What is Brahman? (Part 3)

(Read Part 2)

The superficially contradictory ‘descriptions’ of Brahman as ‘neti, neti’ and ‘sarvaM khalvidaM brahma’ [all this is verily Brahman] are brought out in adjacent verses of the Atma bodha, attributed to Shankara (Swami Chinmayananda translation):

 

  1. Brahman is other than this, the universe. There exists nothing that is not Brahman. If any object other than Brahman appears to exist, it is unreal like the mirage.
  2. All that is perceived, or heard, is Brahman and nothing else. Attaining the knowledge of the Reality, one sees the Universe as the non-dual Brahman, Existence-Knowledge-Bliss-Absolute.

Here, it is first stated that the universe is not Brahman. But it is also said that any other appearance will be unreal, like a mirage. The mirage is a powerful metaphor because the water that appears is in reality only the sand upon which the appearance takes place. I.e. sand is the substratum of the water appearance, just as Brahman is the substratum of the world appearance. It is then stated that all appearances are, in fact, nothing other than Brahman. But this is realized, of course only upon enlightenment. Until then, the world remains very real. Similarly, to the seeker after water in the desert, the mirage is very real. Continue reading

Thoughts on Seeking and Seekers III (adhikaris)

599101_web_R_by_Günther Dotzler_pixelio.deShravana for Western Students

Shravana is the first phase on the path of knowledge in the tradition. Preparation is all about becoming eligible to do shravaNa – listening to the scriptures.

This is another feature of the traditional teaching that rarely can be transferred to Western students.

Excerpts from the ‘Upanyãsa’ rendered by Brahmashi Mani Dravid Shastriji:

Vedanta shravanãdhikãri’, the requisites of a person that make him eligible for listening to Vedanta (…)

The term ‘Adhikãri’ refers to that person who is capable of attaining the fruit as a result of performance of some action (karma). Possession of some basic prerequisites are laid down by scriptures in order to attain the fruit of ‘Vedanta shravana’ (listening to Vedanta). Continue reading

Action – Morality

“When you understand and are able to act from right action, morality is no longer necessary. It’s instantly obsolete and discarded. This is at the heart of the Bhagavad Gita. Arjuna, as a moral creature, throws down his weapon and refuses to launch a war. Krishna converts him to a creature of right action by freeing him from delusion and Arjuna takes up his weapon and launches the war. Right action has nothing to do with right or wrong, good or evil, naughty or nice. It is without altruism or compassion. Morality is the set of rules and regulations that you use to navigate through life when you’re still trying to steer your ship rather than let it follow the flow”

from ‘Spritual Enlightenment; The Damndest Thing’, Jed McKenna, Wisefool Press, 2002. ISBN 0971435235. Buy from Amazon US, Buy from Amazon UK

Bhagavad-Gita and Advaita – Q. 329

Q:  How would it be possible to deal with our common Bhagavad Gita in terms of Advaita Vedanta?

A (Ramesam): Please appreciate that Bhagavad-Gita is not the primary or basic text for Advaita. Though many of the verses in it are almost exact mantras from various Upanishads, prior to Sankara (8th Century A.D), Bhagavad-Gita was not perhaps as popular a scriptural text for teaching Vedanta as it is today. It was a part of the mythological story, Mahabharata.  Some people hold that the Bhagavad-Gita of Mahabhrata contained 745 verses. Some others opine that the original Gita was much smaller and it was Sankara who compiled the present Gita putting together diverse verses from different sources. None of these opinions, however, have any credible supporting evidence.  The first extant gloss on the Gita is by Sankara and it contains 700 verses (one or two verses are still disputed and said to have been later insertions). Continue reading

QUESTIONS NOT RAISED OR ANSWERED – Part 2

It is about 40 days ago I had posted the first part posing what I thought would be questions that will interest many readers.

Shri Panigrahi and Shri Peter have been kind to respond giving their observations. I am grateful to them for their comments.

I do not know why there are not many more reactions. The reasons could vary from the reader profile, website personality to flippancy of the questions. But as you may have already anticipated, there cannot be ‘the one correct answer.’ There can only be  different views.  So without going into much elaboration, I shall spell out my thoughts for the answers. Continue reading

QUESTIONS NOT RAISED OR ANSWERED – Part 1

[Here are three questions that I did not come across a seeker raising them. Nor did I find any teacher discussing directly those specific issues and answering them in a logical way. Maybe my literature search is incomplete, I admit. Before I go on to provide my replies to these questions, I will very much appreciate to know the reactions / thoughts of the interested / knowledgeable readers – ramesam.]

The Questions:

A.  Bhagavad-Gita related: Continue reading