Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Realize God

Like oil in sesame seeds, like butter
In cream, like water in springs, like fire
In firesticks, so dwells the Lord of Love,
The Self, in the very depths of consciousness.
Realize him through truth and meditation.

-Shvetashvatara Upanishad

Friday, November 23, 2007

Last Words

Things that are bad for you seduce you easily; you run towards them impatiently. But things that are actually good for you fail to attract you; you shun them creatively, finding powerful excuses to justify your procrastination. That is why i was impatient to abduct Sita, but avoided meeting you.

- A dying Ravana to Rama

How might a man overcome difficulties?
Bhishma (On his death bed): Never practise deceit. Behave with restraint, control all worldly desires. Do not speak when addressed in foul language, do not injure others; give, rather than take. Do not sin in thought, word or deed, never harm any creature. Always speak the truth even though your life may be at stake. Speak words which are agreeable, always spend your wealth well. Bow to all the gods, listen to the doctrines of all creeds, have Faith.

- Mahabharata

Tuesday, November 6, 2007


Friendship that insists upon agreement on all matters is not worth the name. Friendship to be real must ever sustain the weight of honest differences, however sharp they be.

-Mahatma Gandhi

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Infinite Self

Now I have given up
The body and the world,
I have a special gift.

I see the infinite Self.

As a wave,
Seething and foaming,
Is only water.

So all creation, Streaming out of the Self,
Is only the Self.

- Ashtavakra Gita

Monday, October 29, 2007

The Gita Says

Desire and the passions that arise from desire are the principal sign and knot of ego.

It is desire that makes you go on saying I and mine and subjects you through a persistent egoism to satisfaction and dissatisfaction, liking and disliking, hope and despair, joy and grief, to your pretty loves and hatreds, to wrath and passion, to your attachment to success and things pleasant and to the sorrow and suffering of failure and of things unpleasant.

Desire is the chief enemy of spiritual perfection.

Slay then desire; put away attachment to the possession and enjoyment of the outwardness of things.

Cast away liking and disliking, destroy preference and hatred, root out shrinking and repugnance.

Action will still be done in you because Nature is always at work; but you must learn and feel that your self is no the doer of the action.

Sri Aurobindo
'Essays on the Gita'

Saturday, October 27, 2007

The Message of the Gita

Existence is not merely a machinery of Nature, a wheel of law in which the soul is entangled for a moment or for ages; it is a constant manifestation of the spirit.

Life is not for the sake of life alone, but for God, and the living soul fo man is an eternal portion of the Godhead.

Action is for self-finding, for self-fulfilment, for self-realisation and not only for its own external and apparent fruits of the moment or the future.

Know then your self; know your true self to be God and one with the self of all others; know your soul to be a portion of God.

Live in what you know; live in the self, live in your supreme spiritual nature, be united with God and Godlike.

Offer, first, all yours actions as a sacrifice to the Highest and the One in you and to the Highest and the One in the World; deliver last all you are and do into his hands for the supreme and universal spirit to do through you his own will and works in the world.

Sri Aurobindo
'Essays on the Gita'

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Hinduism - An Introduction

The Religion of Divine Immanence and An Hereditary Graded Social Structure

Hinduism, dating from around 1500 B. C., is the oldest living religion having a membership (1982) of 477,991,300 confined largely to India. It is the most complex, diverse, and tolerant of the world's religions. One can find within Hinduism almost any form of religion--from simple animism to elaborate philosophical systems--which has ever been conceived or practiced by mankind. Hinduism has met the challenge of other religions, primarily, by absorbing them and their practices and beliefs into the mainstream of Hindu religious expression.

The Aryans (noble ones) invaded the Indus valley from Persia in the second millennium B.C. They were basically wandering nomads who spoke an Indo-European language which became the basis for Sanskrit. This early Aryan society developed into three basic socio-economic classes. The priests or Brahmins became the ruling class. The tribal chieftains and their warriors or Kshatriyas were next in line, with the commoners and merchants or Vaishyas rounding out the Aryan society. A fourth group, the conquered pre-Aryan people or Shudras, were at the bottom of society. Eventually these divisions developed into a religiously supported caste system.

The Vedas are the sacred scriptures of Hinduism. The four basic Vedic books are the Rig-Veda, the Yajur-Veda, the Sama-Veda, and the Atharva-Veda. Each of the Vedic books is divided into four parts. Each contains a section of hymns to the gods (Mantras), a section of ritual materials (Brahmanas), a section of guidance for hermits (Aranyakas), and a fourth section of philosophical treatises (Upanishads). The Mantra and Brahmana sections are the oldest materials with the Aranyakas and Upanishads added later. This Vedic literature evolved during the classical period of Hinduism.

The fourteen principal Upanishads form the basis of Hindu philosophy. They assume there is one reality, the impersonal god-being called Brahman. All things and beings are an expression of Brahman. Everything in the world and experience which is not Brahman is illusion (maya). All phenomenal existence (pleasure, worldly success, wealth) is illusion arising from ignorance of the true nature of reality. Those who continue in this ignorance are bound to life by the law of karma which keeps them endlessly in the cycle of birth, life, death, and rebirth. When man discovers the Path of Desire is not fulfilling he is ready to start on the Path of Renunciation. Here he recognizes his duty to others, family and community, and dedicates himself to a life of service. This is rewarding but he still yearns for infinite being, infinite awareness, and infinite joy.

To achieve these ultimates of experience we must realize the basic purpose of life is to pass beyond imperfection. That which is beyond the limitations and imperfections of life can be found within. Underlying our physical existence and personality is an infinite reservoir of reality. This infinite center of every life, this hidden authentic self or Atman is no less than Brahman, the Godhead. By detachment from the finite, illusory self and commitment to Atman-Brahman, we achieve infinite being, infinite awareness, and infinite joy.

This philosophy of the Upanishads is a reaction to the sacrificial, priestly form of worship in Hinduism. It emphasizes meditation as a means of worship and teaches that ignorance is man's basic plight. Historically, the priestly sections of the Vedas have directed the religion of the masses in India while the Upanishads have attracted a relatively small number of Indian intellectuals. Contemporary Western people who are attracted to Eastern thought tend to identify Hinduism with the philosophy of the Upanishads.

Classical Hinduism also produced the ethical Code of Manu which teaches that the caste system is divinely ordained. The first three castes (Brahmins, Kshatriyas, and Vaishyas) are "twice born" people while the Shudras are "once born" manual laborers. The only upward mobility through this caste system is by means of repeated incarnations. Although the caste system is outlawed in contemporary India, its social influence is still strong.

The Code of Manu also teaches the various stages through which a man is expected to pass in a successful life: student, householder, hermit, and wandering beggar. These stages are only for twice born men. Women should stay in the home under the protection and control of the chief male in the household. The code requires the cultivation of pleasantness, patience, control of mind, non-stealing, purity, control of senses., intelligence, knowledge, truthfulness, and non irritability. The killing of cows is listed among the greatest of sins.

The composition of the great epic poem, the Bhagavad-Gita, sometime between the second century B.C. and the third century A.D. marks the end of the period of classical Hinduism. The Bhagavad-Gita is found within the text of a much longer poem and is probably the most highly esteemed scripture of Hinduism. In the poem Arjuna, a Hindu knight, for the first time in the recorded history of Hinduism, raises the question of the propriety of killing people. He is answered by his charioteer, Krishna, who turns out to be an incarnation of the god Vishnu. Arjuna is told he must be loyal to his duty as a warrior and kill. The Gita also teaches a variety of means of personal salvation. One may achieve release from life (Nirvana) through asceticism, through meditation, through devotion to and worship of the gods, or through obedience to the rules of his caste,

After the close of the classical period subtle changes gradually appear in Hinduism. Out of the millions of major and minor gods, worship tended to center around the Trimurti: Brahma, the creator; Shiva, the destroyer; and Vishnu, the preserver. Among this trinity, Brahma receives the least attention. Shiva is the most popular probably because he is the god of sex and reproduction and appeals to the deprivation experienced by the masses. His various goddess consorts such as Kali are equally revered. According to mythology, Vishnu has appeared on earth in nine forms and will come a tenth time to bring the world to an end. Among his appearances are Krishna; Gautama, the Buddha; Matsya, the fish who saved Manu from the great flood; and Christ.

The majority of the people of India seek salvation through devotion to the gods while many of the wealthy and educated seek salvation through the way of knowledge. This intellectual Hinduism centers around six systems of philosophy: Samkhya, Yoga, Mimamsa, Vedanta, Vaiseshika, and Nyana. All claim to be based on the Vedas and revolve about common themes. The only basic difference among them is their view of ultimate reality. The Vedanta system is monistic and asserts that the only essence in the universe is Brahman; all else is illusion. The Samkhya, Yoga, Vaiseshika, and Nyana systems are dualistic and assert that the universe is composed of two forces, matter and spirit. The Mimamsa system is basically atheistic and teaches that salvation comes through the correct observance of Vedic rituals.

Jainism and Buddhism began as reform movements in Hinduism and it has absorbed much of their thinking. During the Middle Ages Hinduism and Islam competed for followers in India. The two religions are in many ways opposites and there has been much bloodshed in their struggles. Sikhism arose in an attempt to bring reconciliation between the two. Tradition credits the disciple Thomas for bringing Christianity to India. During the three centuries of British rule Christianity had considerable influence on the growing edge of Hinduism.

The nineteenth and twentieth centuries brought three main reform movements in Hinduism. Ram Mohan Roy, called the Father of Modern India, was a monotheist who tended to agree with Christian missionaries in their attempt to suppress the suttee, child marriage, polytheism, and idolatry in Hinduism. The greatest reformer was Sri Ramakrishna, a follower of non dualistic Vedanta, who believed there was one single reality, God, behind all religions and that truth is essentially one. His disciple, Dutt, later known as Vivekananda, became the first Hindu missionary to the modern world. He described Vedanta Hinduism as the mother of all other religions. The best known Indian reformer is Mohandas K. Gandi who was influenced by the teachings of Jesus and the Jain doctrine of non injury (ahimsa) espoused civil disobedience and nonviolence which were largely responsible for bringing India freedom from British rule. Gandi, in turn, became a major influence in the political thinking of Martin Luther King, Jr. and many of the leaders of the "peace movement" in Western Civilization.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007


My Child,
Rare is he, and blessed,
Who observes the ways of men
And gives up desire
For pleasure and knowledge,
For life itself.

-Ashtavakra Gita 9:2

Sunday, September 30, 2007


Never fear that old age will invade that
city; never fear that this inner treasure of all
reality will wither and decay. This knows no
age when the body ages; this knows no dying
when the body dies. This is the real city of
Brahman; this is the Self, free from old age,
from death and grief, hunger and thirst. In the
Self all desires are fulfilled.

-Chandogya Upanishad

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Good Deeds

Be unremitting in the doing of good deeds.
Do them with all your might and by every possible means.

Keep the mind free of impurity. That alone is the practice of virtue.

All else is nothing but empty display.

-Tirukkural 4:33-34

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Upanishad Verse

" Om Asato maa sad-gamaya;
tamaso maa jyotir-ga-maya;
mrtyor-maa amrutam gamaya.
Om Shaantih Shaantih Shaantih."

O Lord Lead me from the unreal to the real.
Lead me from the darkness to light.
Lead me from death to immortality.
May there be peace, peace, and perfect peace.

- a Sanskrit invocation from the Brihadaranyaka Upanishads 1.3.28).

Saturday, September 22, 2007

210 Golden Words of Swami Vivekananda

1. When there is a conflict between the heart and the brain, let the heart be followed.

2. A man of intellect can turn into a devil, but never a man of heart.

3. Religion is not a theoretical need but a practical necessity.

4. Renunciation does not mean simply dispassion for the world. It means dispassion for the world and also longing for God.

5. There is no misery where there is no want.

6. The secret of life is not enjoyment, but education through experience.

7. Every new thought must create opposition.

8. Renunciation is the withdrawal of mind from other things and concentrating it
on God.

9. Every man who thinks ahead of his time is sure to be misunderstood.

10. In this short life there is no time for the exchange of compliments.

11. Do not wait to cross the river when the water has all run down.

12. The greatest sin is fear.

13. Better the scolding of the wise than the adulation of the fools.

14. If you love God's creation more than God, you will be disillusioned.

15. Everything can be sacrificed for truth, but truth can't be sacrificed for anything.

16. God has become man, man will become god again.

17. If it is impossible to attain perfection here and now, there is no proof that we can attain perfection in any other life.

18. That part of the Vedas which agrees with reason is the Vedas, and nothing else.

19. If you want to do anything evil, do it before the eyes of your superiors.

20. Happiness presents itself before man, wearing the crown of sorrow on its head.

21. If one is a slave to his passions and desires, one cannot feel the pure joy of real freedom.

22. If you can't attain salvation in this life, what proof is there that you can attain it in the life or lives to come?

23. Never mind if your contribution is only a mite, your help only a little, blades of grass united into a rope will hold in confinement the maddest of elephants.

24. The cow never tells a lie, and the stone never steals, but, nevertheless, the cow remains a cow and the stone remains a stone. Man steals and man tells a lie, and again it is man that becomes the god.

25. When even man never hears the cries of the fool, do you think God will?

26. Strength is life, weakness is death.

27. Never are the wants of a beggar fulfilled.

28. We want the education by which character is formed, strength of mind is increased, the intellect is expanded, and by which one can stand on one's own feet.

29. Let the heart be opened first, and all else will follow of itself.

30. Tell the man his defaults directly but praise his virtues before others.

31. Activity is life and inactivity is death.

32. Salvation is not achieved by inactivity but by spiritual activities.

33. Even the least work done for others awakens the power within.

34. New things have to be learned, have to be introduced and worked out, but is that to be done by sweeping away all that is old, just because it is old?

35. The man who says he has nothing more to learn is already at his last grasp

36. As long as I live, so do I learn.

37. No one can save a person who hires a carriage to go from one street to another, and then complain of diabetes.

38. By the control of the subconscious mind you get control over the conscious.

39. It is the constant struggle against nature that constitutes human progress,
not conformity with it.

40. The very essence of education is concentration of mind, not the collecting of facts.

41. As we get further and further away from sense-pleasures, “knowledge for the sake of knowledge” becomes the supreme pleasure of mind.

42. It is through the many that we reach the one.

43. The soul is the circle of which the circumference is nowhere, but the center is the body. God is a circle whose circumference is nowhere, but whose center is everywhere.

44. The body itself is the biggest disease.

45. If any one of you believes what I teach, I will be sorry. I will only be too glad if I can excite in you the power of thinking for yourselves.

46. When the world is the end and God the means to attain that end, that is material. When God is the end and the world is only the means to attain that end, spirituality has begun.

47. The fear of God is the beginning of religion, but the love of God is the end of religion.

48. Do not give up anything! Things will give you up.

49. The sage is often ignorant of physical science, because he reads the wrong book- the book within; and the scientist is too often ignorant of religion, because he reads the wrong book- the book without.

50. Experience is the only source of knowledge.

51. Do one thing at a time and while doing it put your whole soul into it to the exclusion of all else.

52. Where there is life, there will be death; so get away from life if you want to get rid of death.

53. Records of great spiritual men of the past do us no good whatever except that they urge us onward to do the same, to experience religion ourselves.

54. We may read all the Bibles of the world, but that will not give us religion.

55. The brave alone can afford to be sincere.

56. The balance is so nice that if you disturb the equilibrium of one atom, the whole world will come to an end.

57. Save the spiritual store in your body by observing continence.

58. The wicked see in God wickedness. The virtuous see in Him virtue.

59. When good nectar is unattainable, it is no reason why we should eat poison.

60. Love to enemies is not possible for ordinary men.

61. Everything that comes from India take as true, until you cogent reasons for disbelieving it. Everything that comes from Europe take as false, until you find
cogent reasons for believing it.

62. The benefit of Yoga is that we learn to control instead of being controlled.

63. Never talk about the faults of others, no matter how bad they may be.

64. All quarrels and disputations concerning religion simply show that religion is not present.

65. You must not criticize others, you must criticize yourself.

66. What you have inside you is what you see in others.

67. Our business is to verify not to swallow.

68. How can that be loveless which causes love in me?

69. You cannot judge a man by his faults.

70. You must believe in yourself and then you will believe in God.

71. If you are pure, if you are strong, you, one man, is equal to the whole world.

72. Mother represents colorless love that knows no barter, love that never dies.

73. We trust the man in the street, but there is one being in the universe we never trust and that is God.

74. My motto is to learn whatever good things I may come across anywhere.

75. The secret of religion lies not in theories but in practice.

76. Seek for the highest, aim at the highest, and you shall reach the highest.

77. There is an ocean of difference between idleness and renunciation.

78. The self-seeking man who is looking after personal comforts and leading a lazy life, there is no room for him even in hell.

79. Hope is the greatest of all miseries, the highest bliss lies in giving up hope.

80. No one ever succeeded in keeping society in good humor and at the same time did great works.

81. Know that talking ill of others in private is a sin.

82. This Atman is not to be attained by one who is weak.

83. Whatever fosters materiality is no work.

84. Why look up to men for approbation, look up to God.

85. He who knows how to obey knows how to command.

86. Want of sympathy and lack of energy are at the root of all misery.

87. India is the only place where, with all its faults, the soul finds its freedom, its God.

88. It is the heart that conquers, not the brain.

89. All the strength is in you, have faith in it.

90. The body must go no mistake about that. It is better to wear out than to rust out.

91. In every attempt there are many obstacles to cope with, but gradually the path becomes smooth.

92. One must raise oneself by one's own exertions.

93. Both attachment and detachment perfectly developed make a man great and happy.

94. Where there is struggle, where there is rebellion, there is a sign of life, there consciousness is manifested.

95. Isn't it man that makes money? Where did you ever hear of money making man?

96. He who always speculates as to what awaits him in future, accomplishes nothing whatsoever.

97. Fear is one of the worst enemies.

98. If one intends to really find truth, one must not cling to comfort.

99. We manufacture our own heaven and can make a heaven even in hell.

100. The satisfaction of desire only increases it, as oil poured on fire makes it burn more fiercely.

101. Both happiness and misery are chains, the one golden, the other iron; but both are equally strong to bind us.

102. The world is neither true nor untrue, it is a shadow of truth.

103. Let us get rid of the little 'I' and let only the great 'I' live in us.

104. Concentration of the mind is the source of all knowledge.

105. Keep your thoughts on virtue; what we think we become.

106. What we are, we see outside, for the world is our mirror.

107. Resist not evil. Face it! You are higher than evil.

108. Anything we do ourselves, that is the only thing we do. -----

109. Be cautious now and do not bow, however sweet to chains.

110. Anything that brings spiritual, mental or physical weakness, touch it not with the toes of your feet.

111. Everything that has selfishness for its basis, competition as its right hand, and enjoyment as its goal, must die sooner or later.

112. This is a battlefield, fight your way out. Make your life a manifestation of will strengthened by renunciation.

113. Be the witness, never learn to react.

114. The Hindus believe that a man is a soul and has a body, while Western people believe he is a body and possesses a soul.

115. Of all the scriptures of the world, it is the Vedas alone which declare that the study of the Vedas is secondary.

116. I find that whenever I have made a mistake in my life, it has always been because self entered into the calculation.

117. Never forget that a man is made great and perfect as much by his faults as by his virtues.

118. If a bad time comes, what of it? The pendulum must swing back to the other side. But that is no better. The thing to do is to stop it.

119. This world is our friend when we are its slaves and no more.

120. Whatever others think or do, lower not your standard of purity, morality, and love of God.

121. The road to the Good is the roughest and steepest in the universe. Character has to be established through a thousand stumbles.

122. Eating, drinking, dressing, and society nonsense are not things to throw a life upon.

123. He who is always afraid of loss always loses.

124. Any amount of theoretical knowledge one may have; but unless one does the thing actually, nothing is learnt.

125. Don't yield to sorrow; everything is in God's hands.

126. In our moments of anguish, gates barred for ever seem to open and let in many a flood of light.

127. Every bit of pleasure will bring its quota of pain, if not with compound interest.

128. If one gets one blow, one must return ten with redoubled fury, then only one is a man.

129. Don't let egoism to enter your minds, and let love never depart from your hearts.

130. It is a land of dreams; it does not matter whether one enjoys or weeps; they are but dreams, and as such, must break sooner or later.

131. He whose joy is only in himself, whose desires are only in himself, he has learned his lessons.

132. I have worked for this world, Mary, all my life, and it does not give me a piece of bread without taking a pound of flesh.

133. Devotion to the mother is the root of all welfare.

134. It is religion, the inquiry into the beyond, that makes the difference between man and animal.

135. Dare to be free, dare to go as far as your thought leads, and dare to carry that out in your life.

136. Every idea that strengthens you must be taken up and every thought that weakens you must be rejected.

137. The same fire that cooks a meal for us may burn a child, and it is no fault of the fire if it does so; the difference lies in the way in which it is used.

138. Whatever you think, that you will be.

139. The moment you quarrel, you are not going God ward, you are going backward, towards the brutes.

140. First learn to obey, the command will come by itself.

141. If there is any sin in the world, it is weakness; avoid all weakness, for weakness is sin, weakness is death.

142. In other countries great priests try to trace their descent to some king, but here the greatest kings would trace their descent to some ancient priest.

143. We, as Vedantists, know for certain that there is no power in the universe to injure us unless we first injure ourselves.

144. Faith, faith, faith in ourselves, faith, faith in God – this is the secret of greatness.

145. To have the ideal is one thing, and to apply it practically to the details of daily life is quite another thing.

146. One ounce of practice is worth twenty thousand tons of big talk.

147. Let not your work produce results for you, and at the same time may you be never without work.

148. Religion is not in books, nor in theories, nor in dogmas, nor in talking, not even in reasoning. It is being and becoming.

149. This Atman is not to be reached by too much talk, no, not even by the highest intellect, no, not even by the study of Vedas themselves.

150. Whoever has dared to touch our literature has felt the bondage, and is there bound for ever.

151. If you have assimilated five ideas and made them your life and character, you have more education than any man who has got by heart a whole library.

152. No good comes out of the man who day and night thinks he is nobody.

153. Follies there are, weakness there must be, but remember your real nature always – that is the only way to cure the weakness, that is the only way to cure the follies.

154. Everything in this life is fraught with fear. It is renunciation alone that makes one fearless.

155. The true man is he who is strong as strength itself and possesses a woman's heart.

156. Verily, these three are rare to obtain and come only through the grace of God - human birth, desire to obtain Moksha, and the company of the great-souled ones.

157. Why should you feel ashamed to take the name of Hindu, which is your greatest and most glorious possession.

158. This religion is so great that even a little of it brings a great amount of good.

159. Don't believe what others say unless you yourselves know it to be true.

160. Rise at the expense of another? I did not come to earth for that.

161. Show your power by suffering.

162. Our misery comes, not from work, but by our getting attached to something.

163. The man who can't believe in himself, how can you expect him to believe in anything else?

164. It is better to do something; never mind if it proves to be wrong; it is better than doing nothing.

165. If we can't follow the ideal, let us confess our weakness, but not degrade it; let not any try to pull it down.

166. If a man possesses everything that is under the sun and does not possess spirituality, what avails it?

167. First form character, first earn spirituality and results will come of themselves.

168. If we sit down and lament over the imperfection of our bodies and minds, we profit nothing; it is the heroic endeavor to subdue adverse circumstances that carries our spirit upwards.

169. Truth, purity and unselfishness – wherever these are present, there is no power below or above the sun to crush the possessor thereof.

170. No claim is made by the doer of great deeds, only by lazy worthless fools.

171. To know God is to become God.

172. Bring in the light; the darkness will vanish of itself.

173. Ours not to question why, ours but to do and die.

174. Education is the manifestation of the perfection already in man. Religion is the manifestation of the divinity already in man.

175. Conscious efforts lead the way to super-conscious illumination.

176. Who commits mistakes, the path of truth is attainable by him only.

177. He, the brave alone, can deny the self.

178. And if this Maya is so beautiful, think of the wondrous beauty of the Reality behind it.

179. For one thing we may be grateful; this life is not eternal.

180. When the mind tries to think of anything else, give it a hard blow, so that it may turn around and think of God.

181. If I am impure, that is also of my own making, and that very thing shows that I can be pure if I will.

182. Stand and die in your own strength; if there is any sin in the world, it is weakness; avoid all weakness, for weakness is sin, weakness is death.

183. I do not know whether I succeed or not, but it is a great thing to take up a grand ideal in life and then give up one's whole life to it.

184. In the west, they are trying to solve the problem how much a man can possess, and we are trying here to solve the problem on how little a man can live.

185. It is the change of the soul itself for the better that alone will cure the evils of the world.

186. Teach yourself, teach every one his real nature, call upon the sleeping soul and see how it awakes.

187. Power will come, glory will come, goodness will come, purity will come, and everything that is excellent will come, when this sleeping soul is roused to self conscious activity.

188. You have done well; only try to do better.

189. Work out the salvation of this land and of the whole world, each of you thinking that the entire burden is on your shoulders.

190. Let not the fire die out.

191. Is it such a bad choice in this world to think, not of matter but of spirit, not of man but of God?

192. If you attempt to get the secular knowledge without religion, I tell you plainly, vain is your attempt.

193. Anything that makes you weak physically, intellectually, and spiritually, reject as poison; there is no life in it; it cannot be true.

194. Love opens the most impossible gates; love is the gate to all the secrets of the universe.

195. Never let curses rise on your lips.

196. Feel that you are great and you become great.

197. You can't help anyone, you can only serve: serve the children of the Lord, serve the Lord himself, if you have the privilege.

198. The moment you fear you are nobody. It is fear that is the great cause of misery in the world.

199. Struggle for that Grace.

200. If a man goes towards what is false; it is because he can't get what is true.

201. Knowledge is the finding of unity in diversity, and the highest point in every science is reached when it finds the underlying unity in all variety.

202. Obey the scriptures until you are not strong enough to do without them.

203. Help, if you can; if you can't fold your hands and stand by and see things go on.

204. Until a man becomes a prophet, religion is a mockery.

205. Be not in despair; the way is very difficult, like walking on the blade of a razor. Yet despair not; arise, awake, and find the ideal, the goal.

206. Death is better than a vegetating ignorant life; it is better to die on the battlefield than to live a life of defeat.

207. When you find yourselves suffering, blame yourselves, and try to do better.

208. The highest direction is that which takes us to God; every other direction is lower.

209. Understand my words in their true spirit and apply yourselves to work in their light.

210. I want the why of everything. I leave the how to children.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Self Realization

Don't wave lights and incense, or offer flowers and food. He is found effortlessly when worshipped through self-realization alone.

Principles and practice of karma yoga

Karmayoga or Yoga of action is based upon the following principles:

  • Man cannot escape from performing actions, howsoever he may live. Therefore man should not renounce actions.
  • True renunciation means renunciation of the desire for the fruit of ones action, not the action itself.
  • The deluded man thinks egoistically that "I am the doer," not realizing that it is Nature which engage men in actions through the triple gunas of sattva (purity), rajas (passion) and tamas (crudeness).
  • Actions that are performed out of desire for the fruit of action and with a sense of doership bind men to the mortal world.
  • In performing actions one should follow the example of God who engages Himself in actions though there is nothing for Him to do or achieve in all the worlds.
To become perfect in karmayoga a devotee should approach men of knowledge, prostrate before them and know from them what is action and what is inaction. He should also cultivate the following qualities or virtues:

  • Detachment
  • Equanimity of Mind
  • Elimination or Control of Desires; especially desire for the fruit of his actions
  • Surrender to God
  • Egolessness
  • Singleminded Devotion to God

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Famous Quotings

After a study of some forty years and more of the great religions of the world, I find none so perfect, none so scientific, none so philosophical and none so spiritual than the great religion known by the name of Hinduism.
- Annie Wood Besant

That which we call the Hindu religion is really the eternal religion because it embraces all others.
- Sri Aurobindo

Saturday, September 1, 2007

Bhagavad - Gita: Summary

Bhagvad-Gita is one of the holiest books of Hinduism. It is a part of the Mahabharata, a great epic. The name Bhagvad-Gita means Song of the Lord. It is written in the ancient Indian language of Sanskrit. The Bhagvad-Gita is often called simply the Gita (song). Scholars such as Shankara (also known as Shankaracharya), who lived in India in the A.D. 700's, have written commentaries on it. The Bhagavad Gita is the archetype of Yoga scripture and constantly refers to itself as such, the 'Scripture of Yoga'. The Gita is part of Book Six of the Mahabharat, the great Indian epic poem. It consists of 700 verses divided into 18 chapters, and may have been added to the main work during the A.D. 100's and 200's.

Lord Krishna and Arjuna

Gita made little religious impact until Shankaracharya's commentary appeared. From this time onward, it had an important influence on Hinduism. Krishna, presented in the poem as Vishnu in the flesh, is the spiritual teacher who recited the Gita. The Bhagvad-Gita consists of a dialogue between Krishna and Arjun on the battlefield of Kurukshetra (in present day Haryana). That is where the royal cousins, the Pandavs and the Kouravs, face each other for the decisive battle to end their long-running feud. The Bhagvad-Gita debates the rights and wrongs of conflict. It also discusses a person's duty to himself or herself, to his or her fellow humans, and to God. It explores God's relationship to humans. It shows how people can begin to understand God and so free themselves from the burden of Karma (deeds done in previous lives and in this present life).

The Bhagavadgita teaches how to escape from this predicament, not by mere escape from the burdens of the worldly life, or avoidance of responsibilities, but by remaining amidst the humdrum of life and facing them squarely with a sense of fearlessness, detachment and stability of mind accepting God as the Doer.

According to the Bhagavadgita, salvation is not possible for those who want to escape from life and activity. Those who remain amidst society, unafraid of the burdens of life, and live a life of sacrifice fully surrendering to God are in fact more qualified for it.

Those who are prepared to go through the battles of life, through self-discipline, stability of mind, detachment, surrendering to God with full devotion, wisdom , right discrimination and knowledge, are qualified to attain liberation and union with the Supreme.

The Bhagavadgita is the story of Arjuna, who was suddenly overcome by sorrow in the middle of battle field and stood confused and withdrawn. Lord Krishna, who was his charioteer in the battle field, teaches him, out of extreme compassion and love, the paths of right action, right knowledge and right devotion.

Krishna instructs Arjun on the three ways to union with God. The first is Karma-Yoga (the Way of Action). Each person should do his or her duty according to caste, without hope of personal benefit or ambition, but with faith in God. Those who go through the motions of performing rituals without care or interest, or do their work only for profit, will never achieve release from the cycle of birth, death, and rebirth. Only if a person acts with his or her mind fixed on Brahman (God) will he or she become free, at peace, and at one with God. Anyone in that state feels no disturbing desires. Where there is no desire there is no disappointment, and there are no competitive stirrings of ambition. In work one's sole ambition should be to serve as an example to others, so that they too may do their duty.

The second way is Jnana-Yoga (the way of Knowledge). By this means, the contemplative person can best seek union with God. Such a person should have self-control and spend much of his or her time in meditation. Through God's grace, he or she will come to realize that Brahman and Atman are one. Arjun asks which of these two paths is best. Krishna replies that the result will be the same whichever path is followed. The end means absorption in Brahman, the unchanging, the eternal. The entire universe exists in and because of Brahman, but few are sufficiently advanced to perceive this Being. Most people are absorbed with their own petty, temporary concerns, which are only 'maya' (illusion), which cannot last but must pass away in time.

The third way is Bhakti-Yoga (the Way of Devotion). This is one of the most important contributions made by the Bhagvad-Gita to the development of modern Hinduism. Krishna becomes the Ishvara (personal God), who may be worshipped as a spirit or as an image by his followers. He will accept any offering, however humble, as long as it is made with love. Every worshipper who approaches with a loving heart is welcomed. Union with God, and release from the suffering of birth and rebirth, is available to all through devotion to Krishna.

The following points have been selected carefully from the Bhagavadgita so as to reflect the central theme of Lord Krishna's teachings.

  • The body is unreal. It is like a garment worn by the self. The self is real and permanent. It is not subject to death or destruction. It is an aspect of the Supreme Self.
  • A man with unstable mind is not fit for salvation. Instability of the mind is due to attachment and desire for sense objects. The mind is kept restless by the wandering senses.
  • Through self-discipline a devotee can control the activity of the senses, develop detachment from the sense objects and achieve tranquility of the mind. With the attainment of tranquility of mind all his sorrows would come to an end. He can then easily establish his mind in God and achieve union with Him.
  • A man should perform his allotted duty, for action is superior to inaction. But while performing actions he should not think that he is the doer nor he should have any attachment for the work he is doing.
  • The Karmayogi performs actions only with his senses, mind, intellect and body, giving up all attachment for his inner purification, offering the fruit of his actions to God. Mentally renouncing all actions and self-controlled, he lives in his body happily, neither acting nor making others act. Offering the fruit of actions to God, he attains peace in the form of Self-realization. He becomes one with God and attains liberation.
  • God dwells in the body as the inner witness. At the time of death he who remembers God alone, attains Him without any doubt. Therefore one should remember Him at all times, with mind and intellect absorbed in Him. By constant practice of yoga, his mind without thinking anything else, constantly meditating on Him, he attains the Supreme Divine.
  • In summary according to the Bhagavadgita a man should not renounce action or performance of his duty. He should do his works, but with a sense of detachment, with a steady mind and with self-discipline, casting away egoism and all other negative qualities, without any desire for the fruits of his actions, with a sense of sacrifice, completely surrendering to God and fully devoted to Him, offering the fruit of his actions to Him and partaking the remains of the nectar in the form of sacrifice.
  • Actions performed in this manner do not bind men. Always engaged in some action, taking shelter in Him, by His grace, he attains the eternal, imperishable Abode.

Friday, August 31, 2007

List of Brahmin Communities

The following is a list of Brahmin communities of India. It is documented here for anthropological research purposes. Please suggest additions/corrections to -

List of Brahmin Communities
(in alphabetical order)

* Anavil Brahmins
* Ashtasahasram Iyers
* Aravttokkalu Brahmins
* Audichya Brahmins
* Babburkamme Smartha Brahmins
* Badagnadu Smartha Brahmins
* Barendra Brahmins of Bengal
* Bhumihar Brahmins
* Brahatcharanam Iyers
* Daivajna Brahmins
* Dadhichi Brahmins (Derived from Maharshi Dadhichi)
* Deshastha Brahmins
* Devrukhe Brahmins of Konkan region in Maharashtra
* Dhima Brahmins
* Dravida Brahmins (originally from Tamilandu, migrated to parts of Godavari and Srikakulam in Andhra Pradesh)
* Embranthiri Brahmins of Kerala
* Gaur Brahmins
* Gouda Saraswat Brahmins
* Gurukkal or Shivacharya Brahmins
* Havyaka Brahmins
* Hebbar Iyengars
* Hoysala Karnataka Brahmins
* Jijhotia Brahmins
* Kandavara Brahmins
* Kanyakubj or Kanaujia Brahmins
* Karhada or Karade Brahmins of Karhad region of Maharashtra
* Kashmiri Saraswats or Kashmiri Pundits
* Kayastha Brahmins
* Kerala Iyers
* Khajuria or Dogra Brahmins of Jammu
* Khandelwal Brahmins
* Khedawal Brahmins
* Konkanastha or Chitpavan Brahmins
* Konkani Saraswat Brahmins
* Kota Brahmins
* Koteshwara Brahmins
* Kudaldeshkar Brahmins
* Madras Iyengars
* Madhwa Brahmins
* Maithili Brahmins
* Malwi Brahmins
* Mandyam Iyengars
* Modh Brahmins
* Mohyal Brahmins
* Muluknadu Brahmins
* Nagar Brahmins
* Namboothiri Brahmins
* Nandimukh or Nandwana Brahmins of Gujarat and Rajasthan area.
* Naramdeo or Narmdiya Brahmins
* Niyogi Brahmins
* Padia Brahmins
* Paliwal Brahmins
* Pottee Brahmins of Kerala
* Punjabi Saraswat Brahmins
* Pushpaka Brahmins
* Rajapur Saraswat Brahmins
* Rahri Brahmins of Rahr region of Bengal
* Rigvedi Deshastha Brahmins
* Sakaldwipi Brahmins
* Saklapuri Brahmins
* Sanadhya Brahmins mainly of western Uttar Pradesh
* Sanketi Brahmins
* Sarwaria Brahmins
* Sarypari Brahmins of Eastern Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh
* Sirinadu Smartha Brahmins
* Shrimali Brahmins
* Shivalli Brahmins
* Smartha Brahmins
* Srigaur Brahmins
* Sthanika Brahmins
* Suryadwij Brahmins (of Kota region in Rajasthan)
* Thenkalai (a.k.a.Thengalai) Iyengars
* Tuluva Brahmins
* Utkal Brahmins
* Uluchakamme Brahmins
* Vadagalai Iyengars
* Vadama Iyers
* Vaidik or Vaidiki Brahmins
* Vaishnava Brahmins
* Vathima Iyers
* Yajurvedi Deshastha Brahmins

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Adi Shankaracharya

Shankaracharya is the first among the three acharyas who reformed Hindu religion by giving their own interpretation to the ancient sacred texts. At the time, the vedic texts which have come down to Indians through the ages and only orally studied were the monopoly of a certain class. This knowledge was known as shruti, or learning by careful listening. The vedas were in very old esoteric language were beyond the reach of the common man. The tremendous task of interpreting the true catholic spirit of Hindu philosophy was yet to be undertaken, and the three acharyas, Shankaracharya (c 788 - 820 AD), Ramanujacharya (11th century AD), and Madhwacharya (13th century AD) -- all hailing from southern part of India are credited for the status of present day Hindu thought and philosophy.

Adi Shankaracharya

Shankara's arrival on the scene was at a most critical juncture when both Buddhism and Hinduism were fast disintegrating into various sects and cults. Buddha's original teachings were a reaction to the vedic sacrificial extremities. But in the later centuries practices like magic and sexual mysticism crept into Buddhism. Vedic religion was not very different, having given way to superstitious ways, and a large number of rituals. It was Shankara who tried to re-assess and integrate sound teachings of Buddha in the vedic (Hindu) following, and was successful in the revival and reformation of Hindu thinking and way of life.

Shankara was born of poor but pious Nambudiri Brahmin couple in the Kaladi village of the Kerala kingdom. He lost his father early. Shankara has ascetic leanings from the beginning and he wanted to put to use all of the knowledge he could acquire for the better use of the society. He was the couple's only child and the mother resisted her son becoming a monk giving up all worldly life. It took great persuasion on Shankara's part to win her over. He promised attending on her final hour.

He went in search of a guru for further spiritual guidance and studied under Govinda Bhagavatpada, who was a famous disciple of the great saint Gowdapadacharya. Gowdapadacharya advocated monism or advaita. All the learning Shankara mastered was put to use through his brilliant eloquence. Dialetics, logic and semantics were the primary areas of scholarhood in those days, and the only means to achieve supremacy was to argue and win debates in august assemblies of scholars. Shankara argued and won over many great scholars of his time belonging to different faiths. He established that the original teaching of the vedas was that God is one and the study of vedas is the only way to salvation.

At the time Vedic texts were summarized in brief aphorisms. The basic texts of vedic knowledge was preserved in Brahmasutras of Badarayana, a work of First century A.D. This was known as the main composition of Vedanta (literally meaning "End or culmination of Vedas", used sometimes as culmination of Indian thought). Shankara wrote a brilliant and convincing commentary on Brahmasutras which were accepted throughout India. He wrote commentary of Bhagavad-Gita, chief Upanishads and other philosophic works. He is created beautiful compositions in praise of God and Mother Goddess. Vedanta and its interpretation by Shankara is accepted and revered even by modern theologists including Swami Vivekananda and Aurobindo.

Shankara then took missionary work traveling the entire country (what is India today, then consisting of numerous feudal kingdoms). He established four muthas (or monasteries) in the four corners of the Hindu land -- Kashmir in the North, Dwaraka in theWest, Puri in the East and in Sringeri in the South. These institutions are operational till today (year 2003), with innumerable followers upholding Shankara's adwaitism. These muthas and the pilgrims who visited them held India together as one nation for more than twelve centuries! All the heads of these institutions are today known as Shankaracharyas and wield tremendous political power in India. To distinguish these pontiffs from the first preceptor, Shankara is referred to as Adi Shankaracharya or Jagadguru (Universal teacher).

Shankara did not forget his old mother or the promise he had made. Tradition records that he was by his mother's side in her final moments. He then arranged for her funeral, although he himself was an ascetic, "dead" to the world.

While Shankaracharya criticized Buddhism in its decayed form, he assimilated many tenets of Buddhism cleverly, like that of nirvana (void). It was Shankaracharya who was responsible to absorb Buddha into Hinduism and recognize Buddha as an avatar (incarnation) of God !

Shankaracharya was only thirty-two years old at the time of his death. But his life's mission was complete. Revival and reformation of original vedic religion, which is considered intellectual Hinduism is alive to this day.