Adventures in Advaita Vedanta, the philosophy and science of spirit. We are one you and I; are you curious why?..


Here is a place to linger, to let your intellect roam. Aatmaavrajanam is being written as a progressive study and, as such, can be read like a book. Anyone arriving at any time can simply start at the very first post and work their way through at their own pace. Please take time to read the info tabs and ensure you don't miss a post, by subscribing to the blog. Interaction is welcomed. Don't be a spectator - be a participator!

Not This, Not This...

Hari OM
'Text-days' are for delving into the words and theory of Advaita Vedanta.

We are now studying Aatmabodha. As always, with each week, you are encouraged to review the previous teachings and spend some time in contemplation of the meanings as the affect your life. Please do consider purchasing the text. Remember, also, to recite the mangala charana before each study and review the lessons before each new one.

As the Guru builds the case for saadhana, the sincere practice of research upon the Higher, a fourth shloka is now given, with a clue as to 'how' one might Realise.

At™av&iÅaêpe[ vedaNtElRúyte=Vyym!,
Ao{fanNdmek< yÅad!æüeTyvxaryet!.57.
atadvyaavRttiruupena  vedaantair-lakshyate-vyayam,
Akhandaanandam-ekam yat-tad-brahmetya-vadhaarayet ||57||
Realise That to be Brahman which is non-dual, indivisible and blissful; which is indicated by Vedanta as the immutable substratum, realised after the negation of all tangible objects.

Straight away we find this 'action' suggested - that the seeker must negate that which is not, in order to find that which IS. This is a powerful and effective philosophical tool.

No one can directly reach up to the dizzy heights of the All-pervading, the Brahman, because it is not an object for us to see and understand. It is the subjective Reality, which gives us the concept of life, illumining all our thoughts and deeds. It is not a 'something' which can be differentiated from any 'other thing'; it holds no similarities (and therefore no dissimilarities) to anything else. It IS That from which all other forms and experiences arise.

The upanishads indicate that to reach into this understanding, we must learn to negate that which is not a part of this substratum. Thus the whole of Vedanta, which is the philosophy expounded by the upanishads, gives pointers and lessons on how to approach this negation. We are not to seek to describe what Brahman is, a very difficult task which eludes even the greatest Masters, but to assess and eliminate what it is not. To be able to assert what is not, there needs to be an acknowledgement only that there IS something which lies at the base of all, the substratum, and for this practice we can assert Brahman as that very substratum. In order to know that there is not actually a ghost, we must acknowledge the post from which the illusion was derived. Ridding ourselves of that illusion is the challenge; quite often we are too comfortable with the 'ghost', with our uneasiness and would rather deal with 'the devil we know'. If we know and trust someone who helps us to see the underlying post, however, how joyous would it feel to not have to be ever on the alert for the ghost?!

Our minds are limited; the thoughts are jumpy and full of impurity. Everything which our mind perceives as objects of cognition changes or perishes over time. Yet, for all that, we have within us a perception of something unchanging. It is that core of us which prompts the big questions. What is the one life force on account of which there is the manifestation of matter? Who/what illuminates the inert matter to give it life? Which is the homogeneous, all-permeating essence in all objects? What is it that strings all things in the universe together?

This is the substratum we seek, the basis of ourselves and everything we perceive. It, itself, cannot be objectively pursued, but can be subjectively experienced as the Pure Consciousness. This shloka exhorts the student to take up the saadhana of negation.

Waver Not

Hari OM
Application - that is what 'Workings-days' are about!
The Narada Bhakti Sutra is our guide for a while… the nature of Love (with the capital 'ell') and a full exploration of it. As always, you are encouraged to seek out the full text from Chinmaya Publications (links in side-bar); but for those who prefer e-readers, this version is recommended. Whilst awareness and interest can be raised by these posts on AV-blog, they cannot substitute for a thorough reading and contemplation...and practice!
Chapter Nine; Section 1 - Fruits of Love Divine; Greatness of Supreme Love.

A little anecdote to begin this week, demonstrating the benefit of True Devotion.  

Sri Narada was walking through a forest and came upon two sadhus singing the praises of the Lord. When they saw the great sage approach, they beseeched him to ask Bhagavan when He would give them darshan (vision) of Himself.  Narada-ji meditated and came back to one man with the answer that he needed to take one hundred more births before receiving darshan. That fellow became dejected and wondered aloud as to what was 'the point of making such effort in this life then? May as well leave this forest life!' To the other bhakta, Narada-ji gave the message that he had even more than the hundred to return and that he would have to go back through some other forms such as leaves on tree and the like. This second fellow jumped with joy, surprising both the sage and his disgruntled companion. He told them he was delighted because, 'God at least knows who I am and that my efforts thus far are acknowledged. What is more, darshan will be mine with continued good efforts.' … in that moment itself, Bhagavan saw the Love in the man and gave darshan immediately.

It is examples such as this which prompt Narada-ji to now extol Bhakti-marg;

iÇsTySy _ai´rev grIysI _ai´rev grIysI.81.
Trisatyasya bhaktireva gariiyasii, bhaktireva gariiyasii ||81||
Of the three 'truths' (paths), devotion alone is the greatest; (indeed) devotion alone is the greatest.

The greatest Master of Bhakti makes an emphatic statement! This is to be expected, one might say. It could be seen as being rather totalitarian; but it also shows the very nature of devotion. There can be no compromise if we are to reach a goal, no matter what hurdle is put before us. Find a path and stick to it!

Interesting is the vocabulary used in this sutra, though. By using the term 'truths', the Guru could also be referring to the three states of consciousness (waking, dream, deep sleep), or the three periods of time (past, present, future). In doing this, for those who are prepared to ponder deeply on this teaching, it can be found that any who practice in any of the other saadhanas, at any time in their practice and in any state they find themselves, can approach bhakti. It can be the base from which their other saadhanas arise. It alone is a path that anyone can follow, at any time and in any physical or mental circumstance, regardless of environment or challenges. This is its special glory.

Thus we can see that Love conquers all! It behooves a Karmi, or a Jnaani, to keep touching base with the 'feeling' of the Lord, whereas a Bhakta can remain only on that path and still gain from it. That said, any great and beautiful philosophy has no enduring significance if it is not practiced in daily life. Grow into it and in the end come to experience it directly; if not all the promised joys arrive, we will at least find life a little lighter and brighter from the practice.

What does it mean, 'practice'? Narad-ji does not leave the student waving in the wind. The next section tells of different ways to approach Bhakti.

Meeting the Match

Hari Om
Each 'Choose-day' we will investigate the process by which we can reassess our activity and interaction with the world of plurality and become more congruent within our personality.

We are reading "Tips for Happy Living - jIvnsUÇai[ /jiivanasuutraani", by Swami Tejomayananda (Guru-ji). Choose-days writings are here to prompt deeper thinking on the choices made on a daily basis and seek to provide prompts for raising the standard of one's thinking and living. This text composed in format of Sanskrit traditional teachings, speaks directly to this purpose. As ever, the full text may be obtained from CM Publications - or your local centre (see sidebar).

Why does it seem as if those who have noble goals and great ideals have troubles follow them around?

ïeya<is bhuiv¸nanIit àisÏm!.5.
Shreyaamsi bahu-vighnaaniiti prasiddham ||5||
It is well know that great goals have many impediments.

We so often see or comment "oh that person is so good, why are they plagued with such problems in life?" It can appear that noble endeavours have to face many hurdles… but is it really so? Do not those who are not making an obvious mark in life face the same difficulties? Can it also not be that those we consider to be charlatans or rogues or lacking in morality appear to have no such difficulties and sail through life untouched?

The truth is there in all cases. Everybody will have their share according to their praarabdha, this is an inescapable fact. We care more about the effects when we think someone is rather more worthy, in the social context. This is a judgement call we make; if someone wishes to set up a community farm in a struggling village but has to deal with local councils and regulations, we feel a greater sympathy for them than we would for, say, the street thief who has his finger broken by someone trying to defend themselves. The thief is not known to us, but the philanthropist is. A harsh, but everyday fact. However, what makes the difference, regardless of nobility, is the handling of the troubles. Are they allowed to overwhelm? In the case of the thief we might think in terms of a lesson being taught and the chance being there to ponder his/her poor ways and taking a chance to change for the better. In the context of this verse though, we are looking at those who are doing the right thing. People deal with similar situations in many different ways. There are certainly some people who buckle under the pressure of troubles; some of them when the troubles seem to others as mere hiccups, others when the load has gone way beyond what many other folk would have considered manageable. There are some who fear even to begin their work out of fear of what might come in their way… a noble idea which is not followed up because of fear loses that nobility.

Then there are those who simply never give up. The goal is more to them than any obstacle and whilst they may be delayed, they will keep on keeping on. Sometimes this is at the cost of relationships and security. If one believes in something enough, there can be a cost. The belief is important. It doesn't have to be so great that we do in fact compromise our family or friendships, but to keep going is very important to the joy we will get from life. We can only get as much return as we are willing to invest, even if there is some risk.