- The Brahman is something not visible to the naked eye; On the other hand this world containing the five elements, the movables and immovables, all living beings including the human species, is vividly visible to the eye; Inspite of all these, Brahman is said to be real and the visible and the world is said to be unreal! Visibility is proof and one which is not visible is devoid of proof! How do you solve this contradiction and how should one believe invisible Brahman as real?
For the visible world, proof no doubt is unnecessary. But there is a subtlety here. If we look at this impermanent world from an ignorant vision, even if we believe that this world will last forever, it (our vision) will not be true as the world is bound to face an end. Scriptures are therefore born to show the unreality of the impermanent and the reality of the permanent! Lord Krishna says “asatyam-asukham lokam” referring to prove the basis of unreality, Vedas (srutis) throw abundant light on this point.
- How can we believe the sound (emerging from the Vedas) in the face of a self-evident visible truth? If as it is said that karma leads to moksha, how can we believe what is bereft of existence?
If we do not believe the proof of (Vedic) sound, how is it ever possible for karma to take us to moksha? Vedic literature is a self-evident big bunch of sounds! Merely because the sound vibration may not bring about (immediate) visibility, it does not mean the sound is unreal. The proof as to the reality of Brahman is written by the Rishis after having seen and experienced the Brahman; it is only after their vivid experience they have attained bliss.
- Where is corroborative evidence for Vedic truth?
Vedas are of immemorial origin. No subsequent proof can strengthen time honoured truth. Vedas are self-evident proclamations of truth.
- Can’t we say that the doctrine of non-duality is a fabrication of reality?
It can’t be said so. On the other hand, it is universally acclaimed that the doctrine of duality is false and fabricated! The metaphysical truth of non-duality is stronger than the mythical doctrine of duality. While duality as a transcendental principle is a myth without scriptural backing, non-duality is an unquestionable reality with Vedic support.
The Atman is indistinguishable from the Brahman. This is the message of the Four Vedas, 108 Upanishads, 18 Puranas, 18 Upa puranas, the two epics Mahabharata and the Ramayana, Bhagawad Gita and others.
- What is the proper conception of mukti?
The best explanation of mukti is given by Sri Adi Shankara Himself:- “Brahmmikam paramarthasachidamalam viswa prapanchatmana shukteerupya karamatmanevabahuta jnanavritam-bhasate tat jnanat nikhila-prapanch-vilayat swatma vyawasthaparam nirvananjanimuktim-abhyupayatam manamsrutehe mastakam.
The only thing which is the personification of truth, consciousness and bliss and which is ever blemishless and pure is the Brahman. Just as we see the glittering inside portion of a sea-shell from a distance and delude ourselves into thinking it is silver, we have similarly been looking upon the Brahman as no more than the visible world as a result of our ignorance attributable to the spell of illusion. If this illusion of mistaken identity vanishes, the all-pervading Brahman only is seen everywhere. This enlightenment indeed is mukti; The Veda (or Vedanta) provide eloquent testimony to this reality.
- What is the nexus between karma and jnana?
Karma leads to jnana, or knowledge and enlightenment. Enlightenment (jnana) leads to mukti. The foundation of enlightenment lies in doing karma with
(a) Purity of mind
(b) Through disinterested pursuit
(c) With an intellect that has surrendered to Iswara
- What is the appropriateness of Jnani’s observing karmas?
There is absolutely nothing wrong in the enlightened individuals (Jnani’s) observing karmas. In accordance with the maxim:
“Yadyadacharati shreshtha tattadevetarejanaha”
Since the ordinary folks follow the practices (and observances) of the enlightened, such things need not be given up, as the karmic path reserved for many will certainly not come in the way of Jnanis. There is another authority:
which means that fire burns both the dry and the wet portions of anything and in the same way the enlightened ones are those who have already burnt their karma. Their (Jnanis) observance of karma, therefore, will not trouble them in any manner whatsoever, nor is it a hindrance to their spiritual fulfillment.
For the same reason, worship of an idol, though meant for those who need focus and concentration, will not detract from the charms of exalted methods of establishing communication with the Brahman. That is the very reason why it is held by great ones including Sri Adi Shankara that saguna aradhana is essential to know the realities of the nirguna form of the Supreme Brahman. Saguna Brahman means the figurative projection or manifestation of the Nirguna Brahman; while Nirguna Brahman is the Primordial Light (of self-luminosity), Saguna Brahman is only a form with distinct physical features of a deity. Forms and technicalities of a Divine figure are not guarantees of authenticity but securities for caution, deliberation and understanding. The understanding should always be that the source of visible figure or form is the Jyothi which is permanent one of primordial nature and origin. The sight of the form will help one to fix one’s mind on the formless reality- the Ultimate Reality of Existence.
Idols for worship may be made from stone, metal, earth or other materials. The Brahman is invoked in the idols. The enlightened ones by conditioning their mind and concentrating on the innate effulgence of the Supreme Creator innate in the idol will consolidate their thoughts on the qualities of the Creator as nitya, buddha, shuddha and nirguna Parabrahman- everlasting, omniscient, pure and formless primordial force!
It has also been said that among many facets of idol worship, the worship of Shiva-Panchayatana – the five-some combination of 1. Siva 2. Shakti 3. Ganapati 4. Subramanya and 5. Nandi worship is the best.
Panchyatana envisages the knowledge of the origins of the universe by the Parabrahman to drive home the symbolic or secret focus of worship on seemingly five deities but in reality only ONE creator pervading every living creature in accordance with the authority:-
“Eka devaha sarvabhuteshugoodaha”
- What does Mundaka Upanishad say about meditation?
Mundaka Upanishad belongs to Atharva Veda and lays considerable emphasis on the essence of meditation. This Upanishad makes use of an allegory to make a categorical assertion that you should use an arrow as a weapon of meditation in order to make the Brahman as the target. When the arrow “pierces the Brahman”, you become the Brahman yourself ! In other words, the Upanishad shows the way to Self-Realization. Among other directions of advice, the Upanishad clarifies that
(a) Worldly or material pleasures are transitory
(b) One should seek permanent bliss
(c) Enlightenment, karma, thapas, tolerance and spiritual effort are very important matters of focus and
(d) Wisdom and detachment are the only two principal facets of instrumentality on the path to spiritual progress.
- Is there a doctrine or formula about Atman attributable to Yama?
Yes! The formula appears as a Sutra in Naradaparivrajaka Upanishad: One who identifies oneself with the body as against the fact that proper identification should be with the Atman, merits the description of an ignorant one liable to fall into Yama’s trap- Yama’s formula of falling into a trap of mistaken identity. This wrong identity is responsible for one’s trials and tribulations in life which open the doors of hell!
- What is the message of Brahmavidyopanishad?
Brahma Vidya consists in the esoteric knowledge that takes one to become the very Brahman. Brahmavidyopanishad throws light on the Guru who teaches the art and secret of such highest attainment through lessons in matters of identity of Atman and the Brahman. The Upanishad advises a shishya to hold on to such a Guru’s Lotus Feet and serve Him with delight, at all times, bereft of negativity.
The Guru is virtually none other than Sree Hari. There is no God beyond Guru. Devotion to Guru is basic for all whose ambition is Self-Realization.
One who feels at all times with a strong intellectual conviction that “I am the Parabrahman. Parabrahman is my own Self!” is said to be in a state of Sahaja samadhi – true transcendental state of bliss.
- What does Paingalopanishad say about a Jeevanmukta?
A Jeevanmukta helps in the liberation of 121 generations of people. When such a Jnani’s body falls, the ground becomes a sacred place. For such a one, there is no pollution attached to the body, no obsequies in fire after death, no pinda pradanaa (obsequial offerings of rice ball), no need for thilodaka dhanam (ceremonial offerings of water with til) and certainly no formalities relating to ceremonial obsequies called tithi. In fact all such ceremonies are totally prohibited for such aJnani. Then, what happens to the Jnani? The ethereal space contained in an earthen pot merges with the space around immediately after the destruction of the pot, so does the Jnani become the Brahman then and there at that very moment! (The purpose of religious ceremonies in the nature of obsequies is to elevate one to the Brahman’s level-necessary for one who was neither a Jnani nor one could be called a Jeevanmukta).
- What exactly is burdensome for a Jnani?
For a Jnani, His own bodily frame is the burden!
- What does Bhrigu say about samadhi?
Metaphysical truth about ultimate reality of existence in the armory of a Jnani is the blissful state called samadhi. Mere observance of silence or taciturnity is not samadhi.
- How should an average or ordinary man get over the seamy side of life?
One who is facing problems in life should follow:-
- What the Guru preaches
What the scriptures lay down
What the wisdom of personal experience directs one, and
Stay focused on the transcendental principle with the firm enlightened conviction that
the Brahman is none other than oneself.
- Who can be a real mukta?
One can be a real mukta if one experiences oneself in the following ways:-
a. I am not made of flesh or bone
b. I am one transcending bodily frame
c. I am the same as Paramatma
One who is sure of the above and comes to unhesitating intellectual conviction about the basic qualities will be a mukta by destroying avidya (opp to vidya) by dispelling ignorance. He will be a mukta irrespective of the religion he belongs to. Ignorance includes even remote perceptions of difference between the Atman and the Brahman. A Vedantic declaration warns against such ignorance which brings in fears instead of peace. Whoever sports a mind dedicated to the unwavering intellectual conviction that everything is Brahman in manifestation brings in the highest attainment of mukti.
The Jeevanmukta is one whose mind is divorced from the thoughts of six enemies – desire, anger, parsimony, attachment, pride and prejudice. Such a one may seem for all outward purposes that the Jeevanmukti is involved with or linked to some aspect of karma but there is total self-abnegation and even the feeling of actual performer. Then what are the benefits held out to a great one who appears as a performer but in reality a non-performer?
A “Mahatma” as such one is called, who fixes His mind in Brahman for a moment at least, gets the benefits of the following:-
- The benefit accruing from dips in sacred waters
The benefit from gifts of everything in the world
The boon emerging from all yagnas (Vedic offerings of a huge nature in fire)
The results flowing from the worship of all the Gods
The concomitant blessings originating from the worship of parents
The benefit of elevating ancestors languishing in lower worlds to the highest one, and
By virtue of the above creditable record, the Mahatma Himself being worshiped in all the three worlds.
- What constitutes punya and papa?
A humanitarian service is punya. So is being helpful to others. Harassment begets papa. The difference lies in the difference between virtue and vice! According to Sri Veda Vyasa, service to people brings fortunate results.
- What are salient features of Dharma?
Protection of all living beings is the quintessence of “Dharma”. Salient features of Dharma are:-
- Fearlessness; courage
Internal & external purity
Control over sensory perceptions
Conquest of anger
Prevention of propensity of the mind to err, and
- What are the benefits of (a) respectful attitude towards others and (b) service to the Guru clan everyday?
Worshipful or respectful attitudes to others and daily service to the Guru clan will, by Divine grace, bring in
(a) Promotion of longevity
(b) More knowledge
- What are briefly the secrets to cross the so called ocean of samsara and attain moksha?
3. Satsang (Company of the virtuous)
- Metaphysical discussion (Vichara)
- How should a Jnani proceed (a) to understand the physical frame, (b) to deal with those opposed to his ideals and (c) to look upon those who insult him?
A Jnani never identifies himself with the body, but with the Atman, as the Atman is the prime mover of the body. Identification with the physical frame brings physical bondage. None should think that the body is the Atman.
A Jnani is oblivious to His surroundings and keeps Himself far from centers of provocation, insult or humiliation. Even if He doesn’t keep himself away, His mind does not react to any kind of criticism or insult. That is the measure of His stature and will power! A Jnani laughs over all cries of criticism. Despite all these negative manifestations, if any, around Him, his love towards all remains constant. The Brahma Jnanis namely Lord Krishna, Sri Shuka Paramarshi, Sri Janaka Rajarshi, Sri Ramachandra and Sri Vashista Brahmarshi all exuded this nature throughout their existence.
- What is Nirguna Ashtangayoga?
The first anga of Nirguna Ashtanga is:- Yama consists in the withdrawal of preoccupation with sensory perceptions peculiar to the functional aspects of the body.
The second stage is to switch over the attachment from the bodily (physical) focus to the metaphysical truth of transcendence of ultimate reality. Niyama is the name given to this fixed focus.
The third stage that envisages a perception of rejection of or disinterestedness in all material things gives one a seat or asana which is not material but a Paramasana of exaltation!
The forth stage is in considering and comprehending the visible world as a fabric of illusion, commensurate with the transitory and moving state of our breathing pattern (called puraka and rechaka) to the permanent non-moving phenomenon (of kumbhaka) of the peaceful state of reality. This indeed is Pranayama!
The fifth stage of Nirguna AshtangaYoga lies in bringing about a change in the condition of the intellect from the preoccupation of thoughts of myriad names and manifestations of many forms into one single supreme form of the Brahman, meriting the name of the yoga called Pratyahara.
The most important limb of Nirguna Ashtanga Yoga is the ecstatic feeling of looking at oneself as the Sat Chit Ananda form of the Parabrahman called Dhyana!
The penultimate limb of Nirguna Ashtanga Yoga is passing the above stages into an unwavering resolution tantamount to a complete self-control of all faculties called Dharana!
The ultimate stage is the vanishing point of all the illusory forms and the remainder of nothing but the Self itself – the Atman itself – as the Supreme and pure state of Consciousness called Samadhi! The only reality.
The Ashtanga Yoga is a system of meditation taking one from the mortality of the material stage to the immortal state of the Parabrahman.
For the same reasons, the sadhaka should not get lost in any or all of the literal meaning of Ashtanga Yoga as a formula for spiritual exercise and discipline but a figurative one which inspires a conception of the ends of human life as a whole and one which elevates man to Godhood. The Nirguna Ashtanga Yoga is an exclusive chapter of exaltation in Upanishads. In other words, it is the correct path to the realization of the Nirguna Brahman!
- Is there any shortcut to God Realization and mukti?
If only we understand that there is the hand of Divinity in everything and in every field of activity, it is very easy to visualize the seemingly insurmountable problems of life and get over them with Divine Grace. Many think God Realization or attainment of mukti is a dream of fictitious orthodoxy. It is not! Because such thinking is the product of fetters they cover themselves with.
Look at the following unknown or less understood paths virtually in the nature of shortcuts towards ultimate liberation:-
(a)The idol in a temple (or for that manner anything in any sacred place) is capable of radiating spiritual energy to all those who seek darshan. It has the capacity to bring mukti to any deserving one!
(b) The light that burns in the sanctum sanctorum of the temple (or place or focus of worship) is equally capable if only we realize that God resides in the centre of every human heart as an immortal, indestructible flame of light. Apart from the rays projected by the temple lamp, the sight of the external light should help one to imagine the glorious light within and one day see that light – with the external eyes closed! The temple jyothi has a lot to do with the Atma Jyothi!
(c)The sound of the temple bell is another which on its own has the potential to take anyone to Godhood because the vibration of AUM and the continued reverberations pleasing to our ears are indistinguishable from the primordial sound that is called the legendary “Nada”. In fact, Nada (sound), Bindu (light) and Kala (form) are interchangeable phenomena of omnipotent energy. All vibrations of mantra, japa, prayers, pujas, recitation from a sacred book, homa, yagna etc all dissolve into one ultimate imperishable reality called Nada or Paranada.
(d) Vedic chants produce exactly identical sound vibrations which bring about changes in the structure of the subtle (or fiery body and causal body) body of the individual. When the defect in the subtle body portion is removed by the unfailing influence of vibration through Vedic chants, the instantaneous impact on the physical body is only to be seen to be believed. A hole in the heart attributable to genetic defect can be closed through powerful efficacy of Vedic mantras and both Harvard University in the US and the Max Müller legacy in Germany have known this vital information. It is unfortunate that in India, many seem to think that this Vedic field of total scientific base (unknown even to the highly educated) is one which feeds religious fanaticism! How many know that the wealth of wisdom of the world lies in its oldest literature namely the Vedas? How many know that Vedic literature is in Sanskrit language? How many know that the primordial sound expressed as such through Vedic chants can produce curative sounds, carve out the prosperous path leading ultimately to your goal of mukti?
(e) The musical sounds of the flute, veena and mridangam are also capable of bringing one to the “doors of Mukti”. Rich voluptuous music whether accompanied by vocal music (or other instruments) or not accompanied what so ever help one to take the aspirants to the laya state where they become oblivious to disturbing surroundings! Dissolution of the mind into the ultimate reality of Nada through the ecstatic feeling they get is the absolute necessity for ultimate liberation! The popularity of music as an instrument or merger with the Supreme Creator is well known in all the three worlds!
(f) Listening to the lectures on Divine stories or legends brings one closer to Divinity as the legends describe and portray how the lower than the lowest, if any, can attain higher than the highest with hair-raising anecdotes mythological they may be or from the present on going life of the devoted! Miracles of a true nature take place everyday all over the world; but how many are inclined to believe or investigate for a possible plunge into them? Of course, the real and the unreal ones in this field have to be identified and distinguished! Lives of great men and women have left indelible impression on the sands of time.
(g) The Sadguru’s grace can bring any of the foregoing pursuits to the vicinity of Divinity. It is up to the disciple to follow the Sadguru with the sense of total surrender. The great Purundara Dasa sang loudly and repeatedly that until and unless the sishya becomes a virtual slave of the Sadguru, mukti cannot be achieved! A Sadguru combines with Himself all the illimitable powers and qualities of the Supreme Gods. Only He can bale out even those who are guilty of lapses in life.
All the above mentioned seven wonders of the material world for spiritual state of bliss are available to everyone. But the people who enter the precincts of the temple or reach the Lotus Feet of the Sadguru belongs to a hundred different categories, many perturbed by a penumbra of suspicion about the creative possibility of the focus of worship or the instrumentality of the idol, sound, light, form or Guru, each known to be the medium of merger with God!