Tuesday, January 17, 2012

The Way We Perceive Life (Article published in Speaking Tree TOI on 17-01-2012)

A weary traveller lost in the jungle one night slips and falls into an unused, dry well. During the fall he clutches to the root of the nearby banyan tree and is hanging midway.

The whole night he spends in this precarious state. In the morning he begins the attempt to climb back to safety. He looks up and is terrified to find a tiger standing at the mouth of the well, looking hungrily at him.

So he decides to climb down and wait for the tiger to leave but sees a huge python at the base just coming out of hibernation and looking for something to swallow. And as his fate should have it the root of the tree which he was holding starts to snap.

In this situation he was not in a position to think clearly of what he should do. Just then a thick substance falls on to his nose and drips to his mouth. Unwittingly he licks at it and is surprised to find it very tasty and to know what that was he lifts his head. He notices a bear on the branch of the banyan tree. The bear is trying to drink the honey that was in the hive on the branch of the tree.

Now this man who thought he was in a horrible situation a moment ago is waiting for more drops of honey to fall on his nose so that he can lick and relish it. Life is almost like this situation; there are problems everywhere but it is wisdom to notice the small memorable incidences and enjoy those. Each one has a different way of perceiving life and relating to it. And this depends on inner personality, not external situations.

To make a living in this material, competitive world an individual tries to perceive life and relate to it through his ego personality that is fed by vanity. Here he might be satisfying the ego in a positive or negative way depending on the situation. He feels the need to be appreciated by others, in order to feel triumphant or superior. This is how the ego gets inflated. Once attached to his ego personality, he strives to cling to it.

A spiritual person leads life influenced by his soul, not ego. Normally a person looks at the world as a racing track and life as a marathon. His only intention is to win the race and so he is looking at the one who is catching up with him. His energy is expended in ensuring that he is not overtaken. He is hurt when his opponent overtakes him or he is overjoyed when he touches the finish line.

However, a spiritual person accepts the world as a stage and sees himself as a performer along with others. He is supportive of others. He acts well and lets others to do their best. His energy is vibrating and gels with the other. He is neither hurt nor pampered by the line in the script.

When we allow the ego to take the place of soul, we get confused over our identity. You recognise your true identity by shunning ego and becoming a participant instead of competitor. We do justice to the role scripted by the Absolute and by so doing find that we have no anxiety in letting go when the time has come to exit from the stage of life. We do so gracefully.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Search for meaning of life (Article published in Speaking Tree TOI on 04-11-2011)

Our quest for the meaning of life comprises a speculative question with apprehension about our existence, its purpose and significance. When we probe more into this we ask questions: "Who am i?" Why am i here?" "What is my role in this universe?"

Whether one is an atheist, theist, agnostic or a smart mix of all three, these are haunting questions we`ve been asking since long. Some try to find answers while others remain unruffled. The reason why some are undisturbed by these questions is that the answers to these questions are various and they involve drawing from philosophy, theology, ideology and spirituality. The quest for the answers may confuse the seeker but those who are keenly interested to know will find the answers as easily as peeling a banana.

The life of a human being is an opportunity to enable us to move forward from bondage to liberation. To transcend bondage one has to know that the fundamental prerequisite quality is to engage in inquiry. We have the ability to know the how and what of all that we perceive.

Those who never enquire about the nature of life are missing the opportunity to know about life - for it is only in human form that we have the capacity to seek knowledge. Can a dog enquire about the purpose of its life? It is worried more about catering to its basic requirements like food, water and other physical needs. In contrast, the human form of life is gifted with the exceptional ability to enquire beyond these physical needs. While other species possess manomaya kosha, the mental sheath, only humans have vijnanamaya kosha, the wisdom sheath that enables us to pose questions that go beyond basic instincts.

The ability to question is seen in a child that asks questions all the time. As conscious intelligence develops fully and is encouraged, it elevates the level of enquiry, including deeper questions about life. This is the only trump card for us to probe further into the real purpose of our existence and what we need to do to better ourselves in particular and society in general. This probe helps us to rise above insignificant and mundane issues. As one grows spiritually, one tends to think about higher things and so does not get trapped and lost in materialistic matters.

The purpose of life is to realise the inherent bliss and tranquillity within. Once this is understood our self is elevated to higher dimensions wherein it merges with the Absolute. As this awareness is felt we will realise that the rat race we were in to achieve power, riches or fame was really so insignificant - in fact, not worth getting agitated over. No wonder it was providing short-term happiness which has left us with a void feeling.

The answer to the meaning of life is in us and in the journey within. The quest for it outside is unfruitful, tiring and unfocussed. Life starts providing answers as we take the beautiful journey inward. The search within will transform life and showcase the true nature in us. As soon as the true being shines in us the radiance beams a warm glow which accompanies us; then the delusion of this illusory world annihilates and life becomes beautiful and seems to be surrounded by miracles. This is the process of moving from bondage to liberation.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Experience the Truth (Article published in Speaking Tree TOI on 21-09-2011)

Knowledge of scriptures might bring a sense of accomplishment and happiness but unless our attitude is flawless and our conscience clear, it will be hard to achieve steadfastness and bliss.

How much ever one is well versed in the Vedas, Upanishads and the Bhagavad Gita -- and even if one has shlokas at his finger tips, he must possess control over his senses, limit his desires and contemplate on the knowledge he has, to attain spiritual progress. Ravana had unmatched knowledge but his attitude was not good.

The continuous chain of trials and tribulations of various degrees of magnitude in life could help a seeker understand the meaning and purpose of life. An ignorant person blames either God or Destiny or even more so his family and friends for all that happens to him.

A man wants his young son to learn swimming. He takes him to the nearby lake to give him lessons on how to swim. He first ties an inflatable tube to his waist, so that it lets him float. After some days the boy is familiar with the up thrust got by the arm cycle and leg kick, and he experiences buoyancy. When the father is confident that the boy can float without the help of the tube, he removes it and lets the boy swim without the help of the tube. An inflatable swimming tube only helps the boy to remain afloat on the surface of the water; it only assisted him in learning how to swim. Likewise, scriptures help us to get a vision; we get a vivid account of the glory and splendor of the omnipresence, omniscience and omnipotence of the Absolute Truth. However, ultimately we can progress on the spiritual path only by our own effort.

There are many scholars and pundits who boast and want to prove that the philosophy that they follow is superior to that of others'. These philosophies are like the materials used to keep the boy floating in water. While one person uses an inflatable tube to keep afloat, others have used the dried, unpunctured bottle gourd, some use thermacool blocks, some others use float boards. What is important is that the student needs to learn how to swim; how to keep afloat - it does not matter what the aids used are. No one will ever ask us what type of material we had used to keep ourselves afloat while we were learning to swim. It is the same with philosophies also; the main criterion is to reach the goal.

Truth is one but the means to know it are numerous. Hence the facts regarding the Truth are many. Facts are not self-explanatory; they are analysed by theories and theses and these may differ from each other. We have accumulated vast mounds of information about the Truth, but very few have experienced the Truth.

Truth which is absolute can never be comprehended by the human mind since it is relative. It is impossible to know the Absolute Truth although by the uninterrupted sadhana and grace of the guru, the Self can experience it. Truth thus experienced is but our own experience. This is a universal law, which, if understood, can take us to Bliss, eternal happiness. We are that Self which is comprehensive, composite, part of Cosmic Consciousness and therefore immortal and infinite -- beyond death and destruction. Awareness of this is the experience of Truth.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

"It's all about your attitude" Article in Speaking Tree published on 27 July, 2011,

The main cause of bondage is identifying Self with body and mind, both of which are not eternal. The body is constantly changing. We assume doer ship through the mind - which we identify as our Self - and any action performed by thought, word and deed is wrongly associated with Self. But the Self is non-doer; it is just a witness. Only the ignorant consider the Self as doer. A person who is aware of this truth is free from bondage of the subtle body which is the mind and intellect concept. Such a person is able to evolve to higher realms.

The sentence “I am not the doer, Providence alone is the doer” means that my wisdom and the thinking capacity that is in me would not have been possible if the One present in all of us is not guiding my thoughts. I am not the actor, writer or performer - someone is acting, writing or performing through me; that One is the Cosmic Self, whatever name we might wish to assign to the Power.

It is the knowledge of a Jnani or the emotional feeling of a Bhakta that brings out non-doership which annihilates ego. An unchecked ego hinders the flow of thoughts. Tons of praise may come your way from those who appreciate creative work produced by your efforts. And the praise may sometimes make you feel proud. Yet it makes sense to let all the praise reach the One who is guiding you, so that there is no hindrance for further flow of thoughts.

You don't have to imbibe non-doership; it should be as naturally present as hunger is present. Does a lion need to learn how to hunt? Or a deer, how to flee? No, it is just there as a natural instinct. Similarly, having the skill to understand non-doership should come naturally to the one who has become the Drashta or seer; or perhaps who is just a witness. Only the ignorant would say that every event is happening due to them.

For Karya or something to happen, three things are necessary: The person who does the job, parent material and the instrument to do it. Take, for instance, the making of a pot. You have the potter who makes the pot, the parent material is the clay and the instrument to make the pot - the potter's wheel. If the pot (Karya) has to be made, the potter will use clay and the potter's wheel. Here the potter is Abhinna Karana or undifferentiated cause, clay is Upadana Karana or essential cause while the potter's wheel is Nimitta Karana or the instrumental cause. Hence the potter's wheel cannot take credit for the pot. The credit goes to the potter and clay. A potter can choose any potter's wheel he wishes. Similarly, in our lives we are all like the potter's wheel in the hands of the great Potter, the Supreme. Neither are we potter or clay; the Supreme is all three.

What is so special in having an attitude of non-doership? At the gross level it will keep ego in check. At the subtle level, it will not let you become the bhokta, the enjoyer. I am neither karta nor bhokta. This will ensure that one does not return in another life to enjoy or suffer the fruits of past deeds. The attitude of non-doership would put an end to the cycle of birth and death.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

The Real and The Unreal (Article published in Speaking Tree TOI on 27-09-2011)

Scriptures say that reality is eternal, unchangeable, has no distortion and is beyond distinctions of time, space and individuality.

The Hiranyagarbha or primordial seeds of life that self-emanated with the support of the five elements – ether, air, fire, water and earth – came to be this vast universe. To understand this better we have to know about transformation of matters.

Chethana vastu or that which has life, which has chaitanya or consciousness, will never get transformed. Any jada vastu or that which is lifeless will get transformed. The body is a chethana vastu till the life breath is present, but will get transformed once the chaitanya is lost. Body will get mixed with mud and could become a plant one day. If we examine a plant in the pot, the plant will use up all the mud and grow, one day if we happen to re-pot it we observe that only roots are present; very little soil is left in the pot. What happened to the soil? Yes, the soil has been transformed into the plant. Are the soil and the plant different? No, they are one and the same in different name and form.

Reality can be viewed at three levels: Paramarthika or the absolute, Vyavaharika or what is relative and Pratibhasika or the illusory. Reality of the non-dual whole which is the infinite non-dual consciousness of being, 'I am' is the absolute reality. This is Brahman, the primordial and that which has no distortion with respect to time, space and individuality. So Vedanta tells all that is present is Brahman and that Brahman is reality.

Until such time as when we come to know absolute reality, the empirical world is projected in all its diversity. This makes us feel the existence of the relative reality. Anything that is relatively real appears to be real at certain times and under certain conditions, and it ceases or changes its appearance at other times and under other conditions. Since it is not real at all times, it is not real even when it appears to be real. Relative reality is experienced by all as the same.

Erroneous imagination of something which does not exist or illusions and hallucinations which have no existence apart from the mind that imagines them is illusory reality.

Let us consider clay and call it Brahman, the absolute reality. A potter makes a pot out of it. Now the pot becomes relative reality. Even though it is clay we call it pot since we see it in the form of a pot. Once the pot is broken it will go back to its original form, clay. An individual who has purchased the pot will think he can make use of it by cooking rice in it. This is illusory reality. This is purely one's own imagination, since one can cook rice or boil water, or make tea or the pot may even crack before one puts it on the fire.

In Vedanta, the oft-repeated analogy is of the rope and snake. Originally the material of the rope is Brahman – this is absolute reality. Due to its appearance in the form of a rope we call it rope and this is relative reality. In darkness if someone mistakes the rope to be a snake, this is illusory reality. One can imagine a rope to be a coiled snake, piece of stick, or a crack in the ground and this is left to the individual's imagination.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Dharma of right conduct (Article published in Speaking Tree TOI on 07-02-2011)

Dharma is the principle of righteousness. It is the unifier and sustainer of social life. The code of righteousness is meant to help us regulate our lives in this world -- just as we need a constitution, written or otherwise, that helps us make the framework for the governance of a country or an institution.

Since the constitution of a country is conceived and framed by human intellect it could become out-of-context over the passage of time and therefore, amendments may become necessary, from time to time. On the other hand the rules of righteousness are evolved by the Supreme -- they are valuable and relevant in any context -- and hence they are eternal. There is no room for corruption in its implementation. All are equal before it. Righteousness brings as its consequence happiness, both in this world and in the next. If we protect it, it will protect us.

That which elevates is righteousness. It leads us to the path of perfection and glory and helps us to have direct communion with the Supreme. Righteousness is at the heart of ethics. Striving intently to uphold it is the purushartha or the concept of pursuits of life. And these are dharma or righteous conduct, artha or acquisition of wealth by honest means, kama or desire for physical and mental wellbeing and moksha or liberation of the embodied soul from the vast ocean of acquisitive life.

Scriptures say that dharma and moksha are like the river bed to artha and kama, and so should never be breached. At the end of the Mahabharata war, Bhishma, lying on a bed of arrows, tells Yudhishtira that whatever creates conflict is non-righteousness and whatever puts an end to conflict and brings about unity and harmony is righteousness. Anything that helps to unite all and generates love and universal brotherhood is righteous. Anything that creates disagreement, divide and disharmony is non-righteous. Any righteous act brings good karma.

"Dharmo rakshati rakshita." An incident during the Mahabharata war illustrates this. During the war in the thick of combat Arjuna sees the blurred vision, like a figure exuding a flame-like radiance, in the opposite camp. At the end of the day an intrigued Arjuna asks Vyasa: "What was that blur of light, a figure, I think, I could see in the opposite camp even as I was engaged in combat?" Vyasa asks: "Son, did you notice the figure holding a trident?" Arjuna says" Yes, I could see a trident in the hand." Vyasa says: "He is none other than Maha Rudradeva; He is helping you since the war which you Pandavas are fighting is dharmic" Arjuna asks "If Shiva wants to assist me in the war, why is He in the Kaurava camp? What is He doing there?"

Vyasa tells Arujuna that Maha Rudradeva does not tolerate adharma He is there to deter those who have supported adharma. He is known for destruction; by His mere presence in their camp He is sucking all the vigour of the warriors on that side. Hence Kaurava warriors who were known for their strength now seem weak, sapped of energy. Vyasa tells Arjuna that whatever is done in righteousness, the support to that act comes from all sides. Vyasa says in the Mahabharata: "Do not forsake your code of righteousness out of desire, being overwhelmed by fear or greed or even when threatened with death -- as righteousness is eternal whereas being happy or unhappy is momentary. The embodied soul is eternal and the gross body is perishable."

Sreeram Manoj Kumar

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Four Ways of Showing Devotion to God (Article published in Speaking Tree TOI -Apr 14 2003)

The Bhagavad Gita recommends Bhakti Yoga towards attaining moksha . Krishna tells Arjuna that a person who thinks of Him at least at the time of his death is liberated of all his sins. A surprised Arjuna asks Krishna how one could foresee the time of his death.

Krishna tells Arjuna, he should think of Him while carrying out his prescribed duty. With his activities dedicated to Him and his mind and intelligence fixed upon Him, he would attain Him.

Krishna explains the four types of devotional service rendered to Him: One who thinks of Him at the time of distress is the aartha. One who is worried by the struggle for prosperity, power, self and property is the Artha-arthi .

A third who yearns for the realisation of the atman , reads the scriptures and sacred texts, moves in the company of spiritual practitioners, and is always motivated by eagerness to reach the lotus feet of the Lord is the jijnaasu . The fourth is the jnani . He is immersed in the Brahmathathwam and looks for the Lord in all possible places; he yearns for nothing.

The aartha worships Him only when he is in difficulty. When he prays to Him, the Lord hears it and satisfies him only in relation to that particular difficulty. So too, when the artha- arthi prays for riches, power or high status, He listens and awards him only the particular thing he craves for.

The jijnaasu is blessed with the chance to work without expecting the fruit of activity, with a Guru as guide, with an intellect that is sharp enough to discriminate between atma and anatma , and so is helped to achieve his goal. The jnani needs His help to be saved from distractions and is able to concentrate on the single aim of liberation.

Lord Krishna regards the jijnaasu and jnani as the ideal. The devotion of Gajendra , the elephant that was saved by the Lord from the mouth of the crocodile, was aartha. Sudama, Krishna's friend, exchanged beaten rice for richness, displaying artha-arthi devotion.

The devotion of Gora Kumbar, the ardent devotee of Panduranga Vittal was of jijnaasu , thinking of the Lord always, knowing that He is present to look after his and his family's welfare. Prahalad was a jnani who saw the Lord in all things and surrendered himself completely to the Lord.

Devotion is not only a way of asking for material gains or the answer to unlimited wants. It can also be a thanksgiving for all the good He has given us. He would give us what we deserve. A prayer that is done without any expectation or desire is indeed the best.

Prayer lightens the heaviness of our heart by making it receptive to God. Prayer is expecting God to decide what is best for us when we are in a dilemma. Prayer is not asking, but a communion with God through single-minded devotion; it helps us to be disciplined.

It is a tuning of the mind through meditation. Prayer is surrendering oneself to God completely, and letting the mind and ego merge in silence. Prayer represents a mystic state when the individual consciousness is absorbed in God. It is an act of uplifting the soul through love and adoration for Him.

Devotion to God is tonic for the soul. When the mind becomes pure through the power of prayer, the intellect becomes sharp and keen. It elevates the mind and exempts us from the fear of death and brings us closer to God. Prayer can work wonders. Healing by prayer is not uncommon.

Mahatma Gandhi says: "Prayer is the key of the morning and the bolt of the evening, there is no peace without the grace of God, and there is no grace of God without Prayer."

Sreeram Manoj Kumar

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Cause and Effect Network (Article published in Speaking Tree TOI on 21-12-2010)

Why we are here? To know the answer, we would need to understand the Law of Karma.

The key word is 'why' – why do we experience pleasure or pain? Once we know the cause, we could take appropriate action, either to overcome pain or prolong pleasure. The Law of Karma basically tells us that pain and pleasure are on account of prarabdha karma phalas, the fruit of past actions.

There are three kinds of karma. Sanchita or accumulated karma is the sum of all the total fruits, good and bad, obtained during past births. We may find a person who does not care for others and yet living a good life; the present situation that he seems to be enjoying could be for the good deeds done in his past life. If he is troubling his fellow beings in this life he is sure to live a miserable life in his future birth. This is how karma works.

Prarabdha karmas are a part of the sanchita karma allotted to us which influences our life in the present incarnation. It cannot be avoided. It is exhausted only by being experienced. And most important is that even Providence has no powers to change what has been allotted, just as a shooter has no control over the arrow that has left his bow.

Agami karmas arise from deeds that would be performed during the course of this lifetime by an individual, be it good or bad deeds or a mix of both. Remember that the rewards of this are added to the sanchita karma and therefore increase its volume.

There is a small story which emphasises that prarabdha karma is inevitable: Once Lord Yama visits Sriman Narayana in Vaikuntha. At the entrance to his right he finds Garuda, the vehicle of the Lord who acknowledges him and to the left he sees a small sparrow. Looking at the sparrow Yama makes a surprised gesture and walks inside. The sparrow who sees Yama making a surprised gesture thinks that its time is up and Yama is going to take him away to Yamaloka and so it starts trembling in anticipation. Seeing this Garuda tells the sparrow not to worry and that he would help it. Garuda, who could fly at the speed of wind, asks the sparrow to sit on his back and he takes it to the far-off Gandhamadana Mountain near Rameshwaram. He then tells the sparrow not to worry as he would be safe there and gets back to the entrance of Vaikuntha.

After some time Yama comes out and finds the sparrow missing. Garuda, who was proud of what he had done, asks Yama what he was searching for. Yama enquires about the sparrow. Garuda tells him that the sparrow is now far away and safe. Then Yama asks Garuda to tell where he had taken the sparrow to. Garuda tells him he has left the sparrow on the Gandhamadana Mountain. Listening to this Yama is amazed at the intricate design Sriman Narayana has made and tells Garuda that when he came to Vaikuntha he was surprised and wondered how the small sparrow which was supposed to be killed by an eagle on Gandhamadana in a few minutes would reach there!

Such are the mysterious ways of karma finding ways to make one realise the fruit of action, past or present. Others might say it's sheer coincidence!

Sreeram Manoj Kumar

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Devotion and Knowledge (Article published on 24-11-2010 in Speaking Tree TOI)

Bhakti or devotion is often compared with Jnana or knowledge. The two paths have little in common, except perhaps their ultimate goal. The two paths converge only at their end. Looking at it from another perspective, one could say that the two paths are like two views of the same path rather than two different paths that converge.

If the fruit of Bhakti is Jnana, Jnana intensifies Bhakti. They are both as inseparable as two sides of a coin. Jnana is the path that appeals to the logical part of the brain. For that to happen, the emotional part of the brain has to be rekindled through Bhakti. While Bhakti turns the positive part of the mind outward to achieve union with the Supreme, Jnana turns the negative part of mind inward to achieve the same. If one looks at the experiences along the spiritual path and realises them in either Bhakti or Jnana terms, he would find the same Truth. With a silent prayer as in Bhakti or by the practice of negation in Jnana, one becomes simple and surrenders all attachments to forms in order to get closer to the formless. The easiest way to start is with Bhakti or surrendering to the Supreme and acquire Jnana. Bhakti is the mother of Jnana.

A Bhakta’s longing ends at achievement of Divine love whereas a Jnani’s longing starts as a simple means of enquiry on Truth. The Self of both is emptied as attachments are surrendered to the love of the transcendent and the Truth of eternality. Bhakta uses nama japam to help turn attention away from the world, while a Jnani contemplates on teachings obtained from his Guru to do the same. Both then cultivate awareness of the Truth.

The Bhakta will find God in all the forms he sees while the Jnani justifies emptiness, which is the same thing said in different ways. Bhakta enters the Supreme through self-surrender, while a Jnani expands and become one with Him through Self-enquiry. A Bhakta shuns doer-ship while a Jnani shuns both doer-ship and enjoyer-ship.

“There is nothing as pure as the knowledge”, says Krishna in the Bhagavad Gita (Chapter 4, verse 38). The knowledge Krishna refers to is both spiritual as well as material science. The ignorance to recognise our true nature and origin has made us fall into the whirlpool of samsara. By Jnana one can overcome ignorance and attain salvation for which Bhakti is necessary.

Some argue that Bhaktas can never be Jnanis, but it is not true. It so happened that Mirabai decided to meet a spiritual guru at Brindavan. He was a brahmachari and kept away from womenfolk. On knowing that Mirabai was at the ashram he asked his pupil to ask her to leave as she was a woman. When Mirabai learnt about it she asked: “I know there is only one Purusha (man) in this universe; that is my Nandalala and the rest are His gopis...” The spiritual guru came out of the ashram and touched the feet of Mirabai. Here, a mere devotee revealed the truth of Sankhya yoga to a Jnani. Another Bhakta and Jnani was Kanakadasa who, when he was given a fruit and asked to eat it without anyone knowing about it, could not do so as he found Him in all forms and knew he could not escape Him.

Sreeram Manoj Kumar

Friday, October 29, 2010

Consciousness as Seer (Article published on 29-10-2010 in Speaking Tree TOI)

The differentiation of the seer (the one who sees) and the objects seen is called viveka. What is seen and who is the seer?

If the eye is the seer the objects around is the seen. Similarly, to the mind, the eye is seer and the sense organ of vision is the seen. For true consciousness, which is the seer, the mind becomes the seen. The true consciousness is the ultimate seer which experiences without the help of other entity, this true consciousness alone is the witness. Lamp doesn't need another lamp to prove its presence.

In darkness a beam of light is required for us to know if a person exists, but we need no light to know our own presence. Consciousness is self-aware of its existence. But this true consciousness has a reflected consciousness which is ego that is projected due to the reflecting medium called the mind. The mind is a subtle form of energy that has no consciousness of its own but acts as a conscious entity due to ego. This ego is limited consciousness and acts as the observer, knower and the experienced. Identification of the reflected consciousness with the world and getting attached to the likes and dislikes of it is called samsara. The only way to overcome ego is to shun doer-ship. The ego is the "i" ness present in mind where thoughts, feelings and experiences circle. Once this reflected consciousness is withdrawn from the mind and merged with the true consciousness -- then the non attachment to the body and the mind is achieved. We require a proficient guru and uninterrupted sadhana to know which this reflected consciousness is.

The king announced a reward of 1,000 gold coins for anyone who found the diamond necklace that his daughter lost. A beggar was walking along a polluted river. He saw a spark in the river and when he looked close he saw the diamond necklace. He decided to try and fetch it so that he could get the reward.

He put his hand in the filthy river to grab the necklace, but somehow could not get it. He took his hand out and looked again and the necklace was still there. He tried again. But strangely, he still missed the necklace! He came out and started walking away, feeling depressed. Then again, he saw the necklace, right there. This time he was determined to get it. He decided to plunge into the river. Although it was disgusting, he plunged in and searched everywhere for the necklace. Just then, a sadhu who was walking by saw him, and asked him what the matter was. The beggar didn't want to share anything with the sadhu, thinking he might take the necklace and get the reward.

Being compassionate, the sadhu again asked the beggar to tell him the problem and promised that he would not tell anyone. The beggar gathered some courage and decided to put some faith in the sadhu. He told him about the necklace and how he tried and tried to get it, but kept failing.

The sadhu then told him that perhaps he should try looking upward, toward the branches of the tree, instead of in the filthy river. The beggar looked up and was surprised to see the necklace dangling on the branch of a tree. He had been trying to capture a mere reflection of the real necklace all the time.

Sreeram Manoj Kumar

Monday, September 13, 2010

Dreams & Nightmares (Article published on 11 Sept 2010 in Speaking Tree TOI)

Four basic qualities of consciousness that we experience are: jagrat or waking, swapna or dreaming, sushupti or dreamless sleep and turiya or sleepless sleep. These four stages of consciousness are governed by the four vyuha or forms of Para-Vasudeva.

Jagrat is the stage in which we are awake, when the five sense organs and mind are active, doing decisive activities. The most significant aspect of this state is the capacity of an individual to recognise a thing which had been cognised some time back, whether through vision, taste, smell, sound or feel.

According to Pancharatra Agamas, Aniruddha, the emanated form of Para- Vasudeva is among those deities responsible for this aspect and is regarded as "the uncontrollable unifier of experiences". One more faculty He governs is the ability to reconcile the five senses and mind which fall prey to likes or dislikes of events happening in the materialistic world; hence it is possible to slowly overcome bereavement of dear ones. Aniruddha, the provider of individual consciousness, is the grandson of Krishna and son of Pradyumna and Kakudmati.

Swapna is the dreaming stage in which the individual enjoys the five objects of senses while all the five sense organs are at rest and only the mind is working. Dream is the imitation of the experiences of the wakeful stage with some modifications and is created out of materials supplied from the waking stage. Mind itself is the seer and seen. Pradyumna is responsible for this aspect and is regarded as "the provider of unfulfilled desire experiences". With these experiences unfolding the individual is denied peaceful sleep, like in a house where though elders are asleep (the five senses) the naughty child, the mind, is awake and causing illusions. Some believe that the mind weaves dreams due to experiences that happen in the day and has control over it, if so is it possible to choose only sweet dreams and avoid nightmares? Pradyumna is the giver of astral consciousness. He is the son of Krishna and Rukmini and incarnation of Kama, god of love.

Sushupti is stage of deep sleep where the individual is self-oblivion unaware as the mind is also at rest along with the five senses. In this state individual is not aware of his worries or reassurances. Sankarshana is responsible for this aspect and is regarded as "the annihilator of experiences". The individual experiences deluge every night and is in union with the Self and due to ignorance there is no authenticity for the same. Sankarshana is the provider of subconsciousness and He is the elder brother of Krishna, also called Balarama.

Turiya also called chaturtha is the stage of transcendental consciousness where the individual experiences ultimate reality and truth. This state is inexperienced by the five senses and indescribable, incomprehensible by the mind which is tied to continuous cycle of births. The transcendental mind is within itself a possibility of creating anything and everything that mind conceives and the possibilities are infinite. Vasudeva is responsible for this aspect and is regarded as "the merger of individual and universal experiences". In this state the individual experiences the sleepless sleep or bliss, witnessing similarities of macrocosm and microcosm and is well aware of the union of Self and Absolute. Vasudeva is the provider of superconsciousness; He is Lord Krishna Himself.

Sreeram Manoj Kumar

Monday, June 14, 2010

Work is what you make of it ( Article published in Speaking Tree TOI on Jun 9, 2010)

Work and mentally renounce the fruits achieved thereafter. Don’t let the shadow of personal prejudice affect how you perceive work.

This is the essence of karma yoga. The wise work for common benefit whereas the ignorant work only for themselves or their near and dear ones. A farmer has control over how he works in his fields, but not over the harvest. Krishna tells Arjuna: “Yoga is karmasu kausalam, doing work skillfully in the first attempt.”

Work is external but our attitude to it is internal. A certain attitude may make us feel work is miserable while another kind of attitude makes it pleasant. By cultivating the right attitude, we will become spiritual. That is meditation.

Once in a village several people were engaged in construction of a temple A wandering sage passing by wants to know what is happing there, so he asks a person cutting stone: “What are you doing?” The labourer replies with frustration: “Don’t you see that I am cutting stone? It’s a hard stone. Look at my hands! They have become red. Work is hell. And to make matters worse, you ask me what I am doing. How I wish I were not doing this!” The sage asks: “ I see you are cutting stone, but let me know what is coming up here?” The stonecutter replies that he has no idea; it does not concern him. He is disinterested.

The sage next goes to another man and asks him the same question: “What are you doing?” The man replies: “I’m cutting stone here; that’s my job. For eight hours of work I get paid Rs 100. I have a wife and children to take care of. I’m doing my duty.” The sage asks him: “Do you know what is coming up here?” He says: “Yes, they say they’re making a temple. How does it matter to me, whether what is being constructed is a temple or a jail, as long as I get paid?”

Then the sage goes to a third worker who is also cutting stone and poses the same question. The man replies: “We are building a temple. There is no temple here; every year at festivals we have to trek to the temple in the next village. You know, every time I hit the stone I hear wonderful music. The temple work has put the sleepy village in a festive mood.” The sage asks: “How long do you have to work on this project?” The man says the timeline is not his concern for as soon as he wakes up in the morning, he gets ready for work and begins cutting stone. He tells the sage that he spends the entire day here, taking a break between mealtimes. “When I go home in the night and sleep, in my dream I think of this construction and feel grateful that I enjoy the work I do, I am truly blessed,” he said.

Three men doing the same work have three different attitudes. The first person thinks it’s hell, the second looks upon his work as his duty. However, the third worker thinks what he is able to do is a blessing. If the work itself had the qualities inherently, good or bad, then, these three men might have felt the same. But in reality, it’s not the work itself that is good or bad. It is not the work that disturbs us but something that’s subtler; it’s the attitude we have towards work.

Sreeram Manoj Kumar

Monday, May 17, 2010

We’re all the same, really-- Article published in Speaking Tree (TOI) on 17-05-2010

To be able to see all things as one, you have to be in a state of mind that does not differentiate between likes and dislikes that are manifested in those we are looking at. Vedanta says the universe is the Supreme Absolute from which all evolved.

Shankara writes in the Atma Bodha that Self of all is like the sun and the attitude we develop are like clouds that hide the sun. When we look at a person beyond his attitudes, we find that we are all of the same eternal self luminous Atma. “Sages see with an equal eye, a learned and humble Brahmin, a cow, an elephant or even a dog or an outcaste,” said Krishna to Arjuna in the Bhagavad Gita (5.18).

A merchant goes to a wood sculptor and asks him to make an idol of Krishna in sandalwood. The sculptor requests for 15 days’ time to locate the right sandalwood to commence work. Not finding a suitable piece of wood, he goes to the merchant’s house to tell him of his inability to make the idol. The merchant is away and his wife asks him to wait. The sculptor’s eye falls on a wooden log in a corner of the room. He asks the merchant’s wife if he could take it. With her permission, he chisels out an enchanting image of Krishna. On seeing the idol the merchant praises the work; he could not believe that the wooden log which was there all the time in his house was used to make the fine idol. Then the sculptor says that all he had done was to remove the unwanted parts of the wood so that what remained was the image of Krishna. Similarly, we have to remove all irrelevant identities in us so that the Self in us shines forth.

That homogeneous mass of pure consciousness that is present in all of us is termed as Atma. It is timeless and eternal, says Krishna in the Gita. The nature of Self is sat, chit and ananda. Pure consciousness continues to survive after the death of the body. It is immortal; hence it is called Sat. Consciousness is called Chit in Sanskrit. It is also known as Chaitanya. It is not limited by time or space and hence is limitless, that is, ananta. Hence it is known as ananda which means a sense of completeness, a sense of fulfillment.

The eternal Self is the ultimate phase, like gold, while the name and form of an individual is like that of gold jewellery. Some may not like the making of the jewel but the gold that is in it is not inferior. The face value of a currency note is the same even if it is soiled. Every individual is the same like gold and the intrinsic value of a currency note. This is what Shankara tries to convey through the prism of advaita philosophy.

The dvaita philosophy of Madhava endorses the need for every individual to live life in a way that enables one to take out or forge an attractive jewel out the gold or clean the currency note so that it become new and crisp. Both these great exponents of philosophy, of advaita and dvaita, have really said the same thing but in different ways. Shankara asks us to see others in the same perspective as we see ourselves. Madhva explains to us that even though others see us in the same perspective as they see themselves, it is righteousness to live a quality life.

Sreeram Manoj Kumar

Tuesday, April 13, 2010


Some people imagine that the whole world is made for their enjoyment and that that everything and everybody in this universe should sub serve their individual ends and that whole world should bend to their plans. Even jealousy of these people will not keep them in peace, but encourages destroying the progress and good keeping of good and innocent people who are forward and gone ahead of them in every field. Our elders say that 6 enemies Kama {Lust}, Kroda {Anger}, Lobha {Greed}, Moha {Attachment}, Mada {Arrogance} and Mathsarya {Jealousy} in our mind ruin our whole career and advise us to beware of these enemies. If we try to ruin others, we ourselves will be ruined.

To illustrate this we have in Mahabharatha an incidence. Once sage Durvasa who is very well know for being short tempered came to Hastinapura. Prince Duryodhana welcomed the sage with great merriment and served him and his 10000 disciples with care and hospitality as long as they stayed at the palace. While leaving Hastinapura, the sage Durvasa who was very much satisfied with the hospitality of Prince Duryodhana asked him to wish for a boon that would be granted. Suddenly Prince Duryodhana requested Sage Durvasa to visit his cousins, the Pandavas in the forest and ask them to provide meal to all of them after Draupathi had her meal.
The Pandavas were living in the forest to complete their 12 years and 1 year in incognito as per the conditions after loosing the game of dice with Kauravas. At their stay in the forest Lord Surya {Sun God} had given a vessel called Akshaya Patra to Pandavas. The uniqueness of the vessel was that it would supply any quantity of food for all the inmates in the hermitage and other guests who visited the Pandavas till Draupathi had her meal and cleaned the vessel. Thereafter the vessel would cease supply of food for the day. Knowing this fact Prince Duryodhana thought that if Sage Durvasa approached the Pandavas after Draupathi has had her meal and if the vessel doesn’t supply food for the sage and his 10000 disciples, Pandavas would be in helpless situation and incur the rage of the sage. Thereby may get cursed for not providing hospitality for them.

As promised Sage Durvasa along with his 10000 disciples visited the Pandavas after Droupathi had finished her meal and cleaned the vessel. Yudhistira the eldest of the Pandavas welcomed the Sage Durvasa and his disciples. Sage asked Yudhistira to feed them after they had bath in the nearby river. Yudhistira informed this to Draupathi and asked her to arrange for the meal. Alas! Draupathi had finished her meal and cleaned the vessel, so the vessel could not supply the food for the Sage and his disciples. She was depressed and as usual she had to take refuge of the only protector Lord Shri Krishna. She appealed to Him to help her in this situation. Immediately Lord Shri Krishna appeared before her and asked her to provide Him something, as He was very hungry. Draupathi prayed to Shri Krishna not to make fun of her at the time of crisis as she had left with nothing to feed the Sage Durvasa and his disciples. Shri Krishna asked Draupathi to bring the Akshaya Patra to Him and show it. Shri Krishna picked up a tiny grain of rice sticking to the rim of the vessel and put it into his mouth with full satisfaction i.e. the soul of the universe. This was not the only time Lord Shri Krishna had helped the needy.

Meanwhile the Sage Durvasa and his disciples who were taking bath felt completely overeaten and were unable to walk. Shri Krishna asked Bheema to inform the Sage Durvasa and his disciples that the meal was ready. Bheema went to the river to inform the Sage and his disciples, Sage Durvasa by then knowing what had happen through his inner vision told Bheema that they were completely satisfied by the grace of Lord Shri Krishna and no more food was required. Sage Durvasa blessed the Pandavas and left the forest.

Here Prince Duryodhana was expecting that Pandavas would fail in providing hospitality to Sage Durvasa and would be cursed. When Sage Durvasa had asked him for a boon he could have asked any boon for his welfare instead he thought of ruining the Pandavas. Thus let us asks God not to destroy our enemies but to give us strength to overcome the hurdles created by our enemies. Even in competition if we need supremacy let us wish for 1% more of what our opponent has rather than the complete destruction of our competitor. Another best saying is “HELP EVER HURT NEVER”

P.T Sreeram,

Thyagaraja, the composer and singer.

Purandaradasa, who composed devotional songs in Kannada, is considered to be the father of carnatic music. Then comes Thyagaraja who composed in Telugu & some in Sanskrit. Musicians are more attracted to the songs of Thyagaraja then that of his contemporaries Shama Sastry & Muthuswamy Dikshitar who formed the trinity of Carnatic Music.

Thyagaraja was born in 1767 to Rama Brahma & Seethamma at Tiruvarur near Thanjavore, Tamilnadu. Rama Brahma was deeply devoted to Sri Rama. So this devout nature passed from father to son. Listening to devotional songs from his mother made Thyagaraja to compose “Namo Namo Raghavaya” in his young age. After teaching all that he could in music, his Guru Sonti Venkataramanayya who was attached to the court of the King of Thanjavore asked Thyagaraja to sing in the assemble of some pundits. He sang the song “Yendaro Mahanubhavulu” (Salutation to those great souls assembled). They very much appreciated. When some doubts began to worry him in musicology, a sanyasi came to him and presented doubt-clearing manuscript “Swararnamu” to Thyagaraja. It is believed that the sanyasi was Sage Narada.

The king, who heard the fame of Thyagaraja, invited him to the court by sending presentations along with the palanquin to take him. Then he asked his mind by singing “Nidhi chala sukhama Ramuni sannidhi seva sukhama O manasa”(Mind tell which indeed is pleasure these wealthy presentations or sanctuary of Rama) and refused to accept and returned the presentations. Hence King had to come in disguise to listen to his songs. Thyagaraja had no other means of earning expect going round the village for alms by singing the songs in praise of God. He was collecting the quantity that was sufficient for his family & disciples who were taught music lessons at free of cost. He was not collecting fee considering it to be sin to sell knowledge. People considered themselves blessed if Thyagaraja accepted from them. Once a woman insisted to offer more, in reply Thyagaraja sang, “All that you need is a fistful of rice, “O mind” in mad pursuit of wealth forget not Hari, the essence of universe. Knowing the poor conditions of Thyagaraja the king who wanted to help sent an official to drop some gold coins into the begging bowl of Thyagaraja. As advised the official dropped gold coins into the bowl as soon as Thyagaraja heard the metallic sound in his bowl he threw the coins along with the rice in the Cauvery River saying that the rice was contaminated and went on fast for the day. Observing the conduct of always refusing the wealth, Japyesa, the only elder brother of Thyagaraja, kept Thyagaraja separate by dividing their house. Even then he did not tolerate and to divert his attention from Rama, Japyesa threw the idols of Rama in to Cauvery River. When Thyagaraja noticed the idols missing he cried madly and had no proper food or sleep. At last in despair he came crying to the bank of Cauvery, to his surprise he found the idols of Rama floating on the river. He immediately rushed and grabbed & came home singing “Ra ra maa intidaka”(Come to our home).

It is said that Thyagaraja had the darshan of Rama along with his five-fold group after chanting Rama Nama for 96 crores of times as per the advise of his guru. Upanishad Brahma Swami of Kanchipuram wanted to see Thyagaraja but old age and weakness for bided his journey. Knowing this Thyagaraja, himself set out to see him. On the way at Srirangam he could not have the glimpse of Lord Ranganatha in the palanquin, as it was crowded, disappointed Thyagaraja appealed to Lord for darshan. The bearers could not lift the palanquin. Deciding that some great person has been denied the darshan of the deity, the organizers searched and found out Thyagaraja & requested him to come and have darshan of Lord. When Thyagaraja began to sing in praise of Lord, it was able to lift the palanquin and proceed. At Kanchipuram he met Upanishad Brahma Swami and the presiding deity Lord Varadaraja Swamy. He Sang “Varada ninne kore vachithira” (Varada Raja I have come seeking you). Then at Thirupati, it is said that the curtains, which were tied before the deity Venkateshwara, moved aside when he sang “Thera theeyagarada” (remove the curtains) and also the meaning of the song is to remove all the bad habits from self. At Kovur he was a guest of Sundaresh Mudaliar, a rich businessman. On the way after leaving Kovur, Thyagaraja who was in the palanquin heard some commotion outside. One of his disciple told that some robbers were throwing stones at them to snatch the valuables. Thyagaraja told his disciple not to worry, as they had no valuables with them. Then the disciple disclosed that there were some gold coins that Sundaresh Mudaliar had given them. Thyagaraja asked his disciple to give the robbers the coins. One of the disciples told that the coins were given to celebrate Ramanavami and no one had rights over it. Thyagaraja prayed to Lord Rama to protect His wealthy. Immediately the robbers fell at the feet of Thyagaraja to forgive them and wanted to know who those two brave men were who shot arrows at them. The two men were Rama & Lakshamana.

In his song “Chinthisthunnade Yamudu” Thyagaraja has said that Yama, the god of death is worried for the denial of his due as the people by chanting Rama Nama are escaping from Yamaloka. Though he composed thousands of songs majority is in praise of Rama. Thyagaraja by his sweet voice, excellent mood & fine musical sense please king of kings “Rama”. Thyagaraja took Snayasa (monk ship) and after that he decided to leave world on Bahula Panchami of Pusyamasa of 1847. On that day when all the villagers were engaged in bhajan Thyagaraja was chanting “Rama Tharaka Mantra” his head split on the top at mid day. The mortal remains were put in samadi at Thiruvayyaru. All the musicians & music lovers will assemble at the samadi on the aradhana day even today and sing the songs of Thyagaraja.

P.T Sreeram,

Om Sri Ganeshaya Namah

At the commencement of all rituals and other works we, Hindus begin with the invocation of Lord Ganesha, the destroyer of all obstacles. Each Puranas has different stories regarding the birth of Ganesha. Whatever may be the illustrations in the puranas, Lord Ganesha has become one of the deities of the Hindu pantheon by accepting Him as the son of Shiva & Parvathi.

According to Ganesha Purana, Lord Ganesha incarnated in different forms in the 4 Yugas as follows to destroy the demons. In Kritha Yuga as Mahotkata to destroy Narantaka and Devantaka. In Thretha Yuga as Mayuresha to kill Sindu. In Dwapara Yuga as Gajanana to kill Sindur. In Kali Yuga in which we are living we have evil minds due to which there will be chaos in all spheres of life. It is predicted that Lord Ganesha will incarnate as Dhoomraketu to destroy the evil minds of the people and restore peace.

Vigneshwara, the Lord of obstacles has four arms. Elders attribute them as follows, by the axe He hold in one of the hands He cuts off the attachments of His devotees to free them from sorrow. By the rope He pulls His devotees towards the truth to realize Atman, with the Modakas (Sweet made of Rice Balls) He give enjoyment to His devotees and with the Abhaya Hasta He blesses His devotees by giving protection from obstacles.

The Trinity worships Ganapathi, the leader of Ganas. Brahma meditated on Lord Ganesha, who asked Siddhi (Achievement) and Budhi (Wisdom) to help Brahma in creation of the universe. When Shiva set out to destroy the demon Tripurantaka, the nail of the chariot broke and Shiva prayed to Lord Ganesha and every thing was set right and Shiva killed the demon. Vishnu once found that His Valamburi Shanka (Conch with the swirl towards right) was missing but could hear the sound of the conch in the vicinity of Kailasa. Then He meditated on Lord Shiva who informed Him to pray to Lord Ganesha to retrieve the same. Accordingly Lord Vishnu prayed Ganesha and got back His Conch.

For His elephant face He is called Gajanana, Gajamukha, Gajavadana. Once Parasurama the devotee of Lord Shiva went to see Him at Kailasa. Ganesha who was guarding the entrance of the Kailasa did not allow Parasurama to enter. Short-tempered Parasurama stuck Ganesha with His axe and broke one of the tusks of Ganesha. Shiva & Parvathi appeared there and Parvathi rebuked Parasurama. Then Parasurama worshipped Ganesha and got His blessings. Since then Ganesha was called Ekadantha. The great epic Mahabharata was written by Ganesha, which was dictated by Sage Vyasa.

According to puranas once a Gandharva by name Krauncha insulted the sage Vamadeva in the court of Indra. The Sage cursed the Gandharva to become a rat. This rat devastated the ashrama of Sage Parasara, Parasara prayed to Ganesha who brought the rat under control and made it His vahana (Vehicle).

Once Kubera, who was proud of his wealth, took Lambodhara, the voracious eater to Alakapuri for dinner. Lambodhara eat all the dishes offered by Kubera. To humble the pride of Kubera he asked for more. Then Kubera prayed to Lord Shiva to rescue him. Shiva gave puffed rice to Ganesha and His hunger fulfilled by that. Once Ganesha who ate huge Modakas was riding on His vehicle the Mouse. As the mouse tripped by a snake, he fell & his over filled stomach burst open. Immediately Ganesha picked up the snake and tied around His stomach. At that time Chandra (moon) who was seeing this burst into laughter. Enraged Ganesha cursed the moon, which was shining with full brightness all the day that he would lose its shine. Then all gods approached Ganesha on behalf of moon and asked him to take back the curse, to this Ganesha obliged and said that the moon would wax and wane alternately every fortnight. And as the day was the 4th day of Bhadrapada (according to Hindu Calendar), Ganesha declared that those people who viewed the moon on that day would get involved in scandals. Since then onwards on the Ganesha Chauthi day people avoid seeing moon. To get relief from accidental viewing of moon on Ganesha Chauthi day one has to recite the Story of Shamantaka Gem, which involves Shri Krishna who also by chance saw the moon on Ganesha Chauthi day and gets suspected that He stole the Shamantaka Gem. The following Sloka when recited in devotion would get rid of the scandal.

“Simhahah Prasena Vadeh Simho Jambavanthaha tah sukumara marodhi tava hyeshah Syamanthakah”

There are many temples dedicated to Lord Ganesha in India and Abroad. In all the temples the image of Ganesha has four arms with His trunk turned towards left, in rare cases the trunk is turned towards right that is considered to be very auspicious. Different forms and postures of Ganesha are found all over the world. Devotees meditate on the Astakshara Mantra “OM SRI GANESHAYA NAMAH”

P.T Sreeram,

Devotion and Faith

An achievement of everything depends on the faithful devotion to God. Even minimal jobs done with devotion give everlasting results. Many incidents of these have been brought forth in Puranas and other circumstantial events.

The demon king Hiranyakasyapu mustered hatred for Vishnu to avenge the killing of his brother Hiranyaksha. Failing to curb his son Prahalada’s devotion to Vishnu he subjected him to terrible punishments. Once Hiranyakasyapu asked his son the favors of showing his God to him. When Prahalada told that He is omnipresent, Hiranyakasyapu challenged by showing the pillar and asked Prahalada if He is present in the pillar. Without hesitation and with lots of devotion Prahalada answers affirmatively, immediately Hiranyakasyapu hits the pillar with his mace. Vishnu in the form of Narashimha emerges out of the pillar and kills the demon king, this happened in Krutha Yuga.

Once at the time of Shri Rama’s Pattabhishekha Sitadevi gives a necklace of pearls to Hanuman in appreciation to the task of uniting her with Shri Rama. Hanuman starts breaking each pearl and thoroughly inspecting the same. Then the people of Ayodya ask Hanuman what he is searching for in the pearls. Hanuman tells them he is searching for Shri Rama and Sitadevi in the pearl. When the people told that Shri Rama and Sitadevi were in fact seated in front of him on the throne, Hanuman tells them Shri Rama and Sitadevi exist in all things and every ones heart and he was searching them in the pearls also. All those present there laughed and asked Hanuman to show if they were present in him. Hanuman immediately ripped open his chest with his sharp nails. Everyone was astonished to find Shri Rama and Sitadevi in the heart of Hanuman. This happened in Thretha Yuga.

Sathyabhama one of the eight wives of Lord Krishna was very possessive for her husband and always wanted him to be under her control. She approaches Sage Narada to seek his help, Sage Narada advises her to observe a Vratha in which after performing all the religious rites at the end she has to donate her Lord to a worthy person. Hearing this Sathybhama’s was saddened. “It is simple” Narada said, “you can retrieve Sri Krishna by giving gold equal to His weight”. Then it was decided that the vratha would be observed and the beneficiary would be Sage Narada. After all the formalities, Sri Krishna was made to sit on the pan of one side of the balance and Sathyabhama started to put gold on the other pan. All the gold that Sathyabhama had put in the pan could not level the balance. As Sathyabhama failed to equalize the weight of Sri Krishna, Narada asked Sri Krishna to follow him to his Ashrama. Narada also searched for a buyer of Sri Krishna. Meanwhile, Jambhavanthe, Kalindi, Sriveeravinda, Bhadra, Lakshana, the other wives of Sri Krishna met Sathyabhama and reprimanded her by questioning her authority and audacity in donating Sri Krishna to Narada. Humble Sathyabhama went to meet Narada for any solution to get back Sri Krishna. Narada suggested a person with devotion has to put anything on the pan to equate the weight of Sri Krishna and asked them to try. But none succeeded. Finally, Narada asked Sathyabhama to bring Rukmini. When Rukmini placed one leaf of thulasi on the pan, the pan with Sri Krishna raised to the level. Sri Krishna was released from the hold. This was happened in Dwapara Yuga.

Following are some events that occurred in present Kaliyuga. Sanandana, one of the disciples of Adi Shankaracharya was once on the other side of river Alakananda. Shankaracharya who was with other disciples called Sanandana by name. Hearing his name in the voice of his Guru, Sanandana wanted to reach his Guru and started moving towards the river without the knowledge of the existence of the river. When he proceeded towards the river, the river Alakananda appreciating his devotion towards his Guru placed lotus for his every step and helped him reach his Guru. Shankaracharya, who witnessed all this praised Sanandana and named him Padmapada.

Vadiraja, the then peetadhi pathi of Sode mutt, one of the eight mutts’ of Udupi met Arasappa Naik of Swadhi. Arasappa Naik who latter became a devotee of Vadiraja requested him to install a deity in Swadhi grama, as there was no temple. Hence Vadiraja asked Arasappa Naik to build a temple so that he could install a deity. Arasappa Naik arranged for the construction of a temple. As construction progressed, chains were used to lift granite slabs. While lifting one granite slab slipped midway and was about to fall on the persons below. Suddenly a sculptor who knew the power of Vadiraja shouted, “Ye slab stay there only I speak in the name of Vadiraja Guru”. The slab remained suspended there itself.

It is said that human wish to which is precious but short and impermanent has been earned from the merits in millions of past lilves and as such the object of life is to realize god by surrounding every thing to him. It is also said that the eternal peace comes through devotion to god but not through any other means.

P.T Sreeram,

Priyadharshan Shri Rama (Article from Speaking Tree TOI)

Rama nama contains the power of all mantras. Just uttering the syllable Ra can purge us of all sin. The following syllable Ma ensures that expunged sins do not return to plague us.

The Rama nama mantra stands for Supreme Reality. Chanting Rama's name produces a rhythmic sound that soothes and relaxes the mental and physical system. Mental recitations are equally, if not more, effective. 'Ra' is taken from the Astakshari Mantra Om Namo Narayanaya and 'Ma', from Panchakshari Mantra, Namah Shivaya. The word Rama stands for one who is always present in the hearts of yogis and makes them feel happy. Rama nama liberates from ego and desires. If you are depressed, the mantra will lift your spirits.

Adi Shankaracharya praised the Rama mantra and said that Lord Shankara, knowing the sweetness of it, initiated his beloved Parvati to it. He tells her: Sree Rama Rama Ramethi Rame Raame Manorame Sahasranama Tat Thul-yam Rama Nama Varanane meaning it is only Rama nama which is equal to a thousand names of Vishnu. This mantra can be chanted anywhere, anytime and by anyone. Rama nama has the power of intercession for the dead. The pall bearers repeat: Ram naam satya hai (the name of Rama is absolute truth).

Tulsidas, Ramdas, Kabirdas and Mahatma Gandhi are among those who thoroughly enjoyed the sweetness of this mantra. Tulsidas said that if one repeats the mantra unconsciously, he is taken from hell to paradise. He said that he is as eager to repeat the mantra as a Chataka bird is to drink rain drops, the only source of its survival. Kabirdas believed that the benefits of Rama nama cannot be destroyed or robbed. Meera Bai repeated the name of Rama day in and day out. According to her, it is like nectar in a gold cup which none can resist. Purandaradasa and Thyagaraja have immortalised the Rama nama in their beautiful compositions. Thyagaraja, the saint-poet, is said to have obtained the darshan of Rama with Sita, Lakshman and Hanuman after having recited the Rama nama 950 million times in 38 years on the advice of his guru. It is even said that Rama nama is mightier than Rama himself.

By chanting the Rama nama, a notorious bandit Ratnakara got liberated of all his past sins and as Val-miki, went on to author the Ramayana. The Ramayana is not just a great epic; it is philosophy, history, mytho-logy and spirituality all rolled into one. Valmiki describes Rama as having 16 great attributes — Rama stood for truth, he was a believer of truth, he was a good son and brother, he was an ideal king and was a symbol of moral excellence.

A great king of the Ikshavaku dynasty, Rama is the most popular and revered incarnation of Maha Vishnu. Rama's coronation was organised by Sage Vasishta. While tying the sacred thread (kankana) on Rama's wrist, sage Vasishta was so mesmeri-sed by Rama's personality that he is said to have missed the auspicious moment. Some even attribute Rama's exile and consequent troubles to this.

Sage Vishwamitra composed the Suprabhata in praise of Kaushalya's good fortune in giving birth to an illustrious child like Rama. The Valmiki Ramayana contains 24,000 verses of seven khandas (chapters). The number seven has special significance in the Ramayana — Ra is the second consonant in the ya-ra-la-va series in Sanskrit and Ma is fifth of the pa-pha-ba-bha-ma series, adding up to seven. Rama is the seventh incarnation of Vishnu. Rama and Ravana fought for seven days.

Rama was born on the ninth day of first half (Shukla Paksha) of Chaitra (first month of the Hindu calendar). The day of his birth is celebrated as Rama Navami.

P.T Sreeram,

Mind Control and Perfect Yogi {Article published in Speaking Tree TOI on 02 Dec 2004)

Arjuna asks Krishna to describe the characteristics of the perfect yogi, Sthitaprajna. Krishna points out that a stable human behaviour implies separation of “I” from the mind. When the mind engages in selfish desires it evaluates success and failures and never gets the freedom. The mind needs diversion from selfish to unselfish desires to get the freedom.

“Manojaya eva mahajayah—Conquest of mind is the greatest victory. Mind is one of the ashta-prakritis earth, water, fire, air, ether, mind, reason and egoism these constitute the eight-fold division of My Eternal Energy” says Sri Krishna (Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 7 verse 4).

The mind, manas, is controlled by intelligence, buddhi, and has control over our sense organs, indriyas. If our sense organs are horses of a chariot, the mind is the leash that is held by intelligence, the charioteer. The chariot will move in the right direction only if the charioteer has control over the horses through the leash. The mind is like the supervisor in the factory of life, and directs the indriyas. The mind does a wonderful job of carrying out directions, but it is not supposed to be the key decision-maker in the factory. That is the job of intelligence. If intelligence is clouded, then the mind has a habit of listening to whoever is speaking the loudest in the factory.

There is conflict between intelligence and mind that is judged by our consciousness. This is never seen in animals. Let us suppose a landlord who happens to leave his house for a few days orders both his housekeeper and the dog not to go out of the house in his absence. Even though both have violated the order, the dog has no inner conflict and sleeps happily, but the housekeeper is sleepless. He feels guilty and is also ticked off for not following orders. The mind should always listen to intelligence and order the indriyas, and then there would be no conflict of mind and intelligence. When we say we have a disturbed mind then we have done something that our intelligence does not want us to do.

In the Yaksha Prashna episode in the Aranya Parva of the Mahabharata, Yama asks Yudhisthira what is the swiftest of all in the universe? Yudhisthira answers that the mind is the swiftest of all, manovega. The mind can travel at unimaginable speed; this has made the mind inconstant. Restless and unpredictable, the mind is an obstruction to peace. Mantra Japa is one way of controlling the restless mind.

A story in the Skanda Purana illustrates this: After the battle of Kurukshetra, Yudhisthira contemplates on performing the Ashwameda Yagya. Krishna who wanted Bheema to know the importance of Mantra Japa asks him to bring Purusha Mruga who lives in Himalayas for the Yagya. Krishna warns Bheema that Purusha Mruga travels at the speed of mind and to bring him he has to travel at that speed failing which the Purusha Mruga would kill and devour him. Bheema who could travel at the speed of wind (vayuvega) thinks he could bring him. Bheema goes in search of Purusha Mruga and happens to meet his brother Hanuman and tells him about his mission. Hanuman tells Bheema that the only way to keep pace with Purusha Mruga is to place thousand Lingas through the route.

Being a devotee of Shiva, Purusha Mruga would halt at each Linga to chant the thousand names of Shiva thus allowing Bheema to keep pace with him. Bheema succeeded in the mission, his vayuvega could match Purusha Mruga's manovega since it was slowed down with Mantra Japa.

Sreeram Manoj Kumar

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Memorable Quotes

Know the Self as Lord of the chariot, the body as the chariot itself, the discriminating intellect as the charioteer, and the mind as the reins. The senses, say the wise, are the horses; selfish desires are the roads they travel.
Katha Upanishad

The desires are superior to the senses, the mind is superior to the desires, the intuition (understanding) is superior to the mind, the great Self is superior to the intuition.
Katha Upanishad

The reward of a thing well done is to have done it.
Ralph Waldo Emerson.

Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony. Mahatma Gandhi

Hate the sin, love the sinner.
Mahatma Gandhi

An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind.
Mahatma Gandhi,

Cause and effect are two sides of one fact.
Ralph Waldo Emerson

Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.
Ralph Waldo Emerson

Fate is nothing but the deeds committed in a prior state of existence.
Ralph Waldo Emerson

For every minute you remain angry, you give up sixty seconds of peace of mind.
Ralph Waldo Emerson

Something unknown is doing we don't know what.
Arthur Eddington

The only way to have a friend is to be one.
Ralph Waldo Emerson

This time, like all times, is a very good one, if we but know what to do with it. ---Ralph Waldo Emerson

Astrophysicist Sir James Jeans wrote in the 1930s, “The universe begins to look more like a great thought than like a great machine.”

I have enough money to last me the rest of my life, unless I buy something.
Jackie Mason US comedian

Do not do to others what angers you if done to you by others.

The only good is knowledge and the only evil is ignorance.

Hitler said..
"when you are in the light,everything follows you,
But when you enter into the dark,even your own shadow doesnt follow you."

Nobody talks so constantly about God as those who insist that there is no God. Heywood Broun

To you I'm an atheist; to God, I'm the Loyal Opposition.
Woody Allen

Death is more universal than life; everyone dies but not everyone lives.
A. Sachs

In the business world, the rearview mirror is always clearer than the windshield.
Warren Buffett

Most people get interested in stocks when everyone else is. The time to get interested is when no one else is. You can't buy what is popular and do well.
Warren Buffett

Price is what you pay. Value is what you get.
Warren Buffett

He who desires is always poor.

There are two tragedies in life. One is not to get your heart's desire. The other is to get it.
George Bernard Shaw

God gives every bird its food, but He does not throw it into its nest.
J. G. Holland

Man is the artificer of his own happiness.
Henry David Thoreau

Watch your thoughts, for they become words. Watch your words, for they become actions. Watch your actions, for they become habits. Watch your habits, for they become character. Watch your character, for it becomes your destiny.
Manu Smriti

Everybody comes from the same source. If you hate another human being, you're hating part of yourself.
Elvis Presley

One gradually attains tranquility of mind by keeping the mind fully absorbed in the Self by means of a well-trained intellect, and thinking of nothing else.

How people treat you is their karma; how you react is yours.
Wayne Dyer

If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.
Wayne Dyer

Begin to see yourself as a soul with a body rather than a body with a soul.
Wayne Dyer

The highest form of ignorance is when you reject something you don't know anything about.
Wayne Dyer

We don't laugh because we're happy - we're happy because we laugh.
William James

Man can alter his life by altering his thinking.
William James

Many people think they are thinking when they are merely rearranging their prejudices.
William James

The aim of a college education is to teach you to know a good man when you see one.
William James

“It is better to prevent and prepare than to repent and repair.”
Ezra Taft Benson

“Money is like Manure, it is no good unless you spread it around helping young things to grow”
Ephraim Levi

Penny wise, pound foolish.
Robert Burton

Realize that everything connects to everything else.
Leonardo DaVinci

Consciousness is a singular of which the plural is unknown; that there is only one thing and that what seems to be a plurality is merely a series of different aspects of this one thing, produced by a deception.
Erwin Schrodinger

Quantum physics thus reveals a basic oneness of the universe.
Erwin Schrodinger

Every time you don't follow your inner guidance, you feel a loss of energy, loss of power, a sense of spiritual deadness.
Shakti Gawain

The body is but a sacred garment.
Martha Graham (1894 - 1991)

There is but one temple in the universe and that is the body of man.
Novalis (1772 - 1801)

Choose rather to be strong of soul than strong of body.
Pythagoras (582 BC - 507 BC)

There's no present. There's only the immediate future and the recent past.
George Carlin

My wife's jealousy is getting ridiculous. The other day she looked at my calendar and wanted to know who May was.
Rodney Dangerfield US actor & comedian

Most vegetarians look so much like the food they eat that they can be classified as cannibals.
Finley Peter Dunne US author & humorist

I never did a day's work in my life. It was all fun.
Thomas A. Edison US inventor

I find television very educating. Every time somebody turns on the set, I go into the other room and read a book.
Groucho Marx US comedian with Marx Brothers

I used to think that the brain was the most wonderful organ in my body. Then I realized who was telling me this.
Emo Phillips US comedian

A doctor gave a man six months to live. The man couldn't pay his bill, so he gave him another six months.
Henny Youngman US comedian

A Jewish woman had two chickens. One got sick, so the woman made chicken soup out of the other one to help the sick one get well.
Henny Youngman US comedian

A self-taught man usually has a poor teacher and a worse student.
Henny Youngman US comedian

Your talent is God's gift to you. What you do with it is your gift back to God.
Leo Buscaglia

“Politicians and diapers should be changed often, and for the same reason.”
Mark Twain

Age is an issue of mind over matter. If you don't mind, it doesn't matter.
Mark Twain

It's not the size of the dog in the fight, it's the size of the fight in the dog
Mark Twain

"People say motivation doesn't last. Well, neither does bathing. That's why it's recommended daily." - Zig Ziglar

"Never settle on being average, because being average means you are the best of the worst and worst of the best." - From a bulletin board at Anoka-Hennepin Vocational-Technical College, Brooklyn Park, Minn.
"I do not fear success or failure, because in success I learn control, and in failure I learn to try again." - Sylvia Brown, author

"Even if you're on the right track, you'll get run over if you just sit on it." - Pat Koppman

"Every day will only be as productive as you allow it to be; don't let the hurdles of life ruin your race to success!"

"What we do on some great occasion will depend on what we already are; and what we are will be the result of previous years of self-discipline" - H.P. Liddon

He who makes no mistakes has never made anything." - Joseph Heller

"Nobody made a greater mistake than he who did nothing because he could do only a little." - Edmund Burke

Friday, April 9, 2010

God Consciousness in human awareness

There is nothing to be achieved or attained in God consciousness. It is not something outside; it is all here within us. If we think we should go towards God who is somewhere away from us then that idea has to be shunned. Again if we say “within us “somewhere at the back of the mind we sound “not outside”. Neither up nor down, inside nor outside, here nor there none of these notions apply to the Omnipresent God. It is impossible for a human mind to remain a human mind and at the same time understand God. Only God’s mind can understand God. Only when the human mind is so relieved of its ego then it becomes God’s mind and that mind is capable of understanding God. The human mind has always accepted many forms of God and failed to understand that He is above names and forms. Mankind has built places of worship for the convenience of adoring him but out of ignorance he has limited the existence of God to the four walls and forgotten about His aspect of Omnipresence. Poet sage Kanakadasa who believed God as omnipresent failed to eat the fruit given to him by his Guru Sri Vyasaraja Thirtha on the condition that he has to consume it without any one being a witness.

In Vedanta philosophy, the highest word used for god is “OM” and word only slightly below that is Brahman. The word Brahman should not be translated as God, according to Vedanta this universe that has manifested is in reality not different from Brahman. All this manifestation of the universe is one single expansion of the infinite Brahman. The modern physicist also view that the universe is the expansion of a primordial atom. The highest exponent of Vedanta philosophy Sri Shankara says that the knowledge of Brahman alone is not sufficient but an equal amount of Viveka {Power of Discrimination} is also necessary. Viveka is the first among the four virtues {Sadhana Chatustaya} required for an aspirant of Yoga. It is an important element for the human mind to understand the vastness of Brahman.

There is a story in Vedanta, which illustrates requirement of Viveka without which the knowledge of Brahman is of little use. Once in an ashram a disciple had mastered in various texts of Vedanta from his Guru for many years. After getting proficient in the philosophy and learning the logics of it, he was immersed in the knowledge of Brahman. Once his Guru sent him to the city for the first time to face the world. It so happened that an elephant that was intoxicated and a bit angry was running down the street. The mahout sitting on the elephant was trying to control it and was shouting a warning to everybody in the street. “Watch out! Stay away! Watch out” But the disciple who had taken the lesson of Vedanta philosophy and knew all to be Brahman, thought to himself “I am Brahman and so is the elephant” How can a Brahman hurt a Brahman? Thus contemplating he walk his way reciting the sentence “Sarvam Khalvidam Brahmaa” – All this is Brahman. The rushing elephant gave one blow from its trunk and the poor disciple fell on the side of the road. He got up shaken and his Guru who was watching all this stood there so the disciple asked his Guru “You thought me that all this is Brahman. How could a Brahman hurt a Brahman? “That is true, my boy. the Guru explained, “A Brahman can never hurt a Brahman. But that one who was shouting all the time to watch out and stay away why didn’t you hear to that Brahman.
Sreeram Manoj Kumar

Power of Chanting The Sahasranama (Speaking Tree TOI Feb 1, 2002)

Power of Chanting The Sahasranama.

The chanting of the divine name or nama japa has an important place in bhakti tradition. Nama japa can be in the form of japa or stotra. Japa is silent repetition of a mantra while Stotra is uttered out loud. The Sahasranama Stotra is perhaps the most popular of all Stotras. There are Sahasranamas of most of the deities of the Hindu pantheon of which two have attained great popularity. These are the Lalita Sahasranama in praise of the Divine Mother and Vishnu Sahasranama in praise of the Lord conceived as Maha Vishnu. 

Vishnu Sahasranama is a part of the Santhi Parva of the Mahabharata. Towards the end of the great war, Bhisma lies on a bed of arrows, waiting for Uttarayana to dawn so that he can give up his mortal coils. At that time he is questioned by Yudhistira who wonders who the Supreme Lord of all is, by praising and worshipping whom one can gain good and attain salvation. Bhisma answers Yudhistira’s query by reciting the Vishnu Sahasranama in Sri Krishna’s presence. 

Reciting the thousand names of Vishnu, Bhisma tells Yudhistira that Vishnu is the Jagat Prabhu or Lord of the Universe, Bhuta-Bhavya-Bhavan-Natha — Lord of past, present and future. The Almighty is depicted in terms of space and time as being immanent. He is one in many things to many. The body of Maha Vishnu consists of the three worlds. His feet being the earth, His naval the sky and His head the heavens. The life breath is air, His eyes are the Sun and the Moon. His ears are the directions, his face the flames of fire, His abode the milky ocean, He is himself the Universe. He is the origin of all that originated. 

He is adhoksajah, the one who doesn't degenerate. there is no change in His original nature. Vishnu is also Pavanah Pavano Nala or one who is air among all purifying agents. He is Saptajihvah, the Lord in his manifestation as fire having seven tongues of flame, that which cannot be adulterated. 

He is Vasavanujah or the one who is born as the younger brother of Indra (Vasava) in his incarnation as Vamana, the dwarf. Even the lord had to resort to the dwarf’s form while begging for a gift of land from King Bali. He is also Suparno Vayu Vahana. Here Suparna is Garuda who carries the Lord. Vishnu in this nama is described as one who has Garuda as his vehicle, but who in turn rides on Vayu, the wind. 

The many weapons of Vishnu are described by the various names that occur towards the end of Sahasranama. Samkha - the conch, Nandaki - the sword, Chakri - the disc, Sarnga Dhanva - the divine bow, Gadadhara - the mace and amazingly Bhishma calls Vishnu Rathangapaani - the one who has the wheel of ratha in his hand. It is said that during the Great Mahabharata war Krishna gave his word to the Kauravas that he would not use any weapon in the battle. But on the ninth day he wanted to control the fierce onslaught of Bhisma. He forgot the word given to the kauravas. He jumped down the chariot and dropped the whip He was holding. Realising that He had no weapon in His hand, He is stated to have grabbed a wheel from one of the chariots and rushed towards Bhisma. That sight of Sri Krishna running with the wheel of a ratha in His hand was fresh in Bhisma’s memory even when Bhisma was lying on the bed of arrows. 

One-Thousandth nama depicts Vishnu as Sarva Praharnayudha. There is no rule that the Lord has got only the above-mentioned weapons to fight the unlawful and protect Dharma. In His manifestation as Varaha, he used his mighty tusks to kill Hiranyaksha and as Narasimha, he used His fingernails to rip open the belly of Hiranyakashipu to save Prahalada. He also used his foot to crush the ego of King Bali in his incarnation as Vamana the dwarf. 

Vishnu Sahasranama is open to all; anyone can chant it without any distinction of caste, creed or sex. It can be chanted at any time and no special rituals are obligatory to do so. It can be chanted anywhere even at a funeral, as it was originated in a battlefield among so many dead bodies. There are no hurdles in chanting the praise of the Lord.

Sreeram Manoj Kumar