The Pull and Push Factors – Part 2/2

[Part 1]

 Let us take a simple case of “I see a tree.”

Whenever we have an “experience,” like I see, I walk, I do and so on, we should remember that the entity “I” has first separated out from the “Whole” that-IS and positioned itself as the “subject” (agent) of the action. Thus, at the moment of experience, it is not anymore a single entity, Oneness.  There are two —  the experiencer, “I,” and the experience. But the “experience” in turn consists of the object experienced and the act of having the experience (experiencing). So whether we are aware or not, a multiplicity got introduced. Continue reading

Shankara’s Direct Path Method

 Shankara spells out the most Direct Path method of Self-realization on a here and now basis in his short treatise, aparokShAnubhUti. He explains very lucidly in simple words, through the 144 verses of this text, the means to have the direct experience of brahman. He boldly declares right up front the unreality of the three entities, jIva-jagat-Ishwara, the model commonly used in teaching Advaita. He avers that ‘action’ (karma) or worship (upAsana) cannot deliver liberation. However, he says an intense yearning for liberation (mumukshatva) has to be present in a seeker.

Shankara’s Direct Path has nothing to do with the changing or manipulating the external world or one’s own body-mind system. It is all about how the world is perceived. The three possible worldviews are: Continue reading

The Pull and Push Factors – Part 1/2

 The Pull factor:

We have from kaTha upaniShad:

नायमात्मा प्रवचनेन लभ्यो मेधया बहुना श्रुतेन   —  I-ii-23,  kaTha upa

Meaning:   Atman (brahman) cannot be attained by the study of the Vedas, or by intelligence, or by much hearing of sacred books.

Shankara’s special treatises too make that point abundantly clear declaring:

स्नानेन दानेन प्राणायमशतेन वा      —    verse 13, vivekacUDAmaNi

Meaning: Neither sacred baths nor any amount of charity nor even hundreds of breathing exercises can give us the knowledge about Self.

अविरोधितया कर्म नाविद्यां विनिवर्तयेत् |      —               verse 3, Atmabodha

Meaning: Any action cannot destroy ignorance, for action is not a negator of ignorance. Continue reading

YogavAsiShTa vs. Bhagavad-Gita

A question that is often asked of me is why YogavAsiShTa is not as popular as Bhagavad-Gita.

[Frankly, I am not sure if that is true and if so why it is so. I spell out a few of my thoughts to start a healthy discussion.]

 In my own case, it was Bhagavad-Gita that I was first exposed to, even as a teenager, and it was much later in my life after my pate turned bald and the few hairs that remained acquired a silver gray hue, that I happened to study YogavAsiShTa. I can say with certitude that both books must have been equally present in my house when I was growing up with my parents. Could it be that my parents somehow conspired to see that I did not get access to read the YogavAsiShTa in my youth because of my mother’s apprehension or belief in an adage that was popular in those times that one who reads YogavAsiShTa would surely fling the family life and retire to a forest as a Sannyasi (renunciate)? Continue reading

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

Is there Rebirth?

Deep in the remote thick jungles of Dandaka, there was a tribal village called Bhrashtakshi. It is said that two moons appear in the sky of that village. Ask any villager, child or adult and they can easily show the two moons when the sky is clear – one a little right to the other, same size but a little less bright.  All their songs and school books have been singing of the two moons for generations. The moon-pair is worshiped as the Goddesses of the Twins. People pray to these Goddesses to beget children.

Dr. Sulochan, M.D., happened to go as a Health worker to that village. She was surprised to detect everyone had a double vision. Further investigations showed congenital issues and also deficiencies in their nutrition. But the villagers were not convinced. They were sure it was all a play by the powers of the City to take over their ancient properties. Their ancestors always said that there had been two moons in their sky. How can the knowledge coming from their forefathers be wrong? They have their texts to prove the two moons in their sky. They have seen and lived with two moons for centuries. It’s a huge huge conspiracy, resolved the Village elders – the City dwellers want to steal their moons. Continue reading

jIvanmukti – An Illustrative Case

The highly revered Sringeri Pitham in India, as is well-known to all, is the sterling center devoutly upholding, preserving, maintaining and propagating the Shankara Advaita. The unbroken succession of the Pontiffs right from the time Shankara established the Matha to date has many a jIvanmukta in its line embellishing the holy precincts of the Ashram. Their exemplary lives illustrate the way one attains liberation while in life (jIvanmukti) and provide answers to many of the doubts a seeker may have in his/her quest to freedom from the bondage in samsAra. 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

On Narada Bhakti Sutras – 15

On Narada Bhakti Sutras  – 15

Part – 14  

6.  FROM MARKANDEYA PURANA:

Narada happened to go to Indra’s court at a time when the celestial damsels Rambha and others were giving a dance performance.  After a while Indra enquired from Narada as to whose performance was like best by him. Narada responded by saying that the performance of that girl who danced with passion, emotion and agility was the best. The dancers were debating within themselves as to who did better, when Indra intervened and requested Narada to declare the winner. Narada announced that that girl who could excite the Sage Durwasa would top them all. A damsel by name Vapuvu accepted the challenge.

7.  FROM BRAHMAVAIVARTA PURANA:

The sons of Daksha were about to commence creation. Narada met them at that time and directed them to work for liberation instead of getting stuck with the cycles of birth and death. He successfully dissuaded them from creation.  Coming to know of the role played by Narada, Daksha complained to Brahma. Daksha then cast three spells on Narada – that Narada would take birth in the womb of Daksha’s daughter, he would be a wanderer without a stable place of stay and he would not have a wife. Continue reading

On Narada Bhakti Sutras – 14

Part – 13  

4.  FROM ADBHUTA RAMAYANA:

The Musician Kaushika was singing melodious tunes in the Heaven. Goddess Lakshmi along with her cohorts, several Sages, Narada, Tumbura and several others visited the Heaven at that time. Goddess Lakshmi requested Tumbura to sing along with Kaushiki. After the duo performed, she honored them and bestowed gifts to them. Narada felt slighted by her action. He cursed her to  be born to wicked people and be punished by them.

Lord Vishnu then cajoled Narada and told him that Tumbura achieved special accomplishment because of his devotional singing. Vishnu asked Narada that he should go to the Manasottara Mountain range and learn singing from a bird living there if he desired similar abilities. He went to Manasottara Mountain and learnt the singing under tutorship of the bird. When he returned and met Tumbura, he discovered he was no match and felt very jealous of Tumbura. So he went back to Vishnu. Vishnu promised to teach singing to Narada when Vishnu takes birth as Krishna.

Narada approached Krishna and requested him to teach him singing. Krishna directed him to learn the singing for a year from Jambavati. After that Krishan directed him to go to each of his wives for a year and learn singing. Even then he could not master singing. Finally he was taught by Krishna. He became very skilled in singing, he became free of his jealousies and lived happily.

5.  FROM LINGA PURANA / SHIVA PURANA:

It was a time when Narada was observing askesis on the Himalayan Mountains. In order to disturb his austerities, Indra sent a few celestial damsels to distract him.  But Narada was a great devotee of Shiva. Because of the power of that devotion to Shiva, his mind was very stable and did not get lured by the damsels. Narada felt proud of his own achievement. He thought that it was because of his prowess that his mind did not waver and he did not fall for those girls’ wiles. After completing his austerities and meditation, he went to Shiva, Brahma and Vishnu. Even though Vishnu that it was due to Shiva’s power, Narada was boastful of his ability to control his mind in not being beguiled by the celestial damsels. Vishnu decided to teach him lesson.  Narada took leave of Vishnu and proceeded on his onward journey.  Vishnu created a city at a place on Narada’s route. He also generated an attractive palatial building in the city. A voluptuous and beautiful woman by name Shrimati was also created and placed in that palace. Narada fell for her charm. He wanted to win her hand. So he went back to Vishnu and requested him to bestow the Vishnu’s looks on him.

Narada and Parvata were on a tour of the world. They reached the city where Ambarisha lived. Ambarisha received them with befitting honors. They saw the melodiously singing Shrimati at his house. They enquired about the girl. Ambarisha told them that she was his daughter. Both of them requested him to give that girl in marriage to them. As it was not possible for both of them to marry her, he agreed to give her to one of them whom she chose.  A date was fixed for Shrimati to meet both and select one of them.  Narada and Parvata met Vishnu separately without the knowledge of one another and each of them prayed to Vishnu to convert the other’s face to look like that of a monkey. Lord Vishnu fulfilled the desire of both of them. Both of them came to attend the function where Shrimati would express her choice.  Vishnu also went to witness the goings on. Everyone laughed looking at the mokey-like faces of Narada and Parvata. Shrimati chose Vishnu as her husband because of his comely features. Vishnu took her along with him.

Narada and Parvata were outraged. They cursed Ambarisha that he would become a womanizer as he failed to stick to his word of marrying Shrimati to one of them.  But Vishnu’s weapon chased them both and they had to run away.  They went to the Heaven and they saw Shrimati at Vishnu’s place. They cast a spell on Vishnu accusing him for having deceived them by making their faces look like monkeys and winning the girl of their love.  They said that Vishnu would be born as a human being, would suffer separation from his wife and would be able to join back with her with the help of monkeys. Vishnu revealed that everything happened the way it did because of the power of Shiva. Because of that curse, Vishnu eventually took birth as Rama, got separated from his wife, and could get back his wife with the help of monkeys.

(To continue …. Part – 15).