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Sri Ramana Maharshi

Sri Ramana Maharshi (1879-1950) was a great spiritual teacher. He realised the Self in his seventeenth year. Self-realisation happened to him naturally, unaided by external instructions or guidance. A near-death experience one day led to a profound transformation. He was completely and irreversibly transformed and became a realised self. Sri Ramana Maharshi was born at Tirutcchali, near Madurai and studied up to IX class at Madurai during which time he had the near-death experience. He left home shortly after that and reached Arunaachala – Tiruvannaamalai (in Tamil Nadu) his favorite and most dear place and lived there till his death.

 

Sri Ramana Maharshi embodied the well known expression: “Brahma vit Brahma eva bhavati” – “The Knower of Brahman (Self) becomes the Brahman (Self)”.  Brahman is He. He is Brahman. He is Atmārāmam and Rāmabrahmam.  He is unoccupied, peaceful, blissful continuous awareness.

Self realised seers: (i) have compassion for all beings – sentient and insentient, (ii) possess lot of patience, (iii) experience no jealously, (iv) are clean physically and mentally, (v) never strain body or mind and are always relaxed, (vi) are always auspicious in thought, word and deed and always act selflessly for the welfare of others, (vii) give unselfishly and (viii) are always dispassionate in Unoccupied Awareness (niṣpṛhasya tṛṇam jagat – to the dispassionate the internal mental world and external world have no more worth than a blade of grass). All these are the natural qualities of the Brahmajñāni or ātmajñāni (the self-realised seer.) Sri Ramana Maharshi possessed all these traits; indeed he shone with them.

Vairāgyameva abhayam – “Dispassion cultivates fearlessness” was his life and the message of his life.

“Iśvaro guruḥ ātma iti mūrtībhedavibhāgine vyomavat vyāpya desāya (dehāya – body or form) śrī-dakṣiṇāmūrtaye namaḥ

Meaning:

The spiritual teacher – who may be our favorite deity like Shiva, Vishnu; our chosen teacher, either a living teacher or one of the great teachers of earlier times; or we ourselves in the form of our intuition – guides us in our spiritual path and to such a teacher do I bow down, the personification of Ṥrī Dakṣiṇāmūrtī (Lord Siva as  the spiritual teacher according to the Saivaite tradition. Lord Vishnu as Hayagriva according to the Vaishnavaite tradition). This teacher permeates – as awareness – our body, our mind and the external world as sky (ākāśa) permeates space.

This describes Sri Ramana Maharshi well.  Thus Sri Ramana Maharshi is Ṥrī Dakṣiṇāmūrtī Himself.

In Tamil Nadu there were 63 nāyanamārs – great Siva devotees, philosophers and spiritual personalities. Sri Tirugnaana Sambadhar is one among them. Tirugnnaana Sambandhar had a vision of Lord Siva and Parvati as an infant, when he was crying with hunger, and the divine couple appeared and served him milk. Tirugnaana Sambandhar had a filial affection for Lord Siva and his padikams (ten line spiritual expositions) reflect this. Many assume that Sri Ramana Maharshi is a reincarnation of Tirugnaana Sambandhar because of the similarity of their son-father-love for Lord Siva. As Venkata Raaman (as Sri Ramana Maharshi’s original name) he considered Lord Siva his father and was devoted to him. He used to prostrate himself and stand before Lord Sundareswara (presiding deity of Madurai Meenakshi Sundareswarar Temple) with tears in his eyes and pray to the Lord after his near-death experience. He lost all interest in worldly things and affairs and gave himself up to meditation.

When he reached Arunaachala immediately after this and visited the grand Siva temple there for the first time, he said “I have come, Father!” standing before Lord Arunaachaleswara – the presiding deity of Arunachala. Even though he lived in Arunaachala for the rest of his life he never reentered the temple premises but still thought of the lord as his father.  Kaavyakantha Sri Vaasishista Ganapathi Muni, a great scholar and his elderly contemporary and disciple, whom Sri Maharshi used to address as “nāyana” (which means in Telugu ‘father’) and who named him Sri Ramana Maharshi, declared that Sri Ramana Maharshi was an avatar of Lord Skanda (Lord Subrahmanya, the younger son of Lord Siva and Parvati).

Sri Ramana Maharshi attained self-realisation as described in Ribhu Gita (a spiritual book on self-realization)  Lord Siva brought this about as a mother cat takes care of the kittens on its own, carrying them by the scruff of their necks, the maarjāla-kisora-nyāya (doctrine of the cat and its young). This incident is the lila (divine sport) of Lord Siva which transformed Venkata Raaman into Ramana Maharshi.

Daharā Vidya is an Upanishadic meditation technique. During this meditative process we question ourselves “who am I?” and try to know and merge our apparent identity – with our body, mental traits and all related things from this “I”, “me”, “mine” – collectively our self-consciousness and its relation to external world and persons (called technically the ‘false I’), with the Unoccupied Awareness (the real I or pure consciousness) which sources and generates – through maya and its transformations – our self-consciousness and the “false or unreal I”.

When we question thus and meditate we shed our false identity and transcend our “I”, “me”, “mine” to shine as our real I. According to Upanishadic mahāvākya (profound sentences) “Aham Brahma asmi”: the reall I is the Brahman or Atman, our True Self. This real I is sat- cit-ānanda (being-pure consciousness-bliss) the Brahman or Atman. We will become aware of this truth and win enlightenment. The real I is then identified with the pure consciousness. Peace-bliss-silence fill our mind.

Sri Ramana Maharshi’s teaching a refinement of this Upanishadic meditation technique:

He asks us to:

(i)                 Find out wherefrom this ‘I’ springs forth and with what it merges at its source; that is tapas (meditation):

(ii)               Find out wherefrom the sound of the mantra in japa rises up and with what it merges at its source; that is tapas (meditation).

Sri Ramana Maharshi though is a jñāni and declared that the path of knowledge (jñāna yoga) is also a yogi of karma (action). Like Sri Adi Sankaraachaarya, he too took care of his mother and served her. He used to cut the vegetables in the ashram kitchen, getting up at 4am. On one occasion he took a cane, polished it and gave to the shepherd boy for his use – as an example of niṣkāma karma (dispassionate action).

Sri Ramana Maharshi demonstrated through his living and actions that a jñāni is never dissociated from the society. He is part and parcel of society. He used to say that a realised self silently guides society. By engaging in karma (actions} he showed that it is not right to say that jñānis need not do any karma. He thus dissolved the illusions and arrogance of many jñānis, dismissing the notion that through their renunciation of karma they are superior. Sri Ramana Maharsi also composed hymns in praise of Arunaachala Siva and Ṥrī Dakṣiṇāmūrtī. He had great compassion and showered it on the animals too that lived in the ashram. The love and affection shown to Lakshmi, the ashram cow, is one example for this.

Sri Ramana Maharshi informs us through his life that we are all in a state of saṃsāra and must make efforts to realize the self. [The actual meaning of samsaara is  sukha-dukha-anubhavam – experience of happiness and unhappiness – and not merely family life and its associated joys and sorrows.  Sanyāsis (renunciants) too can be in a state of samsaara (happiness and unhappiness) which we observe in the case of many genuine and fake swamis today].

He said that each life takes its own course and one cannot and must not compare one life with the other; just because he renounced the world does not mean that every spiritual aspirant must do so. He used the technical word prārabdham – pra+ārabdham (that which is started) to describe the difference. Each one of us will have a different prārabdham and hence different kinds of lives and living. All Upanishadic seers are householders. Some have two wives too, such as Yajñavalkya. Brahmacharyam means moving or residing in the (or as) Brahman – and not abstaining from sex or practicing celibacy as is generally believed. This aspect was often stressed by Sri Ramana Maharshi.

Sri Ramana Maharshi believed in and used to say that the practice of spirituality, and living as a house-holder, must go on hand in hand. There is no spiritual life devoid of or dissociated or different from normal family life. Both exist as one, like milk and water; sweetness and honey. Spirituality does not exist separately from family life. Family life must be made spiritual.

Thus Sri Ramana Maharshi lived the life of True Jñāni and left a lot of literature also for our study and use. Persons interested in knowing more about Sri Ramana Maharshi can read the book in English entitled “Ramana Maharshi” by Arthur Osborne (Jaico Publishing Co.) or many other books both in English and regional languages published by Sri Ramana Ashram Publishers, Tiruvannamalai, Tamilnaadu.

Dr Varanasi Ramabrahmam

 

Panchali

Pānchālī

Pulled into my husbands’ court by my uncombed hair

Thrown onto the floor where hundreds of feet touch their thick, red silk

The flowing carpet rises and falls like the mist of my garden

I know you are immovable in your rage Shákuni

Your ego knows no limits, it is like a snake stalking a mouse

Quietly without remorse in its meager heart

All eyes watch me cry in anguish as you pull my sari

To end of this room it flows like the Gaṅgā

Shining with its thin, gold-laden fabric

And crippled by your greedy fingers

Dignified beauty you tossed with your dice

Human emotions you sacrificed with your heart

Bring your eyes to mine to see one word: regret

Ha! You are the nectar’s enemy: regret!

If you took me then Kṛṣṇa will smite you right now!

His chakra, a knife for your spineless body

All my fears that followed me at night with my friends

Nibbling on their black pearls while I watched the roses rise

They are you…a shadow that rapes the moon

I cannot give you my body for it belongs to Keśava!

My life will one day be returned to his home

To live as a cowherd while churning milk for his hungry lips

The boyish smile and curly hair that barely touches his shoulders

His eyes so wide yet shaped like the waning moon

Little specks in the corner of both eyes are galaxies unknown to us

So far away other people exist for whom Kṛṣṇa is their king

If I am his then he is my king too

Shákuni, you are the drunken ego, a corrupted seed for humanity!

My body is a vase holding the virtues of Sūrya

He touched my spirit to give me a bite of his own

Disrobing me in front of my husbands and all the Āryas of their kingdom

is a sacrilege!

I cry to you to stop this great injustice!

Can’t you see I have sunken into a sea of distress!?

No, you are busy drowning my voice with your wicked laughter

Brahmā gave you a boon that protects your life from any physical or divine harm

Yet, has he no shame when seeing this monstrous deed?

Ma! You are Sarvāsuravināśā, come to my rescue!

Show your terrifying face to this savage

Make him cower under your crippling stare, ma!

Turn his limbs into brittle sticks so he will stop treating my honor like a toy

Sunil P. Narayan

Satyagraha – An Opera in Sanskrit

 

A Review of Satyagraha

Elena Jessup – March 2010, London

In January of this year, a friend told me that the English National Opera was reviving its performance of Philip Glass’ Sanskrit opera Satyagraha in London.  Since my husband and I missed the first performance in 2007, a huge surprise hit, we decided to buy tickets for one of the shows in March.

Although both of us are Sanskrit teachers and have degrees in the language, we were rather nervous about investing a precious Saturday night on a work with which we felt we had no connection.  We were vaguely familiar with Gandhi’s life story and completely unfamiliar with Philip Glass’ music.  Would it be strange? Boring?  The running time of the performance was three hours, which made me nervous.  In the end, we opted for the cheapest tickets, consoled by the fact that we could leave after the first act. When we went for our chocolate ice creams in the interval, we were so impressed that we did not want to leave. 

Satyagraha is not a ‘normal’ opera like Carmen or The Marriage of Figaro.  Composed in 1980 by Philip Glass, it uses the text of the the Bhagavad Gita as a contemplation of Gandhi’s concept of non-violence.  Like a meditation, the work is non-linear and cyclical; as my husband put it, ‘Don’t expect to be entertained.  This is about becoming still.’  In spite of this, the ENO’s performance was amazingly enjoyable due to two factors.  First, the music is moving and powerful, and the orchestra and performers, especially Alan Oke (Gandhi), conveyed it so brilliantly.  Second, the staging was done by Improbable, a UK-based company known for its fresh approach to theatre.  Puppets, masks, and other novelties provided the audience with surprises and insights.  Another original innovation was the integration of the surtitles (i.e., the translation of the Gita verses) into the production, which was accomplished by projecting the words onto different locations on the stage.

However, there were two flaws in the performance, both of which relate to how Sanskrit was used in the work.  The first is that the Sanskrit text was garbled and indistinct.  It would be useful next time for the producers to employ a Sanskritist to help to clarify the performers’ pronunciation.  The second was that the surtitles were so cleverly integrated into the staging that most of the audience members could not see them clearly, unless they were sitting in the most expensive seats.  This was distressing for many people because the meaning of the Sanskrit was so important to the spiritual effect of the opera.

Nevertheless, Satyagraha had replaced The Magic Flute as my favourite opera and I was keen to go again.  Two weeks later we brought some Sanskrit A-level students.  I asked them what they thought.  They said they mostly liked it – not bad coming from a group of 18 year old Londoners.  Hats off to Philip Glass and Improbable for pulling in the punters for a contemplative opera with a Sanskrit libretto; it was great to see so many people experiencing the power of the Bhagavad Gita.

Elena Jessup teaches Sanskrit at St James’ School in central London

Satyagraha’s run at the ENO has now finished, but you can listen to and follow part of the score – and the libretto – on a special site the ENO have set up here. 

Martanda Dandaka

The sun, as the fist of Day the wrestler, shatters his enemy the night.  May he, the knot of love that binds the cakra bird and his wife, purify you.

You resemble a new lotus opening at the tip of the upraised trunk of the elephant that guards Indra’s direction.  The female cakravaka birds of the three worlds attend to you with the arghya offering formed of their tears.  They are freed from despondency by the sight of the chariot that shines with its team of irrepressible handsome horses who are neighing in satisfaction thanks to the embrace of a breeze pleasantly cooled by the pure heavenly rivers’ mass of waves.  Oh Lord of the triple Vedas, ablaze with your own brilliance – victory!

You are the origin of the light that so delights the world.  Happily you roam the paths of the sky cloud-free yet decorated with lightning creepers created by the flash of the golden whip as the best of charioteers flicks it up.  He is agitated – his progress has been hindered because his team of horses is no longer paying attention, engrossed instead in listening to the music of the vina that is formed of a line of bees swarming around the surface of a lotus pond.   You are the elephant in rut who destroys the tree of ignorance, the fresh basin of water in which the creeper of the triple Vedas stands – victory!

Your chariot outpaces even the speed of the winds at the time of final dissolution.  You are the one repository of the Vedas.  Celebrated for your orb which becomes the jar of golden nectar offered by Day in the place of Garuda, lord of birds, who troubles the hordes of rakshasas standing in for snakes who are adroit at playing games in the web of the night’s darkness which forms Patala.  Oh Martanda, you grace the gods who are forever praising you with a light which is anything but fierce, pure in your own boundless splendour – victory!

Your youth is attended by a glorious warm light which skillfully steals the web of snowflakes that lie thick upon the manes of the troop of awakening lions on the sunrise mountain.  You are the single spark that lights the fire of dawn.  Splendid, you cannot be characterised.  You freely undertake the protection of the terror-struck – child’s play to you.  You are the kaustubha jewel that lies upon the dark expanse of the sky that forms Vishnu’s chest.  You alone are worthy of the three worlds’ worship, eldest among the moon and celestial beings – to you I bow.

Let the wise gladly accept this daṇḍaka which Sri Shankar fixed upon the great umbrella – in the form of the grace of the sun – which destroys the burning heat of misfortune.

Dr Shankar Rajaraman

A sketchbook Ramayana – 1

Edward Ernest, an American art student, has started a series of Ramayana sketches inspired by his love of the story.  This first one is of Rama and Hanuman, just after they first meet in Kishkinda, as told in Kishkinda Kanda (Book 4) chapters 3 and 4:

Edward Ernest Ramayana 1

Here’s a (very dated I’m afraid – from the 1870s) translation of their meeting, by Ralph T.H. Griffith.  Below this is a transliterated version taken from the Gretil site.

Chapter 3

The envoy in his faithful breast
Pondered Sugrivá’s high behest.
From Rishyamúka’s peak he hied
And placed him by the princes’ side.
The Wind-God’s son with cautious art
Had laid his Vánar form apart,
And wore, to cheat the strangers eyes,
A wandering mendicant’s disguise. 
Continue reading ‘A sketchbook Ramayana – 1’

The Concept of Yoga

YOGA AS A CONCEPT

Dr Varanasi Ramabrahmam

Yoga is currently a very popular pastime. Many gurus and many systems of yoga are presently in vogue. Many innovative titles are given to their respective methods of yoga by yoga teachers. Before trying to enter yoga and practice it, you need to know what exactly yoga is.

Indian spirituality is replete with many systems of thought about God and mind. Yoga and Samkhya (a system in which the mind is split into 24 parts: the sense organs, action organ and so on) are two systems of thought which view God and the mind in their own way. The Yoga-Samkhya system views mind and its structure in a slightly different way to the Upanishads, the source books and guides to spirituality.

Yogaha chitta vritti nirodhaha  – ‘Yoga is the prevention of mental activity’ – is one of the most famous Patanjali yoga sutras. Here chitta vritti refers to mental functions. Technically vritti means antahakarana parinama – ‘transformation of the inner mental tool’ (antahakarana). The four antahakaranas are respectively manas, buddhi, chittam and ahamkaramManas handles cognitions, their reception, storage and retrieval.  Buddhi takes care of all intellectual operations.  Chittam deals with the reception, storage and retrieval of all cognition-related experiences which include the meanings of words and senses of utterances, thoughts and ideas which form understanding and insight.  Ahamkaram is concerned with self-consciousness, i.e: the identification of the individual with one’s body, gender, mental traits, social status, nationality and so on. All these four together constitute the mind. The activities theses perform are the antahakarana parinamas –transformations of the inner mental tools – which account for all our mental functions.

Our mental functions start with mood, insight, remembrance, understanding, experience, urge, intuition and instinct – our direct perceptions and experiences. These are then converted into thoughts and feelings which are then expressed. We cognize and know through our sense organs: through the eye we detect forms and scenes, through the ear sounds, through the tongue tastes, through the nose smells and via the skin touch and heat.  These cognitions are received in accordance with manas, and perceived.  Together with the experiences they create, they are stored within us as remembrances and memory. When our memory is activated, they generate moods, thoughts and feelings.

This is at least a summary of how the mind works.  Yoga is designed to understand this working of the mind and cultivate it so that its vagaries are understood and taken care of and that psychological remedies are prescribed and implemented. Yoga is not merely about doing physical exercises. Physical exercises are just a starting point just as primary school is a starting point for more complex learning. Unfortunately, many practitioners and gurus of yoga teach and promote an incomplete type of yoga which starts and ends in physical exercises.

Praanayaama – a focused inhaling and exhaling – is a way of calming the mind.  The mind is reined in by a proper understanding of its nature and functions. The mental make up of the individual plays an important role in this regard. There are many methods of yoga each of which is appropriate for a different type of individual. The simplest and best way is chanting the name of the favorite deity continuously while listening to sruti.  The chanting must continue as a background to our mental activity or when we are resting, just as sruti is kept and goes on in the background of the singing in the music concert. Many of today’s yoga practitioners choose their guru and yoga method more based on current trends than according to their individual mental make up.  Thus their practice of yoga is in vain.

As above, yoga is by definition the prevention of mental activity.  Yoga involves not allowing antahakarana parinama – transformation of the inner mental tool – to take place. This is what you call a negative definition. The positive definition of yoga is: cheto vritti rupetya tisthati sada –   ‘transcending chitta vritti (mental activity) is also yoga’. The technical term for this state is nivritti – the absence of mental activity. Yoga is a form of communion with divinity. Yoga is efficiency in mental activity; yogaha karmasu kausalam – yoga is skill in performing various assigned actions and duties.  Yoga thus is also about being able to control your thoughts, feelings and moods.  Managing these efficiently is yoga.

Yoga is of many kinds. That means we can manage the functions of our mind efficiently in more than one way. The various systems include: bhakti yoga (devotional yoga), Karma yoga (interpreted popularly as yoga through one’s actions) and jnaana yoga (yoga through knowledge). We are attracted to a particular yoga method depending on our mental make up, genetic composition and ultimately God’s grace. Raja yoga – learning, practising and performing yoga as a series of exercises (both physical and mental) as described and professed in Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras – is now the most commonly “sold” method of yoga. But unfortunately, as mentioned earlier, this type of yoga focuses more on physical exercise. Yoga is an inquiry and practice for attaining peace of mind and has to be knowledgeably cultivated and practiced. Nothing is impossible if we will it. But one must realize that yoga is designed to be practiced to transcend worldly concerns and to remain peaceful and blissful throughout all – good and bad – unaffected by the outside world. 

Yoga is tuning our “selves” and ourselves with the divinity within us, and finally merging into that divinity. Meditation is the conscious cultivation of mind in this direction.  And the conscious or unconscious merger of mind in its source is what yoga (literally ‘union’) really is.

On Devotion – Dr Varanasi Ramabrahmam

ON DEVOTION

Dr Varanasi Ramabrahmam

Bhakti (devotion) is one of the most profound human emotions which merges the individual’s identity with the Divinity. Bhakti has many definitions, two of which are discussed here:

Sa (bhakti) tu asmin paramaprema roopa” –is the most famous and popular definition of bhakti from the Narada Bhakti Sutras. This means that bhakti is the unalloyed love for God. This love is paramam (ultimate). Paramam also means that this love happens and exists without expecting anything in return. It is loving for the sake of loving. In this process we employ our sense organs (eyes, ears, nose, tongue and skin) to learn about God and Divinity. Our eyes see his Divine Form. Our ears listen to his Divine Name and deeds and so on.  We also employ our action organs (movements of hands, movements of legs, movement of vocal chords, etc) to reach God through daily worship and by chanting His Name and other prayers. In Mukunda Mala, Kulasekhara Alwar puts this very beautifully.

Jihve keertaya Kesavam – My tongue! Sing the praise of Kesava!

Muraripum cheto bhaja – My mind! Always think of the Enemy of the demon Mura!

Sridharam panidwandva samarcha – My hands! Worship Sridhara!

Achyuta kathaha srotra dwayam tvam srunu – My pair of ears! Listen to the stories of Achyuta!

Krishanm lokaya lochana dwaye – My eyes! Behold Krishna!

Harergachanghriyugmaalayam – My feet! Go to Hari’s abode!

Jighra ghraana Mukunda paada tulaseem – My nose! Smell the fragrance of tulasi at Mukunda’s feet!

Moordha nama Adhokshajam – My head! Bow to Adhokshaja!

We perceive through our sense organs and all this information is stored as our inner mental world. We form our thoughts and feelings based on this accumulated information. If we accumulate mundane information our thoughts focus on mundane matters. If we accumulate sensual information our thoughts will be on sensual matters. If we accumulate information about God and Divinity our thoughts turn to God and Divinity. We also act and react through action organs (hands, legs, speech etc) depending on the information gathered through sense organs and accumulated within us. This inner mental world with information about the outside world grows with us from birth. We can consciously change this inner mental world by overwriting our current information with details and knowledge about God and Divinity. This we can do by employing our sense organs as described and accumulating Divine Information. We then automatically get pleasant and blissful thoughts and feelings. That is how our predecessors started the tradition of bhakti in which all our faculties and organs are involved with Divinity.

A simple sloka from Mukunda Mala such as:

Namaami  naaraayana paada pankajam – I salute the lotus feet of Narayana

Karomi  naraayana poojanam sada –  I always worship of Narayana

Vadaami  narayaana nama nirmalam – I always utter the crystal pure name of Narayana

Smaraami  narayana tatvam avyayam –     I always contemplate the unchanging nature of Narayana

brings about communion with the Lord.

In Sivananda Lahari, Sri Sankraacharya says:

Amkolam nijabija santati ayaskantopalam suchika

Saadhvi naija vibhum lata kshitiruham sindhussaritvallabham

Praapnoteeha yatha tatha pasupatehe padaaravinda dwayam

Cheto vrittihi upetya tisthati sada sa bhaktirituchyate

“Just as the seeds of the Amkola tree stick to it again, just as the iron needle is attracted to a magnet, a youthful woman comes to her husband, a creeper entwines a tree and the river flows into the sea, so an individual is attracted to and reaches Pasupati’s  (Siva’s)feet . Bhakti is the state of the cessation of antahkarnas (inner mental tools- manas, buddhi, chittam and ahamkaram) and remaining thus always.”

Many more beautiful expressions about bhakti are available in our literature. The most famous bhaktas (devotees) are spread throughout our country.  The alwars and nayanamars of Tamil country; Chaitanya Maha Prabhu, Jayadeva, Tukaram, Sakkubai, Purandaradasa, Annamayya, Ramadasu, Kabir, Suradas, Haridas, Meerabai, Narayanateertha, Sadasivebrahmendra, Tyagaraja and many such eminent personalities.

This is all saguna bhaktiSaguna bhakti involves using manas and other antahkaranas to pray, chant, sing and use poetic and intellectual abilities to express the devotion. Here the auspicious qualities of the favourite deity are meditated upon, chanted and sung during the spiritual journey.

In nirguna bakti the antahkarnas are trained to be tuned to their source, the state of Atman/Brahman, and no personal God or Goddess is worshipped. It is complete concentration on tatvam – tat tvam –and involves only Jnaana marga (the path to God through knowledge).

Swaswaroopa anusandhanaam bhakti iti abhidheeyate (“Tuning the mind to its source, its original state is bhakti“) is a famous nirguna definition of bhakti. This has interesting implications. Bhakti is tuning ourselves into our original state and thus experiencing shaanta rasa (the emotion of peace). This original state (rasa sthiti) is the state of bliss, peace and silence. In these experience states, our identity as an individual is merged in the real identity that is ego, time and thought transcending state of mind. This happens when we contemplate spiritual expressions and arrive at our intended destination, rasa sthiti. This approach is the path of artha bhaavanam (contemplation on the meaning). When we understand we experience. When we experience we understand. Experience and understanding are simultaneous. By experiencing the meaning of uttered (heard) sounds and sentences or by comprehending divine utterances and their implications we are able to reach the tatpara (absorbed and being one with Tat) or taatparya (purport or import or rasa) state of language. We must be aware that we use the same mind to learn and master languages and other disciplines as we use for doing routine tasks. The state of thoughts or feelings is known as the vibhakti state of mind. Of course in grammatical terminology, vibhakti refers to nominal case terminations. Patanjali and Bhartruhari have initiated, nurtured and developed a theory of language acquisition and communication making use of the same Advaita concept of Vedantins. This will be dealt with in another article.

Bhakti thus is a description of devotion to a personal Deity and also the path of Jnaana as contemplation by mind and absorption of mind in its source. The Jnaana aspect is also an essential part and essence of the theory of language in terms of bhakti and vibhakti.


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