offerings अर्पणम्

June 28, 2010


Filed under: VEDANTA — Tags: , , , , , , , , — arpanam @ 9:58 am


while going through your article “Offerings” i could relate to all of the points you made there and i would really love to read more of these writings from you. The approach of presentation is very good – concise and pinpointed. Now this is not some stupid eulogy out of courtsey but an honest confession about how the article reading helped me clearing a lot of thoughts that i have on these lines (but dilute). Though i must say it is’nt for the rookie.

as for personal growth mere concepts would’nt suffice. there must be an “Applied” side to these concepts. certain principals or codes that one must follow in order to achieve THE HIGH  why dont you direct the next episode towards that. I ll really like to know vedanta;s way for that as i had always felt a kind of “something missing”. no matter where i go , where i head there is a longing for somethign else. well i am trying a no. of things , not in their entirety, as i still need to be even more self disciplined.


I will answer your query on the ‘applied part’ (sadhana) putting it in context with its place in total scheme of Vedanta

If one dispassionately observes his or her own disposition one would acknowledge that there is feeling of “something missing”, in and through, all our experiences. It seems to be a constant companion, a background drone, like the sound of bass guitar or tanpura in rock/jazz or Indian classical music, respectively. Not loud enough to shroud other sounds but nevertheless audible. No matter how hard we try we cannot come to terms with it; so we attempt to find ways to thwart it either temporally or, better still, once and for all. It pushes us to engage ourselves into various activities and have experiences which would give us respite, either immediately or later, in form results. Experiences are able to relive us from this nuisance albeit, temporarily. So we have resort to take their aid, repeatedly. We befriend this imposter. In the process we have firmly established a cause and effect relationship between the activities/ experiences and their ability to mitigate this sense of incompleteness (apuranatva). Thus, we remain constantly engaged in action or we seek experiences convinced this is the only way to free ourselves. In nutshell this is samsara.

Is there a way out?

Had there been a simple answer, we would not have waited, this long.  It a complex problem and there are no simple solutions. Majority of us either do not acknowledge the problem and its gravity, we prefer to live in oblivion or fall for quick fix answers and are consequentially are taken for a ride. A genuine solution cannot come from a source that is sailing in the same (defective) boat. It cannot be like one us, for: “if he could find a way out this maze then I also, by now, should have found it”. So the solution has to be from a more authentic source, not born from ordinary human mind (apurshaya). This is where Vedanta comes in and without beating around the bush, reveals thatour essential nature lacks nothing, is complete (purana). This is sole purpose of Upanishads/Vedanta; a qualified teacher uses words and qualified student listens in his presence, ponders and ascertains. (Sharavan, Manan & Ninidhyasana part of Padarth shodhak or antarang sadhana)

So, the solution of ending samsara lies is recognizing out nature and not in doing action or gaining experiences.  This recognition is diametrically contrary to our present orientation and is therefore a tall order. It would require a mind that has the wherewithal (yogyata) to decipher the words of vedanta and see them as reality and not as concepts. (Shakshat sadhana or param- antarang sadhana) For concepts, however magnificent and comforting, will not save us from the onslaught of unpleasant events and eventually death, which no soul has been able to, till date, avoid. But till the time words don’t transmute into what they intend to reveal they have to harbored as concepts, along with  implicit and unswerving faith (shraddha) that they are: (a) not just words and they have a corresponding reality and (b) they have the ability to reveal (pramana) the reality of my nature, directly and independently. Mind’s capacity to be able to translate these words is not a just intellectual prowess but more intricate quality of mind (adhikaritvam) that has to be earned by making efforts in the right direction (bahirang & parampara sadhana). It is often naively misunderstood that action in form of efforts will bring about a novel experience that will be the basis of release from menace of samsara. But it can’t be overemphasized that experiencer of any experience is intrinsically free and it is this very insight that forms the basis of release and not any action or experience. But action does have a place in spiritual growth to prepare the mind and endow it with ability to gain this insight. It is these efforts the can be put under the category of “applied” part the teachings.

Life spent in undertaking these efforts, to grow in this direction, is life well spent. Any advancement in this direction is neither easily visible nor gets endorsement of society/family. Therefore it will be an arduous task and can be undertaken by someone who has total conviction that this is the only worthwhile end to pursue and has gained unequivocal conviction about the meaninglessness of every other goal/experience.(mumukshu) If someone lacks this conviction then he/she should go and pursue whatever he/she sees as meaningful and ascertain its futility in ending samsara. This should not be construed as that we give up everything; for the world, can and does offer many things in life, but will never be able to cease samsara.

This insight that world has limited capacity to offer, will push us to examine every experience critically and give us ability to discriminate (vivek) based in its worth and thus get dispassionate about many things (vairagya). Both vivek & vairagya are necessary qualities for the seeker of truth. One should learn to drop habits, like a hot potato, when one realizes it does more harm than good. This ability discriminate is not mere IQ; for many cancer specialists continue to smoke inspite of seeing perils of tobacco, day in and day out, and one has to be intelligent enough to be a cancer specialist. Most end up misusing their intellect to justify the habit.

So one should learn to observe ones thinking patterns and see the tricks our intellect plays to justify our weaknesses. We have an indigenous ability to deceive ourselves and our intellect partakes in this (kutark). Ability to intelligently use the intellect is viveka and to get dispassionate or give up our proclivities, based things based on sound ground, is vairagya. To begin with we should observe and acknowledge these traits and then make necessary efforts to correct ourselves. In this process we discover right values which will be the basis on which we further lead our lives. Since we have discovered these values the hard way they will stay with us good stead.

We may find that inspite of these efforts our strong proclivities continue to have their say; even though we may know something is detrimental we still may continue pursue them. In this situation one should continue to make efforts despite repeated failures. Also, we can use means that may not have direct, cause and effect relationship, with our problems. These efforts are taken voluntarily, with a certain time period earmarked specially for this (tapas). They can be in form japa or chanting of mantras with an earnest mind. Since the cause and effect relationship between these efforts and their effectiveness to help us grow out of our strong tendencies, is not obvious, we need have shraddha in its efficacy, so that we don’t falter in due course.

The use of ‘will’ should be based on sound ‘understanding’ of ‘why’ and ‘what for’ it is used; it is ‘informed will’ that will reap results that would lead you to find an everlasting solution. If we examine the spiritual market we find majority of teachers, dispense prescriptions for making efforts, without instilling the values or on the other hand, some (Jiddu Krishnamurti) completely dismiss use of will. Both these approaches become futile, after certain period of time, leading to despondency within the disciples.

In worldly endeavors ‘will’ has played a pivotal role in determining the outcome. We have supreme confidence in ourselves; we think can maneuver the course of events, according to, our whims and fancies. Here too we think results will come at our behest, after we have done our bit. But every earnest seeker, sooner or later, realizes the falsity of this position and realizes his or her inherent limitations. As one realizes his limited abilities one should simultaneously appreciate the omniscience and omnipotence of another entity, Ishawara. We realize it is only by His grace we can make headway in these sacred matters. We establish a relationship with Ishawara based on reverence (bhakti) and relatewith Him through various rituals (upasana).

We see: His laws are just; his decree, infallible; his might, invincible. We can’t, but surrender. This surrender leads to acceptance of any unfavorable events that happen with us or around us. This also helps us to jettison lot of our concerns and anxieties about the future and regrets of our past; for both ‘will be’ and ‘were’, as per His wishes.

All this purifies the mind (antarkaran shuddhi) to discover its essential nature as fulfilled entity. There can’t be a greater blessing than this discovery.

: Vedantbodh by Sw Akahandanand Saraswati. Pg 46-49

Sadhana in Vedanta are divided into four categories:

1 .Karam shodhak or parampara sadhana:

This includes:

  1. a. Dharma (yagna dana & tapas)
  2. b. Upasana and
  3. c. Yog


2. Karan shodhak or bahirang sadhana:

This includes:

  1. a. Vivek
  2. b. Vairagya
  3. c. Shat sampati (sham dam uparatti titiksha shradhha & sanadhan)
  4. d. Mumkshtva


3.  Padarth shodhak or antarang sadhana:

This includes:

  1. a. Sharavan
  2. b. Manan
  3. c. Ninidhyasana


4. Shakshat sadhana or param- antarang sadhana




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