Humble Salutations to all.
All irrespective of caste, creed, religion etc. are searching for one single goal which is ETERNAL BLISS – happiness that is ever lasting and untouched by sorrow. It is towards this goal that all actions in the world are directed. If a person knows that he will not get happiness in something, he will not go behind that object. Therefore nobody touches fire, nobody goes and hugs a snake because all of these are known to take the happiness (whatever little is present in us) from us.
All thinkers, worldly, religious and spiritual have tried to make our life happy in the world. But it is only the spiritual masters (the ancient seers) who have knowingly tried to seek eternal bliss instead of temporary happiness that current day scientists and social reformers are trying to achieve. Thereby we have a number of philosophies which take us progressively from the world of sorrow to a world of bliss. But out of these philosophies, it is only Vedanta which leads us successfully to eternal bliss. Thereby it becomes our primary duty and goal to learn and tread the path put by Vedanta so that we may fulfill the goal of lives once and for all.
Vedanta emphasizes on a single ultimate non-dual reality of Brahman. Brahman is of the nature of Existence, Consciousness and Bliss (Sat, Chit and Ananda resp.). This Brahman is our very nature of Consciousness – the pure “I” which is unassociated with the body-mind-intellect complex. Realization of our nature of Brahman and that everything apart from Brahman is a mere illusion of names and forms is the direct path to eternal bliss. Vedanta thus says that Brahman alone is real, everything else apart from Brahman is unreal and we all (the “I” in all) is Brahman only. Brahman is “I” the Subject and hence can never be objectified. Thus whatever can be objectified in the world in the form of “sight”, “hearing”, “touching” etc. are an illusion in Brahman. Remembering this reality of Brahman, a seeker has to always contemplate that “I am Brahman” and do activities in the world. Slowly the mind of the seeker will be purified & it will be residing always in Brahman. Finally mind itself will cease to exist & there will be experience of Brahman alone as one’s nature of Consciousness (which alone exists).
Anything that we read or write or learn or do forgetting this reality of Brahman will only lead us to sorrow. On the contrary, anything that we do remembering the reality of Brahman will lead us towards Brahman & thus give us bliss (even if that activity is considered sinful in the world).
It is not easy to apprehend this reality that Brahman alone is real and everything is an illusion in Brahman. Hence the seers have put forth this idea through many ways. One of the simplest way to do so is by learning stories about people, analyzing the stories and learning from the stories all the while contemplating and keeping our focus fixed on the ultimate reality of Brahman.
Though there have been a couple of documents (to be precise) about the life and events of the individual named Hariram (to be specific “my”) but still thought it appropriate to put down a few words about “myself” and the people around me. This may seem to be a bit egoistic but we are not going to be looking at individuals or their virtues instead are trying to learn from the lives/incidents.
It is traditional to start any work by offering prostration to Ganapathi. For a person who has found a Guru, a jeevan muktha, an avatar, there is nothing apart from the Guru who is the living embodiment of Brahman. Thus at the outset, I offer my prostrations at the lotus feet of Sadguru Mata Amritanandamayi Devi who has been the light through my whole life guiding me and my family in the worldly/spiritual path and without whom “I” would cease to exist. Let me offer this small article about me, the people around me and few incidents in my life to all the ardent seekers of the reality of Brahman believing that at least one person will be benefitted by going through this article.
3rd Feb, 2007
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Birth and Childhood 4
Meeting AMMA 6
Prof. Balakrishnan Nair – the jeevan muktha who spoke just one word - BRAHMAN 7
Upanayana with AMMA 9
Stay at AMMA’s ashram in Ernakulam for a computer course 11
Training at Infosys Pune 12
Chennai – A spiritual resort 15
People around me 18
Favorite scriptures 24
Birth and Childhood
I was born into a spiritual family in 1981 in the month of Chittirai (English month of April) astami in Krishna paksha (English date of 25). My father and mother were from pious and religious tamil brahmin (iyer to be specific) family. I still remember my father telling that his grandfather (my great grandfather) was a Sharma and learned in the scriptures. As was in the old times, my parents were from average (rather below middleclass) families and a large family. My father was one of the 12 children of his parents whereas my mother was one of the 7 children of her parents. Though both my parents had to face lot of hardships in their pre-marital life (and during the few years after marriage as well), we (me and my sister) haven’t faced any such hardships till date.
My parents were more spiritual than religious. I remember them telling me that when I was young, people used to come to our house to learn Soundarya Lahari, Bhagavad Gita etc. (as songs) from my father. I just remember only one thing about my childhood which was that I used to sleep listening to a couple of tapes. Without those tapes, I would not sleep at all. Those are still my favorites (the same tapes are still there and fine except for a few places). The couple of tapes were Kanda Shasti Kavacham-Kanda Guru Kavacham sung by Soolamangalam sisters and Sanksrit chants (rudram, chamakam and various sukthas) by Sharma brothers. It was to my surprise and happiness that I found those tapes online in Music India’s site a few months ago.
That which the current generation lacks and the future generations will be lacking is developing devotion and good spiritual habits from an early age. Vedanta is not something that is to be learned once our tooth is gone, hair has become white and nothing much is left in the body or mind. We will then not even be able to chant the slokas properly let alone grasp the subtle meaning of the same!!! It is escapism to say that “Vedanta is only for sanyaasins or for old people”. In vedic times, everybody used to undergo scriptural study in gurukula and then alone enter into grihastha ashrama. We find the Lord himself following the same when he learnt in the gurukula of Sandeepany Maharshi. Vedanta is the science which teaches us how to live a happy and blissful life all the while giving happiness to others as well. Real vedantin is one whose very presence gives bliss to others in the world. Such true Vedantins are scarce these days unlike the times of Sankara and other saints. Those were the times when everyone was learnt in the scriptures. We even find it mentioned in the life-history of Vachaspathi Mishra (who wrote the famous commentary titled Bhamathi on Sankara’s brahma sutra bhashya – who lived almost the same time of Sankara) that during marriages, there used to be scriptural debates. It is a pity that these days we find only paradooshanam (mutual fault-finding) in marriages. Though devotional music will be played in the background, the sound of people discussing/debating will be more than that.
The change has to happen at an individual level. Change is very tough once a person builds his nature and habit. Thus it is essential that we develop devotion and spiritual habits in the childhood itself. It is the responsibility of current generation parents and youngsters to ensure that they help their children (future children as well) to grow with strong devotional and spiritual background.
I have an elder sister (elder to me by around a year and half) who is currently undergoing the Vedanta course at Chinmaya Mission under the tutelage of Swami Tejomayananda (the current head of Chinmaya Mission and a disciple of Swami Chinmayananda) on the way to becoming a sanyaasin. As Sankara mentions in his introductory commentary on Bhagavad Gita following the Ishavasya Upanishad that there are two paths prescribed by the scriptures to attain the ultimate goal of Brahman – one being the Nivritti marga or the path of renunciation and the other being the Pravritti marga or the path of selfless action. The path of nivritti is possible only for very few and it’s a tough path for those who still have attachment and craving for sensual pleasures in them. Hence many few are prescribed and allowed to take the path of nivritti which is nothing but taking sanyaas.
We generally think about sanyaas as taking renunciation, going to a forest & doing meditation. This is a wrong notion that has been built in the mind of majority of people. The greatest of all sanyaasins and the one who formulated the dasha naami sanyaasa system (that is prevalent today – the names of sanyaasins end with one of these names which includes saraswathi, teertha, bharathi, puri etc.) was himself a sanyaasin though he has done actions to the max for the benefit of normal people (this is none other than Adi Sankaracharya who though being a sanyaasin did actions of going around India, spreading knowledge, creating mutts, formulating the way knowledge should be spread etc. etc contrary to our normal belief of sanyaasins indulging only in dhyaana).
The reason of taking sanyaas is defined as “atmano rakshaartham jagat hitaaya cha” – to realize one’s Self (to protect one’s Self by realization) and to do welfare for the world. The mere presence of a sanyaasin is enough to get rid of many of the external and internal problems of people. This is the reason why India is safe and strong though it has all the problems that can come to the mind of a person.
Sanyaasa is a tough path to tread because it is a one-way path (wherein one is not supposed to return back to grihastha) and a person has to always depend on nothing but the ultimate reality of Brahman alone. This is possible only if the person has complete faith on the words of the Lord in Gita that “Renounce everything and take refuge in me alone; I will take care of you”. Easier said than done!!! (more on the comparison between sanyaasa and grihastha in a separate article).
We (my sister and me) were thus born in a devotional and spiritual way. Though children don’t know about the why of things but they follow whatever their parents do. It is easy to make the child’s mind fixed unto something very easily. AMMA in most of her lectures says that our mind has to go back to a child’s state because only child is able to have innocence and grow by accepting things. If a child is made to stick its mind unto the Lord, then it becomes so strong that even at the age of 60 the person will remember the Lord without fail. This is beautifully understood by Chinmaya’s (pardon the usage of Chinmaya inside of the respectful way of mentioning him as either Swami Chinmayananda-ji or Gurudev as he is known in the mission – respect is always required in the mind only and not outside) description of how he got so devoted to Lord Siva.
Chinmaya was (as we can guess) born in a pious and traditional family wherein there used to daily pujas. During those pujas, Chinmaya (as he was a kid) was not interested in anything. But he was made to stay there though he had nothing to do. He (as the intellectual and creative mind which is acclaimed by the entire world) found a way to spend (or rather kill) time during the pujas. There used to a Siva’s picture in the puja room. He made it a point to bring the image to his mind to all the details. By constant practice (and the time that he had due to daily pujas), he was able to create the image of Siva in his mind to perfection (in sync with the picture in the puja room). The image got captured in his mind so much that even when he was 60, he was able to bring the picture the moment he closed his eyes.
So much is the effort of getting things fixed in the mind during one’s childhood. Whatever small or big impressions are created in the mind during childhood remains till one dies. Thus it is essential that children are brought up in a devotional and spiritual atmosphere. As Chinmaya himself mentions current day children are logical and intellectual. When the mother says the child that you have to go to the temple, the child will ask “isn’t God everywhere”? The mother will reply “yes”. The child will then say “If God is everywhere, I will worship him in my bedroom itself”. Such questions can be answered only if the parents know as to how to tackle it. Therefore it is important that parents know the scriptures and are ready to tackle such questions. The answer given in Chinmaya’s inimitable style is – we should tell the child that milk is present throughout the body of the cow. But still we can get it only from the udder. If we pull the tail, we will not get milk but we will get something else. As milk is present in the body of the cow (as the essence) but still can be got only from the udder, similarly even though God is present everywhere he can be experience or felt clearly only in temples, ashrams and such places.
The above is to show and emphasize that current day children cannot be made to believe things blindly as it is the logical and scientific age that we are in today. We have to first become educated ourselves about the scriptural truth to be able to explain it to the children. In order for us to become teachers or facilitators to our children, we should first ourselves learn the scriptures thoroughly.
The importance of learning and teaching the children during their childhood is very important. This should one of the important and high-priority tasks for parents while taking care of their children.