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Acharya's Call is a well known book containing

speeches of His Holiness Sri Sri Sri Chandrasekharendra
Saraswathi Mahaswamiji. Some interesting articles from
this book are provided here.


True Bhakti or devotion is that condition of a devotees mind when it is unable
to bear even a moments separation from the shelter of God, and when even if
is forcibly withdrawn from that shelter, by force of circumstances, it struggles
and rushes back and attaches itself to God, like a needle to a magnet.

Ankolam nija beeja-santatih ayaskaantopalam soochika,

Sadhvee naija vibhum lataa kshitiruham sindhuh sarid
Praapnoteeha yathaa tathaa pasupateh paadaaravindadvyam,
Chetovrittir-upetya tishthati sadaa saa bhaktirityuchyate.
This verse occurs in Sivaananda Lahari, and in it, Sri Sankara Bhagavatpada has
explained what real bhakti is. The relationship between the devotee and Isavara
is explained with reference to five examples. They are: the tree known as
ankolam and its seeds; the lodestone and the needle; a chaste woman and her
husband; a creeper and a tree; and a river and the ocean. The ankola tree
(azhinchil maram in Tamil) is found in the forest. It is that when its fruit falls to
the ground, the seeds, liberated from the fruit by some compelling force within,
move close to the trunk of the tree, gradually climb up, and get inseparable
attached to the tree. During my travels, I was shown this tree in a forest. I saw
the seeds sticking to the trunk of the tree, though I was not able to observe the
actual movement of the seeds from the ground to the tree. The example of the
seeds which fall away form the tree struggling back and attaching themselves to
the tree, is denoted by the words, ankolam nija beeja santatih.
The next example given is ayakaantopalam soochika .Ayaskaanta means
magnet, upalam means stone, and soochika means needle. When a needle is
brought near a lodestone, it rushes towards the stone and gets itself attached to
it. Similarly, the mind of a devotee rushes towards God and finds a heaven there.
The next example is that of a saadhvee, a pativrata or chaste woman and her
husband, is significant. The literal meaning of vibhuh is, one who pervades
everywhere. The idea Sri Sankara wants to convey by using the term vibhuh is
that a true pativrata has only the thought of her husband uppermost in her mind,
all the time, whatever other objects may be in front of her eyes. She is so
saturated with the thought of her husband that she sees her husband, whichever
way she may turn. So also a bhakta see only God in everything around him.

The example of Lataa creeper, and kshitiruha tree, is next given to indicate the
minds frantic efforts to get itself attached to Isvara like a creeper to a tree. As
a creeper grows, its shoots sway hither and thither, in an attempt to get a hold
on something to which they can attach themselves. The moment the shoots
come into contact with a neighbouring tree, the creeper winds itself around that
tree, get itself attached to the tree. The mind of the devotee is constantly in
search of Isvara, and the moment He is realised, it attaches itself to Him
The last example is that of the sindhuh, river and SaridvallabhaOcean. A river
has a small origin on a mountain. In the intial stage of its course, which can be
compared to our own childhood, the river is noisy, plays about by jumping from
one rock to another, and is resless and so flows fast. Its speed reflects its anxiety
to join the ocean. When nearing the sea, the river becomes calm and placid. This
state can be compared to a womans humility, shyness, and serenity in the
presence of her husband. The ocean, being a loving husband, rushes forward to
receive the river in her arms. That is why the river water is saltish for some
distance inland from its mouth. Similarly, the restless soul finds serenity when it
reaches the proximity of God, and finally gets engulfed in that ocean of Supreme
Sri Sankara has expounded advaita tatva both in the main them of the verse and
in the illustrating similies. Water from the sea evaporates into cloud and returns
to the earth as rain. The rainwater goes back to the sea as rivers. In that way a
circle is completed. The river and the sea, though apparently two, are in reality
one. By the process of evaporation, the volume increased by the inflow of river
waters. In the same way, everything in this universe is part of God. He is
everything and everything ultimately merges in Him. He is Full always, and His
fullness is in no way affected either by creation or by the merger in Him of the
created beings. The human soul, jeevatma, is restless like a creeper, in search of
a support to sustain it, and eager to rejoin its source, like the river is to rejoin the
ocean, its ultimate source. As the jeeva gets to be more and more proximate to
God, it obtains saanti or serenity, like that which the waters of a river attain near
the rivers confluence with the sea. The bhakta, who eventually becomes a
jnani see only Isvara in everything, even as a pativarata thinks only of her
husband and lord. When the should finally finds its haven in the Paramaatma, it
unites with the Paramaatma, like creeper bugging a tree, or a needle flying to
and getting attached with a magnet. If, for any reason, the jeeva is forcibly
detached from Isvara, it becomes restless, struggles and eventually gets back to
When our devotion to God is motivated by a desire to secure some earthly
benefit, it ceases to be real bhakti; it becomes a barter. But when our bhakti is
for our spiritual elevation, we attain the saanti of the river when it is near its
Lord, the Ocean. The devotee begins his quest for bliss with devotion to One,
who, he thinks is outside him. When the devotion is selfless, that is, when the
quest is a quest of his own real self, the dvaita bhaava (the duality of God and
himself) changes into advaita bhaava, the oneness of himself and God. He

surrenders himself absolutely and unreservedly to the Paramaatma, and

becomes one with that Only paadaaravinda dvayam Chetovrithirupetya tishthati.
We must all strive to develop the kind of devotion to Isvara indicated in the verse
from Sivaananda Lahari I have quoted in the beginning.
February 8, 1958


It is only a person who has developed a proper mental outlook that can face
adversities without being unduly perturbed. Such a person will have the
equanimity of mind to comfort those who go to him in any calamity. On the other
hand, there are some persons who are upset even by the smallest difficulty,
because they have not developed the necessary mental equipoise. Pleasure and
pain are inevitable concomitants of life, and pain has to be endured to face good
fortune without undue elation and misfortune without undue depression is
acquired by a proper mental approach to things of this world. The source of all
happiness is within ourselves. So long as we grope for this source outside
ourselves, we shall not fine peace or develop the necessary mental equilibrium.
That is the significance of the advice of Lord Krishna to Arjuna, when he said that
Isvara lives inside the hearts of all creation. Sri Krishna says further that by His
divine power of maaya, Isvara makes the universe function in a predetermined
pattern, as if motivated or impelled by a powerful machine. When we do our duty
correctly, and surrender to Him completely and unreservedly a surrender
which embraces all our mental and physical faculties (Sarva bhaavena) we
become calm mentally and see things in their proper perspective.
The peace or saanti we aim at is not the outcome of fear, but the natural
corollary to fearlessness. That peace cannot come so long as we think that God is
somewhere beyond our reach. The seeker of saanti must keep his heart clean
and clear (prasanna). Then only can we realise God within us, or, in other words,
we can secure the prasaada of Isvara. The two expressions, prasanna and
prasaada are synonymous prasaadostu prasannata, says Amara Kosa. When our
hearts are cleansed of all impurities and we are ready to leave the fruits of our
action, be it punishment or reward, to God. He indwells within us and blesses us
with that supreme saanti (paraam saanti). It is only such a bliss that is eternal
(saasvatam); all the other kinds of bliss are transient. This is the significance of
the following verses of the Gita
Isvarah sarva bhootanaam hrid-dese Arjuna tishthati
Braamayam sarva bhootaani yantraaroodhaani maayayaa
Tameva saranam gaccha sarva-bhaavena Bhaarata
Tat prasaadaat paraam saantim sthaanam praapsyasi



Dhanuh paushpam maurvee madhukara mayee pancha visikhaa

Vasantah saamanto Malaya-marud-aayaodhana rathah;
Tatah-api-ekas sarvam himagiri-sute kaam-api krpaam
Apaangaat-te labdhvaa jagad-idam-anango vijayate
What the grace of the Divine Mother can achieve is illustrated by Sri Sankara
Bhagavathpada in this verse occurring in Soundarya Lahari. Ananga, Cupid, is
able to conquer this world, though he is equipped only with a bow of sugarcane,
whose string is composed of a row of bees, with five arrows of flowers, with only
Vasanta or Spring as his lieutenant, and with the Malaya-breeze as his chariot.
Thus ill-equipped, from the standard of a warrior, he is able to achieve the feat of
conquering the world, because he has obtained the grace of Sri Parvati, daughter
of the snow-capped mountain, conveyed through the glance from the corners of
Her eyes.
In this Anangas conquest of the world, the bow is sweet and brittle and the
arrows are fragrant and soft. The person who wields the weapon is Ananga, one
without any form. Yet, he derives his strength from the source of all strength, the
grace of the Divine Mother.
Sri Parvati as Daakshayani consigns Herself to the flame of the Yaaga of Her
father, Daksha, unable to bear the abuse heaped upon Her Lord, Siva, by Her
own father, and earned the name of Sati. From this, the expression Sati came to
be used when any woman immolated herself in the funeral pyre of her husband.

The function of a Prabhu, Lord is both protection and punishment. Siva saved the
world from disaster by swallowing the poison generated when the Ocean of Milk
was churned. In other words, He took upon Himself the sins of the world in order
to save humanity. It is this function of God which Christians attribute to Christ,
namely, saving the sinners. Lord Siva punished Cupid (Kaama) when the latter
disturbed His penance; but restored him to life, though without form, at the
entreaty of Rati and the intervention of Parvati. Sri Parvati as Sri Kamakshi or Sri
Sivakamasundari, is depicted as holding the bow and the arrows of Kamadeva,
controlling Kaama within Her eyes. Hence Kamakshi. She holds the sweet
sugarcane bow representing the five senses through which the mind is
influenced and is functioning, and won the grace of Lord Siva, who alone, as the
destroyer of Kaama and Kaala, is capable of saving us form the cycle of birth and
death. If we surrender ourselves at the feet of the Divine Mother, in the manner
in which Sri Adi Sankara has taught us in Soundarya Lahari. She will help us to
keep the mind and the senses under control and purify our heart, so that we may
attain perfection without being afflicted by kaama and lobha (lust and desires)
and realise the Ultimate Truth and achieve sublime peace and happiness.
November 8, 1957

Karalagna mrgah kareendra bhango

Ghana-saardoola vikhandanosta jantuh:
Giriso visadakritischa cheetah
Kuhare panchamukho-asti me kuto bheeh.
Lord Narayana made up His mind to remain as a man when He incarnated as
Rama, in order to teach the world the importance of reverence or Bhakti towards
father, mother, teacher and God. He so identified Himself with His human role
that He behaved exactly like an ordinary mortal and when any one attributed to
Him qualities of God, He reminded him that He as only a man Aatmaanam
maanusham manye. Similarly though Sri Adi Sankara was Lord Siva incarnate, he
tried to inculcate Siva-bhakti in the people by his actions and writings. One such
composition of his is Sivaananda Lahari.
In the above verse occurring in Sivaananda Lahari, Siva is conceived of as having
five faces, four of them looking at each of the four directions, east, south, west
and north, and the other turning upwards. The upturned faced is called
Eesaanam, while other four faces are called Sadyajaatam, Vaamadevam,
Aghoram, and Tarpurusham. Siva holds in his right hand a deer (hence valam-kai-

maan in Tamil), symbolic of the mind which is unsteady or restless. This aspect of
the mind is found referred to in the Gita in the words, chanchalam hi manah
Krishna. The deer is also by nature restless and timid and continuously turns its
gaze hither and thither. But when the same deer is held in the hand of Siva, it
gazes into His benevolent eyes, keeps its look steady there, forgets its fear and
remains motionless, with a feeling of security and happiness. Siva wears the hide
of an elephant and that of a tiger. In the atmosphere of peace and security that
pervades in His presence, all creatures remain motionless and blissful, their mind
concentrated on Him and Him only. Where is fear, asks the great Acharya, when
this five faced Siva is in the cavity of my heart?
There is an interesting story about the manner in which Siva came to wear the
hide of an elephant. It is said some sages who believed that the observance of
the rites prescribed in the Vedas is everything and that there is no need to have
devotion or bhakti to God, created an elephant by their mantra power and set it
to attack Siva, towards whom the wives of the sages were attracted, even as Sri
Krishna attracted towards himself the devotion of the Gopis. Isvara performed his
Oordhva Taandava, tossed the elephant about like a ball and ultimately tore it up
and covered Himself with its skin. On account of this dress, He came to be known
as Krithivasah. The Vedas use the expression, (Krithivasahpinaakee) in several
places, Amara Simha, a highly intellectual person, though a Jain has done full
justice to the Vedic names of God in his Sanskrit dictionary. When enumerating
the names of Siva, he has included the Vedic name, Krithivasah.
There is a story about the meeting between Sri Adi Sankara and Amara Simha.
Both Jainism and Buddhism expounded only truths which are within the
comprehension of the intellect. Adi Sankara was able to convince Amara Simha
that the Ultimate Reality or Isvara Tatva, is something beyond the reach of mere
intellectual comprehension. Amara Simha thereupon started consigning all his
writing to the flames. Adi Sankara rushed forward to prevent him doing so, but
was in time only to save Amara Kosa, which has become a book of eternal value.
The Gita also teaches us that the Vedas and the rites enjoined therein are not the
be all the end all of our spiritual quest, but that there is also the Vedanta or the
highest conception of the Supreme which transcends the intellect. It is up to us
all to develop Isvara-bhakti and derive happiness herein and hereafter.
The description of Siva, the Lord of the universe, in this verse, can also be
applied to the lion, the Lord of the jungle, Panchaasya or panchamukha is one of
the names for the lion, derived from the fact that its head and mane together
present a broad (pancha) appearance in contrast to its wiry body. While roaming
about, the lion catches hold of deer with ease and also kills the elephant or tiger
that corsses its path. Its den is known as kuhara, and when it is prowling about,
the other animals of the jungle remain hidden and motionless.
November 4, 1957


Naaraayanaaya nalinaayata lochanaaya

Naamaavaseshita mahaabali vaibhavaaya
Naanaa charaachara vidhaayaka janmadesa
Nabheeputaaya prushaaya namah parasmai
This verse occurs in Bhoja Champu and describes vividly the picture of Sriman
Narayana as He appeared to the Devas. This verse forms part of the Ramayana
story composed by King Bhoja and Poet Kalidasa, at a time when King Bhoja was
made aware of the fact that he had only ninety more minutes life in this world.
This is a beautiful verse and contains rich ideas. The milky white ocean and the
white Adisesha bed provide the necessary relief or background to the scintillating
dark-blue body of Narayana. The very fact of His slumber is described as active
vigil in the protection of all the worlds and their contents. It is this apparently
dormant energy, which makes the entire universe function according to plan,
that burst out into a dynamic force in the form of Narasimha.
King Bhoja tricked poet Kalidasa into reciting his (Bhojas) Charamasloka, elegy
on the death of King Bhoja. Hearing that inspired poetry, King Bhoja, who was
then in disguise, fell down dead. At the entreaty of Kalidasa, the Divine Mother
enabled King Bhoja to live another ninety minutes. King Bhoja, when apprised of
the situation, did not feel sorry for his imminent death, but decided to utilise the
brief retrieve vouchsafed to him in singing the praise of the Lord. That is how the
concise Ramayana containing the above verse came to be composed.
The moral is that we should employ even the few minutes of leisure we may be
able to snatch in between jobs in the thought of God or in reciting His naama.
October 25, 1957


Sage Vyasa is known as Veda Vyasa, as he classified and compiled together, the
vast body of Vedas or mantras then existing. He classified the Vedas in four,
namely Rig, Yajur, Sama and Atharvana and taught them respectively to four
great Rishis Sumantu, Vaisampayane, Jaimini and Paila. Mantras are present
around us as sound waves, and they are without beginning or end. As a radio set
picks up a broadcast sound, so also these great Rishis, by their yogic power,
were able to comprehend and master these sound waves vibrating around them.

One meaning of the word Rishi is that person who has seen the mantras.
(Rishayo mantra-drashtaarah) Yogic power endowed them with spiritual eyes
with which they saw and registered in their minds the forms of these mantras,
even as Arjuna was able to see before him the Viswaroopa of the Lord The Vedas
have thus come down to us in their original form by the process of oral
transmission from Guru to be Sishya. The Vedas have to be learnt by competent
persons in an attitude of devotion, and with due observances of austerities and
preserved for posterity.
Sage Vyasa also composed the 18 Puranas, which contain the purport of the
Vedas and asked Soota, a sage revered for his knowledge and devotion, to teach
them to the world. The next great service that Sri Vyasa did was to write a
compendium of the truth of the Vedas in aphoristic from known as Brahma
Sutras. The Brahma Sutras were interpreted by the great Acharyas, who came
later, in their commentaries or Bhashyas. The commentaries most widely read
are those of Sri Adi Sankara, Sri Ramanuja, and Sri Madhwa. Whatever doctrinal
differences may have arisen in later times, we should not forget that the
authority or the source of these commentaries is the Brahma Sutras of Sri Veda
Vyasa. India has evoked the esteem and admiration of other countries for this
remarkable achievement in the realm of spiritual culture and metaphysical
thinking. It is our duty to adore the great Sage Vyasa, who has made available to
us the Vedas and remember with gratitude the great Rishis who preserved them
and passed them on to posterity in their original purity by this process of oral
In addition to the Vedas, we have the body of Dharma Sutras which tell us what
we should do and should not do, to qualify ourselves for the study of the Vedas
and which tell us how to practise our religion. They are also known as the Smritis
and are associated with the names of the great Rishis like Parasara,
Yaajnavalkya, Manu and others. Compendiums of these Smritis known as
Dharma-sastra-nibandhanam have been written by later authors. In the North
the most popular Nibandhanam is the one written by Kasinath Upadhyaya, while
in the South, it is that written by Vaidyanatha Dikshitar. The Vaidyanatha
Dikshiteeyam is common to both Vaishnavites and Saivites. Thus the Vedas and
the Dharma Sastras are the foundation of our religion.
One important difference between other religions and ours is that while other
religions speak of a direct relation between man and God, our religion speaks of
a meditated relation established through transcendental deities, each presiding
over a particular aspect of worldly and spiritual life. Sri Krishna says in the Gita
that when Prajapati created men. He did so associating them with the obligation
to perform yajnas or sacrifices. The yajnas are our expression of gratitude for
benefits derived. The gods accepted our offerings through the sacrificial fire and
blessed us in return with all the good things of the world. As an after dinner toast
honours even an absent person in whose name it is proposed, the offerings made
in the fire in a spirit of sacrifice saying na mama (not mine), bring
gratification to the gods to whom they are intended. The Vedic rituals in a yajna
are the process by which whatever is offered with a sense of renunciation is

transmitted to the Supreme Being through the proper channel, just as taxes are
paid by us to the Central Government, not directly, but through the persons or
agencies authorised to collect them. According to our religion, direct relation
between man and God can be established only when on is nearest to God. Such
persons are Brahmajnanis and Sanyasis and they do not have to do any ritual
prescribed in Smritis. All others have to perform the rituals or karmas prescribed
for them.
We must perform the Deva-karmas and the Pitru-karmas enjoined upon us and,
understanding the rationale behind such observances of karmas, preserve the
Vedas and the Dharma Sastras, and also remember with reverence and gratitude
Sri Veda Vyasa, the Moola Purusha of our religion.
October 14, 1957


All of us take care to keep our bodies and our clothes clean. But do we bestow
any attention on our inner or mental cleanliness? Inner impurity is the result of
desire, anger, and fear. It is common knowledge that when one is in the presence
of ones mother, one keeps all evil thoughts under control. Similarly, in the
presence of the Divine Mother, we can control our evil thoughts. We can cleanse
our hearts only by the Dhyana-thirtha (holy water of meditation) of the Divine
Mother. When the heart is so cleansed, it will learn to distinguish the real from
the unreal, which will result in the end of births. A day spent without a conscious
attempt to clean ones heart, is a day wasted. Impurity of cloth or body will lead
to diseases which will last only for one life-time. But impurity of heart will lead to
diseases which will afflict the soul for several births.
God or Paramatma is only one, and we worship that God as Father, Mother or
Teacher of the Universe. The Vedic religion, which is popularly known as Hindu
religion, emphasises this fact. God in the form of Divine Mother is a
personification of kindness and love and he who worships at Her divine feet will
secure mental peace quickly. Desires only increase by fulfilment. Desires can be
overcome by saanti and mental discipline. Let us surrender ourselves at the holy
feet of the Divine Mother and purify ourselves with her Dhyana-thirtha, and thus
free ourselves from desires, diseases and births.
There are two main sects among Christians. But the name of the God and the
Holy Book of the Christian religion are common to both. The same is the case
with the Muslims. So far as the Hindus are concerned, there are apparently two
Gods and two Holy Books, according to whether one is a Saivite or a Vaishnavite
the Tirumarai and the Prabandham. But the basis for both Saivism and
Vaishnavism is the Vedas, and according to the Vedas, there is only one God, the
God about Whom the Vedas sing. If we had been classified as Saivites,
Vaishnavites, and so on, the whole country would have been Balkanised. We
should, therefore, bear in mind the fact the the Vedas form the basis for our

religion and that there is only one God. Failure to realise this fact will only lead to
the weakening, and finally the disintegration, of Hindu society.
This takes us to the question of preserving the Vedas in their pristine purity. The
Vedas are not preserved in writing and the Tamil term marai (hidden) for the
Vedas is very appropriate. The Vedas are like the roots of a tree. The different
sects are like its flowers and fruits, all deriving their sustenance from the roots.
Fortunately, we have the good tradition of the Vedas and the Vedangas being
handed down from generation to generation by word of mouth, and happily for
the entire world, the Vedas have been preserved in their pristine purity,
especially in the South.
The importance of Sanskrit is due to the fact that it is the language of the Vedas.
There is evidence to prove the influence of Sanskrit in Far-Eastern countries like
Indonesia and even in places like Persia. It once occupied the place of an
international language. The Vedas must be preserved in the Sanskrit language
and not in translation, because the spirit will get diluted in the process of
translation. Though there may be translations, a reference to the original will
become necessary, when difficulty arises in interpretation. We can trace the
basis for all religions to the Vedas. For the preservation of Vedas, it is necessary
that some people devote their entire time for Vedic study. That is how the Vedas
were preserved in the past and were handed down to succeeding generations by
oral transmission. A community will cease to exist the moment it loses sight of
its purpose in society. The purpose of the Brahmin community is to learn,
preserve and hand over to posterity, the Vedas and the Vedangas
October 5, 1957

When Sri Sankaran Bhagavatpada visited the shrine of Sri Annapoorna, during
his stay in the holy city of Kaasi, he composed a hymn in praise of the Devi in
eight verses, known as Annapoornaashtakam. This hymn is recited with great
reverence throughout India. Each one of these verses ends with the refrain,
Bikshaam dehi kripaavalambanakaree maataannapoornesvaree.
One of the verses describes the Divine Mother as Aadikshaanta samasta
varnanakaree. The fiftyone letters of the alphabet from a ksha, go by the name
of varna. Varna also means the four castes. Another meaning of varna is colour.
The Divine Mother is is soul of the varna or alphabet. The sastras which are
based on sabda (sound) are the sound forms of paradevata. Sabda gives rise to
forms visible shapes. It is observed that when particular musical notes are
played near a pond, the resultant vibrations induce particles of light dust,
floating on the water, to arrange themselves into specific shapes. Thus sabda
and roopa, sound and form, have close affinity. This also accounts for the sanctity
of mantras, which are words and letters combined and arranged in specific
forms. The repetition of a mantra, with devotion, earns for us the grace of the

particular manifestation of God for whom that mantra is dedicated. The Divine
Mother is the soul of all mantras.
The conception of Divinity as the Mother is unique and inspiring. In human
relationship the affection of a mother for her child is unsurpassed. Similarly, the
depth of the Divine Mothers love for her devotees is unfathomable. The grace
that flows from Her is spontaneous and irresisble. That is why Sri Annapoorna is
depicted as carrying a vessel containing ksheeraannam (rice mixed with milk) in
one hand and a ladle in the other. She is ready to distribute this food to those
who pray for it. In the abundance of Her mercy, She gives us not only food that
sustains our body, but also jnana that nourishes the soul. When Sri Adi Sankara
prayed to Mother Annapoorna to give him alms, he prayed not only for himself
but for all mankind. We are all members of one family., being the children of the
Divine Parents, Paravati and Paramesvara. It is our duty to love, help, and serve
one another.
There is a temple dedicated to Sri Annapoorneswari at Cherukunnam in Kerala.
Every devotee who worships at that temple is served with food. The tradition is
that in the night, after every one is fed, a packet of food is left tied to the branch
of a tree, the idea being that even the thief who prowls about in the night should
not go without food.
Let us reverentially pray to Mother Annapoorna by reciting the immortal
Annapoornaashtakam of Sri Sankara Bhagavatpada and earn Her grace for the
welfare of the entire world.
May 16, 1958


(The message given by His Holiness when he visited the Kothwal Bazar in
Chennai and the Sri Kanyaka Parameswari temple inside the market).
We wash our bodies and clothes daily in order to get rid of the accreted dirt and
keep them clean. Impurity gets attached to our mind also, during every waking
moment of our life, as a result of bad thoughts, wrong desires and passions like
anger. It behoves us to cleanse our minds also every day, so that impurity may
not go on accumulating and cause us sorrow, sufferings and difficulties. The only
water that can wash off mental impurity is the water of dhyana or meditation. We
should, therefore, concentrate our thoughts on God at least for a few moments
every day and invoke His grace to cleanse our hearts. However, bad a man may
be, all evil thoughts within him recede to the background in the presence of his
mother. Similarly in the presence of the Divine Mother, all of us can get rid of our
mental impurity. The Divine Mother, in the form of Sri Kanyaka Parameswari, has
been installed in this temple. The genius of our ancients is responsible for
conceiving the Mother of all creation as a virgin (kanni). It is the duty of all to
visit a temple everyday, meditate on the form of god installed in that temple,
and pray for the washing off of all the impurities of mind. If we do so, all our

troubles will melt away like dew before the sun; we shall be successful and
happy, and our families will also prosper.
The manifestation of the Divine Mother as Sri Kanyaka Parameswari is sacred to
the Arya Vysya community. She is the same Mother, who, in Her manifestation as
Kamakshi, has been installed at Kancheepuram. Sri Sankara Bhagavatpada has
installed a Sri Chakra also inside that temple, and established the Kamakoti
Peetam. The object of establishing various Peetas by Sri Bhagavatpada was to
remind the succeeding generations of the sacred injunctions contained in the
Sastras, so that people may not get deflected from the right path.
With the passage of time, many changes have crept into our society. Food
prohibited by the Sastras is being eaten and there is generally a deterioration in
the moral standards. The classification of society into castes and communites
was not classification of society or to accentuate differences. It was intended to
form convenient groups, whose welfare could be attended to by panchayats of
elders, without impairing the solidarity as a whole. Such grouping was based on
duties, and the elders of each group saw to it that the group functioned properly
and that people belonging to the group or community did not deviate from the
right path. When such panchayats or nattanmai functioned, disputes were
settled in the presence of God and wrongdoers were asked to make some
offering to Him. In that way, the moral standards of the people were being
maintained at a high level. The state had to step in only to protect the people
from external aggression. Society functioned as smoothly as a well-organised
factory, each man doing his allotted duty and all contributing to the common
As the occupant of the Kamakoti Peetam, I feel it my duty to remind you of our
glorious traditions and of the correct conduct of life as laid down in the Sastras.
The strength of the Peetam is the affection that voluntarily flows from the hearts
of the devotees. It is on this foundation and with this capital of affection that I
can function. What attracts a foreigner to India is not the wealth of this country,
but the spiritual message she has given and is giving. That message will have
enhanced value when the people of this country adhere to the way of life laid
down in the Sastras the Sastras that proclaimed the spiritual message. I hope
you will remember this truth and so conduct yourself with devotion, as to earn
the grace of the Divine Mother. May the Divine Mother bless you with hapiness
and prosperity.
April 6, 1958


In this world, we mortals are so overwhelmed with ajnaana (ignorance) that
though we know a thing to be wrong, we are helplessly impelled to do it. Ajnaana
is a disease for which jnaana (enlightenment) is the only cure. The Divine Mother
alone is capable of bestowing this milk of jnaana (jnaanappal in Tamil), removing

our ignorance, and satiating the hunger of our atma (soul). A hungry child thinks
of its mother and the milk she will give and yearns for both. Similarly, we must
yearn for the grace of the Divine Mother, so that we can obtain from Her the milk
of enlightenment. For that purpose, we must be constantly thinking of Her and
praying to Her.
The time available to us, after attending to our prescribed and essential duties,
must be utilised in contemplation of the Divine Mother. If we do not switch over
our mind in Her direction, when we have nothing else to do, there is the danger
of the mind straying along the forbidden or sinful path. If, on the other hand, we
think of Her, we will not only be avoiding doing wrong, but will also be fed by Her
with the milk of jnaana. As a result, we will be endowed with the grace of
Saraswati, the Goddess of Learning, of Lakshmi, the Goddess of Wealth. No only
that, physically we will be healthy and radiant with charm (tejas) that flows from
health. We will also be blessed with long life.
Thus, long life, health, wealth, and knowledge what is the use of long life
bereft of health, wealth and knowledge ? will be ouras. Jnaana will sever the
paasa (chord) ajnaana, which binds the soul to this world and makes us pasu
(animal). When the bond is sundered, the liberated soul merges itself into that
limitless and all-pervasive Bliss. Parananda, and is no longer afflicted by fear,
sorrow, or pain. Thus, the effect of worshipping the Divine Mother is the
fulfillment of the purpose of life the merger of the atma with the Paramatma.
This is the significance of the following verse in Soundarya Lahari, which is given
as the phalasruti for the 100 verses preceding it.
Sarasvatyaa lakshmyaa vidhi-hari-sapatno viharate Rateh paativratyam
sithilayati ramyena vapushaa Chiram jeevanneva kshapita pasupaasa vyatikarah
Paraanandaabhikhyam rasayati rasam tvadbha-janavaan.
January 31, 1958

Singing the praise of Ambika, Bhagavatpada says in Soundarya Lahari that so
great is the mercy of the Mother that the moment the Bhakta (devotee) began
his prayer with the words, Bhavaani tvam, Ambika did not even wait till he
completed his prayer, but conferred on him saayujya, viz., the merger of the soul
with the Mother.
Bhavaani tvam daase mayi vitara drishtim sakarunaam Iti stotum vaanchan
kathayati bhavani tvamitiyah; Tadaiva tvam tasmai disasi nija-saayujyapadaveem Mukunda-brahmendra sphuta-makuta neeraajita padaam.
When the devotee began saying Bhavaani tvam, he was only addressing
Divine Mother by calling Her Bhavaani, and invoking Her grace, though
expression can also be interpreted as meaning, May I become You. It is
merger with the Supreme that the Mother granted as soon as She heard


words Bhavaani tvam. The significance of this verse is that one imbued with
true devotion gets things unasked.
The saayujya the devotee attains by Her grace is the condition of supreme
saanti, like that which rivers attain when they merge in the ocean. The same
condition of peace and bliss is reached by the bhakta who starting from dvaita
bhaava (feeling of duality of himself and God) reaches saayujya or oneness with
Isvara through Her grace


There is a reference in Mooka Panchasati that Goddess Kamakshi caused a
shower of gold in Tundeeram (Tondaimandalam) to relieve the sufferings of the
people. This allusion is substantiated by the existence of a place which goes by
the name of Pon Vilainda Kalathur in the Chingleput District. There is also a
tradition that Sri Vedanta Desika, the renowed Sarvatantra Swatantracharya,
who established the Vaishnava Sampradaya, prayed to the Goddess of Wealth,
Sri Mahalakshmi, by composing and reciting Sri Stuti and obtained gold for giving
it to a Brahmachari. This Brahmachari is said to have been sent by some people
envious of Sri Vedanta Desika and this youth begged for gold so that he could
get himself married. This incident also seems to have taken place somewhere in
the region known as Tondaimandalam.
Sri Kanakadharastavam of Sri Sankara Bhagavatpada is a widely known
composition. The circumstances which led to thecomposition and recitation of
this prayer is interesting. After his Upanayana, performed at a very early age, Sri
Sankara rigorously followed the injunctions of the brahmacharya life and lived on
the food obtained by begging or biksha. In the course of his daily biksha rounds,
he stood at the threshold of a poor Brahmin, one day, and asked for alms, by
uttering the prescribed formula, Bhavati bikshaam dehi. The master of the
house, who himself lived on the charity of his neighbours, was away and the lady
of the house, who possessed a magnanimous heart, wanted to give something to
this child with a divine countenance. Her search resulted in unearthing only a
small amalaka fruit. This she deposited in the begging bowl devoutly, her heart
melting at the thought that she had nothing better to offer. Sri Sankara divined
the situation and realised that the small gift came from a heart as expansive as
the sky itself. He composed and sang the 18 verses, which go by the name of Sri
Kanakadharastavam. Sri Mahalakshmi responded to the prayer and showered
golden fruits inside the house of the poor Brahmin couple and banished their
poverty. Incidentally this was also the first composition of Sri Sankara.
There is internal evidence in the stotra itself to substantiate this story. The verse
providing this evidence is :

Dadyaat dayaanupavano dravina-ambudhaaraam Asmin-akinchana vihanga

sisau vishanne Dushkarma gharmam-apaneeya chiraaya dooram Naaraayanapranayinee nayanaambuvaahah.
In this verse, Sri Sankara prays that impelled by the wind of kindness
(dayaanupavano) of Sri Mahalakshmi who is the beloved of Sri Narayana
(Naaraayana pranayini) the cloud of her glance (nayana-ambuvaahah) should
shower (daadyaar) the rain of wealth (dravina-ambudhaaram) driving away to a
distance (apaneeya chiraaya dooram), the scorching heat (gharmam) of the past
sins (dushkarma) of this suffering (vishanne) fledgling (vihangasisu). The bird
referred to here is the mythical chaataka, which can quench its thirst only when
rain falls. The utter helplessness of the poor householder is indicated by a
comparison to the fledgling of chaataka. To meet the possible objection that the
householders present plight is the consequence of his past wrong deeds
(dushkarma), Sri Sankara says that this prayer, on his behalf, should be sufficient
to absolve him of all his past sins.
While the other verses in this stotra are all in praise of the Divine Mother, this
particuolar verse alone contains the request for wealth. In the same way as
showers relieve the parched condition of the scorching summer heat, he prays
that the cooling grace of the Mother should relieve the sufferings of the poor
Ishtaavisishtamatayopi yayaa dayaardra- Drshtyaa trivishtapapadam
sulabham labhante; Vrshtih prahrshta kamalodaradeeptirishtaam Pushtim
garudadhwajasundareeti Sakambhareeti sasisekhara-vallabheti; Srshti-sthiti-pralaya kelishu
samsthitaayai Tasyai namasstribhuvanaikagurostarunyai.
In the first of the above two verses, also occurring in Sri Kanakadhaaraastavam,
Sri Sankara prays for the bestowal of desired prosperity (Ishtaam pushtim),
wealth, crop, family, etc. Here Sri Sankara indicates that even those who perform
the prescribed rites to qualify them for a place in heaven, can attain that status
only when the benevolent glance of the Divine Mother, seated on the lotus, falls
on them. The second verse indicates the true nature of the Mother. It also
teaches that the Divine Mother, known by different names as Saraswati,
Lakshmi, Saakambhari & Parvati, are but manifestations of the same Supreme
Divinity, who is none else than that Creative Energy, who forms part of the static
Paramatma (Tribhuvanaika Guru), both together constituting the Father and
Mother of the universe, and to whom creation, preservation, and destruction are
mere sport (keli).
If we too recite this Sri Kanakadhaaraastavam with devotion, we shall be relieved
of poverty, sufferings and afflictions and sins (daaridrya, taapa and paapa).


saroruhaakshi Tvad-vandanaani duritoddharano-dyataani Maameva maatah
anisam kalayantu maanye
O! Mother, who has eyes as beautiful as lotus flowers and who Is worthy of
worship, let the obeisance offered to you, obeisance Capable of bestowing
property, bring blissful joy to the Idriyas, Having the power to gift an empire, and
remove sins and purify, Always remain with me.
This sloka is from Sri Sankara Bhagvatoadas Kanakadhaaraastava. As a
Brahmachari Sri Sankara recited this and caused a shower of gold for the benefit
of a poor housewife who had nothing to offer as bhiksha to him except a solitary
aamalaka fruit (Nellikkani). The significant portion of the verse is where Sri Adi
Sankara prays to the Divine Mother that Vandana (obeisance) offered to Her with
the purpose of rooting out durita (sin) duritoddharana - should not leave him,
but remain with him alone always (maameva anisam kalayantu). This Vandanam
is alone is my property the Mother is also the giver of wealth and should
remain with me, he says. The import of this sentiment is that the Mother
(maatah hence Taayaar for Ambika in Tamil) in her mercy should help him to
hold fast to the Vandanam to Her. The only way to get oneself cleansed of one s
sins is to penitently prostrate at the feet of the Divine Mother. Let us, therefore,
surrender ourselves at the feet of the Mother and find peace and happiness.


The Upanishads are also known as Veda-siras, or the crown of the Vedas. There
are ten main Upanishads and one of them is Kena Upanishad. In this Upanishad,
a truth expounded by the Vedas is explained by means of a story. According to
this story, the devas once decided to celebrate their victory over the asuras. At
this festival, all the devas were filled with a feeling of self importance and pride
in their own prowess. To cure them of their egoism, God appeared in the form of
a Yaksham, a bright apparition which touched the earth below and the heavens
above. The identidy of this phenomenon the devas were unable to comprehend.
Agni (fire) was sent to find out what it was. To a question from the Yaksham, Agni
said that he was Jatavedas having the power to reduce anything and everything
to ashes. Thereupon, the Yaksham threw in front of Agni a blade of grass and
asked him to consume it. Even though Agni concentrated all his powers, he was
unable to burn it. He came back humbled. Similarly, Vaayu or Maatarisva also
failed to move the blade of grass, even though he concentrated all his fury to
blow it off. Finally, Indra, the Lord of the Devas, approached the Yaksham. The
apparition vanished and before the crest-fallen Indra stood the form of a damsel
whose lustre illuminated the entire place. She was no other than Uma or
Haimavati, the Divine Mother, from whom every one and everything derives
sustenance. This jyoti-swaroopa informed Indra that the Yaksham who was
present a while back was no other than Paramatma, the source of all energy and

life, and that if the devas had succeeded in conquering the asuras it was due to
the grace of that Paramatma. Indra became enlightened and humble and he
communicated this knowledge to the other devas. The knowledge destroyed the
demon of egoism from their hearts, which then became pure.
Uma, the Divine Mother, is the personification of pranava (Om). She is brightness
in light and fragrance in flowers. She has the illumination of a thousand suns and
yet has the soothing coolness of a thousand moons. Along with Isvara, she is the
Paramatma-swaroopa sung by the Vedas.
It is this idea that is conveyed by the following verse in Soundarya Lahari :
Sruteenaam moordhaano dadhati tava yau sekharatayaa, Mamaapi-etau
maatah sirasi dayayaa dhehi charanau; Yayoh paadyam pathah pasupati jataajoota tatini; Yayor-laakshaa lakshmih-aruna hari choodamani ruchih-
In this stanza Sri Adi Sankara prays to the Mother (maatah), to place Her divine
feet, the feet which shine in the crown of the Vedas (sruteenaam moordhaano),
even on his head, in the plenitude of Her mercy (dayayaa). The quality of the
divine feet is explained in the last two lines. The waters with which those feet are
washed (paadyam), becomes the river Ganges, flowing over the matted hair of
Pasupati. The beautiful lac colour of those feet is caused by the lustre of the red
crest-jewel of Hari. It is significant that Adi Sankara gives expression to his
humility by once again using the expression maamapi, even mine. In another
sloka in Soundarya Lahari also, he has used maamapi when begging the Divine
Mother to bathe even him with the glance of Her soothing eyes Snapaya
kripaya maamapi sive.
Let us surrender ourselves at the Mothers feet which the Vedas praise, get
purified of heart, and attain lasting bliss.
November 15, 1957
Drsaa draagheeyasyaa dara-dalita-neelotpala-ruchaa daveeyaamsam deenam
snapaya krpayaa maamapisive; Anena-ayam dhanyo bhavanti na cha te haaniriyataa Vane vaa harmye vaa samakara nipato himakarah.
This verse is from Soundarya Lahari, composed by Sri Sankara Bhagavatpada.
Addressing the Divine Mother, Sive, Sri Acharya requests Her to bathe even him,
who is helpless and standing at a great distance, with the far-reaching glance of
Her soothing blue eyes, beautiful as a half-blossomed blue lily. By this act, the
Acharya says, the Mother stands to lose nothing while he, a deena, will be
blessed and enabled to achieve the goal of life. The soothing cool moonlight falls
equally on a forest and a beautiful mansion. By this verse, Sri Adi Sankara seeks
to convey the idea that the range of the benevolent look or kataaksha of the
Divine Mother is long enough to embrace everything and every one in this wide

The Divine Mother is part of Isvara. Sri Adi Sankara, an incarnation of Isvara, is
the embodiment of the Divine Mother also. Yet for the purpose of instilling bhakti
in the minds of the people, he humbles himslef by describing himself as deena,
or helpless, and considers himself as standing in the last place in the queue of
people waiting to receive the grace of the Mother. By invoking Her to bless
even him (maamapi), he suggests, by inference, the existence of persons
more deserving than himself to receive Her grace. On the other hand, he
describes the glance of the Mother as reaching the far ends of the Universe and
embracing everything. It is in such a spirit of humility and intense devotion that
Sri Adi Sankara has given to us a rich devotional treasure in the form of
Soundarya Lahari and it is up to us to benefit from it.
November 6, 1957
Pradeepa jvaalaabhir-divasakara neeraajana vidhih Sudhaa sooteschandraopala jala lavair-arghya rachanaa; Swakeeyair-ambhobhih salila nidhi
sauuhitya karanam Tvadeeyaabhir-vaagbhi stava janani vaachaam stutiriyam
Composing these verses in praise of You, O Mother, in words originating from
You, is like worshipping the Sun by waving a light, offering arghya to the Moon
with drops of water dripping from a moon-stone and bathing the ocean with its
own water.
This is the last verse in Soundarya Lahari composed by Sri Adi Sankara. Through
this verse, he brought home to us the truth that all virtues and skills we claim to
posses are derived from the Supreme Mother through Her grace. The Soundarya
Lahari is a composition, the beauty of which has not so far been surpassed. It is
in praise of Ambika, Herself the embodiment and source of all beauty. The
beautiful words in which Soundarya Lahari is composed are also derived through
the grace of Ambika. That is why Sri Sankara Bhagavatpada has expressed in this
verse that singing the praise of Ambika in the composition, Soundarya Lahari, in
words originating from Her, is very much like worshipping the Sun by waving a
lighted camphor before him, or offering the Moon drops of nectar emitted by the
Chandrakaanta stone under the influence of the Moon, or bathing the ocean with
its own waters. The lesson to be drawn is that whenever any honour is done to a
person, the recipient must remember the divine source from which he derived
the qualifications to receive that honour, and feel humble and not elated with a
feeling of self-importance.
Sri Sankara Bhagavatpada, within the short span of his life, made tremendous
achievements. The world of intellect was at his feet. The influence of all other
creeds vanished into thin air. His fame travelled far beyond the shores of India. A
stone inscription recovered from a temple in ruins in the jungles of Cambodia
mentioned that the temple was built by a King whose guru claimed to be a
descendent of a pupil of Bhagavan Sankara. French archaeologists have
recovered from Cambodia 700 to 800 Sankrit incriptions in stone. All the
inscriptions are in beautiful Sanskrit.

Yenaadheetani saastraani bhagavat-sankaraahvayaat;

moordhaali maala leedhaanghripankajaat.



This verse emphasises the greatness of Sri Sankara. It says that all the great
seekers of truth (soori) in the country, without exception, acknowledged the
greatness of Sri Sankara by bowing their heads at his lotus feet. Such a great
soul felt humble after composing Soundarya Lahari and dedicated it to the
Supreme Mother. In that way, he taught the world and us the lesson of humility
and the need for eschewing from ones nature egoism or arrogance, realising
that all merits are derived from the divine source.
October 11,1957

In Mooka Panchasati, Sri Kamakshi is referred to as darkish blue in colour in the
Stuti Sataka, and as saffron in colour in the Aarya Sataka. Sri Sankara
Bhagavatpada, in his Soudarya Lahari, describes Ambikas colour as aruna
varna, splendrous red of the rising sun. Why is the colour of the same Goddess
described as dark-blue in one place and red in another?
According to Devi Mantra Sastraas, Kameswara, who transcends the Trininty,
Brahma, Vishnu, and Siva, is actionless and unattached. Sri Kameswari, the
Supreme Parasakthi, seated on the left of Sri Kameswara, is described to be red
in colour. The sameness of Parvati, who is dark, and Paraasakti, who is red, is
indicated in Mooka Panchasati by attributing both these colours to the Supreme
Sri Kameswaras swarupa is like that of a pure sphatika, a colourless solid which
becomes invisible when immersed in water. He is thereby conceived as formless
even though He has a form. Vishnu and Paravati, both dark-blue, are twin
manifestations, are also Siva and Saraswati, both white, and Brahma and
Lakshmi, both golden yellow. Daylight is colourless, and yet it contains all the
primary colours. If one of the colours is separated from the colourless light, the
rest of the colours reveal themselves. Red is the least disturbing colour as is
evident from the fact that red light is used to develop photographic negatives.
Under the influence of red Paraasakti, the colourless Sadasiva manifests himself
as Brahma, Vishnu, Siva and their respective consorts, Saraswati, Lakshmi, and
Parvati and starts the activities of the world-process.
The Divine Trinity have their counterparts in the three states of wakefulness,
dream, and dreamless sleep, and in the three-fold activities of creation,
protection, and dissolution. While wakefulness and dream are states of mixed joy
and sorrow, sleep is a state free from worldly sorrow. Turiya is a state higher than
sleep and that is the state of Supreme Bliss or aananda. Pralaya or deluge gives
rest to souls from the cycle of birth and death and the effects of punya and

paapa. Siva, who is referred to as the Destroyer, is in reality a merciful God, who
lulls the tormented souls into the sleep of pralaya, during which period they
forget all their sorrows. In Soundarya Lahari, Sri Sankara Bhagavatpada says that
these three Divinities, Brahma, Vishnu, and Siva, started their cosmic process
when the Supreme Parasakti knitted Her brow for a fraction of a second. She
stood beyond them all and Her red splendour stimulated them to perform their
respective functions of creation, preservation and destruction, by Her very
As part of Sarada Navarathri celebrations, articles included in the book
Acharyas Call, complied by Sri V. Ramakrishna Aiyer, Retired Chief
Reporter, The Hindu, Madras, and published by Sri Kamakoti Peetam, Sri
Sankaracharya Swami Mutt, Kancheepuram, are reproduced for the information
of devotees.
Jagat soote dhata harir avati rudrah kshapayate tiraskurvan etat swam api
vapur eesastirayati; sadaa poorvah sarvam tadidam anugrnhati cha sivah
stavaajnam aalambya kshana chalitayor-bhroolatikayoh.
The lesson to be drawn from the foregoing is that the same Supreme Being
appears in diverse forms as we conceive Him to shower His grace in the manner
we invoke it. We do it by mantra and japa which are sound waves having the
power to transform themselves into the form of the murtis whose mantras they
are. If we continuously chant the mantra into which we are initiated, the
Supreme Parasakti will shower Her grace on us. She is meditated in the moon
which gives soothing light and also assuages heat. Thus She sheds Her nectar
rays all round. The Para Devata whom we worship and the Full Moon we see in
the sky are related in this life. It behoves us, therefore, to constantly meditate on
any chosen mantra on an Ishta devata so that our soul may be enveloped by that
Devata with that mantra on our lips, even at the time when the soul departs from
the body. That is the path shown to us by our sages and all of us should pursue
this path in the interest of universal welfare.
December 8, 1957


In the third chapter of the Gita, we have seen how Sri Krishna stressed the
Supreme importance of Karma Yoga and impressed on Arjuna the necessity to do
his natural duty, even if he had attained the Jnana that qualified him to rise
above all routines ceremonials. Bhagavan told Arjuna that such unattached
performance of Karma was necessary in the larger interest of the welfare of the
world. The performance of the Karmas prescribed in the Vedas, and the duties
pertaining to each person's station in life, is as sure means to get rid of the
impurity of the heart and to keep the mind under control, so that the individual
Atma may realise its real nature, namely, that it is an infinitesimal fraction of the
ocean of Paramatma, and, in that realisation, become merged in the Eternal and

Supreme Bliss. Bhagavan also warns Arjuna that the two enemies of our spiritual
progress are Kaama and Krodha, desire and anger, and tells him that he must do
his duty with all the intensity he is capable of, free from even the faintest taint of
Kaama and Krodha.
It is against this background that Sri Krishna delivers His message contained in
the fourth chapter. In a past age, Bhagavan says, He had given this message to
the world through Vivasvaan, the Sun, and He was now again giving the secret of
this Yoga to Arjuna, because he has surrendered himself to Him as a devotee
(Bhakta) and also as a friend (Sakha). This created for Arjuna the natural
difficulty of associating Sri Krishna with Bhagavan, who first gave this message
to the Sun. This doubt raised by Arjuna was cleared by Bhagavan by giving him a
glimpse of His real nature, through the memorable verses in the Fourth chapter.
He also lets Arjuna into the secret of His Avatars, as stated in the often-quoted
Yadaa yadaahi dharmasya glaanirbhavati bhaarata
Abhyutthaanam adharmasya tadaatmaanam srijaamyaham.
The main point to be noted is that He is born from time to time to save humanity
from perishing, by arresting its course along the wrong path and guiding its feet
again along the right path. When we say He is born, we have to bear in mind one
important difference. Bhagavan Himself proclaims that He has neither beginning
nor end (birth or death), and the He is the Supreme Isvara of the Universe. So,
He is not born in the ordinary sense, but born out of his own Maaya(Atma
Maaya). An actor, who is a distinct individual in private life, appears on the stage
in one role today and another role tomorrow. The real personality of the actor is
hidden behind the make-up on the stage. On the stage he is a different person
each day. God is eternal and changeless. But He appears to assume different
forms on account of the drapings, which is maaya, that cover His real personality.
The static Isvara or Purusha appears to function in infinite ways in this Universe,
because of the impact of Maaya or Prakriti, which in its turn drives its energy
from Him, the reservoir of all energies. He is conscious of His avatars, because
He has never ceased to exist; but Arjuna (by implication, the entire humanity) is
not conscious of the several births taken by him, because his awareness is
limited to present birth. Though the Atma is but a spark of the Paramatma, it is
wrapped up in ignorance or Ajnaana, on account of the operation of emotions
like raaga(desire), krodha(anger), and bhaya(fear) and is not, therefore, able to
know itself. Man is born subject to the play of these emotions, while bhagavan,
who transcends all these emotions, while appearing to be born, is in reality
Bhagavan tells Arjuna that he who is able to pierce through the wheel of His
apparent birth through Jnaana, and see Him as He is, will be able to transcend
birth and death and realise Him. How to achieve this is explained in this chapter.
The emphasis is again on getting rid of the emotions caused by the promptings
of the senses(veeta raaga bhaya krodha). Those who succeed in this task are
able first to contemplate Him uninterruptedly(manmayaa) then surrender

themselves unreservedly to Him(maamupaasritah) and finally get merged in Him

(madbhaava maagataah).
Ordinarily people are inclined to perform Karma or to worship one or the other
manifestations of God for obtaining quick results in the material sphere. But
Isvara has no likes and dislikes and showers His grace on all, each getting what
he is qualified of or deserves to receive. As stated in the subsequent chapter, He
is worship by four distinct types of persons - aartah(those in trouble),
jijnaasuh(those thirsting for true knowledge), artthaarthi(those who wish to be
happy always) and jnaani(those who are aware of him). Among them, the jnaani
alone gets freed from further births and gets merged in Him.
For every effect there is a cause, ordinary and extraordinary. Ordinary cause can
be illustrated by saying that yarn is the cause of cloth. Isvara is the extraordinary
cause for the functioning of the Universe. The path for each is chalked out by
Him. Even hatred for God becomes the cause of salvation, as in the case of
Hiranyakasipu and Kamsa, for, each of them, in His intense hatred, began to
think constantly of God.
The key for understanding the real nature of God is to realise that thought the
entire Universe functions on account of Him, He is not the doer. He is akarta and
He is unattached, both to the actions and to the results flowing from those
actions. Realising this, if we do our prescribed task, without attachment or
expectation of results, we gradually become Braahman Himself. That is the path
followed by the great men in the past, and that is the path shown in the Geetha
by Bhagavan Krishna to Arjuna and all of us. Good deed s wipe out the bad
karmaas of the past and by acting in a spirit of dedication, the mind becomes
pure. When devotion is added to disinterested act, jnaana or Ultimate Realisation
July 10, 1958.


We should all strive to cultivate lofty and noble sentiments, and , eschewing all
bad and selfish thoughts, live in a spirit of devotion to God and love for
fellowmen. Human stature increases in proportion to the nobility of human
thought and deed. The spirit of selfless service, the readiness to sacrifice,
devotion to God , and love for and goodwill towards all, and hatred for none, are
the outcome of highly developed mind, and go by the name of culture. Culture is
known as KALAA in Sanskrit, and arts like music, painting, etc., are regarded as
the outward expression of this high culture.
It is interesting to note the verbal affinity that exists between the works KALAA,
CULTURE, KAL(the Tamil word for learn ), KALAASAALA, and college. A man of
culture is kin with the whole world. He is the friend of all and enemy of none. For
him the three worlds are his home land ( SVADESO BHUVANATRAYAM). The

culture of people is judged by the soundness of the heart of the people taken as
a whole, though there may be individuals with defects and deficiencies.
The touchstone of the culture of a nation is the inspired sayings of its immortal
poets ( MAHA KAVI), whose poems have stood the test of time. These immortal
poems flow from the fullness of their heart and are the expressions of the noble
culture which they represent and in which they are steeped. These great poets
have no private axe to grind. Having no pet theories or sectarian SIDHAANTAAS
to bolster up, they have no need to import specious arguments in their poetry.
They give expression to truth ; their insight into truth gives them the courage of
utterance. Their authority is accepted to prove the culture of the people in whose
midst they flowered. Homer and Shakespeare are two among such great poets in
the West, and in our country Kalidasa and Baana are great poets without a peer.
It is said that the ring finger came to be called ANAAMIKA in Sanskrit, because a
person who wanted to take a count how great poets, counted first Kalidasa on his
little finger, but could not think of any fit person to count on the next(ring) finger.
So that finger came to be known as nameless or ANAAMIKA. As regards the
greatness of Baana, there is a saying that other poets used the crumbs that were
left over in Baana's plate(BAANOCCHISHTAM JAGAT SARVAM). Thus, these poets
have come to be regarded as great masters. Their verdict is accepted as
authority, not only in matters pertaining to culture, but in religious matters also.
In the context of our daily life, we are frequently called upon to determine the
nature of our duties, or DHARMA. The question arises, what is our Dharma and
from what authority is it derived? Ordinarily, the enactments of the legislature,
i.e. the laws of the state, regulate our public conduct. These laws derived their
sanction from the constitution adopted by the representatives of the people. The
laws are also enacted by the elected representatives of the people. It does not
require much argument to show that the voters are of various grades of
intellectual and moral calibre, and that not all the representatives they elect are
the best that could be found. Such a state of affairs is inevitable in this imperfect
world. Some of the laws may not also be perfect from the moral point or view.
That is why occasionally we hear judges remarking that they decided a point
according to law, though they are not convinced of its moral correctness.
In our day-to-day personal and moral conduct, signified by the expression
DHARMA, our religion has declared that we should be guided by the ordinance of
the Vedas. It is declared that Veda is the source of all DHARMA( Vedokhilo
dharma moolam). To illustrate the vastness of Veda, there is a story that what
Sage Bhardwaja was able to learn was compared to a handful of dust taken from
mountain the mountain representing the Vedas. If a doubt arises, which cannot
be solved with reference to the Vedas, we are enjoined to seek guidance from
Smritis. It is a mistake to regard the authors of the SMRITIS , like Manu,
Yajnavalkya and Parasara, as law-givers. SMRITIS are merely AIDE MEMOIRE or
short notes, meant to indicate what are contained in the Vedas. The authors of
the SMRITIS did not write anything new, apart from what is contained in the
SRUTI or the Vedas. There is authority of Kalidasa to this proposition. Describing
the manner in which SUTEEKSHNA followed, for a short distance, her husband ,

King Dileepa, when he took Nandini out to graze every morning, Kalidasa states
that she followed the footsteps of Nandini, like SMRITI following the meaning
(footsteps) of SRUTI(Sruterivaartham smritiranvaghacchat,). Kalidasa has
unambiguously established that the way as Sutekshna following Nandini only for
a short distance, the SMRITIS only briefly indicate what SRUTI contain.
If we are unable to get the necessary guidance to clear out doubt either from the
SRUTI or from the SMRITIS, we are asked to be guided by the conduct of those
who know and follow SMRITIS. When this guidance is not available, we are asked
to model our conduct on the action of good people who have conquered desires
and ego, and are pure in heart. When even this source of guidance fails. We have
to abide by the dictates of our conscience. That is how Dushyanta reconciles
himself to the love which sprang up in his breast at the sight of Sankuntala in
Sage Kanva's aasrama. Being aware that it is wrong for a KSHATRIYA to fall in
love with daughter of a sage, he concludes that having entertained no evil
thought before, his conscience could not have misled him into falling in love with
a wrong person. PRAMAANAMANTAHKARANA-PRAVRTTYAYAH, says Kalidas. It is to
be noted that Sri Vedanta Desika in his RAHASYATRAYASAARAM has quoted this
KAVI-VAKYA, this authority of Kalidas, in support of a proposition enunciated by
him. Kumarila Bhatta has also cited Kalidasa's authority in his work.
In these days it is fashion to give preference to conscience and relegate all other
Sastraic guidances to a secondary place, or, as is often done, to condemn them a
antiquated , meaningless and irrational. But according to our SASTRAS, the
appeal to the conscience must come as the last resort, when all other guidances
like SRUTI, SMRITI, etc., are not available. The modern view is at variance with
classical view of the authorities on dharma. The ancient view has stood the test
of time and makes for enduring and eternal sanction in respect of ethical
conduct. This view has been voiced in the utterances of MAHAKAVIS like Kalidasa,
whose voice is Truth, which is glory and the prerogative of great poets.
Foreign critics of our Vedic religion fling at us the cheap gibe, "What a host of
gods and goddesses you worship!" This charge of polytheism leveled against our
religion is entirely wrong and is born out of ignorance of the fundamental
teachings of the Vedas. This what Baana says on this subject :
" Rajo jushe janmaani satva-vrrtaye
Sttitau prajaanam pralaye tamsprse
Ajaya sarga stthiti nasa hetave
Trayeemayaya trigunaatmane namah."
In this verse Baana says that the One God appears in the three forms of Brahma,
Vishnu, Siva, for a three-fold purpose, namely creation, protection and
dissolution, which functions are determined respectively by the qualities or
GUNAAS of RAJAS(H), SATVA and TAMAS. That One is the unborn (Aja) and is the
cause of these triple process. He is trayeemaya, compound of the three aforesaid

qualities. He is trayeemaya also in the sense that He is claimed by the trayi or

the Vedas . Kalidasa expresses more or less the same idea when he says :
" Ekaiva moortirbibhide tridhaasaa
Saamaanyameshaam pratha maavaratvam;
Vishnor-harastasya harh kadaachit,
Vedhastayostaaavapi dhaaturaadyau."
One moorti (manifestation in the form ) appears as three, and there is no
question of any One of the Three being superior or inferior to the other Two , says
Kalidasa. If Brahma, Vishnu, Siva are One in essence , the, by the same token, all
the Gods of the Hindu pantheon are also one in the ultimate analysis. Then why
this wrangling that one god is superior to the rest? Some assert that the deity
they worship is alone the highest . To a man standing under the arch at one end
of a bridge , all the other arches will appear smaller than the one under which he
is standing. But we are aware that all the arches of a bridge are of the same
span. Similarly, to the votary of a particular deity, all other deities will appear
inferior on account of his attachment to the deity of his choice. But the truth is
that all deities are manifestations, in particular ways , of one God.
God is the final of all the things of the world. If we take the example of a tree, we
will find that it is soil an d water that help the seed grow into a mighty tree. The
source from which the tree came into existence from a seed, is the soil and
water. The tree is sustained during its existence by the same soil and water.
When the tree dies, it resolves itself into the soil and water from which it sprang.
The essence or truth of the tree is the soil. It is the same for all material things
like trees which constitute the world. This principle of an identical source is
applicable in the case of other forms of creation , including animals endowed
with intelligence. As there is a "universal soil " at the back of "individual" soil
from the which a tree springs , by which it lives and into which it disappears, so
too there must be Superior Intelligence (Perarivu) of which our intelligence are
but minute fractions. That Superior Intelligence or Chit is God. He is Ananda or
Bliss. He is the one existent or Sat. He is responsible for creation in conjunction
with Rajo guna, for preservation motivated by Satva guna and for destruction
under the impact of Tamo guna. Thus God is trigunaatma. One appearing as
Three. Ekaiva moortih bibhide tridhasaa.
Parabrahmam, which is without attributes(Nirguna) which is pure or suddha
satva, becomes the personal God or Isvara. Isvara has to perform these three
functions of creation, protection and dissolution. But the Suddha Satva Isvara is
static. He has to become dynamic to perform the act of creation. Rajo guna
supplies the energy to act, and so, in conjunction with it, the one primal God
becomes Brahma, The Creator. What is created must be maintained and made to
grow and flourish. That is accomplished by Iswara assuming Satva guna. In that
aspect, He is Vishnu, whose consort is Lakshmi, the embodiment and bestover of
prosperity. To bring about death, or the end of things created association with

Tamo guna becomes necessary. That aspect of Isvara is Siva. It is to be

remembered that the Samhaara kaarya (dissolution) associated with Siva does
not signify cruelty on His part. It only betokens His mercy for the created, by
which He gives rest to the ignorant souls, who have a balance of unrequited
karma, for the duration of the Pralaya, before they are pushed in to the next
cycle of the Birth to work out their residual karmaas. These three attributes,
Rajoguna, Satvaguna, and Tamoguna , do not really belong to Iswara. He is
Suddha Satva Swaroopa. He gets mixed with each of the three gunaas for
definite purposes, and appears in different forms as a result. Only His
appearances are different; not His essence.
This characterisation of Brahmaa, Vishnu and Siva as denoting Rajoguna,
Satvaguna, and Tamoguna respectively, is not absolute either. Vishnu, who is
considered as symbolising Satvaguna, has, on occasions, taken upon Him self
Tamoguna, standing for destruction, as His Avataar as Narasimhaa. In the Rama
Avataara, when He fought Khara Dooshana, Kumbha Karna and Ravana, and also
when he threatened to dry up the ocean, He assumed Tamoguna. Vaalmiki very
appropriately describes this aspect when He says that Rama took up on him self
intense anger, Kopamaahaarayan Theevram. Anger is the effect of Tamoguna.
Per contra, Siva, who nature is said to be Tamoguna, being the manifestation
responsible for destruction, likewise assumes Satvaguna in His aspect as
Nataraja and as Dakshina Moorti.
Thus these forms of God are not distinct and different. They are three
manifestations of the same Divinity assuming aspects for different purposes, and
according to the predilections and tastes of the worshipers. It is wrong to speak
of gradations of excellence among them or to say they are diverse and different.
The forms may appear different, the names may be different, but the truth is
one. It is One that becomes Three, and then Thirty Three, and then Thirty Three
Crores, according to the numberless varieties of functions of Divinity. This is the
basic fact declared by the Mahaakavis and their words must determine us in our
devotion and religious practices.
January 4, 1958.
In this life we are faced with various kinds of difficulties, afflictions and sorrows.
We go to a doctor to get relief for our bodily ailments. We approach numerous
authorities for obtaining solution for our worldly problems. We also pray to God.
Our great men have given guidance as to how to pray and what to pray for.
There is one school of thought which says that we should pray to God only for
our spiritual salvation. But there are others who think that we owe a duty to the
members of the family, and, in the discharge of that duty, we have perforce to
invoke the blessings of God by prayer. This is a proper approach and, therefore,
even when we have to go to human agencies to get relief, we should first submit
our difficulties and troubles to God.
Lord Sri Krishna says in the Gita :

Chaturvidhaa bhajante-maam janaah sukritinorjuna;

Aarto jijnaasur-arthaarthee jnaanee cha bharatarshabha.
Bhagavan mentions four categories of persons who pray to God. The first
category is denoted by the term Aartah, i.e., those who are suffering physically
and mentally, afflicted by diseases, pain, poverty, troubles, difficulties, etc. They
pray to God to lighten their burden and make their existence tolerable. The
second category of persons is denoted by the term Jijnaasu those, who are
thirsting for knowledge and are eager to get at the truth of things. The
expression Arthaarthee denotes the class of people who are fairly well off in the
world, but desire to be blessed with more of the good things of life, so that they
can live free from troubles and sorrow and also serve others. The last category of
persons is denoted by the term Jnaani, those who have acquired Jnaana or
wisdom and realised the Supreme Truth. They are people who have realised that
there is nothing outside God and that all is God. Yet they too pray. Their prayer is
described in the Gita as prayer with the realisation that Vaasudeva is all
(Vaasudeva sarvamiti).
A person may have everything that contributes to happiness, and yet, if he has
not developed the proper frame of mind, he cannot be happy and contented.
When his mind is a slave to discontent, anger and envy, he cannot have peace
and happiness. Like water kept in a leaky pot, everything he has will prove
useless to him. Therefore, we should first of all seek God's help to cleanse our
minds of all passions and impurities. Sri Adi Sankara has given us proper
guidance in the matter of prayer in his Shatpadee Stotram, the opening verse of
which is :
Avinayam apanaya vishno
Damaya manah samaya vishaya mriga-trishnaam;
Boota dayaam vistaaraya
Taaraya samsaara saagaratah
Vinaya is a quality which is associated with a cultured gentleman. Gentleness,
humility, consideration for others, freedom from egoism- these are some of the
virtues we associate with Vinaya. In fact, the purpose of education is to make
one acquire Vinaya (Vidyaa vinaya sampannah). According to our Sastraas, a
Guru's (teacher's) duty is to inculcate Vinaya in his pupils. So also, the primary
duty of the king is to see that his subjects are people endowed with the virtue of
Vinaya. Then his second duty is to protect his subjects, i.e., to see that they get
education, and are gainfully employed and are free from wants. Governing and
protecting his subjects from external aggression and internal disorders come lastVinayaa daana, rakshana and bharana.
Because of the emphasis on Vinaya, the expression Vineya is used to denote a
disciple. The meaning of the word Vineya is one who is to be equipped with
Vineya. Sri Padmapaada Acharya in a verse in praise of Sri Adi Sankara, says :

Yadvaktra maanasa sarah pratilabdha janma

Bhashyaaravinda makarandarasam pibanti;
Pratyaasa-munmukha vineeta vineya bhringaah,
Taan bhaashya-vittaka-guroon pranatosmi moordhnaa.
This verse described the disciples of Sri Bhagavatpaada as "bees (Bhringah)
drinking the nectar of Bhashya flowing from the lotus face of Sankara". The
expression used to indicate the disciples is "Vineetavineya bringaah". The special
significance of this expression is that these Vineyas (pupils coming to be
equipped with Vinaya) have become Vineeta (persons possessing the virtue of
Vinaya). by the mere presence of the Guru. A student is called Sishya in Sanskrit,
because he has to undergo training or Siksha under a Guru. In the present day,
the term Siksha is applied either for training in music or for punishment. Probably
the term Sikh must have been derived from Sikshaka or Guru. The religious head
of the Sikhs is known as Guru. The followers being his Sishyas or those who had
undergone Siksha under him, the term Sikh probably came to be used to denote
the followers.
Therefore, in the Shatpadee Stotra, Sri Adi Sankara prays to God to remove
Avinaya, evils like arrogance, which are opposite qualities to Vinaya. Vinaya is an
accretion that comes to be attached to persons, and if that is removed, Vinaya
will express itself naturally. Then Sri Adi Sankara prays to God to keep his mind
under control (Damaya manah). When the mind is brought under control, it will
cease to race after transient pleasures, and will remain steady in the thought of
God. The next prayer is to eradicate the desires prompted by the senses.
(Samaya vishaya mrigatrishnaam) when we no longer hanker after worldly
pleasures. Our heart begins to beat in harmony with the rest of the world, and
we acquire a broad and sympathetic outlook. So Sri Adi Sankara next prays to
enlarge his compassion for all creation (Bhoota dayaam vistraaraya). When the
mind is so elevated spiritually step by step, the inevitable result will be the end
of birth and death or the crossing of the ocean of Samsaara. So he prays,
Taaraya samsara saagaratah.
There is an aptness in the use of the term Mriga trishna in connection with
pleasures of the senses. The meaning of Mriga is deer. When there is drought
and deer are wandering in quest of drinking water, they drift towards the desert.
They mistake the mirage in the desert for drinking water and run in pursuit of it
and ultimately collapse and die. Similarly Kaama, Krodha and other passions,
generated in us by our senses, are like mirage which drives us ultimately to our
When speaking the desert, another interesting thought occurs. Probably due to
certain geological causes, deserts have come to be formed in places which were
once an expanse of the sea. Sahara is a desert and the name might have been
derived from Saagara, the Sanskrit term for the sea. By reason of these expanses
being landlocked, and the absence of rivers flowing into them and on account of

continuos process of evaporation by the sun's heat through the ages, the
"Saagara" became "Sahara". In India, there are deserts in Rajasthan and in
Sanskrit, a desert is called Maruvaatika. The terms Marwar and Marwadi are
likely to have been derived from Maruvaatika.
The Shatpadee Stotra is a beautiful composition. In one of the verses, Sri Adi
Sankara has employed the poetical technique known as Antaadi, the word with
which one verse ends being used as the opening word of the next verse. The
verse in question is :
Uddhritanaga nagabhidanuja danuja-kula-mitra mitrasasidrishte
Drishte bhavati prabhavati na bhavati kim bhavatiraskaarah.
It will be noticed that Sri Bhagavatpada has employed the last word in a phrase,
as the first word for the next phrase in the same Sloka. After the six verses of the
Shatpadee Stotra, the seventh and concluding verse is :
Naaraayana karunaamaya saranam karavaani taavakau charanaau
Iti shatpadi madeeye vadana-saroje sadaa vasatu.
The beauty of this verse is that expression Iti Shatpadi (foregoing shatpadi or six
verses) is applicable not only to six verses that have preceded, but also to the six
words, Naaraayana, Karunaamaya, Saranam, Karavaani, Taavakau, and
Charanau, occurring at the beginning of this verse itself. Bhagavatpada says,
"Let these six verses (and also the six words of the last verse) reside always in
my mouth", meaning, bless me to constantly repeat them, even as the Shatpadi
(bee) resides in a lotus (Saroje).
The sixth verse in this Stotra is :
Damodara gunamandira sundara vadanaaravinda govinda
Bhavajaladhi mathana-mandara paramam daramapanaya tvam me
The Lord, addressed in this verse as Damodra, one who bears the marks of the
rope with which he was tied up by His mother, Yasoda, is described as
Gunamandira, the abode of all qualities. Here is a beautiful synthesis of the
conception of God as both Saguna(possessing attributes) and Nirguna
(Attributeless). It is only when all the colours in the light mix together that we get
the colourless rays of the sun. Similarly, by virtue of being the abode of
attributes, God becomes Nirguna, attribute-less. In the like manner, the term
"Sundaravadanaaravinda", in this sloka, brings to our mind the idea that even
people God like to contemplate on God. Even when they have experienced the
bliss flowing from the realisation of the identity of the Jivatma and the
Paramatma, and also have realised that God is in everything and everything is in
God , they prefer to put aside, for a little while, the experience of this oneness
with God, and to contemplate on Him as One slightly different from themselves,
like the apparent difference between waves and the ocean, and to enjoy the
darling divine form of Krishna. Sri Madhusoodhana Saraswati, that great apostle

of advaita, in one of his verses, finds indescribable beauty even in the yawning of
the child, Krishna, as He gets up in the morning. The expression
"Bhavajaladhimandira", brings home to us that fact that we have to find
salvation only by going through the trials and tribulations of this life. The taste of
the thousands of leaves and barks of a tree may be disagreeable. Yet it blossoms
and yields sweet fruits. The trials and tribulations of family life are but necessary
steps leading to the sweetness of salvation. The only condition required is that
we should not lose our hold of God, who is the churning stick ( mandara) to churn
the amrita of salvation from the ocean of births and deaths.
It is significant to note that while the teaching of the Lord in the Gita begins with
the words, Asochyaan anva sochastvam--( you grieve over persons unfit to be
grieved for), and ends with ma suchah --(don't grieve). The Shatpadee Stotra of
Sri Adi Sankara begins with Avinayam apanaya and ends with Apanaya Tvam Me.
The prayer of Sri Adi Sankara to bless him to recite the Shatpadee stotra
constantly is meant for us. Let these verses and the prayers contained therein be
constantly on our lips, so that we can safely cross the ocean of samsaara, and
find refuge in Him.

February 25 1958.


In some context or other, we constantly come across or hear the word "Vedanta".
When any person's conversation becomes a little above the average standard or
has the tinge of a sermon, we say " You are talking Vedanta". In the Gita, the
Lord says that He is the origin of Vedanta. Literally, Vedanta means the end or
the concluding portion of the Veda. In any well-written essay, the writer will
indicate the subject matter at the beginning and record his conclusions at the
end. Therefore, any intelligent person, by reading the Upakrama (beginning and
conclusion) of a thesis, will get any idea of what is about. Similarly, if we take
any section of the Veda and read its beginning and its end, we will be able to
grasp what that section deals with.
The constitution of any country and its laws are limited by time and place - kaala
and desa. But the vedas are the eternal laws or Sanatana Dharma. That is why
when a person asserts a position taken up by him, though a different view is
possible, we say, "Are your words the words of the Veda?" Isvara is Veda
Swaroopi or embodiment of the vedas, and one of the Veda Mantra says that
Maheswara dwells at the beginning and the end of the Veda.
Yo vedaadau swarah prakto vedantecha pratishtitah.
The Vedas frequently use the expression idam, atha, tat and etat. Idam refers to
that which is near, atha to that which is not so proximate, and tat to that which is

distant. In this context, it is worthwhile noting the existence of an affinity

between the various languages of the word, a fact which we can understand
when we examine the root or origin of some of the words. Without entering into
philological or other controversies, it can be stated that in the distant past one
culture and one civilisation prevailed throughout the world. While that old culture
decayed and disappeared, or gave birth to a new culture and a new civilisation in
some parts of the world, they continued to exist and flourish in other parts of the
world. That culture and civilisation go by the name of Sanatana Dharma. There is
evidence to show that the Mitra cult, Maitra-Varuna referred to in the Vedas,
prevailed in certain parts of Europe before the advent of Christianity. In some Far
Eastern countries, though the rulers are Muslim, Observances prescribed in the
Hindu Sastras for coronation are followed when a ruler is put on the throne.
Counting from the month of March or Chaitra, the first month according to
Hindus, it will be seen that September is the seventh month, October the eighth
month, November the ninth month, and December the tenth month. For days of
the week, the names of planets used in India are adopted in other parts of the
world also.
This is a small disgression. Now coming back to the subject, it should be realised
that the expression tat occurring in the Vedas refers to Isvara. The Vedantic
tatvam is the realisation of the swaroopa of Iswara, or the Ultimate Reality. The
plain meaning of tatvam is truth or reality. The secrete of understanding this
reality is contained in the world tat-tvam, the realisation of tat or That as tvam or
yourself. The jnana-mudra, or the sign of the hand with the tips of the right
thumb and the index finger meeting, is an indication that Tat which appears to be
distant is within oneself. When we look at the horizon, we get a feeling that at a
distant point, the earth and the sky are meeting. Suppose we decide to proceed
to that meeting point. As we go on walking, the supposed meeting point goes on
receding further and further and ultimately we will find ourselves back at the
point from where we started. In other words, the point from which we originally
looked at the distant meeting point on the horizon is also the point where the
earth and the sky meet.
There is an interesting story of a young woman who decided to marry only the
greatest person on earth, though her parents had selected a bridegroom for her.
She fixed the king as per object and when she approached him for requesting
him to take her as his wife, she thought that a Sanyasi to whom the kind paid
homage must be greater than the king. Thereupon she left off the king and when
after the Sanyasi. So the story goes on and ultimately she came to the starting
point and married a common man, who turned out to be none other than the
person whom her parents had selected.
While Tat is a Ultimate Reality, the Upanishads proclaim that idam, or that which
is in our proximity, cannot exist without a root or origin - Nedam amoolam
bhavishyati. A tree sprouts from the earth, is sustained by the earth, and is
finally absorbed by the earth when it decays. All the things we perceive with the
aid of our five senses are connoted by idam. The perceiver within us is the origin
of the things perceived. As the same electricity shines in different colours and

with varying brilliance according to the colour, size and powers of the bulbs, so
too the same Isvara is within all of us and looks through the window of our mind
at all things without, which are rooted in Him. The origin of diam is jnana and
that janan, though apparently confined to the mind of individuals, is full and allpervasive. The root of all things with life, whether stationary or moving , is in that
all-pervasive janana, which is the Tat of the Vedanta. That is what the following
verse in the Gita also tells us :
Avibhaktam cha bhooteshu
Vibhaktamivacha stthitam; Bhoota-bhartru cha tat jneyam
Grasishnu prabhavishnu cha
The Tat or That which is the Ultimate Reality achieved through jnana, must be
understoo9d as the Protector, Destroyer or Consumer, and the Creator of all
bhootas (elements like air, water and fire, and all beings, moving and stationary),
who appears divided between these elements and beings, though He is invisible.
This Tat is seen at the end of the Vedas, and we realise that all-pervading Truth or
God by contemplating on a seeming part of that Truth. This is known as Isvara
dhyaanam or devotion for or contemplation of a particular manifestation of God
and is a process of learning to be ready to receive with both hands the fruit of
janana and Bhakti when the time is ripe for the fruit to fall, namely, the Divine
grace to descend.

No doubt, it is to some extent desirable, in this world, for a man to earn a name
and fame and also material wealth. All these things come to some people
unasked. Others do not get them, however much they may try. But these things
do not attach themselves to us permanently. Either we leave them behind, or
they desert us in our own life-time. Therefore, name, fame and wealth are not
objectives for which we should consciously strive with all our energy. What we
should aspire and strive for is a life free from sin.
There are two aspects to this freedom from sin. One is absolution from sins
already committed (Paapanaasam) and the other is non-commission of sins
hereafter, by purifying our mind and making it free from evil thoughts (Paapa
buddhi). The former can be achieved by absolutely surrendering oneself to God,
realising that He alone is our Saviour, nothing happens without His knowledge,
and that whatever happens to us, good or bad, is by His will and only for our
ultimate good. Resigning oneself to the dispensation of God is the essence of
absolute surrender or Saranaagati. We will be free from evil thoughts hereafter
only by Bhakti or devotion, that is to say, by devoting every free moment of ours
to His thought or repeating His names or listening to His glories.
The claim of Christianity is that God appeared on earth to wash off our sins. It is
sometimes argued that there is no corresponding conception in Hinduism. This is

not correct. In the Gita, Sri Krishna has given an assurance that He will absolve
from sin those who surrender themselves to Him. The Lord says

Sarva dharmaan parityajya maamekam saranam vraja;

Aham tvaa sarvapaapebhyo mokshayishyaami maa suchah.
Sri Krishna asks Arjuna not to grieve telling him "I will free you from all sins
(Sarvapaapebhyo mokshayishyaami), if you give up all other Dharma (Sarva
Dharmaan parityajya), and surrender to Me absolutely (Maamekam Saranam
Vraja)". In this context, the import of the expression, Sarva Dharman Parityajya
has to be understood correctly. The emphasis of the Gita is on each man
performing his prescribed duties in a spirit of dedication. Therefore, the call to "
give up Dharma" cannot be a message of inaction. Sri Krishna wants Arjuna, and
through Arjuna all of us , to do the duties pertaining to our station in life. But
what He wants us to give up is the notion that the performance of these duties
will by itself lead us to the cherished goal. Sri Krishna wants us to perform our
Dharma, giving up the notion that they are the be-all and end-all of life, and
surrender ourselves to Him without reservation.

In the verse previous to the one I have just quoted, Sri Krishna says :
Manmanaa Bhava Madbhakto
Mayaajee maam namaskuru;
Maamevaishyasi satyamte
partijaane priyosi me.
When Sri Krishna says to Arjuna, "You are dear to me(priyosi me) it means that
all of us are dear to Him. So, when he gives the assurance "satyam te
prattijanne", we can take it as an assurance given to all of us . The assurance is
that we will reach Him (Maamevaishyasi). For that purpose, we have to fix our
thoughts on Him(Manmanaa Bhava), become His devotees(Madbhakto Bhava),
worship Him (Madyaajee bhava) and fall at His feet(maam namaskuru).
If we analyse one's affection towards one's son or wife, we will find that it
ultimately resolves itself into one's love for oneself. A man is fond of his son only
so long as that son fulfils what he expects of him. Supposing that son gets
married and neglects his father, the affection will turn into enmity. It follows that
the affection we entertain is with a purpose and not selfless. But there is no
purpose or object behind one's love for oneself. When we come to realise that
the "I" we love so much is "He", our mind becomes saturated with Him. That is
the significance of the expression, "Manmanaa bhava". We think of Him not for
securing any favours, but because we cannot help thinking of Him, having

realised that the soul within us is none else than He. When this realisation takes
deep root, the mind enters the state of Avyaaja Bhakti.
We have examples of such selfless devotion to God in our Puranas. Akroora and
Vidura had such Avyaaja Bhakti, Dhruva and Prahlada are examples of those who
surrendered themselves to God even from their childhood. Sabari and Kannappar
are examples of persons regarded as unlettered common people, on the bottom
rungs of the social ladder, Who are animated by an overwhelming devotion in
which the consciousness of their individual entity has been completely wiped
out. Parikshit is an example of one, who, within the last seven days of his life,
experienced the bliss of devotion achieved in a life-time. Khatvaanga is an
example of a person who got purified by concentrated devotion of three and
three-fourths Naazhigas, or 90 minutes.
While Saranaagati helps to "write off" past sins, Bhakti alone will keep our minds
away from sin. The heart has to be kept clean through Bhakti so that the full
effect of His presence there may be realised. In the ultimate analysis, surrender
and devotion are the two facets of the same thing. In this life, all householders
are engaged in various occupations necessary to maintain themselves. While so
engaged, their minds will be concentrating on their work. But it is during their
leisure that their minds are likely to go astray. This leisure must be utilised in
developing Bhakti, through various process like Naama Japa(repeating God's
satkathasravana(listening to Lord's glory), etc. The idea is to somehow keep our
thoughts engaged on God. We should have no occasion to commit sin through
mind, eyes, ears and speech. Even when we make any representations in our
prayers, it should be in a spirit of detachment, namely with the realisation that
nothing is unknown to Him and with a feeling, "Let Him do with us as He
pleases". Let us, in this way, strive to pursue the path of surrender and devotion,
and earn the grace of God.
February 28, 1958
Some western scholars in their ignorance have dubbed Hindu religion as
polytheistic. The uniqueness of our religion lies in the fact that under whichever
name a devotee worships his Ishtadevata-that manifestation of God which
appeals to him most-he considers Him as all-pervading Paramatama. In fact, the
culmination of all conceptions of the Supreme Being is in Monism. That is Advaita
Vedanta. Isvara, Narayana and Parasakti are all different aspects of the one
Supreme Being. This is visibly illustrated in the divine forms of Ardhanareeswara
and Sankara-Narayana. Such manifestations of the Divine are installed in many
South Indian temples, such as Ardhanareeswara at Triuchengode,
Sankaranarayana at sankaranarayana Koil in Triunelveli, and Harihara in Mysore.
Siva and Vishnu are also found together in the temple at Tiruparkadal near
November 10,1957


The state of things in this country for the past 100 years or so is such that the
Vedas are being brought to the notice of the people of this country, the land of
the Vedas, through the published works of Western Orientalists. While we should
acknowledge with gratitude the invaluable contributions made by these
research-scholars of the West in classifying, printing and preserving the Vedas,
so far as we in India are concerned, the primary purpose the Vedas, namely to
memorise and recite correctly, with proper accents, or adhyayana, cannot be
served by these publications. The Vedas printed and preserved in libraries will (in
the absence of regular study and recitation) eventually acquire only a museum
value, and the future generations reading these published works may marvel at
the wonderful things contained in them.
The Vedas are intended to serve a different purpose. They have to be learnt by
heart, understanding the correct way of pronouncing the mantras by listening to
the rendering of the mantras by the guru (teacher). The Veda mantras so learnt
should become the guide in our daily life, in our Karmaanushtaana, Tapas, Isvara
aaradhana, etc. If, in India, the Vedas retain their original vitality even today, it is
because these hyms are being continuously repeated by students and teachers
of the Vedas, and the purity of the sounds and accents of the words are retained
in that process. It is only by practising the Vedic injunctions that we can obtain
the grace of God, both for our individual welfare and for the welfare of the whole
world. That is why the mere preservation of the Vedas in well-bound volumes
cannot secure us the benefits for which they are intended.
In fact the Vedas are never intended to be written down and read. Veda
Adhyayana implied hearing from the lips of the teacher and repeating after him.
That is why in ancient Tamil classics, the Vedas are referred to as Ezhutaakkilavi ,
unwritten book. Veda Paatakaas, who learn from books, are included among the
six classes of inferior scholars. The other five classes are those who recite the
Vedas musically, those who recite very fast, those who shake their heads while
reciting, those who do not know the meaning, and those who have a poor voice.
This is made clear in the following verse :

Geetee seeghree sirahkampee tatha likhita paatakah

anarthajnah alpakanthascha shadete paatakaadhamaah.
The study of the Vedas has been confined in these days to a few professionals
(purohits), who are not even accorded a proper status in society. Many of them
learn mechanically, without caring to understand the meaning of the Vedic
hymns. At this rate, there is a danger of Veda adhyayana becoming extinct, in
the not so distant a future. To avert such a situation, a private Trust has been
formed with land gifts made by some donors for encouraging the study of the
Vedas in the traditional manner. About six years ago, statistics were prepared of

those who have made a complete adhyayana of the Vedas, in each saakha
(branch), and presents were given to them. Stipends are being given to qualified
students in each saakha, who desired to learn Veda-bhaashya under a competent
teacher. Half-yearly examinations are being held in the prescribed Veda and Veda
Bhaashya portions and Sambhaavanaas are being given to successful
There are many people who genuinely regret that they have to perform the
various rituals prescribed in the Saastras without understanding the meaning of
the Mantraas employed therein. Take the instance of the marriage ceremony. The
indifference shown by our young men and women for the rituals connected with
marriage is due to their ignorance of the meaning of the Mantraas, they are
asked to repeat. If the meaning of the Mantraas are explained to them
beforehand, by a competent person, they will be able to go through the rituals
with better understanding and greater devotion. The same procedure can be
adopted in respect of Upanayana and other Samskaaras.
Veda adhyayana, without knowing the meaning thereof is like preserving the
body without the soul.
Veda Mantraas uttered with a knowledge of their meaning will lead to Paapaparihara(expiation of sins), and Arishtasaanti(liquidation of evil), and pave the
way to Brahma-saakshaathkaara(God realisation).
The Vedas are the roots of our religion. All other Paraphernalia, like feast and
festivals, are like the leaves and fruits of that tree, depending for their
sustenance on the Vedic roots. Though imbedded in mud, the internal core of the
roots is as fresh and fragnant as the fruits and flowers on the top. It is no use
feeling gratified that the Vedas have been written down, printed and published
by Western Scholars. To us, Veda adhyayana and their employment in the
sacraments of our daily life are important. For that purpose it is necessary to
learn them by heart, understand their meaning, and recite them in the
prescribed manner.
February 1, 1958.


The history we learn in schools and colleges tells us mainly about the rise and
fall of kingdoms, wars and invasions, and similar political topics. The purpose of
history is to enable people in the present to build for the future, profiting from
the experience of the past. The conception of history is in accord with the saying
"history repeats itself". It is wrong to think that there can be history only for
politics. Every subject has a history behind it.
History is called Itihaasa in Sanskrit. In this country associate Itihaasa with to
works, the Ramayana and the Mahabharatha. The embody the history of religion,
culture, dharma, and the their traditions. The term Itihaasa is derived by the

combination of keywords, iti, he, and aasa - iti (in this manner), he (they say),
aasa (it happened). Aitihyam means tradition, and it is derived from Itihaasam.
Aitihyam has become Aiteekam in Tamil.
Besides the two Itihaasas, the Ramayana and the Mahabharata, there are 18
Puraanas, which also expound our religion, custom, culture and traditions. They
are very old works as the name Puraana it self signifies. There are also a large
number of works giving that local traditions of a number of places. They are
called Sthala Puraanas. In the olden days, palm leaf manuscripts of Itihaasas,
Puraanas, and Sthala Puraanas were treasured by householders. If any volume
showed signs of decay , it was copied down on new leaves, and the old
manuscript consigned to the waters of the Kaveri on the 18th day of the month
of Adi (2nd of August). That is how all these ancient works came to be preserved
so long. But owing to the indifference of people in subsequent periods, the
manuscripts were not recopied, and consequently, a bulk of them got decayed
and were lost to us. What could be salvaged are preserved in the Oriental
Manuscripts Library, the Saraswati Mahal Library(Thanjavur),an dthe Adyar
Library. The Theosophical Society has rendered an invaluable service by
collecting and preserving quite a good number of these vaulable manuscripts.
But unfortunately many of the Sthala Puraanas have been permanently lost to
It seems to me that these Sthala Puraanas contain more ethical and moral
lessons and historical facts than even the Puraanas themselves. If we carefully
examine the Puraanas we will be able to find one Puraana supplemented
another. A diligent student, by a co-ordinated study, can bring to light many
truths. The tendency of English-educated persons is to regard the Puraanic
stories as mere fiction. That is not a correct approach to these valuable works.
Have not recent discoveries of fossils established the existence, at one time, of
huge monsters and men of immense proportions? Do not freaks of nature occur
even now? Why then should we brush aside the Puraanic stories as unbelievable?
While benefiting from the ethical and moreal lessons which these stories convey,
let us also keep an open mind regarding the characters potrayed in these stories.
In some Puraanas and Sthala maahatyams, we find a reference that Sri Rama
installed a Linga, in order to wash of the sin of Bramha Hathi which came to be
attached to him, as result of killing Ravana, a Bramhin. Though by killing Ravana,
Sri Rama performed a righteous act of protecting innocent and good men from
the tyranny of a bad man, and though as an incornation of God no sin can ever
attach to him, yet as a model human person, he did this act of expiation as a sin.
According to Sthala Puraanas, Sri Rama is stated to have installed the Linga of
Iswara at Rameswaram, Vedaranyam, and at Pattesvaram, near Kumbakonam, to
expiate respectively the doshas (wrongs) of Bramha-Hathi, Veera-Hathi and
Cchaya-Hathi, resulting from the killing of Ravana. There is inter-relation between
the Sthala Puraanas of these three places and the Ramayana. One version of the
Kaveri Puraana attaches sanctity to the Amma Mantapam on the banks of the
Kaveri at Srirangam, and the center figure in the story is King Dharma Varma of
Nichulapuri(Uraiyoor). According to another version of the same Puraana,

sanctity is attached to Mayuram and the principal characters in that version are
Natha Sarma and his wife, Anavadyai. It is noteworthy that the bathing ghat or
"lagadam" (a curruption of Thula ghattam), on the banks of Kaveri at Mayuram
and those at six or seven other places are architecturally similar. In this version
of Kaveri Puraana, there is a reference that Natha Sarma and his wife visited
other places of piligrimage like Kedaara and Kasi. There is bathing ghat none as
Kedaara Ghatta at Banaras, and Sthala Puraana of the place also mentions about
the visit of the Natha Sarma couple to the ghatta. I am mentioning all these facts
to show that one Puraana supplements another and that diligent research in to
these Puraanas and Sthala Puraanas will yield valuable historical facts.
If our religion survived many vicissitudes in the past, it is because of our temples
and the festivals associated with them. The spiritual, moral, and ethical
principles expounded by the Vedaas have survived and spread through the
Puraanaas. They teach the basic truths in a manner which appeals to the heart.
Let us not, therefore, be indifferent to these great works of religious literature,
but treasure them, study them, conduct researches in them, and there by benifit
ourselves and the world.
February 4, 1958.


The ancient Hindu empires of this land were built on the foundation of Vedic
religion and all great Hindu rulers took special interest in upholding Hindu
Dharma and encouraging savants who dedicated themselves to the task of
increasing human knowledge, both in the material and in the spiritual spheres.
The result is that we have inherited a veritable treasure of knowledge in the
shape of various Sastras.
Instances can be quoted to show that the empires which flourished in different
parts of Bharata Varsha (India) rose on the firm foundation of Vedic tatavas
(principles). Vikramaditya built up a mighty empire about 1,500 years ago.
Scholars, well-versed in different branches of knowledge, flourished under his
patronage. Among them were Kalidasa, Bhattabana, Varahamihira and six others,
known to the outside world as the nine gems who adorned the court of
Vikramaditya. Varahamihira is the author of several works, among which Brhat
samhita is one. In it, he has condensed all the Sastras and devoted one chapter
for each Sastra. He has also written a Naadi Sastra, dealing with the science of
breathing or praanaayaama. He has proved therein how the character of a
person is influenced by the manner of his breathing, and also dealt with the
control of breathing, which is conducive to longevity and which also helps to
awaken the power of the kundalini, and thereby enables a person to acquire
spiritual powers step by step, ultimately leading to the realisation of Brahmam.
The kingdom of Bhoja was also founded on Vedic tatva. The modern Dhar was his
capital. He was a poet himself and in the capital none but poets lived. There is a

story about a weaver who was pursuing his hereditary avocation in this capital
town. It is said that one day the servants of Bhoja took him to the court of the
king. When he was asked whether he could compose poetry, he is stated to have
given his reply in the following verse.
Kaavyam karomi nahi chaarutaram karomi
yatnaat karomi yadi chaarutaram karomi
Bhoopaala-mauli-mani-mandita paada peettha
He saahasaanga kavayami vayaami yaami
The import of this verse is that this weaver told the king that he can compose
verses, but not well, though he can compose good verses with some effort.
Punning upon the word yammi, he told the king that he composes, kavayaami,
that he weaves, vayaami and then goes away saying, yammi. According to the
story the king rewarded him generously. The idea sought to be conveyed by this
story is that any one coming to the court of Bhoja became a poet. Archaeologists
exploring the site of a former masjid in Dhar discovered a chakra (wheel) with
the principles of Sanskrit gramme inscribed on it. In Bhoja's time also, great
savants wrote invaluable works containing truths which human intelligence was
able to unravel.
Bhoja has himself written a book on vimaana or aerial transport. This work has
been printed in Baroda. It deals with all the secrets of aerial travel, but does not
say how to construct a vimaana or aeroplane. It is not as if Bhoja did not know
the technique of constructing a vimaana. But this knowledge was kept secret, to
safeguard against any possible misuse of the technique by evil-minded persons
with calamitous results. In this context it is noteworthy how the perfection of long
range rockets in the present day is causing anxiety to nations and how public
opinion is shaping towards the control of their production and use. The principle
of vimaana construction in those days appears to be based on rasa vaada
(alchemy). I am mentioning this to show that several scientific works have been
written by ancient thinkers. But due to neglect by people and to historic reasons,
many such works have been lost to us.
Coming to later times, we find that the jurisdiction of the Vijayanagar empire
extended up to Kanyakumari. The one person who helped to found and build up
this great Empire was Vidyaranya, a Sanyasi. He is the author of Veda Bhashya,
commentaries on the Vedas, and several philosophic works. The Vijayanagar
empire was also built on the foundation of our religious principles. Generals like
Gopanna did yeoman service in the protection and construction of numerous
temples. When danger threatened the temple of Sri Ranganatha at Srirangam,
Gopanna gave protection to it. Sri Vedanta Desika has composed a verse
expressing gratitude to Gopanna for this service. Kempanna, who led a
expedition to the South and annexed territories for the Vijayanagar empire, was
responsible for the renovation of several temples and tanks. His wife, who
accompanied him during this expedition, has recorded all this in a Kaavya known

as Madura Vijaya. In this way, Sri Vidyaranya helped to build up this empire on
the sold strength of our Sastras.
The Maharashtra empire founded by Shivaji has also a similar religious
foundation. Samartha Ramdoss, regarded as an incarnation of Sri Anjaneya,
contributed spiritual strength to Shivaji, and also functioned as his counsellor.
Between them they accomplished great things. There is none to equal Sri
Anjaneya in intelligence, valour or devotion. Whenever Sri Rama's name is
uttered in devotion, there is present Sri Anjaneya, shedding tears of joy and
devotion, says the verse :
Yatra yaTRA Raghunatha keertanam
Tatra tantra Krtamastakanjalim;
Baashpa-vaari paripoorna lochanam
Marutim namata raakshasaantakam.
By worshipping Sri Anjaneya we will be endowed with intelligence, strength,
yasas, courage, fearlessness, health, gift and speech, etc.
Buddir-balam yaso dhairyam nirbhayatvam arogata,
Ajaadyam vaak-patutvancha Hanoomad smaranaat bhavet.
Let us try to acquire these qualities by worshipping Sri Anjaneya.
During the reign of Chola kings alos, wonderful achievements have been made
on the strength of religion; and people made enormous progress in Government,
arts and education.
Some people are inclined to test the correctness of the teachings of a religion by
the yardstick of science. But we have seen how later investigation and research
have disproved earlier scientific theories. Therefore, how can the shifting
theories of science establish the truth or otherwise or a religion ? On the other
hand, our Sastras have stood the test of times. Therefore, we must try to
understand the Sastras that are in vogue in our country. If we are unable to
understand any Sastra, we must not reject it and allow it to disappear. It is our
duty to at least preserve it so that posterity may profit by it. There are many
truths in our Sastras which science has not yet succeeded in unraveling. We
speak of the seven wonders of the world; but have we paused to study the
wonderful achievements of our forefather ? There are in our temple architecture
many features, which modern engineering knowledge has failed to explain. What
about the Kutub Minar and the iron pillar at Delhi which have withstood exposure
to the weather for over 1,000 years ? Do they not proclaim the skill of our
ancestors in forging iron ?
Kingship has given place to democracy and therefore it has become the duty of
the people themselves to preserve the treasures lying imbedded in our Sastras.
Instead we are frittering away our energies in linguistic and other controversies.

This is a feature of our present-day life, which is very sad to contemplate. Last
year, we became apprehensive of the very future of this country, on account of
the virulence of the controversy over re-organisation of States. It kings fought
amongst themselves in the past, people are forming themselves into groups and
fighting each other in the present. There is also the ideological conflict among
the nations of the West. It is desirable that all these controversies should end
and peaceful progress of humanity is assured. So far as we, in India, are
concerned, we should devote some attention also, in the midst of our other preoccupations, to the study and the preservation of our Sastras. We should
approach these Sastras not in a spirit of scorn, thinking that in the modern
scientific age they have nothing to teach us, but, in a spirit of devotion of a
seeker of truth. May Sri Anjaneya dower us with the necessary strength, courage
and wisdom to pursue the study of our Sastras, and may He bless us all with

Having told Arjuna that a Sthita Prajna is one with an unruffled mind, one who
has completely overcome all desires and passions, Sri Bhagavan says to Arjuna
that such a person withdraws his mind from external thoughts in order to
contemplate the Atman within, which is Full and All-pervasive, in the same
manner as a tortoise withdraws its limbs within its shell at the slightest sign of
danger. We desire a thing because of a feeling of incompleteness without it. But
when we realise that what we ordinarily understand as "We" is nothing but the
Absolute Bliss, the illusive pleasures after which the senses go lose their charm.
Fire can never be quenched by giving it more fuel; the more we feed it, the more
it burns. Similarly, our desires only increase by enjoyment.
At the same time, Bhagavan points out to Arjuna, and through Arjuna to all of us,
that the path of self control is not strewn with roses. It comes only out of
constant practice. Failure should not deter us; we should try, try and try and
again till we succeed. Fasting and other disciplines aid us to acquire self control.
A fasting man or a man suffering from fever is not attracted by sweet music of
delicious food. His mind is not tempted. This does not mean that these desires
have completely disappeared from his mind. When the fast is broken or when the
fever subsides, the mind is again tempted by these attractions. This shows that
the desires remain latent like embers under ashes. It follows that by merely
fasting or observing other forms of penance, one cannot master the senseorgans and control the mind. It may appear as if these had been mastered; but
at the first trial of strength, the mind will succumb to temptations. Therefore it is
that Bhagavan has emphasised more than once in the Gita that any one desiring
to acquire true knowledge and understand the Svaroopa of the Paramatma must
surrender himself to Him. Fasting and other forms of discipline create a proper
atmosphere for self-control; but complete self-control can be acquired only
through grace of God. Real control over the mind comes with the realisation that
everything including oneself is Vasudeva-- Vaasudevassarvamiti. With the

dawning of that realisation a person's senses cease to be attracted by external

objects, his mind does not run away with his sense-organs, and he maintains his
mental equipoise even under the most trying circumstances.
While desire fulfilled leads to further desire, desire frustrated turns into anger,
like the rebound of a ball thrown at a wall. A person in the grip of desire or anger
loses his reasoning power and consequently all his actions will be in the wrong
direction. When desires become subordinate to the mind, the mind begins to
dwell upon the Atman undisturbed and a person steeped in the contemplation of
the Atman realises the Supreme.
July 6, 1958

In the Gita, emphasis is again and again laid on developing that mental
equipoise which is not disturbed either by adversity or by prosperity. This state
can be achieved only by completely surrendering ourselves to God. Bhagavan
makes this clear by directions like Yuktha Aaseeta Mat Para, Maamekam Saranam
Vraja, and Vasudevassarvamiti. An Ayuktha, i.e., one who cannot view everything
with equal unconcern and consequently whose mind is easily assailed by desires
and passions and who is unable to do his duty in the spirit of dedication, neither
profits from knowledge nor acquires a spirit of devoted surrender (Bhaavana).
Without Bhaavana he cannot find peace (Saanti) and without Peace, he does not
attain absolute happiness (Sukam). It is this teaching of the Gita that inspired
Saint Thyagaraja to sing Saanthamu lekha Saukhyamu ledhu. If the mind runs
after worldly pleasures, all efforts to find real happiness will go in vain like ghee
poured in a leaky vessel. It follows that Yoga in the Gita sense is necessary both
for acquiring Paroksha Jnana, knowledge of the Ultimate Reality, and Aparoksha
Jnana, Realisation of that Reality.
It is to be noted that the Samatva or equal feeling in the context of Yoga does not
denote universal equality, but only the capacity to treat good and bad results
with the same feeling. The stress is on the performance of one's allotted duty.
That duty should be performed well, without thought of reward and with devotion
in the heart. While performing it, the act should be dedicated to God. This is not
possible without the control of sense-organs. The Indriyas should be withdrawn
from the objects which attract them. If they run away unbridle, the mind will also
run away along with them. Such a wavering mind cannot contemplate the Atman
within, by which process alone the ultimate Truth can be realised. When the mind
is tossed by Indriyas, Prajna will go out of proper cores like a ship tossed by high
winds in the ocean. The distinction made in the Gita between mind and Prajna is
to be noted. In Sanskrit, the mind is known by different terms according to its
functions, like thinking, deciding, contemplating, etc. The mind with the
experience of inward contemplation is Prajna. In the above simile, the mind takes
the place of the ocean, the ship is Prajna and the wind is the play of the senses.

Complete mastery of the senses is the foundation on which one has to raise the
edifice of Stitha Prajnatva. When the functioning of the Indriyas is turned
inwards, they get merged with the Atman within. The Atman is not affected
thereby even as the ocean remains unaffected by the waters of the numerous
rivers flowing into it. A person whose mind is so evolved is a Jnani. He is able to
distinguish the real from the unreal and achieve the bliss that flows from the
realisation of the all-pervasiveness of the Paramatma and the identification of
the Atma with the Paramatma. What the worldly minded person imagines as real
will be unreal for such a Jnani. So, Bhagavan wants Arjuna to do his duty, not
with the object of gaining a Kingdom, but the object of acquiring the mental
discipline which will enable him to attain the state of inaction, namely,
Brahmanirvaana or the merger of the Atma with Paramatma.
July 7, 1958.


The dancing Nataraja and the reclining Rangaraja are but dual expressions of the
one Supreme. Different schools of philosophy have come into existence to satisfy
the needs of varying human temperaments, tastes and aspirations and any path,
if consistently pursued, will lead to the same goal.
In most of our temples, the principal deity is installed to face east, though in a
few temples we have the deity facing west also. In the latter case, the principal
gopuram (tower) will be on the eastern side. But in Chidambaram and Srirangam,
the deities face south, as if proclaiming to the devotees that they are there to
protect them from the threat coming from the south, namely, mortality, as the
God of Death, Yama, hails from that direction. As Lords of the entire created
world, both are called "Raja", and each holds His court in a ranga (stage), the
Lord of Chidambaram dancing in joy with uplifted leg and the Lord of Srirangam
stretching himself at ease in the repose of yoga nidra. Dakshinamurthi, another
aspect of Siva, is also found facing south. Nataraja stands for aananda (bliss) in
excelsis, which expresses itself in the dynamic rhythm of ecstatic dance, His
matted locks stretching out stiff as He whirls round with his kunchita paada.
Dakshinamurti personifies subdued aananda and He is depicted as being seated
in silent serenity in static pose, with one crossed leg resting on the other and his
locks gliding on his shoulders.
The Maheswara Sootras peal forth from Nataraja's dhakka, (Udukku), as He beats
it to keep time with His dance, and constitutes the basic alphabets of every
tongue spoken in the world. The same sounds or sabdas are recorded in the
pages of the book which Dakshinamurti is holding in His left hand. Aananda
mudra is expressed by the right hand of Nataraja, while Chin mudra is expressed
by Dakshinamurti. We stand and gaze in wonder with eyes wide open at
Nataraja's dance, but we sit down to meditate with indrawn eyes in front of
Dakshinamurti. To the former we go for darsana, for feasting our eyes with the
supreme majesty of that manifestation, to the latter we go for japa or

meditation, because He is the embodiment of the fullness of peace and bliss that
comes as a result of jnana. Ranganatha has adopted the nidra mudra - the sign
of sleep. All these three, the Aananda murti (Nataraja), the Dhyaanamurti
(Dakshinamurti) and the Yoganidraamurti (Ranganatha) face south to protect
mankind from the fear of death.
The question that is likely to arise is "why should there be three deities? Is not
one enough?" The answer is given by Pushpadanta in his Sivamahimna Stotra.
Trayee saankhyam yogah pasupati-matam vaishnavamiti
Prabhinne Prasthaane param-idam adah patthyamiticha;
Rucheenaam vaichitryaat rjukutila naanaa pattha jushaam,
Nrnaam-eko gamyas-tvamasi payasaam arnava iva.
The variety of schools, namely, Vedas, Saankhya, Yoga, Paasupata, and
Vaishnava came to be formulated to satisfy the varying tastes of men. Though
their directions may appear to point differently, yet, as one pursues any school
with the constantly ordained it, after a shorter or longer journey, as the case may
be, one will ultimately reach the Supreme, which is Omnipresent, even as all
rivers flowing in different directions reach the ocean, which appears at land's end
everywhere and envelops the globe in all directions. Like the ocean, the Supreme
envelops all - sarvam aavrtya tishthati.. To whatever school one may belong, one
ought not to linger or stop on the way. If a person adheres to the chosen path
without faltering, God will dower each votary, whatever his predilection, with
constancy of faith to pursue his path with devotion. All of you are familiar with
the scene at a railway station, as soon as a train arrives and the passengers
emerge out of the platform. A passenger will be stormed by drivers of a variety
of conveyances, each trying to snatch his baggage in order to attract him to his
vehicle. In whichever conveyance he ultimately decides to travel, his destination
is his home. Similarly the protagonist of each school of religious thought try to
attract the seeker after truth by saying that their school is the easiest and surest
way to realise the truth. When it is recognised that all paths lead to the same
goal, there is no necessity to change the path one is already following. There is
also no room for hatred towards a person following a different path. The temple,
the God installed therein, and the form of worship, all these three may differ for
different people, due to difference in taste. But what is required of one is to
persist in the path one is following.
When the mind becomes ripe with the true knowledge of Paramatma, the soul
gets liberated from the bonds of birth and death. This liberation is called Moksha
or Salvation. The Trayambaka mantra epitomises the special kind of Moksha,
which accrues by the grace of Trayambaka, the three-eyed Siva. The Mantra
conveys the meaning that one is released from mortality by the grace of Siva in
the same way as the cucumber fruit gets separated from its stalk, that is,
automatically separated without even the cucumber being aware of its liberation
from the creeper to which it has been all along lying attached. Every fruit, when

fully ripe, is sweet, though it may have been bitter or sour when unripe.
Similarly, when the soul becomes ripe through devotion, it is filled with the
sweetness and joy that comes from Jnana. All fruits fall down from the branches
on top, at the roots below, signifying that the root is their source, sustenance and
ultimate sanctuary. The ripe soul, however, is the fruit of the tree of Samsaara,
worldly bondage, whose roots are on top, Oordhva moolam and whose branches
grow down below (Atha shakham). So the passage of the liberated soul is
upward, Oordhva gati, and not downward or Adho gati. Strictly speaking, there is
no gati or going, for the soul. It is released at the very place where it existed.
That is why the example of cucumber fruit is given. This fruit does not fall down
but gets itself detached from the stalk, or rather, the stalk gets itself detached,
even without the fruit knowing it. Similarly the liberated one does not give up the
world; the world gives him up. Remembering that this life has been vouchsafed
to us to get rid of future births and deaths, let us pray to the God of our heart, to
obtain His grace to qualify for this kind of liberation of the soul, "cucumber
November 21, 1957.
Who is God and what is His definition? In almost every religion, God is referred to
as the Creator, the karta, responsible for the creation and sustenance of the
Universe. Since every effect must have a cause, namely God, for this Universe.
This is brought out inthe Brahma- Sutra by the expression karta Saatraartha tvat.
Another defition of God is that He is the dispenser of the fruits of our actions, be
they good or evil--- Karmaphala-daata. The question may be asked why we
should have be Bhakti for the God who is the creator and dispenser. These are
His self -chioasen funtions and he does them. Why should we have devotion to
one who created, not at our request, and who dispenses, not according to our
This question does not arise in the arise in the case of schools of thought which
deny a God altogether. Among the Vaidika systems, the Saankhya denies a
creator -GOd and the Poorva Meemamsa has no use for Him. It is a nonintelligent principle that is responsible for the world according to the former, and
the dispensation of fruits of actions is due , according to the latter, to Adrshta,
and a God is unnecessary for the purpos. Sri Sankara Bhagavatpada combated
both these positions and established that a Jada vastu cannot come from another
JadaVastu, an intelligent God alone must be the cause of the Universe. He also
showed that a Chaitanya (power) is necessary to dispense fruits of Karma
according to the merit. In fact, Sri Sankara directed his criticism mainly against
the views of the Saankhyaas and Meemamsakaas respectively and onlty
incidentally against teh Buddhists, though he is depicted as having Banished
Buddhism from the country by the froce of dialectics. As a matter of fact, it was
left to two nea-contemporaries of the Sri Sankara, Kumarila Bhatta, the
Meemamsaka, and Udayanacharya, the Taartika, to undermine the foundations of

Buddhism. Kumarila disproved the no-Karma plank, and Udayana the no-Isvara
plank of Buddhism.
Having established that there is a Creator,who is Srshtikarta and the Phaladaata,the question remains why should we show Bhakti to Him? The Yoga sutras
of Patanjali provide the answer. After defining Yoga as a the control of mind's
activity, the question of the way to control that activity comes up for
considertation and it is answered that this can be brought about by worship of
God, who free from any imperfection or blemish ,who remains unmoved and
unmovable,who is the Sttaanu(stable one),amidst the imperfect and instable
things of the world.Being the all-knowing Intelligence,God is not affected by
anything which could distract the mind and prevent its control.It is such an ideal
that we should have before us, to train ourselves in mind-control,so that the
mind may be almost absolutely study like a flame in a place where there is no
brezee.Since concentrated meditation on a thing transforms one into the likeness
of the thing meditated upon,meditating on God,who being Omniscient is still
unmoved and unaffected by want or desire, makes on like God Himself.As one
holds fast to steady pillar to prevent from being tossed about,so too should one
bind oneself through Bhakti to God,to steady one's mind.
The purpose of prayer is not petition for benifits.Such petitioning implies either
that God does not know what we want,which will militate against His
Omniscience,or that He waits to be asked and delights in praise,which will
degrade Him to the leve of ordinary man.Why then do we pray? Though
Omniscient God is immanent in every creature and knows what is in the heart of
every person, yet, if what we wish to say in prayer remains unsaid, it afflicts our
heart and so prayer heals that afflicition. By prayer ,we do not seek to change
what God ordains; in fact,we cannot do so. We go to Him to remove our
impurities. As Tiruvalluvar said, we attach ourselves to Him who has no
attachments to rid ourselves of our attachments. A devout consciousness that
God exists will itself do the miracle of alchemising us into purity of nature. We
obtain a spiritual charge into our frame by being in His presence.
Guru is Isvara in human form, but who is, however, freefrom the triple functions
of creration, preservation and destruction, which pertain only to Isvara. If we
have absolute faith in him, the Guru will dower us with all for which we go to
God. In fact, God is needed only when we cannot find a guru. Guru-Bhakti is even
higher and more efficacious than Daiva-bhakti. Sri Vedanta Desika has declared
that he does not consider God higher than Guru.According to a verse, when God
is angry, the guru protects you; when the guru himself is angry, there is no
protector in the world. If we surrender ourselves absolutely without any
reservation to the guru,he will save us from all sorrow and show us the way to
salvation. It is due to lack of guru-bhakti, that Isvara-bhakti itself is waning in the
hearts of men.
October 20, 1957

We Hindus regard both Siva and Vishnu as the same and this is evident from the
fact that in the ecstasy of our devotion, whether were are alone or are in groups,
we exclaim " Haro-Hara" and "Govinda-Govinda", which(whose) names come to
our lips spontaneously. The holy days of Sivaratri and Janmashtami are divided
from each other by exactly 180 days, and this seems to indicate that God in His
aspect as Siva protects us during one-half of the year, and in His aspect as
Vishnu, in the other half. The traditional practice of boys and girls collecting oil
for their vigil on Sivaratri and Janmashtami nights, singing in chorus a song
which means that Sivaratri and Sri Jayanti are the same, is another pointer to the
identity of these two manifestations of the Divine. Apachaaranivrtti must precede
Anugraha - eradication of sins must precede blessings. So God as Hara destroy
the sins of His devotees, while as Govinda, He protects them from harm. The
expressions Hara -Hara and Govinda-Govinda come to children effortlessly. It is
significant that Sri Sankara composed Bhaja Govindam when he was a child and
Sri Sambandar sang that Hara naama should envelop the world, when he too was
a child. The Upanishads speak of God as Uma-sameta-Parameswara, and it is
worthy of note that all children refer to God as Ummachi, which is obviously a
contraction for Uma-Maheswara. Thus, in the language of children, there is no
difference between Siva and Vishnu.
The sense of religious toleration is not a modern conception. It can be traced to
very ancient times. The Kural proclaimed that all teachings referred only to one
Porul or Object. Sri Sankara and Sri Sambandar saw the same God worshipped in
the six systems to which they referred. Arhat, the name by which Jains call the
Supreme Being, is a Vedic name identified with Siva. Other religions also speak
of one God.
All troubles in rthis world start only when attempts are made to wean away
people from their native religion to convert them to a new faith, by holding out
the temptation that people can attain salvation only if they embrace that new
faith. This is more than what any sensible person can swallow. Since every
religion speaks of God, to ask a person to give up the religion in which he is born
is tantamount to asking him to give up God and is a sin against God. It is the
duty of every person to follow the religion of his ancestors. If a non-Hindu finds
that he had Hindu ancestors, its up to him to revert to Hinduism after performing
the prescribed Praayaschitta(purificatory ceremony).
While there is propaganda for other religions, there is none for the Hindu religion.
Propaganda is a prescribed duty for other religions, while in respect of Hinduism,
it is enjoined that one should not tell unasked-Ma Aprshtah Kasyachit Brooyat. It
is noteworthy that so may continue to profess Hindu religion even without
preaching and propaganda. The cause of the stability of Hindu religion is that
each practised his prescribed Dharma. If each person does his appointed duty,
then our religion will be strengthened both in its Vedic foundations and in its
ceremonial practices. It is only that way the Vedic religion has survived down the

October 22, 1957.

Each one of us is fond of certain things in life, and the liking develops into raaga,
attachment or affection. When the things or persons we like part from them at
the end of life's journey, we are afflicted with grief. Death forcibly separates us
from the objects of our attachment, resulting only in grief. Death forcibly
separates us from the objects of our attachment, resulting only in grief all round.
When we forcibly pluck an unripe mango, there is weeping(flow of a white juice)
both from the stem to which the mango had all along been attached, and also
from the mango itself. When the same mango is ripe, it gets automatically
separated from the stem and no weeping occurs. Similarly we must develop the
capacity to leave this world without regret when death knocks at our doors.
How this is to be achieved is the problem of life. I shall illustrate the answer to
this question with a story. Once upon a time a wealthy person was living in the
French territory of India. For some reason, he apprehended danger both to his
person and to his wealth, were he to continue to live in the French territory. Only
a hill separated the French territory from the British territory. If he could manage
to transport his wealth, which was in the shape of heavy gold and silver coins, to
the top of the hill, safety and security awaited him. But he found that the task of
transporting all the silver and gold coins was an impossible one, in the
circumstances in which he was placed. He was faced with the situation of leaving
behind his immense wealth and escaping only with his life. At that critical
moment, a person with British currency notes accosted him and offered to
exchange those noted for the gold and silver coins. The wealthy man converted
his entire stock of coins into portable currency notes and crossed over to safety.
Similarly, we should be able to convert all our worldly achievements and
resources into the currency Dharma, so that we can carry with us this Dharma,
when the call comes to quit this world.
Dharma is acquired through mind, speech and deeds. As both Paapa(sin) and
Punya(merit) accompany us after death, we must take care to acquire only
Punya. If we nourish in our mind passions like Kaama(desire) and Krodha(anger),
we will be acquiring only more and more sins. If we use our speech or power of
expression to kindle either Kaama(passion) and Dvesha(hatred), we will be doing
harm to others and thereby hindering our own emancipation. The gift of speech
should be employed only for doing good to others and repeating the Lord's
name. Similarly our physical strength should be utilised for serving others. Our
wealth, barring a portion we are obliged to leave to our children, should be
utilised for noble and charitable purposes. In this way, we can convert our
material resources and the power of our mind, speech, and body, into Dharma,
the currency note of Isvara, which is legal tender in all the worlds under His
command, and for all times. Dharma alone protects us in this life and
accompanies the soul in its onward march, after it casts off its covering we call

The process of developing detachment from objects of affection- changing over

from raaga to vairaagya - should start when we are still in the full enjoyment of
our senses. When a dispute is compromised, not by the judgement of a court,
but by agreement, the parties to the dispute part as friends. Similarly, we must
mentally become ripe, as the mango I mentioned earlier, and get ourselves
detached from our attachments. For that purpose we require the grace of Isvara.
Sri Sankara Bhagavatpada, in his Sivananda Lahari prayed to Isvara to save him
with His grace or mercy(krpayaa paalaya vibho) without minding his
disqualifications. Let each of us pray to Isvara to bless us with His grace, for that
alone will accompany the soul and be a source of constant strength.
January 19, 1958

In the Mangala Sloka(invocation) to this Beeja Ganita(algebra), Bhaskaracharya
says that supreme which is Infinite, does not suffer diminution when creating the
world out of Himself, or gain addition when the created word attains
Laya(merger) in Him. For, if the addition of even a fraction can make a difference
to the infinite, then it could not have been infinite before such addition. Similarly
infinite cannot become less than the infinite when any thing is taken away from
it. The Infinite is poorna, full and limitless Supreme. The Prapancha (Universe)
which is infinitely varied, is also limitless Supreme, the limitless Supreme will
remain intact. Therefore, if this Poornam ( the infinitely varied form of the
objective Prapancha) is taken away from that Poornam (the subject which is
Infinite), that Poornam, the subject Infinite, alone will remain.
This may be illustrated mathematically as follows : if 2 is divided by 2, the
quotient is 1. With 2 as the dividend, if the divisor is progressively reduced as 1,
1/2, or 1/4 etc., the quotient will respectively be 2, or 4, or 8,etc., Thus the
divisor becomes less and less, the quotient will become more and more. When
the divisor is the least, that is infinitesimal, approximating to Zero, the quotient
will be infinity. This is known as the Khaharam - Kha standing for Aakas,
signifying poojyam (zero), haaram, meaning taking away or dividing.
How do we verify the correctness of an arithmetical question in division? We
multiply the quotient with the divisor and check whether the resulting is
equivalent to the dividend given in the question. In this Khaharam, or division. In
this Khaharam, or division of any number by zero, the number that is divided
stands for the Prapancha 9the pluralistic universe of infinite variety), the divisor,
zero or Poojyam, which in mathematical language is an indefinable factor,
approximating to nothingness, stands for Maya, and the quotient is the Infinite,
that is Brahman. For the purpose of creating the Prapancha, which is dividend,
Brahman , which is the quotient , multiplies itself by Maya, which is divisor. Even
as I divided by Zero, or 2 divided by Zero, or 3 divided by Zero, will give the
same quotient, when the Infinite is multiplied by Zer, it is undeterminate, and
therefore, it can take the values 1,2,3 etc., which are Bheda sankhyas, or

numbers connoting differences, standing for the plurality of the world. The
Upanishad says that the One Absolute determined to become many, and for that
purpose. It associated itself with Maya, and become Many. When this Absolute
Infinite multiplied Itself in association with Maya, which is tantamount to zero, it
appears as 1,2,3,4 etc., the several objects of this Prapancha. But when any
number is multiplied by Maya. The dividend, which is the plurality of the
prapancha is the Infinite variety. The quotient, which is Brahman, is Real
Akhanda and Ananta. In the Saanti Mantra, Poornam adah is the quotient ,
Absolute Infinity, and Poornam idam is the dividend, pluralistic Infinity. Advaita
anantam multiplied by Poojyam is Dvaita anantam. if the latter is divested of is
Maya -- by a process of Khaharam-dividing by Poojyam which is Maya -- we get
the Advaita anantam. Maya multiplies the formless Infinite which is One only
without a second , into an infinity of finite forms. Th One alone , that is real, has
value; the Many, which are products of Maya, are like Maya, without ultimate
value. So Brahman is not affected either by diminution from It (creation or Srsti)
or by the addition to It(merger or Laya) of Prapancha, which has no ultimate
The Divine Mother is the Creative Principle of the universe, the Maya Sakti aspect
of Brahman, which makes the Infinite One appear as the Infinite Many. She
presents the formless Supreme in finite forms. It is only by her grace that one
can transcend the Maya and obtain the advaitic realisation of the One without a

December 26 1956.

Every aasrama has its special dharma or duty. It has been enjoined that a
sanyasi should not remain in one place for any length of lime. He has to be a
parivraajaka or wandering mendicant. The idea is that he should be moving from
place to place, coming into contact with his lay disciples, ministering to their
spiritual needs, and guiding them to regulate their lives according to the sastras.
This may be likened to "mass contact", a term familiar in politics. If a sanyasi
remains in one place for a long time, there is the danger of his contracting
"attachments", or getting involved in local controversies. There is also the adage,
"familiarity breeds contempt", and, perhaps, that is one of the reasons why a
sanyasi is prohibited from staying long at any one.
This constant movement from place to place may prevent a sanyasi from
devoting sufficient time to meditation and other spiritual practices, and to the
acquisition of aatmajnanam leading to the realisation of the Ultimate Truth.
Therefore, he is permitted to remain in one place during the chaatur maasya
period, commencing from the full moon in the month of Aani. This period also
coincides with the rainy season, known as praavrt season.

There is a reason behind the selection of this praavrt period for chaatur maasya.
The sanyaasa aasrama is essentially one of ahimsa causing no harm to any
living being. That is why a sanyasi has to travel on foot. Even if one were to tread
unwittingly on an insect while walking, there is every chance of one not causing
its death, because the feet are so shaped that the insect can easily wriggle out
through the gaps and curves. During the rainy season, numerous insects spring
to life and infest pathways. Any travel, during this period, will inevitably lead to
himsa, causing pain or injury, to these insects. In fact, while making the sankalpa
for chaatur maasya, a sanyasi has to tell the assembled devotees that the
praavrt period is on, that he sees a host of insect life (praani sankulam)
everywhere, and that if it is not inconvenient for them, he proposes to observe
chaaturmaasyam in that place. The devotees, who feel honoured by the
opportunity for this kainkarya (service), in their turn, request him to remain in
their midst comfortably, and assure him that they will serve him to the best of
their ability.
Making the chaaturmaasya sankalpa, the sanyasi says:
Chaturmasyam Shloka Praayena pravrishi praani sankulam varlma drsyate
Atasleshaam ahimsaarttham pakshaavai srutichoditaan
Stthaasyaamaschaluromaasaan airaivaasati baadhake.
On hearing this the devotees reply :
Nivasantu sukhenaatra gamishyaamah krtaartthataam
Yathaa sakti cha susrooshaam karishyaamo vayam mudaa.
It is to enable sanyasins to adhere to the principle of ahimsa that they are
prohibited from cooking their own food. In the process of cooking, insects that
may happen to be in water, firewood, vegetables, etc., will be destroyed besides
the germinating part of the grain. Therefore sanyasins are enjoined to rest
content with what householders give them as alms. They are also not permitted
to pluck green leaves. That will be himsa to the plant, which has also life. In fact,
there is no agni, (fire), for the sanyaasa aasrama. That is why they do not
perform any homa (sacrifice in fire).
The chaaturmaasya observance is a common feature of Hinduism, Buddhism,
and Jainism. The Ashokan edicts, which are about 2,000 years old, show that
chaaturmaasya was observed for four months, as the term indicated. It is not
clear when the period came to be reduced to two months. Probably the rule that
a maasa (month) is synonymous with paksha (fortnight)- pakshovai maasah, came to be applied, and chaaturmaasya limited to four pakshaas or two months.
This year, chaaturmaasya will last three months, on account of the occurrence of
the Adhika Sraavana month. (The difference in the number of days that go to
make a solar year and a lunar year get periodically adjusted by having an
additional lunar month whenever two new moons happen to fall in a solar

There is a reference to chaaturmaasya in Srimad Bhagavatam also. It is recorded

that when Sage Narada was asked how he became a great jnani, he replied that
in his boyhood a number of sanyasins happened to observe chaaturmaasya at
the place where he lived with his mother, and that jnana dawned on him, as a
result of eating the remnants of the food partaken by those great men.
A sanyasi takes the resolve to observe chaaturmaasya after performing Vyasa
Pooja. This pooja is as important to sanyasins as Upaakarma is to those who
belong to the other aasramas. As custodians of the Vedas, it is our duty to
preserve them in their pristine purity and effectiveness. The danda (stick),
carried by a brahmachari, is symbolic of his determination to protect the Vedas
at any cost. The object of Upaakarma is to revitalise the Vedic mantraas, should
their efficacy be impaired, through causes like faulty pronunciation. The Vedas
are recited on that day, after invoking the grace of Sri Veda Vyasa, who
perceived, through his spiritual powers, the Vedas and transmitted them for the
benefit of the world, and invoking the grace of the rishis, who propagated the
various khaandaas of the Vedas. The presence of Sri Veda Vyasa is invoked in a
pot of water and worshipped. The Sama Vedins invoke the presence of Khaanda
Rishis in balls of earth, or in arecanuts and worship them. Similarly the sanyasins
invoke the grace of Sri Veda Vyasa and other preceptors of aatma jnaana, before
commencing their discipline of meditation, yoga, and aatmavichaara. The
aavahana of the preceptors is done in lime fruits. Householders perform both
pooja and homa in Upaakarma, whereas sanyasins perform only pooja on Vyasa
Pooja day, as they have no right to do homa.
It is not Veda Vyasa alone who is worshipped on Vyasa Pooja day. Six groups of
preceptors (moola purushas) of jnana, each group consisting of five preceptors
are worshipped. The first group is called Krishna Panchaka and consists of Sri
Krishna, Vaasudeva, Pradyumna, Anirudha and Sankarshana. The five groups,
besides the Sri Krishnapanchaka mentioned above, are: (1) The Vyasa Panchaka,
consisting of Sri Vyasa, Sri Paila, Sri Vaisampayana, Sri Jaimini, and Sri Sumantu;
(2) The Bhagavatpada Panchaka, consisting of Sri Sankara Bhagavatpada, Sri
Padmapaadaacharya, Sri Sureswaraachaarya, Sri Hastaamalakaacharya, and Sri
Totakaachaarya; (3) The Sanaka Panchaka, consisting of Sri Sanaka, Sri
Sanandana, Sri Sanaatana, Sri Sanat Kumara, and Sri Sanatsujaata; (4) The
Dravida Panchaka, consisting of Sri Dravidaacharya, Sri Gaudaapadaacharya, Sri
Vivaranaacharya; and (5) The Guru Panchaka, consisting of the Guru, the Parama
Guru, the Parameshti Guru, and the Paraapara Guru of the sanyasins, and other
promulgators of the sampradaya (anye brahmavidyaa sampradaaya kartaarah
guravah). Worship is also offered to Sri Suka, Sri Narada, Sri Durga, Sri Ganapati,
the Kshetrapaalaas, Sri Saraswati, and the ten guardians of the directions,
beginning with Indra. Finally pooja is offered 10 Suddha Chaitanya, whose
aavaahana is made in the Saaligramah and omnibus worship (samashti pooja) is
performed at the end.
The seniority of a sanyasi is determined, not by his age, but by the number of
Vyasa Poojas he has performed. It may happen that a young sanyasi has

performed more Vyasa Poojas than an aged one. In that case, the aged sanyasi
will have to do obeisance to the young one. This practice is similar to the
practice among householders of a person prostrating before a lady younger than
himself should the husband of that lady be senior to him.
What is known as Vyasa Poornima in the South is known as Guru Poornima in the
North. On that day, every person makes it a point to make offerings to all those
who occupy the position of teacher to him. This custom is followed in the R.S.S.
organisation. Its members pay no subscription, but make a cash offering on the
Guru Poornima day. For the Smartha sanyasins, the chaaturmaasya begins with
Vyasa Pooja and ends with Viswaroopa Yatra. The Vaishnavas commence
chaaturmaasya with sankalpam and end with utthaanam.
Sri Krishna is called the lord of cows. Sri Krishna being the central figure in Vyasa
Pooja, 1 desire to give you the message of gosamrakshanam (cow protection). It
is an irony that in the land where the cow is worshipped, cows are found in an
emaciated condition. In lands where cow-slaughter is not regarded as a sin, the
cattle yield more milk per head, and are better looked after. In India, the peasant
is perpetually indebted and his cattle are mere skin and bones. In the past, this
neglect was trotted out as an excuse for not bringing in legislation to prevent
cow slaughter. The Government, as well as the public, owe a duty to attend to
the cattle the wealth of a country. In the ancient days the village had a common
pasture called meichal tarai. These pasture lands have got assigned to private
individuals. The Government should take steps to acquire these pasture lands for
the benefit of the cattle. They should also include the maintenance of common
village tanks, known as mantaikarai kulam under their minor irrigation works. So
far as the public is concerned, each house should keep a vessel or a bucket for
collecting the water with which rice is washed for cooking, as well as kanji and
kitchen garbage, like discarded portions of vegetables, skins of fruits, plantain
leaves, etc. Arrangements should be made to feed cows with this collection. If
every house-holder takes care of one cow in this manner, the cattle wealth of the
country will improve in no time.

Advaita, Visishtadvaita, and Dvaita are one in the emphasis on Bhakti to obtain
God's grace. The fact that man alone, among the creatures of the world, grows
vertically, where as the other creatures grow horizontally, indicates that he
should also strive to grow taller in spiritual stature. Such an eminence in stature
comes from Jnana which alone gives abiding peace or saanti. Man undergoes
troubles and pains in a greater measure than other animals; but that is
compensated for by this capacity to acquire Jnana, which makes for the
realisation of Truth and the experiencing of Aananda or Supreme Saanti. Jnana
itself begets Aananda and Jnanaananda is Parama mangalam. Isvara is of the
nature of this Jnanaananda. He is the Paramataman in whom all auspicious
qualities are fully affirmed in a superlative measure. Even as the ocean is the
repository of all waters, Isvara is fullness, the All. There is no other to him. He is

the All with out a second. That is Advaita. Idam Sarvam Purusha Eva, all this is
the Paramatman, says the Sruti. Sri Sankara expounds this truth with Yukti(logic)
and Anubhava(experience).
But mere intellectual comprohension of it is not enough. It must be realised as a
fact in one's own experience. For such realisation grace of God is a pre-requisite.
Isvaraanugrahaadeva Pumsaam Advaita Vaasana. We begin with a feeling of
distinctness from God. The predicament of worship is one of duality of Deity and
Devotee. But even then the devotee does not feel that God is external to him
and to the Universe; He has the consciousness that God is imminent in himself
and in every particle of the world, in-dwelling every where and in everything,
how ever minute. Our duty is worship Him in this way with devotion, and if we do
so, He reveals His true nature to us. Bhagavan says :
The word, BHAKTYAA, meaning through devotion, shows that bhakthi is the
means for the realisation of the truth of God's nature. Advaita, Visishtadvaita,
and Dvaita are one in this emphasis on Bhakti to obtain God's grace. To whatever
school we belong, we should invoke that grace through Bhakti, leaving it to Him
to reavel the truth of His nature. All Achaaryas have stressed this need for
This devotion must evidence itself in fulfilling God's commands in observing the
duties laid on us in the Vedaas. To say 'I have devotion to God', and not to act
upto His commands is meaningless. Performance of prescribed duties, Vihitikaramaanushtaana, is the sign of true devotion. Doing one's Karma, one should
dedicate it to God. Obligatory duties are Nitya and Naimittika. Vaishnavites
significantly refer to them as Aajna Kainkarya. Such performance of Karmas as
detailed in the Vedaas is true Isvara Aaradhana. They not only bring about
personal merit, but also secure the welfare of the whole world. Thus Karma,
Bhakti, and Jnana do constitute the scheme of salvation.
October 16, 1957.


The sacred books of Buddhism, Christianity and Islam have definite historical
dates assigned to them. The Tripitakas are said to have been written about the
time of Asoka , though the Buddha's date , according to some puranas, went
further back by several centuries. The Koran, which is the word of God conveyed
to the Prophet, is about 1,200 years old. The New Testament of the Bible is about
2,00 years old. Though no one can assign any definite date to the Vedas,
Oreintalists are anxious to discover when they were "composed". Some of them
say that it was done about 1,500 BC; other suggest that it may have about 3,000
years. Tilak fixes the date as 6,000 BC But modern Orientalists are inclined to
bring the date nearer.

If the Buddha was born 2,500 years ago , and if in the Buddha's time it was not
known when the Vedas came into existence, then the date of Vedas should be
long anterior to this time. But the truth of the matter is that the Vedas are Anaadi
and Nitya, with out beginning and with out end and eternal , like sound. They
manifest themselves after each Pralaya (deluge). Pralaya and srshti (deluge and
creation) alternate The Old Testament speaks of the creation of the present
world. According to Hindu Scriptures, there have been many creations before,
and also Pralayas. The period of each Srshti and each Pralaya spreads over
aeons , infinitely beyond human calculation. The findings of geology, which
traces the history of the earth to a period long before the time referred to in the
Book of Genesis, confirm this view of cycles of creation and deluge. In fact, the
more and the deeper the researchers of modern science, the greater the
confirmation for the declarations in our Hindu scriptures. I t is futile, as it will be
foolish, to discard these declarations at any time , on the ground that they do not
accord with the discoveries of science known till then. For, fresh light thrown by
later scientific discoveries provide startling confirmation for many of these
Orientalists also attempt to fix the date of the Vedas on the basis of certain
internal evidence about the relation between the Sun and the stars, etc. The
Hindu theory of cycles , however, refers to several creations an d so, the same
astronomical coincidences and deviations may have occurred during the period
of some past Srstis also. We do not know how many such Pralayas and Srshtis
have gone before.
Another method adopted for fixing the age of the Vedas is to go by the changes
in the style of Hindu scriptures, from the Rik Samhita down to the Kaavya
literature. In the case of spoken languages , it has been computed that gradual
mutations took place with the passage of every 200 years. For example, the
Tamil language to-day is different from the Tamil of the Sangam age. It is far cry
from modern English to old English. American English is different from the
orthodox English in use in Britain. On this method of appraisal, it has been
suggested that the Vedas should have come into existence 1,500 years ago.
It is common knowledge and experience that if a thing is in constant use, it will
wear out and bear marks of such use and wear, and that a thing rarely used . the
same is true of languages also. English, Tamil and Hindi have changed in from
through the centuries and undergone even distortions by usage. But the
language of the Vedas remains to-day the same in form and feature as it was at
time out of memory. The reason for this absence of distortion or deterioration is
that Vedic chanting has been so carefully guarded, as not to allow any possibility
of a lapse from its pristine form. Of the innumerable Veda Saakhaas, we know
now only of one out of the 21 branches of the Rig Veda, three out of the 101
branches of the Yajur Veda, two or possibly three out of 1,000 branches of the
Saama Veda, and on e only out of 11 branches of Atharva Veda, one will have to
devote to its learning about eight years, night and day.

There are various methods in Vedhaadhyayana (memorising the Veda mantras)

which help to preserve the number an d the order of the words and letters of
each Veda Mantra. There are specifications regarding the time interval (matra)
for the utterance of each letter in a word; the part of the body from which each
of the sounds in the word should emanate by the exhalation of the breath in an
appropriate manner ; the affinities between the Swaraas in the Vedas and the
Swaraas in Sangeeta (music) and the affinities of both (Veda Swaraas and
Sangeeta Swaraas) to the natural Swaraas in the sounds produced by animals ,
birds, etc. These methods of memorising the Veda Mantras are known as Vaakya,
Pada, Krama, Ghana, Jata, Swara,etc.
The Vedas are not like the sounds of common speech to undergo periodical
changes by usage; on the other hand, they have been meticulously preserved as
a result of being protected by definite prescriptions and indices relating to the
sound measures, their nature, sequence, manner of utterance, etc., which have
been preserved by oral transmission from generation to generation. The
injunctions relating to the persons who should do the Adhyayana, and the
Aachaaraas such persons should observe, are intended to promote this objective.
To approach the study of the Vedas with out a clear knowledge of all
ramifications and to adopt rough and ready methods for estimating their age will
amount to proceeding on a basis which has no bearing on the subject of the

January 28,1958.

The school of thought or sidhaanta expounded by Sri Adi Sankara, is known as
Advaita. Greater thinkers who lived before the time of Acharya have also dealt
with it. Wise men who came after Shri Acharya have also written profusely about
Advaita pouring into their writings their own experience (Swaanubhava), of the
Advaitic truth. There are such works not only in English, but also in Tamil,
Kannada, Telugu, Marathi and Hindi. Some of them are original works of Advaita.
Persons belonging to other schools of Hindu religious thought and persons
professing other religions have also written on Advaita, out of the abundance of
their rich spiritual experience. Some of the names that come to mind are
Tattvaraya Swami, A Madhava, Mastan Saheb, a Muslim and Vedanayagam Pillai,
a Christian. In recent times we have the example of the late A.V. Gopalacharya,
who has written a number of treatises and essays on Advaita.
It is worthy of note that whatever their mutual differences may be, all thinkers
belonging to schools other than Advaita, are one in their attack on Sri Adi
Sankara's views. This should be regarded as a tribute paid by them to Sri
Sankara Bhagavatpada. Each of them singled out Advaita, as expounded by Sri
Acharya, as the only system worthy of taking notice of for the purpose of

criticising. According to Advaita, the ultimate bliss is the experience of nondifference between the Jivatma and the Paramatma. Acharyas of other schools of
thought would wish to have at least a tract of distinction between the two so that
the Jivatma, standing apart, may be able to enjoy the realisation of the
Paramatma. Thus the difference between the several systems of Hindu religious
thought is slight, as all are agreed upon the ultimate realisation of the Supreme.
But when it comes to a question of expounding each system, this difference got
magnified to the point of violent opposition. And yet we find that in their ultimate
reaches, all of them speak the language of Advaita. This shows that the
expansive heart of Sri Adi Sankara accommodated all views of the ultimate
reality and all approaches to it. Though other systems quarrel with Advaita,
Advaita has no quarrel with any.
The catholicity of Advaita is also evident from the fact that pronounced Advaitins
like Vachaspati Misra, who lived about one thousand years ago, Vidyaranya and
Appayya Dikshitar wrote encyclopedic works on other systems with the fidelity of
exposition rarely equaled and much less excelled by the protagonists of those
systems themselves. Appayya Dikshitar says that as God's grace is required to
reach the Ultimate Reality, and as that grace can be obtained only through
Bhakti, he was expounding the other systems which promoted this Isvara-bhakti.
According to Shri Adi Sankara, no school of thought is foreign to Advaita. In the
scheme of the path to realise Adviataanubhava, every system contributes an
essential step and so Shri Sankara used the truths of each of them and pressed
them into his service. By its very name, Advaita negates duality and dissension
and comprehends every warring sect and system into its all-embracing unit. In
fact, the survival of Hinduism is itself due to this Advaitic temper, which sees no
distinction between Saivam, Vaishnavam and other denominations. Shri Adi
Sankara underlined the essential unity of all Sampradaayas and sects and saved
Hinduism from disruption. All denominations have the common Vedic basis. By
bringing to our minds all the great Acharyas, we can acquire that peaceful frame
of mind and develop that catholic temper and universal accommodation
characteristic of Shri Adi Sankara and of the Advaita Vedanta he expounded,
which will enable us to live in peace and amity, so essential for securing
universal welfare.


According to our tradition, there are fourteen branches of knowledge which are
common to both general education and dharma. They are described as the
sources of vidya and dharma. (Vedaah sthaanaani vidyaanaam dharmasyacha
chaturdasa - the fourteen (chaturdasa vidyaas are, the four Vedas, the six
Vedaangaas and the four Upaangaas. The six angaas (limbs) of the Vedas are:
siksha vyaakaranam, cchandas, niruktam, jyotisham and kalpam). The Tamil
expression, sadangu is derived from shadanga or six angaas. The four
Upaangaas are: the puraanaas, which illustrate Vedic truths through storiesprojecting the truths as if through a magnifying lens-nyaaya, meemaamsa and

the smritis. The smritis deal with the Dharma Saastra portion of the Vedas.
Between the vedaangaas and the Upaangaas, almost all branches of knowledge
are covered. The jyotisha saastra, one of the Vedaangaas, covers the entire field
of astronomy, astrology and the technique of prediction. A detailed study of this
saastra will prove that our ancient Rishis had perfected what is now known as
higher mathematics, long before the science of mathematics, was developed in
the West. The Tamil expression saangopaangamaha i.e., with angaas and
upaangaas, used to denote a work well done, is very significant. It coveys to us
the idea that a job has been done correctly and well, without forgetting even the
minutest details.
From the travel records written by Fa Hian and Huen Tsang, from the various
records available in China and from archaeological excavations, we know the
manner in which the ancient universities of Taxila and Nalanda had been
functioning. It is seen that though these universities flourished in the heydays of
Buddhism, all students were required to study first the chaturdasa vidyaas which
included the Vedas also. Studies pertaining to Buddhism, of course, followed. I
am mentioning this to show how these fourteen branches of knowledge have
been regarded as basic for any education worth its name and for dharma.
Besides these chaturdasa vidyaas, there are four other branches of knowledge,
known as upavedas, in the scheme of general education. Thus the number of
branches of knowledge included for study in the scheme of general education
becomes eighteen. These upavedas are: Ayurveda, science of medicine and
surgery, which is stated to have originated from the Rig Veda; Dhanurveda,
including physical culture and military science, originating from the Atharva
Veda; Gandharva Veda, which is a term used for all fine arts, including music,
dancing, painting, and sculpture, originating from the Sama Veda; and Artha
Sastra: the science of politics and administration, having its origin in Yajur Veda.
Sri Harsha, in his Naishadha, has punned on the word, chaturdasa, when
describing the education of Nala. He says:
Adhiti bodha aacharana prachaaranaih
Dasaaschatasrah pranayan upaadhibhih
Chaturdasastvam kritavaan kutasvayam
Navedmi vidyaasu chaturdasasvayam
The poet says in this verse that Nala made the chaturdasa vidyas into
chaturdasa. Dasa, in the second chaturdasa, has to be given the meaning,
"stage". The verse says that Nala's education in all the fourteen branches of
knowledge was in four stages, namely adhiti (study), bodhah - (understanding),
aachaarana- (adoption or practical use), and praacharana- (propagation).
Pracharana, in this context, does not mean propaganda, as that word is ordinarily
understood. It means, giving knowledge to person or persons tested and found fit
to receive instruction. Propaganda is pressed into service mostly when the result
aimed at is reaching a large number, for statistical purposes. In proselytisation,

for example, the emphasis is on the number of converts, and not on the fact that
conversion was secured only after those who were converted had understood,
believed, and accepted particular tenets preached to them. In this process the
truth of what we wish to propagate may be lost sight of. Our ancients were
particular that truth and right understanding should be preserved. So, they were
against propaganda in respect of both religion and knowledge. They believed
that the seed of knowledge should germinate only in proper soil, in order that the
fruit that it will yield later may be good and not forbidden fruit. Therefore, they
laid down that the person receiving knowledge must be proved pakvi, fit to
receive it and benefit from it. This was specially necessary in the case of
mantras, whose literal meaning was "protects by repetition" mananaat traayate.
As physical exercises strengthen the muscles by constant practice, mantraas
strengthen the internal nerves by constant repetition. In the process, the mind is
cleansed, so that the residence of God within us becomes pure. Mantraas can be
studied and repeated beneficially and preserved only by those who are found fit
for such study by their conduct and daily anushtaanaas.
When a person, by his study, observation and experience, comes to certain
conclusions on problems which he considers beneficial to all, it is desirable that
he should either record those conclusions in writing, or communicate them to
those who are capable of appreciating the same, so that the benefit of his
opinion may not be lost to the world. It may be that some of his views are not
accepted immediately, or acted upon. But if it benefits even one kindred soul, it
will be enough. Bhavabhuti dealing with this points sasys:
Ye naama kechidiha nah prathayanti avajnaam
Jaananti te kimapi taan pratinaisha yatnah
Utpatsyatesti mama kopi samaana dharmaa
Kaalohyayam niravadhih vipulaa cha prithvee
The substance of this verse is: "Time is eternal and the world is wide. Some
where or at some time a kindred soul may be born who will appreciate what I
have written, even though, for the moment, some may deride it as useless".
I was reminded of this verse when I read Mr. Hilton Brown's article in The Hindu
wherein he has given the answer to the question, "why do I live in India". Here is
a foreigner who is appreciative of the Hindu dharmic ideals and practices and
finds in this country a peace and satisfaction which he could not obtain
We must realise the basic principles expounded by our saastraas and model our
lives accordingly. The only lasting thing is our endeavor for the elevation of soul.
Realising this, let us conduct ourselves in the proper manner.


All of us should strive to acquire Jnana. It is only then that we shall be able to
endure any kind of suffering. No man can escape suffering in some form or other.
Each of us has his or her share of suffering. We may think that a wealthy person,
or a highly placed in life, is free from cares and anxieties, and, so thinking may
covet that wealth or that status in the belief that we can thereby get rid of our
worries. But if you ask those persons, they will unburden to you their tale of
woes. In fact, every man thinks that his suffering is the greatest, even as he
thinks that he is the most handsome or the most wise. No person dares to
express the latter two feelings openly; but each person thinks that his sufferings
are greater than the sufferings of others and likes to parade them with a view to
eliciting sympathy from others. In a sense, suffering seems to be our birth-right.
Suffering is the fruit of our actions in previous births. So when we came into the
world in the present birth, we came with the seeds of suffering deeply implanted
into our being. There is no escaping from suffering.
But it is in us to blunt the edge of suffering. An idiot or a lunatic, a Jada an
Unmatta, does not "suffer" as we do. He becomes impervious to suffering. But
when this man is cured of his idiocy or lunacy, as the case may be, and he is
normal like us, he becomes aware of suffering and begins to suffer as we do.
Sleep is the soothing balm for all suffering. We are oblivious to suffering in
dreamless sleep or Sushupti. The consciousness of suffering in waking life is
negated in sleep. But we relapse into this consciousness when we wake up from
sleep. The Jnani "sleeps to suffering" even when he is awake. It is not that he
does not suffer in body ; but it is that he does not suffer in mind. A heavy log of
wood is not easily lifted or shifted ; it requires a number of hands to do so. If the
same log is immersed in water, it becomes light and even a child can move it
without effort. Similarly, if we learn to immerse our load of suffering in the water
of Jnana, it will become extremely light and we can make light of our suffering.
What is this Jnana that can lighten our suffering? It is knowing a thing as it really
is. That is the quest of all scientists, namely, to arrive at the core of the truth of
things. And we know that a scientist, engrossed in his research, loses himself in
his pursuit and is undisturbed by any difficulty or distress. The pursuit of his
research and the joy resulting from the knowledge he thereby acquires, far out
weigh his personal suffering, which becomes very nearly non-existent to him.
We seek a Vaidya or a Mantravaadi to cure our ills. But whatever relief either can
give will only be temporary. The remedy they prescribe will not drive out
suffering from our system root and branch. The Jnani, however, is able to get our
sufferings, because he develops a sense of imperviousness to it. Time is a great
healer. Thirty years hence, our present woes, viewed in retrospect, will appear
insignificant. We are also not afflicted by sufferings of people in a distant place,
as we are by the sufferings of people close to us. In the face of present and
proximate sufferings also we must develop such a detachment. When a person
who has acquired such a detachment is commiserated with for any loss or
bereavement he has suffered, his reaction to the offer of sympathy will be : " It is
not anything of much consequence. It came of its own accord and it went".

How much greater will be sense of equanimity in the face of suffering when
absolute Jnana dawns in the mind? To a Jnani there is no distinction such as
friend or foe. He looks on all as the Paramatma. He allows nothing to irritate him.
He detaches himself from his environment. He is not afflicted by sorrow or elated
by joy. Such a sense of indifference and equanimity can come only from the
knowledge of the Ultimate Truth. This knowledge must be acquired gradually by
intense meditation or Tapas, as detailed in the Bhrigu Valli of the Taittiriya
Upanishad. Asking the question what is the purpose and purport of life (kim
Prashnotharamaalika, that it is intense meditation on this question itself
(Bahavopi Vichintyamaanam Idam Eva).
The Jnana that ensues from such meditation alone will teach us to make light of
our own sufferings and also prompt us to go to help of others in distress, as a
matter of duty. Engaging oneself in the acts of public benevolence and devotion
to God produce Chitta Suddhi, cleansing of heart, so necessary for meditation
and Jnana. Such service is not for show or fame; but for chastening one's own
mind. In fact, one ought not to expect gratitude for the service one renders. The
ingratitude of the other person is a test of one's purity of motive and constancy
of service. Rarely does the beneficiary feel benefited by the help rendered to
him. By such service one does not help the other man so much as one helps
oneself to have Chitta Suddhi.
A true Jnani creates an atmosphere of detachment and holiness around him and
draws innumerable people towards him. Such great Jnanis have arisen in the
world, from time to time, no matter whatever religion they professed. All this
prophets and saints proclaimed the same Truth, each in his own way, and if they
happened to come back to life now and meet together, there will be perfect unity
in their messages. It is the followers that have put into their mouths more than
what they said and wrangle with others, freezing the original teachings, mangled
in their hands into institutional forms, which foster narrowness and bigotry.
The test of a Jnani is whether all troubles and tribulations of life appear light to
him. This attitude of the Jnani is the sure solvent for all our ills. To that end we
should all strive, doing good deeds and entertaining devotion to God both of
which will be futile unless oriented to that goal.
December 7, 1957.

This is a collection of experiences that
persons had had with His Holiness Sri Sri
Mahaswamiji. Also included are articles
by various eminent personalities

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