Basic course in Advaita Vedanta (inauguration)

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Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi

किं  स्वरूपमित्यात्मादर्शने | अव्ययाभवा  आपुर्णचित्सुखं || (उपदेश  सार: २८ )

 

Kim svaroopamityaatmadarshane| Avyayabhava apurnachitsukham|| (Upadesha sara: 28)

“What is my nature?”, thus enquiring one realizes the Self and knows the Self to be indestructible, unborn, all encompassing, complete Consciousness-Bliss. Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi in his compilation of verses on the Self, “Upadesha Sara”, says that the Self is indestructible, unborn or uncreated, it is free from the limitations of time, space and objects, it is full/complete. It lacks nothing. Eternal, infinite happiness can never be gained through sense enjoyments but only by the knowledge arising from Self enquiry.

The nature of a thing is that which it cannot give up. Like sweetness is the nature of sugar.  A thing called sugar ceases to exist if it gives up its sweetness.  Fire cannot remain fire if it becomes cold. Also one’s own nature is never a burden to oneself. The poison of a snake is not a danger to itself, even though the poison lies within its own body.

Self knowledge is the realization that I am that Consciousness which enables the intellect to know. Being self evident, the Self illumines all thoughts of knowledge and ignorance (not knowing too). There is no other Consciousness required to know the Self. It is self-illuminating. The Self is also of the nature of eternal happiness. All beings without exception strive to achieve freedom from sorrow and gain happiness. This shows that misery or sorrow is not our nature. If misery was our nature we would never want to get rid of it. It is due to ignorance of this fact of the true nature of our Self that we struggle to gain happiness from objects, situations, experiences outside us.

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Welcome to the “name” ceremony!

Krishna Krishna Krishna Krishna Kanhaiyaa…

Govinda Govinda Gopala Gopala         

Nand-Yashoda, Anand Kishora,  Gokulabala, Devakinandan,  Navneetchora,

Krishna Krishna…

Murli manohar, Shyamal sunder,

Kunj vihara, Venugopala,

Murlishridhara, Yadavanandan,

Krishna Krishna…Radhyeshyama,

Gopivallabha, Madhava, Keshava, Pankajnayana,

Kamalnayana, Mukunda, Krishna, Krishna… Mandar Giridhari, Govardhana

Natwarlala, Vasudeva, Hare Murari, Janardhana, Krishna Krishna..

Pannagashayana Narayana,

Bhaktabandhava Govinda,

Padmanabha Govinda,

Bhagavatapriya Krishna,

Nath Narayana, Sadhuvatsala,

Sarojacharana Govinda,

Satchidananda Krishna, Krishna, Krishna, Krishna, Krishna….

 

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Shree suktham – श्री सूक्तं

Invocation to the Goddess of Prosperity

सिद्धलक्ष्मीर्मोक्षलक्ष्मिर्जयलक्ष्मिस्सरवती  | श्रिलक्ष्मिर्वरलक्ष्मिस्च  प्रसन्न  मम  सर्वदा  ||

Siddhalakshmeermoksha lakshmirjayalakshmissaravatee | shrilakshmirvaralakshmischa prasanna mama sarvadaa ||

May Lakshmi, the Goddess of Siddhis (super natural powers), Lakshmi the bestower of liberation, Lakshmi the one who grants victory and is known as Sarasvati, Lakshmi the Goddess of prosperity, Lakshmi the one who grants boons, be always gracious to me.

वरन्गुषौ  पाशंभीतिमुद्रां  करैर्वहन्तीं कमलासनास्थां | बालार्क  कोटि प्रतिभां  त्रिनेत्रां  भजेहमाध्यां  जगदीश्वरीं  त्वां  ||

Varangushau paashambheetimudraam karairvahanteem kamalaasanasthaam | baalaarka koti pratibhaam trinethraam bhajehamaadhyaam jagadeeshvareem tvaam ||

I worship the Goddess of the world, who holds the ‘ankusha’ (to ride an elephant) and a rope in her hands, whose hand symbolizes protection against fear, one who is seated on a lotus, who is lustrous like many million rising suns and who is the Primal Being.

सर्वमन्गलमान्गल्ये  शिवे  सर्वार्थ  सादिके  | शरण्ये  त्रियंबके  देवी  नारायणि  नमोस्तुते  | नारायणि  नमोस्तुते | नारायणि  नमोस्तुते ||

Sarvamangalamangalye shive sarvaarth saadike | sharanye triyambake devee naaraayani namostute | naaraayani namostute| naaraayani namostute||

I pay my obeisance to Thee, O Goddess Narayani, Tryambika, who is the abode of all auspiciousness and who fulfills all the desires of her devotees and who is the only refuge of every one.

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Meditation upon the world

ह्र्दीव  बह्यदेशेअपि  यस्मिन  कस्मिन्स्च  वस्तुनि  |

समाधिराध्यस्सन्मात्रात  नामरूप पृथक्कृतिः   || द्र्ग् दृश्य   विवेकः  : २७  ||

Hrdeeva bahyadesheapi yasmin kasminsch vastuni |

Samaadhiraadhyassanmaatraat naamroopaprthakkrutihi || Drg-drshya viveka: 27 ||

As in the heart (internal), in the outside or external as well, meditation is possible. That ‘Samadhi’ or act of meditation is the separation of the name and form from Pure Existence.

Meditation within is practiced with reference to the individual and that outside is with reference to the world as seen by him. Either way it has to be our own direct experience.

Any perceived thing or being, big or small, gross or subtle, can take us to heights of contemplation. Hence, we need not always practice meditation with our eyes closed. We can contemplate on the truth as we walk, talk, eat, sit, move about in this world.

Each and every object (living or non living) of perception (knowing through any of our five senses and mind) has five aspects to it. They are Existence, Consciousness, Dearness, Name and Form. The first three indicate the constant (Brahman/reality/changeless/permanency) and the last two indicate the variable (Maya/world/change/impermanency). The process involves focusing our attention on the first three as the very basis upon which the variables appear/depend. This is meditation associated with the seen. We focus our mind on pure Existence and ignore the changing aspects of name and form. This way we see the essence of all creation, the one string that connects the entire universe, the oneness and wholeness of creation.

For e.g. a pot is a name given to a particular form. The name depends on the form and should be ignored in the process of contemplation. The form is made up of clay and is dependent on it for its existence. The form is to be ignored and clay is to be focused upon. Continuing the process, ignoring name and form, we arrive at the constant which has no other foundation. Its existence does not depend upon anything else.

As such a pot is, tree is, one is, two are, three are, mountains are, thoughts are, people are, countries are, sun is, planets are, etc. The “Is-ness” underlies all objects or beings. To be aware of Existence as the substratum of all change is meditation.

A man asked Sw. Chinmayananda pointing to a tree, “What is this?” He replied, “It is Existence in the form of a tree.”

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Shree suktham श्री सूक्तं

Invocation to the Goddess of Prosperity:

हिरण्यवर्णां हरिणीं सुवर्णरजतस्रजां | चन्द्रां हिरण्मयीं लक्ष्मीं जातवेदो म आवह || १ ||

Hiranyavarnaam  harineem suvarnarajatasrajaam | chandraam hiranmayeem lakshmeem jaatavedo ma aavaha || 1 ||

1. O Jataveda! (Fire God/Agni)! I invoke your Grace to bring unto me Lakshmi (embodiment of Shree/wealth). Lakshmi, who, with a golden aura resembles a golden doe and is adorned with garlands of gold and silver. She is delightful like the moon and abounding in riches.

तां म आवह जातवेदो लक्ष्मींमनपा गामिनीम | यस्यां हिरण्यं विन्देयं गामश्वं पुरुषानाहं || २ ||

Taam ma aavaha jaatavedo laksmimanapa gaamineem | yasyaam hiranyam vindeyam gaamashvam purushaanaham || 2 ||

2. O Jataveda! Bring unto me that Lakshmi who will not desert me. May I obtain the gold, cows, horses and followers bestowed by Her.

अश्वपूर्वां  रथमध्यां  हस्तिनाद-प्रबोधिनीं  | श्रियं  देवीमुपग्ह्वे श्रीर्मा  देवीजुषतां  || ३  ||

Ashvapoorvaam rathmadhyaam hastinaada-prabodhineem | shriyam deveemupaghve shreermaa deveejushataam || 3 ||

3. I invoke that Goddess of Prosperity (Shreedevi), who comes with horses in front, chariots in the middle and whose coming is announced by the trumpeting of elephants. May that Goddess of Prosperity come and bless me.

(picture courtesy: www.vishvarupa.com)

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Mental austerity

Says Shri Krishna:

मनः  प्रसादः  सौम्यत्वं  मौनात्मविनिग्रह: |

भावसंशुद्धिरित्येतत्तपो  मानसमुच्यते  || (भगवद  गीता : १७ : १६ )

Manah prasadah saumyatvam mounatmavinigrahah |

Bhavasamshuddhirityetattapo manasamuchyate || (bhagavad gita: 17: 16)

Serenity of mind, good heartedness, silence, self-control, purity of nature are together called ‘mental austerity’.

यज्ञदानतपःकर्म  न  त्याज्यं  कार्यमेव  तत्  |

यज्ञो  दानं  तपश्चैव  पावनानि  मनीषिणां  || (भगवद  गीता : १८ : ५ )

Yagnadantapahkarma na tyajyam karyameva tat |

Yagno danam tapaschaiva pavanani maneshinaam || (bhagavad gita: 18: 5)

Acts of charity, sacrifice and austerity should not be abandoned. Worship, charity and austerity purify even the purest.

Mind becomes mighty when it is serene, silent, pure and well managed. There is no exception/exemption to this. We must reduce the quantity of thoughts in the mind and increase its quality. We can see the depths of our personality unfold by sacrificing our weaknesses, giving in charity large heartedly, without grudge or pride. This mental austerity brings about a brilliant discipline within and creates conditions under which alone, the highest spiritual unfoldment is made possible.

Swami Chinmayananda says,” as your body requires cleansing, so does your mind. So long as your mind is full of negative tendencies, you can never bring it to single-pointed concentration.  Control the mind.”

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Nobody wants you to be free…

वाग्मिप्राज्ञामहोद्योगं   जनं  मूकजडालसं  |

करोति  तत्त्वबोधोयमतस्त्यक्तो  बुभुक्षुभिः  || (अष्टावक्र  गीता: १५ : ३ )

Vaagmipraajnaamahodyogam janam mookajadaalasam |

Karoti tattvabodhoyamatastyakto bubhukshubhih || (Ashtavakra Gita: 15: 3)

Sage Ashtavakra says, this knowledge of truth makes an eloquent, wise and active person mute, inert and inactive. Therefore, it is shunned by those who want to enjoy.

This verse should not be taken literally. We must understand what is implied by it. All activities, knowledge and talking have attainable objects in view. When the Self who is the ‘All and Whole’ is realized, there is nothing else to be attained. In this state of ‘all knowing’, doing and talking cease. The seeker becomes silent, as though inert and inactive. This is the sign of highest realization. He is no longer a part of any conditioning, social or other. This is an outcome of a deep realization.

Worldly enjoyment as the ‘man-of-the-world’ would enjoy is impossible in this highly spiritual state.  The mentality of a worldly person is diametrically opposed to that of a Knower of the Self.

People are forced into compartments/ categories for social interactions. They herd together due to fear, greed, etc. But a spiritual aspirant doesn’t conform to social norms. No status can be attributed to him. This makes others insecure, because he refuses to play their game or follow their rules. He often is told to ‘be practical’. Nobody really wants him to be free. Not his parents, friends, teachers and relatives, except maybe for that one rare human being who has seen the ‘Truth of Being’ himself. Because they can then no longer control him. He is of no use to them any more. He may not even be a ‘rebel’ to be controlled.  Yet the mere desire to be out of social conditioning is seen as a rebellious attitude.

 For material success in this competitive world eloquence, worldly wisdom and vigorous activity are unavoidable. The meditative man withdraws from the world seeking to experience the Self and because of this he becomes mute, inactive and inert.

The desire for freedom must arise within one’s own being.  A ‘Buddha’ under the tree is criticized by men-of-the-world as an idler, useless and a liability. This ‘Buddha’ on becoming enlightened may well serve mankind and earn their eternal gratitude. But the profit orientated, success motivated, impatient men-of-the-world reject the path of spiritual contemplation because they want to enjoy the world and satiate their ‘vasanas’ (desires).

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The Bhagavad Gita prescription..

Emergencies, challenges, dilemnas of present lifestyles, some inevitable, some remediable and yet others that exist only in our imaginations can set us off-balance and we are apt to fall in the dirty ditches of despair, despondency and depression. We often find ourselves with sagging self confidence and a shrinking sense of dejection.

A time tested and proven antidote for such a dejected personality are the great words of eternal assurances. ”My devotee shall never perish,” ”I personally attend to my devotee’s needs and provide security,” ”I shall save you from all evils”, all from the Bhagavad Gita. It revives, rekindles a fresh burst of enthusiasm, faith and courage to face the challenges and overcome the hurdles on our road to success.

For us to reach our goals, we need energy, self confidence and peace of mind. These are generated and maintained even in the face of difficulties if we hold on to our convictions. What we gather as knowledge from the Bhagavad Gita, when reinforced by deeper reflection upon them, becomes our understanding. When we try to live our understanding thus, it crystallizes into our ‘conviction’.

By making a habit of reading and reflecting upon the Gita, the mind is channeled into ”right thinking”. The Gita has been more than a mother to many great men of India (Gandhiji, Tilak, Vinobha Bhave, Veer Savarkar, Chandrashekar Azad, Sri Aurobindo to name a few). This has been revealed by them in their autobiographies.

Repeating the ‘Gita’ verses to ourselves often, we gather strength from the deep and steady meditation upon them.Whatever happens in our life, no matter how troubling things might seem, we do not enter the neighborhood of despair. Even when all doors seem to close, we know God will open up a new path only for us. When the understanding becomes firm, we are thankful. We remain grateful. It is easy to be thankful when all is well. But we remain thankful for not only what we have been given but grateful also for all that we have been denied.

picture courtesy: http://www.vishvarupa.com

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Guru’s Grace

There was a great Yogi Changdeva Maharaj, who lived for 1400 years during the time of Sant Jnaneshwar Maharaj. He changed his body every 100 years by his yogic powers (kaya-kalpa). He possessed many powers (siddhis) but was not a fulfilled person. He heard of the young Sant Jnaneshwar and decided to meet Him. Riding a ferocious tiger, wielding a venomous snake in hand, with much pomp and show he went to meet the Saint. Young Jnanadeva, his brothers and sister were sitting on a wall at that time. On his brother’s (Guru’s) injunction to receive the great yogi appropriately, Jnanadeva made the wall itself move forward. The great yogi was humbled to see that his own powers were only over animate beings but young Jnanadeva could enliven even inanimate objects. He humbly prostrated before the much younger in age though much older in wisdom, Sant Jnaneshwar.

Sant Jnaneshwar composed 65 verses called “Changdeva Pasashti” through which the teaching of the statement ‘That thou art’ (Tat-tvam-asi mahavakya) was given to Changdeva Maharaj. The great yogi thus attained fulfillment due to His Grace.

This shows the importance of a Guru’s Grace and ‘Upadesh’ (teaching). It also shows that Greatness is not necessarily measured by the age of the body (shudra buddhi), by wealth and worldly success (vaishya buddhi), by one’s popularity (kshatriya buddhi) or by literary/academic qualifications (brahmana buddhi). It is beyond all these. It lies in the knowing of the true nature of our own ‘Being”.

(pic source courtesy: exoticindiaart.com)

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