Why do we need a Guru? Who is a disciple? | Excerpts from GURU-STOTRAM talks, Part 2

…continued from https://vinayrnair.wordpress.com/2013/02/04/guru-stotram-part-1/

Moving ahead to the next question – Why do we need a Guru…why can’t we learn from books?

A simple answer given by Swami Chinmayananda to this question is, ‘Why don’t you ask this question to a book?’

The answer is self-explanatory. Not just that, while one is on a spiritual path and studying the scriptures on his own, there’s a chance that he might misinterpret something in it. This can be really dangerous. Hence, there arises the need of someone wise and knowledgeable enough, who has walked the path, to guide him the right way.

A Guru acts like a role model to his disciple. When the student is trying to grasp the idea of an ideal which is beyond intellectual comprehension, in the Guru he sees the ideal, in flesh and blood, whom he can look up to and pursue his path of spiritual journey.

As the disciple starts gaining some knowledge, he might start feeling that he has become another Guru and his ego goes up. At this point, the Guru crushes his ego, for; the ego is the one of the biggest hurdle in one’s evolution.


A Guru acts as an altar at which the disciple can surrender himself. The act of surrendering is very important in the life of a seeker. The attitude of surrender gives a lot of strength to the seeker and he feels secured that since he is working with an attitude to serve God, Guru will take care of him and he doesn’t have to worry. The disciple also dedicates his achievements at the feet of the Guru which in turn prevents his ego to get stronger. The disciple starts seeing his own work as the manifestation of his Guru’s vision. He starts realizing that it is not by his own merits, but the Guru’s grace that is working wonders. Thus the altar of surrender becomes very important for a seeker.

A disciple should have four types of faith:

1. Faith in the existence of a Higher Reality.

2. Faith in the scriptures.

3. Faith in the Guru.

4. Faith in himself.

Among the above, if he has only faith in the Guru, then also he will be saved.

Now that we have discussed who’s a Guru, the question is, ‘who is a disciple?

Gurudev Swami Chinmayananda gives a simple definition of a disciple – One who submits himself to discipline (of the mind) is a disciple. No learning is possible without proper discipline.

The scriptures also indicate the way to approach a Guru. One needs to be intelligent enough as to how to approach a Guru. Will one go and ask a Doctor about a legal advice in a civil case? In the same way, when one goes to a Guru, he should choose his questions very carefully. Guru is there to lift us up spiritually. If we go and ask them about family issues, cause of delay in our child’s marriage, etc., it would be really stupid. Guru may answer those questions but he’s sitting there for our spiritual upliftment not for solving petty domestic issues.


The Upanishads say that one should go to a Guru as a Mumukshu. A mumukshu is one who desires nothing else from the Guru but liberation.


…to be continued


Meaning of the word ‘Guru’ | Excerpts from GURU-STOTRAM talks, Part 1

Who is a Guru? Why do we need a Guru when we have books to guide us? How do we know if we have chosen the right Guru? These are a few common questions that usually come to the mind of a seeker. Below are the understandings taken down during a session given by Swami Swatmananda ji in Sandeepany Sadhanalaya, Powai for the Chinmaya Yuva Kendra (CHYK) on 3rd Feb 2013 .

Guru Gita, hymns in the glorification of Guru, a collection of around 200 verses, finds its source in Skanda-Purana as a conversation between Lord Shiva and Parvati. Pujya Gurudev Swami Chinmayananda took 15 verses from it and gave it the present day form and named it ‘Gurustotram‘.

What is the meaning of the word ‘Guru’?

The word ‘Guru’ has several meanings. One meaning is: ‘Gu’ means ‘darkness’, ‘Ru’ means ‘remover’. So Guru is none other than the one who removes darkness, the darkness of ignorance and bestows upon the light of Knowledge.

Another meaning of ‘Gu’ is ‘Bhava-roga’, the disease of ‘Bhava’ (pronounced as Bhava not Bhaava). What does ‘Bhava’ mean? One meaning of ‘Bhava’ is worldly matters. But the actual meaning of the word ‘Becoming’.

Right from childhood we are trained to ‘become’ someone or something. When do we get the feeling of ‘becoming’, when we are not Complete. Every action of ours is with an aim to gain happiness, be it a job, winning a competition, getting married, or even seeking the company of a good friend. The scriptures try to tell us that our nature itself is happiness and that we are complete in ourselves. However, in our journey we have forgotten our true nature and try to seek happiness outside in the ever-changing impermanent world. It is very difficult for the common man to apprehend this idea, let alone experiencing it. Guru is the One who removes this disease of ‘becoming’ in us and make us realise every moment that we are That Absolute Reality which pervades the entire Universe. He reminds us that ‘Becoming’ is not what is required, all we need to do is – ‘Just Be’. By giving the knowledge of our own Being, the one who brings us back from ‘becoming’ is our Guru.

One might get a doubt that does the above mean we should never have goals in life? Is having a goal not good? One can have two types of goals – Goals in life and Goal of life. Goals in life are the goals of getting a good job; getting married to the person you love, seeing your children becoming successful, etc. However, these are only goals ‘in’ life. What ultimately is the goal ‘of’ life? What is the purpose of our birth? Is it only to achieve material success, get married, raise children, achieve a place in the society or even making the world a better place to live? Are these the only purposes of life? It is like the story of a pilgrim who sets on to a long pilgrimage. On the way, he might go to a good restaurant to eat food, do some shopping on the way, make new friends, enjoy the beauty enroute, etc. He can do all these things. But what if he forgets why he has set foot on this journey and takes a detour to enjoy all the fantasies he comes across? Then the purpose of the pilgrimage is lost. He forgot the purpose why he is on this journey.

In the same way, no doubt goals in life are good and make our life enjoyable. But in the process, one should never forget his goal ‘of’ life, which is to realize his true nature.

The third meaning of Guru goes like this. The word ‘Gu’ also represents ‘Gunateeta‘ (the one who is beyond all qualities) and ‘Ru’ resens ‘Roopateeta‘ (the one who is beyond any form). The three Gunas – satva, rajas and tamas does not affect a Master who has gone beyond the three gunas just like how gravity cannot pull down an object that has crossed the atmosphere and gone into 417space. Self-Realised Masters, even though they appear to us in their physical bodies, are the ones who have gone beyond their forms. Their realm of existence is not at the body level. They are nowhere affected by physical troubles. Such Masters, whose lives are engrained in the Truth and who stand firmly grounded in the Truth, they are the ‘Gurus’.

The fourth meaning of ‘Guru’ is – the one who swallows the sins of his devotees.

The fifth meaning of ‘Guru’ is – heavy. Heavy as in the one who is strongly rooted in the Absolute Truth.

There are many more meanings of the word Guru which truly adds on to the beauty of the Sanskrit language.

…to be continued

What will you call Him?

Will you call him a Visionary because the projects he had envisioned materialized even after he left his mortal body?
Will you call him a Saint because he learnt, taught and lived the way prescribed in the scriptures?
Will you call him a Leader because wherever he went, he had a lot of followers?
Will you call him a Spiritual Dynamo because he could inspire the youth even when he was 77?
Will you call him an Administrator because he could head more than 200 centres worldwide, manage 80 schools, and administer hundreds of projects at the same time?
Will you call him a Writer because he wrote so many books and commentaries on the scriptural texts?
Will you call him a Speaker because leaving the audience mesmerized by his speeches was a common phenomenon?
Will you call him a Psychologist because he could study the psyche of almost anybody?
Will you call him an Architect because he could give structural designs (even though not from an Engineering background) for the institutions he built?
Will you call him a Guru because he was a teacher to millions of people?
Will you call him a Friend because whenever you need him, the moment you call him, he’s there for you?
Will you call him a Mother because he loved everyone more than any mother would love her child?
Will you call him a Father because he shaped your personality?
Will you call him a Military General because he could give orders and put anyone to task without even pointing a gun at them?
Will you call him a Scholar because he was an expert in the scriptures?
Will you call him a Story-teller because no one could manufacture stories instantly as he did?
Will you call him a Patriot because every single task he took would be to uplift the country?
Will you call him a Humanitarian because his love for mankind was the same irrespective of which background they came from?
What will you call a man who had experienced the blissful state of the Self and could have stayed in the solitudes of Himalayas, but came down only to uplift the downtrodden people whom he never knew in his life?
What will you call him who lived every moment of his life for the welfare of humanity?
What will you call him whose every breath was a teaching?
What will you call him who worked 18 hours a day despite have heart and other ailments, only to serve humanity?
What will you call him who would answer every letter any devotee would write to him, thus ending up writing an average of 40-50 letters everyday throughout his life?
What will you call him who showed you the right direction and purpose of your life?
What will you call him who loves you more than anyone else could ever do?
What will you call him who was all of the above and much more?

You can call him by no other name, but Swami Chinmayananda!
Salutations to the Great Master who has made life purposeful to millions across the globe!

August 3rd, Mahasamadhi Day of Swami Chinmayananda.

Attachment & Love

– Understandings from a talk of Swami Mitrananda for Youth Empowerment Programme 6th batch

There’s a lot of difference between Love & Attachment, yet we often get confused between the two. Krishna tells Arjuna ’88 times’ to Detach in the 700 verses of Bhagavad Gita. To understand what Detachment is, we need to understand the difference between Love & Attachment.

Expression of Attachment is when we demand something for our happiness. Expression of Love is when we supply something for others’ happiness.

In Attachment, selfishness dominates. In Love, selflessness dominates.

Attachment is lower. Love is higher.

Attachment is a sign of weakness. Love is a sign of strength.

In Attachment, one loves ‘because of’. In Love, one loves ‘inspite of’. We love our children mainly because they are ‘our’ children. Had they been the same children but not ‘ours’, then we wouldn’t have loved them so much. This Attachment we have for our children is ‘because of’ the my-ness feeling. It can definitely become a cause of our sorrow tomorrow.

Detachment is not ‘not loving’ someone. Detachment is de-attachment from the lower and Attachment to the higher. Our great freedom fighters Loved our motherland. They Loved their families too, but Love for the country was higher. Hence they did not get Attached to their families even though they loved them.

Detachment born out of Pure Love is Freedom because there is no expectation from anyone. Attachment is Slavery because in Attachment, we define our Happiness Quotient depending on what others give us. People who ‘fall’ in Love are probably the ones who fall due to Attachment. ‘Love-Failure’ is a wrong term. One who truly Loves cannot Fail in Love even if he doesn’t receive Love in return. But ‘Attachment-Failure’ is a certain thing.

One may ask, ‘How can we Detach from anything? Can refrainment from something be called Detachment?’ Detachment is not refrainment. Refrainment is physical. Detachment is mental. One can Love, yet remain Detached. Such is a person is indeed Liberated/De-Attached/Freed from all sorrows.

Some say, it is easy to say all these things but hard to practice Detachment. But hard does not mean Impossible. Some say Detachment is not just hard but Impossible. To them the Optimist replies, “Impossible for you does not mean it is impossible for all. You know that it is impossible for you. I know that it is possible for me, not because I’m superior to you. But only because I know I want to (get Detached) and you don’t. Our mind is always right in such cases. If you think you can, you can. If you think you can’t, you really can’t. I may not be able to achieve it today, but I’m sure I’ll be able to…someday!”

Firm Bow – Self-Knowledge | Vibheeshana Gita

– Understandings from Swami Swaroopanandaji’s talk for Youth Empowerment Programme – 6th batch

Ees bhajanu saarathi sujaana
Birati charm santosh kripaana
Daan parasu budhi sakti prachanda
Bar bigyaana kathina kodanda

is the avadhi word for Sanskrit word ‘Para’. Bigyaan (Vigyaan) means Knowledge. Bara bigyaan means ‘Paravidya’ Self-Knowledge. Kodanda means Bow (bow of bow and arrow). Kathin kodanda means ‘firm bow of Rama’

In Mundakopanishad (2.2.3), Bow refers to Pranava (Om / The Self). Vishnu Sahasra Nama verse #92 is Om Dhanurdharaaya Namah; Meaning: The wielder of the bow.

What’s so significant about the bow? Bow is signifies Self-Knowledge. Self-Knowleldge is the only weapon that can kill the ultimate enemy ‘Ignorance’. But why is Self-Knowledge considered the most important? To understand this, we need to discuss about ignorance.

If we try to analyse the cause of all negative actions, emotions, desires, etc, we can see that all of the rise from ignorance. All our actions are prompted by two aspects of the mind: Dukha Nivritti (removal of sorrows) and Sukha Prapti (achieving happiness). That means all our actions are aimed at achieving maximum happiness. Some feel power gives happiness, some feel wealth, some feel its pleasure, some feel its fame. Whatever is one’s thought accordingly one performs the actions to enjoy happiness. Be it a nation attacking another, be it a man who likes drinking, be it siblings fighting over property matters, be it a celebrity striving for fame, all are running a race in which they feel that if they achieve their goal, then they can be happy. No doubt they can be, but the question is – For how long? Will they be satisfied after they achieve their goal? Will the objects they run after give them happiness at all moments of time? If happiness resided in the objects, it should give happiness to everyone.

Any intelligent person will say that all the above statements are not true. Objects cannot give permanent happiness. If happiness is in an object, say Music, then will music give happiness to a person when he has lost a dear one? Is it necessary that the same music will give happiness to another person? So, music, or any object, cannot give happiness to everyone nor can it give happiness to the same person at all points of time. Hence, the Rishis concluded that Happiness does not reside in the objects. If that is so, then how can we find permanent happiness when we are looking for that in the wrong place?

It was on such questions the Rishis enquired and realised that Happiness is in the Subject, it’s in Us. We discover this happiness when we come in contact with something that we like and it disappears when we lose contact with it. But it is sure that Happiness resides within us. In fact, Happiness is nothing but our True nature – Bliss! We become sad when we view the world from our body (B), mind (M) or Intellect (I) thinking that we are the BMI.

In the discussions between the teacher and the student of the Upanishads, this Self-Knowledge is revealed. That is why we are advised to study the Upanishads. Once a person is Self-Realised, he lives in the world but is never of the world. The ever-changing world no longer affects his level of Happiness. He has come to a point where he is beyond the BMI. Just like how gravity pulls everything that is within its purview but cannot touch anything that has gone beyond its reach.

There were others who carried the bow, but there was none like Rama. That’s why Rama is given the name – Dhanurdhara Rama: the wielder of the Bow of Self-Knowledge.

Upanishad Ganga – Episode 4 | UNIVERSAL WELFARE

Points to Ponder from this episode:
Aham Nirvikalpo Nirakaara Roopah
Vibhur Vyapya Sarvatra Sarvendriyanaam
Sada Me Samatvam Na Mukthir Na Bandhah
Chidananda Rupah Shivoham Shivoham

 The episode begins and ends with the above lines (6th verse from Nirvanashtakam) which means – I am formless and devoid of all dualities I exist everywhere and pervade all senses. Always I am the same, I am neither free nor bonded I am pure knowledge and supreme bliss, I am Shiva, I am all auspiciousness, I am Shiva.

The above lines explain the Highest philosophical Truths of Vedanta which cannot be apprehended at mere reading of it. Yet, it was mentioned at the beginning and at the end of the episode, probably so that we would think over those lines.

 The episode shows the story of Ashtavakra, a very young sage, who goes to the court of King Janaka to re-educate the scholars of his court and eradicate a wrong tradition that was prevailing at that time, of killing scholars who would get defeated in debates. There, knowledge was not used for Universal Welfare.
The explanation of dialogues exchanged between Ashtavakra and Acharya Bandi during their debate can run into pages, for they convey the very subtle Truths of Indian Philosophy. In this note, we will try to discuss a few points among them.

 What is ‘Vidya’?
Vidya literally means ‘Knowledge’. In Vedanta, Vidya is classified into two – Paravidya and Aparavidya. Paravidya is that Knowledge of the Self and Aparavidya is the Knowledge of anything else. In this context, the knowledge that is quoted refers to Paravidya. Ashtavakra says, Vidya is that which removes Duality. One may ask, what is this Duality? The world we see comprises of different objects and beings. You and I are not one and the same, we are different. No two things seem to be the same. Even twins are different; they look different and even think different. Then how can Indian philosophy make such a statement that sounds so absurd?

When an ordinary man sees a gold bangle and a gold chain, he may look at it as two different ornaments. But a goldsmith will see it as gold. A goldsmith, having more knowledge in the subject, looks at the essence – the substance – Gold.

If we ask a scientist, what is this world; he might say that it is nothing but Energy in different forms. He sees the essence as Energy. In the same way, spiritual seers realized that the world is nothing but different form of the same Essence; different manifestations of the same Energy, the same Power. It is this power that we commonly refer to as God. So, when everything we see around is an expression of the same Power, how can we say that you and I are different? How can we say that there is Duality?

The Knowledge that makes us Realise this Truth is called Vidya (Paravidya).

 Which are the two ways of Realising Brahman (Brahman means God and not Brahmin or Lord Brahma)?

One way is – neti neti – Negating everything else. Let’s look at an anecdote to understand this method. A devotee comes to a Realized Master to ask some doubts and the Master puts this question to him.

Guru: Who are you?
Devotee: I’m Shri ____ (so and so)
Guru: Did I ask your name? My question is – Who are you?
Devotee: I’m the son of Shri _____
Guru: Did I ask your father’s name? My question is – Who are you?
The devotee tries to answer by using Nationality, gender, relations, etc but still couldn’t give the correct answer.
Guru: You are trying to explain yourself using different references. But those references are not you. Then who are you?
Devotee: I’m the mind.
Guru: When you are disturbed, what is happening inside you? You are getting disturbing thoughts in your mind. So, that means you have a mind and you have thoughts but you are not the mind or thoughts. When I say I’ve a buffalo, can I be the buffalo? When I say, I have a mind or intellect; can I be the mind or intellect? So, you are not your name, not the body, not the mind, not the intellect. (This is the method of negating). So who are you?
Devotee: I’m the Soul that resides in the body.
Guru: Where is God?
Devotee: God is everywhere.
Guru: In that case, is God there inside your body?
Devotee: Yes
Guru: Is God in your blood vessels, bones, internal organs, brain, heart?
Devotee: Yes
Guru: So, God is there inside your skin?
Devotee: Yes
Guru: So, God should be there in every cell of yours.
Devotee: Yes
Guru: Is God there in the gap between every cell?
Devotee: Yes
Guru: You mean to say that God is there in every cell of yours, God is there in the gaps between cells; so tell me where are you in this body?
Devotee: (wondering)
Guru: Tell me, where are you in this body?
Devotee: (still wondering)
Guru: In our discussion we have analysed that there is God everywhere in your body. If God is everywhere in your body, then there is no space for you to exist. Hence, you, meaning – what you think is ‘you’, don’t exist. Therefore, you and God are one and the same; or in other words; only God exists.

The first method of enquiry was negating all those things that are not you and then realizing Brahman. The enquirer adopting the first method will go on negating everything saying, “I’m not the name, I’m not the body, I’m not the mind, I’m not the intellect,…etc and whatever is finally left, is me.” And that which is finally left will be the essence of the whole creation. Hence, what I perceive of myself as a weak individual is nothing but the insurmountable power that is responsible for this creation”. Then why didn’t I realize it earlier? Because of my ignorance (Avidya).

The second method of realizing Brahman is also the path of Enquiry but instead of negating, one starts enquiring about the nature of the Self. He starts enquiring – If God is the essence of the whole world, what is the nature of God? What are the properties by which we can identify or see God? God cannot be a changing entity; it has to be the Unchanging factor. What is the Unchanging factor in me, in you and in the world we see?

Such goes the enquiry and the seeker can realize Brahman. However, this method might be more suitable for highly evolved persons in spiritual path. For normal people like you and I, the first method can prove easier.

 Knowledge is Power. And one needs to be wise enough to use it. There are many people who are knowledgeable, yet all of them need not be good. Ashtavakra wanted to make Acharya Bandi and the other scholars realize this fact so that he could put an end to a false practice where Knowledge was not used for general welfare. Ashtavakra says, “Shaastra maanav ka vikas karta hai and Shastra maanav ka vinash. Shaastra ko shastra na banaiye.” Meaning: Shaashtra (Scriptures) helps man to progress / evolve. Shashtra (Weapons) lead to man’s destruction. Please don’t use Scriptures (Knowledge) as your weapon. He adds, “By violence, no one has ever won over anyone.” (Using Power one can conquer lands, but not hearts)

• The reason for fights and wars is the notion of Duality. Paravidya removes the veil of ignorance and helps a person realize the Non-Dual nature of the Self.
• Knowledge is Power and power if misused will only lead to destruction. Misuse of power is due to incomplete knowledge (lack of Paravidya).
• How can one realize Brahman? There are two ways – negating everything and realizing Brahman; or enquiring more on the nature of Brahman and realizing the Self.
• The sloka of Nirvanashtakam answers the question ‘Who am I?’. We should keep enquiring about this question until we gain that knowledge. It is for that purpose we have got this human birth. Without realizing our true nature, human birth is a waste.


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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.