is God indeed; even the experiencer is God, for there is nothing other than God.

This jagat, which is īśvara sṛṣṭi, so purposefully and well created, functions in an orderly manner. There are a number of orders that govern the functioning of the world. Let is look at some orders in order to understand yet another dimension of īśvara.

  • The Physical Order – There is an order that exists in nature in the form of physical laws; for example, the intrinsic nature of fire is heat and light – and fire burns anything that comes in contact with it, irrespective. We say fire burns, but think about it, is it fire that burns? The Law of Gravity works, irrespective of who or what falls. The sunrise, the seasons, the rains, its failure, everything works within īṣvara’s order.
  • The Physiological Order – whatever we eat is digested and absorbed by the digestive system, taken to various parts of the body by the circulatory system, the waste thrown out by the excretory system, food converted into reproductive power by the reproductive system, and requisite oxygen continously supplied by the respiratory system.
  • The Emotional Order – emotions such as anger are within the emotional order of īśvara. Anger is a reaction and not an action – no one can consciously become or remain angry – if you don’t believe me, try and be angry for the next 30 secs – you will find yourself smiling rather than angry. Even desire is within the order of īśvara. These reactions cannot be controlled, but they can be managed – we shall see the monumental implications of these truths later in the series.
  • The Social Order – ahimsā – non-injury – our scriptures say ahimsā paramo dharmaḥ – non-injury is the foremost of all dharmas – everyother dharma arises from this basic dharma – no one wants to be hurt including animals; but it is only humans that do not want to hurt others, atleast that is the expectation from them. varṇāśramadharma, as prescribed by the scriptures, is an excellent system that takes competition out of the equation, thereby making everyone a contributor rather than a competitor.

īśvara is the very order manifest in the jagat. In the light of this vision, everyone in the world, everything that happens, all stand validated. There is no one to blame, there is nothing to feel guilty about.

I would like to draw the attention of the readers to a very important difference between our vision and other religions. While the others consider dharma as the mandate of īśvara, we consider dharma as the very īśvara manifest. dharma as God’s mandate, is open to (mis)interpretation. dharma as God manifest, is to be understood and abidbed by. This means we are always within īśvara. If it has happened, it is within īśvaras order, irrespective of whether we consider what happened as just or not.

Tat Pada Vicāra – 3 Upādāna Kāraṇa

material causeIn the process of trying to understand īśvara (God) comprehensively, we discussed sṛṣṭi (creation), and established that this jagat (universe) is indeed a creation. We also saw that since it is so purposefully put together, there has to be an intelligent cause (nimitta kāraṇa) behind the creation; the, śruti (scriptures) reveals this person as īśvara.

The potter creates a pot out of mud, so the next question that comes abegging is out of what did īśvara create the jagat. What was the material from which he created the jagat? Continue reading

Tat Pada Vicāra – 2 Nimitta Kāraṇa

Intelligent CauseContinuing from the previous article, we say “Creation” when things are brought together meaningfully in order to serve a given one or more purposes. This is called saṁhati – assemblage. A Pot, a Fan, a Car, everything is a creation within this definition.

What about this Earth, the Galaxy and the Milky Way? Are they also creations? Indeed; for they have been put together meaningfully to serve a given purpose. Lets analyze a bit. Continue reading

Tat Pada Vicāra – 1 – Sṛṣṭi – Creation

CreationIn the previous article, I had said that īśvara and jīva have to be understood in their entirety in order for us to understand the mahāvākya, tat tvaṁ asi. Over the next few articles, we will attempt to have a fuller understanding of who īśvara really is.

The most important understanding of īśvara is his dimension of being the abhinna nimmitta upādāna jagat kāraṇam. Its means the one who is the non-different intelligent and material cause of the jagat. Continue reading

Tat Tvam Asi

who am iHaving decided to have śraddha, an openmind on the possibility of the declaration by the vēdās that ānanda is our very svarūpa, our very seeking, and having understood and on that basis decided that mokṣa is the parama puruṣārtha of this life, and further having seen that scriptures are the only pramāṇa, means of knowledge, to mokṣa, let us commence our learning of the mahāvākya, the all important equation, one of which is “tat tvam asi”.

For any mathematical statement to be called an equation, we need to have 2 sides which appear to be unequal. For example 5+5 = 5+5 is not an equation whereas 6+4 = 7+3 is an equation. The mahāvākya “tat tvam asi” is an equation which can be mathematically expressed as tat = tvam. Here tat indicates īśvara, God,  and tvam indicates jīva, the individual.  In other words the śruti says īśvara = jīva, or God = Individual. Continue reading

Pramāṇam – 2

A quick recap of keys points from the previous article.

1. pramāṇam the word means, “Means of Knowledge”; it should be anadhigata – non-contradictible, abhādita – non-negatable and hitārtha bodhakam – says what is good for the Humans.

veda2. pramāṇam is of 2 types – pratyakṣam – direct, obtained by using the 5 senses; anumānādi – indirect, based on the direct but using reason. Both these pramāṇams are nitya parokṣa, and operate on everything other than the subject.

3. Knowledge is vastutantram – as the Object, so the Knowledge; and Knowledge will take place even if there is no intention on the part of the Knower since there is no will involved.

Continue reading

Pramāṇam – Means of Knowledge – Part 1

pramaanamPramāṇam the word means, “means of knowledge”. Pratyakṣam is direct knowledge – indriya viṣaya sannikarṣa jñānam – the knowledge gained when objects come into contact with the five sense organs, viz., sight, hearing smell, taste and touch. The sequence in which the senses are listed is meaningful and relevant, as it goes from gross to subtle. Eyes can see hundreds of meters; ears can hear within tens of meters; nose can smell upto a few meters; taste and touch have to be immediate and intimate.

In knowing, the means and the knowledge, there is no option –one has no choice over what one sees, the moment one open’s one’s eyes.

Continue reading