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Vedanta Darshanam

Salutations to all.

Yet another eventful year has passed by; we have officially entered into a new year of 2010. Time is passing by yet there is no end to desires of the mind nor do we end with our search for eternal bliss. Put in Sankara’s words, kaalah kreedathi gacchathi aayuh tadapi na munchathi aashaa vaayuh – time passes by, aging is happening and still desires don’t end.

Desires can only be put an end when we find eternal bliss – the mother of all desires, if we may say so. Until this goal, termed in Vedanta as moksha, is achieved we will be craving for more and more worldly pleasures. This more and more will obviously lead us from one birth to another – like we have been going through in the past millions of births. But by Ishwara’s grace, we have come to start reading and understanding Vedanta. Thus now if we don’t use this opportunity to realize the ultimate reality of blissful Brahman, then it is a big loss (mahatee nastih).

We don’t even know whether we would be born a human or any other animal in the next birth. If we don’t realize the ultimate reality of Brahman in this birth itself, we will not be able to avoid the next birth – it is easy to say that all of these are just illusions and really Brahman alone exists but it isn’t just saying but experiencing intuitively our very nature of Brahman that can give us eternal bliss. Thus if we are to get another birth, we will not know where it will be, how it will be etc. It is a total unknown and we cannot be sure that we will come into contact with Vedanta again.

Each and every year as it passes by should develop a strong urge in us to realize our very nature of Brahman in this birth itself, if not in this year itself. Unless this urge is developed, we will be learning Vedanta but it will not culminate in rejoicing in bliss. Thus it is essential not to just learn Vedanta but to implement Vedanta in our day-to-day lives. It isn’t very tough to implement Vedanta – if we have a strong urge for eternal bliss, then we will find some or the other way to implement Vedanta. Implementation of Vedanta doesn’t require much effort, much money, much time etc. It just requires us to remember in our mind that everything is one Brahman and not letting this thought vanish ever from our mind. It may not be possible from the first day but with constant practice and desire for eternal bliss, we



will very easily be able to remember Brahman at all times while doing our worldly activities and enjoying worldly pleasures like any other worldly person.

Vedanta is never against worldly experiences or the world in itself. Vedanta gives us a perspective vision of this world as filled in and out with the non-dual reality of Brahman and that differences are just names and forms in the non-dual reality of Brahman. When we see the world as filled with different objects, we get into likes and dislikes which in turn leads us to happiness and sorrow thereby making us ever suffer. But once we see this entire world as filled in and out with Brahman, then we will be able to ever rejoice in bliss remembering that blissful Brahman (our very nature of Consciousness) alone exists here.

This can very easily be implemented if we are able to gain proper conviction about this truth of non-dual Brahman – this is achieved through learning Vedanta more and more. The more we learn Vedanta, the more conviction we will gain about Vedanta. The more conviction we gain about Vedanta, the more we will be able to contemplate on the ultimate reality of Brahman or implement Vedanta. The more we implement Vedanta, the more we will rejoice in bliss. This continues until we abide always as the non-dual reality of Brahman never again to suffer but ever rejoice in bliss.

May the ultimate reality of Brahman guide us in our pursuit of eternal bliss and by the end of yet another year we are able to progress at least a bit in implementing Vedanta so that by the end of this birth we can very easily ever rejoice in bliss never again to take birth.





Vedanta Darshanam


Guru Mahima


Mukhya Vishayam


Sankshiptha Vedanta




Upanishad Prachaaram


Raga Varsha










Sanskritha shiksha


Sanatana Dharma Sameeksha - snatn xmR smI]a


Vedanta Pariksha


Sankara Bhashya Mahima


Anukramaanika Nirdesham




Guru Mahima

Till the last month we saw Siva speaking about importance of a Guru and derivatives of the word “Guru”. Now we enter into the slokas where prostrations are offered at the feet of the Guru. These slokas are now very popular as Guru slokas and chanted in many missions (probably this was first started by the Chinmaya mission). These slokas are worth contemplating and having as part of our day-to-day sadhana as chanting these (while remembering the meaning in the mind) would elevate our mental state by filling it with devotion and surrender to the Guru.

Without much delay, let us enter into a brief analysis on those slokas.

Gururbrahma guruvishnu gururdevo maheshwarah Gurureva param brahma tasmai sree gurave namaha

Guru is Brahman; Guru is Vishnu; Guru is Siva; Guru is Supreme Brahman; unto such a Guru, I offer my prostrations.

Sarvam Gurureva – everything is Guru Brahma, Vishnu and Siva denote the entire creation as Brahma is the creator, Vishnu is the

protector and Siva is the destroyer. Three of them along with their activities encompass the entire world that we currently experience. The world is just an illusion of names and forms as it is constantly changing (anything that changes cannot be real but can only be an illusion of names and forms even as various gold ornaments are illusions of names and forms as they change name-form every once in a while). Thereby the illusory world requires

a changeless eternal substratum (as any illusion requires a substratum in which it seems to

exist). The substratum for the illusory world is termed in the scriptures as Brahman. Brahman is variously termed as Bhagavan, Ishwara, Lord, Paramaatman etc. and is of the nature of Existence, Consciousness and Bliss absolute. Brahman is what is to be sought out as Brahman alone can give us eternal bliss (that bliss which we are constantly seeking each and every moment of our lives).

Since Guru is the entire creation (world) therefore this means that Guru is Brahman (if Guru

is the effect of world then Guru has to be the cause of Brahman too). Thus Guru is Supreme

or Ultimate Brahman. Since this Brahman is what is to be sought by everyone (in the form



of bliss), therefore Guru is whom we have to seek in order to fulfill all our desires and remaining blissful at all times.

Prostrations to the Guru Prostration isn’t just falling at the feet of the Guru externally or physically but prostration means total and complete surrender to the Guru. This denotes total cessation of the Ego and letting oneself be guided by the Guru towards the goal of moksha or eternal bliss. As long as the Ego is there, we will be deluded by likes and dislikes. These likes and dislikes will lead us into happiness and sorrow. In order to overcome these and ever rejoice in bliss, a seeker needs to conquer or destroy the Ego – once the Ego ceases to exist (or isn’t really active to delude us), then a seeker would always be devoid of likes and dislikes. Such a state where a person is devoid of dual notions is the state of moksha wherein there is only bliss and bliss alone.

Ajnaana timiraandhasya jnaanaanjana shalaakhayaa Chakshurunmeelitham yena tasmai sree gurave namaha

He who is the light destroying ignorance; he who helps in opening our inner eye (eye of wisdom); to such a Guru, my prostrations.

Guru – the light destroying darkness of ignorance We have discussed this aspect of the Guru wherein the Guru is compared to a light dispelling darkness. Again and again remembering this will help us in gaining proper surrender to the Guru thereby taking us to the goal of eternal bliss (realization through knowledge imparted by the Guru). Unless we have proper surrender to the Guru, we will not be able to follow the path that the Guru tells us to follow. Surrender is equivalent to faith – faith is very essential in order to achieve anything in life. As Saint Augustine said “faith is belief in something that one doesn’t know in order to know what one believes” – thus without faith, we will not be able to progress even a little in the spiritual path.

Unless we believe the petrol pump guy about the route we have to take in order to get to our destination, we will not follow the path. If we don’t follow the path, we will not reach the destination. Similarly unless we believe in the Guru’s words, we will not be able to reach the destination of moksha. Faith or surrender or belief is very important (Sankara terms this as sraddha in his works) because Vedanta preaches things which might seem to be a bit



against our experience. We go by our experience (s) in the world but Vedanta begins by telling that this world that we are constantly experiencing is just an illusion in the ultimate non-dual reality of Brahman. Do we know and experience Brahman? Definitely no – though we may know that Brahman is our nature of blissful Consciousness, yet we don’t know it clearly as we don’t experience bliss. Thus on one side, we are supposed to achieve that goal about which we have no idea (except some intellectual knowledge which is of not that much use unless a person has strong belief) and on the other hand we are told to negate all our worldly experiences (negate here means that we aren’t supposed to believe in the world or depend on the world for happiness like we have been doing for many births). This is very tough – though understanding this and intellectually asserting that we need to surrender is very easy but when we try to implement it, then we will really find it very tough. When the tide is not high and things are as per what we want, then we will be very easily able to implement surrender to the Guru but when the tide is high and not on our side, then we will find that it requires a lot of struggle (including practice) in order to totally surrender to the Guru.

This becomes very easy if we remember the goal that awaits us if we surrender to the Guru along with remembering where we stand currently with respect to the goal. The goal that awaits us through knowledge from the Guru is eternal bliss (moksha) and the state that we are currently is total misery. We are constantly suffering in this temporary and sorrowful world. We may think we are very happy but all of a sudden one small incident will get triggered which will change our happy state to a sad one instantly. Life isn’t meant to be spent in sorrow or temporary happiness but in eternal bliss as that is our very nature. Only a fool wouldn’t abide in his very nature of bliss and suffer in the sorrows of the illusory world.

The darkness of ignorance causes us to suffer every moment even like normal darkness. Nobody likes darkness as it makes us fear and suffer. When light is switched on we are very happy. Similarly if we are able to surrender to the light of the Guru, then the darkness of ignorance which causes sorrows and sufferings will vanish paving way for eternal bliss to pervade our lives. But in order to do this, we have to surrender to the light of Guru. Even if the Guru doesn’t have a pretty form; even if the Guru always scolds us; even if the Guru doesn’t speak to us; even if the Guru’s words don’t make much meaning to our limited intellect; even if the Guru seems to behave like a mad person; even if the Guru acts like a utterly worldly person; amidst all these, we have to develop surrender to the Guru because



wherever surrender is there (surrender to the Guru, not surrender to any worldly person), we will be able to get rid of all delusions and sorrows.

Daivi hi eshaa gunamayee mama maayaa duratyayaa Maameva ye prapadhyanthe maayaam etaam taranthi te

My divine power of Maya based on the three gunas (sattva, rajas and tamas) is very tough to conquer; but those who surrender completely unto me, they cross over this ocean of Maya very easily.

A Guru as we saw earlier isn’t just like any other human being but the Guru is one with Brahman; thus the Guru controls the illusory power of Maya. If we develop surrender to the Guru, the Guru can remove the illusory power of Maya thereby making us ever rejoice in bliss even as a magician can remove his magical illusion so that we aren’t affected by it.

Sarva dharmaan parityajya maam ekam sharanam vraja Aham tvaa sarva paapebhyo mokshayishyaami maa shuchah

Renounce all dharmas (everything – all activities) and seek me alone; I will rescue you from all sins, do not worry.

The above isn’t a mere statement of the Lord in Gita but it is something that the Lord has kept each and every time not just in puranic stories but in seeker’s lives too. If we are ardent seekers, we can definitely experience the grace of the Lord falling upon us and protecting us whenever we are facing sorrow in the world.

Until we see the next sloka of Guru Gita in the next month, let us try to develop some surrender to the Guru (if we don’t have one, then we can consider Vedanta or Sankara as our Guru) so that we will be able to overcome sorrows very easily through knowledge imparted by the Guru and thereby ever rejoice in bliss.



Avasthaa Trayam

Mukhya Vishayam

Analysis of experiences and trying to understand experiences fully is something that has been done since ages. Today we call people who do such researches as scientists – ancient scriptures term such scientists as rishis. The difference between these rishis and current day scientists is that current day scientists analyze the external world and the external world alone whereas rishis go beyond the world and into the substratum of the world (which is the underlying Self pulsating inside each one of us as “I-exist, I-exist”). Rishis don’t stop with the external world or the inner instruments of mind, intellect etc. but they go beyond that to figure out the real source of happiness, the real source of existence, the reality which is the basis of the temporary and changing world.

When we try to analyze our experiences, generally science stops only with the external world and at times the dream world (which we experience every day). But science doesn’t figure out the relationship between the waking world and the dream world – also science completely ignores the third state of dreamless deep-sleep which is very vital in figuring out our true nature of Self or Brahman.

The analysis of one entire day (24 hours) is enough to come to a conclusion about life in itself as a day repeats itself over and over again. This analysis of one entire day is termed in Vedanta as analysis of avasthaa trayam (three states). When we try to analyze an entire day, we find that we experience three different and distinct states in a span of 24 hours. The three states are the waking state, dream state and dreamless deep-sleep state. Every person in the world goes through these states – the duration of each state might vary but there is no exception to this except for realized masters who are in the fourth state of turiya (more about this a little later).

Let us try to analyze the three states so that through this analysis we will be able to realize the source of eternal bliss (as bliss is what we have been and are seeking each and every moment of our lives). The state where we will rejoice in bliss each and every moment is termed as moksha or realized state – it is this state that a seeker should always strive to achieve. A seeker who seeks this state of moksha is termed a mumukshu (one who desires moksha) – unless we knowingly seek moksha, we will not be benefitted with the fruit of



moksha which is eternal bliss. Most of the people in the world don’t know that they are seeking happiness and they seek happiness in the temporary-changing world. The temporary changing world is sorrowful as it is changing constantly. Thus seeking happiness in the external world, people suffer. This suffering isn’t just for one birth but it continues for many births until somehow a person starts understanding the true purpose of life as eternal bliss. Then starts the search of eternal bliss – it is such a seeker who comes to a spiritual master and figures out that Vedanta (and realizing the ultimate reality of Brahman) is the way to get eternal bliss.

Let us as ardent seekers of Vedanta, get a good grasp of the three states so that we may be able to go beyond these three and ever rejoice in bliss in the fourth state of constant abidance in Brahman.

Waking State – Jagrat Avasthaa The first state that we experience is the current state we are in (unless somebody reading this magazine is sleeping). Waking state is where we experience the external gross world. The gross world consists of sense objects and these objects are apprehended with the help of the inner equipments of mind, intellect, ego and memory along with the external instruments of sense organs of perception and action. Sense organs are the paths through which we apprehend objects from a perspective of sight, touch etc.

The external world as we see is constantly changing. Each and every moment things are changing. Science doesn’t disagree with this notion today as science also says that with each moment molecules, atoms etc. are moving causing changes in not only the world but also the physical body (cells die each moment and new ones take birth in their place). That which constantly changes cannot give us constant happiness – this is very simple to understand. Anything that changes can only give us temporary happiness as long as the object doesn’t change. The moment the object changes, it will cease to give us happiness. The car which gave us happiness when we bought it initially doesn’t give us the same amount of happiness after an year of usage. After few years, the car stops working fine and thus it longer gives us any happiness but only gives us sorrow. This applies to not just objects but people as well. Our son who gives us immense bliss when he is an infant ceases to give us the same amount of happiness in his youthful days. Once the kid grows and decides to marry a person he loves, then no longer does the son give us happiness; instead



he only gives us sorrow. Thus the changing objects and people which we collectively call as the world cannot give us happiness.

What about our physical body? We already saw that the physical body also changes each and every moment like the external world. And hence it is also a source of sorrow. When we are young, the body gives us immense bliss because it is fit but as we grow older, the body grows older (“we” growing old is because of our identification with the body – “we” or “I” never grow old as “I” remain the same from day 1 till death day). When the body is old, it doesn’t have enough strength and power but only gives us trouble every other day. Thus it becomes a source of sorrow and ceases to be a source of happiness. Thus the physical body ultimately is a source of sorrow though it may take us an entire life-time to realize it and when we do realize it, it is too late and time to give up this body. We take up a new body and again continue this delusion of thinking that the body is a source of happiness. This continues for many births until we use our intellect properly to assert that the body is definitely a source of sorrow.

Just because Vedanta says that the world is a source of sorrow doesn’t mean we should just ignore this body or trouble it or that we shouldn’t interact with objects and go to a cave and meditate. The knowledge that the world is a source of sorrow will keep us alert and we will never make us get deluded into expecting happiness from the world. If we know that the road is going to be slippery, we don’t stop driving but we will drive carefully. We don’t stop using pressure cookers just because it can burst if more water is put – we use it with caution. Similarly the knowledge that the world is a source of sorrow will keep us alert at all times – knowledge that the world is a source of sorrow will not make us depend on the world for happiness. Worldly activities will be performed with an attitude wherein we don’t depend too much from the world – we know it changes and thereby apprehending it we will continue performing actions. It is when we expect a lot out of our actions and interactions with the world that the world becomes a source of sorrow. The knowledge about the world being a source of sorrow means we anticipate it to give us sorrow – this anticipation itself means we are aware of its nature thus we will cease to become sad with the world. When we know that our son will one day definitely leave us, we will be able to remain happy when the son is with us and when the son is not with us too.

There are many desires that aren’t fulfilled in the waking state through worldly experiences. Desires require a lot of effort and a balance in our bank account of karma or action. The



actions that we do will give us positive or negative fruit depending on the action itself. Positive means it will give us happiness (temporary happiness) and negative means it will give us sorrow. Actions are obviously propelled by desires. Desires need not be fulfilled completely because we may have some fruits already stored up previously – unless those are nullified our actions will not bear fruits. Action and fruit is something which is very tough to understand (gahanaa karmano gatih – deep is the flow of karma) – it is better to know that desires leads to actions and actions make us do more and more actions. As Vidyaranya beautifully puts it, man does actions for enjoyment and he enjoys to do more actions – desires never end (putting an end to desire by enjoying them is like trying to extinguish fire by pouring ghee into it – the more it will burn when ghee is poured). The way to get rid of action is through knowledge that any action will not take us to the state of eternal bliss – only knowledge of our true nature of blissful Self will give us eternal bliss.

Dream state – Svapna Avasthaa The desires that aren’t fulfilled in the waking state require a medium where they can be fulfilled. Thus comes the second state of dream – this “fulfillment of desire” is just one of the purposes of the dream state.

Dream state is wherein the dreamer himself becomes the creator and the created dream world. Here there are no gross objects but everything is subtle and in the mind. The dream state is propelled by the waking state and its latent tendencies (or addictions created in the waking state – jaagaritha samskaara janyam svapnam).

Here a person gets his own wishes and desires fulfilled. There are no set rules in dream world – everything happens as we or our mind wants.

Though this state continues for a period of time, once a person wakes up he realizes that there never was a dream world or dream world experiences – the dream world along with its objects and experiences was just an illusion in the dreamer.

Vedanta says that dream state is a replica of the waking state. Both are very similar and an analysis of dream state should make us conclude that the waking world is as illusory (not existing at all but temporarily seeming to exist) as the dream world. Even as the dream world is an illusion in the dreamer, similarly the waking world is just an illusion in the waking person of Brahman or Self.



Dream world continuously changes and so does the waking world too. Dream world has its own purposes and so does the waking world. Dream world experiences appear as real when we are experiencing them but is realized to be unreal after waking up (svakaale sathyavad bhaathi, svabodhe satyasad bhavet); similarly the waking world also appears very real now but once we realize the substratum of the changing waking world to be Brahman then we will realize that the waking world doesn’t exist at all.

We may argue that dream world doesn’t have any rules whereas waking world has – we are completely wrong here. There are no rules for waking world too. How many times have seen nature breaking all the rules of the waking world through tsunamis, hurricanes, tornados etc.? The waking world is an illusion and hence defies all rules. One day we see our friend and talk with him; the very next day he vanishes and dies.

Thus the more and more we analyze the dream world, we will realize that the dream world is a perfect analogy for the waking world. If we are able to come to this conclusion sooner then we will no longer be affected by the waking world.

So the knowledge that the waking world is sorrowful and unreal will make us remain unaffected by the activities of the waking world. Most of the times we get affected by the waking world and these are what makes us suffer every moment of our life. The same waking world is experienced by an ajnaani and a jnaani. An ajnaani sees and considers the world as real, thereby suffers; whereas a jnaani sees the world as filled in and out by the ultimate reality of Brahman (even as the dream world is filled in and out by the dreamer, same way) and hence considers the world of duality as an illusion of names and forms (even as various gold ornaments are just names and forms of gold) thereby making him ever rejoice in bliss irrespective of the state the external world is in.

Thus to put it in brief, waking and dream are very similar. Dream world is an experience given to us in order to realize that the waking world we experience is similar to the dream world. This should in turn make us seek the ultimate reality of Brahman as the substratum of the ever-changing waking world.



Deep sleep – Sushupthi Avasthaa Now since we know that the waking world is an illusion like dream world, next it remains understanding and way to attain the goal of Brahman. Though it is right that Brahman is inexpressible in words and thoughts, yet we can give an impression about the goal of Brahman from an empirical stand point. This is where sushupthi state helps us. Sushupthi serves two purposes for a spiritual seeker – one it shows us as to how the state of moksha would be and second it makes us realize our very nature of witness Brahman (witness “I” of the three states of waking, dream and deep sleep).

In Sushupthi when duality temporarily merges, we do experience immense bliss which stays for the entire period of sushupthi. This shows that duality being considered as real is the cause of problem as when duality ceases to exist there is no sorrow. Duality can never cease to exist permanently because duality doesn’t even exist. The water that doesn’t exist in desert (mirage) cannot be removed – we can just know that water doesn’t exist at all (knowledge that water is just an illusion and not real). Similarly the knowledge that duality doesn’t exist will make us unaffected to the illusory sorrows caused out of duality.

When duality merges, we have only “I” present in sushupthi and this “I” experiences bliss. Since there is nothing apart from “I”, therefore it is apt to conclude that this “I” is bliss in nature. Since this blissful “I” is related with the other two states, it can only mean that “I” moves from one state to another but without getting affected by the states (thinking that the states and activities in the states affects us is due to ignorance).

Then comes the question of what differentiates sushupthi from moksha – Vedanta says that sushupthi has a veil of ignorance and hence awareness is not there while experiencing bliss (as we wake up and say “I slept well but didn’t know anything”). This ignorance since is there when we go into sushupthi state, therefore when we come out it the ignorance continues in its effect form (the waking and dream worlds). If we are able to have an awareness or knowledge filled sushupthi (termed as jagrat sushupthi by Ramana Maharshi and AMMA) then that is moksha wherein we are always aware of our very nature of bliss, the world is an illusion and we are just a mere witness to the three states.

Brahman – avasthaa traya saakshi – turiya avasthaa Brahman or “I” that pulsates inside us as “I-exist, I-exist” is the witness of the three states of waking, dream and deep sleep. If we analyze these three states, there is an “I” which



changes in each of these states (experiences different worlds). But still we are able to relate the three states through “I who dreamt yesterday, am now awake” – this means there is another “I” which is constant in all three states. Constant in all three states means it is just a witness to the three states. The witness “I” is Brahman or Self and the changing “I” is the Ego – the mix of these two is what Vedanta terms as adhyaassa or superimposition which is removed through knowing “I” as witness Brahman.

This witness goes through these three states but without getting tainted even the least by the activities in these states. Brihadaranyaka Upanishad gives a beautiful analogy to show this. The Self or “I” is a big fish going in a very wide river. At times, this fish goes nearby to one shore and at times nearby to the other shore. At other times, it goes in the middle of the river. When it goes by one shore, it witnesses people doing pooja and while going by the other shore, it witnesses few people killing others. But it remains a mere witness to the activities of each shore. The shores represent waking and dream state whereas the state wherein the fish doesn’t witness any activities on the shores and is in the middle represents the state of sushupthi.

Thus analyzing a seeker has to contemplate on his very nature of witness Brahman – which is the witness of the illusory activities of the illusory states of waking, dream and deep sleep. This state wherein a seeker merges unto Brahman and abides as witness Brahman is called the fourth state (fourth because it comes next to the three states) of turiya (moksha). This isn’t a state but it is the basis of the other three states. It alone exists at all times. But most of are ignorant of this state of turiya and hence get deluded into the other three states even as a person who doesn’t know the water in desert to be desert gets deluded into the water.

Constantly remembering that “I” am Brahman and a mere witness to the activities of the three states will make us ever rejoice in bliss rather than getting affected by the sorrows and sufferings of the three states. Mandukya Upanishad is the Upanishad that speaks briefly on the three avasthaas and Gaudapada’s Karikas explains this in depth. More on this in the “Upanishad Prachaaram” section of this issue. May this brief analysis of the three avasthaas make us ever abide in the blissful state of turiya in this very birth itself.



Sankshiptha Vedanta

Hardly we find any short Vedanta work that encompasses entire Vedanta in very crisp, beautiful and logical words. One such work is the Dakshinamurthy Astakam of Sankaracharya. This is a work (as the name goes) that has 8 eight slokas in total plus one sloka about implementation of Vedanta and another with phalashruthi (fruit achieved by learning and implementation of the work). Let us try to see a very brief overview of this beautiful yet short work of Sankara.

Dakshinamurthy – the compassionate master Chitram vatatharormoole Vriddhaa shishyaah gururyuva Gurosthu maunam vyaakhyaanam Shishyaastu china samshayaah Strange that at the branch of the asvatta vriksha (banyan tree) sits the old disciples of the very young Guru; the Guru preaches through silence and the doubts of the disciples get dispelled completely.

The Guru is one who is very young. Aging is of the body and thus a person who has identification with the body will age whereas a Guru is one who abides as eternal Brahman. That which is eternal is ever young (doesn’t age) – the Guru also is full of power as Brahman has infinite power. Youth means power, energy, bliss etc. – all these can be seen very easily in the Guru. The Guru is one who takes the disciples to his very state. This is where we can differentiate between a true and a false Guru (false Guru who benefits out of the disciple through monetary or other ways). A false Guru will never let the disciple progress lest his benefits are lost. On the other hand a true Guru is one who will make the disciple a Guru or make the disciple realize his very nature of Brahman (the state the Guru himself is in).

The Guru preaches through silence. Silence denotes silencing the thoughts of the mind. Vedanta doesn’t believe in Nirvikalpa Samadhi to be the ultimate goal of moksha – Nirvikalpa Samadhi is as temporary as worldly existence. Vedanta believes in Sahaja Samadhi or natural absorption. This absorption doesn’t necessarily mean negation of the thoughts of the mind. What thoughts can be negated from the illusory mind? If the mind is an illusion, then thoughts are also an illusion. An illusion can never be negated but we can



just know that the illusion doesn’t exist. Once we remember the illusion to be an illusion, then we will not get affected by the illusion. Once a person knows there is no water in desert, even if he runs behind the water (along with other people of the world) he will not become sad as he knows that there is no water at all there. Similarly silencing the thoughts of the mind means knowing the thoughts to be an illusion which cannot taint the reality of Self or “I” which we are at all times. Thus the Guru preaches through silence making us reach the state of the Self and abide as the Self.

Concepts of Vedanta always have multiple faces to it and hence we cannot just go by one aspect alone. If we just go by “silencing the thoughts” as “getting rid of thoughts”, then there wouldn’t be any Gurus as “silencing thoughts” permanently is impossible as long as we seem to be part of the world. The only option for us would be to wait until the world is destroyed during pralaya but then we will have a limited time for enjoyment (as long as we exist because when the world vanishes, we also vanish with it) before the world begins again. Thus knowing the world to be an illusion is as good as negating the world – similar with thoughts too.

The silence way of teaching by the Guru means focusing on Brahman – when focus is on Brahman, there is no duality that thoughts can exist. When everything is proclaimed as one, where is duality and thoughts as everything merges unto that one of Brahman?

Ramana Maharshi also gives this beautiful perspective of Dakshinamurthy’s mounam which also is as per Vedanta’s silence of being Brahman. Dakshinamurthy was approached by the Sanaka sages. He started teaching them. As teaching started, there were doubts that the sages asked Dakshinamurthy. The compassionate master answered all their doubts. But in their place, new doubts got created. Will there be any dearth to doubts even as desires cannot end except though knowledge? No and hence doubts got more and more. An year passed by and still doubts persisted. Seeing that this way of teaching didn’t help much, Dakshinamurthy closed his eyes and went into the state of Brahman. When this happened, the sages also found their mind calming down and found themselves abiding as Brahman. Thus they realized their very nature of Brahman – even as nearby to a magnet, iron pieces will become magnets – same is the case with spiritual masters. But it may take considerable time around a magnet for an iron piece to become a magnet, same with seekers too. Therefore when we are near a spiritual master, initially we find ourselves experiencing bliss but once we go away from them we don’t experience the bliss. This is because we haven’t



yet converted into a magnet – until then, we have to approach such a master again and again all the while doing our sadhana and learning etc. (all these are also essential in order to realize our very nature of Brahman along with Guru’s presence).

Let’s now give Dakshinamurthy, the compassionate master, a rest and get into the work of Sankara. The astakam work is at times called Dakshinamurthy stotram too but since there is another stotram of Dakshinamurthy, it is better to term Sankara’s work as astakam itself. The work has been commented by Sureshwaracharya through his very beautiful Vartika titled Maanasa ullasa (“delight to the mind”). Rama Teertha, the sixteen century advaitin, who has written a lot of vyaakhyaas has written a vyaakhyaa (detailed exposition) to the work. The work along with Sureshwara’s vartika has been commented by Svayamprakaasha Yati (titled Tattvasudha – yati is famous for his commentary of Rasaabhivyanjika on Lakshmidhara’s Advaita Makaranda).

Chinmaya’s English commentary on the astakam is a work worth reading again and again. So is Prof. Balakrishnan Nair’s Malayalam commentary (part of the book titled “Praudaanubhoothi”). Chinmaya while introducing the work says that the concepts of this work is deep that it is to be learnt by seekers who have gone through a few chapters of Gita and a few Upanishads (don’t worry about this much- a seeker with earnest desire will very easily be able to understand this beautiful work of Sankara).

Following Vedanta’s Chandra shaakha nyaaya (wherein a mother shows the nearby branch to the child and through the branch points out the moon – similarly Vedanta points out the nearby world and through the world points out Brahman as the cause-substratum of the world), Sankara begins the work with a very beautiful explanation of the world as an illusion in the Self (Brahman). Sankara compares the world with a town seen in a mirror – the town doesn’t really exist outside but it is seen inside the mind (creation of the mirror of mind). The world is thus inside our mind but it is seen as-if-outside. This is like dream world where everything is inside the mind but seen as-if-outside. And so who is Dakshinamurthy? Dakshinamurthy is one who realizes after waking up from this long dream his very nature of non-dual Brahman in which this illusion of world seemed to exist (even as the dreamer wakes up to realize that there was no dream world whatsoever).

Once the world is defined as an illusion in Brahman, our focus instead of being on Brahman goes on to the miraculous world (this is play of the mind that it seeks explanation about the



world and not Brahman). Sankara being the compassionate master explains as to how the world comes into existence in the second sloka. Here we find the brilliance and focus of Sankara that though he explains about the world and its creation, he still doesn’t miss out telling that the world is an illusion. Even as a tree is dormant inside a seed, similarly this world is dormant inside Brahman. The dormant world comes out with help from Maya through Maya’s time-space-causation. Here itself we can see that “Maya” itself being an illusion, the creation of the world itself is another illusion. The only reason why this explanation is made is because the seeker requires some explanation about the world and its creation rather than merely terming it an illusion – a seeker later realizes that it is a round-about way that he has taken in order to reach Brahman (as the substratum of the illusory world). Sankara gives two examples to illustrate as to how the world is created out of Brahman – it is like a magician creating a magical world and a yogi creating a new world out of his mental power (vishwamithra creating a trishanku svarga).

In the third sloka, Sankara gets to Brahman by giving its characteristics of Consciousness and the mahavakya of TAT TVAM ASI (That Thou Art) which will make us realize our very nature of Brahman. Sankara also beautifully gives the Vedantic concept that once a person realizes Brahman, then there is no more getting deluded even as a person who knows there is no water in desert will never get deluded by seemingly existent water.

In the fourth sloka, Sankara says yet again beautifully that the entire world seems existent because of the light of Consciousness (the mundaka Upanishad statement of “na tatra sooryo bhaathi” can be remembered here). This shows clearly that everything is dependent on Brahman and without Brahman no world, whether it is illusory or unreal, exists. This is the anvaya vyatireka yukthi to prove that Brahman or Consciousness is independent whereas the world is dependent on Brahman. Even as a variable which is dependent on a constant for its existence is just an illusion in the constant, similarly the world is just an illusion in Brahman (and Brahman alone exists).

If we ask as to why this simple concept that “there is only Brahman and I am Brahman” isn’t realized by many, the one-word answer is Maya. This Maya deludes many people is what Sankara says in the 5 th sloka. This delusive power of Maya is very tough indeed to conquer but a seeker who is able to surrender unto Brahman by remembering that Brahman alone exists here will very easily conquer Maya.



Vedanta cannot be properly understood without analyzing the three states of waking, dream and deep sleep, in particular the deep sleep wherein we remain as the Self (as the Ego along with duality temporarily vanishes). “Prathyabhijnaa” or “recognition” is a logical term used to prove that “I am blissful Brahman”. We recognize or recollect that “I who slept blissfully am now awake” – this means that “I” is same in both. Hence it proves that “I” devoid of any attachment to the external world is one with blissful Brahman. This is explained by Sankara in the sixth sloka.

In the seventh sloka, Sankara says that irrespective of whatever states we are in; irrespective of whatever afflictions we have; we are ever one with Brahman as Brahman alone exists at all times and we do experience Brahman as pulsating inside us in the form of “I-exist, I-exist”. An ardent seeker who implements Vedanta through worship or contemplation of Brahman will be able to get visions of bliss while progressing towards Brahman (more bliss will be emanating from the person; more peaceful will be mind etc.).

In the eighth and final sloka, Sankara says that duality is also relative. Everything that we see in this world is relative (relativity theory) whereas “I” am Brahman which is absolute. Relativity can only mean illusion as it is like trying to figure out whether hen came first or egg came first. When a person realizes his very nature of absolute Brahman, all relations end (even Guru-shishya relation too).

Sankara then gives the vision of oneness in the 9 th sloka as a sadhana for Vedanta. This is also known as asta murthy dhyaanam or bhajanam (eight-form dhyaana) considering this entire world as one Brahman (everything being different aspects of Brahman). When a seeker sees everything as one Brahman, then he realizes that there is no duality whatsoever (neha nana asthi kinchana – there is no duality whatsoever here).

Sankara ends the work with the phalashruthi that whoever goes through this work and implements it in their lives, they will realize the ultimate reality of Brahman – so what to speak about the siddhis like anima, garima etc. (eight siddhis)?

May this very brief overview of this beautiful yet deep work of Sankara help us in realizing our very nature of blissful Brahman and rejoice in bliss in this very birth itself.




Gita 12.2 Mayi aaveshya mano ye maam nityayukthaa upaasathe Sraddhayaa parayopethaah te me yukthatamaa mataah

Word Meaning:

Ye – those who Mayi aaveshya manah – fix their mind unto me, Nityayukthaa maam upaasathe – worship me with steadfastness (constantly), Sraddhayaa paryopethaah – (and) consider me as the ultimate goal of life; Te – they Yukthatamaa mataah – are great devotees, this is my view.

Total Meaning: Those who fix their mind (surrender their mind) unto me, worship me continuously and consider me as the ultimate goal of life, I consider them as great devotees.

Explanation People who think just visiting temples or daily chanting some prayers or discussing the stories of Ishwara is devotion need to take a pause and learn the above definition of devotion by the Lord in the 12 th chapter of Gita (titled Bhakthi Yoga).

The above definition is a very perfect and complete definition of Bhakthi or devotion (Narada simplifies this by telling that one who offers all actions to Ishwara and becomes sad when Ishwara is forgotten meaning never forgets Ishwara is a true devotee). Firstly understanding the above definition of bhakthi or characteristics of a true bhaktha would help us by removing our wrong notions about bhakthi; and secondly we will then be able to strive to become a true bhaktha rather than a pseudo bhaktha that many of us are.

Bhakthi isn’t some time-pass activity wherein we remember the Lord whenever we have time or whenever we need some help from the Lord. Doesn’t the Lord become like a pet (no disregard for pets meant here) when we visit the Lord once a day and offer things to him at that particular time alone? Doesn’t the Lord become like work wherein we do something for a period of time in order to earn some money? The Lord is bliss in nature and can give



us that bliss forever. Thus trying to limit the unlimited Lord to time or space or requests is in fact a disgrace to the Lord. Of course the compassionate Lord wouldn’t mind even such devotees as they also seek the Lord (unlike many who don’t even seek the Lord – again not my words, the Lord says so in the 7 th chapter of Gita “udhaaraa sarva eva ete’). But it is bad on our part if we go to Bill Gates or Ambani brothers and ask for one rupee! Similar is the case when we just seek the Lord for petty worldly pleasures which cannot give us eternal bliss, that which we have been and are seeking every moment of our lives. Let us try to split the above sloka of Gita into 3 distinct characteristics which if we are able to achieve would make us a true devotee who will ever rejoice in bliss in contemplation of the non-dual reality of Lord.

Mayi aaveshya manah - fixing your mind unto me “Fixing our mind unto Ishwara” might seem to be very easy but it isn’t that easy to implement. How many times in a day do we fix our mind completely on Ishwara? Not even when we visit the temple or do our daily routine puja – even during those times we are worried about whether we will return from the temple in time, whether we will be late for office, whether the person in front will block our view, whether the pujari does arati at the right time etc. While waiting for the arati itself we will be wondering as to why the pujari is taking longer than usual rather than patiently waiting for the pujari to finish the puja. Thus our mind is not fixed on Ishwara but it is just gracing through Ishwara while brooding on many other things.

We have to start by fixing our mind completely on Ishwara (remembering Ishwara to be the ultimate goal of life which is the third characteristic given by the Lord will help us focus completely on Ishwara) whenever we get time. Even if it is once a day that we remember Ishwara, we have to put everything into Ishwara at that time. Nothing should distract us from remembering Ishwara at that time. This means we have to give importance to Ishwara – mostly importance is given to other things in life rather than Ishwara (or other things become more important than Ishwara). If we don’t give utmost importance to Ishwara, then we may get some petty worldly pleasures from Ishwara but not eternal bliss – this is because Ishwara requires utmost attention from us in order to purify us of ignorance and make us realize our very nature of bliss.

Draupadi wasn’t able to get any help from Krishna when Dusshasana was taking off her clothes. This was because she was holding onto one end of the saree with one hand while



calling out the Lord with the other hand. It wasn’t until she let go of the one hand as well and called Krishna with both hands that Krishna helped her out. “Calling out with both hands” means total attention on Ishwara or “fixing the mind unto Ishwara”.

AMMA gives this beautiful story about baala Krishna to illustrate what might happen if we don’t give our full attention to Ishwara. Once Yashoda was feeding Krishna who was very hungry. But she remembered that she had kept some milk for boiling and hence left hungry Krishna there in order to turn off the boiling milk. When she returned, she found that Krishna (who was hungry) had spilled all the ghee in the house. Worrying about two glasses of milk Yashoda forsook Krishna and thereby had to pay a higher price. If we forsake Ishwara by not putting our full attention then we will lose a lot in our lives (what more can we lose than just suffering in sorrow while our very nature is bliss?).

Nityayuktha upaasanaa – steadfast worship Many people remember Ishwara with full attention while in temples or daily puja but they don’t remember Ishwara at all times. The end result for such seekers also is sorrow alone. It is essential to remember the Lord at all times which is “steadfast worship”. Whenever we remember Ishwara who is bliss in nature (with full attention), we will get immense bliss. But unless we constantly remember Ishwara, we will not be able to rejoice in bliss at all times. When the thought of Ishwara never leaves our mind and we are naturally remembering Ishwara, then we will be able to rejoice in bliss (or moksha anandam).

Thus being steadfast with respect to fixing our mind unto Ishwara is important. This is very easily possible once we learn as to how to fix our mind completely unto Ishwara. First we remember the Lord just once or twice a day. Slowly the times that we remember the Lord increases in a day. This goes on until we remain steadfast in Ishwara at all times. Then even if we want to get rid of the thought of the Lord from our mind, we will not be able to do so as the Lord (or his thought) will refuse to go away from our mind (this is just a joke as no seeker would want to get rid of the Lord from his mind because the thought of the Lord with full attention will give us immense bliss and nobody wants to get rid of bliss).

Being steadfast in Ishwara can also be very easily achieved if we remember the Lord to the ultimate goal of life (in the form of eternal bliss) which is the third characteristic given by the Lord in the gita sloka.



Ultimate goal of life If we consider the Lord as the ultimate goal of life, we will be giving utmost importance to the Lord and his thought in our life/mind. With this vision of the Lord as the ultimate goal of life, we will very easily be able to remember the Lord with full attention and at all times. It becomes easy to consider the Lord as the ultimate goal of life if we remember the Lord to be of the nature of eternal bliss and that the fruit that awaits us if we remember the Lord at all times is bliss untainted by sorrow. This very thought about bliss being goal is enough to persuade and push us towards remembering the Lord at all times without any fail.

Thus the thought of the Lord will always be there in our mind even as the thought about making money through a film becoming a hit is always there in the mind of the producer/director/actor; even as the thought of making more money is always there in the mind of a business and helps him in achieving that goal.

Thus the first and foremost thing we have to achieve in the spiritual path with respect to devotion is giving the Lord the highest priority in our life. This is something most of us lack very much – so much that the Lord isn’t as important as friends, family, work, money etc. if we try to list down things that we want to achieve in life, rarely will we find a person who even has the Lord in the list; and rarer will be the person who will have the Lord as the first item in the list (such rare person is a jeevan muktha, a realized master as he very soon overcomes the delusion of Maya and ever rejoices in bliss). Many of us might have the Lord in our page with list of items but not as an item but as someone who sponsors those items for free or with little bit of tears from our side.

Many people think that the Lord isn’t that intelligent and that they can outsmart the Lord. Sri Sri Ravishankar says that nobody can outsmart the divine; AMMA says that the Lord isn’t ready to make a business where he isn’t benefitted. The Lord is benefitted by getting rid of our ego and by making us realize our very nature of Lord (that he resides inside us). But most of us aren’t willing to get rid of the Ego and hence the Lord gives us worldly pleasures very well knowing that the worldly pleasures will cause us sorrow and thereby make us crave for more; this more pleasure leads to more sorrow and the vicious circle continues over and over again. Thus going from birth to birth we suffer until we realize the importance of the Lord, gain surrender to the Lord, make him the utmost priority in our life, remember the Lord in our mind at all times thereby taking us very soon to the goal of eternal bliss.



Punarapi jananam punarapi maranam Punarapi jananee jatare shayanam Iha samsaare bahudustaare Kripayaa pare paahi muraare

Again birth; again death; again in the womb of the mother; thus this ocean of samsaara is very tough indeed to conquer; those who surrender unto the ultimate reality of Lord (killer of the demon of Mura, meaning killer of our Ego) will be able to apprehend the ever-present grace of the Lord and thereby will cross over sorrow and rejoice in bliss.

May the Lord help us in achieving the goal of eternal bliss through true devotion by making

us true devotees through a proper understanding of the definition of bhakthi and bhaktha

given by the Lord in the above discussed sloka of Gita.

A deeper















Upanishad Prachaaram

We have been seeing minor Upanishads until now in this section. Let us try to see a very brief of the small yet very important major Mandukya Upanishad. A brief of this Upanishad is valid this month because we have already dealt with avasthaa trayam in the Mukhya Vishayam section of this month – Mandukya Upanishad is an Upanishad which deals with the three avasthaas or states and speaks in brief about the fourth state of turiya as well.

Mandukya Upanishad is the shortest among the dasha Upanishads (10 Upanishads commented upon by Adi Sankaracharya which are Isha, Kena, Katha, Prashna, Mundaka, Mandukya, Taittiriya, Aitareya, Brihadaranyaka and Chandogya). It has twelve slokas in total. This Upanishad is part of Atharva Veda. Though it is very small size, in concept it is very deep and a proper understanding of this Upanishad will ensure that a seeker realizes the ultimate reality of Brahman in this very birth itself. Rama when questioned by Hanuman in Muktikopanishad says (when Hanuman asks Rama to reduce from 108 Upanishads as people don’t have enough time) that Mandukya alone is enough for a seeker to attain liberation (mandukyam ekam evaalam mumukshoonaam vimukthaye).

The importance of this Upanishad becomes very clear when we find Gaudapada Acharya (Sankaracharya’s Guru Govindapada’s Guru – Sankara’s Parama Guru) writing an elaborate four chaptered kaarika commentary on it. Sankara also has written an elaborate bhashya on the Upanishad and Karika. This bhashya of Sankara has further been commented upon by Ananda Giri (who has commented on all bhashyas of Sankara) and Anubhootisvaroopacharya (who is considered Ananda Giri’s Guru). Prof. Balakrishna Nair has written a book in Malayalam titled “Gaudapaada Darshanam” where he systematically, progressively and logically explains the concepts put forth by Gaudapaada acharya in the Karika.

To sum it up, this Upanishad is the final Upanishad learnt by a seeker and a thorough understanding of this along with the Karika would instantly bestow upon the seeker liberation from bondage as the seeker would ever rejoice in bliss in contemplation of his very nature of Brahman.

We mentioned in the last issue while explaining Yoga Vasistha that Mandukya Karika is one wherein Ajaathi (or Ajaatha – unborn or no creation of either the world or jeeva) Vaada is



maintained. This itself shows how tough it is really to apprehend either the Upanishad or the Karika.

Mandukya Upanishad starts with equating Brahman with AUM (as AUM is the sound of Brahman – we find similar sloka used by Krishna in the 8 th chapter of Gita).

AUM ithi etat aksharam idam sarvam Tasya upavyaakhaanam Bhootham bhavat bhavishyat Ithi sarvam aumkaara eva Yat cha anyat trikaalaateetham Tadapi aumkaara eva

“AUM” this word stands for immutable Brahman and AUM alone is present everywhere; we will give a brief description (explanation or definition) of AUM; whatever is past, whatever is present and whatever is future – all those are AUM alone; if there is something beyond the three times, that is also AUM alone.

AUM sarvam – Everything is Brahman This is a mahavakya worth contemplating by the seeker as this has the entire truth of Vedanta in it (Sankara splits it into three as Brahma Satyam, Jagan Mithyaa and Jeevo Brahmaiva --- brahma satyam and jagan mithyaa mean that everything is Brahman alone). The world that we currently see is just an illusion of names and forms. It isn’t real as it is constantly changing. That which constantly changes cannot be real (real or eternal is that which exists eternally – that which changes is subject to birth and death and hence cannot be eternal or real). Hence this world is just an illusion – any illusion is just a temporary appearance and in reality is unreal. A perfect example to proving this world to be unreal is the dream world. Though the dream world appears very real when we experience it, it is known as unreal once we wake up from the dream. Even while dreaming also, the dream world is unreal but we just don’t realize it. Similarly this waking world (which is very similar to the dream world) is unreal and appears to be real when we are under the delusion of Maya or ignorance.

If we try to analyze as to whether this world and its creation is possible, we will have to conclude that the world can never be created. Vedanta says that the world has come from



Brahman, stays in Brahman and merges unto Brahman at the time of destruction. Wouldn’t this mean that the world is always Brahman and never anything called “the world” exists? Yes, obviously. Now let’s try to analyze as to whether there is possibility that such an illusion can exist in Brahman. Brahman is eternal, changeless, non-dual and blissful. Since Brahman is changeless therefore it is not possible that Brahman modified itself in order to become the world. Since Brahman is non-dual meaning there is nothing whatsoever apart from Brahman initially (before creation), therefore it is impossible for Brahman to create the world out of something other than itself. Even if we somehow are able to figure out a way for Brahman to create the world, why would blissful Brahman create the world? Any activity requires a desire to propel it (desire to eat propels us to do the activity of work and earn money). But in this case, no activity is possible in Brahman as desires are impossible for Brahman. Desires are impossible for Brahman because Brahman is blissful – desires are in order to enjoy happiness. That which is bliss in nature doesn’t require any temporary happiness through desires. Thus it is impossible for the world to get created out of Brahman – in brief, there is no possibility of creation of the world (even temporary creation of the world). Gaudapada gives this reason about creation impossible through the beautiful multi- faceted words “aapthakaamasya kaa spriha” or “what desires will taint a person who is ever-content or blissful”.

Then why does Vedanta talk about creation of the world? Vedanta talks about creation of the world to lead us from the “known” world to the “unknown Brahman” even as a mother shows the unknown and far moon to her child through a nearby known tree (called Chandra shaakha nyaaya). Vedanta ultimately will negate even the notion that the world is created (and it does in all the Upanishads at a later point whereas in Mandukya it does in the very beginning itself).

Ok, the world is unreal but what about the individual Self of jeeva? Jeeva or individual Self is that which gets identified and associated with objects and people of the world. If the world itself is impossible to get created, the same is with respect to jeeva too. This can only mean that the “I” that pulsates inside us as “I-exist, I-exist” always is one with Brahman and Brahman alone. Gaudapada gives this bold truth as “na kaschit jaayathe jeevah, sambhavo asya na vidhyathe” or “there is no jeeva created and there is no possibility of jeeva being created as well”.



Thus there is no creation of the world or jeeva but Brahman alone exists. Brahman alone exists in the past, present and future. Anticipating an objection that there can be something other than Brahman “beyond time”, the Upanishad says that there is only Brahman beyond time too (if there is something called “beyond time”). Thus everything is Brahman alone or Brahman alone exists.

If Brahman alone exists, then the “I” which pulsates inside me is Brahman and Brahman alone. If a person is able to apprehend this then such a seeker will ever rejoice in bliss (as bliss is his very nature). It is in order to totally negate the “I” from the body-mind-intellect and world that the Upanishad uses the three states of waking, dream and deep sleep. Since this has been dealt in depth in the “Mukhya Vishaya” section, we will just see it in brief.

In all these three states of waking (wherein the external world is apprehend), dream (where a mental creation is experienced) and deep sleep (where no external world is apprehended and no dream is seen too), there is the unchanging “I” of Self along with the changes of the body-mind-intellect and world. Since the common factor among changes is “I”, it is normal to conclude that “I” am changeless amidst the changing states. And this “I” is blissful in nature as we experience bliss in the deep sleep state (we say after waking up that “I slept well”) but there is no awareness during that state due to a veil of ignorance. This veil of ignorance is very subtle and once it changes to gross from subtle, it becomes the dream and waking world (dream world is subtle whereas waking world is gross). It is duality or vision of duality as real that causes sorrow. When there is no duality in deep sleep (na tu tad dviteeyam asthi, anya vibhaktham yad pashyet – since there is nothing apart from the Self in that state, how can something else is seen?), we experience bliss and when there is duality in waking and dream state we experience sorrow. Thus duality is the cause of sorrow. But it cannot be the non-existing duality that is the cause of sorrow (as non-existing duality of world is Brahman and Brahman alone as we proved earlier). This means that our notion about duality being real is the cause of sorrow. We create an impression of the external world in our mind (terming it as real) – if we are able to change this impression of the world being real with world being unreal as duality and real as Brahman (because world also is essentially Brahman as Brahman alone exists), then we will be able to ever rejoice in bliss.



The above is in brief an entire analysis of the Mandukya Upanishad and the Karika. Though the Karika has much more analysis through raising logical doubts and answering them very convincingly, yet the truth discussed in the Karika is what we have discussed above.

Due to fear of getting too much into the small yet deep Upanishad, will stop here with the brief analysis of the Upanishad. Ardent seekers may learn brief explanation of the Upanishad as well as the Karika in order to realize their very blissful nature of Brahman. Swami Paramaarthaananda’s mp3 discourses on Mandukya Upanishad (spanning many cds) is worth going through for a seeker who has some knowledge about Vedanta. Swami Chinmayananda’s commentary on the Mandukya Upanishad and Karika is one of the best available book commentaries in English.

Since nowadays everything can be found online, the Upanishad and the Karika can also be found online (with translations too).

May this brief analysis help seekers to get an overview of the tiniest yet deepest Upanishad in order to realize their very nature of non-dual Brahman which alone exists at all times.

Upanishad Text http://sanskritdocuments.org/all_pdf/maandu.pdf

Karika Text http://sanskritdocuments.org/all_pdf/kaarikaa.pdf

Upanishad and Karika translation http://sankaracharya.org/mandukya_upanishad.php



Raga Varsha

Malkauns Malkauns is a Hindustani Raga (equivalent of Carnatic Raga Hindolam) which provides shaantha and gambheera rasa. It is a very beautiful raga with all the notes predominant ones (rare in this way). Lot of meends can be used with all the svaras thereby giving it a very beautiful touch. It is an audava raga omitting rishabh and pancham. Therefore it is also a raga based on madhyam.

AROHANA SA GA MA DHA NI SA AVAROHANA SA NI DHA MA GA SA LAKSHANA NI SA GA, DHA NI GA SA (shuddha madhyam and all other notes are komal)

FILM SONGS & BHAJANS The first song that comes to mind when talking about Malkauns is the famous Rafi-Naushad song from Baiju Bawra, Man Tar Pat. The song is a semi-classical (can consider it as classical as well) in Malkauns Raga. It is to be noted that we cannot really differentiate much between Carnatic Hindolam and Hindustani Malkauns.



this sloka is explained in “Praadeshikam” section







Hindolam is the janyam ragam of Natabhairavi (20 th Melakartha). It is also considered to be the Janyam of Hanumathodi (8 th Melakartha).

This is an Audava- Audava ragam, Pentatonic in both arohanam and avarohanam. AROHANAM:

S G1 M1 D1 N1 S


S N1 D1 M1 G1 S

Daivatam and Nishadam are the jiva swaras of Hindolam and Madhyamam is the Amasa swara. This raga gives the expresses Veeryam as well as devotion.

Classical songs:

Samaja vara gamana – Swami Thyagaraja Manasuloni Marmamulu – Swami Thyagaraja Nambi Kettavar evarrayya – Papanasam Sivan

Film Songs:

Margazhi Poove – May Maadham Kangalum kavi paadudhe – Adutha veetu penn Om Nama Shivaya – Salangai Oli

Amma Bhajans:

Amba Bhavani nin amboja netrattin


Darshan Dena Rama


Om Namah Shivaya (oru ushasilum)





Thyagaraja Swami Krithi – Samajavara Gamana

Samajavara gamana saadhu hrut sarasabja pala kalatheetha vikhyaata O Lord with a majestic gait like an elephant! O protector of the lotus-like heart of Sadhus, whose fame transcends time.

Saama nigamaja sudhaamaya gaana vichakshana gunasheela dayaalavaala Maam paalaya O Lord who is adept in the nectar-like music born of Sama Veda! O Virtuous one! O ocean of Mercy! Please protect me!

Veda shiro matruja saptaswara nada achala deepa sweekrta Yadava kula murali vaadana vinoda mohanakara thyagaraja vandaneeya You are the immovable illuminator of the Saptasawaras which are born from the Omkara (Veda Shiro Matruja). One who incarnated in the race of Yadu! O player of the flute! O sportive enchanter! O Lord worshipped by Thyagaraja!

This song is set in the Raga Hindolam. This is one of the Sanskrit kritis of Thyagaraja Swami and in this Thyagaraja Swami speaks about Lord Krishna as the Ultimate Reality of Brahman. Lord Krishna many places in Bhagavad Gita has said that He will protect His devotees always (Na me bhaktah pranashyathi – my devotees will never perish). Sadhu is one who always has Lord in his mind not even missing even for a moment. Thyagaraja Swami here says reiterating Lord Krishna’s words in Bhagavad Gita that Lord protects his devotees all the time. What kind of Lord he is? The Lord is one who has transcended time meaning who alone exists in Past, Present and Future and who alone existed before the creation of time and who alone would exist even after destruction of time.

And how can such a Brahman be known? Such a Brahman can be known only through Vedas. Thyagaraja Swami says that Lord is the adept in the nectar-like music born of Sama Veda. Lord is the adept because he is the import of the Vedas and hence pervades all Vedas. All music is from Saama Veda and hence whatever music that is rendered is only Brahman. And he is praying to such a Lord to protect him who is full of compassion.



Upanishads are called Veda Shirah and mother of Upanishads is Omkara which is the source of everything. Om is Brahman. Everything came from Brahman and that Brahman can be symbolized as Om and this Brahman is being spoken about Upanishads or Vedanta. Since Om is the source of everything, it is the source of the Sapta Svaras as well and hence whatever is been rendered as the music which is through the usage of the sapta swaras are also Brahman.

That Brahman, who was born in the clan of Yadavas, who used to play flute and who had a beautiful and attractive form of Lord Krishna, Thyagaraja Swami is offering his prostration. Though Swami spoke about Nirguna Brahman in the earlier stanza, one cannot offer prostrations to Nirguna Brahman. Hence, he symbolizes that Brahman as Lord Krishna enumerating how attractive he is and offers his prostrations.

Thyagaraja Swami Krithi – Dvaitamu sukhama

Dvaitamu sukhama is a song composed by Sri Tyagaraja in reethigowla raaga. Sri Tyagaraja was a highly devotional person who considered that music is a way to experience god’s love. In this song he puts forth the question to the audience as to whether dvaitam or advaitam brings happiness to a person. The answer to the question is seen in the following verses. In this song he brings out the essence of the scriptures. He speaks about the truth which alone when implemented makes a person blissful.

This song is said to be composed around the time when there was a rise of bhakti movement. There was a question about the path to salvation whether its dvaitam or advaitam as proclaimed by vedanta.



dvaitamu sukhamā advaitamu sukhamā1 dvaitamu – duality advaitamu – non-duality sukhama – is or brings happiness? Meaning: Does Dvaitam give happiness or advaitam? What alone gives bliss to a person? Is it dvaitam or considering that Ishwara and the



individual are different? Or the path of advaitam where Ishwara or the paramaatama is the same as the jivaatma or individual self.


caitanyamā2 vinu sarva sākṣi vistāramugānu telpumu nātō (dvaitamu) chaitnyama – pure consciousness vinu – listen srava sakshi – witness of everything vistaramuganu – in a detailed way telupumu nato– tell me Meaning:

O!! Pure consciousness, who is the witness of everything, please listen! He asks the witness of everything which is the pure consciousness to tell him what the truth is?


gagana pavana tapana bhuvanādyavanilō3 nagadharāja śivēndrādi surulalō bhagavad-bhakta varāgrēsarulalō bāga ramiñcē tyāgarājārcita4 (dvaitamu) gagana – sky pavan – wind tapana – fire bhuvana – earth aadi -- etc avanilo – over here on earth nagadharaja – one who bears the wountain i.e Vishnu shivendradi – the lord shiva etc and indra etc. bhagavad – bhakta – devtoee of lord varagreswarulalo – in the most eminent among baga raminchee – very well enjoying tyagarajachrita –in one who is worshipped by tyagaraja Meaning:

Who is present In the sky, wind, fire, earth etc



Who is present in the trinity, indra and gods Who is present in the most eminent devotees of the lord Who is present in the one worshipped by tyagaraja(lord Rama).

Import of the song Does considering duality of the world as true gives us bliss? Or considering everything as one Ishwara in the world give us bliss?

He explains saying that the pure consciousness alone is pervading all the five elements water, fire, wind, space and earth. Ishwara alone is the various forms of gods each one worships, like Shiva Vishnu rama etc. He alone is present in the demi-gods like indra ,varuna etc. He alone resides in his devotee’s heart. The same essence is also present in the one worshipped by Tyagaraja i.e Lord Rama.

Lord Krishna explains in the 7.7 sloka of gita Mattah parataram na anyat kinchit asthi dhananjaya Mayi sarvam idam protam sutre mani gana iva There is nothing apart from me in this entire world. I am alone present in everything like thread of a beads necklace.

Ishwara is alone present in everything in the world. When we consider the Ishwara or deity whom we love as present everywhere in the world instead of confining it to a statue or a form we can get immense bliss. Seeing that form we like as pervading all forms as being present everywhere as engulfing the entire universe gives immense happiness to a person. Dvaitam is when we think the form we worship like the various gods is confined to that form and everything else is different to that form in the world. This thought would lead a person to likes and dislikes. Considering various forms of god different and considering everything present as different from the lord would lead to sorrow. We develop likes, dislkes leading to anger, jealous etc, which gives us sorrow alone. Thus dvaitam or not considering everything as one Ishwara alone who is beyond all names and forms causes only sorrow.

When we consider advaitam as true and when we understand that Iswhara alone is present everywhere in various names and forms and when we try to see the lord alone in everyperson every object and every event in the world we will be filled with joy. When we try to see that the lord is alone playing various roles in various forms, we would be able to



accept everything in life. We would see everything as his play. This would bring peace and contentment to us. Thus visualizing the lord as being all pervading and present everywhere alone brings happiness.

Mundaka Upanishad in second khanda 11 mantra explains the same as below.

brahmaivedam amtam purastād brahma, paścad brahma, dakinataś cottarea,

adhaścordhvaca prastam brahmaivedaviśvam idavariṣṭham.

Brahman is the Vedas and its essence. It is present behind and also in front. It is there in the north and in the south . It is present above and below .He alone is present in the whole world as the supreme self.

Thus the poet brings out deep concepts of hindu philosophy. Thus we see that advaitam alone gives bliss to a person. The poet justifies this by saying that he alone is present as pure consciousness in each and everything in the world.



Kaivalya Navaneetham


Muththanai venkatesha mukundhanai Ennai aatkonda karthanai vaNangi sollum kaivalya navaneedhathai thattva vilakkam enndrum sandhega thelithal endrum vaithu iru padalamaaga vaguthurai seigirene

Word Meaning:

Muthanai – one who has free from all bondages Venkatesha mukundanai – Mukunda who is the lord of mount Venkata Enna aatkonda karthanai – the lord who is ruling me Vanangi – after prostrating to such a Lord Sollum indha kaivalya navaneedhathai – taken up this work of Kaivalya Navaneetham Thattva vilakkam endrum – (which contains) exposition of Truth Sandhega thelithal endrum vaithu – and answering doubt Iru padalamaaga vaguthurai seigirene – (thus) segretaing the work as two sections.


After prostrating to the Lord Venkatesha Mukunda, who is free from all bondages, who is ruler of me, I am starting the work called Kaivalya Navaneetham which contains two sections one to explain the truth and other to clear doubts.

This stanza is from a Tamil work called Kaivalya Navaneetham. We already saw one sloka in the first issue (Aug09). This work is written by Thandavaraya Swamigal.

This sloka is the last sloka in the introductory part of the work. In this sloka the author is offering his prostrations to the Lord before starting the work. Traditionally, any vedantic work would start with a mangala sloka in which the author will offer prostrations to his Guru or Isvara or directly speak about the Nirguna Brahman so that work that is undertaken finishes without any obstacles. In this work, we see swamigal offering prostrations to the Lord Venkatesha, Vishnu. Also, for a student who is learning this work, it is a form of prayer to the Lord so that there are no obstacles for the student in learning this work fruitfully.



Mutthan – ever free from bondage Swamigal is saying that the Lord who is ever free from all bondages. Lord is the substratum of the universe and hence pervades in and out of everything. Bondage is a limitation and since Lord is the substratum of the entire universe, he is infinite and hence there can never be any bondage for the Lord. Lord is all-pervading and all-knowing and such a Lord is ever reveling in the Ultimate Reality of Brahman and hence such a lord is one with Brahman. To such a Lord there is no possibility of any limitation.

Enna aatkonda karthai – The Lord who is ruling me This shows the complete surrender of the Swamigal to the Lord. Swamigal had a desire to write this Vedantic text but though it is a desire in his mind, he is offering that to the Lord. He is calling the Lord as kartha which means doer. Lord who has created this world is the one who is sustaining this world as well. It is because the Lord this whole universe exists. Whatever action and inaction that are happening in this universe is because of the Lord yet the actions never touch the Lord. Swamigal is offering his prostrations to such a lord who is actually going to be the doer of this act of writing this work and swamigal is only an instrument for this act. When there is such a complete surrender, Swamigal wont be affected by the result of the action. Even if this work hadn’t completed, Swamigal would not lose anything, it would have been a great loss for us only.

Tattva vilakam (explanation of the Truth), Sandhegam thelithal (Answering the doubts) He is also giving the topics that he is going to undertake in this work. The subject matter of any vedantic topic is always Brahman. This work of Kaivalya Navaneetham is divided into two sections. In the first section Swamigal speaks about the oneness of the Jivatman with Brahman and hence he calls this part as the Tattva vilakam or explanation of the Truth. Swamigal in the first section progressively explains to a student about Brahman and also shows the way to understand clearly that Brahman to be one’s own nature. After explaining about that tattvam or truth, the student may have some doubts. So in the second section the author answers questions to remove the doubts the student may get after listening to the Truth.

The goal of Vedanta is to make a student who is learning to realize his own nature of Self and the sadhana that the student has to follow is Sravana or listening about the Truth,



Manana or reflection about the truth so that there are no doubts in the mind of the student about the truth and Nidhidhyasana or contemplation. In this work, the first section explains about the truth and thus becomes a Sravana for a student. In the second section, Swamigal himself is answering questions, those questions may very well be in the mind of a student or it also shows the way how to really reflect on the truth so that there remain no doubts in the mind. Once the mind is free from all doubts, the mind automatically contemplates on the truth and when there is constant contemplation naturally that is what is called Moksha or liberation which is the goal of Vedanta.





Adharam madhuram vadhanam madhuram Nayanam madhuram hasitham madhuram Hrudhayam madhuram gamanam madhuram Madhurathipatherakhilam madhuram Sweet are His lips; sweet His face Sweet are His eyes; sweet His smile Sweet is His heart; sweet is His gait; Everything of the Lord of sweetness is sweet and sweet alone.

Vachanam madhuram charitham madhuram Vasanam madhuram valitham madhuram Chalitham madhuram bhramitham madhuram Madhurathipatherakhilam madhuram Sweet are His words; sweet His behavior; Sweet is His attire; sweet His actions; Sweet His conduct; sweet His wandering; Everything of the Lord of sweetness is sweet and sweet alone.

Venurmadhuro renurmadhurah Panirmadhurah paadhau madhurau Nrithyam madhuram sakhyam madhuram Madhurathipatherakhilam madhuram Sweet His flute; Sweet the dust of His feet; Sweet are His hands; sweet are His legs; Sweet His dance; sweet His friendship; Everything of the Lord of sweetness is sweet and sweet alone

Geetham madhuram peetham madhuram Bhuktham madhuram suptham madhuram Roopam madhuram thilakam madhuram Madhurathipatherakhilam madhuram Sweet His song; sweet His drinking;



Sweet His taking food; sweet His sleep; Sweet is His form; sweet is the mark on His forehead; Everything of the Lord of sweetness is sweet and sweet alone.

Karanam madhuram tharanam madhuram Haranam madhuram smaranam madhuram Vamitham madhuram shamitham madhuram Madhurathipatherakhilam madhuram Sweet His deeds; sweet His swimming; Sweet is His robbing; sweet His remembrance; Sweet is His emotional utterance; sweet is His peaceful state Everything of the Lord of sweetness is sweet and sweet alone.

Gunja madhuraa maalaa madhuraa Yamunaa madhuraa veechee madhuraa Salilam madhuram kamalam madhuram Madhuradhipatherakhilam madhuram Sweet are His beads of Gunja; sweet His garland Sweet is the Yamuna; sweet are Her wavelets; Sweet is Her water; sweet Her lotuses Everything of the Lord of sweetness is sweet and sweet alone.

Gopi madhuraa leelaa madhuraa Yuktham madhuram bhuktham madhuram Drushtam madhuram shishtam madhuram Madhuradhipatherakhilam madhuram Sweet are the Gopis; sweet their playful deeds; Sweet is their meeting with the Lord; sweet is their enjoyment; Sweet is their look; sweet is their obedience; Everything of the Lord of sweetness is sweet and sweet alone.

Gopaa madhuraa gaavo madhurah Yashtirmadhuraa srishtirmadhuraa Dhalitham madhuram phalitham madhuram Madhuradhipatherakhilam madhuram



Sweet the cowherds; sweet the cows; Sweet are the sticks; sweet is the creation; Sweet are His exploits over demons; sweet is the fruit thence obtained; Everything of the Lord of Sweetness is sweet and sweet alone.

Madhurashtakam is written by Sri Vallabhacharya(1479-1531). Sri Vallabhacharya was one of the great devotees of the Lord and also one of the great philosophers. In this work of Madhurashtakam Sri Vallabhacharya is praising Lord Krishna in a very detailed way and enjoys that very thought of how sweet it is. The form of Lord Krishna is very attractive and here Sri Vallbhacharya enumerates each aspect of the Lord as sweet. He calls the Lord as Lord of sweet. Sri Vallabhacharya is so devoted that his mind is completely filled with the thought of the Lord Krishna that he is recollecting each and everything about the Lord Krishna, each and everything that is related to Lord Krishna that it can be said that he was mad of the Lord.

Focus of mind is one of the important aspects required for a seeker of liberation. One of the ways of attaining this focus of mind is by meditating on the form of one’s own beloved deity. When a person is able to meditate on his beloved deity to a detailed level as detailed as in this work, such a person will have his mind focused on the Lord. Lord Krishna, whose form has been enumerated in this work, stands for that Ultimate Reality of Brahman. Thus when a person is able to get his mind focused on the form of beloved deity knowing that the form stands for Brahman, it becomes easy for such a seeker to focus on the Nirguna Brahman which is the import of the scriptures and thus will realize his own nature of Self.



Sant Jnaneshwar


Sant Jnaneshwar, also known as Jnanadeva, is one of the great mahatmas of Maharashtra. His work of Jnaneshwari, Marathi commentary on Bhagavad Gita, is a very popular work of Sant Jnaneshwar. Jnanadeva was born in 1275 AD in Alandi, Maharashtra to Vittalpanth and Rukminibai. He was the second son to his parents. He had one elder brother Nivritti, one younger brother Sopan and one younger sister Muktabai, Muktabai being the youngest children. All the 4 children were great spiritual giants at their very young age itself and they all lived only for a short span of time.

Behind the birth of the Jnanadeva and his siblings, there lies a sad story of their parents. In thirteenth century there lived a village accountant called Govindpanth. He had a son named Vittalpanth. Vittalpanth was a very pious person and had lot of interest in leading a spiritual life. He used to visit lot of holy places and had inclination towards taking sanyas. On his way to holy places he happen to meet Shidopanth who wanted to give his daughter in marriage to him. Vittalpanth was not inclined to marry, but due to divine command in a dream, he married Shidopanth’s daughter Rukminibai. Vittalpanth was not happy at all after marriage as he wanted to take to Sanyas. He was very much disgusted with his family life as his wife and his father-in-law didn’t approve his wish to take sanyas. But because of intense liking to lead a spiritual life as Sanyasi, he left for Varanasi and got Sanyasa Deeksha from Swami Ramanand.

Swami Ramanand once went for a pilgrimage from Varanasi to Rameshwaram. On his way to Rameshwaram he passed by Alandi. Rukminibai approached the Swami and prostrated at His feet. Swami saw his sorrowful face and asked what was the matter. Rukminibai told him all that happened about her husband. Swami Ramanand at once understood that it was his new Sanyasi disciple who was her husband. He then cancelled his Rameshwaram trip and went back to Varanasi. He rebuked the Sanyasi disciple and asked him to go back to grihasthashrama and live with his wife. Without speaking a word against his Guru, Vittalpanth left Varanasi and went back to Alandi to live with his wife. From then on the family faced lot of problems because of the villagers.



The Brahmins who lived in Alandi were very orthodox, who didn’t approve Vittalpanth coming back to Grihasthashrama after taking Sanyasa deeksha. The whole village treated the family very badly and hence Vittalpanth and his wife had to live like a outcastes in the Village. Vittalpanth and Rukminibai then had 4 children: Nivritti (1273), Jnanadeva (1275), Sopan (1277) and Muktabai (1279).

Once, Vittalpanth and his children went to a temple near Nasik. On their way to the temple, a tiger came on their way. To escape from the tiger Vittalpanth hurried away with his children except Nivritti. Nivritti lost his way and finally entered a cave. In the cave, he met a Yogi named Santh Gahinath. The Saint saw in Nivritti a great potential Yogi. He taught Nivritti all the great mysteries of Yoga and Nivritti also grasped everything in one week. After several days Nivritti went back home and taught those yogic sadhanas he learnt to Jnanadeva. Both Nivritti and Jnanadeva learned scriptures from their father.

When Vittalpanth’s sons reached their boyhood he wanted to conduct the sacred thread ceremony for them. He went and approached the Brahmins of the village and none of them was ready to conduct the ceremony. They said that as per scriptures Sacred thread ceremony cannot be conducted to the boys because they were born to a Sanyasi. They also told Vittalpanth that if he and his wife sacrifice their lives in the triveni sangam of Prayag, this sin will go away. On listening to this, Vittalpanth and Rukminibai sacrificed their lives at the Triveni Sangam of Prayag. After the death of their parents, Jnanadeva along with his brothers went to the Brahmins again asking them conduct the Sacred Thread ceremony to fulfill the desire of their parents for which they have sacrificed their lives. On seeing these helpless children the Brahmins took pity on them and asked them to get a letter of authorization from the learned Brahmins of Paithan.

Jnanadeva and his brothers then went to Paithan to meet the learned Brahmins. They started reciting the Vedas in front of them, the learned Brahmins at once stopped them and said that they are not eligible to recite the Vedas. Jnanadeva said that anyone can recite Vedas and pointing to a buffalo standing nearby said that even this buffalo can recite the Vedas. He then touched the buffalo and the buffalo started reciting the Vedas from the point Jnanadeva left and chanted for about an hour. Brahmins at once understood that these are not ordinary children. Though they acknowledged the greatness of these children, they refused to conduct the Sacred Thread ceremony for them.



Jnanadeva wrote a commentary on Bhagavad Gita in Marathi and he completed that work in a place called Newasa in Mahalayadevi Temple in the year 1290. He had a very ardent disciple named Satchidananda Bhava. Jnanadeva cured Satchidananda Bhava from an incurable disease and from then on he became a very ardent disciple of Jnanadeva. Nivritti, who was the Guru of Jnanadeva, asked him to write a work explaining about the experience of Jnana. Jnanadeva heeding to the wish of his brother/Guru and wrote a work called Amritanubhava which has the experience of Jnana in 800 couplets.

Jnanadeva had complete control of everything around him from living to inanimate objects. He showed lot of miracles whenever required that he possess yogic powers as well. Making a buffalo recite Vedas itself is a great miracle. Once there lived a yogi called Chang Dev. His age was 1400. He possessed lot of yogic powers like sustaining his body for thousands of years, controlling the even the wildest of animals etc. He heard about Jnanadeva also possessing lot of yogic powers. He wanted to meet Jnanadeva and hence Chang Deva along with 3000 disciples went to Jnanadeva riding a tiger with a serpent as whip. Jnanadeva sitting on a wall saw Chang Deva coming with all the Pomp and Show. He then asked the wall to move towards Chang Deva and stood in front of him saying that “Oh Sir! I came just to welcome you.” On seeing such a miracle of making an inanimate thing to move, Chang deva’s felt humiliated. He then fell at the feet of Jnanadeva and then became a disciple of him. Muktabai, Jnanadeva’s younger sister, who was only 18 then instructed the 1400 year old man about what has to be done in order to attain liberation.

Jnanadeva at the age of twenty two attained Sanjivana Samadhi or Samadhi while living. Through his yogic power, he attained Samadhi and gave up his body about the end of October 1296. Its been believed that whoever learns Bhagavad Gita sitting near Jnanadeva’s Samadhi will get all their doubts cleared. His brothers and sister as well didn’t live long, they also left their physical body in a span of eight months after Jnanadeva’s Samadhi. Sopan attained Samadhi on the banks of the river Karha near Pune, Muktabai dissolved herself into five elements at the age of 18 when there was a big storm, Nivritti entered into Samadhi at Tryambak which is at the source of the Godavari.



Sanskritha shiksha

Pronunciation of Alphabets

Depending on the place/organs of pronunciation, alphabets are classified into groups.


Place of Pronunciation

Common Name for alphabets




Sanskrit English






A, k vgR, h, >,





#, c vgR, y, z,





\, q vgR, r, ;,





¦, t vgR, l, s,





%, p vgR,





m!, ', |, [, n, m,

When we move from 'ka' group to 'pa' group, the place from which the alphabet is pronounced moves from the throat to the lips progressively (observe from the table) (from throat to palate to roof of mouth to teeth and finally lips).



WORD (zBd>zBd>zBd>zBd>) (sound)

We saw in the last section that words are of two types:

1. sawRk

2. inrwRk

Nirarthaka words or sounds are those which are meaningless for us (whistle of a cooker, birds chirping, croaking of a frog etc). Saarthaka words or sounds are those which are meaningful to us, human beings. Our focus is on the saarthaka words. Words are a combination of two or more alphabets. General basic simple classification of words in Sanskrit

1. xatu (Root)

2. pdm!

3. AVyym! (Indeclinable)

(Nouns and Verbs)

We need not worry what these are. As we progress, slowly we will enter into these in detail. Just to give a bird's eye view of these: Most of the nouns and all verbs are formed from the roots. There are 1944 roots according to Panini's (One of the main grammarians of Sanskrit) Dhaatu Paatha (Text book containing all the roots and their different formations). Other than these, some more roots also exist. And so there are 2400 roots altogether. An Indeclinable is that word which is there just like that in Sanskrit Grammar. They don't undergo any change under any circumstance.

Just as idli, dosa, puttu (famous malayali breakfast) etc are made from the same raw material, rice; similarly from a root, nouns and verbs can be formed. One example is given. (An indeclinable is not derived from root but is just there as such in Sanskrit Grammar).


2. Noun ram (one who revels in bliss) ; Verb rmte (revels). Both these (noun



(to revel)

and verb) are formed from the same dhaatu (rm!).

3. Examples for AVyym! = c (and), Aw (now, hereafter), At> (therefore),



Just go through the following table and observe the terminologies.







A boy


Two boys



A boy

Two boys



bal> nmit,


balaE nmt>,


bala> nmiNt,






You two


You all



You two

You all


Tv< nmis,


yuva< nmw>,


yUy< nmw,






We two




We two



Ah< nmaim,

I prostrate.

Aava< nmav>,


vy< nmam>,

We prostrate.

Note this table. We will refer to it often. The details of the table will be explained in the next section. I think we have seen lot of technical jargon in this section. So enough for this month. Happy x'mas and happy new year. Exercise

Pronounce all the alphabets and just try to see from where the sound is coming (take the help of the table given in this section). It is interesting.

Answers to the previous section exercise

zBd>, }anI, mU;k>, kayR>, äü, gué, k«pa, l][m!, keNÔibNÊ, A]r>,

sýaiÔ>, pKv>, ijþa, à’ad>, Ai¶>, ïIpit>, àî>, pa{fv>, AkR>, vôm!,

zBd> = z! + A + b! + + A>, }anI = }! + Aa + n! + $, mU;k> = m! + ^ + ;! + A + + A>,

kayR> = + Aa + + y! + A>, äü = b! + + A + + m! + A, gué = g! + % + + %,

k«pa = + \ + p! + Aa, l][m! = l! + A + ]! + A + [! + A + m!,

keNÔibNÊ = + @ + n! + + + A + b! + # + n! + + %, A]r> = A + ]! + A + + A>,

sýaiÔ> = s! + A + + y! + Aa + + + #>, pKv> = p! + A + + v! + A>,



ijþa = j! + # + + v! + Aa, à’ad> = p! + + A + + l! + Aa + + A>, Ai¶> =A + g! + n! +


ïIpit> =z! + + $ + p! + A + t! + #>, àî> =p! + + A + z! + n! + A>,

pa{fv> = p! + Aa + [! + + A + v! + A>, AkR> = A + + + A>, vôm! = v! + A + s! + t! +

+ A + m!,


çabdaù = ç + a + b + d + aù | jïäné = + ä + n + é | müñakaù = m + ü + ñ + a + k + aù | käryaù = k + ä + r + y + aù | brahma = b + r + a + h + m + a | guru = g + u + r + u | kåpä = k + å + p + ä | lakñaëam = l + a + + a + ë + a + m | kendrabindu = k + e + n + d + r + a + b + i + n + d + u | akñaraù = a + + a + r + aù | sahyädriù = s + a + h + y + ä + d + r + iù | pakvaù = p + a + k + v + aù |

jihvä = j + i + h + v + ä | prahlädaù = p + r + a + h + l + ä + d + aù | agniù =a + g + n + iù | çrépatiù =ç + r + é + p + a + t + iù | praçnaù =p + r + a + ç + n + aù | päëòavaù = p + ä + ë + ò + a + v + aù| arkaù = a + r + k + aù | vastram = v + a + s + t + r

+ a + m |



Sanatana Dharma Sameeksha - snatnsnatnsnatnsnatn xmRxmRxmRxmR smI]asmI]asmI]asmI]a

God stands for Generator, Organizer and Destroyer. The infinite Brahman manifests itself through upadhis (instruments) these roles. Respectively it gets the names Brahma, Vishnu and Siva. In the previous section, we saw the glory of Lord Siva. Now let us explore or know more about our beloved Vishnu Bhagavan.


Lots of puranas describe Lord Vishnu’s glory. While Lord Siva is abhisheka priya (loves to be bathed with serene things like water, vibhooti, panchamrita etc), Lord Vishnu is alankaara priya (loves to be decorated with gems, garlands etc). Both are very good intimate friends. Only their devotees (saivites and vaishnavites) quarrel amongst themselves and with each other regarding the supremacy of their Lords.

Vishnu means the one who is all pervading (vyaapakatvaat Vishnu). Lord Vishnu

resides in Vaikuntha (vEk…{Q vas), reclining on the Anantha bed (AnNt zyn) over the

Ksheeraabdi (milky ocean) (]IraiBx zyn) and is served at all times by His consort,

Lakshmi Devi (lúmIkaNt). He is of blue complexion (me"v[R), wearing yellow robes

(pItaMbrxarI), having four hands (wielding a conch, mace, discus and lotus) and a crown

on His head. Let us delve more into His form.

Vishnu is the infinite Truth or Self shining in all and everywhere, at all times.

$zavaSyimd< sv¡ yiTk jgTya< jgt!, $zavaSy %pin;dœ,

The Lord is seen or appreciated only in a very subtle, sharp and pure intellect free of any impurities (vikuntha mati) and that is Vaikuntha.

@; sveR;u ÉUte;u gUFae=Tma n àkazte,

†Zyte Tv¢(ya buÏ(a sUúmya sUúmdizRiÉ>. kQ %pin;dœ,

The Lord (Éujgzyn) reclines on the water bed of Anantha (serpent) having thousand

of heads or hoods (represented by the mind which is capable of doing multiple tasks at a time) and is capable of emitting poison (thoughts in the case of the mind). A serpent takes its hoods away from its body whenever it wants to attack something or someone. Similarly, when the mind turns away from itself (the Self of Truth) (attention is on the world of objects), it emits poison. The Anantha’s hoods are



turned towards its body and hence it is non-poisonous and serene. Its attention is turned towards the Lord always. Also the serpent represents time. Hence the Lord is above time. In other words the time is under the control of the Lord.

mn @v mnu:ya[a< kar[< bNxmae]yae>,

bNxay iv;yas´< mu´< inivR;y< Sm&tm!. Am&tibNÊ %pin;dœ,

Mind can see or realise the Lord only when nourished in an atmosphere of purity which is represented by the milky ocean (ksheeraabdi).

Ordinary people run after fame, power and wealth (Lakshmi Devi). But Lakshmi is ever serving the (Man of Realisation) Lord as His consort.

Anything which is unlimited appears blue for the eyes (sky, ocean). Lord is the

unlimited (in time, space and object) Truth. Hence His blue complexion (ggn s†zm!).

Earth is yellow in colour. Anything buried under earth gets a yellowish-hue. The Lord is the infinite Truth manifesting through matter clothes (Blue complexioned Lord wearing yellow clothes).

The crown on His head shows his sovereignty and power (control) over the entire world.

The Lord is in Yoga Nidra (sleep with full awareness) or Sahaja Samadhi.

The four hands represent the four subtle equipments (mind, intellect, ego and memory) through which He transacts with the world.

The conch represents His call to humanity for betterment and realisation of one’s own Self. If one doesn’t listen to it, the Lord punishes us by giving a blow with His mace. Even after all these, if man doesn’t turn towards the Lord, then the Lord for the good of humanity and that man kills him (like in the case of Kamsa). On the other hand, if man listens to the call of the Lord within then he is presented with the Lotus which is the symbol of eternal peace and happiness.

Lord is the protector of this world. Hence he needs money and power for this. Hence His consort is Lakshmi Devi. In order to be a good ruler, one needs to have good values (Lakshmi Devi also represents inner wealth which is good morals and values of life).

From His navel, a lotus (represents this whole world) (pÒnaÉ) emerges in which is

seated Lord Brahma (represents the mind) (). The mind (Brahma) springs forth from space of Consciousness (represented by the Lord’s navel or naabhi).

The Lord is also known by the name Narayana (The Supreme Man or nara). Some of the word meanings are ‘one who is obtained through knowledge’ or ‘one who is residing in



waters’. Narayana is in deep Yoga Nidra (unaffected) (zaNtakar<) under the midst of

serpent (always shaking), ocean (wavy) and Lakshmi (wealth). One who remains calm and poised amidst the various transactions of this world (which contains lots of

distractions) (yÇ yÇ mnae yait tÇ tÇ smaxy>,) is Narayana (transcended his status from

nara to Narayana). Such a person is a Realised Saint (transformation from human to Hanuman, nara to Narayana and maanava to Maadhava). That is the ultimate goal of human life.

May the Lord bless us to have His vision and abide in our own Self (which is Brahman) who is none other than the Lord Himself and that is liberation.

äüaTmna s<iSwit> mui´>,

Égvt> k«pa ASm_ym! AStu,

nvv;RSy zuÉazya>,



Vedanta Pariksha

This month all questions are on Upanishads. Few questions can have more than one right answer – use discretion while answering.

1) The number of Upanishads as per Skanda Purana is

a) 1080

b) 108

c) 11

d) 141

2) The Upanishad in whose commentary Sankara defines the meaning of the word “Upanishad” is

a) Prashna

b) Mundaka

c) Mandukya

d) Ishavasya

3) The Upanishad among the dasha Upanishads which is from the Rig Veda is

a) Aitareya

b) Chandogya

c) Brihadaranyaka

d) Kena

4) Which of these Upanishad is not from the Sama Veda

a) Kena

b) Mundaka

c) Chandogya

d) Aitareya

5) How many times is the mahavakya TAT TVAM ASI repeated in the Chandogya

Upanishad (svetakethu brahmana)

a) 1

b) 5

c) 9

d) 4

6) The mahavakya of AYAM ATMA BRAHMA appears in which Upanishad

a) Brihadaranyaka

b) Mandukya



c) Taittiriya

d) Kena

7) How many slokas are there in Mandukya Upanishad

a) 10

b) 11

c) 12

d) 13

8) The largest in the dasha Upanishads is

a) Prashna

b) Taittiriya

c) Brihadaranyaka

d) Chandogya

9) Which Upanishad has a dipika written by Vidyaranya on it?

a) Chandogya

b) Mandukya

c) Brihadaranyaka

d) Kena

10) Which of these Upanishads have a vartika by Sureshwaracharya on it?

a) Brihadaranyaka

b) Kena

c) Chandogya

d) Taittiriya

Watch out the next magazine for answers to this quiz. Email your responses to admin@vedantatattva.org and find out how good your scores really are.

Answers to previous quiz

1) A – Dhyaana slokas of Gita was authored by Madhusudana Saraswathi 2) D – 4 th chapter is titled Jnaana Karma Sanyaasa Yoga 3) C – 14 th chapter of Guna Traya Vibhaaga Yoga 4) C – Gudaartha Dipika is the name of the commentary of Madhusudana Saraswathi


6) C – 15 th chapter

C – 2.11



7) B – Gita has 700 slokas in total (few know that Gita sometime is said to have 701 slokas with the 13 th chapter having one extra sloka in the beginning though Sankara hasn’t commented on it) 8) C – 18 th chapter is the largest chapter with 78 slokas


10) 10.20

B – 18.66

Scores Sunanda - 10 Aparna – 6.5 Rajesh - 10



Sankara Bhashya Mahima

Adi Sankaracharya or Sankarabhagavatpada or Sankara is someone whom we cannot ignore in the spiritual path if we are ardent seekers of moksha or Brahman. Moksha can be attained through Vedanta or in other words, moksha is implementation of Vedanta. Vedanta in turn is where Brahman is hinted as well as the way to realize Brahman is always explained variously. Today many people are not happy with usage of the term “Vedanta” as such because there are many sub philosophies or sub systems in Vedanta including Advaita, Dvaita, Vishista Advaita etc. But Vedanta for an intelligent seeker is nothing but Advaita alone – hence qualifying Vedanta as Advaita Vedanta is like double mention (punarukthi dosha – fault of mentioning again; siddha saadhana dosha – trying to establish what is already established).

All the sub systems of Vedanta too depend on just one individual of Sankara to establish their systems or philosophies. Thus we find Ramanuja and Madhva taking a lot of pain to first refute Vedanta as seen and explained through Sankara’s words/works. Thus Sankara’s bhashyas are of utmost importance to any seeker of Vedanta.

If by chance we aren’t familiar with Sanskrit language, we do have many translations of Sankara’s bhashyas. An ardent seeker would definitely find it interesting and helpful in going through Sankara’s bhashyas. Sankara himself knew that bhashyas aren’t very easy to understand hence the compassionate master wrote many prakarana granthas and started the tradition of prakarana granthas which has been continued since then (and still continuing).

When we talk about the mahima of something, we are trying to show that it is very important and essential. It is but apt to talk about the mahima of Sankara’s bhashyas though even “mahima” is a very small word for the same.

We will be just seeing a very brief about the importance of Sankara’s bhashyas and will not quote extensively from his bhashyas in order to avoid too much technicality and confusion for seekers. Ardent seekers can go through the bhashyas along with translations to really understand the greatness of the same.



Few years back one of my friend was going through Sankara’s Gita bhashya along with a translation in English. Simultaneously he was also reading Chinmayananda’s Gita commentary. He told me that Chinmaya explains things very well whereas Sankara’s commentary is too short to even understand. This brings us to the first and foremost quality of Sankara’s bhashyas.

To the point Sankara’s bhashyas are always to the point (it is a quality of the bhashya that it sticks on to the original explaining each of the terms and relation etc.). They don’t have anything extra in them. They are always explaining things in the simplest possible way with very few words but in such a way that a Vedantin would very easily understand them. Since his bhashyas are in Sanskrit and since Sanskrit requires much lesser words than English, we can say that very few words of Sankara’s bhashyas would require a lot of words in other languages to explain them.

When we explain things, we can most of the time get carried away into concepts. Concepts are just that which is required to understand the original text but concepts that may be indirectly related to them. Concepts also mean we may interpret things from our perspective – this means our perspective notion or our own mental conceptions will find their way into explanations. All these are very well avoided by Sankara except in very few places (like introductory commentaries of his bhashyas where the purpose of the work and bhashyas has to be mentioned – and of course in Brahma Sutra bhashya where a lot has to be explained as sutras are too crisp to just be to the point). Even the adhyaasa bhashya is to the point and nothing extra or excess has been mentioned by Sankara. The very first paragraph of adhyaasa bhashya is so much to the point that in that one paragraph Sankara explains entire Vedanta.

Deep in concepts “To the point” always means it may require a lot of intellect or some knowledge about the concepts in order to understand them. This brings us to the second quality in Sankara’s bhashyas which is “deep in concepts”. Many places we can find that Sankara’s bhashyas have a lot of concepts embedded in them though not directly visible or understandable. It will require a bit of prior Vedantic knowledge in order to understand them properly. Thus, like my friend, many people cannot apprehend Sankara’s bhashyas directly but require a better explanation like that of Chinmaya’s to understand. Sankara obviously assumes in his



bhashyas that we have some knowledge of Vedanta – this is understandable in that during Sankara’s times people used to learn the shastras at a very young age (though currently that is not the case – even an elderly lying-on-deathbed old man also will not know anything about Vedanta – he will just know Vedanta means “foolishness”).

Basis of all other commentaries Rarely do such people understand that even Chinmaya and all other Vedantins (like Paramartha, Nochur) and others base their explanations on Sankara’s bhashya. These later Vedantins are compassionate masters that they don’t quote from Sankara (if they did, we will run away after attending the first discourse itself). As we saw earlier, even the contemporary Vedantins like Madhva and Ramanuja base themselves on Sankara’s bhashyas though not to develop their explanation on it but to develop their explanation against it).

This though might seem very trivial is rather very important. This is because Sanskrit isn’t a language that is prevalent today. Whatever Sanskrit that we know or have today is just based on the works of later acharyas and the works of Panini, Patanjali etc. All these might not be apt to understand the scriptures as scriptures are age-less. The Sanskrit of the scriptures might not exactly be the same as the Sanskrit of today. The Malayalam or Tamil of today isn’t the same as the Malayalam or Tamil few centuries back – similar with Sanskrit too.

Since Sankara learnt the scriptures traditionally and since no other commentaries before Sankara’s time is prevalent or extant today, we definitely have to depend on Sankara’s bhashya to understand the scriptures.

Even Vedanta is best understood from Sankara’s works as Sankara’s is again the oldest extant work on Vedanta (except for Gaudapada’s Karika on Mandukya Upanishad which also we have due to Sankara’s bhashya on them). Everyone accepts the major Upanishads as those which have been commented and/or quoted by Sankara – this also shows that all explanations of Vedanta are based on Sankara’s bhashya alone.

For people who haven’t grasped this till now, bhashyas are commentaries on original scriptural texts which are three called prasthaana traya for Vedanta (the Upanishads, Bhagavad Gita and Brahma Sutras). Since Sankara’s bhashyas directly explain these texts



therefore his bhashyas can be considered as more authentic than prakarana granthas (or other independent texts of his like Upadesa Sahasri, Vivekachoodamani etc.).

Proper traditionalist Sankara is a proper traditionalist or tradition-follower in that he uses the standard way of proving things. The standard or scriptural way of proving things is a three step process. First is quotation or quoting from texts. Quotation can be from three different sources and first has to be from sruthi or Upanishads (as Upanishads are the ultimate source of knowledge based on which other quotation-sources are derived). Second is from smrithi or texts like Bhagavad Gita which bases itself on the Upanishads. Third is puranas or texts that speak about the ultimate reality embedded in between stories or glories of the Lord (we can also add one more here as Brahma Sutras but Brahma Sutras will be used in logics to support one’s stand). The second step is yukthi or logic. Logical arguments can be based on Brahma Sutras or based on some common logic (wherever there is smoke, there has to be fire etc.) or one’s own logical deductions. The third step is anubhavam or experience. That which can be proved through sruthi and/or yukthi has to be experienced. If there is something called Brahman and we can very well prove it, what is the point if we cannot ever experience it? No use whatsoever as it will only cause us sorrow remembering that there is something blissful which we cannot attain.

We can find in Sankara’s bhashyas that in order to prove something, he uses sruthi, yukthi and anubhavam (in the appropriate order). Thus this clearly shows that Sankara was a core traditionalist who stuck on to the scriptural way of explaining things.

We shouldn’t misunderstand “tradition” as “religious” or wearing sacred ashes, going to temple etc. That is not what is meant here by tradition.

Acharya “Acharya” word is derived/defined thus:

Achinothi cha shaastraan aachaare sthaapayathyapi Svayam aacharathe yasmaat tasmaat aachaaryam ithi keerthyathe Explaining the scriptures; establishes norms/rules/activities in order to lead a spiritual life amidst worldly pleasures; and setting an example by life – these whoever does, he is termed an Acharya.



Sankara was a perfect Acharya in that he not only wrote bhashyas, prakarana granthas, stuthis but through these he also established activities through which we could attain the goal of Brahman. Not only that he just preached Vedanta but he also implemented Vedanta himself (the story where a Kaapalika goes and asks for Sankara to offer his body and Sankara obliging very happily shows that he didn’t preach Vedanta that “I am not the body

but the Self” but implemented it himself). Sankara also setup the four sankara mutts as well as dashanaami sanyaasa system as well as temples etc. (the list is huge). Today if Vedanta

is still sensible, active and fruitful, we have only Sankara and his bhashyas to thank for.

Let this very brief glorification of Sankara’s bhashyas instigate us to learn more about his bhashyas for getting a better understanding of Vedanta so that we may able to remember in our mind and through implementation in our life attain the goal of moksha in this very birth itself.

A poem on Sankara




Anukramaanika Nirdesham

1. Editorial – a general message

2. Guru Mahima – Guru Gita explained in parts from the beginning

3. Mukhya Vishayam – main topic with a detailed explanation of a Vedantic concept

4. Sankshiptha Vedanta – brief summary of a Vedanta grantha

5. Gitaamritham – one sloka of Gita explained

6. Upanishad Prachaaram – summary of a minor Upanishad

7. Raga Varsha – analysis of a raga (both Hindustani and carnatic equivalents)

8. Madhuraamritham – one devotional/spiritual classical krithi.

9. Praadeshikam – one sloka of a work from regional languages

10. Sthuthi – a devotional work explained

11. Charitham – brief life-history of a Mahatma

12. Sanskritha Shiksha – few simple and useful lessons of Sanskrit (useful to learn Vedanta)

13. Sanaathana Dharma Sameeksha – a look at concepts of Saanathana Dharma

14. Vedanta Pariksha – Q & A

15. Sankara Bhashya Mahima – a special article on the glory/importance of Sankara’s bhashyas


2. Suggestions

3. Corrections (word, sloka, content etc.)

4. Would like to see specific content

5. Would like to contribute (through research from websites, don’t need to write up the content yourself) Mail admin@vedantatattva.org.

Feel free to forward this to anyone who might be interested.

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