17 April, 2013

Yoga Vasistha for Scientists

Above: Extract from the Yoga Vasistha. Right-click and 'save link as' for large size image

The world is Brahman only

The world is not different from Brahman 

O’ Scion of Raghu dynasty! This world neither arises from the Supreme Brahman nor does it merge into it, but is established in the Supreme Brahman itself. The imagination of void in the Brahman is because of the expectation of non-void. In reality, it is non-void. How can imagination of void and non-void be possible in the Supreme Brahman? What comes from fullness is fullness and that which is established in fullness is also full. This universe has never been created and whatever has been created is itself the Truth (Brahman). It is subtler than a subatomic particle, supremely pure, tranquil and blemishless. It’s nature is not limited by space, time or measurement and is omnipresent. It has neither a beginning nor an end and is self-illumined.

The Supreme Brahman which is the cause of all causes remains even after the cosmic dissolution. When the modulations of the mind are extinguished by equanimous intellect (Samadhi), it results in the mind being extinguished and only the inexpressible, self illumined, Reality remains. This is the nature of Supreme Consciousness. That Supreme Consciousness, in which the triad of the known, the knower and knowledge arises, in which it is established and in which it dissolves, is difficult to attain.

In the Supreme Consciousness, there is nothing called the world. That which we call “the world” is Brahman only. Just as blackness is non different from collyrium, just as void is non different from space and just as coolness is non different from ice, similarly, this world is non different from Brahman. This world is not separate from the Brahman. From the beginning, this world has evolved in the Brahman itself and hence is not different from it. This Supreme Consciousness alone is and there is no imagination of duality in it. I shall presently explain how this world came into being from the Supreme Brahman. It is by this Supreme Brahman that all these visible entities have gained expansion. That Supreme Consciousness itself is this individual and collective world which repeatedly manifests and unmanifests.

The seed of the world is the primary illusory power of the Brahman 

O’ Scion of Raghu dynasty! Brahman itself appears in the form of this creation. A dream does not appear solid and real by the conditioning (mental impression) of just one person, but the universe appears real and orderly because of the collective conditioning (mental impressions) of all beings. The all pervading Consciousness itself is the substratum of this universe and this entire universe is the existential form of this Brahman Consciousness.

The subtle elements or objects of senses (Tanmatras) i.e., Sound, Touch, Sight, Taste and Smell corresponding to the five primary elements (Panchamahabhootas) i.e., Ether, Air, Fire, Water and Earth are the seeds of this world and the seed of these five subtle elements is the primary illusory power. This is directly related to the Supreme Consciousness which is the primary cause for the world appearance. In this way, the world springs forth from the illusory power of Supreme Consciousness. When the illusion is removed, the same is experienced in it’s ever pure form. Hence this glorious world is the form of Brahman only.

Just as in a dream, a city appears without building anything, in the same way, in this great forest of Supreme Consciousness, the tree of world appearance is created and destroyed again and again. Know that, the seed is itself the fruit because there is no difference between the primary cause and the result. Hence, the entire world is Consciousness itself. How can that which is imagined be the Truth? This world is essentially not separate from this Supreme, undivided, unbounded, Brahman Consciousness and yet it appears to be separate.

The individual consciousness (jiva) endowed with mental sheath (Manomaya) imagines the grossness of body consciousness within itself and becomes identified with the gross body. The individual consciousness (jiva) endowed with the mental sheath, thinks that the mind itself is Consciousness. Just as intentions manifest in Brahman, similarly the world is also said to manifest intentions. In this way, the Supreme Brahman Consciousness evolves in itself by itself and there is no existence of this world apart from Brahman.

This world is the imagination of that Supreme Consciousness 

O’ Scion of Raghu dynasty! Having never been created, there is no existence for this world and what exists is the Supreme Brahman only. Just as the mountains and cities in a dream are destructible and not stable, similarly this world is also destructible and not stable. Brahman itself is the original primordial cosmic womb (Hiranyagarbha), the cosmic person (Virat) and the cosmic person itself is this creation. There is nothing apart from Brahman and that which is imagined to be different from Brahman is also Brahman. When the Self becomes aware of itself within itself, then that Consciousness by its own power, experiences a subtle ego sense within itself. This progressively becomes grosser and grosser and finally assumes the form of the universe. In this way, the power of this Consciousness (Chiti Shakti) itself assumes the form of the world and this world is only an imagination of that Consciousness. This imagination is dependent on the ego sense. So, the ego sense and the world are also nothing but Consciousness. There is no duality or non duality in it.  

With Consciousness as the primary factor, ego sense is the only actor and with vibration (Spandan) as the primary factor, the life force (Prana) is the action. There is no difference between these two. The cosmic person (Purusha) endowed with these is called as individual consciousness (jiva). So, there is no difference between individual consciousness (jiva) and the world. This world is nothing but a glimpse of that light of Consciousness. When the Ultimate Truth is known, this understanding becomes firm that - “No weapon can cut me, fire cannot burn me, air cannot dry me and I am eternal, all pervading, unshakeable and stable”. Only the ignorant argue among themselves. We have overcome this illusion and hence there is nothing for us to argue. Hence, this hypothesis has been established that existence of the world is only because of the existence of the Supreme Consciousness and the world does not have an independent existence of its own.

Hindi to English translation by Shri Prasad Rajanna. Translators Note: The terms Brahman, Brahman Consciousness, Supreme Consciousness, Supreme Brahman used in this text, all refer to the one Truth which is the Ultimate Reality.

04 April, 2013

Mythological stories on TV not the Truth - Sri Sri Ravi Shankar

Above: A scene from mythological TV serial Devon Ke Dev Mahadev

Question: Gurudev, Goddess Parvati in her anger had given a curse to Mother Earth, Agni Deva and other gods when they tried to save her and Lord Shiva’s son Kartikeya from Tarakasura (a demon). How is it possible for a Goddess to not be in control of her anger?

Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: You know, this is a wrong depiction of the stories from the Puranas. The TV serials always want to make it a little more dramatic.

Even when I watch Goddess Parvati (an incarnation or form of the Mother Divine), I see that there is so much display of emotions; crying, or asking for forgiveness, etc. Just to make the viewers more engaged, they brought them to the level of common man and common emotions.

The director and producers also want to elongate the episode, that is why they make it a little more dramatic than the actual story. It is not originally so in the Puranas. In the Purana, Goddess Parvati does not go through such varied emotions. It is only in the script that these people have written for the TV serial that you find her and even Lord Ganesha asking repeatedly for forgiveness. What is the need for Him, who is Divinity Himself, to ask for any sort of forgiveness?

See, when you read any Purana, then the Adidaata (the sacred deity on whose life and heroic stories a particular Purana is based) of that Purana is the central character, and the most revered.

For example, if you take the Shiva Purana then Lord Shiva is the greatest, while all other deities and everyone else is subordinate to him.

Similarly, if you take the Ganesha Purana, then Lord Ganesha is the greatest in that Purana.

Again, if you take the Devi Purana then all the other deities, such as Lord Brahma, Lord Vishnu and Mahesh (a name of Lord Shiva) are at the Devi’s feet, signifying her central importance in the Purana. Since all stories in the Devi Purana revolve around her as the central deity, the other deities play secondary roles.

In the Vishnu Purana you will find that there is no deity greater than Lord Vishnu, and every other deity is subordinate to him, since he is the central deity of that Purana.

That is why a deity is called as Isht, meaning the greatest deity, around whom everything else revolves. So, those deities or Gods whom we consider as our Ishtdevta or Isht are the greatest and most revered for us.

There is a very beautiful shloka (verse) by Adi Shankaracharya where he says, 'Mananaatha Shri Jagannatha, Madguru Shri Jagadguru, Madatma Sarvabhutatma, Tasmai Shri Gurave Namaha.

It means, my Lord (Isht) is the Lord of the entire creation; my Guru is the Guru of the entire creation; and my soul is the soul seated in all living beings.

When a devotee has this feeling, that there is no other like my Lord, then it is called Vishishta bhakti.

When there is this feeling that there is none other like my Lord, then the mind become one-pointed. This is because the nature of the mind is to go towards that which is the most superior.

Now, if you do not find what you have to be the highest, then the mind will start to wander toward that which it finds to be more superior.

So to collect the mind and make it centered deep in devotion, these different stories have been written in the Puranas. That is why in the Shiva Purana, it is said that Lord Shiva is supreme and everyone prays and bows to Lord Shiva. This is the real meaning.

But those who make these TV serials, they have to make it a little more dramatic, otherwise it will be a little boring, and that is why they add some spice to it.

It has never happened that Goddess Durga has inflicted her anger on anyone on Earth. The anger of Goddess Durga is only towards the demon Mahishasura. Even that is not totally in anger, but it is with a certain equanimity and pleasantness. The Goddess simply destroys Mahishasura (symbolic of negativity and inertia) into ashes, by a simple exhalation of her breath, with the sound ‘hummm’.

So these are just different depictions of the mythological stories on TV. There is no need to accept them as the truth.