Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Arthapanchakam - Purposes of Life - 3 - (Moksha)

In the earlier post we discussed the three "body/mind" level pursuits that are clearly mundane pursuits for all human beings.  Moksha is different in that it is a "spiritual pursuit".  Why do we need a spiritual pursuit? aren't mundane pursuits enough?

Here is where "swaroopa jnana" helps.  Swaroopa Jnana means understanding who we "really" are. So who are we (you and I)? If the answer to this question is "the body", then clearly there is no such purpose called "moksha" that can be attributed to it.  We have seen the several posting earlier that we are essentially this "jeevatma" the "owner of this human body".  The human body is transient - meaning, the Jeevatma takes on a human body, discards it after some time, takes on another body, discards it after some time, takes on another body etc.  When it is in the human body, it has certain needs and desires which we attributed to the first three purposes of the life - dharma, artha, and kama.  However, when we look at it as separate from the human body, that Jeevatma has a purpose to accomplish, and that is Moksha.

There are two types of Moksha - Atma Anubhavam and Bhagavad Anubhavam.  Atma anubhavam is considered inferior to Bhagavad Anubhavam.  Atma anubhavam is sometimes also referred to as "kaivalyam".  Srivaishnavas consider this inferior as the Atma goes on experiencing the bliss that it iself is.  However, in Bhagavad Anubhavam, the Jeevatma gets to spend time with the supreme Brahman offering itself to be at its service eternally.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Sri Padmanabhaswamy Temple ... SC's Directive & Devaprasnam

A brief interjection to make a point - for whoever is interested in it. (this is a more mundane discussion).

In the Supreme Court case of A. S Narayana Deekshitulu V. State of Andhra Pradesh, (AIR 1996 SC 1765), Justice Ramaswamy had noted, "The importance of rituals in religious life is relevant for evocation of mystic and symbolic beginnings of the journey but on them the truth of a religious experience cannot stand. The truth of a religious experience is far more direct, perceptible, and  important to human existence.  It is the fullness of  religious experience, which must be assured by temples, where the images of the Lord in resplendent glory is housed... It is essential that the value of law must be tested by its certainty in reiterating the Core of Religious Experience and if a law seeks to separate the non-essential from essential so that the essential can have a greater focus of attention in those that believe in such an experience, the object of such law cannot be described as unlawful but possibly somewhat missionary (ibid.:1790)"

In other words, Justice Ramaswamy wants Hindu Temples to "assure the fullness of religious experience because that is where the images of the Lord in resplendent glory is housed". Let us briefly examine what constitutes "fullness of religious experience". The "religious experience" is what we derive from the "power or vibration" of a temple.  The malayalis call it the "chaitanyam" of the temple. Different such vibrations or chaitanyams are created in each temple, and each temple is that way different from one another.

We have different deities specializing in rewarding us human-beings with different things we desire in life. For example, those that are desirous of having children often visit the temples of Guruvayoor or Doddamalloor.   Those who seek wealth and success are often seen visiting Tirupati.  Each Hindu Temple is that way  capable of granting us one or the other wish.  The ability of the Lord in that temple to grant our wish is critically dependent on the ability of the priests or the temple archakas to create that "vibration or chaitanyam".

What factors contribute to creation of the "vibration or chaitanyam"?

1. The Yantra established beneath the vigraham of the Lord of the temple
2. Certain "sanctified" material things including but not limited to Gold, Diamonds, and other Jewellery located along with  yantra beneath the vigraham of the Lord of the temple. (It may be noted that ordinary yantra or gold and diamonds and jewellery is insufficient - they must have been sanctified through rituals before placing them there. On another note, one needs to know that even the flowers we take to offer to the Lord are quickly sanctified by the priest through mantras before offered to the Lord).
3. Keeping up the vibration established in the Yantra, the Lord's vigraha and the material things offered to the Lord by constant practice of vedic recitations, and rituals in the temple.

Therefore one may say that the "fulness of religious experience" that Justice Ramaswamy says "must be assured by the hindu temples", is closely related to the "chaitanyam" established in the temple through practice of rituals as well as the Gold, Diamonds and Jewellery that were sanctified through vedic chants and established under the sanctum sanctorum of the temple by the erstwhile rulers of Travancore.  The treasure that is being counted by the representatives of the Supreme Court is definitely going to interfere with the chaitanyam or the vibrations of the temple, and it could very well take thousands of years more to bring back the vibrations to the temple if they continue what they are continuing to do there.  Kallara B which is said to be beneath the sanctum sanctorum should definitely not be touched.  The power of that temple will start diminishing gradually unless the present valuation is stoppped right away.  For the benefit of the present generation of Hindus and future generations Hindus all over India must fight to stop the valuation that is going on and help the temple priests conduct the rituals that the Lord has commanded them to perform in the Devaprasnam.

This article is dedicated to the Lotus Feet of Lord Padmanabhaswamy and Its Resplendent Glory!

Continuation ...Purpose(s) of Life

We discussed about the first three objectives of human-life: Dharma, Artha, and Kama.  Life after life eternally human beings have been taking birth in this universe, and all of them have had the same purposes in life - in that order. Dharma is the right to equality or the establishment of the level playing field - the social framework within which we ought to pursue the remaining two objectives - acquisition of wealth and satisfaction of desires.  It may be evident that the Artha and Kama are inter-related - one leads to the other - the person who has acquired wealth is able to satisfy most earthly desires - however, Kama could be out of this world as well - at that time only the shastras can help.  For example, even the wealthiest individual on earth may not be assured of a place in heaven after death. However, he/she could have a desire to visit the heaven and spend some time there.  Please note that no one can aspire to live permanently in the heaven as it is nothing but a paradise which Jeevatmas visit for sometime. After their time runs out, they are pushed down from there with their heads pointing down, back to earth to restart another life!

Now, the desire to visit and spend some time in heaven is a wish that cannot be purchased by "material wealth". Normally, one acquires that by performing good karma during one's life time.  There is also another way.  There is a yagna called "Jyotishyoma". One who performs that yagna is assured of visiting the heaven at the end of that life term.  Please note that, performance of that yagna does not mean the person will die right away and be transported to heaven.  Each Jeevatma experiences heaven or one or more of the various hells (naraka) normally based on their karma. However, if one has performed extremely bad karma and then performs the Jyotishyoma yagna, at the end of that life that Jeevatma is assured of visiting heaven for a certain duration.

Dharma, Artha, and Kama are temporary in nature.  Jeevatmas that have achieved these three pursuits still have to take birth again and again in this "samsara" until they become eligible for Moksha.  Moksha is therefore the fourth and final pursuit in life.  It may be noted that those who aspire for Moksha seldom care for dharma, artha, and kama during that life-time.


There are two types of Moksha - Atma Anubhava and Bhagavad Anubhava.  In both the types of Moksha the experiences are different - however any Jeevatma that has achieved moksha will never take birth in Leela-Vibhuti owing to "karma". Let us see what this means in the next post.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Our Relationship with the Lord

Quote I got from Facebook:
Our Relationship with God something unique. In present terms non-divorsceable.  He can't break; We can't break - unilaterally or jointly.  We can't break on mutual acceptance also.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Artha Panchakam - 2

So why is this something everyone wants to know or should know?  Firstly, it answers the most important questions - questions that have not been satisfactorily answered by modern science or scientists. Let us take a deeper look at each of the questions, answers and implications.

First: Who am I?  Some of the previous blogs clearly established that the "I" refers to the Jeevatma who is the owner of this physical body that we see.  Brain and Mind are all part of this physical body or its extentions that will be destroyed when the Jeevatma leaves the body.  What goes with the Jeevatma from body to body is Karma and Vasana.  Birth and death are nothing but Jeevatma acquiring a body and Jeevatma leaving the body. The body is composed of things that exist in nature.  It may therefore be said that birth is nothing but Jeevatma acquiring relationship with "nature" (Prakirti-sambandam). Please note that Jeevatma is composed of "happiness" and "knowledge".  It is not matter and therefore cannot be sensed by sense organs. Now, that which cannot be sensed by sense organs or logically derived thereof (i.e knowledge acquired through sense-organ-based experience) cannot be known through science or rationality.  Therefore, the Jeevatma cannot be known through science or rationality.  In fact, anything that is eternal cannot be known through science and rationality as "time" is one of its (science's) essential coordinates.

What then are the sources through which one can know the Jeevatma?
Only through scriptures/words.
Whose words do I trust?  There are many scriptures?  Which one?
Those words that are not uttered by an unfriendly (one who is not a well-wisher) person.
Words uttered by an unfriendly person are straight-away discounted 100% as the person does is not a well-wisher, meaning he/she does not have an interest in our well-being.
Who qualifies as such a person?
Rishis of the yester-years performed their duties exclusively for "public-good".  They wrote the scriptures for us without vested interest.  Therefore they qualify.
What are these scriptures?
The Vedas (because they were uttered by Brahma the secondary creator having received directly from the primary Creator Sriman Narayana) and its derivatives - the upanishads, the Itihasas, the Puranas, the six vedangas, and the fifth vedas - the Nalayira Divya Prabandam, Works of the Acharyas in explaining the content of the vedas and Azhwar's works.

Who is God?
Again based on the above discussion, since God is eternal and cannot be known to science or rationality, He must be known only through words of scriptures as established above.  The 5 levels in which God exists has been explained.  Most important for us the human beings presently living on earth is the "Archa Avatara" - God living amidst us in the form of the murtis in the temples, and in Salagrama stones - why?
Because the other forms cannot be known through sense organs and therefore through science or rationality.

Purpose of Life.

This is an important question that confronts a lot of human beings in present world.  Each one has his/her own goals and think achieving that is the purpose of their life.  These goals broadly fall under one of the first three categories stated in the Hindu shastras - Dharma, Artha, or Kama. Let us briefly discuss what these are:

Dharma essentially is the fundamental need for a "level playing field" that can be used to pursue wealth or material acquisition (Artha), and fulfillment of desires (Kama).  Note that unlike popular interpretation, Kama is not desire for sex...kama is desire. Desire for material wealth, and fame are also Kama.  But alas, the human mind is so deceptive that it is capable of creating an endless list of Artha and Kama that the human being is drowned in the pursuit of that list.  And with each passing day, that list only grows!!! When the end is near, the human being is still in the pursuit of that list - his/her mind endlessly occupied even on death-bed thinking about unfulfilled kama.

To be continued...


Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Arthapanchakam - 5 things everyone wants to know and should know

My respects to Swami Ramanuja and Swami Manavala Mamunigal and Swami Pillai Lokacharyar.  The following blog is inspired by Swami Pillai Lokacharyar's grantham - Artha Panchakam.
From Albert Einstein to Stephen Hawkings all modern physicists have been confronted by common questions about evolution, existence and sustenance of human life on planet earth. Doctors of medical science often wonder what death is, and why it should be inevitable. Modern Science, despite its great advancements in many fields has been unable to answer some of these questions most satisfactorily.

There are some common questions most of us seek answers to:

Who am I? (My nature)
Who is God? (God's Nature)
What is/are my goal/s? (alternatively what is/are the purpose/s of human life on earth?)
How can I achieve this goal or life purpose?
What are my obstacles to achieving this goal or life purpose?

Answers to these 5 questions forms Artha Panchakam.  Let us look at the answers given to us by Swami Pillai Lokarcharyar. (I will give the synopsis here, and discuss them in detail later)

1. Who am I?
As established in previous blogs, "I" refers to the Jeevatma that owns this physical human body.  There are 5 types of Jeevatmas -
a. Nityar - Jeevatmas that live eternally in the Lord's kingdom serving Him. These include Adiseshan (Sesh nag), Garuda, Vishvaksenar, and others.
b. Muktar: Jeevatmas that have reached the Lord's kingdom having attained Moksha from cycles of birth and death
c. Baththar: Jeevatmas that are born on earth and continue to live through the cycles of birth and death (this includes those born as human beings, animals, plants etc.)
d. Kevalar: Jeevatmas stuck in "self-experience" of the Atma
e. Mumukshu: Jeevatmas presently born as Baththar but known to exhibit keen interest in achieving Moksha and graduating to the Lord's kingdom as soon as possible.

Who is God?

God exists in 5 forms/levels:
1. AS-HE-IS - (Called Para-Swaroopa) - as He exists in His World - Sri Vaikuntha.
2. Specialized forms He has taken in other worlds that we cannot see - starting from para-vasudeva form to the forms of Aniruddha, Pradyumna, and Sankarshana, and forms related His 12 names - Kesava, Narayana, Madhava, Govinda, Vishnu, Madhusudana, Trivikrama, Vamana, Sridhara, Hrishikesha, Padmanabha, and Damodara.  Out of these, Aniruddha is the form that controls Brahma, and Sankarshana controls Shiva when respectfully performing creation and destruction.
3. Vibhava Avatar - When He walks the Earth as Rama, Krishna, Nrisimha, and other avataars.
4. Antaryami - as the owner and controller of each Jeevatma He resides in each sentient being and insentient thing that exists in existence as known to us, and existence that we don't know (beyond our human comprehension)
5. Archa - as the Lord in the temples we have dedicated to HIM, and in Salagrama silas.

What is/are my goal/s? (alternatively what is/are the purpose/s of human life on earth?)

These are called "purushartha" - meaning - "what a purusha aspires for".  There are 5 of them - dharma (Justice), artha (wealth, and material things), kama (desires), Aatma-anubhava (self-realization and enjoyment of the "self"), and Bhagavad-anubhava (enjoyment of bliss through the supreme Lord).

How can I achieve this goal or life purpose?

The highest goal of Bhagavad Anubhava.  Therefore the focus here is on the means that will help us achieve that highest goal.  There are 5 of them - Karma Yoga, Jnana Yoga, Bhakti Yoga, Prapatti, and Acharya Abhimanam.

What are my obstacles to achieving this goal or life purpose?

Again 5 obstacles - obstacles to knowing "I", obstacles to knowing "God", obstacles to knowing "goals", obstacles to knowing "means", and obstacles to knowing "obstacles".

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Visishtadvaitam - Core Concepts (Contd.)

Aakinchanyam: No Investment

The earlier part of this blog established "subservience" and "complete dependence" of the Jeevatma on the Supreme Lord, the Paramatma. These were established as its true nature. This led to the derivative concept of Ananyaarhatvam or exclusivity in the subservience.  That means, from the Jeevatma's perspective, it is clear that it owns nothing - and therefore does not have anything at its disposal to offer to the Lord in order for the Lord to grant it Moksha.  This is the most recommended approach to the Lord when we visit temples.  It is signified by keeping the hands together when performing "sashtang namaskar" at the temple to the Lord.  It says, "Lord! I have nothing to offer you (i.e everything that is mine actually belongs to you)."

Ananyagatitvam: Nowhere to go

The Jeevatma desires Moksha. It is in order to achieve that, it has taken birth as a human being, that too as a Srivaishnava in this life! Now, having established the Jeevatma's "complete dependence" on the Supreme Lord for all its needs, does it look up to any other devata or being in order to achieve the final goal? Therefore the Jeevatma has nowhere else to go, and nobody's else to seek.  This is called Ananyagatitvam.  This is signified by keeping the feet together when performing "sashtang namaskar" to the Lord at the temple. It says, "Lord! I have nowhere to go (except to you) in order to have my desire fulfilled." 

Monday, July 18, 2011

Visishtadvaitam - Core Concepts

Several Visishtadvaitic core concepts are derived from Sharira Atma Bhavam and Seshatvam.

Quick recap on SAB and Seshatvam 

Sharira Atma Bhavam - explained in an earlier blog here implies that the Paramatma, as the antaryami is the owner of the Jeevatma, just as the Jeevatma is the owner of this human body.  This may be expressed as follows:

Human Body : Jeevatma : : Jeevatma : Antaryami

The first implication of this expression is that the Jeevatma is separate from the Human Body.  The human body is an insentient thing.  What makes it a human "being" is the Jeevatma.  When the Jeevatma leaves the human body, what is left behind is an insentient thing we call corpse.  It loses its name, identity, and its ability to respond and react.  When the Jeevatma is encased in the human body, it responds and reacts to external events.  That means, the Jeevatma is the "command control center" of this human body. It is the key decision maker.  Central Nervous System and Brain are nothing but matter - completely insentient.  What make the Brain the seat of memory and decision making is the presence of Jeevatma.  Otherwise, it should be possible to correct criminals by simply implanting a good but dead person's brain into them.  Each Jeevatma is unique. Each Jeevatma, from birth to next birth, carries with it the baggage of Karma that has resulted from its deeds in the various lifes (in various bodies - including non-human). It also carries with it "Vasana" from all its previous lifes. In the present life, Vasana can be inferred from strong likes and dislikes to strange and new things - which cannot be explained from past occurrence in present life.  For example, without any reason a person could have strong dislike or phobia for large mass of water and therefore for swimming in it.

Since the Jeevatma is the command control center of the human body, every physical part of the body is therefore its "servant".  The Jeevatma commands the body to raise the hand in response to teacher's call in the class-room, and the hand-lifts. This "servitude" is the most important characteristic of the human body.  In other words, the human body exists exclusively to "serve its master, the Jeevatma".

Similarly, looking at the right hand side of the expression above, the Jeevatma is to the Paramatma what the human body is to the Jeevatma.  Therefore the Jeevatma is the "servant" of the Paramatma.  In other words, the Jeevatma exists exclusively to "serve its master, the Paramatma". This is what we defined in a blog below as "Seshatvam".

Also, following the logic above, the Jeevatma is different from the Paramatma - in that the Jeevatma is the servant of the Paramatma, it carries karma, and vasana from its previous lives. Even though at the time of Moksha, the Jeevatma ceases to carry its karma and vasana, it still eternally remains subservient to the Lord.

Now let us look at the complete value chain - Human Body : Jeevatma : Paramatma. That means, even in day to day conversation when we call a person in front of us as "you", we are indirectly addressing first the Jeevatma, and secondly the Paramatma as the Antaryami.

Ananyaarhatvam - Exclusivity in Subservience

Having established Seshatvam, the next question that arises is, who is this "Paramatma" that this Jeevatma is subservient to?  How can the Jeevatma serve its Lord, if it cannot recognize Him? Is He One or Many?  We see temples for many Gods and Goddesses in India.  In each temple the deity is referred to "Parmatma or something equivalent".  There are six agamas - each one claiming that the Universe resulted from each of the six deities!  Which of these deities is the real Paramatma, the real, primordial being from whom the Universe came into existence?

Several pramana (proofs) from the Hindu Shastras universally proclaim that Sriman Narayana is that primordial being. It is He who existed when nothing else existed.  By sheer will, it is He that became this universe using his own body as the raw material (material cause or upadana kaarana), and the tool (supportive cause or sahakari kaarana).  Perhaps, did he use the help of somebody else (one of these other 5 deities) who had prior knowledge in creating Universes? Some Sculptor?   In common occurrence we seldom see the owner of a house building it himself - he often uses the help of an architect, landscaper etc.   The Shastras come to our help here as well, proclaiming that He was the "doer" of this action as well (Nimitta Kaarana) - that He was the architect of this Universe.

Being all the three causes it He that the Jeevatma is subservient to, and to no other!  This exclusivity is referred to in Visishtadvaitam as "Ananyaarhatvam".

Swaatantryam (Complete Independence) v. Paaratantryam (Complete Dependence)

Each individual has been given "limited" independence to make his/own decisions and choose the right way to live his/her life. Oftentimes we human beings mistake this limited independence for "complete independence" and think that we are the masters of our lives.  This leads to "Deha Aatma Abhimanam" (DAA) the most serious disease in man-kind - much more than ADD, drug addiction, and even Cancer or AIDS. It is because of DAA that the Jeevatma starts thinking that it is nothing more than the human/animal/plant body that it is encased in.  Shaastras teach us that the Jeevatma has no birth, nor death. It cannot be killed; it cannot be disrespected; it cannot be violated in any manner.  All of that is because it is eternally subservient to the Lord that owns it.  However, when it takes birth the Jeevatma, the sentient being acquires "relationship with the insentient".  This event, of the Jeevatma acquiring relationship with the insentient, is called "birth". Similary, the event of the Jeevatma relieving itself of the relationship with the insentient is called "death".  The Jeevatma takes birth in order to expend the balance of karma so that it can get Moksha and eternally reside in the Lord's world - Sri Vaikuntha. However, instead of expending its balance of karma, because of DAA, the Jeevatma starts acquiring more karma through out its life-span. Thus one of the key impediments to spiritual progress and gaining moksha is the DAA - which is why it is more deadlier than any other disease in man-kind! When we give up DAA, the real nature of the Jeevatma as being "completely dependent" on the Paramatma dawns upon it.  This "complete dependence" on the Lord is called "Paaratantryam".

Sri Vaishnava Acharyas have stated that it is Bharata that demonstrated intense Paaratantryam in Sri Ramayana - He stayed away from the Lord, and carried out His commands, as His servant - with the attitude that It was HIS kingdom he was administering FOR Him! It is Bharata's example that we Jeevatmas should emulate in the present life - living away from Him physically for His task to be accomplished - for when His task is accomplished the Jeevatma would attain Moksha.

All activities carried out with the attitude of Paaratantryam do not accrue karma.  All activities carried out with the attitude of Swaatantryam will result in accrual of karma to the baggage.

Next Post: Aakinchanyam, and Ananyagatitvam

Friday, July 1, 2011

More Questions...

Question: Who Created Vishnu/Naryana?

1. Narayana - What does the name mean? Nara:  - is plural for "that which exist" - there are three things that exist in eternity - these are called Tattva-traya.  They are Chit, Achit, and Ishwar. Ayana: means "Source/Support for existence". Therefore Narayana means He is the Source/support of all that exists.  Jeevatma is Chit.  It is different from the Ishwara Tattva.  Ishwara tattva is Vishnu/Narayana/Brahmam. He always existed and created the world from his "sankalpa" or mere wish.  At the time of creation, He wishes to become the Universe and the Universe is created from a part of his own body - ie. a part of His own body transforms into the Universe.  The Tattva-traya - Chit, Achit, and Ishwara are all attached to and part of His body.

2. Vishnu: the meaning of the word Vishnu - is one who pervades everything (as the Antaryami). Shastras say, "Antarbahischa tat sarvam vyapya narayanas sthitha:" - i.e everything in existence is pervaded by Narayana.  Vishnu is the name used to refer to Narayana when stating that he pervades everthing.

Answer to the question: Narayana/Vishnu is the creator, the Brahamam, that created the various universes from its will/desire. Narayana/Vishnu was not created by anyone - He always existed, just as the Jeevatma tattva always existed along with its baggage of karma.

Question: We see Kailasa exists somewhere in Himalayas. What about other lokas like Brahma loka, Indra Loka, etc. Do they physically exist somewhere or are they merely spiritual planes?

Answer: When performing pranayamam we acknowledge the existence of 7 upper worlds - Bhoo (earth), Bhuva, Suva, Maha, Jana, Tapa, and Satyam. These 7 worlds exist physically somewhere (we all live on Bhoo). The seventh in the series - Satya is Brahma's world. The third world - Suva, is the deva loka, as far as I understand. During interim Pralaya Bhoo, Bhuva, and Suva are destroyed and recreated. At the time of Brahama's demise after completion of his 100 years, all 7 worlds are destroyed. 

That said, you might want to also know that each Universe of 14 lokas - 7 upper and 7 lower (ending in Patala loka) are physically existent. There are many such universes. Each Universe has its own Brahma, Indra, Shiva etc. All universes are composed of 14 lokas. There is a version of the 4 vedas in each of these universes. However, they are named differently in each Universe (Andam). There are innumerable Anadams in existence.

Free-will v. destiny

There is human will, and there is God's will. By His desire, he has give all of us "limited" free-will. The example is that of a CFO of a multinational company. Just because he handles multi-million dollars of finances, does not make him the owner of all that money. He has been given limited independence to take care of the company's finance for the sake of the company and not personal benefit. So there is limited free-will that operates. We have been given the choice to choose Karma Yoga, Gyana Yoga, Bhakti Yoga etc. You cannot say it was my destiny to be Karma Yogi in this life. May be by God's will I will become Bhakti yogi in next. 

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Q & A time

Answers to some questions raised by a reader on another forum:

Here are some questions I came across from a person I have interacted with in the past on a forum.  I will try to answer to the best I know:

Q 1. We know that human Soul takes birth and gradually develops to higher state. Same is with people who occupies higher positions gradualy with effort, which may span to more than one birth. I wonder what about Gods like Lord Vishnu, OR Siva etc. As any body created them so that by birth they are Superior (Gods)? Or they too intially born as ordinary Souls in the begining of universe and reached to that highest state? If latter is correct, what is the practice they might have done to reach that highest state?

Answer: Except Narayana or His forms (Vishnu etc.) everybody else starting from Brahma, then Shiva, Parvati, Saraswati, Durga, Kali, Skanda, Ganesha, Indra, Agni, Vayu, Varuna etc. (all 33 crores of devas and other devatas) are Jeevatmas like all of us.  They are appointed to these “posts” based on the Balance of Karma at the time of their birth.  For example, When Narayana created Brahma, he assigned the soul with the highest balance of good karma and decided to call him by the title “Brahma”.  Thereafter other creations were created by Brahma.  Shiva was created by Brahma.  Ganesha by Shiva and so on. There individual souls that pervade Brahma, Shiva, Ganesha etc, existed even before their birth in that body – they were merely assigned to that body, just as we, the individual souls, have taken on this human body.  The final purpose of human life as well as the lifes of these devatas is attaining Moksha.  So even Shiva and Brahma are very much seekers of the same Moksha, you and I are seeking.  Karma is the only criteria used to take birth as one of the devatas.  You must have extra-ordinary balance of positive karma in order to get that birth –however, if you attain Moksha, you become more powerful than these devatas – so why aspire for a lower form of birth? If you strive for it, it is possible to attain Moksha in this life-time itself!

Q2: We see many millioniers around. What poorva punya they might have done to become So rich?

Answer: You see so many devatas also – there are 33 cores of them – what might have been their poorva puna?  Can any of these millionaires even equal 1% of Indra’s wealth? Your focus as an individual soul should not be the wealth – it should be Moksha – because on attaining Moksha you don’t have any use for all that wealth.  Even as a seeker of moksha, you don’t care for millionaires or their wealth because the Lord is the real owner of all the universe’s wealth and why He is even the Owner of those millionaire’s souls!

Q3: I wonder how Lord Krishna was fond of flute, like any human being fond of something. Is there any spirtual/practical reason behind it? Though some times, by listening to flute, I felt like isolating myself from all worldly matters, relations, the Soul gets isoltaed, gets only Joy and feels like moving towards Lord Krishna Himself. (This may be true with many, of course). Is this the power of flute (Basuri)? That is why Krishna had chosen it as His favorate? and also wanted to tell people that "get isolated, fill only with joy and move towards me (Him)"?

Asnwer: The Lord uses different methods to attract people to come to Him in order to get them interested in Moksha.  For the Gopikas he used the flute.  One such Gopika was Chintayanti.  She achieved Moksha simply listening to Krishna’s music.  But when it came to saints and mahatmas, he used different means – for Gyana Yogis he gave them the Bhagavad Gita to rip-apart with their intellects. Whatever you are attracted to, if you see it is a tool provided by Krishna to attract you to Moksha, you cannot go wrong.

Q4: But, even it is so, it may not be ultimate state of moksha, as at that stage, if i am correct,
the Soul has to be completely detached, including from joy !! 

Answer: Not necessarily – you can be attached! But be attached as closely as possible to the Lord – His creations – If you can see Him in all things that you are attached you – that would be a way to Moksha.  Afterall Ajamil was attached to his last son, whom he had named Narayan. Did he not attain moksha uttering his son’s name in the end at the time of death?

Q5: Does God show bias?
Though in strict sense the answer looks to be yes, However, it is confusing to know correctly.
Does he show bias towards His devotees?
If he does not why people touch his feet? 
Yogakshemam vahamyam…. Says, whoever remembers me, I take care of them.
Then, what about people who do not remember Him? Does He bother?
If one believes God keeps the steering wheel of Karma of every one in His hand (like wheel of stock market in the hands of some big corporate/industrialists), then within the boundaries of individual karma, does He manipulate the wheel for his believers here and there so that suffering is diluted 
and does not do the same for non-believers? ---- if so, in principle, is it not a bias?
On the other hand, He also says in Geeta that He has neither affection nor hate to anyone, 
He is equal to everyone. 
This seems to be correct as there are people who are great believers, but suffer.
there are people who do not do even prayers and do not visit temples etc.. and very well off, successful. 
Conclusion: No clear-cut answer to this question.

Answer: God does not show bias when it comes to worldly matters.  He goes strictly by the rule book that He created (Vedas) before He began creation.  Balance of Karma decides everything from your birth, to re-birth to Moksha. The criteria that Balance of Karma should be Zero to attain moksha is universal and applicable to all the paths you may follow – Karma, Gyana, Bhakthi and others.  You may choose any path to spend your Karma to bring it to Zero.  Having exhausted your karma, when your Karmic balance becomes Zero, that very instant you are ready to leave for Moksha. Moksha is the ultimate state a Jeevatma can aspire to attain – because in Moksha you rise to a level higher than the devatas to live in the Lord’s world – Sri Vaikuntha.  Even people such as Arjuna who were very close to Krishna during that avatar have not seen Sri Vaikuntha.  Why even Brahma and Shiva have not seen that world.  The devatas can meet with Sriman Narayana only at the Milky ocean (Thiruppaar Kadal) not at Sri Vaikuntha.  Entry to this world is very highly restricted.

That said, if you are a seeker of Moksha, when it comes to granting Moksha and Moksha alone (this definitely does not include granting you good health and wealth and other mundane pursuits), He is biased towards the followers of one particular path called Sharanagati.  There again, I cannot say he is biased – He has declared it in the shastras therefore it is there in the rule-book He created.  He has pointed to a short-cut to cut down on your sanchita karma and take the shortest path to Moksha.  To those that perform Sharanagati – those who consider that He is everything and don’t have any interest in worldly pursuits – those that see Him in everything and are “Attached” (not detached) to Him and only Him – sure He grants them the ultimate desire and aspiration – of attaining Moksha. 

Q6: Is law of karma (action-time delay-reaction) one to one map?
For example, if X beats Y, it is not necessary that Y will get back same as a reaction to pay his dues. If one does God’s prayers consistently and/or do remedies, then Y may get diluted reaction OR may even completely get rid of the reaction? If this Is true? Then, the karma rule is not so rigid for some and rigid
for some.
Hence does it amount to a bias?

Answer: The law of karma is not what you have stated as (action-time delay-reaction)! Karma is to be interpreted as accumulation of points for your actions that you then expend through other actions.  Reaction happens because of nature or involvement of other stakeholders. Neither you nor the Brahmam controls the reaction.  You cut down a tree – nature will react. Now let us come to your example: X beat Y. You could react in one of the following ways: 1. Hit X back. 2. Remain quiet and do nothing 3. Shout back, give X a mouthful of foul language.  X acquires karmic bad point whatever the reason for hitting Y. If X does prayaschitta, he could nullify that bad-point. If Y does reaction no. 1, Y gets a karmic bad point. If from the blow he received from X, Y is in deep pain, he is expending some of his past karmic bad points. If Y does reaction no. 2, he does not get a karmic good point, but then he does not get a karmic bad point either. If Y does reaction no. 3, he would receive a different number of karmic bad points than reaction no 1.  Y can again nullify the bad points acquired in this transaction by doing prayaschitta or repentence (heart-felt). If not, the karmic bad points accumulate in the sanchita karma baggage that keeps getting wider from every such action we take in daily life.  If one does “God’s prayers consistently and/or do remedies” – you don’t necessarily gain karmic good points. If your prayer is directed to Sriman Narayana (and Him alone) and you request cancellation of some/all of your karmic bad points, He is bound to ask you, “what have you done that you are asking for cancellation of your Karmaic bad points.” If you have done some Karma (action) that He is pleased with, He could cancel some or all your Karmic bad points from a particular transaction or phase of previous life.  Sriman Narayana alone reserves the right to interfere in your Karmic balance – no other devata.  Other devatas can give you what they are capable of – they can give you wealth, better health etc. But your Karmic balance, you have to expend through enjoyment (you are spending karmic good points) or suffering (you are spending karmic bad points).

The law of karma – that you get karmic good points for good deeds and karmic bad points for undesirable deeds, and no points for some deeds is universal – there is no bias in the award of these points to anyone whosoever – including the devatas starting from Brahma.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Defining Characteristics of Jeevatma

We know an object by its defining characteristics - In sanskrit it is called 'Swaroopa Niroopaka Dharmam" - i.e. the characteristic (dharmam) that proves or establishes without doubts/questions (niroopaka) that the object is what we know it is (Swaroopa).  We cannot see the Jeevatma.  Therefore it is even more important that we know it by its defining characteristics.

Three special characteristics define the Jeevatma - Anandatvam, Gyanatvam, and Seshatvam.  Out of these three, the former two are agreed upon by Advaitis also.  However, they define the Jeevatma as Gyanam and Anandam - ie, its Swaroopam (composition) itself is Gyanam and Anandam.  The Advaiti, since he believes in a nirguna Brahmam, and that the Jeevatma is the same as the Brahmam, extends the nirgunatvam to the Jeevatma as well.  However, Swami Ramanuja counters it stating that Nirgunatvam (characteristic-less-ness) itself is a characteristic defining the Jeevatma in that case - and therefore nothing can exist without Guna.  The Advaiti therefore also does not agree with calling Anandatvam and Gyanatvam as swaroopa niroopaka dharmam of the Jeevatma - instead calling its as Gyana Swaroopan and Ananda Swaroopan.

Seshatvam (Being a part or sesha of the Brahman) is a unique characteristic that arises out of the Visishtadvaitic interpretation called Sharira-Atma Bhavam (SAB) that I described in the earlier post. Since the Jeevatma is the body of the Antaryami, it is completely controlled by its owner (Antaryami) at all times.  However, since the Jeevatma is encased in this physical body, the human mind (a sookshma sharira, and extension of the physical body) mistakenly identifies itself with the human body.

Another important Visishtadvaitic principle arises from the Seshatvam - called Ananyaarhatvam.  Since there is only one Brahamam that merely by a wish became the various physical universes, the Jeevatma is Sesham "ONLY" to that one Brahmam and none other.  This principle that the Jeevatma is sesham only to that one Brahman and no other is called Ananyaarhatvam.  Since the Shastras describe the Brahamam to be Narayana, one will often find Visishtadvaitis refraining from worshipping other Devatas like Brahma, Shiva, Durga, Parvati, Shakti, Ganesha or Skanda.

Ananyaarha Sheshatvam is an important defining characteristic of the Jeevatma, unique to Visishtadvaita, Swami Ramanuja's school of existential philosophy.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Know One and you know all!

Eka vigyaaneena bahu vigyaanam bhavati!

If you know one, you know it all!  In the prelude to the discussion that culminates in "Tat Tvam Asi" (or the famous "You are That") Shvetaketu who has just returned from his gurukul was asked by his dad, "My son, did you learn that one thing, knowing which you become the knower of everything?" Shvetaketu had come back home from 16+ years of gurukul thinking he has learned everything.  His dad's question caught him unawares and results in the discussion that ends with "Tat Tvam Asi Shvetaketo." That one thing is nothing but the Brahmam.  But the expression "Tat Tvam Asi" ends up as one of the Advaitic Mahavakyams supposed to equate the Jeevatma to the Paramatma.  Swami Ramanuja interprets it using the Visishtadvaitic core theory of Sharira-Atma Bhavam.

What is Sharira-Atma Bhavam (SAB for convenience)?

In short, it defines the Antaryami (Paramatma) as the owner of the Atma (Jeevatma) who in turn owns the Sharira or the physical body.  In the Advaitic interpretation, the Jeevatma is the Paramatma and there is no distinction.  Visishtadvaita's interpretation is "Chetana Achetana Visishta Brahmam" - i.e Chetana (Sentient) and Achetana (Insentient) are sesham to the Brahamam.

In common parlance, people identify themselves with the body they are in.  Therefore they say "I have the Atma inside me." They seldom realize how wrong that statement is.  The Atma is not a part of the body. It is the owner of the body.  It is the "command control center" of the body.  It is the Atma that has taken this body with the purpose of realizing Moksha.  That said, the Antaryami dwells inside the Atma and is the owner of the Atma - the relationship is very similar to relationship the Atma has with the body  This is called Sharia Atma Bhavam. Therefore when we refer to somebody with their name - it refers to the physical body, the Jeevatma that owns that physical body, and the Paramatma that owns the Jeevatma encased on that physical body.  This is the fundamental theory that differentiates Visishtadvaitam and Advaitam.

Visishtadvaitam is still advaitam because it believes in the singleness of the Brahmam - there is only one Brahmam.  However, as stated by Kanchi Devaperumal (Varadaraja Perumal at Kanchipuram) to Thirukkachi Nambigal, "Darshanam Bheda-evacha." i.e the Jeevatma has a separate identity from the Paramatma - and never becomes "one-with" (or merges with) the Brahmam.  The Jeevatma, upon Moksham resides for ever in a new "Divya Mangala Vigraham" in the Sri Vaikuntha abode of the Lord, remaining eternally in service to HIM.  The Jeevatma's purpose of existence is to be of service to HIM - whether here on Earth or in Sri Vaikuntha.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

What Happens on Moksha?

My sources for this answer includes specific works of Adi Shankara and Swami Ramanuja (even though they are from two different schools, they seem to have agreed on this aspect). Since we are discussing about moksha I am only going to discuss here what happens from the time of death of the person who is about to attain moksha.  The sources for what I am going write includes a scripture called archiradi gati, Swami Ramanuja's sharanagati gadyam, and verses form Thiruvaimozhi by Swami Nammazhwar (Part of 4000 diva prabandham, the tamil vedas, practiced as vedas in south indian temples called divya-desams), Adi Shankara's Sri Ranganatha Stotram.

Firstly, Mind is matter (a sookshma sharira, but a sharira nevertheless). When the body falls (when the person dies), the Aatma does a visarjan (gives up) of the sthoola (physical) and sookshma (subtle) sharira (bodies).  AT that instant (when the visarjan is taking place) the knowledge of "Swaroopa" dawns on the Jeevatma. Swaroopa Jnana means, what is the Jeevatma in relation to the Paramatma.  Thereafter, the Vishnudhootas take the Jeevatma that going to attain Moksha to the Vishnu-loka or Parama Pada or Sri Vikuntha as it is called. The Path thus taken to Sri Vaikuntha is called "Archiradi Marga".  It is an exclusive path for those Jeevatmas that attain Moksha.  Those that do not attain Moksha leave by a path called as "Dhoomati Marga", the destination of which is Yama Loka.  There is another Path taken by Sanyasins (i dont know the name of the route) - but they reach Indra-Loka (Sanyasins do not fall in Yama's Jurisdiction).

Enroute on the Archiradi Marga, the Jeevatma passes through a number of deva-lokas - including Indra's world, Varuna's world, and even Brahma's Satya Loka.  Even though all of them invite the Jeevatma to visit them, the Jeevatma is in a hurry to get its Moksha and politely declines these invitations to go on to Sri Vaikuntha.

At Sri Vaikuntha, before it enters, there is a river called the "Viraja River".  The Jeevatma takes a dip in the Viraja River.  When it comes out after taking a dip, it acquires a new "Sharira".  The difference between the sharira we have on earth and the Sharira we take on in the Sri Vaikuntha is in the "gunas".  On earth, our shariras (and everything in nature) is composed of the gunas of Sattva, Rajas, and Tamas.  However, the Sharira we take on in Sri Vaikuntha is composed of "Shudda Sattva" guna.  For that reason it is called "Diva-Mangala-Vigraham". (A beautiful/excellent sharira, if you will).  Sattva Guna's primary characterisic is "knowledge" (Yathavasthita Jnana). In that Sharira is acquires God-like qualities and attains equanimity with the Brahman in "ananada" or Happniess.  That is the reason why the shastras say that the Jeevatma acquires "Samyapatti" with the Brahman.  At no time, does it ever merge with or becomes the Brahman.  It also acquires 6 Kalyana Gunas that describe the word "Bhagwan" - Bha stands for two gunas - Gnana (Knoweldge) and Bala (Strength), Ga stands for Aishwarya (Ability to command over everything) and Veerya (Ability to remain without change), Va stands for Shakti (Being the material cause of everything) and Tejas (Ability to remain independent not needing anybody or anything's help to achieve its goals).

In addition, the Jeevatma acquires the qualities of Satyasankalpatvam and Satyakamatvam. It is now able to go to any loka of its choice, meet anyone of its choice, take any shape it wants.   It acquires its own "shanka" and "chakra" and takes on the four handed form that we see Maha-vishnu in.

There is a reception now organized for the Jeevatma after it has acquired this Sharira.  The Jeevatma is taken to its quarters, and decorated by beautiful apsaras. The Jeevatma even gets a wife.  Elders who are known to the Jeevatma that have attained Moksha welcomes it.  All of them together take the Jeevatma to meet the Lord Sriman Narayana, the Formful Brahman.  There the Jeevtma goes reciting Annasooktam (basically ahamannan ahamannam ahamannado ...etc.) The Lord embraces the Jeevatma and asks it "what took you so long to reach me".  The Jeevatma is like a child in front of the Lord.  The plays with it a while.  Sri Mahalakshmi the Lord's consort is also the leader of the Jeevatmas.  She assigns the service duties to the Jeevatma.  Thus the Jeevatma becomes a Legal Permanent Resident/Citizen of the Sri Vaikuntha.  No passport, No visas, and No Border Protection Officials asking stupid questions.

Note: There is another state called Kaivalya - attained by those that are consumed by "self-realization".  They also attain Moksha.  However, since they are enjoyers of the "Atma-Swaroopam" they remain enjoying their own self outside the Viraja river.  They do not acquire the divya-mangala-vigraham or the excellent body.

Thursday, June 9, 2011


Karma Primer for those interested in Moksha.

What is Karma?
We acquire positive (punya) or negative (paap) brownie points for our deeds and actions during every life we have lived.  These points keep accumulating in our lives.  The objective of human life is to get rid of these brownie points by experience sukh (you are spending positive points when you experience happiness), and dukh (you are spending the negative points when you experience pain/unhappiness).

What is Moksha in Karma Terms?
When we have exhausted all the positive and negative points we have thus far acquired in the all the previous lives, i.e with the Karma Balance is NET 0, at that very instance, we will shed this human body achieve Moksha.

Is Everything God's Will?
One reader by name Basab wrote to me on a forum "The actor acts as per the script and not as per his own wish. So where is this point of free will coming up? There is only God's will as He is the script writer for the movie called 'Life'."

The question really is "Is everything that happens to all of us, God's will?  Is there or isnt there free-will and choice?"

My counter question is, if everything is really God's will, then why is the Karma points for our actions assigned to the individual aatma?  If everytthing is God's will and happens as per his script, then the Karma points must be assigned to HIM and not to the Jeevatma. The Lord has given intelligence, free-will, and choice to each of us in a limited way so that we can choose what we want to do.  We are responsible for our actions.  That is why the Karma is assgined to the individual Jeevatma. However, please note that, we are only responsible for our action - the outcome of our action is not in our control - primarily because there are too many variables at play - including natural uncertainties.  

After death the Jeevatma goes to different worlds to "experience" sukh/dukh as per its balance of Karma.  It takes on a different body in each of those worlds in order to "experience the sukh or dukh". Worlds in which it experiences predominantly pain are called Hells. Example: Rourava is one of the most Bhayanak hells.  Worlds in which it predominantly experiences pleasure are called heaven.  Example: Indraloka also called as Svarga loka is one of the most pleasurable worlds. Even after experiencing sukh/dukh in other worlds the Jeevatma's balance of karma does not exhaust because it has acquired them over millions or even trillions of past lifes.

The Balance of the Karma results in "Prakirti Sambandh" - A Jeevatma that has balance of karma is results in it coming in contact with "nature".  Nature gives the Jeevatma a body - it could be the body of a plant, animal or human.  It is most difficult to get the human body - because it is the predominant type of body in which the Jeevatma can realize it true nature and strive to take the steps towards Moksha.  However, per the Lord's wishes He may grant moksha to a Jeevatma in any body.  There are stories of Him having granted Moksha to a Clay Pot, trees/plants/shurbs, and animals.

Vasanas are pleasurable or painful experiences from previous lifes that hte Jeevatma carries with in the present life., Vasanas from the innumerable life times are carried by each Jeevatma during each subsequent birth.  These vasanas form the basis for "attachments" that the Jeevatma clings to in the present life.

Types of Karma
Sanchita Karma is the whole entire baggage of karma.  It is like the bank balance.
Prarabdha Karma - is the small part of the baggage that has been withdrawn from the baggage for immediate spending in this life.  It is like money in the wallet that has been withdrawn from the bank for some immediate spending.
Kriyamana Karma: This is the new karma we acquire in the present life.

The Objective of each life is to expend Karma and bring the balance lower.  However, we end up acquiring Kriyamana Karma every life, fattening our Sanchita Karma instead of reducing it.  As long as we do not find the knack of reducing karma in each life, our Moksha is only going to keep getting farther and farther from us.

Every Jeevatma that has taken birth HAS to perform action it its life time.  As we perform action, we start acquiring Karmic points.  So how do we reduce the Sanchita, instead of fattening it? That's a secret ;)


Bottomline! 2

This topic is about Moksha.  Moksha is the bottomline to humanlife.  Because, there is nothing more to achieve after it.  Moksha is about understanding the Brahman/Paramatma and striving to reach His abode to be of eternal service to Him. Moksha or No Moksha, in all our lives here on earth or any other planet on which there is life, we are eternally dependent on Him for our existence. He is existence. He is the final object of all spoken and written words in any language.  That said, He therefore is the bottomline of any discussion - written or verbal. Just as no language can exist without the fundamental letter of all alphabets "A", any object ever described by any language points ultimately to Him!  He says in the Bhagvad Gita, "Aksharaanaam Akaarosmi" - (I am the letter A of the alphabet).

Now we just defined two bottomlines - One bottomline is HIM.  Second bottomline is Moksha.  Is there a contradiction?  NO, because Moksha is about Jeevatma attaining the abode of the Paramatma, to Paramatma's delight (not Jeevatma's). So ultimately, Moksha is about the delight of the Paramatma - i.e. it is about HIM.  He therefore is the bottomline! 

Tuesday, June 7, 2011


1. There is one Supreme Lord - Sriman Narayana.
2. There are four goals every person desires - (aka purusharthas) - Justice and Level Playing Field (Dharma),  Wealth (Artha), Fulfilment of Desires (Kama), and  Liberation from Samsara that signifies alternation of pain and pleasure (Moksha).  Dharma, Artha, and Kama are physical desires. Moksha alone is a spiritual desire.  Therefore people that deny spirituality dont care for or achieve Moksha.  They continue to live the cycles of birth and death in samsara during which time they experience alternating pain and pleasure. People that attain Moksha do not experience pain, thereafter in their lives.
3.  The spirit from which spirituality evolves is also called Aatma/Soul.
4. Aatma is different from the Lord that bestows the Moksha on it.
5. The Lord is the only person/authority that can grant Moksha to an individual soul.
6. The Lord is the only INDEPENDENT person in the whole entire existence.  All other beings, sentient and insentient are always dependent on HIM.  That is why He is called, Narayana - meaning, the source of all things that exist.
7. The Lord is always trying to promote the souls to become interested in, and achieve Moksha.  It is we, given our intelligence and scientific reasoning, that keep negating Moksha and indulge in all kinds of activities (out of free will and choice) that take us farther away from Moksha.
8.  The Lord's desire is to grant Moksha, It is we who are running away from Him and Moksha.
9. Even those that understand that Moksha is the final destination, are unaware of methods they can use to achieve it.
10. At least 12 methods have been defined in various shastras that  most definitely include Karma, Jnana, Bhakthi, Dana, etc, The 12th one stated in Yalgnavalkya's smriti is Prapatti.  This is said to be the easiest of the 12 methods.
11. Prapatti is nothing but Sharanagati, or surrendering one's so-called independence at the feet of the Creator, accepting our dependence on Him, and requesting HIM to take us to Moksha.
12. If we perform Sharanagati by ourselves, there is no reason for HIM to trust us or listen our pleas.  Therefore we use a mediator - this Mediator is someone who is in His good books, and therefore someone whose recommendation HE will not reject. That person is the Acharya.
13. In Swami Ramanuja's sampradaya, he has appointed 74 Acharyas called Jeeyars who are empowered to talk to the Lord and recommend individual souls for Moksha.
14.  Any individual reading this, and is interested in booking his/her ticket to Moksha may contact one of the 74 Jeeyars.It is roughly a 30 minute procedure.
15. Once ticket is booked through a Jeeyar, that individual soul (not the physical body in which the ticket was booked) is assured of safe-passage to Moksha, irrespective of what happens in this world to them.  Well, except one, the person has to remain devoted and be respectful of the 74 empowered Jeeyars and his disciples.
16. Even after attaining the status of Moksha, the individual soul remains different from and always dependent on the Lord.
17. Achieving Moksha is the true purpose of Creation. If you dont achieve it in this life, you will take birth again and again, until you realize and achieve it using one of the 12 methods defined in the shastras.

Monday, March 28, 2011


"Upaayeshu Prapattishyaat" is one of the six phrases given by Kanchi Devaperumal to Thirukkachi Nambi, in response to Swami Ramanuja's questions to Him.  Yalgnavakya smriti that lists 12 upayas for moksha, mentions "nyasa" as the 12th.  Nyasa is the same as Prapatti.

Having recognized that He is the only Swatantran, and that all Jeevatmas are paratantrans, we surrender that little-bit swatantryam that we thought was ours at the feet of the Lord.  This is Sharanagati/Surrender.  However, this is an institutionalized process in Swami Ramanuja's Srivaishnava Sampradayam which is mostly followed in the South of India.  What we are indirectly saying to the Lord is - "I have understood Moksham is the final destination of the Jeevatma,  but based on the criteria you have established for the Jeevatma to reach that destination by its effort, it is near to impossible (viz. exhausting all karma - positive and negative), therefore Lord, please accept my inability to go any further down the paths of Karma, Jnana, and Bhakthi - you are what I want, and you are the means for achieving it - please grant me Moksha".

Deciding to perform this Sharanagati/Surrender is only the first step.  Having decided, we need to identify a suitable Guru/Master that can take us to the Lord, introduce us to Him, and be the mediator in the process.  Swami Ramanuja appointed 74 Simhasanadipati's that were empowered to perform this mediation on behalf of a jeevatmas that drop by their Ashrams/Mutts. They go by the name of "Jeeyar" in tamil.

The ceremony for sharanagati is called "pancha samskaram".  During the ceremony, the Jeeyar does everything needed on our behalf.  We only need to follow his instructions.  Once the samskar is done, it establishes the first relationship the Jeevatma acquires in its millions of years of existence - that with the Acharyan.  The relationship with the Acharyan does not end even after attaining Moksha.

In Swami Ramanuja's tradition, the Moksha is a result of the relationship we establish through the Acharyan with Swami Ramanuja's holy feet.

Friday, March 18, 2011

The worlds/Universes

Let us understand "Universe" for a moment here. The vedas say that each universe is egg-shaped and that there are many such universes. Each universe is situated above one of Seshnag's head. Seshnag has countless heads, and therefore there are countless universes. On a jovial side, one may wonder what would happen if Seshnag were to catch a cold and sneeze - will be universes tremble and shake? Well, the Lord has thought a way for that also - because he realized the such a huge snake when he even breathes the worlds will go up and down. so, just like we have shock absorbers in our cars, He placed the seven avarna waters as the padding on Seshnag's head, and then placed the universes on them. All these universes together are called the "changing worlds". It implies that the only thing constant and ever assured in these worlds is change.

The Lord, on the other extreme has also created a "permanent world" in which "changes" do not happen. The Lord himself is referred to as "Avikara" - one without change. This permanent world is called Sri Vaikuntha (the land of no diminishment).

Returning to the discussion on the tri-gunas, the changing worlds (all thousands of them) and everything in them are composed of the three gunas - sattva, rajas, and tamas. The permanent world and whatever it contains (all matter, all people, all everything) are composed of "shudda-sattva". The reason for calling it "shudda-sattva" is to distinguish it from the "mishra-sattva" (mixed sattva) that is present in the changing worlds.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Bhagvaan is everywhere and in everything

In English, people call it "God"...that word does not have any etymolology.  I prefer to use the sanskrit term "Bhagvaan" - it means that He has six main gunas -
Bha stands for two gunas - Gnana (Knoweldge) and Bala (Strength),
Ga stands for Aishwarya (Ability to command over everything) and Veerya (Ability to remain without change),
Va stands for Shakti (Being the material cause of everything) and Tejas (Ability to remain independent not needing anybody or anything's help to achieve its goals).

The "an" in the end denotes, one who is combined with these 6 gunas.  Advaiti says Brahmam is devoid of Gunas.  Bhagvaan has numerous, countless groups of Guans says swami Ramanuja.In any case it is easier to be devoted to someone who has excellent qualities like Grace, Kripa, Daya etc. than to be devoted to something or someone that does not have any gunas.

Every name in the world denotes the Bhagvaan.  Everything and Everyone that is called by a name - has an Atma in it.  That Atma is in turn owned by the Bhagvaan. Therefore every name on earth - whether you call the spade a spade or stone a stone, or a person by his/her name, all names (proper and common) denote the Bahgvaan.  Bhagvaan, as "antaryaami" resides within each Atma, commanding it, and owning it. No wonder, when you call me by my name or I call you by your name, the reference to you, takes me all way from the body which is known by that name, to the Atma that owns the body, to the Antaryami that owns the Atma.  Even if a person considers himself/herself as an atheist and denies the existence of Bhagvaan, even their names  denote the Bhagvaan - even within them, the Bhagvaan stays in their Atma as an Antaryami.  That is the reason we refrain from hurting other's feelings even if they have inadvertently hurt ours.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Moksha - the Final Purushartha

Moksha is not merely liberation from Samsara, but is the highest goal ever achievable - way beyond what Bill Gates, Warren Buffets, US Presidents, Albert Einstein, Stephen Hawkings, and the other so called "successful people" have achieved during their mortal time-frame on earth.  While Moksha is defined as the "final achievable goal" for us human-beings, the philosophy of the Tengalai Sri Vaishnava  religious sect is that it is actually a "purushottamartham" - the goal to be achieved by the Supreme Lord!

While Moksha liberates the aatma from prakirti sambandam and samsara, it also bestows on the aatma numerous unimaginable benefits.  Firstly, upon death, when the aatma get rid of the visible and invisible bodies, it  travels via the Archiradi marga all the way to Viraja River outside the Lord's abode called Sri Vaikuntha.  Vaikuntha means - land of no dimishment.  Everything in this world is made of "shudda Sattva" - including chit and achit.  Here after taking bath in the Viraja River, the Aatma acquires a "diva-mangala vigraham" - call it if you will, an unimaginable, spectaculor, splendid body made of shudda-sattva material.  By nature of acquiring this shudda-sattva body, the aatma becomes all-knowing.  It acquired omniscience, on par with the lord.  Not only that, it acquires satya-kamatva, and satya-samkalpatvam - the desire to do sattvic things at all times.  It acquires extra-ordinary abilities beyond what once can describe here on earth - instantly you come to know the past, present, and future - you can know all your previous lifes and how you reached the final destination, you can know the future of man-kind and where it is headed, you understand everything about creation on earth and whether there is life on other planets.  You get the ability to take on any form or shape at will.  However, this description is only tip of the iceberg - the most important quality you acquire upon achieving moksha is "happiness" (Ananda).

What is special about this happiness?  The quality of happiness we have on earth is mixed and therefore shortlived.  However, the quality of the happiness is very limited.  Compared to this, the happiness of the Devas is much higher.  Compared to Devas, the quality of the happiness of four-headed Brahma is much higher.  It is said, from Brahma's happiness, even if you establish a ladder the size of this universe, you cannot reach the Supreme-Lord Narayana's happiness.  The liberated aatma, feels for the first time, the same quality of unbridled happiness as the Supreme Lord.  This is called "Samyapatti" - or equanimity.

So why do Srivaishnavas consider Moksha as something the lord has to achieve as opposed to the individual aatma?  It is because, they, through prappatti shastra, surrender to the Lord and make Moksha His Responsibility as opposed to the individual aatma's responsibility.

Therefore, Moksha is the most important goal for every human being - nay the ultimate and the only goal a human being should have in life - because the achievement of the goal is the most elusive, most difficult, but once you have achieved it, the benefits are immense.  Isn't it then something every human being should be striving for?  The world however, mixed with three-gunas of Sattva, Rajas, and Tamas, has forgotten this final goal, and wastefully spending its time in pursuit of various stupid things!

Friday, January 28, 2011

Objectives of Life - Purusharthas

Human Beings are said to desire four objectives in life - Dharma, Artha, Kama, Moksha.  Indians/Western students of Hinduism have tried to translate these very subtle terms severally.  One such translation I found in Wikipedia is:

Unhappy with most of these translation, especially as they dont convey the meaning of these objective as they should be understood, I propose the following description:

Dharma - Dharma indicates the fundamental rights to equality, justice, freedom, and a level playing field to compete and live life according to an individual's own terms, while agreeing with and adhereing to social norms.  This includes the right to practice one's own religion, including atheism.  When an individual has been provided this level playing field, he/she goes on to use it for acquiring the next objective - Artha.

Artha - Artha indicates material wealth.  At the basic minimum this might include food, clothing and shelter.  However, there is no end to the material wealth one might desire to acquire.

Kama - Kama essentially indicates "desire" and not "sex" as most people translate it.  True the Kamasutra does deal about sexual poses for increased physical pleasure, but that does not mean Nish-Kamya_Karma should be translated to Karma that is not driven by Sex!  Nish-Kamya-Karma indicates karma without desires (for the fruits of the action).  As a human-life objective, Kama indicates fulfilment of desires.  It primarily acknowledges that desire is different from greed for material wealth.  Kama could indicate, in its simplistic form, desire for happiness.

When the individual has achieved these three, then he/she turns attention to the final and the most desired objective of Moksha.  Most of the human beings, especially ones belonging to other faiths get lost at this point.  Moksha is liberation from Samsara - the continuous cycle of birth-life-death-rebirth, driven by karma accumulated during a life-period.  As karma grows, so does chances of being born in a lower life-form - like animal, plant etc.  When one exhausts the karma baggage - no positive and no negative karma left, then at that point the individual achieves moksha/liberation/nirvana.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Life is Knowledge

The purpose of human life is acquisition of knowledge (gnyan vikas).  There are three primary sources of knowledge - two are scientific, the third is extra-scientific.  The scientific sources of knowledge are practical experience (pratyaksha), and inference (anumana).  Practical experience is realized through the 5 sense organs. Logical extrapolation is achieved through thinking and extending what we already know.  It however needs a starting point fixed in what we know through practical experience.  For example, we know that wet-log+fire causes smoke.  When we see smoke at a distance, we can infer that there is fire and wet-log. If the same is happening in a forest, we might conclude from that inference that it may be unsafe to venture into that area because there could be potentially dry wood nearby that could result in a a bigger forest fire.  The third source is extra-sensory experience that which some call as divine-intervention.