Showing posts from August, 2015

Spiritual Import of Religious Festivals :Ch-5. Part - 3.

Chapter 5: Sivananda – The Fire of Sannyasa


From the year 1924, after he received Sannyasa, Swami Sivanandaji started a rigorous life of tapas, or

People who had the blessedness to see him in those days described him as a fire of renunciation.

There was an old Swamiji in the Kailas Ashram, who is now no more, who used to come to our hospital for medicine.

He was a regular patient.

Every day he used to come with some trouble or other.

 He had seen Swamiji in those days—1924 and onwards.

He gave us an idea as to what Swamiji looked like, in what esteem he was held by people in Swargashram, what was the type of tapas he was performing to the astonishment of the other sadhus, and the great reverence which he commanded from all the mahatmas in Swargashram.

The only two centres in Rishikesh which had a little population then were the Swargashram on the one side and the Kalikambalivala Kshetra in another place.
There was nothing here where The Divine Life Society is situated now.


Spiritual Import of Religious Festivals :Ch-5. Part - 2.

Chapter 5: Sivananda – The Fire of Sannyasa


Two years afterwards, in the year 1924, he came across a great saintly person known as Swami Visvananda Saraswati, whom he met, as it is said, only for a few minutes, and from whom he received initiation into the sacred order of Sannyasa as Swami Sivananda Saraswati.

This was on the 1st of June.

This Swami Visvananda Saraswati is little known to the public and, perhaps, personally he was not even acquainted to Swami Sivanandaji Maharaj.

It was a unique coming together of two personalities, as if ordained by God Himself, and Jnana Sannyasa, as it is known, was offered to Swami Sivanandaji Maharaj.

Jnana Sannyasa implies Sannyasa without ritual.

The ritualistic confirmation of this Jnana Sannyasa was subsequently performed by the great Sri Swami Vishnudevanandaji Maharaj of Kailas Ashram.

Thus, Swami Visvanandaji Maharaj was his Diksha Guru, while Swami Vishnudevanandaji Maharaj was his Sannyasa Kriya Guru.

But Swami Sivanandaji had e…

Spiritual Import of Religious Festivals :Ch-5. Part - 1


Chapter 5: Sivananda – The Fire of Sannyasa


Swami Sivanandaji was known as Dr. Kuppuswamy in his purvashrama.

He arrived in Rishikesh in the year 1922 when there was practically nothing in Rishikesh except a few almshouses (kshetras) and sadhus staying in isolated thatched huts.

It was the year when there were unprecedented floods.

Everywhere there was water and water alone.

In all the rivers of India there was flood beyond limit.

It was the biggest flood ever seen in Rishikesh.

The next big flood we had was, of course, in July 1963, immediately after Swami Sivanandaji’s Mahasamadhi, when it flooded Sri Gurudev’s Kutir neck-deep.
After that we did not have a flood of that kind.

 It was in that year 1922 that Gurudev H.H. Sri Swami Sivanandaji Maharaj, then known as Dr. Kuppuswamy, came to Rishikesh and stayed on the other side of the Ganga in Swargashram, which is an ancient institution.

A few sadhus and Sannyasins were put up there, living on alms and practising their medi…

Spiritual Import of Religious Festivals :Ch-4. Part - 29.

Chapter-4. Swami Sri  Adi  Sankaracharya - The Genius ( Sankara Jayanti ) :


Sankaracharya's works must be studied not merely for the philosophical depths of his writings but also for the beauty of his language.

Of course, unless one knows Sanskrit one cannot appreciate his style.

"Vakyam prasanna-gambhiram" – hissentences are very smooth-flowing, very deep and beautiful.

They are not complicated arguments.

They are very simple, but full of depth and literary beauty which we will find only in such poets like Kalidasa.

Of course, Sankaracharya mostly wrote his commentaries in prose though he has also written poems of various kinds.

They are so simple, so sonorous and so beautiful.

For the beauty of the language of Sanskrit, and the depth of philosophical wisdom and the help they can offer us in our practical life, his works have to be studied.

There is a beautiful poem by Sankara known as Prabodha Sudhakara.

It is a very beautiful work because it combines Bhakti …

Spiritual Import of Religious Festivals :Ch-4. Part - 28.

Chapter-4. Swami Sri  Adi  Sankaracharya - The Genius ( Sankara Jayanti ) :


It is really interesting that the fate of the Advaita Vedanta later on, in the passage of time, was similar to that of Buddhism.

It was misrepresented.

As Buddha was misrepresented, and Christ is being misrepresented, Sankara was also misrepresented.

So to counteract the misrepresented attitudes, there came other Acharyas like Ramanuja, Madhva and others.

One cannot wholly and satisfactorily explain the subtle relation of the soul to God.

Though many schools of philosophy have come up, they are like dismembered bodies, and not a complete whole.

Just because we have limbs cut off and thrown everywhere, it does not mean that we have a complete human system.

Unfortunately, we have only such limbs cut off – Dvaitins, Advaitins and Visishtadvaitins, etc.

But we do not have a very satisfactory and happy blend of thought.

Therefore, it is necessary that such a new orientation has to be attempted without a b…

Spiritual Import of Religious Festivals :Ch-4. Part - 27.

Chapter-4. Swami Sri  Adi  Sankaracharya - The Genius ( Sankara Jayanti ) :


Unfortunately, today we have no proper expositions of the Vedanta philosophy.

They are all in bits and tracts, here and there; a complete philosophy of Sankara is not available in any single book.

We may read any book written anywhere, but we will not find a complete presentation of his philosophy.

There will be only a section of it, a part of it, a phase of it or an aspect of it presented, so that it always gives a wrong view of the philosophy.

This is unfortunate; but this is understandable, because it is not easy for a single man to write or to touch upon all the aspects of this single, all-comprehensive philosophy.

The Upanishads themselves are all-comprehensive and an exposition of them, which is the system of Vedanta, has naturally to be many-sided.

We cannot read any particular textbook and say we have understood Vedanta, because all textbooks deal with certain aspects – the theory of percepti…

Spiritual Import of Religious Festivals :Ch-4. Part - 26.

Chapter-4. Swami Sri  Adi  Sankaracharya - The Genius ( Sankara Jayanti ) :

It is not easy to understand the gospel of Adi Sankaracharya.

I do not believe that even today the majority of mankind really understands it.

It is not just a glib word 'Advaita'.

What is the meaning of Advaita?

That itself is a difficult thing to conceive.

It is not a system opposed to other systems, but a method of interpretation of values by which we can healthily coordinate the existing systems of thought and construct a system of philosophy according to which we can live happily in every stage of our life.

I do not intend to go into the details of this philosophical background.

But suffice it to say that the Vedanta of Sankara came as a remedy to the diversified ways of thinking which created an unnecessary conflict even in daily practices of human beings, and this he did without going contrary to the injunctions of the Vedas and the Upanishads.

Scripture and reason were the two aids in t…

Spiritual Import of Religious Festivals :Ch-4. Part - 25.

Chapter-4. Swami Sri  Adi  Sankaracharya - The Genius ( Sankara Jayanti ) :

With this introductory remark on the inadequacies of all the earlier systems of thought, Sri Sankara came forward as a genius of philosophic thought, as a Master who could solve with one stroke all the problems of life with his mighty system of psychology, wondrous system of metaphysics, his master technique of Yogic meditation and his soul-enrapturing ideal of the realisation of Brahman as the goal of life.

Such was the significance, chronological as well as logical, of the great mission and work of Acharya Sankara in Bharatavarsha, which has done mighty good not only to the citizens of this country but also to all seeking souls throughout the world.

The goal of human life depends upon the relation of the human individual to the world.

Unless this relation is understood, the goal also cannot be properly specified.

We are very much connected with the world outside; we know it very well.

And unless w…

Spiritual Import of Religious Festivals :Ch-4. Part - 24.

Chapter-4. Swami Sri  Adi  Sankaracharya - The Genius ( Sankara Jayanti ) :


But what is the goal of life according to Yoga?

Is it God-realisation? According to Yoga, God-realisation is not the goal, because this God is necessary only for the sake of dispensing justice to the Purushas.
The goal of life is self-withdrawal.

Consciousness or the essence of the Purusha resting in itself is liberation and the final goal of life.

It has nothing to do with Isvara who is also, after all, one of the Purushas, though He may be a special Purusha – Purusha-visesha.

What is the internal relationship among Purusha, Prakriti and Isvara?

There is no proper answer.

Unless there is a relationship among entities, how can we posit the entities?

It is logically inadmissible and it is an untenable thesis.

We should not say that there are two things, unless we are able to explain the relationship between the two things.

How do we know that they exist?

Our consciousness that posits the existence of…

Spiritual Import of Religious Festivals :Ch-4. Part - 23.

Chapter-4. Swami Sri  Adi  Sankaracharya - The Genius ( Sankara Jayanti ) :


The Yoga School was systematised – not originated, of course – and logically presented by Patanjali later on.

Yoga said that an Isvara is essential.

Otherwise, we cannot escape this difficulty of the Law of Karma.

Reward and punishment will be meaningless on the basis of the law of Karma if a Supreme Dispenser of justice does not exist.

God exists, said Patanjali.

But this God is only like a judge in a court with whom we are not directly connected except when there is a case.

When the case is over, we do not care for the judge.

We go away homeward.

Such was the God mentioned in the Sutras of Patanjali – very essential, very necessary, yet not organically connected with our life.

He hangs loosely in the system of Yoga.

So, for the first time in the history of philosophical thought in India, God, world and soul, all three, were posited in a manner satisfactory for all practical purposes, in the system…

Spiritual Import of Religious Festivals :Ch-4. Part - 22.

Chapter-4. Swami Sri  Adi  Sankaracharya - The Genius ( Sankara Jayanti ) :


But, and a great but, can you get on with this philosophy?

Can you answer all questions of ethics and practical life with these two principles of Purusha and Prakriti alone?

No, we cannot answer all questions and solve all problems with these two principles alone, because there is a small difficulty caused by the acceptance of the law of Karma which is recognised even by the Sankhya.

Karma is nothing but the reaction that is set up to an action.

It is the nemesis that follows every action that an individual or Purusha does.

Merit is rewarded and demerit is punished.

But who does this?

Does Purusha reward himself for the merit he does, and does Purusha punish himself for the sin he commits?

This would be a very absurd conclusion, obviously.

Who would like to punish oneself?

Even if I do a wrong, I would not like to be punished.

But there is nobody else who can punish the Purusha for the wrong that he…

Spiritual Import of Religious Festivals :Ch-4. Part - 21.

Chapter-4. Swami Sri  Adi  Sankaracharya - The Genius ( Sankara Jayanti ) :


Well, there is something very interesting to note in this philosophy of the Sankhya again.

Is this satisfactory?

The Sankhya thought that for certain obvious reasons the Nyaya and the Vaiseshika were not satisfactory, especially in its theory of God.

The liberation, the nature of the soul and such other conclusions of the Nyaya and the Vaiseshika were almost preposterous.

No thinking mind would accept them. So, the Sankhya came forward and proclaimed that liberation is a fact.

There is such a thing as liberation or salvation.

But, salvation is nothing but Purusha resting in himself, consciousness resting in itself, thought merging into its source.

It is self-illumination of consciousness, independent of its contact with matter.

This is Kaivalya, Ekatva, Absolute Independence.

Thus there is no provision for God in the Sankhya system.

This is not necessary at all, because we can get on in the world ev…

Spiritual Import of Religious Festivals :Ch-4. Part - 20.

Chapter-4. Swami Sri  Adi  Sankaracharya - The Genius ( Sankara Jayanti ) :


But something is there outside.

That is what you call matter.

''Matter is that which is other than consciousness; it is that which consciousness recognises, sees or comes in contact with. That which has not the characteristic of consciousness is matter."
The distinguishing feature of that which is different from consciousness is that it is non-intelligent and, therefore, it cannot think.

This is a wonderful philosophy.

You can read it in detail in your leisure time.

And as a matter of fact, Vedanta is nothing but an amplification of the Sankhya.

The seed of the Vedanta was sown by the Sankhya itself.

We have to give enough credit to the thinkers of the Sankhya for having paved the way for the onward march of later thinkers like Sankara.

Swami Krishnananda
To be continued  ....

Spiritual Import of Religious Festivals :Ch-4. Part - 19.

Chapter-4. Swami Sri  Adi  Sankaracharya - The Genius ( Sankara Jayanti ) :


So, there was a logical development of thought from the Nyaya and the Vaiseshika, when the Sankhya philosophy developed its conclusions in regard to what is called Purusha and Prakriti.

It is this Purusha and Prakriti that we generally call God and the world, in popular language.

Why should we accept two entities?

Who told you that there is a Purusha and there is a Prakriti?

How do you know that there is consciousness and there is matter?

Can you prove this?

Can you substantiate this thesis?

Yes, was the answer of the Sankhya.

No human being can escape noticing an object outside in the world.

You may try your best and stretch your imagination to its farthest limits, but you cannot escape the recognition of an object outside.

It is there.

It may be this or it may be that.

Swami Krishnananda
To be continued  ....

Spiritual Import of Religious Festivals :Ch-4. Part - 18.

Chapter-4. Swami Sri  Adi  Sankaracharya - The Genius ( Sankara Jayanti ) :


But the Sankhya thought out this matter more deeply, and felt that it is not true that there are five elements.

They are only five degrees of the intensity of one element.

One element or principle, one being or stuff has modified itself into various densities.

This was what Sankhya taught.

There are not five elements – earth, water, fire, air and ether.

Even the mind is not an independent entity.

It is also a modification, in a particular form, of the very same stuff which is the substance out of which the cosmos is made.
And if at all we have to accept more than one reality due to the exigency of experience and thought, we can at best accept only two entities :

consciousness which sees and that which is seen, the experiencer and the experienced, the seer and the seen –

or, to put it more precisely, consciousness and matter.

These are the only two things that exist anywhere, and not more.

We do not …