Memory is not meant for self-judgement!


There are very few failures. You may have failed an examination, that is all. Yet you remember that alone. If you do not remember what has happened to you, how can you call yourself a failure? Can you become sad Without memories? No, you cannot. Sadness, depression and frustration are all because of memories. Memory is not meant for these things.

Memory is given for certain purposes. Tomorrow when you get up, you will not ask your wife, ’Who are you? Where did you come from?’ If you are unable to remember whether you had already eaten, you will be eating lunch again and again. Therefore memory is only meant for recognizing a few things in order to survive. Memory does of course, play a role in cognition and understanding also. Memory is a faculty given to you by Bhagavan and not for self-judgement. You are the one who is aware of memories, knowledge, ignorance, your mind, its conditions, senses, the body and the world.

Therefore who are you? You should have only one answer: “I am the one who is aware.”

Swami Dayanada Sarawati


To be happy, you just have to forget yourself!

imagesGo back to the first day you can remember. Please come up with a day, during the time in your waking hours, when you were totally free from want and desire. You do not have desires for fun. Your desires are important to you and you want to fulfill them so that you can be happier and fuller than what you are now. When you were a child, you wanted a toy and your mother said, ‘No’. You wanted to play and your mother said, ‘Play later, study now.’ When you did not want to go to school, your father said, ‘You have to go.’ When you did not want to wear certain clothes, your father said, ‘You must wear them.’ When you wanted something else like a balloon, the answer was, ‘Not now.’ One more chocolate? ‘No.’ There were number of desires which you did not fulfill as a child, in the school or at home. This repeated day after day. As a young man or woman, again desires remained unfulfilled. Now you are an adult and the desires have only multiplied. Still many remain unfulfilled. Can you come up with one day where you were completely free from desires? Even today, you have number of desires of which some have been replaced because you could not fulfill them.

Thus you have always believed that you were a wanting, inadequate person. You want to have a bigger house in a better locality and a better job. You wish your son or daughter was a little different. Your daughter-in-law must, of course, be different! You wish everything were better. Thus, you want so many things to be different in your life.

Then suddenly, in between you hear a joke, you laugh. There are moments in your life you pick up glimpses of joy. One day, out of the blue, the stars and sky seem to be very beautiful. They seem to capture your imagination and make you happy. When a child lies there putting the big toe in its mouth, watching the sky, you feel so happy. Or it just laughs at the ceiling for no reason. You do not know why but you find yourself laughing along. You become as innocent as the child at that time. Where there is laughter, there is joy. There are moments in life, when you get what you want or when there are some desirable sensory experiences, then you are happy. You read an inspiring quote or a wonderful sentence, you become happy. You see a nice cartoon, you are happy. You observe something amusing happening on the side walk, you are happy or you simply hear a slapstick joke, you are happy. There are hundreds of occasions in life, whether desires are fulfilled or not; with all your problems, self-condemnations, opinions about yourself, in spite of all this where you find yourself happy.

That happiness is you. There is no demand there, because you are fullness which manifests when demand is absent. The mind then sheds and forgets all the problems, desires and wishes. It just gives up all that and you find you are happy. Happiness only happens when you forget about yourself! When clouds go away, the sun is seen. When the clouds come, the sun is not seen.

Similarly, the clouded mind, the demanding person that you have been with the mind, gives up the demands for the time being because of the desirable situation. You find fullness manifests. But again you demand because you do not know the truth. You only go by experience, you do not know. That the experience of happiness is you, you do not know.

Not knowing that happiness is you, inevitably a new thought arises and you begin to remember your demands, wishes, problems and you are the same old person. You become happy one moment, that is you and the next moment, you are sad, that is not you. But that is the available you, demanding you. So happy, sad, happy, sad; if you know it alternates in this way, life will be wonderful. There will be no problem because you know happiness is going to come next minute and you can be happy still. Even if sorrow comes, it does not matter, do not worry because happiness will follow. But life is not like that. The length of sorrow far outweighs the period of happiness.

In happiness, you cannot say that the world is not there. The world is very much there. You listen to music, you are happy. You listen to the Swami and he jokes, so you are all happy. At that time the world is there, you are there, the mind is there, eyes are there, ears are there, the self is there. See what is not there, then you will understand unhappiness. You do not want the Swami to be different and you do not want yourself to be different. You do not want this hall to be different, or any situation to be different. When you are happy, what happens? There is no dividing line between you and me, meaning there is no demand. You are very much present, but the demanding you is absent and you are happy.

The world does not create any dent in your fullness. It does not create any division in your consciousness. Your fullness can accommodate the whole creation. Fullness always continues. This is what happens whenever your mind is non-demanding, you are non-demanding. That happiness is nothing but fullness, limitlessness, you. This is You!

Swami Dayananda Saraswati
Adapted  from Vision of Gita in Ten Essential Verses

With all your problems, self-condemnations, and low self-opinions at times you find you are happy. Why? How?


imagesWe all have desires that remain unfulfilled, throughout our lives. These desires are of two types. The first is a desire to do, to accomplish something. Whether or not you fulfill this desire, does not bother you. We do not refer to these desires as kama because they do not bind you. These are desires in whose fulfillment you find yourself happy and in whose non-fulfillment you do not become sad. Everyone has “a few desires like that.

Binding and Non-binding Desires

Suppose you desired to have an evening walk. It rained and you could not go for the walk. If it does not bother you then the desire is of a non-binding nature. You may have wanted to meet somebody. You could not meet that person and it does not bother you. Then that desire is a non-binding desire. All great masters too, have desires to fulfill. They undertake lots of activity, all of them are necessarily backed by desires. These are non-binding because they have mastered desires. Binding desire is when the fulfillment of a desire makes you elated and its non-fulfillment reduces you to a wanting person.

You all have had desires in your life which you felt should have been fulfilled. Without their fulfillment, you found your lives to be incomplete. All throughout life, from the time your memory is activated, you find you have always been a desiring person. Desires which are binding in nature are called kama. I gave the argument that in spite of these desires being there, you do find yourself happy occasionally. That there is a possibility of your being happy in spite of these desires, can prove a point. Perhaps to be happy, you do not require to fulfill all your desires. Although, mark the difference, you can happily fulfill all your desires. Therefore if fulfilling all your desires alone makes you a complete person, it is impossible for anybody to be happy without fulfilling all these desires.

Binding desires are also of two types. First is the desire to avoid, get rid of something and the second is the desire to get, experience something. Both positive and negative are included in this type of desire. You have those desires to stall events from happening or to avoid and get rid of things which irritate you. These desires are meant to keep sorrow away. The positive desires are those in whose fulfillment, you hope to be happier than you are right now.

In spite of these desires if one can be happy, perhaps you do not require anything to be happy. Let us analyze happiness a little closer. The wrong notion is that we become happy fulfilling a desire and unhappy when we do not. Sometimes you fulfill a desire and become happy. On the other hand, sometimes you fulfill a desire and find yourself unhappy because you did not know what was in store.

You cannot conclude that only by fulfilling a desire everyone becomes happy. For instance, you happen to hear somebody say something flattering about you like, ’You are wonderful and beautiful etc.’, then you become happy. You may find something amusing and you are happy. You take the newspaper, see a funny cartoon, start laughing and you are happy. No desire was fulfilled in order for you to be happy. Therefore, you do find yourself happy occasionally.

From where do you get these moments of happiness, which come in spite of unfulfilled desires? They either come from outside or from inside. That is exactly our contention. Some say that happiness is outside. They go after things for happiness and we call them materialistic.

And then there are the spiritualists who say happiness ‘ is to be discovered inside. If you think the outside world makes you happy, we need to see what all constitutes the outside world.

The Nature of Happiness

There is no given object in the world called happiness. Otherwise, you would all want to possess that object. There is neither such an object in the world, nor is happiness a perceivable attribute to an object, like a blue lily or a white lotus. You also do not see happiness sticking to an object. Suppose you see a happy man, how do you know he is happy? ‘Yes, he is happy Swamiji. He laughs all the time.’ He may be smiling, but behind that smile, that laughter, whatever joy is there may be as false as his teeth. Therefore, you do not know, you cannot judge. You cannot also say happiness is an attribute to an object, an adjective to its appearance. Happiness is neither an object nor an attribute of an object. What else is there in the world then?

Is a particular place happiness? Is a particular time happiness? Is a particular direction happiness? No, none of these are. Happiness is neither in the East nor in the West. One person is going from west to east for happiness, and the other fellow is going from east to west. Both of them are moving in opposite directions looking for happiness. You cannot really pinpoint any particular time or place in which you are happy.

Your external world is now finished with objects, attributes, time and place. There is no other source of happiness available externally. None of them can be looked upon as happiness.

If you say happiness is not outside, happiness is inside, what does it mean? Do you search inside the body, where there is a kidney full of stones, a bloated liver, a heart prone to attacks, a stomach meant for ulcers? Certainly, none of these is a source of happiness. You can say mind is the source of happiness. So that means when you are sad you will not have any mind. Actually, when you are sad, there is lot more mind than necessary. I told you, sadness. does not come by a single thought, you have to work for it. Therefore, you cannot say that the mind is a. source of happiness. In fact the mind is the problem.

‘Swamiji when the mind is happy, I am happy.’ In fact even when the mind is unhappy, you are still happy. You are the one looking at the mind and you are happy. At that time, the mind becomes a non-demanding, pleased mind. All your demands are met with for the time being. Either all your wishes are fulfilled for the time being or you have forgotten all those wishes and demands for the time being. Something overwhelmingly fascinating has captured your imagination. You are a complete, non-demanding person at this time. The world is there like music. The world does not rob you of your happiness. The senses do not deny you happiness, much. less does the mind. The mind is, the senses are, the world is, you are and yet you are happy.

The only thing absent at this time is your seeking. You cease to be a seeker. You want neither yourself nor the world to be different. That has nothing to do with the mind. It is not the intrinsic property of the mind. The mind is meant to think, nothing more than that. It is not meant to make you happy or anything. When the mind is pleased or you are pleased, the mind is very simple, appreciative and admiring. You find yourself a happy person. Understand that happiness is an experiential word, in which your own fullness, limitlessness is manifest.

The outside world is there. I am there. There is harmony between me and the world. I am not seeker with reference to the world, the seeker is gone. The world and myself have become one. There is only wholeness, fullness, oneness, limitlessness. It is what happens when you appreciate the stars, appreciate good music. On all these occasions, there is no hindrance between you and the object. Both become one undivided whole, without the dividing factor. The dividing factor is nothing but the thought, ‘I am the seeker, this is the sought,’ or ’I want this to be a little different.’ And the moment is gone.

You can appreciate a lot of things Without money. Money can provide a lot of things, but you are the one who is going to make use of them. Do Whatever you need to do to make your life comfortable. Then, to make your life happy, you have to discover you are fullness. In every moment of happiness, you are yourself. At that time, you forget all your demands. All your life is a struggle to forget yourself. The moment you remember yourself, you become unhappy. Music makes you forget, movies make you forget, a disco makes you forget, more than one drink makes you forget. This is the whole tragedy. There is no greater tragedy in life than not being able to be with yourself. You cannot accept yourself. You cannot stand yourself, for you are a desiring person, a wanting person.

You are the very content of happiness.

The Gita says the contrary, ’You are the Very content of happiness and not the desiring, wanting person.’

प्रजहाति यदा कामान्सर्वान्पार्थ मनोगतान् |
आत्मन्येवात्मना तुष्ट: स्थितप्रज्ञस्तदोच्यते || 2.55||

prajahāti yadā kāmān sarvān pārtha mano-gatān
ātmany-evātmanā tu
ha sthita-prajñas tadochyate

prajahāti—discards; yadā—when; kāmān—selfish desires; sarvān—all; pārtha—Arjun, the son of Pritha; mana-gatān—of the mind; ātmani—of the self; eva—only; ātmanā—by the purified mind; tuha—satisfied; sthita-prajña—one with steady intellect; tadā—at that time; uchyate—is said

Happiness is an experiential word, the truth of which is nothing but limitlessness, yourself. The one who knows this fact revels in himself, आत्मन्येवात्मना तुष्ट: स्थितप्रज्ञस्तदोच्यते, प्रजहाति यदा कामान्सर्वान्पार्थ मनोगतान् O Partha, Arjuna, such a one gives up all desires as they arise in his mind. He not only gives up the desire to do but all desires to be happy afterwards also. He does that only by being happy with himself, आत्मन्येवात्मना तुष्ट:. He is happy, being awake to the fact of his fullness. Such a person has no more axes to grind. He is free and his wisdom is true. Lord Krsna calls him a ’sthitaprajna’ स्थितप्रज्ञ because his prajna प्रज्ञा, knowledge is firm, clear, and without doubt.

Therefore, it is only a matter of clarity, of clear understanding of your being free from any limitations. All self-judgement is purely born from ignorance of oneself alone. Knowledge makes you recognize yourself as a completely free person. You are free enough to do anything, even start a new industry. You can do whatever you want. You are not doing anything to become happy afterwards. If you think you are doing something for happiness, you will be unhappy all the way. This clarity of vision about oneself is not experience. Understand this clearly. In an experience, you have a moment of happiness which is in actual fact, the experience of yourself. That experience has to be understood and assimilated in the form of, ‘Happiness is nothing but myself alone.’

This understanding is exactly what Vedanta is out to give.

Swami Dayananda Saraswati

Excerpts from: Vision of Gita in Ten Essential Verses

The maha-vakya of Kenopanisad: तदेव ब्रह्म त्वं विद्धि – tad eva brahma tvam viddhi, May you understand that alone to be Brahman.


यद्वाचानभ्युदितं येन वागभ्युधते !
तदेव ब्रह्म त्वं विद्धि नेदं यदिदमुपासते !!

May you know that alone to be Brahman, which is not revealed by speech (but) by which speech is revealed, and not this that people worship (as an object). (Kenopnisad 1.4)

The first line reveals primarily the pratyagatman, the inner self, that which is ear of the ear, etc., that which is neither known nor unknown, but the basis of both the known and the unknown. In the second line the inner self is pointed out as Brahman by saying tadeva brahma tvam viddhi, may you understand that is Brahman.

While Chandogya Upanisad says, “tat tvam asi” that (Brahman) you are,” here, the teacher Says “tad eva brahma tvam viddhi”, may you understand that alone to be Brahman.” That ‘you,’ is the eye of the eye, ear of the ear, etc, and which is neither the known nor the unknown. All these details make the meaning of tat very clear; it is you. Understand that consciousness alone to be Brahman which is you, in Whose presence you are aware of all these things. Brahman means limitless, the cause of everything-that from which everything has come, and unto which everything goes back. You are that Brahman.

Yada vaca anabhyuditam: That which is not revealed by the word. Anabhyuditam means na prakasitam, not objectified by a word. The vastu is not revealed as the direct meaning of any word. It is unlike the object ‘pot’ that is revealed by the word ‘pot’. However, the vastu is revealed by words through implication, after creating a context.

Yena vag abhyudyate: By whose presence a word comes to manifest. Here, we have to take into account all that is connected to a word-by whose presence alone a word is a word, a word is pronounced as a word, a word is heard, a word is understood. In the presence of the invariable pratyagatman alone a word is heard and its meaning understood. So too, it comes to manifest.

The word ‘vak’ can also be taken to mean the organ of speech. That caitanya, consciousness, which the organ of speech cannot objectify, but because of which it is able to function, is Brahman. This meaning is given here because a story is going to be narrated later, based upon this fact.

That vastu which is not revealed by a word, but because of which a word comes to manifest, is referred by the word, ‘tat’ which, in the context of the previous unfoldment, means ‘you’. The mantra exhorts you to understand tad vastu, that caitanya, to be Brahman.

The word Brahman is already arrived at in the language. It is derived from the root brh, in the sense of growth. Brhatvad brahma, that which is big or brhmanat brahma, that which is capable of growing into jagat. Both meanings are applicable here. The bigness here is aparicchinna, unrestricted. Hence, Brahman is ananta that Which is limitless-time-wise or space-wise.

An object is limited both in terms of space and time – previously it was not, now it is. Whereas, Brahman is unlike any object that exists in time and space. Space itself is paricchinna, limited. Even though space is relatively all-pervasive, it does not pervade Brahman. In fact, Brahman pervades space. That is why space is part of the jagat. Therefore, space also is mithya. It has kale-pariccheda, time-wise limitation, because it is collapsible, as we know from the experience of sleep. Brahman, being limitless, has no spatial or time-wise limitation – means it is not born, it is not gone, it does not grow, it does not decline.

Brahman is not a object, and so there is no vastu-pariccheda, object-wise limitation. Brahman sustains time and space, and .it sustains everything else that exists in time and space. No object enjoys an independent reality without the reality of Brahman. Therefore, every object is Brahman. This is the meaning of Brahman, that which is ekam eva advitiyam, one without a second.

Let us look at the word, advitiya, without a second. A second thing can cause three types of bheda, difference, to a given thing – sajdtiya, vijaatiya and svagata bheda. A coconut tree, for instance, is different from other trees within its own species. There are many coconut trees, and this is one of them. This is sajatiya-bheda, a limitation caused within one’s own species.

Then there is vijatiya-bheda. Vijati means something belonging to a different species. A tree, for instance, is different from the rocks, rivers, and so on. If the tee is a coconut tree, then there are varieties of trees like an areca nut tree, an oak tree, and so on that are different from the coconut tree. In the genus of coconut tree itself there is a dwarfed coconut tree, a hybrid coconut tree; there too, there are varieties. Things that come under botany, things that come under zoology, and [things that come under geology are all different. Within botany itself there are varieties of plants like a vine, a creeper, a small plant, a big tree and so on. A jati, species, keeps on dividing itself endlessly. But you can bring them all under one jati, one subject matter of botany, because they have certain commonness about them. The coconut tree is distinct from a dog that comes under zoology. This is called vijatiya-bheda, a limitation caused by things of different species.

Finally, there is svagata-bheda, difference within a given species. A given tree has varieties of differences within itself like the” leaves, the flower, the fruit, the trunk, and so on.

Taking one’s own body, one can see all these bhedas. It has sajatfya-bheda, because there are many human bodies. It has vijatiya-bheda, because it is different from the body of any other being, like a dog . and so on. Then, it has svagata-bheda, varieties within the body such as the head, shoulders, hands and so on, each one being different from the other.

All these bhedas are not there in Brahman. There is only one non-dual Brahman that is revealed by the sastra. All that is here is that Brahman. Since a second Brahman is not there, there is no sajatiya-bheda, limitation or difference caused by the same species. Further, as there is nothing other than Brahman, there is no vijatiya-bheda, limitation caused by a different species. Brahman is satya, and everything else is vikara, apparent modification, and hence mithya. Mithya cannot be counted along with satya. Brahman being non-dually one, and everything else being mithya, does not add to the one. In Brahman itself there are no parts and hence there is no svagata-bheda. Brahman is satyam jananam anantam. It is pure caitanya, consciousness, which is neither knower-known-knowledge but the truth of all the three.

Tad means pratyagatman, the inner self, consciousness. Tad is predicated here to Brahman. The subject matter pratyagatman has already been introduced, about which the teacher reveals something here. We do not really require a pramana to arrive at the existence of oneself. By drg-drsya-viveka, subject-object-analysis, we can come to know the subject, the self, is not subject to objectification. Recognizing this self-revealing consciousness is Brahman, is the result of veddnta-pramana.

Suppose I say, ‘tvam asi, you are,’ you do not get anything out of this sentence without knowing the predication. Tvam is the subject about which something is going to be revealed. Here, an akanksa, expectancy, is created to hear what the predication is; what is it that the speaker wants to convey about the subject? Suppose, I do not say anything after saying tvam asi, What does it mean? Each one, per his or her psychology, will read the silence. “You are,” creates, in the listener, an expectancy. The speaker fulfils the expectancy, communicating what he or she intends to convey, which is called vivaksa (the intention to say).

The subject, srotrasya srotram, is already introduced, but needs to be predicated. This is where pramana walks in to say, “tad eva brahma tvam viddhi –  you understand ‘that’ to be Brahman.” That ear of the ear which is not objectified by the organ of speech, and because of which the organ of speech functions, is advayam brahma, non-dual Brahman, and that Brahman you are. That means there is nothing other than you; the thought is not other than you, the knower is not other than you, the object of thought is not other than you. Any other knowledge implies a knower-known difference. Here, the knower is you, the knowledge is you, and the known is you. That is the revelation.

The teaching is, “May you understand that to be Brahman.” There are no two entities here – yourself and Brahman. You are Brahman. If you are ignorant, well, Brahman makes that ignorance exist and known. Like anything else, this ignorance also is mithya. What does not exist by itself, but draws its existence from something else is mithya. Ignorance draws its existence from the same consciousness alone. Hence, ignorance is also mithya; it goes away in the wake of knowledge. Therefore, tad eva brahma tvam viddhi. Let there be no ignorance with reference to the fact of the self being consciousness, satyam brahma. That is the whole intention of the teaching.

That vrtti, the cognitive thought that takes place in one’s buddhi as a result of teaching, is known as akhandakara-vrtti, a cognition in which the knower-known-knowledge are resolved into one awareness. That means all the three are you.

Generally, a vrtti is the connecting link between the object of knowledge and the knower. When you say, “This is a pot,” pot is the object and you are the knower of the pot. The pramana-phala, the result of operating a means of knowledge, goes to you, the knower. Between you and the pot, the connecting link is tadakara-vrtti, the thought having the form of a pot. Akara means a form. A given thought assumes the form of the object it objectifies through perception, inference, words, or recollection.

You, the knower, look at the thought and say, “This is a pot.” That pot thought is called idam vrtti. You are the knower all the time. Therefore, you say, “I am the knower, and the whole world of objects is different from me.” With this kind of division in thoughts, you move around knowing different things in the world.

Now, you are told by the sastra, tad eva brahma tvam viddhi, understand that Brahman you are. That consciousness is Brahman which is the mind of the mind, without which there is no thought, there is no object of thought, and there is no knower.

Further, on analysis, you recognize that Brahman as the intelligent and material cause of the jagat. That means the whole creation is non-separate from Brahman. Therefore, your body is Brahman, your senses are Brahman, your mind is Brahman, the knower is Brahman, the cognition is Brahman; everything is Brahman. In this vision you recognize the invariable consciousness cit, as satyam brahma.

In other words, cit is sat. Once you say Brahman is satya, everything the knower-known-knowledge is Brahman. That means it is the whole. That is why it is called ananda or annanta. Being the whole, it is not an object of any of these words, but rather known more by implication. You are not in any way, anywhere, circumscribed, limited.

“That consciousness is Brahman” is the maha-vakya, a sentence revealing the oneness of you and Brahman.

In this mantra, there is also a negation of what is not Brahman. Brahman is generally understood as God, the cause of the world. People worship Brahman as Visnu, as Siva. Is that not Brahman? It is Brahman if you include yourself. That which includes both the subject and the object is Brahman. Nedam yad idam upasate: Not this, which people meditate upon.

Upasana means ‘people worship’. The sastra does not criticize or condemn upasana; on the contrary upasana is included. However, one should not construe that the form alone is Brahman. When a topic is considered, due respect is given to the topic. The consideration is showing respect.

Upasana is fine, but the upasya, one whom you Worship, includes you the upasaka too. If the upasya and the upasaka are one, then the upasana-phala, the ultimate result of worship, is gained; the payoff is recognizing the fact that both the updsaka and the upasya are sustained by one consciousness, Brahman, which is srotrasya srotram; that is why it is satyam. Therefore, What people worship is also Brahman, but that alone is not Brahman. These are sentences revealing an equation and one must see the truth of these sentences. One has to inquire into them thoroughly, curbing the tendency to gloss over.

Swami Dayananda Saraswati

Excerpts from Kenopnishad

What are the mahavakyas?


Every Upanishad must have a maha-vakya महावाक्य, not just four Upanishads. For the sake of समन्वय samanvaya, showing that all four Vedas have only one तात्पर्य tattparya, vision, four maha-vakyas are quoted, one from each Veda:

  1. तत् त्वम् असि, Tat Tvam Asi -> That Thou Art.
    from Chandogya Upnishad, Samaveda.
  2. अहम् ब्रह्मास्मि, Aham Brahmasmi -> I am Brahman.
    from Brahadarnayaka Upnishad, Yajurveda
  3.  प्रज्ञानम् ब्रह्म, Prajananam Brahma -> Consciousness is Brahman.
    from Aitareya Upnishad, Rigveda
  4. अयम् आत्मा ब्रह्म, Ayam Atmā Brahma -> This self is Brahman.
    from Mandukya Upnishad, Atharvaveda.

In fact, every Upanishad has maha-vakya. Without a maha-vakya there is no Upanishad, there is no Gita, and there is no शास्त्र sastra either. Any sastra reveals what is to be revealed, and therefore, maha-vakyas are seen in all the Upanishads.

In maya-vakyas there are no differences. It is not proper to create differences among them, like some people do. Some claim that, tat tvam asi is an upadesa-vakya, a sentence giving the teaching; aham brahmasmi is an anubhavakya, a sentence revealing the experience of oneness, and so on. The whole Upanishad is meant for upadesa, revealing an equation between जिव Jiva and ईश्वर Isvara.

Sawmi Dayanand Saraswati

Excerpts from Kenopanishad

What is the cause of Creation?


सदेव सोम्य इदम् अग्रे आसीत!

छान्दोग्योपनिषत, Chnadyogyop Upnisad (6.2.1)  says, “This world was there before as ‘sat’ सत्.  Without any differentiation”. Pure knowledge alone was there before. The jagat जगत् (unverse) is now differentiated. For this differentiation to take place, knowledge has to manifest. The time has come now for the jagat to get out of the un-manifest condition. ‘The time has come’-  this is only an expression because time itself is yet to come. Getting out of the un-manifest condition is like waking up from sleep. You wake up because of the prarabdha प्रारब्ध  karma. But lsvara ईश्वर  does not have any karma to clamor for fructification. The karmas of the individuals in the un-manifest condition clamor to manifest, and we refer to that condition when we say, “The time has come”. What does lsvara do now?

From the un-manifest, the world manifests. This is cyclic. Here we are talking about a given cycle. Before the manifestation, there must be a certain motion, some commotion is involved. That is pointed out here. The Sankhyas say that before the creation there is some commotion in pradhana प्रधान, the cause, consisting of the three gunas – sattwa सत्व, rajas रजस, and tamas तमस. They are in equilibrium in the un-manifest condition. That equilibrium gets disturbed due to some vibration and the creation starts. Here we ask, “How did it get disturbed? Who disturbed it?” Purusa पुरुष, the conscious being, has nothing to do with pradhana. Other than purusa nobody else was there. If pradhana gets disturbed on its own, then it should always be disturbed. How come the disturbance did not take place so far? Another section of the Sankhyas, who accepts lsvara, says, “lsvara disturbs the equilibrium.” Then What is the occasion for lsvara to disturb it? Sankhyas have no logical answer. But every one of them has to point out that before the creation there must be a disturbance in the un-manifest, and there was a disturbance.

It is like the factor that wakes you up in the morning from sleep. Why do you wake up in the morning? What makes you get up? While you were sleeping you did not have any agenda to wake up. In sleep you do not recognize anything. A person who is sleeping should be sleeping all the time, sleep being a pleasant experience. No. There is a karmic pressure working. One more day you have to live. You have to undergo the experiences that are brought about by the karma on a day-to-day basis. This is one model of explanation, the karmic model. You can also give a physiological model. The body had enough rest, and, of course, it is hungry in the morning. A physiological stimulation in the body wakes you up. A psychological explanation also is possible. But it is all finally karma only. Day-to-day karma has got to be exhausted.

Similarly, something happens before the creation. Whenever we say ‘creation’ you must take it as one cycle. It has no end. This creation is like the previous creation. The previous creation was like its previous creation. Thus every creation was preceded by a creation. In between two creations Isvara brings about dissolution, which is called pralaya प्रलय. When one goes to sleep, one dissolves one’s own individuality and ceases to experience any object. This dissolution is called laya लय, sleep. When the creation goes to dissolution it is called pralaya. After dissolution and just before creation there must be another state, and that is said to be tapas in the sastra शास्त्र. The nimitta निमित, occasion, for the tapas is the karmas of all the beings that clamor to fructify.

Tatah annam abhijayate: the un-manifest world is born from that Brahman ब्रह्मन्. Anna is food. Adyate iti annam, that which is eaten is called anna. Here it means, that which is going to be experienced by all the manifest jivas जीव later. The entire jagat that is devoured at the time of dissolution is anna. It refers to avyakta अव्यक्त, the un-manifest. Anything with distinct features, anything that is created, is vyakta  व्यक्त. That which is in a causal form, without distinct features, is avyakta. If you take a seed, the entire tree is there in it. The tree has a number of distinct features like trunk, branches, leaves, flowers, fruits and so on. But if you look into the seed, you do not see any of them. At the same time, you know that the tree has come from the seed alone. Given the time, place and atmosphere, all those features will manifest. The seed in vyakta, manifest form, is a tree. The tree in avyakta, un-manifest form, is a seed. Similarly, the causal form of this World called anna or avyakta is the upddhi of Brahman. It is also called maya. When the sruti says that anna is born, it means that Brahman identifies – with this upadhi, identifies with the knowledge of avyakta which is going to be manifested later as jagat, and thereby, it becomes the potential cause for the creation. The avyakta has to be differentiated for others’ perception, and this differentiation is called the creation or manifestation.

Swami Dayananda Saraswati

Excerpts from Mundakopanisad Vol. 1
Link to Swamiji’s Discourses


All words are Lord’s Name!


All words are the Lord’s names because everything is a manifestation of ईश्वर Isvara. While every word is his name, we do have significant names like Hari, Hara and so on. Why? The word, ‘tree’ means only tree; it does not mean the sun, the moon, or the earth. However, special words like Hari, Hara, Siva and so on include every form, each name having its own special connotation.

A nama, नाम name, has a namin नामि, an object to reveal. Without an object there is no nama. There is a relationship between a name and its object, nama-nami–sambandha, as between a word and its meaning, vag-artha-sambandha. When I show you a rose, you recognize it and the word ‘rose’ pops up in your mind. Since you have memory, you can think of a lake while you are travelling through a desert. The object need not be objectified by the senses. Once you know the meaning of the word, the object, you cannot say the word without thinking of its meaning.

The sambandha between the, vak and its artha is established by repeated exposure and education. Once you have that connection, then the name and its corresponding object are inseparable.

You can invoke lsvara in a particular name.

Among the many special names and forms of the Lord, you can have a name and form for the three-fold prayer. This is called इष्ट-देवता ista-devata, chosen form and name of lsvara. What does the word ‘Rama’ mean to you? The Lord. Krsna? The Lord. Narayana? The Lord. Siva? The Lord. Ganesa? The Lord. Every word is the Lord. Suppose I ask you, “Think of the Lord.” Who comes to your mind? “Rama.” That is your ista-devta. When Isvara is understood as one who is all, you can choose any one special name and form to invoke the Lord and offer the prayers. The attitude of generations of people, towards words like Rama and so on, have created an inseparable meaning along with an appropriate bhavna, attitude. You invoke Isvara by a particular name and form.

Let us look at the name Hari in the ‘hare rama hare krsna’ kirtana. The one who takes away all papa is Hari, harti papani iti harih. You are relating to Lord as a devotee, a bhakta. The words, Hari or Rama or Krsna, invoke the devotee, who is the basic individual.

You are son-brother-father; daughter-sister mother and so on, but who are you? You are a simple conscious being who assumes these various roles… This being, without playing any role, is related to whom? The basic individual is related to the total, समष्टि samasti. In the total manifestation, you are an individual with one body-mind-sense complex? This is a single conscious being, but like a tree in the forest. The forest-ness pervades the tree, but the tree is not the forest.

The individual body-mind-sense complex is pervaded by Isvara, but with reference to that single body-mind-sense complex, one is a जीव jiva. That jiva is a simple conscious being, and the simple conscious being is related to the total, Isvara.

A God who has a location in a theology, cannot be the creation itself. He can only be like a king ruling the universe. Such a God becomes time-bound and therefore limited. A religious pursuit becomes meaningful only when lsvara is total. He cannot be vengeful. When you say samasti it means that the total manifestation is lsvara. You are included in that, yet related to lsvara. When you use a means to invoke that lsvara, who includes everything, then, related to that lsvara, you are a devotee. When you think of your daughter, the parent in you is invoked. When you think of lsvara, the basic person in you is invoked. The basic person is ever related to lsvara. That is why that relationship does not vary. It is always the same. Your grandfather related to Isvara in the same way, individual to total. Your father related to Isvara in the same way, individual to total. You relate to Isvara in the same way, individual to total. On the other hand, whereas, your grandfather related to your father, as a father, you relate to your father as son. The son becomes father, and thus, all other relationships are variable. The relationship to Isvara, however, is an invariable relationship; it is between an individual and the total. This devotee pervades and sustains every role. While the role is this person, the person is not the role. The one who has this knowledge is a devotee, bhakta. That devotee is invoked when you say, ‘hare rama hare rama rama rama hare hare.’

Swami Dayananda Saraswati

Excerpts from Prayer Guide

Link to Swamiji’s Discourses

Vishnu Sahasranamam: Why so many names? Why should I chant all these names?


The Visnu sahasranamam is a compilation of the different names of the Lord. Why should I chant all these names? Can I not repeat any one name several times? If there are so many Visnus, which one am I calling? The word Visnu is applicable only to the Lord. It is derived from the root visl विश्ल, vyaptau व्याप्तु, meaning to pervade. So Visnu means one who is all-pervasive. The all-pervasive is only one, not more than one. This name is appropriate only for the Lord, and nobody else. Therefore, when I call out to Visnu, nobody else but the Lord can come. Being all-pervasive, he cannot be away from me; he is inside as well as outside. The moment I call for Visnu, there is no question of him not hearing me. Why, then, are there so many names? If he does not respond to one name, will he respond to a different one? These verses are not even complete sentences that I can understand through syntax.

 The names of the Lord in the Visnu Sahasranamam are so many words, one after another. The reason there are so many names is that if you do not understand one word, you can go on to the next. If you do not understand the second word, there is the third, and so on. The Amarakosa, authored by Amarasimha, is the classic Sanskrit thesaurus. Unlike a dictionary, this consists only of a series of synonyms and not meanings or explanations. For instance, when we look up the word Visnu,18 it says Krsna, Damodara, and so on. However, if you do not understand any of the 1000 words, what do you do? Then you need to understand them.

“But, I am praising the Lord by chanting the sahasranamam.” Who are you to praise the Lord? You can praise a person only when you are an equal, that is, when you have adequate knowledge to understand who the person is. You cannot flatter lsvara. You flatter someone only when you describe the person as being greater than he is. In fact, when you cannot describe the Lord adequately to begin with, how can you presume to say something that describes him as being greater than he is? For example, let us analyze the praise, “Oh Lord! You are omniscient, all knowledge” You cannot call him all-knowledge because you yourself do not know what it means. It is like Einstein being praised as the greatest scientist of his time by an elementary school dropout! Einstein would be neither flattered nor praised by his words.

As an individual, jiva, I must be qualified to praise the Lord. If the Lord is all-knowledge, I have no way of understanding what all-knowledge is. I have limited knowledge and cannot even spell the Word omniscient. If he is a Bhagavan of infinite virtues; where is the question of praising or flattering him?

A स्त्रोत्र stotra is meaningful only when it comes from a wise person

Suppose one commits to writing a set of 108 names, one may, at some point, run out of meaningful names to write, but would need to keep on writing names nevertheless We do find such meaningless names in some of the astottarasata namavalis. We still use them because, for Bhagavan everything is okay. The author is very important in such stotras because We are talking of the Lord. The words have to come from a heart that knows. it is a set of words coming from somebody who understands his or her own limitations, and at the same time understands the Lord because of the शास्त्र  sastra. That is why the sastra is so important here.

The stotra is meaningful only when it comes from one who knows the sastra. The human mind cannot fathom ईश्वर Isvara, but the sastra is something that we can employ to understand lsvara and bless ourselves. Generally, our knowledge is fraught with ignorance; we may know something in one area, but not know much in many others. Even to ask questions in a particular area, we need to know many things about it. We do not know enough even to ask questions. Therefore, who is this human being to praise the Lord?

Those who understand the sastra may not know what all-knowledge means, but they do know that the word ‘omniscient’ describes one who is free from ignorance and confusion. The one who praises the Lord is the one who is ‘I know’ and ‘I don’t know’ person. If the ‘I know’ statement is more and the I don’t know’ is less, you are almost all-knowing. However, our situation is such that ‘I don’t know’ is always much more than ‘I know’. The area of ignorance is not there in the one who is all knowledge which is why you can use the wonderful word Ananta अनन्त  (end-less) to describe the Lord at every level. He is ananta in terms of time, ananta in terms of space, and ananta in terms of knowledge, wisdom, and creativity. You can understand and address lsvara this way and it would not be mere praise at all.

However, if the praise, comes from the heart of one who knows, those words become meaningful. Veda Vyasa is such a person. He is a सर्वज्ञ कल्प sarvajna-kalpa, one who has knowledge in all the areas that count, that makes life meaningful. From Veda Vyasa have come these names forming what is known as Visnu sahasranamam. These names are not ordinary words. They are highly meaningful. Many names of the Lord in the Visnu sahasranamam reveal the nature of Bhagavan. If you understand their meaning, you will find that the names contain the essence of Vedanta.

A word and its meaning are inseparable

A word and its meaning are inseparable. Once you know the meaning of a word, it is never separate from the word in your mind. Until then, a word is just a sound or set of sounds. Therefore, a word is a word only when you know its meaning. Once the meaning is known, the word disappears giving way to its meaning. Only the meaning remains in your mind as an object of recognition. That is what we mean when we say a word and its meaning are inseparable.

Words can be meaningful only when they come from somebody who knows the sastra, a शास्त्रज्ञ sastrajna. Only a sastrajna can write. Coming as they do from a heart that really understands Isvara, words become an expression of bhakti, an expression of that person’s knowledge of Isvara. Through these words we get in touch with the devotion in the heart of that person. We also arrive at the Vision of Isvara, the truth of Isvara. This is the reason why we have stotras like the Visnu sahasranamam.  

There are sahasranamams of different deities, but many of the names are the same in form or in meaning. Only the words that describe the episodes, lilas, in the various incarnations of the Lord will be different. Since that truth is only one, the words are bound to be the same in form or in their meaning. Bhagavan Vyasa is arguably the most important link in the Vedic tradition. This sahasranamam is presented by the sage in his astounding epic, Mahabharata.

Isvara is revealed by the One Thousand Names in the Visnu sahasranamam. The more you understand the words, the less alienated you are from Isvara. Once this is understood, the repetition of these words becomes a means of contemplation. I know many learned mahatamas daily repeating these words, and ‘seeing’ their meaning. More often than not, they are bound to be the very meaning of these words. This is called निदिद्यासन nididhyasana, contemplation, necessary for abiding  निष्ठा nistha.

Swami Dayananda Saraswati

Excerpts from: Prayer Guide



We often hear that Veda is scientific. Is this true? The Veda as a whole is looked upon as a means of knowledge in the Vedic tradition of learning. Being an independent means of knowledge, the subject matter of the Veda has to be beyond the scope of other means of knowledge, and it has to be meaningful as well. It talks about a heaven, punya-papa, duties, and rituals with their results to be experienced here or in the hereafter. This subject matter is certainly beyond the scope of the means of knowledge such as perception, inference and so on that a human being commands. It does not expect corroboration from other sources of knowledge, much less is the subject matter revealed by the Veda subject to contention on the basis of other means of knowledge. Any contention is only with reference to a subject matter within the domain of perception, inference and so on. ‘

Science is a body of knowledge gained through perception and inference. Consequently, any scientific theory is subject to contention. When the subject matter of the Veda is not within the known means of knowledge, it is wrong to say that the Veda is scientific. Neither a scientist can accept the statement nor the one who knows the tradition. It would be proper to say that the subject matter of the Veda is independent of perception and inference.

When Vedanta, the last portion of the Veda, talks of the truth of oneself, does it reveal a totally unknown self? If it does, the self would be like heaven, which exists without any possibility of immediate knowledge in this life. If it talks about a self that is self-evident, then the self cannot be the subject matter of the Veda, since it is already evident. Vedanta, therefore, cannot be a part of the Veda since it reverses its status of being an independent means of knowledge.

A human being employs various means of knowledge to know. It includes the Veda. Every piece of knowledge becomes evident to the person through a relevant means of knowing. However, this person himself or herself does not become evident through any means of knowing. Employing a means of knowledge presupposes the presence of the person who employs it. Naturally, the person has to be self-evident. The existence of oneself, therefore, does not depend upon evidence born of an employed means of knowing. Self-evident existence of oneself is revealed when one says: ‘.‘I am.” So the Veda does not need to reveal the existence of the self.’ If this self is non-dual Brahman, the cause of the entire world, then no one can know that reality. An individual’s existence , is no doubt self-evident but he or she is the knower, who is other than the known, and who is subject to all forms of limitation. In this area, Vedanta is a means of knowledge to know the reality of the self, to know that it is free from any limitation.

The subject matter of Vedanta being I, the self, the knowledge unfolded by its sentences has to be immediate. If someone raises an objection to the way in which the tradition presents the meaning of the sentences such as “तत्त्वमसि – tattvamasi, that you are”, we employ reason along With the scriptural texts to point out the fallacy of their arguments. If the non-dual vision is contended, citing reason and experience, again the fallacy is pointed out. Thus, reason and experience are meaningfully employed by the teaching tradition. When the doubts and errors are removed, the Vision of Vedanta that I am Brahman is clearly understood. This proves that Vedanta is a means of knowledge, independent of perception and inference. So, the subject matter of the Veda is not within the domain of science. Of course, there are a lot of statements in the Veda about things that are empirically true. They can be scrutinized by the scientists to find out how valid they are.

Swami Dayananda Saraswati

Excerpts from: Insights

Links to Swamiji’s talks

What is devotion – भक्ति – and its role?


The Relative and the Fundamental

Everyone is, from one moment to another, a relative person. Father, husband, son, uncle, master, servant each one is I, but I is only one, assuming different roles. Each role exists only when there is a particular relationship that evokes it; when objects or individuals change, the role also changes. But among these relationships there is one that does not change. I is related to the total as an individual, to the Creator as the created. This fundamental relationship exists for every being in this world. Whether you like it or not, whether you disavow it or not, every creature in the world and you are related to the Lord.

When you are with your father, you are also a son; but when you are with your son, you become a father and the son that you were is gone. Relationship with individuals is thus peculiar and distinct, but is one’s relationship to the total, the Lord, distinct and peculiar? You are created, your father is created, your grandfather is created, your uncle, grandson, friend, enemy, mountain, river all are created and He is the Creator. He is the sustainer, we are the sustained; He is the destroyer, we are the destroyed; He gives the fruits of action, we perform the action; He is the Lord, and we are devotees. Father, son, uncle, friend, enemy – all are devotees. Any role that anybody plays is played only as a devotee. In all your changing roles, you are an individual – jiva जीव –  related to the Lord; you are a devotee first and last, a fundamental devotee. With this understanding, how can you ever miss the Lord?

Without this understanding, however, you are a devotee only at the altar. Outside, you are a business person. You are only a spasmodic devotee having bouts of devotion whenever, you are in a temple or a church. If you are fundamentally a devotee, devotion cannot be intermittent.

A cook who has a flare for music is only a cook who sings. If he studies music very well and finally becomes a professional musician whose hobby is cooking, he is a great, musician who cooks. See the transformation. When music becomes his life, he is no more an occasional musician; he will discover music in the boiling of water or in the noise or a moving train.

Similarly, an occasional devotee can become a permanent devotee by constant remembrance of the Lord. That is why a temple tower or church steeple is so high to be constantly in sight, reminding us that the Lord is there in all our thoughts and actions, so that we may all the time gracefully accept His blessing. By cultivating this attitude one comes to command a mind that can receive the knowledge that destroys the – ahankara अहङ्कार  –  ego, the notion of an isolated I.

Until one is able to see the Lord always, in all the phenomena and laws of the world, one must cultivate the devotee in oneself by engaging in various forms of worship such as prayers, singing, chanting, rituals, etc. To become a musician, a person practices singing until it becomes natural; the practice is meaningful because singing is the means by which the singer can attain his or her goal “of being an accomplished musician. Similarly, all forms of worship become relevant if one understands that worship is, the means of becoming a permanent devotee, and that a permanent devotee can discover his or her identity with the Lord.

Invocation and Worship

All worship is aimed at cultivating this attitude; to help bring out the devotee in one. The purpose of offering a coconut to the Lord or doing ritualistic worship is that by these actions the fanciful mind learns to appreciate Him. This is not the worship of an idol. When you invoke the Lord in a form such as a cross or a crescent or a lump of turmeric powder, you are not worshiping that form, but the Lord represented there. Anything you offer goes not to the idol of clay or stone, but to the Lord you invoke.

Day after day people in India go to temples and declare, “All wealth is yours; my body, and my mind bring to you; of all this you are the author and owner. 0 Lord!” If by these words you really mean to offer all you have to the Lord, what is the need for repeating this everyday? Does it mean you are bluffing even in your prayers? Of course it doesn’t. This chant is repeated daily so that one can slowly transform oneself into a real devotee, a devotee first and last. The business person who prays can become the devotee who transacts business. When one’s relationship to the Lord becomes primary, all other relationships become secondary and the problems encountered in them are resolved. As a devotee you have no problem; the Lord does not need anything from you.

Devotion is an Attitude

पत्रं पुष्पं फलं तोयं यो मे भक्त्या प्रयच्छति |
तदहं भक्त्युपहृतमश्नामि प्रयतात्मन: || 9-26

patraṁ puṣhpaṁ phalaṁ toyaṁ yo me bhaktyā prayachchhati !
tadahaṁ bhaktyupahṛitam aśhnāmi prayatātman !!

Whatever is offered to Me with devotion – leaf, flower, fruit, or water, offered by the pure-minded I take. (Bhagavad Gita, 9-26)

Lord Krsna tells Arjuna that what is offered is not of consequence; “You may even offer something mentally; that is enough for Me. What is important is only your attitude.”

Many people feel that devotion is easy; but it is not. Often respect is not shown and salutations that traditionally are to be offered to elders are not offered, because of ahankara, ego. Similarly, ego often prevents one from expressing devotion to the Lord. A man with a big ego cannot even place a flower at the altar of an idol unless he has at least some appreciation from the Lord. Surrender is not easy. It is not easy to love. To discover devotion one must create a mental condition that is conducive to expressing love for the Lord – at least one must avoid creating conditions that stifle the expression of love.

If is you who stand isolated from the Lord as an iceberg of ego which, though surrounded by its source, water, remains crystallized and separate. Worship the Lord in order to melt away this crystallized ego. Even while you act in order to achieve, remember the Lord when you receive the result of our action. By this you will neutralize your likes and dislikes and your ego will be dissolved. Only then can you discover that He and you are the same. This knowledge of identity of the Lord and the devotee is the consummation of a life of devotion, for worship helps the devotee to develop a tranquil mind free from wants, a mind that can recognize the truth presented by the teacher and the teaching.

Absolute love resolves duality. Even in the love between two persons, separation ends; the two are fused in emotionally identity. If love for the Lord – is total, it liquidates the; individual. In perfect love or surrender the individualism dissolved in the Lord not like a salt crystal in water, but like water in water. There is only one Lord who expresses the m inside and outside of you. The individual is a notion; all is the Lord. You dissolve as the wave dissolves into the ocean; what goes is only your notion – that you are different. It is dissolved in the ocean of knowledge.

Swami Dayananda Saraswati

Excerpts from the Teaching of the Bhagavad Gita

Link to Swamiji’s Discourses