Trip to India – Part 5



Wife, Sowmya, and a friend of the latter employed themselves the next day mostly shopping (goodness knows what they shopped – I think my wife bought a shalwar chameez). I stayed home, mostly  sipping warm lassy. The following day (Saturday) my wife was taken by Ravi (our taxi driver) to visit two temples and she took some photos. Next day – Sunday – we all went to the karyalaya, centre of activities of Sw. Subraya Sharma. A large group of students, both young and adult, were sitting around in the large room – as they do every Sunday – to study Advaita Vedanta under the direction of Subraya Sharma. They all speak Kannada (definitely better than they do English, at least to my ear), so no problem. Continue reading

Trip to India – 4

Sw-s Subraya Sharma, Ramachandra Iyer & Sowmya

The Adhyatma Prakasha Karyalaya was founded by Swamiji [1880-1975] in 1920, its first location being Bangalore, which has persisted, but reduced in size in comparison with the next location: It then became well established in 1937 in Holenarsipur, 1 and ½ h. from Bangalore, where he spent his last years. Swamiji’s intention was to publish the works of Shankaracharya along with those of Gaudapada and Suresvara, all of those that are based on Prasthanatraya. His own extensive work has also been published there, as well as several journals – in Sanskrit, Kannada, and English. Continue reading

Trip to India – 3


On the third day Sowmya, my wife and I went over to Ramachandra’s house and he accompanied us to visit Subraya Sharma. Ramachandra Iyer, a saintly swami with a persistent gentle smile in his face and of few words, is someone you can be quite at ease with in company, so unobstructive and unassuming  is he. Sowmya  (I was told) calls him ‘uncle’, even if there is no blood relationship between them. He has just turned 72 years of age and lives with his wife, one son and his wife, and two young  and sprightly grand-daughters.

At Subraya Sharma’s home (he is the one who took care of Swamiji for 16 years of the latter’s life) we were offered milk in a small glass and some granulated sugar (one was supposed to drink the milk and swallow the sugar after putting it in the palm of one’s hand and may be grind it between one’s teeth before swallowing – this is what I did). Continue reading

Trip to India – 2

As I wrote in part l of this Travelog, I never expected that I would be talking on three occasions in front of an audience and in three different locations. Before departing to India I had asked Sowmya (a 29 years old MD and accomplished Advitist) what could I talk about if the occasion arose, assuming that there would be at least one presentation I should be making. Sowmya told me that the topic  could be the article I wrote (published serially in Advaita Vision in 2017) in defense of SSSS (‘Swamiji’ henceforth) which took me so long to write – 16 pp long vs. the 40 pp of the article by Ramakrishnan Balasubramanian. Continue reading

Bhakti in Advaita

“Bhakti” in common parlance is generally taken to mean a sort of Master – slave relationship of a seeker towards a superior Guru/Master/Lord/God, an attitude that in a way does reinforce duality.

Historically speaking, Bhakti as a cult took root in India after the Muslim invasions. The Abrahamic monotheistic religions with their proselytizing spirit attracted the masses offering the promises of a personal God who would fulfill their wants. Perhaps to counter this, indigenous Bhakti cults developed and continue to do so today. 

The Advaita scriptural texts, strictly speaking, do say that devotional approach to a personal deity is an inferior path for Enlightenment. Further, some of them explicitly state that the devotee has to be a “Shiva” himself in order to worship Shiva. Yogavaasishta says a Vishnu only can truly worship a Vishnu. The implication in these statements is that the devotee should lose the sense of being a separate individual from what is being worshiped – it insists on a total identity, Oneness, of the subject-object.

I feel that the techniques like meditation, Bhakti, rituals, pilgrimages etc. are useful at two levels to a seeker:

  • Bhakti etc. will work as a sort of aid to train the mind in its ability to stay focused (instead of wavering) and unbiased (being aware of one’s own hidden prejudices). These two aspects sharpen the mind and make it ready to take up Self-inquiry on one’s own.
  • Bhakti and other such techniques are useful once again at a later stage after the Advaitic message is completely ingested without any doubt but a seeker experiences some difficulty to abide constantly in Brahman. The mind out of its sheer old habit pulls him/her back to the lures of the world from unceasing abidance as Brahman. Using Bhakti and other such things as little crutches, it will be easy for the seeker then to come back to rest as Awareness instead of being driven by the vagaries of the mind.

From:  Place of Bhakti in Advaita – The Reply to the Question, Jul 27, 2012

Swami Dayananda retreat

dayananda_retreatThis specially arranged 16–day retreat (15–30 January) offers the rare privilege of sitting at the feet of a master teacher. There will be several classes a day, each day ending with a question and answer satsang. The retreat will be followed, from the 31st, by a further 4–5 days of optional visits to sites of historic importance, including Sringeri Math.

The ashram is situated in beautiful, peaceful forest 45 minutes drive from Coimbatore.

See more details.