"Our body and this complex world around us is meant to reveal and display the Self variously. Spiritual seeking lies in looking for That which animates the body. Turn the mind and intelligence inward to their very Source. Let the thoughts make you search for the thinking substance, the thinker.  Only then the mystery of the Self will be unveiled."

The Guiding force of Narayanashrama Tapovanam & Center for Inner Resources Development

Swami Bhoomananda Tirtha

  • Sādhana-śibiram | Delhi | March 2018 17-02-2018

    Swami Nirviseshananda Tirthaji will be in Delhi from Mar 07 to Apr 01, 2018 to conduct the annual Sādhan¡-Śibiram. Enlightened Living and "Be Master of Yourself" workshop is being offered. Details.

  • Enlightened Living | Delhi NCR | March 2018 16-02-2018

    Swami Nirviseshananda Tirtha Ji will conduct a residential course "Enlightened Living" from 15th to 25th March 2018. Participation requires prior registration. No charge.

  • Dakshinkhanda Pilgrimage - A Report 15-02-2018

    By the end of the night there were so many words that came up repeatedly in attempt to convey the feelings about this sublime event - blessed, grateful, deeply moved, and humbled. Humbled to see what true bhakti really is.

Practical Guidance

Prabhaata Rashmih talks by Poojya Swamiji
  • PR 04 Oct 2016 - Panditya, Balya, Mouna in Spiritual Pursuit
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    Harih Om Tat Sat. Jai Guru. Jai Guru.

    What shall I tell you? The whole of spiritual life and spirituality, spiritual wisdom is meant to penetrate into the mind, dwell in the mind and bring about a number of enrichments, elevations, sublimations, and ornamentations to our personality. Nothing in spirituality is a negative element. Everything is enriching, elevating, expanding, ornamenting, decking.

    We are putting on ornaments for the body, neck, ear, nose, hand etc. In the same manner, why don’t you deck your mind also, intelligence also? Spirituality aims at doing this, inner decorations. In this matter, the best that will help you is reading of our fundamental sastras. By fundamental sastras, what do I mean? I mean, primarily the Vedic Upanishads. People do not get there generally. Bhagavad Gita is a kind of an elucidation of the Upanishadic truths and principles. It is written in a book form. Upanishads are not so much like that. Bhagavad Gita consists of 18 chapters and these 18 chapters are beautifully connected. They are precise on the one hand, brief, at the same time they are expansive and comprehensive.

    Generally, the difficulty is many people will not be able to get into the core of Bhagavad Gita. There are many statements in many places in Bhagavad Gita. You should be able to get at those or that which will clinch your pursuit and fulfil you. In the same manner, whether it is the Upanishads, Srimad Bhagavatam or Brahma Sutras or any other text, your success lies in eliminating a lot and focusing on a few. And once you have been able to do it, the focused sentences or words or paragraphs should be always dwelling in you. You must be able to commit them to memory.

    Today I was wondering what should I talk? I think from tomorrow onwards, I will undertake the mouna. So, I was wondering, should I not speak about it today. Then I thought, what is this mouna? Suddenly I felt like telling you,

    Pāṇḍithya Bālya Mounākhyāni sādhanāni sādhayitavyāni.

    I hope I am right in the words. This is something that I happened to read when I was in Kolkata in my pre-sannyasa life. This is Sankara’s words in perhaps Mandukya Upanishad. What is this sadhana? What is this Jnana sadhana? Actually the Upanishads hold that you have to get into the truths, by first of all locating them as to what they are and where they are. Then, do your own reflection and rumination as a result of which it will not merely remain a book words but will remain your thoughts. There is a lot of difference between the two.

    The words in the book remain there as inert. When they enter your personality, you mind, your intelligence, they become as vibrant as you are. So, the first hurdle that you have to overcome is to find out what are the real salient thoughts and then learn them and make them yours. So, when I read

    Pāṇḍithya Bālya Mounākhyāni sādhanāni sādhayitavyāni.

    Pāṇḍithya, Bālya and Mouna - These are the three sadhanas that you are have pursue and make real. This is all what one has to do. The entire spiritual sadhana is condensed by Sankara in these three words. What do they mean?

    Pāṇḍithya means in one sense, a scholarly knowledge. It is not just a knowledge. Even a child will recite Bhagavad Gita. A child can recite even an Upanishad. We met an African girl studying in school. It is incredible. I asked her last year, “Will you learn Vishnu Sahasranama?” And she has learned it. And the manner in which she recites, the mood, the piety, the so-called absorption with which she says, I think she is 95, 98, 99% alright. Then, some of the verses in our Atma Sudha, they are very difficult verses to pronounce. When Mā asked her to pronounce, to recite a few verses. With no difficulty and assuming or anything whatsoever, she closed her eyes, held the mike and started reciting. I wonder how many in our group will be able to recite like that. So beautifully she had recited! It is a very exceptional cultural enrichment that she has got.

    Now this scholarship means, you should know, what are the Vedas, what are the Upanishads, what are the other sastras, what are the Atma Jnana Sastras. As much as you know, better and not unnecessarily so that you should not be a fool. You should understand the matters properly in the manner in which it is presented. It is presented as a sacred text, sacred words, it is presented as a logical presentation, it is presented in an aphoristic manner by the Upanishads, Gita and Brahma Sutras. Then you find them explained in Prakarana Granthas, individual texts. So, these things you know. Atleast know Bhagavad Gita.

    Then Bālya, that means what? Childlike innocence. I don’t know how many people are innocent. Everybody want to cover up the mind and put up pretenses, answer no question in a straight manner, always, “If I answer what will happen? What will others think?” etc. Two plus three, how much is it, five. Is there a question of somebody thinking differently about your answer? In the same manner, what is in your mind? You may maximum say “I would like to speak about it alone when you are there.” That much you can say. But the answer is whatever is in your mind, that alone is the answer.

    ‘What do you want? What is your aim? Are you happy?’ All these questions cannot have two answers. ‘Are you truthful? Do you speak lies?’ Our cultural heritage class children, infrequently I sit with them, I talk to them. So every time, generally invariably I ask them, “What about your truthfulness? You had mentioned to me last time. Still do you speak lies? Lift your hands.” They will raise their hands. The number become lesser and lesser every time. “Why are you speaking lies?” “It is necessary.” “Why it is necessary?” They will say their reason. Some children said, “We try to avoid lies but we have not been able to.”

    Pāṇḍithya Bālya Mounākhyāni sādhanāni. Mouna means what? Normally people understand oral silence. Silence, not speaking. Why are you not speaking? Words represent thoughts and ideas. If you don’t speak, then there should be no ideation also in the mind. So the word, mouna properly analyzed means, Samadhi, Nirvikalpa Samadhi. You sit, the body become still, the mouth also becomes still, then the mind also has to become still. When that stillness is attained, that is called mounam. 

    Generally, if people observe mouna normally as an austerity, it should not be just a physical silence. That mouna should be used for deeper and finer introspection, particularly truthful introspection which will culminate in the so-called Samadhi.

    So, I propose to be in mouna from tomorrow onwards for at least two weeks. Then I said, what is this mouna? In my case, I am taking this mouna, what for? Only to help my vocal system. The doctor said I have chronic laryngitis. But it is not in any way dangerous. Public speakers have it. “So, you go to America, but on one condition that after coming back you should be in total mouna for two weeks or fifteen days.” So, I am going to do it. I have done it earlier also. I will have a board with a clip and a few sheets of paper and a pen. So, whatever I have to say, I will indicate it in the form of letters and words. But I can hear people. There is no harm in hearing them.

    The point wanted to emphasis is these three words ever since I read them, they were in my mind.

    Pāṇḍithya Bālya Mounākhyāni sādhanāni

    What is sadhana for a spiritual seeker? This is the sadhana.  Pāṇḍithya - learning. Bālya - for the mind and heart, Mounā - as a spiritual practice. Just see how beautifully he has put it! At least I have spent so much of time. So, the inmates of the Ashram, sadhikas and sadhakas, they should at least remember this for my sake. Pāṇḍithya Bālya Mouna. To this extent you have to learn and remember the truths, so that they will come and play whenever you want.

    Harih Om Tat Sat. Jai Guru. Jai Guru.

  • PR 02 Oct 2016 - Devotional Sublimity and Samatva Attitude is the same
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    In Virginia this time, we had a four-day Bhagavad Gita session. In Malaysia also, we had a three-day session. It was specifically aimed at making the people understand, how Bhagavad Gita is not so much a religious text as it is a practical, interactional sadhana text. First day, I spoke about the historic background and the developments that took place before this dialogue between Krishna and Arjuna began. This dialogue between Krishna and Arjuna transpired before the commencement of the war.

    And after the end of the war, Bhishma and Yudhishthira had a prolonged dialogue. There, Yudhishthira raised the point, “I don’t feel like sitting on the throne. I feel a lot of guilt and even sin. I have been instrumental in killing my own brother. My mother did not disclose the fact that Karna is my elder brother. Why did she not do so? I am not going to sit on the throne. I will go to forest again."

    Now, this was the background from where Bhishma had to speak elaborately to redress the mind of Yudhishthira. In all probability, that was a longer conversation and dialogue. But in the case of Arjuna and Krishna, it was not so elaborate, though we find it is a synopsis of all kinds of thought processes prevalent in the country. But, may be 2 ½ to 3 hours, the conversation extended itself.

    And then I started discussing the second chapter, the third chapter, taking some relevant verses, only to explain to the listeners that Bhagavad Gita was discussing in a very pragmatic way what Arjuna wanted. He wanted removal of grief and he also wanted sreyas. Krishna was focusing on these two points very, very well. Both of them related to the mind and intelligence. How the mind has to be dealt with, how the intelligence has to be encouraged and also persuaded to think loftier and loftier. This is a very simple human personality and life and interaction with the world question. But I ended it up with some devotional elements also. And people seem to have been very much touched. They were very happy.

    The point in my bringing about the devotional thoughts there was, whether it is the approach of devotion or the approach of interactional philosophy, in both cases what is involved is the mind and the enrichment that we are seeking to gain is also mental. And there is only one subject, one quality, one ideal, one value, that is the mind is always getting alternate responses and reactions to the interactions – happiness and unhappiness. These are the only resultants of all the activities and interactions we do. Even if the interaction or activity become religious, even then you would feel either happy or unhappy about what you have done or what you have left. So, it is a kind of calmness quietitude, stability of the mind. I said this is the attainment in the devotional approach also. Then I quoted two verses. One verse was:

    नास्था धर्मे न वसुनिचये नैव कामोपभोगे
    यद्भव्यं तद्भवतु भगवन् पूर्वकर्मानुरूपम् ।
    ह्येतत् प्रार्थ्यं मम बहुमतं जन्मजन्मान्तरेऽपि
    त्वत्पादाम्भोरुहयुगगता निश्चला भक्तिरस्तु ।।
    - मुकुन्दमाला
    nāsthā dharme na vasunicaye naiva kāmopabhoge
    yadbhavyaṁ tadbhavatu bhagavan pūrva-karmānurūpam |
    hyetat prārthyaṁ mama bahumataṁ janma-janmāntare'pi
    tvat-pādāmbhoruha-yugagatā niścalā bhaktirastu ||
    - Mukundamālā

    For all devotees, what is the goal? To have unflinching devotion to the Lord. What does it mean, unflinching devotion to the Lord? The effect, so far as the mind is concerned is the mind becomes calm, it is not shaken, there is no desire, there is no hatred. It will become an embodiment of serenity, virtue, sublimity. This is what Krishna means by samatva also. When you become equal towards sukha and duhkha, the only two experiences which the world and the world objects, interactions with them bring about, then what is there further to be had?

    In this sloka, what the devotee says is, nāsthā dharma, I have no interest in dharmic discussions and dharmic adherence. Why? They are required only when we are interested in the things of the world. In my case, na vasunicaye, I have no interest in gaining or amassing property and wealth.

    Naiva kāmopabhoge, I don’t want also to appease my passion. If there is no desire and greed for enjoying anything, then what is the impact? The impact will be serenity, sublimity and calm. Why are you saying like this that you are not interested even in dharmic adherence? Because, the question of dharma as a discipline or a value arises only when we are doing something to gain. When that gainful feeling is not there and you are not after anything in this world, then where is the need and relevance for dharma? I have no desire to fulfill, I have nothing to enjoy. When that feeling comes, dharma becomes redundant.

    Moreover, one more reason is that yadbhavyaṁ tadbhavatu bhagavan pūrva-karmānurūpam. People say that our present life is a resultant of so many lives we have led in the past. So, we have got something, while getting born, we also come a bundle. That bundle will govern our life. If the incidents in our life are governed by the results of our past karma, then should I ever seek anything? Everything will take place according to the karmic law.

    But, he says, “I have one specific prayer before you.” hyetat prārthyaṁ mama bahumataṁ. This one prayer is extremely cherished by me and it is immensely valuable. What is that? Janma-janmāntare'pi, we don’t know about further janmas. Some say no, some say yes. There is philosophy for both. So, I would like to be on the safe side. What is that? Assume that we will have further births. So, as is this birth, so will be other births also. What is my problem now? The same problem will continue. So, what is it that I want?

    Janma-janmāntare'pi, even if I have to take many janmas, in all the janmas, tvat-pādāmbhoruha-yugagatā niścalā bhaktirastu. Let me have unshaken, unflinching, unswerving devotion to Your lotus feet.

    Now tell me, it is a prayer by a devotee based upon completeness of devotion. And where does it act? And what does it produce? It brings about a reformation to the mind and the mind drops all desires and concerns, thinking that whatever will take place, will! Why should there be a prayer or an interference? By praying, can we change? Even if we change, what? World will continue to be what it is, producing happiness and unhappiness.

    So even in the devotional language and thought process, what we arrive at is the quietude of the mind, the stillness of the mind, the absorption and contentment of the mind. This is the same contentment that Sri Krishna speaks about by his samatva buddhi yoga. There it was analyzing life, analyzing the sensory interactions, then going into the impacts they bring about in the mind, identifying them as only two and developing an even attitude towards them. Both of them together alone can work. You cannot have happiness alone nor can you have unhappiness alone. They are mutual, mutual. Understand that mutuality and then be free, free. There is nothing for you to gain or to lose.

    You did not want your birth, but you are born. You don’t also specifically say, “I should be this or I should be that”. But we are something or the other. Just like there are so many universal laws, many of them are physical, chemical, bio-physical, bio-chemical, biological, there is also a mental or inner spiritual law by virtue of which whatever one rightly needs, he is sure to get. So, I make myself calm and composed. This composure and calm of the mind are what is sought by the samatva buddhi yoga also.

    I generally don’t quote devotional verses when discussing this kind of a portion from Bhagavad Gita. But this time, I quoted two verses. And then said, even in the pursuit of devotion, the fulfillment comes when the devotional approach and the devotional attitude have their due impact in the mind to take away all agitations, all desire, all hatred, and all everything. It is better that we understand this. It is not that devotion is different from wisdom or wisdom is distanced from devotion. It is not at all so, not at all so.

    नास्था धर्मे न वसुनिचये नैव कामोपभोगे
    यद्भव्यं तद्भवतु भगवन् पूर्वकर्मानुरूपम् ।
    ह्येतत् प्रार्थ्यं मम बहुमतं जन्मजन्मान्तरेऽपि
    त्वत्पादाम्भोरुहयुगगता निश्चला भक्तिरस्तु ।।

    You know, I might have chanted this verse alone by myself with all the full voice that I could, many times. People don’t know what is sadhana. Sadhana is spending time like this. When you chant the verse and you can chant it very well with the full throat and heart and in the process, you can also mentally associate the meaning with each word, making sure that as you utter the words, the meaning and association also come to your mind, then you also listen to your voice, it will be a threefold focus or concentration. Once you are able to strike it, instantly it will be joyful and fulfilling. Very ecstatic!

    Harih Om Tat Sat. Jai Guru. Jai Guru.

  • PR 03 Sep 2016 - The Importance of Interactional Pursuit
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    Harih Om Tat Sat. Jai Guru. Jai Guru.

    After taking deeksha from my Gurudev, I started my sadhana. The sadhana I felt then was sitting in a closed room, absolutely still bodily, and then getting into the mind and making the mind in terms of intensity of sadhana, whatever it wants to be. It started leading to various kind of experience but I somehow felt and perhaps my Gurudev also told me, “You should not be attached to or looking for any experience”. So that was very a guiding principle. I also found these experiences are of no avail. They have a beginning and they have an end. They will come again and again.

    Whenever we want to be spiritual, we cannot sit in meditation and then bring about spirituality. Spirituality should transform us and we should continue to be spiritual all the time. In sleep, we don’t want it and we are definitely spiritual. So, in the wakeful hours we must always have a feeling and fullness that we are spiritual.

    So, this meditation and meditational experiences did not, I thought suffice. I also started reading Vedantic books. Every time I read especially poetic texts, I found something very, very suggestive, very revealing. These revelations started acting on me. Maybe it is from the Upanishads, from Bhagavad Gita, from the Prakarana Granthas, primarily written by Shankaracharya.

    Why I am saying this? However much you may meditate and meditational absorption also takes place, the moment you wake up, you may feel a little spiritual and divine for a time. After some time, you are interacting sensorily with the world and world objects in which persons also are there. That interaction is what constantly upsets you. It generates desire, greed, possessiveness, jealousy, intolerance, hatred. So many troublesome and unpleasant reactions and attitudes crop up in our mind. If we are constantly sleeping, this problem is not there. The moment we wake up, the mind starts picking up all kinds of responses, ambitions and the like. Unless this wakeful life is set right, this meditation will be of no avail.

    Meditation should be there, then only you will understand the problem, you will know about your mind. This is how I started thinking about interactional sadhana.

    When I started reading Bhagavad Gita and trying to understand, I found throughout Bhagavad Gita there is only one message. Sublimate your kama-krodhas, raga-dveshas, ishta-anishtas and all kinds of pairs of opposites. Krishna has spoken about meditation in a chapter. Then he should have ended saying that “I have explained to you meditation. Sit in meditation and experience the Self, enough.” He did not do it. He discussed meditation as a part of his exposition in the sixth chapter and all the seventeen chapters of Bhagavad Gita are not about meditation. Then what are they about? They are only about our life, its interactions, the type of responses our mind generates, our intelligence generates, how constricted our inner personality is, how to bring about changes, improvement, expansion and all that.

    I have been speaking about Bhagavad Gita after I became a sanyāsin. Right from the beginning, my talk was very unique, only in this sense. I was emphasizing a lot about this ishta-anishtas, kama-krodhas and bringing instances of family life, kitchen life, drawing room life, inter-personal relationship within the family, outside the family etc. People must have found something totally new about it.

    Why I am mentioning this? Unless your inter-personal relationship is set right, I don’t think there is any purpose in our doing sadhana. In the Ashram, all the inmates who have come here, they have come here renouncing everything. Renouncing their own people, renouncing their income etc. and then they have only Ashram in their mind, Ashram as the refuge, Ashram as the friend, well-wisher, everything. It is a very, very great step, laudable step. Obviously, they were young but their growth has been after coming to the Ashram, maturity and all that. You should use this Ashram and the presence of inmates for your improvement.

    You are all physically living together, mentally you should start living together. It requires appreciation and accommodation for the others. Appreciate the others. Everybody will have some plus points, maybe some minus points. Appreciate the plus. Do not spend your time on the minus and you should take the freedom and give the freedom to discuss the points of difference. Communication should be kept up always. This requires softness, sweetness, nobody should dislike you. Go into the question as to “Why I am disliked?” You can ask the people. Say, “You say you dislike me. Please let me know what are the factors which make you dislike me. I will try to set right these factors”.

    In other words, the constant effort to be friendly with each other and appreciative with each other, towards each other, this itself will be the best sadhana that one can think of. Bhagavad Gita says:

    सुहृन्मित्रार्युदासीनमध्यस्थद्वेष्यबन्धुषु ।
    साधुष्वपि च पापेषु समबुद्धिर्विशिष्यते ।।
    suhṛn-mitrāry-udāsīna-madhyastha-dveṣya-bandhuṣu |
    sādhuṣv-api ca pāpeṣu sama-buddhir-viśiṣyate ||
    (Bhagavad Gita 6.9)

    You take this shloka and read it. Think at least one week on what it means. Our sama-buddhi to accommodate all the different kinds of people, that is what makes a man excel in the practice of yoga in spirituality. Your mind should not be upset by anything, by anybody. If ‘X’ causes agitation to you, agitation is yours, ‘X’ maybe the cause. That agitation should be treated as my failure, my problem and I must be able to set it right, sublimate it. How will you sublimate it? By meditation? Okay, meditate. Every time something happens, you cannot go and meditate.

    So, the sublimation takes place by loftier reflections, loftier qualities. We require dispassion. We require aspiration also for moksha. But we also require viveka, discretion and discrimination. Understand that mind is one where you float, you live, you move. Interactions are with people and with the objects of the world but what interacts is the mind and what is impacted is the mind.

    So I would like to say, when we go and when we come back, every one of you will have something good to say, not bad. If you have bad you should tell us, that is bad. Feel that ‘Others should be helped and not hindered by me.’ Your inter-personal relationship should be very sweet and it should become a model. Will you deliberate upon it? I would like you to have some little joint meeting. Joint meeting when? If you want to call Swamiji, call Swamiji, otherwise you discuss matters between yourselves. ‘Are we all right? What is the trouble? Do you have anything to say about me?’ This should be the purpose of the meeting. Use every other as a mirror that reflects your mind. Will you do it? This is a question I am asking.

    If this approach is adopted, you will find, in a month or two, matters will completely change. You cannot imagine, amazing improvement will take place. Your mind will become open, it will become flexible, it will become assimilative. It will start assimilating all instances, all events, all problems, all developments. Never have a feeling of displeasure about anybody. If the displeasure comes, it becomes your problem. Dissolve it, dissolve it, dissolve it by reflecting upon it. ‘Is this displeasure right? Am I to be in displeasure or am I to be in pleasure? Why is displeasure caused?’ Displeasure is your mind’s. Should your mind become amiable, amiable, amiable to all? Or should it become selective? Why don’t you think about it?

    Then another confession I have to make to you is this. If I start thinking about the behavior and various kinds of expression of every one of you, I have some difficulty. I am not very happy. Though behavior-wise, interpersonal-behavior particularly, every one of you is not up to the mark, there are problems and difficulties. But I would like to say that I have no dislike to any one of you, though I find that you have dislikeable traits. So, the dislikeable traits even if they are there, I don’t dislike any one of you. Not only that, I like you. Seeing you, talking to you, being by your side, having all of you here doing different pieces of work, all these are so delightful and fulfilling to me.

    Why I am telling you this? It is not necessary that you like all the traits in everyone but you should not dislike the person. So, this is perhaps a little strange proposition. Traits are not alright but the person I love, like and cherish his company or her company. It is such a wonderful thing! Similarly, in the world there are many things which I don’t like. In spite of it, I don’t hate the world. We are a product of the world. The world is ours, we are of the world. Whatever the world gives me, even my talking to you about this, this is something that the world has enabled me to do. So, I don’t dislike the world at all though there are many dislikeable elements in the world.

    I read a report from a New Zealander about India. What he says is perhaps absolutely correct. He says, “India will never become non-corrupt. People like corruption here. The Europeans came here and built schools. Indians have gone outside and they are building temples”, he says. This is one side of it. We are going there not to deliver them anything but to take from there. Here, Europeans have come to the poor country and they have come here to give us something. So, they were picking up schools and building it. That is one side of it. But just imagine, there is a lot in saying this. We like corruption. Without corruption, nothing can be done. And people like to give some money and get things done. The other day somebody told me the entire industry is standstill because no corruption is possible. They say “We want to give some money and get things done but we are not able to do it. At the top level, licenses are granted, no delay is there. But at the lower level nothing moves. Even one generation will not be able to set it right.”

    First of all, we must be more resourceful. There should not be any individual poverty or lack of minimum resources. Everybody must have enough to eat, enough to drink, enough to wear, enough to live in. When such a condition comes, there is no necessity for corruption. Then if you can enforce your law, a new culture will evolve and it will take something like 50, 60 or 100 years to get settled. So when people say the truth, we have to accept.

    So please be loving each other, be happy with each other. You should be happy at the sight of the people. You should be happy at his or her company. It is very, very necessary, very, very necessary. A failure in this is a failure in your sadhana, failure in your mumukshutva, failure in your viveka. Why I am saying this? This interactional field, interactional sadhana, this is the ground for everything. Perhaps many people do not know this that this is the fact. Every one of you should examine and incorporate these points. I embrace all of you mentally. I bless you also but please pick up and be very pleasant and sublimating everything in life.

    Harih Om Tat Sat. Jai Guru.



Poojya Swamiji says that the real focus

  • of devotional practices is not God, but the devotee's own mind and behaviour;
  • of karmayoga is not action but the attitude of the mind with which an action is performed;
  • of knowledge is not knowledge, but the purification and expansion of the seeker's mind.

Swamiji's Teachings


Poojya Swamiji says that the real focus

  • of devotional practices is not God, but the devotee's own mind and behaviour;
  • of karmayoga is not action but the attitude of the mind with which an action is performed;
  • of knowledge is not knowledge, but the purification and expansion of the seeker's mind.


NSJi-HmPgSwami Nirviseshananda Tirtha

Swami Nirviseshananda Tirthaji, a renunciate disciple of Poojya Swamiji, is known for his scientific expositions which are a source of inspiration to seekers.  Read More...


Ma Gurupriya

A disciple of Poojya Swamiji, Ma is the loving mother of Poojya Swamiji's devotees around the world. Devotion and service remain the predominant forces shaping Ma's life.  Read More...


[Concluding part  of the talk on Kathopanishad  delivered on 26th   December 2004 at the 3rd  Sreemad Bhaagavata  Tattva Sameeksha Satram.]

Seeing  the useless  cows  being gifted  to the priests,  Nachiketa  felt very sorry and anxious: “By this behaviour of my father, he will certainly be taken to hell.” He was a humble, pure-minded boy. His only concern was how to save his father. Finally he thought, “The most virtuous gift a person can offer is his son. If my father can give me  as  Dāna,  then all his sin for offering  the useless  cows to the priests  will be expiated.”

So, Nachiketa went to his father and asked, “O my dear Father! To whom will you gift me?” The father did not reply. Nachiketa asked once, twice, thrice. Finally the father burst out in anger: “mṛtyave tvāṃ dadāmīti – I shall give you to death.”

Cursing the son to death! Can there be a greater fall for a father? Such a ritualistic father who must have studied quite a lot of scriptures! The son too was exceptionally noble  and had not done anything wrong – he only wanted to save his father from going to hell! Such a son Vaajaśravas was cursing to death!

The Upanishad is pointing out the level of degeneration desire and greed can take us to if they are not treated and purified at the right time by wisdom – by the words of the scriptures. Overpowered by greed for worldly objects or otherworldly attainments, when  we  flout  the  scriptural  directions  and  injunctions,  it  can  lead  us  to  any inauspicious consequence. Vaajaśravas’ character shows us that one may read many scriptures or perform hundreds of rituals, but if the mind is not purified he will fall from the auspicious path.

From Constricted Identity to Universal Identity

In life, we start from the ignorant state, where we think ourselves to be small, limited by our body-mind personality. Whenever we refer to ‘I’, as our own self, we identify with our body-mind limited personality. But the Upanishads speak about the Ultimate Goal,  which is Brahmātmaikatvabodha   –    Brahma - ātmā - ekatva - bodha. Brahman is the all-pervading consciousness on which the whole Universe appears to be. And ātmā is the  Subject Consciousness  within us. Generally the two are wide apart  in  our  understanding.  But  the  Upanishads  exhort  us  to  realize  through  the purification of our mind the identity of Brahman and ātmā– where my ‘I’, your ‘I’ and his ‘I’ will not be  different; there will be only one Universal Consciousness or Brahman. That is called Brahmātmaikatvabodha.

So, our journey is from the constricted body-mind identity to the unlimited universal identity – from  Dehātma bodha to  Brahmātmaikatvabodha. And,  what  is  the sādhanā for that? Whatever makes our mind expand, that alone can take us to the final universal expansion. That is the sādhanā. Whatever constricts our mind, surely takes us away from the goal. That is anti-sādhanā. All of us can find out looking into our  own  mind  whether  any  action,  word  or  thought  is  constricting  our  mind  or expanding our mind.

Now,  in  the  case  of  Vaajaśravas, we  find  that  he  was  getting  more  and  more constricted  by  his  behaviour.  Although  he  was  performing  Dāna,  which  should expand his mind, he was doing it in a manner that would constrict his mind further. The  greed for futile worldly possessions  was clouding his viveka – discrimination. Whereas young Nachiketa could understand that his father was not on the right path: “My  father  will  get  more  and  more  constricted  by  his  sinful  behaviour  and  that constriction is the real hell.” Truly speaking, whatever constricts us is pāpa (sin) and whatever expands us is puṇya  (virtue). When we understand our Brahmātmaikatva, we become universally expanded.

When Nachiketa asked his father to gift him to the priests, the father got angry and cursed him to death. But, Nachiketa still remained composed. Because he was pure-minded, he did not retort back immediately: “O Father, what you are doing is wrong. I wanted to correct you and you are cursing me to death!” No. He did not have such a narrow mind, egoistic mind. He was humble and impersonal. He thought, “Well, my father has said something.  May be he has cursed me in anger. After all he is my father. What am I to do as a worthy son?”

Again, śraddhā was dominating his mind. He thought: “The Wise Ṛshis of the past and the present have always given Truth the highest pedestal. Whatever my father has uttered must come true. I must go to Yamaraja, the Lord of Death.” In Ramayana too, the  pure-minded  Rama felt the same way! When Daśaratha told Rama about his promise  to Kaikeyi that he would send Rama to the forest, Rama did not think of justice or injustice. He was firm in his decision: “Be it fourteen years of forest-exile, my father’s words have to be kept.”

Vaajaśravas does not appear any more in the Upanishad. His character has been presented to point out that learning or performance of rituals does not make one a fit recipient of Knowledge if the mind is haunted by desires – worldly or otherworldly. In contrast, Nachiketa’s character exemplifies the qualities of a deserving seeker.

Qualities  of a True Seeker

So, Nachiketa  left for Yama’s  palace. When he reached,  Yamaraja  was not there. Three days and three nights, without any food or drink, Nachiketa  had to wait for Yamaraja to return. Now, why did the Author make Nachiketa wait for three days and three nights? We said that the Upanishad is sādhanā-oriented. We have to look for the  hints given for a seeker of Truth – what qualities of Nachiketa are emphasized through this episode.

Nachiketa had gone to Yama’s palace for a certain purpose. Even when he did not find Yama there, he did not come back saying: “Oh, I have been waiting and waiting! Who knows where Yamaraja has gone! Let me go back.” –  which most of us will do. He did not even go around looking for food or drink – remained there in Upavaasa (fasting), waiting for Yamaraja’s return. We should not miss the qualities of a seeker exemplified by the imaginary episode. In scriptural language it is called sādhanā-catuṣṭāyam (the four-fold pursuit) consisting of viveka (discrimination), vairāgya (dispassion), śamādi ṣaṭka-sampattiḥ (which  is  a  combination  of  six  virtues:  śama,  dama,  titikṣā,  uparati,  śraddhā and  samādhāna)  and  mumukṣutva (yearning for liberation).

When Yama came back and offered him three boons against the three nights he fasted at Yama’s door, the first boon Nachiketa  asked for was: “My father must be very sorry after cursing me to death. His mind should become restful. He should also be rid of anger.” This is the quality of a seeker. The father who cursed him to death – his suffering filled Nachiketa’s mind. He did not have any worldly desire that he could think of fulfilling through the boons. Naturally, the father’s plight occupied his mind.

We may think that a seeker of Truth or a Sannyasin should not love or be considerate towards his father, mother or other relations. It is not at all so. A person who loves his family and friends, who loves the country and the society, alone can become a loving Sannyasin! A person who cannot love his near ones – can he love the whole Universe? Is it ever possible? Only when a person loves the people around, there is a possibility  of  expanding  his  love  to  embrace  the  whole  world.  That  is  what  the Upanishad is pointing out through the behaviour of Nachiketa.

Now, against the second boon, Nachiketa wanted to learn Agnividyaa  for the benefit of  the people and in the process, proved his exceptional attention (śraddhaa) as a student. Finally as the third boon, the last boon, Nachiketa puts forward the deepest enquiry of his heart:

Yeyaṃ prete vicikitsā manuṣye astītye ke nāyamastīti caike 
Etad-vidyām-anuśiṣṭastvayāhaṃ varāṇām-eṣa varastṛtīyaḥ ।।
                                                                                                                                              (1 .1 .20 )
He  is asking Yama, the Lord of Death, about what happens  when the body falls: “Some people say that the ātmā exists while some others say that it does not. I would like to know the truth about this under your tutelage”. It is a very significant statement.  Nachiketa  uses  the word  “anuśiṣṭastvayaaham” –  I  shall  learn by undergoing the discipline  and guidance given by you.

It is not that the Knower will tell me what happens after death and I will go away with the information. It is not so. Nachiketa knew that it is not so. He understood that the Knowledge of what  happens after death or what  is the Transcendental Existence  in man  that  survives the fall of one’s body, cannot  just  be had  by listening  to the statements of anybody. He understood that he had to be disciplined and guided on this path by the Wise Teacher. Only then the Truth will be revealed in him. Otherwise the revelation will not take place. From this statement of Nachiketa we can easily discover his depth and maturity as a true seeker of Brahmavidyaa.

To test the deservingness of Nachiketa as a seeker of Truth, to ascertain the purity and one-pointedness  of his mind, Yamaraja then goes on alluring him with all kinds of worldly and heavenly gifts: “Don’t ask me about death. Even Gods of the heaven are confused about it. Ask from me any bounty a man can think of. I shall also give you a long life span and the health to enjoy all these. Be the Emperor of the entire earth. But please don’t ask me what happens after death!”

Four Cardinal Observations

But, Nachiketa was not to be attracted by any of these. He remained firm in his enquiry. His viveka and vairaagya are beautifully exemplified through four cardinal statements  and observations, which are like four jewels of Kaṭhopanishad. Mind you, they are not coming from Yamaraja,  the Teacher;  they are coming from the disciple Nachiketa. Nachiketa says:


Śvobhāvā martyasya yad-antakaitat sarvendriyāṇām jarayanti tejaḥ
Api sarvaṃ jīvitam-alpam-eva tavaiva vāhās-tava nṛtya gīte ।।     
                                                                                                    ( 1 .1 .27)

“O  Lord of Death, whatever enjoyable gifts you have offered me are all short-lived. They are all śvaabhaava– they may not be there even tomorrow. Moreover, the result of all these sense-enjoyments  is: sarvendriyāāmjarayanti teja– they will only deplete our organs of their brilliance and power! And O Yamaraja, you have offered me an unlimited span of life. But, I know: Apisarvajīviam-alpam-eva – whatever be the life span of a man, it is always alpam – insufficient – for him.” Why?

We find that a person who has lived for fifty years does not want to die. Even after living for hundred years one is not ready to die. Because, as long as our desire for worldly  enjoyments lingers,  we  are not  fulfilled  in  life,  we  are not  ready to embrace death.  So, by increasing the life span by any amount, no one is going to be satisfied, no one will be free of the fear of death. Even before the last breath one will crave to enjoy more. Is not life then insufficient for everybody, irrespective of the life span?

Am I clear? As long as the desires persist, the life remains insufficient. Only when the desires get attenuated, one becomes free of the fear of death; one becomes  ready to leave any time.

Then  comes Nachiketa’s  fourth statement: “Navittenatarpaīyo manuyo” – man  can  never  be  satisfied  by  material  possession. Therefore, he  appealed, “O Yamaraja, please don’t try to lure me any more! I know that these material possessions  are not going  to fulfill me. I am not interested in them. So, tavaiva vāhās-tava nṛtya gīte – Let all these chariots, musicians and the danseuses and what not,  remain with you. I am only interested in the knowledge of the Transcendental Truth. Teach me what survives when the body falls.”

One Goal – The Quintessence of All Śaastras

Finally Nachiketa proves that all the four qualities (saadhana-catushṭaya) needed of a  seeker  he  has  in  ample  measure.  Yama  not  only  agrees  to  impart  to  him Brahmavidyaa,  he  in fact  expresses  his  overflowing  joy in  having  a disciple  like Nachiketa. After giving some initial guidelines and cautions, and also explaining why he  considered  Nachiketa  to  be  a  fit  recipient  of  Brahmavidyaa,  Yama  starts  his instruction with a beautiful synthesis and clarification:

Sarve vedā yat-padam-āmananti tapāṃsi sarvāṇi ca yad-vadanti
 Yadicchanto brahmacaryaṃ caranti tat-te padaṃ saṃgraheṇa bravīmy-om-ityetat ।। 

He says: “The one Goal that all the Vedas expound and elucidate, aiming which all the austerities are performed, and aspiring which people pursue brahmacharya, I shall speak to you about the essence of that Goal. It is OM.”

Sometimes one portion of the Vedas apparently contradicts the other. So, for a seeker the  statements may appear confusing. So many different kinds of austerities people resort to – some undertake fasting, some sit with five fires around, some meditate in a secluded cave, some practice celibacy. The  seeker is likely to get confused  seeing the diversity. Yama, in order to remove the doubts and confusions from Nachiketa’s mind, confirms that all these have the same final Goal that is represented by “Om.”

Om represents Brahmavidyaa, the realization of the Ultimate Truth. The path to this goal is basically one of purifying and expanding the mind, making it free of desires. Although the practices appear to be divergent, their sole purpose is to gradually make  the mind  one-pointed by taking  it away  from worldliness. So, if our pooja, rituals and whatever else we do in the name of religion or spirituality fail to take us forward on the path of purity and expansion, they lose their purpose.

Yama is saying: saṅgraheṇa bravīmi – I shall tell you in essence. Saṅgraha is samyak grahaṇa. It does not mean briefly. The  Acharya  or the  Guru  takes  the quintessence of all the scriptures and passes it to the disciple. So, what Yama means is: “O Nachiketa, you don’t have to worry seeing the variety and the contradictions. You don’t have to read the thousands of Śaastras. I shall teach you the essential Truth expounded in the Śaastras, so that you can attain the ultimate Goal.”

There lies the contribution of the Guru. We may read thousands of Śaastras and get confused. But the Guru will never ask us to read all the texts. He will give us the quintessential sādhanā leading  to the final attainment from which the Śaastras themselves have  originated. He will guide our pursuit through which the mind will be purified and we will be led to the transcendental state, from where we can identify ourselves with all the statements of the Śaastras.

Fulfillment – Emotional & Intelligential

Actually to know the Truth, nobody has to die. Yamaraja reveals at the end: “If you have to realize the Transcendental Existence  that survives death, you have to know It here and now!” There is no question of knowing it after the body falls. He categorically asserts: Atra brahma samaśnute.

Yadaa sarve pra mucyante  kāmā ye ’sya hṛdi śritāḥ
Atha martyo’mṛto bhavati-atra brahma sama śnute  ।।

“When  all  the  desires  clinging  to  one’s  heart  fall  off,  the  mortal  man  becomes immortal and he attains Brahman here itself.” Desires are like knots in our mind and heart. They make the mind constricted, and the intelligence opaque and complicated. Muṇḍakopanishad also says:

Bhidyate hṛdaya granthiḥ chidyante sarva-saṃśayāḥ
Kṣīyante cāsya karmāṇi tasmin dṛṣṭe parāvare ।। 

“When the saadhaka realises the Self as abiding in both small and great, the knots of his  heart  get broken,  his doubts  dissolve  and he  becomes  free  of the bondage  of doership.”

Brahmavidyaa promises two kinds of fulfillment for man: emotional fulfillment and intelligential fulfillment. Emotionally we   always feel restricted, constricted, unsatisfied. Our mind is never fulfilled, because it is smitten with desires. The other lack of fulfillment is with the intelligence. The intelligence  is never doubt-free and poised. It is never sure or confident about the true path or attainment. Spirituality as presented in the Upanishads, makes the human being fulfilled in both these aspects.

Emotional fulfillment results from the purification of the mind, the effacement of ego. Intelligential fulfillment comes from the dissolution of all doubts. Hṛdaya-granthiḥ refers to the ego – the emotional knots, and samśayāḥ (doubts) refer to the bondage of  our intelligence.  Both are caused by ignorance  which gives rise to desires. The Upanishad  started  with  the  word  ‘desire’  (The first word of Kaṭhopanishad is ‘uśan’ meaning ‘desirous of’) and concludes with the ‘removal of desire’. Desire is the fundamental point here the Upanishad urges us to attend to.

Indispensability of self-effort

We need not read many scriptures, many Upanishads. Even a single Upanishad is sufficient provided we understand the fundamental note and look within ourselves to see what is happening inside. In each thought, word and action, we have to watch: “Am I getting constricted or am I getting expanded?” It has to be practised every moment. The responsibility rests entirely with us.

Kaṭhopanishad categorically tells us in the second chapter: Don’t say, “It is all Destiny! The time has not come for me to practise spirituality.” The world comes to you with two options: śreyaḥ, the auspicious, and preyaḥ, the pleasurable. You have to decide which of the two you want. Śreyaḥ may not be immediately pleasurable but it will take you to the ultimate auspicious Goal. Preyaḥ is immediately pleasurable but  will take you away from the auspicious goal. It is for you to discriminate and introspect  every moment of life: “Am I looking for preyaḥ or am I looking for śreyaḥ? Am I always choosing śreyaḥ in preference to preyaḥ?” The responsibility of the choice rests fully on you. That is what Kaṭhopanishad emphasizes again and again.

Bhaagavatam – The Essence of Upanishads

I thought of relating the discussion to Bhaagavatam, but there is no time. In fact, I have not read Bhaagavatam at all. Our Swamiji and Ma Gurupriya read Bhaagavatam. Ma had been reading out portions from Bhaagavatam wherever they are touching and purifying. I have only been listening and shedding tears.

Neither I am a speaker, nor do I have the aptitude to speak to a large audience like this.  But,  when  Vijaykumarji   and  finally  our  Swamiji  asked  me  to  speak  on Kaṭhopanishad, I agreed because I already take a class on Kaṭhopanishad in our Ashram. And when this occasion came, I thought that this being a Bhaagavata Satram I must relate the discussion to Bhaagavatam.

I opened the last portion of Sreemad Bhaagavatam – the concluding verses of 12th skandha 13th chapter. And I found that whatever the Kaṭhopanishad or the other Upanishads say, it is simply that. There is no difference at all. And Bhaagavatam is spoken of as the sāra (essence) of the Upanishads. Verse 12.13.18, which was sung as our inaugural invocation, says:

Śreemad bhāgavataṃ purāṇa mamalaṃ yad-vaiṣṇa vānāṃ priyaṃ 
yasmin pāramahaṃsyam -ekam-amalaṃ jñānaṃ paraṃ gīyate  ।
Tatra jñāna -virāga -bhakti-sahitaṃ naiṣkarmyam-āviṣkṛtaṃ
tacchṛṇvan vipaṭhan vicāraṇa-paro bhaktyāvimucyen-naraḥ  ।।

Yasmin pāramahaṃsyam-ekam-amalaṃ jñānaṃ paraṃ gīyate – Sreemad Bhaagavatam sings the supreme Knowledge which is advaya  (non-dual), which is pure and which is carried by the Paramahaṃsa's. Who is a Paramahaṃsa? Haṃsa is our ātmā. And a person who has realized that his ātmā itself is the Paramātmā, the one  Brahman, is  called  a  Paramahaṃsa. This is what  the  Upanishads call Brahmātmaikatva-bodha. Paramahaṃsas carry the knowledge. They are the living Truth. They are the living Upanishads.

Tatra jñāna-virāga-bhakti-sahitaṃ naiṣkarmyam-āviṣkṛtaṃ.” Naiṣkarmyam-āviṣkṛtam – I was struck by the words. I thought about it, what is this  āviktam? Aaviḥ means light. The real light is our Consciousness. Aaviḥ kṛtam. It is not the external naiṣkarmya (non-activity) of the idlers, that I don’t do anything  at  all. Not at all! Through the assiduous practice of jñāna, vairāgya and bhakti, what happens is that we discover ‘Naikarmya’ within us – that I am not the doer, I am not the enjoyer.  The  truth of Naikarmyagets revealed and actualized in us. That is the real ‘Naiṣkarmya’. Naiṣkarmya is not sitting idle doing nothing.

The next verse (12.13.19) says:

Kasmai yena vibhāsito’yam-atulo jñāna -pradīpaḥ purā
  ….  satyaṃ paraṃ dhīmahi

“That  ancient flame of spiritual Knowledge which has been transmitted by Brahman itself to Brahmaa, the Creator, and then the Brahman in the form of Brahmaa passed it on to Naarada, and then in the form of Naarada imparted it to Vyaasadeva, and in the form of Vyaasadeva bestowed it to Śuka, and finally in the form of Śuka imparted it to Pareekshit – that Supreme, pure and blissful Truth (satyam) we meditate upon.”

The  Author  is  referring  to  Bhaagavatam  –  not  the  book  Bhaagavatam,  but  the Knowledge   presented  in  Bhaagavatam.   The  Knowledge   is  one  and  the  same. Assuming the forms of different Knowers in different times it has been passed on from generation to generation since times immemorial.

Six verses before (in verse:12.13.12) I found: “Sarva-vedānta-sāraṃ yad-brahmaatmaikatva -lakṣaṇam” – Bhaagavatam is the essence of all Vedantic texts and its  distinctive characteristic is the identity of the Self and the Brahman. So the word brahmaatmaikatva is also there!

Many thoughts are coming to my mind. But it is OK. The fundamental point has been covered more or less.

OM sa ha nāva va tu  sa ha nau bhunaktu..….. śāntiḥ śāntiḥ śāntiḥ.

Harih OM Tat Sat. Jai Guru.

* * *

Recordings of Poojya Swamiji's Talks

Bhagavad Gita : A Topic for Research - 1

Bhagavad Gita : A Topic for Research - 2


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