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

What is Karma Yoga – कर्मयोग? An Attitude towards Action.


In the Bhagvad Gita Lord Krsna describes to Arjuna the attitude that can defuse one’s likes and dislikes while performing action. This attitude is called karma yoga.

कर्मण्येवाधिकारस्ते मा फलेषु कदाचन।
मा कर्मफलहेतुर्भूर्मा ते सङ्गोऽस्त्वकर्मणि॥ २-४७

In Roman scripts—

Karmanye vadhikaraste Ma Phaleshu Kadachana,
Ma Karmaphalaheturbhurma Te Sangostvakarmani

 You have choice over your action but not over the results at any time. Do not (take yourself. to) be the author of the results of action; neither be attached to inaction.

Lord Krsna begins by drawing Arjuna’s attention to a fact: “Work alone is your privilege, never its results ” This sentence has confused many scholars who interpret it to mean that one should perform action without expecting a result This cannot be the intent of Lord Krsnas statement, because it would mean that he would teach Arjuna without expecting him to understand. No one performs action without expecting some result.

What then does the statement mean?

The statement is very clear: you have a choice in your action, but never in the results. The result is determined the moment the action is performed. You cannot avoid karmaphala, the fruit of action. One cannot jump out of a window and expect the result, falling, not to happen, nor can one expect gravity to pull one’s body at a rate less than 32 feet per second per second! The results of action are governed by laws that are not under out control.

We find ourselves in a World governed by laws that are not created by anyone here. We are born according to laws, and the reaping of results is also according to laws. The relationship between an action and its results is governed by the laws of nature, which we can attempt to understand but never change.

The author of these laws is the one we call God or, in Sanskrit, Isvara. It is by His laws that I get a particular result, not by my choice. Therefore the Lord says, “May you not take yourself to be the author of the results of action.” The results are produced by laws which are not under our control.

When I undertake to do something, I expect a result, even ‘ though I know that the results are not under my control, because I have likes and dislikes which I want to be fulfilled. This expectation of result, which is natural, is not a problem; the problem lies in our reaction to the results when they come. The meaning of the verse is: perform action expecting results; act so that you can achieve what you desire; plan and execute your work; but if the result is totally contrary to your expectations in spite of all your wishing and willing, don t react and call yourself a failure.

It is possible to prevent such a reaction if you enjoy an attitude born of an understanding of the nature of actions and their results. An action produces a result that is inherent in the action itself. One Cannot expect what is not contained in the action. You are not the maker of laws that govern the results of actions, nor do you know all the laws that come into play to yield a result; but you do know that things function according to laws and that there is a harmony in the functioning of the universe. For any action, a proper result always accrues according to the laws.

You don’t feel grateful to the banker when you get the money sent by your son every month. He is only an instrument that conveys the money to you from your son who is your benefactor. Likewise, laws are only instruments of the Lord who gives you the result of action. Even when you read these words, the reading takes laws. When you understand this fact, you develop a special attitude: you appreciate that the result of every action comes from the Lord.

The Effect of Karma Yoga – is there any incentive to act?

One might naturally ask whether there will be any incentive to act, or any learning as a result of one’s experiences, if one accepts all results as coming from the Lord. In fact, only with this attitude can you learn from your experiences. A reacting mind cannot learn, for in its despair, frustration, and helplessness it is unable to see things objectively. There is a common saying that experience is the best teacher. Experience can teach if we assimilate it without reaction; but too often we learn nothing from experience and only regret them.

Learning takes place in those moments when your mind is not reacting however infrequent such moments may be. You cannot learn when your mind is angry, hateful or jealous; such a state of mind is not receptive. Action is creative and human; reactions such as. anger, jealousy, etc., are mechanical. You do not become angry, hateful or jealous by choice. Because of such reactions, you are unable to learn from your experiences. The Lord advises Arjuna to avoid such reactions by recognizing that the laws that produce the results of action are not partial to one and cruel to another. The laws that govern the universe are impartial and they never fail. If a result is not according to your expectations, accept it, Change your course, and act again. If your action fails, you are not a failure if you learn from your experience. If you accept the result of your actions, as you accept prasada in a temple or a church, and if you perform all your actions as an. offering, you Will develop a. non-reacting mind, a mind capable of learning.

Swami Dayananda Saraswati

Excerpts from the Teaching of Bhagavad Gita

Links to Swamiji’s Talks & Discourses

What is God? Where is God? If he is in heaven, where was God before God created heaven? A vedantic View.


“Dad, tell me, who made all this?” asks a seven year old.

Dad can only say what he himself was told when he was young and never questioned afterwards. He was told that God made all this, and nobody questions that further. His granddad also confirmed what his father said. But the boy is not satisfied. He persists with questions:

“Where is that God? Have you seen him?”

The father says, “I have not seen him; I hope to see him. He is in heaven.”

“Dad, who created heaven?”

“God created heaven.”

“Where was God before God created heaven?”

And the child has to come up with the only answer possible: hell. God in hell created heaven. Hell was so hot, he couldn’t really sit there. To air condition all of hell is a hell of a job, and therefore, God went to heaven and kept hell for certain people. Still the questioning continues:

“Who created hell?”

Now dad has to say that God created hell.

“Where was God before he created this hell?”

The only answer Dad has left is: “Shut up. You ask too many questions.”

But that nascent, growing mind, with a freshness of its own, cannot easily give up the questioning. For a long time the child persists before giving up. Then he shuts his mouth and mind about that fundamental topic, that inevitable question. Later, he may conclude that God cannot be known, saying, “I am an agnostic. I don’t say God is; I don’t say that God is not.” He relegates the topic to the background, behind more important questions like how much he has on his credit card. When it comes to whether God exists, his mind is wide open and can go in any direction, like a freeway. But at least he doesn’t just say, “I know where God is—he is in heaven.” That person has stopped thinking and just believes what he was told. The question, however, is never given up. We are a rational person because viveka, discrimination, is our basic endowment. And it is arguably our greatest endowment. It makes the difference between a questioning person and a non-questioning person.

Unless this question is answered, you will feel insecure and uncertain about yourself. Everyone is born helpless, and to compensate, everyone is born with a capacity to trust totally. Whichever pair of hands picked the baby up—that pair of hands was trusted totally by the child, thank God. A baby does not have distrust or mistrust—it has total trust. It has to, because it is helpless. If you are helpless, you have to seek help. That is intelligent living. And when somebody offers help, you need to be able to trust that person. If somebody offers help but you don’t trust him at all, then what would be the result? A baby is born helpless and therefore, it needs to trust. It trusts totally, but slowly it loses the trust. That is because for the growing child, dad and mom are infallible, almighty—until there is a cockroach. Then the child runs to mother, thinking mother is infallible and that she will take care of it. In fact, only after running to mother would the child even look at the insect. When the child is with its with mother, there is no problem—it looks at the roach. That means the child trusts mother. Then the mother calls dad. “Don’t worry, I’ll call Dad.” This is how the erosion of trust begins. So, mom is fallible. But then, dad must be infallible. And dad—a big guy, comes and says, “Oh, that’s only a cockroach—don’t worry.” He phones the fire department! I am just given an exaggerated example. But this is how the child loses trust. You lose trust, and afterwards, all your life, you are searching for the infallible.

In fact, your whole life is a search for the infallible, and unless you discover the infallible, you are insecure. But the concepts of God, that we hear about from various religious pulpits are only fallible; they exhibit traits which even humans are exhorted to overcome. I have been told that I cannot afford to be judgmental. But God himself is presented as judgmental. On judgment day, he will judge you. When we present this God as judgmental, where is the infallibility? How a person can be judgmental and still be infallible? And what is the basis of his judgment?

These concepts of God that are floating around are really damaging to a human being’s psychological well being. God is presented as all good things, and all the opposite qualities are said to belong to the devil, Satan. Thus you have a vertical division right in your psyche. The person, the personality, is divided. And due to that split, you feel you can’t afford to have jealousy because if you feel jealous, then the devil has entered into you. But still, you do have jealousy due to some psychological reasons—perhaps due to circumstances when you were growing up. When somebody gets something that you don’t, then you feel jealous. You may say, “I am not.” Then what are you? “I only feed sad.” Why do you feel sad? “Because I don’t get what others get.” What does that mean? All right, you feel sad—do you enjoy the other person’s happiness, at least? “No, I can’t enjoy the other person being happy. I get angry.” That is called jealousy—the affliction arising on seeing another’s excellence is jealousy. This sorrow, that occurs when you see another person being happy is defined as jealousy. At least, you think he is happy. In your jealousy, you cannot but think he is happy, yet that may not be true. If you were to ask that person, he might tell you otherwise. We can get rid of that jealousy, but not by bracketing jealousy as Satan’s doing. Satan is not sitting somewhere, pushing jealousy into your head, deciding, “Let this fellow have jealousy today. Let him have some hatred today.” There is no such vertical division. If there were a Satan, even he could not be separate from God. By definition, such a Satan could not exist.

The Vedic vision of God is a whole vision, without such a split. And although it is a fact, not simply an option that one may choose, there is a necessity to qualify it as ‘Vedic’, for the unfortunate reason that there are dualistic versions of God. And the truth is that there cannot be many versions of God. Like the fact that one plus one equals two, the truth about the nature of God is not open for accommodation. You cannot choose to have one plus one equal three. That is not a cultural option. It is not like choosing a style of music. For instance, both Indian music and Western music have their own beauty. One is not greater than the other, and if you think that one is greater than the other, it just means that you don’t understand the other. Things are different and we have to take them as they are; we try to understand them. When that is the case, each style is valid. Music is open to your choice, but the sum of one plus one is not. It is two. You can’t say, “In my country, one plus one equals three”, or “In my culture, one plus one is four.”

So, too, there is no such option about the truth of God. If God is a reality, then definitely I have to discover that. The Veda tells me, “All this, whatever moves in the world, is to be [understood as] pervaded by Ishvara,” “All that is here is Ishvara” is the opening sentence of the Ishavasyam Upnishad,.

All that is here is Isvara. Therefore, look at it as such.” For your own sanity, look at all that is here as Iswara. There is nothing other than Isvara. Look at that. The Veda is not saying that there is one God; it says there is only God. If you do not see that, you have to prove that it is not true. It is not a matter of belief.

When I look at this given body/mind/sense complex, I definitely find that what I thought was hardware is nothing but software. This is an amazing thing. When I go to the level of quantum physics, I understand that there is only software—the whole thing is knowledge. When I examine the cell, it just opens up new areas for me to know. This cell is governed by the laws of biology—in fact, the cell is biology, and as such, it has properties in common with all other cells. For instance, there is not a separate, isolated pack of cells for Swami Dayananda. And it is not that the swami’s cells are different, holy cells while the cells of people who are not swamis are unholy cells. There is no such difference. The cells are the same. There is nothing special or holy about the cells that make up Swami Dayananda. All cells are governed by the same biological laws. There is no such thing as holy as opposed to unholy. In fact, either everything is holy, or there is no such thing as holy.

Not only is there a commonality, but all the structures I see are intelligently arranged. If I just look at the physical body, I see it consists of parts that are put together intelligently. If I look at a plant or this tent in which we are all sitting, I find they are intelligently put together. If the tent were unintelligently put together, it would collapse. Similarly, a car is a car because its parts are intelligently put together. So, too, my physical body is intelligently put together. No one can simply create a pair of eyes if mine need replacement. While organs cannot be created, some, such as the kidneys, can be replaced through transplantation. Transplantation is a possibility in the scheme of things. This is all intelligently put together, with the possibility of transplantation. Where something is intelligently put together, we don’t take it for granted. Even though you don’t see the person who has the intelligence which put it all together, you cannot but recognize that there is such a being. For instance, suppose you ask me, “Who put this tent together?” and I tell you, “Oh, yesterday, it just sprang up. We thought it would be nice to have a tent, so we thought of a tent and it sprang up.” Perhaps some people may believe that, because anything can pass as truth in this world. However, in this campus, at Arsha Vidya Gurukulum, we don’t let it pass. We question. In studying Arsha Vidya—the knowledge of the Rishis, or seers, we learn to question in order to see the essential truth.

Since we see that the universe, including my body/mind/sense complex, is intelligently arranged, we cannot but appreciate that there is an intelligent being, regardless of whether we think he is here, there, or elsewhere. The physical body is a marvel. It is not meant to give you complexes. It is meant to serve you, but it has become a locus of complexes. That I am black; that I am not blond, may give rise to complexes in certain cultures. Or that I am blonde may be a problem in other cultures. People do have complexes, all because of ignorance. There is a self-judgment because of a certain basic ignorance, which implies the ignorance of God, as well. In fact, the basic ignorance is ignorance of God. This physical body, with the mind and senses organs, with all its faculties, is a marvelous piece of creation. ‘Creation’ only means that it is intelligently put together. It does not mean that God dropped it down from somewhere else. The fact that it is intelligently arranged implies an intelligent being, a conscious being. That conscious being must have the knowledge of what is going to be created because creation presupposes knowledge. Knowledge has to rest in a conscious being. When we talk about the total creation, then that conscious being must have the knowledge of all; he must be, all knowing, the one who knows everything (in detail) is omniscient. The Veda tells us that God is all-knowing in terms of all details.

Then we may ask where God found the material to make this world. He could not have borrowed from anybody, because there was nobody else to borrow it from—everybody had yet to be created. He has to find the material only in himself. Therefore, in keeping with the nature of the reality of the world, there must be a material cause. We call that material cause prakÎti, and it is not separate from the being, purusha. The Lord has to have that power. As to the question of where God abides, there is no ‘where’ for God. The question of ‘where’ doesn’t come into the picture, because space and time have not yet been created. The fact that the Lord is the one who is the maker as well as the material cause opens up a new vision for me. Anything created from a material is not going to be independent of that material, like the shirt that you wear. If your shirt is made of cotton fabric, you cannot remove the cotton fabric and still be wearing a shirt. Your clothes are made of the fabric. If you remove the fabric, where are the clothes? Only emperor’s clothes may be there. The shirt is fabric, and there is no shirt apart from fabric, much less is there fabric without yarn. There is no yarn without fibers, and there are no fibers without molecules, nor are there molecules without atoms. You can go on and on, but anything created is not separate from the material of which it is made. In the model that is presented by the Veda, the five elements: akasa, space, which includes time; vayu, air; agni, fire; apah, water; and prtivi, earth, subtle and gross, manifested from Isvara and constitute this universe. And this universe includes your body/mind/sense complex. The first of these elements, which manifested from Isvara, the cause, is space. “From that [Brahman] which is this self arose the space, That’s why space is worshipped. Time, kala, is also worshipped in India. Thus, all the five elements, which include space and time, are the universe, and the universe is not other than the Lord.

The Veda does not say there is one God. It says there is only God.

Swami Dayananda Saraswati

Excepts from  Arsha Vidya Gurukulam 15th Anniversary Souvenir, 2001

Link to Swamiji’s talks and discourses

Where does happiness come from? Why is it always fleeting?


Happiness and sorrow, sukha सुख and duhkha दुख, come and go unpredictably in any persons life, with sorrow reigning longer than happiness. Everybody does pick up happiness now and then – even’ the most unhappy person laughs helplessly at a slapstick joke. That momentary happines – सुख sukha, gained once in a while, keeps one going, for it gives one hope that a future day will be happier; otherwise, one would commit suicide. Where should we look for more of that happiness?

Is Happiness an Object?

Among the countless objects in the world, is there an object called happiness? You can make someone happy by giving him or her a piece of sweet, but you cannot say that the object is happiness. For a naturopath a cup of half-cooked, unsalted bitter gourd is happiness; but for some others nothing could be more bitter. For one who loves rich sweet food, a heavy dessert is happiness but for one who does not like such food, it is only an invitation to indigestion. No particular object can be called happiness, for no single object can provide happiness to everyone.

Neither can you say that happiness is a quality of an object, as color is a quality of a lotus. There is no object with happiness as its quality, for if such an object existed, everyone would become happy by having that object. Sugar or salt tastes the same to everyone, but no object gives the same taste of happiness to all.

Still, people do seem to pick up happiness from contact with objects. If that happiness does not lie in the objects, where it?

Is Happiness within Me?

If happiness lies within you, is it in your liver, intestines, heart, kidneys, or pancreas? It is, of course, absurd to say that any one of these internal organs is happiness, or that they secrete happiness. Neither are your sense organs a source of happiness, for if they were, you would. always be happy, because these organs are always in your body. Neither can one say that thoughts are the source of happiness, for often thoughts are a source of great sorrow.

You Are Happiness

If happiness is neither inside nor outside you, where is it? Only one possibility remains: the Self – because of which you are aware of your body, your emotions, your thoughts, and all the objects of the world – must be the source of happiness.

If you are happiness, why is it that you seem to become happy only when you come in contact with certain people, situations, or objects? If you analyze what happens in a given moment of happiness, you will discover that contact with anything that you like creates in you a pleased mind. When you desire something, the mind; is restless; when the desired object is gained, the restlessness is resolved and the mind is satisfied. The happiness you discover is in this satisfied, pleased mind, not in any object. People, situations, and objects that can bring about in you a pleased mind are the ones you love. Not all objects can do this; because of your background, values, and upbringing, only certain objects and individuals please you. But the happiness that you feel never comes from objects or people, however dear they may be. Happiness is manifest only in a satisfied mind, a mind that desires nothing, because the Self is the source of happiness. The joy that you feel when you see something beautiful or hear a pleasing song is an expression of your own nature – a Speck of the limitless happiness that you are.

Sleep, a State of Happiness

The experience of sleep confirms that your nature is indeed happiness everyone likes to sleep and is reluctant to get up, and because sleep is a happy experience, a respite from having to carry the burdens that we do during the day. There is a total absence of sorrow in sleep, because all differences are resolved under the blanket of sleep. All forms of duality vanish; there is no difference between the sleep of a king and that of a beggar. In the total absence of all else, you are with yourself alone. The happiness that you experience is yourself.

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 desire and the cropping up of the next, you are happy. Why do you sing in the shower? You do not 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.

A person who understands that the Self is the source of all happiness will be free from all desires. In the last section of the second chapter, the Lord describes such a person to Arjuna, saying:

प्रजहाति यदा कामान्सर्वान्पार्थ मनोगतान् ।

आत्मन्येवात्मना तुष्ट: स्थितप्रज्ञस्तदोच्यते || 2-55

When one completely renounces all the desires entertained by the mind, satisfied in the Self, by the Self, one is called a person of steady wisdom.

Just as fire is hot not because of any reason but – by nature, so a wise man is happy not because of any reason, but because happiness is his nature. Since a wise man knows that the Sell is the source of happiness, he requires nothing; by this knowledge, he casts away all desires.

Neither a ripple nor a breaker can add to the greatness of the ocean, each is only a fleeting expression of its greatness. The ocean remains unaffected even when these forum disappear. When you gain an object of your desire, the happiness that you experience is like a wave in the ocean. It is only a momentary expression of the happiness that is Yourself; and when it comes to an end, the fullness, ananda, that you are, remains unchanged. The one who recognizes that the Self is sat-chit-ananda सत्चितनान्द – existence, Awareness, and fullness is wise. That person is called sthita prajjan स्थितप्रज्ञ -, well rooted in wisdom.

Swami Dayananda Saraswati

Excerpts from The Teaching of Bhagvad Gita

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