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The immortality question!


Spoiler Alert: {This is an Atheist/Agnostic post, please refrain from reading if it might hurt your feelings}

Human species are obsessed in their current state of affairs with the questions relating to God and Religion. Sometimes that is just another reason for means to an end (political/personal). However, I am not interested in that aspect. But the core question. Why was the existence of God put into societal conscience at the first place!
Well, lets journey back. It might not have much to do with Messiahs, whoever that may be Moses, Jesus, Muhammad or any new age gurus. They could have been anybody, they struck chord with the masses because of an inane human trait. The anthropocentric world view and the dire need to feel special lies in the core, may be even in the gene. To continue that argument, lets go to the beginning of human evolution, the earlier versions sustaining on hunting and foraging in the wild had FEAR embedded in them in their psyche. To overcome this fear, that adrenaline rush, they had to fool their primitive brain, they devised rituals, started worshipping the powers they had no control of, say Sun and other natural forces. They imbibed these rituals on their descendants with half-logic, half truths, myth and mysteries.

Well, that was back then. What do we have now? Some brain washing and psycho-therapy by primitives or modern gurus  was not all it took it develop complex religions and GOD figure! May be that was all it took along with some considerable time and stupidity, you might never know.

Few other aspects play crucial role to make most individuals as believers of God in their lifetime may be even for short periods of time.
1)The idea of God as a Support figure. “God is there for me, even when no one is there”
2)The idea of just world, “God is the master of this world and he rewards us with heaven and punish wrongdoers.”
3)The idea of Beauty, (creationists): “Look at the beauty of nature, who else other than God, could have created it?”
4)The idea of Life, “There had to be divine intervention to kick start evolution and bring life on earth”

This is in no way an exhaustive list, there might be more, it all stems from Fear, the fear of being left alone (in this cosmos, or in a relationship, or during death of kin). So, in these inconsequential scheme of events, men tried to make himself special, He might have moved on from geo-centric approach to helio-centric and then to nowhere, he still tweaked his ideas to continue to feel special.

'Two possibilities exist: either we are alone in the universe or we are not. Both are equally terrifying.'

-Arthur C. Clarke



Meanwhile, men also devised another aspect. “soul”, The concept of something lasting beyond death, apart from the mundane ideas of heaven and hell. His unquenched requirement to be immortal, he made the idea of “Karma”, “rebirth” along with atman/soul, thereby immortality along with that, the idea of just world was also fixed. Since you clean up your mess in a complexly weaved tapestry hard to observe using human eyes.  With that simple technique, the whole Hinduism was brought up under a strict moral and social code by upper class Brahmins and brought all other castes under submission to “live out their meaningless lives and wait for a Brahmin birth next time around to live quality life.”

Brian.L.Weiss(the famous psychiatrist from Florida of ‘Many lives, many masters’ fame) devised regression techniques to go to past lives of patients and solve traumas in their present lives. He may not be lying, the therapies might have worked wonders. After all, the whole department of psychiatry sometimes hold on to calming patients with lies with considerable effect [Placebo]. But, all that was required was telling mortals that, no you do get second chance, in fact multiple chances. Play out! life is a game, that is what Americans want to hear anyway.

There might be some hints in the nature for immortality or the concept of rebirth for the concept to hold some ground. The seasons, the phases of moon, cyclic observations of constellations all repeat, even though temporarily in a large time scale. Even, the big bang theory was stretched out to make room for pulsating theory and thereby immortality. {Aren’t you bored of repetitions?}
No, the world does not end.

You are special.
You are immortal.

These are the lines people want to hear. unfortunately, the world will end, you may be special to your mom, blame the “selfish gene” and lastly we all are mortals.

-Me

 

Om sri Ganesaya Nama:

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These are the various symbols associated with Ganesha, according to some interpreter. I don’t know who that is. Few may find few of the interpretations absurd, I find the whole exercise of interpreting futile as it failed to convince me in any manner, I am not trying to interpret it in a stronger manner per say, but going to ridicule it. If you can’t handle it, keep away from the site. “Disclaimer”.

For you, intelligent reader, Read fully, there is a surprise in the end.

I will go counter clock wise from left ridiculing all the explanations given in the image.

Large ears- listen more, listen everything and don’t censor anything. #wikileaks

Axe- To cut off all bonds of attachment, resort to violence.

Small mouth- talk less, (Elephant doesn’t talk, they trumpet-and its loud) You don’t need a big mouth to have a big tummy.

Blessings- That hand is to say, STOP your non-sense. may be mine, oops

Stomach- Peacefully digest good and bad in life, (The function of large stomach is not to digest, but to act as a storage source:Elephant anatomy) Store all the good and bad, so that you can take revenge later.

Prasada- The whole world is at your feet and for your asking, The fast food joint serving junk food is just around the corner.

Mouse- Even a pest like mouse won’t eat the junk food, are you sure you want to eat it? (And, I would prefer Mallika sherawat to be shown if its desire you are talking!)

Madaka- The only meaning I could find is ‘intoxicating’ , is that what it is?

Trunk- High efficiency and adaptability- Really?, Why do you need a trunk, if you have four hands, and I don’t want to see my nose getting dragged on the road- I’ve cold.

One Tusk- Retain good and throw away bad, That is a pretty good way to explain scars from war.

Rope- To pull you nearer to the highest goal, to tie you to insanity.

Small eyes- concentrate- Evolutionary tool! so that nobody knows where you are looking.

Big head- Think big??  Really? Ravana had ten.!

So, please Refrain from interpreting, if you want to know how to interpret well, read along.

A friend of mine named Gurudev had deciphered the sloka

“Vakra tunda Mahakaya surya kodi sama praba

Nirvignam kurume deva sarva karyeshu sarvada”

Literally it means

“Lord with curved trunk and a huge body and with a brightness of 10 million suns”

“Oh lord, always may all my work be free of all obstacles”

He then deciphers it as a science lesson a.k.a morning prayer long back as,

When there is an imbalance of forces(ensued implosion against neutron degeneracy) in a massive star, the result is a supernova (a stellar explosion with brilliance of 10million suns).

Read more @ HitXP » Alien Twist to God – Part II - by Gurudev

and this wiki page

So, my sweet Ganesha, I am going to have my examination or my space travel today, so please don’t mess it up with shock waves and/or stellar dust.

Now that is what I call deciphering and interpreting, not the Deepak Chopra style. So guys, Please refrain from interpreting, if you are not good enough for me.

-Santhosh K Ramachandran

P.S: A quick Googling helped me find its some K.Krishnamurhty who interpreted the image.


P.P.S: It's a Bird...It's a Plane...It's Superman..Na, its really a plane..!

 

Oh my ‘God’!, the title itself is so riot provoking! Am I out of my mind? May be not. Read the “Disclaimer” before you read further.

The very first phrase in this blog may confuse a self proclaimed non Hindu if uttered by a Hindu. Since there are millions of Gods in Hinduism. Smile 

My take is on few of the famed gods by either myth or history.

Krishna- The most revered, the most philosophical, the most famed, the most adored, the most brilliant god of the pantheon.

He is a polygamist, it is not acceptable in the present day society, illegal according to ‘Hindu marriage act’, wonder what Praveen Togadia thinks when he criticizes the Indian civil code granting polygamy for Islam.

He broke Radha’s heart, that may or may not be acceptable depending on who you are. He supported polyandry of Draupadi citing some past life wish, citing mom’s word as the final word. He supported Arjuna to practice polygamy. His life as Casanova can incite sharp reactions if it was performed today.

Rama- The most noblest man ever lived. I doubt that! He left his wife in exile after a comment from his people. The most repeated argument by scholars is that “Rama was wrong as a husband, and he was right as a king.” I doubt that! He was definitely wrong as a husband, also, he was wrong was a king, as he was setting a horrible example of how to be husband. A simple man, might think, “ok! so it is right for me to leave my wife, if someone else mentions her as unchaste or infidel”. According to me, the king should be a leader who leads by setting an example, not as a person who should appease to every demand said/unsaid by his followers.

Another wrong doing of Rama is the murder of king Bali by hiding. It was in no way, a symbol of heroism and chivalry. When Bali’s wife asked Rama about the sin, the reason cited by Rama is as follows, “ I will be born as Krishna in my next birth, and your husband will be a hunter and will kill me by hiding with an arrow thinking that I am a deer.” I wonder, which judge will take that as a reason for murder.

Also, there are other minor wrong doings, including marrying Sita without his dad’s consent (It is a big thing in today’s society). Depriving Lakshman of his marital life with a newly wed Urmila. Murder of Ravana (a Brahmin) is also a sinful act, for which he did penances. His children was devoid of a parent throughout their life, Rama can be partly blamed.

Shiva- The powerful god is always given a negative connotation as a destroyer. For me he is the MAN in its every meaning. But in present day, he will find trouble. He lives in cremation ground, is a drug addict, is an alcoholic, is a nomad, is a hunter. How much of an outcaste he can be is shown in the six part documentary on ‘Aghoris’, people who practice life similar to Shiva.  Also, he would be criticized if he performs catastrophe after his wife’s death. Though according to the myth, he granted all their lives whose lives where lost during his anger and the insane “Tandava dance”.  In the present society, anger itself is considered a vice. Hmmm.

Ganapati and Murugan- Shiva’s two sons, one is a celibate, one is a bigamist. Both are considered ‘not so good’ by today’s mothers. Muruga is also a runaway kid. A god running away from god parents. Hmmm.  Another son of Shiva, Ayyapa is also a runaway kid. All the kids are going to mountains and forests. {I like it}.

Vishnu has already been portrayed as Krishna and Rama, also when he was Mohini (a lady role), her main/only motive was cheating. She cheated on Asuras during “The churning of Ocean” episode, Come on!, they toiled and am sure worked harder than devas, and all they got was one of them ‘Rahu’ getting a taste of it before being beheaded. Reminds me of Al-Qaeda. Hmmm.

Finally, Devi-a general representation of all goddesses, they are normally represented without clothes. But hardcore Hindu fanatics cannot even take cleavage in the main stream society throwing them out, slapping them, beating are all common practice. Also, wearing clothes over their bosom is a 20th century practice in the state of Kerala. 

Most of the gods became heroes through murders, they practice polygamy. Anger is a common trait. Cursing is an even more common trait. So many incidents. Runaway practices are common. Most of them have animals as vehicles, wonder, what PETA thinks.

The interesting thing is that, most of the self proclaimed Hindus know all these facts. Scholars may call these as not facts, but just symbolism, a figurative depiction. Alright. I agree, but I was just doing a literal take. The list of such non-societal acts is endless. I was just picking on the main ones.

-Santhosh K Ramachandran.

P.S. My intent was not to hurt anyone, but to have a different view point. Smile

Rebirth, love, soul-mates- Brian L Weiss.

Brian L Weiss is a smart psychologist, he is the author of “Many lives, many masters”. In that book, he discusses the concept of rebirth, perhaps it is for the first time a westerner is acknowledging and propounding the belief of rebirth to a widespread audience.  Though the concept is prevalent and widely believed by believers of Buddhism and Hinduism.

I am not completely bowled over by Dr. Weiss to begin with. The criticism in the scientific community towards him includes lack of peer review, the absence of scientific protocol in his experiments. Conceivably Weiss can argue that it is a metaphysical area that current protocols are handicapped to be used for his research. Weiss uses a method known as past life regression. He uses hypnosis on his patients/clients and the clients are said to have revealed their past life experiences. From memories. He in his book admits being skeptical in the beginning and was convinced when one client during the hypnosis mentions about his own child’s death. A personal tone can always mislead even scientists of high skepticism.

He was able to ‘evidently’ remove nightmares and traumas of his clients by this technique. Here is the catch. A late researcher had also mentioned, these revelations from the clients and their traumas was result of their own ‘imagination’ and not past-life memories. It is arguable. It cannot be proved. The researcher also compared such memories to dreams. Though few psychic people claim dreams to have hidden meanings and blah blah. I would go with Freudian view that the dreams are part of “wish fulfillment” attempts by the unconscious. Again, our own imagination, similar to an illusion like déjà vu.

Probably, Dr. Weiss was able to successfully remove fears and nightmares with the help of psychoanalysis just like many other psychiatric practitioners. That doesn’t entitle to him to have proved the fears stemming from past life. The most famous reincarnation researcher Ian Stevenson had a more methodical research, he did his case studies on children. He never was a firm believer of reincarnation, but he was into science of it than superstition. He made strong supporting reports of birth marks and congenital defects as the cause of past life incidents as he identified a deceased person’s family from a child’s memories by using a wide network of volunteers.

Rebirth and reincarnation will be a matter of speculation, science and superstition for quite sometime. We all can only speculate and (not)believe.

My take is not on rebirth, but to the direction which Weiss stretched his study from there, in his subsequent books about soul-mates, love, spirituality etc.

I started the article mentioning Weiss as a smart psychiatric practitioner. He identified/believed that anxiety or frustration was the major trouble for human problems(just like Buddha and Schopenhauer).

A psychiatrist (also an astrologer, in India) is THE resort for people in metal trauma resulting from various reasons. The major reasons being the worry of future, death and such anxieties.  As a psychiatrist, he wanted to reply to the questions posed by his clients and help them, hence he adopted the theory of rebirth. Fair enough, as long as it serves purpose. He was able to quench their thirst and say “its not over”, there will be more chances for you to live it out.

I guess more questions started coming to Weiss. More that had to do with love (may be lust too). This chemical imbalance his clients had dragged him down some unconvincing roads. He had adopted the theory of soul along with the ‘rebirth’ theory. He stretched it with the concept of soul-mate.  His idea that they come back and join during every life. IF your love stint is not working, then that is due to the fact that the person you are dating is not your soul-mate. Wait and you will meet your soul mate. Makes sense? It was utter stupidity. May be that might have satisfied few of his clients or his own inquisitive mind for a while.

He hit a dead-end when whiny women started coming with claims of loving more than one person. After pondering, he stretched it with theory of multiple soul-mate theory. No trouble, along with that he mentioned that the soul-mates come to your life for a purpose and then they leave you, once their deed is done. So his advice was not to worry about when someone leaves you geographically, emotionally or even mortally. Bulls eye. No trouble there.

That might have worked wonders with his patients, so much so that he himself believed it completely and got the confidence to even write books on it. He went on with saying love is the only real thing existing in the world. He was preaching many things probably along with it, love (chemical imbalance as many call it), tolerance and lots of other stuff.

However flawed or untrue his findings and writings may be, his intentions was genuinely noble to solve the mental troubles which had inflicted on thousands of his patients. He might have been even successful in solving many troubles using this theory along with his psychoanalysis. He may not be able to prove it to the scientific community, but at the same time, no one can disprove him just like the argument surrounding a personal God.

-Santhosh K Ramachandran

Astrology, math? science? truth?

 

My friend had to dump his girl friend because, an astrologer said it is not good for his family and his life. Another friend of mine quit smoking because the astrologer said that his life will end if he don’t quit. He would not dare quit if his friends said so, he would not quit because his doctor said so, but because his astrologer said so.

We need to remember this fact, his friends are his well wishers, his doctor is a trained medical professional. He is ready to risk by disregarding their words. But he would not disregard a man with a chalk, thirteen square boxes and few shells(Stuff old school astrologers use for drawing the birth chart).

Why?

Why is that, Indians blindly believe astrologers, most of them reply like “why risk it?”

Cynics counter, How the hell can he predict my future when he can’t say which movie is being played in the theater next to him. But the same cynic will follow what astrologer said bitching about him on the outside.

If a radical places a gun in an astrologer’s mouth and ask about the astrologer’s future. The astrologer can only stutter.

There is a small folk story regarding a small evil boy and a scholar. The small boy had a small live bird cupped and hidden in his hands, he asks the scholar whether the bird is alive or dead! His aim is to prove the scholar wrong. He is ready to clasp and kill the bird if the scholar says it is alive, and leave it alive if the scholar says that it is dead. The scholar smiled and said the following words “It is in your hands”.

In a way, all of us believe that the life we are living is entirely in our hands, the choices we make which comes from the chemical reactions in the brain which computes all the different permutations and decide whether to have either Coke or Pepsi. What is the role of astrologers then? And how are they able to judge the course of chemical reactions which is going to happen in our brain. How are our marriage, career, education and happiness controlled by the planets which are far far away?

Let me look into this in a critical manner which a person of no background of astrology can still read (atleast that is what I am going to try.)

To begin with the birth time, which is used for all the calculations. There are many different( I think four or five) birth time used for calculations for an individual. The time when head of the baby touches the ground for the first time, the time when the baby cries for the first time, the time at which the umbilical cord is being cut, the time at which the semen and egg unite(I don’t think that is easy to find out). The first three time can be taken for calculations. “The time aspect” of the birth is completely scientific since it is “time”. No argument over there.

The birth place, which is the second important thing is taken with regard to latitude and longitude. It is a completely accepted scientific method to describe a position. The astrologer uses these two inputs to formulate the birth chart, or the position of different planets and constellations. By planets, I mean the Sanskrit word “graham” which can be translated to house, which can be extended to ‘which protects you’, ‘which can influence you’, ‘which can arrest/inhibit you’ etc. In that meaning, Sun, Moon, Earth are all planets. In Vedic astrology, a total of 9 planets are considered. Sun, Moon, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Rahu and Ketu. Earth is not considered because, the observer is in the Earth. There are two imaginary planets as well in Vedic astrology “rahu” and “ketu”. They are not exactly imaginary rather invisible, They are basically South lunar node and North lunar node. The position of these planets are “calculated” based on the time and place of birth with respect to constellations. This part is completely scientific, because it is astronomy. Any astrologer can reproduce the same results at all times. This proves one of the basis of scientific study which is reproducibility. I put the word calculated in quotes because the process of calculation is purely mathematical, what is done in figuring the birth chart is also purely mathematical.

Now comes the attribution, every planet is given qualities/characteristics/attributes, every planet is given further more attributes based on its position. Who has given this attributes, no body has an answer. Whether it is scientific, Nobody is sure. But experience does seem to accept the truth of these attributes. These attributes is said to have an impact on physical, mental and spiritual characteristics of a person. That is the planets or ‘graham’ influence these three aspects of a human being. It also influences the phase of a human life due to the positioning of planets at a given point of time based on the birth chart of that person.

If you have a doubt on whether the planet has an effect on you. I have a few questions. Does the wall color on your room impact you? Does the wallpaper on your screen impact you? Does the season impact you? Does the day of the week impact you? If these trivial(may be not) things can impact you in a tangible way. Only thing I can say is that “everything in this world impacts everything else”.

Now comes the funny part, the prediction part performed by the astrologers, it is completely unscientific. The horoscopes given on magazines, websites on how your day is going to be is even more absurd. The prediction part performed by the astrologers are based on his knowledge about the attributes, his knowledge about the situation etc. Just like any doctor, or engineer, if he is good in his knowledge, he will be able to give a sound advice or able to mention the situation. But still, prediction is unscientific. If you ask an engineer whether plastic is better or metal. He may or may not answer. Because a thousand factors need to be considered, the application, the metal under consideration, so on and so forth. Just like there is a good doctor, there is a good astrologer as well who knows his science.

I don’t want to keep on write and bore you. But one question might be lingering in everyone’s inquisitive minds. Why is it that the birth can determine the aspects of one’s complete life?

My honest answer would be “Karma”. The actions of your past life determine the birth of your present life, and thereby the implications in it, If you ask me whether that is fair, yes it is fair. The world or universe has to be fair. Your actions are not determined by any planet. Do good deeds, it’ll protect you.(Stop preaching, Santhosh!)

Coming back to astrology, let me say one last point, Astrology is called Jyotisha in Sanskrit. Which means study of light or rays. The light and rays given out by the planets. I guess. LOL.

“Astrology is an ocean which extends from one horizon to the other both in the perceivable three-dimensional space frame and time frame. We are an observer observing finite number of elements observed by infinite number of elements.”

-Santhosh K Ramachandran

"Like gravity, karma is so basic we often don't even notice it."
- Sakyong Mipham

Who am I..? Naan yar?

 

A friend of mine passed away last Saturday 10/10/09. It has sunk in slowly and sadly. Thanks to the material world and its demands and ability to preoccupy human mind. It was the first tragic-death of someone very close to me after I turned 14. I have read the book “Zen and the art of Motorcycle Maintenance”, and In the very end in fact in the epilogue, the narrator expresses his son’s death. I read those passage again and again and it helped me to be transcendent to my friend’s death.

But yesterday, I spoke to my brother for an hour, during the conversation he mentioned something about Ramana Mahirshi, I’ve heard or known about him as a saint practicing silence, but that was it. But out of curiosity, I googled him, and found a thought which had occurred to his mind when he was 13 before his enlightenment when his father suddenly fell seriously ill and unexpectedly died several days later at the age of 42, for some hours after his father's death he contemplated the matter of death, and how his father's body was still there, but the 'I' was gone from it.

I researched a bit more,  and I got to read a conversation titled “Who am I”. It was the best spiritual conversation I had ever read. Precise and concise. I am copying it with no notice or request, I don’t think it is an act of plagiarism, it is just a mere simple way of spreading the priceless truth.

So, the context is that, the Mahirshi(Saint) was met by a government employee who was also a philosopher, he wanted spiritual guidance from the master, so the conversation was in the form of questions and answers to understand self-enquiry. As Master was not talking then, not because of any vow he had taken, but because he did not have the inclination to talk, he answered the questions put to him by gestures, and when these were not understood, by writing.

Be patient enough to read the complete conversation.

1 . Who am I ?

The gross body which is composed of the seven humours (dhatus), I am not; the five cognitive sense organs, viz. the senses of hearing, touch, sight, taste, and smell, which apprehend their respective objects, viz. sound, touch, colour, taste, and odour, I am not; the five cognitive sense-organs, viz. the organs of speech, locomotion, grasping, excretion, and procreation, which have as their respective functions speaking, moving, grasping, excreting, and enjoying, I am not; the five vital airs, prana, etc., which perform respectively the five functions of in-breathing, etc., I am not; even the mind which thinks, I am not; the nescience too, which is endowed only with the residual impressions of objects, and in which there are no objects and no functioning's, I am not.

2. If I am none of these, then who am I?

After negating all of the above-mentioned as 'not this', 'not this', that Awareness which alone remains - that I am.

3. What is the nature of Awareness?

The nature of Awareness is existence-consciousness-bliss

4. When will the realization of the Self be gained?

When the world which is what-is-seen has been removed, there will be realization of the Self which is the seer.

5. Will there not be realization of the Self even while the world is there (taken as real)?

There will not be.

6. Why?

The seer and the object seen are like the rope and the snake. Just as the knowledge of the rope which is the substrate will not arise unless the false knowledge of the illusory serpent goes, so the realization of the Self which is the substrate will not be gained unless the belief that the world is real is removed.

7. When will the world which is the object seen be removed?

When the mind, which is the cause of all cognition's and of all actions, becomes quiescent, the world will disappear.

8. What is the nature of the mind?

What is called 'mind' is a wondrous power residing in the Self. It causes all thoughts to arise. Apart from thoughts, there is no such thing as mind. Therefore, thought is the nature of mind. Apart from thoughts, there is no independent entity called the world. In deep sleep there are no thoughts, and there is no world. In the states of waking and dream, there are thoughts, and there is a world also. Just as the spider emits the thread (of the web) out of itself and again withdraws it into itself, likewise the mind projects the world out of itself and again resolves it into itself. When the mind comes out of the Self, the world appears. Therefore, when the world appears (to be real), the Self does not appear; and when the Self appears (shines) the world does not appear. When one persistently inquires into the nature of the mind, the mind will end leaving the Self (as the residue). What is referred to as the Self is the Atman. The mind always exists only in dependence on something gross; it cannot stay alone. It is the mind that is called the subtle body or the soul (jiva).

9. What is the path of inquiry for understanding the nature of the mind?

That which rises as 'I' in this body is the mind. If one inquires as to where in the body the thought 'I' rises first, one would discover that it rises in the heart. That is the place of the mind's origin. Even if one thinks constantly 'I' 'I', one will be led to that place. Of all the thoughts that arise in the mind, the 'I' thought is the first. It is only after the rise of this that the other thoughts arise. It is after the appearance of the first personal pronoun that the second and third personal pronouns appear; without the first personal pronoun there will not be the second and third.

10. How will the mind become quiescent?

By the inquiry 'Who am I?'. The thought 'who am I?' will destroy all other thoughts, and like the stick used for stirring the burning pyre, it will itself in the end get destroyed. Then, there will arise Self-realization.

11. What is the means for constantly holding on to the thought 'Who am I?'

When other thoughts arise, one should not pursue them, but should inquire: 'To whom do they arise?' It does not matter how many thoughts arise. As each thought arises, one should inquire with diligence, "To whom has this thought arisen?". The answer that would emerge would be "To me". Thereupon if one inquires "Who am I?", the mind will go back to its source; and the thought that arose will become quiescent. With repeated practice in this manner, the mind will develop the skill to stay in its source. When the mind that is subtle goes out through the brain and the sense-organs, the gross names and forms appear; when it stays in the heart, the names and forms disappear. Not letting the mind go out, but retaining it in the Heart is what is called "inwardness" (antar-mukha). Letting the mind go out of the Heart is known as "externalization" (bahir-mukha). Thus, when the mind stays in the Heart, the 'I' which is the source of all thoughts will go, and the Self which ever exists will shine. Whatever one does, one should do without the egoity "I". If one acts in that way, all will appear as of the nature of Siva (God).

12. Are there no other means for making the mind quiescent?

Other than inquiry, there are no adequate means. If through other means it is sought to control the mind, the mind will appear to be controlled, but will again go forth. Through the control of breath also, the mind will become quiescent; but it will be quiescent only so long as the breath remains controlled, and when the breath resumes the mind also will again start moving and will wander as impelled by residual impressions. The source is the same for both mind and breath. Thought, indeed, is the nature of the mind. The thought "I" is the first thought of the mind; and that is egoity. It is from that whence egoity originates that breath also originates. Therefore, when the mind becomes quiescent, the breath is controlled, and when the breath is controlled the mind becomes quiescent. But in deep sleep, although the mind becomes quiescent, the breath does not stop. This is because of the will of God, so that the body may be preserved and other people may not be under the impression that it is dead. In the state of waking and in samadhi, when the mind becomes quiescent the breath is controlled. Breath is the gross form of mind. Till the time of death, the mind keeps breath in the body; and when the body dies the mind takes the breath along with it. Therefore, the exercise of breath-control is only an aid for rendering the mind quiescent (manonigraha); it will not destroy the mind (manonasa).

Like the practice of breath-control. meditation on the forms of God, repetition of mantras, restriction on food, etc., are but aids for rendering the mind quiescent.

Through meditation on the forms of God and through repetition of mantras, the mind becomes one-pointed. The mind will always be wandering. Just as when a chain is given to an elephant to hold in its trunk it will go along grasping the chain and nothing else, so also when the mind is occupied with a name or form it will grasp that alone. When the mind expands in the form of countless thoughts, each thought becomes weak; but as thoughts get resolved the mind becomes one-pointed and strong; for such a mind Self-inquiry will become easy. Of all the restrictive rules, that relating to the taking of sattvic food in moderate quantities is the best; by observing this rule, the sattvic quality of mind will increase, and that will be helpful to Self-inquiry.

13. The residual impressions (thoughts) of objects appear wending like the waves of an ocean. When will all of them get destroyed?

As the meditation on the Self rises higher and higher, the thoughts will get destroyed.

14. Is it possible for the residual impressions of objects that come from beginning-less time, as it were, to be resolved, and for one to remain as the pure Self?

Without yielding to the doubt "Is it possible, or not?", one should persistently hold on to the meditation on the Self. Even if one be a great sinner, one should not worry and weep "Oh! I am a sinner, how can I be saved?"; one should completely renounce the thought "I am a sinner"; and concentrate keenly on meditation on the Self; then, one would surely succeed. There are not two minds - one good and the other evil; the mind is only one. It is the residual impressions that are of two kinds - auspicious and inauspicious. When the mind is under the influence of auspicious impressions it is called good; and when it is under the influence of inauspicious impressions it is regarded as evil.

The mind should not be allowed to wander towards worldly objects and what concerns other people. However bad other people may be, one should bear no hatred for them. Both desire and hatred should be eschewed. All that one gives to others one gives to one's self. If this truth is understood who will not give to others? When one's self arises all arises; when one's self becomes quiescent all becomes quiescent. To the extent we behave with humility, to that extent there will result good. If the mind is rendered quiescent, one may live anywhere.

15. How long should inquiry be practiced?

As long as there are impressions of objects in the mind, so long the inquiry "Who am I?" is required. As thoughts arise they should be destroyed then and there in the very place of their origin, through inquiry. If one resorts to contemplation of the Self unintermittently, until the Self is gained, that alone would do. As long as there are enemies within the fortress, they will continue to sally forth; if they are destroyed as they emerge, the fortress will fall into our hands.

16. What is the nature of the Self?

What exists in truth is the Self alone. The world, the individual soul, and God are appearances in it. like silver in mother-of-pearl, these three appear at the same time, and disappear at the same time. The Self is that where there is absolutely no "I" thought. That is called "Silence". The Self itself is the world; the Self itself is "I"; the Self itself is God; all is Siva, the Self.

17. Is not everything the work of God?

Without desire, resolve, or effort, the sun rises; and in its mere presence, the sun-stone emits fire, the lotus blooms, water evaporates; people perform their various functions and then rest. Just as in the presence of the magnet the needle moves, it is by virtue of the mere presence of God that the souls governed by the three (cosmic) functions or the fivefold divine activity perform their actions and then rest, in accordance with their respective karmas. God has no resolve; no karma attaches itself to Him. That is like worldly actions not affecting the sun, or like the merits and demerits of the other four elements not affecting all pervading space.

18. Of the devotees, who is the greatest?

He who gives himself up to the Self that is God is the most excellent devotee. Giving one's self up to God means remaining constantly in the Self without giving room for the rise of any thoughts other than that of the Self. Whatever burdens are thrown on God, He bears them. Since the supreme power of God makes all things move, why should we, without submitting ourselves to it, constantly worry ourselves with thoughts as to what should be done and how, and what should not be done and how not? We know that the train carries all loads, so after getting on it why should we carry our small luggage on our head to our discomfort, instead of putting it down in the train and feeling at ease?

19. What is non-attachment?

As thoughts arise, destroying them utterly without any residue in the very place of their origin is non-attachment. Just as the pearl-diver ties a stone to his waist, sinks to the bottom of the sea and there takes the pearls, so each one of us should be endowed with non-attachment, dive within oneself and obtain the Self-Pearl.

20. Is it not possible for God and the Guru to effect the release of a soul?

God and the Guru will only show the way to release; they will not by themselves take the soul to the state of release. In truth, God and the Guru are not different. Just as the prey which has fallen into the jaws of a tiger has no escape, so those who have come within the ambit of the Guru's gracious look will be saved by the Guru and will not get lost; yet, each one should by his own effort pursue the path shown by God or Guru and gain release. One can know oneself only with one's own eye of knowledge, and not with somebody else's. Does he who is Rama require the help of a mirror to know that he is Rama?

21. Is it necessary for one who longs for release to inquire into the nature of categories (tattvas)?

Just as one who wants to throw away garbage has no need to analyze it and see what it is, so one who wants to know the Self has no need to count the number of categories or inquire into their characteristics; what he has to do is to reject altogether the categories that hide the Self. The world should be considered like a dream.

22. Is there no difference between waking and dream?

Waking is long and a dream short; other than this there is no difference. Just as waking happenings seem real while awake. so do those in a dream while dreaming. In dream the mind takes on another body. In both waking and dream states thoughts. names and forms occur simultaneously.

23. Is it any use reading books for those who long for release?

All the texts say that in order to gain release one should render the mind quiescent; therefore their conclusive teaching is that the mind should be rendered quiescent; once this has been understood there is no need for endless reading. In order to quieten the mind one has only to inquire within oneself what one's Self is; how could this search be done in books? One should know one's Self with one's own eye of wisdom. The Self is within the five sheaths; but books are outside them. Since the Self has to be inquired into by discarding the five sheaths, it is futile to search for it in books. There will come a time when one will have to forget all that one has learned.

24. What is happiness?

Happiness is the very nature of the Self; happiness and the Self are not different. There is no happiness in any object of the world. We imagine through our ignorance that we derive happiness from objects. When the mind goes out, it experiences misery. In truth, when its desires are fulfilled, it returns to its own place and enjoys the happiness that is the Self. Similarly, in the states of sleep, samadhi and fainting, and when the object desired is obtained or the object disliked is removed, the mind becomes inward-turned, and enjoys pure Self-Happiness. Thus the mind moves without rest alternately going out of the Self and returning to it. Under the tree the shade is pleasant; out in the open the heat is scorching. A person who has been going about in the sun feels cool when he reaches the shade. Someone who keeps on going from the shade into the sun and then back into the shade is a fool. A wise man stays permanently in the shade. Similarly, the mind of the one who knows the truth does not leave Brahman. The mind of the ignorant, on the contrary, revolves in the world, feeling miserable, and for a little time returns to Brahman to experience happiness. In fact, what is called the world is only thought. When the world disappears, i.e. when there is no thought, the mind experiences happiness; and when the world appears, it goes through misery.

25. What is wisdom-insight (jnana-drsti)?

Remaining quiet is what is called wisdom-insight. To remain quiet is to resolve the mind in the Self. Telepathy, knowing past, present and future happenings and clairvoyance do not constitute wisdom-insight.

26. What is the relation between desirelessness and wisdom?

Desirelessness is wisdom. The two are not different; they are the same. Desirelessness is refraining from turning the mind towards any object. Wisdom means the appearance of no object. In other words, not seeking what is other than the Self is detachment or desirelessness; not leaving the Self is wisdom.

27. What is the difference between inquiry and meditation?

Inquiry consists in retaining the mind in the Self. Meditation consists in thinking that one's self is Brahman, existence-consciousness-bliss.

28. What is release?

Inquiring into the nature of one's self that is in bondage, and realizing one's true nature is release.

 

-An inquirer.

Santhosh K Ramachandran

My concept of God, My idea of Hinduism

This is one of the topics, which I wanted to write for a long time. I was always amazed by the concept of God, How different people perceive it, How the concept is perceived the world over. How the communists see it, How atheists see it, How agnostics see it, How staunch believers of various faith perceive it. So I am going to try a hand in explaining what I feel and believe. It is heavily influenced by past thinkers from India notably Adi sankara, (known as Sankaracharya). The spark to write which was present for a long time, got a push when I couldn’t make a friend understand something which I wanted to tell about God. Happy Reading.

First and foremost, God is not a tribal leader to rule you, to grant you your wishes when you bow in front of him, to punish you if you don’t kneel down in front of him. He is not a jailer either and he doesn’t have a file for you to note down the good deeds and bad deeds and weigh you in terms of that and thereby to sent you to Hell or Heaven.. There is no hell with burning cauldron nor a heaven with virgins and wine. Even death in Sanskrit is called Yama, which is nothing but “Time”. It will come at its own time.

Having said that, let me talk about Hinduism as religion, it is not a religion. Nothing revolutionary, it is not a religion just because it is not centered around a prophet or god, its a socio-cultural way of living which is being followed in south Asia for ages with foundation based on not just one single book. The religion is more called as Sanathana Dharma by certain scriptures (which means eternal religion), There is no mentioning of the word Hindu in any of the Vedas and the following literature. By the way,  Can a single book explain everything we need to live and understand about God? No way! So there are many sacred books in Hinduism rather than one, The foundation is based on Vedas,

There are four Vedas

  1. Rig Veda (1028 hymns and 10,600 verses)
  2. Yajur Veda (Sacrificial Prayers, Around 2000 Verses)
    1. Shukla Yajur Veda(White)
    2. Krishna Yajur Veda (Black)
  3. Sama Veda(Around 1900 Verses)
  4. Atharva Veda(760 hymns, few as verses, few as prose)

Can just Four books of so many verses explain the entire way of living and cosmos, No, So there are Brahmanas, which are commentaries on these Vedas, They are 16 in number(If I am right) which may be written in the form of Samhitas (collections). Apart from this there are Vedanta, Upanishads, Aranyakas. Then after that came Vedangas(which means limbs of Vedas) they consist of grammar, phonetics, astrology etc. Then there are Parisistas which when translated means supplement. Then there are 18 Puranas which gives details of creation and destruction of universe. Then there are Upavedas which are four in number, The famed Ayurveda comes under this. Then there are the Ithihasas which means history, under this comes the great epics of Mahabharata and Ramayana.

The size of Ramayana and Mahabharata itself is pretty amazing, it is pretty foolish to compare it with Iliad and odyssey of Homer. Mahabharata alone is ten times longer than Iliad and Odyssey combined, with more than 90,000 verses and 1.8 million words. Sadly, many of the ancient texts are not present anymore due to various reasons, destruction of ancient universities in Nalanda and elsewhere is one of the reason.

So, coming back, these books though form the basis of Hinduism( I’ll use the term Hinduism due to convenience) is not closed for questioning, one can question, argue, doubt and comment on it. That is why there is mentioning of atheism, agnosticism in Hinduism. After all, Hinduism as I know, is not monotheistic but can be so, is not Pantheistic but can be so, is not atheistic but can be so.

Upanishads mention God not as what it is but what it is not, Which is easier, It mentions God as follows,

That which makes the tongue speak, but which cannot be spoken by the tongue...
That which makes the mind think, but which cannot be thought by the mind...
That which makes the eyes see, but which cannot be seen by the eyes...
If you understand the meaning of I neither know nor don't know, then you understand God.
Those who know that God cannot be known, truly know God.

When I mentioned Atheism, what I meant was the belief of lack of super-human intervention of God in Human life. In other words, God is whatever is present and whatever is not present, in short God is the universe, just like one of my friend explained that God is like a spider’s web, The spider creates the web and lives in it and also is a part of it.

Also you might have noticed that God is mentioned as ‘that’ and ‘it’, and not as any he or she, Vedas call God by various names such as Nirguna- attributeless, Nirvikara- Opinionless, Nirakara- formless, Ananta- Infinite.

But few people in Hinduism  pray to the attributes of Universe, like Sun, Rain, Fire etc. Few scholars in the past propounded atheism to remove this stigma. But in actual Hinduism is neither atheistic nor theistic but it be called as trans-theistic.

In Hinduism, you can consider those forces as also God, after all, it is part of the universe, so it is part of God, so it is God. There is a verse as follows,

Ekam sat vipraa: Bahuda Vadanti

which when translated means, Truth is one, People say it in different ways.

Now as the time passed, the message of truth was lost in the lineage, So to makes things easier for the common man to understand, scholars built ways, so that common man can understand and reach the truth. Most importantly four philosophies were developed from four Vedas by Adi Sankara, those being,

  • Prajñānam Brahma - Brahman is knowledge
  • Aham Brahmasmi- I am Brahman
  • Tat Tvam Asi-That thou art
  • Ayamātmā Brahma-This Atman is Brahman

All the four are based on Advaita ( which means non-duality), Buddhism loosely dwells on this monistic way of thinking. Many Hindu conventional people criticized on his thoughts mentioning it as radical. But the same Upanishads and Vedas have the same arguments which those opponents couldn’t see. Sankara created these schools of thought based on sastra (scriptures), yukti (reason) and anubhava (experience), and aided by karmas (spiritual practices).

In fact, the entire Hindu religion was modeled to follow these schools of thought, the temples, idols were created to follow these philosophical and scientific traditions, though people forgot or are unaware of the reasons behind these traditions which paved way for the radicals of present day to consider some of it as superstitious due to its lack of purpose or reason is a sad state. Also there are right-wing Hindus who blindly believes in certain traditions which may have been relevant at a different point of time for a different socio-cultural reason is a sad state.

There is a temple in south Kerala deep in jungle, the pilgrims need to trek 4-5kms( it was around 20-40kms, before the roads were paved) to reach the temple, the trek is hard and laborious in the deep jungle, and before the trek the pilgrim is supposed to take 41 day of observing hard rites including but not limited to celibacy. Once the pilgrim reaches the  sanctum sanctorum very tired and exhausted, He is greeted by a message written in Devanagari script “तत्वमसि” which is “Tat Tvam Asi”. The pilgrim is not greeted by promises of gifts and blessings, but by this simple philosophical thought/truth.

 

- A believer, Santhosh K Ramachandran

Sources: Wikipedia, Few blogs, Few Hindu websites, Few original thoughts.

I may add one more part to this, considering opinions and comments, also am having a small doubt that I haven’t expressed what I wanted to…

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