Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Sat Chit Ananda


Humble salutations to all

Let us today try to analyze the nature of Brahman as Sat Chit Ananda. This has been dealt exhaustively in some of advaitic works like panchadashi, laghu vasudeva mananam etc. Here we will try to analyze it in a simple way so that everybody can understand it easily.

Brahman is the adviteeya vasthu or the only one real entity. Brahman is defined as ekam eva adviteeya or one without a second. Ekam eva adviteeya negates the differences of internal and external. There is nothing whatsoever apart from Brahman. Whatever is seen as the dual world, whatever is seen as sentient entities and whatever is seen as insentient entities are all nothing but the ultimate reality of Brahman alone.

Brahman is SAT or existence because it is eternal and without ceasing to exist. The Lord defines sat and asat in Gita as "na asathah vidhyathe bhaavah, na abhaavo vidhyathe satah" -- asat never has any existence & sat never ceases to exist. Brahman is eternal or nitya, without birth/death or ajam and hence it is SAT (ever existent).

CHIT or Consciousness or bodham alone is capable of illumining existence. The computer screen that we see in front has existence because of the light of consciousness illumining it. BRAHMAN if is not CHIT will be like an insentient rock (unable to illumine other things as well as itself). In such a case, BRAHMAN will not be SAT as it cannot experience its own existence. Thus Brahman has to be CHIT as well. CHIT or Consciousness is that which pulsates as "I-exist, I-exist" and thereby illuminating other entities as well. If there is no CHIT, then there is no existence or nothing at all. Thus SAT and CHIT go hand in hand. Brahman is thus SAT and CHIT.

That which is SAT has to exist beyond all limitations - else the limitation would limit its existence thereby making it have a temporary existence. Since Brahman is SAT, Brahman is beyond all limitations. That which is beyond limitations has to be blissful. The happiness that we get from a small laptop is less than what we get from a car or from a house (as limitations by space are less for car and house than for a laptop). That which is unlimited and infinite is thus blissful. Such an entity when realized will give us eternal bliss. Therefore Brahman is ANANDA as well.

Thus Brahman is of the nature of SAT-CHIT-ANANDA. We will see in the next post as to how jeeva is also SAT-CHIT-ANANDA alone thus proving the statement of Sankara that "jeevo brahmaiva" (jeeva is brahman alone).

Humble salutations to all


Friday, November 17, 2006

ParaBrahman - The ultimate reality


Salutations to all.

In the previous posting, we saw the nature of the individual Self which is of the nature of Consciousness & blissful in nature. Now we will try to analyze on the nature of the ultimate reality of Brahman - that which Upanishads proclaim as Para Brahman.

Sankara in his Brahma Sutra Bhashya defines Brahman as two - Para Brahman and Apara Brahman. Para Brahman is that which is beyond all limitations whereas Apara Brahman is that which is associated with names and forms (naama roopa). This differentiation is only from the empirical view & not the ultimate view. Naama roopa or names/forms never have any reality but they are mere illusions in the reality. The name of chain and form of chain is only an illusion in the reality of gold. Similarly the various names and forms (which is totally termed as the world) is only an illusion in Brahman. This is what Chandogya Upanishad explains through the examples of mud, gold and iron.

Brahman is defined in various ways in the upanishads. The characteristics of an entity is called LAKSHANA. Brahman can be defined using three lakshanas depending on the level from which we see it. The three lakshanas are:

1. Vyavritta lakshana - distinguishing characteristic - Brahman is defined as different from the various bodies of gross, subtle and causal. Brahman is also defined as the Subject which is not objectified. These are ways of distinguishing Brahman from all other objects. When we remove all objects, what will remain behind is the Subject who does the removal process. This is termed in the Upanishads as the process of neti, neti or not-this, not-this wherein everything apart from Brahman is negated. Anything that is objectified as "this" is not Brahman. Thus negating, we will end up with the negator who cannot be negated which is Brahman.

2. Thatastha lakshana - this is relative characteristic definition. A person was once searching for a particular house in a lane. He didn't know which house and hence asked a passer-by. The passer-by replied that the house on which a crow is now sitting is the house searched by him. This is thatastha lakshana of the house - this definition is a relative one but not real as it depends on the relative medium. The characteristic for the house as that upon which crow is sitting is not real or eternal because the crow is not eternal & will go away from the house after some time. Brahman is defined as the creator-protector-destroyer of the world. The world is not real and hence this definition is also not real. Brahman is as well defined as avastha traya saakshi or the witness to the three states of waking, dreaming and dreamless-deep sleep.

3. Svaroopa lakshana - unlike the other two definitions which are relative, this is the very nature of an entity. Fire is that which burns things. Burning is the very nature of fire & ever present in fire - thus this is the svaroopa lakshana of fire. Brahman is explained in the scriptures as of the nature of Sat, Chit, Ananda and Anantha (Existence, Consciousness, Bliss and infinite respectively). This is the very nature of Brahman.

We will see in the next posting as to how Brahman is of the nature of Sat Chit Ananda Anantha.

Salutations to all.


Friday, October 27, 2006

Self or Atman - the ultimate goal


As we discussed in the last posting, we all are seeking the goal in the wrong place & hence the ultimate goal is inaccessible to many. We will see today as to where is the ultimate goal to be sought.

The ultimate goal is termed in Vedanta as Brahman and often equated (as per Advaita) to Atman or one's own very nature of Consciousness. Thus the place where the ultimate goal of atman is to be sought is inside oneself.

How can we seek ourselves???
We can seek ourselves by turning the mind inward and contemplating on Brahman as being the Atman and pervading everything as the substratum of all illusions. The scriptures give an analogy of realizing one's own nature as the story of ten fools.

There were ten fools who were going to a particular place. They had to cross a river on the way. They crossed the river. Now, they were worried as to whether everyone was alive or any one person was missing after crossing the river. Therefore they all stood and one of the person started counting. He counted and ended with 9. They all started crying that one person was missing and might be dead. Another person counted and came up with the same number of 9. What was happening was that the counting person forgot to count himself & hence the count was always 9 only. Thus they all started weeping over there. A passer-by saw these and came near them. He then told them that he will count & the count was 10. They were all excited. Then he told them that the counting person had missed himself and hence the count was only 9. He asked one among them to count and the count was 9. The passer-by told that "you are the tenth person". Thus they were all happy that the 10th person was alive.

Here the tenth person never really died but the counting person forgot about himself. Similarly we have forgotten our own very nature of Lord or Self. When the passer-by of Guru comes to us and points out that "you are that Brahman alone" (Tat tvam asi), then we realize our mistake. Hearing the Guru's words, we try to analyze the same and thereby realize our very nature of Brahman. As the tenth person was never dead or missing, the Self is never dead or missing. We are always the Self only but seem to have forgotten our own nature. When we hear the truth in the scriptures from the Guru, we contemplate on the same thereby realizing our nature of Self or Brahman.

As the tenth person forgot himself, similarly we all have forgotten our own very nature Self. This forgetfulness is attributed to ignorance. Ignorance can never be explained as the Self or Subject can never be forgotten but still seems to be forgotten. Ignorance can thus only be removed or negated through knowledge of the Self through study of scriptures.

Sankara quotes from Purana to explain the word of AATMA or Self thus in his Katha Upanishad bhashya:

Yat cha aapnothi yadaadatte yat cha atti vishayaan iha
Yat cha asya santhatho bhaavah tasmaad atmethi keerthyathe

That towards which everyone is attracted, that which experiences/enjoys the sensual pleasures, that through which the world achieves its "reality" status, that is known as the Atman or Self.

We will see in the next posting as to how this Atman or Self is the same as Para Brahman of the Upanishads.


Saturday, September 30, 2006

Ultimate Goal - Inaccessible to many


Salutations to all.

We saw in the previous posting that the ultimate goal of human life is ETERNAL BLISS. The first and foremost thing for realization is knowing the goal that has to be achieved. Unless a person knows where to go, he cannot go to that place. Thus Vedanta in its first place puts forth the ultimate goal of life as eternal bliss. This has been put in different ways in the scriptures.

We find the shishya of Shaunaka going to the sage Angiras and asking to be instructed into that by knowing which everything becomes known. Other Upanishads as well speak about the shishya seeking bliss and peace which is further emphasized by the sruthi declaring that he knows the ultimate goal becomes peaceful, blissful and bereft of sorrow-sufferings.

Thus we first have to get clear the goal which has to be achieved in life - this goal alone can give us eternal bliss, peace, contentment, satisfaction - all of which is being sought out each and every moment by each one of us.

Even though many people know the goal, still they dont reach the goal --- why?
The Lord answers this in Gita by telling that "out of thousands of people, few strive to become perfect. Out of those striving thousands, only a few realize me completely (in the right way).

It is not enough to know the goal alone. We have to find out how to reach the goal. It is not enough to know that "I have to go to A" - we have always to find out how to reach A. Thus the second step towards the ultimate goal is trying to find out the path to the goal. It is here where people are getting distracted and diverted from the right path.

Firstly, unless there is the strong desire to attain the goal - there will be no seeking of the goal. Thus a person who is content with worldly pleasure (at least for now) even though he knows worldly pleasure is temporary & eternal bliss is the goal, will not attain the goal because he doesn't seek it. It also happens that many people are shown the wrong path instead of the right path. Today is an era of self-proclaimed saints who through illusory magic attract people and lead them to utter darkness. Knowing this in advance, Sankara proclaimed in Bhaja Govindam that there are many who wear the ochre robe or have renounced everything but still not seeking the ultimate goal because their goal is just "filling the stomach".

Here the atheists would argue that "isn't all actions to fill the stomach alone?" - yes, it is. But is filling the stomach alone the goal of human life? If it is so, then there remains no difference between animals and humans (even though humans may claim that there is difference). Filling of the stomach is just for sustenace of the body which is an instrument to attain the ultimate goal. Filling of the stomach alone doesn't pacify a person - eating food can never pacify the happiness-seeking seeker. It can only lead him to more and more worldly seeking thus making him immerse in the ocean of samsaara for births and deaths.

Thus it is important for a seeker not to get into the hold of self-proclaimed saints - instead he should seek the scriptures and find out who is a real saint. Humans have been given the intellect to analyze the scriptures and imbibe their meaning -- thus able to seek the goal through a right guru.

When a seeker gets to a real Guru, the Guru creates the strong desire to seek the goal in the seeker. Thus the seeker seeks the goal in the right way.

To summarize, the ultimate goal is not accessible to many and thereby not many realize the goal because
1. There is no real desire -- it is like the story of pigs which are happy with filth and hence they dont want heaven if there is no filth in it.
2. The seeking is in the wrong place as they are directed in the wrong path by self-proclaimed saints (who are just doing this to fill their tummy).

As to where is the goal to be sought, we will see this in the next posting.

Salutations to all.


Friday, September 22, 2006

Goal of human life


Humble salutations to all.

Every activity in the life is propelled by desire to achieve something. There cannot be any actions and activities if there is no desire or nothing to be achieved. It is this "thing to be achieved" which is termed as goal in modern terms. Modern researchers on the human resource management would still split it into long-term goals and short-term goals. Vedanta on the other hand doesn't accept any long-term and short-term goal instead Vedanta propounds that there is only goal in life. Unlike the HR opinion of goals being different for every person, Vedanta says that there is only one supreme goal towards which we all as human beings are progressing.

Let us try to find out the supreme goal of our life. It can be questioned as to what is the use of finding out the supreme goal of life?? If we know what we desire to achieve in life, then we can then try to move towards achieving or attaining that goal. Unless we know the goal of our life, we will be wandering in the entire world throughout our lives trying to seek petty things in the world always remaining unsatisfied and sad with those petty things.

Each person has different desires or goals to achieve in life. Some will want to become great doctors, others software engineers, yet others music - thus the goal that we work towards differs from person to person. But this differing is only when we dont go deep into what is our real goal.

What does a person want to gain through becoming a successful businnesman??? Money -- of course each person works in the world for the sake of money.

What does a person gain or want to gain from money???
Satisfaction, happiness, peace of mind.

Everyone in the world irrespective of the profession or environment is striving to get ever-lasting bliss. We all want to be happy always - it is this desire which is the supreme goal of each person's life. Until a person gets eternal happiness, he will still be seeking something or the other. In adulthood and middle age, trying to do the work that one likes is easy - but once a person grows old that like vanishes & attention goes to something else. Thus what we think as our goal (in the external world) keeps on changing. As the great 20th century saint Raama Teertha says, a kid seeks his mother - a bit aged kid seeks toys, an adult seeks a lover, a middle aged man seeks a partner, after this he seeks a kid, when he grows old he seeks something else. Thus throughout our lives, we seek different things considering that it is the supreme goal that we want to achieve. But in fact, we forget that what we are seeking throughout our lives is ETERNAL BLISS. It is due to this reason that the great seers of Vedas after achieving ETERNAL BLISS through realization of the supreme being called as Brahman or Lord were ever happy, not seeking anything else in life.

Thus unknowingly we all are seeking eternal bliss alone. Thus the SUPREME GOAL or ULTIMATE GOAL of human life is ETERNAL BLISS. Until eternal bliss is achieved, there will desires to achieve it (through achieving perfection and non-seeking anything is achieved) and this seeking continues again and again. Thus as Adi Sankara puts it in Bhaja Govindam, births and deaths have been spent seeking eternal bliss - thus taking births as different species, different people & in different places -- yet eternal bliss is not achieved. As long as eternal bliss is not achieved, human will be immersed in the ocean of samsaara characterized by sorrows and sufferings. Thus any person who hasn't got eternal bliss suffers in life in one way or the other - he may seem to be happy but yet he doesn't realize that the happiness that he seems to be having is temporary and not eternal - thus when something goes wrong in life, he becomes sad & grieves for the same.

The first to perfection or spiritual realization is knowing that I HAVE TO GET THE ULTIMATE GOAL OF LIFE WHICH IS ETERNAL BLISS.

Once a person knows his goal, then he has to proceed towards the goal. We will see in the next posting as to why people who know this goal and are striving towards it but still not achieving it. We will also see as to how to achieve eternal bliss.

Humble salutations to all.


Thursday, September 14, 2006

Dvaita in brief


Humble salutations to all.

Currently there are three systems of vedanta which are considered as main and have a good following i the world. Those three are Advaita, Vishista Advaita and Dvaita. We have already seen Advaita and Vishista advaita in brief - let us now see dvaita vedanta in brief.

Dvaita vedanta was propounded and propagated by Madhvacharya (also called Ananda Teertha which is the sanyaasin name & Purna Prajna due to all-knowing nature). Madhvacharya established mathas wherein the tradition of madhvacharya is continuing to this date. Some of the famous and well-known acharyas in this school are Jaya Teertha, Vyaasa Teertha, Raghavendra....

Madhva wrote three commentaries on the Brahma Sutras. Madhva also wrote commentaries on Gita and the Upanishads. He also wrote the most famous khandana trayas (which are mayavada khandana, upaadhi khandana and prapancha mithyaatva anumaana khandana -- all works are targeted to attack the various concepts of advaita to show that advaita is faulty and wrong). Madhva is considered as the avatar of Vayu.

One of the very important feature of this school is the over-emphasis of attack on Advaita -- even though the main acharyas and real followers give emphasis to their system as well but most of the followers tend to attack advaita more than following their own system.

But it is also true that madhva and his followers have criticized advaita like anything. Vyaasa teertha's Nyaayamritam was a thorough critcisim of advaita but it was refuted and defended by Madhusudana Saraswathi in Advaita Siddhi. Most advaita acharyas hold that advaita siddhi and its commentaries have answers most of the logical issues put forth by madhva and his followers (there is a long list of refutation and counter refutation work starting from Nyaayamritam). There are different sets of acharyas like Sacchidanandendra Saraswathi and his followers who dont even bother to refute madhva as most of dvaita scholars have wrong understanding of advaita -- more of this later.

Vyaasa Teertha has written a verse which has nine basic fundamentals of dvaita -- dvaita philosophy is also called TATTVA VAADA:


1. Hari is Supreme
2. The world is real
3. There are five differences between
a. ishwara and jeeva
b. jeeva and jada
c. ishwara and jada
d. jeeva and jeeva
e. jada and jada
These differences are real
4. jeeva depends on Hari alone
5. there are three types of jeevas
a. neecha jeevas who are ever down and suffering
b. madhya jeevas who revolve around the jagat or world
c. uttama jeevas who are eligible to get liberated
6. mukthi or liberation is realizing bliss of one's nature
7. amalaa bhakthi or pure devotion is the means to realization
8. there are three pramaanas of pratyaksha or perception, anumaana or inference and sruthi or scriptures
9. HARI alone is praised and to be known through various scriptures.

Each of the above is exhaustive and vast to be dealt here.

The main emphasis of this system is broughout in a small verse of madhva thus:

etat tu paratantram sarvameva hareh sadaa
vasham ithyeva jaanaathi samsaaraat muchyathe hi sa

He who knows himself to dependent and HARI alone to be independent, he gets liberated from samsaara.

The differences between insentient entities or jadas, sentient entities or jeevas and hari is real -- ever present differences. jadas and jeevas are dependent on HARI who alone is independent. If a person knows himself to be dependent on HARI, what he does is gains devotion and surrender to HARI. Thus he gets liberated from samsaara by the grace of HARI. Liberation is not merging into the Lord but it is enjoying the bliss in oneself by getting clear knowledge about HARI & thereby the person ever lives as a devotee to HARI.

This brings us to the end of analysis of the three main systems of Vedanta. We will try to look into the other systems of vedanta in short -- but these have very few following and hence will not be of that much importance to learn or go through.

After dealing with the various systems in brief, we will again enter into the various concepts of Advaita.

Humble salutations to all.


Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Vishista advaita in brief


Let's now see the philosophy of vishista advaita in brief. It wouldn't be wrong to say that this is the first of the entire set of vaishnava vedanta philosophies. The main propounder of this philosophy is Ramanuja. Ramanuja did study under an advaita guru but deviated and hence the birth of the new system.

This system tries to merge vaishnava philosophy with vedanta. It is but a fact that before Ramanuja and Bhaskara, there was only the system of Advaita propagated by Sankara. Ramanuja does mention about getting the commentary of Bodhaayana on the Brahma Sutras but the copy Ramanuja got was a mutilated one and it is also tough to trace out the same as Ramanuja doesn't give many quotations from that vritti in his Sri Bhashya. So as to this system being traditional and followed from time immemorial, it is under doubt and cannot be concluded.

The vishista advaita system bases itself mainly on the Sri Bhashya, the magnum opus of Ramanuja. Other important authors in this school are Vedanta Desika, Sudarshana Suri whose sub commentary srutha prakashika on the Sri Bhashya was preserved by Vedanta Desika and ranga ramanuja who wrote the upanishad bhashyas.

Ramanuja hasn't commented on the upanishads but he has discussed many upanishad vakyas in his sri bhashya. For upanishads, we do have the commentary of ranga ramanuja.

The basic philosophy of Vishista advaita is thus:

There are three distinct entities: Jeeva - the various individual beings who are associated with a particular body-mind complex, jada - the insentient entities in the world and Ishwara - creator, protector who is Vishnu and termed in scriptures as Brahman.

The Brahman of vishista advaita is not formless and partless, instead he has the parts of jeevas and jadaas. Vishnu's body is made up of jeevas and jadaas - thus the relation between jeeva-jada & Vishnu is that of Shareera shareeri bhaava. The way to realize is to surrender totally unto Vishnu which is termed as prapatti.

Vedanta in general speaks about four types of mukthi or moksha:
1. Salokya - getting the loka of the Lord
2. Sameepya - getting near the Lord as his servant
3. Saroopya - getting the same form as that of the Lord
4. Sayujya - merging into the Lord

Vishistadvaita believes in sameepya mukthi or getting close to Vishnu in Vaikunta. The jeeva can never become the Lord because he is different from the Lord and he is just a part of the Lord.

Thus the advaitic sruthi statements are with respect to the Lord as a whole & the dvaitic statements are with respect to the jeevas-jadas. Thus both are true. Vishistadvaita believes that it is only by their system that there can be true justice to all sruthi statements (both advaitic and dvaitic).

Since Brahman is qualified by jeevas and jadas, therefore this system is termed as Vishista advaita. Brahman is not nirguna but possesses infinite gunas.

To sum up:
1. Brahman is Vishnu
2. Vishnu has parts of jeevas and jadas
3. Mukthi is being near to vishnu and doing service to him
4. Mukthi is achieved through prapatti or surrender


Saturday, August 19, 2006

Advaita Vedanta in brief


Humble salutations to all.

Today we will discuss in brief Advaita Vedanta. It is not possible of explain such a vast system in short but still we will try to discuss just the core of Advaita Vedanta.

It is but a fact that Advaita Vedanta has the most number of followers. As we have already discussed, Advaita Vedanta bases itself on the Gaudapada Karika (Gaudapaada was Sankara's guru Govindapaada's Guru -- who wrote a karika on the Mandukya Upanishad) and the works of Sankaracharya.

The list of Sankara's works are exhaustive but in general he wrote bhashyas on the dasha upanishads (isa, kena, katha, prashna, mundaka, maandukya, taittirya, aitareya, chandogya and brihadaranya), Bhagavad Gita and the Brahma Sutras. He also wrote prakarana granthas or works explaining just a particular part of the entire philosophy but not the entire philosophy. Some of his most famous prakarana granthas are Vivekachoodamani, Upadesa Sahasri, Dakshinamurthy Astakam etc.

Sankara had four main disciples who are:
1. Padmapaada who wrote the work Panchapaadika which is an exposition of the contents of the Brahma Sutra Bhashya of Sankara.
2. Haastamalaka who wrote the short work Hastaamalakeeya which is said to have been commented upon by the Guru Adi Sankaracharya.
3. Totaka who wrote the Totakaastakam
4. Sureshwaracharya who is known as the Vartikakaara -- wrote Vartikas on Sankara's Brihadaranyaka and Taittiriya Upanishad bhashyas, Dakshinamurthy astakam of Sankara, Panchikaranam of Sankara & an independent Vedantic treatise called Naishkarmya Siddhi.

There are many acharyas who have been writing works on Advaita from centuries and even to date. The latest works of Advaita can be said to be works of Sacchidanandendra Saraswathi of Holenarsipur, M M Anantakrishna Sastri's works, Advaitamoda of Vasudeva Sastri Abhayankar, Vivekachoodamani commentary of Swami Chandrasekhara Bharathi of Sringeri and Soundarya Lahari commentary of Swami Chandrasekharendra Saraswathi of Kanchi.

Let us now try to see the basics of Advaita Vedanta.

The word Advaita means "one without second" or "no duality". As per Advaita, there is no two entities. There is only one real entity called as Brahman in the Upanishads. This one alone really exists. It is from this one that other things seem to have been created. The creation is only a seeming one and not a real one. The one entity is eternal and changeless. There cannot be any creation from the changeless entity. There is nothing apart from the one entity for that one entity to create other things. This is supported by Chandogya statement "sadeva soumya idam agre aaseet, ekam eva adviteeyam" --- the entity alone existed prior to creation.

Since before creation, that one entity alone existed -- therefore creation is not possible out of something other than that entity of Brahman. Brahman is also changeless as if it changes, it will become non-eternal. Since no change is possible from Brahman, Brahman cannot create anything out of itself. Thus the creation that we see which sruthi propounds as having come from Brahman is not a real one but just an empirical one. The creation is thus an adhyaaropa or superimposition on the ultimate reality of Brahman. This theory of apparent creation from Brahman is called Vivarta vaada. The best example of vivarta is that of seeing snake in the rope. There is no real snake in the rope created but snake is just an illusion apparently seen in the rope.

Similarly the world is never really created from Brahman but just seems to be created out of Brahman.

Brahman is of the nature of Existence, Consciousness and Bliss. Brahman has to be Existence because if it doesn't exist, it cannot be eternal. That Brahman is eternal has to be accepted on the basis of sruthi as well as yukthi. Yukthi shows that since we see something in the world -- that something needs to have a real creator or an apparent creation from a creator who is the substratum of the creation. Thus the substratum has to be existent and cannot be a void or shoonya. Thus Brahman is SAT or existence. If Brahman has to exist, it needs to experience its own existence or it needs to be conscious of its existence. Thus Brahman has to be of the nature of Consciousness. That which is existence and consciousness has to be blissful as well because when we are conscious of something, then we get bliss out of that thing. Thus that which is ever conscious of its own existence has to be blissful.

Thus Brahman is of the nature of Existence, Consciousness and Bliss.

Our own very nature or the "I" that pulsates in each one of us is Consciousness. Since this Consciousness is eternal and ever present -- it has to be one with Brahman. Because there is no duality in Brahman, thus there cannot be two consciousness but only one. Since there can be only one Consciousness, therefore we all are Brahman alone. "WE" here is only at the empirical level but the Consciousness underlying each one of us is the same only as there cannot be multiple Consciousness.

Thus we all are the reality of Brahman, one without a second.

Then why do we not get bliss of ourselves??? This is because we seem to have forgotten our nature of Brahman. This is called Avidya or Maya or ignorance. Ignorance cannot really be spoken about or explained because it is not a reality. A person can never forget his own existence but still he seems to have forgotten his nature of Brahman because else he would be blissful which he is not currently. Thus avidya is said to be anirvachaneeya or inexplicable.

This avidya is not a real entity but only seems to be present -- this seeming avidya vanishes when a person gets knowledge that "I am brahman" by contemplating on it continuously.

Thus avidya vanishes through scriptural knowledge that "I am brahman" and experiencing Brahman as the underlying substratum of everything that seems to be present.

Advaita is summarized by sankara in a half-verse thus

Brahma Satyam Jagan Mithyaa Jeevo Brahmaiva Na Parah

1. Brahman is the ultimate reality
2. The world is only an illusion in Brahman
3. Jeeva or individual existence is nothing but Brahman alone.

We will see into the intricate details of Advaita at a later time after going through the summary of each of the sub schools of Vedanta.

Humble salutations to all.


Friday, August 11, 2006

Different Vedantic Schools


Prostrations to all.

Today we will try to see the different vedantic schools. Vedanta is a subjectic science and is the science of the knowledge of the ultimate reality of Brahman.

But reality is perceived in different ways by people at different levels. A person might see it in a different way than other another person as per the level he is currently in. As Sankara says in his Brahma Sutra Bhashya, Jnaana or knowledge of the reality is Vasthu Tantra and not karthru tantra meaning that it depends only on Brahman and not on the perceiver. But still as is the mind, so is the perception of the reality limited by the mind. As per Sankara's statement and as per the Upanishads, Brahman is the ultimate non-dual reality of the nature of Existence, Consciousness and Bliss absolute.

The system which propounds that Brahman alone exists and other things are mere illusions in Brahman is called Advaita Vedanta. Advaita means that which is devoid of duality or one alone.

This philosophy can be traced back to Yoga Vasistha which is a teaching to Rama by Vasistha (even though certain later vedantic acharyas claim that this is not that ancient work), the Upanishads, Gita and Brahma Sutra.

But this philosophy of Advaita was clearly expounded by Gaudapada in his karikas on the Mandukya Upanishad. It was further carried on by none other than Adi Sankaracharya through the various bhashyas, prakarana granthas and anusandhaana granthas.

This philosophy of Advaita is really tough to apprehend and even if a person is able to apprehend it, he may not be able to implement it in its full. Thus different other systems of Vedanta started coming each of which was propagated by an acharya and each system claiming that it is the system that is the true interpretation of Vedanta.

Vedanta in general was known through the prasthaana trayas which are Upanishads (10 of which are major ones and have been commented by Adi Sankaracharya), Bhagavad Gita (which is a part of the Mahabharatha) and the Brahma Sutras authored by Veda Vyaasa.

Each system of Vedanta was based on commentaries on the prasthana trayas by respective acharyas.

The below are the main sub schools of Vedanta, their propounders or creators and main commentaries on the same:

1. Advaita Vedanta -- Adi Sankaracharya -- bhashyas on dasha Upanishads, Bhagavad Gita and Brahma Sutra bhasya called Shaareraka Mimamsa bhashya.
2. Vishista Advaita Vedanta -- Ramanujacharya -- bhashya on Bhagavad Gita, three bhashyas on Brahma Sutra (Vedanta saara which is smallest, Vedanta deepa which is medium and his magnum opus called Sri Bhashya) -- Ramanuja didn't comment on the Upanishads but does deal with meanings of certain upanishad vakyas in his Sri Bhashya -- Ranga ramanuja, a later vishishta advaitin, commented on the Upanishads.
3. Dvaita Vedanta -- Madhvacharya -- bhashyas on major upanishads, gita bhashya and three bhashyas on Brahma Sutra (Nyaaya vivarana, anu bhaashya and a metrical commentary criticising other systems of Vedanta).
4. Bheda abhedha Vedanta -- Bhaskaracharya -- bhashya on the brahma sutra.
5. Dvaita advaita Vedanta -- Nimbarkacharya -- bhashya on the brahma sutra.
6. Shuddha advaita Vedanta -- Vallabhacharya -- bhashya on Bhagavad Gita and brahma sutras (commentary on brahma sutras was not complete and was completed by his son).
7. Achintya bhedha abhedha Vedanta -- Chaitanya Mahaprabhu -- commentary on brahma sutras written by baladeva)

As to the summary of these systems, we will see these in future postings.

Prostrations to all.


Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Moksha --- Vedantic view


Let us now try to analyze Moksha or liberation as per Vedanta. We all are familiar with the word MOKSHA which means liberation.

What is liberation?
Getting rid of bondages is liberation.

Thus liberation is valid as long as bondage is valid. If there is no bondage, then there is no liberation as well. Thus we have to first understand that moksha is there only for the seeker who considers himself as bonded.

Bondage is what leads a person to sorrows and sufferings. Once a person considers himself as bonded by time, he becomes limited by time. This limited feeling causes him to have sorrow. Thus bondage is limited-ness which causes sorrows and sufferings.

Liberation -> getting rid of bondage -> getting rid of limited-ness -> getting rid of sorrows and sufferings.

In Vedantic terminology, moksha -> poorna dukha nivritti.

Here we come to a subtle and controversial topic as to whether moksha is sukha praapthi or dukha nivritti. Many acharyas have answered for and against each of these.

We feel dukha all around and at all times. Thus moksha has to be dukha nivritti. But when this dukha is removed, there will be poorna sukha or aananda of the Self (bliss). Thus dukha nivritti in turn leads to sukha praapthi or aananda praapthi. Therefore moksha can be said to be dukha nivritti leading to aananda.

Moksha -> dukha nivritti leading to aananda anubhava.

Sukha even something which is newly attained will be temporary and hence sukha is permanent only if it is inherent and always present in the seeker. Dukha also similarly has to be illusory if it has to be removed. Since dukha nivritti is moksha, therefore dukha is mithyaa or unreal. Thus dukha nivritti is also only an illusion. This illusion is not really valid but it is valid as long as the seeker experiences dukha. Thus moksha is valid only for that person who is in bandha.

Mundaka Upanishad thus summarizes moksha

Sa yo ha vai tat paramam brahma veda brahmaiva bhavathi
tarathi shokam tarathi paapmaanam guhaagranthibhyo vimuktho amrito bhavathi

He who knows the ultimate reality of Brahman verily becomes Brahman. He overcomes sorrows, sins and having got rid of the three knots of the heart, he becomes immortal.


Friday, July 28, 2006

About the individual Hariram


Few words about the individual that I am - Hariram. I was born and brought up in a spiritual brahmin family in Trivandrum. During my childhood, I used to listen to Rudram and Kanda Shasthi Kavacham all the time - I used to sleep listening to the same only.

Years rolled by with singing bhajans and learning puranic stories. Then came 1991 when I was 10 years old and my life took a drastic change. I met my Guru, Sadguru Mata Amritanandamayi Devi, and became an ardent devotee of AMMA. It was at the same time that I started listening to Prof. Balakrishnan Nair's discourses on Chatussutri Brahma Sutra.

In 1994, I got my upanayana from AMMA and started learning scriptural books though not fully analyzing it or having full involvement in it. Did my schooling in Kendriya Vidyalaya and engineering in Kottayam. After engg was over, stayed for some time at AMMA's ashram in cochin learning computer courses. It was during that time that started learning Vedantic work with deeper analysis.

In 2003, got selected in Infosys and had training in pune for 4 months -- from then on started a journey of learning vedantic works in detail which is still going on and on. Was posted permanently in chennai where stayed alone learning vedanta and writing few works (explanation of sanskrit works) in english on vedanta.

Currently, as of 2006 July, am deputed at client location in New Jersey, US.

Life is going on and on with learning vedanta and trying to focus on the ultimate reality of Brahman.

About interests, philosophy gets the first place above even work and other things. Then comes music and sanskrit. Other things are not given that much importance but still watch movies, do chit-chat etc.

About nature, am short-tempered, shy, not good at making friends but once am a friend go beyond limits and committed to spiritual relationships. Am not good at talking to opposite sex, willing and happy to be left alone -- these are some of my nature.

By the grace of AMMA, am trying to always contemplate on the ultimate reality of Brahman -- that everything is but Brahman, one without a second. Hope to have this constant thought in the mind and help out whoever is wanting any spiritual help whatever it may be, whenever it may be and wherever it may be.

Salutations to all.


Wednesday, July 26, 2006



Humble salutations to all.

Vedanta affirms that "I", "You", "Everything" is nothing but the ultimate reality of Brahman of the nature of Existence, Consciousness and Bliss absolute. It is but a pity that very few realize their own very nature -- the rest get deluded into the various superimpositions in the form of "I am this body, I am so and so" etc. All these are definitions of the body-mind-intellect complex whereas "I" am beyond all these as the substratum of all these illusory entities.

Realization of this real nature of "I" as ultimate reality of Brahman, the one and only entity present, is the main aim of human life. Until this realization dawns, there will be births and deaths which is full of sorrows-sufferings.

It is ignorance of one's own very nature of Brahman which causes a person to think that he is suffering and will be having birth-death. Once realization dawns through knowledge about the reality of Brahman, then there will be no ignorance at all but bliss, bliss and bliss alone. Realization is possible only through knowledge of the reality of Brahman. Knowledge of Brahman which is the Subject of all objects is possible only through study of scriptures and knowledge taught by the Guru.

Study of scriptures and getting a Guru, surrendering to the Guru should be the prime task of each individual. This alone can give him eternal bliss - that which is being sought by each and every person irrespective of caste, creed etc.

Let us all try to realize our own very nature of Brahman through study of scriptures in this particular blog. Come, let us analyze and understand the subtle concepts of Vedanta in the various postings in the blog.

Salutations to all.


Vedanta -- the key to eternal bliss

Vedanta is the key to eternal bliss. As Yajnavalkya says in Brihadaranyaka Upanishad that sravana (listening), manana (reflection) and nidhidhyaasana (contemplation) of the ultimate reality of Brahman as one's own very nature is the key to eternal bliss and complete cessation of sorrow.