Although whatever is understood by transmigration or reincarnation does not strictly belong in this discussion on the “problem”, or the “reality” of death, it is so entrenched in people’s minds due to cultural and religious accretions, that a short account of it is not altogether out of place here. In the milieu of Hindu and Buddhist traditions reincarnation occupies the main doctrinal position in their exoteric or “religious” aspects, apart from belief in and worship of a deity or deities, and second only to the doctrine of karma – to which it is intimately related. Death of the body – the ‘gross body’ – is a foregone conclusion once it is irreversible (biological death).
A conventional account of reincarnation is as follows: ‘as for the jiva-atman carrying these vrittis, if during his lifetime the individual had performed some special acts of merit (punya) or demerit (papa), then the jiva-atman would proceed to heaven or hell. After spending his special karma-phala there, he comes back to the earth’. A more elaborate description is that once the seeker realizes nirguna Brahman he/she merges with Him/It, thus attaining immediate liberation (sadya mukti)’.Those who are eager to go beyond paths [the journey of life here and hereafter] tread no path’ (com. on Mu U. lll.2.6). ‘Just as the footmarks of birds cannot be traced in the sky or of fish in water, so is the departure of the illumined’ (Mahabharata). These two quotations are taken from ‘Methods of Knowledge’ – According to Advaita Vedanta’, by Swami Satprakashananda, p. 299. Continue reading →
Part 9 of the serialization of the presentation (compiled by R. B. Athreya from the lectures given by Swami Paramarthananda) of upadesha sAhasrI. This is the prakaraNa grantha which is agreed by most experts to have been written by Shankara himself and is an elaborate unfoldment of the essence of Advaita.
A series of posts, presenting a new translation and commentary by James Swartz on the Panchadasi. This was presented by James as a week-long course during July 2012 and was very well received. It will be posted in around 35 parts at the rate of one part every 2 – 3 weeks. I will be editing and commenting on the material as we go and James may provide additional commentary if time allows. So there may be scope for readers to provide feedback. Please email me via the ‘Contact Form’ if you do not understand anything and wish to seek clarification.
Advaita Vision is proud to announce a new collaboration with this prestigious journal from Sringeri Sharada Peetham, one of the four centres established by Sri Adi Shankara in the 9th century. Its principal objective is to spread the traditions and values taught in the scriptures. The journal is issued monthly and showcases Vedic knowledge and wisdom, with articles written in simple style by well-known authors from India and overseas. It has a readership of over 100,000.
Initially, we will be serializing a presentation of upadesha sAhasrI. This is the prakaraNa grantha which is agreed by most experts to have been written by Shankara himself and is an elaborate unfoldment of the essence of Advaita. This presentation is compiled by R. B. Athreya from the lectures given by Swami Paramarthananda in Chennai.
I call myself an Advaitin, but lack the rigor of scriptural or linguistic (Sanskrit) study attained by other writers on this site. When I feel “left out”, I call myself a mystic or perhaps a Zen Buddhist. I am reminded of a recently told joke of a cowboy who sits down in a bar next to an attractive lady and is asked what he is.
“I am a cowboy. I rope and brand cows, fix fences, and break horses. Who are you? What do you do?”
“I am a lesbian. I dream of women, of running my hands all over them, of having ecstatic sex.” 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 →
In spite of the contradiction pointed out to his theory as above, the Dvaitin contends further that by the same argument the principal statement “tat tvam asi” renders the indwelling self unreal, in which case what is the difference between the two sentences “mind is Brahman” and “indwelling self is Brahman”? This is answered as follows:
Taking the first sentence “mind is Brahman”, the relationship between the two words mind and Brahman is that of effect and cause. Hence we understand the unreality of the effect – the mind – as in the case of “pot is clay”. As for the second, the indwelling self can never be created and never be born – only the body has birth. Continue reading →
The most succinct description of the Gita is in the first verse of the ‘Meditation on the Gita’ traditionally recited before Chapter 1. It is a salutations to Bhagavad Gita, addressed as ‘Bhagavati, Amba’ (goddess, mother). This is what it says about her:
> She is revealed to Arjuna by the Supreme Lord himself.
> She is presented by the ancient sage Vyasa in eighteen chapters in the middle of the Mahābhārata.
> She is a shower of the nectar of non-duality that frees one from the root cause of unhappiness in life. Continue reading →
Identity of the Self and Brahman: The indwelling self is identical with the ever changeless Brahman – the pure existence consciousness. It is the cause of this Universe. The indwelling self (jIvAtman) is aware of both the ‘I’ thought (ahaMkAra ) and ‘this’ (idam- vRRitti ) that resolves in deep sleep. This is the central theme of this text. How such a statement is made, if asked, the answer is that it is not a contradiction as revealed by The Scriptures/ Upanishads. It is proved by shruti, pramANa, logic, and experience as in deep sleep. Seven such pramANa-s are referred to as follows. Continue reading →
A rare and much less known secondary scripture shrutisAra samuddharaNam is a composition by Shri Totakacharya, one of the four disciples of Shri Adi Sankara Bhagavatpada. Though most of the secondary Scriptures are on the same subject of oneness of jIva and brahman, ideas basic to Advaita Vedanta, this work is unique in certain ways. Firstly, it is composed in a meter that is named after the AchArya as toTaka meter. These verses are melodious when sung with their breath-taking rhythm, they remind us of Sri Sankara’s famous bhaja govinda stotram. He elucidated the nature of Brahman as one and non-dual, real, knowledge and bliss through a number of scriptural texts. Secondly he does not refer to the mAyA concept that is important to Advaita Vedanta nor discuss the tenability of the reflection theory (bimba pratibimba vAda) nor the limitation theory (avachCheda vAda ). The reasons are the possibility of his explaining the oneness of inner self (jIva ) and supreme self ( brahman ) of Advaita Vedanta without resorting to those concepts. He later became the Pontiff of the Sankara Matt established by his Guru at Badari, North India. With the blessings of my Guru, I shall try to give a short overview of this text. Continue reading →