* Why do students find Maths so hard?

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* Have you wondered what Ancient Indian Mathematicians like Bhaskaracharya, Brahmagupta, etc discovered?

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Upanishad Ganga – Episode 3 | KNOWLEDGE TRANSFORMS!

Points to Ponder from this episode:

uddhared atmanatmanam natmanam avasadayet
atmaiva hy atmano bandhur atmaiva ripur atmanah

The episode begins with the above lines (5th verse from 6th chapter of Bhagavad Gita) which means – ‘Lift yourself by yourself; and having lifted yourself, do not allow yourself to be dragged down. For this, Self alone is your friend and indeed this Self alone is your enemy.’

One of the most powerful lines from the Gita where Krishna tells Arjuna how to get up from where you have fallen. The very same message was given by Narada muni to Ratnakar when the latter returns dejected after having realized that even his wife and father are not ready to share the sin he has been incurring. Ratnakar is totally shattered and feels lonely in this world. At this juncture, Narada reminds him that ‘You alone are your friend and you alone are your enemy. (uddhared atmanatmanam – Lift yourself by yourself) Change your destiny using your Purushartha (Free-Will)’.

Purushartha – a very concept explained in Vedanta. Prarabdha (Destiny) is something that we face due to our actions of the past, based on the Scientific Law of Cause & Effect (Every Effect has a Cause). Destiny cannot be avoided. But how we face it, is our Free-Will (Purushartha). During the monsoon, rains cannot be avoided. But to remain inside the house or to get wet or to carry an umbrella is our Own Choice – our Free Will. The Upanishads cry out that Man does possess a Free Will using which he had be the Master of his Destiny. Ratnakar did just that. He did not get depressed and commit suicide. The words of Narada rang inside in his mind – uddhared atmanatmanam – Lift yourself by yourself! There is no one else who can help you out as much as you can.

Many a times, we have our family and friends who support and motivate us during difficult times. But sometimes, there is nobody. In such dire situations, this message uddhared atmanatmanam can be our savior; and not just a savior but it can take us to those heights that we might have never dreamt of!

Ratnakar argues with Narada that what he is doing is not sin. He gives a very logical argument backing his statement. One of the reasons why Ratnakar was so powerful was probably because he was so convinced with his logic and justification. He said, “Was it not sin that he (Ratnakar) did when he killed enemy soldiers? Was it not sin when he protected evil kings? Was not his acts of cruelty he performed as a soldier earlier in his life not sinful? So, how can you (Narada) say that this act of looting that I’m doing is sinful? Who decides what sin is and what is not?”

We can hear these dialogues in today’s world too. When we do a corrupt act of bribing a Govt officer or breaking some law, we justify ourselves by saying that ‘Who is not corrupt these days? The whole system is corrupt. If we need to live in this corrupt system, we are forced to be corrupt.’

Narada gives his wonderful reply in just one line, “Whatever you say for your justification, your act of sin is not going to be nullified by highlighting other acts of sin.”

Again, the law of Cause and Effect will decide one’s destiny depending on his actions and one cannot escape from it. At the same time, one can escape from incurring a sin by Choosing not to indulge in it using his Purushartha (Free-Will).

Another important factor covered in this episode is about Fear – one of the basic emotions of man. Why do we fear? What do we fear? Have we ever tried facing it?

Ratnakar was very brave and strong. He thought that he wasn’t scared of anybody, not even death. But Narada’s piercing questions, makes him think. Narada says, “Fear comes only when there is Duality.” We can see this clearly that we are fearless when we are in the company of our near and dear ones. We sense a feeling of oneness with them and hence are not scared about them. An Indian army officer is not scared when he is amongst his comrades (Feeling of Oneness or Non-Duality). But the moment he realizes that he has gone into the enemy’s territory (Feeling of Duality), fear grips him.

All great saints and sages were fearless because they saw everyone as the Lord Himself. They didn’t see duality in forms; they saw the Substance – the Essence in each and every one.


The episode ends with the below lines from Bhagavad Gita (Chapter 9, verse 30)

Api chet suduracharo bhajate mam-ananyabhak
Sadhureva sa mantavyah samyag-vyavasito hi sah

Meaning: (Krishna says) In case even a very wicked person worships Me (the Lord), with undivided devotion, he should be regarded as good and noble, for, he has rightly resolved.

Lift yourself by yourself; and having lifted yourself, do not allow yourself to be dragged down. For this, Self alone is your friend and indeed this Self alone is your enemy. Change your destiny using your Purushartha (Free-Will).

That is how Ratnakar Transformed to Valmiki. He Chose to change. He meditated upon the name of Lord Rama and Self-Knowledge donned upon him. And we all know how true the verse 30 or chapter 9 is…no one remember Ratnakar as an evil dacoit, but everyone remembers Valmiki as the one who composed the most beautiful poem – Ramayan!

Pujya Gurudev Swami Chinmayananda said, “Every person is a potential genius. Beneath every sinner is a sage but waiting for redemption and recovery. This self-development and self-discovery is accomplished through the technique called Meditation.”

असीम संभावनाओं का नाम ही मनुष्य है। “Man is the very personification of infinite possibilities.” Let us all remember this and take our steps towards our evolution. In Swami Chinmayananda’s words – Born Human, Grow Divine.

Upanishad Ganga – Episode 2 | THINK!

Points to Ponder from this episode:

 Why do children rebel? Why do people break laws? Isn’t it because they are seeking happiness but the existing circumstances do not give them happiness? But the question is, even after rebelling, Are They Happy? If we ask the question, ‘What is it that we want from life?’, different people might give different answers like ‘wealth, power, position, fame, etc.’. But we all seek these different things only with the thought that it will give us happiness. In short, whatever we do, we do it to be happy. Even when we kiss a child, it is not because we want to make the child happy, but because we gain happiness when we do that.

In this process of gaining happiness, we run behind so many things throughout our lives, thinking that all those things are going to give us happiness. If we look back at all those objects that gave us happiness at one point of time, we can see that the happiness we got from them was momentary. It disappeared after a while.

A batsman hit a ball high in the air and a fielder caught it. The bowler jumped with joy. But moments later he realized that the fielder’s leg had crossed the boundary line. All the joy was washed away. At one stage in our life, a big balloon had given us a lot of happiness. When we grew up, it was a racing car. Then it was a cycle, then a bike. Then probably a girlfriend or a boyfriend, then a partner of our dreams, then a beautiful child, then a job promotion…Were not all these joys momentary? Can we say that once we achieved our ambition, we were happy forever?

So, what is the ultimate formula for happiness? What is it that once we achieve It, It will give us permanent happiness? The scriptures say, the outside objects of the world can give us only momentary happiness. But once we take a ‘U-turn’ and turn within, we start walking a path that will ensure nothing else but permanent happiness. What is this ‘U-turn’? It is nothing but, trying to understand the ‘Subject’, the entity in us who is the experience of happiness. If happiness is in the objects, then the same object should give happiness to every person. Let us take an example of alcohol. If a drinker thinks that alcohol gives happiness to everyone, then it should give happiness to everyone at any point of time. Can this be true? Of course, not! Then why is it that certain people experience happiness when they consume alcohol? From where does this happiness arise? Let’s try to analyse this. ‘Sid comes alcohol.’ Here we have the ‘Subject’ (Sid) and the ‘Object’ (alcohol). In this very paragraph we analysed that happiness is not in alcohol (the Objects). If that is the case, the resulting happiness when alcohol is consumed has come from no one other than the Subject (because there are only two factors in this case – the subject and the object. If object cannot carry happiness, then it has to be the subject). So, it was Sid who was the source of happiness. That means, he was carrying happiness with him all the time but could not realize it until he consumed alcohol. Due to his ignorance, he thought that he gained happiness after consuming alcohol and that alcohol contains happiness.

Now, we have evaluated that happiness is in the Subject, i.e. it is in Us. If it is in us, then how to experience it always without depending on an object or an occasion to bring it out? How!

 Who decides our destiny?
Gandhari curses Krishna saying that Krishna could have prevented the Kurukshetra war and so many people would not have died. The answer to this question was given in the form of a question at the end of the episode – Who decides our destiny?

If what Gandhari said is true, then we should say that God decides our destiny. If that is so, then we all are helpless victims of what God decides. If that is correct, then why should we get punished for the negative actions performed by us, because it is ultimately God’s wish…HE is the one who wrote our destiny and HE is the one who got it done through us? If God does negative acts performed through us and gives us the punishment too, then God cannot be ever-loving, all-compassionate, ever-forgiving One. This is contradictory to what we all believe. We believe that God is compassionate towards all beings. He is not a cruel Father who can do such unjust things. Hence, we can conclude our assumption was wrong.

So, who then, decides our destiny – God or We ourselves?

 Why did Krishna give the knowledge of the Self only to Arjuna?
Very good question. This episode gives the answer too. Because, it was only Arjuna who had a doubt…who had a question. Rest everyone was so deeply involved in war that they could not think of anything else. But Arjuna thought that how he could gain happiness by killing his own kith and kin who are on the other side?

The teacher clears the doubt only of that student who has a doubt. For others, where is the doubt that the teacher can clear? Since Arjuna questioned, he got the answer.

In the movie Matrix, there’s a dialogue where Trinity tells Neo, “It is the question that drives us. It is the question that brought you here.” Questions come from the root word – Quest. If we are on a Quest, then we have Questions. And then it is sure that we would get the answers too!

The answer to all the above questions is – study of our scriptures, the Upanishads. The Upanishads are not religious texts, but Subjective Sciences which deals with our own Self. It answers questions like – What is the cause of our sorrow? Is it possible to be happy all the time? Who is responsible for our happiness?

 To conclude, let us quickly look at the dialogues between the Son and the Father towards the end of the episode.

Father: (after seeing the drama that enacted Upanishadic philosophy) Your work is far greater than mine.
Son: No, Father. There is a lot of difference between both of us. I’m just repeating the words of Truth. You are Living the Truth.

Upanishad Ganga – Episode 1

Points to Ponder from this episode:
You must know yourself (Your Self) before knowing anything else – This statement was reiterated twice in the episode. Why is it stressed upon so much?
One of the many reasons is…does it make any sense when one goes out to discover everything else in this world, but is unable to realize who he really is? Is he the body, is he the mind, is he the intellect, or is he beyond all that? If HE is beyond all that, i.e. if HE is not the body, mind or intellect, then why does HE get affected by factors affecting HIS body, HIS mind and HIS intellect?

Son: Why should we learn the Upanishads? They are irrelevant in today’s times.
Father: Do you know the relevance of what you are doing…you tell me? If you come to know your own relevance, then you let me know:

A very powerful question raised by the father. The son even though having studied Sanskrit (and probably a bit of the scriptures) does not know Why and How it is useful in today’s times. Since he cannot find any logical reason to this question, he comes to a conclusion that it is useless.
The father, a wise man well-versed with the scriptures, instead of shouting at him put across a couple of questions for him to think.
Do you know the relevance of what you are doing…you tell me? This question is not just for the son, but for all of us. Have we ever thought of the relevance of the things that we are doing in our lives? How are we leading our lives? Where are we heading to, if we continue to live a life like this? What are the relevance / importance of the things that we do daily? How of them are unimportant and how much time do we waste on them thus wasting our lives?
If you come to know your own relevance, then you let me know: Are our lives relevant/significant/important? Are we just another one or The One? Have we discovered The purpose of our lives? Have we discovered our relevance in the society? Think!

Changing clothes will not bring a change in the Atma (Soul) of the character – This is what Narendra, the son, tells his star cast of the theatre group when he wishes to do Shakespeare’s play in traditional Indian theme & dress. His friends argue that it will change the whole character if the outfit is changed.
The Script writer has put many messages in this dialogue of Narendra. If we take the literal meaning as ‘dress’, then we can analyse something like this: In the course of time, the way of living, dressing, eating, everything has changed. But that has not changed the Atma of Indians. Even though we might dress in the western way, the heart is still Indian.
There’s another meaning to dress and that is ‘our body’. Birth and death are changing bodies like changing clothes. The Self (the Soul) remains unaffected by whichever birth or body it takes. Changing bodies cannot bring a change in the Soul. The Soul in a dog is the same as the Soul in man.


Swami Chinmayananda once said, “In the West, genius men are accidents. But in the East, we knew how to manufacture genius people.”

Every great country has their own fields in which they show their greatness to the world. For India, it has been Spirituality that has earned her the top position since the beginning. The whole world has turned towards India for spirituality. Many countries of the west, after having prospered materially, found that the material success could not give happiness to its people. All the money, comforts and luxuries could not bring in family harmony, a good value system in the society or an ideal way of life to be led. They could not find answers questions like ‘What is the purpose of my life’, ‘Who am I?’, ‘Why is man unhappy?’, ‘Who created the Universe?’ etc. At such a point, when a major part of their lives passed, those people turned towards India for attaining that peace, serenity and answers to their questions.

India has never been a materially successful nation because our ancestors knew that material success is not something which can give them everlasting happiness. The ancient Rishis, the subjective scientists, in their laboratories of the caves of the Himalayas, discovered that to attain maximum happiness for maximum number of times, one needs to understand oneself before trying to understand the world. From the depths of their realizations, they proclaimed to the world that science of the Self (subjective science) can give guaranteed happiness in all walks of life. They wrote their realizations which form the Vedas. Vedas is a sum total of material sciences and subjective science (Self-Knowledge). In the last part of the Vedas, there comes Upanishads, which carry the most important aspect of the knowledge treasure. The Upanishads are written in story form which carries a deep essence within it. The story form gives it a sugar coating so that the moral goes inside smoothly.

The Vedas and Upanishads, as we all know, are written in Sanskrit. Long long ago, this knowledge was available to one and all because Sanskrit was commonly used everywhere in India. But after a lot of foreign invasions and a change in the educational system brought about by the British, the use of Sanskrit language declined thus taking people far away from this great knowledge – Knowledge about our Self!

Today, majority of us don’t even know what the Upanishads contain and how it is useful for the common man. The challenge that it is in Sanskrit adds to the difficulty. However, great saints like Swami Chinmayananda, wrote commentaries on these Upanishads in the language of the modern man – English; so that we can have easy access to it. And now, to make it freely accessible, Chinmaya Mission has brought about the stories which carry the essence of the Upanishads in the form of a tele-serial called Upanishad Ganga which is being telecasted since March 11th 2012, on DD National Channel (DD-1) every Sunday from 10 – 10:30 am (IST). That’s not all. To those who reside outside India and do not have access to Indian TV channels, it can be streamed online at the same time on the link

The language used is Hindi so that majority can understand. It’s old, yet new. It’s meant for you. This is not just a catchy caption but is the Truth. This serial is a golden opportunity for all of us to get a peep into the Upanishads free of cost, without any effort, relaxing on our easy chairs every Sunday morning. Let us make use of this golden opportunity to try and understand how India could produce so many great scientists, mathematicians, thinkers, spiritual masters, artists throughout history. Let us try to find out, why is India truly great.

In the following posts in this series, we shall see the essence of every episode in a nut-shell so that we can fall back on them whenever required.

Is the Creation Real?

– (a fictional story from the understandings from Swami Mitrananda’s talks on Kathopanishad)

(the story below is a continuation of a serious discussion that is taking place between a Teacher and his Student)

Teacher: Where are our thoughts taking place?

Student: In our minds.

Teacher: What is the Mind?

Student: Nothing but flow of thoughts.

Teacher: Good. Do thoughts occupy space?

Student: (Thinking) I’m not sure.

Teacher: Thoughts travel faster than the speed of light. Anything that travels faster than light cannot be matter. So, thoughts and Mind are not matter. Hence, they do not occupy space. If they do not occupy space, then are they in this space?

Student: (Wondering)

Teacher: Let’s try to analyse. Thoughts come and go in split seconds. From where do they come? Unto where they go? Is there a specific place from where they come?

Student: Never thought about it?

Teacher: Thoughts are able to travel so fast because they exist in a dimension that is subtler than space because of which they are able to travel faster than light.

Student: Wow!

Teacher: (Smiling) Next question. Can you show the exact place where mind is located in your body?

Student: Is it the brain?

Teacher: A torch is an instrument through which a battery can function. Similarly, brain is the instrument through which mind works. However, we cannot say that mind is in the brain. Mind is subtler than the brain. When the brain dies (a person dies), the mind and thoughts manifest through someone else. That is why, great people take up great initiatives and even if they die without fulfilling their dreams, it gets manifested through someone else. Swami Vivekananda once said, “If a person takes a strong thought and goes and locks himself inside a cave, and he dies there. The thoughts will penetrate through the rocks and come out. Such is the power of thoughts.” Let us take the examples of freedom fighters who laid down their lives with a dream of achieving freedom. Their thoughts were so strong that others took it up and fulfilled them.

Body is in the dimension of space. Mind is in a dimension subtler than space. Hence, mind cannot be inside the brain.
Student: You are talking about dimensions outside space, and probably time too. But how can we imagine something like that? Even the theory of creation is explained through space and time.

Teacher: To a questioning mind (intellectual mind), all these stories might sound confusing or even ridiculous. That is because he is thinking within the dimension of space and time.

Scientists keep coming with newer and newer theories of creation which usually contradicts the earlier theories. Religious scriptures (of every religion) have given out their theories of creation. To an intellectual mind, most of them sound like interesting stories. But the same person might accept a theory of creation given out with a world-famous scientist (without even questioning it).

Student: Yes. That’s because science is rational. It is based on proofs. We believe something only when it is proved.

Teacher: If that is so, why is the ‘Theory of Creation’ called a ‘Theory’ even by the scientists? Why don’t they say that it is the Truth?

Student: Because it’s a theory, or a hypothesis based on the study made by a scientist or group of scientists.

Teacher: You said it. It is JUST a ‘hypothesis’, an assumption, a probability. But we believe it so strongly that we ACCEPT it as the Truth because Science is saying this. Don’t we?

Student: So, do you mean to say that all these theories of creation given out differently in different religious scriptures are to be accepted too? If that is the case, then which one should we accept? All of them sound like a fairy tale to me.

Teacher: You are right. You might feel these stories like fairy tales but a child would not. If a child asks its grandmother how it rains, the granny would probably say that there is an elephant above the clouds who showers water from the sky and that’s how it rains. For the small child, this story might be enough to satisfy his question. But when the same child grows little old, he questions as to how an elephant can sit in the sky. When the granny sees that he has matured a bit, she gives another story – the elephant is Lord Indra’s elephant, and Lord Indra sits in heaven. His quest is at rest for some time but then he starts questioning Lord Indra’s existence and if there is something called as Heaven? The granny tries giving more stories but the boy is no longer interested in stories. He wants to know nothing, but the Truth. Granny is now happy that he is now seeking the Reality and tells him scientifically how it rains. Had the granny tried explaining him this science when he was very young, he would have got all the more confused.

Knowing this fact, the Rishis gave many stories of the Creation so that people who are of a questioning mind can satisfy their quest. But they knew that these stories would not keep them quiet for a long time and that they would keep enquiring deeper and deeper. And that, if they (the Rishis) could not answer their further questions, they would shun away religion like a bundle of beliefs and superstitions. Hence, the Rishis gave different stories for people who are at different stages of evolution. After a true seeker listens to all these stories, he becomes like the boy who is no longer interested in stories but to know what is the Truth.

To such a student in the Upanishads, the Rishis say, “Till now you were asking about the story of Creation and we gave you the story of Creation. But now, you have asked a deeper question – Is the Creation Real?”

When the student asks this question, the teacher understands that he has become more matured and can digest a Higher Truth. His level of intellect has risen to such a point that even objective sciences fail to answer his questions. To that student, the teacher says, “Contemplate upon this – Is the Creation Real – and Realise the Truth; for, this Truth cannot be explained. It has to be Realised. Explanations are for the Intellect. How can you explain something which is beyond the understanding of the Intellect?”

Student: (Astonished) I’m hearing things like this for the first time. But somewhere it rings a bell in me. I think I’m not matured enough to grasp the essence fully at the moment. I’ll surely contemplate on it.

Teacher: (Smiling) Good. We will wind up the session with a story. A Maths teacher gave a problem to a class of students. He said that it is the toughest problem that he has given till now. He also declared a prize for the one who could solve it. Everyone immediately started working on it. First they attempted individually. But when they saw that they are not able to come to a conclusion, they started working in groups. At some point, a group would arrive at a solution but then for some minor reason, the solution would be wrong. Still they kept trying and presenting their proofs. Days turned into weeks, weeks turned into months. Yet there was none who got the answer. Finally, after a year, they admitted their defeat and asked for the solution to the teacher. The teacher laughed and said, “The problem I gave you was wrong. How can you get a correct solution for a wrong problem?” The students surprisingly ask, “What do you mean?” The teacher replied, “What do you understand when I say, that the problem was wrong? It means, there was no problem at all! How can there be a solution if there is no problem at all? It was your mind that made the problem look real? Had you given a shift to your mind, you could have realized the unreality in the problem.”

With this story in mind, contemplate on these questions – When we try to find out the possible theories of Creation of this world, have we ever given a thought if the world is real? If yes, how? If not, why? Do not conclude anything immediately. Let your mind churn with these questions. Let not the answers come out as Theories but as Realisations.