Thursday, July 29, 2010
WHO AM I?
THE AGE OLD
TO TOUGH LOOKING
Every one of us wants to be Happy. No one wants to be sorrowful and no one wants to be in misery.
Despite our wanting to be happy - almost every one of us becomes sorrowful and miserable frequently in life.
In life certain things happen the way we want them to happen. But, many things happen in a way that we do not want. When things go our way – we are happy. When they against our way, we are unhappy and miserable.
If things and persons outside of us or other than us behave against our wishes, it is OK. We can understand. But, many times, we our self act against our interests and our wishes. That seems strange.
Let us look at an example. We all know that smoking, drinking or taking drugs is harmful to us. But many people in the world indulge in all these activities.
Who can prevent them from acting against their own interests.
Let’s say, for example, YOU indulge in smoking, drinking or drugs.
In this case, who is acting against your own interest? YOU. You against YOU.
Isn’t that funny? Isn’t that a tragedy?
But some times, when the going gets tough, when you get into a real big problem, you will go and see a Doctor. There, it is YOU supporting YOU.
The Doctor chides you and tells you – any more drinking, even God cannot help you. You are now afraid. YOU are afraid that YOU may not stop drinking. You are afraid of YOU.
You are also angry with the Doctor – for not giving some good medicine but giving advice.
Then, some one somehow comes from the ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS – and starts taking you to their place – to counsel you, advise you and induce you to stop drinking. YOU find YOU are in good company, of people similarly placed and fighting against THEMSELVES. YOU also ready YOU to fight YOU.
YOU resolve to become a new YOU. YOU implement YOUR resolution for a month or so. YOU are hilarious that YOU are winning against YOU.
Is it time for celebration? A little loosening up. Seeing Old friends. YOU long to see YOUR old, drinking friends and celebrate your success and induce them also to join you.
And, you go and JOIN THEM. You are again your OLD YOU.
Life has been going this way for many alcoholics around the world.
If you carefully watch – there are many entities sitting inside you and either befriending or fighting with each other.
Are you a single person or multiple persons?
Who are YOU?
Who am I?
This is the age old question that the ordinary man and the extraordinary SAINT have both been asking all the time.
This is the central theme of all the UPANISADS of ancient Indian Vedantic tradition. They don’t ask, who is GOD?
They ask, WHO AM I?
Am I the body?
Am I the mind?
Am I my thoughts?
Am I my emotions?
When I die – what happens? My body, my mind, my thoughts and my emotions die. Is that the end of me? Is there some thing in me that survives the physical death?
If yes, what is it?
These are all age-old questions.
Great saints and the wisest of persons spent whole lives in search of answers to these questions.
So, where will you search for answers to these questions?
The wisest of saints have solved many riddles and puzzles relating to the body, the mind, the thoughts and the emotions in their search of answers to the eternal question of – who am I.
So, for the age-old question, we must first look at the age-old answers already found by the wisest of the saints, look at the justification and rationale for these answers and accept them if we are satisfied. If we are still not satisfied, we can go in further search. There is no need to re-invent the wheel.
The answer to this one question “WHO AM I” is discussed exhaustively in Vedanta, the upanisads which are the Indian Spirituality Texts – and this is taught by Great Gurus of Vedanta till this day. They don’t talk of how to go to GOD or heaven or going to hell, religious rituals etc. They in fact laugh at these goals.
But, everybody is not considered ripe for receiving and assimilating vedantic (spirituality) teaching.
Four qualifications are considered essential for the student of this enquiry.
The Four-fold qualities of the student of Vedanta are :
1. The capacity to discriminate between the permanent and the impermanent.
2. Dispassion to the enjoyments of the fruits of one's actions, during our life and thereafter.
3. Six fold qualities of – (i) Control of the mind, (ii) control of sense organs, the external faculties of perception like eyes etc, (iii) ability to perform one's duties (enthusiastically, without any sense of burden),(iv) ability to endure the pairs of opposites like heat & cold, pleasure & pain etc, (v) Faith in the words of Guru, and Scriptures, and (vi) ability for single minded focus on goals
4. Yearning for liberation.
These qualifications of a Vedantic student – appear to be quite daunting. For acquiring these qualifications, you need a Vedantic teacher. But, the teacher will teach you Vedanta only if you possess these qualifications. So, which one first?
In reality, it is not that daunting. Once you get into this enquiry – and become serious about it ,you will find you are acquiring these qualifications –any way. And you will be enjoying life a lot more.
Just be serious to know – yourself. What is permanent in you and what is impermanent in you. Likewise, look all around you carefully. You need to become conscious of what is permanent and what is not permanent. Who is coming into your life and going out of it and when? This way, you will easily start discriminating between the permanent and the impermanent. This question will now make sense to you. It does.
You try to win a Gold medal in Olympics. Several people are striving. You are one of them. For some one, that is the only life goal. For you, it is one more life goal. So, he may land himself the Gold medal. You may not. Accept it as a matter of fact. You may not be able to marry the best woman or man in the world. Accept it too. For that matter, you too are not the best man or woman in the world, for others to marry you (on that qualification). You may not get 90 percent marks in an examination despite your best effort. Accept it.
All of your efforts tend to yield some results either lower or equal or higher than what you aim for, or, not at all in the same direction you aim for, or, even, results in the opposite or negative direction. All these happen despite all of your efforts. There are so many universal forces acting beside your efforts – and therefore, the combined result can be any of the above. Accept it gracefully. Acceptance makes you enjoy your life better. Does the second prescribed qualification make more sense to you now.
Control over your own mind and senses and actions, gives you great liberation in the worldly actions – apart from your study of Vedanta. That also makes your life better. That is the third qualification.
The last one, a yearning for liberation – is actually liberation from sorrow, liberation from mental shackles and so on. Liberation from SAMSARA – which connotes all impermanent problems and pleasures - this is what you seek to achieve first. The intermediate goals are liberation from all sorrows, all fears and so on. Moksha, when you achieve it – is the final liberation. Please understand – that we are not talking of leaving the body, or leaving the world. No. That is not Moksha or liberation.
Liberation is – as you are, where you are.
Don’t we want that?
The vedantic study gives answer to the question – WHO AM I – and the process is not necessarily a burdensome suffering. It is a great, enjoyable, hilarious process.
A process that is different from the REST OF THE WORLD.
Are you willing?
* * * CONTINUES * * *
Saturday, July 10, 2010
WORDS OF WISDOM
Buddha, the Enlightened master, has spread unparalleled wisdom through is teachings. He belongs to the whole world. His teachings are to the whole world. For all time to come.
I am placing before readers – a small collection of his sayings. While all of them are rich with meaning - some are JUST OUT OF THE WORLD.
Think of them (all), delve on them, understand them, and make them a deeper part of your life.
Now – on to his words of wisdom….
ON WORDS – TALKING…
Better than a thousand hollow words, is one word that brings peace.
Words have the power to both destroy and heal. When words are both true and kind, they can change our world.
Whatever words we utter should be chosen with care for people will hear them and be influenced by them for good or ill.
Do not speak harshly to any one; those who are spoken to will answer thee in the same way. Angry speech is painful: blows for blows will touch thee.
However many holy words you read, However many you speak, What good will they do you If you do not act upon them?
A dog is not considered a good dog because he is a good barker. A man is not considered a good man because he is a good talker.
All that we are is the result of what we have thought. If a man speaks or acts with an evil thought, pain follows him. If a man speaks or acts with a pure thought, happiness follows him, like a shadow that never leaves him.
The thought manifests as the word; The word manifests as the deed; The deed develops into habit; And habit hardens into character. So watch the thought and its ways with care, And let it spring from love Born out of concern for all beings.
He is able who thinks he is able.
The mind is everything. What you think you become.
We are shaped by our thoughts; we become what we think. When the mind is pure, joy follows like a shadow that never leaves.
We are what we think. All that we are arises with our thoughts. With our thoughts, we make the world.
An idea that is developed and put into action is more important than an idea that exists only as an idea.
Every human being is the author of his own health or disease.
Health is the greatest gift, contentment the greatest wealth, faithfulness the best relationship.
The secret of health for both mind and body is not to mourn for the past, nor to worry about the future, but to live the present moment wisely and earnestly.
To enjoy good health, to bring true happiness to one's family, to bring peace to all, one must first discipline and control one's own mind. If a man can control his mind he can find the way to Enlightenment, and all wisdom and virtue will naturally come to him.
To keep the body in good health is a duty... otherwise we shall not be able to keep our mind strong and clear.
Without health life is not life; it is only a state of langour and suffering - an image of death.
FEELINGS – GOOD & BAD
Hatred does not cease by hatred, but only by love; this is the eternal rule.
The whole secret of existence is to have no fear. Never fear what will become of you, depend on no one. Only the moment you reject all help are you freed.
Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned.
You will not be punished for your anger, you will be punished by your anger.
In a controversy the instant we feel anger we have already ceased striving for the truth, and have begun striving for ourselves.
There is nothing more dreadful than the habit of doubt. Doubt separates people. It is a poison that disintegrates friendships and breaks up pleasant relations. It is a thorn that irritates and hurts; it is a sword that kills.
Those who are free of resentful thoughts surely find peace.
Peace comes from within. Do not seek it without.
To understand everything is to forgive everything.
If we could see the miracle of a single flower clearly, our whole life would change.
Let us rise up and be thankful, for if we didn't learn a lot today, at least we learned a little, and if we didn't learn a little, at least we didn't get sick, and if we got sick, at least we didn't die; so, let us all be thankful.
Teach this triple truth to all: A generous heart, kind speech, and a life of service and compassion are the things which renew humanity.
Teach this triple truth to all: A generous heart, kind speech, and a life of service and compassion are the things which renew humanity.
He who experiences the unity of life sees his own Self in all beings, and all beings in his own Self, and looks on everything with an impartial eye.
There are only two mistakes one can make along the road to truth; not going all the way, and not starting.
Three things cannot be long hidden: the sun, the moon, and the truth.
This Ariyan Eightfold Path, that is to say: Right view, right aim, right speech, right action, right living, right effort, right mindfulness, right contemplation.
The foot feels the foot when it feels the ground.
You cannot travel the path until you have become the path itself.
The way is not in the sky. The way is in the heart.
The way is not in the sky. The way is in the heart.
When you realize how perfect everything is you will tilt your head back and laugh at the sky
Thousands of candles can be lighted from a single candle, and the life of the candle will not be shortened. Happiness never decreases by being shared.
Your work is to discover your work and then with all your heart to give yourself to it.
Your work is to discover your work and then with all your heart to give yourself to it.
What is the appropriate behavior for a man or a woman in the midst of this world, where each person is clinging to his piece of debris? What's the proper salutation between people as they pass each other in this flood?
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Sunday, July 4, 2010
CONTINIUED FROM PREVIOUS POST…
In the previous post, we have seen that Adi Sankara, on his way from the river Ganges and while walking on the streets of Varanasi is accosted by Lord Siva and Gauri, in disguise as a low caste couple. He instinctively utters the words – get away, get away and so on. Lord Siva in disguise asks him pointed questions on whether the physical body should get away or the all pervading consciousness in the body must get away – and asks, when the Sun and Sky make no such distinctions on the basis of caste, why should you, a learned man, with a firm belief in you being the all pervading supreme consciousness make the distinction?
Now, these extraordinary questions of such great wisdom strike the heart of Adi Sankara like lightning. Not that he was theoretically unaware of these precepts. But, in practice, he was involuntarily following the multitude, till then, as his earlier words indicate. Or at least, this is the indication, we get from the words, get away, get away.
To correct this difference between Adi Sankara’s precept and practice only – Lord Siva himself, along with his consort, Gauri had come and reiterated to him this eternal knowledge so succinctly and so pointedly.
But, Adi Sankara was no ordinary man. His was an absolutely truthful life. He realizes his folly instantly and admits the same openly. He also declares in the following slokas, that accepts any one – be he a Brahmin or a low caste man – who gives him this deep understanding of the eternal knowledge as his GURU, instantly.
Prompt comes Adi Sankara’s reply, in the next five beautiful slokas. These five are called Maneesha Panchakam.
Maneesha – signifies great firmness. Adi Sankara is now saying – these are now my firm and unwavering conviction:
1st sloka :
jaagratswapna sushuptishu sphutataraa yaa sam vidujjrimbhatae
yaa brahmaadi pipeelika anta thanushu prothaa jagat saakshinee,
saiva aham na cha drisya vastwiti drudha prajnaapi yasya asti chaet
chandaalostu sa tu dwijosthu gurur ityaeshaa maneeshaa mama.
Meaning : Oh, that which shines in every one in all of the three states of us ; namely the wakeful, the dream and the deep sleep states and knows perfectly, every thing there is; that which is the witness of all the worldly activity (Jagat Sakshi), being embedded in all beings from Brahma (the Creator) to the tiny ant(pipeelika); that which cannot be perceived by us as object, in spite of any amount of firm knowledge of material things; that which remains the same, and witnesses all, the one who inculcates knowledge of this great concept in me is my real Guru, the preceptor, be he a high caste dwija or a low caste one; this is my firm conviction.
Comments : We need to distinguish the two terms Brahma and Brahman here. Brahma is one among the Great trinity of - creator (Brahma), protector (Vishnu) and destroyer (Siva) who are assigned the three great tasks.
Brahman is the universal consciousness; the pure and absolute bliss which runs through the Great Trinity and through all the universe and is the only eternal entity. The great trinity derive their power – as we do – from the Brahman. Brahman is thus present in all forms, from the Great Brahma to the tiny ant and witnesses the universe in all of its activities. Brahman is the witness of all that happens in the Universe.
At the very first stroke, Adi Sankara has already corrected himself, and says he accepts the one who teaches and inculcates this great wisdom into him as his Guru, be he of a high or low caste. He has re-affirmed his firm conviction that Brahman is one entity pervading all beings and is beyond mere material knowledge.
2nd Sloka :
Brahmaivaaham idam jagachcha sakalam chinmaatra vistaaritam
sarwam chaitadavidyayaa trigunayaa saesham mayaa kalpitam,
iththam yasya dridha matih sukhatarae nityae parae nirmalae
chandaalostu satu dwijostu gurur ityaeshaa maneeshaa mama.
Meaning : The Brahman indeed is the inner Self or the “I” in every thing in this whole universe; this conscious form is perfectly unfolding itself in all the universe. All this sentient world is borne of avidya (prakriti or nescience or Maya), by the inter play of the three Gunas (or, attributes) and is apparently seen to be divided but in fact is in the mere imagination / dream of people.
Who so ever, he may be, that person of firm conviction, who understands that the subtle Brahman remains eternally as the Supreme, as one without any contamination and as the eternal Bliss; that person, may he be a outcaste or a learned Dwija of the high caste; my firm understanding is that the Great one who inculcates this concept is my real preceptor.
COMMENTS : “I” is none other than the Brahman (The Absolute). “I” am dwelling in the pure and infinite Brahman and I am the Brahman. But, what is the nature of this universe. Adi Sankara has given vivid description of how Universe is born of Avidyaa, or Maya, or Prakrithi. The universe goes on changing every moment. The changeless one pervading the whole Universe is the Brahman, or the “I”, when I firmly identify with the Brahman.
This universe consists of diverse and different things, born of – avidya, or Maya or prakrithi;by the interplay of the three Gunas (Sattva, Rajas and Tamas). It goes on changing every moment – and it does so – in the presence of the Brahman.
There is detailed exposition in other texts - of what the three Gunas are – how their various combinations create various beings – and how they change our nature constantly – when their proportions in us change.
But Brahman is the eternal changeless consciousness that is pure bliss (referred as sat – chit-ananda) and is unaffected by the three Gunas. This is the eternal wisdom.
Adi Sankara declares again - that he accepts the one who teaches and inculcates this great wisdom into him as his Guru, be he of a high or low caste.
Even the Great Adi Sankara finally needed a great Master like Lord Siva – to complete his firm understanding of this knowledge. The purport is not merely what the sloka states explicitly – but also –that, we must approach a Guru, to properly inculcate this wisdom into our self.
3rd Sloka :
saswan naswaramaeva viswam akhilam nischitya vaachaa guroh
nityam brahma nirantaram vimrisataa nirwyaaja saanta atmanaa,
bhootam bhaavi cha dushkritam pradahataa samvinmayae paavakae
praarabdhaaya samarpitam swavapur ityaeshaa maneeshaa mama.
Meaning : This whole universe is apparently continuing permanently but is perishable and impermanent as per the decisive declaration of the Great Gurus(of the knowledge aforesaid).
Brahman only is permanent and undifferentiated.
If we analyze carefully with an untainted, unaffected, peaceful mind, Our physical bodies are the products of all of our previous sinful deeds, pertaining to the past, present and the future.
The one who reduces these sinful deeds (prarabdha etc) to ashes in the fire of this firm knowledge of the Brahman - that one only is of perfect and true understanding. This is my firm conviction, says Adi Sankara.
COMMENT : Adi Sankara reiterates another tenet of Advaita here. This entire universe, though apparently looks as continuing and permanent, is constantly changing and is actually perishable and impermanent. This has clearly and decisively been stated by the Great Gurus. Brahman only is unchanging and eternal. We need a very clear and firm understanding of what is permanent and what is impermanent. Adi Sankara calls this understanding as “nitya – anithya vasthu vivekaha” in his another text called Tathva Bodha.
Why are we born and die again and again? These are because of our good and bad deeds for which we take the credit/ownership. They are called prarabdha karma (sanchitha karma etc.). Our bodies are the results of our Past actions – good and bad both. Our past and future actions ensure that we are born again and again – to taste their fruits.
The cycle of Births and deaths will continue endlessly – until we come to a firm understanding of our innate nature as Brahman and we burn away our past and future actions or karmas in the flames of that firm understanding. This requires cool, calm meditation on the nature of these physical bodies.
The one who perfectly reduces these past and future actions or Karmas in to ashes in the flaming fire of the knowledge of Brahman - is really the one of perfect understanding. This is my perfect conviction, says Adi Sankara.
4th sloka :
yaa thiryagnara dhaevathaabhirahamithyamthah sphutaa grihyathae
yadhbhaasaa hridhayaaksha dhaehavishayaa bhaanthi swatho chaethanaah,
thaam bhaasyaih pihithaarkamandala nibhaam sphoorthim sadhaa bhaavayan
yogee nirvrithamaanaso hi gururithyaeshaa maneeshaa mama.
Meaning : That which very clearly is perceived as the 'I' within all the animals, the human beings and the gods too is the inner consciousness in us. By the effulgence of this inner consciousness, the sense objects are perceived by the mind, the body and the sense organs. The same mind, body and sense organs though illuminated by the consciousness, apparently cloud this consciousness, just as the shining Sun is concealed by the clouds caused by the sun itself.
That Yogi, with perfect realization and complete and clear understanding due to his wisdom, always meditates on this in his mind.
My firm understanding is that the one with this firm understanding is the real preceptor.
COMMENTS : How come this “I” is never in my understanding and becomes obscure from my self? “I” am in fact the pure, eternal consciousness principle pervading all the bodies of all animals, human beings and gods alike. By its sheer presence, this consciousness makes the mind, body and sense organs, as sentient, though these are otherwise insentient. But, why do I identify with the body, mind and sense organs most often – than with the eternal consciousness that is the real “I”. Why do I go after impermanent sensual objects and suffer? This is another critical question that advaita seeks to effectively answer for all of us.
The mind, body and sense organs, acquire their intelligence – through the reflection of this pure consciousness which is the “I” (or the Brahman). They perceive other external objects by virtue of this reflection. But, the very same mind, body and sense organs then tend to conceal the pure consciousness illumining them, even from themselves, and search for such bliss in other objects and beings. It is just like, the Sun is concealed by the clouds after they are created by the Sun self. For this very reason, the great yogis always keep this perfect realization and wisdom (of this phenomenon of false attraction to other sensual objects when the reality is the I principle) by always meditating the mind on the permanence of the supreme consciousness (as the “I”). Such a Yogi of perfect understanding is my Guru, the real preceptor. This is my perfect conviction, says Adi Sankara. The delusion happens to the very best of the yogis also – when they fail to so meditate – say some of the great texts of advaita philosophy.
5th sloka :
yathsaukhyaambudhi laesalaesatha imae sakraadhayo nirvrithaa
yachchiththae nitharaam prashaanthakalanae labdhvaa munirnirvrithah
yasmin nithya sukhaambudhau galithadheer brahmaiva na brahmavidh
yah kaschit sasuraendhra vandhithapado noonam maneeshaa mama
Meaning : The Brahman is the eternal ocean of Supreme Bliss. A very small and minute fraction of this supreme Bliss is adequate to satisfy the great Indra (the king of celestial beings) and all other celestial beings.
Great Sages experience fulfillment by meditating with a perfectly calm mind only on this Bliss Supreme and not by any other special means.
The one, whose mind (intellect) is ever identified with this eternal ocean of the Bliss Supreme, he is not a mere knower of the Brahman, but is the Brahman itself.
Such a person whosoever he may be, his feet are worthy to be worshiped by the Indra (King of Gods and and all other gods). This is my firm understanding.
COMMENTS : Why are we becoming sorrowful and How do you become blissful? After all, our life’s goal – seems to be blissful all the time. The Self (Same as Brahman) is the eternal ocean of Supreme Bliss. It is itself the source of all bliss. Even the heavenly gods are easily satisfied with a small portion of this supreme bliss. It is often said – that even their knowledge of Brahman is partial but, in that knowledge, they achieve great joy. It needs meditating with a perfectly calm mind on this Bliss Supreme, and not by any other special means, for experiencing fulfillment. So, the sages meditate with such a calm mind and partake of this bliss. A person who always meditates on and whose intellect is ever unified with the Bliss Supreme, he is not a mere knower of the Brahman, but he is the Brahman itself. He is worthy of worship by all, including the heavenly gods. Adi Sankara affirms for the fifth and the final time that - this is my firm understanding.
The Epilogue :
daasaste.aham dehad r^ishhtyaa.asmi shambho
jaatastem.asho jiivad r^ishhtyaa tridr^ishhte
tyevam me dhiirnishchitaa sarvashaastraih
Finally Adi Sankara salutes his Guru as below :
O! Lord Siva, the three eyed one; the knower of the past, present and future! In the form of this physical body, I am your servant and so, of all. In the form of the life with in me, I am a part You and so, of all. In the form the soul, You are within me and in every other human being, animal or thing that I see. I am of this firm conclusion - after thorough reflection in my intellect – and being thoroughly illuminated by all the scriptures.
COMMENTS : After thus accepting that any one of such great knowledge , be he of any origin, is his Guru – Now, Adi Sankara straightaway addresses him as Lord Siva, and says, I am your servant as this physical body of mine. You are the consciousness principle in this physical body and in all such beings. The scriptures have thus enlightened me thoroughly and my own intellect is now firm on this conclusion.
Advaita / Vedanta philosophy lays great stress on acceptance of 2 things (i) the scriptural conclusion of the Brahman principle and (ii) the Guru’s expounding of the scriptures – without which there is no way of understanding thoroughly the oneness of Brahman in all beings.
Each of the 4 Vedas contain a Maha Vakyam – which affirms this oneness principle.
1. Prajnanam Brahma - "Consciousness is Brahman" (Aitareya Upanishad 3.3 of the Rig Veda)
2. Ayam Atma Brahma - "This Self (Atman) is Brahman" (Mandukya Upanishad 1.2 of the Atharva Veda)
3. Tat Tvam Asi - "Thou art That" (Chandogya Upanishad 6.8.7 of the Sama Veda)
4. Aham Brahmasmi - "I am the Brahman" (Brihadaranyaka Upanishad 1.4.10 of the Yajur Veda)
There are others like – Sarvam khaluvidam Brahma (the Universe is Brahman), so ham (He is I). Thus, all the scriptures affirm the oneness of the Brahman in all of us. These are aptly called “maha vakyams” or the great truths.
Thus, the advaita philosophy arises out of these scriptural pronunciations of the one great truth about us – and Adi Sankara is reiterating the same in Manishee Panchakam.
If the Scriptures pronounce the oneness of Brahman in all of us, and Lord Siva himself teaches the same to Adi Sankara – 1200 years ago, why it that we continue our differences even till this day?
This nagging question needs a firm answer. Maneesha Panchakam itself answers it succinctly. Our senses, our mind and body are constantly directing their attention towards sense objects outside in the universe, and concealing from themselves, the inner radiance of the CONSCIOUSNESS. These create a delusion for themselves and get lost in the jungle of the sensual objects and get steeped in - sorrow now, happiness then, then again sorrow and so on – instead of permanent joy.
Firm meditation on the oneness of Brahman in all of us – alone removes this ignorance from us. Else, our attachment to sensual objects will always continue; our birth-death cycle will continue; and our sorrows will not leave us due to the prarabdha karma which we continue to incur in this cycle.
Under the Lord Siva as his Great Guru, Adi Sankara removes thus the last vestiges of his ignorance or Avidya – and becomes thoroughly enlightened with this wisdom.
May Jagadguru Adi Sankara and his Great Guru, the Lord Siva, therefore confer on all of us the thorough knowledge of this great, oneness (advaita) principle.
Maneesha Panchakam concludes here.
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Saturday, July 3, 2010
“Maneesha” in Sanskrit means “conviction” and “Panchakam” means collection of five (slokas).”Sloka” stands for a poetic stanza.
Maneesha Panchakam , a collection of 5 contextual slokas, 5 conviction (understanding ) slokas indicating the quintessence of advaitha philosophy and 1 final epilogue sloka - strives to highlight – the essential oneness of all Human Beings – irrespective of caste, creed, race, sex and all differences that divide us till this day.
In that sense, Adi Sankara who lived about 1200 years ago ((788 CE - 821 CE) in a society steeped in extreme orthodoxy – is undoubtedly the greatest Social Reformer of his times.
Adi Sankara’s ADVAITA philosophy is a no non-sense exposition of man’s oneness with Brahman, the universal consciousness. He made all-out efforts to convince the great pundits of his time of his Advaita philosophy – and many of them became his disciples and many others unequivocally accepted his advaita version of the VEDANTA.
When we read Maneesha Panchakam and some of his other writings – we are left wondering –“ if only Adi sankara lived longer!!” No one else has ever accomplished in just 32 years of life – what Adi sankara has. Not in their own life time – did any one do so much great miraculous work in so many different areas.
To my mind, advaita Philosophy is not only an exposition of an essential truth but also a great, much needed social reform.
Most of the world – even today – will find it hard to believe that – we are all one – and that we are all THE SAME SINGLE BRAHMAN – and that there is nothing else.
Whoever says I am the God, and so are you – even today – is taken as a mad man or some kind of maverick – to be kept at a distance. That happens – until you come in contact with any competent GURU OF ADVAITA PHILOSOPHY.
Then you change. Then it sinks in. Slowly. Steadily. Surely. The definition of God Changes. The definition of “I” changes. The definition of world /Universe changes. Nothing remains – of what we ever thought of these entities.
It is not easy to understand this philosophy from Books. Many words are loaded with great Vedantic meaning derived from various Upanisads, Puranas, Brahma sutras and so on. The straight literal meaning – will take us nowhere. It is a science and like any science – it has its terms with special meanings. You know it when the GURU explains. But today – these texts are printed – and each of us has access to such texts, with their literal meanings as well. And, we also do find it difficult to go after, accept and sit before a competent Guru – to learn these, methodically-which is essential for a clear and correct understanding.
Maneesha Panchakam is one text – which give us a good understanding – though not a thorough understanding - thanks to some good commentaries, audios and videos etc on the subject – which are good – but certainly not capable of replacing a guru.
I have heard some great gurus on the subject, read commentaries on the same – and wish to make my humble attempt at unraveling a bit of this great subject.
We will now see the slokas, their meaning and my humble comments thereon – as I understand.
I will certainly be grateful to receive any comments, suggestions and corrections from readers, on any technical or other errors herein.
1st Sloka :
Satyaachaary asya gamanae kadaachin mukti daayakam,
Kaasee kshaetram prati saha gouryaa maargae tu Sankaram,
Meaning : Once, a great Saint was passing through the streets of Varanasi (Kasi). On the way – he saw two people, a man and woman, coming opposite to him. They were none other than Lord Siva and Gouri Devi in disguise.
Comments : The way, the first 5 slokas are written, eulogizing Adi Sankara also in each of them – to me, it appears that these five are probably written by one of his disciples – among those who were with the Guru on this Varanasi Visit. There is no doubt that the next five and the epilogue are spoken by the great Acharya, the Adi Sankara himself.
And then, who else can come to teach Adi Sankara – the last of his lessons – except Lord Siva himself.
What else can be the lesson – except the highest wisdom of all – in its precept and practice both.
The great Saint, passing through the streets of Varanasi was Adi Sankara, along with his disciples, after a sacred bath in the river Ganges. The one who came from the opposite side is – Lord Siva himself, along with his consort, Gauri – but in disguise.
2nd sloka :
Antya vaeshadharam drushtwaa gachcha gachchaeti cha abraveet
Sankarah so api chandaalah tam punah praaha Sankaram
Meaning : Since the couple is in the disguise of an unkempt, low caste family, Adi Sankara had no way of recognizing them. He, a highly learned and holy man, therefore uttered the words, Go away, Go away, Go away – from my way, and so on.. in a little scornful manner. For this, the Lord Siva, in disguise, speaks back to Adi Sankara as follows…
Comments : Adi Sankara was the greatest authority on Advaitha Philosophy and was a crusader for it all his life. But, was there a chink in his armour of knowledge some where? Was his wisdom less than one hundred percent in some way? Lord Siva has himself come over to teach him his final lesson in this supreme Knowledge. But, Siva is disguised as an unclean, low-caste man, and is coming towards Adi Sankara, on the same street from the opposite side. Adi Sankara, has no way of recognizing him, He almost instinctually, utters the words – you, go away, go away..and other similar scornful words..
But, the one who has come, has not come to go away, as asked by Adi Sankara. This provides Lord Siva the excuse to begin taunting him on his Advaita Philosophy.
3rd Sloka :
Annamaayaad annamayam athavaa chaitanyam yaeva chaitanyaat
yativara dooree kartum vaanchasi kim broohi gachcha gachchaeti ?
Meaning : Oh great Saint, whom are you asking like this, to get away from your presence? Are you asking this physical body, made of food, to go away from another body made similarly of food – which is one and the same for all! Or, do you mean the cosmic consciousness pervading me to go away from the cosmic consciousness pervading you – which is also the same in all!
Comments : We need to understand these questions carefully. Adi Sankara and Lord Siva are seeing each other’s physical bodies only – which is the only visible entity in all of us. The physical body is called ANNAMAYAKOSA (or, the outer sheath of man, made of food).
What is the nature of this ANNAMAYA KOSA?
The physical bodies of all living beings, come from the same five great elements – space, air, fire, water and earth - and they go back to the same five elements on disintegration (death) of these physical bodies. They are therefore un-distinstinguishable from each other both before and after. Even when alive, the process of infusion and secretion of food is constantly happening in these entities.
By themselves, the five elements in the annamaya kosa are not capable of any independent functioning. They are totally inert by themselves, and become active and sentient only in the presence of the CONSCIOUSNESS principle that pervades them all.
Now, what is the nature of this CONSCIOUSNESS principle?
The nature of consciousness is – “SAT-CHIT-ANANDA’. SAT (read as - sath) stands for Satyam – which means, ever existent and never changing. CHIT (read as chith) stands for all pervading Consciousness – in whose presence only, all action in the five great elements can happen. ANANDA stands for supreme bliss.
Thus, CONSCIOUSNESS is eternal, pervading the whole universe, is available in and out of all bodies; and is itself eternal bliss. It is in the presence of consciousness that all bodies derive their powers of movement, action, life etc.
A thing which is everywhere – where can it go and from where? No where can it go and nowhere can it cease to be.
The whole crux of Advaita is – that you are not the body – but you are the all pervading consciousness!
An enlightened person is one who knows and identifies himself with the all pervading CONSCIOUSNESS – and not with the physical bodies. It is ignorance which makes us identify with the bodies. It is against this background – that we need to re-visit the questions of Lord Siva.
There are two aspects of the first question –
(i) How can inert matter like the Annamaya Kosa (physical body) of the low caste man move away from another inert matter like the physical body of Sankara, by itself?
(ii) By implication, the second part of the first question is – why should you ask mere inert bodies to move away from each other? They are anyway destined to go back to the five elements together, and become undistinguishable from each other.
The second question in the same verse is –
“or, do you want the consciousness that pervades this physical body to move away from the consciousness that pervades that physical body?”
It is the same consciousness – which pervades in Adi sankara, the low caste man opposite to him, the disciples, and the whole universe. It doesn’t move anywhere and has nowhere to move from or to! Lord Siva is thus testing Adi Sankara’s precept against his actual Practice!
4th Sloka :
pratyagvastuni nistaranga sahajaananda avabodha ambudhou vipro
ayam swapacho ayamity api mahaan ko ayam vibhaeda brahmah ?
Meaning : Lord Siva asks further, stressing his stand point: O great man, is not the essential consciousness in all of us the same natural and absolute bliss, which is like a wave-less and steady ocean? The same natural and absolute Bliss is pervading in all of us – is this not the perfect understanding of the learned? O! For you too, the Great learned man, why is this illusion of discrimination - that one is a learned Brahmin and that the other one is a low caste person!
Comments : The question is very clear now. The consciousness pervading both of us is the same supreme Bliss in us and it undergoes no change – it does not come down or go up or change to some thing else. It is like the ocean when the same is ripple-less and steady.
As You claim to possess perfect understanding of this all pervading consciousness which is the supreme bliss in us all – how can you as this all pervading consciousness, discriminate some one as Brahmin and some one else as low caste man? Why is this illusion in you?
Let us look at Lord Siva’s own credentials. He is the Boothanath, the lord of all daemons and all beings; and he is Pasupathi, the lord of all animal kingdoms. His favourite place, as the great destroyer, is the cremation ground, where he equalizes all beings. His body is covered with ashes of the burnt bodies. For him none is superior or is inferior.
And, here he is, disguised as a low caste man, chiding Adi Sankara, a highly learned man and a champion of Advaita, for being under this illusion of discrimination among human beings on such a ground as high and low caste.
5th Sloka :
kim gangaambudhi bimbitae ambara manou chandaala veedhee payah
poorae vaa antaramasti kaanchana ghatee mritkumbhayorva ambarae?
Meaning : Lord Siva continues further : What distinction does the Sun make when he shines (in the same way) on the sacred and holy waters of river Ganges and on the muddy waters in the dirty lanes of the low castes? Sun makes no such distinction at all on the objects on which he shines.
Likewise, does the sky (i.e., the Space) make any distinction when it falls on and gets reflected in the earthen pot, and the golden vessel ! It makes no such distinctions. The Sun and the space are making no such distinctions at all – in doing their respective tasks- points out Lord Siva
COMMENT : Lord Siva has extended his argument further with two more examples. The Sun is one. The Space (or sky) is another. Both are unique in their way. The river Ganges, as per mythology, is said to have descended from the heaven (where it was earlier) on to the head of Siva where it got locked up in his hairs on such descending, and then, Siva allowed it to flow to the earth and from there to the ocean. Flowing from the heaven and then from the head of Lord Siva, Ganges is considered the holiest river. But, the Sun makes no difference in shining from the sky, on the pure waters of river Ganges or on the muddy puddles of water in the lanes of the low caste men. He shines on all of them in the same way.
The second example, Lord Siva gives is of space (or sky – which is one and the same). The space is every where. Whether it is inside a Gold vessel or a mud pot – it does not matter for the space. The space inside and outside the two types of vessels and also the space containing the vessel–matter itself are not different but one and the same space. It remains as one space undifferentiated at all times and all places.
Sun and Space are part of the five great elements which are not sentient by themselves. But, Adi Sankara, who identifies with the all pervading, blissful consciousness – must remain changeless in an absolute sense, even beyond Sun and Space and make no distinctions of the kind between low and high castes. This is the purport of these examples.
Further comments after Lord Siva’s questions and before Adi Sankara’s Replies: Now, these extraordinary questions of such great wisdom strike the heart of Adi Sankara like lightning. Not that he was theoretically unaware of these precepts. But, in practice, he was involuntarily following the multitude, till then, as his earlier words indicate.
To correct this difference between Adi Sankara’s precept and practice only – Lord Siva himself along with his consort, Gauri had come and told him the eternal knowledge so succinctly and so pointedly.
But, Adi Sankara was no ordinary man. His was an absolutely truthful life. He realizes his folly instantly and admits the same openly. He also accepts any one – be he a Brahmin or a low caste man – who gives him this deep understanding of the eternal knowledge as his GURU, instantly.
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