ULLADU NAARPADU (Also spelt as: Ulladu Narpadu) – Verse #2

ULLADU NAARPADU

(Continued from ULLADU NAARPADU -Verse No.1)

The famous Vedantic poem in Tamil by Bhagavan Ramana Maharishi
(consisting of two preliminary verses called Mangalam, 40 verses which form the main text , and another 40 verses called the Appendix)

Translation into English by Lakshmana Sharma
Detailed Commentary in Tamil by Lakshmana Sharma,
adapted into English by Profvk

Introduction to Verse #2:

The Theory of the Self that is taught here is not to be comprehended by the smartness of the intellect or by logic or by book-knowledge. Learning it that way will not lead you anywhere. The path of Self-Enquiry that will be detailed hereafter will help to vanquish the ego, mind as well as the appearance of the world and thus establish one in the Nature of the Self. That is the Knowledge of the Self says Verse #2.

Text of #2:

Mummudalai emmadamum muRkoLLum
Or mudale mummudalaai niRkumenRum
Mummudalum mummudale yennal ahamkaaram irukkumaTTe
Yaan keTTut-tannilaiyil niTRal talai.

Translation (Lakshmana Sharma)

All the faiths that prevail in the world affirm, to begin with, (the existence of) the world, the soul and God. The two contentions, namely that One Reality is sensed as threefold, and that there are three distinct entities, are upheld (as intellectual convictions) while the sense ‘I am the body’ persists. But the highest state is that of being firmly established in one’s own real Nature (as the Real Self), by giving up that delusion.

Translation (Prof. K. Swaminathan)

On three entities — the individual, God and the world — every creed is based. That `the One becomes the three’ and that `always the three are three’, are said only while the ego lasts. To lose the `I’ and in the Self to stay is the State Supreme.

Translation (Osborne)

All religions postulate the three fundamentals, the world, the soul, and God, but it is only the one Reality that manifests Itself as these three. One can say, ‘The three are really three’ only so long as the ego lasts. Therefore, to inhere in one’s own Being, where the ‘I’, or ego, is dead, is the perfect State.

Word-by-word

Mummudalai: The three primalities
Em madamum : Every faith
muRkoLLum : takes as fundamentals.
Or mudale : Only one fundamental entity
Mummudalai : as the three entities
nirkum endRum : manifests ever;
mummudalum: all the three entities
mummudale : are really three entities
ennal : (this) statement (holds)
ahamkAram irukkumaTTe : only so long as the ego lasts.
Yaan : the ego of this self
keTTu : being lost or vanquished
tannilaiyil : in one’s own Nature
nitRal : being established, anchored
talai: is the foremost, important. (talai = head; topmost thing)

[Note by VK: Please note that my word-by-word translation matches with the translation of Osborne and not with the others].

Commentary by Lakshmana Sharma:

The individual (JIva), God (Ishvara), the Universe (Jagat) are the three things which are first talked about by every school of rligious thought. The difference between different schools arises in the question whether those three are different or the same. Two arguments exist; one that the three are the manifestations of the One and the other that the three are distinct truths. To whatever of these two one holds, his ego has not subsided. Ego is the ignorant belief that this body is the ‘I’. It is the one who has the ego that prefers the argument. So long as the ego lasts one has not understood the Truth by experience. He cannot comprehend the truth of these three. Only in the ego-less state all the truths come to light. That indeed is the state of jnAna. Therefore, whatever school one may belong to, — advaitin or dvaitin – his faith in that school is not jnAna. It is called *parokshha-jnAnaM*.

[Note by VK: ‘parokshha’ in Sanskrit means ‘invisible to the eye’;
Therefore ‘paroksha-jnAna’ means
‘second-hand knowledge’ or ‘indirect knowledge’.
aparokshha’ means visible, perceptible.
In other words, ‘aparokshha’ and
pratyaksha’ (= visible to the eye, directly perceptible)
mean the same thing)]

But the word ‘parokshha-jnAnam’ which consists of two words, is self-contradictory. The Atman is ‘nitya-aparokshhaM’, that is, ‘ever pratyakshhaM’. How can it be termed as ‘parokshhaM’?

Advaita knowledge is a Self-Experience; it is not a religion or school of thought as other schools are – this is Bhagavan’s opinion. Religion or school of thought is a creation of the mind. Other religions are objects of thought for the mind. Advaitam is not so. Only when the mind is vanquished, it becomes a direct perception. Only when the ego is vanquished, mind also vanishes; therefore until ego vanishes, there can be no jnAna. When ego vanishes, jnAna will be yours. This is the explanation of Bhagavan.

Further, to whatever school one belongs, one should try to rise up spiritually by the sAdhanas that school prescribes and encourages, rather than trying to establish by argument that the tenets of his school are the truths. Instead of concentrating the mind on the differences between different schools and religions, it is best to involve oneself in the methodologies prescribed.This will be clear from the following anecdote about Bhagavan.

Some one brought a religious work and submitted it to Bhagavan. Bhagavan scrutinised a few pages of it and then spoke to the devotee as follows:

“This work contains criticisms of many schools of religious thought, including Advaitam. Every school is glorified by a preliminary account – called ‘MaNDanaM’; and then follows a ‘khaNDanaM’ (criticism). But in writing the ‘MaNDanaM’ portion, the account instead of giving a truthful account introduces an objectionable item in it so that when the ‘khaNDanaM’ portion comes the school can be criticized. All these arguments constitute a waste of effort. What all schools and religions unanimously emphasize is: If the seeker eradicates from his mind all mental constructs like ‘I’ and ‘mine’, he can certainly obtain the highest level of spiritual evolution. There is no dispute on this. Therefore adherents of all schools and religions should devote themselves to following this universally acceptable sAdhanA. Why fight about what the nature of that salvation that may be obtained at the end of the sAdhanA would be? Let it be this way or that way! Should we have to decide now itself that it would be only this way and not that way? Why not wait to see it when you really reach it?

The punchline in this verse is its fourth line. It is the highest state obtainable. ‘To inhere in one’s own Being, where the ‘I’, or ego, is dead, is the perfect State’. There is nothing either higher than it or equal to it. This is indicated by the use of the word ‘talai’ (head, topmost part).

Qn. Relevant to Verse #1 and Bhagavan’s answer.

Recall that Verse #1 said that everything that you see is really Brahman. In Talks Bhagavan explains to a visitor who asked if the world is perceived even after Self-Realization:

M.: From whom is this question? Is it from a JnAni or from an ajnAni?

D.:From an ajnAni.

M.: Realise to whom the question arises. It can be answered if it arises
after knowing the doubter. Can the jagat or the body say that it is?
Or does the seer say that the jagat or the body is? The seer must be
there to see the objects. Find out the seer first. Why worry yourself
now with what will be in the hereafter? Sri Bhagavan continued: What does it matter if the jagat is perceived or not perceived? Have you lost anything by your perception of jagat now? Or do you gain anything where there is no such perception in your deep sleep? It is immaterial whether the world is perceived or not perceived. The ajnAni sees the JnAni active and is confounded. The jagat is perceived by both; but their outlooks differ. Take the instance of the cinema. There are pictures moving on the screen. Go and hold them. What do you hold? It is only the screen. Let the pictures disappear. What remains over? The screen again. So also here. Even when the world appears, see to whom it appears. Hold the substratum of the ‘I’. After the substratum is held what does it matter if the world appears or disappears? The ajnAni takes the world to be real; whereas the JnAni sees it only as the manifestation of the Self. It is immaterial if the Self manifests itself or ceases to do so.

(Talk 65.)

(Continued in ULLADU NAARPADU – Verse No.3)

ULLADU NAARPADU (also spelt as Ulladu Narpadu) – Mangalam – 2: By Professor V. Krishnamurthy

ULLADU NAARPADU

(Continued from ULLADU  NAARPADU – Comments by ProfVK)

The famous Vedantic poem in Tamil by Bhagavan Ramana Maharishi
(consisting of two preliminary verses called Mangalam, 40 verses which form the main text , and another 40 verses called the Appendix)

Translation into English by Lakshmana Sharma
Detailed Commentary in Tamil by Lakshmana Sharma,
adapted into English by Profvk

Mangalam – 2

In Talks with Sri Ramana Maharshi, Bhagavan explains the first
managalam to a devotee:

The first stanza is the auspicious beginning. Why should the subject
matter of the piece be brought in here? Can knowledge be other than Being? Being is the core – the Heart. How then is the Supreme Being to be contemplated and glorified? Only to remain as the Pure Self is the
auspicious beginning. This speaks of attributeless Brahman according to the jnana marga (method of knowledge).

Introduction to Mangalam – 2:

By the first verse Mangalam – 1, the nirguNa-svarUpa (nirguna =attributeless) of brahman was indicated. That itself will show up as saguNa (= with attributes) for the devotees. In the situation where there is no mind brahman is nirguNa. When the mind is there the same brahman is saguNa. Then that itself becomes God Almighty. Those who show Bhakti or Love towards Him, finally deserve His Grace when they have offered their Self to Him, and receive the Self-Realisation Experience already mentioned. This is the truth that is the content of the 2nd verse in Mangalam:

Tamil Text:

MaraNa-bhayam mikku uLa am-makkal aRaN Aha
maraNa-bhavam illaa maheshan sharaName caarvar;
tam caarvoDu taam caarvutraar;
caavu eNNam caarvarO caavaadavar
.

Translation (Lakshmana Sharma):

Men of pure minds who intensely fear death surrender themselves unto the Lord of all, the blissful One, the indwelling Self, who has no death or birth. By that (surrender) their ego, along with their attachments becomes extinguished. How can they, who (thus) have won abode in Immortality, have any thought of death?

Translation (Prof. K. Swaminathan):

When those who are in dread of death seek refuge at the feet of the deathless, birthless Lord Supreme, their ego and attachments die; and they, now deathless, think no more of death.

Word-by-word:

MaraNa bhayam = Fear of Death (maraNam = death)
Mikka uLa = Who have lots of
am makkaL = those people
araN Aha = ‘to get rid of’ : in this case, the contextual meaning would be: ‘in order to get rid of that fear of death (araN = barricade for protection)
maraNa-bhavam illaa = (He) who is deathless, birthless (bhavam = birth)
maheshan = the Great Lord
sharaName caarvar = do surrender only
tam caarvoDu = along with their possessiveness (*mamakaaram*)
tAM = (their) Egoistic self
cAvutraar = dies, vanishes.
cAvu eNNam = thought of death (cAvu = death)
caarvaro = Would they?
caavaadavar = they who are beyond death.

Commentary by Lakshmana Sharma :

Every one has the fear of death some time or other. But that becomes ineffective. A temporary dispassion that follows such fear of death usually vanishes after a further experience of life’s goodies. On the other hand those with a high sense of values do not forget the fear and they look for antidotes for it.

For men steeped in ignorance and worldly mAyA to rise to salvation, the miseries of worldly life themselves are steps. Bhagavan says: “When a person is dreaming during sleep, so long as the dream experiences are pleasurable, he does not wake up. Only miserable events in the dream wake him up. So also, in worldly life, so long as things appear pleasant, the worldly man does not wake up from the mAyic world to realise the Truth. The miseries of samsAra, the fear of death – these kinds of feelings are the ones that direct him to the goal. We know death is sure to come. But so long as it does not confront you, you don’t realise the severity of that fear. Therefore it is the knowledge that comes out of experience that life is full of miseries, that turns your path towards one of nivRtti (cessation of activity)”. Rarely a blessed one in a million turns to jnAna-path the moment he becomes aware even mentally of death. Such are the Buddha and our own Bhagavan Ramana.

When the mind thus turns to nivRtti path, that soul gets into the Grace of deahtless, birthless Lord. That Grace makes him look inward and takes him on to the Supreme. That is when the Ego of ‘I’ gets extinguished along with vAsanas of all kinds of bondage. What remains is the deathless Atman.

What is this Ego? It is the false conviction that the body is the Atman. So long as that remains, the impending death of the body will be considered as one’s own death. This verse shows that when the Ego is extinguished the very concept of death is uprooted.

Here is Bhagavan’s explanation of Mangalam – 2:

The second stanza is in praise of God with attributes. In the first,
to be as one Self is mentioned; in the present one, surrender to the Lord of all. Furthermore the second stanza indicates (1) the fit reader (2) the subject matter (3) the relationship and (4) the fruit. The fit reader is the one who is competent for it. Competence consists in non-attachment to the world and desire to be liberated. All know that they must die some time or other; but they do not think deeply of the matter. All have a fear of death: such fear is momentary. Why fear death? Because of the ‘I-am the-body’ idea. All are fully aware of the death of the body and its cremation. That the body is lost in death is well-known. Owing to the I-am-the-body notion, death is feared as being the loss of Oneself. Birth and death pertain to the body only; but they are superimposed on the Self, giving rise to the delusion that birth and death relate to the Self. In the effort to overcome birth and death man looks up to the Supreme Being to save him. Thus are born faith and devotion to the Lord. How to worship Him?

The creature is powerless and the Creator is All-powerful. How to approach Him? To entrust oneself to His careis the only thing left for him; total surrender is the only way. Therefore he surrenders himself to God. Surrender consists in giving up oneself and one’s possessions to the Lord of Mercy. Then what is left over for the man? Nothing – neither himself nor his possessions. The body liable to be born and to die having been made over to the Lord, the man need no longer worry about it. Then birth and death cannot strike terror. The cause of fear was the body; it is no longer his; why should he fear now? Or where is the identity of the individual to be frightened? Thus the Self is realised and Bliss results. This is then the subject-matter: freedom from misery and gain of Happiness. This is the highest good to be gained.  Surrender is synonymous with Bliss itself. This is the relationship. Fruit is to reflect on the subject-matter and gain Knowledge which is ever-present, here and now. The stanza ends with “the immortal ones.”

(Talk no. 567)

Continued in ULLADU NAARPADU -Verse No.1

************************************

ULLADU NAARPADU (also spelt as Ulladu Narpadu): Comments By Professor V. Krishnamurthy

ULLADU NAARPADU

The famous Vedantic poem in Tamil by Bhagavan Ramana Maharishi

(consisting of two preliminary verses called Mangalam, 40 verses which form the main text , and another 40 verses called the Appendix)

Translation into English by Lakshmana Sharma

Detailed Commentary in Tamil by Lakshmana Sharma,

adapted into English by Profvk

 

 

Mangalam – 1

Text in Tamil:

uLLadu aladu uLLa uNarvu uLado?

uLLa poruL uLLal aRa uLLatte uLLadAl

uLLal enum uLLa poruL uLLal evan?

uLLatte uLLapaDi uLLade uLLal uNar.

 

 

Translation (Lakshmana Sharma)

 

Can there be a sense of existence without something that is? Is Real Consciousness  a thing other than That? Since that (Reality) dwells, thought free, in the Heart, how can It – Itself named the Heart – be meditated on?

And who is there, distinct from It, to meditate on It, the Self whose nature is Reality Consciousness?

Know that to meditate on It is just to be at one with It within the Heart.

 

Incidentally the Mangalam-1 Verse has been translated by Prof. K. Swaminathan as follows:

“Unless Reality exists, can thought of it arise? Since, devoid of thought, Reality exists within as Heart, how to know the Reality we term the Heart? To know That is merely to be That in the Heart.

The first sentence may also be rendered thus: Can there be Knowledge of Reality other than existing as Reality?”

 

I am giving the original Tamil for us all to see the majesty of Ramana’s classical Tamil (even if one does not understand Tamil!).

 

 

Commentary on the first line

 

There are two meanings for this line. Both are valid. These are the first two sentences of the translation.

 

 

On the first meaning of first line

 

 

Can there be a sense of Existence without something that is? Here the conclusion is there exists something that always is. The jIva-Ishvara-jagat (soul-God-universe) which appears as real is not real, but there is a substratum (*adhishTAnam* of Reality underneath. This is the truth declared by the Upanishads, which call this Reality ‘Brahman’. Bhagavan himself explains this as follows:

 

 

“Every one sees himself and the universe around him. He thinks both are real. If they are real they should always appear, not off and on. But they appear and also disappear. They appear in the waking and dream state but not in the deep sleep state. In other words they appear only when the mind is there. They do not appear when the mind is not there. Therefore the seer JIva and the seen universe are only thought-forms of the mind and not real. Where these thoughts arise from, where they merge, that is the only shining Reality”. This same content is going to be given by Verse beginning with ‘ulagaRivum onRAy’ (Verse #7) later.

 

 

So what appears only off and on is unreal and what appears always uninterruptedly is Real. Recall B.G. *nAsato vidyate bhAvo …*. Which gives the distinction between sat and asat. ‘What does not exist before and after, is only non-existent even in the present but only appears to exist’ says Gaudapada in his Karika. Those who accept this maxim of Reality are advaitins. Others are dvaitins.

 

 

The standard example for this unreal appearance of the universe and the Reality of the AdhishTAnam is the snake-rope example. Brahman is the adhishhTAnam (sub-stratum, base) ; jIva-Ishvara-jagat is Aropitam (Superposed entities).

 

 

The snake which is imagined hides the rope which exists. So also the imagined jIvaIshvara-jagat hides the existent Brahman. So long as Brahman is seen only as the universe (By the way ‘Universe’ here will include jIva and Ishvara also because if the universe is not there, the JIva and Ishvara also are not there), Brahman will not be seen or known as brahman. When by Atman-Realisation, Wisdom arises, the universe will not be seen as universe but as Brahman, the only Reality. This appearance and disappearance form the characteristic of mAyA. Really mAyA is not real. But that will be known only on Self-Realisation. Before that, that is, so long as the universe is taken to be real, one has to say mAyA exists. This mAyA is also called avidyA or ajnAna.

 

 

When the rope appears as snake, the appearance is due to the confusion in the mind of the seer. Now the jIva-Ishvara-jagat appearance is due to what? Is there a consciousness other than Brahman and is it that which shows the universe to us? Is Brahman inert or conscious? Is consciousness Brahman or is consciousness a quality of Brahman? The replies to these are given by the second meaning of the first line of the verse. It is actually the second sentence that appears in the translation.

 

 

 

On the second meaning of first line.

 

Is Real Consciousness a thing other than That?

 

What exists – false or real – what sense makes it explicit? This consciousness is not different from what absolutely exists. That itself is a bundle of consciousness – of the form of Knowledge (jnAna-svarUpa). In order for this to express itself there is no cognizing source other than itself. That which exists expresses itself by its own luminiscence of consciousness. It is self-effulgent. This is the substance of the 2nd meaning.

 

 

 

 

At the time of Ignorance Brahman appears as the universe. At the state 

of jnAna that itself expresses as the sat-cid-Atman (and nothing else). For both expressions it is the knowledge-factor of brahman that is the shining Light.

 

 [ Footnote: For the universe to appear it is again the Light of Brahman that shines. The Light of Brahman is not totally hidden by the universe. The akhaNDa-brahma-chaitanyam itself sparks as the speck of ego and that shows up the universe] .

 

 

 

 

There is one more implication in this sentence. Since we said there is no other consciousness distinct from Brahman, the universe that appears to be different must be only a false sensation. And he who sees this universe as a real show, is also having only a false sensation. Bhagavan says the seer or jIva who sees this universe is also part and parcel of this show of universe. This same idea comes again in the verse beginning with ‘nAmulagam’ (Verse #1).

 

 

 

 

In the Appendix (anubandham) to this text Bhagavan calls this ‘false soul’ or ‘false jIva’. Vedanta books call this ‘cidAbhAsa’ (also false consciousness). Ignorant people think of this jIva as AtmA; they call this jIvAtmA and call God as paramAtmA, as if there are two AtmAs. This text-line tells us that other than this ever-existent Brahman there is no one to be called jIva. Therefore we, that is, the AtmA is Brahman and not something else. This is the brahmAtmaikya conclusion of all Upanishads. This is also the considered conclusion of Adi Shankara. This is the Absolute pAramArthika truth that will be clear by the experience of jnAna. We think in our Ignorance, that the false jIva is AtmA and other things are different from it.

 

 

 

All this means: Brahman is what exists. It is the only Reality. It is also the Consciousness that expresses itself. Therefore Brahman is AtmA. There is nothing different from it either sentient or not. It has no differences like the seer and the seen. This is the conclusion of advaita.

 

 

Note that this text-line does not tell you that brahman HAS consciousness. Brahman IS consciousness – that is the teaching. If something has consciousness it means it has consciousness as a quality or qualification. In that case it will be callled buddhi. Actually this is not different from the mind. For mind, to be conscious is not its nature. It is its quality or qualification. Therefore consciousness of the mind is not permanent or stable. In sleep the mind’s consciousness vanishes. The consciousness that is the nature of brahman is not of this kind. It is eternal and unchanging. It is unaffected by time and space. Even when all the universe disappears, even in that primordial state, it exists.

 

 

That Brahman is jnAna-svarUpa is to be known by the teaching that we receive. But it can also be inferred by logic. Such a logic appears in the first meaning of this text line. We saw therein that it is Brahman that is the origin as well as destination of all thoughts of the mind. So Brahman is the source of this sentient mind; so this brahman has either sentience or is itself sentience. If it HAS sentience it is like the mind and so not a reality. Thus it is neither insentient nor an entity which has sentience. Then what is it? It IS sentience, consciousness (chit or chaitanyam). This is the conclusion of all Vedanta. Therefore it is called sat-chit.

 

 

 

 

Alternatively we can also argue as follows:

 

 

It is not correct to say that Brahman HAS sentience. Therefore it has to be either insentient or Caitanyam (Sentience, Consciousness) itself. If you accept it is insentient then it means it is not self-effulgent; for all insentient things show up only by an external intelligence. Then the question arises: how is brahman effulgent, by what intelligence? The opponent would say it is effulgent by an intelligence outside of it. Now the question is: That caitanyam – is it *sat* (existent) or *asat* (non-existent)? Certainly not non-existent; for a non-existent thing never lights up anything. If you say it is *sat* then it becomes *sat* and *cit* . Thus we have accepted that the same entity can be both *sat* and *cit*. In that case, the earlier mentioned brahman which exists, can as well be also *cit*. This is the easy way out. Thus it turns out that the existent Brahman which is the adhishhTAnam for the universe is self-effulgent, in other words, in order to show it there is no other intelligence necessary. On the other hand, if we say that this existent thing is not self-effulgent, then in order to show it there must be another cit (intelligence). That also cannot be said to be self-effulgent, by the above logic. Thus another intelligence has to be postulated. So we have to go on postulating non-self-effulgent intelligences, — a series of them. This is then an infinite regress (anavasthA-doshha). Thus the conclusion is the Brahman which is the Reality is self-effulgent.

 

 

Thus it is clear that Brahman is by nature Existence as well as Intelligence. That is why it is called *sat-cit*. But this does not exhaust the svarUpa of Brahman. Its svarUpa can be understood only by experience not by any other means.

 

So the mind which appears to have sentience is really not so. It is also insentient (jaDa) like the universe.

 

 

In fact this Brahman is our AtmA. But then why does it not show up like that for us? Why are we thinking that we are finite beings who suffer all the unhappiness and revolve in this samsAra? The answer comes in the next portion of the Mangalam first verse.

The next sentence in the Mangalam – 1 Verse

 

uLLa-poruL uLLal-aRa uLLatte uLLadAl

uLLamenum uLLa-poruL uLLal evan?

 

 

 

Translation

Since that (Reality) dwells, thought- free, in the Heart, how can It – Itself named the Heart – be meditated on? And who is there, distinct from It, to meditate on It, the Self whose nature is Reality Consciousness?

 

 

[Note by VK: Bhagavan Ramana’s masterly handling of classical poetic Tamil can be appreciated even by non-Tamil people, when I tell you that he uses the words

uLLam = mind;

uLLadu = that which exists; (uL = interior, content);

uLLal = thinking, thought, meditation (comes from the verb form)

uLLam = heart (Bhagavan Ramana’s usage, when the context permits),

in all possible combinations so that the verse manifests as a lilting poetry!]

 

 

Commentary

 

Here the Tamil word ‘evan’ must be taken in two meanings, namely, ‘who?’ and ‘how?’, according to Bhagavan’s own words. [That is why, in Lakshmana Sharma’s translation above, there are two sentences in English for this one sentence of Tamil].

 

 

In sum, this sentence says: The svarUpa of brahman is without mind [Note: thought-free = uLLal-aRa] and full of peace; it is in the heart (uLLam). This Reality (the existing thing = *uLLa-poruL*) will show up only in the heart, that is devoid of the mind (uLLal-aRa = mind-without). When the mind is active and poised outside It will not show up ‘as is’ (=*uLLapaDi*). What does it mean to say it will not show up as is. It means it will show up as jIva-Ishvara-jagat. By this very reason Brahman cannot be thought of (=*uLLal*) by the mind.

 

 

Why cannot Brahman be thought of by the mind? There are several reasons for this. One of them will be understood when we come to the verse *madikkoLi tandu* (Verse #22). But here there are two reasons given. 1. Mind by nature imagines differences in Brahman of pure non-duality, and treats them as real; 2. There is no intelligence, sentience (*cit*) other than Brahman to meditate on it or think of it.

 

 

We shall consider the first reason. First mind imagines a duality of inside and outside (the mind) and thinks that there are universes, other jIvas, God – all of these are outside. This is mind’s nature. We have already seen that all this imagined world etc. have an adhishhTAna (substratum) reality of Brahman and they are all Aropitam (superposed) on that Brahman. By the logic that the superposed thing hides the show-up of the existence of the substratum, the superposed universe hides the existence of the substratum of Brahman. So long as mind is focussed outside (=*bahir-mukham*) brahman, instead of showing up as is, shows up as jIva-Ishvara-jagat. Once the mind is focussed inside (*antar-mukham*) it joins up with its original location, the heart, and there mind loses its ‘mind’-nature and ‘vanishes’. So the three kinds of shows, namely jIva, Ishvara and jagat also do not show up and Brahman shows up as the AtmA, without any obstacle. Of course mind does not see it, nor does it know!

 

 

Here we have talked as if there is something called heart or *uLLam* which is the ‘location’ for Brahman but in reality it is not different from brahman; so neither it is the location nor does brahman is ‘located’ in a place. The seeker who is after Self-Realisation needs to change from his look-outside to a look-inside and for this purpose the heart was spoken of as a sAdhana (means) and there is nothing more meant. The heart (spiritual interior) itself is Brahman. Look at the 2nd line in the above text: *uLLamenum uLLa poruL*:

uLLam = heart,

*enum* = named

*uLLa poruL* = that which exists.

This means: Brahman itself is what is called the heart, because uLLa-poruL is brahman only.

 

 

Since brahman is in this (inner) heart, it shows up as is when the mind has vanished. When the mind is otherwise engaged outside, It will not show up. We already observed that that is when all the imaginations about the three things happen and they hide brahman. Thus it is clear that those whose minds are turned outside will not realise brahman.

 

 

Now we shall go to the second reason: namely, to think of Brahman, there is no other sentient entity (cetana). The jIva that thinks of itself as knowing another entity is a false jIva. When the mind is turned outside, such a false jIva appears to be real. When mind turns inside, that is, merges in the uLLam (heart) , that false jIva vanishes. The false jIva is only an imagination; so there is no one to meditate on Brahman. The conclusion is: brahman is not amenable to the mind’s thinking.

 

 

Then how do we ever ‘think’ of or meditate on, the Brahman which is the Atman? This question is answered by the fourth line of Mangalam-1 verse.

 

 

Fourth Line of the Verse

 

uLLatte uLLapaDi uLLade uLLal uNar.

 

 

“Know that to meditate on It is just to be at one with It within the Heart.”

 

*uNar* = know(that)

*uLLal* = meditation

*uLLade* =(is) just only being, abiding in, (Tamil: *iruttal*)

*uLLatte* = in the heart

*uLLapaDi* = as (It) is.

 

 

Commentary

 

This line describes Atma-jnAna-anubhavam (Self-Realisation-Experience). Mind to be seated in the heart, and abiding in brahman that is nothing but that heart, and to lose its mind-status, so that brahman, unmoving and peaceful, is ‘seen/known’ as Atman: this is known as dhyAnam.

 

 

But mark it. Though we have said this is dhyAnam it is not the meditation by the mind. Meditation caused by the mind has three facets in it, namely, the meditator, the meditated object and the meditation. But this dhyAnam above is devoid of these three components. Since other than this everything else is not considered to be dhyAnam, this is said to be dhyAnam in the text. Bhagavan Ramana says this is pUjA, this is bhakti, this is darshan, this is Knowledge. All benefits supposed to be accrued by these are only accrued by this; not otherwise. What is called mukti or mokshha is this. This is also known as the Fourth (turIya) state. To get to this state the sAdhanA is described later in the verse beginning with ‘ezhumbum-aganthai’ (Verse #28).

 

 

 

 Continued in ULLADU NAARPADU – Mangalam 2

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The Art Of Leadership: By Prof. V. Krishnamurthy

The motivation for writing this article arose from my speech while chairing a session on ‘Wisdom Perspectives on Leadership’ at the First International Conference on ‘Igniting the Genius Within’ at the Indian School of Business, Hyderabad in October 2008.

Leaders and teachers have always used stories to capture our interest and attention. So I am going to tell you a few stories and leave you to infer the lessons yourselves. One thing I assure you, all the stories are real.

Inspite of all the books written upon Leadership, it is not something that is learnt from books or by tuition. One recognizes it only by the extent of the change caused by that leadership and by the quality of that change.

Individual contributors like a writer, an artist, painter or designer produce something which bring in appreciation and pave the way for the contributor evolving into a role model for a new pattern or a new style of work. But a leader does not necessarily merit his leadership by any such material productions or contributions. What he or she does is to cause others to think out of the box, to act innovatively and to behave differently. The contribution of leaders is the change they cause among those who are influenced by them.

If this change rollerskates into further changes in future generations, that becomes a unique legacy, the leader’s legacy. From the point of view of such legacy for the longest period of time transmitted to the largest number of people there is none to beat Valmiki and Vyasa of ancient times, or for that matter, Gautama Buddha and Jesus of later times.

Acts of leadership occur surprisingly even from unexpected quarters. When you analyse these they turn out to be the results of internally inspired responses to certain challenges of the context and time. A challenge is not asking whether it is possible or not. It is about whether the mind is capable of freeing itself. To respond to it one must have the quality of intensity and immediacy.

A rare act of such genius, occurs in a narration in the fourth chapter of Chandogya Upanishad. Satyakama was one of the reputed Vedantic teachers mentioned in the Upanishad. But the birth of Satyakama was only of negative repute. His mother Jabali was a serving-girl, a parichArikA, serving for hire at various houses, “resorting to many” and was therefore unable to name her son’s father. Satyakama had therefore no gotra, no caste, no lineage. When he left for the gurukul, wanting to learn all the Shastras, she told him to announce himself as her son and therefore he should call himself Satyakama Jabala. He told his guru that very truth and that declaration earned him the approbation of his guru who concluded that this honest acknowledgement of a truth of such damaging nature could not have come from anyone who did not have the noble qualities usually associated with Brahminhood, and so he initiated the boy and proceeded further with his education. This decision of Jabali to acknowledge this damaging truth, transcending the cultural taboo of the times, must be considered a daring act of leadership.

Leadership turns out to be an art in the hands of the leaders; in fact it is the enabling art of progress. At the same time it is also a scientific process that may not have to be studied as a methodology but should be allowed to evolve over a period of time according to one’s personal traits of leadership. It is one’s nature that gets in the way of the fructification of leadership traits that may be dormant in one’s personality.

Ancient books like the Mahabharata have numerous lessons to teach us these personal traits of leadership. Just to take one example, in the Mahabharata we have the account of the divine sage Sanatsujata teaching the basics of philosophy to King Dhritarashtra, the blind father of the hundred Kauravas, who was blind not only physically but in terms of his stupid and passionate fancy towards his unprincipled sons. Sanatsujata, amidst his technical exposition, also hits the rock bottom of naivety in mentioning six elementary virtues as the most fundamental for any living being, and certainly are the gateways, for leadership. These are truth, straightforwardness, sense of shame in doing wrong, control of senses, purity and education (*satyArjavahrIr-dama-shauca-vidyAH*).

Among these I want to focus on the third, namely, the sense of shame while doing adharma. In Sanskrit, akArya karaNe lajjA. It is also known by the one word ‘hrIh’. The central problem in the morals (both in public and private life) of modern times is the absence of any sense of shame while going against the accepted norms of morality. For the health of the society it may be justified to question certain norms, but in all practice the sense of shame in doing wrong was the one sure insulation the previous generations had against a degeneration of morality. Without the virtue of hrIh, one goes down, by succumbing to temptations to do wrong. In fact in these days of fear of youngsters getting addicted to drugs or extremist fads, the one virtue that should be inculcated in them even as children is hrIh. Even if this means swinging the pendulum back towards a conformist approach our civilisation ought preferably to have this swing.

It was by sensing the all-round moral degradation that in modern times, Sir M. Visveswarayya, a visionary par excellence, before he accepted the prestigious office of Dewan of Mysore, called all his relatives and friends for a grand dinner and announced therein that he would accept the prestigious office only if they assured him that none of them would come to him for any favours! It may appear to be a quick-fix strategy but was indeed a daring act of leadership in the context. Such instances are certainly unique legacies that leaders are remembered for.

In the same Mahabharata, while Sanatsujata listed the six most fundamental virtues that any aspirant to leadership should have, the divine roving sage Narada, while meeting King Yudhishtira who had just been made Crown Prince in Indraprastha, asks the King some rhetorical questions one of which is whether as a king and administrator he has avoided certain six evils. Coming from Narada to Yudhishtira, the paragon of virtue, this list is of great importance. Here is the list of these six evils: sleep, indolence, fear, anger, softness, and procrastination. (*nidrAlasya-bhaya-krodhAH mArdavaM dIrghasUtratA*). No aspirant to greatness can ever afford to fall into any of these habit-forming evils.

Narada’s advice is a warning to all political leaders, scientific workers, project managers and administrators. All these people complain about lack of time to do his or her job. One’s time-organization comes not a little from the proper organization of how much one sleeps and when. Sleep and Procrastination are two of the greatest obstacles to greatness. Particularly the latter one is a too familiar scene in present day politics and beaurocracy.

‘Fear’ is understandably in Narada’s list. Ferlessness is a great virtue for a would-be leader. Gandhiji was able to bring to the Indian masses the quality of fearlessness, more than anything else, which alone led them to that great event of attainment of Swaraj. Before his time they were afraid of almost everything, of the Government, of the Police, of the caste system, of the rules of a tradition-bound society, of the westerner, of beaurocracy, of prison, and, most of all, of violence. That you can resist and fight all these non-violently was his teaching and in order to make the whole thing work he implanted into their minds the virtue of fearlessness by his own acts of self-sacrifice.

True leadership does not reside merely in techniques or in the discovery of new technologies. It exhibits itself in the integration of several experiences that carry authenticity, into one voice for the service of others. It is not the head alone or the heart alone. The head does not hear anything until the heart has listened. What the heart knows today will be understood by the head only later. The heart might say: Don’t get lost in resisting and battling against things; but dedicate your energies to fight for something, instead of against something. Make it the most important habit of your life. Gandhiji fought for honesty and straightforwardness even when he appeared to fight against British Imperialism. That was why he, sitting inside the prison, stopped the ongoing civil disobedience movement which he himself had started, because the Champaran incident of violence failed to broadcast his wavelength of honesty and straightforwardness. He wanted every thought, every word and every deed to cherish and nurture the seeds of integrity and non-violence for that future independent India of his dreams. He not only wanted so, but made it a habit of his.

A transactive model of leadership only builds skills and competences. But great leaders like Gandhiji belonged to the transformative model of leaders which creates a fundamental shift in point of view, values and purpose. But it is not only such great leaders who do the transformations. Even an ordinary incident where one goes beyond one’s authority becomes the seed of a significant transformation. Rosa Parks, an elderly black woman went beyond her authority in 1955 when she refused to move to the back of a bus in Montgomery, Alabama. Her behaviour distinguished itself as an act of leadership, because it was that spontaneous act of hers that was used by her and other civil rights leaders to focus public attention and responsibility on the issue of civil rights. The public response was to raise the necessary outcry of protest that catalysed the civil rights movemement of the 1960’s.

Here is one more example of something that emanated from a great leader, India’s greatest industrial giant of the early twentieth century, that taught his contemporaries a fundamental shift in purpose and perspective, of the ordinary act, known as charitable benefaction. Jamshedji Tata, in the twilight years of the nineteenth century donated his own house in Bombay to the cause of scientific research and development in India. His friends and relatives from the Parsi community pleaded with him to change his mind and donate it to the cause of the development of the poor in his own community. His reply to them deserves to be printed in gold: “What advances a nation or community is not so much to prop up its weakest and most helpless members as to lift up the best and most gifted so as to make them of the greatest service to the country. I prefer this constructive philanthropy which seeks to educate and develop the faculties of the best of our young men”. It is that farsight of this great visionary leader who gave a magnificent shift of perspective to a traditionally respected act of charity, that finally gave this nation the topmost research organization of science and engineering, the present Indian Institute of Science.

Talking of transformative model of leadership I cannot but recall the phenomenal transformation that my own institution, BITS Pilani, went through in the period 1970 to 1988, during which I was one of the two Deputy Directors, in addition to my duties as Professor of Mathematics. In that capacity we were responsible along with a few others for the entire innovative restructuring and developmental process of BITS, from its earlier run-of-the mill type of traditional Indian university to its modern style of a technological university.

We were pioneers in this total change. The epoch-making decision that we took as early as 1970 was to thrust forward all the way across the board instead of tackling one issue after another in isolation. In the growth of an organisation from its primitive state, without violent damage to its men and materials, such a strategy did make the path hard and long but it worked.

The reforms that were thus achieved included: A system of admissions based on an all-India merit index; an integrated four year degree programme in which specialisation follows a common broad spectrum of foundations; Science degrees linked with a professional dual degree so that both attract the top layers of the cream of the country; student involvement in every academic developmental and monitoring activity; intensive teacher training for all teachers through special on-the-job workshops; industry linked internship for every undergraduate for as long as six months which is duly evaluated by professionals; emphasis on mathematical-cum-analytical foundations for every programme; flexible academic regulations which gets continuous work done by students and also continuously evaluated by the concerned teachers; active production of text-books tested by course development and class use; and computerised development of all infrastructure.

All of these were started in the seventies from scratch. Scratch does not mean we started with a clean slate. We actually started with all the failings that all Indian universities shared in the educational milieu of India. It was certainly not an overnight transformation. We worked the hard way 365x24x7 for 18 years before we handed over the first phase of an almost finished product wherein all the educational ideals which had been talked about since 1947 but scarcely implemented in any of the universities, had been introduced, implemented, online corrections made and sustained and finally the legacy of this transformation was handed over to a team consisting of the next generation who were themselves trained by us. Participating in this gigantic process, we ourselves got transformed from ordinary class-room expositors, to leaders of transformation. We happily see already that these transformations are roller-skating into further transformations.

One other major quality of leadership that can be recognised in all leaders is an unwavering conviction and faith in the cause for which one is leading. In the case of Gandhiji this was his faith in Truth and Non-violence; in the case of Nehru it was his faith in the principle of democracy. In the case of Prabhupada, who in the sixties and seventies of the last century revolutionised thousands of the western world into adopting an Asian religion of devotion, totally new to them, it was a never-vacillating faith in divine help. He singlehandedly started, in 1959 or so, to write, print and publish the monumental volumes of his own English translation and commentary of Srimad Bhagavatam, a Purana of 18000 verses in Sanskrit, almost when he was nearing sixty years. This unique decision of his turned out to become, within the next ten years, a fantastic money spinner for the new world-wide organization called Iskcon (International Society for Krishna Consciousness), which he founded. The remarkable challenge that he undertook and successfully accomplished was the transformation of the most materialistic youth of the times, the rebelling anti-conformist westernised youth who were products of the luxury, affluence and license of the West — not just a few, but literally thousands of them — into godly personalities with the loftiest of spiritual and ethical ideals. Till he was seventy he struggled alone to implement his master’s injunction of propagating the glories of Lord Krishna and transmitting the treasures of SrImad bhAgavatam. But even in the land where these had been held, without any doubt, in superlative esteem by one and all, he could not succeed. Till he was seventy, only three books were written by him, only one disciple was initiated and the worldwide society of Krishna devotees was only in his dream. But in the next twelve years, he wrote sixty books, initiated a few thousands and the society of his dreams came to fruition with more than one hundred centres all over the world. All this was a marvel of leadership in just the last twelve years of his 82 years of life, achieved by an unwavering conviction and faith in the presence of divine help.

Appayya Dikshita who lived for 72 years in South India in the 16th century is another monumental example of what a transformative model of leadership could be. He was the guiding spirit of a great movement in which he organised the services of a large band of volunteers trained by him to disseminate among the masses his great life mission of reconciliation of warring religious groups, particularly Shaivism and Vaishnavism. He was born in a very hot age of bigotry and vigorous proselytism. The adherents of the creeds were mostly cantankerous persons who mistook acrimony for devotion. It was in this dark atmosphere that Appayya Dikshita rose to such heights of fame by propagating, through his ambassadors of tolerance, that the religious books of the rival schools of thought did not proclaim mutual exclusiveness or hostility. His massive scholarship and spiritual wisdom provided him the seeds of authenticity – one of the most important requisites of leadership –for this legacy of his.

I shall wind up by mentioning one more name, that of V. Krishnaswamy Iyer, (1863-1911) whose prodigious achievements within a life of 48 years are a bagful. Starting as a lawyer in the Madras Bar, he became a judge of the Madras High Court and later served as a member of the Viceroy’s Executive Council. He played a significant role in supporting the move to send Swami Vivekananda to the Parliament of Religions. He founded the Ayurvedic College of medicine and a free Dispensary in Mylapore. He was pivotal in starting the Madras Law Journal on the lines of critical Law Journals in Europe. In 1906 he started the Madras Sanskrit College and provided for free education to students therein. In the same year when there was the sensational case of the crash due to bankruptcy of Arbuthnot Bank it was he who was responsible as the contending advocate for bringing the culprit to justice. And as a consequential contribution to posterity he played the key role in the founding of the Indian Bank soon after. The 1907 session of the Congress Party was held in Madras mostly due to his efforts and he was instrumental in striking a rapport between the moderates and extremists in the Party, particularly after the Surat split of 1907 in the party. He was responsible for introducing a number of educational reforms in the University of Madras. During the minority of the Shankaracharya of Kanchi he was the foremost to see that the Mutt did not fall into wrong hands. In all these instances the silent unconscious unseen influence of his own spotless character backed up by a spiritual conviction was the one thing that surely contributed to his achievement of leadership.

And, most of all, seizing the opportunity at the right time even if it means taking a risk, is important. I will give you the most ancient example for this. In the Upanishadic times there lived a great towering personality in the field of spirituality, by name Yajnavalkya. That he was not only great, but great as a leader with conviction and confidence, came to light in a much-talked-about seminar in the court of King Janaka. King Janaka himself was a royal householder-philosopher known for his scholarship as well as his adherence to philosophical insights. Janaka arranged this seminar in which he announced an on-the-spot-competition. Having invited all the stalwarts in Vedanta for a yajna, Janaka provokes them into a discussion by announcing that he has earmarked one thousand cows, each with a bag of ten gold coins and all these constitute the prize for the one among them who can declare himself to be the most erudite in vedas and its accessories. The entire assembly is stunned at this announcement, stupefied by the challenge of the occasion and the seriousness it demanded and kept silent. But after a little period of silence, Yajnavalkya rises up and with his assistant makes preparations to take possession of the cows. Then it is that the assembled scholars begin to challenge him one by one. Each one asks him several questions about the subtleties of the Knowledge about the Absolute. Yajnavalkya shoots forth his answers without any hesitation or confusion and with such clarity that every one had to withdraw and sit down. Finally one lady, Vacaknavi Gargi, announces that she is going to ask just two questions of Yajnavalkya and the questions will be of such nature that if he answers them well, there should be no more doubt about who carries the day. And that is how Yajnavalkya carries the day. The technical text of the discussion described elaborately in Brihad-Aranyakopanishad is beyond our subject today. But what is relevant to us in the context of the topic of Leadership is the style of the leader who rose to the occasion irrespective of the august nature of the assembly and the serenity that was demanded.

The last quality that I shall emphasize is a confidence in oneself. It expresses itself in several ways. I shall only give three examples from three different perspective. A filial assurance of perspective came from the mother of the astrophysicist Dr. S. Chandrasekhar when she alone decided, against the recommendations of all the rest of the family, that her son, inspite of her own serious illness, should accept the offer to go abroad for his higher studies, when he was around twenty.

A perspective from a logical reasoning was shown by Prof. G.H. Hardy who took a bold risky decision after several deliberations with Prof. Littlewood, on the matter of what appeared to be a cranky freak technical letter from an unknown unheard-of clerk in distant Madras Port Trust.

A third perspective of confidence in one’s own out-of-the-box thinking was shown around 1920 by the budding music maestro Ariyakkudi Ramanuja Iyengar who adopted and persisted with the then-unusual style of slapping the palm on one’s thigh to keep the Tala. The orthodox brahmin elite of Madras did not particularly like this because according to them this kind of slapping is what is prescribed as a cremation ritual that a son does when he circumambulates his father’s dead body at the cremation ground. So they protested with one voice. And there was also a second kind of protest from another quarter of the public because according to them this slapping is against stage manners and constitutes an insult to the long Tamil tradition of musical genius which should sense the rhythm purely orally. These protests from two complementary quarters did not shake the resolve or the wisdom of the budding maestro but they however posed such a challenge to his closest friends and well-wishers that they finally sought the opinion and verdict of the Kanchi Mutt. The then new head of the Kanchi Mutt, the young Chandra-sekharendra Saraswati, was being given scriptural education by the Pundits of the Mutt and they gave the verdict that the slapping of the thigh while in the sitting posture did not constitute a sacrilege. There ended the matter, Ariyakudy’s star was rising and a new era started in the history of Carnatic music.

Before I wind up I should tell you the story of how in my own life I was once sucked into a certain leadership position that unexpectedly turned out to be not so enviable at the time, though at this distance in time I can talk about it with pride.

Ninety of us Indians travelled to the United States in August 1962 as Fulbright Travel Grantees. Our sponsors for the entire trip was USEFI, Delhi. We had a four-day orientation in Mumbai (then called Bombay), at the end of which we were divided into three batches of 30 each, each batch having a different travel itinerary. However, in the first lap of our journey by boat from Bombay to Naples we were all together. At Naples the batches separated and went their different ways. At Bombay itself at the end of the orientation, leaders of the three batches had been elected. I was elected leader of my batch. There were 25 men and five women in my batch. Most of them were headed for a graduate education in the U.S. Five of them including myself were going to take up faculty positions in different universities in the U.S.

At Bombay they gave our tickets upto Naples and further told us that at Naples a representative of the Council of Student Travel (with HQ in Paris) would give us necessary money as well as tickets for the onward journey. Our itinerary was to alight at Naples, travel by train to Rome, and again travel by train from Rome to Rotterdam from where we would take another boat to New York. A student representative received us at Naples but he and the taxis at his disposal were not prepared for our 90 pieces of luggage for the thirty of us. By the time we could find a bus for us to carry our luggage and reach the trainstation, our train had left. We left by a later train and arrived at Rome in the evening.

One Mr. Marconi, also a student, took care of us for the evening and night, gave us just one fourth of the money we expected to get, and the next morning put us in a train to Rotterdam. Only after he put us on the train we came to know that no reservation had been done for us but actually we had been shoved into a compartment which was completely reserved from Milan onwards. So all of us, thirty Indians along with 90 pieces of baggage had to alight in Milan, around 5 PM, completely stranded. When the train was departing from Rome Mr. Marconi had signalled to us that he would send a telegram to Milan station master and set matters right; but obviously this must have goofed up somewhere. We had no idea of when our boat was to depart from Rotterdam the next day. The Station Master at Milan tried to help us by suggesting that we could go by the next train, leaving around 11 PM but it would reach Rotterdam only late evening the next day and even in that train there might not be accommodation enough for so many of us!

In the meantime our group of 30 had several different opinions (some of them as crazy as you can imagine) as to how to meet this crisis situation. I could get constructive help and advice from four or five in our group of whom I cannot forget Dr. A.M. Vaidya, Dr. Gautam and Joseph Edwards. But it was an eye-opener to me that even in such an adult population of well-educated youths, about half a dozen in our batch were so upset at the turn of events as we left Rome, that we had to treat them almost as children lost in a mela. There were another two or three who were so argumentative that they almost threatened to break from the group and run away in Milan.

We needed all our wits to keep them in the group with the rest of us. There were a few others who cared the least, whatever might happen; and so this was the other extreme, namely, total indifference! Well, in about 24 hours I learnt a lot, by the hard way of course, about the hazards of leadership! The five of us who could keep our cool took an unusual decision to immediately contact the US Consul in Milan (whose office we learnt was within half an hour walking distance from the Station). As our good fortune would have it, he had still not left the office and he promised to stay till we arrived at his office. He made the necessary phone calls to Paris and Rotterdam and made some arrangements the exact nature of which was not then clear to us. But he asked us to go back to the Station and be ready to board the 11 PM train.

What actually happened at 11 PM was very Indian! The train was to start from Milan so as it was backing into the platform from the yard, we noticed that thirty towels had been used to ‘reserve’ thirty seats for us in the very familiar way in which we Indians used to appropriate seats in trains in those days when every seat was free for all!. At Rotterdam the next day our boat, the Waterman, had been made to wait five hours for us, and as soon as all of us got on the boat around 7 PM or so, it whistled off. We found our baggages had already arrived for us on the boat, thanks to the excellent logistics that must have been charted out by the Consul at Milan.

The point of this story is the leadership part that was put to the severest test during the fire-fighting and trouble-shooting and I must say this much in fairness to the story – the majority was always positive and helpful. Even the simple problem of loading and unloading the 90 pieces of luggage presented challenging leadership problems of coordination and discipline. Incidentally, the luggages were really very heavy, because we were all scheduled for travel by boat and we had to tranship them six times in two days ourselves, at Naples, Rome and Milan!

Summing up we may list the qualities all of which, I think, are fundamental characteristics of Leadership. Truth, straightforwardness, sense of shame in doing wrong, control of senses, purity and education – the six fundamental positives of Sanatsujata; Avoidance of six fundamental negatives as advised by Narada, namely of sleep, indolence, fear, anger, softness, and procrastination. To the list of positives should be added: authenticity, a fundamental shift in purpose and perspective where necessary, a spotless character, a mind that can free itself from the shackles of the past and the present, an impeccable confidence in oneself, and most of all, an absolute conviction and faith in the ideal, along with, if I may add, a self-negating humility.

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The Story of JaDa-Bharata By Professor V. Krishnamurthy

Professor V. Krishnamurthy is well known to the Advaitin Hindu community and deeply revered as both a practitioner and a scholar of the Upanishads, Bhagavad Gita, Shrimad Bhagavatam, and other ancient scriptures and texts. He has touched our lives through his healing words, wisdom, and authenticity.

Before his retirement, Professor Krishnamurthy was a professor of mathematics with a distinguished record of service and leadership in the academe. Along with that, he also demonstrated brilliant scholarship of Hinduism. His insight into the ancient texts should come as no surprise. He was trained from childhood by his father Sri R.Viswanatha Sastrigal who was a living example of the ideal Hindu way of life.

A more comprehensive description of Professor Krishnamurthy’s contributions to his profession of mathematics and to Hinduism can be found at the end of the article.

The Story of JaDa-Bharata the Jivan-mukta

By Professor. V. Krishnamurthy

The JaDa-bharata story in Shrimad Bhagavatam is the story of a superlative Brahma-jnAni. There are very few Brahma-jnAnis known to us either through the Puranas or through history. The example of Ramana Maharishi, of the 20th century, known to us in modern times, cannot be missed.

Going back in history, there is Sadashiva Brahmendra (of whom there is very little recorded history), Adi Shankara himself (of whom we know fairly well through his works), and Shuka Brahmam (whose Bhagavatam is very revealing).

The story of JaDa-Bharata is, however, unique among all of them. Lord Krishna describes a Brahma jnAni once each in the 2nd, 12th and 14th chapters of his Gita and also off and on in the fifth chapter.

The Lineage of Bharata

The history of Priyavrata, the first son of Manu Svayambhuva, occurs in the fifth skanda of Shrimad Bhagavatam. Priyavrata’s son was Agnidhra and his son was Nabhi. Nabhi was a great and devout ruler and to him was born another avatar of Mahavishnu, by name Rishabha.

Rishabha, also called Rishabhadeva, had one hundred sons of whom the eldest was Bharata whose story is the content of this article. Incidentally it is this Bharata after whom the country (India) was called BhArata-varsha; before that it was called aja-nAbha varsha.

King Rishaba Retires

King Rishabha on retirement from the duties of the state called his sons before him and gave them all a long sermon on the need to lead a spiritual life. This sermon constitutes the first 27 shlokas of the fifth chapter of the fifth skanda. It is sometimes called Rishabha-Gita. For a sample we take the first shloka here.

“This body is not meant to be used for sensuous enjoyments as done by lowly animals. There are two doors out of this life. One is the door for moksha and the other is the door for the darkness of hell”. (V – 5 – 2 –first half). “The door to moksha is by service to great people.”

Here the words used are *yoshhitAM sangi-sangaM*. To go upward on the spiritual path one needs a direct contact with great people. But to cause a slide downward even a secondary contact with the vile ones will do. The lesson is that one should select one’s friends very carefully.

“By the union of man and woman attachment arises to home, family, sons, wealth and property. Those who want to reach God must see to it that they should advise their children as a father, train their people as a boss or a leader, and teach their disciples as a Guru. A father who does not do so is not a father; a king who does not do so is not a king; a guru who does not do so is not a guru”.

After elaborating such teaching in very forceful words King Rishabhadeva relinquished his kingdom, left his palace and roamed about as one intoxicated with God and the godly, completely nude, with disheveled hair and uncouth appearance. Actually he moved about as if he were senseless, blind, dumb and deaf, a ghost or a drunkard; even though others spoke to him he did not speak, because he was observing total silence:

*jaDAndha-mUka-badhira-pishAchonmAdakavat avadhUta-veshaH abhibhAshhyamANo’pi janAnAM gRRihIta-mauna-vrataH tUshhNIM babhUva* (V – 5 – 29).

This avatara of the Lord is to teach us worldly minded people to change our ways and reach Moksha.

*ayam avatAro rajas-opapluta-kaivalyopa-sikshhaNArthaH*

[Note to Scholars: Incidentally the author Shuka adopts a prose style of narration for most of this fifth skanda. In the other skandas it was all verse; probably he wanted to stick to the way the narration was given by Maitreya to Vidhura in the earlier portions. But now in the fifth skanda he is himself telling the story and this time it is about two great Brahma-jnAnis – Rishabha and Bharata – and as a Brahma-jnAni himself Shuka probably did not want to be bound by meter, prosody etc. which usually are obligatory restrictions in the verse form of narration.]

Bharata As King

Bharata accepted his responsibility as the next king after his father Rishba renounced the world.

Bharata ruled the country for a long time in the most notable manner, without ever swerving from the dharmic path, the path of the holy ones. As a noble king of India, he set a wonderful example for his subjects. Not surprisingly, his people were also following dharma in a remarkable manner.

The yajnas and pUjAs that he performed incessantly purified his mind to such an extent that the Lord was residing in Bharata’s heart almost visibly. Eventually Bharata wished to spend all his time in meditation and solitude. Like his great father Rishaba before him, Bharata ultimately decided to take Sannyasa and retired from the world.

Bharata Leaves the Kingdom

After making his family and subjects aware of his decision, Bharata distributed his kingdom to his sons and and went over to distant pulahAshrama for a period of penance and whole-time spiritual pursuit.

Entirely devoid of any mundane desires or attachments, he was worshipping the Lord with all the flowers, leaves and fruits that he could get in the forest there. His bhakti towards the Lord increased day by day and he was living all the time in a state of total bliss in the company of the Lord in his heart.

The constant contemplation of the lotus feet of the Lord generated a superlative joy of devotional experience. In that joy he forgot himself as well as the very worship he was doing. He just lost himself in divine contemplation in a kind of spiritual trance.

Forming of a New Attachment

One day, after his daily routine bath, Bharata was sitting on the bank of the river for four and a half hours doing the japa of AUM. A solitary doe approached the river for drinking water. Suddenly there was a terrifying roar of a lion. By nature the doe trembled with fear on hearing the roar; frightened and shaken by that roar, the doe jumped across the river. In that frightful jump she gave birth to a young one which fell into the river. The mother doe, due to shock, process of delivery, and the act of springing, fell dead on the other side of the river.

Bharata saw all this and was overpowered with compassion at the poor little deer that had now lost its mother and was about to be itself lost in the current of the river. Instinctively he caught hold of the little one, brought it to his own ashram and started taking care of it. From that day onwards he started feeding it, searched for the proper grass for its food, protected it from wild animals and was doing everything for its care, nourishment and growth.

Gradually Bharata’s time was more and more occupied with caring and tending to the needs of the infant deer. The time that he usually allotted for his spiritual disciplines got reduced steadily to almost nothing.

Compassion and affection are not wrong; in fact they are very noble qualities. But when they become an attachment, the spiritual fall is imminent. Affection ennobles, but attachment enslaves. Love elevates, but desire entraps. This is what happened in the case of this great King Bharata.

Infatuation Clouds Bharata’s Mind

With the attachment to the deer growing in intensity day by day, Bharata started thinking all the time of this deer that was now dearest to him. *Asana-shayana-aTana-sthAna-ashanAdishhu* — whether he was sitting or sleeping, walking or standing, or was eating, he was not wanting to be separated from the young deer. If the deer even for a little time was away from him he worried about its safety and began to wail over the matter. Even when he was trying to do his daily japa the deer would come near him and cuddle around him and he would take pity on it and put it on his lap and appreciate how this pet of his behaves like an own son!

Let us recall that this great king Bharata had renounced his vast kingdom and all the riches which he acquired as well as his family and people, for the sake of pursuing a life of total renunciation and tapas.

How could such a renouncer fall into the trap of worldly affection for a deer-cub and forget even his daily spiritual routine like this? What else could it be but his prArabdha (fate) in the form of this deer? Time passed like this and all his Atma-vichAra had come to a dead stop.

Death Of Bharata

Death comes to everyone and Bharata was no exception. The hour of Death does not wait.

Bharata knew the end was coming. He worried about what would happen to this poor deer-cub when he was gone! He was thinking about it, when he breathed his last. According to Hindu scriptures, a person’s last thoughts and state of mind determine the next birth.

Rebirth of Bharata

Subsequently, in his next life, Bharata was born as a deer!

(Recall Gita: *yaM yaM vApi smaran bhAvam *.. . (VIII – 6).

But because of the intense pUjA and tapas Bharata had been doing in all his previous life, even in the body of the deer, his mind, by the Grace of God, remembered his life as King Bharata and the calamity that had befallen him at the end of that life.

A Meditative Deer

So now Bharata, even as a deer, decided that he would not develop any more attachment or VAsanA. The deer Bharata deserted his surrounding deer-family and somehow went over to the same Pulahashrama where he was doing his tapas in the previous life.

The deer Bharata did not eat tasty green grass or any of the other things that deer are fond of, lest any attachment to food may develop. He only subsisted on a minimum dried grass and lived aloof from any of his own species. He lived in the company of Sadhus who were doing tapas in the Ashrama and was waiting for this life to pass and his prArabdha (destiny) to spend itself. He had decided not to acquire any more vAsanA even if he got a human life.

The end came. When it came, the deer Bharata went to the river and stood up in neck-deep water and for the first time as a deer, raised his voice and ‘spoke’ God’s name, dipped in the water and died!

The Last Birth of Bharata

Bharata’s next birth was in a noble Brahmin family. This was his last birth. His father was a great, scholarly Brahmin with purest intentions who led a religious life, with his nine sons from his first wife and a twin-child from his second wife. Of the twins one was male and the other was female.

The male of the twin was JaDa-bharata, our hero. The name that applied to him in this birth is not mentioned by Shuka. So, to continue our story we shall still call him Bharata. But expositors refer to him as JaDa-bharata. ‘JaDa’ means inert; from his very birth Bharata remained totally silent and was behaving like an idiot, not responding to any provocation. By the Grace of God he had all the memory of his two previous lives, one as King Bharata and the next as the lone deer of Pulahashrama; naturally, he was scared of accumulation of any more vAsanA. So he showed himself as mad, inert, blind, deaf and dumb.

The father, wanting to discharge his responsibilities, and hoping that this jaDa nature of the boy might be cured by a proper samskAra, performed the Upanayanam (thread ceremony) for the boy and prodded him on to do the daily Sandhya worship. But the boy would do no such thing! He was already a Brahma-jnAni and was in that state all the time, though the outside world, including his own family, could not recognize him as such. All their teaching of the Vedas or the Gayatri was a failure as far as they were concerned! The father died in due time and the second wife, the mother of JaDabharata also followed him immediately.

JaDa-Bharata’s Indifference

The nine brothers of JaDa-bharata who were knowledgeable only about the karma-kANDa of the Vedas and had no idea of the Brahmavit among them treated him as a good-for-nothing fool. Consequently they simply extracted work from him and fed him only some rotten food, that deserved to be thrown in the garbage.

JaDa-Bharata came to be known in the entire neighborhood as a robust young man but a confirmed idiot. Whatever menial work anybody gave him he did it, but not intelligently. They put him as a sentry in the fields to ward off birds and he sat there unendingly. Some one gives him instructions to dig and he digs ; someone else comes along and asks him to stop and he stops. Some one gives him a beating for not doing his work properly and he receives it without murmur or protest. Whatever he gets he accepted it, without ever caring whether it is more or less, good or bad. Whatever they gave him, be it rice flour, oil-cake, chaff, spoilt pulses, or charred food – he ate up everything as if it were nectar.

*YadA tu parata AhAraM karma-vetana IhamAnaH sva-bhrAtRRibhirapi kedAra-karmaNi nirUpitaH tadapi karoti kintu na samaM vishhamaM nyUnaM adhikaM iti veda kaNa-piNyAka-palI-karaNa-kulmAsha-sthAlIpurIshhAdIny-api amRRitavad-abhyavaharati //* V- 9 – 11.

It went on like this day by day, year by year. He had decided not to care for this body and so his body was usually filthy, his dhoti dirty, and his face, with a long beard, looked like that of a caveman. He was living as a Brahmavit totally aloof from his body.

The Goddess Saves JaDa-Bharata

It turned out that some rich man wanted to give a nara-bali (sacrifice of a human) to Goddess Kali and had arranged for a captive intended for the nara-bali. But just on the previous night the captive escaped and they needed immediately a substitute for the next morning’s ritual. The rich man sent his assistants to look for a substitute.

They roamed about and found our JaDa-bharata sitting alone in the fields. His robust appearance and youth tempted them to choose him as their victim for the nara-bali and they simply led him on to their boss.

Never had a victim for nara-bali come along with them for his own human sacrifice, as this man did, without the least protest! It appeared to them he was almost willing to die for them.

The next day the ritual started in the presence of the Kali deity. JaDa-bharata was bathed in oil, washed clean, dressed gorgeously, decorated with sandal paste and other cosmetics. Finally the leader of the group got ready to cut off JaDa-Bharata’s head as a sacrifice.

At that time Mother Goddess Kali Herself appeared from the deity and chopped off the heads of the entire gang and saved JaDa-Bharata. We don’t know where JaDa-Bharata went from there.

Upholding Ahimsa (Non-violence) and Jolting the King

The story is picked up by Shuka in another scene. There was one King of Sauvira country, by name Rahugana. He had great intentions to have spirituality lessons from Kapila Muni and so he traveled, carried in a palanquin, to the northwest corner of this country in the hope of meeting Kapila. On the way, one of his eight palanquin-bearers became unable to do his duty and so they needed a substitute. They looked for one and they found our JaDa-Bharata roaming about as if for no purpose. Again his robustness and youth attracted them and he was used as the substitute palanquin bearer.

The strength of the vAsanAs that one inherits from the actions of the past is very great. Noble Sadhus, particularly in the Sannyasa-Ashrama, are so careful even while they walk to see they don’t trample on a living creature. It is an extreme discipline of this kind which is one of the reasons they have cAturmasya-vrata (the vrata during the rainy season of four months), the observance of which requires them, among other things, to stay in the same place and carry on their daily worship or meditation routine.

Our JaDabharata must have gone through such disciplines in his previous lives. That VasanA of ahimsA (non-violence) was so strong in him that as he was walking along carrying the palanquin of King Rahugana in the woods, now and then he jumped forward, still carrying the portion of the palanquin resting on his right shoulder. The jumping was to avoid trampling on some small crawling creature on the ground below. But this jumping of one of the bearers, without the concordant activity or consent of the other bearers, naturally created a sudden jolt and jerk to the occupant of the palanquin. The King opened his window, looked out, and faulted the bearers for jolting him like that. All seven of them said it was not their fault; it was the newcomer who joined them just a little while earlier who was jumping out of step unnecessarily!

JaDa-Bharata Speaks

And that was the starting point of a remarkable dialogue between the King Rahuguna and our hero JaDa-Bharata. The King chastises him in a satirical way, referring to his robust health, fat body and youth. When a second time this chastisement happens, JaDabharata, for the first time in his life, opens his mouth. This portion in the Bhagavatam, going through four chapters, is one of the most treasured pieces in the whole work.

My dear King, says JaDa-bharata, whatever you have spoken sarcastically is certainly true. Actually these are not simply words of chastisement, for the body is the carrier. The load carried by the body does not belong to me. There is no contradiction in your statements because I am different from the body. I am not the carrier of the palanquin; the body is the carrier. Certainly, as you have hinted, I have not labored carrying the palanquin, for I am detached from the body. Your words about my stoutness or otherwise are befitting a person who does not know the distinction between the body and the soul. The body may be fat or thin, but no learned man would say such things of the Atman. As far as the Atman is concerned, I am neither fat nor skinny; therefore you are correct when you say that I am not very stout. Also, if the object of this journey and the path leading there were mine, there would be many troubles for me, but because they relate not to me but to my body, there is no trouble at all.

Fatness, thinness, bodily and mental distress, thirst, hunger, fear, disagreement, desires for material happiness, old age, sleep, attachment for material possessions, anger, lamentation, illusion and identification of the body with the self are all transformations of the material covering of the Atman. Only a person who has identified himself with his body is affected by these things. Consequently I am neither fat nor skinny nor anything else you have mentioned.

My dear King, you have unnecessarily accused me of being dead though alive. In this regard, I can only say that this is the case everywhere because everything material has its beginning and end. As far as your thinking that you are the king and master and are thus trying to order me, this is also incorrect because these positions are temporary. Today you are a king and I am your servant, but tomorrow the position may be changed, and you may be my servant and I your master. These are temporary circumstances. The differentiation is temporary, and it expands only from usage or convention. I do not see any other cause. In that case, who is the master, and who is the servant? Nonetheless, if you think that you are the master and that I am the servant, I shall accept this. Please order me. What can I do for you? You said you are going to punish me severely. What will you gain by punishing me? You will be only punishing my body; but I have actually punished this body by never tending to it. You are only powdering the already powdered chaff. There will be no effect.

King Recognizes JaDa-Bharata As A Self-Realized Soul

The King was stunned and amazed when he heard this. He jumped from the palanquin, fell at the feet of JaDabharata and asked for being taught spiritual wisdom. There ensues then a three-chapter dialogue between the King and JaDabharata containing the essence of advaita. The King asks questions and the Brahma-jnAni JaDabharata answers them meticulously.

Material pains and pleasures are only external. People interested in them are far from spiritual advancement. It is the mind, contaminated by the three modes of Nature, that makes the living entity wander through different species of life. If the mind can become unattached to material enjoyment, it becomes the cause of liberation.

All things on earth, moving or unmoving are nothing but different combinations of substances coming from the earth. We are all but dust and dust shall we end in. This universe itself has no ultimate existence.

Non-duality is the ultimate truth. This material existence is a forest. The Jiva through various births wanders through this forest and suffers untold miseries but does not know how to get out of this. The only way to get out of this is through satsangh. And the Brahma-jnAni concludes his teaching with the following emphasis:

*rahUgaNa-etat tapasA na yAti na cejyayA nirvapaNAd-gRhAd-vA /

nac-chandasA naiva jalAgni-sUryaIH vinA mahat-pAda-rajobhishhekaM *// Bh. V – 12 – 12

Rahugana, Unless one bathes in the dust from the feet of the devotees, this Absolute Truth cannot be learnt. Not by penance, nor by yajna, nor by renouncing the household, nor by Vedas, nor by torturing oneself in water, fire or the Sun (can it be learnt).

Summary

To sum up we shall only recall the following four shlokas from the Gita which describe a Brahma-jnAni. There is perhaps nothing more telling than the story of JaDa-Bharata to illustrate these profound declarations of the Lord Himself:

V-17: Their intellect absorbed in That, their self being That, established in That, with That for their supreme goal, they go whence there is no return, their sins dispelled by knowledge.

V -18: The wise men look, by nature, equally upon a Brahmana, rich in learning and humility, on a cow, on an elephant, and on a mere dog and on a dog-cooker (an out-caste).

V -19: Here [i.e. even while living in the body.] itself is rebirth conquered by them whose minds are established on sameness. Since Brahman is the same (in all) and free from defects, therefore they are established in Brahman.

V- 20: Resting in Brahman, with steady intellect and unclouded, the knower of Brahman neither rejoices on obtaining what is pleasant nor grieves on obtaining what is unpleasant.

Om ShAntiH ShAntiH ShAntiH.

Prof. V. Krishnamurthy
profvk@yahoo.com

Also see, http://www.harshasatsangh.com/ProfVK/Raasa/LeelA.htm

Prof. V. Krishnamurthy M.A. of Madras University and Ph.D, of Annamalai University, is an ex-Director of K.K. Birla Academy, New Delhi. Formerly he was Dy. Director and Prof. of Mathematics at Birla Institute of Technology and Science, Pilani for two decades. While at Pilani he was one of the top-ranking academic administrators who were responsible for the multifarious academic reforms for which BITS is now well known. His wide and varied interests in teaching and research include assignments at the University of Illinois, Urbana, Ill., U.S.A. and University of Delaware, Newark, DE., U.S.A. His mathematical research contributions are in the areas of Functional Analysis, Topology, Combinatorics and Mathematics Education.

Professor Krishnamurthy has been the President of the Indian Mathematical Society, President of the Mathematics Section of the Indian Science Congress Association, Executive Chairman of Association of Mathematics Teachers of India, and National Lecturer and National Fellow of the University Grants Commission. He has been Leader of the Indian team for the International Mathematical Olympiad, held at Bombay in 1996. His books in Mathematics include: Combinatorics: Theory and Applications; Introduction to Linear Algebra (jointly with two others); The Culture, Excitement and Relevance of Mathematics; Challenge & Thrill of Pre-College Mathematics (jointly with three others)and, The Clock of the Night Sky. and What is Mathematics? – An explanation through two Puzzles (In Tamil).


Professor Krishnamurthy was also trained systematically in the traditional Hindu scriptures by his father Sri R.Viswanatha Sastrigal, a scholarly exponent who was himself a living example of the ideal Hindu way of life. Prof. Krishnamurthy has given several successful lectures on Hinduism, the Ramayana, the Gita, the Upanishads, and Srimad Bhagavatam to Indian and American audiences. His expositions are known for their precision, clarity and an irresistible appeal to the modern mind. His books on religion include: Essentials of Hinduism; Hinduism for the next Generation; and, The Ten Commandments of Hinduism. He has also authored a series of 18 poster-size charts on Hinduism, entitled SADHARMA (= Sanatana Dharma Ratna Mala). These are unusual expositions with visual support, on the concepts ideals and traditions of the Hindu way of life, presented by an incisive scientific mind in a totally novel manner never before tried by any exponent of religion formally or informally.

A number of writings of his on Religion and Philosophy are on the web at http://www.geocities.com/profvk/ entitled: Science and Spirituality and Gems from the Ocean of Hindu Thought, Vision and Practice.

His recent books on religion are Kannan sorpadi vaazhvdeppadi (in Tamil) with an appendix on Dhruva-Stuti – An Upanishad Capsule (Published by Alliance Co., Mylapore, Chennai) and Science and Spirituality – A Vedanta Perception (Published by Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan).

Live Happily the Gita Way – An Advaitic approach” is under publication. He was given the Distinguished Service Award by the Mathematics Association of India in 1995, the Seva Ratna award by the Centenarian Trust, Chennai, in 1996, and the Vocational Service Award for Exemplary Contributions Education by the Rotary Clubs of Guindy and Chennai Samudra in September 2001.

Raasa LeelA: By Professor V Krishnamurthy

radha-krishnaThe fervent devotion to Krishna of the celebrated milk-maids (Gopis or Gopikas) of Brindavan, and particularly of RadhA the most prominent of them all, is the best example of mAdhura-bhakti (Devotion through Love) for all time. There is a large variety of legends and representations of this bhakti in painting and sculpture that spreads through every part of India. The first poetic expression of the RadhA-Krishna story was in the Gita-GovindaM of Jayadeva (12th century A.D.). The principal character in that poem is RadhA, the beloved of Krishna. She spoke no word except prayer. She moved no step except towards Krishna. She saw and heard only Krishna. She spoke only of Him, to Him, for Him, whoever might be in her vicinity. Krishna filled her heart entirely. This magnificent poem is held in high respect and is sung all over India particularly in congregatory singing of Bhajans, the singers often reaching heights of ecstasy. This lyrical extravaganza of Jayadeva is delightful poetry without inhibitions. It is at the very center of religious poetry in the Bhakti tradition, though it may be considered erotic from a Victorian viewpoint. It is venerated as God’s own writing. The singing and dancing associated with this poem are so absorbing not only in its music and rhythm but also in its lyric that describes the love-sport of Radha and Krishna.

What is the origin or source of all this? Is it Jayadeva’s imagination, fancy or invention? No. It all goes back to Shrimad BhagavataM of Vyasa. In the tenth skanda of Bhagavatam, there are five chapters (#s 29 to 33) known as ‘RAsa-panchAdhyAyi’. These five chapters describe the Raas LeelA of Krishna with the Gopis of Brindavan. But wait, before we come to that, we must tune our minds the right way in order to appreciate it all.

So let us go back to the famous story of Krishna’s theft of the clothes of the Gopis while they were bathing in the river. (Bhagavatam, Skanda X, Ch.22). It looks like an immoral story, with a child of six as the central figure. It is spoken of as though he were a full-grown man, insulting the modesty of women. Look at Annie Besant’s handling of this story. She writes:

‘The Gopis were Rishis, and the Lord Supreme as a babe is teaching them a lesson. But there is more than that. There is a profound occult lesson behind the story. When the Soul is approaching the Supreme Lord at one great stage of initiation, it has to pass through a great ordeal. Stripped of everything on which it has hitherto relied, stripped of everything that is not its inner self, deprived of all external aid, of all external protection, of all external covering, the soul itself, in its own inherent life, must stand naked and alone, with nothing to rely on save the life of the Self within it. If it flinches before the ordeal, if it clings to anything to which it has hitherto looked for help, if in the supreme hour, it cries out for friend or help, or even the Guru himself, the soul fails in that ordeal. Naked and alone it must go forth, with absolutely none to aid it save the divinity within itself. And it is that nakedness of the soul as it approaches the supreme goal, that is told of in that story’.

This defence of the conceptual fabric of Hindu spirituality is important for the proper understanding of the Raas LeelA of Krishna. In addition, there is another perspective that should never be missed in any discussion of the Raas LeelA. It is the divinity of Krishna himself.

The first description of His birth comes to us from the pen of Vyasa himself in his famous Bhagavatam. It was on that Ashtami day after Shravan Poornima, when the moon was in the asterism Rohini that Krishna was born in that famous prison of Kamsa of Mathura. According to the hair-raising description of that birth in the Shrimad Bhagavatam, tenth canto, third chapter, it was in the dense darkness of that fateful night, the Lord appeared – mark the word, appeared, not born – as an unusual child from the womb of Devaki, just like the moon rising on the eastern horizon! Oh, what a sight it was! Continues the BhagavataM: (X – 3 -9,10):

“tam-adbhutaM bAlakam-ambujekshhaNaM
catur-bhujaM shankha-gadAry-udAyudhaM /
shrIvatsa-lakshhmaM gala-shobhi-kaustubhaM
pItAmbaraM sAndra-payoda-saubhagaM //
mahArha-vaiDUrya-kirITa-kuNDala-
tvishhA parishhvakta-sahasra-kuntalaM /
uddAma-kAnchy-angada-kankaNAdibhiH
virAjamAnaM vasudeva aikshhata” //

vishnu

meaning, Vasudeva saw that wonderful child with four hands, holding a conch, a mace, a chakra and a lotus; with Srivatsa emblem on His chest; with Kaustubha gem on the neck; with cloth of golden hue; as beautiful as the blue water-filled cloud; with dense hair flowing around amidst the adornments of crown and ear-rings radiant with precious gems; and excellently brilliant with bracelets around the hip and arms.

Either you believe in all this or you don’t. If you don’t believe in all this then Raas LeelA of Krishna is also a fiction in the imagination of Vyasa and there is nothing more to discuss except some poetry in the literature. If you believe in all this, then Raas-LeelA of Krishna should also be believed to be true. Not only should it be believed to be a true happening but you also get a justification for it. So when doubts arise as to the good or bad of Raas LeelA, remember, you have accepted that the birth of Krishna in the above manner is true and that means Krishna is the all-powerful Absolute Divine.

A discussion of Raas-LeelA thinking that Krishna was an ordinary person like you and me is a misnomer and a non-issue. We shall not enter the discussion of Raas-LeelA that way. We shall only discuss Raas-LeelA, with the full conviction that Krishna is the Absolute Transcendental Divinity that is omnipresent, omniscient and omnipotent. Lacking this conviction we would have denied ourselves the fundamental eligibility to discuss Raas LeelA, and more so the prerequisites to be able to appreciate it.

Now let us come to the actual story part. Remember Krishna was a ten-year old boy at that time. Probably even less. The Gopis of Brindavan did a month-long Katyayani vrata. The purpose: To get Lord Krishna as their husband (pati, in Sanskrit). The vrata itself was a very complicated one: Bathing in the Yamuna at daybreak, making an image of the Goddess Parvati with sand on the river bank and worshipping Her with all the formalities. It was at the end of this month-long worship, the incident (as described earlier) of the robbing of their clothes by the Lord happened. The Lord chastised them that they had no business to bathe naked in the river, particularly when they were supposed to be engaged in this Katyayani vrata. After telling them that his treatment of them was in punishment of their misbehaviour, he gave them back their clothes; but also promised them that very soon their desire for sporting with the Lord, for which they did the Katyayani vrata, would be fulfilled. And in this context, he makes a very important statement which is significant for our understanding of the Ras Leela:

‘In the case of whomsoever that has turned their minds towards Me, the desire or lust that thereby arises in them would not result in bad, just as a fried or baked seed would not sprout again’ (X -22 – 26):

na may-yAveshita-dhiyAM kAmaH kAmAya kalpate /
bharjitA kathitA dhAnA prAyo bIjAya neshhyate //

Note: Recall that all books of Vedanta tell us how a man of wisdom (Brahma-jnAni) has no karma chasing him, because they are like a fried seed in his case and it will not sprout!

The night of that fulfillment arrived in the autumn following. The requisites for the divine play were all created by Him by His mAyA. “yogamAyAm-upAshritaH” (resorting to His yoga-mAyA) says the text (10-29-1). On that moonlit night, His melodious note on His flute, played in the woodlands adjoining the Yamuna, went all the way to the ears of the gopis and enraptured them. It pleasantly distracted every one and everything from normal activity and enchanted them to revel in ecstasy. Even shrubs and trees, flowers and leaves, birds and animals ‘stood enchanted’ with that rapturous divine musical rendering.

gopis

No sooner the Gopis heard the music of His flute, than they were all captivated by the symphony of joy that emanated from it. They came from all sides to the spot where He was playing the flute. Some were milking their cows, some were serving food to their husbands, some were keeping busy with their cosmetics, some were cleaning their houses, — but all of them dropped their work just where it was and ran towards Krishna. Their husbands, brothers and parents did try to stop them but of no avail. The minds of the Gopis had been lured away by the music of the flute and by the thought of Lord Krishna and they forgot all about themselves.

Some of the gopis, however, could not manage to get out of their houses, and instead they remained home with eyes closed, meditating upon Him in pure love. For these gopis the intolerable separation from their beloved caused an intense agony that burned away all impious karma (“tIvra-pApa-dhutA-shubhAH” – X-29-10). By meditating upon Him they realized His embrace, and the ecstasy they then felt exhausted their material piety. Although Lord Krishna is the Supreme Soul, these girls simply thought of Him as their lover and associated with Him in that intimate mood. Thus their karmic bondage was nullified and they abandoned, as it were, their gross material bodies.

At this point, King Parikshit asks a pertinent question to Sage Suka who is narrating the story: O sage, the gopis knew Krishna only as their lover, not as the Supreme Absolute Truth. So how could these girls, their minds caught up in the waves of worldly love, free themselves from material attachment? And the Rishi replies: Since even Sisupala, who hated Krishna, achieved perfection, then what to speak of the Lord’s dear devotees. The Supreme Lord is inexhaustible and immeasurable, and He is untouched by Prakrti because He is its controller. His personal appearance in this world is meant for bestowing the highest benefit on humanity. Persons who constantly direct their lust, anger, fear, protective affection, feeling of impersonal oneness or friendship toward Lord Hari are sure to become absorbed in thought of Him. You should not be so astonished, Oh King, because you are the unique one who had the benefit of seeing His beatific presence even while you were in your mother’s womb. (X-29-13 to 16).

Krishna saw them all coming, and when they had gathered, he told them to go back. He waved them back saying that their first duty was in their home with their husbands and relatives. He says: “I know you have ties of attachment for Me. It is but proper. All creatures in the world will find delight in Me (‘prIyante mayi jantavaH’ : X-29-23). But your duty is elsewhere. For a woman from a respectable family, petty adulterous affairs are always condemned. They bar her from heaven, ruin her reputation and bring her difficulty and fear”. And He ends this sermon by making a famous declaration (X-29-27) which He himself repeats later:

shravaNAt darshanAt dhyAnAt mayi bhAvo’nukIrtanAt /
na tathA sannikarshheNa pratiyAta tato gRhAn // meaning,

“Transcendental love for Me arises by the devotional processes of hearing about Me, seeing My Deity form, meditating on Me and faithfully chanting My glories. The same result is not achieved by mere physical proximity. So please go back to your homes”.

vishnuBut the Gopis don’t listen. To his argument that their duty is to their husbands and families, they reply that He is the pati, the husband of the entire world and therefore of them all, and so their first duty is to Him. “Not only that, Oh Lord, our minds which were all along with our families and our work have now been totally captivated by You. Our hands and feet are not ours. Our minds are not ours. They are all yours. They refuse to do any work which is not directed at You. So don’t throw us back. Deign to accept us as your servants”. And they were steadfast in this determination. Seeing their steadfastness, Krishna decided to please them.

iti viklavitaM tAsAM shrutvA yogeshvareshvaraH /
Prahasya sadayaM gopIH AtmArAmo’pyarIramat // X-29-42

Smiling upon hearing these despondent words from the gopîs, Lord Krishna, the supreme master of all masters of mystic yoga, mercifully satisfied them, although He is Himself Self-satisfied.

gopisHe was Himself AtmArAma, that is One who is fulfilled in Himself, by Himself for Himself. He has nothing to obtain which He does not already have. (cf. nAnavAptam-avAptavyam, … Gita III-22). When He thus moved in intimate terms with the Gopis, very soon they thought highly of themselves. They thought they were the greatest women on Earth. And the Lord became aware of their pride and arrogant thought, and intending to bless them with the right kind of spirituality, immediately vanished!

And then begins a long wailing and searching, by the Gopis. They could not stand this separation from the Lord. They lose their head and become really mad for Him. This is called the experience of ‘viraha’, separation. It is said by all exponenets of bhakti that the highest form of bhakti is the experience of this viraha from the Lord. We think we are all very devoted to God. But do we feel the pangs of separation from Him as the gopis felt?

People say God does not take the offering we give Him ; but do we offer it the way Sabari offered Him? [ “lok kahte hai bhagwAn khAte nahiM; kyA haM shabarI kI taraH khilAte haim?” ].

People say that God does not come to our rescue; but do we call Him with that conviction and pangs of anxiety that was characteristic of Draupadi’s call? [ “lok kahte hai bhagwAn Ate nahiM; kyA haM draupadI kI taraH bulAte haiM?”].

People say that God does not bless us; but do we love Him with that intensity of Radha’s love? [“lok kahte hai bhagwaan prasAd karte nahiM; kyA ham rAdhA kI tarah pyAr karte haiM?”].

gopisTo continue our story. The Gopis keep roaming about in the woods, searching for Him. In the process of this roaming, they identify the footsteps of their Lord and try to follow those footsteps. Lo and behold! They do not find their Lord but they find one more pair of footsteps side by side with the Lord’s footsteps! And they look at it carefully. They recognize it as a woman’s footsteps. Their jealousy knows no bounds. How come!

One of their own group, has found it possible to be with the Lord and is now enjoying the privilege of His company all alone! What a supreme fortunate circumstance for her! She must be the most beloved of Krishna among all of them!

On the other hand that single gopi who was with Krishna had an interesting experience. She certainly enjoys the company of the Lord, all alone. But that very enjoyment puffs up her head and she tries to aspire for more of the Lord than the others. Instead of walking up along with the Lord, she suggests to Him that He may carry her on His shoulders, and to her great satisfaction the Lord agrees to do that. He says “Alright, get up on my shoulders” and he poses for her. But when she attempts to climb up on His shoulders, He is no more there – He has vanished! That was the end of her puffed up pride! And the rest of the company joins her now and together they all search for the Lord.

Incidentally, this single gopi is perhaps the Radha of later literature. The name Radha does not occur in the Bhagavatam.

When finally the moon went behind the clouds and there was no more moonlight, they all returned to their starting place and spent their time talking about Krishna. Their minds absorbed in thoughts of Him, they conversed about Him, acted out His pastimes and felt themselves filled with His presence. They no more remembered their homes as they loudly sang the glories of Krishna’s transcendental qualities: The shloka which says this, namely,

tan-manaskAs-tad-AlApAs-tad-viceshhTAs-tad-AtmikAH /
tad-guNAn-eva gAyantyaH nAtmAgArANi sasmaruH // X-30-43

is one of the most famous quotes from Shrimad Bhagavatam, because it characterises the supreme prema-bhakti of the Gopis. It is considered to be at the apex of all bhakti forms. In fact, it reflects exactly what Krishna himself describes in the Gita (V-17):

tad-buddhayas-tad-AtmAnas-tan-nishhTAs-tat-parAyaNAH /
gacchanty-apunar-AvRttiM jnAna-nirdhUta-kalmashhAH //
meaning,

Those who have their intellect absorbed in That, whose Self is That, who are steadfast in That, who have That as their supreme Goal-they attain the state of non-returning, their dirt having been removed by Knowledge.

This kind of total absorption in God is the ultimate in Bhakti. That is why the Gopis are cited as the supreme example of self-effacing bhakti. There have been several types of devotees all over time and all over the world. But the Lord values only such selfless bhakti. The bhakti of the gopis is unique in all of history, because, they did not achieve that kind of superlative approbation from the Lord by any of the usual means of spiritual living, namely, charity, ritual sacrifice, ritualistic vrata, religious discipline, penance, philosophical speculation, or yogic practice. None of these they had. None of these can give that kind of union with the Lord as the constant mental association with Him that they did have. (Narayaneeyam: 94-10):

aikyaM te
dAna-homa-vrata-niyama-tapas-sAnkhya-yogair-durApaM
tvat-sangenaiva gopyaH kila sukRti-tamAH
prApur-Ananda-sAndraM /
bhakteSh-vanyeShu bhUas-svapi bahu-manuShe bhaktim-eva
tvam-AsAM
tan-me tvad-bhaktim-eva dRDaya hara gadAn kRShNa
vAtAlayesha //meaning,

That state of supremely blissful union with Thee, which is difficult to obtain through (disciplines like) charity, (ritual) sacrifices, observance of vows, self-control, austerities, knowledge (sAnkhya), and yoga, was attained by the blessed gopikas of Brindavan, through just personal attachment to Thee as their own beloved. Numerous are Thy other devotees, but it is this loving personal devotion of the gopikas that has received Thy highest appreciation. Therefore Oh Krishna, Oh Lord of Guruvayoor, May Thou strengthen devotion in me and destroy my ailments.

In fact this underscores the importance of personal involvement with the Lord in intimate terms, from the heart of hearts. All the formalities of our religious observances pale into insignificance before such a personal relationship with God. Whatever we may do, we must strive to see that this innate feeling of love for the Lord becomes the undercurrent. This is the only thing He asks from us. More than intellectual understanding of the various nuances of scriptures and philosophy, what He expects from us is this self-negating love for Him and all that stands for Him, namely, the universe. One may recall here Gita IX – 34:

manmanA bhava madbhakto madyAjI mAM namaskuru /
mAmevaiShyasi yuktvaivaM AtmAnaM mat-parAyaNaH //

meaning, Saturate your mind with me; be devoted to me; work for me; bow down to me; having thus united your whole self with me, taking me as the supreme Goal, you shall come unto me. This self-negating love has been defined by Narada in his bhakti-sutra, as follows (Sutra 54):

guNa-rahitaM kAmanA-rahitaM pratikShaNa-vardhamAnaM
avicchinnaM sUkShma-taram anubhava-rUpaM.

Meaning, (This pure love is) without attributes, without the poison of desire, every moment increasing, unbroken, subtlest, and of the nature of sheer immediate experience. In fact almost every exponent of bhakti says the same thing.

Let us come back to the story. The Gopis, having lost track of Krishna in the physical world, spend their time now singing about Him in all ecstasy. This singing as told in 18 delightful verses of Shrimad Bhagavatam is called “gopikA-gItaM”. It is chapter 31 of Skanda 10. In traditional India these 18 verses are usually taught to young girls for them to obtain the fullest grace of God, particularly with respect to their marriage. Jayadeva’s Gita Govindam derives inspiration from this. Let us see just three shlokas out of the 18. In the practical performance of the dance of gopikA-gItaM it is common to use the word ‘kRshhNa’ repeatedly to keep the beat:

jayati te’dhikaM (kRshhNa) janmanA vrajaH
shrayata indirA (kRshhNa) shashvad-atra hi /
dayita dRshyatAM (kRshhNa) dikshhu tAvakAH
tvayi dhRtAsavaH (kRshhNa) tvAM vicinvate // (X-31-1)

O beloved, Your birth in the land of Vraja has made it exceedingly glorious, and thus Indirâ, the goddess of fortune, always resides here. It is only for Your sake that we, Your devoted servants, maintain our lives. We have been searching everywhere for You, so please show Yourself to us.

na khalu gopikA (kRshhNa) nandano bhavAn
akhila-dehinAM (kRshhNa) antar-Atma-dRk /
vikhanasArthito (kRshhNa) vishva-guptaye
sakha udeyivAn (kRshhNa) sAtvatAm kule // (X-31-4)

You are not actually the son of the gopî Yas’odâ, O friend, but rather the indwelling witness in the hearts of all embodied souls. Because Lord Brahmâ prayed for You to come and protect the universe, You have now appeared in the Sâtvata dynasty.

tava kathAmRtaM (kRshhNa) tapta-jIvanaM
kavibhir-IDitaM (kRshhNa) kalmashhApahaM /
shravaNa-mangaLaM (kRshhNa) shrImad-AtataM
bhuvi gRNanti te (kRshhNa) bhuridA janAH // (X-31-9)

The nectar of Your words and the descriptions of Your activities are the life and soul of those suffering in this material world. These narrations, transmitted by learned sages, eradicate one’s sinful reactions and bestow good fortune upon whoever hears them. They are filled with spiritual power. Certainly those who spread the message of Godhead must have been munificent.

At the end of it all, Krishna reappears. The Gopis are agog with excitement. It was as if their lives returned to them (“tanvaH prANaM iva AgataM” X-32-3). All the varieties of human emotions that can arise at such an event are described here without inhibitions. It is a no-holds-barred description. At the end of it all, Krishna, whose seat is in the hearts of great yogis, now sits encircled by these gopis on an elevated sand dune on the bank of Kalindi, lit up splendidly by the abundant autumnal moonlight and starts talking with them in very intimate terms. It is said that each gopi had the feet of the Lord on her lap.

sopis
Mark this statement. Here starts the full sway of the mAyA of the Lord. There were at least a hundred gopis. In fact the numbers that are mentioned in the Bhagavatam will make our heads reel. Anyway there were several of them. If each one had the feet of the Lord on her lap, and if each one was having the feeling that the Lord was talking to herself with His feet on her lap, the Lord must have replicated himself as many times as there were gopis there. This point is mentioned when the actual Raas Leela starts, but even here the magic of the mAyA has started!

Now Krishna starts talking. In fact they have raised an important question for Him to answer. Some people reciprocate the affection only of those who are affectionate toward them, while others show affection even to those who are indifferent or inimical. And yet others will not show affection toward anyone. Dear Krishna, please properly explain this matter to us.(X-32-16), say the Gopis. And He explains very patiently, in shlokas 17 to 22:

So-called friends who show affection for each other only to benefit themselves are actually selfish. They have no true friendship, nor are they following the true principles of religion. Indeed, if they did not expect benefit for themselves, they would not reciprocate. Some people are genuinely merciful or, like parents, naturally affectionate. Such persons, who devotedly serve even those who fail to reciprocate with them, are following the true, faultless path of religion, and they are true well-wishers.

Some people, being spiritually self-satisfied, do not reciprocate others’ affection because they want to avoid entanglement in mundane dealings. Other persons do not reciprocate simply out of envy or arrogance. And still others fail to reciprocate because they are materially satisfied and thus uninterested in new material
opportunities.

I do understand that simply for My sake you had rejected the authority of worldly opinion, of the Vedas and of your relatives. But I acted as I did only to increase your attachment to Me. Even when I removed Myself from your sight by suddenly disappearing, I never stopped loving you.

Therefore, My beloved gopîs, please do not harbor any bad feelings toward Me, your beloved. I will not be able to repay My debt for your spotless service, even within a lifetime of Brahmâ.

(na pâraye ‘ham niravadya-samyujâm
sva-sâdhu-krityam vibudhâyushâpi vah) X-32-22

Your connection with Me is beyond reproach. You have worshiped Me, cutting off all domestic ties, which are difficult to break. Therefore please let your own glorious deeds be your compensation.

This passage speaks volumes about the love of the gopis towards Krishna and how he acknowledged it. It is the charter that gives the universally glorified sanctity to the spotless Krishna-Bhakti of the Gopis. Great devotees are not great because they call themselves so (if at all), but because the Lord calls them great!

rasa dance

And now begins the Raas LeelA, the most enchanting of all His leelAs. They all linked their arms together and thought they were encircling Him. But actually between each pair of gopis there was a Krishna. Each Gopi felt the left hand of Krishna on her right shoulder and the right hand of Krishna on her left shoulder. She was thinking therefore that Krishna was dancing in front of her, facing her with His hands on her shoulders. But what was happening was that she had one Krishna on her left and another Krishna on her right! The yogeshvara that Krishna was, he had enveloped the entire assembly of Gopis in His mAyA and their minds were not their own now. They thought whatever He wanted them to think! But they all enjoyed an eternal bliss in the play of Raas LeelA! There were actually three such plays.

vishnu

One in water (‘jala-kRIDA), one in the woods (‘vana-kRIDA’) and one on open ground (‘sthala-kRIDA’). The night itself got extended because the elements had all halted. Heaven and Nature watched this magnificent divine romantic dance of the several Krishnas with the several Gopis. And the beauty of it all was, that, back home, in every house of the gopis, the gopi’s husband did not miss his wife; as far as he knew she was there with him!. The whole world was in trance, as it were! That was the greatness of the Raas dance!

Well, let us come down to terra firma. When this whole thing had been narrated by Suka, King Parikshit asks the most relevant question: “Well, let me take it that Krishna had nothing to achieve, because He is always self-fulfilled. But what he did does not appear to be ethical, from any worldly angle. Why, then, did he do that? Should He not set the right example?” (X-33 – 27 to 29).

Note that Parikshit’s question is not the question we ourselves raised at the beginning of this article. We said that we shall not be discussing this issue if it had the assumption that Krishna was an ordinary human being. King Parikshit postulates his acceptance of the divinity of Krishna. But his question is: Why does the Lord set a bad example for mankind?

And Suka answers: (X – 33 -30 to 38): The status of Ishvara is not harmed by any apparently audacious transgression of morality we may see in Him, for He is just like fire, that devours everything fed into it and remains unpolluted. We ordinary people should never imitate the behavior of such ruling personalities, even mentally. If out of foolishness an ordinary person does imitate such behaviour, he will simply destroy himself, just as a person who is not Rudra would destroy himself if he tried to drink an ocean of poison. It is the words of Ishvara which we should follow, not those of His actions which are inconsistent with those words. When these great persons who are free from false ego act piously in this world, they have no selfish motives to fulfill, and even when they act in apparent contradiction to the laws of piety, they are not subject to sinful reactions. How, then, could the Lord of all created beings have any connection with the piety and impiety that affect His subject creatures?

Material activities never entangle even the devotees of the Supreme Lord, who are fully satisfied by serving the dust of His lotus feet. Nor do material activities entangle those intelligent sages who have freed themselves from the bondage of all fruitive reactions by the fact that they have disassociated themselves with their body, mind intellect. Then, how could there be any question of bondage for the Lord Himself, who assumes His transcendental forms according to His own sweet will?

The Actionlessness of the Lord is well-known from his statements in the Gita:

By Me was created the four varNas, in accordance with their GuNas and karma. Know Me as its doer and know Me also as the imperishable non-doer. (Gita IV-13)

Those works do not bind Me. I sit, indifferent as it were, unattached to those actions. (Gita IX – 9)

In fact Actionlessness is a central concept in the understanding of the actions of a man of wisdom (brahma-jnAni). The nAhaM kartA (I-am-not-the-doer) attitude is the core of all of Krishna’s advice to Arjuna. For more on this, go to http://www.geocities.com/profvk/livehappily_11.html

He who lives as the sAkshhI (overseeing witness) within the gopîs and their husbands, and indeed within all embodied living beings, assumes forms in this world to enjoy transcendental pastimes. When the Lord assumes a humanlike
body to show mercy to His devotees, He engages in such pastimes as will attract those who hear about them to become dedicated to Him.

For us, devotees of Krishna, we are told by Suka himself, that those who listen to these stories of this great Raas LeelA of Krishna, will not only become great devotees of the Lord, but would be able to conquer the ingrained lust in the human psyche!

 

LokAs samastAs sukhino bhavantu.

vishnu
Raadhe Krishna!
It is said that Raadha was given a promise by the Lord
that for all time to come, Her name (Radha’s) would be taken first
before His own (Krishna’s) is taken!!

 

Artwork courtesy of
The Bhaktivedanta Book Trust International, Inc.
www.krishna.com

Prof. V. Krishnamurthy M.A. of Madras University and Ph.D, of Annamalai University, is an ex-Director of K.K. Birla Academy, New Delhi. Formerly he was Dy. Director and Prof. of Mathematics at Birla Institute of Technology and Science, Pilani for two decades. While at Pilani he was one of the top-ranking academic administrators who were responsible for the multifarious academic reforms for which BITS is now well known. His wide and varied interests in teaching and research include assignments at the University of Illinois, Urbana, Ill., U.S.A. and University of Delaware, Newark, DE., U.S.A. His mathematical research contributions are in the areas of Functional Analysis, Topology, Combinatorics and Mathematics Education. He has been President of the Indian Mathematical Society, President of the Mathematics Section of the Indian Science Congress Association, Executive Chairman of Association of Mathematics Teachers of India, and National Lecturer and National Fellow of the University Grants Commission. He has been Leader of the Indian team for the International Mathematical Olympiad, held at Bombay in 1996. His books in Mathematics include: Combinatorics: Theory and Applications; Introduction to Linear Algebra (jointly with two others); The Culture, Excitement and Relevance of Mathematics; Challenge & Thrill of Pre-College Mathematics (jointly with three others)and, The Clock of the Night Sky. and What is Mathematics? – An explanation through two Puzzles (In Tamil).

 

prf vk

 

Prof. Krishnamurthy was also trained systematically in the traditional Hindu scriptures by his father Sri R.Viswanatha Sastrigal, a scholarly exponent who was himself a living example of the ideal Hindu way of life. Prof. Krishnamurthy has given several successful lectures on Hinduism, the Ramayana, the Gita, the Upanishads, and Srimad Bhagavatam to Indian and American audiences. His expositions are known for their precision, clarity and an irresistible appeal to the modern mind. His books on religion include: Essentials of Hinduism; Hinduism for the next Generation; and, The Ten Commandments of Hinduism. He has also authored a series of 18 poster-size charts on Hinduism, entitled SADHARMA (= Sanatana Dharma Ratna Mala). These are unusual expositions with visual support, on the concepts ideals and traditions of the Hindu way of life, presented by an incisive scientific mind in a totally novel manner never before tried by any exponent of religion formally or informally.

 

A number of writings of his on Religion and Philosophy are on the web at http://www.geocities.com/profvk/ entitled: Science and Spirituality and Gems from the Ocean of Hindu Thought, Vision and Practice .

 

His recent books on religion are Kannan sorpadi vaazhvdeppadi (in Tamil) with an appendix on Dhruva-Stuti – An Upanishad Capsule (Published by Alliance Co., Mylapore, Chennai) and Science and Spirituality – A Vedanta Perception (Published by Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan).

 

Live Happily the Gita Way – An Advaitic approach” is under publication.

 

He was given the Distinguished Service Award by the Mathematics Association of India in 1995, the Seva Ratna award by the Centenarian Trust, Chennai, in 1996, and the Vocational Service Award for Exemplary Contributions Education by the Rotary Clubs of Guindy and Chennai Samudra in September 2001.