Vedic Marriage – a means, a sadhana साधना for self-growth!

55574f57cb3b24f23c5f160a621063d8_indian-wedding-symbols-clip-art-gallery-symbols-and-meanings_1500-1600There are many types of vivaha or weddings in the Hindu tradition. For example, the wedding of Shakuntala and Dushyanta is a gandharva-vivaha, a marriage by mutual consent, without any wedding ceremony. Many weddings in the west fall under this category. The most common wedding in the Vedic tradition, however, is the वैदिक-विवाह vaidika-vivaha, also known as the ब्रह्म-विवाह brahma-vivaha.

In this kind of wedding, typically, a number of guests are invited to attend and bless the couple. If the guests are younger than the couple, they wish them well and pray for them. If they are older, even by a day, they bless them. Everyone present at the event is a witness to the wedding, including the priests, brahmans; agni, fire, and the adityadi devatas, etc. Your hridaya, heart, and your mind also witness the wedding.

The concept of the heart and mind being a witness, here, is a reference to one’s conscience. In fact, there is no conscience other than your common sense, or knowledge of right and wrong. The ‘informed you’ is the conscious being, and that being is the witness. Finally, saksi or atma is also a witness to the wedding.

We perform certain specific rituals during the wedding ceremony. First, we perform a nandi-sradha to obtain the blessings of all our ancestors. Then we perform a dayadi homa to get the blessings of all the देवता devatas. There are many significant steps in these rituals involving the families of both the bridegroom and the bride. Their brothers and sisters are also involved in the rituals. The माङ्गल्य-धरणं mangalya-dharanam or the tying of the mangala-sutra is an important step, but is not the final ritual. It is only a prelude for what follows. The vaidika wedding is complete only after the saptapadi सप्तपदी,  the taking of seven steps by the couple. These seven steps are symbolic and very significant. They are symbolic of two people coming together, both of whom are pilgrims. You know, a pilgrim is just not a traveler. While every traveler is not a pilgrim, every pilgrim is a traveler. Someone who goes to Hawaii is not a pilgrim, but the person who goes to Jerusalem or Varanasi is a pilgrim. A pilgrim has a very sacred destination. Thus, with every step that is taken in this saptapadi, there is a prayer, “May the all-pervasive Lord Vishnu, the sustainer of everything, lead us as we take this step.”

Human life is very complex and you have to take the initiative to make it simple. Each one is born alone and walks alone, and is proceeding towards a certain destination. What can that destination be? Security is one destination and it is relative in the beginning. Only once you gain relative security, can you gain absolute security.

For example, money, a home, progeny, etc., are all forms of relative security, which give you a sense of satisfaction. This sense of satisfaction gives you a sense of growth or maturity. For instance, you gain a certain fulfillment through your children.

Everyone has an inner child that missed out on something in his or her childhood. When you become a parent, through the very process of parenting, you get back what you missed. The experience of love is the same whether you love or are loved by another person. When you think the other person loves you, it is only your guess; but, when you love, you are sure about your love. As a parent, you are certain about your love for your children. That is why when you bring up children, you find that you become a therapist for yourself. Hence, no therapists were needed in earlier days.

When you become a mother or father, you get what you missed as a child. That is what marriage is for: to help you in self-growth. You grow in a marriage; you have no choice but to grow. In this creation, which is continuously taking place, the man and the woman, two pilgrims, begin their lives together. Is there a destination? What can it be? Every self-conscious individual wants to be self-satisfied. When I don’t need to be ‘approved’ by others, I am O.K.; I have made it. I have made it when I don’t need others’ emotional support; that is growth. It is very important. Therefore, every self-conscious being has to see himself or herself as an adequate person: self-satisfied, content, and happy. That is the destination: मोक्ष moksa or freedom. To reach that final destination, there is a relative destination; growth. You have to be morally upright without any conflicts.

In the beginning, there may be conflicts, but afterwards, there will be moral uprightness without any conflict. It should become so natural to you that it is impossible for you to compromise your value structure. For this, you need to be emotionally secure.

To achieve this relative emotional security you need to fuse your ego, and for that, you require another person. You have to work with another person towards this emotional growth because when there is another person, one ego rubs another ego. If the rub is too rough, it is not good; if there is no roughness at all, it is not good either.

This is the nature of marriage. There will be some roughness, but you will have to work with it all the same because of your commitment. You have declared in front of all these witnesses that you are going to be together for life. You yourself have declared this openly, in the presence of agni and all the devatas and, therefore, you don’t have a choice. You have to work it out for yourself. For two persons to live together, it takes a certain sacrifice, a certain yielding. Nobody can sharpen a knife on a rough stone; much less, on a slab of butter! When you yield, you grow, and you become richer.

Marriage is a very significant event in one’s life. It is sacred because two separate pilgrims come together to proceed forward towards the same goal. Like two rivers that come from different sources and merge in the same ocean, these two people come together in a marriage and undertake the pilgrimage together. Therefore, marriage is not an end. If it were an end, it would end! It is a means, a sadhana, for your growth. In as much as it is a means for your growth, there is no bad marriage at all.

But, you have to make it a means. We need to grow. This growth ensures that nobody is a loser. Naturally, the couple prays to Lord Vishnu and then takes the first of the seven steps.

The first step in the saptapadi is for material wealth. The next step is for health and strength. The third step is toward wealth of all kinds, including inner wealth, and here the couple is asking for help in following dharma, for growth. The fourth step is toward mutual happiness and the fifth toward the welfare of the families. Then there is  a sixth step taken for prosperity in all seasons, and finally, the seventh step toward the happiness born of wisdom. After taking the seven steps, the bride and groom chant a mantra pledging lasting friendship, mutual respect, and harmony. Once your bride is in your home, she is your friend. In an Indian marriage, the man is typically older than his wife. Because of this, he is given respect in this relationship. In this friendship, however, neither is superior or inferior to the other.

In the final ritual, the sakhya-homa, the bridegroom chants a mantra telling the bride that he is the sËma and she is the rk, meaning that he is the lyric and she is the music, and that he is the earth and she is the heavens, and so on. The sakhya-homa is the last ritual in the wedding, but it is very important. Ultimately, a marriage is all about friendship and understanding. Finally, there is the hridaya-sparsha हृदय-स्पर्श, the ‘touching of hearts’, in which both declare, “I give my heart to you. May your mind work in consonance with mine.” This does not mean that both should think alike, but is an affirmation that each will support the other, support the other’s interest. The sakhyahoma is a wonderful assertion of eternal friendship.

From all this you can understand that you are not a mere witness in this world. You are a participant in this creation; you create; you do; you accomplish, and you have all the saktis, powers, for all this. When you participate in the creation, you are one with Ishvara and that is why the wedding is highly ritualistic. In fact, the couple is viewed as Siva and Parvati, or Narayana and Lakshmi. If you think you are Narayana or Lakshmi, you cannot have any problems with your self-image. Devo devlayah proktah देवोदेवालयप्रोक्त; the body is called the abode of the gods, देवालय devlaya. Thus, this jiva जीव is Bhagavan भगवान . Where, then, is the problem of self-esteem? Every day, we offer a bath, snana; clothing, vastra; ornaments, abharana; sandal paste, chandana; and kumkuma in worship to ईश्वर Isvara in our hearts. Ishvara is not only in our hearts, but is everywhere and is everything. Whatever we do to ourselves is an offering to God or whatever is offered to God is, in effect, given to ourselves.

Thus, these vivaha mantras are very significant and very meaningful. The two separate pilgrims, who come together in this friendship pledge to support each other and use the marriage as a means for self-growth.

Swami Dayananda Saraswati
Excerpts from Swamiji’s Discourse on Vedic Marriage


What is Japa? A form of prayer, meditation and contemplation.

Swami Dayanand JiJapa जप  is the repetition of a word or short sentence during the practice of meditation. The letter pa stands for that which removes or destroys all impurities and obstructions and the letter ja stands for that which puts an end to the cycle of birth and death. Therefore, japa is an indirect means for liberation, moksa. By destroying the varieties of obstructions to knowledge, japa paves the way for liberation. Japa, then, is more than a mere discipline or technique.

Unpredictability of Our Thoughts

At any given time, you have only one thought and what your next thought will be is anyone’s guess. But when the next thought does occur, it will have done so because of some logic. There is no thought without a certain connection to the preceding thought. This connection may be flimsy or it may be very clear and logical. But the thought itself is never predictable.

Even now, I cannot predict what I am going to say. I simply said I would talk on japa, and I started. Even the words I am saying right now were not known to me. What is going to come is unpredictable, but when it does come, it has a logic, a reason.


Suppose you see a BMW on the road and it draws your attention. What will your next thought be?

“How can he afford it?”

And then:

“A person I work with just bought a new BMW. How can he afford such an expensive car? Last year he did not even have a job. His wife must have a lot of money. I wish my wife had a rich family. When I got married I did not think about money or my future.”

All these thoughts started from seeing a BMW and they follow a certain logic. This particular sequence is only one line of thinking. Let us look at another one:

“The German people are quite industrious. Even though their country was devastated during World War II, their economy rebounded quickly. They produce the best scientific equipment in the world.”

Where did we start? From BMW. What will come after BMW is anyone’s guess. Even in deliberate thinking you do not know what is coming next because thinking is always linear, one step at a time, one thought at a time. The connection between the thoughts can either be a logical, syntactical connection within a sentence or a simple association. But there will always be a connection, be it weak or strong.

In “BMW thinking,” the connection between thoughts is not a deliberate one. Therefore, the next thought can be anything. The sky is the limit. “The BMW emblem is different. It is not like the Mercedes insignia.” The Mercedes insignia makes you think of a star and then your next thought may be, “My astrological sign is not favorable.” This movement from one thought to the next is listless thinking, a meandering of thoughts in which there is no direction.

Listless Thinking

In listless thinking, although there is no direction, there is always some logic, some connection. It may be a simple rhyme, one word reminding you of another, or a variety of other possible connections. The one invariable is that, at any given time, there is always one thought or another in your mind.

In listless thinking, just as in deliberate thinking, you do not know what your next thought will be. But, in japa, you know what is coming next. The japa can be a word, a short sentence, a section of a Veda, or even a whole Veda, but, to be a japa, it must be repeated.

If you are repeating a word or short sentence you are sure about what is supposed to come next. If something else comes, you know you are off track. In “BMW thinking,” however, to think of Germany and then of a Mercedes or anything else is not to go off track because there is no track. Such thinking just happens. This is what is meant by listless thinking. There is no direction to it.

We really do not have a method to learn about our minds. We only know that we are subjected to a particular type of thinking. For example, we get into a reverie until something arrests our attention and only then do we come back.

Japa as a Technique

Exercising one’s choice is very important in japa. If I choose to mentally chant a word or sentence for a length of time, then I have a technique in hand and can see what happens in my mind.

In japa, I know exactly what is to come next. If something else pops up, I know this is not what is expected and I bring back the chosen thought. In the process I learn how to dismiss unwanted thoughts and retain the one I have chosen. This is one important result of japa as a technique.

As a technique, any word will work. You do not require the Lord’s name or a “spiritual” mantra. Anything can be a mantra, like gring…gring…gring…gring…gring…gring…gring. If you keep on repeating this sound, it will work. An extraneous thought will eventually come, like “What makes this kind of noise?” ”A bagpipe may be the response. Then you may ask, “What does a bagpipe have to do with my japa?” By returning to the sound, the bagpipe thought is dismissed.

In this way, japa works as a technique for gaining some mental discipline. However, japa is something more than the mere chanting of a sound. In repeating a given chant, you give yourself an occasion to see the ways of your own thinking. This repetition becomes a technique for keeping your mind directed fog a length of time – and it can also help the mind gain a certain depth.

Interval between Thoughts

The advantage of repetition is that we can appreciate the interval between two successive occupations of the mind. In “BMW thinking,” listless thinking with no direction, the mind simply moves from one thought to another. This type of thinking is like picking up noodles. If you try to pick up one noodle, you find it coming along with a few others. Similarly, the whole occupation of thinking becomes “as though” a single thought; even though there are many thoughts.

Between two thoughts there is an interval. BMW is the name of a vehicle and Germany is the name of a country. Because there is a connection between the two, the interval between them is missed. Repeating a given chant eliminates or avoids the connection between two thoughts because, between one chant and another, there is’ no connection.

Each chant is a complete unit in itself and one thought unit is not connected to the second thought unit since both are the same. Thus, between two chants, there is a period: chant…period…chant…period. There is no comma, only a period, a full stop. Therefore, each chant is complete, and between chants, the interval is available for you to recognize.

Peace of Mind: Is it Natural or do we have to Acquire it?

What is it that obtains in the interval between chants? Between one thought with a certain form and sound and the next thought, there is no given thought. There is only an interval with no form or shape. This is what we call peace or silence. Because this silence has no particular thought form, there is no thinking as We know it.

We always think that peace is something we have to acquire. Because the mind is restless, we think that peace is something new that we have to acquire, an attribute with which we have to embellish the mind. Is peace something we have to acquire or is it natural?

Restless Requires a Build up.

For peace, what do you have to do? For restlessness, you have to work; you have to create a buildup because, without one, you can never become restless. The problem is that this buildup is not something that we do consciously. It gets built up, like a wall erecting itself. Suppose you have a pile of bricks and they just assemble themselves into a wall. You would consider it a miracle, but you do not consider a buildup of thoughts a miracle because it is always happening. It is a miracle, however, because it just happens. That it just builds itself up and you have no say over it is truly amazing.

There is a helplessness in the whole process. Something triggers off a buildup; it may be a simple hormonal change, indigestion, someone’s look, a frown, a change of weather, or any number of other things. Any one thing is good enough-you may be combing your hair and a few hairs come out! Any event that you do not accept starts it off and then your mind is busy for the entire day.

Restlessness requires a buildup to which I, myself, am not a party. And yet the buildup is mine. I do not look upon it as different from myself. I see myself fuming and do not know what to do. I have to do something about it because, although I am not a party to it, I am completely involved in it.

Why is it that I cannot keep track of this thought buildup? This is because the whole habit of thinking has been “noodle thinking.” associative or nondirectional thinking. It is not “peanut thinking” where. as in eating peanuts, you take one peanut. then another peanut, and then another. It is all “noodle thinking” and, in fact, is the most common type of thinking.

The very beginning of such thinking is an association of “I.” Without that, the thoughts would not begin. Because of its association with “I,” there is no question of my being aware of the first thought because I am taken over at the outset by the thinking itself. I become the very thought and the thought becomes me.

An Occupation for the Mind

I can give the mind a meaningful occupation wherein chain thinking is broken. Then the interval that obtains between successive thoughts can reveal a great fact about myself-that I am the silence that obtains between two thoughts.

Logically, we can see how restlessness requires a buildup, whereas peace is something very natural for which we need not do anything. We do not create peace; we create only restlessness.

In japa, you deliberately create a thought. Because you have a will, you can choose. In this way, you become the author of a given thought. A specific thought is created by you because you choose it, whereas the silence that ensues is not created by you. In fact, the silence is the basis of all thought.

In the text, Panchadasi, the mind is likened to a dancer on a lighted stage. The dancer portrays a variety of aesthetic sentiments–love, helplessness, anger, cruelty, wonderment, fright. The light on the stage lights up the dancer with all of her moods and changes and when she makes her exit, it lights up the empty stage. The dancer may be performing various dance forms, or may not be on the stage at all, yet the light remains un-involved. It merely illumines.

The light itself is not a “doer,” much less an “enjoy-er,” of the dance. Nor does it light up the stage as one of its jobs. The nature of light is to illumine and it illumines; the verb “illumines” involves no action or motive on the part of the light. Therefore, the light has no doer-ship. Similarly, when I have a thought and the thought goes away, what remains is silence, which is likened to the empty stage without a dancer.

The Nature of Thought and Silence

Absence of thought is generally looked upon as peace, something to be achieved. Thought can be suppressed or negated by certain external means, such as the practice of breath control.

When you retain the breath, you cannot think. Try. Hold your nose and try to think. You cannot. Your only thought is to breathe!

Here, however, we are not interested in the absence of thought but in understanding the nature of thought and silence. The whole approach, therefore, is cognitive. Thought sometimes happens without my sanction and sometimes it happens with my sanction. In japa. thought is deliberate; it occurs with my sanction. And when the thought goes, I understand its absence as the nature of silence.

I am Silence

What I experience, or am aware of, between two thoughts is silence. If I see the silence after every thought, should I take myself to be the thought or should I take myself to be the silence? Thought arises and thought falls. Before the rise of the thought I am silence and after the departure of the thought I am silence. I am silence first and I am silence last. Thus, in spite of thoughts, I am silence.

The practice of japa does not give me this understanding. But, by doing japa, I create a situation wherein something that is understood is understood more clearly. In spite of thoughts I understand that I am silence.

In “BMW thinking,” you jump from one thought to another. You hold onto the second thought and leave the first. And you hold onto the third and leave the second. The lingering content of the first thought connects you to the next thought. This connection causes you to catch the second thought and leave the first. Thus, we go from BMW to Germany. Germany takes you to World War 11. World War takes you to Pearl Harbor. Pearl Harbor takes you to Hawaii. Hawaii takes you to the beach. The beach takes you to melanoma and you become sad. This is how the mind works. If you catch one thought, it means the previous one is gone because the two thoughts have nothing to do with each other.

I call this type of thinking “monkey thinking,” the mind being very much like a monkey who leaps from tree to tree. One tree may be an evergreen and the next a maple tree. The monkey just goes from one to the other. Similarly, one’s mind jumps from thought to thought and there is no control over the ways of one’s thinking. In this kind of chain thinking, one cannot arrive at the gap, the interval, that exists between thoughts.

In India there is a tree called the areca tree, from which we get the betel nut. Like a palm tree, it is very thin and fibrous and tapers at the top. Looking at the tree you may think it would break if you climbed it, but it will not. A man who goes up one of these trees to gather the small fruits at the top does not need to come down and climb another tree. Instead, by bending the tree with his own body weight, he catches hold of the next tree. In this way, he moves from tree to tree gathering fruit. Only after picking the fruit from the last tree in the garden does he come down.

This is exactly what we do in our thinking. From one thought, BMW, you catch Germany, then you catch World War 11, Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, and the beach. Then you catch melanoma and worry about the new mole you have: “I’d better consult a doctor. Suppose it is cancer. How will I be able to handle it?” All of these problems started from BMW. This is like walking upon thoughts. You never get to the ground.

There is another tree, the coconut tree that, unlike the areca tree, cannot be bent without breaking. Thus a man picking coconuts must return to the ground before climbing the next tree. Japa is like this. You get to the ground-not after a length of time, but immediately. You chant and, like coconut-tree climbing, you come down. You chant. You come down. Chant…come down…chant…come down. In this type of chanting, being aware of the interval is as important as the chant because it is the interval that reveals your true nature-silence, awareness.

Once a person is committed to mentally repeating a given chant, his or her mind automatically goes to japa whenever it is free. Just as water draining from the mountains creates new ravines, a new track is created towards which the mind repeatedly goes. In this way, japa becomes a way of keeping the mind meaningfully occupied. As well as . being a useful activity, it is also a prayerful one.

Eventually, a time comes when the mind enjoys a certain composure. Because you appreciate that any distraction or agitation is transitory, you do not come under its spell. A mind that knows this has a ‘certain depth, a certain tranquility, even before such agitation , begins. In conjunction with the vision of the teaching that you are the whole, japa is very effective. Even without any exposure to Vedanta, japa is beneficial in that it keeps the mind meaningfully occupied.

Being Aware of the silence.

Japa is a tool that enables you to negate any distracting or improper thought by replacing it with the chosen chant. It gives you an occasion to eliminate chain thinking and to be aware of the interval, the silence, between thoughts. This is why I refer to japa as a discipline.

In keeping with the teaching, you understand this silence as something natural. You also develop the capacity to nip in the bud any thought you do not care to have. In all these ways, then, japa is helpful in gaining mastery over your mind.

Sound as a Technique

A common practice among many meditators, in the west is to chant invocatory syllables called bija-akasaras बीज-अक्षर, Srim, Hrim श्रिम्, ह्रिम् traditionally used to invoke certain deities for purposes of meditation. When these sounds or any other single syllable wads. such as Ram and Syam are chanted. the mind is naturally going to have a particular occupation. Because the chant is repetitive. chain thinking as eliminated.

That any sound will work as a technique was demonstrated by one scientist using a meaningless sound and recording changes in various human functions. While the subject chanted this sound, his thought processes and metabolism slowed down significantly. His blood pressure also came down and his heart beat rhythmically.

Since the person was sitting quietly, his mind occupied with the repetition of the meaningless sound, these findings are not surprising. Had he thought of some problem he was having, he would have begun to fume and his heartbeat would naturally have increased. Based on the results of his study,. the scientist wrote a paper in which he concluded that a special chant or mantra is not required and that the repetition of any sound, even a meaningless sound, could produce the benefits he had recorded.

As a technique, any sound that is repeated will work in the same way as any other sound. But in what way will it work? For some time, no doubt, the body and the mind will be quieter. But, then, you may become amused that you are sitting and chanting a meaningless sound. Is it not amusing to set aside a time each day to chant gring…gring…gring so seriously?

I know I would be amused. Something would tell me, “Idiot! What are you doing?” Then I would say, “Be quiet. You are always criticizing. You don’t believe in anything. Keep chanting.” Again, gring…gring…gring. “What is this gring?” someone would ask from inside. “It’s a meaningless sound,” would come the reply.

Then, “A meaningless sound? Why are you chanting a meaningless sound?”

“It’s called…Be quiet. I told you not to criticize.”

Gring…gring…gring…gring…gring. Then again from inside, “Did you pay for this? Why don’t you change gring into zring or some other sound?” Why not?”

“Be quiet! This sound was specially chosen for me.” Gring… gring…gring. It would be very difficult for me to chant this meaningless sound.

Anything you do should be meaningful. It is very difficult, therefore, to seriously sit and chant a meaningless sound. You may not know the proper meaning of a chant, but you need to know that it is meaningful. If it is the Lord’s name, you may not understand its full meaning, but because you know it means the Lord, you have enough understanding to chant it seriously.

A meaningful chant

If a sound that has no meaning is chanted, it can serve as a technique. And, for the purposes I have mentioned, it looks as though any chant will work. But all sounds you repeat will not work because you cannot give meaning to a chant that is meaningless and, therefore, you cannot be serious about it.

Suppose, however, you chant a word that does have a meaning, like carrot: carrot… carrot… carrot…  carrot… carrot. Or; zucchini… zucchini…zucchini…zucchini. We have varieties of meaningful words, even the word cookie: cookie…cookie…cookie. Why not? Any meaningful word is definitely a step ahead of a meaningless word, but something more is required for it to work as a japa. A meaningless word will not bring anything to your mind and a meaningful word will cause your mind to be full of carrots, zucchinis, cookies, or whatever. Therefore, neither of these kinds of words will work.

A Meaningful word that Covers the Whole Creation

Instead, you choose one meaningful word that covers the whole creation, a word that is not one of the many objects in the world. A meaningless sound does not indicate any object, whereas a meaningful sound includes everything without indicating any one object. Since all objects are included in the form of the Lord, nothing is omitted when you repeat the Lord’s name.

In this way, the meaningful chant becomes all-inclusive. All words are included in one chosen word. All names in all languages are also included. You can say Siva, Rama, Krsna, Jesus, or Allah, but in your mind the word Chosen should stand for everything. Because the word does not stand for any one thing, you will not be reminded of a given object when you chant it.

A Word You can Relate to.

You are related to the Lord whose name you repeat. As a devotee you are related, the relationship being between the devotee and the altar of your devotion alone. One recognizes the Lord in a given name or, recognizing the Lord, a name is given. That name can be given traditionally or by education.

If it is traditionally given, the word and the Lord are already bridged in your psyche. This bridge is a blessing because the word immediately strikes in your mind as the Lord. Whether by tradition or by education, the word and its meaning must become connected in your mind.

To the meaning of a word known to you as the Lord, you are a devotee. The devotee is the fundamental person who assumes a variety of relative roles such as father, mother, wife, husband, brother, and sister. If you are an individual, you are first related to the total and, only afterwards, are you related individually.

I am Related to the Total

Individuality is possible only when I carve myself out as an entity from the total. The one who identifies with a given physical body-mind-sense complex is an individual. The individual is naturally related to the total because, from this total alone, he or she is carved out as an entity, just as a tree has an individuality carved out from the total, the forest. The forest includes the tree, but the tree does not include the forest.

In this way, there is an individual and his or her Lord is the total. The Lord is a being and I am a being. The Lord is looked upon by me as omniscient, omnipotent, and omnipresent. Thus, as an individual, my relationship with the total is fundamental, the total being the basis for the individual.

This individual entity is also related, but relatively, to all other individuals with whom he or she comes in contact—parents, aunts and uncles, husband or wife, children, neighbors, friends. And who is the person who is related? The person is fundamentally a devotee and this devotee is related to another person by assuming the role of son or daughter, sister or brother, niece or nephew, parent, and so on. Therefore, one becomes a devotee son or daughter, a devotee wife or husband, a devotee mother or father, a devotee friend, a devotee employee or employer, a devotee thinker, and a devotee seer.

Invoking the Devotee in You

The devotee, then, becomes fundamental. It is the devotee that is invoked when one repeats the name of the Lord, the name being not separate from the meaning. When the word is repeated, the meaning naturally strikes.

Once you know the meaning of any word, you cannot separate the word from its meaning. For example, try repeating the word “car” without thinking of a car. It is impossible. A word and its meaning are inseparable.

Because I am related in this form to the meaning of the name of the Lord, the total, I naturally do not chant as a husband or wife, aunt or uncle, cousin, son or daughter. Thus, I am free from the distractions of these relative roles.

If a person chants as a father, he will have a lot of problems. Suppose, being a devotee of Siva, he named his son Subrahmanya, Subbu for short. Subrahmanya 1s the name of Siva‘s son. Therefore, when the father repeats Lord Siva’s name, what happens? Subbu comes into his mind, the one who does not study as he should. Because of this Siva-Subbu association all kinds of agitations will come. Thus if the father chants, Subbu will definitely come-along with all of the fatherly concerns.

Suppose, however, the devotee is invoked by the same person, then the Lord and the simple relationship between them is recognized. The devotee alone is there when the person-chants, the role of father being relegated to a relative role assumed by the devotee. In the devotee-Lord relationship there will be none of the distractions attached to the relative roles assumed by the devotee.

Japa is a Metal Prayer

A japa is a word, sentence, or group of sentences, whose meaning is the Lord, wherein the individual invokes or salutes a certain deity as the Lord. It is neither a meaningless sound nor does it denote a certain object, like zucchini. Its meaning is the Lord, through which the devotee is invoked.

Therefore, japa not only serves as a technique but as a mental prayer. Only when the repetition is a mental prayer is it called japa. Japa is recognized as an indirect means for gaining liberation because it destroys all obstructions and impurities, thereby preparing the mind for the knowledge that is liberation.

In the tenth chapter of the Bhagavada Gita (10.25) Lord Krsna says, “There are many forms of rituals and many means through which ‘I am invoked, but among them I am japa.

यज्ञानां जपयज्ञोऽस्मि !!
yajñānāṁ japa-yajño smi!!

Swami Dayananda Saraswati
Excerpts from Japa

Why do we sing in the shower?

Happiness is the absence of desires. Whenever your mind does not long for anything, you are happy. In the interval between the fulfillment of one desires and the cropping up of the next, you are happy. Why do you sing in the shower? You don’t do it to please yourself or anyone else; you do it simply because you are happy. At that time, the mind does not long for anything; all the window dressings, the masks you wear for people, are removed with your clothes you are with yourself. Your singing is an expression of the happiness felt by a mind that rests in the Self.

Swami Dayananda Saraswati
Excerpts from The Teachings of the Bhagavad Gita.

Three Illegitimate Problems of Our Life!


Everyone suffers from a sense of limitation but no one accepts that, because one cannot be happy as a limited being. Through analysis we can identify three types of limitations. The first is the limitation of sorrow. Sometimes our sorrow is very eloquent, sometimes it is only an unwept sorrow; but the basis of sorrow, the feeling, ”All is not well with me” is always there. That the human heart is subject to sorrow is a limitation no one wants to accept.

Another limitation that we feel is that of time. Nobody wants to die today; everyone wants to live a day longer. Animals and plants also have this love for life. Even a tree bends to grow towards the sun. Only if we find that this world can no longer give us happiness do we think of quitting it; if a person is healthy and happy, he or she wants to live on. Perhaps it is this love for continuity that accounts for the desire to have a son or a daughter, or urges one to engrave one’s name on a stone. No one wants to disappear without leaving a trace.

We know that we shall all die one day, and yet we want to live for at least today. The desire to live today is the desire to be eternal; we do not want to admit that we are mortal, even though we know very well that our birth and death are marked on the-sands of time. Mortality, a limitation with respect to time, is the second limitation that we cannot stand.

The third limitation that humankind suffers is ignorance. If a person is not enrolled in a school or a training institute, he or she will at least stand at the window to see what is happening in the street. This behavior is an expression of our innate love for knowledge. We cannot stand ignorance; We always want to know something more.

If you examine all your pursuits, pravritti प्रवृति  or nivritti निवृत्ति, you will discover that all your life you have been trying to overcome these three limitations. You seem to have concluded that you are sorrowful, mortal, ignorant. You seek more security and more objects so that you can be comfortable in your life; much of your time is spent in going after things that are meant m make you happy, to keep sorrow at bay. Another part of your life is spent in pursuing things that will keep you going just one day more; you do exercises or take vitamins and proteins out of a desire to live a little longer. A third part of your life is spent gathering knowledge. For some, such as scientists, who regard knowledge as the most important goal in life, this is the most predominant pursuit, but everyone does devote a part of his or her life to learning. Picking up a newspaper in the morning is prompted by this quest for knowledge; reading the Gita is motivated by a desire to seek freedom from one‘s sense of inadequacy. Thus the three things we seek in all our pursuits are freedom from sorrow, freedom from death, and freedom from ignorance.

The Lord Krishna says that all the three limitations, are illegitimate; that is, all three are asocya अशोच्या, matters that do not warrant any grief. A problem can be solved only if it is legitimate. If you see a snake on the road you can choose to avoid it or chase it away, so that you can continue on the road. Encountering a snake is a’ legitimate problem and it can be solved by such actions. But if the problem looming large in your mind is illegitimate, how can you solve it by an act? Let us consider the famous example of a rope mistaken for a snake by an imaginative mind. The illegitimate, projected snake and the fear one experiences on seeing it cannot be removed by beating the snake or by throwing a stone or by praying or clapping. The snake and the fright caused by it will go away only when one comes to know that there is no snake in fact. When one sees the rope, the problem is solved and one’s fear goes. In this case, one solves the problem not by action, but by knowledge. A legitimate problem can be solved by action but an illegitimate one can only be solved by knowing that it is illegitimate.

If I can make you see that a given problem does not really exist, I have released you from it. The knowledge that the limitations of sorrow, time, and ignorance do not really exist for you frees you from these limitations. That knowledge is called sankya, that which is clearly seen. it is unfolded by Vedanta.

Swami Dayananda Saraswati
Excerpts from The Teaching of the Bhagavad Gita

Acceptance – Consciously dropping will to resist an unchangeable fact!

Swami Dayanand Ji

There are many occasions in life, many situations in life that I can change. If I have enough resources, I can change the furniture in my house, I can buy new clothes, I can eat out three times a week, I can camp out every week-end, I can have a new hair-cut, it’s endless. If it’s cold I can buy a heater. If it’s warm I can buy an air-conditioner. A new micro-wave ……yes there are a lot of changes that I can make.

If I have no resources but a lot of creativity, I can do the same things that I do every day, in new ways! I can cook food with the same ingredients, but it tastes different and good. I can lay out the table in new ways. I can sing and dance a little differently each time and enjoy it too. I can change my job, my apartment, my car. If I have a big heart, I can express the love in my heart in many different ways too.

I can change my attitudes and my behavior if I choose to. I can tighten what needs to be tightened and loosen what needs to be loosened. If I am very inflexible and rigid as a person, I can become more flexible. If I am critical always and finding-fault I can try and change that too. If I am angry and always want things my way – well I can look into that too if I want to. If I always blame others for my problems, I could see if that is true. If I am a person who does not know how to draw boundaries, then I can learn how to do that. I am always emotionally dependent on someone and it has become painful for me, I can learn how to grow out of that. If I am very fearful always, I can learn to face challenges boldly. If I’m so bold that I become fool-hardy, then I can learn to exercise caution.

Whatever I can change, if I feel I need to change it – I should change.

But I don’t call all the shots in life. There are some situations which are what they are, some events that have taken place, which I cannot change. I cannot change the weather of the country. I cannot change the politicians immediately! I cannot change the fact that a near and dear person has passed away. Sometimes I have family responsibilities, my boss is a pain and I cannot change my job. Above all I cannot change people – this includes my parents, my spouse, my in-laws, my children, my boss, my co-workers, friends, employees. I cannot change my past – happy or sad. I cannot change my childhood. I cannot change my age. I cannot change the way I look very often….the list is endless.

When something cannot be changed whatever it might be – when I find that I have an incapacity to order things as I want – I feel helpless, sad, agitated and angry. I get into a depression very often too.

Now this is the hard fact – that the situation cannot be changed. If I want people to change why should they? They might want me to change too. Maybe I also don’t want to change. Nobody can make a person change unless that person really wants to change. This is how it is. Maybe if I try to understand the background from which the person comes, then I can understand them better and feel some compassion towards them instead of anger. Maybe my expectations are unreasonable. Maybe my expectations are reasonable but the person cannot meet them, or does not want to meet them. Whatever the reason, this is how it is.

Would it not be just easier to accept gracefully that this is how the person is, this is how the situation is, this is how my past was, what has happened has happened. I cannot do anything about it. If I can change something I will – if I cannot, I accept it just gracefully. When I accept, there is a relief because my resistance to a fact is gone.

But the capacity to accept gracefully what I cannot change is not something that I am able to do easily. But at least I can have a value for it. I can have a value for it only if I know what benefit I get from it. To understand the value of graceful acceptance, let’s see what I get if I don’t have this acceptance. Then we can see what can help us.

When I am unable to accept a fact that cannot be changed – I feel helpless, I feel anger and resentment. All my present moments are occupied only in brooding and thinking and repeating the scenes again and again. I lose my self-esteem and destroy any chance of joy I might have in the current moment. Supposing I am walking and there is a beautiful sunset- I am unable to enjoy this truth about my present moment – I spoil my present moments with brooding about the past, the injustice, how I would like the situation to change. And if I keep up this frame of mind of resistance and pain indefinitely, my health is affected. I get ulcers, heart-problems, headaches, body-pains. I find no joy in life and my sadness spills over to others in my environment.

Now when the fact is that I cannot change the situation, does this frame of mind help me? Or does it hurt me. Very clearly, I am hurting myself. Do I want to continue to hurt myself? That is the choice I am faced with. I can continue to hurt myself by retaining this resistance to facts and working myself up into hurting and feeling bad – or I can just let go -by accepting. Consciously dropping my will to resist an unchangeable fact.

I have to see this very clearly and have a value for the peace of mind and a certain relief that results because of this acceptance of facts. Once I have a value for it, then there are ways to help myself to let go. Here devotion to the Lord born of understanding the Lord is invaluable. For understanding the Lord come to Gita class! Here an understanding of the Lord as All-Intelligence and seeing the fact that whatever there is in this creation is in Order, ( even disorder is in ultimate order) there is a meaning behind it all, there is a purpose is very important. The purpose of my life is to grow – maybe because of these situations now I can pray. Growing devotion in the form of a growing trust in the Lord’s order, a growing trust that every situation has a purpose and meaning behind it all and it must be all for the best even though I may not be quite able to understand it right now.

I recognize that I am helpless in accepting the situation and then when I am helpless I can seek help from the Source of All- Help – the Lord in a meaningful prayer. Seeking help when I need it, is intelligent living. So I can make this prayer to the Lord:-

O Lord, may I have the maturity to accept gracefully what I cannot change; may I have the will and effort to change what I can; and may I have the wisdom to know the difference between what I can and cannot change.

Swami Dayananda Saraswati

Sorrow does not happen; you contrive it.

imagesSorrow does not happen; you contrive it. When you hear the news of someone’s death, you are only shocked; only after the news sinks in does sorrow slowly develop. Like jealousy and “other emotions, sorrow is built up. Happiness is natural to you, sorrow is not. If sorrow were natural, you would be happily sorrowful; but you want to get rid of it, and you can get rid of it, because it does not belong to you. Though it looks as if happiness comes and goes, it does not. It is only that your confused thoughts sometimes keep you from enjoying the happiness that you are. You think that this world makes you sorrowful, and that giving it up will help you; but you cannot give up the world totally as long as you are alive. As Lord Krishna has said in Gita, no one can remain without activity even for a moment:-

न हि कश्चित्क्षणमपि जातु तिष्ठत्यकर्मकृत् (3.5)
na hi kaśhchit kṣhaṇam api jātu tiṣhṭhatyakarma-kṛit

Swami Dayananda Saraswati
Excerpts from The Teachings of the Bhagavad Gita

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