Saturday, 18 July 2009

The Spiritual Journey

The Spiritual Journey

Swāmi Paramārthānandā has been teaching the Vedāntik scriptures for the last three decades in the form of regular classes at various centres in Chennai. All these classes are based on whatever knowledge Swāmiji has received from His Guru and also whatever He has gathered from various commentaries written by Āchāryas belonging to this holy tradition, the tradition which we still are worshipping today.

As Swāmiji was sharing this knowledge through these classes, He found that He had to develop His own methodology of presentation or communication to suit the modern times and also students who are attending these classes. And as Swāmiji was evolving this methodology, gradually He found Himself using several words and expressions, phrases, principles, acronyms etc. These words are very useful for communication and therefore have been used very frequently. Though these words are very useful tools for those students who know these words, but these very expressions will become an obstacle for those students who do not understand those expressions. Unfortunately, these phrases cannot be found in any dictionary also. Therefore in this talk, Swāmiji has collected those expressions and phrases, at least the prominent ones and has presented them in the form of a talk. And since Guru Pūrnimā will be a nice day, this method is dedicated to the Guru Paramparā and their blessings are sought.

These words have been arranged in such a way that they will form a spiritual scheme of Sādhanā or a progressive scheme. Of course all these phrases cannot be dealt with elaborately, because this is the essence of over 30 years of teaching. Therefore the aim is to only give notes and assuming that for most of the students , it will ring a bell and help in revising later.

Topic 1 – R-I-D-E

The spiritual journey beings with Karma Yoga which has been elaborated described in the third chapter of the Bhagavad Gītā. And Karma Yoga is generally presented in the form of a simple expression.

Proper action + proper attitude = Karma Yoga.

This is presented in the form of the word RIDE, alphabets standing for …
R – Reduce Adhārmik activities
I – Increase Dhārmik activities
D – Dedicate all actions to the Lord
E – Experience everything as Prasāda

R – Reduce Adhārmik activities

By reduction of Adhārmik activities, what is meant is the gradual reduction of all the Adhārmik activities with an intention to make them either minimum or zero if possible.
And what are Adhārmik activities ? They are nothing but all those actions and responses in life which become obstacles to our spiritual growth. In Sanskrit, actions means Karma and responses mean Pratikarma. Karma and Pratikarma can later become Pratibandha or obstacles to spiritual growth and hence should be reduced. A list of such activities are given in the 16th chapter of the Gītā in the form of Āsurī Sampat.

In simple language, we can say that reduction of Karma and Pratikarma is avoidance of all those activities and responses which I do not want to encounter myself. I should not do to others what I do not want others to do to me. That means that I should watch my actions and responses and then I should identify those which are inappropriate.

After identifying them as inappropriate, I may find some of them unavoidable or necessary. You ignore them but initially identify avoidable inappropriate actions and responses. And if we are sincere and honest, we can always identify many inappropriate actions and responses which we can avoid. And once we avoid the avoidable, the unavoidable will also become avoidable by the Grace of the Lord. And sooner or later, all the inappropriate behaviours will come down – this is a very significant discipline “R".

I – Increase Dhārmik activities

Then "I" represents increase of Dhārmik activities. And as a part of Dhārmik activities, the Pancha Mahā Yajnāha have been emphasised. The Pancha Mahā Yajnāha are extremely versatile set of religious cum spiritual disciplines. These Pancha Mahā Yajnāha are

- Deva Yajnaha
- Bhūta Yajnaha
- Manushya Yajnaha
- Brahma Yajnaha
- Pitru Yajnaha

And these five Yajnāhā have got both ritualistic version and non-ritualistic version.

What are the ritualistic versions ?

- Deva Yajnaha is regular worship of God either in the form of Agnihotram or Aupāsanam or Sandhyāvandanam or Panchāyatana Pūjā or any form of regular Pūjā. These are ritualistic forms of Deva Yajnaha.
- Bhūta Yajnaha also has got a ritualistic version in the form of a ritual called Vaishva Devam or in the form of Tulasi Pūjā or in the form of Go Pūjā.
- Then Manushya Yajnaha is honouring guests and offering food to them.
- Brahma Yajnaha is the performance of a ritual called Brahma Yajnaha in which Rishīs and scriptures are honoured.
- Finally Pitru Yajnaha is regular offering of Namaskāra to parents and taking care of them when they are old and performance of Shrāddham Tarpanam etc after their departures.

What are the non-ritualistic versions ?

- Deva Yajnaha is our reverential attitude and worship of our Pancha Mahā Bhūtāni – Space, Fire, Air, Water and Earth. Reverential attitude towards them will be called Deva Yajnaha in which worship the Lord in the form of Vishva Rūpa Ishvara.
- Bhūta Yajnaha is reverential attitude towards all the plants and animals and my reverential contribution for the protection of nature, protection of environment and protection of ecological balance. All my reverential contribution will come under Bhūta Yajnaha.
- Non-ritualistic Manushya Yajnaha is in the form of all kinds of social service that I do through varieties of clubs and associations available.
- Brahma Yajnaha is my reverential contribution to the preservation and propagation of scriptural learning by supporting those Āchāryas, those institutions which support and propagate such activities.
- Finally Pitru Yajnaha is whatever I do for the protection of the family and protection and honouring of our ancestors and also honouring our senior citizens in general. A society is matured only when it takes care of its senior citizens properly with reverence.

Thus, in ritualistic and non-ritualistic ways, when I follow the Pancha Mahā Yajnāha, it will come under increase of Dhārmik activities.

D – Dedicate all actions to the Lord

The third is dedicate all the actions to the Lord. But this, we mean we inform the Lord hat spiritual growth is my priority and my primary goal. All the materialistic consequences are by-products and they are subservient to my spiritual growth. Informing this to the Lord while performing all my activities, be it secular or sacred, remembering this is Īshvara Ārādhanā Rūpam Karma comes under this topic.

E – Experience everything as Prasāda

Finally “E” is the most important thing - experience of everything as Īshvara Prasāda. There is no injustice in the world. Whatever I am going through is a just experience. I should never challenge God by raising the question – why me ? I accept calmly and coolly and I look for hidden message in and through all the experience especially the hidden messages in painful experiences. This attitude of Prasāda Bhāvanā is represented by “D”

All these ideas put together is called RIDE.

Topic 2 – 4S

Then the next topic is benefits of Karma Yoga – called 4S.
- Self esteem
- Serenity
- Setup harmony
- Spiritual growth

Since Karma Yoga involves more and more contribution and less and less of consumption, I become a contributor rather than a consumer. And the more I contribute, I find a meaning to my life and it will remove my low self image or inferiority complexes etc and I naturally develop self esteem or self respect. And by this word self esteem, arrogance or superiority complex is not referred to. What is meant is freedom from inferiority complex. There is a beautiful Subhāshitam that says

Gauravam Prāpyate Dānāt Na Tu Vittasya Sanchayāt
Sthithi Ucchaihi Payodānām Pyaodhīnām Adhasthitihi

A person gets more and more Gauravam or respect and honour by giving out and not by amassing or hoarding wealth. For this, a beautiful example is given – the rain beaing giver-clouds have a higher stature than the ocean which receives the waters from all over. Even when Bhagavān wanted to receive something from Mahābali, Bhagavān had to take Vāhamana Rūpam, a small form when he was a receiver. Hence, reception makes me lower while contribution or charity makes me taller. Therefore Karma Yoga being contributory in nature will increase my self esteem.

Then the second benefit is serenity. Because I accept every experience as Īshvara Prasāda, I do not react to those experience. Any Prasāda isr received reverentially without judgement. It may be tasty Pāyasam or it may be a little bit mud – whatever be the type of Prasāda, Samattvam is there. Therefore Karma Yoga promotes serenity.

Then the third benefit is setup harmony. Because a Karma Yogī contributes to the entire creation in the form of Pancha Mahā Yajnāha, the infrastructure around him at the micro level – family and macro level – society and even the environment, are all maintained in harmony. Harmony of the surroundings is at the micro and macro levels. This is called setup harmony, the third “S”.

And the fourth “S” is spiritual growth. By spiritual growth, what is meant is, getting a mind which is ready for Jnāna Yoga which is the next level of spiritual journey. Jnānam Yogyatā Prāptihi is spiritual growth. In technical language, this is called Sādhana Chatushtaya Sampattihi. And to indicate this growth, we have been using two expressions
- FIR decrease
- CCC increase

In FIR Decrease
- F : stands for frequency of emotional disturbances
- I – means intensity of emotional disturbances. The intensity is high when it is at the level of mind, speech and body. The intensity is medium when it is at the level of mind and speech only. And the intensity is low, when it is at the level of mind only. Thus the emotional disturbance can be of highest, medium and low
- R – refers to the recovery period. The time that is taken for coming to normalcy.

And spiritual growth is reduction in all these three – Frequency, intensity and recovery period with regards to emotional disturbances gradually coming down

What is CCC ?
C – represents calmness
C – represents cheerfulness. Expressed calmness is cheerfulness
C – confidence. Self confidence.

And when FIR comes down, CCC will gradually increase. Therefore what is spiritual growth : Decreased FIR + increased CCC.

And as the spiritual growth takes place, a person will gravitate towards Jnāna Yoga and he will be interested in Jnāna Yoga.

What is Jnāna Yoga ? Technically, it is defined as Shravanam Mananam and Nididhyāsanam. But we have been using an expression : consistent and systematic study of Vedāntik scriptures for a length of time under the guidance of a competent and live Āchārya. This requires two types of preparation.

The first preparation is called PORT reduction
- P – represents possession
- O – represents obligations or responsibilities
- R – represents relationships
- T – represents transactions.
If you study, these four factors are inter-connected. And increase of any one will increase the other three and decrease of anyone will decrease the other three. They come as a package and they provide you with an infrastructure. This PORT infrastructure has its advantages and disadvantages.

Advantage is that is that they are ideal for doing more and more Karma and contributing to material prosperity. PORT provides and ideal infrastructure for doing more Karma and contributing to material prosperity.

But the disadvantage is that the very same PORT is an infrastructure which will be an obstacle to Jnāna Yoga or deep study and contemplation. Why is this so ? Firstly, PORT will take all your time and then one will not have time for study or contemplation.

The second reason is that PORT will create more and more mental pre-occupation. If you study any of your mental pre-occupation, it will be connected one of these four P or O or R or T. Therefore PORT makes the mind shallow and reduces the attention span. Therefore one of the preparations for Jnāna Yoga is reducing the PORT as much as possible. The amount of reduction is a subjective decision, but the aim of a Jnāna Yogi should be PORT reduction to get quality time and also to get a un-preoccupied deep mind for study and contemplation. Therefore the first preparation is PORT reduction.

Then the second preparation is CLASP rejection or CLASP renunciation or Āntara Sanyāsa or inner Sanyāsa. What do they represent ?

- Cl – represents the sense of ownership and controller-ship which is called Abhimāna. The sense of ownership and controllership with regards to body-mind-complex is called Ahankāra. And the sense of ownership and controllership with regards to the family and possession is called Mamakāra. Therefore Cl stands form Aham Mama Abhimāna. And the moment Cl comes, the next one automatically comes which is ..

- A – anxiety. All our anxieties are connected with either Aham or Mama. We don’t have any anxiety the local auto-rickshaw driver. Therefore Cl and A go together. And once Cl and A comes…

- SP is a natural consequence. SP means special prayers or Sakāma Prārthanā. Different forms of prayers which are Sakāma are instead of Nishkāma Bhakti or Prārthanā. Nishkāma Prārthanā is all forms of prayers meant for Loka Kshema and spiritual growth. Any prayer meant for the wellbeing of the world or the spiritual growth is called Nishkāma Prārthana and any prayer for anything other than these two, come under Sakāma Prārthana. Sakāma Prārthana will increase when Cl and A will increase.

Therefore CLASP go together as a package. And if Jnāna Yoga should succeed, one has to take to the CLASP rejection which Krishna presents in the Gītā as

Jneyasya Nityā Sanyāsi Yo Na Dvesti Na Kānkshati
Nirdvandvo Hi Mahā Bāho Sukham Bandhāt Pramuchyate

Kāshāya Vastram represents CLASP rejection. We cannot avoid the arrival of anxiety because it is very natural to human beings. CLASP rejection refers to not encouraging, supporting and nourishing the arrived anxiety. This can be done by dropping the Ahankāra Mamakāra Abhimānam by remembering that everything belongs to Īshvara alone, including the body and family. I am not an owner of anything and I am not a controller of anything. I am only a contributor and I never own or control anything.

Bhagavān can give anything at any time and Bhagavān can take away anything including the breath that I have. This awareness is CLASP rejection. I consider this also as an extremely important preparation for Jnāna Yoga

Then comes the actual Jnāna Yoga which is going through the spiritual education program by exposing myself to consistent and systematic study. When I go through a spiritual education program for a length of time, I get the message from the Vedāntic scriptures.

And what is the message from Vedāntic scriptures ? This is in the form of five capsules of Vedānta. Without elaborating, the five capsules are

- I am of the nature of eternal and all pervading consciousness.
- I am the only source of permanent, peace, security and happiness
- By my mere presence, I give life to the material body and through the body, I experience the material universe. The word “body” includes the mind because the mind is also a subtle form of body
- I am not affected by anything that takes place in the material world and in the material body, including the material mind
- By forgetting my nature, I convert life into a struggle and by remembering my nature, I convert life into a sport or entertainment.

These are the five capsules which I am supposed to receive and assimilate through Shravanam, Mananam and Nididhyāsanam, namely Jnāna Yoga.

What is the meaning of the word consciousness ? the five features are given
- Consciousness is not part, product or property of the body
- Consciousness is an independent entity or principle which pervades and enlivens the body
- Consciousness is not limited by the boundaries of the body
- Consciousness continues to exist or survive even after the death of the body
- The surviving consciousness is not accessible because of the absence of the body medium

I have to understand these five features of principle of consciousness and later I should learn to use the word "I" in the meaning of this consciousness. And when I can do these two together, I can call myself a Jnāna Yogī. Jnāna Yogi is one who learns these five features and trains his mind to use the word "I", not in the meaning of the body or even in the meaning of mind, but "I" as this consciousness principle. The one who practices this is called a Jnāna Yoga Abhyāsaha

And then comes the final topic. Every spiritual seeker, first has to go through the Karma Yoga Sādhana which is compulsory for all and every spiritual seeker has to go through Jnāna Yoga Sādhana later. Both are compulsory for all. Bhakti Yoga is the name of the combined Karma Yoga and Jnāna Yoga.

So Karma Yoga + Jnāna Yoga = Bhakti Yogaha.

This is handled in the 12th chapter of the Bhagavad Gītā. And when a spiritual seeker travels from Karma Yoga to Jnāna Yoga, when a Karma Yogi becomes a Jnāna Yogi, his mindset is totally changed. A Karma Yoga mindset is transformed into Jnāna Yoga mindset, and we have been seeing this in the form of “Format Conversion”. This is loaded expression. Format Conversion is transition of Karma Yoga mindset to Jnāna Yoga mindset.

A Karma Yogi has a world view which can be presented in a triangular format of Jīva, Jagat and Īshvara.
- Component 1 : This means I am an individual Jīva
- Component 2 : I look upon the world as Jagat which I confront in front of me, a world which gives me varieties of problems
- Component 3 : God is someone who is other than Jīva and Jagat, who is separate from and who is a creator. This is the world a Karma Yogi has.

And naturally a Karma Yogi looks upon Moksha as a future event which he intensely yearns for. He thinks that one day he will get Moksha and then all his sufferings will go away. He also thinks that Moksha will give him the freedom from the cycle of birth and death. Thus freedom from suffering and freedom from the cycle of birth and death, which has to happen in the future is the Moksha that a Karma Yogi looks forward to.

And when a person enters Karma Yoga, this triangular format is totally changed. A Jnāna Yoga has a world view which can be presented in a binary format of Ātmā and Anātmā. This means that I am not an individual Jīva but I am the consciousness principle. All those five features and five capsules should flash in our mind and I am the Ātmā of the above description – the knowledge which I have received through Jnāna Yoga training.

And once I practice to claim this fact, my attitude towards Moksha has to totally change. No more is Moksha a future event because I the consciousness am the illuminator of the sufferings of the body-mind-complex. But "I" the Ātmā myself do not have any sufferings in all the three periods of time. Therefore there is no question of freedom from sufferings. Therefore I remove that mindset consistently. Since I have practiced and developed these Vāsanā as a Karma Yogi. As a Jnāna Yogī, I eliminate that. There is no question of freedom from suffering because I the Ātmā do not have any sufferings to be free from. All the so-called pains and pleasures belong to the material body and world, the Anātmā, and I am the non-material Ātmā.

Thus claiming the Moksha as my Svarūpam is a new mindset. Also, as a Karma Yogi, I wanted freedom from the cycle of birth and death. And when I offer Namaskāra to the Lord or the Guru, I prayed for this all along. This is all fine as a Karma Yogi. As a Jnāna Yogi, I should never use the word, freedom from the cycle of birth and death because "I" the Ātmā, being of the nature of eternal and all pervading consciousness, I do not have the cycle. The cycles of Anātmā are going on inside of me. Therefore I am Nitya Muktaha, ever free from birth and death.

Practicing this kind of Nitya Muktatvam, is called the nourishment of the binary format. A Karma Yogi nourishes triangular format. And for a Jnāna Yogī, Moksha is freedom from triangular format and claiming that I am Nitya Muktaha.

And on the auspicious Guru Pūrnima day, we will pray to the entire Guru Paramparā, that according to our level, we should be able to go through the entire spiritual journey, come to binary format and claim that I am Nitya Muktaha. Whith these words we will conclude this Guru Pūrnima speech

*** End of document ***

Purpose of Nididhyāsanam

(Guru Pūrnimā talk 2009)

Traditionally, Sanyāsis are supposed to be Parivrājakāha, moving from village to village for eight months of a year. Even though this is not practiced now, traditionally Sanyāsis are supposed to live such a life.

And during the four months of the rainy seasons, they are supposed to live or stay in a village and teach Vedānta to the interested villagers available around. And these four months of rainy season, being with the Pournami day, are known as Guru Pūrnimā. Albeit this being done as a ritual, the orthodox Sanyāsis have reduced the four months of Chāturmāsya into two months and generally during these two months, Vedānta is being taught to the public.

In this talk we will discuss on one such topic of Vedānta. Naturally this talk is addressed to those students of Vedānta who have got a fairly good background of Vedāntik teaching. Today we will discuss the topic of Nididhyāsanam as a unique Vedāntik discipline.

Last year in 2008, while talking the spiritual journey, we saw the two stages of Sādhanā in the form of Karma Yoga and Jnāna Yoga. Karma Yoga is a preparation for Jnāna Yoga. And Jnāna Yoga leads to Jnānam and liberation – this was what we saw then. And this Jnāna Yoga discipline itself consists of three exercises knowledge as Shravanam, Mananam and Nididhyāsanam which we are all familiar with.

Shravanam is defined as the Vedāntānām Tātparya Nirnayaha or extracting the essential teaching of Vedānta. Shravanam is also defined as consistent and systematic study of Vedāntik scriptures for a length of time under the guidance of a competent and live Āchārya.

Mananam is defined as Yuktitaha Chintanam or logically dwelling upon the teaching until all my doubts with regards to the Vedāntik teaching are eliminated. Through the process of Mananam, I see the Vedāntik teaching as flawless and factual. Through the Mananam process, I or my intellect is able to see the Vedāntik message as flawless and factual only.

Nididhyāsanam is the internalisation or assimilation of the teaching by dwelling on the teaching in one way or the other. Nididhyāsanam is also defined as Brahma Abhyāsaha.

Brahma Abhyāsaha Nididhyāsanam

Tat Chintanam Kathanam

Anyonyam Tat Prabodhanam

Etat Eka Paratvam Cha

Brahma Abhyāsaham Vidur Bhudhāhā

Dwelling on the teaching in one way or the other, in the form of repeated listening or writing notes or trying to read the notes (!) or discussion with other students or sharing with someone. Or Nididhyāsanam can be in the form of a formal meditation also as presented in the sixth chapter of the Bhagavad Gītā. Thus, Nididhyāsanam can be done formally or informally – the aim being assimilation of the teaching so that it is spontaneously available for me to access during the day to day transactions.

Thus Shāstram presents these three fold Sādhanā in the Bruhadāranyaka Upanishad in Maitreyi Brāhmanam where Yāgnavalkya advises Maitreyi. This is the process of Shravanam, Mananam and Nididhyāsanam which we already know.

And in parallel, Vedānta talks about the process of Moksha which is the destination or goal to be accomplished through the entire spiritual Sādhanā. And the process of Moksha is presented in the form of a few stages known as Jīvan Muktihi, Videha Muktihi and Samsāra Nivrutti.

The Jīva or seeker starts as a Kartā endowed with three types of Karma – Sanchita Karma, Prārabdha Karma and Āgāmi Karma. This is the starting point of Jīva as a Samsārī.

Sanchita Karma is all the Punyam and Pāpam accumulated in millions of past Janma. Prārabdha Karma is that portion of Sanchita Karma which has been activated and which will fructify during the current Janma. Āgāmi Karma is what the Jīva accumulates during the current Janma through the good and bad actions. Thus every Jīva starts with threefold Karma which makes him a Samsārī.

And when this Jīva gains knowledge through Vedānta Sādhanā, the knowledge destroys two Karma – Sanchita and Āgāmi Karma. This Jnāni then has only Prārabdha Karma. And such a Jnāni has attained Jīvan Muktihi. Jīvan Muktihi is defined as possessing only one Karma excluding the other two Karma. Therefore the life of Jīvan Muktāhā is called Charama Janma. Charama Janma means that the Jnāni has avoided all future Janmāhā by destroying Sanchita and Āgāmi. Therefore the current Janma becomes the last Janma for a Jnāni. This is the next landmark where a Jīva attains Jīvan Muktihi.

And when this Jnāni Jīva, exhausts all the Prārabdha Karma, the current Janma and body caused by Prārabdha is destroyed and the death of a Jnāni Jīvan Muktihi is called Videha Muktihi. Videha Muktihi is defined as exhaustion of Prārabdha Karma also.

Hence the landmarks are – Jīva attains Jīvan Muktihi; there afterwards attains Videha Muktihi when the physical body drops.

After Videha Muktihi, the Jīva does not have any more Karma left out. Since no Karma is left, there is no reason for Punar Janma or coming back to this world with another body. This is called cessation of Samsāra. The word Samsāra means trans-migration – migration from one body to another. Moksha is the culmination of trans-migration.

And keeping this process of Moksha as the agenda, as the project alone, every seeker goes through Karma Yoga, Shravanam, Mananam and Nididhyāsanam. All this is already known to us and nothing new is being conveyed.

In the Sādhanā that is done for attaining Moksha, the final stage of Sādhanā is said to be Nididhyāsanam. What we want to discuss is the uniqueness of Nididhyāsanam as the final stage of Sādhanā.

We saw that tte purpose of Nididhyāsanam is internalising the teaching of Vedānta, And what is the teaching of Vedānta ? Brahma Satyam Jagat Mithyā Jivo Brahmaiva Nā Paraha. This is the message conveyed through the Mahāvākyam Tat Tvam Asi.

The Upanishads are telling me that really speaking, I am Brahman only. Tat Tvam Asi. And taking myself as a Jīva is a false notion born out of my ignorance – ignorance of the fact that I am Brahman.

Therefore in Nididhyāsanam, I have to practice two exercises

- one is claiming Brahmatvam which is my real nature

- simultaneously I should negate by Jīvatvam as a misconception

Hence Brahmatvam claiming is also important – I am Akartā, Abhoktā Brahman. And equally important is negation of my Jīvatvam because I know it is a misconception.

And the negation of my Jīva status includes another thing as a corollary, which is a unique thing which we have to observe. The process of Moksha that we saw in the beginning in the form of Jīvan Muktihi, Videha Muktihi and Samsāra Nivrutti – the entire process of Moksha is based on the idea that I am Jīva. This is because, the process of Moksha itself is discussed based on the assumption that I am a Jīva with three Karma. And based on the foundation that I am Jīva with three Karma, we talk about Jīvan Muktihi as freedom from two Karma and Videha Muktihi as freedom from three Karma and Samsāra Nivrutti freedom from trans-migration. Thus, the entire process of Moksha is based on Jīvatvam.

Now in Nididhyāsanam, I am negating Jīvatvam itself as a misconception. This is very important. This means that the process of Moksha, which is based on Jīvatvam, must also be negated along with Jīvatvam. This is because the process of Moksha is valid only based on Jīvatvam. Therefore Jīvatvam and process of Moksha are like two sides of one and the same coin. This means that negation of one thing should automatically include the negation of the other. Negation of Jīvatvam should automatically include the negation of the process of Moksha. That means that in Nididhyāsanam, the conventional and most popular Moksha must be negated and invalidated. Invalidation of the process of Moksha, invalidation of the conventional Moksha is very important part of Nididhyāsanam.

And when I invalidate the conventional Moksha, I should take away Jīvan Muktihi from my agenda. During Nididhyāsanam, I have to take away Jīvan Muktihi from my agenda because it is a misconception based on the Jīvatvam as my nature. Therefore Jīvan Muktihi cannot be a landmark. Similarly since Videha Muktihi is also based on the misconception of Jīvatvam, Videha Muktihi is also removed from the project or agenda. Samsāra Nivrutti also is based on the misconception, and hence should also be dismissed during Nididhyāsanam.

Therefore the first uniqueness of Nididhyāsanam is invalidation of the process of Moksha, invalidation of the conventional Moksha. The conventional Moksha must be seen as a Viparīta Bhāvanā. Or conventional Moksha must be seen as a temporary Adhyāropa given by Shāstram which will have to be negated at the time of Nididhyāsanam.

Therefore the first uniqueness of Nididhyāsanam is invalidation of Jīvan Muktihi, Videha Muktihi and Samsāra Nivrutti and taking them away from my agenda. I can keep them in my agenda before coming to Nididhyāsanam. But once I come to Nididhyāsanam, I have to remove them from my agenda.

The second uniqueness. While talking about Shravanam, Mananam and Nididhyāsanam, while studying different Vedāntik texts, all the scriptures talk about Sādhana Chatushtaya Sampattihi as the qualification of the student for the study of Vedānta. And by repeatedly studying different Vedāntik textbook, the student forms an opinion that Sādhana Chatushtaya Sampattihi is a condition for Moksha. This the opinion unconsciously formed during the study of Vedāntik text.

During Nididhyāsanam, the student is assimilating the teaching of Vedānta or the Mahāvākyam. And what does the Mahāvākyam say ? Moksha is my nature. That means that I am Nitya Muktaha Svarūpaha. Nature is that which is always available and which need not be accomplished and which cannot be lost. Moksha is my nature is the teaching of Mahāvākyam – which means that Moksha which is my nature, need not be accomplished and cannot be lost also. Being my nature, it does not depend upon any condition because the nature of a thing does not depend upon any condition.

Upon what condition does the heat of the fire depend ? Heat of the fire being the nature of the fire, is unconditional. Why do we say that nature is unconditional ? This is because, whatever is unconditional is defined as the nature of a thing. This means that during Nididhyāsanam, I am internalising the teaching – that Moksha is my nature which does not depend on any blessed condition including Sādhana Chatushtaya Sampattihi.

Therefore in Nididhyāsanam, one should negate Sādhana Chatushtaya Sampattihi as a condition for Moksha. This is the second uniqueness of Nididhyāsanam. Until I come to Nididhyāsanam, I had the fixation that Sādhana Chatushtaya Sampattihi is a condition. But in Nididhyāsanam, one should deliberately negate Sādhana Chatushtaya Sampattihi as a condition of Moksha and claim Moksha as my unconditional nature. It may be a disturbing fact for some people but a disturbing fact is also a fact ! the adjective does not change the validity of a fact.

Hence, the second uniqueness of Nididhyāsanam, is invalidation of Sādhana Chatushtaya Sampattihi as a condition for Moksha.

Third uniqueness. Re-validation of Sādhana Chatushtaya Sampattihi from another angle with slight modification. The previous uniqueness was invalidation of Sādhana Chatushtaya Sampattihi but the third uniqueness is re- validation. This is something that the Nididhyāsuhu, the one who practices Nididhyāsanam, must do.

Even though Sādhana Chatushtaya Sampattihi is not valid as a condition for Moksha, still the Sādhana Chatushtaya Sampattihi is very relevant from other different angles.

Firstly, Sādhana Chatushtaya Sampattihi or maintenance of Sādhana Chatushtayam is the best thanksgiving the Nididhyāsuhu must do to the Lord for bringing him up to Nididhyāsanam. Neglecting Sādhana Chatushtayam is the worst thanksgiving that one can do to Bhagavān.

Secondly Sādhana Chatushtayam maintenance is the best Guru Dakshinā a Nididhyāsuhu can give to the Guru. Neglecting Sādhana Chatushtayam is the worst Guru Dakshinā a Nididhyāsuhu can give to a Guru. Therefore as a Guru Dakshinā, Nididhyāsuhu should maintain Sādhana Chatushtayam.

Thirdly, Sādhana Chatushtayam maintenance is the best positive publicity the Nididhyāsuhu can give to Vedānta. Therefore Vedānta Prachārārtham the Nididhyāsuhu has to maintain Sādhana Chatushtayam.

Finally, Sādhana Chatushtaya Sampattihi maintenance is the best service a Nididhyāsuhu can do to the world. Perfect Sādhana Chatushtayam is never possible. And even if there is a perfect Sādhana Chatushtayam, it will keep fluctuating all the time. But maintaining Sādhana Chatushtayam is the best service called Loka Seva.

Therefore the third uniqueness of Nididhyāsanam is the re-validation of Sādhana Chatushtayam as

- Īshvara Krutajnatā

- Guru Dakshinā

- Vedānta Prachāraha

- Loka Seva

Now, the Nididhyāsuhu should maintain Sādhana Chatushtayam, but in that there should be a slight modification in the fourth point of Viveka, Vairāgya, Shatka Sampattihi, Mumukshutvam. The Nididhyāsuhu must change the Mumukshutvam as Nitya Muktatvam.

So the Nididhyāsuhu should maintain the Sādhana Chatushtayam in the forms of Viveka, Vairāgya, Shamādi Shatka Sampattihi and also maintain Nitya Muktatvam. This Nitya Muktatvam is for a different purpose of re-validation of Nididhyāsanam.

The fourth and final uniqueness is this. When I come to Nididhyāsanam, I have negated the conventional Moksha. I have removed Moksha from my agenda. I may talk about Jīvan Muktihi, Videha Muktihi from an academic angle. But from my inner most heart, as a Nididhyāsuhu, I have eliminated the conventional Moksha. Jīvan Muktihi is no more relevant to me because it is based on Jīvatvam which I don’t believe as it is a misconception. I have eliminated Videha Muktihi, Samsāra Nivrutti from my agendga since these are only provisional definitions which the Shāstram have only temporarily given. This is being give by the Shāstram from a Jīva point of view. But I have negated that conventional definition.

Then the question arises – what is the real definition of Moksha ? If the conventional or provisional definition of Moksha has been eliminated by me from my dictionary, what then should be the revised definition of Moksha for the Nididhyāsuhu ? For all other people, the conventional definition of Moksha still applies. Moksha for the Nididhyāsuhu is no more Samsāra Nivrutti but Moksha is called Svarūpa Avasthānam.

The revised and real definition of Moksha is Svarūpa Avasthānam. Svarūpa Avasthānam means claiming my real nature as constantly as possible. This is presented generally as internalising the five capsules.

These five capsules are

- I am of the nature of eternal and all pervading consciousness

- I am the only source of permanent peace security and happiness

- By my mere presence, I give life to this material body and experience this material universe

- I am never affected by any event that happens in the material world or the material body

- By forgetting my real nature, I convert life into a Samsāra or burden or struggle. By remembering my nature, I convert the life into an entertainment.

Internalising the five capsules or remaining in binary format or Svarūpa Avasthānam, is the real Moksha. Thus having redefined the Moksha, my aim is always to see the whole life as a wonderful entertainment.

And for assisting us with this, we have fantastic Mantrās and Shlokas. Some of the best ones are in the famous Kaivalya Upanishad which is worth getting by heart

Mayyeva Sakalam Jātam Mayi Sarvam Pratishthitam

Mayi Sarvam Layam Yāti Tad Brahmādvayam Asmi Aham

Where is the question of “coming to Moksha” or “going to Moksha” etc. I am the Sarva Adhishthānam Brahma and the whole world is a wonderful drama presented by My Māyā for my own entertainment.

Thus the fourth uniqueness of Nididhyāsanam is re-defining Moksha as Svarūpa Avasthānam

Now, let us consolidate all the four types of uniqueness

1) Invalidation of the conventional Moksha. Conventional Moksha being Jīvan Muktihi, Videha Muktihi, Samattvam Nivrutti

2) Invalidation of Sādhana Chatushtaya Sampattihi as a condition for Moksha

3) Re-validation of Sādhana Chatushtaya Sampattihi as Krutajnatā, Guru Dakshinā, Vedānta Prachāra, and as Loka Seva

4) Re-definition of Moksha as Svarūpa Avasthānam : practicing binary format and remembering the five capsules of Vedānta

Hari Om

Wednesday, 29 April 2009

Role of Faith in Hinduism

(Based on Sivaratri Talks - 2009)

According to our scriptures. The religious life of a Hindu has to evolve through three distinct stages. In the first stages, one gives importance to the virtue of Shraddhā and hence is a Shraddhā Pradhāna Purushaha. In the second stage, one gives importance to Dharma and become a Dharma Pradhāna Purushaha. And finally one gives importance to Jnānam and become a Jnāna Pradhāna Purushaha. Purushaha means human being irrespective of gender. Hence the religious or spiritual evolution is from Shraddhā Pradhāna Purushaha to Dharma Pradhāna Purushaha to Jnāna Pradhāna Purushaha.

And we consider that all these three stages are equally essential and important. Without the earlier stages, we cannot go to the later stages and without going to the later stages, the earlier stages remain incomplete. Therefore everyone requires all the three stages.

Coming to the first stage.

We have to understand this stage correctly so that we can use the first stage as a preliminary stage and sooner or later, transcend or grow out of the it and go to the second and third stages. In the first stage when I am Shraddhā Pradhāna Purushaha, religious life heavily consists of scriptural or scriptures prescribed rituals. In this stage, rituals in the form of Īshvara Pūjā or Ārādhanā . The Pūjā is a physical Pūjā, a concrete physical activity and Īshvara is also physicalised in the form of different types of Mūrti with various number of heads, hands, and other physical features. Īshvara is also physical and my expression of Bhakti is also physical. This stage is prescribed by the scriptures for a Hindu in the beginning. In our ritualistic portion, we have got several rituals Shrouta Karmāni involving Vedic fire, we have got several Smārtha Karma in the form of Pūjā and we have got varieties of physical austerities, observances etc. This is a ritual oriented religious way of life.

When the scriptures talk about varieties of Pūjā offered to the varieties of Mūrti, they only give instructions for the Pūjā. The Upachārāhā are enumerated one after the other and the scriptures command a person to perform them diligently. And we find that scriptures do not explain why one has to do this particular thing. The “why” of the steps are not at all mentioned in the scriptures. We are expected to exactly and implicitly do as commanded or instructed by the scriptures. Questions at this stage are not encouraged. Shankarāchārya uses the expression – Vachanāt Pravrutti Vachanāt Nivrutti. One does the ritualistic activities because it has been said so in the scriptures and one does not do certain things because they have not been said so. One does not ask any questions beyond this. Therefore this is a stage of Shraddhā Prādhānyam.

And the scriptures do not give the reason for what we are doing in the rituals and the scriptures also do not mention how a particular ritual is going to produce the result. The mechanism of the ritual is also not presented at all in the scriptures. Therefore how it works, is also not mentioned. The Shāstram does not give all the explanation because in the vision of the Shāstram, this is only a preliminary and temporary stage of religious life. One need not bother about the details and explanation of all these things. This is because once you enter into these details, you will get lost in the ritualistic aspect and you will not be able to come to the second stage. Therefore since the ritualistic portion is a preliminary and temporary stage, we follow that faithfully. And the scriptures say, if you faithfully follow these rituals without asking unnecessary questions, I will give you the guarantee that it will fructify and it will give you Prayojanam.

And the scriptures promise two types of Prayojanam. One benefit is material or worldly well being at the individual level, family level, community level, national level and at the global level. However this material well being is only a secondary result. More importantly, this stage of life will take one to the more important second stage of religious life which is Dharma Pradhāna and later Jnānam Pradhāna life.

Therefore when you are in this ritualistic stage of religion, may you utilise your faculty of faith. Shāstram promises the benefit, and hence the rituals will give me benefit. Shāstram will not mislead me and therefore I will follow what the Shāstram says. And my aim is to grow out of this and enter into the second stage as early as possible. I don’t want to get lost in unnecessary enquiries and analysis.

And the scriptures point out that the efficacy of the ritual is directly proportional to the intensity of your faith. Greater the faith, greater the result. There is a beautiful Shloka which tells this

Mantre Tīrthe Dvije Deve Daivajne Bheshaje Gurau

Yā Drushī Bhāvanā Yasya Siddhir Bhavati Tā Drushī

These following items enumerated will bless you depending upon your faith and depending upon the intensity of your faith

- Mantre : Vedic Mantra like Rudram

- Tīrthe : all sacred holy river and holy places like Gangā, Kaveri etc

- Dvije : the Āchārya who is helping you in performing the rituals

- Deve : Īshvara

- Daivajne : astrologer

- Bheshaje : the doctor and medicine

- Gurau : the teacher

How the above benefit me, depends heavily upon the mindset with which I approach. Therefore during the ritualistic stage of religious life, I am a Shraddhā Pradhāna Purushaha. And that Shraddhā or faith will work and this has been experimentally proved. We only do not know how the faith work, but we know that faith works.

And the scriptures point out, if the faith is going to work and benefit me, what is wrong in employing faith ? Just because I do not know, how it works, why should I give up faith ? I can use the faith for my benefit, because it is a faculty provided to human beings by the Lord. Just because I do not know how it works, I am not going to deprive myself of that benefit. Imagine a person arguing, that he won't use his brain because he doesn’t know how his brain works ! This is a silly argument. Let the scientists discover how the brain works after many years, I do not care. When Bhagavān has given me a faculty which can help me and which can improve the quality of my life, I will make use of that faculty. Thus in the beginning stage, I am Shraddhā Pradhāna Purushaha.

And many people think that if I claim that I have Shraddhā, I should feel ashamed because it is unscientific and irrational. Unfortunately many people feel bad to claim that they have faith in religion or scriptures. There is nothing unscientific or irrational in making use of the faith faculty. I am not unscientific because I have equal faith in science also. As a Hindu, I have faith in science also because that also improves the quality of my life. I have faith in religion and rituals because that also improves the quality of my life. There is no contradiction in using both science and Shraddhā. Therefore I am not unscientific nor am I irrational. I am only a pragmatic person because I know that I have a faculty of faith. And if I use that faith, in the first stage of religious life and go through Īshvara Pūjā, in the form of varieties of Kāyika Karma without asking questions, then I can successfully go to the second stage of Dharma Pradhāna Purushaha.

Coming to the second stage.

Now the question is – what is the difference between the first stage and second stage ? In the first stage, I have got a triangular vision in which I look upon God as something other than Jīva, the individual, and other than Jagat the world. I visualise God as an extra-cosmic, supernatural being location outside the universe. Whereas in the intermediary stage, Shāstram says – take your mind out of this orientation. You should grow out of visualising God as a supernatural being endowed with extra-ordinary features and located outside the world. It is very good in the first stage of Shraddhā Pradhāna Purushaha, but in the second stage, we grow out of differentiating God and world.

Instead of having the triangle of Jīva Jagat and Īshvara, I merge Īshvara and Jagat into one entity. And in the second stage, there is no Īshvara located outside the world and there is no world separate from Īshvara. I have to eliminate from my mind te Īshvara world dichotomy and should get out of the orientation of Īshvara as some invisible supernatural being also known as Paroksha Īshvara. Īshvara is not Paroksha or someone outside the world. in fact Īshvara is none other than Pratyaksha Prapancha which is in front of me all the time. Therefore the orientation of a supernatural extra-cosmic being, I have to grow out of.

And I should also grow out of the idea of closing the eyes for getting that vision of that extra-cosmic supernatural being or the vision of Īshvara Darshanam. And what should be my new approach ? What I am experiencing is not an ordinary world but what I am experiencing is the live body of Īshvara. And this vision is called Vishva Rūpa Īshvara Bhāvanā. I have to change my attitude towards the universe. And this vision of looking at the Prapancha, or universe as Īshvara is called Ashta Mūrti Bhrut Īshvara. This means Īshvara is not a supernatural extra-ordinary being located outside, but the very universe is the manifestation of Īshvara. This vision I have to develop in the second stage. While chanting Dakshināmūrti Stotram, we have that description of Ashta Mūrti Īshvara. Ashta Mūrti means Īshvara with eight facets. They are

Bhūhu Ambhām Asya Anal Anilo Ambaram Aharnātho Himāmshuhu Pumān

Ityā Bhāti Charācharātmakam Idam Yasyaiva Mūrtyashtakam

What are the eight facets ? The Pancha Bhūtāni are the first five sacred aspects of Īshvara.

- Bhūhu means the Pruthvi or earth principle.

- Ambhāmsi means the waters,

- Analaha means fire

- Anilaha means air

- Ambaram means Ākāshaha.

These Pancha Bhūtāni which are in front of me are the live direct form of Īshvara. And in addition to that we have

- Ahar Nāthaha means Sūryaha or sun The sun represents all the stars and galaxies.

- Himāmshuhu means the Chandraha or moon. The moon represents all the planets satellites, meteors.

- And finally Pumān means all the living beings.

The first seven are Achetana Tattvam but the last represents all the Chetana Jīva. With that, the universe is nothing but the cosmic body of Īshvara. And just as the individual body functions in harmony perfectly in order, every organ is interconnected, similarly the whole universe is also in harmony, well interconnected. The universe is not a chaos but it is cosmic organism. Therefore I do not look the universe as a material bundle but the live body of Īshvara with the invisible power serving as an organising whole. Therefore whenever I look at the world, my Bhāvanā is that Īshvara Darshanam. World Darshanam itself is Īshvara Darshanam. And every transaction with the world is communion with God.

This Bhāvanā Parivartanam is the most important second stage – I do not look for an extra-cosmic supernatural being, that is out of my mind set. Now my aim is reverential attitude towards the entire cosmos. And once I have reverential attitude towards the cosmos as Īshvara, reverential attitude towards the body which is also Vishva Rūpa Ishvara, I have a reverential attitude towards life also.

And this orientation is extremely important. This is because, in the beginning stage, we had a triangular vision. The triangular vision is that – I am here, the world is there and God is somewhere. And when I have this attitude, the religion says that God is wonderful and the world is terrible. There is a dichotomy created between my attitude towards the world and God when I am in the triangular vision. And invariably most of the theologies look at creation and life as full of suffering. This is a very negative attitude. They treat the body itself as a curse because it is bringing me to the world which is suffering. Therefore my very attitude towards life is a negative pessimistic attitude. And all the people want to escape from the world of suffering and the prayer all the time is O Lord, let this be my last Janma, I must run towards You and I should never come back.

But when I come to this level, I understand that world is God and God is manifest as the world. Therefore my attitude towards the world is that it is sacred. My attitude towards life is that it is sacred. My attitude towards the body is that it is sacred. I never want to run away from the world. I never want to run away from birth or body because everything is wonderful. Life is a celebration. The whole universe is a Nandanavanam. Life is beautiful and I will never pray to God that this must be my last birth. I will never run away from the world because world and God are not two separate things, where is the question of running away from the world and running towards the Lord. Therefore my attitude towards the world is that of reverential.

So this is the most important attitudinal change in Dharma Pradhāna Purushaha – Bhagavān is world and world is Bhagavān.

And once I have a reverential attitude towards the universe, I have to gradually reduce my Rāga Dvesha. I do not have an attitude of attachment towards someone or aversion towards another. Both of them are unhealthy attitudes towards the things of the world. This division of the world into my likes and dislikes is an unhealthy attitude because the whole world is Vishva Rūpam, therefore neither attachment not aversion is to be harboured. Whatever comes is considered sacred and whatever goes is considered equally sacred. The arrival of body or birth is scared, and the departure of the body or death is sacred. The people I am associated with are sacred and the people I am not associated with are also sacred. There is no question of attachment or aversion.

In fact all the painful experiences are given by the Lord only to get rid of attachment and not develop hatred. All pleasurable experiences must be utilised to avoid hatred and not to from attachment. Therefore in the second stage, reverence towards the world and reduction of Rāga Dvesha is the most important Sādhanā. Rituals may continue but my focus comes down with regards to the ritualistic stage. My attitude is that everything is wonderful, everything is sacred. This is refinement of the mind by three R-s

- Reverential attitude

- Reduction of Rāga Dvesha

- Refinement of the mnd

We call it refinement because, once Rāga Dvesha come down, all the unhealthy traits of the mind like jealousy or anger or fear or hatred will go away. My mind then gets refinement also called Daivī Sampat and this is the removal of Āsurī Sampat. This is the second stage of life called Dharma Pradhāna.

Third stage

And if we have gone through these two stage, then we can go through the most important Jnānam Pradhāna stage. I should not get stuck with rituals. Religion does not mean rituals only. We have to come to finally Jnānam Pradhāna stage. This Jnānam Pradhāna stage is very abstract and hence will not be elaborated here. Only a hint or clue in that direction will be given.

In this Jnāna Pradhāna stage, when I see the entire universe as Īshvara, I include all my properties into Īshvara. There is no more question of “my” property, no more Mamakāra. Property is also sacred but I do not have attachment or aversion. Family also is sacred and I do not have attachment or aversion with regards to family members. Body is also sacred to Īshvara and neither attachment nor aversion should be harboured. Mind is also sacred Īshvara and no attachment or aversion is to be harboured. Hence property, family, body and mind all come under Ātmā Nivedana Rūpa Navama Bhaktihi. The ninth level of Bhakti is Ātmā Nivedanam. Once I dedicate all of them to Īshvara, then the question will come – who am I ?

Who am I after dedicating everything to Vishva Rūpa Ishvara ? I am not the body. I am not . the mind. Family and property do not belong to me. All of them belong to Vishva Rūpa Ishvara.

Vedānta gives that Ātma Jnānam which we present in the form of five capsules. Briefly, the five capsules of Vedānta in which I am a Jnānam Pradhāna Purushaha

- I am of the nature of eternal and all pervading conscious principle, non material Chaitanyam, I am awareness.

- I am the only source of permanent peace, security and happiness because everything else being material are all always unpredictable and uncontrollable and unsustainable. “I” is the eternal all pervading consciousness

- By my mere presence, I give life to the material body and through the material body I experience the material universe. “My” here refers to the non-material spirit.

- I am not at all affected by whatever event happens in the material world or in the material body. I the non-material spirit of consciousness never affected. I have to reach that destination I am ever free unaffected by any event.

- By forgetting my higher nature I convert life into a Bhāram or burden. By remembering my higher nature, I convert life into an entertainment provided by Vishva Rūpa Ishvara. Vishva Rūpa Ishvara is presenting a cosmic show wherein my own body mind and family also are all characters coming and going – they are meant for my entertainment, let me not cling on to everything. I use everything and lose.

Thus just be detached, be non-judgemental. Vishva Rūpa Ishvara is presenting a beautiful drama where He Himself acts in every role. Watch and celebrate life. Don’t think of escaping business. Life is beautiful and this is wonderful. I have to remember that religious life is not merely rituals and I have to come to this liberating Jnānam. On this auspicious Shiva Rātri day, we seek the grace of Lord Shiva so that I will successfully go through Shraddhā Pradhāna Purushārtha status into Dharma Pradhāna Purushaha status and into the highest Jnānam Pradhāna Purushaha status.