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Vedanta Sandesh

The Free Monthly E-zine of Vedanta Mission

Febuary 1999

GREETINGS FOR A VERY HAPPY MAHASHIVRATRI

' Salutations to you Lord Shiva ! From you alone have all the Vedas been born ; and in the end will rest in you ; you are the cause of this creation and you alone dissolve it in the end ; you alone are present in my heart continuously dancing to express your infinite love & joy.'

CONTENTS

SECTIONS

TOPICS

1. Preface :

Mahashivratri

2. Vedanta :

Discrimination of the Seer & the Seen

3. Know your scriptures :

Panchadasi

4. Queries :

Brahmacharya & being physical wrecks !

5. General :

The Two Cow System

6. VM Activities :

Forthcoming : World Tour of Poojya Guruji, Mahashivratri Celebrations at Vedanta Ashram, Gita Gyana Yagna at Indore & New Delhi,

Earlier : Gita Gyana Yagna at Indore, Sadhana Camp at Khandala, Youth Meet at Mumbai, Study Group at Indore, Monthly Bhajans.

PREFACE

Mahashivratri

Lord Shiva is one of the most famous forms in which the Hindus worship Brahman, the one non-dual God. Other famous forms are those of Lord Vishnu and his avatars as Sri Ram & Lord Krishna, Ganapati, Devi & Hanuman etc. There are festivals associated with all, and the most important one associated with Lord Shiva is Mahashivratri. As per the Hindu calender the 14th day of the dark fortnight (Krishna Paksha) of every month is called Shivratri. But the Shivratri of the month of Phalgun is special and is celebrated as the Mahashivratri. There are various stories regarding the significance of this day.

1. After the dissolution of the earlier creation, when there was nothing but the primordial matter then it is said that Lord Shiva did Tandava Dance. At this time he played his Damaru whose sound reverberated the whole world and also pervaded all with the seeds of knowledge. The Seers later manifested that unmanifest knowledge in their minds after their hard work & meditation. It was this day alone when Lord is said to saturate the whole world with inspirations of divine knowledge. Thus all the devotees turn away their minds from all worldly activities and remain introvert to receive these divine inspirations.

2. The Ishan Samhita says that the Lord Shiva first manifested as the Jyotirlinga on this day.

3. It was on this day that Lord Shiva married Goddess Parvati.

There is one thing which is common to all stories is that this day is very special to life & personality of Lord Shiva and that on this day all the devotees, irrespective of the fact whether they are enlightened or not, all should devote this day to fasting, worship of Lord Shiva, and being a proper recipient of the grace that flows down on this day to take a leap forward in our spiritual evolution. That which really turns our lives for the better, is that firm belief not only of the existence of God, but also of his divinity & love, and all this with a mind full of humility. It is also necessary that a devotee should be a master of his / her tendencies & senses, thus fasting & such austerities have an important role to play. The significance of this day is so great, that irrespective of ones guna & karmas, if anyone worships Lord Shiva on this day alone, then he gets all what he wants. There is great significance on fasting on this day and remaining awake during the night and devoting all ones time in the worship of Lord Shiva. The leaves of Bilwa tree are offered to Lord Shiva.

The beauty of all worship & rituals is that we can not only objectify the unobjectifiable very clearly but also due to the fact that we have created a personality of his own, we now know in what way we can express our feelings to him. As expression of emotions & feelings is the way to increase them so any thing would do. If Lord Shiva is said to like Bilwa leaves or Rudraksha or abhishek or what ever it is, the devotees see to it that they offer these leaves etc, and in the process also see to it that they plant such trees in their vicinity. The importance of this day is so great that it is suggested that irrespective of the fact whether you are a devotee of Lord Shiva or not, you should devote this day to fasting and worship of the Ishwara.

I advise the following to all our devotees :

1. Fast on this day. Remain of fruits & milk alone.

2. Do the Japa of the extremely beautiful & powerful mantra 'Om Namah Shivaya' as many times as possible. It does not matter if you have been given some other mantra for your sadhana.

3. Perform worship of Lord Shiva, and do 'abhishek' with Panchamrut, Ganga Jal, water from other tirthas, & simple plain water. Later drink all that with which you gave Lord the bath, and also give it to others too.

4. While doing the abhisek chant 'Rudram' or 'Shiv Mahimna Stotram'. If you cannot chant these yourself then get their audio cassettes which are freely available. If you are not chanting the above yourself then continue chanting 'Om Namah Shivaya' while doing the abhishek.

5. Do archana of the beautifully decorated Shiv Linga, with the 'Thousand Names' or even 108 names of Lord, with Bilwa leaves and other flowers.

6. Sing Bhajans and fill your mind with love & gratitude for all what Lord has blessed you with.

7. Remain awake in the night too, for as long as possible, and either do Japa or meditation.

8. Plant a Bilwa tree in your vicinity.

9. Wish & Pray for the well being of all.

VEDANTA SECTION

Discrimination of the Seer & Seen … by Swami Atmananda

The discrimination between the seer & seen is a very important & fundamental way of thinking to bring about direct realisation, in Vedantic lore. It is called the Drg-Dryshya Viveka and implies directly identifying all that which is objectifiable and that which objectifies the object of our knowledge. This viveka is used directly or indirectly in all prakriyas to help bring about the awakening within. It is a very subtle process and requires a very quiet, intelligent and dynamic mind. Apart from the above qualities it is equally important to have got proper directions from our teachers. Direct access to the teacher is extremely important too.

The Adhikari of DDV (Drg-Dryshya Viveka) is one who has got a suffeciently sattvic mind, one bestowed with Sadhana Chatushtaya Sampatti in a relatively good way. The Visaya of DDV is discrimination between the object & subject. The Prayojana of DDV is the directly see the self as self and the not-self as that. The Sambandha between the above visaya & prayojana is direct & not requiring any action whatsoever at any later date, the pratipadya-pratipadaka sambandha.

The whole viveka begins on a very simple & logical basis that the 'seer is always different from the seen'. You are looking at the monitor screen or maybe a printout at this moment, you see it and are therefore different from it. So also anything, you see it and therefore you are different from it. It is as simple as that. The ability to know an object does not presuppose the existence of the correct knowledge of ourselves. In fact to know an object properly we just have to forget everything else including ourself and just pay attention to the object of our knowledge. This is what everyone is doing. The world is so fascinating & beautiful, and there is so much to see & experience, and correct knowledge of the Self is not a pre-requisite to know the world outside properly, so we just ignore ourself. With some superficial understanding about ourselves we just remain busy with the world outside. With DDV we can first learn to 'stand apart' and then know both of these aspects very clearly. Initially we should learn to apply DDV at our gross physical levels, and later apply this at subtle levels in our mind.

Initially one should learn to 'stand apart' from all experiences. Learn to develop the 'sakshi-bhava'. The ability to objectively look at the world, situations and problems. This is a great quality by itself. Normally we are so conditioned with our likes & dislikes, that we just flow on, rarely pausing to think what & why we are doing what we are doing. 'Sakshi-bhava' or the 'Witness attitude' creates a condition where we look at something not from the point of view of the individual but from the point of view of let's say, a third uninvolved person. We have to play our roles and that also in total freedom. It is this ability which finally helps to bring about the freedom to see things as they are and then live as per our convictions.

There are broadly two stages in the DDV. First, is the ability to see an object of the world as they are, and second is to 'see' the subject as one really is. Both of these are equally important, but the culmination indeed is in the ability to see one Self as we are. Even though the culmination of DDV is in the ability to see oneself as one is, but it should be remembered that this ability is got and polished only with our application of the same in the world outside. So dont ignore the objective world, but use it to invoke & polish your faculties within. So in & through all your activities learn to involve yourself thoroughly and also learn to stand apart and analyze objectively. Later see your inner world, and learn to stand apart from your own thoughts & emotions too. This is a great experience by itself. You see all, with greater sensitivity, and are not effected by anything too. This invokes great courage, and you can do that which you could never even think of. You increase your limits & boundaries. However, the final proof of seeing a thing as it is, is in the realisation that this is a realm of change, inert objects which become so important because we choose them to be so. This realisation brings about the real detachment. A detached person has no attachments or aversions, he can be with anything or person, without any reactions. He does not desire to change any situation, and also does not get involved in anything too.

Once a person develops the ability to observe something with full detachment then he should turn inwards and realize who & what is the 'subject' really like. Who am I ? One thing which becomes pretty apparent is that I exist inspite of the objects outside, I am Nitya while the objects are aNitya. It is I who turns attention to any thing which we like & then having given importance flow on. I am the illuminator of all objects of experience. The situations come & go but in essence I still remain as I was earlier. I can recollect the memories of my childhood because I still am. The body may change, the mind may change yet I remain. We directly see this fact that the meaning of the word 'I' is different from body, sense organs, pranas, mind or intellect. For the simple reason that I am conscious of all these things. I being there all the time am 'Sat' the existence, being conscious of all things am Chit - the consciousness, and also Anand - because of having unconditioned love towards our Self. The statements like 'Ayam Atma Brahman' start making sense, and we get a great new identity. To the extent this new identity is owned up to that extent we develop greater detachment with the world outside, and our motivations too can change drastically. We suddenly discover yet another reason to act in a Nishkama way. We can afford magnanimity. Whenever we change our world too changes simultaneously. The realisation that I am Sakshi, who is of the nature of 'Sat-Chit-Anada' is a great leap forward, but is not the ultimate, there is one more thing which is yet to be realized.

The final step is to realize the relativity or rather the error even of being called a Sakshi. To continue using this word also is a compromise. A person who has come till this stage has no doubt whatsoever about the existence of our Self as Pure Existence & Consciousness, yet due to our own insufficient understanding we continue to impose some limitation on our self. Every word is limited and refers to a limited thing. To encompass the Self with one word is to limit it. Strange is the story of life, we first limit ourself with our own projections and then plan ways & means to break the non-existing shell. To continue referring the Self as Sakshi or Seer is to know our self in reference to the Seen. To hold on to this identity implies holding on to the Seen. Such a person will lose his or her very identity if the 'seen' is removed, which has to happen some time or the other. What has to be realized is that to be a 'seer' is only a role, not my real identity, this role comes about when I see an object. Then alone this word or name is applicable to me. I personally transcend this role. 'I' am that which not only pervades all roles but also transcend all of them. They all depend on me and I am not dependent on anything. When there is nothing to see I am not objectifiable, the moment something is presented I become objectifiable. This objectifiable I is the role while the one who transcends that is the real actor, me. I am that infinite, transcendental & all-pervading Consciousness, Brahman. The process of discrimination between the Seer & Seen fulfills itself here, by lifting us to the state of our real non-dual truth.

KNOW YOUR SCRIPTURES

Panchadasi

Panchadasi is a very beautiful, complete & also a very well known Post-Sankara Vedanta classic, it is a comprehensive manual of a student of Vedanta, and as Dr. TMP Mahadevan calls 'a veritable mine of Vedantic treasure'. It was written somewhere around 1380 AD by Sri Vidyaranya Swamiji and gets its name because of having 15 chapters. Panchadasa-prakarana.

Vidyaranya Swami in his purva-ashram was said to be one of the ruler of Vijayanagaram Empire, and proved to be a very good ruler. He obviously encouraged education & learning to great heights. Later he took to the life of a Sanyasi and also became the head of Sringeri Math for 10 years. He was the Sankaracharya of that Math from 1377 to 1386, only that at that time those who were sitting on that seat were not called Sankaracharyas.

The fifteen chapters of Panchadasi are grouped into three quintads. Three groups of five chapter each. They are the viveka-panchaka, the dipa-panchaka, and the anand-panchaka. As their names themself indicate the first part deals with the discrimination of the real from the unreal, the second deals with revealing the self as Pure consciousness, and the third dwells on the blissful nature of Self. Sri Vidyaranya Swami uses all the logic at his command, yet the thrust of the text is only to provide knowledge to the student. He does not use the dialectics to merely prove the others wrong. It therefore becomes a very complete book for a student of Vedanta. It is like a must-read, and like any other specialized book should be studied through a teacher.

Among the commentaries on this great text, we have a old & a well known Sanskrit commentary by Sri Ramakrishna. Today there are quiet a few translations a & commentaries available on Panchadasi both in English & also in Hindi.

QUERIES

Brahmacharya & being physical wrecks !

(Letter from & to Pannirselvam Kanagaratnam <pkanagar@rsl.ukans.edu>)

Hari Om !

I would like Swamiji’s comments on the following query that I received. It was addressed to Swami Chidanandaji of the Divine Life Society but Swamiji is travelling a lot and will be unable to respond due to time constraints. On the subject of Brahmacharya I would like to have Swamiji’s feedback on the following.

Well ! I am not a spokesman of Swami Chidanandaji or DLS, nor do I see any justifications of time constraints for not clarifying the doubts about such fundamental matters in ones own devotees or followers. I can however certainly give my views on the subject of Brahmacharya.

Our sages say that we will be physical wrecks if we do not observe Brahmacharya. However many of the top professional athletes in the USA (and probably the world) have no regards to this practice at all. Last year Sports Illustrated ran a cover story about athletes who have fathered children by different women all over the country during their trip to different cities for their games. How do we explain the physical prowess of these athletes when Brahmacharya is not observed.

I have personally not read this in any of our basic scriptures that a person will be a 'physical wreck’ if he or she does not practice Brahmacharya. If at all this was a fact then certainly what you write would have been relevant. The issue is completely different.

The very word Brahmacharya when grammatically dissected means ‘Brahmani charati iti Brahmachari’, which means that he who revels in Brahman is a Brahmachari. Thats all. Now, why does the fellow revel in this ? Because of his ‘understanding’ that the subjective essence in all of us, the timeless truth alone can ‘quench’ my thirst. That alone is the source of all joy. That it was delusion that I thought that some object, situation or person can really fill my heart with lasting joy. It is not that the sensual pleasures do not have any joy. They do have the capacity to help us bring about the joyful state of mind. But it is a fact that all sensual experiences bring momentary joy. All so called sensual experiences only become instrumental to manifest a subjective essence, even though momentarily. In moments of joy the person closes his or her eyes and is with himself alone. He experiences some thing which has been revealed inside. At that moment he forgets even the instrument which facilitated such inner unveiling. Now, if someone has come to know this then the natural repercussion of this ‘understanding’ is that the fellow will not look at the objects outside with thirsty Bogie eyes. He has come to know of the existence of a permanent & infinite source of joy. He can afford now to look at the objects without bringing in selfish considerations of ‘I want to enjoy this’ etc. The prevalent meaning of Brahmacharya does not associate the above ‘understanding’ in its definition and gives stress only on abstainment of sensual pleasures or experiences. This is not the right approach, even the word meaning of the word is ample proof of this. In ones anxiety to somehow make people to follow such qualities sometimes the teachers are seen to give reasons which do not hold any water. What you write is just a classic example of this.

What I wrote above was from the point of view of the ‘real objective’ of Brahmacharya, but even if we see from the worldly point of view, still I think some other reasons should be highlighted. I would prefer to give stress on :
- One’s ability to be a master of ones senses. Using them is no problem, but use your faculties like a master, not a slave.
- Make one understand that the real joy even in a sensual experience will only be when the two partners really love each other, from the core of their heart. Take your own time to let this love come about, then physical relationship will be something pure & satisfying act. Even Dhrama shastras affirm that. A person who just goes around having physical relationship with all possible women certainly has not found that which he is still desperately seeking. Such a person will always remain dissatisfied.
- Understand that it is ‘love’ which really matters. As a grahasthi we never advise anyone to stop physical relationships but let it not be ‘the’ important thing. Let it just come when you feel that proximity towards someone on the basis of mutual values, love, & perceptions of life. The
proximity may lead you even to create someone like your beloved. Having physical relationships without any love is more like prostitution, and if someone likes that we are not bothered. We only pity how much they are missing in life.

So the issue is entirely different. I can understand the questions in a person who has been given this line of thought that ‘if you dont do this you will be a physical wreck’. Hope I could answer your question. In case of any doubt please do write back. I will however be able reply only after 29th Jan, when I come back to Ashram after conducting a Sadhana Camp at Khandala.

With lots of love & om,

Swami Atmananda

GENERAL

The Two Cow Systemsent by Umesh Ranglani

SOCIALISM: You have two cows. You keep one and give the other to your neighbor.
COMMUNISM: You have two cows. The Government takes both and shares the milk with you and your neighbor.
FASCISM: You have two cows. You give the milk to the government and they sell it back to you.
NAZISM: Government shoots you and takes both your cows.
CAPITALISM: You have two cows. You milk them and pour the lot down the drain to keep the price up.
SADISM: You have two cows. You shoot them both and drown yourself in the milk.
APARTHEID: You have two cows. You give the black cow’s milk to the white cow to drink and don’t milk the white cow.
WELFARE STATE: You have two cows. You milk them and give them the milk to drink.
ANARCHISM: You have two cows. The cows shoot you and milk each other.
BUREAUCRACY: You have two cows. You fill in 17 forms in triplicate and you don’t have time to milk them.
UNITED NATIONS: You have two cows. Russia vetoes the farmer from milking them. Britain and France veto the cows from milking the farmers. USA abstains.

VM ACTIVITIES

Forthcoming & Earlier Programs :

1. World Tour of Poojya Guruji :

Poojya Guruji leaves for a two month World Tour on 13th April 99. He will be basically visiting UK & US. The first stop will be London where he will have a week long stay & programs. From there he will fly to New Jersey in US for a week long session. He will then have week long sessions at New Jersey, Cleveland, Detroit, Dallas, Houston & Chicago. The finalization of the program is in the final stages, and we will be able to give you the dates, subjects of discourses, along with the venue of programs and the places where he will be staying in our next issue of Vedanta Sandesh.

There are three kinds of Programs which are being organised. First will be 'Special Weekend Program' comprising of a talk by Guruji on some topic, open-house Question-Answers session & Bhajans. The second will be 'Weekdays Discourses' for about 3-5 days each. The third kind are 'Talks' in Universities & other such Institutions. The Universities in which the talks are being organised are Cleveland State University, Case Western Reserve University and Baldwin Wallace College (Ohio), and also at Rice University, University of Houston, University of Texas (Medical Branch in Galveston), and Baylor Madical Center.

A mailing list is also being formed for sending invitations to the various devotees in those areas apart from using other usual means of publicity. We call upon all our readers to send us the addresses (e-mail & postal) & telephone numbers of any of your near & dear ones who stay in any of the above areas. They can not only come & take benefit of these discourses but also serve this noble cause of spreading the message of our scriptures in what ever they can.

2.Vedanta Mission-Indore :

Geeta Gyana Yagna by Poojya Swaminiji.

Date : 2/2 to 7/2. Venue : ‘Silver Ark Colony', off Annapurna Road, Indore.

Texts : Gita Chapter 12 - Bhakti Yoga (only evenings)

Study Group - A study group has been started at the residence of Sh.Vinod Arora, at Urvashi Apts, Jaora Compound every Sunday (4-5PM). The members will hear the taped discourses of Poojya Guruji and then take that topic of discourse for discussion amongst themself. The Group will be moderated by Brah. Sangita & Brni. Urmila, the students of Vedanta Ashram. The first session was on 24th Jan and will continue every Sunday at the same venue.

Monthly Bhajan Program : The monthly Bhajan Program for the month of January was organised at the residence of Sh.Manohar Kusumakar at Silawat pura. A huge crowd of devotees attended the session. The Feb session will be at the residence of Sh.Balram Prasad Kaushik, who stays at 68, Roopram Nagar (Tel : 446417). The session will begin at 4:00 PM on the 7th. Poojya Guruji will be present.

Geeta Gyana Yagna by Poojya Guruji : A very successful 'Gita Gyana Yagna' was organised at the centrally located & historical 'Gandhi Hall' in Indore from 12th to 17th Jan. It was inaugurated by Dr. Bharat Chhaparwal, the Vice-Chancellor of the Devi Ahilya University. Poojya Guruji gave discourses on the Natakdeepa Prakarana of Panchadasi and the 6th Chapter of Gita.

3. Vedanta Mission-Mumbai :

Sadhana Camp at Amrutvela Ashram, Khandala : A very successful Sadhana Camp was conducted by Poojya Guruji & Poojya Swaminiji at Amrut vela Ashram at Khandala from 23rd to 26th Jan. 56 delegates attended the Camp. The weather, arrangements and communication all were very good & satisfactory. Poojya Guruji gave discourses on the 10th Chapter of Panchadasi and the 14th Chapter of Gita, while Poojya Swamiji gave her talks on the Navadha Bhakti.

Second Interactive Discussion Youth Meet at Mumbai : The second session was not upto the mark. The attendance was less and the venue was not very conducive either. However, the small group of youngsters which did turn up managed to have a much more informal discussion.

4. Vedanta Mission - New Delhi :

Gita Gyana Yagna by Poojya Guruji.

Date : 24/2 to 1/3. Venue : ‘Kailash Vidya Teertha',

6, Bhai Veer Singh Marg, Near Gol Market New Delhi.

Texts : Laghu Vakya Vritti ( 7:30 AM ), Gita Chapter 12 (6:30 PM )

Central Office of Vedanta Mission

'Vedanta Ashram'

E / 2948-50, Sudama Nagar

INDORE – 452 009. INDIA

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Tel : 91-731-486055, Fax : 91-731-789497

E-mail : vedantamission@usa.net

Home Page : http://members.tripod.com/~vedantamission/Mission.html

OM TAT SAT