GEETA ASHRAM MALAYSIA
MANAGEMENT COMMITTEE 2014-2016
Progress Report as at 3 April 2015
Presently, construction is in progress in two main areas:
1. Upgrading and strengthening of the beam and removal of the two columns holding the beam at the old main entrance to the building.
2. Extension of the rear portion of the building to include the new dining hall and washrooms.
These renovations will accomodate a more spacious prayer hall, a larger dining hall, two classrooms, a library, a new office, a conference room and eighteen dormitories for visitors. The upgraded building will boast state-of-the-art facilities and modern decor.
We thank all donors who have contributed towards the Geeta Ashram Malaysia Building Renovation Fund. Please give your fullest support in cash and kind towards making this project a reality. For further information, please call:
Floor slab of the new dining hall under construction
Ground floor columns under construction for the extension at the back of the building
With this 9th issue, the first one for 2015, the eSacredThought commences its third year of publication. This Holi issue, which was supposed to have been out in March 2015, has been a little late in making its appearance due to various
personal commitments and obligations. A thousand apologies.
All 18 Chapters of the Bhagavad Geeta
Swami Hari Harji Maharaj
It gives me great pleasure to state that the 117th Birthday celebrations of His Holiness Shree 1008 Swami Hariharji Maharaj and the 28th International Geeta Conference held at Geeta Dham, Tinwari, Jodhpur, Rajasthan from 3-6 March were a great success. This year, besides Revered Swami Brahmanandji Maharaj, our Supreme Spiritual Head, and Revered Swami Guruma Geeteshwariji from our organisation, we had the pleasure and honour to have the grace of Revered Swami Nityanand Giriji Maharaj from Kailash Ashram, Rishikesh and Revered Swami Devanshu Goswamiji Maharaj from Chaitanya Ashram, Vrindavan, all erudite scholars in the domain of Geeta Philosophy. More than 200 delegates representing Geeta Ashram from all over the world participated in the four-day function and were drenched with divine knowledge showered by all the speakers. The central theme of the conference was "ATTAINMENT OF PERFECTION THOUGH DEVOTION: ACCORDING TO GEETA".
While introducing the theme, I had posed four questions:
Perfection can be defined in two ways:
Perfection is thus a state of true-self and pure-self, totally devoid of any worldly impurities.
There are two kinds of perfection:
2. Spiritual: This is beyond practice (abhyaas). Lord Shree Krishna says (BGXII:10): "abhyaase ‘py asamartho ‘si matkarmaparmo bhava, madartham api karmaani kurvan sidhhim avaapsyasi". Meaning: If you are unable to perform the yoga of practice (abhyaas), be you intent on doing action for My sake; even by performing actions for My sake, you will attain perfection.
But why should one strive for perfection? The answer is very simple. It is just natural. Is it not natural for water to flow down to join that great ocean, the source from which it originated? Is it not natural for the flame of the fire to rise upwards to be with its source, the Sun? Similarly, it is natural for Jeevatman (the ansa or fraction) residing in the body to yearn to be with Paramatman, the ultimate source (ansi). And each one of us (as a saadhak) has to go through certain spiritual processes (saadhana) to attain the state of perfection (Siddhi).
It is true that, due to various reasons, only a few amongst us strive for perfection (BGVII:3): "Manushyaanaam sahareshu kashcid yatati siddaye Yatataama api siddhaanaam kashcin maam vetti tatvaatah" Meaning: Among thousands of men, scarcely one strives for perfection; and of those who strive and succeed, scarcely one knows Me in essence.
But then the positive side is that there are amongst us those who do strive for perfection. They are the lucky ones who have the blessings of their Guru. They have been told that the state of perfection is a stepping stone to total realisation, total amalgamation with the Lord, Brahma. Lord Shree Krishna, in fact, mentions in the Geeta (BGXVIII:50) that one merges with Brahma after attaining perfection: "siddhim praapto yathaa brahma tathaa ‘pnoti nibodh me Samaasenai ‘va kaunteya nishthaa jnaanasya yaa paraa" Meaning: O Kaunteya (Arjuna), know from Me briefly how he, who has attained perfection reaches Brahma, the supreme state of knowledge.
The next question is: How does one attain perfection? What are the paths that lead us to the state of perfection? Shrimad Bhagwad Geeta helps us to understand the three main paths - Karma-Yoga, Jnaana-Yoga and Bhakti-Yoga - which are available for the saadhak. Adopting one or all of these paths leads the saadhak towards the following goals:
A. To do away with the veil of ignorance (avidyaa) through sustained saadhana. It is ignorance that obstructs us from true Knowledge (jnaana) of perfection and leads us towards devilish tendencies (BGV:15): "Maayayaaphritajnaana aasurim bhaav maashritah"
B. To purify the inner equipment - the mind and intellect - to do away with the impurities within oneself, to wash away all the Tamasik and Rajasik tendencies to fine-tune the Sattvik tendencies.
Depending upon one's own svabhava (inherent nature), one tends to adopt one or the other of these paths leading to Perfection. But the path of DEVOTION or BHAKTI has a very special place. Hence, the last question: Why adopt devotion to attain perfection?
Lord Shree Krishna says (BGXVIII:45): "Sve-sve karmany abhiratah, samsidhhim labhte narah Svakarmaniratah siddhim yathaa vindati tacchunu". The first line of this verse clearly states that "Each man devoted to his own duty attains the highest perfection". From this, one may deduce that by simply performing one's own duties perfection can be achieved, but in the next verse (BGXVIII:46) Lord Shree Krishna goes on to state: "Yatah privritibhutaanaam yen sarvam idam tatam Svakarmanaa tam abhyacya siddhim vindanti maanavah". Meaning: He from whom all beings emanate, and by Whom all this is pervaded, by worshipping Him through performance of his own duty, man attains perfection. The most important statement here is "by worshipping Him". This is the main component of devotion (bhakti) to the Lord.
It must be understood explicitly that through saadana powered with deep devotion to the Lord one is able to attain perfection, but for the Jeevatman to merge with Paramatman one needs to wait for the Grace of the Lord to be bestowed. And this does happen (BGXI:54): "Bhaktyaa tva nanyayaa sakya, ahamevamvidhorjuna Jnaatum drashtum ca tatvena pravestum ca paramtapa" Meaning: Through single-minded devotion however, can I be seen in this form, and be known in essence and also entered into, O Paramtapa, Arjuna.
HARI OM TAT SAT
Yours, in the service of Guru, Geeta and Gopal
THE GEETA WAY
Sermon presented at International Gita Conference 2015, Gita Dham
by Swami Nityananda Ji Maharaj (summarised by Dr Abhay Prasad)
It is our great fortune to be able to discuss the Geeta, under the guidance of supreme spiritual masters like Swami Ram Sukhdas Ji and Swami HariHar Ji Maharaj who had great reverence for each another. The Geeta is the divine song of Lord Shree Krishna.
The term ‘siddhi’ can be understood to mean 'self-realisation' - the realisation of being one with the Lord through experiencing His all-pervading power. This is the only way to make one's life tension-free, and to enter a state of perpetual happiness. In this state, one is able to face all favourable and unfavourable situations with a smile. One acquires equanimity, and begins to live and enjoy daily life as a festival, just as we are enjoying the present moment.
How can we achieve this state of being one with the Lord? This process of union with the Lord has been referred to by the Lord as ‘Yoga’. The three main paths of Yoga that have been revealed are Jnana Yoga (path of Knowledge), Karma Yoga (path of Action) and Bhakti Yoga (path of Devotion). Of the three, Bhakti Yoga is the simplest to follow. It is also the most valuable because there is no possibility of falling while pursuing this path. There is no danger of any kind of loss for the saadhak or yogi who follows this path because the Lord Himself blesses this person with His grace.
Chapter 12 of the Bhagavad Geeta deals with the subject of Bhakti Yoga. In BGXII:8-11, the Lord propounds four ways by which one can achieve union with the Lord.
The Lord says: "Fix your mind on Me alone, and let you intellect dwell in Me." The mind gets attracted and bonded to whomever we respect and love - whomever we consider to be our own. It is this bond with the Lord that is vital. When one enters into sanyaas during deeksha, one breaks one’s relationship with the world and develops this bond with the Lord. One then performs actions for the benefit of others and not for oneself. One then does not hanker to obtain happiness for oneself but rather strives to make others happy. Worldly relations, such as father and son, husband and wife, guru and shishya, etc. are limited by time. However, one’s relationship with the Lord as Atman and Paramatman, Jiva and Brahma, are everlasting. One can even imagine and develop a relationship with the divine statue of the Lord in the temple as one's father, son or friend, and this plays a major role in fixing one’s mind to develop sincere love and devotion to the Lord. Swami Ram Krishna Paramhansa used to talk to Kaali Mata and relate to her as his mother for all practical purposes. Our emotions are aroused more intensely for our near and dear ones. When we give greater importance to the Lord compared to the world, then our wisdom leads us towards the path of Bhakti.
If, however, one is unable to fix and apply one’s mind and wisdom to the Lotus Feet of the Lord, then one should make an effort to practice. Such a saadhak should practise regularly, meditating on the name of the Lord, reciting the holy mantras, and reading and practising the shastras. Through practice too one can attain siddhi.
If one is even unable to practice, then one should perform actions while consciously understanding that the actions are being performed only for the sake of the Lord. For example, if one is cooking a meal one should feel that one is preparing the meal to be offered to the Lord and then partake the food as prasad. One should have the attitude that all things belong to the Lord and are to be offered to Him.
If one cannot even have this attitude of mind, then one should renounce the fruits of all actions. Thus one should not expect anything back as a result of one's actions. After providing food and education for the children, the parents should not expect anything in return from the children - this is 'nishkaam karma'. There should be no desire to benefit from the performance of good deeds. Actions performed thus, without motivation or desire, also lead to siddhi.
When devotees worship the Lord, they often have a tendency to ask for something in return from the Lord. This can be viewed as a commercial proposition. The devotee should instead surrender to the Lord and offer unconditional love with absolute faith that He will set all things right. Unhappiness results only when our emotional (bhava) bondage with the Lord weakens.
The method of Yoga outlined above may also be understood in a simpler way. We should continue to engage in our spiritual practice regardless of the situation we are in. For example, if we are very active in worldly affairs (sansara) - having affluence, a big house and stacks of money - transient obstacles to the collection of these amenities of grandeur may cause us to deviate from our spiritual practice of keeping our mind attached to the Lord. The devotee should reject the negative worldly influences for the benefit of the world at large.
The practice of japa (repetitive prayer), the learning of the scriptures and the yajnas (ritual sacrifices) should be performed for ourself. Our worldly actions should be performed for the sake of the Lord or for the benefit of our family and for mankind as a whole. Our actions should be exemplary, to be looked upon as ideal, and imitable by our children and society, leaving samskaras (impressions imprinted in the subconscious mind) for the benefit of others.
When one's thoughts have thus become pure and actions are in accordance with the shastras, only then should one move towards preaching and propagating the supreme knowledge. A preacher who is not performing actions as per the shastras will not make any impact on society. We must become saadhaks, jigyasus and mumukshas first, only then can we hope to become siddhas (perfected masters), ready to spread the message of the Geeta.
In BGIII:36-37, the Lord explains why, even though not wanting to, one still commits sin. It is desire, born of the mode of passion, and anger, derived from its non-fulfillment, that is the cause. How does desire arise? One may perceive something as special, give it importance, and then one may want to possess and enjoy it. One’s wisdom then weighs its usefulness in relation to its cost and one's needs. If one is able to decide wisely that the object in question is not a necessity, the mind will accept that decision and remains at peace.
The desires, arising at the level of the senses, come and go. The pure soul, on the other hand, has no modification and no desires. One can consciously ‘deny’ desires even before they crop up. It is not possible for one to fulfill all desires - one is not independent in the fulfillment of desire, but one is independent in denying desire (tyaag). Thus, tyaag (denying desire) leads to peace immediately.
Our remaining subtle desires are the cause of rebirth after death. So it would be spiritually beneficial for us, during our lifetime, to develop the ability to deny desire. We shall then be able to proceed quickly towards siddhi and attain the Lord.
BGXII:12 says that: "One who relinquishes the fruit of action becomes purified and is able to attain peace (shaanti)". The Lord does not favour one who hankers after worldly pleasures, always full of selfish worldly desires (kaam).
Once a king, roaming the streets of Delhi, saw a sadhu who, though unkempt, had his mind in communion with the Lord, perfectly at peace. The King, taking him to be a beggar, asked his minister to give the sadhu an expensive necklace. The minister placed a necklace in the sadhu's hand and proceeded on. When the sadhu realised what had happened, he was quite perturbed. He decided to return the gift at the next occasion. Anyway he had to keep the necklace safely. He had no home or other place for the necklace's safekeeping. He placed it under his head and spent a restless night. The next evening, when the king and the minister came around again, he begged them to take back the gift because from the time the ‘chain’ had come to him, he had lost his ‘chaain’ (semblance of peace).
When the mind gets preoccupied with desire, it is peace that is immediately lost. The more one hankers after desires the further removed one becomes from bhakti. Upon opening one’s mouth to express desire, one’s attained spiritual credits - lakshmi (wealth), deepti (glamour) and tapas (good deeds) - take a beating.
Hari Om Tat Sat
|LESSONS FROM THE GEETA (20)|
by Shree Ashok Lal Bherumal
He, who is contented with whatever is got unsought, is free from jealousy and has transcended all pairs of opposites (like joy & grief), and is balanced in success and failure - such a Karmayogi, though acting, is not bound. (BG IV:22)
This verse is a continuation of Krishna's description of a Jnani (one who is absorbed in true Knowledge). How does such a realised soul interact in this world?
Firstly, whatever actions we do - good or bad - there will be a result. The result can also be good or bad. Sometimes we may wonder - I am doing so much good, yet I am suffering … why? The scriptures say that there are two components that impact our lives. One is free will – the right to choose our actions - and the other is the effect of our past actions. Our problem is that when we are doing good but receiving bad results, we directly connect the two – good actions with bad results. We must understand that the bad results can be due to past actions taking fruit (effect) now. So the jnani (the enlightened one) accepts whatever is got unsought. Whatever comes as a result of our actions, we must have inner maturity to accept as the 'Grace of the Lord' or prasadam.
Secondly, we are always comparing what we have or don’t have with what others have or don't have, and this gives rise to jealousy. Again there must be clear understanding that each one of us comes to this world with our own individual karmas. Therefore, what we get or don’t get, what we have or don’t have is not going to be the same as what others have or don't have. So Krishna says one must learn to transcend all pairs of opposites because that is what life is all about - there will be health, there will be disease, there will be gain, there will be loss, there will be victory, there will be defeat. Nobody’s life is going to be any different. Change what you can, and accept what you cannot change. Such a person is not bound by his actions, which means that the results of his actions do not affect his inner tranquility. We have to slowly practise this attitude and build up our level of inner maturity through intense devotion, selfless service and study of the scriptures. This is the only way to build up an integrated, steady mind.
He, whose attachments are gone, who is liberated, his mind established in knowledge, whose works are sacrifice alone, such a man’s actions are dissolved. (BG IV:23)
When we come into this world we have nothing, and when we leave we take nothing except the imprints of our actions. Yet we go through life accumulating worldly possessions and being attached to whatever we have accumulated.
This means that our happiness and peace of mind is dependent on those very objects/persons that we have pursued. The very thought of losing or being separated is enough to shatter one’s peace of mind let alone the actual loss of that possession. Detachment is not physical - it doesn't mean living without possessions - but rather a state of mind.
Krishna says here that the only way to achieve this is by establishing our mind in the higher knowledge. To detach from worldly possessions, the mind has to attach to something higher (God). Thus, we must not simply be engrossed in our day to day material possessions. We must understand that the very purpose and ultimate goal of human birth is the attainment of Moksha (self realization). Every action towards family, work, friends, etc should be seen as yajna (sacrifice). When we look upon our action as a duty that we have to discharge without expecting anything in return, then such an action is a form of sacrifice or yajna. When such an attitude of yajna is cultivated in our mind, all our actions are dissolved - which means that our actions no longer produce any further karmic effect.
The act of offering in sacrifice is Brahman, the oblation is Brahman, the sacrificer himself is Brahman, the sacrificial fire as well is Brahman; Brahman verily he attains who realises the presence of Brahman in action. (BG IV:24)
In this verse, Krishna uses a commonly performed ritual to explain how “actions are dissolved when done with the right attitude or frame of mind”.
In the fire ritual, also called “YAJNA”, we have a havan kund (a receptacle) made out of metal or bricks. We first light a fire in this havan kund using firewood. As the mantras are chanted, we offer ghee, various grains, seeds, nuts, etc into the fire, and ultimately these offerings is burnt to ashes. That means at the beginning of the ritual, we have a variety of offerings (ghee, grains, nuts, etc) but at the end of the ritual all the variety of offerings exist as only one ash. We cannot see any variety in the ash which also cannot burn any further. In the same way, all (worldly) actions performed as an offering to God (as part and parcel of our duty) will not incur any further karmic result. Various actions (like various offerings in the fire) become just ash (without the capacity to burn).
The purpose of performing such a havan yajna can vary - to propitiate the Gods for a successful business deal, for a successful marriage, for getting right progeny, for acquiring various worldly objects and gains, etc. In such a situation, two things can happen:
But we can also perform such a havan yajna for the welfare of the world and not just for selfish personal gains. Lord Krishna says that when we perform every ritual for the welfare of all, without any selfish motives, then our inner faculties are purified and we don’t build up any future karmic debt. Because of a negative debt we have to return to this world to suffer, and a positive debt means we also return to this world to enjoy. Thus, both types of karmic debt lead to an endless cycle of births and deaths. Moksha (liberation) means breaking out of this cycle of births and deaths.
Therefore, Lord Krishna says, when we perform these havan yajnas, our attitude should be that of arpanam (offering). 'Havih’, the oblation offered, meaning the ladle used to pour the offerings into the fire and including all the offerings of grain, etc, 'Agnau', the fire into which all the offerings are made, 'Hutam', the residue which the fire burns everything into, all this is seen as nothing but only God. Thus, the ritual is not just an act of making an offering to God but THE RITUAL ITSELF IS GOD. In each and every aspect of the ritual the devotee sees the very presence of GOD.
Similarly, if in every action that one does, one sees or feels the presence of God only, then that person doing the action is God, the person at whom the action is directed is God, the instruments used for the action, including all the actions done, are nothing but GOD. Thus, when one realises the Divinity pervading all actions, these very actions, secular or religious, become YAJNA. This means that these very actions will not incur any further karmic debt.
Note: Brahman refers to the highest aspect of Divinity which is the object of self-realization.
|THE GEETA FOR BEGINNERS: STABLE MIND|
by Shree Peter Ganglani, Geeta Ashram Canada
Let us discover the secret of how we can attain tranquility and become stable minded. For this we must take a closer look at the 'monkey' called Mind! But first, allow me to give you a sneak preview of the answers to four questions:
Q: What is the characteristic of a man who is steady in knowledge and stable of mind?
Q: How does he speak? How does he behave with the outside world?
Q: How does he sit?
Q: How does he walk? How does he go about his life?
In BG II:54, Arjuna asks the Lord: "O Kesava, what is the mark of a God-realised soul, stable of mind and established in Samadhi (perfect tranquility of mind)? How does the man of stable mind speak, how does he sit, how does he walk?"
The Lord takes 20 verses to answer this question. Let's start with the first part of His answer which lies in BG II:55-61.
Lord Krishna describes a person of stable mind as one who is fully alive to his responsibilities, performing all duties with an unwavering mind. On the other hand, a person of UNSTABLE mind constantly seeks enjoyment and pleasure by getting attached to the sense objects, fully engrossed in worldly pleasures which are an obstacle to attaining tranquility of mind.
Stability of mind, though a bit difficult, can be achieved through practice, provided there is a genuine desire for it. A vacuum is created in the heart of a person who has conquered and renounced all desires. This vacuum creates a stillness in the mind which can be compared to the still waters of a pond. The pond has no waves, and therefore it lets you see a reflection of your true self. Once you get a vision of your true self in the still waters, without any waves of desire, the mind becomes established in the Truth.
My Spiritual Master once said: "Where there is Kaam (desire) there is no Ram ... Jahan bhog hai, vahan yog nahi" which means that "where there is indulgence, there cannot be Divine union".
Ordinary people panic under stress. They crave for happiness because their mind is attached to the sense objects. They live in fear and anger, resulting in mental suffering. Anger is one of the triple gates to hell.
The Lord says: "Divine union is a state of Samadhi, where a man is satisfied in the self by the self. He who has conquered the self (by the self), is considered a muni (person of stable mind)."
A person of stable mind remains calm in pain and pleasure alike, neither grieving in sorrow nor seeking joy and pleasure. Such a yogi is fearless, and free from desire and anger. Being free of desires does not mean that we give up desires altogether. It is the attachment, sense of ownership and the craving for the fruit of action that is being addressed here. A person of stable mind truly lives in the understanding that "Hari kare so khari, so why should we worry?"
In BG II:58, the Lord gives a perfect example how a tortoise withdraws its limbs into its shell to protect itself from danger. Similarly, a stable person knows how to withdraw themselves from the dangers of worldly pain and pleasure.
In BG II:61, the Lord reveals that it is not enough just to be of stable mind. We also need to sit in meditation. We cannot meditate effectively unless the mind and senses are under control. The true secret of becoming a person of stable mind is to sit in meditation with the mind united in Him and holding Him as the supreme goal. This prepares the body, mind and intellect to dwell wholeheartedly on Him.
The mind is a strange instrument - when attached to the sense objects, it remains deluded in constant search of worldly pleasures, but when devoted to God, it becomes an effective instrument in the pursuit of God-realisation. When our mental and physical efforts are all directed towards God, we will surely be rewarded with God-realisation. In BG IX:22, the Lord says: "Those devotees, however, who worship Me alone, thinking of none else and ever united, I Myself attend to their wants and needs and provide them with security of what they have." What a beautiful promise!
The second part of the Lord's answer is in BG II:62-72. These verses are very deep in meaning, and loaded with concepts regarding attachment, anger, desire, self-destruction, self-discipline, tranquility of mind, freedom from sorrow, peace and happiness, egoism, attachment of the senses to desire, and God-realisation even at the hour of death!
In the previous verses, the importance of self-control and self-discipline was stressed. It was also shown that by dwelling on sense objects, even the mind of the wise is carried away.
In BG II:62-63, the Lord points out that attachment to sense objects can affect the intellect, paving the way for self-destruction. The seed of desire is born out of our attachments. Unfulfilled desire gives rise to anger. Anger causes delusion, followed by confusion of memory which leads to loss of discrimination and finally our destruction. 'Confusion of memory' refers to the loss of remembrance of the true Self, the soul.
In the pursuit of happiness, we search in the wrong places. If our desires are fulfilled, we get attached, leading to more desires and greed. Enough is never enough - so we get bound and lost in this game. On the other hand, if the desire is not fulfilled, it gives rise to anger and frustration, causing the mind to be unstable and irritable. Therefore, desire, whether fulfilled or unfulfilled, is detrimental to our intellect. Greed, anger and desire are described as the triple gates to hell. Desire is the mother of anger that leads to self-destruction through delusion.
In BG II:65, the Lord says that all our sorrows will come to an end if we practise the discipline of being detached from the sense objects, just as a lotus remains detached from water. By fixing the mind on God, we can shed our ego, get detached, and rise above the dualities of pain and pleasure. In this state, we become tranquil, and tranquility puts an end to all sorrows and misery.
BG II:66 states that without tranquility we cannot have peace: "How can there be any happiness for those who have no peace?" Without a disciplined mind we can never have a stable mind, and without stability of mind how can we have peace? Our goal in life is to first attain peace and happiness, without which we cannot go to the next level, which is Self-realisation. Without Self-realisation we cannot attain God-realisation. Just as a lamp cannot burn without oil, God-realisation cannot be achieved without self-realisation.
In BG II:69, the Lord says: "That which is night to all beings, in that state of Divine Knowledge and Supreme Bliss the God-realised Yogi keeps awake." By this statement, the Lord has thrown light on the diametrically opposite attitudes of "the man of the world" and "the man of God". Both types are totally opposite of each other! One is full of wisdom, while the other is lost in ignorance, sloth and sleep. The night He is referring to is considered Tamasic, which represents darkness, ignorance and lack of discrimination. On the other hand, the day is considered as Sattvic. During the day, the Yogi sees the Truth as the truth but, during the night, the 'ignorant and lost' see untruth in the Truth. Until we wake up from our sleep, we keep dreaming. Upon waking up, we realise that we were dreaming all along. This is the essential difference between an unstable and stable mind.
BG II:70 gives a beautiful example of how we can attain inner peace. The Lord says: "As the waters of different rivers enter the ocean which, though full on all sides, remains undisturbed, likewise he, in whom all desires merge themselves, attains peace; not he who hankers after such desires." Whether there is rain, storm or sunshine, the ocean always remains full. To attain inner peace, we need to be like the ocean - always content and happy. We need to control the surging waves of our desires. We need to accept whatever comes our way. But if we get disturbed and cross the boundaries, the effect will be no different from that of an overflowing river that causes devastation all around. In that state how can there be peace or happiness? During a storm, although the surface of the ocean gets violent (due to rain and high winds), the bottom is always calm. We need to live like at the bottom of the ocean, in a world filled with storms and tornados! We need to merge our senses in the mind; we need to merge the mind in the intellect. The intellect needs to be merged in the Self, and the Self needs to be merged in the Supreme Self. In this way there will be so much joy and inner peace that we will not have the need to seek anything from outside ourselves!
In BG II:71-72, Lord Krishna says: "He who abandons all desires and acts free from longing, without attachment and egoism, he attains peace. Such is the Brahmic state, attaining which one ceases to be deluded. Established in this state, even at the hour of death, one attains God-realisation." Desire is the worst enemy on the path to Self-realisation. It destroys discrimination and clouds our wisdom (as a mirror is covered by dust). Fulfilled desires keep growing stronger and stronger. The only way is to abstain from it. There is no other way!
Without this prerequisite, we are not ready for the journey to God-realisation. Everything is an illusion; nothing is real except the goal of God-realisation. Nothing belongs to us; we are but trustees of everything, including our bodies. In this realisation lies the answer to the question that has been asked for ages: "What is the meaning and purpose of our life on earth?" Once we have understood this, all sorrows will come to an end and we shall be blessed with eternal peace.
The Fundamental Principles of|
An essay written by Dr Diljeet Kumar Bhanot
as an end-of-semester assignment for the Oxford University Online Course on Hinduism
Advaita (Non-Dualism) Vedanta is one of the three main schools of Vedantic philosophy, the other two being Vishishtadvaita (Qualified Non-Dualism) Vedanta and Dvaita (Dualism) Vedanta. The common factor in the teachings of these schools of philosophy is their acceptance of the same ancient Hindu scriptures, referred to as the prasthana-traya (three foundations), as their authority, although differing in their interpretations. These scriptures comprise the major Upanishads, the Bhagavad Gita, and the Vedanta Sutra of Badarayana. Shankaracharya (788-820 AD), one of the great teachers of Hinduism, interpreted and presented the beliefs and ideas of Advaita Vedanta in a systematic form.
The Hindu scriptures can be divided into sections dealing with action (karmakanda) and knowledge (jñanakanda). Shankaracharya emphasised the importance of those sections dealing with knowledge. According to him, liberation (moksha) from the cycle of births and deaths (Samsara) is the central message of the Veda, and only true knowledge (jñana) can free one from this cycle.
A cardinal doctrine of Advaita Vedanta is the existence of three levels of truth or reality. At the transcendental (paramarthika satyam) level, Brahman is the only reality, and nothing else exists; at the pragmatic (vyavaharika satyam) level, the whole material world, and both the Jiva (living creatures with body, mind and senses) and Ishvara (the Personal God) are accepted as real; and at the apparent (prathibhasika satyam) level, the material world is false, as in an illusion or dream.
At the transcendental level, the Advaitic belief is that there is only one Reality, Brahman, who is the one without a second (ekamevadvitiyam). Everything that exists is Brahman. All else is false. Brahman is beyond description, and beyond perception by the senses. It is the infinite (anantam), non-dual (advaitam), all-pervading (sarvagatam), eternal (nityam), omnipotent, attributeless, formless (nirguna), incorporeal, impersonal, non-changing, transcendent reality that constitutes the divine substrate of all Being, including the material world which is its illusory transformation.
Brahman is homogeneous and free from any kind of differentiation or division. It is visible as the material world simply as an illusion or relative reality (mithya) due to spiritual ignorance (avidya). Brahman can be referred to as "sat-cit-ananda" which combines Infinite Truth with Infinite Consciousness and Infinite Bliss.
Also at the transcendental level, the true Self of all beings is the soul or Atman and not the physical body or personality. The Atman is an eternal spiritual entity that is absolutely identical with Brahman. It is not just a part of Brahman but rather the whole Brahman itself. The true Self is in fact identical with all things because all things are one. The individual bodily identity is an illusion or relative reality (mithya) arising from ignorance, and is a primary cause of misery in this world.
According to Shankaracharya, the Atman is not individual-based. It is a mistaken belief that there are many Atmans. There is in fact only one Atman, and this same Atman exists in all living beings. Infinite Truth, Infinite Consciousness and Infinite Bliss also characterise the Atman. The Atman is beyond merit (punya) and sin (paapa). It does not experience happiness or sorrow, nor does it participate in any karma (actions in the material world).
Shankaracharya and other teachers of Advaita Vedanta have quoted certain key phrases from the Upanishads, the maha-vakyas (great sayings), in support of the oneness of the Brahman and the Atman: prajñanam brahma (from the Aitereya Upanishad / Rig Veda) meaning 'Consciousness is Brahman'; sarvam khalv idam brahma meaning ‘all this is Brahman alone’; tat tvam asi (from Chandogya Upanishad / Sama Veda) meaning ‘that thou art’; aham brahmasmi (from Brhadaranyaka Upanishad / Yajur Veda) meaning ‘I am Brahman’; and ayamatma brahma (from Mandukya Upanishad / Atharva Veda) meaning 'This Atman is Brahman'.
Maya is the complex illusionary power of Brahman which causes Brahman to be seen as the material world of separate forms. Maya "hides" Brahman from ordinary human perception and presents the material world in its place. The material world which we perceive around us is not real in an absolute sense. It is an illusion or relative reality (mithya) caused by the superimposition (adhyasa) of what is not the Self onto the true Self. We see the variety and the manifold forms of our world simply because of ignorance. Maya is considered to be the cause of all suffering. But Maya is temporary and can be transcended by overcoming spiritual ignorance with true knowledge (jñana).
A famous quotation from Vivekacudamani, one of Shankaracharya's philosophical treatises, succinctly summarises his philosophy as follows: “Brahman is the only truth, the world is an illusion, and there is ultimately no difference between Brahman and the individual Self” (Brahma satyam jagat mithya, jivo brahmaiva naparah).
The attributeless nirguna Brahman, when perceived with the mind under the influence of Maya, becomes Ishvara, the Supreme Lord, who exists only at the pragmatic level of reality. Ishvara is the "reflection" of Brahman upon the mirror of Maya. Ishvara is the saguna Brahman, or Brahman with human and Godly attributes and personality. This concept of Ishvara as a Personal God is used to visualise and worship deities (such as Shiva, Vishnu or Devi) in anthropomorphic form. Hence, there is a place for a Personal God (Ishvara) in Advaita Vedanta, just as there is a place for the material world, albeit at the lower (pragmatic or vyavaharika) level of reality. It is Ishvara, not the all-encompassing Brahman, that distributes the fruits of karma.
Although there is only one Atman, which is equal to the Brahman, every living being (Jiva), with its own body, mind and senses, succumbs to ignorance and believes that it has its own unique and distinct Atman, called Jiva-atman. The concept of Jiva and Jiva-atman does exist in Advaita Vedanta, but only at the pragmatic level of reality. When the physical body dies, the Jiva-atman is reborn with a new bodily form. The kind of new body acquired by the Jiva-atman is determined by the actions (karma) performed in previous lives. Good and bad fortunes in the present life are also the consequence of previous karma. So the concept of karma in Advaita Vedanta is also confined to the pragmatic level of reality.
Devotional worship (bhakti) brings a person closer to true knowledge by purifying the mind. Since the nirguna Brahman cannot be an object of worship, the existence of the saguna Brahman (Ishvara) at the pragmatic level enables man to worship the Supreme Lord.
Shankaracharya himself was a proponent of devotional worship. He encouraged people to worship the images in the temples. The Hindu scriptures provide various images, referred to as manifestations of God, as symbols for worship or meditation. Shankaracharya believed that Vedic sacrifices, pooja and bhakti can lead one in the direction of true knowledge (jñana). But these practices should be viewed as merely steps along the path to absolute realisation, gradually tending to narrow the difference between the worshipper and the worshipped. Ultimately all worship ceases, and liberation is achieved. The key to moksha, according to Shankaracharya, is the true knowledge of our identity with Brahman.
Advaita Vedanta encourages the spiritual seeker to progress beyond devotional worship to accept everything and every Being as Brahman, dismissing all the Gods, including Ishvara, and the universe itself as unreal, and identifying himself with the Brahman. It is evident that the Advaitic philosophy tends to have a monistic rather than a monotheistic perspective. Beyond suggesting that there is only one God, the Advaitic school emphasises that only one substance, the Brahman, is real.
According to Advaita Vedanta, one's ultimate goal should be to seek liberation (moksha) from the bondage of Samsara (cycle of births and deaths) by elimination of the illusionary Maya, and total identification with the Brahman, leaving absolutely no difference between the Atman and the Brahman. This can be achieved even in this very life (jivanmukti), and such an individual is known as a Jivanmukta.
It is not necessary for one to renounce worldly life to gain true knowledge. One can become a jñani even while engaged in the duties of secular life. The jñani's outlook and attitude change, with sorrow, anxiety, fear, desire, hatred, jealousy, contempt, worry, attachment and insecurity no longer having any place in his life. He remains committed but unattached. He will worship, but with the knowledge that it is the vyavaharika body that is engaged in the worship. The jñani enjoys a sense of utter fulfillment (poornatvam). He is freed of all his sancita karma (accumulated karma) and there is no rebirth for his sukshma sarira (subtle body). No more agami karma (new karma) accrue, but the prarabdha karma (ripe karma) have to be exhausted during this present life through enjoyment or suffering. When the Jivanmukta dies, he attains videhamukti. Rightly speaking, there is no further liberation involved when videhamukti takes place since the one who attains videhamukti is already the Brahman.
Advaita Vedanta has a logical imperative towards denial and renunciation of the material world. Many of its leaders are ascetics in monasteries, renunciates working for the welfare of society and humanity, or wandering sannyasins, though not all ascetics or sannyasins are Advaitins.
The status of ethics in Advaita Vedanta appears controversial, because everything is considered ultimately illusionary. But on analysis, ethics does have a firm place in this doctrine. Good ethics, which implies doing good karma, indirectly help in attaining true knowledge. According to the traditional ethical system put forth by Advaitins, the accepted basis of merit (punya) and sin (paapa) is the Shruti (the Vedas and the Upanishads).
Truth, non-violence, service to others, compassion, etc. are regarded as Dharma (righteous), while lies, violence, cheating, selfishness, greed, etc. are Adharma (non-righteous). However, no authoritative definition of Dharma has ever been formulated by any of the major exponents of Advaita Vedanta. So, there appears to be room for significant disagreement among Advaitins on ethical issues.
How does the spiritual seeker go about achieving the ultimate goal of Advaita Vedanta?
The mumukshu (seeker of moksha) must have four qualifications (sampattis), collectively called Sadhana Chatushtaya Sampatti (the fourfold qualifications), which can be acquired through karma yoga and upasana (spiritual practices of worship and meditation). He must be able to discriminate between the eternal (nitya), i.e. the Brahman, and the transitory (anitya), and between knowledge (vidya, jñana) and ignorance (avidya). He must renounce the enjoyment of objects in this and the other worlds. He must develop the sixfold qualities of sama (control of the mind), dama (control of the external sense organs), uparati (giving up desire oriented actions), titiksha (ability to tolerate the dualities of life, like heat and cold, pain and pleasure, etc), sraddha (absolute faith in the Guru and the Veda), and samadhana (calm and focused mind). And he must have an intense yearning for moksha.
The mumukshu must seek the guidance of a Guru (teacher) who must be learned in the Vedic scriptures and sampraday (tradition of teaching from master to pupil), and must have already realised the oneness of Brahman in everything. The mumukshu must serve the Guru and must submit questions to the Guru, with total humility, in order to remove all his doubts. The knowledge of Brahman that shruti provides cannot be obtained in any other way. Only the Guru, through exegesis of Shruti and skillful handling of words, can generate a hitherto unknown knowledge in the disciple.
In Advaita Vedanta, the acceptable means of acquiring knowledge (pramana) are Pratyaksha (sensory perception), Anumana (inference), Upamana (analogy or comparison), Arthapatti (circumstantial implication or superimposing known knowledge on an appearing knowledge) and Agama (texts such as the Veda). The process (sadhana) of obtaining knowledge involves study of the scriptures by listening to a competent teacher (Sravanam), removing intellectual obstacles and doubts by thinking (Mananam) and removing emotional obstacles by reflecting and meditating (Nididhyasanam).
There is no necessity for the mumukshu to give up his occupation or job. On the other hand, all persons seeking moksha must fulfill their obligations to family, society, ancestors, teachers, mankind, and environment without deviating from the path of righteousness (dharma).
Advaita Vedanta is a lofty, sublime and unique spiritual doctrine. It is a system of bold philosophy and logical subtlety. It is highly interesting, inspiring and elevating, and its followers consider it to be complete and perfect. This school of philosophy has helped rejuvenate much of Hindu thought, and also spurred debate with the other two main schools of Vedantic philosophy. Advaita has also played a significant role in merging the old Vedic religion with popular South Asian cults, thus bridging the gap between the elite types of religious practice (such as jnana yoga) and the devotional practices of the simple folk.
|BHAJAN VIDEO WITH LYRICS|
O paalanhaare, nirgun aur nyaare x2
Tumre bin hamra kaunon naahin
Hamri uljhan suljhaao bhagwan
Tumre bin hamra kaunon naahin
Tumhe hamka ho sambhaale
Tumhe hamre rakhwaale
Tumre bin hamra kaunon naahin x3
Chanda mein tumhe to bhare ho chaandni
Sooraj mein ujaala tumhei se
Yeh gagan hai magan, tumhe to diye ho isse taare
Bhagwan, yeh jeevan tumhe na sanwaaroge to kya koi sanwaare
O paalanhaare, nirgun aur nyaare
Tumre bin hamra kaunon naahin x2
Jo suno to kahe Prabhuji hamri hai binti
Dukhi jan ko dheeraj do, haare nahin voh kabhi dukh se
Tum nirbal ko raksha do, reh paaye nirbal sukh se
Bhakti ko shakti do x2 Jag ke jo swami ho, itni to araj suno
Hai path mein andhiyaare, dedo vardaan mein ujiyaare
(O paalanhaare, nirgun aur nyaare
Tumre bin hamra kaunon naahin
Hamri uljhan suljhaao bhagwan
Tumre bin hamra kaunon naahin) x3
IN A LIGHTER VEIN|
Heart-to-heart chat with Lord Krishna
on "What compels one to commit sin?"
|RECIPE: MANGO FALOODA|
by Dassana Amit (http://www.vegrecipesofindia.com/mango-falooda-recipe/)
INGREDIENTS (1 cup = 250 ml)
|GEETA ASHRAM MALAYSIA: Recent and Upcoming Activities|
by Shrimati Tangamani Menon
Panditji is away on leave from 16 March to 16 April 2015
Every Purnima all 18 chapters of Geeta are recited followed by a get-together and sharing of prashad (pot-luck style) brought by devotees. Upcoming Purnima dates are: 4 April, 3 May & 2 June 2015.
Mobile Geeta brought to your home/venue on request anywhere within the Klang valley consisting of:
(1) A one hour satsang, or (2) 2 ½ hours recitation of the entire Geeta
Hosting a Sunday Satsang:
In commemorating a birthday, anniversary or simply in memory of loved ones, devotees may host a Sunday satsang lunch. Please contact the Ashram at Tel. No. 79564267 (9.30 am - 12.30 pm) for info / reservations.