Saddarsanam- Seeing the Truth is Being the Truth

Saddarsanam - a Unique Presentation by Sadacharya

What a special privilege it was for me when i attended the Talk on Sri Ramana Bhagwan’s ‘Saddarsanam’ as presented by Dr. K. Sadananda at the Chinmaya Mission Washington DC center on the  Memorial day weekend.

Sadaji is one of the moderators of the a Yahoo group ‘advaitin’ where he has contributed many valuable posts on the finer nuances of Adi Shankara Bhagvadapada’s  Advaita philosophy.  My only regret was I could not attend the First day of the Talks wherin Sadaji gave a commentary on almost 26 verses of this wonderful scriptural text on forty verses of ‘Reality’  ( aka as Ulladu Narpadu) . But the last 24 verses are equally important as they direct us to  the ‘Ultimate Reality‘ by a process of Atma Vichara – a unique contribution of Sri Ramana Bhagwan to  Sanatana Dharma.

Sadaji kept the 90 member strong audience ( consisting of all age groups from teens to adults)  spellbound with his commentary on the Sanskrit   verses with his English commentary. Sadaji  never once referred to any notes while reciting the verses . His presentation was flawless and spontaneous and he made it all very interesting by narrating humorous anecdotes, parables and real life experiences. Sadaji adopted a simple and direct approach in unique Ramana style in an easy to understand layman terminology while stating the profound Truth of Non Dual reality (Advaita).

The verses that appealed to me most were the verses on ‘Ego’ – of all the heads the demon  Ravana had , his ‘ego head was the last to fall! When that ego head collapsed on the ground , Realization dawned and Ravana was liberated! The sanskrit word for head is ‘masta’ and anything associated with the head is ‘masthisk’ ( the synonym for intellect /mind).

Here is verse 32 :

gavesanat prapaya hrdantaram tat
pated-ahanta paribhugna-sirsa
athaham-anyat sphurati prakrstam
nahamkrtis-tat parameva purnam

Having reached within the heart , by the search , the ‘I’ Notion whose head is broken falls . Then another ‘I’ which is the main one shines forth. It is not the ego but the supreme ‘Fullness’ alone.

The ‘ego’ is the cloud that is covering the ever shining Self , the Sun!

And when one hears this next verse , then you find the ‘key’ that is unlocking your heart ! in Tamil , Heart is refereed to as ‘ullam’ ! The word ‘ul’ has profound meanings in Tamil . Depending on the context ‘ul’  could mean being , thinking , heart and inner space , all associated with indivisible Oneness. Here , it is important to recall the very first verse of Saddarsanam aka as Ulladu Narpadu –

sat-pratyayah kim nu vihaya santam?
hrdy-esa cinta -rahito hrdakhyah
katham smarmas-tam ameyam ekam ?
tasya smrtis-tatra drdhaiva nishta . ( verse 1 )

Can  there be thoughts of the existence of objects without the existence principle ? (No) . The existence named as hrt is in the heart itself , free from thought . How can we remember that one immeasurable existence ? Its remembrance is in the form of firm abidance in it .

This is the first verse and that is the True vision of Truth ( Saddarsanam)

” Seeing the Truth is being the Truth”

The Washingtonians are indeed indebted to Sadaji for bringing the best ‘stimulus’ package in these troubled times.We would like to thank Sadaji for bringing the eternal message of  ‘Vedanta’ into the hearts of everyone,young and old , rich or poor . That is Sadaji’s gift to our community via the Platform of Chinmaya Mission.

It is rare to see Selfless Teachers like Sadaji spending two full days explaining and commenting on these Forty – all in the interest of ‘loka Sangraham’ ! ( the greater good for the community)!

A verse from Srimad Bhagwat gita comes to mind!

saktah karmany avidvamso
yatha kurvanti bharata
kuryad vidvams tathasaktas
cikirsur loka-sangraham ( 3:25)

As the ignorant perform their duties with attachment to results, similarly the learned may also act, but without attachment, for the sake of leading people on the right path

I am glad I did attend this camp and i wish all of you were there too ! What a wonderful ‘treat’ this retreat was ! Can you imagine learning the entire Vedanta within 40 verses ? Each verse is a gem and we thank Sadaji for placing this ‘treasure’ within our reach.

For those of you , who would like to read ‘Saddarsanam ‘ , you can order your own copy from Chinmaya mission . The commentary by Swami Tejomayananda is Divine.

May I now end this small tribute to the eternal Truth called ‘sanatana dharma ‘ with this immortal verse from upanishads ?

“OM Poornamadah Poornamidam Poornaad Poornamudachyate; Poornasya Poornamaadaaya Poornamevaavashisyate”.

Om Shanti ! Shanti ! Shantihi!

Surrender in Advaita: By Dr. K. Sadananda

The following question was put to Sada-ji (Dr. Sadananda), an eminent scholar on Hindu metaphysics of Advaita-Vedanta (Feb. 12, 1999) on the Advaitin Sangha:

Please explain what is the place of surrender in an advaitin’s search for Self-knowledge?. What should he surrender to? What shall prompt him to surrender?

with pranams

Editor’s Note: Dr. Sadananda’s answer is given below with minor edits by me. I am not a Sanskrit scholar and so if there are mistakes in my edits, please let me know and I will correct these quickly. Thanks.

Dr. Sadananda answers:

Bhagavan Ramana describes this beautifully in Updesh Sara:

ahami naashabaagyahamaham taayaa|
spurati hRit swayam param puurNa sat||

When the false I falls (ego is surrendered), then in that place aham, aham – I am – I am – swayam spurati – spontaneously rises.

This “I am” that rises is different from the previous “I am” (ego) with notions that I am this and that etc.

This pure and unconditional rising  is paramam – supreme (there is nothing beyond it); It is puurnam – Infinite without limitations since limitations belong to “this” and “that”.  It is Sat swaruupam – nature of pure existence with no qualifications attached to “I am”.

Where does it rise?  Where else but in ones own inner core of personality where “I am” (ego) is currently rising along with notions that  I am body, mind, or intellect etc. With the surrendering of ego, the false notions about my self are replaced by the true knowledge of my self. It becomes clear that as the self is in all, all are in myself.

sarva bhuutasta maatmaanam sarva bhuutanica aatmani –

What should I surrender to?

In pure Advaita Vedanta, the surrendering is not someone surrendering to another person.

Advaita teaches through negation of what I am not.  In scriptures, this process is given as – neti – neti, etc. I am not this and not this and not this, etc.. Whatsoever can be objectified by me, I am not.

Through negation one ascertains who one is.

Realization of what I am searching for, I am searching with! Do you see the beauty of it?

Tat twam asi – neti neti is a part of the inquiry of who I am not, by negating what I am not. What is left after all negations is the subject who is negating. The subject cannot negate oneself. That I am!

This very inquiry is the surrendering of the ego.  As J. Krishnamurthi puts it;

The very observation of ones conditioning releases one from his conditioning. Knowledge of who I am then rises.

In vishishhTaadvaita the knowledge of the Lord rises. There the Lord is different from me yet I am part of Him not independent of Him. The total is one – Creation is the gross manifestation of the subtle existence.

What prompts one to surrender?

There is a famous sloka in the Mundaka Upanishad –

pariiksha locaan karma chitaan brahmano
nirvedamaayaa naasch kRitah kRitena
tat viJNaanaartham sa guru mevaabhigachhet
samit paaNiH strotriyam brahman nishTaam||

At some stage in life – a question arises – what does all this means? One is looking for happiness in all pursuits and one is unable to get an everlasting happiness from the external  world and relationships.

By examining ones’ owns action- prompted results, one realizes that by doing action one cannot gain any everlasting happiness. That is the time, the scripture advises the student to approach a proper teacher to guide one self. One should approach a teacher with full humility with an attitude of service to that teacher who is fully established in the truth and who can come down and communicate this knowledge to the student.

So what prompts one to surrender? The clear realization that all other means are not useful to secure what one is looking for – an eternal happiness.

Hari Om!

Comments on Deep Body Relaxation: By Dr. K. Sadananda

I received some excellent and thoughtful comments from Sada-Ji (Dr. K. Sadananda) on the article, “The Method of Deep Body Relaxation.” These comments with minor editing are given below. Thank you Sada-Ji.


Comments on “Deep Body Relaxation” By Dr. K. Sadananda

Harshaiji – PraNAms

Here are some comments on your article about “Deep Body Relaxation.”

Shava Asana is always done at the end of yoga exercises as a relaxation technique.

However, I would like to add a word of caution for going from Shava to Shiva – that is lying down and doing regular meditation. There is a good reason why the Lotus Posture (Padmaasan) is universally recommended for meditation. Shava or the corpse is considered as inauspicious while Shiva means auspiciousness itself

Also, it should be kept in mind that when one is in meditation, the normal breathing process will slow down and mind becomes quiet and calm. These conditions are conducive for the mind to go to sleep easily. Hence for most meditators, sleep becomes a big hurdle to overcome. Therefore, the Shava Asana (Corpse pose lying on the floor or bed) may not be useful for meditation.

Sleep is the opposite of meditation. In meditation one attempts to stay conscious and awake. That is one of the reasons why meditation is not recommended in the night when the mind is tired, but in the early mornings when the mind is fresh and vibrant. The period around 4am in the morning is considered best for meditation (it is called brahma muhurtham in Sanskrit).

The Lotus posture insures that the person who is meditating does not fall forward. Sitting in the lotus pose is recommended so that the student is stable and firm on the ground.

Yogic texts all advise that the vertebral column and the neck be in straight line (without going into the details of kundalini aspects).

This way one can stay in meditation for any length of time – awake-vigilant and meditative. Indeed that is the state of mind in meditation to be aimed at.

As Harshaji states, one can easily go to sleep in the Shava Asana. In fact one should go to sleep in that pose thinking of the Lord.

Then one can have Yoga Nidra and blissful heavenly relaxation.

But for Vedantic inquiry, the mind has to be sharp. Our own experience is that we can read stories or popular magazines lying down. But for any serious work, we have to sit up and study. Knowledge can take place only when the mind is sharp. Then, what to talk about the subtlest knowledge about one’s own self. So the recommendation is to do meditation in the sitting pose – if you can.

If you cannot, then alternate poses are recommended.

Now the question is whether one should do meditation in a lying down pose such as Shava Asana! Of course you can do! It is like a drunkard who went to ask a priest, “Sir, can I drink while praying to God?” Priest of course said, “No. you should not drink while praying.”

The drunkard thought about this and re-framed his question and asked again, “Sir, can I pray while drinking?” “Yes of course”, said the priest. So, can one meditate while lying down? The answer is, “of course you can meditate any time and anywhere.” No problem!

Should one lie down to meditate? No, that is not advisable. Sri Krishna himself recommends sitting down and meditating in the 6th Chapter of Bhagavad Gita.

Of course for relaxation – what Harshaji says is correct.

But For a meditator, relaxation is not the goal, but it is only a by-product. Vedantic meditation requires a calm, quiet, and vigilant mind. It is a subtle inquiry within of the very essence of life itself. If relaxation becomes a goal, the meditative mind will only long for that. If the mind settles in that groove, it will not be ready to take a higher flight.

Hinduism and Vegetarianism: By Dr. K. Sadananda


Editor’s note: Sada-Ji (Dr. K. Sadananda) is well known to the Hindu community in both the U.S. and in India. He is one of the most brilliant and thoughtful exponents of the Bhagavad Gita as well as the ancient philosophy of Advaita-Vedanta.

In this article, Sada-Ji discusses a practical question that frequently comes up among many students of Hinduism as well as many Westernized Hindus. The question is, “Should I become a vegetarian?”

I took the liberty to edit and restructure Sada-Ji’s original e-mail answer to this question for the purpose of this article to give it an easier reading flow. I hope that justice has been done to Sada-Ji’s explanations and that I have stayed within the limits of editorial license. Of course, any errors are mine and as soon as these are pointed out will be promptly corrected. Thank you for your understanding and patience.


Should I Become a Vegetarian?

Recently two questions were asked – Does Hinduism require one to believe in God? Does Hinduism require one to be a vegetarian?

In a recent article, I have addressed the first question. Here I will provide some thoughts for the second question. In relation to the first question, I have discussed what Hinduism stands for and who is truly a Hindu. In essence, Hinduism is Sanatana Dharma, and that Dharma is from time immemorial; it involves pursuit of Moksha through self-reflection, inquiry, and Self-Knowledge. Self-Knowledge in Hinduism is synonymous with Moksha (Liberation from the cycle of birth and death).

Therefore, the one who is seeking to understand the ultimate mystery of existence and thereby gaining salvation or release is a true Hindu, irrespective of the nationality, caste, creed or gender. With that catholic understanding, one can see that Hinduism becomes a way of life because the pursuit of the essential purpose of life is the goal of the ideal Hindu life. If you ask most Hindus whether they believe in God, you will get a firm “Yes”, in response.

With this perspective, it is easier to analyze all other questions including whether Hinduism requires one to be a vegetarian. Since the purpose of life is securing liberation or Moksha, until we reach that we need to maintain our body. Keeping the body healthy through proper nourishment is the Hindu Dharma. The human body is considered a temple of God. Therefore, it is sacred and should be treated with respect.

You asked whether a Hindu has to be a vegetarian. Well, it is a fact that not all Hindus are vegetarians. Hindu kings and princes and the warriors have eaten meat for thousands of years. So your question is not whether a Hindu should eat but whether you should eat meat. Since such a question has already arisen in your mind, perhaps you have developed a degree of sensitivity about harming other living forms to satisfy your physical hunger. If that is true, you may be better off not eating meat. That way you will be at peace with yourself. Since you are sensitive to this issue, your intellect may be directing you towards being a vegetarian. It is a possibility. However, your mind wants the pleasure of eating meat and your body may crave it due to past habits. So you have to reflect on this. Why has this question come up for you? What is the right thing for you to do?

Follow Your Self-Nature

When you go against your own intellect and good understanding of life you commit a sin. An act that is contrary to your SWADHARMA (your own nature) creates a conflict within you. So you have to reflect on whether being a vegetarian is natural to you or not. Now, of course, even the traditional non-vegetarians are choosing vegetarianism not because of any compassion to other animals but they are recognizing that meat is not good for their health.

I have already mentioned that Hinduism does not say to you “don’t do this and don’t do that”. You must determine your own actions based on your intellectual values, culture, education and primary goal in life. You will find that following your Swadharma (your own nature) will make you comfortable with yourself. It is not for others to judge what food is right for you! It is for you to decide.

While you are trying to decide whether to be a vegetarian do this experiment. Imagine your self to be a chicken or cow who is about to be slaughtered for food. Would you not advise the guy who wants to make a dinner out of you to be a vegetarian instead? The golden rule of “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” can sometimes help shape our analysis.

Life Lives on Life

Life lives on life. That is the law of nature. Whether I eat an animal or plant, I am destroying a life in some form. Among all life forms, Man is different from the rest. He has the capability to discriminate right from wrong. That gives him the freedom of choice which animals and plants lack.

According to ancient teachings and our observations, plants have just a body and perhaps a rudimentary mind. Animals have both body and mind to express their feelings and suffering, but rudimentary intellect. Man has not only body and mind but also a well developed intellect to discriminate between good and bad, and to choose.

Man always has three choices: He can choose to do something, not to do it, or find another alternative way to do it that is more satisfactory. For animals and plants there is no freedom of choice. They are instinctively driven. The cow does not sit down before meals and inquires whether it should be a vegetarian or non-vegetarian. Same with the tiger or the eagle. They don’t say prayers before eating like we do. They just act according to their nature. No one can hold that against them.

Man and Sin

For a Man the discriminative intellect is much evolved. Plants and animals do not commit sin in their actions because there is no will involved in their actions. For a human, the story is different.

You may wonder why I brought sin in the argument. Let me explain. Sin is nothing but agitations in the mind. It is these agitations that prevent me in my journey to Moksha. Mind has to be pure (meaning un-agitated) for me to see the truth as the truth. (Bible also says blessed are those whose minds are pure).

To define sin more scientifically: It is the divergence between the mind and intellect. Intellect knows right from wrong. But we feel like doing things even though we know they are wrong . That is, the intellect says something but mind which should be subservient to the intellect rebels and does whatever it feels like. This divergence is sin.

After a wrong action is performed there is a guilt feeling. Intellect, although it was overruled, does not keep quiet. It keeps prodding “I told you it is wrong. Why did you do it?” With peace of mind gone, Man goes through a “Hell”. Man is not punished for the sin; he is punished by the sin! Think about it. All the Yoga schools, if you analyze clearly, are bringing this integration between the body, mind, and intellect so that there can be harmony. With harmony, there is peace.

For a true Yogi, what he thinks, what he speaks, and what he does are in perfect alignment. In our case, we think something but have no guts to say what we think. Our lips say something different from what we are thinking. Sometimes people say, “Watch My Lips or Read My Lips “. They mean to emphasize that what they say can be counted on. However, if you watch their lips as requested and follow their actions these are again different! There is no integration anywhere. Our lips and our hips have divergent paths. We live a chaotic life of freestyle dancing! Besides deceiving others, we deceive ourselves, and the worst thing is sometimes we don’t even realize that.

Animals and Sin

Now, when a tiger kills and eats, it does not commit a sin. Because its intellect is rudimentary, it does not go through any analysis before it kills and asks “should I kill or not kill this cute deer”? A tiger does not ask itself, “Should I be a non-vegetarian or a vegetarian?”. When it is hungry, to fill the natures demand, it kills its prey and eats what it needs and leaves the rest when it is full. A tiger does not overeat. There are no fat tigers in nature.

A tiger is not greedy either. It does not seek luxury beyond satisfying its needs. Animals and plants and birds and bees and insects and all living things follow a beautiful ecological system. It is only man who destroys the ecology by being greedy. But Man also has the beautiful instrument of the intellect and the ability to develop it and to meditate on the reality of the universe.

Should I be a vegetarian or non-vegetarian?

So yes, “Should I be a vegetarian or non-vegetarian?” is asked only by a man. Why does that question come? It comes due to reflection. Because man has a discriminative intellect, he can reflect on the nature of pain and suffering. Perhaps a man may think at some point in his life whether it is justifiable to harm and kill an animal to fill his belly. A person may reflect whether eating animals is consistent with the golden rule of “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you”. A man may consider whether this maxim applies to all forms of life or just other human beings.

Plants are life forms too. “Should one hurt them?” you may ask. If one can live without hurting any life forms that is the best, but that is not possible. Life lives on life – that is the law of nature. My role as a human being with discriminative intellect is to do the least damage to the nature for keeping myself alive and well.

At least, I am not consciously aware of suffering of the plants. That is why eating to live and not living to eat is the determining factor. In Bhagawad Geeta, Sri Krishna emphatically says that a Sadhaka (one who is in pursuit of Moksha) should have a compassion for all forms of life. There may come a point when it is advisable to be a vegetarian – only taking from nature what you need to keep the body in optimal health.

In one’s spiritual growth, one develops subtler and subtler intellect. That is, the mind becomes more sensitive, calmer, and self-contented. Your sensitivity to suffering of others also grows. Hence, the thought about becoming a vegetarian may come. Only you can decide what is right for you and not someone else. Any decision that is imposed on you from the outside does violence to your nature.

Many young people are now becoming vegetarians. They all have their own reasons. Fortunately vegetarianism is mainstream now and accepted. Most schools and universities offer vegetarian and even vegan meals and so the option to become a vegetarian is easier today than ever before.

Flowers grow in their own time. Whether you are vegetarian or not does not matter ultimately.

You are all flowers blooming in the light of the divine.

Hari Om and Tat Sat. – Sadananda