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Monday, November 30, 2009

BHAGAVAD GITA. CHAPTER III.1-2.

Gita series – part 34. We now begin our discussion on Chapter III of Bhagavad Gita consisting of 43 verses. This chapter is called “karma yoga” or the path of action. In this chapter, Krishna underlines the importance of performing prescribed actions. He also analyses the effects of performing and non-performing karmas. Karmas are classified into two groups, the first causing bondage and another leading to liberation. In spite of Krishna’s holy sermons, Arjuna remains as a perplexed man and seeks further clarifications from the Lord. Arjuna asks Krishna “Oh! Janardana! When you consider wisdom is superior to action, Oh! Keshava! Why do you want to engage me in doing awful actions? By your ambiguous speeches, you are confusing my intelligence. Please advise me decisively, the one thing by which I will achieve the highest good” (verses 1 and 2). Krishna told Arjuna in II.48 “take refuge in balanced wisdom” and this apparently appears to be the cause for Arjuna seeking clarifications from Krishna. Arjuna’s mind remains confused in spite of Krishna’s preaching. Krishna said that those who perform actions for the sake of benefit of its fruits are in miserable condition. Fruits of actions mostly accrue to the body. The point that Krishna drives home is that one should not attach importance to the body that is susceptible to decay, degeneration and death. Instead, Krishna advises to pursue the Supreme knowledge by developing the highest level of consciousness to realise the Brahman within. There could be another reason for Arjuna’s confusion. Knowledge cannot be attained without engaging body in actions. But one should not get engrossed in such bodily actions, as that would lead to addiction and subsequent miseries. This is what Arjuna refers to as ambiguity in the speech of the Lord. This is an occasion to explain the importance of the mind. Unless, the mind of the disciple is attentive to the teachings of his master, the substance of the teachings cannot be grasped properly. What Krishna said in chapter II was “live, but do not live in it”. Live means live to perform one’s karmas and do not live in it means do not get attached to the actions looking for fruits of the karmas. In other words, Krishna said that do your duty and leave the rest to Him. It is probably due to the inertia of the mind that Arjuna could not grasp the subtle teachings of Krishna. Arjuna is well known for his intelligence and quick actions. The circumstances in which he was placed (the battle ground) could be one of the reasons for his inattentive mind. Arjuna’s mind was full of compassion for his masters and relatives who are bound to perish in the battle as Arjuna was so confident of his abilities. Now Arjuna asks Krishna one final advise from Him to act decisively.

LALITHA SAHASRANAMAM 418 - 421


Jaḍa-śaktiḥ जड-शक्तिः (418)
She is the power of inanimate energy (jaḍa).  Generally, two types of energies are referred to in the process of creation.  One is the non-pulsating (inanimate) energy and the other is pulsating energy.  Both are creative energies. The latter is also known as dynamic aspect of the Brahman.  This nāma discusses on the non-pulsating nature of creation.  Inanimate energy or aparā-prakṛti is considered to be of the lower grade when compared to parā-prakṛti or pure energy (nāma 366 is parā).  These two forms of prakṛti are the different modifications of māyā or illusion, which forms part of the Brahman.  Without māyā, the Brahman on its own cannot function.  In nāma 416 She was referred to as Cicchaktiḥ.  This nāma refers exactly the opposite of Cicchakti.  But the creation is not possible without the combination of Cicchakti and Jaḍaśakti
Kṛṣṇa says in Bhagavad Gīta (VII.4 and 5) “My manifested nature has eight fold differentiations: earth, water, fire, air and ākāś (ether) in combination with mind, intellect and ego (three of the four components of antaḥkaraṇa).  This is my lower nature (aparā-prakṛti).  But understand that my different and higher nature (parā-prakṛti) is the jīva, the self-consciousness and life-principle that sustains the cosmos”. 
Jaḍaśakti forms part of the saguṇa Brahman (the Brahman with attributes).  This saguṇa Brahman uses both inanimate and animate energies for creation. This is based on the principle that two factors are needed to create a third.  Jaḍaśakti is responsible for creating the objective world (conscious mind is objective in nature) that is described in the next nāma. 
Jaḍātmikā जडात्मिका (419)
She exists as the objective world of māyā that has been discussed in the previous nāma.  Except the Brahman, everything else is called māyā.  When the universe is called as object, then realizing the Brahman can be called as the subject.
{Further reading on subject and object: Let us now understand the subject and object concept of the Brahman. What we are not able to see is not an object. If Brahman is object it has to be seen first before realizing. We are not able to see Brahman. Scriptures also never gave any form to Brahman. Secondly anything could be an object except our own self. Why ‘I’ is not called the object because we use our knowledge in realising the Brahman. How do we get our knowledge? We get knowledge from the objects around us. Tree is an object and we gain knowledge about tree by seeing it. We use our sensory organs to gain knowledge. Knowledge is gained out of the objects only. All objects will perish one day as they exist physically. In the same way, if you look at Brahman as an object, He has to exist physically. If He exists physically, he has to perish one day. Brahman is not visible to us nor is he going to perish like all other living beings. This is yet another confirmation that Brahman is not an object. Only for our convenience we make Him as object by defining various forms. But these forms are not without deeper significance which we shall discuss later. On the basis of the foregoing we can conclude that Brahman is not an object. If He is not an object, then is He the subject?  Let us find out.
Subject is defined as matter for discussion and a cause to experience. Brahman is the subject taken up for discussion and we are waiting to experience the Brahman. Therefore Brahman could be the subject. But we need more proof to confirm this. You call a tree as an object. How do you know it is an object? You are able to see the tree, the object with your eyes. Who is experiencing the vision of the tree? It is you, your sense organ eye experiencing the vision of the tree. So it is you who is experiencing. Does it mean that you are the subject? Possibly yes. You could be the subject. If you are subject, then what is the position of the Brahman? We have been referring the Brahman as the subject. When Brahman, the Supreme is the subject, how can you too be the subject? Does it mean that the subject, you as an individual and the Brahman are one and the same? Does it mean that the knower and the known are the same? Who is the knower? You are the knower. Who is the known? Brahman is the known. How we can call the Brahman as the known? We cannot call him the known at this stage. He can be called as known only after really knowing him. Discussion about the Brahman does not mean that you know him. By these discussions we are only trying to realise the universal existence of the Brahman. The Brahman within you or me or the tree is one and the same as He exists much smaller than an atom.}
 Gāyatrī गायत्री (420)
She is in the form of goddess Gāyatrī or Gāyatrī mantraChāndogya Upaniṣad (III.12.1) says “All that exists in this world, whatever there is, is Gāyatrī.  It is the word that is Gāyatrī, for the word gives names to all things and it also tells them not to fear.” The Upaniṣad also says that the Gāyatrī mantra protects and saves a person who repeats this mantra
There is a story in Padma Purāna about Gāyatrī which goes like this:  When Lord Brahma was performing a fire ritual, He called his wife Sāvitri.  She said that she would come with Lakṣmī and other goddesses.  Brahma became wild and substituted a cowherd’s daughter (Kṛṣṇa’s dynasty) for his wife.  He named her as Gāyatrī.  Accompanied by her, Brahma decided to hasten the fire ritual. At that time, Viṣṇu told Brahma to marry her in the gandharva form of marriage (mental union of a man and a woman) and Brahma thus married Gāyatrī.   
Kṛṣṇa says in Bhagavad Gīta X.35 ‘among poetic meters I am GāyatrīKṛṣṇa elaborates in chapter X, verses 21 to 41 ‘His prominent manifestations among the beings, forces and objects that are the causes and the results of His creative, preservative and terminative activities of the cosmos’.   Therefore, Gāyatrī is considered as the powerful of all the poetic meters.  Lalitāmbikā is said to be in the form of Gāyatrī.  The appropriate way of interpretation is that Gāyatrī is one among the multitude manifestations of Lalitāmbikā.
{Further reading on Gāyatrī mantraGāyatrī mantra is considered as one of the holiest and powerful mantra-s that finds a place in three Veda-s and a few Upaniṣads. The main difference between Veda-s and Upaniṣad is that the former talks about the Brahman and the latter shows the ways and means of realising the Brahman revealed by the Veda-s. In practical applications, Upaniṣads play an important role than the Veda-s as Veda-s mostly talk about mantra-s and rituals. Amongst all the mantras, Gāyatrī mantra is considered as the most sacred one. Let us now understand Gāyatrī mantra.

Each mantra is made up of certain number of syllables and a mantra with twenty four syllables is called Gāyatrī
chandas. This mantra was first realized by sage Viśvāmitra. He attained enormous siddhi-s by chanting this mantra. The twenty four syllables are placed in three lines or pāda-s and each pāda has eight bīja-s. The mantra proper is preceded by and then by three vyāhṛti-s. Vyāhṛti-s represent the three types of worlds. (The names of the seven worlds are bhūḥ, bhuvaḥ, svaḥ, mahaḥ, janaḥ, tapaḥ, satyaṁ. The first three are called the great vyāhṛiti-s and recited after by many, before commencing their daily prayers and are personified as the daughters of Savitṛi and Pṛiśni.) Then follow the Gāyatrī mantra proper. or praṇava is the first manifestation of Śabda Brahman. Before could manifest into A, U and M it was in the form of nāda-bindu (un-manifested form of sound), the creative power of the universe. All sounds originated from Śiva’s drum. We have already seen that Śiva is the static energy, originated on His own. Śaktī was created out of this static energy by means of abnormal pulsation. Possibly this is the only instance when the static energy pulsated. The pulsation of Śiva manifested as Śaktī and from Śaktī all other manifestations such as prakṛti originated. From prakṛti, five elements originated. This is how the creation was commenced by the Supreme Śaktī, in her vimarśa form. From the nāda-bindu (Śiva and Śaktī combine) three syllables A, U and M originated, representing various triads. These are Brahma, Viṣṇu and Rudra (one of the forms of Śiva is Rudra and this Rudra should not be confused with ekādaśa (11) Rudra-s); creation, sustenance and dissolution; past, present and future and desire, knowledge and action. Thus the Gāyatrī mantra begins with OM, the original manifested sound of the Brahman.
Next to praṇava are three vyāhṛti-s bhūḥ, bhuvaḥ and svaḥ. These vyāhṛti-s represent further manifestation of OM and this manifestation is called origin of speech and said to represent the three worlds of this universe. These three worlds originated from the three letters A, U, M of OM or , of .  From these vyāhṛti-s , was derived the Gāyatrī mantra. Gāyatrī mantra is the origin of three Veda-s (Rig, yajur and Sama Veda-s).  Three loka-s or worlds mean the three stages of consciousness. Bhūr means the lower level of consciousness and lower planes. Bhuvar means the ordinary or normal level of consciousness that is associated with our day to day activities. Svar means higher level of consciousness. Thus, the three vyāhṛti-s in fact mean the modifications in the level of consciousness. Three loka-s are also commonly enumerated, viz. heaven, earth, and the atmosphere or lower regions.  Bhūr-loka, the earth; Bhuvar-loka the space between the earth and sun inhabited by sages and saints; Svar-loka, Indra's Heaven above the sun or between it and the polar star.
After OM and three vyāhṛti-s, the famous Gāyatrī mantra of twenty four syllables are placed. It has three pāda-s or lines. The first line of eight bīja-s is tat saviturvareṇyaṁ तत् सवितुर्वरेण्यं. tat means that, savitur means the Creator, vareṇyaṁ means the Supreme. The first pāda means ‘That Supreme creator’. The second pāda or line of eight bīja-s is bhargo devasya dhīmahi भर्गो देवस्य धीमहि. bhargo means illuminating form, devasya means that belongs to the Brahman, dhīmahi means meditate. The second pada means we meditate on the illuminating form that belongs to the Brahman. The third pāda or line of eight bīja-s is dhīyo yo naḥ pracodayāt धीयो यो नः प्रचोदयात्. dhiyo means the modifications of the mind, yo means that Brahman, naḥ means ours, pracodayāt means inducing. The third line means modification of our mind is induced by that Brahman. As a whole this is the meaning of Gāyatrī mantra without vyāhṛti-s and pranava. “We meditate on that illuminating form of the Supreme Creator, who induces modifications in our mind (mental modifications).” It is to be understood that such mental modifications do not happen if our consciousness is in the same frequency as that of the Brahman. Mental modifications happen only in the lower planes.
Any mantra with gāyatrī meter will have twenty four bīja-s and this meter is supposed to protect our gross body. The gross body is nourished by the vital force or prāṇa and the first pāda of Gāyatrī mantra represents this vital force. The second pāda gives knowledge. Knowledge means, knowledge about the Brahman. This knowledge is gained through Veda-s and Upaniṣads. In ancient days, a disciple is sent to a Guru for learning Veda-s at a very young age. As the first step towards learning Veda-s, the disciple is initiated into Gāyatrī mantra. The third pāda of this mantra refers to turya stage, a stage beyond the three stages of sleep, dream and deep sleep. The process of Brahman realisation or Self-realisation happens if this fourth state of turya is reached and transcended. Only when one moves away from all types of consciousness, the Supreme Self-illuminating Brahman can be realized. When the mind gets totally detached from consciousness, the state of void is reached.
Gāyatrī mantra is often said to represent the sun. In fact this is true to a large extent. Sun fits perfectly the description of the Brahman. Without sun, the world cannot function. The energy itself is derived from the sun. Sun is also self illuminating like the Brahman. The light of the sun alone illuminates other objects, or other objects are known only with the rays of the sun. Since all the qualities of the Brahman perfectly fit the sun, it is referred to as the creator. That is why the word savitur in the first pāda is said to mean the sun. But it should not be construed that Gāyatrī mantra is about sun. Sun is one of the creations of Śaktī and it is not the Brahman that we are discussing. The main qualities of the Brahman like illumination, creation etc happens only through the light of the sun and we realize that these acts happen because of sun’s energy. The internal Self illumination that is several times powerful than the sun and when realized within, is known as Self. Therefore, Gāyatrī mantra is about the Supreme Brahman. That is why the mantra itself uses the word ‘meditate’. Only through meditation, modifications of the mind can take place that can ultimately lead to un-conscious state of the mind where the self illuminating Brahman is realized.
If Pañcadaśī mantra of Lalitāmbikā is recited once, it is equivalent to three recitations of Gāyatrī mantra. Each line of Pañcadaśī mantra is equivalent to one recitation of pūrṇa Gāyatrī mantra. The Gāyatrī mantra has got several curses from various gods and sages. The sage Viśvāmitra himself has cursed this mantra and there are certain mantra-s that are to be recited to remove all such curses. Unless these curses are removed, none can attain siddhi in this mahā mantra.}
Vyāhṛtiḥ व्याहृतिः (421)
She is in the form of vyāhṛti-s of Gāyatrī mantra as discussed in the previous nāma.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

EXPERIENCE OF KNOWING

This is part IV of the series ‘the supreme creation’. In the first part of this series, we have discussed about the internal tools. In the second part, we discussed about soul and in the third part, we discussed about prakriti. In this part, we are going to discuss about the Brahman. The Brahman is known by several names like Supreme Self, God, Father, Spirit, Absolute etc. He is the cause of creation and it is beyond our comprehension to know Him. He does not have a shape or form. All scriptures talk about Him as self-illuminating light and without this light, the whole universe will plunge into total darkness. The Brahman is described by these scriptures mostly be negations, refutations and affirmations only, as none has the capacity to know Him fully well. To make it understandable, the Brahman can be explained as the supreme level of consciousness that is non-relational. It is beyond the study of subject and object and is the ultimate, beyond which nothing exists. It is immanent in nature and a casual reality with all the apparent effects. It is better to err on the safer side by saying that nobody knows the time of its origin. It does not have a parentage. Therefore, it is considered as the root cause of everything that exists in this universe with the understanding that the present, past and future tense of the word existence is implied. Since it does not have a form, ancient sages and saints describe the Brahman in whatever form they visualised Him. The difference in the meaning of manifestation and visualization is to be specifically understood. Manifestation is the indication of the existence or presence or nature of some person or thing, whereas visualization is a mental image that is similar to a visual perception or becoming aware of something through the senses. In manifestation, senses are not involved and in visualization, senses are involved. The objects are perceived only through senses. For perceiving something, you need to have a prior experience of an object. In reality, the Brahman can only be manifested and cannot be visualized. This is based on the theory that the Brahman is formless. For easier understanding, the Brahman is divided into two categories viz. the Brahman with attributes and without attributes. The Brahman without attributes is logically concluded as the Supreme one. This form of the Brahman is not partaking in the actions of the universe. Assuming for a moment that He has the form of a human, then it can be said that He stands as a witness to all the happenings in the universe mainly due to unfolding of karmas of various souls. A person getting aware of another person or an object is a process called knowing. The process of knowing evolves out of unfolding of karmic accounts of souls. Karma manifests on the basis of Newton’s third law ‘for every action there is an equivalent and opposite reaction’. But this karmic manifestation does not unfold in a single birth, but over various births consisting of various forms. Over a period of time, the actions that constantly take place in this universe undergo gradual changes and this process is known as evolution. Therefore, spirituality does not override the scientific principle of evolution and in fact analyzes the process of evolution more intensively and thoroughly, without any ambiguity. That is why spirituality always accentuates that the knowledge of the highest order is an essential component of Self-realisation. Returning back to our discussion on the concept of knowing, the process needs a knower who acts through his mind to know an object. The object is called known. Both the knower and the known undergo degenerative changes as they are subjected to the factors of time and space. The act of knowing is an experience and when the knower and the known undergo changes, the experience of knowing has, also to undergo changes. The experience of knowing sometimes gives pleasure and sometimes gives pains. If we consider the Brahman as omnipresent, then the pleasure and pain that are being felt by our body, also happens in the Brahman. This way of thinking goes to prove that, the Brahman exists within us as well, due to the simple fact of its omnipresent nature. Self-realization is a mental process by which the experience of pleasure and pain is felt by the Brahman within, by disassociating our mind from the experience. Here the Self means the omnipresent and omnipotent Brahman. He is omnipotent because He is cause of every action without actually associating in the action itself. The cause of his action is being manifested in our physical body. Our mind fails to recognize the cause due to the influence of maya or illusion. The discussion of the Brahman is yet to be concluded. One this discussion is over, we have to proceed to the external tools and the effect of combination of all these factors in the process of creation. (to be continued)

Saturday, November 28, 2009

THE ETERNAL PEACE

Gita series – part 33. Chapter II. Verses – 71 and 72. Krishna now concludes Chapter II called ‘sankhya yoga’. “That person who relinquishes all his desires, devoid of self-concern and ego and without smallest wants, he alone can realise peace. Arjuna! This is the stage of ‘Self-realization’. After reaching this stage, that person never gets bewildered. Even at the time of his death, he is steadfast in this stage and attains eternal bliss” (verses 71 and 72). Krishna concludes this chapter by high spotting the end result of pursing the path of sankhya yoga. The first thing that Krishna advocates is to get rid of desires. Desire is caused by mind when it is in an unsatisfied state. Desire can be countered by faith, positive thoughts and affirmations. Most of our desires are caused by longing for objects that are beyond our reach. When we are unable to attain what we long for, it leads to frustration and anger. Therefore, desire is the root cause for all mental afflictions. Once the desire is relinquished, the other elements like anger, frustration, attachments, etc do not manifest. This is the ideal condition for mental peace. Another factor is ego. Krishna distinguishes between ego and self-concern. Ego is related to conscious mind, when it is devoid of forgiveness and compassion and operates only internally. Ego is the by-product of intelligence and forms a veil around the Supreme Self. Unless ego is abstracted, the Self can never be realised. Therefore, ego becomes the potential enemy to self-realization that is to be destroyed at its infancy. But self-concern is a process of attempting to get personal recognition leading to unreasonable self-esteem. Self-concern is generally achieved through unacceptable means and actions. Self concern always works externally. Apart from desire, ego and self concern are also to be relinquished to realize the Supreme Spirit or the Brahman within. The self-realized person never descends from this level. He has reached this stage after persistent practice by pursuing a rigorous path. By now, he would have realized the difference between this stage and all other lower stages of consciousness. He would have realized the eternal happiness of his present stage. His mind would have got fused to this stage of eternal bliss. As his mind gets fixed on the Supreme Self, it does not get afflicted by material and objective pleasures. There is no cause for any bewilderment due to the fixate stage of his mind. He clearly understands that gross body is susceptible to decaying and merely acts as a sheath or cover to the Brahman within. The process of this covering is called maya or delusion. Therefore, he does not attach importance to his physical body. His entire thought is fixed only on the internal self- illuminating Atman or Brahman. Even at the time of his death, he continues to fix his concentration only on the Brahman. His soul peacefully leaves his body and merges with the Brahman not to be born again. The merger of this soul with the Creator is called as ‘eternal bliss’. This concludes Chapter II of Bhagavad Gita called Sankhya Yoga.

Friday, November 27, 2009

SPIRITUAL IGNORANCE

Gita series – part 32. Chapter II. Verses – 69-70. “What appears as darkness (night) to all the creatures, the realized person is awake in that darkness. While all other creatures are awake, for the realised person, it is like darkness wherein he introspects. All material comforts flow towards the self-realized person without causing any changes in him like waters flowing into the ocean without causing any impact on the ocean. He only gets peace and not the one who desires worldly pleasures” says Krishna. The darkness referred here is the darkness of spiritual ignorance. Spiritual ignorance is different from the regular ignorance. The latter is obtained by education and the former is attained by self-control and will power. Spiritual ignorance is also known as ‘avidya’. A person may be highly qualified but if he lacks spiritual wisdom, then he is said to be engulfed by the influence of maya or illusion. It is to be understood that pursuing spiritual path enables a person to concentrate more on his job resulting in better output. This happens on account of developing higher level of awareness. Maya plays a very significant role in retaining a person as spiritual nescient. One has to transcend the effects of maya to evolve spiritual wisdom which is possible only by sincerely practicing internal exploration. This is a slow and gradual process that could take many births. But a beginning is to be made at some point, as one cannot continue to suffer from miseries birth after birth. Krishna says that darkness of maya does not and in fact cannot cast its influence on a self-realized person. Even if we interpret on the literary sense, a self realized person does not distinguish between day and night as he always stay connected with the Supreme Spirit. Introspection by a self realized person is happening perpetually as he has established a firm commune with God and he stays with Him. Therefore, whatever action he does, he does not take credit for the fruits of such actions as he is incapable of differentiating him with the Supreme Self. Whether it is light or darkness, be it day or night he does not attach importance to such materialistic changes. Since such self-realized person does not have desires, he always remains peaceful. When mental stability is attained, whatever the material comforts one gets without asking for them, will not modify his steadfast mind. He remains contended and either pain or pleasure does not change his attitude. In the absence of desire and attachment, he stays calm resulting in mental peace. Peace is nothing but mental modification without desire, attachment and ego. But the peace is initially disturbed and finally destroyed if the mind gets transmuted to its original mundane form. Though the mind is untransmutable in nature, by practicing meditation, it can be refined and retained.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

LALITHA SAHASRANAMAM 416-417


Cicchaktiḥ चिच्छक्तिः (416)
Cit means pure consciousness and the pure knowledge.   The Brahman (without attributes or nirguṇa Brahman) is made up of three important aspects.  They are sat (perpetual existence), cit (the present nāma – pure form of consciousness) and ānanda (the bliss).  These three attributes together is called saccidānanda (सच्चिदान्द) and the Brahman is also known by this name.  Saccidānanda means existence (sat), consciousness (cit) and bliss (ānanda). The pure consciousness here means the spiritual consciousness.  Only the pure and un-afflicted knowledge is capable of producing spiritual consciousness. 
{Further reading on Cit.  It is also known as cidātma.  When this is reflected in universal nescience, it is known as the Īśvara and when reflected in individual nescience it is known as soul. Īśvara is not the Brahman as it is the reflection of universal nescience.  There are two aspects to this interpretation.  Here, Īśvara is said to be only reflective in nature and not self-illuminating.  Self-illumination is the exclusive quality of the Brahman. Secondly, the Brahman can never be associated with nescience.  This Īśvara is said to be the Lord of prakṛti or the Nature.  When the soul or individual nescience comes into contact with prakṛti, the soul induces evolution of a new physical body, for the karma-s embedded in it to manifest.  However, Īśvara remains in an unconditioned form, but the soul continues its conditioned form afflicted by the lower levels of consciousness, which is also known as individual conscience.  Īśvara remains un-afflicted by the influence of three guṇa-s and the soul gets influenced by three guṇa-s, leading to creation.  Īśvara can be interpreted as the cosmic counter part of soul.  Īśvara and prakṛti in combination with other twenty four principles or tattva-s cause the creation.   Therefore, we get introduced to a new principle in this nāma that is known Īśvara tattva or the principle of Īśvara in this Sahasranāma
Since Īśvara is said to be the Lord of prakṛti, it can also be called as the aggregate aspect of māyā and the individual souls are aggregative.  This principle or tattva of Īśvara is one among the four distinctive states of the Brahman, the other three being avyakta (nāma 398), hiraṇyagarbha (nāma 638). it is within the subtle body.  It binds all the constituents of the universe together) and virāt (nāma 778. the universal cosmic form). 
 Śvetāśvatara Upaniṣad (V.1) also refers to this phenomenon.  ‘Para Brahman is higher than hiraṇyagarbha.  Knowledge and ignorance are both hidden in Para Brahman.  Ignorance is the cause of birth and death, but knowledge leads to immortality.  He who controls ignorance and knowledge is separate from both.  That is Brahman (pure and without attributes) the supreme’. 
This nāma says that She is in this form of ciccakti (cit śakti).
Cetanā rūpā चेतना रुपा (417)
It is called caitanya, the pure and unconditioned form of consciousness, in its functional state.  It can also be explained as the purer form of the preceding nāma.  The entire universe emerges from this caitanya that has two sides.  The first one is gross and the other one is subtle.  The gross form is made up of name and form and the subtle form is made up of mind and its modifications called antaḥkaraṇa (mind, intellect, consciousness and ego).  The gross form gives direct experience and the subtle form gives internal experience.  In the stage of caitanya, both objective and subjective worlds get formulated as experiences.  Her cetana form or caitanya form is also known as Her vimarśa form.   

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

AMALGAMATION OF MIND AND THOUGHT

Gita series – part 31. Chapter II - Verses–66-68. Krishna continues his sermons. “The one who could not control his mind and senses will never have preternatural intelligence. The person with such intangible intellect shall never have professed mind that never leads to peace. A man without mental peace can never have happiness (comforts).” Krishna himself cites an example in the next verse. “As a boat in waters sweeps away by the wind, so a man’s mind succumbs to one of the drifting senses, that particular sense sweeps away that man’s intellect. Therefore, mighty armed (Arjuna), whose senses are subjugated from the sensory objects, his intellect becomes steadfast”. Krishna repeatedly stresses the importance of sense control. If senses are controlled, mind automatically gets controlled. Mind functions on the basis of sensory perceptions. Influence of senses on the mind normally is very strong. The mind becomes happier when it gets influenced by the senses. Mind acts through the organs of actions (karmendriyas) when it gets its necessary inputs through the organs of perception (jnanendriyas). When the mind functions under its refined form called ‘intellect’, mind decouples itself from both karmendriyas and jnanendriyas. Preternatural intelligence is the more refined form of intellect. Only this type of intellect is capable of associating with consciousness in higher planes. When the consciousness ascends to higher levels, the preliminary impact is the mental stability. When the mind is stabilized, it does not wander and at the same time tries to explore internally to focus on the Self. When the mind is allowed to wander externally, it never recognizes its Creator. This happens on two counts. First, that the mind is so created, that it always wants to get itself entangled with materialistic pleasures primarily to unfold the effects of karmas of the soul. Secondly, the mind does not have genetic mutation to look within. Therefore, it is imperative that the practice alone can smother the mind to get rid of its afflictions by the materialistic pleasures. That is why meditation is prescribed as a tool to tune and refine the mind to transform itself into intellect, by destroying ego. Intellect is nothing but the superior knowledge whose sole aim is to pursue the path of knowing the Brahman or the Creator. Intellect is not something new that we create and it is only the primordial mind that modifies itself into intellect by proper taming. As long as the mind continues to exist in its original form, it never realises peace and always remain agitated. An agitated mind can never focus as its concentration is diffused like light passing through a glass pyramid. Such a situation never leads to happiness. The happiness that Krishna talks about here is not the happiness derived from the carnal pleasures that are temporary in nature. But He refers to the eternal joy that transforms into bliss. Even forgetting for a moment about the eternal happiness that Krishna talks about, for attaining materialistic happiness we always need amalgamated mind and thought to earn the materialistic wealth. The concentration on the job we perform becomes paramount for proper execution. You cannot find a successful professional who does not possess such amalgamated mind with its by-product thought. In the next verse (67) Krishna further explains this phenomenon by citing an example. When a boat is sailing, a strong wind sways the boat in the direction in which it blows. The other factors being conducive for sailing, the boat gets swayed by only factor called the wind. In the same way, if any one of the senses is not controlled, that sense manifests and afflicts the mind and keeps the peace at bay. Therefore, it is important to control all the senses without exception. When we talk about senses, it always refers to jnanendriyas (ear, skin, eye, tongue and nose) and its products called tanmatras or perceptions. Only the jnanendriyas make karmendriyas to function, as the former is only capable of perception and the latter executes the perceived actions. For example if ear alone functions, the mind gets addicted to the melody of music. If the music is not made available to the mind, it starts wandering looking for the music from all sources, which leads to desperation, anger, etc one after another finally leading to imbalanced mind affecting his intellect. Krishna also says that senses should be decoupled from the sensory objects. For example, if the ear is disconnected from the music itself, then there is no question of the mind wandering elsewhere searching for the music. The senses can be brought under control, only by delinking the source of perception (tanmatras) from the sensory objects. If this is achieved, one’s intellect becomes steadfast and incapable of intrusion by any sensory influence.

Monday, November 23, 2009

LALITHA SAHASRANAMAM 411-415


Śiṣṭeṣṭā शिष्टेष्टा (411)
Śiṣṭa-s are those who follow the righteousness prescribed by śāstra-sŚiṣṭa-s is also explained to mean those who control their senses and knower of Veda-s.  Their actions are based on the śāstra-s that are derived from Veda-s.  She likes these śiṣṭa-s. Viṣṇu is known for His righteousness.  It is also said that one should worship God, as prescribed by their respective orders and not simply by flowers, etc.  Viṣṇu Sahasranāma nāma 310 is also Śiṣṭeṣṭā and the interpretation given there to, is that He (Viṣṇu) likes men of knowledge (jñāni).
 Kṛṣṇa Himself says this in Bhagavad Gīta (VII.17) “Chief among them is jñāni, ever constant and one pointed in devotion.  I am exceedingly dear to him and he is exceedingly dear to me”.  Kṛṣṇa did not stop with this.  He proceeds to say “A man so illuminated is hard to find and such a stage is reached after many incarnations” (VII.19).
Śiṣṭapūjitā शिष्टपूजिता (412)
She is worshipped by such śiṣṭa-s referred to in the previous nāma.  Jñāni does not worship someone who is not worthy of worship.  He will worship only the Supreme Self, the Brahman.   This nāma is an extension of the previous nāma which confirms Her Supreme stature. 
Aprameyā अप्रमेया (413)
She cannot be measured.  Brahman alone cannot be measured.  Because She is aprameyā, She is worshipped by jñāni-s and śiṣṭa-s.
Viṣṇu Sahasranāma nāma 46 is also aprameyā.  He cannot be known through senses as He is devoid of qualities such as sound, etc.  He cannot be visualized because He is beyond visualisation.  He cannot be known through examples because there is nothing to make a comparison (this is based on the simple logic that a rat cannot be compared to a lion though both have four legs, a tail etc.).  He cannot be known either by affirmations or by negations as we do not have any basis for such affirmations and negations.  But Veda-s and Upaniṣads try to explore (though by affirmations and negations, as the perceptive knowledge can be inferred only by such affirmations and negations only) Him as “That” and says that He exists as self-illuminating light witnessing the activities of His creation. 
 Kena Upaniṣad (I.6) explains this point more elaborately.  “Know that alone to be Brahman which the mind cannot comprehend and which yogi-s say makes the mind function.  Brahman is not this sense world, which people worship”.  The Upaniṣad continues to say “If you think (guru addressing his disciple) ‘I know the Brahman well’ then it is for certain that you know little about the nature of the Brahman.  You know only Its manifestation in the individual self, the gods, and the phenomenal world.  Therefore, Brahman should still be thoroughly investigated”.   But, we need some basic inputs to know Him.  This is explained in the next nāma. 
Svaprakāśā स्वप्रकाशा (414)
She is Self-illuminating.  Brahman alone is self-illuminating and all other illuminating objects like sun, moon, stars etc derive their light only from the Brahman.  Only because of this self-illuminating light, we are able to see this materialistic world. 
This concept is explained in Bṛhadāraṇayaka Upaniṣad (IV.iv.9) which says “revealing His own lustre by His own light”.  This is the state where the light is free from everything else, let it be even the five basic elements.   He is not afraid of any one, because, there is no one besides Him. 
 Kaṭha (कठ) Upaniṣad says (II.ii.15) “In the presence of Brahman the sun does not shine, nor the moon and stars, nor does the lightning, let alone this fire.  When Brahman shines, everything else follows.  By Its light all these are lighted”.   This nāma also reaffirms Her as the Brahman. 
{Further reading on Self-illumination: The soul which is also known as jīva when placed in an empirical self, the divine transcendental light ever shines within its glory, but unfortunately hidden from our perception because of our thought constructs.  This Self-illuminating light is known as prakāśa form of the Brahman and referred to as Śiva.  This is also known as the Supreme consciousness or Supreme light of consciousness.  When there is a harmonious synthesis of prakāśa form of Śiva and vimarśa form of Śaktī, manifestation of the universe takes place. Vimarśa form reflects the Self-illuminating light of prakāśa form and the one without the other becomes incapable of causing manifestation.}
Mano-vacāmagocarā मनो-वचामगोचरा (415)
The qualities of aprameyā (nāma 413) are now being explained.  She is beyond mind and speech.  This stage has been explained by Kena Upaniṣad which has been discussed earlier.  If She is known as the One beyond the perception of mind, everything else is struck down as they are only intersections of mind. 
 Taittirīya Upaniṣad (II.ix) also explains this situation.  “That from which, words come back, they turn away.  How can words express the Self?  Can that which is finite express the Infinite?  No.  It is beyond words, beyond thought.  The mind also cannot grasp this Brahman.  You can think of something that is familiar, that is known to you, but how can you think of something about which you have had no experience at all?  Our thoughts are always limited by experience”. 
This nāma says that She can be realized only through pure knowledge, the knowledge to which we are never exposed to.    

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Saturday, November 21, 2009

SUBJUGATED SENSES

Gita series – part 30. Chapter II - Verses–64-65. Krishna continues. “The man with self-control, without desires and aversions with subjugated senses and still associated with material objects attains internal calmness. If internal clarity is attained, all his grief will be annihilated. His knowledge soon becomes well established in the Supreme Self” (verses 64 and 65). Senses can be controlled through different routes, but these routes do not keep the senses under check always. The only way to eternally control the senses is to calm the mind. There is no point in leading a saintly life, internally associating our thoughts with material pleasures. In spite of the pleasure objects being recognized by the eyes, the information provided by the eyes to the mind should not alter the firm attitude of the mind. If one develops such a firm mental attitude, irrespective of what is around him, he is not influenced by any sensual objects. Self-control is the stage beyond desires and aversions. Plenty and paucity do not make difference to him, as his senses are totally under his control. A person is said to have reached the stage of self-control only when his consciousness does not fall from higher planes to get associated with material world. When we say subjugated senses, we have to know the authority to which they are subjugated. Obviously, they have to be submitted to the Supreme Self. If they are subjugated to the mind, then there is every possibility of falling from the higher level of consciousness to the lower level of consciousness. When a person so fond of chocolates is not tempted, when boxes of chocolates are around him, he can be known as the person who has subjugated his senses to the Self. This is called self-control without desires and aversions. Most of the times, it is possible to control the desires, but controlling aversions could be a difficult task. Aversion, anger and hatred are the most difficult qualities to control. However, it is important to control negative thoughts, as they cause serious damage to the mental equilibrium. If you look at those negative thoughts, you may observe that any one among them could lead to other negativities, heading to annihilation. The inner calmness refers to the un-afflicted mind. When the mind is not influenced by senses, the mind is calm. On the contrary, if influenced by senses, the mind gets agitated with all negativities and in the process, influences the organs of action. When organs of action function under the influence of an afflicted mind, it enslaves him to habits. It is like drunken driving, which could cause unexpected accident. In order to avert such accidents, Krishna advocates a calm mind. The organs of actions are the main reason for accruing sins which in turn influence karmic account. When mental clarity is attained, the mind never gets adversely influenced under any circumstances. Such clarity can be attained only through single pointed internal focus on the Self and this process is called meditation. When the mind is calmed by meditation, the bliss is realized, making him to be with that bliss forever. In such a stage, he has neither inclination nor time to think about extraneous objects. When he does get himself associated with actions that he performs, naturally the fruits of such actions are not realised by him. He knows that cause of such actions is not gross body, but the internal Self, with whom he has identified himself steadfastly.

Friday, November 20, 2009

LALITHA SAHASRANAMAM 403-410


Mahā-kāmeśa-nayana-kumudahlāda-kaumudī महा-कामेश-नयन-कुमुदह्लाद-कौमुदी (403)
Mahā-kāmeśa is Śiva, nayana – eyes, kaumuda – the moon of second half of November and first half of December (the month of Kārttika), kumuda – lotus flower.  On seeing Lalitāmbikā, Śiva’s eyes become wide open like lotus flower blossoming when the moon shines.  Śivas happiness is reflected through his eyes on seeing Her.  The moon in the month of Kārttika is said to be bright.
There is another interpretation.  Kumuda is made up of ku + mudKu means inferior and mud means pleasure.  Therefore, kumuda means worldly pleasures.  Worldly pleasures are always considered as inferior because it ultimately leads to miseries and pains.  Lalitāmbikā, being the Supreme Mother, takes pity on those who indulge in worldly pleasures and take them to Śiva for final liberation.  This means that She makes them to pursue the spiritual path for ultimate liberation.  
If Her motherly care is properly understood, anyone can get rid of his difficulties.  The only thing that is required from his side, is to realize Her.
Bhakta-hārda-tamo-bheda-bhānumad-bhānu-santatiḥ भक्त-हार्द-तमो-भेद-भानुमद्-भानु-सन्ततिः (404)
 She dispels the darkness of ignorance of Her devotees.  This is compared to the sun dispelling the darkness when it rises.   She being the supreme mother does this out of compassion.  The very thought of Her, dispels ignorance. 
 Kṛṣṇa describes this compassion in Bhagavad Gīta (X.11) “Out of mere compassion for them, I, dwelling within their hearts, destroy the darkness born of ignorance by the luminous Lamp of knowledge.” The darkness referred here is born out of ignorance. 
Śivadūtī शिवदूती (405)
She requested Śiva to be Her messenger to two demons.  Since Śiva Himself acted as Her messenger or She made Śiva as messenger,  She is known as ŚivadūtīŚivadūtī is one of the fifteen tithi nitya devi-s in Śrī Cakra.
Śivārādhyā शिवाराध्या (406)
She is worshipped by Śiva Himself.  Śiva by meditating on Her, obtained his Ardhanārīśvara (half Śiva and half Śaktī) form.   As a result of meditating on Her, Śiva became the lord of all siddhi-s.  These siddhi-s or superhuman powers originate from Her, through Her subtlest kuṇḍalinī form.  This nāma conveys this subtle message. 
Saundarya Laharī (verse 1) says “Śiva united with Śaktī is able to manifest.  Otherwise, Śiva does not even know how to pulsate”.
Śivamūrtiḥ शिवमूर्तिः (407)
Her form itself is Śiva.  In fact, there is no difference between Śiva and ŚaktīŚiva means auspiciousness.  Because She is the embodiment of auspiciousness, She is called Śivamūrtiḥ
Rig Veda says (X.92.9) “With reverence, we present your hymn today to the mighty Rudra, the ruler of heroes, the rapid and ardent deities with whom the gracious (Śivaḥ) and opulent (Rudra) who derives his renown himself, protects us from the sky.”  Śiva is full of grace and happiness and considered as the Supreme protector.  When She is said to be in the form Śiva Himself, it is considered as a great honour for Her.  This could also mean nirguṇa Brahman or Brahman without any attributes.  This Sahasranāma ends by saying Śrī Śiva (998), Śiva-Śaktī aikya rūpinī (nāma 999) and Lalitāmbikā (nāma 1000).
Śiva also means the liberation and mūrtī means form.  The final liberation is attained only by self-realisation which is possible only through knowledge or vidyā.  That is why Her worship is known as Śrī vidyā or the supreme knowledge. 
Śivaṁkarī शिवंकरी (408)
She dispenses happiness.  Śiva means auspiciousness and karī means giver.  She does this to Her devotees by dispelling their ignorance called avidyā.  When avidyā is dispelled, knowledge is attained paving the way for Self-realization.  She is sarva maṅagala māṅgalye (the provider of all types of happiness) says Durgā Saptasati
Śivapriyā शिवप्रिया (409)
She is the beloved of ŚivaŚiva is loved by Her.  Śiva is dear to Her. Their love is mutual, as otherwise, Śiva would not have given His left vertical half to Her.
Śivaparā शिवपरा (410)
Having compared Her to Śiva, now Vāc Devi-s proceed to say that She transcends Śiva Himself.  Parā can be explained as follows:  Pertaining to the ultimate or supreme as opposed to the immanent here and now aspect of reality which is aparā.  Brahman can be conceived from two angles.  One is Parā Brahman, the Supreme of the two and other is aparā Brahman, the deficient of the two.  The former is devoid of attributes and hence is inconceivable.  Since She transcends the stage of Śiva, She is considered as the Supreme Brahman. This is because Śiva becomes inert without Her.  That is why She is known as Parā.  Knowing Her is parā vidyā or the supreme knowledge.  The appropriate interpretation of this nāma is that She reveals the Supreme or Parā Śiva or Paramaśiva to Her devotees.  Paramaśiva can be explained as ‘the Absolute, understood as the casual substance for everything apparent’.  This explanation is also in agreement with Her prakāśa vimarśa mahā māyā svarūpinī form. 
Nāma-s 405 to 410 explained Her attributes with particular reference to Śiva.