Isavasya Upanishad — Commentary Part 1 of 5 by Prof V. Krishnamurthy


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Namaskaar friends

Today we start a new series, short but very important in the study of Vedanta. Isavasya Upanishad is a small 18-verse text but one which, in the wise words of the commentator, “….within these 18 verses it spans the entire spectrum of Hindu philosophy, religion, ritualism, mythology and metaphysics so precisely and so succinctly that it is probably the most often quoted upaniShad.” For this series we are grateful to Advaita Academy

A brief introduction of the commentator. Prof. V. Krishnamurthy is an ex-Director of K.K. Birla Academy, New Delhi. Formerly he was Dy. Director and Prof. of Mathematics at Birla Institute of Technology and Science, Pilani for more than two decades. Trained systematically in the traditional Hindu scriptures by his father Sri R. Viswanatha Sastrigal, a scholarly exponent who was himself a living example of the ideal Hindu way of life. Over the years Prof. Krishnamurthy has given several successful lectures on Hinduism, the Ramayana, the Gita, the Upanishads, and Srimad Bhagavatam to Indian and American audiences. His expositions have been acclaimed for their precision, clarity and an irresistible appeal to the modern mind.  Known to his students as Prof VK, this great Vedantin is a storehouse of deep knowledge on every aspect of Vedanta. He is always ready to help anyone who approaches him for clarifications on Scriptural teachings. Prof VK has several of his lectures on YouTube. Each is worth listening to and learning from. He still continues to record lessons even at age 90+

OK so lets begin our Isavasya study.

As Mahatma Gandhi used to say,
even if every other scripture of Hinduism
vanished and this alone (Isavasya) survived,
Hinduism will survive!

The First and Last Word

Almost everything in Hindu philosophy and metaphysics goes back to the veda-s, which are unwritten records of sayings of the age-old RRiShi-s, handed down to us by oral transmission all through the several millennia they have been current. The end parts of the veda-s contain the upaniShad-s. Though we have only four veda-s, each veda is said to have had several branches – most of them are non-extant now – and it appears each such branch or shAkhA had an upaniShad of its own. Thus we have in our current stock of ancient scriptural literature 120 or so upaniShad-s. Of these about eleven are considered most important and most ancient. Almost every great religious teacher has commented on most of these eleven upaniShad-s.

The IshAvAsyopaniShad, or, shortly IshopaniShad, belongs to the Shukla (white) branch of the yajurveda. It is actually a very small upaniShad, containing just 18 two-line verses. But within these 18 verses it spans the entire spectrum of Hindu philosophy, religion, ritualism, mythology and metaphysics so precisely and so succinctly that it is probably the most often quoted upaniShad.

It is the first word because it is one of the earliest upaniShad-s. It is also the last word because it says everything that has to be said in vedAnta and, in addition, it occurs as the very last concluding part of Shukla Yajurveda.

The one upaniShad which may replace every other

The upaniShad-s, in general, are not just a catalogue of dogmas. Instead they are records of dialogues or conversations held by the ancient seers about their spiritual experiences, not only the final ones but intermediate experiences also. In that sense we see the evolution of spiritual wisdom step by step and also the presence of differing points of view. But the upaniShad differs from this general pattern of upaniShad. There is no discussion or conversation here. We are presented with a set of conclusions almost in final form. So when this short upaniShad is commented upon by the Masters it naturally gives rise to varied interpretations to the thought processes embedded in it.

In that sense it is one of the difficult upaniShad-s – scholarly, profound and fundamental. The fact that this most ancient scripture is studied avidly even today, shows that the truths presented therein are satisfying even to the most modern mind. As Mahatma Gandhi used to say, even if every other scripture of Hinduism vanished and this alone survived, Hinduism will survive!

The very first principle

IshA-vAsyam-idam sarvam – thus begins the upaniShad. Incidentally, the name of the upaniShad derives from these beginning words. This entire visible universe is to be considered as clothed, covered or inhabited by the Lord (Isha, in Sanskrit), the Ruler, the Creator. It is the Lord, that is, brahman, in this context, that lies as the transcendental substratum for everything that we see, inspite of the flux and variations that present themselves and totally hide the more permanent thing underneath.

This transcendental unity underlying everything in the phenomenal world is the one stable Spirit inhabiting and governing a universe of movement and all forms of movement. The word ‘jagat’ which means universe, has inbuilt into it the meaning of mutability. The indwelling immutable Spirit is Vasu-deva, the Lord that permanently resides within, according to His own promise in the 61st shloka of the 18th chapter of the gItA.

The universe is nothing but a conglomeration of names and forms. Look at it from a distance, as you would look at a painting in order to appreciate it better. When we see a movie on the screen, we know fully well that what goes on in the screen is really not there. So also the universe which is visible to us is a superimposition on the reality that is behind, and that is Isha, the Lord.

What we see is relatively unreal – mark the adjective, relatively – compared to the Absolute Reality which is the Truth. Whatever we see in this phenomenal world only comes and goes. They are all changeable, mutable. We do not realise that the only immutable thing is the indweller, VAsu-deva, who is the One that dwells everywhere. Our non-realisation is because our minds are overloaded with things other than the Lord, with all things mundane and profane.

Prescription for daily life

ॐ ईशा वास्यमिद सर्वं यत्किञ्च जगत्यां जगत् ।
तेन त्यक्तेन भुञ्जीथा मा गृधः कस्यस्विद्धनम् ॥ १॥

IshA-vAsyam-idaM sarvaM yat kimca jagatyAM jagat /
tena tyaktena bhunjItAH mA gRRidhah kasyasvid dhanam // 1 //

All this is inhabited, enveloped, by the Lord whatever that moves in this moving world. Enjoy by renouncing it. Lust not after any one’s possession.

To see this Imperishable (because it is unconditioned by Time), Indivisible (because it is unconditioned by Space) and Immutable (because it is unconditioned by Causality) Lord everywhere is the first maxim. It is not an academic injunction, however, because in the very second line of the verse we are given the rule for a daily divine life: Enjoy by renouncing it – here the ‘it’ refers to the ‘jagat’ (universe) in the first line. The enjoyment is in the establishing oneself in the bliss of the Atman. Incidentally the word ‘jagat’ comes from the root verb ‘to move’ or ‘to change’. The universe is nothing but a series of changeful states.

How can renunciation be enjoyment?

Only in vedAnta does renunciation reach such a powerful consummation, comments Swami Vivekananda. This renunciation is not an alibi for indifference or negligence of duties. Renunciation is of desires and not necessarily a physical renunciation of one’s possessions or obligations. Possessions by themselves are not wrong; only attachment to them is wrong.

The sense of possession is wrong; ‘I possess this; it is mine’ – such attitudes have to be won over. This subtle point about enjoyment through renunciation is what is generally missed by the uninformed reader. The world in which we live or the things of the world in the midst of which we carry on our life – none of it is ours. Once we have that conviction we can enjoy our life.

So it is the attachment that is to be renounced. The word ‘bhunjIthAh’ stands for the experiencing and enjoying whatever is the visible universe. This enjoyment comes after renunciation of attachment to the desires. How is this so? This is so because everything is His. There is nothing that we can call or covet as ours. So the very idea of possession by us insignificant mortals is ludicrous. IshA-vAsyam-idam sarvam. In fact even saying that it is His is wrong. It is He. Everything is the Lord. sarvam-khalvidam brahma.

Indeed all this is brahman. This oft-quoted truism from the mass of upaniShadic literature is to be felt in the bones and perceived as a way of life. It is for this purpose the three steps of shravaNa (hearing and listening), manana (mental analysis and synthesis of what was heard) and nididhyAsana (introspective contemplation of Being instead of Becoming) have been recommended so that theoretical knowledge can result in application.

What this application is, is what is said in the second line of the verse. The two cornerstones of such application are: renunciation of attachment and non-covetousness of any possession.

Injunction to do one’s duties

Right in the next verse it says one should wish to live a full life of one hundred years. By doing what? Not by renouncing but by doing one’s duties and being involved in action. There is no other way to live, we are told. We think we have to live our secular life by our own standards and norms. We think the religious-philosophical-spiritual way of living is something different. Not so, say all the upaniShad-s. Here the IshopaniShad links the two sides of man’s living by giving a prescription:

kurvan-neveha karmANi – doing here all duties and actions – and na karma lipyate nare – actions do not bind the man. Do your actions in such a way that they don’t bind you. What is that way? Enjoyment by renunciation of attachment. So even secular actions have to be done with an attitude — an attitude motivated and prescribed by a philosophical understanding of things – an attitude of non-attachment.

Such actions will not bind the real YOU within. This YOU, being nothing but brahman, cannot be contaminated by any of the actions which the body or mind does.

To be continued ……
Pranaam from Kamal Kothari

मना रे जनी मौनमुद्रा धरावी — सौ. मुक्ता वाळवेकर


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Namaskaar friends

For the first time making an attempt to post in Marathi language. This is a wonderful article based on teachings of Swami Samarth Ramdas and written by a young devotee, Smt Mukta Walvekar of Hyderabad, Telangana State.

Mukta is an IT professional and along with her husband Pramod, has been studying Samarth literature and works for many years. Mukta is a disciple of Dr. Shrikrishna D. Deshmukh (Dr Kaka) and studying under his guidance. Humble, dedicated, down-to-earth, committed, soft spoken, deeply knowledgeable and always ready to help seekers pursuing the spiritual path; these are the traits of this young lady. I have never met her but know her from my few phone conversations with her on Samarth teachings.

Swami Samarth is one of the most well known names in a galaxy of Saints that the pious land of Maharashtra has been blessed with. He roamed the whole country on foot in the 17th Century and is best known for his epic work “Dasbodh” containing teachings useful for both material success as well as spiritual success simultaneously. The Dasbodh is in the form of a dialogue between a student and teacher, and is a classic text on Advaita Vedanta on the lines of teachings of Adi Sankaracharya. Samarth Ramdas greatly respected Sankara and many of Bhagavan Sankara’s teachings are reflected in Dasbodh and other texts he wrote, like Manache Shlok. He was very close to the great Maratha King Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj at whose request he had settled on Sajjangad Fort near Satara, close to Pune, and where his Samadhi lies today making it an important pilgrimage place.

Until I read Mukta’s articles I had had no previous exposure to Dasbodh but once having had a ‘peep in’ to the great teachings, am now an ardent follower of the teachings. If you understand Marathi it will be a great pleasure to read this article and some more that Mukta has kindly permitted me to post here. Please leave you feedback and comments.

मना रे जनी मौनमुद्रा धरावी

यं वर्णयितुं साक्षाच्छृतिरपि मूकेव मौनमाचरति । सो‍ऽस्माकं मनुजानां किं वाचां गोचरो भवति || (प्र. सु. २-९)
– ‘श्रुतीदेखील ज्याचे वर्णनप्रसंगी मौन धारण करते, तो आत्मा मनुष्याच्या वाणीला गोचर होईल काय?’.

 ‘Aggressive Marketing’ हा आजच्या युगाचा मंत्र आहे. दैनंदिन व्यवहारातील कला, क्रीडा, नोकरी, व्यवसाय इ. सर्व क्षेत्रांमध्ये प्रत्येक कृती जास्तीत-जास्त लोकांपर्यंत पोहोचवण्यासाठी प्रचंड चढाओढ दिसून येते. वर्तमानपत्र, दूरदर्शन, Social Media, Mobile Marketing, Email Marketing, WhatsApp असे नवनवीन Platforms त्यासाठी उपलब्ध आहेत. बोलणाऱ्यांची गाजरे विकतात, न बोलणाऱ्यांची केळी देखील विकले जात नाही अशी शिकवण मुलांना बालवयापासून दिली जाते. Communication Skills विकसीत करण्यासाठी विविध उपक्रम सर्वत्र राबविले जातात. व्यवहाराच्या दृष्टीने ते योग्यही आहेत. मनोबोधात मात्र समर्थ मना रे जनी मौनमुद्रा धरावी हा संदेश आपणांस देतात. समर्थांना अभिप्रेत असलेले मौनाचे स्वरूप, प्रकार, उद्देश, फायदे आणि चालू युगात मौनाची आवश्यकता ह्यासंदर्भात चिंतन करू.

 मौन कशासाठी पाळायचे? त्याचा उद्देश काय? आजच्या कोलाहलग्रस्त जीवनामध्ये दररोज किमान काही क्षण अंतर्बाह्य शांतता (Silence) अनुभवण्याचे महत्व आधुनिक विज्ञान मांडते. The Power of Silence चे विस्तृत वर्णन वैद्यकशास्त्राने केले आहे. प्रसिद्ध डॉ. पॉल हेदर शांतता पाळल्याने होणारे फायदे सांगतो  –


  • Lowers blood pressure, allows you to deal with life’s challenges in a better way.
  • Boosts immune system.
  • Reduces stress, lowers blood cortisol and adrenaline levels.
  • Regulates hormones and interaction of all hormone related systems.
  • Keeps plaques from forming in arteries, helps to prevent cardiovascular diseases.

 परंतु वैद्यकशास्त्राने पुरस्कृत केलेले वाणी नियंत्रित करण्याचे वरील फायदे केवळ शरीरस्वास्थ्याशी निगडीत आहेत.

पारमार्थिक पातळीवर मौनाचा संबंध मुख्यतः मनाशी असून, त्याची भूमिका बरीच विस्तृत आणि व्यापक आहे. गीतेमध्ये मौनं चैवास्मि गुह्यानां (१०-३८) असे विभूतीयोगाचे वर्णन आहे. गुप्त राखण्यायोग्य जेवढे भाव आहेत, त्यांतील मौन (वाणीचा संयम) ‘माझी विभूती’ आहे असे भगवंताचे वचन आहे. मौनाचरणाने मनाचे सामर्थ्य वाढते. शब्दातीत भगवंताचे स्वरूप आकलन करणे शक्य होते. गोंदवलेकर महाराज म्हणतात – ‘न बोलण्याने वाचणारी शक्ती, बुद्धी व वेळ परमात्मचिंतनाकडे लागावा व मन स्वस्थ व एकाग्र व्हावे हा मौनाचा खरा हेतू होय.’

व्यवहारात अबोल असणाऱ्या व्यक्तींचे विविध प्रकार आढळतात. कोणाचा तो मूळ स्वभाव असतो, तर कधी विशिष्ट प्रसंगामुळे मनुष्य अबोला पत्करतो. अपघात, संबंधित व्यक्तीचा अचानक मृत्यू, दुर्धर आजार, गतकाळातील वाईट स्मृती, भविष्याची अनावश्यक चिंता, भय अशा अनेक कारणांनी मनुष्य मौनावतो. कठोर, अनोळखी, नासमज, अप्रिय अथवा अत्यंत प्रभावशाली व्यक्तीशी सामना झाल्यास वाणी शांत होते. कधी वादावादी टाळण्यासाठी अथवा प्रसंगानुरूप योग्य माहिती नसल्यास बोलणे कमी होते. चूक वर्तणुकीची खंत वाटून अपराधी मनोवृत्तीमुळे बडबड थांबते. ही कारणे रास्त असली तरी स्वरूप-संशोधन करतांना अशा अबोल्याचा फारसा उपयोग नाही. तो असता तर सर्व मूक लोक अथवा हठयोगाने वाणीचा निरोध करणारे योगी जीवन्मुक्त झाले असते. मोक्षासाठी विचारपूर्वक पत्करलेले मौनच अपेक्षित आणि उपयोगी आहे.

वाङ्ग्मौन, इन्द्रियमौन, काष्ठमौन, सुषुप्तिमौन इ. मौनाचे प्रकार मानले जातात. त्यातील सर्वांत प्रचलीत म्हणजे वाङ्ग्मौन अथवा अभाषण, अर्थात् वाणीने न बोलणे. परा, पश्यन्ति, मध्यमा, वैखरी असे वाणीचे क्रमाने सूक्ष्मतम ते स्थूलतम चार स्तर आहेत. समर्थ त्यांचे वर्णन समर्पकपणे करतात – उन्मेष परा ध्वनि पश्यन्ती | नाद मध्यमा शब्द चौथी | वैखरीपासून उमटती | नाना शब्दरत्ने || (दा.बो. १२-५-८). परावाचा सर्वांत सूक्ष्म, ओंकाराचे पहिले स्वरूप व केवळ वायुरूप जाणिवेचे स्फुरण आहे. पश्यन्ती वाणी ध्वनिरूप असून अंतःकरण अथवा सूक्ष्म देहाला व्यापून राहाते. मध्यमा नादरूप असून पश्यन्ति-वैखरी ह्यांना साखळीप्रमाणे जोडते. वैखरी वाणी सर्वात स्थूल असून ती अव्यक्ताला व्यक्त करते. शब्द, सूर अथवा उच्चार वैखरीतून प्रकट होतो. परेचें स्थान नाभि, पश्यन्तीचे हृदय, मध्यमेचे कंठ व वैखरीचे स्थान मुख होय.

आपण बोलतांना आधी परावाणीत स्फुरण, मग पश्यन्तीत ध्वनी, मध्यमेत नाद व शेवटी वैखरीत प्रत्यक्ष शब्द उमटतो. सामान्यतः वाङ्ग्मौन म्हणजे ‘वैखरीने न बोलणे’ समजले जाते. परंतु, वाणीसंयमाचे दिशेने ते पहिले पाऊल असून मौनाचा तो स्थूल स्तर आहे. आपण जेवढे वैखरीने स्पष्ट बोलतो, त्यापेक्षा कितीतरी अधिक संभाषण मध्यमेत आणि पश्यन्तीमध्ये करतो. ह्या आतल्याआत बोलण्याला ‘विचार’ असे म्हणतात. मुळात वैखरी वाणीला विराम देणे व्यवहारात अनेकांना जड जाते. कुटुंब, नोकरी, व्यवसाय, समाज, बातम्या, दूरदर्शन मालिका, क्रिकेट, मनोरंजनाचे कार्यक्रम, सण-समारंभ, वाढदिवस, Stock Market इ. नाना विषय अखंड आपल्या संभाषणाचा अथवा विचारांचा विषय बनतात. ‘The biggest challenge after success is shutting up about it.’ अशी एक प्रसिद्ध म्हण आहे. जीवनात छोट्यामोठ्या प्रसंगात स्वतःची बढाई मारणे ही सवय होऊन बसते आणि तिच्यापासून सुटका होणे अतिशय अवघड होते. ज्ञानेश्वर महाराजांचे ह्यासंदर्भात सुंदर वचन आहे ‘अनंत वाचाळ बरळती बरळ | त्या कैसेनि दयाळ पावे हरी‘ (ह. पा. ७-३). ‘आत्मरूप हरी दयाळू असला तरी अनावश्यक आणि अखंड बडबड करणाऱ्यांना तो कसा प्रसन्न होईल?’ अर्थात्, हरीला प्रसन्न करून घेण्यासाठी वाणीचा संयम करणे आवश्यक आहे.

वैखरी शांत करता आली तरी आतील वाणींचे व्यवहार थांबविणे महाकठीण आहे. मन अस्वस्थ, अशांत असेल अथवा मध्यमेने आतल्याआत चडफडत बोलणे चालू असेल, तर वरकरणी सांभाळलेला अबोला म्हणजे खरे मौन नव्हे. ती केवळ स्वतःशी केलेली प्रतारणा आहे. वैखरीच्या मौनाने सुरुवात करून पुढे ते मध्यमा, पश्यन्ती, परेपर्यंत नेणे हा मौनाचा अपेक्षित आणि उपयुक्त क्रमविकास आहे. ज्या आत्मस्वरुपाशी अनुसंधान साधावयाचे तेथे वाणीचा शिरकाव होत नाही. केन श्रुती म्हणते – आत्मा वाणीते चकवी | अक्षर, शब्दांते भुलवी | वेदां नेति नेतिबोलवी | अगम्यपणे || (केन. उप. १-६१). अर्थात्, ‘आत्मा वाणीला सापडत नाही, अक्षर व शब्दांना भूल पाडतो, अगम्य असल्याने वेदांनाही ‘नेति’ असे म्हणावयांस लावतो.’ शब्दातीत आत्मस्वरूपाच्या जवळ जाण्यासाठी वाणींचा लय होणे आवश्यक आहे. तो लय करण्याची कला श्रीगुरू आपल्याला शिकवितात. भूतभविष्याचे अनावश्यक चिंतन, सामाजिक अथवा राजकीय मुद्द्यांवर निरर्थक चर्चा, अनुत्पादक विचार, दैनंदिन व्यवहाराशी सुसंगत नसलेले विचार झटकून टाकले तर मौन साधणे सोपे होते. प्रामाणिकपणे संतविहीत निष्काम कर्म केले असता कुठल्याही कृतीची टोचणी लागत नाही, अंतःकरण शुद्ध व शांत राहाते व वाङ्गमौन लवकर साधते.

वाचेचे मौन आदर्श असले तरी रोजच्या व्यवहारामध्ये अखंड पाळणे सामान्य साधकांना अशक्य आहे. दैनंदिन व्यवहार वाणीने बोलल्याशिवाय सिद्ध् होत नाही. त्यासाठी दयाळू संत मौनाचे व्यवहार्य पैलू समजावून सांगतात.

श्रद्धेने केलेले नामस्मरण मौनाचाच प्रकार आहे अशी सद्गुरू आणि सर्व संतांची शिकवण आहे. पुढे वैखरी राम आधी वदावा (म.बो. ३) आणि रघुनायकावीण बोलो नको हो (म.बो. ४३) हा समर्थांचा बोध सर्वार्थाने आचरणीय आहे. सकाळी उठल्यापासून शरीर व वाणीचे विविध व्यवहार सुरु होतात. साधकाने तत्पूर्वीच भगवंताशी अनुसंधान साधावे. शांत वातावरणात, प्रसन्न चित्ताने वैखरी वाणीने मोठ्याने आपल्या आराध्य दैवताचे नाम घ्यावे. ह्या नामामध्ये सातत्य आले की पुढे तेच क्रमाक्रमाने सूक्ष्म होत मध्यमा, पश्यन्ती आणि परेपर्यंत जाते. रामनामाचे जे स्मरण | या नांव गा महामौन || (ए. भा. ३-४२६) असे नाथ महाराज म्हणतात. आवश्यक व्यवहार आटोपला की उरलेला सर्व काळ फक्त भगवंताविषयीच बोलावे, त्याचेच चिंतन करावे. नुसते पहाटे नाम घेऊन ते सोडून न देता, दिवसभरही यथाशक्ति, नेटाने नाम घ्यावे. वाणीमध्ये नाम स्थिर झाले की बाकीचे अनावश्यक विचार आपोआप गळून पडतात. मग ज्ञानेश्वर महाराज म्हणतात – नामपाठ मौन प्रपंचाचे‘ (हरीपाठ ९-४) त्याप्रमाणे प्रपंचाचे मौन म्हणजेच प्रापंचिक द्वंद्वांचा उपशम होतो.

संत एकनाथांनी मौन म्हणजे ‘वाणीचा संयम’ म्हणजे असा सुंदर पैलू मांडला आहे – मौनीन बोलावे इतुकें जाण | मिथ्यालाप असम्भाषण | नित्य करावे वेदपठण | गायत्रीस्मरण का हरीनाम || (ए. भा. १९-३८८). साधकाने अधिक बोलू नये. खोटे बोलू नये. अपशब्द बोलू नये. नित्य वेद्पठण, गायत्री मंत्राचा जप अथवा हरि नामस्मरण करावे.’ वाणी-संयमाचा मूळ उद्देश शब्दातीत आत्मस्वरूपाचे चिंतन करून त्याची प्रचीती घेणे हा आहे. तो साध्य होण्यासाठी साधकाने शक्य तेवढे मोजून-मापून बोलावे. व्यवहारात ‘जेवढे जास्त अनावश्यक बोलू तेवढे जास्त निस्तरावे लागते’ हा सर्वांचा अनुभव आहे. मुळात साधकाला गरजेपेक्षा जास्त बोलण्याची इच्छाच होऊ नये. जनी वाउगे बोलता सौख्य नाही‘ (म. बो. २३) ही समर्थांची शिकवण कायम ध्यानात ठेवावी. ज्यावाचून अडले नाही असे संभाषण पूर्णतः टाळावे. जेथे आपले मत विचारले नाही अथवा जेथे किंमत नाही तेथे मत व्यक्त करू नये. जास्त आणि वायफळ बोलण्याने अंतरंगातील शक्तीचा अपव्यय होतो. गोंदवलेकर महाराज म्हणतात – ‘परमात्मचिंतनाचा मुख्य हेतू सांभाळून गरजेपुरतें बोलले तर मौनभंग झाला असे समजू नये.’ वाणीचा असा संयम सर्व स्तरावरील साधकांना नक्कीच अभ्यासनीय व फलदायी आहे.

गीतेमध्ये १७व्या अध्यायात भगवंत वाचिक तपाचे मार्गदर्शन करतात. अनुद्वेगकरं वाक्यं सत्यं प्रियहितं च यत् | स्वाध्यायाभ्यसनं चैव वाङ्ग्मयं तप उच्यते || (१७-१५). दुसऱ्याला उद्वेग न आणणारे आणि हितकारक बोलावे. सत्य बोलावे, प्रिय बोलावे परंतु अप्रिय, नुकसानदायी अथवा टोचणारे सत्य बोलू नये. श्रुती, स्मृती आणि संतवाङ्ग्मयाचा अभ्यास, सखोल चिन्तन आणि नामस्मरण करावे. ह्य सर्व कृती वाचिक तपाचे स्वरूप आहेत. समर्थांनी व्यवहारामध्ये काय व कसे बोलावे (अथवा बोलू नये) ह्या संदर्भात जागोजागी मार्मिक बोध केला आहे. वेड्यास वेडे म्हणो नये | वर्म कदापि बोलों नये |’ (१३-१०-२६)बोलीला बोल विसरों नये | प्रसंगी सामर्थ्य चुकों नये |’ (२-२-१२) हे दासबोधातील मार्गदर्शन ध्यानांत ठेवावे. वेड्या मनुष्याला स्पष्टपणे दोष दाखवून दुखवू नये, संबंधितांचे वर्म काढणे टाळावे, आपण स्वतः एकदा मांडलेले मत विसरू नये. नम्र आणि गोड बोलावे परंतु प्रसंग आला असता चातुर्याने आपली सामर्थ्याची चुणूक अवश्य दाखवावी. अशा प्रकारचे वाचिक तप करणे व्यवहारात नक्कीच शक्य आहे. त्यायोगे अशब्द आणि अरूप आत्म्याची प्रचिती येणे निश्चित सोपे होते.

‘मुनेर्भावः’ असा मौन शब्दाचा अजून एक अर्थ आहे. मुनी मननशील असतो. तो स्वभावतःच आत्मस्वरूपाचे अखंड मनन करतो. वासुदेवः सर्वमिति ह्या उक्तीप्रमाणे त्याला सर्वत्र भगवद्स्वरुपच दिसते. त्याच्या अंतःकरणातील प्रत्येक वृत्तीमध्ये स्वरूपाचे अनुसंधान असते. आपण साधकांनी देखील मौनाचा अभ्यास करतांना भगवद्स्वरुपाचे नित्य मनन करण्याची कला विकसीत करावी. त्यासाठी जे जे देखिजे भूत | ते ते मानिजे भगवंत ||’ हा सोपा उपाय ज्ञानेश्वर महाराज सांगतात. श्रुती म्हणते – सर्वत्र आत्मा जाणे | सारेचि व्यापिले तेणे | काही नसे वेगळेपणे | आत्मतत्वा || (ईश. उप. ८०). ह्या चराचरात अंतर्बाह्य सर्वांना व्यापून एक आत्माच आहे असा निश्चय केल्यावर आत्मतत्वापासून वेगळी कुठलीच जाणीव शिल्लक राहत नाही. मुनींचा तो स्थायी-भाव असतो. गीतेमध्ये आपल्या प्रिय भक्ताचे वर्णन करतांना तुल्यनिन्दास्तुतिर्मौनी हे लक्षण भगवंताने सांगितले आहे. निंदा-स्तुती, अनुकूल-प्रतिकूल, राग-द्वेष, जय-पराजय, संयोग-वियोग, मान-अपमान इ. सर्व द्वंद्वांशी सामना करतांना समबुद्धी ठेवणे हे सिद्ध-भक्ताचे महत्वाचे लक्षण होय. ह्याच अवस्थेला ‘सुषुप्ती मौन’ असेही मानले जाते. सिद्धांचे लक्षण तेच आम्हा साधकांचे साधन मानून, व्यवहार करतांना समत्व बुद्धी स्थिर ठेवणे हे मौनाचरणच होय. मननशीलता आणि सम-बुद्धी सतत टिकवता आली की त्यायोगे मुनिसारखे आत्मरती आणि आत्मक्रीड राहणे शक्य होते. वाणीवर नियंत्रण हे मौनाचे केवळ एक उपलक्षण आहे. कर्मेंद्रियांचा व ज्ञानेंद्रियांचा संयम देखील त्यामध्ये अपेक्षित आहे. मौनव्रत पाळणाऱ्या काही व्यक्ती वही-पेन घेऊन दिवसभर लिहित बसतात. कोणी खाणाखुणा करून इतरांशी संवाद साधण्याचा प्रयत्न करतात. ‘मी केलेली एवढी साधी खुण तुला कळली कशी नाही?’ म्हणून संबंधीतांवर चिडणारे लोक देखील आहेत. अशा व्रताचा काय उपयोग? इंद्रियांचा ‘दम’ कसा साधावा हे सुरेख मार्गदर्शन सद्गुरू आणि संत आपल्याला करतात. मन गया तो जाने दे | मत जाने दे शरीर | नाही खिची कमान तो | कहांसे छूटेगा तीर || हे कबीरांचे वचन प्रसिद्ध आहे. मनाला आवर घालता येत नसेल तर किमान परमार्थाला निषिद्ध वर्तन करू नये. आतमध्ये राग असला, तरी त्याची अभिव्यक्ती म्हणून मारहाण करणे, तोंडाने अद्वातद्वा बोलणे टाळावे. रजोगुणी व तमोगुणी संगत कटाक्षाने टाळावी. इंद्रियांना वळण लावण्यासाठी सदा देवकाजी झिजे देह ज्याचा (मनोबोध-) हा सुंदर मार्ग समर्थ दाखवितात. श्रवण, कीर्तन, पादसेवन, वंदन, अर्चन, दास्य ह्यांपैकी आपल्याला भावेल ती भक्ती करून सगुण देवाशी अनुसंधान ठेवल्यास, निर्गुण आत्म्याचे चिंतन करतांना इंद्रिये स्वस्थ ठेवणे निश्चित सोपे होते.

नरदेह हे आपल्याला मिळालेले मोठे घबाड होय. त्याचे सार्थक करण्यासाठी आयुष्याचिया साधने | सच्चिदानंद पदवी घेणे हा संदेश तुकाराम महाराज देतात. साधकाचा जीव सद्रूप, चिद्रूप, आनंदरूप आत्म्याशी एकरूप झाला की जीव कृतार्थ होतो. ज्याच्याशी एकरूप व्हायचे आहे तो आत्मा निराकार, निर्गुण, निरवयव आहे. तो अरूप असल्याने त्याचे वर्णन करता येत नाही. मनवाणी जेथे | जाणावया पाहाते | न जाणिता परते | ब्रह्मतत्व ||’ (तै. उप. २-९) – वाणी आत्म्याच्या दारात जाऊन तो न सापडल्याने मनासह परत येते’ असे श्रुती सांगते.

शब्दातीत आत्मतत्व मी आहे हे अनुभवण्यासाठी मौन उत्तम साधन आहे. प्रापंचिकांसाठी वाणीचा संयम, वाणीचे तप, अखंड नामस्मरण हे मौनाचे व्यवहार्य आविष्कार आहेत. त्यांचे यथायोग्य पालन केल्याने मननशीलता वाढते, वृत्ती अंतर्मुख होते, अनावश्यक वादावाद टळतो, वेळ आणि उर्जेचा अपव्यय वाचतो, आत्मसंयम वाढतो, चित्त एकाग्र होते आणि अंतःकरण क्रमाक्रमाने शुद्ध व शांत होते. आपण साधकांनीही मौनमुद्रेचा योग्य अवलंब केला तर सूक्ष्म आणि गंभीर आत्मतत्वाची अनुभूती येऊन जीवन निश्चितपणे कृतार्थ होईल!

 आत्मा करणां कहीं ना कळे, आणि प्रमाणा कसा आकळे |
फुका न आता उगा वळवळे
, तूहि न तेथ ठरे ||
मौन धरी रे
, मौन धरी रे, मौन धरी मन रे, सखया, मौन धरी तू रे ||
(डॉ. श्री. द. देशमुख पावा काव्यसंग्रह)

|| श्रीकृष्णार्पणमस्तू ||

(The above post appeared in ‘Sajjangad’ monthly magazine in September 2016 and is reproduced with their kind permission)

Please see for more info, literature, audio, video

Mukta’s blog where she is publishing  translations of Dr. Kaka’s texts

Pranaam from Kamal Kothari

An Introduction to Vedanta – final Part 52 — by Acharya K. Sadananda


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Namaskaar friends. We conclude this 52-part series Introduction to Vedanta, so nicely written and explained by Acharya K. Sadananda. Grateful to Sada Sir for allowing me to share these posts here. So much to learn for me. Worth reading these 52 posts over and over again. Please also share with all those who might be interested. Thank you all for patiently going through all posts and for your valuable comments and suggestions.

I consider myself to be an individual different
from others. I have to deal with the world
around me, from birth to death.
I do not know where I came from, nor where
I am heading. I am forced to deal with the world
around me – things that I like and things that I do not like.

Part XLII – Viewpoints of reality

The other main reference point with which we are concerned is called vyAvahArika satyam or transactional reality. From this reference we can look at the situation on a micro scale, i.e. the individual’s point of view or on a macro scale, from the collective totality viewpoint. Somehow we need to connect all of this (at least conceptually) to the absolute reference.

From the individual’s viewpoint, the existent-consciousness that advaita tells me I am, i.e. one without a second, appears to be associated with varieties of individual bodies, minds and intellects. How can one ‘I am’ become many? We gave a dream example before: how I, a waker, create a dream world consisting of varieties of objects as well as beings with their own bodies, minds and intellects (BMI) as well as myself with my own BMI. That power by which one appears to become many we have defined as mAyA.

At an individual or micro level, the consciousness-existence that I am appears to be limited by my BMI and I become a jIva or individual soul. We use the phrase ‘appears to be’ since consciousness-existence cannot be limited, just as space cannot be limited. Even though space is limitless, we divide this indivisible space into compartments as with different countries, states, cities and even different houses. Within the house we have different rooms where the bath room is different from bed room and kitchen, etc. Even the dividers that divide the space are within the space only. But these divisions are valid for transactional purposes or for our vyavahAra. Therefore transactional reality need not be absolute reality, although it is inherently absolute reality, just as indivisible space is inherent in the all divisions that we have made for our convenience or transactional purposes.

The situation is identical. All pervading consciousness appears to be divided into multitudes of things and beings just as in the dream. We have both insentient as well as sentient things and beings. In the dream, the differences (three types of differences stated above – sajAti, vijAti and svagata) appear to be real, as long as I am dreaming. However once I am awakened, all things and beings resolve into me, the waker. In the same way, the plurality of things and beings appears to be real in this waking world, and only when I am awakened to the absolute state of reality or pAramArthika satyam do all differences resolve into me, the absolute existence-consciousness.

Just as the dream is due to projection of suppressions and oppressions of the waking mind, an exactly identical situation occurs for the waking world. The total vAsanA-s become the root cause for the projection of the total world and individual vAsanA-s become the cause for the individual BMI. At the individual level, the total consciousness is reflected in the intellect as the ego – or individual I, which transacts with the individual BMI, without realizing that I am the pure existence-consciousness. Likes and dislikes or vAsanA-s of the individual manifest as desires in the individual intellect, agitations in the individual mind level, and actions in the individual body.

The jIva or individual I, or soul, ‘appears’ when the reflected consciousness in the BMI takes itself to be real, transacts as if it is real, and takes responsibility for the actions that go on in the BMI. It is like the villager who is sitting in the train but carries his luggage on his head so as to relieve the burden on the train. I, as an individual ego (as ‘I am this’), take the responsibility for the actions that are being performed. These ego-centric actions will leave vAsanA-s and the rest of the repercussions follow. I, the reflected consciousness (chidAbhAsa), move from birth to birth, from one field of experience to another, along with my subtle body and causal body in order to exhaust my vAsanA account.

Just as I go into deep sleep everyday (called nidrA or laya), folding everything into myself without any identification with BMI, so the totality (consisting of all jIva-s and things) goes into a ‘deep sleep state’ called pralaya. Similarly when I get up in the morning, all the things that were there before I went to sleep are projected again. And, in exactly in the same way after pralaya, when the Lord or totality gets up (his sleep is called yoga nidrA), the whole universe which was in the subtle form during sleep is projected back into grosser form.

This transformation from subtle to grosser form is called ‘creation’ in Vedanta. The totality or macrocosm supported by the consciousness-existence ‘I am’ is called Ishvara or the Lord or the creator. The same existence-consciousness reflected in the individual intellect is called jIva or soul. It is important to recognize that we are not equating the individual soul or jIva with totality or God. What we are equating is the essence – the existence-consciousness that I am. This existence-consciousness is the same, whether reflected in the microcosm or in the macrocosm. As long as I think I am only an individual with local equipments of BMI, then the world I see or with which I transact is different from the creator of the whole universe; God is different. Hence, if and when I view the creation or the world as different from me, then there is a creator or the father in heaven, who is different and who is omniscient and omnipresent.

The dream world of plurality is real for the dreamer. The material that the dreamer sees appears to be very real. It is difficult to convince him that the building that is on fire, together with the fireman that is trying to put out the fire, the water and the hose that are being used, and the spectators that are all watching are not really real. The reality of the dream is only for that particular dreamer, since it is projected by a single waker’s mind. The other beings have their own dreams to deal with. This reality at the subjective level is called ‘prAtibhAsika satyam‘, subjective objectification.

When a dreamer wakes up, all the dream world of things and beings resolve into the waker’s mind. Only then will he realize that all the dream world is only subjective – not really objective and therefore not really real. However for that waker, the waking world of things and beings are real and have objective or transactional reality. He would not accept that this is also like a dream. He looks for some scientific proofs, without realizing one cannot prove to a dreamer that the dream world is not real. He forgets that even the dream world was objective from the point of view of his mind in the dream, as with the fireman who was trying to put out the fire in the dream. The analogy is exact. We classify the waking world as objective reality, while the dream world we think is subjective reality. But that is only the waker’s notion. From the point of view of absolute reality, both worlds are only different degrees of reality but neither is really real.

We can now go one step further. I consider myself to be an individual different from others. I have to deal with the world around me, from birth to death. I do not know where I came from, nor where I am heading. I am forced to deal with the world around me – things that I like and things that I do not like. I came into a world that is already here, wondering why I am here, what is this world and who created it, and why I have to deal with it. All these questions were posed in the first post – Analysis of the Mind part I. Now we have a better idea of who I am and what is this world.

We posed a question in the second post as to whether the mind is matter or not. It is like the dreamer asking the question “is the dreamer’s mind made of matter similar to that of his gross body?” The dreamer can learn about different theories – Dream-Kantian philosophy or Dream-Descartes’ theory or Dream-Freud’s analysis of the mind, etc., all about the nature of the dreamer’s mind (remember that he does not know that he is dreamer and, as far as he is concerned, he is a waker and the world and the matter in front of him is real). But when he awakens from this dream, what will be his attitude to all these questions and answers about the mind and the matter of the dream body and dream mind?

Vedanta points out that any theory that is based on partial data is inconclusive. Hence, all western theories about the mind are based on partial data of the waker’s mind and therefore they are speculative at best. Vedanta says that any analysis can only be complete and full if all the data pertaining to human experience is considered. Hence, not only the waking state but the dream state and deep sleep states have to be analyzed in order to arrive at a correct conclusion. Such a scientific analysis is done by Vedanta in the Mandukya Upanishad, considering all the three states of human experience – waking state, dream state and deep sleep state. It concludes that I am none of the three states. I am there as a waker, I am there as a dreamer and I am there as a deep sleeper. I am there in all the three states and yet I am beyond all the three states. I am that limitless existent-consciousness, since there is nothing other than ‘I am’. That is the pAramArthika satyam – the absolute reality, independent of any religious doctrines, philosophies or theories.

This is the final essay in this section. Please post your queries, comments and suggestion below.

Pranaam from Kamal Kothari

Learning Sanskrit and GeetA together – Post # 1

Those interested in Learning Gita through Sanskrit; and Learning Sanskrit through the Gita must definitely start from this 1st lesson and regularly follow the blog. Its not an easy task but the best and most pleasurable way to learn both. A lesson a day should not be too difficult. Queries are always answered by Abhyankar Sir, just put them as comments.

Best wishes


Learning Sanskrit and GeetA together – Post # 1
श्रीमद्भगवद्गीतायाः संस्कृतभाषायाः च अध्ययनस्य प्रथमः (१) सोपानः ।

ॐ श्रीपरमात्मने नमः ।

Exercise 1 Rewrite this by breaking conjugations and showing component-words contained in compound words.
स्वाध्यायः १ सन्धि-विच्छेदान् कृत्वा समासानां पदानि च दर्शयित्वा पुनर्लिखतु एतत् ।

ॐ श्री-परम-आत्मने नमः ।

Exercise 2 (a) Identify verbs and participles (verbal derivatives) and paraphrase the related clauses
2 (b) Analyse the clauses, identifying the main parts of speech i.e. subject, object / compliment, conjunctions.

स्वाध्यायः २ (अ) कानि अत्र क्रियापदानि धातुसाधितानि च, के तेषां वाक्यांशानाम् अन्वयाः  ?
२ (आ) कानि अत्र कर्तृपदानि, कर्मपदानि, पूरकानि ?

२-१ ॐ – This is a single letter, a sound to be pronounced as a sacred invocation. More about this in notes below. Because it is an invocation by itself, it is not part of any sentence.

२-२ क्रियापदम् “अस्तु” । “श्रीपरमात्मने (मम) नमः (अस्तु)” एवम् वाक्यम् । अत्र (अस्तु)…

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Viṣṇusahasranāma: Context- Part 1


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A new series of posts on Vishnusahasranama has been started on a group called Vedanta Study Group via email by Mr. Prashant Parikh, a young Vedantin and a scholar of Vedanta who lives in the USA. The series has been explained by a very young Swamini Brahmaprajnananda ji, a student of Pujya Swami Dayanananda Saraswati.

Swamini ji explains Vedanta in a very lucid manner, easy to understand and imbibe. She will be explaining in much detail the significance of the 1000 names of Lord Vishnu, Vishnusahasranama, which is a very popular text in Vedanta study.

I am reproducing below the first part of this series. Those interested in following the study may please email Prashant, moderator of Vēdānta Study Group on and he will add your name for regular posts which are most enlightening. For any queries and questions you may visit and post on Swamini ji’s Facebook page

Best wishes


Hariḥ Om


Swāmini Brahmaprajñānanda ji writes:


The Viṣṇusahasranāma is a compilation of 1000 different names of the Lord. It is 1000 ways of looking at the Lord. It is the 149th adhyaaya of the Anushasana-parva of the Māhabhārata. As per tradition, it was composed by Sanaka and was given to Bhishma. Bhishma, in turn recited it to the Pāndavas in the presence of Bhagavān Sri Krishna. At the end of the war, Yuddhisthira, the eldest of the Pandavas, approached Bhishma, who was lying on a bed of arrows, waiting for death, and asked him ‗who is the supreme Lord of all, who is the refuge of all and by praising and worshipping whom, one gains all that is good and also the ultimate end?‘ In reply, Bhishma gave the Viṣṇu-sahasranama.

Bhagavan Sri Shankarācarya has written an elaborate commentary for each of the names, before undertaking other bhashya works, which further enhances its importance.

What is the meaning of Viṣṇu?

The word Viṣṇu is derived from the root viṣlṛ vyāptau, meaning to pervade. Viṣṇu means one who is all pervasive. The all pervasive is only one, not more than one. Being all pervasive, Viṣṇu cannot be away from me; We need to understand this  Lord or Īśvara.

Who is Īśvara?

The Lord is called Īśvara. Īśvara is the one who protects, sustains and the one who  is a source of blessing. This Īśvara, who we say is the cause of this scheme of things called jagat, is to be discovered not believed. The world, jagat is not only put together, but it is intelligently put together. Anything put together intelligently to serve a purpose, is preceded by knowledge. Whatever is intelligently put together is called creation and intelligence can only rest in a conscious being.

This intelligent conscious being, to account for the creation of this world, should have the knowledge of creation and that knowledge should be total knowledge, because we are talking of the total world. The one who has samagram jnanam, total knowledge and samagram viryam, the total skill to create is called Bhagavan, Īśvara. Īśvara is both the maker and the material and hence the jagat is a manifestation of Īśvara. Manifestation means it is not separate from the material. It is an intelligent manifestation.

 Why should anyone repeat the names of the Lord?

Repeating the names is a karma – an action and every action has a result . Every karma produces both seen results as well as unseen results (adr̥ śṭa phalam). To be at the right place at the right time, throughout the course of my life requires grace or luck. Grace is not something that the Lord distributes to a chosen few. It is  something that we earn as a result of our actions (karma-phala). The Lord, of course, is very much present in it as the one who gives the results of actions (karma-phala- data). The laws produce the result of action, and those laws are not separate from Īśvara.

If Viṣṇusahasranama is chanted mentally, it is mānasam karma, if chanted orally, it  is vāchikam karma and if it is chanted while offering flowers to the Lord through a puja, then it is kāyikam karma.

In understanding the meaning of the names, there is understanding of Īśvara. The more I understand Ishvara, the more I understand and accept myself. The more I accept myself, I experience less alienation and am in harmony with what is.

Why 1000 names?

Īśvara is everything and everything constitutes the various forms of Īśvara. As the forms are countless, the names of Īśvara are also countless. Thus, Īśvara has infinite names. Names are but words and certain words, when understood, reveal Īśvara.  But none of the known words can really reveal Īśvara. Therefore, we have some special words which reveal the nature of Īśvara and these words are 3-fold:

  1. Words which reveal the svarupa, essential nature of Īśvara like satyam, meaning that which exists in all the 3 periods of time.
  2. Words which reveal Īśvara as the cause of the jagat. All that is here is Īśvara, and who is both the father and the mother. Īśvara is ‗He‘ from the stand-point of the maker, the efficient cause and ‗She‘ from the stand-point of the material cause, as the one who is manifest in the form of the jagat.
  3. Words which indicate the manifest form, as even the form of an avatāra. Keeping Maya under His control, Īśvara is manifest in special forms like Shri Rama, Sri Krishna and so on.

So all these 3 sets of names given above constitute the sahasranāma, the 1000 names of Lord Viṣṇu.


The story of Jagadguru Adi Sankaracharya – by Swami Viditatmananda


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Namaskaar friends. Today is Sankara Jayanti. As students of Advaita Vedanta we believe that the great poet-saint, the great Guru Adi Sankara did an incredible job of spreading Advaita – non dual. He roamed the our motherland almost 1500 years back and crisscrossed it several times on foot in his short life of only 32 years — a feat that cannot be accomplished in today’s times with all the utilities available to us. It was a herculean effort during which he established Maths in every corner of the country and gave us ‘000s of his works which are in use today as well. He wrote works of prose, poetry and some of most elaborate commentaries on the scriptures. Its impossible to repay a debt to this great Guru. I am reproducing a wonderful transcripted talk by Swami Viditmananda, of AVG, which was delivered on Guru Purnima day in year 2000. Gives us an insight into the greatness of Sankara and the paramparaa (lineage) he has established centuries ago.

Hara Hara Shankara. Jaya Jaya Sankara


The story of Sri Shankaracharya
If you look at this lineage as a very beautiful necklace, then Sri Shankaracharya forms its shining pendant. He is said to be an incarnation of Lord Shiva or Lord Dakshinamurti. Sri Shankaracharya’s parents, Shivaguru and Aaryambaa, did not have a child for a long time and had become very old. They performed a penance and Lord Shiva appeared before them in their dream and asked them what it was that they wanted. They asked for a child. Lord Shiva said, “OK! I will make you an offer. You can either have a son who will live long but will be mediocre, or have a brilliant son who will have a very short life. Which one do you want?” The couple chose a son who would be brilliant, even if he were to be short-lived. Lord Shiva granted their wish and said that he himself would be born as their son. The son was born and was named Shankara, the name of Lord Shiva. He was to have had a lifespan of only eight years. At the age of five, he was given yajnopavita, the sacred thread, and sent to a gurukulam. In two years, he learnt the entire Vedas and came home at the age of seven. He himself started teaching the Vedas, and told his mother that he wanted to become a renunciate. His father had passed away. The mother told him, “No, I am very old. Who will take care of me if you go away?” Shankara wanted the consent of his mother to become a renunciate; he would never go against her will. One day they both went to the river Krishnaa in Kaaladi for a dip. Aaryambaa was standing on the shore and Shankara was in the middle of the river, saying his prayers. Suddenly, a crocodile caught hold of his foot and he started drowning. He shouted, “Mother! I am drowning! I am going to die now. Do I now have your permission to take sannyaasa?” It is said that if you die as a sannyaasi, you go to brahma-loka. Therefore, there is a tradition of taking sannyaasa, called aapat-sannyaasa, just before death. That is why Shankara asked his mother if he could take sannyaasa at the time of his impending death. Aaryambaa consented. In the presence of the five elements, (the sun, the earth, water, air and space) he took the vow of sannyaasa. Suddenly, a miracle happened. The crocodile let go of Shankara. Not only that, but he got a further lease on life of eight more years. When he came out of the water, Aaryambaa was extremely happy to see her son saved from the jaws of death and said, “OK, let us go home now.” Shankara said, “No mother, I cannot come home anymore because I am a sannyaasi.” Reluctantly, she let him go, but asked him to visit her at the time of her death. Shankara agreed to her condition and left as a sannyaasi.
Sri Shankaracharya traveled widely to teach self-knowledge and to liberate people lost in samasaara.
There is a traditional verse that describes Sri Shankaracharya beautifully:
अज्ञानान्तर्गहनपतितानात्मविद्योपदेशैः त्रातुम् लोकान् भव-दव-सिखा-ताप-पापचमानान्।
मुक्त्व मौनं वट-विटपिनो मूलतो निष्पतन्तीम् शम्भोर्मुर्तिः चरति भुवने शङ्कराचार्य-रूपा॥
ajnaanaantargahanapatitaanaatmavidyopadeshai traatum
lokaan bhava-dava-sikhaa-taapa-paapacamaanaan|
muktva maunam vaTa-viTapino muulato niShpatantim
shambhormurti carati bhuvane shankaracharya-ruupaa||
Lord Shiva (as Sri Dakshinamurti) gave up the silence, came out of the root of the banyan tree and is moving about on the earth in the form of Shankaracharya, to save the people who are fallen in the deep forest of ignorance and who are scorched by the heat of the flames of the fire of forest of samsaara, by imparting the teaching of self-knowledge to them.
The embodiment of Lord Shiva or Sri Dakshinamurti, in the form of Sri Shankaracharya, is traveling around this world. What is the need for Lord Shiva to take an incarnation as Sri Shankaracharya? Because people are all lost in the forest of ignorance. Very often, samsaara is compared to a forest or an ocean. What kind of forest is it? It is one, in which we are completely lost. Forest is perhaps very nice to look at from a distance, but there is no easy way to get out if you are lost inside. Wherever you turn, you find all kinds of problems like thorns, bushes etc. Similarly, we can easily get lost in life if we don’t find any direction, if we do not know our way. Further, imagine what would happen if there is a forest fire? People are lost in the forest fire of samsaara and, further, the flames of pain and suffering are scorching them from all directions.
Out of compassion, the Lord or the teacher wants to save the people suffering amidst the flames of the fire of samsaara, by the upadesha, the teaching, of aatmavidyaa, self-knowledge. There is no other way that the people who are trapped in samsaara can be saved. There is no other real way to help us, to save us from the forest of pain and suffering. We have many things that can save us from difficulties, but there is no means other than self-knowledge to save us from sorrow. Sorrow is caused by the ignorance of one’s true Self. Not only do I not know who I am, but I also know myself wrongly. Not knowing the fact that I am what I am seeking to be, not knowing the completeness or the wholeness that is my true nature, I take myself to be incomplete, and find myself helpless. Hence, I am constantly suffering from fear, helplessness, and a sense of persecution. This is called samsaara, life of suffering. All the attempts that I make to become free from this suffering seem to only increase or intensify my suffering.
Lord Shiva first appeared as Sri Dakshinamurti because there is no means other than self-knowledge, to save the human beings. He appeared as seated under a banyan tree and imparted knowledge to sages like Sanaka, Sanandana and others through a silent sermon. In the time of those sages, that was adequate. The sages came to him and he was able to impart self-knowledge to them. These days, however, people don’t come that easily for this knowledge. Sitting under a banyan tree in a silent sermon is not going to work in modern times. Therefore, Lord Shiva thought that the time had come to reach out to where the aspirants were and teach them through oral discourses. He took the embodiment of Sri Shankaracharya, and went around the world. A well and a river are both sources of water. However, in case of a well, you must go to the well and fetch the water to quench your thirst. Whereas, the river comes down to us, traveling several hundred miles from inaccessible places in the mountains, to quench our thirst. I guess, even during the time of Sri Shankaracharya, there were not enough discriminating people who sought this self-knowledge. Therefore, like a river, he went to the people.
Lord Shiva gave up both the maunam or silence and also the banyan tree. He gave up both, and traveled all over this earth, imparting self-knowledge to people out of compassion. That is Sri Shankaracharya. As far as we are concerned, he is the greatest person that we know of. There are other sages that we hear of, but Sri Shankaracharya’s greatness is evident to us in the form of his work. One of his best contributions is the compendium of bhashyas or commentaries that he wrote on the prasthaana-trayi, ‘the three basic scriptures’: the ten major Upanishads, the Bhagavad Gita and the Brahma-Sutras. He gave us the key to open the secret of this knowledge. There are texts called Shankara-Dig-Vijaya, describing the life of Sri Shankaracharya, written by his various disciples and other scholars. Of these texts, one written by VidyAraNya Swami is very famous. There, he says that the Brahma-Sutras written by Veda VyAsa, also known as Sage BAdarayana, is a very beautiful garland with flowers in the form of passages culled from the garden of the Upanishads. However, even scholars did not understand the sUtras or aphorisms. Therefore, the Brahma-Sutras did not serve their purpose of communicating the teaching of the Upanishads. Imagine a very precious necklace displayed by a jeweler in his showroom. People come there, look at it and then go away because they do not have the money to buy it. Similarly, Veda VyAsa wrote the Brahma-Sutras, a very beautiful necklace of knowledge and displayed it. The scholars did come, and looked at it, but then they went away because they had no ‘artha’. One meaning of the word, artha, is money. The other meaning is ‘meaning’. The scholars could not benefit from it because they did not have artha; they could not understand the meaning of the Brahma-Sutras. Then came Sri Shankaracharya, who wrote a bhaashya on the Brahma-Sutras. He thus gave artha, meaning, to all the scholars, and gave them the ‘money’ to buy the necklace. The beautiful necklace of the Brahma-Sutras now adorns the neck of all the scholarly people.
Pujya Swami Dayananda Saraswati embodies compassion
AsmadAcAryaparyantAm. Then we come down to our own aacaarya. Amongst other things an aacaarya is a wise and compassionate person. Sri Shankaracharya himself describes wise people in the VivekacudaamaNi [37] as follows:
शान्ता महान्तो निवसन्ति सन्तो वसन्तवल्लोकहितं चरन्तः।
तीर्णाः स्वयं भीमभवार्णवं जनानहेतुनान्यानपि तारयन्तः॥
Shaantaa mahaanto nivasanti santo vasantavallokahitam carantaH|
tirNaH svayam bhimabhavaarNavam janaanahetunaanyaanapi taarayantaH||
Such composed, great, saintly people do live doing good to people, like the spring season, themselves having crossed the frightening ocean of samsaara and making other people also cross without any expectation in return.
These great people, ShantaaH, enjoy total tranquility in their mind because even the most unfavorable circumstances cannot provoke them. They abide in the knowledge of the Self that is complete, self-sufficent. MahaantaH, mahaatmaas. One definition of a mahaatmaa is one who is large-hearted, meaning one who can accommodate anything. A mahaatmaa’s heart is as large as brahman itself. Brahma veda brahmaiva bhavati, the knower of brahman becomes brahman [MuNDakopanishad, 2-3-9]. Therefore, they have become limitless by knowing the Self or brahman, the limitless. As a result, they enjoy this large-heartedness and can accommodate anyone and anything. Only then, can there be compassion. True compassion can be there only when one can accommodate and accept another person, irrespective of how the other person is. AdveShTaa sarvabhutaanaam maitraH karuNa eva ca, the one who has no hatred for all beings, who has the disposition of a friend, and who is compassionate [Bhagavadgita, 12-13]. These great people have no dvesha, hatred. Not only do they not hate anyone, but they also show their affection towards everybody with karuNaa, compassion flowing from the heart. Sri Shankaracharya says this kind of a teacher is ahetuka-dayaasindhur-bandhuraanamataam sataam, an ocean of compassion with no motive whatsoever, who is a helpful friend to the seekers who salute him with appreciation [VivekacuDaamaNi, 33]. He is one who is, in fact, an ocean of compassion. What is the reason for compassion? Ahetuka, there is no reason why they are compassionate; it is their nature to be so. There is no reason for why they do what they do. They are bandhus, brothers, friends, relatives, protectors, well-wishers, and benefactors of all those who seek refuge in them. These great people enjoy tranquility, are large-hearted, and are compassionate. Their compassion is evident in other ways also.
Vasantavallokahitam carantaH. They don’t just sit in one place, but like the season of spring, go around the world. Wherever the spring goes, it spreads beauty, colors, and joy. Similarly, wherever these great people go, they spread joy by their very presence. But why do they do this? They are totally committed to the well-being of people because they have no agenda of their own. What do you do if you have no agenda? A wise person becomes free from the need for an agenda to such an extent that he has no free will. In fact, the definition of freedom is ‘freedom from any need to exercise the free will’. The VivekacudaamaNi compares a wise person to a dry leaf falling from the tree. The leaf goes wherever the gust of wind takes it. Similarly, a wise person goes wherever the wind of praarabdha, destiny, takes him. This is most amazing. We always glorify the free will. But what is true freedom? It is freedom from the need to exercise the free will. It means that a wise person is one who has completely submitted or offered himself at the altar of praarabdha, destiny, or the altar of God. He has no agenda of his own and, therefore, becomes a fitting instrument in the hands of God to carry out whatever agenda God has for him. The Lord wants to get a lot done. He tries to do that though us, but we do not fulfill his wishes because of our ahankaara and mamakaara, the notions of ‘I’ and ‘mine’. Very often, we become obstacles in fulfilling the Lord’s scheme. The wise, however, have no agenda, no ego or sense of ownership, and are like the flute held at the lips of Lord Krishna. The flute offers no resistance at all. It makes itself completely available to the Lord to play whatever tune he wants to play. So also, as instruments in the hands of the Lord, the wise go around the world spreading the joy of knowledge and living for the well being of the people.
They themselves have crossed this terrible ocean of samsaara and they help others also to cross the ocean of samsaara. In this manner we come down to our teacher, Pujya Swamiji.
The verse quoted above describes him very well. Thus do we salute this guru paramparaa, this lineage of teachers.
We as students of Vedanta are very fortunate If we see the tradition extending down to us, we should congratulate ourselves too, because, again, the VivekacudaamaNi [3] says:
दुर्लभं त्रयमेवैतद्देवानुग्रहहेतुकम्।
मनुष्यत्वं मुमुक्षुत्वं महापुरुषसंश्रयः॥
durlabham trayamevaitad devaanugrahahetukam,
manuShyatvam mumukShutvam mahaapuruShasamshrayam.
The status of a human being, the disposition of one who longs for freedom, and being under the tutelage of a teacher – this three-fold blessing is difficult to gain and has its cause only in the grace of the Lord.
These three are rare indeed, and they can be obtained only by the grace of God. So we must have done something right to deserve to be where we are. To gain this human embodiment is something very rare because we could have been in any one of the many million embodiments that exist in this universe.
Again, there are billions of human beings on this earth now, but we find that most people have no value for Self-knowledge. The KaThopaniShad [1-2-7] says, shravaNaayaapi bahubhiryo na labhyaH, this knowledge is not available even for listening, for most people.
MumukShutvam. We are further fortunate that we have discovered an urge for Self-knowledge. We possess an urge for freedom and have jijnyasaa, the desire to know, which is very rare. We have discovered that freedom can be obtained through knowledge with viveka or discrimination. Everybody wants to be liberated, everyone wants to be free, but there are very few who have discovered the fact that the freedom can be gained only through knowledge.
MahaapuruShasamshrayaH. We also have sought the refuge of a mahaapuruShaH, a great soul in the form of our Pujya Swamiji. We are extremely fortunate that we have this privilege. Therefore, we also must have done something right.
We, who are extremely fortunate, salute guru paramparaa, this lineage of our teachers. This is the purpose of GurupuurNimaa, Teacher’s Day, and it is not only the Teacher’s Day, but it is Disciple’s Day as well because it is our privilege to be able to offer our sense of gratitude and prayers to our teachers.
May we gain the grace of all our teachers: Lord DakShiNaamuurti, Sri Shankaracharya, and of our own Pujya Swamiji. May we always enjoy their grace so that we remain steadfast in this path and do not swerve. May all internal and external obstacles be removed from our path so that we can march along in our journey towards self-growth and self-knowledge, and ultimately to total unconditional freedom or mokSha.
– Year 2000 GurupuurNimaa Talk transcribed by Deepa Shankar.
– Edited by Krishnakumar (KK) S. Davey and Jayshree Ramakrishnan.

“Svaahaa” and “NamaH” explained – Swami Viditatmananda


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Swamiji is a highly acclaimed scholar of Vedanta, Indian history, Sanskrit and has a Doctorate in Science before he took up his role as a Swami at AVG. His talks are very enjoyable and insightful.

Question: What does ‘svaahaa’ mean?
Answer: Svaahaa is an utterance. It is one of the utterances that is used in the sense of offering, “May this offering be unto you!” Typically, whenever we make an offering to a devataa in a fire ritual, we say, svaahaa. For example, when we make an offering to Lord Indra, we say ‘Indraaya svaahaa.’ It is said that Svaahaa is the name of the wife of Agni, Lord of Fire.
Svaahaa is also used when there is a spirit of offering, e.g., Om namo bhagavate dakshinaamurtaye mahyam medhaamà pradnyam prayacca svaahaa, ‘Oh Lord Dakshinaamurti, please grant me medhaa, intelligence and the purity of mind, and pradnya, the wisdom.’ Here, svaahaa is the offering of my own self, my own ego. What comes in the way of a pure mind and wisdom is my ego in the form of my own likes and dislikes. Therefore, I offer them to you, oh lord, and you in turn offer me medhaa and pradnya. Thus it is a trading with Lord Dakshinaamarti. I offer you something and you give me something back. What do I offer you? My ego, likes and dislikes. You give me intelligence and wisdom. That is a good bargain. But only the lord can afford that bargain. He can receive all the garbage, but can give us everything that is divine. It is this garbage in the form of ‘I’ and ‘mine’ notions, the likes and dislikes that is in fact veiling our intelligence and wisdom. Therefore these obstacles are dumped or offered to the lord.
Svaahaa is also used in the sense of a prayer. In the Taittriya Upanishad [1-4-2], for example, there is a prayer, aa maa yantu brahmacaariNaH svaahaa, ‘may the brahmacaarins come from all the directions.’ In this context, svaahaa means please fulfill my desire.
Question: What does ‘namaH’ mean?
Answer: Shivaya namaH, my salutations to Lord Shiva. NamaH means aham namami, I salute. I bow down, I prostrate to Lord Shiva, I offer my salutations to Lord Shiva. The word namaH is an indeclinable word which is secondarily interpreted as ‘na mama.’ There is a style of interpreting words which is not in the sense of grammatic derivation. They take the elements of a word and each element is interpreted in a certain way. For example, in the word, ‘guru,’ the syllable ‘gu’ stands for that which veils and the syllable ‘ru’ stands for that which removes that veiling. Similarly, there are two letters ‘na’ and ‘ma’ in namaH. So they interpret it as ‘na mama.’ This secondary interpretation is not grammatical. NamaH primarily means salutation. But na mama also conveys the sense of salutation. When we say Indraaya svaahaa, usually the priest will ask us to say, ‘Indraaya svaahaa indraya idam na mama.’ Indraya svaahaa is offering to Indra. It now belongs to Indra, and it does not belong to me. So after svaahaa they ask you to say, na mama. When we offer something, we are in fact, transferring ownership. Till the offering was made, I was the owner and now the ownership has been transferred.

(This has been shared from AVG website and has been very kindly transcribed and edited by Chaya Raj and KK Davey)

Pranaam from Kamal Kothari

Aditya Hrdayam – by Swami Paramarthananda



Aditya Hrdayam is a devotional rendering for the worship of the Sun God. The video link below is of this wonderful hymn chanted by Swami Paramarthananda ji, of Arsha Vidya Gurukulam (AVG), who has rendered it in a most divine manner as well as perfectly in pronounciation and meter. It is such a pleasure to listen. The video has been uploaded by Prashant Parikh a brilliant young scholar of Vedanta from the AVG paramparaa.

Below is a brief introduction of this hymn as taken from Wikipedia.

[[ Ādityahṛdayam  is a devotional hymn associated with Aditya or the Sun God (Surya) and was recited by the Sage Agastya to Rāma on the battlefield before fighting the demon king Rāvana.

This historic hymn starts at the beginning of the duel between Rāma and Rāvana. Sage Agastya teaches Rāma, who is fatigued after the long battle, the procedure of worshiping the Sun God for strength to defeat the enemy. These verses belong to Yuddha Kānda (Book 6) Canto 107, in the Rāmāyana as composed by Agastya and compiled by Vālmīki.]]

Pranaam from Kamal Kothari