All posts by Aparna & Hari

Attitudes & behaviors to cultivate Sattva guna

Harih Om!

One of the unique features of Bhagavad Gita among other moksha shastras such as Upanishads, is that it deals extensively with the sadhanas for moksha in addition to the subject of moksha itself. Swami Akhandanandaji Maharaj points this out in his book, “Sadhana aur Brahmanubhuti”.

At multiple places in the Gita, we find lists of qualities that describe a self-realized person. In commenting upon such verses, Sankaracharya states that the natural attitudes or behaviors of a self-realized person are important to know because they are sadhanas for mumukshus.

We find in chapter 2 sthitaprajna lakshanas starting with dukheshu anudvignamanaah (दुःखेष्वनुद्विग्नमनाः), etc. In chapter 12 we have bhakta lakshanas starting with adveshtaa sarvabhutanaam (अद्वेष्टा सर्वभूतानां), etc. In chapter 13 are given jnana sadhanas starting with amaanitvam adambhitvam (अमानित्वं अदम्भित्वम्), etc. In chapter 14 are gunatita lakshanas starting with prakasham cha pravruttim cha.. (प्रकाशं च प्रवृत्तिं च), na dvesti… na kankshati (न द्वेष्टि न काङ्क्षति) etc. In chapter 16 we find daivi sampada starting with abhayam sattvasamshuddhi (अभयं सत्त्वसंशुद्धिः), etc.

On similar lines, distributed in chapters 17 and 18 are various attitudes and behaviors associated with sattva guna. In one of his Gita classes, Swami Dayanandaji gave an advice to students which is paraphrased as follows: “Compile a list of all Gita verses in chapters 17 and 18 that talk of attitudes and behaviors connected with Sattva Guna. Read them with meaning every day. I did this when I studied Gita. They are the attitudes and behaviors you must cultivate in order to make them your own. Make them your own even by faking or acting them out. All spiritual practices are meant for this only.

Following his advice I compiled the list along with meanings and some notes where I felt necessary, gleaning from Swamiji’s Home study course and Sankara Bhashyam and have been reading and reflecting on them daily. This practice has been helpful as it serves as a reminder for how I must act. I have compiled these verses and am sharing in this post, hoping that it will be of use to others too.

I feel a number of these sattvika qualities boil down to an attitude of karma yoga, viz.

  1. Performing to-be-done karma (svakarma) diligently
  2. Offering performed karma to Isvara because He is in the form of that karma
  3. Remembering not to have an agenda for specific outcomes, which I have no control over
  4. Remembering that ultimately I am not even the doer
  5. Being ready to receive all types of outcomes as prasada from the Lord.. Thy will be done!

Finally, a key point to remember in connection with the gunas – sattva, rajas and tamas – is that all three are in everybody. While we may have a predominance of a certain guna based on prior samskaras, we are not at all stuck with that guna-combination. In fact the process of spiritual growth is to alter the guna-combination to make sattva more predominant. This will eventually lead to rising above all gunas. The above advice is sure to help us grow in this direction.

Download the compiled verses related to Sattva Guna here.

Hari & Aparna.

The Power of Solitude

Dear All,

OM !

One of the most essential qualities one must cultivate to be established in Self (Truth) is solitude. Because Truth reveals in all its glory in Silence and one gains the alertness and clarity to pierce through the layers of erroneous thinking and be established in the Self. . It is quintessential for a Seeker.

I have heard many people telling that “one need not leave home or renounce anything, one should be like a lotus leaf in a water pond and untouched by it”. That may be so. Yet, all the saints and sages who inspire me from all religions have renounced, became house-less wandering seekers and have spent some time in solitude before they have attained the establishment in the Truth – Buddha, Swami Sivananda, Ramana Maharshi, Guru Nanak, Sadasiva Brahmendra, the Russian Christian Pilgrim (The Pilgrim book) etc. To be untouched by water and to be like a lotus leaf seemed to be the goal, where as during the “Seeking” stage one sees oneself being touched and influenced by the external situations, people, places, events. There is a gap that needs to be reconciled. Swami Sivananda has explained very well in “The Kingly Science and Secret” that sometimes simply saying “One should be like Janaka, untouched even though involved in the worldly activities” does not always do justice to the seeking. One MUST learn to be in solitude, to gain strength and clarity and conviction in the Self-Knowledge. Because of this, one gains detachment, thereby wisdom to re-enter the world.

Continue reading The Power of Solitude

Recipe for a Wonderful Year

OM !

We wish all our readers a very happy and peaceful new year. We went to Arsha Vidya Gurukulam for the new year and had a good time. While at Ashram, I came across the “Natural Awakenings” magazine and glanced upon an article titled “Fail-proof ingredients for a glorious new year”. It is a nice article and I thought I would like to share with all of you.

We wish you a very happy, productive and cheerful 365 days ahead !

Continue reading Recipe for a Wonderful Year

Moksha Gita – Song of Freedom

Dear Readers,

Namaste & OM !

I came across this work “Moksha Gita or The Song of Freedom” by Swami Sivananda (in 1949) which summarized the essence of Advaita Vedanta, the goal of life and the pursuit of a seeker. All our pursuits – whether through Dharma (ethics), Artha (security), Kama (comforts) – are towards the one goal of Moksha – liberation or freedom from insecurity, from want, from lack, and thereby towards our own real Self which is of the nature of Purna, completeness, adequacy.

By mistake, we think there are 4 different pursuits -like dharmaarthakamamoksha chaturvidha purushartha. That is not the case. We pursue happiness, comfort and security not for their sake, but to be “free” from unhappiness, discomfort and insecurity. Hence our  journey is from the feeling of small, bound, insecure and wanting  “i” to the Big, ever-free, ever-full “I”.  Throught the knowledge of our Self, We understand that we are ever free, and bondage was just an idea, a notion. Mira says in one of her songs “Bhava sagar sab sookh gaya hai. phikar nahi mohe taranan ki.” – the whole notion of  ocean has disappeared, so, there is nothing to cross.

Here is the preface of Swami Sivananda to his published book ‘Moksha Gita’ in the year 1949:

Continue reading Moksha Gita – Song of Freedom

Happy New year !

Dear Readers,

We wish you a very happy and productive new year 2015. Below is the new year message by Swami Sivananda:

“Everybody wants peace, but peace does not come easily. Nothing can bring you peace but yourself. Peace is freedom from disturbance, riot or violence. It is harmony, silence, calmness. It is the way of love and truth.

Peace should be built on right understanding between nations, mutual goodwill, striving after a common welfare and a higher good. A proper understanding of the essential unity of religions will remove all the superficial differences and conflicts which create restlessness, discord and quarrels. This will contribute to universal love, world harmony and the brotherhood of mankind.

The heart must change. Greed and selfishness must perish. In a state of peace and love, people evolve, grow in their distinctive culture and develop a perfect civilization. In peace and calmness, spiritual evolution is also facilitated.

This world can be saved only by those who have already saved themselves. If everyone tries to work out their own salvation, there will be nobody to create problems. If everyone strives heart and soul to do spiritual sadhana, there will be very little inclination and time to create quarrels. Automatically there will be peace on earth.

Make your own individual appeal to God and ask Him to send light to help humanity in the establishment of peace and happiness. May this New Year bring peace, prosperity and happiness all over the world.”

Continue reading Happy New year !

Vedanta & Sanskrit course


We have received the quarterly newsletter from Arsha Vijnana Gurukulam last week. Swamini Svatmavidyananda ji , the disciple of Pujya Swami Dayananda ji, is the head of this Ashrama. Swaminiji has come to Milwaukee last year and we had the good opportunity to learn few verses in Kaivalyopanishad in detail with great insight from Swaminiji. Swaminiji has very nicely expounded the Upanishad with insightful examples and practical perspectives.

Swaminiji conducts regular online classes in which the students can participate remotely live and ask questions. This year starting from mid-december, Swaminiji is conducting a online Vedanta and Sanskrit Course , the details of which are below. Upon successful completion, students can earn certificate.

Continue reading Vedanta & Sanskrit course

Happy Thanks-Giving

Dear Readers, OM ! We wish you all a Happy ThanksGiving!

  1. We thank our Parents for nurturing us all through the years, for giving good Genes and good Samsakaras, for cultivating good values in us, for giving us the best of opportunities, for their unconditional love and support, and for making us who we are.
  2. We thank our Teachers and education institutions for imparting us the knowledge of the world necessary to tune our intellect, sharpen the mind and excel here in this world.
  3. We thank the Saints and Sages of Yore – of all religions and regions – for inspiring us and for our Teachers who are imparting a greater treasure of spiritual wisdom – the knowledge of the Self – which is the source of freedom and peace.
  4. We thank our Siblings for helping us through thick and thin of life and for giving a shoulder and ear, and for being so loving and understanding.
  5. We thank our Relatives, Neighbors, Friends and Community for freely giving the sense of belongingness and affection.
  6. We thank our employers for giving us opportunities to put our creative potential to use and deliver products that help humanity at large.
  7. We thank our Mother-Country India for her generous gift of natural beauty, cultural heritage, spiritual values and traditions, great resources, and for the rich & ancient gems of wisdom.
  8. We thank our Father-Country United States of America for the gift of time, freedom, independence and abundant opportunities to explore our hobbies, interests and spiritual path.
  9. We thank Iswara – the Lord, the One who appears as Many – for the abundant Grace we have received and will continue to receive.

Om Shanti.
Aparna & Hari

A Verse from Dhammapada


I have started reading Dhammapada in the later part of this year, when I borrowed the book from Madison Library. The treatise Dhammapada is a compilation of Buddha’s teachings during his life time giving instructions to his disciples, advice on meditation, guidelines for moral conduct for monks and householders, cautions and guards against pitfalls in Sadhana, and many other topics on spiritual path and dhar(m)a for a seeker after truth.

Buddha is an embodiment of renunciation and compassion and he pointed out the Path of Morality (Sila), Concentration or Meditation (Samadhi) and true wisdom or Insight (Panna) for attaining freedom from Samsara. The Dhammapada encapsulates all these three topics in-depth and provides a guiding light for an aspirant.

In the introduction to Dhammapada by Ven K. Sri Dhammananda, I found the following lines:

“The BhagavadGita and Thirukural are Hindu works in Sanskrit and Tamil languages of great antiquity. The former is an ancient work of literature and the latter was composed just before the christian era. Both these works contain many truths which are expressed in Dhammapada.”

Continue reading A Verse from Dhammapada

Happy Sivaratri !

Dear Readers,

Namaste. We wish you all a very joyous and spiritually uplifting Sivaratri. May Lord Siva bless us with Knowledge and Wisdom of the Self.

There is SriSaila Linga Satakan written by Srimati Bellamkonda Kanakamma garu in Telugu in praise of Srisaila Mallikarjuna in Srisailam.
Please click below image for reading SriSaila Linga Stotram:

Aparna & Hari

Divine Ambrosia Winter Issue !

Dear All, OM !

We are pleased to publish the Winter issue of the spiritual E-Magazine “Divine Ambrosia”. You will find interesting and insightful articles in this issue in addition to a light-hearted fun corner.

You can download the PDF version by clicking here.

Click below to read the magazine online:

Please feel free to leave a comment with your feedback about this magazine.
If you want to contribute articles for the next spring issue (due in May 2013), please let us know through email.

Happy Reading !

Aparna & Hari.