The Place of Devotion/Bhakti in Shankara Advaita

Advaita, especially Shankara’s Advaita negates all attributes for the Absolute truth it calls Brahman. According to Advaita, Brahman is the only formless reality. The phenomenal world we see is just an apparent reality like a dream. Brahman never creates the world and the souls we perceive. The only way to get enlightened is to get intuitive knowledge of this Absolute Reality of Brahman. This can only happen through knowledge and not through any acts like work, meditation or worship. However, we find several works attributed to Shankara which speak about creator Gods like Vishnu and Shiva. Did Shankara worship these Gods? This article sets out to show that most of these works are not considered by all scholars as undisputed works of Shankara. After giving a short history of the beginning of the worship of Shiva and Vishnu, who are not Vedic Gods like Brahma, the article shows that even if we see some inclination of Shankara towards Vishnu, there is no evidence to show that he worshipped them but used these concepts provisionally only for their helping in purifying the minds of seekers to finally make them fit for attaining enlightenment through Jnana/Knowledge.… Read More The Place of Devotion/Bhakti in Shankara Advaita

The Puzzle of the Upanishads

The Upanishads are hailed as one of the most profound scriptures of mankind. Departing from the ritualistic traditions of the earlier Vedic age, the Upaniṣadic sages were engaged in a radical rethinking of the nature of self and reality that was destined to deeply influence the course of religion, philosophy, and life in India and beyond. Their main purport is to attain immortality. However, an examination of the contents of the Upanisads themselves will show that they were never confined to profound philosophical doctrines. All sorts of miscellaneous ideas, injunctions, incantations, theological interpretations, conversations, traditions, and so forth, regarded at the time are secret principles, or secret teachings were assembled and set down without any sequence. This article shows how the paradoxical contents of Upanishads have baffled ancient and modern scholars alike. Ultimately the article shows that the secret of the Upanishads cannot be unlocked by human reason. … Read More The Puzzle of the Upanishads

Choiceless Awareness of the Tree of Fear

Fear is the most basic emotion of man. For those who are inquiring into the question of whether man can live in total freedom, the feeling of fear has to be understood. Fear exists at various levels. It’s like a tree with various branches, trunk and root. How does one come to the root of fear? In this article, I address this question through a dialogue which I shared with a student in my FB Psycho-Philosophy Inquiry Study group.
Normally, as thinking people, we analyze fear. But this analysis does not go to the root of fear. In fact, as the dialogue shows, analysis is a device of mind to escape fear. … Read More Choiceless Awareness of the Tree of Fear

Shabda Pramana: Enlightenment through Words in Advaita Vedanta: Presenting a Dialogue

Advaita Vedanta is unique amongst all paths for liberation. It is the only path that does not consider any form of action (meditation, yoga, chanting, worship) as the final means to liberation. These actions are a means to purify the mind so that it is qualified to receive and assimilate enlightenment through Knowledge. The only knowledge that can grant enlightenment to a student is the shabda/word of the Sruti/Upanishads transmitted by a teacher established in Brahman himself/herself. In this article, I describe the theory and practice of enlightenment in this unique path. Finally, I furnish the article with an actual dialogue that takes place between a teacher and a student in which the student gets enlightened.… Read More Shabda Pramana: Enlightenment through Words in Advaita Vedanta: Presenting a Dialogue

Attachment and Facing the Fear of Death

On reading one of my previous blog articles about the quest to understand death, an eighteen year old girl who is member of NEEV Psycho-Philosophy group wrote about her own fear of death and her desire to go beyond it. Death is usually taken as a morbid topic to be spoken about in hushed tones. But for a self inquirer, who wants to know truth, death is an enigma he/she must solve. In my response to the girl’s journal I revisit the two characters – Buddha and Nachiketa – on their quest for going beyond death, whom I had mentioned in my previous article on death. This time I talk about how both of them ultimately conquer death – Buddha with his Nirvana and Nachiketa with his Moksha. Though their quest into the reality beyond death returns different answers, I show that the common aspect to both these paths is how the cycle of birth and death actually begins with attachment to objects. Either one remains attached to impermanent objects and keep wandering in the cycle of samsara or one takes the path out of this suffering by taking the path of self inquiry. … Read More Attachment and Facing the Fear of Death

Meditative Inquiry: Is Thinking Same as Being Aware of Thought?

The path to Self Realization or Liberation which starts from self-inquiry is a long one. I break the path into three different stages in ascending order – psycho philosophical inquiry, meditative inquiry and Advaitic inquiry. I teach the first two stages in my FB group called NEEV Psycho-Philosophy Inquiry Study Group, and the last stage in NEEV Advaita Study Group (FB). The first group comprises of young people who are beginning their journey of self-inquiry. In this article, I give a brief outline of the activities of this group and post three journal entries of a 19 yr old girl in the group who has undertaken the study of self-inquiry with me. These journal entries provide a snapshot of the moving river of self-inquiry for those who wonder what it is all about, and how and where to begin. … Read More Meditative Inquiry: Is Thinking Same as Being Aware of Thought?