The Power of Solitude

meditation

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.

lotusleaf

Today, I was reading through some articles by Swami Krishnanada ji and I came across the article called “The Importance of Being Alone” which is very valuable and helpful for Sadhana. I am greatly inspired by Swamiji, though I never met him. His writings carry a firm and deep conviction and clarity. Hari had the privilige to meet him in Rishikesh in 1995 or so, when Swamiji, upon knowing  that Hari was an engineering student, advised him “Make Self-engineering your subject !” What an insightful advice !

I am just posting an excerpt from the article here:

One of the essential conditions the seeker of yoga is called upon to bear in mind is ekantavasa, or sequestration, solitude. These days, wrong notions are driven into people’s minds by inexperienced teachers who say that we can be in the midst of a city and yet practise sadhana. Though this goes on very well and sounds fine as a theory and a doctrine, it is a total impossibility when we actually try to practise it. The ancient masters who said that solitude is necessary were not fools. Though in the end, in the consummation, it may be possible for us to find a solitary forest in the thick of New York City, consummation should not be identified with the beginning. That would be like putting the cart before the horse.

In this connection, I am reminded of a very homely analogy of Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa. Fire consumes ghee. Any amount of ghee that we pour on fire will be burnt by the fire. Yes, this is a great truth, a fact known to everyone. But suppose we pour a mound of ghee over a spark of fire; will it burn the ghee? The fire itself will be extinguished. The fire should first become a huge conflagration. Then we can pour the entire fuel of the world into it, and it shall burn it to ashes. Our fire of aspiration will then be capable—only then, and not before—to burn all the dirt and dust of this world even if it is thrown upon it in huge heaps. But when we are only a struggling spark who has not been able to take even the first step in yoga, if the whole weight of the world is to sit upon us, what will happen? We cannot face it. We will be crushed to dust.

Just being aloof, not having any friends, spending time in reading novels, watching movies etc is not “aloneness” or “solitude”, though it may appear that way sometimes, but being in a state of “alert lone-ness” where the mind is engaged in contemplation on the Self and thorough examination of the world to grasp the substratum behind it – that is the solitude we are speaking of for a seeker.

I strongly encourage all of us to read the full article titled “The Importance of Being Alone – by Swami Krishnanandaji” and be highly benefitted.

With Prem and Om,

Aparna Hari

Online Vedanta & Sanskrit course

Namaste.

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.

Online Intensive Vedanta and Sanskrit Course Beginning Mid-December

We are happy to announce a one-plus month Vedanta and Sanskrit course beginning in mid-December and continuing until the
end of January. The course will include daily :

  1. Bhashya classes
  2. Sanskrit (two-levels with a one-week introduction of Panini)
  3. Chanting
  4. Some auxiliary texts
  5. and perhaps a chapter in Panchadashi

There will be various tracks completing which students can earn certificates , as well as shorter modules for people who are unable to study for an entire month.

Please send an email by November 27, 2013, to janani_c_or@yahoo.com to express your interest.

Note: Please note that the date was specified as November 27, 2013. Sorry about the delay in posting due to the thanksgiving vacation. However, if you are sincere and committed, you can email to the above address and request if you can still enroll. The course can be undertaken in the comfort of your home. All you need is internet connection !!

Yours,
In Service of the Lord,
Aparna & Hari.

A Verse from Dhammapada

Namaste.

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.”

Pali language, which is the spoken language during Buddha’s time and the language of Dhammapada, is very close to Sanskrit since Sanskrit is Pali’s source. I found that with little effort, I could understand what the Pali verses meant since most of the words were similar with some changes. However I borrowed another book which presents the same verse in sanskrit so I can exactly know what word was meant in the verse.

Dhammapada is divided into Vagga or Sections, each one focusing on one aspect:

  1. 1. Yamaka Vagga – The Twin verses
  2. 2. Appamada Vagga – Heedfulness
  3. 3. Chitta Vagga – Mind
  4. 4. Puppha Vagga – Flowers
  5. 5. Bala Vagga – Fools
  6. 6. Pandita Vagga – The Wise
  7. 7. Arahanta Vagga – The Worthy
  8. 8. Sahassa Vagga – Thousands
  9. 9. Papa Vagga – The Evil
  10. 10. Danda Vagga – The Punishment
  11. 11. Jara Vagga – Old Age
  12. 12. Att(m)a Vagga – The Self
  13. 13. Loka Vagga – The World
  14. 14. Buddha Vagga – The Buddha
  15. 15. Sukha Vagga – The Happiness
  16. 16. Piya Vagga – Affection
  17. 17. Kodha Vagga – Anger
  18. 18. Mala Vagga – Impurities
  19. 19. Dhammattha Vagga – The Just or Righterous
  20. 20. Magga Vagga – The Way or The Path
  21. 21. Pakinnaka Vagga – Miscellaneous
  22. 22. Niraya Vagga – Woeful State
  23. 23. Naga Vagga – The Elephant
  24. 24. Tanha Vagga – Craving
  25. 25. Bhikku Vagga – The Mendicant
  26. 26. Brahmana Vagga – The Knower Of The Truth

I have completed reading only the first three sections. I liked them very much for their simplicity and profoundity. Each verse is followed by a story and a context during Buddha’s time. It is a worthwhile effort to try to memorize some important verses so they can act as reference in our daily life. Many of the teachings resonate with what we learn in Sri Sankara’s Viveka Chudamani, Bhartrihari’s Vairagya Satakam etc, and other works.

Quoting one verse below:


Bahumpi ce samhita bhasamano
na takkaro hoti naro pamatto |
gopova gavo ganayam paresam
na bhagava samannassa hoti || (19)

Though he recites much of the Sacred Texts, but is negligent and does not act accordingly, that heedless man is like a cowherd who counts the cattle of others, he has no share in the benefits of the Holy Life.


Appampi ce samhita bhasamano
dhammassa hoti anudhammacari |
raganca dosanca pahaya moham
sammappajano suvimuttacitto ||
anupadiyano idha va haram va
sa bhagava samannassa hoti || (20)

Though he recites only a little of the Sacred Texts, but acts in accordance with the teaching, eradicating passion, ill will and ignorance, clearly comprehending, with his mind freed from moral defilements and no longer clinging to this world or to the next, he shares the benefits of the Holy Life.

Yours,
In Service of the Lord,
Aparna & Hari.

Vinayaka Chaturdhi Wishes

Dear Friends,

Hari Om.

We convey our best wishes to our readers on the happy, holy and auspicious occasion of Ganesha Chaturdhi. May Lord Ganesha remove any obstacles on our spiritual path – physical, mental, emotional, social, gross, subtle – and help us in progressing onward. The difficulties one encounters in undertaking a task and completing it are enormous, more so in the field of disciplining mind and assimilating spiritual teachings. Ganesha Chaturdhi gives us the opportunity to worship that aspect of Lord through which we can remove these obstacles. Hence Ganesha is called “Vigneswara” or “Vighna Vinaasaka.”

<

The Ganapathi Atharvasirshopanishad, a hymn in praise of Lord Ganesha, was taught to us by Swami Pratyagbodhananda ji few years back. The Text and Audio file are attached for your use. Please use them for chanting the stotra on this festival day and be benefitted.

Text of Ganapathi Atharva Sirshopanishad

Audio rendition of Ganapathi Atharva Sirshopanishad

Yours,
In Service of the Lord,
Aparna & Hari

Likhita Japa (Writing the Divine Name)

Dear Friends,

Hari Om.

Swami Sivananda ji Maharaj had emphasized a lot on engaging oneself in chanting and writing the Divine Names. I derive great inspiration from him.
Around five years back, I acame across a nice booklet consisting of articles signifying writing Rama Mantra by an Organization called SHRI DADU LEELA ” RAMA NAMA PARIKRAMA” SHODH SANSTHAN,. This booklet also carries personal experiences and spiritual sadhana of devotees and practitioners who set aside a time every day and wrote the Rama Nama.
This organization encourages people to take up a committment of completing a given number of Rama Nama matra writing and sending it to them for storing it in the temple.

Please click the below image to download the booklet.

You can download the Rama Koti book prepared by Saranaagathi Team by clicking below image:

Yours,
In Service of the Lord,
Aparna Hari

Sri Rama Navami Navaratri Special – Part 2

Dear All,

Hari Om. Om Sri Rama Jaya Rama Jaya Jaya Rama ! Saints, Sages and Scriptures have proclaimed that the Divine Name is Sabda Brahma and superior to the Divine Form itself. All glories to the Divine Name ! Let us celebrate it during this auspicious Navaratri season with the fervor of Sri Hanuman ji.

1. Audio By Bade Swamiji (Swami Chidananda ji Maharaj, Late President of Divine Life Society, Rishikesh)


Personally for me, Swamiji’s voice resonates with everything that is sublime and divine. His voice sounds with that brilliance that at once makes you alert and dive into sublime thoughts. Hear the introduction to the “Padhu Pothi Me Ram” song and you will know this for yourself. One of my greatest inspirers and healers is Swamiji’s voice. Though I have never seen Swami Chidananda ji, his voice is something that I cherish.

The below songs are the best and my most favourite songs:
Padhu Pothii mein Ram
Song of Immanence of Ram
Song of Salutations

Click below on the image of the album to listen to the audio.

2. Sampradaya Bhajans on Lord Rama: Vol-1 & Vol-2

I came across the very beautiful Sampradaya Kritis and Bhajans on Raaga 3-4 years back. Since then, this rendering of Sampradaya Kirtans on Lord Rama are one of my favorites.
Click below on the images of the albums to listen to the audio.

3. Bhajans by Sri PurushottamDas Jalota


Recently my friend Sripriya has sent me some links to melodious and devotional rendering of Bhajans by Sri Purushottamdas Jalota (Sri Anoop Jalota’s father). They are very soothing and devotional to hear.

Click below on the image of the album to listen to the audio.

.

Hope you enjoy all the audio as I did !

Yours,
In Service of the Lord,
Aparna & Hari.