Spirituality Insight

AVADHUTA GITA

Through the Avadhuta Gita, Dattatreya explained the non-duality of existence and that liberated souls merge into the formless one.

WORDS: MADHURI. Y

Through the Avadhuta Gita, Dattatreya explained the non-duality of existence and that liberated souls merge into the formless one.
Avadhuta Gita with its teachings of Dattatreya means ‘song of the liberated soul’ and is based on Advaita Vedanta, that is, non-duality.
Also known as Avadhuta Grantha, Dattatreya Gita, Datta Gita Yoga Shastra or Vedanta Sara, it is about the nature of a spiritually liberated person. Parts of the Avadhuta Gita are found in the Bhagavata Purana and other Hindu texts. The written text dates to the 9th or 10th century and comprises 289 shlokas in eight chapters of which it is believed that the last chapter is an addition by someone else.

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The Avadhuta Gita speaks of the liberated soul who is not interested in dogmas, habits, rituals or surface morality.

THE ESSENCE
The essence and the whole of Vedanta is this Knowledge, this supreme Knowledge: That I am by nature the formless, all-pervasive Self.
Verse 1.5

The mind indeed is of the form of space. The mind indeed is omni-faced. The mind is the past. The mind is all. But in reality, there is no mind.
Verse 1.9

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Know the Self always to be everywhere, one and unintercepted. I am the meditator and the highest object of meditation. Why do you divide the Indivisible?
Verse 1.12

That which has form is visible to the eye, while formless is perceived mentally. That (the Self), being beyond existence and non-existence, is called intermediate (neither material nor mental, but beyond both).
Verse 2.18

The external existence is the universe, the inner existence is called prakriti (cosmic mind). One should try to know that which is more interior than the inner existence.
Verse 2.19

Illusory knowledge relates to what is outside, correct knowledge to what is inside. Try to know that which is more interior than the inside, that which is like water within the kernel of the coconut.
Verse 2.20

It has been said that the destiny of those devoted to action is the same as their thought at the end, but it has not been said that the destiny of those established in yoga is the same as their thought at the end.
Verse 2.26

There is never any you and I. The discrimination of family and race is false. I am indeed the Absolute and the Supreme Truth. In that case how can I make a salutation?
Verse 6.22

The enlightened one is a yogi devoid of yoga and the absence of yoga. He is an enjoyer, devoid of enjoyment and the absence of enjoyment. Thus, he wanders leisurely, filled with the spontaneous joy of his own mind.
Verse 7.9

There is neither existence nor non-existence, all is Atman. Shake off all ideas of relativity; shake off all superstitions; let caste and birth and Devas and all else vanish.

Why talk of being and becoming? Give up talking of dualism and Advaitism! When were you two, that you talk of two or one? The universe is this Holy One and He alone.

Talk not of Yoga to make you pure; you are pure by your very nature. None can teach you.

from
(Vivekananda’s translation)

Teachings of The Dalai Lama

The Dalai Lama, the Tibetan spiritual leader, spreads the message of kindness, tolerance and compassion.

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Dalai Lama is the Tibetan spiritual leader and represents Buddhist values and traditions. He is considered incarnation of Avalokitesvara or the lord who looks upon the world with compassion. He is the Bodhisattva of Compassion. Dalai means ocean or big in Mongol and lama means master or guru in Tibetan.
Tenzin Gyatso is the 14th and current Dalai Lama is a revered figure across the world and is recipient of Nobel Peace Prize.
Altan Khan of the Ming dynasty created the title of the Dalai Lama in 1578 and the fifth Dalai Lama was granted seal of authority over Buddhism by the Shunzhi Emperor of China.

THE DALAI LAMA’S TEACHINGS

Happiness and Compassion
If you want others to be happy practice compassion. If you want to be happy practice compassion.
– Meditation for Living In Balance: Daily Solutions for People Who Do Too Much by Anne Wilson Schaef

Love, Compassion, Forgiveness
All major religions basically carry the same message. Love, compassion and forgiveness … to make it part of our daily life.
– Especially for Christians: Powerful Thought-provoking Words from the Past by Mark Alton Rose

Tolerance
It is the enemy who can truly teach us to practice the virtues of compassion and tolerance.
– Ocean of Wisdom: Guidelines for Living

The Sameness of Human Beings
Today we face many problems. Some are created essentially by us based on divisions due to ideology, religion, race, economic status, or other factors. Therefore, the time has come for us to think on a deeper level, on the human level, and from that level we should appreciate and respect the sameness of others as human beings.
– The Dalai Lama: A Policy of Kindness

A Biased Mind Cannot Grasp Reality
“A society, which has many religions, should also have many prophets and sources of refuge.

In such a society, it is very important to have harmony and respect amongst the different religions and their practitioners.
We must distinguish between belief and respect. Belief refers to total faith, which you must have in your own religion. At the same time, you should have respect for all other religions.”
– Excerpt from His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s address to the inter-faith seminar organised by the International Association for Religious Freedom, Ladakh Group, in Leh.

Establishing Harmony Within Religious Diversity

… Here there are two possibilities of what can happen. The first one is that because of close contact between different traditions, sometimes there’s a little sense of insecurity about our own tradition. The other tradition comes into more contact with us, so we feel a little bit uncomfortable. That’s a negative possibility.
The second possibility is that because of this reality of more communication, the opportunities to develop genuine harmony between traditions have grown. This is a more positive possibility and so now we must make effort to establish true harmony. … through close contact, we can learn new things from each other; we can enrich our own traditions.

– www.dalailama.com

Yoga Vasistha

Yoga Vasistha is a spiritual instruction given to Rama by sage Vasistha. After settling down as King of Ayodhya Lord Rama is disgusted with the prospect of continuing his worldly duties. He approaches the sage seeking knowledge and the means to shed his mortal coil. The six books of the Yoga Vasishta chronicle the progressive states which Rama undergoes in his search for enlightenment and finally in shedding his mortal coil.

By Madhuri Y

YOGA Vasistha is believed to have been written by sage Valmiki. It is also known as Maha Ramayana, Arsha Ramayana, Vasistha Ramayana and Jnanavasistha. Translated into Persian in the 14th and 15th centuries, it is based on Advaita Vedanta, that is, there exists one reality and one God.
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BOOKS OF YOGA VASISTHA
The Yoga Vasistha comprises six books:
1. Vairagya Prakaranam is about Rama’s frustration with life and suffering, and states the need for dispassion.
2. Mumukshuvayahara Prakaranam describes the nature of people who seek liberation.
3. Utpatti Prakaranam speaks of the birth of all creation and the birth of spiritual inclination in Lord Rama.
4. Sthiti Prakaranam speaks of existence, the nature of the world and of Advaita or non-duality. It also speaks of free will and of the human creative power.
5. Upashama Prakaranam speaks of meditation, patience, the feeling of oneness and its power to liberate a person.
6. Nirvana Prakaranam speaks of freedom and liberation and of an enlightened Rama.

How Kacha Attains Liberation

VASISTHA narrates the story of muni Kacha who is the son of Brihaspati. One day, Kacha approaches his father and seeks the path of enlightenment and the means to separate prana from mundane cares.
Brihaspati tells him that the ocean of births can be crossed only by renouncing everything. Kacha retires to the forest to meditate. At the end of eight years, when Brihaspati visits him, Kacha asks him why despite renouncing everything, his mental pain has not subsided.
Advising him that he should give up everything, Brihaspati departs. Kacha now gives up even the bark of trees worn as clothes and all other essentials. After some years, he visits his father, prostrates and asks why he is unable to get peace of mind even though he has renounced everything.
Brihaspati responds that mastery over mind leads to renunciation. It is only then that Kacha can free himself of all pain.
Kacha understands that so far, he has been inquiring into what the mind is and had not been able to come to a conclusion. He finally understands that any effort to separate the body from the mind is useless because they themselves are different from one another. Even this understanding does not resolve his doubt regarding the mind. Once again, he seeks Brihaspati’s advice.
The guru tells him that wise people understand that the mind is nothing but ahankara, or the ‘I’. ‘I’ creates impurities in soul.
Kacha recognises that it is difficult to avoid the idea of ‘I’ and asks his father how it can be broken.
Brihaspati replies that the only principle is of the non-dual, the endless, the supreme jnana. He advises Kacha to meditate upon this steadiness and that he can free himself of all pain and attain true calmness. Ahankara is unreal and hence, when such effort is made, it perishes. It cannot grow in an atmosphere where one meditates upon the eternal. Kacha can then be free from the differentiations of I and He. He blesses Kacha with the ability to remain in supreme reality.
Kacha, after abandoning the idea of ‘I’ is able to meditate upon the supreme reality. He turns into a jivanmukta or one without vikalpas with nothing that could trouble his mind.
Vasistha has led Rama to a desireless state and finally to emancipation.

Bhagwan Parshvanatha

With the knowledge that attachment and desire for pleasures causes suffering, Parshvanatha retired to the forest at 16

By Madhuri Y

Parshvanatha was sixteen years old when his father told him that it was time for him to marry. But, Parshvanatha decided that enjoying pleasures increases the desire for more. He knew that the soul experiences sufferings due to attachment which in fact causes pain.

The desire for pleasures, he understood, causes greed, theft, adultery and all vices and crimes. Due to these acts, the soul is forced to take birth in lower forms and to suffer hell.

Feeling that he had wasted his life so far, he decided to shun pleasures. He went to the forest, became naked and turned into a monk.

He undertook the 12 meditations, he fasted and observed the 28 primary and the 94 secondary rules of monks. He meditated, eventually attaining liberation on the Parasnath Hills.

Parshvanatha preached four vows – non-violence, truthfulness, not stealing and not owning things. He is believed to have preached for seventy years in Kashi, Kosi, Kosala, Panchala, Magadha, Avanti, Anga, Vanga among other regions.

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Anuvratas (Vows of Limited Nature)

1 Ahimsa: Non-violence: Not causing intentional hurt. This is the principle behind their vegetarianism. Not causing unintentional hurt which involves drinking filtered water, not eating at night to name a few. Jains can use violence in self-defence though.

2 Satya: Truthfulness: Being truthful, conducting business with honesty. Not doing something when that inaction is dishonest is not allowed by this principle.

3 Asteya: Non-stealing: Not stealing, cheating or not paying tax.

4 Brahmacharya: Chastity: Having sex only with the spouse, avoiding sexual indulgence even with spouse and if possible, to give up sex after having a son.

5 Aparigraha: Non-attachment: Possessing only what they need, using surplus possessions to benefit others, living simply and not using too many resources.

Guna Vratas (Vows of Merit)

6 Dik Vrata: Limited area of activity: Restricting the area of travel to reduce the area in which they may bring harm.

7 Bhoga-Upabhoga Vrata: Limited use of resources: Limiting the use of items like food, clothing and other items to just what they need.

8 Anartha-Danda Vrata: Avoiding punishable sins: Not thinking or speaking ill of others, not being inconsiderate, self-indulgent or watching or listening to that which is immoral.

Shiksha Vratas (Vows of Discipline)

9 Samayik Vrata: Meditation: Meditating daily in one place for 48 minutes.

10 Desavakasika Vrata: Limited duration of activity: Restricting certain activities to specific times.

11 Pausadha Vrata: Limited ascetic life: Adopting the life of a monk for a day.

12 Atithi Samvibhaga Vrata: Limited charity: Giving to monks, nuns and the poor.

WORSHIPPING SURYA

Sun God Surya exemplifies blend of spiritual, mental and physical health hallmark of Hinduism.

Words: Madhuri. Y

Worshipping Surya endows physical and mental health, intelligence, long life, prosperity, confidence and fame.

It also guides one towards spiritual pursuits. Each mantra used in worship has significance of its own.

Aditya Hridaya Mantra

Surya son of sage Kashyapa and his wife Aditi is also known as Aditya.

When Lord Rama felt fatigued fighting Ravana, sage Agastya gave powerful Aditya Hridaya mantra for Rama to recite.

Rama recited it three times before taking on Ravana with renewed vigour and defeating him.

Gayatri Mantra

Gayatri mantra is a prayer to the presiding deity of the sun, known as Savita or Gayatri.

It was traditionally shared by father with son during the latter’s upanayanam (thread ceremony).

Men and women recite the mantra today which calms the mind, enhances concentration and leads to good health.

Surya Ashtakam

Surya ashtakam originated from Lord Shiva and is believed to bring wealth and fame in addition to blessing with children who have none.

Surya Sahasranamam

While narrating how King Yudhishthira prayed to Surya, sage Vaisampayana recites the Surya sahasranama to King Janamejaya. It comprises the 1008 names of the Sun god. Reciting these names at sunrise brings patience, memory, energy and prosperity. It also protects one from grief and danger.

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SPIRITUAL LEARNING FROM CHRISTMAS

The birth of Jesus Christ – that is what we all celebrate as Christmas. But there is a reason why Jesus came to earth; it symbolises certain truths of spiritual life.

Words: Sangeeta S

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christmas is a festival which we look forward to. Festive season, vacations, parties, family gatherings, decorations, special food, cakes and much more…we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ who symbolised divine consciousness. But among all the festivities it should not be forgotten that Christ was sent as a Messiah to rescue people from their sins. Christmas symbolises and teaches great truths about divine life.

Christ was born at a time when the world was going through a rough patch. Morality was forgotten, greed and hatred prevailed, superstition and hypocrisy became the way of life; in a nutshell there was no idealism. Christ was born in such a scenario and he later brought spirituality back into people’s lives; they were initiated to a new way of life which transformed the way of living completely. It can be summarised that with birth of Christ a new era dawned

Darkness to Light

Christmas signifies moving from darkness to light.

It is a reminder on how Christ came down to show us the path to divine and spiritual living. Basically all humans are divine; but often we get distracted and evil forces attract us. Conscious effort is required to keep within the realms of divinity and good forces. And to keep our consciousness alive we need to go through the life of Christ. One needs to live the life of Christ and for that each one has to give space to Christ within us; only when we are able to give birth to Christ within us, will we be able to live the spiritual life. The life of faith, selflessness and compassion…that is what Christ stood for. Christmas stands for devotion to God and service to mankind. You need to give up your desire for materialistic things and replace it with divine aspirations.

Humble Approach

The birth of Christ also signifies humble living. Jesus was born to poor parents in a stable. His parents were humble and of strong character; they were not wealthy. He was born in darkness and very few knew about his birth. The way he was born conveys the significance of being humble; divine learning comes to people who are humble. To reach the higher level you need to be simple and honest and willing to give up all worldly desires. It is not necessary that to reach a higher spiritual level you need to be born to wealthy parents. Just keeping alive the Christ spirit will take you towards spirituality.

Being Born Again

Christmas is all about a birth into a divine life. This was the secret that Jesus explained to Nicodemus centuries back.

You can’t be born again in body but you need to be born again in spirit if you need to attain the higher goal – the goal to reach the Supreme. Spiritual birth leads to the Supreme. If each and every person of this modern world takes a spiritual rebirth then automatically the world will get rid of greed and hatred and only then true and enjoyable Christmas can be celebrated.

Also one must keep oneself open to accept the divine when it comes. When Jesus was to be born the inns of Bethlehem were so crowded that the lord had to take birth in a stable. So don’t keep yourself so engrossed in worldly things that you don’t keep any space or time to welcome the divine when it comes.

Amidst all festivities while you enjoy Christmas do not forget to welcome the divinity within. Enter into a new life and make sure that Christ-spirit takes its birth within you. It is the time when you move from darkness to light, from ignorance to wisdom and hatred to love.

That is true Christmas.

Things to keep in mind

• Give beyond materialistic gifts – spread compassion by making people around you smile
• Forgive – Not easy but try doing it; all are humans
• Control your thoughts – make sure only positive thoughts enter your mind
• Don’t forget to enjoy – be happy on this special day and spread happiness
• Be grateful – look around for people who stood by you during your hardships and be thankful
• Value family and friends