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Vedanta Sandesh

The Free Monthly E-zine of Vedanta Mission

August 1999

"He who is the giver of Spiritual Knowledge and strength, whom the world worships, whose command all learned men obey, whose shelter is Immortality, whose shadow is Death. He it is to whom we offer our prayers."

CONTENTS

Click on the 'Topic' jump to them

SECTIONS

TOPICS

1. Preface :

August - a beautiful month

2. Vedanta :

Human Mind & Computers

3. Scriptures :

Kena Upanishad

4. Queries :

Why do Hindus burn their dead ?

5. General :

1. A Beautiful Prayer & 2. Failure

6. Activities :

1. Earlier & 2. Forthcoming

7. VM Office :

Central Office Address etc.

PREFACE

August - a beautiful month by Swami Atmananda

The month of August is a beautiful month. Monsoon changes the entire landscape, and so also the mindset of the people. The farmers are free and the scorching heat has disappeared. The advent of the month of sravana invokes joy & playfulness, the koel singing on mango trees, children enjoying the swings, the otherwise inaccessible mahatmas becoming accessible and exuding the elixir of timeless eternal truths during their Chaturmasa, the Shiv bhaktas dedicate the month for some special worship of Lord Shiva, and the Joyous Janmashtami - the birthday of the smiling, dancing blue-boy of Vrindavan is also round the corner. The month also has the festival of Rakhi, sisters tying the thread on the wrists of their brothers to express their love & wishes.

This year there was another nice thing to celebrate, and that was the end of the unfortunate Kargil conflict. India came out of this with flying colors, on all fronts - but at an obvious cost. PM Vajpayee is proving to be a good leader. On our side alone about 400 families lost their beloved bread-earner. War brings innumerable woes to the families on both sides of the border. It is never a preferable option, but one has to resort to it if some people take to the path of force to achieve their objectives. The motherland has to be protected at all costs. If the house is intact, then alone things like culture can be thought about. Thanks to the electronic media people of the country could see the challenges, dangers and sacrifice of our soldiers first hand. There was literally a wave of patriotism sweeping across the country, everyone bound together in one cord - including the root cause of all divisive tendencies, the politicians. The people of country do need a cause which unites them all. Sometime it is a cricket game, which also literally brings about a 'war-like situation'. The very prestige of the country is at stake, and sometime it is the war. In both the cases the inherent patriotism of countrymen does gets manifested. It is all there waiting to be manifested. It is only when the country is united that the greatest challenges can be faced and won.

The flip side of this is very disasterous. The energy & resources of all going down the drain just handling the deliberately inflated differences amongst us. We sincerely pray, that we all discover a better unifying factor which is other than war. There should be something rather positive which inspires & motivates all. Something in which there are preferably no losers. May the people of this ancient land once again be inspired by their dedication & commitment to love, well-being, pursuit of truth & excellence. Such thing is possible only when our national identity gets associated with it. I would personally be the happiest person when all our countrymen exhibit similar intensity of unity but for some such positive & noble cause. That should be the challenge of all thinkers, educationists and sociologists of this land. We dream for such a day. Hari om !

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VEDANTA SECTION

Human Mind & Computer… by Swami Atmananda

Human mind is nothing less than a super, super computer. Its configuration has no parallel. It has a hard-disk of almost infinite gegabytes of memory, the RAM also is too large to be true, the potential of its processing power is also mind boggling. Of course it has a highly sophisticated in-built multimedia. Unlike computers, which are just cheap imitations of the great original which we have, the field of its operation is not limited to the line drawn by the software fed into its system. It has creativity & capacity to tread the unchartered zones, as though simultaneously creating and using the softwares. It has intelligence and the greatest thing is that it can feel, it has emotions.

The evolution of minds of various beings is seen from their capacity to be self-conscious & the freedom to decide our responses. In human mind this capacity is also developed to the highest, and we are free to decide our responses too. Such a great, incomparable computer has been gifted freely to all humans by the great, benevolent creator. We carry on our shoulders a highly potent & sophisticated instrument, but alas ! most of us are just not aware of our potential & faculties. The outside computer is a great help and should certainly be used to make our lives better organised & fast, but we should remember it is a product of this human mind alone. We should learn to use & program computers outside, we should try developing better machines, but should we in the process ignore the great portable one which we carry on our shoulders all the time. The consequence of this ignorance is that today inadvertently our systems have been infected by an almost fatal virus. Today that which was supposed to bless our lives and also the lives of everyone on this planet has literally become a curse for all. All miseries are invariably creation of human errors & misunderstandings. The personal & social problems, wars, sufferings, pollution everything is a product of some highly bugged, virus-infected super computer called the human mind.

Books of Religion & Manuals :

Books of Religion are basically instruction manuals for properly using & taking care of this great machine. These manuals with their do's & dont's basically aim to help bring about the optimum usage of the whole machine, and also help avoid potential bugs & viruses. On the other hand the secrets of the system & also its funadamental truths are revealed in the more fundamental philosophical treatises. Who is the operator ? Who is the creator ? How did he create ? Why did he create ? What was there before creation ? What were the raw material with which he created ? What is it which is really responsible to bring about its optimum usage ? etc. are the subject matter of all philosophies the world over. Vedas contain in them both these aspects- the philosophy & religion, revealing the basic truths & the operating instructions respectively.

What hangs the system :

The thrust of the instructions is that all our understanding should be based on facts and should never be baseless presumptions. Vedas have an almost fanatic penchant for right knowledge. Delusory understanding is an insurance to shattered expectations, and this is what brings about all grief & pain. The fundamental delusion pertains to mis-apprehending the truth of oneself. This first erroneous conclusion leads to all subsequent mis-calculations. Strangely enough a person who is never tired of talking about his knowlegde of various things outside never pauses to understand his own truth, and keeps identifying himself with superficial things like color of skin, profession, financial status, nationality, sex etc. At times his understanding about himself is not even skin-deep. An almost criminal use of a sophisticated gift. What can one expect from people like these ? They dig their own graves and go & lie in them much before they have to deaprt from here. They deserve their pains & problems, for the simple reason that they themself are their creator & sustainer. They can be their destroyer too - but only with the right knowledge. Well ! talking in terms of our computer language, everyone should basically believe in the existence or maybe the potential of a highly effective anti-virus program. Whatever be your problem always believe that there is a way out, and as far as the fundamental problem is concerned the way out is very simple. To begin with have an enthusiasm to get over the problem, have thorough belief in yourself that you can do it, and there after make it your second nature to come to any conclusions only after proper enquiry. Never conclude about anything, including about yourself without proper factual thorough enquiry. Never believe that truth is known by majority votes. Learn to observe, enquire and then test your conclusions too. Learn to question everything, even the very fundamental presumptions. Blind belief should never be about anything, including about religion, traditions, culture or even the so called modern things. Just because some scientists say something somewhere should also be not considered as the ultimate truth. Their continuing researches show that they are still seekers of truth, and the whole picture is yet unclear.

The greatest anti-virus program :

The test of right knowledge is not in the development of new technologies but in the ability to be contended within oneself, and also in the ability to directly apprehend the transcendental truth as one's very self. The choking sense of limitation can never co-exist with right knowledge. That is why when Arjuna was apparently giving out philosophical reasons of his not going ahead with the performance of his duties, and on the other hand was mentally almost broken, then Lord Krishna smiling at this contradiction started his divine lecture on the battlefield of Kurukshetra. So one should begin from the beginning, one should begin with re-examining ones conclusion s about oneself. Self-knowledge is indeed the most powerful anti-virus program to put this great portable in order once again. Enter the portals of Upanishads, understand with an open mind the truths as revealed by the great Rishis of Vedas and redeem your self. It was not without any reason that the well-known, great German philosopher Schopenhauer said that "In the world there is no study so beneficial and so elevating as that of Upanishads. They are a product of the highest wisdom... and are destined sooner or later to become the faith of (all the) the people."

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SCRIPTURES SECTION

Kena Upanishad… by Swami Atmananda

Kena Upanishad comes in the Sama Veda. The Upanishad gets its name from the first word of the text Kena ishitam patati... . It is in the form of a dialogue between a good, intelligent seeker and a man of knowledge. The Upanishad has four sections. The first two sections reveal the Brahma Vidya - the knowledge of the ultimate truth, and third & fourth reveal a story through which some important facts pertaining to faith towards God, the implication of believing in him, the methodology of inculcating greater devotion towards him etc. are revealed. The first two sections are highly philosophical, subtle & also lucid, while the last two section have a great simplicity about them. Like a mother the Sruti appears to be catering to all kinds of people with equal concern & compassion. For the first time we see see in the Upanishad itself a clear reference to the manifestation of the formless in the form of a form to help eliminate some erroneous conclusions. We have the seed of the principle of Avatar, which has been greatly elaborated in our subsequent litratures.

The question of the student pertains to the inquisitiveness of that because of which our various instruments & faculties, which are all created from inert matter, are able to act & perform their respective functions. What is it which enlivens them ? Is it simply the chemistry of these inert organs or is it some-thing which transcends all this perceptible creation - is the implication of the question. Without beating about the bush the great Rishi immediately comes to the point and says that which enlivens all these faculties is that which even though is the very essence of all these faculties but it is not something which can be objectified by these faculties themself. Every instrument facilitates a subject to percieve an object, and not the subject itself. That because of which our faculties can perform their respective function, but that which is never objectified by these faculties is the thing which enlivens them all. There is no instrument which can objectify the subject, yet it is known - very intimately, by proper understanding. Consciousness transcends all matter & things created from it. It is the timeless, eternal truth. It is our very essence, our very Self. It is realised as our very self, and never as something extraneous. He who knows oneself as that 'life' which is even though very clearly known yet is never objectied knows that which enlivens all our faculties. Pure conciousness is not something which is created by any chemistry of matter, it is only the manifestation of life which does require appropriate instruments. The commentary on the Upanishad by Sri Adi Sankara is a great treat to read, like any of his other commentary too.

The story revealed in the third & fourth section pertains to an incident when after a great war between Devatas & Asuras the devatas won with flying colors. As usual there was the blessed hand of the divine essence behind all their victory, but they in their thoughtless arrogance took themself as the real cause of victory. Gloating in their arrogance all the devatas had assembled to celebrate their victory and were talking about just their power & glory. At that time a Yaksha manifested in front of them, something which none of them had ever seen. When Agni etc devas were sent to enquire then during their conversation the great Agni could not even burn a small blade of grass kept in front by the great Yaksha. The ego shattered, they realised their folly and learnt a great & important lesson of their life.

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QUERIES

Why do Hindus burn their dead ?

(Reply of Poojya Guruji to a question sent by Sh. Sanjeev Nayyar)

The bodies of all Hindus are not burnt. The body of a Sanyasi or even a child is not burnt. Only the body of a Gruhasta is offered to fire. The day when a person enters the Gruhasta Ashram he was enjoined to have "Agni devata" as the center of his or her life. He had to maintain fire continuosly at his place, in some form or the other. Fire is a great purifier (that is why we cook our food), it helps eliminate darkness too apart from giving warmth. We cannot imagine our life without fire, and like all powerful things has to be handled with great caution. Apart from the practical utility of such injunction, there was the more important religious side of this system. Fire is the first & also the most divine manifestation of God. The personality of Agni devata is very inspiring & reverential, he blesses our lives in various ways and the most important is that he is considered to be a messenger between Jiva & God (Ashwalayana Gruh Sutras). He is a great role model to emulate & follow. Life of a Hindu is to know & love God, live a life as per the wishes of God & finally to be God. So in order to inculcate & maintain the wisdom & attitude of ‘God alone is our real master, and our entire life should be as per the laws & wishes of God’, a daily ritual ‘Agnihotra’ Karma was enjoined to be performed by a gruhasta daily, in which prayers & oblations were offered to Agni devata. Apart from this all other Yagnas too invoke God in the form of Fire, and then people offered their gratitude etc physicalised in the form of oblations.

Ideally a gruhasta should grow out of his gruhasta ashram to enter the Vanaprasta and then the Sanyas Ashram. It was only when he entered the Sanyas Ashram that his yanopavita & shikha was cut off, and he was also freed from the vow of living the life with Agni devata in the center. Sanyasi alone is not enjoined to maintain a fire at his place. If a gruhasta died before he or she could take to sanyas then the body was given as the final offering to the Agni devata whom he so deligently worshipped, served & loved all through his life. So basically burning the body is the final act & wish of a lover - to be one with his beloved.

By offering the body to fire at the time of death the other people do get a very clear message that the physical body is perishable and one should always aim & look beyond to that which is imperishable.

With love & om,

Swami Atmananda

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GENERAL SECTION

1. A Beautiful Prayer …

(Sent by Sh.D.N.Misra, Lucknow)

Let me not pray to be sheltered from dangers, but to be fearless in facing them.

Let me not beg for the stilling of my pain, but the heart to conquer it.

Let me not look for the allies in life’s battlefield, but to my own strength.

Let me not crave in anxious fear to be saved, but hope for the patience to win my freedom.

Grant me that I may not be a coward feeling your mercy in my success alone.

But let me find the grasp of your hand in my failure.

- Ravindra Nath Tagore

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2. Failure …

(Sent to Arjunas List by Pranjal)

Failure doesn’t mean you are a failure... it does mean you haven’t succeeded yet.

Failure doesn’t mean you have accomplished nothing... it does mean you have learned something.

Failure doesn’t mean you have been a fool... it does mean you had a lot of faith.

Failure doesn’t mean you have been disgraced... it does mean you were willing to try.

Failure doesn’t mean you don’t have it... it does mean you have to do something in a different way.

Failure doesn’t mean you are inferior... it does mean you are not perfect.

Failure doesn’t mean you’ve wasted your life... it does mean you’ve a reason to start afresh.

Failure doesn’t mean you should give up... it does mean you should try harder.

Failure doesn’t mean you’ll never make it... it does mean it will take a little longer.

Failure doesn’t mean God has abandoned you... it does mean God has a better idea !

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VM ACTIVITIES

Earlier Programs :

1. Yatra to Ayodhya etc :

Poojya Guruji alongwith some devotees from Indore left for a week long trip to Lucknow, Ayodhya, Sitapur, Naimisharanya, Haridwar & New Delhi. Apart from conducting a Satsang each at Lucknow, Sitapur & New Delhi, Guruji visited the pilgrim centers of Ayodhya, Naimisharanya, Misrikh and Haridwar. At Lucknow a well attended Satsang was organised at the centrally located Satsang Hall of Hanuman Setu Mandir. The topic of Guruji's talk was "Bandau gurupad param paraga" a line from Ramcharitmanasa. At Sitapur & Delhi also the topic was also pertaining to the importance & role of Guru in a sadhaka's life. At Haridwar Guruji saw some good Ashrams on the banks of River Ganges for organising a Camp there in the coming winters.

2. Guru Poornima Celebrations :

The Guru Poornima celebrations at Vedanta Ashram were held with great elan & devotion. In the morning there was a grand puja of Sri Adi Sankara, followed by mantra deeksha to some devotees. Throughout the day various bhaktas kept coming for darshan & blessings of Poojya Guruji. In the evening there was pada puja of Guruji followed by bhajans & his blessings to all. The local Cable TV network covered the entire program.

At Bombay the Guru Poornima celebrations were held at the residence of Sh.Avinash & Ritu Dutta. Scores of devotees gathered for the Paduka-puja of Poojya Guruji and melodious bhajans followed.

3. Release of Vedanta Piyush :

On the auspicious occasion of Guru Poornima the much awaited Hindi quaterly magazine of the Vedanta Mission - the Vedanta Piyush, was finally released. Poojya Guruji dedicated the humble effort to all our great teachers including Bhagwan Veda Vyas, Sankara and his Guruji Sri Swami Chinmayananda whose Mahasamadhi Day is just round the corner, in the first week of August. Guruji had special word of praise & blessings for all those devotees who supported the endeavor by providing ads for the magazine.

4. Release of Vedanta Sandesh :

From this Guru Poornima itself we have also brought out this printed issue of Vedanta Sandesh - our English Internet monthly. Photo-copies of the issue were being sent to various english reading devotees by some enterprising souls. Now all of them will be sent the printed edition of the magazine from Vedanta Ashram itself.

5. Release of new Net-publications :

The following new publications were released on the Internet during the month :

a. Letters of Guruji, Vol 10 : The tenth volume of Letters of Guruji was released on the Internet this month. It can be accessed from the Publications link on the Home Page of the Mission. As usual this volumem also contains ten selected e-mails of Poojya Guruji written to various devotees all over the world.

b. Snippits from Lists, Vol 4 : The fourth volume of Snippits from Lists culled out from our various Mailing Lists, specially the Arjunas List, was also released this month on the net, and can also be accessed from the Publication link on VM Home Page.

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Forthcoming Programs :

Sravana Month Celebrations at Ashram :

For the devotees of Lord Shiva the month of sravana has special significance. Some take up study of some text lasting for the whole month, every Monday special puja, archana etc are performed. As in Vedanta Ashram we have a Temple of Sri Gangeshwar Mahadev so we celebrate this month with special pujas, decorations, jhankis of the Lord every Monday. Devotees gather for special bhajans & pravachans.

Gita Gyana Yagna, Ahmedabad :

A Gita Gyana Yagna to be conducted by Poojya Swamini Amitanandaji, is being organised at Sharda Society Hall, Sharda Society, Ahmedabad, from 18th Aug to 22nd Aug 99. The subject of evening & morning discourses will be Gita Chapter 12th and Sri Shiv Mahimna Stotram respectively.

Gita Gyana Yagna, Mumbai :

A Gita Gyana Yagna to be conducted by Poojya Swamini Amitanandaji, is being organised at Bandra Hindu Association Hall from 27th Sept to 3rd Oct. The subject of evening & morning discourses will be Gita Chapter 13th and Sri Ram Gita (of Adhdyatma Ramayana) respectively.

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Central Office of Vedanta Mission

'Vedanta Ashram'

E / 2948-50, Sudama Nagar

INDORE – 452 009. INDIA

--------------------------------------------------------

Tel : 91-731-486055, Fax : 789497

E-mail : vmission@bigfoot.com

Home Page : http://www.bigfoot.com/~vmission

Published by

Swami Atmananda Saraswati

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OM TAT SAT