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I was prompted to write this post after reading the posts “Why do I not realize the truth?” started by srkudai. I wanted to address the issues there in from a broader perspective hence I have started a new topic.

Vedantic Sadhana

Shravana, Manana and Niddhidhyasana form the main body of Vedantic Sadhana. The presence of a living master is indispensable in this Sadhana. Vedantic literature which is taught mainly consists of Prasthana Traya which includes the main Upanishads, the Bhagvad Gita and Brahma Sutras. These are studied along with the commentaries of Advaitic masters like Adi Shankaracharya.
 
Shravana: This is usually taken to mean listening to the scriptures as the literal translation of the word would mean. It is the stage where the master explains what the scriptures are talking about. Here by careful study and applying logic the master explains to the student, the purpose of human birth, the goal in which it should culminate, and how to achieve it etc.
 
Manana: Although the substance of the scriptures is made clear, the student will have his own doubts about different aspects of the teachings. In this stage the master guides the student into repeatedly dwelling on topics which the student has doubts. Here discussions and arguments within the framework of the scriptures are encouraged and dealt with by the master. The student is made to study Shankara Bhasya (commentaries by Adi Shankaracharya), as almost all the doubts and opposing views are dealt with in his commentaries. The culmination of this stage results in the student having a clear intellectual understanding that he is the Self.

Niddhidhyasana: Although the student has a clear understanding of being the Self, he still suffers from taking himself to be the body-mind complex due to habitual behavioural patterns in his psyche. The student is asked to be alert to such manifestations of behaviour based on false knowledge and negating the same by reminding himself as to who he is in reality. The student is introduced to different meditation techniques, which result initially in absorption in a particular thought (Savikalpa Samadhi) and then ultimately culminate in a thoughtless state where the Self alone shines (Nirvikalpa Samadhi). This results in the destruction of all ignorance and establishes the person in Gnana.

From the above it is quite clear that a living guru is very essential in Vedantic sadhana. The guru should not only be a Shastravit (knower of the scriptures) but also Brahmavit(knower of Brahman). Just knowledge of scriptures without knowing the ultimate truth, such a master will be quite disastrous for the student. Particularly in the manana stage the student comes to a false feeling of having realized the Self. The student than indulges in activities like trying to interpret the shastras, write commentaries, trying to teach others etc.
Only a teacher who is a Gnani can recognize this problem in a student and take the necessary steps in guiding the student further towards Realization.

Another aspect of this Sadhana is the extensive use of the intellect till the very end. The development of logic and analytical skills is nurtured and encouraged. A well developed intellect forms an integral part of this sadhana. From the starting of the sadhana until almost the end, the false is to be negated(neti neti) and the aspects of truth(like Satyam, Gnanam, Anantam) are to be affirmed using Viveka (discrimination).


The practise of “Who am I?”.

The practise starts with the premise that if I am not the body-mind complex, then who am I?
 
The purpose of the question “Who am I?” is to direct one’s attention to the “I”. That is the only purpose. Once the attention is fixed on the “I”, the question has no further use. The question is repeated if the attention is slipping away from the “I”.

The question is not asked to elicit any answers. Even if the mind throws up an answer or a doubt it is dealt with by asking “who is answering this question” thus bringing the attention back to the “I”.

The mind has a tendency to answer any question thrown at it from its gathered knowledge. Even if the mind is trying to say “I am not this body” etc. the correct thing to do at this point would be to ask the question, “who is saying I am not this body?”. The purpose being again to bring the attention back to the “I” and not to indulge in any mental dialogue or Vichara.

That is all there is to this practise that one has to do, or one can do. The rest is taken care of by the Sadguru residing in each one of us.
 
Hence we see this practise does not involve the intellect or mind in any way except maybe to just ask the question “who am I?”. This practise does not depend on the smartness or intellectual capability of the person.  It requires the ability to just put one’s attention on oneself.
 
If the practise is properly understood and done according to the way laid down by Bhagavan, then a living guru is not absolutely essential for this Sadhana. The practise itself takes us to a point where the Sadguru takes over.


The purpose of this post is to highlight the differences in the two practices and not in any way compare their efficacy. The suitability of a sadhana solely depends on the person’s inclinations and mental makeup.

Om shri Ramana

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General Discussion / Slumdog Millionaire
« on: February 23, 2009, 01:16:14 PM »
Pranam,

Today while receiving the Oscar for the best song of the year, A. R. Rehman (Renowned musician of the Indian film Industry) mentioned, he always had two choices in life; to hate or to love. He chose to love and that is why he was standing there receiving the most coveted prize in the film industry.

A simple non-assuming statement but which can have a profound influence on anybody's life if one follows it.

In our self-righteousness and narrow outlook of life we find so many reasons to hate another human being. The reasons can be anything from religion, culture, to even a different sexual orientation. Many of us do not even realize that we have a choice of not hating somebody. Our prejudices and opinions take over so completely that we forget that we have this choice.

After listening to A. R. Rehman's statement I was reminded of Thirumoolar who wrote the Thirumantiram where he describes Shiva as Love.

Anbe shivam


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The teachings of Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi / Re: Who am I
« on: February 22, 2009, 06:23:30 PM »
Pranam,

Dear Subramanian. R,

I was not at all talking about a mental dialogue of neti neti etc.

You have mentioned in your post - 'when there is no answer, we should dwell in that
Silence.' - that is what I was trying to convey. That particular point the mind is unable to keep silent. It tries to give a name and definition to that particular state and tries to compare it with what it has read about it in books (gathered intellectual knowledge).
At the point of silence there is an indescribable happiness and I either start laughing uncontrollably or the mind gets so thrilled by this new state that it just starts jabbering.
I think the antakarana has to get used to this bliss which I feel and ignore it and remain in that silence.


Om shri Ramana

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The teachings of Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi / Re: Who am I
« on: February 22, 2009, 10:32:16 AM »
Pranam,

The biggest obstacle faced while doing "who am I" is the incessant desire of the mind to label everything that is happening. The mind is not able to leave anything alone. The deeper one goes towards the "I" the more restless the mind becomes as it is unable to find definitions for what is happening.
It has to interpret, define, analyse and put everything into the framework of knowledge it has. The bigger the base of its knowledge structure the more it revels in this activity.
The desire to define everything is the self-defence of the ego from its own destruction. Ignoring all known knowledge structures and fearlessly allowing the unknown to take over requires surrender to the Guru and fearlessness towards the unknown.
I suppose repeated practise will someday give enough courage to leave all knowledge behind and dive into the unknown.


Om shri Ramana

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General topics / IF
« on: February 20, 2009, 09:50:00 AM »
Pranam,

-If my parents were yogis I would have realized by now.
-If I had only a few vasanas I......
-If I had a living master I......
-If someone had encouraged me in the spiritual path earlier I.....
-If I had a darshan of Bhagvan I.....
-If I had more Bhakti I.....

And so was my past.


-If I will meditate more I will realize sooner.
-If I sleep less I will....
-If I live in solitude I will.....
-If I meet a living Gnani I will.....
-If my kundalini awakens I will....
-If I have constant satsang I will....
-If I live in Thiruvanamalai I will....
-If I discipline myself more I will....

And so will be my future.


Oh yes, what about the present you say. The "Now".
Well what is the present?
Is it the absence of thoughts?
Is it totally being with what one is doing?
Being with the "I" maybe?
Does it all not imply that there is a constant endeavour to achieve something?
Can a means to an end exist in the present?

And so is my present.


Can I ever be free of this cursed mind?
Maybe, If.....................

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Arunachala / Re: Seeking Arunachala
« on: February 17, 2009, 12:04:25 PM »
Pranam,

As the thread of this post has taken a new turn, I would like to relate a story I had read.....

Once the Sage Narada was going around the earth singing the praises of the Lord Narayana. He came across a man doing sadhana and asked him what he desired, as he would be meeting Lord Narayana soon. The man said that he had been doing intense tapas for a long time and wanted to know when he would become one with the Lord. Sage Narada assured him of an answer from the Lord and went ahead on his way.
A little further Narada came across another man doing sadhana and asked him also what he desired. The second man also wanted to know when he would attain the Lord.
Narada returned to earth after some time and came across the  first person and told him that the Lord had said he would attain liberation in the next birth. The man flew into a rage and said that he had been practising his sadhana very intensely and had undergone great hardships and tapas. He was furious that he was not going to achieve his goal in this life time and so he told Narada that he was going to stop all his practices and he felt that he had wasted his time undergoing all the hardships, and from now onwards he was just going to indulge and enjoy life. 
Narada then came across the next person who was meditating under a tree. Narada told him that he would achieve liberation after as many births as there were leaves on the tree he was sitting under. The man was overjoyed and started dancing in ecstasy and told Narada that the Lord at least had told a definite number to his number of births.
Such was the person's surrender to the Lord that he became liberated at that very moment.

This story gives us good teaching as to the attitude one should have towards sadhana and the importance of surrender.

Om shri Ramana

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General Discussion / Re: Vichaara
« on: February 17, 2009, 11:15:09 AM »
Dear Ganesh_b01,

I am glad you are starting a small business and I wish you all the luck. The best course as you say is definitely praying to Bhagwan and asking for his grace.
While doing business you will be interacting with many people and it is essential at that time to be happy and confident rather than sadness to show on your face.
Whenever you feel sad just think of the calm and serene face of Bhagavan smiling back at you. This will definitely lift your mood and make you feel happy, carefree and confident.

Om shri Ramana   

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General Discussion / Re: Vichaara
« on: February 16, 2009, 10:29:55 AM »
Pranam,

Dear Ganesh_b01,
If there is irritation, it means there is some subconscious desire or fear which is being suppressed and not allowed to come up. In such a case it is very necessary to be very true to yourself and confront the desire rather than suppress it. Once the desire is known, one can proceed from there. It is not wise to live in denial just because you have set a lofty goal for yourself.
The enquiry "who am I" sometimes throws up a lot of things which have been suppressed or ignored for a long period of time. When such things come up it is best to deal with them firstly, by asking the question "for whom is this desire?" etc. If that approach does not work and the desire comes repeatedly it means that the desire is very strong and one has to consciously and with full attention just look at the desire. Do not be judgemental about yourself about having the desire and so on. Just be concious of that desire or fear. Do not go along with it or try to suppress it. Just be aware of it.
The power of awareness is such that it will give the answer to the problem, where all other intellectual acrobatics have failed. But remember not to be judgemental or have preconceived notions about things in life. Sometimes the thing to be done could be totally the opposite of what you might have thought to be the right course of action. Just be patient and let go of all notions you hold on to, and let the answer reveal itself to you in full awareness.

Om shri Ramana      

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The teachings of Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi / Re: I AM meditation
« on: February 13, 2009, 06:40:46 PM »
Pranam,

Dear Subramanian R,

What exactly do you mean by the heart centre? If you mean the feeling of the pure "I", than I think we are talking of the same thing.
If you are meaning a physical location in the body or something recalled from memory from a previous experience; than I do not think that can lead to the source of the "I".


Dear Everybody,

In many places in different books, Bhagvan has mentioned that the practise of "Who am I" itself is sufficient to calm the mind. The meditation is neither simple nor difficult. Although Bhagavan has mentioned in places to use the technique of watching the breath; it was to people who were just not able to do the enquiry. I do not see why one should deviate from the enquiry method and come back to it again.

Om shri Ramana


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The teachings of Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi / Re: I AM meditation
« on: February 11, 2009, 09:38:42 AM »
Pranam,
Dear Soham3,
As far as I have gathered from reading Bhagavan's teachings and personal experience, the concentration or your attention should only be on the feeling of "I". No physical point is involved. Although Bhagavan has mentioned the heart centre it is the result of paying attention to the "I" and not the other way round. That is when you pay attention to the "I" you are led to a physical sensation in the heart region (which has to be ignored by the way). By paying attention to a particular part of the body you cannot come to the "I" thought or find its source. This is the crux of the enquiry method.


Om Shri Ramana

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The teachings of Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi / Re: I AM meditation
« on: February 08, 2009, 06:31:30 PM »
Pranam,
Dear Soham3,
What exactly do you mean by 'spiritual centre"?
How do you handle the physical jerks?

Om shri Ramana

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The teachings of Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi / Re: I AM meditation
« on: February 08, 2009, 12:36:59 PM »
Pranam,
Dear Soham3,
Why are you trying to locate the feeling of "I am" in a particular part of the body?
When I do the meditation I try to just keep the attention on the "I". Many times I feel sensations in the heart region or the head, but I ignore them and continue to put my attention only in the "feeling of I".
Sometimes I feel a great heaviness in the heart region.
Most of the times as my meditation goes deeper, my body gives an involuntary jerk which seems to emanate from the heart region, but the result of this jerk is that my concentration is thrown off and I have to start all over again.
Has anybody experienced this and can anybody provide a remedy for this.

Om shri Ramana

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Dear matthias,
 ;D You have hit the nail on the head. The first and foremost teaching of Bhagavan is to just be.


Om shri Ramana

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Pranam,
Dear Matthias,
You have given a beautiful description of surrender on Feb 3rd without bringing in scriptural jargon. From what you have written it seems a state of total surrender and not partial surrender.

Dear Vinita,
It does seem like a vicious circle but the problem lies in "trying" to surrender. Going along with what the mind prompts or trying to stop it, both activities lands us in trouble. The surrendering in essence is to the "I". So Bhagavan gave us an excellent technique. Whatever the mind throws up, without suppressing or going along with the thought just ask, "to whom does this thought occur to?".
You need not be directly concerned about the right action to be done as long as you are turned inwards towards the "I". Whatever action has to happen will happen and anyway the right action is the one that is done in the state where the mind is (antar-mukha) turned inwards.

Om shri Ramana

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The teachings of Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi / Re: Who am I?
« on: February 04, 2009, 06:01:01 PM »
Pranam,
Dear Subramanian.R,
The answers you are talking about are intellectual and can help only to an extent.
Although the answer can only be in the realization of what one is not; it is a wisdom irrevocably gained and not a practise of Neti Neti.
The silence is the absolute incapacity of the mind to put in any kind of words or concepts, the Reality one is. Only when the mind is totally incapable of describing what one is then true knowledge has occurred.

Om shri Ramana.

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