Make your own free website on Tripod.com

Vedanta Sandesh

The Free Monthly E-zine of Vedanta Mission

October 1999

"Long have you, my son, been bound by the noose of 'I am the body'. Now, cut this noose off, by the sword of 'I am the Pure Consciousness' wisdom, and be happy."

Ashtavakra Gita

CONTENTS

Click on the 'Topics' to jump to them

SECTIONS

TOPICS

1. Preface :

Be the Source of your Strength

2. Vedanta :

The Blessing of Knowledge

3. Scriptures :

Mundaka Upanishad

4. Queries :

Gayatri Mantra , Query 2

5. Festival :

Ganesh Chaturthi

6. General :

1. Dream, 2. IQ, 3. Thought-Factory, 4. Interview

7. Activities :

1. Earlier, 2. Forthcoming

8. VM Office :

Central Office Address etc.

Navratri Greetings to all our readers !

Bhagwan Bhasyakara Sri Adi Sankaracharya with his desciples

PREFACE

Be the source of your strength by Swami Atmananda

……… The picture of an ideal man as revealed in the scriptures is one of a man whose strength comes from within himself and not from any extraneous things. Like a lotus such a person is in the midst of worldly things, yet is never riddled with any anxiety or fear. He alone enjoys the world in the best possible way. We call him a Jivanmukta - a free, joyful & a truly healthy man.

……… This does appear to be the most intelligent proposition too, because any thing extraneous unto which a person is dependent for his strength becomes a source of one's fears rather than our strength. One, everything extraneous is limited, and two, it is also inevitably transitory. Holding on to such ephemeral things is never possible in this changing realm and doesnt serve our purpose too. We are in the realm of time & space where meeting & parting is the name of the game.

……… A person getting his or her strength from things like wealth etc may appear very powerful & strong, but the truth is different. Even though such a person does have something plus in terms of greater resourcefulness, yet if we probe deeper then we find that because basically he or she is dependent on something extraneous for his strength, therefore such a person is always very insecure and afraid. His obvious prayer is that 'O God ! May my wealth always remain as it is .' If this does not happen then the truth about his strength becomes self-evident. This however is never the case with a Jiwanmukta.

……… A person who feels secure from anything extraneous is basically an ignorant & short-sighted person, and pays the price of his ignorance with his continous fears and anxieties. Put an end to all this delusion and lead a truly fearless, happy & successful life by taking resort to an 'out-of-the-world' source of strength - your own blissful & eternal Atman. Make the world re-think about their baseless presumptions about professed idealism of religion by living a dynamic, fearless & creative life. Revolutionise the state of your mind and increase your effeciency. We owe this not only to our great ancestors & country but also to our beloved children. Hari om !

Go to Top

VEDANTA

The Blessing of Knowledge by Swami Atmananda

……… Knowledge alone liberates us from all miseries, pain & poverty. It has indeed transformed our whole world & lives. The profound power of knowledge has not only blessed our worldly life, it alone singularly liberates us from the subjective clutches of time & space to help us awake to the transcendental realm. Knowledge and knowledge alone should be our top priority in life, not only to help make our day to day lives more meaningful & productive but also to help awake to the divine & timeless state of Godhood. This is the summum bonum of human life , our ultimate goal, the real test of our right understanding, and this is what was called as Moksha by the great Rishis of yore.

……… The secret of success of all developed nations (if at all it is a secret) is their singular dedication to the pursuit of knowledge. They encourage pursuit of knowledge, provide more than sufficient funds for education & research, respect knowledgeable people, invite good brains from all over the world to come over to their place. They not only make laws accordingly but even bend the rules for facilitating such pursuits. It is their dedication to knowedge which is bearing appropriate fruits in terms of their material prosperity & comforts. They deserve their prosperity just as we deserve our lack of it. If the pursuit of knowledge blesses our lives, then the flip side also is equally true. The absence of right knowledge and understanding is the greatest curse of human life.

……… We are an independent nation free to plan our priorities and plans. We have Planning Commission planning for optimum utilization of our resources, but something has indeed gone fundamentally wrong somewhere. The people with right brains have to look for more fertile lands elsewhere, the masses cannot even read & write after fifty years of self-rule, the definition of litracy has been brought down to the ability to read & write one's name, the state of schools is in shambles, and it takes a supreme court diktat to put an end to reservations in super-speciality jobs.

……… If because of some earlier social problems some people did not get proper chance to come up, and reservation was considered to be a way out, then fine, but it is fifty years now, a whole new generation has been born, yet we are where we are. It is not the figures which we are interested in but results. The results reveal distorted priorities. Why should our countrymen be denied the right to education, why should are brains run elsewhere, why should we not have high-profile in-house research wings, why cant we have tax concessions for encouraging research & education in a big way. If the government cannot do its job, why not pass on the baton to other countrymen. Keeping people ignorant appears to be in the self-interest of our politicians, just as raking up & sustaining distortions in the name of caste is in the self-interest of others. It is the vote-bank politics which is really behind the present state of affairs. Politics has become a haven for the most smart & successful criminals. We cannot expect to have the right priorities of knowledge from those who have had no interest in it throughout their lives. Till we have these priorities it will be the destiny of the masses & country at large to be condemned in this way.

……… The young ones have to indeed depend on the system for some basic grounding, but the grown ups need not always depend on government for helping change their priorities. We have to do it ourself, without any help from anyone. May be God wants us to work for such goals. Let us do whatever we can to encourage the pursuit of knowledge. We have to work both at the personal and social level for such goals and priorities.

……… At the personal level let us always keep some time for reading good books, and listening to lectures & discourses of knowledgeable people. It is a must. Keep out some time just for yourself and pursue the understanding of some new thing continuously, not just for your profession but of other aspects of life too. Poetry, litrature, philosophy, art, music etc. As a quiet mind is most suitable for understanding anything, appropriate measures & exercises should be taken up to make the state of our minds most suited for this endeavor. A good healthy body, a positively charged yet a quiet observant mind are great assets. Let your respect for knowledge & knowledgeable person be very evident. Invite such people at your place, express your respect in whatever way possible, and discuss your perceptions with them. It is also extremely necessary that a part of our earning should always be spent on matters pertaining to pursuit of knowledge. Purchase good books and other things which facilitate such pursuits.

……… The second aspect is our work for such goals in the society & professional field. Encourage the intelligent & knowlegdeable people in whatever way felt most appropriate. Give out sometime to work for organisations working in this direction, help some poor children to pursue their studies. Take out a part of your earning to be shared with the less fortunate ones. Give charity to Ashrams & other institutions pursuing such cause.

……… Do whatever you can to have an open & sensitive mind. Be in the midst of nature at least for a short period in a year, never let arrogance of any of your achievements touch you, and never be conditioned with intense likes & dislikes. Follow the Vedic adage that "Let noble thoughts flow to us from all sides." Dont be under the impression that anything modern is always good or correct and anything old is rubbish. This is an arrogance of the most stinking kind. Do not also believe that everything old is gold and everythning new is nonsense. What is required is an open mind, which is open to all ideas from all over. Let us have the intelligence to evaluate the merits of anything ourself. Conditioned people are basically unintelligent people who cannot sieve out right & wrong, good or bad themself. It is convenient for them to simply brand a thing as new & old, western & eastern, religious or secular and blindly follow one. Such people remain condemned to mediocrity and can never be expected to rise to those great heights which a bhakta of Gyana can. The people who pursue knowledge wholeheartedly not only make their professional & worldly lives very beautiful & successful, but also awake to the Godly state of transcendental divinity in this very life.

Go to Top

SCRIPTURES

Mundaka Upanishad… by Swami Atmananda

……… Almost every Indian must aware of the famous mantra written below the national emblem, Satyameva Jayate, meaning Truth alone wins. But very few are aware that this famous line is from an Upanishad of the Atharva Veda - the Mundaka Upanishad. An unequivocal commitment to the truth. That is what Upanishads are all about.

……… The Upanishad begins with a very famous prayer done simultaneously by the teacher & the taught that 'Bless us O Gods ! that we may always hear good things, see selfless loving acts, with healthy body live our full lives serving the magnanimous objectives of Gods.' The whole Upanishad is a beautiful philosophical dialouge between Angiras Rishi and a student called Shaunak. Shaunak puts forward a question pertaining to quenching the inquisitiveness of man. The thirst for knowledge appears to be unquenchable. The more you know the more you realise how less you know. So the student very humbly asks 'O teacher ! what is it knowing which everything becomes known'. Thus starts a great discourse called Mundaka Upanishad. This Upanishad has in all three sections called mundakas, and each mundaka has two sub-sections each. In all there are 64 mantras in the whole Upanishad. As usual there is a great commentary on the Upanishad by the one & only Bhagwan Sri Adi Sankaracharya.

……… In the beginning we have the a brief description of the lineage of the teacher, the approaching of the student to the teacher, his question, and a brief answer of the teacher. In this brief answer we have classification of the entire gamut of knowledge into two categories : the Apara & the Para, the objective & the subjective knowledge, or the knowledge of the changing things and the changeless eternal reality. The teacher reveals that it is by the pursuit of Para Vidya that the quenching of the inquisitiveness of man is ultimately possible. The realm of time & space has come about from the transcendental eternal truth, so one should pursue the para vidya also after apara vidya. It is noteworthy that the teacher also indicates that the role & importance of objective knowledges. Later the Upanishad also reveals the role & limitation of actions as such, the great importance of going to the teacher for realising the eternal truth, the secret of the creation, nature of the ultimate truth, and various important values for making our mind ready for the final awakening. Of these truthfullness has the highest place.

Go to Top

QUERIES

1. Meaning of Gayatri Mantra !

 

(Reply of Poojya Guruji to a query in the Arjunas List)

Hari om ! Nice receiving your first mail to the Arjunas List. I am happy receiving a mail which pertains to one of the most important objectives of this dynamic List - bringing about awareness of the heritage & culture of Hindus.

Gayatri Mantra is a highly revered & extremely famous mantra from Vedas and is even today given at the time of Yagnopavita samskar to youngsters. Even though it is given for japa purpose, gayatri mantra is basically a prayer, associated with a daily ritual of the Hindus called Sandhya-vandana. This Sandhya-vandana is a short ritual done three times a day, at the time of sun-rise, sun-set & when the sun is right on top. Here is the word by word translation of the Gayatri Mantra :

Om : Name of Ishwara. O Lord !

Bhur - bhuvah - swah : These are names of the three lokas. These represent the higher, middle & lower realms of our experiences & existence. (The objective is to take in its ambit all possible realms of our existence & experiences.)

tat : That,

varenyam : who is adorable,

devasya : effulgent, illuminator,

dhiyo : intellect,

nah : our,

savetur : Sun,

bhargo : resplendent,

dhimahi : I meditate,

yo : That,

prachodayat : brighten & enlighten.

Thus the full meaning of the mantra is as follows :

O Lord Sun ! you are adorable, resplendent and the illuminator of everything in the three worlds. I pray to you that 'May my intellect be as bright & resplendent as you are.'

The beauty of the Gayatri Mantra is it is a prayer where we wish, pray and work for making our intellect all the more sharp & bright. Success & happiness of everyone basically depends on this single factor alone. Vedas have a fanatic penchant for establishing importance of knowledge over everything. The mantra reveals the priorities of our scriptures & ancestors.

With love & om

Go to Top

Can Gayatri be chanted by women !

(Reply of Poojya Guruji to Sh. Dinakaran <dynes@hindu.co.in> Chief Sub-Editor, The Hindu -Business Section)

Question : There is a view (especially in the orthodox Vaishnavaite mutts and ashrams of Tamil Nadu) that the Gayatri Mantra must not be chanted by women. Is it true?

Dear Sh.Dinakaran,

Hari om ! Ref. your mail regarding prohibition of women for chanting Gayatri Mantra in some Mutts & Ashrams. Well ! I am not a spokesman of any of these Ashrams or Mutts, but I can certainly share with you my understanding & perceptions in this matter.

The Vedas which have revealed to us this great mantra do not prohibit the women folk from chanting it. This prohibition which is practiced or suggested in some places is certainly of a later origin, which the authors of this mantra obviously did not share. The reason for this prohibition could be that in some places the Yagnopavita was later given only to boys & not the girls. There have been two schools of thought in this regard. One professes that Yagnopavita samskar should be done only of boys, while there is another school of thought which professes giving it to girls too. If the Yagnopavita is done for girls too, then it is obvious that they could very well chant the Gayatri too.

The Harita-dharma Sutra says that there are two kinds of women. 1) Brahmavadini, and 2) Sadyovadhu. The former use to devote her life for the pursuit of Brahma-vidya, while the latter entered the Gruhasta Ashram. The first one was allowed Yagnopavita, agni-sewa, veda-adhyayana, and even bhiksha-atana. The Sadyo-vadhu was also given Yagnopavita, but at the time of Vivaha. Even Manu accepts doing of all the samskars for the women, but with a slight difference. Apart from these pramanas there are various other pramanas also which do not share the prevalent perceptions.

The tradition of prohibiting women for various religious practices is certainly of a later origin, and could be either because of some social factors of those times, or absence of traditions of right education. They have no scriptural sanction and therefore deserve to be rejected & changed.

With love & om,

Swami Atmananda

Go to Top

FESTIVAL

Ganesh Chaturthi… Swami Atmananda

……… The fourth day of the month of Bhadrapad (during its Shukla paksha) is traditionally called as the Ganesh Chaturthi Day. As per Bhavisya Purana Ganesh was created on this day by Parvati (from the upatan-a mixture of various ingredients used for bath, she was using for her bath). The Brahma-vaivarta Purana however says that on this day the elephant-head was attached on Ganeshji.

……… The story goes that once when Lord Shiva had once gone out to a place called Bhogwati for bath, Parvatiji created & enlivened a boy whom she subsequently named as Ganesh. He was once instructed by Parvatiji to gaurd the house till she took bath inside. Lord Shiva who was not aware of this new addition to his family came home to find a boy obstructing his entry into his own house. In anger he cut his head off, and when Parvatiji came to know about this she was very sad and requested him to bring the boy back to life. Lord Shiva asked his men to go & search someone of the same age and bring his head to him. The rudra-ganas brought a head of an elephant, which was shortly fixed on the boys head. Thus was born the Gajanana on this day.

……… The present scale of the festival of Ganesh Chaturthi was however started with special efforts of Bal Gangadhar Tilak. Today a ten-days Ganesh Festival is celebrated all over Maharashtra with great enthusiasm & devotion. The festival starts on Chaturthi day and ends on the Anant Chaturdashi day.

……… Ganeshji is known by various names : Ganapathi, siddhi-vinavak, vighna-vinashak, eka-danta etc. He is specially identified with the power of elimination of obstacles. However his strange form basically represents the highest goals of Upanishads.

……… Broadly speaking Ganeshji is short statured embodiment with an elephant face, one of his tusk is missing, he has a big tummy, and uses rat as his vehicle. Each of these symbolically represents various values & goals cherished & revealed by the scriptures. In the words of Swami Chinmayananda he represents a 'fully realised Vedantin'. Since the path of knowledge is essentially intellectual, he must have a big head. Truth can be comprehended only by listening to a teacher - so we have a symbolic representation of this by his big ears. The trunk of the elephant has a peculiar efficiency that beats all the ingenuity in the mechanical & scientific world. Here is a 'tool' which can at once uproot a tree or pick a pin from the ground. Such ingenuity is expected in our discriminative faculty too. One should be able to intelligently understand things at the macro as well as the individual level. The broken tusk of Ganapati indicates that he has transcended the 'pairs-of-opposites' and later the very duality, where there is ONE alone. Like an elephant a Man of Perfection too has an endless appetite for life & its variagated experiences. At the same time he should also have a big belly to stomach peacefully all the experiences of life, good or bad.

……… Finally we have his strange vehicle - the mouse. This little animal with tiny teeth can make even a barnful of grains disappear within no time. Nibbling & gnawing, he is ever busy. There is a mouse in all of us which can eat away mountain of merit in us and this mouse is the power of desire. This is a small thing which can bring about disasterous consequences. A Man of Perfection has mastered this self-annihilating urge. Now this mouse sits in obedience at his Masters feet. Whenever he wants to serve the world, he rides on this desire - the desire to serve and moves around in the world sitting on this small yet a very powerful vehicle.

Go to Top

GENERAL

1. Dream …

……… Dream. When nothing in life is as it seems, quiet yourself, close your eyes, and dream. Take yourself to places no one can see, and become anything you want to be. Forget about reality for a short while. Set aside any burdening trial. Create your idea of a perfect place that extends over vast and endless space. No limitations hinder what can be done. Fly to the stars or touch the sun. But when you’ve done all you wish to do, then open your eyes and work hard to make your dreams come true. With faith you can achieve anything. Overcome any struggles life may bring. If you hold your dream close to your heart, then nothing can ever tear it apart. Yet always choose your dream carefully, because some simply aren’t meant to be. You may never understand why the dream can’t come true. Just keep on believing that it’s the best for you. Some days will be easy and some will be rough. Sometimes your best just isn’t quite enough. So when nothing in life is as it seems, Quiet yourself, close your eyes, and dream.

Go to Top

2. IQ is Self-revealing …

(Santa writes a letter to Cousin Banta)

Dear Banta,

I’m writing this real slow cause I know you can’t read very fast. We don’t live where we did when you left. We read in the paper that most accidents happen within 10 miles of home, so we moved. I won’t be able to send you our new address because the last family that lived here took the house numbers with them so they wouldn’t have to change their address.

This place has a vanashing washing machine. The first day mama put four shirts in, pulled the chain and we have not seen them since. Its only rained here twice this week. Three days the first time and four days the second time. I know its cold where you are so we’re sending you a coat. Ma said it would be too heavy to mail with the buttons on it, so we cut them off and put them in the pockets.

My sister had a baby this morning. I haven’t heard whether it’s a boy or a girl, so I don’t know if I’m an uncle or an aunt.

Your's sincerely,

Cousin Santa

P.S : I was planning to enclose the money that I owe you with this envelope, but I had already sealed this by then. So please wait till my next letter.

Go to Top

3. Thought Factory…

……… Your mind is a "thought factory." A busy factory, producing countless thoughts every day. Production in your thought factory is under the charge of two Foremen, Mr. Triumph and the other Mr. Defeat. Mr. Triumph is in charge of manufacturing positive thoughts. He specializes in producing reasons why you can, why you’re qualified, why you will. The other produces negative, depreciating thoughts. He is your expert in developing reasons why you can’t, why you’re weak, why you’re inadequate etc. His speciality is the 'why-you-will-fail' chain of thoughts. Both Mr. Triumph and Mr. Defeat are intensely obedient. They snap to attention immediately. All you need do to signal either of the foreman, and they are there at your slightest beck-and-call. If the signal is positive, Mr. Triumph will step forward and go to work. Likewise, a negative signal brings Mr. Defeat into action.

……… To see how these two foremen work for you, try this example. Tell yourself, 'Today is a lousy day.' This signals Mr. Defeat into action and he manufactures some facts to prove you are right. He suggests to you that it’s too hot or it’s too cold, business will be bad today, sales will drop, other people will be on the edge, you may get sick, or your wife will be in a fussy mood. Mr. Defeat is tremendously efficient. In just a few moments he’s got you sold that it will be a bad day today, and before you know it, it is indeed a heck of a bad day. But tell yourself, 'Today is a fine day,' and Mr. Triumph is signaled forward to act. He tells you, 'This is a wonderful day. The weather is refreshing. It’s good to be alive. Today you can catch up on some of your work.' And then it is a good day. Similarly Mr. Defeat can show you why you can’t sell Mr. Smith; Mr. Triumph will show you that you can. Mr. Defeat will convince you that you will fail while Mr. Triumph will demonstrate why you will succeed. Mr. Defeat will prepare a brilliant case against Tom while Mr. Triumph will show you more reasons why you like Tom.

Now the more work you give either of these two foremen, the stronger he becomes. If Mr. Defeat is given more work to do, he adds more personnels, and takes up more space in your mind. Eventually, he can take over the entire thought-manufacturing division, and virtually all thoughts will be of a negative nature. The only wise thing to do is fire Mr. Defeat. You don’t need him. You don’t want him around telling you that you can’t, you’re not up to it, you’ll fail, and so on. Mr. Defeat won’t help you get where you want to go, so boot him out.

Go to Top

4. Excerpts from an Interview…

(Excerpts from an Interview with Francios Gautier, a well-known French Indologist and the South-Asian Corrospondent of the French daily Le Figaro.)

Q : Do you find Hinduism in danger?

Ans: Yes, it is true that Hinduism has always managed to survive in the face of tremendous odds (Muslim holocaust, British colonisation, Nehruism). But today Hinduism is facing a more insidious onslaught, which may be even more dangerous: from its own people. From the Left, who wants to eradicate Hinduism totally, and for that purpose supports whatever is inimical to it; to the so-called ‘secular’ politicians, such as Mulayam, Laloo & Sonia, who have done tremendous harm to India; from missionaries who continue to convert through covert means; to its so-called intellectual elite which swears by liberalisation and Westernisation, not understanding that this will eventually kill India’s soul. Overall, I see a vast semi-conscious conspiracy to denigrate Hinduism; it goes from Husain painting Saraswati naked, to Deepa Mehta’s lesbians being called Radha and Sita. Everybody calls Thackeray a fascist or a madman, but let a Hindu in Saudi Arabia, or even in Europe, try to denigrate Virgin Mary or Jesus, and see what happens. Whatever his excesses, at least the man has guts.

Go to Top

VM ACTIVITIES

Earlier Programs :

1. Gita Gyana Yagna, Ahmedabad :

……… Poojya Swamini Amitanandaji conducted a Gita Gyana Yagna in the Sharada Society area of Ahmedabad. She conducted her discourses on the 12th Chapter of Gita and Shiv Mahimna Stotram in the evening & morning session respectively. The Yagna was very well received and the Hall overflowed with devotees. Plans are already afoot to have more sessions in this and also the nearby area of Ayojan Nagar in future too.

2. Janamashtami Celebrations :

……… Sri Krishna Janamashtami was celebrated with great devotion & enthusiasm at the Vedanta Ashram. The main program started in the evening from 8 PM and continued till late in the night. Sh.Salil Date, the renowned Flute player of the city gave a beautiful program of both classical music and bhajans on his flute. Later the Bhaktas had sessions of bhajans, apart from chanting of the Vishnu Sahasranama Stotra and the fourth Chapter of Bhagwad Gita.

……… Poojya Guruji took the name of 'Murli-Manohar' for detailed exposition. He said that in his discourse that with his flute Lord Krishna won the hearts of all living being of Vrindavan. Not only everyone should take resort to some such means to attain the state of being manohar - where our minds become quiet, but take resort of the knowledge reveraled by the Lord to transcend this mind and awaken to the eternal truth within. Realisation of the Atma as Brahman is the real Janam of Lord within ourself. Through such celebrations we should re-affirm our ultimate goal.

……… At dot mid-night there was the Maha-aarti and bhajans for the Jhula etc. The children had a nice time in the end breaking the 'matki' of butter hung on the ceiling. Siddhartha Raikwar from Mumbai was dressed as Lord Krishna and lead the team of his friends to successfully complete his destructive Mission. However everyone else too got the piece of their cake and parted with joy & laughter.

3. New Release on the Internet :

  1. A Comprehensive Site of VM Mumbai : Brief intro of the members of the Board of Presidents is an added feature. Intro Page can be accessed thru links at :
  2. VM Mumbai Page : http://www.bigfoot.com/~vmmumbai

    Intro of VMM Board members : http://members.tripod.com/SwAtma/VMM/manage.htm

  3. Hindu Scriptures : A Web Page containg brief intro of some important scriptures of Hindus can be accessed thru the Publications Link on the Home of of VM.

Go to Top

Forthcoming Programs :

1. 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 AdhdyatmaRamayana) respectively.

2. Gita Gyana Yagna, Madras :

Poojya Guruji will conduct a Gita Gyana Yagna at Gokul Dham, 24, Thirunarayan Avenue, Kilpak, Madras from 24th to 30th Oct. The subject matter of discourses will be Gita Chapter 12 and Upadesha Sar (of Bhagwan Ramana Maharshi) in the evening & morning session respectively.

Go to Top

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

Go to Top

OM TAT SAT