I have just started reading the massive commentary on the mANDUkya, Gaudapada kArikA-s and Shankara bhAShya (if it was Shankara) by Divyaj~nAna Sarojini VaradarAjan, so I thought it might be appropriate to post my own translation and commentary on the Upanishad itself from ‘A-U-M’.
The VaradarAjan book is in two volumes and, as far as I am aware, is only available from Exotic India at £65 to post to the UK. Only 500 copies were printed and these may sell out quickly as her Upanishad commentaries are unparalleled.
My own book ‘A-U-M: Awakening to Reality’ is a ‘by topic’ rather than verse by verse commentary, although it does cover all of the material. The specific translation and commentary on the 12 verses of the Upanishad itself are relegated to an Appendix, since the material is rather ‘dense’, and the tone less ‘conversational’ than the main body of the book. It is available from Amazon:
This series will post the whole of Appendix 1 of ‘A-U-M’ and, in general, each post will cover one verse of the Upanishad. This first post, however, covers the shAnti pATha – the traditional prayer at the beginning of an Upanishad – and Shankara’s introduction.
Q: I have been studying Advaita for the last 20 years. I have read multiple books on the subject and I am presently reading your book “Answers…” but have only read 213 pages so far.
The dilemma I have concerns praying or addressing myself to what I call ‘Infinite Consciousness’.
I start by asking that the veil of ignorance be lifted from the mind so that ‘what is’ may be revealed. Next, I give thanks for the day, for all things done, for animals and vegetables eaten and meaningful words read. But, in so doing, 3 questions have occurred:
Adhering to the teachings of Advaita, I find myself asking: “Who am I praying to?” and
“Who is praying?”.
If I am simply an expression of ‘God’, am I addressing myself in these prayers (because if so, I have a huge issue with an ego inflating itself)?
Before getting started with spirituality, let’s discuss ‘Religion’, because of which I am where I am and love being today!
Religion to me is like that teacher who places a nut with its hard shell in the hand and tells us to “believe” that there is something in it. When the nut is shaken out of curiosity, there may not be anything immediately perceptible in the case of a very tightly packed nut. At such point, 1 of 4 reactions is possible:
One rejects it because the inside is not immediately known/perceptible-atheists.
One becomes so obsessed with the nut itself, its shape, colour, beauty and thus becomes “nut obsessed” that they even forget the possibility of something existing inside of the shell-extremely religious folks whose entire life is consumed by and ends at religion.
The nut obsession itself is pushed so far that the obsessor himself turns into a nut (hehe sorry I simply couldn’t hold that back)-religious fanatics who won’t stop short of even killing.
Holding the nut long enough in the hand based on some initial belief induces curiosity and questioning to the point where there is a frantic search for a tool to crack open the shell to look at what’s within it. Philosophy is that tool to crack open the nut and voila, the core is exposed-those driven into Philosophy through initial instillation of belief/faith by religion.
Points 2, 3 and 4 above clearly indicate a grounding in some belief without which the nut would have been discarded, as in 1.
It is only when that core of the nut is exposed that its very purpose is served! Similarly insist the wise, Religion has served its highest purpose only when it has led to the core of it, God!
Q: There are moments when I think I am the one that is creating my world with my specific positive thoughts – is that true?
Or is it the concsiouness bringing me those positive thoughts or negative thoughts? I know that I don’t have to ask for anything because in that way there is an infinite possibility of something fresh and new and totally different.
How do I pray? In silence only doing meditation?
A (Sitara): Yes, it is true. Your experiences (positive as well as negative ones) are constructs of your mind. The question is, what do you do with this information?
It seems that all of your questions are about, how to get a different life. For that you would like to know the mechanism of what in New Age (or Yoga, magic etc.) is called materialization of things, events, persons etc. Continue reading →
In the previous extract from her talks to London students, Swāminī Ātmaprakāśānanda, laid out a more liberating vision of Íśvara – liberating in the sense that it gets away from the old man in the sky image or some force-field etc. From the perspective of traditional advaita vedānta Íśvara is seen as the sum total of the universal natural law and order.
“Every natural law is Īśvara. The law ordaining grace is Īśvara. Action is Īśvara. The results of actionis Īśvara. Merit is Īśvara. Demerit is Īśvara. Pain is Īśvara. Pleasure is Īśvara. Right and wrong action is Īśvara. Punishment for the wrong action is Īśvara. Good is Īśvara. Evil is Īśvara – don’t say that evil is not God. Everything is Īśvara.”
The universal law and order is what determines the fruits of actions. You can’t see this with physical eyes, but you can understand the laws being manifest. Anything done, knowingly, unknowingly, intentionally, unintentionally – however it is done – any action has to result in a reaction, has to cause some effect.
If this be the case, what is the role of prayer or worship? With simple logic and reason Swaminiji once more breaks down resistance to these activities… Continue reading →
Om sahanāvavatu sahanaubhunaktu sahavīryaṃ karavāvahai Tejasvināvadhitamastu mā vidviśāvahai Om śāntiḥ śāntiḥ śāntiḥ
This mantra, found in the Taittiriya Upanishad, is most propitious for recitation before study with the teacher.
Here is one translation: May He protect us both together. May he nourish us both together. May we both acquire strength together. Let our study be brilliant. May we not cavil at each other. Om! Peace! Peace! Peace!
(Translated by Swami Gambhirananda).
Unfolded by a traditional teacher, these simple statements reveal their inner meaning. Continue reading →