Bhoothanatha Geetha – The Song of Ayyappa

Bhoothanatha Geetha (or Bhutanatha Gita) is a very rare Sanskrit text. We are greatly indebted to Mr. V. Aravind Subramanyam for working all his life to find the old manuscripts of this book, translate it and make it available with English and Tamil translations. . The book can only be directly ordered from him by sending a DD or cheque to his residence in Coimbatore Tamil Nadu. It is not available elsewhere. I got a copy of it yesterday and I want to share what I found in it. Mr. Aravind Subramanyam, due to his earnest love for Dharama Sastha, always adds Maha Sasthru Priya Dasan before his name. He has also written a complete purana called Sri Maha Sastha Vijayam.

Boothanatha Geetha is much shorter than Bhagavad Gita but conveys the key points of Advaita Vedanta. It has 132 verses in 8 short chapters. Bhagavad Gita is a conversation between Krishna and Arjuna. Similarly, Bhoothanatha Gita is a conversation between Prince Manikanta who was considered as the avatar of Dharma sastha and Rajasekharan, the king of Pandalam.

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Boothanatha Geetha has certain uniqueness that other texts don’t have. To explain that, I will comment on some of the important verses from the book.

Boothanatha Geetha is written in much simpler Sanskrit. So, it is easier than Bhagavad Gita, if you want to read the text in the original. The first sloka is very simple and with basic knowledge of Sanskrit, one can understand it:

janma mrtyAdi duhkhAnAm nAzAya mahIpate

karmano nAzanam mukhyam tadupAyam nizamyatAm

Meaning: Oh King, destroying one’s karmas is important for the destruction of the suffering that arises from the cycle of birth and death. You can hear the way for it from me.

The text has 8 chapters. The first chapter Brahma Lakshana Yoga starts with this sloka and proceeds to explain the nature of Brahman, the absolute reality.

Chapter 1 – Brahma Lakshana Yoga

Here is the eighth sloka which talks about it:

AdimadhyAntarahitam svayam jotih parAtparam

avyayam nirgunam rAjan kAladezAdi varjjitam

citganam nityamAnandam tatbhinnam nAsti vastu bho

asitatvamaham taccetyAmnAyah parikIrtitah

Meaning:

Oh king! Brahman has no beginning, no middle and no end. It shines on its own and is the greatest of the greatest. It is imperishable, attributeless and beyond space & time.

It has been described in the scriptures that it is conscious and always in bliss. Nothing other than that exists! It is you and it is also me.

(It is interesting to note that the line ‘citganam nityamAnandam tatbhinnam nAsti vastu bho’ is a description of sat-cit-ananda or truth-consciousness – bliss. citganam = conciousness; nityamAnandam = bliss; tatbhinnam nAsti vastu bho = truth).

These lines also combine two mahavakyas, ‘tat tvam asi’ (You are that) and ‘aham brahmasmi’ (I am Brahmam’ together by saying ‘asi tat tvam aham’ (that exists as you and I). A good sloka for memorization for people who are learning Sanskrit. This sloka is similar to a lot of verses in Sankhya Yoga, the second chapter of Bhagavad Gita.

If Brahman is all that exists, then how do we explain the multiplicity in the existence? In the next few slokas, Manikanta attempts to clarify this doubt with the famous example of gold and gold ornaments found in Chandogya Upanishad.

In Chandogya Upanishad, Svetakethu’s father teaches him ‘tat tvam asi’ (you are that) and proceeds to explain with this example:

“Just as, my dear, by one clod of clay all that is made of clay is known, the modification being only a name, arising from speech, while the truth is that all is clay; “Just as, my dear, by one nugget of gold all that is made of gold is known, the modification being only a name, arising from speech, while the truth is that all is gold; “And just as, my dear, by one pair of nail—scissors all that is made of iron is known, the modification being only a name, arising from speech, while the truth is that all is iron—even so, my dear, is that instruction.”

Manikanta must have been well versed and quite familiar with Chandogya Upanishad and even some Buddhist texts as we will see.

Manikanta explains that just like gold ornaments with different shapes are essentially gold and nothing else, all the myriads of names and forms that we see is essentially Brahman and nothing else. The multiplicity is seen due to Maya (illusion or unreal).

In 12th sloka, the king questions, “What you are saying now seems to be contradictory to what you said before. If Brahman is all that exists, then where does maya come from?. How do the scholars of Advaita accept this contradiction?

This would remind us of Arjuna’s confusion when he complains to Krishna in Gita 3.1 that Krishna seemed to be contradicting himself.

Manikanta then explains that maya is nothing but the idea of a separate self. When you see something as me or mine, it is maya. This illusion has no beginning but it has an end. It is due to this illusion, one perceives or feels himself different from Brahman. Manikanta then encourages the king to investigate and see if there is really any truth in saying things like ‘this is my hand’, ‘this is my leg’ etc. He asserts that if one investigates carefully, one can know that there is no such thing as ‘mine’.

Manikanta also quotes the famous analogy of crystal to explain the relationship between Brahman and Maya. Maya doesn’t stick to Brahman even though it appears to be, just like a red flower placed on a crystal makes the crystal to appear red, even though the crystal itself doesn’t have the quality of the redness. At the same time, the color exists inseparable from the crystal just like maya is in a sense inseparable from Brahman.

Chapter 2 – Brahma Jnana Yoga

The second chapter is Brahma Jnana Yoga. Manikanta begins by explaining how the three gunas or trimurties sattva (Brahma), rajas (Vishnu) and tamas (Shiva) originated from Brahman.

In this chapter, Manikanta talks like Buddha. Buddha used to discourage metaphysical questions which are about the origin of the world, the origin of maya or the origin of suffering.

In Buddhist texts, there is a parable called the parable of a poisoned arrow. This parable was said as a response when someone asked how suffering originated in the first place:

“It’s just as if a man were wounded with an arrow thickly smeared with poison. His friends & companions, kinsmen & relatives would provide him with a surgeon, and the man would say, ‘I won’t have this arrow removed until I know whether the man who wounded me was a noble warrior, a brahman, a merchant, or a worker.’ He would say, ‘I won’t have this arrow removed until I know the given name & clan name of the man who wounded me… until I know whether he was tall, medium, or short… until I know whether he was dark, ruddy-brown, or golden-colored… until I know his home village, town, or city… until I know whether the bow with which I was wounded was a long bow or a crossbow… until I know whether the bowstring with which I was wounded was fiber, bamboo threads, sinew, hemp, or bark… until I know whether the shaft with which I was wounded was wild or cultivated… until I know whether the feathers of the shaft with which I was wounded were those of a vulture, a stork, a hawk, a peacock, or another bird… until I know whether the shaft with which I was wounded was bound with the sinew of an ox, a water buffalo, a langur, or a monkey.’ He would say, ‘I won’t have this arrow removed until I know whether the shaft with which I was wounded was that of a common arrow, a curved arrow, a barbed, a calf-toothed, or an oleander arrow.’ The man would die and those things would still remain unknown to him.

“In the same way, if anyone were to say, ‘I won’t live the holy life under the Blessed One as long as he does not declare to me that ‘The cosmos is eternal,’… or that ‘After death a Tathagata neither exists nor does not exist,’ the man would die and those things would still remain undeclared by the Tathagata.

Manikanta says something similar in Chapter 2 , verse 6:

yastvagAdhe mahAkUpe patito bhUnnrpottama

tasmAdArohanopAyam avicintya samUDhadhih

tatra sthitvA cintayeccet kUpasyotbhavakAranam

katham tIram ca samprAptum zaktah sabhavati prabho

Meaning:

The greatest of kings! If some one falls down inside a deep well, is there any use in thinking about the reason the well was there in that place? How can you escape from the well if you don’t think about the way to escape from it?

Manikanta in many places, discourages useless questions and mere reading of scriptures without striving to know the truth in one’s experience.

Then Manikanda stresses the importance of a satguru. He says ‘samyag vettum param brahma kAryam satguru sevanam (2.7)’, which means if one wants to know the truth of Brahman in once’s experience, serving a satguru is mandatory. We will see who this satguru is, in a moment.

Manikanta then says that without the help of satguru. people end up like the blind men arguing about the shape of an elephant. The story of the blind men and the elephant is very famous in Hinduism, Jainism and Buddhism. The doctrine of Anekantavada is based on this story, which you can read about here: Logic And Spiritual Enlightenment – An Overview of Anekantavada, Saptabhangivada (Seven Valued Logic) and Syadvada of Jainism

Manikanta also goes ahead and narrates the story. (The version Manikanta narrates only has two blind men, but in other versions they are more). Two blind men once wanted to know about an elephant. So, each of them went near an elephant to touch and feel it so that they can find out the shape of the elephant. One guy touched the ears of the elephant while the other person touched the trunk. After that, both of them were perfectly convinced that they knew everything about the elephant and its shape. The guy who touched the ears argued that the elephant looks like a fan where as the guy who touched the trunk insisted that an elephant looks like a long pipe. Seeing these people fighting, a person with the perfect eye sight came and explained to them what an elephant really looks like.

Manikanta ends this chapter by conveying the difference between meditating on and worshipping the formless and attributeless truth (nirguna brahman) and a deity with a form (saguna brahman). These verses are similar to the verses in the 12th chapter (Bhakti Yoga) of Bhagavad Gita where the conversation is about the same topic. Manikanta says that one who meditates on the formless, attributeless Brahman will attain liberation in this life and become Jivan Muktas. People who worship the divine in a form will attain liberation after their death. Adhi Shankara in his commentary on Bhagavad Gita also conveys the same while interpreting the verses in chapter 12 of Gita.

Chapter 3 – Gunatraya Yoga

This chapter talks about Panchikarana, a Vedantic theory that talks about how matter came into existence from five elements (panchabhutas).

Chapter 4 – Tattva Vijnana Yoga

There is something interesting to note in the beginning of this chapter. Manikanta begins by saying that there are 96 tattvas which exist in nature. A tattva is nothing but a smallest indivisible unit or element of what appears in our consciousness. For example, memory is a tattva, ego is a tattva, perception of sight is a tattva etc. When you observe the contents of your consciousness, it is possible to come up with many such tattvas. But the number of tattvas vary by tradition. For example, Bhagavad Gita talks about 8 tattvas. Samkhya school identifies 24 tattvas and Shaiva Siddhanta tradition identifies 36 tattvas. There is one tradition that talks about 96 tattvas. It is nothing but the tradition of Siddhas who specialized in both spiritual matters and herbal medicine. Since Manikanta too talks about 96 tattvas here, it is possible that he was also a Siddha who had mastered siddhis and the art of medicine.

The purpose of the description of these tattvas is to not to commit them to memory as a bunch of information. Enumerating these tattvas are only useful to see that they are not ‘you’ or ‘yours’. In other words, these are tools for self-inquiry rather than a collection of facts. As a mere collection of information, it is useless. So, if one is longing to get liberated, he needs to take care to see that he doesn’t identify with a whole bunch of information.

Citta Suddhi – Purification of the mind

Manikanta then begins to explain how the mind gets unpurified. When we make any decision we use our intellect or the sense of discrimination. But this intellect when influenced by rajas (desire and activity leading to fulfilling the desires) and tamas (lethargy, hatred and anger born out of that hatred) grabs your attention away to multiple things. Intellect eventually gets multibranched because of myriads of desires and fears. That is why there is a lot of self-conflict and that is the reason why human beings suffer a lot from cognitive dissonance.

Gita talks about this too:

vyavasayatmika buddhir ekeha kuru-nandana
bahu-sakha hy anantas ca buddhayo ‘vyavasayinam – Gita 2.41

Meaning: A person who has achieved one pointedness (by purifying his mind) has an intellect which has just a single branch. But the intellect of the people who have not achieved such one-pointed devotedness is many branched.

While explaining, Manikanta suddenly reminds him that it is useless to just read these things and say things like ‘there are 96 tattvas’, ‘the scriptures say so’ etc. It is a waste of time to talk about things he knows only by reading and not by his experience.

Then Manikanta uses an analogy to explain what is mandatory for the purification of the mind. Let us say the mind is like a milk; and the impurities are like water. If you want to get rid of all the water and get pure milk, the only choice you have is to heat it. No amount of adding anything or trying to remove anything will get rid of the water. Simply reading the scriptures is like trying to heat the milk without fire. If there is no fire, then no matter how long you wait, the water will be still there. Manikanta says that a guru’s words and guidance is like the fuel which can create the fire. Only when the scriptures burn in the fuel of the guru’s words, the impurities of mind will evaporate and the mind will get purified. A seeker should listen to guru’s words and do meditation according to what he taught.

Then Rajasekharan asks, ‘How do I find a satguru? How would I know that he is satguru? Since you know a lot of scriptures, please explain’. It is important to note that Rajasekharan still insists to hear what is written in the scripture. He doesn’t seem to be wanting to know what Manikanta knows by his experience. This is the reason why Manikanta throughout this Gita insists the futility of mere intellectual debates without attempting to directly know the truth by experience.

So Manikanta defines who a ‘satguru’ is by listing four qualities of a satguru:

  1. He doesn’t have any attachments.
  2. He is peaceful and calm.
  3. He loves his disciples.
  4. He knows the truth by experience.

There is another thing to note here. People believe that Kabir who lived in 15th century was the one who coined the word ‘satguru’ and who was also called as a satguru for the first time. Because there were no references to the word ‘satguru’ in any other older scriptures. But Manikanta lived in 10th or 11th century AD. No body has dated Bhoothanatha Gita yet, but assuming that it was written down right after his life, it is probable that Manikanda was the one who was called as satguru for the first time and who probably used that word for the first time.

Manikanta then defines the quality of a seeker:

  1. He has realized that life is prone to suffering.
  2. He is longing to get freedom and prays sincerely for emancipation.

Then he defines the quality of a scripture (sastra). A scripture is a book which gives the path to destroy the following 8 qualities called as ashtaragas:

  1. kama — lust
  2. krodha — anger
  3. lobha — greed
  4. moha — delusory emotional attachment or temptation
  5. mada — pride, hubris, (being possessed by)
  6. matsarya — dissatisfaction
  7. asooya – jealousy
  8. thrshna – Craving (a very acute form of desire)

A warning about fake gurus!

Then comes a beautiful sloka which says something that no other scripture has said to my knowledge. It warns about gurus who are after your money!

guravo bahavassanti zishyANAm dhana hArakAh

durlabho deziko rAjan teshAm santapahArakAh (4.20)

Meaning: There are plenty of so called gurus who take away your money. But the gurus who can take away your misery are very rare!

Finally, Manikanta offers you a solution. Since it is very rare to find such gurus, he says that he himself is both Guru and God for a person who shows selfless devotion to him. What this sloka actually conveys is, dharmasastha is satguru! If you don’t have a guru and can’t find one, just be devoted to sastha! Devotion purifies the mind and the divine as the satguru is always there as the inner light in every being.

Chapter 5 – Karma Vibhaga Yoga

This chapter discusses three types of karmas and how karmic material travels from one body to another body. Certain themes from Chandogya Upanishad appear here too. Here Manikanta insists that one should safeguard his body and not neglect it just because it is going to die own day. Because this body is the instrument which helps you to enjoy the four purusharthas of life: dharma, artha, kama and moksha. At the same time, he also says that the purpose of having this human body is to realize the truth.

He then lists the qualifications for a seeker. In Vedanta there is a concept called sadhana chatushtaya which lists qualifications of a seeker. This sloka just lists four simple qualities that a seeker should have as qualifications : 1) Vairagya – non-attachment 2) Guru Bhakthi – devotion to guru, in this case Dharmasastha. 3) Shama – tranquility of the mind 4) dhama – control of senses.

The chapter ends as Manikanta stresses the importance of devotion in the last few slokas. Devotion purifies the mind as well as helps the person to develop the above mentioned qualifications.

Chapter 6 – Bhakthi Vibhaga Yoga

This chapter once again stresses the importance of devotion. It talks in detail about the three gunas and three type of devotees.

Chapter 7 – Karmakarma yoga

In this chapter Rajesekharan asks important questions.

Here is the essence of his question: ‘If someone is absorbed in the pleasure of Brahman and has no craving, then how will he be motivated to do any action at all? How can he deal with things in practical life as before without anything driving him from the inside?’

Manikanda replies that a person who exhibits feats by climbing a big staff are able to do so effortlessly because their mind is one pointed. When you attain one pointedness through self-realization, you will have more efficiency to do your actions. He lists people such as Janaka, Sukha, Gargi and Katwanga as examples of people who continued to live their married life after their self-realization.

Then he talks about the impermanence of the worldly things and how liberation is the only thing which is permanent. He says that this world is a stage for dramas and Brahman is the one who runs the show; night is the screen and sun is the light; we are are actors; karmas are the musical instruments and the desires are the music. Once a person starts to look at life this way, he will be able to develop vairagya (non-attachment) very quickly.

Chapter 8 – Varna Vibha Yoga

Manikanda talks about four varnas. The slokas are like rewritten verses of Purusha sukta. It talks about how people from different varnas were born from different parts of purusha.

He then says that being a householder is better than being a wandering monk, forest ascetic or a bachelor. These verses seem to echo what some older grihya sutras say. They also favoured married life over asceticism.

Manikanda then warns the king to not to read various scriptures and get confused. He says that whatever that has been conveyed so far is the essence of the scriptures and that he didn’t have to read anything else.

Finally he declares ‘sarvajnoham sarvagoham sarvasAkshyahameva bho’ which means I am the omniscient, omnipresent and a witness of everything. He asks the king to meditate on him all the time and promises him liberation.

…………………………

Thank you for reading. I could only write this because of grace! I sat this morning and resolved to write a detailed post on Bhutanatha gita and let everyone know about this text. I wanted that to happen on this Diwali day itself. I hope this answer gave a complete introduction to Bhoothanatha gita. I wish you a happy and peaceful Diwali!

(People who want to purchase this book can find details on Mr. V. Aravind Subramanyam’s bloghttp://shanmatha.blogspot.com/2011/04/bhoothanatha-geetha.html )

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Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev and Isha: Pride and Prejudice

Let me start this post with a short story. Because, most of the times, using stories and analogies is the best way to illustrate something clearly and make people understand. This is especially true when it comes to discussing anything related to the spiritual path or spiritual enlightenment.

Once there lived a parrot which hatched its egg on a beautiful day. From the broken shell of an egg emerged a beautiful parrot chick. Let us give it the name ‘Vikruthaksha’. (Don’t name your child Vikruthaksha because the word Vikruthaksha means having unnatural eyes or blind 🙂 ). I will give the reason why I named it that way after the end of the story.

The name of the mother parrot is Sathyadarshini. The young parrot chick Vikruthaksha was born inside the dark cavity of a peepal tree. The cavity was completely dark except some rays of light which was entering through the opening. Every day, Sathyadarshini brought food to the parrot and took care of it very well. As Vikruthaksha began to grow inside the cavity, Sathyadarshini started to talk to her about how beautiful the experience of flying is.

parrot

Vikruthaksha asked his mom, “Mom, what do you mean by flying? I don’t understand”.

Sathyadarshini said, “You won’t understand that yet dear. Because you have never experienced yourself flying. But I can tell you that you will have an experience of boundlessness and complete freedom. You can fly everywhere and look at the green fields, rivers, streams, and forests from the above, while almost kissing those beautiful white clouds floating in the blue sky! Right now, you are here as a part of your growth. But it will not last long. Soon, you will come out of this small cavity completely liberated. Then you will know how wonderful it is”

Vikruthaksha said, “But mom, I am very curious to find out how exactly it is going to be. Can you explain that to me with something that I can understand?”

Sathyadarshini replied, “Sure.. Once you start flying, you can find your own food. You will find a variety of colorful fruits all over the world. Right now, you are not grown enough to digest all those tasty fruits. But one day you certainly can. You can experiment with a variety of fruits and taste them whenever you want. And they are pretty delicious, wonderful and extraordinary.”

Vikruthaksha said, “Oh, you mean it is all going to be tasty? Now I understand”…Sathyadarshini smiled at him, kissed him and flew out in search of food. As far as Vikruthaksha was concerned, the only thing he could understand about flying was that it was going to be tasty.

Vikruthaksha began dreaming, thinking and trying to conceptualize how flying would feel like. He couldn’t wait to feel the experience of it!  Hours passed by as he kept thinking about it. It was getting late but Sathyadarshini never came. She was shot down by a hunter. Vikruthaksha began to feel hungry.

A few hours later, a human hand entered inside the cavity.. Seeing that, Vikruthaksha got scared, as it had never seen something like this before. A human voice spoke to it in the language of the parrots, “Dear little one! Don’t be scared! I am going to take you to my home and teach you how to fly. First, eat this piece of fruit. I think you must be hungry”. The hand dropped a small fruit inside the cavity, in front of the little parrot.

Hearing the word ‘fly’, Vikruthaksha got very excited. He started devouring the fruit. Finding it to be a new kind of fruit which was extremely tasty, Vikruthaksha shed tears of happiness while thinking, “This is something that mom has sent, since I wanted to fly! Oh my God, it was so quick! I can’t believe that I am going to fly soon and eat a variety of tasty fruits every day!”..

The man said, “Come on. Sit on my palms! I will take you home!”.. Vikruthaksha immediately hopped on his palms and the man took him home. Let us call this man Mayavi.

Mayavi took Vikruthaksha to his home and placed him in a golden cage that was decorated with embedded diamonds and pearls. The cage was in a brightly lit room. Once he placed Vikruthaksha inside the cage he gave him a fruit and said, ‘This is a consecrated space! See how beautiful it is.. I will give you fruits every day and you can just sit and enjoy’…

Vikruthaksha couldn’t thank Mayavi enough. Every day, Mayavi gave him some fruits. Vikruthaksha spent his time there sleeping and eating. Day by day, Vikruthaksha felt bored once in a while. But it was ok; because the routine was pretty good with all the fruits and stuff. And he always remembered what Mayavi told him, “Look, this is a very precious cage because it is made of gold and diamonds.. So, it is actually priceless. No other parrot has this privilege! They don’t understand unless they experience it.”

Soon, Mayavi brought a bigger cage and also brought more parrot chicks to the cage. Vikruthaksha lived with all those parrots and soon got trained to speak in human language. Mayavi would say something, and Vikruthaksha would repeat it. In the long run, all the parrots along with Vikruthaksha became pretty good in repeating whatever Mayavi says.

One day Mayavi said to all of them, “Dear people! I am sure you are all experiencing the effects of this wonderful golden cage! Some idiotic parrots do not understand any of this. I am on the mission of creating such undercover parrots like you so that you all start flying. Do you know the value of the gold and diamond which this cage is made of? Moreover, just think about the taste of the fruits you are eating. You would have never got all these in the cavities where you were living.”

All parrots repeated, ‘Yes Sadhguruji, we are so grateful to you!’. The poor parrots never learnt to fly and could never even think that they could actually fly out the cage into the wide open sky. They did not know their true potential and they mistook this experience of eating a variety of fruits in a well-lit cage as flight.

One day, a parrot called Kalyanamitra who lived in its natural habitat managed to peek its face inside the room through an open window. The parrots in the cage looked at it. The only thing which was visible was Kalyanamitra’s face.

Kalyanamitra asked, “What are you guys doing here?”

Vikruthaksha replied, “Don’t you see? We are trying to fly. Do you want to learn how to fly too?”

Kalyanamitra replied, “You guys are mistaken. This is not what we parrots call as flying”.

One parrot got frustrated and said, “You are an idiot… First, try and see if it works. Then judge!”.

Kalynamitra started laughing and said, “Poor guys.. No, this is not the real world.. You guys are missing out a lot. You already have the mechanism to fly and it is already inbuilt. You don’t have to rely on Mayavi to fly. First, you need to come out of the cage. Next time when he opens the door, just get out quickly and come outside”.

Vikruthaksha said, “You must experience and see. There is no use in just talking from there. Don’t ask us to get out. You try to get in. It will be totally worth it”

Kalynamitra said, “You guys want fruits right? Come out.. There are plenty of fruits out there. If you think this is what ‘flying’ is, think about what your mom told you.. You guys aren’t even spreading your wings. This guy who put you in the cage is misleading you!”

Another parrot got very angry and said, “Shame on you! It is clear that you have come with a hidden agenda. But you don’t understand a damn thing that we are talking about! It is funny that you are using logic to dissect all these things. You can’t understand all this with your stupid logic. Our Sadhguru Mayaviji is a boon for parrots because someone like him appears on this planet once in a millennium!”.

Kalyanamitra couldn’t say anything anymore. All he could do was to occasionally visit the parrots and remind them that what they think as ‘flying’ was not ‘flying’ at all. After all, Kalyanamitra didn’t have anything to lose. He was enjoying his boundless freedom and he thought that these poor parrots could taste this freedom too. Maybe one day these parrots would understand!

                                          ————–The End of the story————–


 

All right.. I think it will be easier for you to understand what I am trying to explain using the analogy presented in the story. First, let us look at the name Vikruthaksha. As I mentioned earlier, the name simply means being blind. When it comes to spiritual enlightenment, everyone who is not liberated/enlightened is blind; because he or she doesn’t really understand enlightenment by experience. The understanding is only conceptual and intellectual.

The spiritual enlightenment is similar to the experience of flying in the open sky. But a distinct spiritual experience is similar to eating a fruit by these parrots. The first thing that people need to understand is, a spiritual experience is not spiritual enlightenment; and spiritual enlightenment in itself is not a distinct experience that comes and goes.

There has been much confusion with the word ‘experience’ in the spiritual community. So, let me explain that first. At every moment, a person is experiencing life. Experience is inseparable from life. Your reality really is your conscious first-person experience. Because the whole world including your body and mind appear as objects in your conscious experience. When you were born, this pure conscious experience was the only reality. But as you started growing up, you developed a sense of separation from the world. Instead of a unified experience of reality with no distinctions, you started to experience the world with all its distinctions: You, other people and the world.

This separation between you and the rest of the world only exists in the mind. In fact, the separation itself is like a mirage and not real. But this separation got solidified in your mind in the long run as a part of the growth. This is not something evil, because this separation is pretty much a part of the growth and is supposed to happen. In the long run, you also develop a self-image or self-concept; with that, there also arises a need to protect and enhance this self-concept.

You then need many things to identify with and color your self-concept: Your parents, your relatives, your friends, your house, your properties, your beliefs, your values, your desires, your language, your race, your community, your country, your religion etc. The list is endless! Then each person you come across either falls into one of your groups or the outside group.

For example, a next door neighbor is an outsider because he doesn’t belong to your family. A person who speaks a different language, someone who belongs to a different religion or someone who belongs to a different country is an outsider in some way. And there is always a subconscious need to become better than another person or another group in some way. What you want to become may vary; for example, you may wish to become more righteous than others, more religious than others, more wealthy than others, more successful than others, more talented than others, more spiritual than others or more knowledgeable than others.

This also creates in-group out-group bias and prejudice. No matter how polite and helpful people appear to be, it is only on the surface; because, the hatred and anger that is fueled by the prejudice are always there in the depth of the mind, waiting to erupt at anytime. If someone from one religion makes a negative comment about another religion, you can witness this. This always happens between two groups, no matter what kind of group it is. And by your very nature, you will always want to conform to the standards of your own group. This group can be even as small as a group of friends that you belong to. And among the group of friends, there are still many divisions which can be narrowed down to ‘you’ vs ‘another’.

So, as a person belonging to one religion you may try to show that your religion is better than the others; as a person belonging to one country, you may try to show that your country is better than the others; as a person speaking one language, you may try to show that your language is better than the others;  This is what creates prejudice and it is the worst poison when it comes to spiritual path.

I am not talking about what is morally correct; I am talking about what won’t work if you are on the spiritual path. So, as long as your thought processes and decision making are controlled by prejudice, you haven’t even placed the first step in the spiritual path. This is true no matter how much books you have read, how many pilgrimages you have gone, how many gurus you have met or how many meditation camps or programs that you have attended.

And at the core, you are also trying to be better than your friend or your neighbor or any person who is an ‘other’; This puts you on a hedonic treadmill and makes you run the rat race that you call as ‘life’.

This tendency to ‘become’ something always lingers in the mind, either consciously or unconsciously. This craving to protect and maintain a self-concept creates a psychological time and also a future. Your tendencies, thought processes, speech, and action are then always aligned in a way which makes you think life as a journey from point A to point B in time. A simple definition of spiritual enlightenment is breaking out of this psychological time.  

But once you break out of the psychological time, you feel like a huge load has been lifted off of your shoulders. Even in your everyday experience, you would start to feel physically and mentally weightless. The experience of reality becomes pure, without clouded by the sense of a separate self. You just have a minutely subtle temporary sense of self when you interact with others and this arises only for practical purposes. But other than that, your life is a blissful vacation with nowhere to go and nothing to attain anymore. Because now, you are one with existence, which is always here and will be always here. This is the absolute and nothing is outside of it…Then the story of ‘me’ which is usually the center of a person’s experience of reality moves far away to the periphery and loses its significance. Then, the story is only important for practical purposes. When you are just with yourself, the story is no longer needed.

What people call as distinct spiritual experiences are just distinct experiences. They may be a good indication that you have progressed in the spiritual path to a certain extent. But this is just a part of the journey. There are some so-called spiritual gurus who completely ignore spiritual experiences and make it intellectual; there are some so-called gurus who exaggerate the importance of such spiritual experiences.  If you want to compare the difference between the two, compare it with the flying and eating the fruit in the story of the parrots.

Enlightenment is like the flight of those birds. It is the ultimate freedom. That is why we have always called it as mukthi or moksha. Both of those words literally mean ‘liberation’ or ‘freedom’. And these spiritual experiences are like the fruits. If you crave for spiritual experiences, it is also a craving and it also binds you. But once you are liberated, each and every moment becomes worth it. You are experiencing your life itself in a different way!

Now you can guess what happened to most of the people who are following Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev. In fact, it is the reality of most of the gurus and their followers. You can compare their followers with those parrots who were in the cage, parroting exactly what Mayavi says!

Each person has his own cage: for some people, the cage is the guru himself; they are too attached to the guru that they can’t let go of him and fly.

For some, the cage is the sense of belonging that they get because of the presence of other people in the community. The sense of belonging is actually a need for humans and some people just become ok when this need is fulfilled by becoming a part of their community. There is nothing wrong with that; but if you think this has got anything to do with spiritual path or enlightenment, then you are mistaken.

Yet for some, the cage is just the cocoon of various beliefs and concepts they carry in their mind about them, their spiritual path and their guru. They use all this to derive a sense of identity, which is totally opposite to what is supposed to happen in the spiritual path.

One needs to be extremely courageous to walk on the spiritual path, because he has to walk alone, gradually leaving back everything that he has thought of as ‘me’ or ‘mine’. I am not talking about running away from the society and renouncing the life. I am talking about living in the society but getting rid of identifications. Because all such identifications are like cages which stop you from flying; no matter how beautiful those cages are!

Most of the people in Isha do not seem to understand any of this, because they have become exactly like those parrots who simply repeat whatever that their guru says. It is true that some of them go through certain experiences solely because of the practices that they have been doing. Those practices are certainly useful but what Sadhguru speaks is completely misleading. Because, he himself is living in a cage. The only difference between these people and Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev is that Sadhguru is living in the most beautiful cage that these people have ever seen. He himself is conditioned by his own beliefs and identifications. I could clearly see this only after my own liberation.

When I try to explain this to these people, most of these people respond exactly the same way as how Vikruthaksha and other parrots responded to Kalyanamitra in the story. But I am pretty sure that there are a lot of intelligent people in Isha who will be willing to explore my blog and also the books of authentic people like Ramana Maharshi or J.Krishnamurti. So, for people who really have the ears to hear what I am saying, I am going to share something that happened recently, just to show how much brainwashed at least a certain people who are following him have become.

I had a conversation with a person who commented on one of my answers in Quora.To provide a context for that conversation, let me first include the actual answer that I wrote. Let me also explain what directed me to actually write that answer.

You will notice certain prejudice when it comes to Isha people: Prejudice against Science; Prejudice against Christianity, Christian missionaries and Islam (For any criticisms about Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev, they are programmed to reply by saying ‘Some Christian missionary is paying you’); and to some extent, they are also prejudiced against the West.  This may not be true about all people who are in Isha or who listen to Sadhguru. But at least, most of the people who go about commenting on the internet actually reveal this prejudice. Most importantly, they reply to any kind of valid criticisms with ad hominem attacks. I have nothing against these people. In fact, the only reason why I am taking my time to write all this is in the hope that at least 1% of people who read this will understand what exactly I am trying to say. There is more danger to listening to Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev, because of much misleading information he is giving regarding science, history, and etymology.  

So, I answered a question in Quora which asked ‘Why are Christian missionaries so paranoid about Sadhguru’. Before you read the answer, let me give you a disclaimer. As far as I am concerned, religion and spirituality are two different things. A large part of the holy books of most of the religions was written when people were living in a barbaric age and gave absolutely no importance to human rights. But I was hoping that at least the nature of my answer will try to see where exactly people are going wrong. I wanted to insist that love and peace have actually been the teachings of people like Jesus. When their teachings were written down, they obviously got distorted, which is a topic for another post.


The question asked in Quora: Why are Indian Christians so paranoid about Sadhguru?

My answer:

I see an irony in this question…

Let us look into the meaning of the words ‘Hinduism’, ‘Christian’ and ‘Islam’…

Who is a Hindu?

I am going with Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev himself, when defining the word ‘Hinduism’. He defines it as follows:

The term and concept of Hinduism was coined only in recent times. Otherwise, there was really no such thing. The word “Hindu” essentially comes from the word Sindhu. Anyone who is born in the land of Sindhu is a Hindu. It is a cultural and geographic identity. It is like saying “I am an Indian” but it is a more ancient identity than being an Indian. “Indian” is only about seventy years old, but this is an identity that we have always lived with.

Anyone who is an Indian is a Hindu. I totally agree! (And since Sadhguru is defining the word ‘Hinduism’ by his interpretation based on etymology, I am going with the same logic to define Christianity and Islam)

Who is a Christian?

Anyone who follows the Christ is a Christian. What is the core message of the Christ?

Matthew 22:36-40 New International Version (NIV)

36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”

37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’

38 This is the first and greatest commandment.

39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

Jesus only gave two commandments. And both commandments are about Love. Anyone who loves another human being as himself is a Christian.

Who is a Muslim?

The word muslim (Arabic: مسلم‎, IPA: [ˈmʊslɪm]; English: /ˈmʌzlɪm/, /ˈmʊzlɪm/, /ˈmʊslɪm/ or moslem /ˈmɒzləm/, /ˈmɒsləm/[24]) is the active participle of the same verb of which islām is a verbal noun, based on the triliteral S-L-Mto be whole, intact

The word ‘Islam’ is about wholeness and peace. Peace is a synonym for the word Islam. And I know that a person who feels complete and whole is peaceful!

Can somebody be a Hindu, a Christian and a Muslim at the same time?

Yes.. Anyone who is an Indian and who walks in the path of love and peace is all the three.

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I made this pic about two years before..

But I think I made a mistake in that picture. It should have been ‘One God, one Mankind’.

We create all the imaginary divisions among people, when no such divisions exist. As far as I am concerned, there are only two kinds of people:

1)One who believes…

2)One who knows…

When you believe in something, you still don’t know. Once you know, there is no need for beliefs..

I agree with Sadhguru when he says the following:

The conflict in the world is not between good and evil, as is so often projected. The conflict is always between one man’s belief and another man’s belief, whether it is within the family or between nations. The moment you believe something, you are in conflict with the opposing belief. You can postpone it with moderate talk. But conflict is inevitable.

But then I came across this on a Sadhguru’s Youtube video, after seeing these pics in a Quora answer. The comments highlighted in red are from people who believe in Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev’s words:

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Make sure you also read the comment from ‘Core Puncher’ highlighted in green. Someone commented me in a Quora answer that I am a shame to India, because I criticized Sadhguru. (Please note: Criticism is not hatred). But what do you see in the above comment, which is obvious?

Anybody who is paranoid about another human being, her/his race, religion, nationality, gender etc cannot be a Christian (man of love), cannot be a Muslim(man of peace) but can still be a Hindu. And I don’t see anything wrong in converting this non-Christian person into a true Christian, a person who loves another human being as himself.

But unfortunately, the followers/believers of Sadhguru has been trained to label anyone who expresses any skepticism as someone who is funded by a Christian Missionary! You will see this in many places.. Does somebody criticize Sadhguru? Is somebody skeptical of anything he says? Well, then he should be funded by a Christian missionary to do this.

I have also been criticizing Sadhguru for a while, highlighting many things I disagree based on what I have known/experienced (not based on what I believe). I know that someone at sometime is going to say that a Christian missionary is giving me money. And someone almost did that yesterday.

He didn’t specify anything about Christian missionary. But he implied that I am trying to convert Hindus to another religion. He left the following comment in my post Why Do I Criticize Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev? :

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But in a way, he is right. I am trying to convert people who are religious/belief oriented to a true Christian, a person who can see and love another human being as himself. What is wrong with that? The whole post talks mainly about blind and abusive behavior.

I am certainly a Christian missionary who wants to stop such abuse and who wants Isha volunteers to understand the real meaning of the word ‘namaskaram’, a word that is used by them to greet other people.

I already explained the meaning of the word ‘Namaskaram’ in another answer that I wrote:

Every person is essentially nothing but this Truth which is beyond all the names and forms. In other words, You are That! But if you still consider and experience yourself as a person with a body and mind, then it would be correct to say that this Truth is inside you. That is why Jesus said ‘The Kingdom of God’ is within you.

This is also the reason why people say ‘Namaskaram’ because when a person says namaskaram to another person, you are essentially bowing down to the Truth inside him or the Shiva inside him. And this Truth is also your inner Guru, the true Satguru!

This inner Guru is capable of guiding you towards the truth when you are sincerely seeking liberation. This is what Buddha meant when he said ‘Follow your own light’. This inner light is Shiva. When we talk about Dakshninamoorthy, we are talking about the same inner Guru.

Do you know what is an ‘ad hominem attack’? I want everyone who doesn’t know about it to understand what it means.

Ad hominem (Latin for “to the man” or “to the person”short for argumentum ad hominem, is a fallacious argumentative strategy whereby an argument is rebutted by attacking the character, motive, or other attribute of the person making the argument, or persons associated with the argument, rather than attacking the substance of the argument itself.

If somebody has an argument and if you personally attack his intelligence or anything else instead of refuting his views by proper objections, it is an ad hominem attack.

It is not only a fallacy but it is certainly not a sign of love and acceptance. Calling someone as ‘idiot’ or ‘stupid’ and stating such an attack as an objection to anything that you want to disagree with is an ad hominem attack.

You cannot expect such a love and acceptance by everyone, but it is certainly expected by someone who meditates or who claims to have realized the ultimate love, peace, and freedom. But I have found that most of the so-called Isha meditators always react this way to any kind of criticism by saying ‘shame on you’, ‘you are an idiot’etc etc etc.

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I think all Isha volunteers recognize the picture in the right, where Sadhguru is hugging and giving love to such a prisoner, who is living in jail for whatever criminal offense he has committed. The criminal offense can be anything like murder, rape etc. How kind of Sadhguru to even shower love on somebody who has committed some inhuman crime! Right?

But I came across a tweet which was tweeted recently by Sadhguru. Let me elaborate…

Prashant Bhushan, a lawyer and founder member of the Swaraj Abhiyan has shared an article from http://savukkuonline.com on his Twitter account.The article he had shared talks about many allegations about Sadhguru with a very critical tone.

I don’t know anything about Prashant Bhushan. But whoever he might be and no matter what kind of person he is, let us put that aside. But if Sadhguru can unconditionally love someone who is in a prison, how do you think Sadhguru would have responded to such a tweet? Here is how he responded:

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Please also read Sadhguru’s long message that you see just above Prashant Bushan’s tweet. This is called as an ‘ad hominem attack’.

This tweet by Sadhguru has 6,600 likes, 4,100 retweets, and 682 replies.. And most of the replies are quite abusive. You can read the replies by the so-called Isha meditators yourself. Many people called this lawyer a stupid and many people even called him as a ‘dog’ who is barking.

But I was happy to see one person who responded like this:

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He wrote something on Twitter and about 600 people have abused and personally attacked him by saying all kinds of words, including the phrases like ‘he is a barking dog’.

(That is an extremely abusive phrase that Isha people use often, by the way. And I understand that Mr. Prashant Bhushan is noted for his use of public interest litigation (PIL) to support a number of causes related to corruption, environmental protection, and human rights. So, obviously, such an abuse is not something that a social activist deserves)

Well. Even a barking dog is calmed by love. Human beings have done it for ages:

 

Jesus, even when he was nailed to the cross because of all the allegations against him said ‘”Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” . And he promoted love. He asked people to love even their enemies.
I don’t think there is anything wrong to be a true Christian, a person who loves another person as himself. And according to Sadhguru’s own definition, an Indian Christian is none other than a Hindu Christian! Why would a true Christian be paranoid about another human being? If he is, he is not a Christian!

————–The End of Quora answer ————–


I hope what I am trying to say make sense now; ok, now please read the conversation between me and a guy who was trying to defend Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev here. I first need to thank him for commenting on that answer of mine. Because, after seeing the way he was reacting, I was completely convinced that I should write this post on my blog.

I was extremely shocked to see that he totally missed the point even after reading how much I stress love, peace, and friendliness in this Quora answer. If he has been brainwashed in such a way, then I think it is getting dangerous.  I am going to use the name Vikruthaksha in place of his original name.

Here is how the conversation went:

Vikruthaksha: The difference between a fool and an intelligent man is that an intelligent man knows how foolish he is. Your life, your choice.

Me: How is that relevant to anything that is written in my answer? Please explain…

Vikruthaksha: If you didn’t get it already what the man actually wants to say after all your meticulous research, you’d never get it. At least not by anyone else’s explanation. But that’s ok. Your life, your choice.

Me: how long do you know Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev? Your reply is similar to what I would have said 14 years before…I think I have to tell you whatever that you said. Find out whether you really know what you think you know.

Vikruthaksha: No please don’t assume you’re capable of telling me anything. I don’t take instructions from people who are slave to of their own distorted mind. No thanks. You have a good day and a good life.

Me: Actually, you have made an assumption about me but completely missed the whole point of this answer…Come out of your blindness and seek your inner guru…

Vikruthaksha: I didn’t have to assume a thing about you. You already put it all up there on display.

Me:  The underlying message of this post is love, compassion and forgiveness… if this answer seems to be coming from a ‘distorted’ mind to you, then it is time for you to look into yourself…

Anyway, replying to a post with an ad hominem attack instead of refuting something with valid counter arguments seems to be an incurable disease for many people.

Read the answer again if you haven’t..What exactly is the part you disagree with and why? Just because what I say is not in agreement with what you believe,you are lowering your own standards by engaging in ad hominem attack… I would be wary of anybody who wants to say anything about spirituality If he doesn’t even understand what love is.

Your assumptions about me are completely wrong! You are talking to somebody who has realized himself, who is no more as a person and who has found the divinity within himself…

Be a human first; for people who can’t understand divinity within themselves, the only thing I have to say is to learn at least to be a human. After all, that is exactly what I have tried to convey in this answer… Just open your eyes and see it…

Vikruthaksha: The way you call yourself realised. Lol. Cute. You’re so lost buddy. Maybe it’s time for you to stop pretending.

Me: let us leave my realization aside.. do you have anything to say about the rest of the things I have said? When the central topic of this answer is love, what is your explanation for your statement that this answer is coming from someone who is slave to his distorted mind? Do you even have the capability to explain? Because, you are not even realizing that your comments are adding credibility to what I have written about anybody who blindly supports Sadhguru..

Vikruthaksha: I dont care what i look like to anyone. About your answer, do you realize that your looking at this through intellect (which only knows how to disect and compare) and not the other dimensions of your mind. Your focus is on disecting what’s not when youve completely ignored whats there. And only because your way of being, you have an answer for this distorted question. What should i say to a man who chooses to be horse eyed. Nothing. My only attempt, if any, to such a man would only be to shock the man into his senses. Be productive or mind my own business. Those are my only options to choose from. And I’m the only one who allows access to those options.

Me: Read this reply carefully, because it is very likely that you will miss it..

First of all, if you are listening to Sadhguru, you need to at least pay attention to certain very important things that he has said.

I know the limitations of intellect and mind.. And I know when to use the intellect and when not to use it. And for your information, Sadhguru himself has said that he never said anyone to not to use their minds…

When I have to have a conversation with someone, the only tools I have is language, logic and intellect. When I am done with the conversation, I don’t have any use for any of it. Because, the experience of my life is not limited to anything, including intellect, mind,senses or the whole body. But the problem is, there is no possibility to translate that experience into language. It is completely indescribable; because after enlightenment many psychological distinctions disappear and psychological time disappears with it too.

The whole point of this answer is very simple. I see a lot of hatred and prejudice among the followers of any guru, including Sadhguru. You may deny you are not a follower but you are a meditator; but you have just revealed that you are too emotionally attached to a physical form and are simply parroting what Sadhguru says…

You asked me in the beginning if I have understood what Sadhguru says; I have understood many things he said more than he himself has understood it. Because, he himself is parroting Osho.

First, these Sadhguru followers have a standard convenient rebuttal for anything that they cannot refute with their intellect and reasoning. Immediately they will say, ‘you are using intellect and logic; It can only dissect’. Yes, it is true that you can only use it for dissecting. But that is not an excuse to not to use your intellect! Everything has its own purpose in the existence, including bull shit and horse shit. They help in growing plants!

If anybody who is using intellect is having distorted mind, then Adhishankara’s mind should be distorted, Buddha’s mind is distorted; and J.Krishnamurti’s mind is distorted according to this argument. Because, all these people used intellect to its maximum potential. After self-realization you can use anything to its maximum potential and the experience of reality is completely boundless!

Second, Sadhguru himself says first you need to help yourself towards your own liberation. He also says not to talk about anything that is not in your experience! But guess what, his own followers are not listening to him. You said that minding your own business is one of the choices you have. The truth is, when it comes to spiritual path, minding your own business is the only choice you have. Get liberated and then talk whatever you want! Until then, you do not have the measuring scale to judge me!

Surprisingly, whatever you said about me applies to your own mindset. The first thing you said was “The difference between a fool and an intelligent man is that an intelligent man knows how foolish he is. Your life, your choice.”… But this is exactly what all the Isha followers are doing. After listening to some of Sadhguru’s youtube talks and doing a couple of programs, they now think that they know more than the rest of the population and everyone else are idiots.. And the very reason why I started criticizing Sadhguru is because of this behavior. At least, some people who have read my blog, including some long term volunteers of Isha, have realized what I am trying to say.

Then you said I am pretending… Do you realize that you are actually pretending to know what spirituality is? Above all, you are pretending to know the state of my mind..

Until you see the peak of spiritual path, do not give in to such mind games! I saw Sadhguru way back in 2003 and I was an insanely addicted to his talks, books and Isha. From the year 2002, it is has been a very long, lonely journey and a life or death problem.. Most of the people are not really ready to do that. They are just looking for some sense of belonging; something that they can attach themselves to. Anyway, it is only after something that happened in 2014, after 12 years of journey which was almost like walking on the rope 2000 metres above a deep valley, I realized my own self, without a doubt. It is only after all that, I realized how misleading certain things that Sadhguru himself says…

If you are really listening to Sadhguru, then let me remind you of some of the important things that he himself said:

  1. Be skeptical and open-minded.
  2. Truth is the authority; authority is not the truth.
  3. Don’t talk about anything that is not in your experience
  4. Don’t indulge in judging others. Mind your own business.

These are not commandments. These are told to you simply because without understanding these basic principles you will not progress in spiritual path. The reason why many Isha people do not understand such things is because Sadhguru himself talks about many things which are misleading and have the capability to distract you from the spiritual path, In fact, he has said many things which are completely wrong about the nature of enlightenment.

You don’t have to believe me; but just be open-minded and be willing to explore my blog: http://nellaishanmugam.wordpress…. I have no reason to pretend and whatever I have written there is based on my own experience. To start with, read this: For Seekers of Liberation.

Remember, you can say whatever you want; but I don’t have anything to lose…. I have gone beyond anything that a typical human being can conceive of in his mind.

Vikruthaksha: And again, with this you’ve assumed a world of things. You’re way way off the track. I do not wish to drain my energy on someone this lost. Since you do not seem to have the tendency to pick up a cue, let me spell it out for you. I see you naked down to your confused core. I see your experience of life. And i pity you. You deserve better. I deserve better too. There are much better things to do.

Me:  You are repeating just this one thing over and over again.. First, tell me what exactly is the purpose of your conversation, starting from your first comment..

Just for the sake of argument, let us assume that I am completely lost. What do you think your comment will do to me? I only see a reaction and an attempt to quarrel.. Do you even have the capability to have a normal friendly conversation here? Do you think repeatedly saying to someone that ‘You are so lost, confused etc’ will actually help him in anyway? The only thing it may do is help you to vent your frustration or anger.. If it is indeed helping you to vent your frustration, you are welcome to do so..I will be happy to be helpful.. I think this list of 100 abusive words can help you: The Online Slang Dictionary

I don’t know anything about you and your life. And it is also true that you don’t know anything about me too. I am saying all this because I have traveled in the path and I understand the mindset of the seekers. There are many things which people realize only in the passage of time..

Sumit, First, understand the difference between a normal discussion and a series of ad hominem attacks…

(He hasn’t replied yet. In case he replies, I will add it here)


 

This post is a wake-up call to people who are still relying on a single external authority for their spiritual growth, no matter who that authority is…  My posts which are critical about what Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev says are only intended to echo Buddha’s final message: Appo deepo bhava – Be a light unto yourself.

Also read the following pages:

Why Do I Criticize Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev?

Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev on Osho – The Two Diamonds to Discover your Inner Self!

Why do some people accuse Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev for copying Osho when Osho himself was a “potpourri” of various religious teachings?

Who taught yoga to Adiyogi according to Sadhguru?

Does Rudraksha from Isha foundation rotate according to the quality of food as Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev claims? Does it still work if you tie the Rudraksha on something static?

Do you think that Mr. Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev is a fraud?

Is Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev trying to convert Shiva Purana to science? Why does he insist that the fantasy stories in Shiva Purana and other mythological stories are based on science?

 

A Testimony From An Isha Volunteer

I recently got an email from an Isha volunteer in response to my criticism about Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev. He/she had asked me to reply; but when I tried to directly reply to the email, it said that the email could not be delivered. Since I have already mentioned in the contact form of this blog that I may choose to post the content of the emails in this blog, I am going to use this post to reply to that friend from Isha. Also, I am going to discuss a few things which will be useful to other sincere seekers who are attached to Isha.

Here is the content of the email:

Hi Shanmugam,

Have been reading your Quora answers and your blog posts.

Just wanted to say thank you.

I am volunteering at Isha for the past five and a half years.

I am greatly indebted to you for what you have communicated to me through your answers.

Your answer to the question”Is Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev trying to convert Shiva Purana to science?” gave me a really good laugh after a long long time.

Your answer to “How can I outsmart the existing Godmen in India?” made me laugh at my own foolishness.

I want to have a chat with you and get your advice on whether to get out of this situation or continue. Because if I continue, I have a lot to gain, but if I continue, knowing that this is a sham, will I be able to face myself later. The situation is way more complex than what I am able to express when writing this. If you ever come to Coimbatore in the near future, would like to sit with you and talk, or can have a phone conversation.

Sorry for using an anonymous id.

Kindly reply…

Here is my reply and I hope he/she reads this.

Dear friend,

Thank you for your comments and understanding. As I said, I couldn’t reply directly via email. So, I am posting my reply here..

My intention of such criticisms about Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev is only to make the seekers (who are into Isha) aware of certain unconscious tendencies of the mind and increase their skepticism. Despite many oppositions, I am pretty sure that it is helping sincere seekers. For you, my posts seem to have done their job.

However, whether you want to get out of this situation or not is totally up to you. As long as you retain the skepticism and follow your own light, where you are doesn’t make any difference. If your friends and family already know about your volunteering etc, it may be emotionally challenging for you to leave the situation right away. You can stay in the same situation and still make progress in the spiritual path, by taking what is good and leaving the rest. Now, I guess you know how to discriminate. 🙂

In fact, there are many positive aspects in your situation:

  1. The atmosphere in Isha is very beautiful and conducive to meditation.
  2. I have always recommended the programs in Isha to anybody who is interested in Isha. They are indeed very helpful and I know that. But it is very important to not to get stuck with just techniques and move forward to the ‘non-doing‘ part of your spiritual path that I have explained here: For the Seekers of Liberation. If you still need a lot of purification for the mind and the body (which is explained here), then staying in the situation may be helpful for you. You may feel motivated to do meditations when you see others doing them.
  3. If they encourage you to do volunteering for social service like planting trees etc, then you are indeed doing a valuable service for people. When you do that with the attitude of Karma Yoga, it also helps in preparing the ground, just like the kriyas you do. But just make sure that you are not exploited in the name of volunteering. Having read my criticisms, you know better about your situation and I hope you know what to do.
  4. When you get exposed to myths over and over again, at one point you will start believing them. This happens to everybody even if they say ‘I neither believe or disbelieve’. Such is the power of the illusory truth effect. You need to remind yourself of this again and again if you choose to continue with your current situation.

As you probably understand by now, I am not personally against anybody, including Sadhguru. My criticisms are just criticisms. The only agenda behind this is to help sincere seekers to follow their own light. In fact, it is about finding the satguru, who is the inner guru.  This is pretty much in line with every mystic that we know of, including Osho, Ramana Maharshi, Lahiri Mahasaya etc.

I want to conclude with a message that I gave to another seeker, who agreed with my posts but still thought that the criticism is unfair. This is something that you probably understand already, but I am quoting it for the other readers who are reading this post:

“My point is, any external form you see is just a form… When people react to criticism about Sadhguru or anyone, they are only reacting to a persona that is reflected in their own mind.. Real satguru is beyond the name and form and he is within you… I understand the respect you show for a person.. but who is this person? Is this person the body you see? or is that the voice you hear when he speaks? He is none of these.., beyond all the names and forms, there is no difference between you and him…”

In Isha Kriya, people are taught to mentally repeat ‘I am not the body and I am not the mind’ for every breath; If a person really understands the concept behind Isha Kriya, he will certainly be able to see the validity in my posts. Since you have already seen that, I hope many things are clear to you and that your journey will be smoother than before.

Everything in life teaches lessons. I am pretty sure you have learnt so many good things while being in Isha too. If you email me again and tell me more about your situation, I can probably give a more helpful answer based on your situation.

With Love,

Shanmugam

 

Why Do I Criticize Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev?

(I am republishing an answer that I wrote on Quora. The question was asked by an anonymous user and here is the complete question in his own words: ” Why are there some opponents of Sadhguru who are dedicated to nitpick something wrong instead of learning or appreciating many correct things that he says?“)

I am pretty sure that I am one of the so called ‘opponents’ who seemingly has a dedication for criticizing him; I also think that the anonymous guy who asked this question is someone that I am aware of; a guy who feels angry and hurt after reading my criticism about Sadhguru.

So let me explain why I criticize him. I hope the poor guy understands why, instead of taking it too personal. I will also narrate the story that happened between this poor guy and me on Quora :). The poor guy is the hero of that story :).

Assume that the poor guy is the one who is in the front of everyone else, in the following image!

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This is a very important answer. So, I suggest you read it word by word without missing anything. Don’ be in a hurry to comment, read the complete answer…

This answer is going to be a long one..Because, I have to cover many things in this answer, to give you a perfect context. If you can’t read it now, just bookmark it and read it later.

Don’t wonder why I am taking my time to write all this. This is a multi-purpose answer. I will also be republishing this in my blog. I enjoy what I do and ideas simply flow like a stream once I sit down and write. So I absolutely have no difficulty in writing such answers…

First of all, I am not an opponent of Sadhguru. I don’t hate him and I am not against him personally.

I have praised Sadhguru many times. When it comes to the clarity in his speech, his wonderful voice, his humor sense, his involvement in life, his expertise in driving, his ability to be open to experience , his interest in architecture and many other things, he is excellent! You can read my review about him here: Shanmugam P’s answer to What is your review of Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev (Indian yogi)?

I don’t care much about legal allegations against him. I have rarely spoken about them, except some questions that were raised regarding his wife’s death. Another blogger explains those questions better than me, I will give you that link: The controversial death of Sadhguru’s wife Vijji . There are some questions which are not addressed by Sadhguru and they are very important.

But when it comes to other allegations, I have listened to both sides of stories and I don’t always cling to one possibility. Also, I know that when a leader is running a huge organization, the leader is usually seen responsible for the fault of some unknown follower.

I don’t want to speak about something that I am not certain about, just to defame someone. But sadly, some people think that it is what I am doing. No, it is not! Defaming him is not my intention…

My Criticism is only about one and one thing only!

There is one thing that I am certain about… And my main criticism about him is related to that one thing alone! It is spiritual enlightenment and it also includes some extraordinary claims made in the name of spiritual enlightenment.

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I know what it is.. But the hardest thing to talk about is that, people already have a lot of ideas about enlightenment.. Many people think that they know what it is, by going by the words of their own gurus, their own scriptures and their own imagination..

I have had my share of wrong assumptions about it too. But it all pretty much ended in 2014..( a few of those wrong assumptions were still remaining which I got clarified three years later). I went through something, a psychological death of the sense of self, an extinction of a limited self that made me realize that I was never separate from the existence and this whole idea of a separate self is an illusion. It ended all my self-referential thinking, all the self-induced suffering, all my seeking and longing and gave me a sense of absolute freedom..

I don’t call it enlightenment because I hate to associate my experience of reality with a word that has been misused from the time immemorial. And, saying ‘I am enlightened’ is actually incorrect because that statement is inherently dualistic.

This doesn’t necessarily mean that those who have declared it were not enlightened. But it is also true that they don’t really talk about it unless there is a compelling reason. Language itself is dualistic, it can neither capture the absolute truth nor can it convey the pure experience of reality. But language can be a useful device to point out where to look and to tell people how to do that. To understand more about spiritual enlightenment, read this answer: Shanmugam P’s answer to What is enlightenment?

I have tried to meditate all my life. I did my first meditation when I was just 7 years old. I thought meditation is just sitting in closed eyes and with crossed legs with no body movement. Later when I was about 10 years old, I learnt and tried to do various asanas, pranayamas etc. But I really didn’t understand what spirituality is all about. The general idea that I had in my mind was that spirituality is all about suppressing my desires, fighting with my own mind, reading all the spiritual books in the world and trying to show extreme devotion to a personal God. It never worked even though I read all the books I could. When I was in the verge of committing suicide, I came across a book which had talks of Osho. And all I could say was ‘wow!’..You can read the full story here: The Journey of a Seeker – My Story.

If you read my short bio in my blog, it will read like this:

I am a blogger and I was a spiritual seeker. I had a tremendous awakening experience in July 12, 2014 on a Gurupurnima day in the presence of Sadhguru but I wouldn’t call that as spiritual enlightenment. But it did free me from many things and changed many things

When people read this and also read my criticism against Sadhguru, their first response is “I kind of feel weird because you say you had an awakening in the presence of Sadhguru and yet you criticize him, lol”. I am pasting a reply that I gave to one person who said this:

Yes.. I have mentioned that it happened during Sadhguru’s satsang on a guru poorinima day because that is exactly what happened. But usually what people do is add their own explanations for it. Human beings have been doing it for ages. What people forget is that correlation is not causation. Probably there is a correlation between full moon days and spiritual awakenings. But when we create our own explanations for it, errors are bound to happen. If you read my bio again, I have never said that Sadhguru’s presence caused my spiritual awakening. I was already doing everything in a focused way during the two months prior to it and it reached a peak during that day. That is all I know!

If you read my blog post regarding my spiritual journey, you will understand the context of it. The only spiritual practice that I did on a regular basis was ‘witnessing’, a meditation suggested by Osho which can be practiced anytime, anywhere.

” My way of meditation is very simple. There are one hundred and twelve methods of meditation. Out of all of those I have chosen the most simple – the most easily done. I call it witnessing.

The moment you witness something you become separate from it, you are the witness, the thing becomes an object – the witnessed.

If you are walking on the road, and you are also witnessing that you are walking – not going along just like a robot, mechanical, everyday habit, the road is known, the legs know it, you can even walk with closed eyes. But walking with absolute alertness every step, every fall of a leaf, every ray of the sun, every bird flying in front of you, fully alert… slowly, slowly, you become aware that you are not the body that is walking, you are something inside which is witnessing.

Once you have witnessed your body, you have got the knack of the method.

Then you start witnessing your thoughts – sitting silently, just watching the rush of thoughts, not interfering, not saying, “This is good. This is bad.” Not justifying, not appreciating, no judgment… non-judgmental witnessing, just like the mirror. Anybody passes by, the mirror reflects it; that’s all, it makes no comment.

Strangely enough, when you stop making comments on the thoughts, they begin to stop; your comments keep them alive. Once you are simply a mirrorlike witness, thoughts disappear, and you become aware of a deeper layer, of emotions, moods, which are very subtle. You are not even aware many times that you are sad. You are often not aware of what your emotional state is – it is very deep, there is a thick layer of thoughts. When thoughts have stopped, then you become aware of a very subtle breeze – and there is a great joy to see it pass. The method remains the same – you remain a witness without judgment.

First body, second mind, third heart. And the fourth happens on its own.

I call my way the fourth way because after the third you cannot do anything.

Once your emotions and moods disappear, suddenly there is a quantum leap – the witness has nothing to witness anymore. It comes home. It witnesses itself. It becomes both the seer and the seen, the object and the subject, and for the first time you have unity. This experience of absolute organic unity of your consciousness has been called by different names – moksha, nirvana, liberation, enlightenment, illumination. Whatever word you choose makes no difference.

But this is the ultimate peak, this is the ultimate goal of human life.

So my method is very simple. You need not even sit to do it. You can do it anywhere – walking on the street, sitting in the bus, sitting in the plane, eating, even sleeping. When you are going to sleep you don’t fall asleep suddenly, it takes a few minutes; just watch how the sleep comes in. Slowly, slowly, you will see sleep coming in, and as your witnessing becomes deeper there comes a moment when you can see that the whole night you are asleep yet still alert.

I have tried almost all one hundred and twelve methods. That list is exhaustive, there is no possibility of adding a single method more. You can make a method of combinations, but those one hundred and twelve are exhaustive.

Out of them all I have chosen witnessing, because most of them are based on this in different ways. ”

– The Last Testament Volume 4: Chapter 15 by Osho

A guy who commented on my spiritual journey in my blog kept advising me to read Vigyan Bhairav Tantra. I told him that I already read that and I also gave him the above excerpt. Then I explained the following:

What Osho called as witnessing is exactly what I practiced. Witnessing, self-inquiry, mindfulness and nididhyasana are all essentially the same, even though described differently and approached differently. It is the most direct approach and extremely powerful.

That is exactly the reason why Ramana Maharshi advocated self-inquiry. It is a deep inquiry of every thought, experience, emotion and sensation that arise moment to moment and recognizing that none of these objects of consciousness is ‘me’ or ‘mine’.

It is negating everything that arises in your consciousness as ‘not me’, ‘not me’ by simple recognition; not by thinking or analyzing or verbalizing it but just noticing for what it is. It is also called as ‘neti-neti’ method, which literally means ‘not this, not this’…

After this transformation, my life was completely different. I forgot all about spirituality, all about future and past and I totally forgot to think about me.. But there were challenges that I faced during the first 3 years because there was a period of integration. There were a lot of old tendencies which had to lose their momentum over a period of these three years. I still had deep reverence for Sadhguru during these three years and I never had a doubt regarding his claims.

In December 2016 I had to change my job. While updating my resume, I was quite surprised… What am I going to say when the interviewer asks ‘Tell me about yourself’?.. I had not thought about myself, the image of me that was derived from my past for the last three years. It has been long since I thought about my strengths and weaknesses, my objectives and all that. So, I had to make some effort to recollect many things about me.

That is when I also started posting in my blog. I had spent about Rs. 22,000 to buy Linga Bhairavi Gudi and Rs.11,000 for Dhyanalinga Yantra because I thought that It will create an energy space in my home, something that may help my family. I spent about a month from September 2016 until the Navarathri festival that year in decorating Linga Bhairavi with flowers, offering sweets and fruits to her, singing, listening and playing the songs from ‘He Devi’, an album released by Sounds of Isha. I kind of created a forced duality to see myself separate from Linga Bhairavi that triggered a lot of forgotten memories and feelings. I used to be very devotional when I was a kid and usually such practicies trigger those memories. The nine days of Navarathri that year was a period of intimate devotion and a roller coaster ride of emotions. It all came to an end on the 10th day, the Dusserah festival which I spent in Kulasekarapattinam, a town famous for Dusserah celebration. I had a permanent tattoo of Linga in my right shoulder that day.

The poor guy who thinks I am an opponent of Sadhguru thinks that the purpose of my whole blog is to criticize and defame Sadhguru. No, it is not! The very first post that I made in my blog was a poem that I wrote about Linga Bhairavi and Dhyanalinga. Here it is: தியானலிங்கமும் லிங்க பைரவியும் – Kural Venba about Isha and Linga Bhairavi

My wife was pregnant and we were expecting a delivery in the month of December. I was expecting a female kid and I wanted to name her ‘Bhairavi’. But it turned out to be a boy and we named him Lingesh. He was born on December 11th, 2016. December 11 is also the birthday of Osho; what a coincidence!

Anyway, this was the time I was slowly regaining my faculty of logical thinking. I literally stepped out of my logical mind during the transformation that happened in 2014 and I had to slowly learn to think logically. I was like a kid for the first two and a half years and I slowly learnt to act like a grown up. This was really like a second birth for me.

And I never seriously considered what happened to me but I found that Sadhguru’s version of spiritual enlightenment was seriously contradicting with many things that happened to me. There was no way that I could match what happened to me with many things Sadhguru is talking about. But still, I could never think that Sadhguru could be wrong. One thing was clear though, my seeking had ended, there was absolutely nothing that was lacking, nothing to gain anymore and nothing to improve upon! There was no solid and consistent self to improve upon or to attain anything. My life was peaceful, fulfilled, joyful and there was absolutely nothing that was lacking. There has been a sense of tremendous freedom, the kind of freedom that I had never experienced in my life. It is only when people taste such a freedom, they could understand how bound and helpless they were before.

That is when I began to interact in an online forum where I had a discussion with a lady. She explained her understanding of spiritual enlightenment as follows and she was very confident in what she was saying:

You will still live a human existence, which has polarity and that includes mental pain, it’s suffering that ends, because you know that your true Self, awareness, is not in the least effected by it and that is your true identity.

Another words, let’s say your enlightened…your mother dies. You will still feel emotional pain and even cry. Being enlightened will put it in perspective, so you won’t suffer, but you will feel mental pain, even if temporary. If you don’t like your mother (lol), then insert in that sentence someone else or your animal. This is just one example of many.

I couldn’t agree with this! We started talking about many things about how the experience of life is after enlightenment. But strangely enough, I didn’t consider myself as enlightened and I also wasn’t seeking enlightenment. I just had no concrete idea of what had happened to me.

She then posted an excerpt of her western teacher called ‘Ted Schmidt’:

Question- Is an enlightened person totally immune and never experiences fear, negative emotions?

Ted: No, as I mentioned in my last response, the enlightened person experiences life just like an unenlightened person except for one fundamental difference: the enlightened person (i.e., the person who has assimilated self-knowledge and “attained” moksha by having apprehended the fact that his or her essential nature is already free) isn’t swept away by the pain and pleasure that he or she experiences. The enlightened person knows that these experiences come and go and don’t really have any effect on the essential nature of the self. Thus, while the pain and pleasure persist, the suffering that ensues from feeling like these experiences are actually enhancing or diminishing, helping or hurting, the self ceases.

I couldn’t agree with this either. In a sense this is kind of true but this is open to many interpretations. He is not speaking about the experiential aspect of enlightenment, a change that I myself had undergone which had changed the way I experienced the reality 24/7. So in my experience, there was and is no duality; I never experientially sense that I am separate from the existence. My way of functioning in the world seemed to be a mystery that doesn’t gel with neither Sadhguru’s version nor this western Guru’s version of enlightenment.

I finally discovered that Ted’s guru was James Swartz, an old American Vedanta teacher. When I went through his website I found that he is extremely critical of Osho and also labels Ramana Maharshi as not a qualified teacher.

Also, I continued my discussion with the American lady on the forum and she also criticized Osho. At this point, I noticed my need to defend Osho and her tendency to defend James Swartz. After exchanging lengthy discussions, I got curious about Traditional Advaita Vedanta expounded by Shankara. James Swartz is a student of Swami Chinmayananda and he was insistent in saying traditional Vedanta is the only way.

One of the main myths that got busted for me is the one that Sadhguru is insisting. He says that more than 90% of the people leave the body (die) during spiritual enlightenment. You can read my answer here to know more about it: Shanmugam P’s answer to How many enlightened persons has Isha Foundation produced through its methods? .

At this time, I also realized my bias towards Osho. I decided to put it aside and began to curiously explore Buddhism and Advaita Vedanta.

That is when I realized that Sadhguru has got this whole idea of ‘90% of people leaving at the time of enlightenment’ from Osho. But Osho himself contradicted this in another discourse. Sadhguru used to say a famous story from the life of Ramakrishna which was actually something Osho made up, to explain how enlightened people create conscious karma after enlightenment. Sadhguru repeats the same story in the same style..

According to Sadhguru, body’s prarabdha karma is over at the time of enlightenment and he has to consciously create karma to keep his body alive. .. This is neither true in my experience nor it is said by anyone else in the whole history… According to advaita, prarabhdha karma can be exhausted only by living the rest of the life. Buddhism also has a similar concept. This resonated with me completely. My own past intentions were driving my life even though I don’t have any sense about future or past (memories exists but the identification is completely broken). And karma is nothing but the web of past intentions. Adhi Shankara says the same in his commentaries and Ramana Maharshi insisted the same.

You can read more about it here: Shanmugam P’s answer to Why is it said that after enlightenment a person may die? If a person is likely to die after enlightenment, then why should I pursue it if I cannot carry it for long? How does one overcome the fear of death on a spiritual path?

But you need to remember that even though prarabhda karma is the one which still runs the activities of the body, we can’t say that the person is actually bound by that karma. Because, the liberated person is no longer identified with his body. He no longer considers the prarabhdha karma of the body as his own karma. It only belongs to the body and it exists as long as the body exists.

Ramana Maharshi explains this paradox very well:

Question: Bhagavan says that when one attains enlightenment all the three karmas [sanchita, prarabdha and agamya] cease to be. But in Kaivalya Navanitam it is stated that the jnani will experience only prarabdha karma [karma being worked out in this lifetime]. Why does it say this?”

Ramana: Prarabdha is the rule prior to the attainment of Self-realisation. As such, even after the attainment of Self-realisation, a jnani appears to be experiencing prarabdha in the sight of onlookers. There are several examples which are commonly used to explain this: an electric fan goes on spinning for some time even after it is switched off; a burnt rope looks like a rope but it cannot be used to tie anything; a tree that has been felled looks just like a living tree but it is no longer alive; peas which are roasted still look like peas but they cannot sprout .

I started asking questions about Vedanta in Quora and I also went through Upanishads, Shankara’s commentaries on Upanishads and Buddhist suttas of Pali Canon. When I read them, I could immediately recognize the truth in them and I could easily separate facts from myths. I didn’t read them to add anything to my knowledge but I read them to make sense of my own experience.

A great eye opener was Shankara’s commentary on Bhagwad Gita. I also read many awakening reports which talk about this integration period. Even Shankara advises a lot of solitude after self-realization to make sure that the realization is completely integrated without any interference from the external world. He advised self-realized people to live with the strength of the Self. When he says ‘living with the strength of Self alone’, I could immediately recognize it. I didn’t do analysis, mental masturbation or research with the scriptures; All that was happening when I read Buddhist and Vedantic scriptures was a simple recognition of what has happened to me.

Let me give you an example. If someone says “I saw a huge black animal yesterday which had large ears, two horn-like organs near its mouth and a long pipe-like organ extending from its nose”, wouldn’t you immediately recognize that he is talking about an elephant? It is the exact recognition which I had when I read Shankara’s commentaries and Buddhist suttas from Pali canon.

In the mean time, I wrote some posts criticizing the views of James Swartz and his way of understating enlightenment. I was verbally abused by one of the followers of James Swartz (just like how Sadhguru’s followers become abusive). I finally decided to start a debate with James Swartz himself. We exchanged a few emails. I told him that his way of understating the experiential side of enlightenment is misleading. Finally, I had to define what I meant by the word ‘experience’. I told him that I am not talking about a special experience or an altered state of consciousness but the natural experience of reality with no duality and with no sense of separate self. He agreed to this view but he still insisted that his talks and books are not misleading; He said that a few people might have misunderstood what he is saying and reminded me that he has thousands of other students who understands him perfectly.

As things settled down, I was able to understand everything that happened in me. Let me include parts of some replies that I posted to a commentator in my blog:

There is a point in seeking where seeking completely ends and the sense of a separate self completely dissolves.. After that there is no more personal journey.. Changes may still happen, the experience of reality may continue to deepen for lifetime, but it is no longer a journey of a person… Because there is no more urge to reach anything or to attain anything. After that, whatever actions that the person does is in complete synchronization with the existence itself. There is no sense of a doership at all.. The speech and action then become the expression of the existence itself. This is my reality now.

The word nirvikalpa means ‘without any distinctions’. It just means the complete absence of duality. If it happens along with the loss of body consciousness, people usually call it ‘nirvikalpa samadhi’… But if a person experiences reality as nirvikalpa without losing body consciousness, it is called as sahaja samadhi. Many people reach sahaja samadhi without going through nirvikalpa samadhi. In sahaja samadhi, the person simple engages in day to day activities just like anybody else. But the big difference is that the person doesn’t sense a separate self or a sense of individuality anymore.. There is a sense of boundlessness and complete fulfilment.. nothing is lacking anymore and there is nothing to seek further… There is nothing to lose and nothing to gain at the absolute level.

Let me state a metaphor. A ball of sugar jumps inside a pot of water and it takes on a journey to absorb as much water as it can. It becomes smaller and smaller as time goes by until it is fully dissolved one day… Once the ball has completely disappeared, is there anymore journey for that ball? The sugar molecules which were in the ball are still there in the water, they may still undergo changes. But do those changes belong to the original sugar ball? The sugar ball is the person you think you are and the water is the existence… In a way, the sugar ball has now become water. But to be more precise and exact, the sugar ball is not there anymore. There are no clear boundaries between the sugar ball and the water. Another way of saying this would be that sugar ball and the water is one and the same now.

It is only after all this, I turned my attention towards Sadhguru again and watched some of his videos again. The first thing that I found was that there is a pretension in him and he is simply parroting the words of Osho. When it comes to spiritual enlightenment, one thing that is destroyed completely is the sense of a separate self. This is not only my own experience but also in agreement with two greatest spiritual schools of the world which is Vedanta and Buddhism.

But Sadhguru doesn’t address this at all. Instead he goes on talking about stuff which reinforce the idea of a separate self and which distracts people from actually walking on the path. He doesn’t address the psychological tendencies or traps in the spiritual paths. On the contrary, he goes on talking about stuff that would actually trap people and stop them from making any progress.

When I was seeking, I couldn’t see this! Because, I was also reading other spiritual books from other gurus, like Ramana Maharshi etc and following the practices they suggested. I couldn’t distinguish between the clarity I got from Sadhguru and the clarity I got from other gurus.

My main practice has always been witnessing that was suggested by Osho. The only reason why I went to Sadhguru satsangs or Isha ashram was because I believed that being in ‘consecrated spaces’ will help me in the path by giving me additional support. I didn’t realize at this point that Sadhguru’s main business was selling consecrated spaces and selling his own energy (For eg, On Shivarathri festival, the seats close to him are extremely expensive because that supposedly gives a chance to feel the energy and vibration of Sadhguru)..

But I know this whole energy business is bullshit because I have Linga bhairavi gudi and Dhyanalinga yantra for the last three years and I know there is no difference between being in the presence of it vs being away from it. The transformation I went through has made me absolutely receptive and there is no resistance at all from my side which will cause me to be not receptive to anything. I feel completely synchronized with the existence.

But people claim that they feel tremendous energy or vibration from Sadhguru. But in reality, it has many reasons. One reason in placebo effect. It has a powerful effect when a person is already a seeker.

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A guy asked me a question regarding this in one of my answers:

Then how would you explain following things:

  1. How sadhguru pushes people into transcendence just by his presence?
  2. why do people go crazy during initiations like shoonya and bhuta shuddhi?
  3. Why does BSP works ?
  4. What is the source of Sadhguru’s crystal clear wisdom? I don’t find that same wisdom in osho’s or ramana’s books?
  5. Why do people experience HUGE benefits by doing shambhavi?

And here is my reply:

  1. How sadhguru pushes people into transcendence just by his presence? Mostly it is placebo. If you don’t know what it is, use Google search. And the placebo effect is hundred times better when a person has already been a seeker and has already progressed to a certain level (and expecting an experience in the presence of someone who claims enlightenment). Also, you can actually see people going crazy and ecstatic watching a Michael Jackson’s stage performance and during church gatherings…I am not sure if you read the complete answer. I am not saying this after knowing him or after being in the path for just 2–3 years. I have encountered many situations which helped me to learn a lot of things. So, I am not the usual kind of skeptic that you might have come across. I even came across a person who claimed enlightenment and who had a special interest in making me his disciple. He arranged a satsang and I felt something deep when he entered the room. But it was caused by my own expectations as well as the way my mind was prepared before the satsang. But after I had a lot of personal one on one interactions with him, I knew he was cheating (I am not talking about Sadhguru here but another self proclaimed Guru). This happened in 2007.
  2. The other questions that you asked boils down to one thing: How come Shambavi and Shoonya meditations work. They will work because they are based on already available techniques. They have the same effect no matter who offers those techniques. These techniques can have a lot of positive effect on your mental health, physical health and can even offer you spiritual experiences.. But you need to have someone who is enlightened to guide you to go beyond and actually get liberated. Sadhguru’s talks don’t offer that guidance at all because he never talks about things which are very important when it comes to spiritual enlightenment.
  3. If you find some clarity in him that you don’t find in Osho and Ramana, there are two reasons. One is purely subjective and depends on what topic you are interested in. Second is his talent. Sadhguru has a degree in English literature and he has also worked on his accent and pronunciation. His accent is neutral and his voice is very clear. But this has got nothing to do with enlightenment. My school principal also spoke more clearly than Ramana Maharshi. That doesn’t make her an enlightened person. Meher Baba didn’t speak at all, that doesn’t make him an unenlightened person.

Also, try to understand the question that is asked here and try to understand the answer I have written. The question is more specific about his claim regarding curing his fracture in an hour. And In my answer, I have explained about the fact that he doesn’t speak the truth all the time. I have found him as an expert in lying, there is no question about it. I have seen enough of him in the last 14 years and I KNOW that he is mostly lying when he talks about himself.

It is also at the same time I discovered and observed many other things. I have written about those things in detail in the following answers:

Shanmugam P’s answer to What do you think of Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev?

Shanmugam P’s answer to Is Sadhguru a hoax? How did he heal his asthma and ankle fracture in an hour (09:15)?

Shanmugam P’s answer to Is Sadghuru Jagi Vasudev another scam?

I am still willing to give him the benefit of doubt. But when I observed the behavior of his followers, I was completely shocked. They don’t really know what they are doing. Most of them are verbally abusive, completely biased and can’t even be open to healthy criticism. I understood that these people are completely misled and they are behaving like a parrot, just repeating Sadhguru’s words. They seem to be completely programmed. This is exactly what motivated me to write more about Sadhguru.

The perfect example is the poor guy, the hero of the story that I am going to narrate now, who might have also asked this question.

When I first wrote an answer saying that Sadhguru was simply repeating Osho, many people were not open to the idea and some people even rationalized it. Please understand, I am not complaining him of plagiarism. I am just questioning whether his enlightenment is authentic if he solely relies on borrowed words. A person who is talking from his own experience will absolutely have no need to imitate some one else’e words, terminology, examples and views. This shows a strong influence of one person over another. But when the person doesn’t mention him at all in public, that gives a sign of deliberately hiding it.

(Note, I am not talking about giving credit to Osho, this is how a lot of people misunderstand. He doesn’t even casually mention Osho’s name. But he has talked about all the other gurus. Even when someone sent him a question regarding this similarity, he just gave a clever answer, implying that it is just an imagination of the questioner. This signals a pretension. If you don’t see this obvious fact, then I am sorry; you have to google and read more about ‘Confirmation bias’ )

Since people were not open about it, I tried a different way. It is a psychological technique. I just conveyed the same message in a different way by showing Sadhguru in a positive light. I always try different approaches when it comes to writing answers and blog posts and convey the same message with different connotation. So I wrote an answer in a different style which you can read here:

Shanmugam P’s answer to Osho and Sadhguru should have some special connection. No other masters explicitly are so similar. They both are unidentical, but definitely very similar in a way with practical approach towards spirituality. What do their followers have to say?

I know that the blind followers of Sadhguru only care if a post shows Sadhguru in a positive light or not. They don’t seem to care about spiritual enlightenment but they only care about idealizing and defending Sadhguru. And after I wrote this answer, the poor guy immediately up-voted my answer and also wrote a comment saying that no one can deny what I said, because I have also explained the psychological reasons for why anyone would want to deny it.

But the same guy acted in a different way when I wrote another answer. I will tell you what he did shortly.. There was a question asked in Quora about why Nirmuktha site criticizes Sadhguru. For me the reason was obvious. Sadhguru voluntarily talked about Higgs Boson, which is completely out of his scope and ridiculed scientists. He implied that what science is discovering now has been discovered by our yogis and we knew the whole truth all along. This is completely unnecessary and is bound to invite criticism. How do you think a person who is passionate about science will react to such a comment? Is such a comment really necessary in the first place?

Only after seeing some comments in the Nirmuktha website, I realized that Sadhguru is creating prejudice against Science among his followers.

Science is not in competition to spirituality, it is only complementary. When both are bridged together, a lot can be accomplished. That is my whole effort and that is also the topic of my recent book (The Truth About Spiritual Enlightenment: Bridging Science, Buddhism and Advaita Vedanta). This book is the result of my whole life.

The answers to that question were also an attempt to provide some kind of justification to Sadhguru’s comments. For example, they asked questions like ‘Why do you expect Sadhguru to be correct on science’? … But that is not the point. The right question to ask is “why does he ridicule science and voluntarily talks about a scientific topic when he doesn’t know about it?’… Is saying ‘I don’t know’ very difficult for Sadhguru? Does he expect to not to face criticism after publicly ridiculing science?

Not knowing something is not a problem. Nobody knows everything in the world. But pretending to know something that one does not is the problem. Do you understand the difference?

But Sadhguru’s followers were reacting in a blind way. They were only reacting, desperately trying to justify him by saying totally unrelated things. Their comments were about how science is not good enough for certain things.

First of all, whether science is good enough or not is not even something that needs to be mentioned here, it is totally irrelevant. That doesn’t justify what Sadhguru said about Higgs Boson.

Seeing blind reactions, I was totally disappointed to see the kind of prejudice that Sadhguru has created. Have you ever thought that your left hand is in competition with your right hand? Then why the hell do you think science is in competition with spirituality? Why the hell do you have any need to prove that one is superior to other? I clearly see that authentic spirituality is not and cannot be in conflict with science at all!

This poor guy felt totally hurt after seeing the criticism. This is what he did: He immediately cancelled the upvote for my previous answer regarding Osho, deleted his comment and also wrote his own answer for the same question regarding Osho and Sadhguru, explaining that the resemblance between Osho and Sadhguru is merely a coincidence.. How can one of my answer regarding science and sadhguru change his opinion on a totally unrelated answer of mine? It is because he took the criticism personally. The poor guy doesn’t even understand what he is doing and doesn’t recognize this as blindness.

After some days, I wrote another answer: Shanmugam P’s answer to What are scientists’ opinions on Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev’s IIT Madras talk about water having memory and his abilities to manipulate its taste via telekinesis?

And I said something very valid, something that is not possible to deny, in that answer. I wrote it in a completely neutral way. Sadhguru claims that he was able to change the taste of water in a cup of glass to sweet by holding it in his hands for two minutes.

Let me paste a part of that answer here:

But I have also come across instances where Sadhguru voluntarily talks about science and claims that many things the science is discovered now has been already discovered by yogic methods. He may be probably doing this to create more appeal to yoga and spread it to more people with good intention.

But this is what creates a lot of arguments and questions among people. First, we don’t have any evidence for the fact that any kind of factual knowledge can be obtained through practices like meditation or yoga, even though we have been hearing such stories since ancient days. This claim and claims to do miracles have been misused by many fake spiritual leaders in our country which naturally makes people to be extra cautious and even harshly criticize all spiritual leaders. Until there is a solid evidence that such claims have any scientific basis, such criticism will even continue in the upcoming generations. This will actually make Yoga to become less appealing in the future. There is no way to stop it unless we do something about it in this generation especially when an influential public figure like Sadhguru, who claims to be able to do many things that a normal man cannot do, is alive. I can actually offer a simple solution for that.

As you see, I have first stated an obvious fact. If we don’t prove certain claims, this claims are bound to be rejected in the upcoming generations. So if your beloved leader is making an extraordinary claim, it is always good to ask for a proof.

Won’t a proof shut up the mouths of critics? Tell me yes or no.. Is it too much to ask for? Can you deny that if there is a solid evidence for even one extraordinary claim that Sadhguru has made, it will create a great appeal for yoga and also shut the mouth of critics regarding this once and for all? Touch your heart and tell me if this is true or not.. This is certainly, obviously, with no doubt, a win-win situation for everyone, with no exception.

Now, let me paste the last part of that answer:

Sadhguru has claimed many things which are extraordinary . He has done it indirectly by quoting incidents where he could do things like that. I will quote a claim mentioned in the same article that is given for this question, that can be very easily verified with an experiment.

So this lady in the house brought water for me and she’s like Kali suddenly, not just kathak, she’s like Kali. I looked at her – she’s a nice lady, today she’s in the Kali form – so I looked at her and she offered water to me and I said, ‘Amma, I don’t need this water. I don’t need to drink this water. You’re like Kali right now, I don’t need Kali’s prasadam right now, I’m fine.’ She said, ‘Why, will I poison it?’ I said, ‘No, you don’t have to poison it, it’s already done.’ Then I told her, ‘You take a sip from this glass.’ She took a sip from the glass, then I said, ‘Give me the glass to me.’ I held in my hands for two minutes and I just gave it to her, ‘You drink it now.’ She drank one sip and burst into tears and started crying, she said, ‘It’s sweet.’ I said, ‘That’s all the difference it is.’”

This is an extraordinary claim! But all he has to do is get a glass of plain water from you, hold it in his hands for two minutes and give it to you. If it tastes sweet, that is all there is to prove.

It can be verified with a scientific experiment very easily. Proving such a thing has many advantages too. Other then getting attention, Sadhguru and Isha foundation will gain more trust. It will stop people from turning way from Isha just because these claims are made. It will stop unnecessary hot criticisms filled with hatred and verbal abuses that we see all over internet. Sadhguru may win a nobel prize and Isha people will love that. He may earn millions of dollars which can be used for social welfare. Because we all know that Isha foundation already needs money for upcoming projects and currently have to rely on donations alone. In fact, many people who oppose him will start to trust that he is doing everything with a genuine interest for people’s well being and willing to donate even more. Tell me one reason why this is not a good idea!

If you understand this and are genuinely interested to make it happen, we can find a way to pass it on to Sadhguru. You can republish this answer anywhere, share this answer, upvote it or directly send an email to Isha. If each missed call can count, each upvote can count too.

Did I say anything wrong or something totally unacceptable?

But look at a comment that I got from someone:

I think, Mr. Dear Shanmugam, you are actually fooling yourself. Because Sadguru already told to everyone that to look inside and first establish in Yoga. This is what Lord Krishn said in Bhagava Geetha already. But Sadguru always insist everyone to look inside and find out yourself. Then only act! You do not know that who you are and you are talking and researching a SADGURU!! And even trying to help him or try to disaprove His Guruship even!! WHO ARE YOU??!! WHAT IS YOUR ELIGIBILITY??!! Ask yourself??!!! What a shame!!You are a shame for India. That you are trying to give Certificate for an Enlightetend Master. I live with another Enlightetend Master Sri Sri Yogananda Saraswathi and I know the full meaning of the word “Guru.” Then when it comes to the word Sadguru, He is more above than the so called Gurus and he can be the Guru of All Gurus. This is pure understanding. So don’t suspect a Sadgur’s words and you don’t have to make a research on what a Sadguru talks and do. Becuse Go and Read Shiva Samhitha and also Guru Charithra. Then you will realise that you are cimmiting a big SIN!! You may call that I a Sadguru supporter or lover! and I am sick !! But I challenge you, Go and read GURU CHARITHRA!!

I will challenge you that if you read three times GURU CHARITHRA all your life will be settled and your mind will change. You will be cured of your jealousy and suspicion!!! You have to read with love and devotion. That is first condition!! Not with Suspicion!! As Swami Vivekananda told “three things are necessary to make every nation great and every person great” I will here only give the first requirement. Other two you read in Swami Vivekananda’s works!! What he said the first important point to become great for anyone is “ Absence of Jealousy and suspicion”’

You have both!!! I feel pity on you and all those argues with a Guru! Can anyone argue with a Guru!! Only fools and egoists will argues with a Guru. But you can ask genuine questions to get genuine answers. When Sadguru answers such questions you have to understand. Remember a Guru can never till a lie. You and me may lie , but never a Guru.

First you have to go Isha and stay there for atleast three months and live a real Sadhaka life, if you want to understand Him. The after tayin ghtre and living with Him, if you still think that He is not a Guru at all, then I shall sayd that is your fte! and You are not fit for spiritual life! So that is why you live a life of a Fmily man and suffer all the prarabdha Karma outside. But there also you can understand a Guru or Sadguru, if you are a good man. But you are jealous and suspicious! You want to challenge a Sadguru and want to Help a Sadguru by giving a CErtificate for Him! My kind advice to you is that, Go and Read GURU CHARITHRA three times, so that your jealousy and suspicion will be cured!! I am sure and Guarantee. Forget about people who are tlking against Sadguru!! Eample is Sri Ramakrishna sadi when a an Elephant walks all dogs bark!! Why they are jealousy of the gaint walk of the elephant!! Same thing with others they are like the same dogs! it is not angry or abuse words! It their qualifiction, that they re only human body with a dogs mind!! Thiis is the answer for you.

Go and read GURU CHARITHRA three times! You will definitely will save your future life. After that talk!! May God save you from future misery!! After reading GURU CHARITHRA and when you understand who is a Guru, then you will feel like even praying to Sadguru Himself! That will be the change positive!! All the best!! Then I can say you life will be safe! Otheewise! Next birth you may become a dog or cat! Chances are there when you take the company of fools who bark at Sadguru!!

Do you see what this guy is saying? Isn’t this guy promoting pure blindness? Not only that, this is totally against what Sadhguru himself says.. Sadhguru says skeptics are the true seekers and I totally agree: Skeptics are True Seekers – The Isha Blog

He goes on to say that Sadhguru can never lie and we are supposed to blindly believe him. But does this random guy even know that Sadhguru himself says he lies whenever necessary?

Guess what, even though this comment is completely against what Sadhguru is saying, the poor guy, the hero of our story still has the guts to upvote that comment! He is simply upvoting the comment because now he gets some peace on seeing that I get personally attacked. But he doesn’t realize that no one can insult me… I can’t take offence from anyone, it is simple ignored. And I hope that he realizes his blindness one day…

Only a few days after that I realized that this guy is not alone. Every single person who comments on Youtube vidoes, blogs and Quora is extremely abusive, intolerant for any kind of criticism and can’t accept even a slight skepticism about Sadhguru. There are few exceptions but most of them are like this..

Just look at the nature of the comments of Sadhguru’s followers that is present in an Youtube video of Sadhguru’s speech:

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After I witnessed a lot of such comments, I am able to see that Sadhguru’s followers are unconsciously developing prejudice against science, westerners (mainly Americans), other religions (especially Christianity) and all skeptics in general. And you need to understand that prejudice is completely incompatible with spirituality.

So I decided to write this answer to make certain things clear to Sadhguru’s followers: Shanmugam P’s answer to What advice would you like to give to the followers of Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev?

Only after seeing all this cultish behaviour and blind followings, I really started much of my criticism. And I have already made it very clear in one of my answers that I won’t stop my criticism until this blindness stops.

It is good for you as well to change it right away, because otherwise people will start labeling Isha as cult. So, the criticism is not about defaming Sadhguru, I don’t have the intention to defame him. The only intention I have is to make people aware of their blindness and unconsciousness. My ultimate intention has always been bridging Science with spirituality. I have elaborated it in detail in my book.

Finally, I want to end with my comments on something that the poor guy said:

Remember that sitting in a comfort zone and writing answers upon quora, creating blogs, publishing ebooks either for or against the popular figure is very easy task just like an intellectual masturbation, but to yourself approach him for testing his unproven claims and then declaring your “objective findings” is a different thing. And the latter is always preferrable for a matured mind.

First, the poor guy needs to understand that walking in the spiritual path itself takes someone away from the comfort zone. Spiritual enlightenment is totally destroying the comfort zone called ‘sense of a separate self’.

Many people think that intelligence is the top most quality that is needed in spiritual path. No! Courage is the topmost quality that is needed. You need to risk something that is considered as the most valuable thing in your life, which is what you think as ‘yourself’.. Unless you are willing to go through a psychological death, there is no question of spiritual enlightenment…

But after 2014, I am always in a comfort zone no matter what I do. I cannot leave the comfort zone because liberation is the ultimate and the greatest comfort zone ever. The pain only lies in passing through the bridge between a petty comfort zone of your sense of a separate self and the ultimate comfort zone of liberation.

Second, I see many objections which say ‘why don’t you challenge Sadhguru publicly instead of being an armchair critic? ‘ ‘Why don’t you approach him for testing his claims?’ etc.

Is Sadhguru my next door neighbor to challenge him publicly? Or do you think that I am the CEO of Sun TV? I am just an ordinary guy living an ordinary life. If you are worried about such criticisms, you are the one who should take this to Sadhguru. This is exactly what I addressed in my answer regarding water memory. But I understand where this objection is coming from. Because, this is a very common rebuttal that is taught to Isha followers. So they are just following the herd.

Third, as I mentioned very clearly, I am not really desperate about spoiling the image of a public figure. The only reason I write such things is to create an awareness about various things. I know it makes a difference. I have seen the difference that it has made and changed the way that at least some people think. And I am sure that one day or the other day such questions and criticisms will reach Sadhguru’s attention.

Fourth, I don’t support pseudoskepticism . Pseudoskepticism is different from actual skepticism. One trait of pseudoskepticism is ‘The tendency to discredit rather than investigate’. This is what the poor guy is talking about. I agree with him. But the problem is, nobody who has the power and authority to investigate is trying to investigate. And I am confident that my criticisms will somehow raise a public awareness regarding this. The same theme is present in my answer regarding water memory.

Thank you for taking your time in reading this answer. Here are two more links that I recommend the followers of Sadhguru to read:

  1. Giving and Receiving Criticism
  2. The Sociology of Calling Other People Stupid

 

Update – Aug 5th, 2018:

As a response to the comments I have been getting from the followers of Sadhguru, I have started a video series. So, watch this series before you comment (4 videos in the playlist so far:

Here is the link to the entire playlist: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLyvcEPSjKqOk8Evwhz5tSlm5whxfZswlQ

 

My Views on the Debate between Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev and Javed Akhtar : ‘Faith, Reason and Inner Engineering’

I am republishing the Quora answer that I wrote. You can read my answer in Quora here.

 

First of all, I see a small problem in the crux of the whole debate. The debate is titled Faith, Reason and Inner Engineering’. Also, moderator Shoma Chaudhury when introducing and concluding the debate makes it clear that the debate is about faith and reason. She also seem to understand Sadhguru as a man of faith and Javed Akhtar as a man of reason. (You can hear Sadhguru’s voice in the background correcting her statement when she concluded the debate)

But actually, by going by their own words, both Sadhguru and Javed Akhtar are men of reason and are against faith. Both are in agreement towards how belief implies not accepting that one doesn’t know. Then what are they really debating about?

The debate would make more sense when it is about whether spirituality is necessary or not. I think that is how this debate should have been titled and introduced. Because, that is exactly where Javed disagrees with Sadhguru. There is no doubt that Javed Akhtar is an intelligent man and a great lyricist. But he doesn’t seem to agree with the fact that there is a way to get liberated from human suffering.

Javed Akhtar’s views on spirituality

Here is what Javed Akhtar said about spirituality in another talk:

Plato in his dialogues has said many a wise thing, and one of them is – before starting any discussion decide on the meanings of words. Let us try to decide on the meaning of this word spirituality. Does it mean love for mankind that transcends all religion, caste, creed, race? Is that so? Then I have no problem. Except that I call it humanity. Does it mean love of plants, trees, mountains, oceans, rivers, animals? The non-human world? If that is so, again I have no problem at all. Except that I call it environmental consciousness. Does spirituality mean heartfelt regard for social institutions like marriage, parenthood, fine arts, judiciary, freedom of expression. I have no problem again sir, how can I disagree here? I call it civil responsibility. Does spirituality mean going into your own world trying to understand the meaning of your own life? Who can object on that? I call it self-introspection, self assessment. Does spirituality mean Yoga? Thanks to Patanjali, who has given us the details of Yoga, Yam, Yatam, aasan, pranayam…We may do it under any name, but if we are doing pranayam, wonderful. I call it healthcare. Physical fitness.

Now is it a matter of only semantics. If all this is spirituality, then what is the discussion. All these words that I have used are extremely respectable and totally acceptable words. There is nothing abstract or intangible about them. So why stick to this word spirituality? What is there in spirituality that has not been covered by all these words? Is there something? If that is so then what is that?

Somebody in return can ask me what is my problem with this word. I am asking to change it, leave it, drop it, make it obsolete but why so? I will tell you what is my reservation. If spirituality means all this then there is no discussion. But there is something else which makes me uneasy. In a dictionary, the meaning of spirituality is rooted in a word called “spirit”. When mankind didn’t know whether this earth is round or flat, he had decided that human beings are actually the combination of two things. Body and spirit. Body is temporary, it dies. But the spirit is, shall I say, non-biodegradable. In your body you have a liver and heart and intestines and the brain, but since the brain is a part of the body, and mind lies within the brain, it is inferior because ultimately the brain too shall die with the body, but don’t worry, you are not going to die, because you are your spirit, and the spirit has the supreme consciousness that will remain, and whatever problem you have is because you listen to your mind. Stop listening to your mind. Listen to your spirit – the supreme consciousness that knows the cosmic truth. All right. It’s not surprising that in Pune there is an ashram and I used to go there. I loved the oratory. On the gate of the lecture hall there was a placard. Leave your shoes and minds here. There are other gurus who don’t mind if you carry your shoes. But minds?…sorry.

Now, let me address something very important before I talk more about the debate that happened. I have seen a lot of comments in that Youtube video (Faith, Reason and Inner Engineering) attacking Javed Akhtar and labeling him idiot and stupid. First of all, just because someone doesn’t understand what spirituality is, it doesn’t mean that he is idiot or stupid. There are too many factors into play, which makes a person to get frustrated with running on a hedonic treadmill and search for a way to get liberated.

A lot of Jaggi Vasudev’s own followers don’t understand what spirituality is. Before Osho died, he has said that only a very few people understood his message. I read somewhere that J.Krishnamurti said something like ‘Where did I go wrong, why didn’t these people understand me’.. Many people who think themselves as seekers actually start the journey with a curiosity or sometimes even with blind faith.Many people think that being religious is being spiritual. And all these people are not idiots..

A lot of you may have trouble explaining such things to your mom, dad, sister and friends.. Would you call all of them as stupids? If you consider for a moment that Javed Akhtar is also someone like your dad or granddad, you will not indulge in personally attacking him while sitting in your arm chair.

What is Spirituality?

When you talk to the skeptics, it is very important to not to talk about things which sound like woo woo or which are ambiguous. So, let me talk about what authentic gurus actually mean when they use the word spirituality. We can take two very popular words in our tradition to inquire into its actual meaning. One is ‘moksha’ which means ‘liberation’; the other is ‘nirvana’ which means ‘extinction’. Before I explain what exactly we mean by that, let me explain another concept.

Human beings are always running on hedonic treadmill. What is it?

Hedonic adaptation is a process or mechanism that reduces the affective impact of emotional events. Generally, hedonic adaptation involves a happiness “set point”, whereby humans generally maintain a constant level of happiness throughout their lives, despite events that occur in their environment. The process of hedonic adaptation is often conceptualized as a treadmill, since one must continually work to maintain a certain level of happiness.

For most of the people, living our lives is like running on a treadmill. You think you will be happy after getting a job. You feel happy for a while but then you run for something else.. You may think marrying the love of your life will make you happy. But the excitement of your marriage fades away and now you want to buy a car. Then you want to buy a house.. But you never get the ultimate satisfaction that you are aiming for. It is like a fire that is burning continuously; the extinction of this fire is nirvana. It is a prison that keeps you trapped. The liberation from this prison is moksha.

Why Javed Akhtar is not open to the idea that such a liberation is possible?

From this debate and from other talks of Javed Akhtar, I have understood one thing. He might have seen a lot of fake gurus. He might have noticed a lot of cultish behavior from their followers too. Sadhguru also mentioned in the video that just because one has seen some bad apples, that doesn’t mean all apples are bad.

But we also have to understand a reality. Most of the people today who are posing as Gurus are frauds or somehow fooling themselves that they are enlightened. Some of them may be intelligent , have good intentions and might have even had some spiritual experiences. But they might have taken up a guru role before the actual liberation has happened. Though there is no foolproof way to find out if someone is enlightened, there are lot of indications that show that someone is not, which will be obvious especially for people who are more advanced in the path. After seeing the way such gurus are, it is not surprising to me that Javed is not open to the fact that there is actually a way to get liberated and that it is quite possible.

Because of this hardwired concept he has about gurus in general, I don’t think he will be ever open to something that comes from anyone who is called as a guru. And a debate is certainly not a situation where such a thing can happen. He may be more open to someone like J.Krishnamurthi. Or a better option would be to gift him the book ‘Waking up – Spirituality without religion’ written by Sam Harris. 🙂 I have read testimonies by some people who said that they were skeptical about the truth of spiritual enlightenment but they became seekers after reading this book.

Some comments about the debate and the points discussed:

  1. I appreciate Javed for determining or mutually agreeing with the meaning of the words in the beginning. Because, this is very important since a lot of debates are semantic and happen because of each person using a word to mean something different from what the other person uses. A lot of confusion happens because of confusions in the terminology. So, it is important for both the parties to come to an agreement on what the words actually mean.
  2. Sadhguru says philosophy is just a fantastic explanation of aspects of life which can never be explained. He also says that he doesn’t have any philosophy. Thanks to him for mentioning what he means by the word philosophy. This is again an example of point 1, because he uses the word ‘philosophy’ the same way Osho used it. But coming up such fantastic explanation of aspects of life is only one aspect of Philosophy. Epistemology, a subject that deals with how knowledge should be acquired is philosophy. Scientific method that science uses is actually a philosophy. Logic is also a part of philosophy.
  3. Sadhguru says that there were no teachings in this country but only methods. And he says that there were no believers in this country but only seekers. This may sound good to hear but it is not true. There have been countless teachings, philosophies and even a lot of absurd ethics in this country. There has been contradictory metaphysical theories in each school. What is Manusmriti? It is not only a book of teachings but it had the most cruel ideas about the caste system. The whole vedanta and mimamsa schools are based on the belief that Vedas and Upanishads are eternal , infallible and revealed through divine revelation. I have talked more about it here: Shanmugam P’s answer to Which philosophy personally appeals more to you, Buddha’s Pratityasamutpada or Advaita Vedanta? . Also, there has been countless wars based on the beliefs. For example, wars between Shaivites and Vaishnavites, murders of countless jain monks by the believers of Shiva etc. I am mentioning this because many people who follow Sadhguru are so blind and they never accept that Sadhguru can also be wrong.
  4. After a few minutes have passed, you will notice personal attacks from both sides. But do you see who started it? After Javed talked about agreeing on terminology, Sadhguru ridiculed him for no reason and commented about his intelligence. There is no reason to do that. It doesn’t look good for a man like Sadhguru.
  5. Moderator asked a question to Sadhguru regarding the followers who engage in wars and ready to kill. She is actually talking about many people creating a ‘cult of personality’. I feel Sadhguru should have addressed this issue because this is actually becoming very ugly now. You can witness this in the comments of that youtube video itself. I have talked more about this here: Shanmugam P’s answer to What advice would you like to give to the followers of Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev?
  6. She also asked regarding charging money for the courses and if such courses are available for poor people. I don’t have any issue in charging money for the courses because it is difficult to conduct courses like this without money, especially in metro areas. But Sadhguru also mentioned that such courses are conducted in rural areas for free. I have been hearing this quite a lot, but has anyone questioned how true it is? How many such free programs are conducted on a regular basis and how many villages are covered? How often do they happen? Sadhguru himself says that if one wants to attend such courses for free he has to go to a village. But which village and when? No such information is available in the course schedule of the Isha website. I once sent an email inquiring the details but got no response. Once you make a commitment to provide free courses for poor people, there should be someway for those poor people to find out about those courses. Don’t you agree?
  7. In the middle of the debate, you will hear Javed saying the most anti-spiritual statement which is ‘you are your mind’.. 🙂 You can’t really convince him anymore in a debate. 🙂 But anyway, I think the way Buddha approached this issue might have worked in this scenario. Buddha didn’t say ‘You are not the mind, you are not the body’. He said, “There is no ‘you’ in the mind and there is no ‘you’ in the body. Buddha’s approach was empirical and he put it in a different way. And scientists and Buddha are in agreement here. He said:

“Bhikkhus, feeling is not-self…

“Bhikkhus, perception is not-self…

“Bhikkhus, determinations are not-self…

But he never said what is actually ‘You’.. He left that to people to find out. He was silent when people asked him metaphysical questions. He won’’t answer if anyone asks ‘What is the source of existence, why am i here”

There is a beautiful parable called ‘Parable of the poisoned arrow’ which is about what Buddha said when someone asked metaphysical questions:

It’s just as if a man were wounded with an arrow thickly smeared with poison. His friends & companions, kinsmen & relatives would provide him with a surgeon, and the man would say, ‘I won’t have this arrow removed until I know whether the man who wounded me was a noble warrior, a priest, a merchant, or a worker.’ He would say, ‘I won’t have this arrow removed until I know the given name & clan name of the man who wounded me… until I know whether he was tall, medium, or short… until I know whether he was dark, ruddy-brown, or golden-colored… until I know his home village, town, or city… until I know whether the bow with which I was wounded was a long bow or a crossbow… until I know whether the bowstring with which I was wounded was fiber, bamboo threads, sinew, hemp, or bark… until I know whether the shaft with which I was wounded was wild or cultivated… until I know whether the feathers of the shaft with which I was wounded were those of a vulture, a stork, a hawk, a peacock, or another bird… until I know whether the shaft with which I was wounded was bound with the sinew of an ox, a water buffalo, a langur, or a monkey.’ He would say, ‘I won’t have this arrow removed until I know whether the shaft with which I was wounded was that of a common arrow, a curved arrow, a barbed, a calf-toothed, or an oleander arrow.’ The man would die and those things would still remain unknown to him

Buddha was not interested in mystic musings. He was only interested in showing people the way to liberation. It is because of the empirical approach taken by Buddha, a lot of psychologists are interested in Buddhism more than any other tradition.

Anyway, overall the debate was very entertaining and fun to watch. Javed’s posture and reaction was very funny. He seemed to be restless too. Needless to say, Sadhguru made many insightful points in the debate.

Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev And Water Memory – The Quora Question And My Answer

I am republishing an answer that I wrote in Quora for the question “What are scientists’ opinions on Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev’s IIT Madras talk about water having memory and his abilities to manipulate its taste via telekinesis?” . The question had already received many answers when I answered it but I wanted to address some key issues using my answer. Here we go:

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I am going to answer this question with a totally different perspective. I am going to be neutral throughout this answer and I have made some suggestions too. I request you all to read the complete answer.

There are a lot of great answers from people like Asher Nitin who are well versed in science; there are also answers from people who love Sadhguru , who wants to prove that Sadhguru was right. They are not able to stand negative criticisms against their beloved leader who has been their inspiration; They have no doubt that the guidance from their leader has been life changing for them.

But as a consequence, I see that Sadhguru lovers have taken some of these answers very seriously and personally, feel offended and even write comments like ‘Some sick dogs are barking at Sadhguru’.

So, let me talk about it a little bit before I begin..

While I do understand your feelings, please remember that this kind of abusive comments are not expected from people who are really practicing the techniques from Isha. And I see this as a growing trend among some people who support Isha. They constantly judge people, call them ‘ignorant’, ‘arrogant’, ‘stupid’, ‘fool’, ‘haters’ etc.

(Please note that I am not saying everybody does it. There are probably thousands of people who have become peaceful, less reactive and more compassionate because of regular practice.

In fact, I wonder if these people who use such abusive language ever practiced the kriyas taught there. These people are probably the ones who just watched some 10–20 youtube videos of Sadhguru but never did any serious spiritual sadhana)

Anyway, I would like to answer the question in such a way that the nature of this answer does not in anyway belittle Sadhguru, ridicule or criticize him. I am going to be as kind and as friendly as possible and I apologize in advance if this answer hurts your feelings in anyway.

If your mind is not clear now and if you think that you cannot read this answer line by line with neutral mind, then please don’t continue. If after reading a paragraph, you find yourself mentally preparing a comment for my answer instead of paying attention to everything that is said and considering it, then please don’t continue. May be you can try later. The better time would be probably just after you finish doing a session of Shambhavi Mahamudra. Don’t comment anything without reading and understanding the complete answer.

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Here is my answer:

Let us Understand the Question that was put to Sadhguru First

First, if you read the link in the Isha website, you can see that the questioner wants to know if there is some kind of evidence for the water memory so that it can be verified:

You said that water has some memory. Is there any viability to bring that memory level to our life or something? Is there any scientific evidence or spiritual evidence or some other evidence is available for that? Basically, as I’m a chemist I’m telling this.

Note that the questioner is not asking if water memory is true. The questioner is asking if water memory has any verifiable evidence. I hope you understand the difference; but let me give an example from our life to distinguish between the two.

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What is an Evidence?

Let us say you have written an exam. You know you have written it very well and you are going to pass the exam. You can tell others that you will pass the exams and it is guaranteed. But there is no evidence yet. The evidence is obtained only when you get the results in your hand.

Also, as you know, exams are written in controlled conditions so that no one is allowed to copy, carry any written material, speak to anyone etc. And extreme care is taken to make sure that the question paper is not leaked out before the exams. All this is done so that the results of your exams are not influenced by anything else.

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Science- Experiments, scientific control and peer review

Same works for a science experiment. The experiments are conducted in completely controlled conditions to make sure that there are no errors and that the results of the experiments are not influenced by any other variables. You can read more about it here: Scientific control – Wikipedia

Once the experiment is done, it has to be published in the appropriate journal for peer review. For example, you can find a list of Physics journals here: List of scientific journals – Wikipedia .

The results of the experiment can be challenged by future experiments anytime. The results should be always reproducible. If the results are not reproduced by future experiments, then it is not considered as evidence. (science people, please correct me If I have made any mistakes or missed out anything here. Feel free to suggest edits).

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The Quality of online articles that claim scientific evidence

This is very important to understand. Because, not everything that you find online is a genuine scientific evidence. Just because an article describes an experiment done by a scientist and shows the results of an experiment, it doesn’t mean that it is a scientific evidence. That is why you can find a lot of things in Google Search which seem authentic to many people even though they don’t have any strong scientific evidence.

If you haven’t read the above paragraph, please read. If you have read it, then remember this for the rest of your life.

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Sadhguru’s answer

The scientific nature of Sadhguru’s answer has been already analyzed brilliantly by others. But some people still seem to think that there is a scientific evidence for it (the comment ‘Some sick dogs are barking at Sadhguru’ was made by one of my Indian brothers, because of this misunderstanding). So, I am going to address that alone here.

Here is what Sadhguru said at the end, about the evidence part:

There’s substantial scientific evidence today about how the molecular structure of the water can be rearranged without changing the chemical structure, even with a simple thought or a touch.

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The nature of the experiments which were claimed to support water memory

  1. Luc Antoine Montagnier is a French virologist who won Nobel prize for discovering HIV virus. He published a controversial paper called ‘Electromagnetic Signals Are Produced by Aqueous Nanostructures Derived from Bacterial DNA Sequences’ which concludes the following:

Diluted DNA from pathogenic bacterial and viral species is able to emit specific radio waves and these radio waves [are] associated with ‘nanostructures’ in the solution that might be able to recreate the pathogen.

The paper has been met with harsh criticism for not being peer-reviewed, and its claims unsubstantiated by modern mainstream conventions of physics and chemistry. No third party has replicated the findings as of March 2015.

Supporters of homeopathy claimed that this experiment supported homeopathy but this claim was criticized by the scientists worldwide.

For example,

On 20 October 2010, Harriet A. Hall responded specifically to these claims by homeopaths: “Nope. Sorry, guys. It doesn’t. In fact, its findings are inconsistent with homeopathic theory… Homeopaths who believe Montagnier’s study supports homeopathy are only demonstrating their enormous capacity for self-deception.” She went on to analyze the studies and pointed out a number of flaws, stating: “…even assuming the results are valid, they tend to discredit homeopathy, not support it… Homeopathy is a system of clinical treatment that can only be validated by in vivo clinical trials.”

Please note that this paper is about bacterial DNA sequences and nothing to do with water memory anyway. I included it because someone quoted it as a direct evidence for water memory.

2. Jacques Benveniste

From wiki:

“In 1988, Jacques Benveniste published a study supporting a water memory effect amid controversy in Nature, accompanied by an editorial by Nature’s editor John Maddox urging readers to “suspend judgement” until the results could be replicated.

In the years following publication, multiple supervised experiments were run by Benveniste’s team, the United States Department of Defense, BBC’s Horizon programme, and other researchers, but no team has ever reproduced Benveniste’s results in controlled conditions.”

3. Masaru Emoto

I think Sadhguru’s statement was mainly due to this guy Masaru Emoto. Emoto claimed that different water sources would produce different crystalline structures when frozen. For example, he claimed that a water sample from a mountain stream when frozen would show structures of beautifully-shaped geometric design, but those structures would be distorted and randomly formed if the sample were taken from a polluted water source.

He did an experiment but he did not publish the result in any authentic mainstream scientific journals. Also, it met with harsh criticism from scientists stating that the experiment lacked controlled conditions, was prone to manipulation or human error influencing the findings. Emoto was personally invited to take the One Million Dollar Paranormal Challenge by James Randi in 2003, and would have received US$1,000,000 if he had been able to reproduce the experiment under test conditions agreed to by both parties. He did not participate.

To conclude, there is not even a week scientific evidence for water memory as of now contrary to Sadhguru’s statement that there’s substantial scientific evidence today about how the molecular structure of the water can be rearranged without changing the chemical structure, even with a simple thought or a touch.

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My opinion on this

As many people have said, we can’t expect a yoga guru to be scientifically correct. No one goes to Sadhguru to learn science either. In this particular instance, the actual question that was asked to Sadhguru was that if there was a scientific evidence for water memory and hence Sadhguru had to talk about science.

While we don’t have any evidence that water has memory, Sadhguru’s statement that science does have evidence is obviously incorrect. This probably came from what he has heard or read. And, considering a hearsay or a random article as an authentic source is due to a lack of awareness on how scientific experiment and peer review works. Not only Sadhguru, majority of well-educated Indians are not completely aware of how to discriminate between a real scientific evidence and false claim. (I learnt about it only last year, by the way).This is just due to the lack of general awareness on this topic among public.

But I have also come across instances where Sadhguru voluntarily talks about science and claims that many things the science is discovered now has been already discovered by yogic methods. He may be probably doing this to create more appeal to yoga and spread it to more people with good intention.

But this is what creates a lot of arguments and questions among people. First, we don’t have any evidence for the fact that any kind of factual knowledge can be obtained through practices like meditation or yoga, even though we have been hearing such stories since ancient days. This claim and claims to do miracles have been misused by many fake spiritual leaders in our country which naturally makes people to be extra cautious and even harshly criticize all spiritual leaders. Until there is a solid evidence that such claims have any scientific basis, such criticism will even continue in the upcoming generations. This will actually make Yoga to become less appealing in the future. There is no way to stop it unless we do something about it in this generation especially when an influential public figure like Sadhguru, who claims to be able to do many things that a normal man cannot do, is alive. I can actually offer a simple solution for that. But before that, let me tell you something very important that many people are not aware of.

Burden of Proof

This is an important concept to understand. Because, I have noticed many people saying that ‘If Sadhguru has made a claim, it is the responsibility of the person who is opposing the claim to disprove it’. In other words, they say “If you don’t believe it, then prove that it is wrong’..

It is absolutely necessary to correct this common misconception. Actually, if somebody is making a claim, it is the responsibility of the person who makes the claim to prove it. It is an universally accepted fact in philosophy, logic and science. You can read the citations given for more details.

The Solution

Now, imagine if just one of the claims made by Sadhguru is proved to be true. Just if one claim gets scientific evidence, it will create a lot of world wide attention, appeal and a respect for what Sadhguru says. People who have been accusing Sadhguru for different things may start to wonder, ‘there must be a lot of truth in what this man is saying’.

I remember an interview that a reporter had with Sadhguru. The reporter asked ‘Is this Adiyogi statue that you have created has been created to seek attention?’ For that, Sadhguru said ‘yes’ and explained to the interviewer that it has been created to attract worldwide attention to yoga so that a lot of people will be interested in yoga. And he clarified that it has not been created for a personal attention seeking but rather for a good cause, to create worldwide attention to yoga. While it indeed created attention, it also raised a lot of questions and accusations.

Well, there is actually a better way to create such an attention.He can start with just proving one of his claims to science. Remember, this is not a problem unless people make it a problem. It is actually something very simple to do.

Sadhguru has claimed many things which are extraordinary . He has done it indirectly by quoting incidents where he could do things like that. I will quote a claim mentioned in the same article that is given for this question, that can be very easily verified with an experiment.

So this lady in the house brought water for me and she’s like Kali suddenly, not just kathak, she’s like Kali. I looked at her – she’s a nice lady, today she’s in the Kali form – so I looked at her and she offered water to me and I said, ‘Amma, I don’t need this water. I don’t need to drink this water. You’re like Kali right now, I don’t need Kali’s prasadam right now, I’m fine.’ She said, ‘Why, will I poison it?’ I said, ‘No, you don’t have to poison it, it’s already done.’ Then I told her, ‘You take a sip from this glass.’ She took a sip from the glass, then I said, ‘Give me the glass to me.’ I held in my hands for two minutes and I just gave it to her, ‘You drink it now.’ She drank one sip and burst into tears and started crying, she said, ‘It’s sweet.’ I said, ‘That’s all the difference it is.’

This is an extraordinary claim! But all he has to do is get a glass of plain water from you, hold it in his hands for two minutes and give it to you. If it tastes sweet, that is all there is to prove.

It can be verified with a scientific experiment very easily. Proving such a thing has many advantages too. Other then getting attention, Sadhguru and Isha foundation will gain more trust. It will stop people from turning way from Isha just because these claims are made. It will stop unnecessary hot criticisms filled with hatred and verbal abuses that we see all over internet. Sadhguru may win a nobel prize and Isha people will love that. He may earn millions of dollars which can be used for social welfare. Because we all know that Isha foundation already needs money for upcoming projects and currently have to rely on donations alone. In fact, many people who oppose him will start to trust that he is doing everything with a genuine interest for people’s well being and willing to donate even more. Tell me one reason why this is not a good idea!

If you understand this and are genuinely interested to make it happen, we can find a way to pass it on to Sadhguru. You can republish this answer anywhere, share this answer, upvote it or directly send an email to Isha. If each missed call can count, each upvote can count too.

Thank you for taking your time to read this.

An Invitation to Debate: Swami Satchidanandendra Saraswati vs Modern Vedanta teachers

Update: 16/12/2017

I want to give a context for this debate and explain why I started it. First of all, I don’t believe that any scripture or any person is the eternal or infallible authority. A scripture may say a certain thing that was perfectly valid at the time it was written. But it may not be valid when someone reads the same book 2000 years later. Please read this post for more details: Shanmugam’s Personal Blog Buddhism and Vedanta are the Same – A Detailed Comparison/

But it doesn’t mean that they don’t have any value at all. They indeed have a lot of value. There are also certain things which never change. The absolute reality that Vedanta talks about doesn’t change. But since the world keeps changing, since people always face new challenges in every new century, they may develop new barriers to spiritual enlightenment, which the ancient people never had. The way that people lived 2000 years ago was very natural and completely different from the way people live today. A modern man has myriads of distractions and thousands of problems than the ancient man.

But traditional Vedanta teachers insist that there can be nothing added to or modified in traditional teachings. They also claim that they are teaching according to traditional methods only, without even deviating a single bit from them. But I have observed that it is certainly not possible for these Vedanta teachers to be completely in accordance with the scriptures. (There are reasons for it, which I have elaborated in my book). I just wanted to challenge what they are claiming to do. But I don’t mean any disrespect to the tradition. I just believe that there is always room for improvement in many ways. You can read my book for more details on that: The Truth About Spiritual Enlightenment: Bridging Science, Buddhism and Advaita Vedanta.

But relying only on scriptural authority has made people to interpret scriptures in several ways and in a way that fits into or agrees with their own opinions. There have been thousands of commentaries and sub-commentaries and even the original meanings of many verses have been misinterpreted in the long run.

Having said all that, you can continue to read this original post that I wrote many months before…


This article is an invitation for a healthy debate with modern Vedanta teachers like James Swartz who claim that their teachings are in line with traditional Vedanta. I think James Swartz, in particular, wouldn’t mind in clarifying some of the concerns raised in this article, as he himself considers that criticism is a healthy aspect of Vedanta. Also, since he has said in a Dharma combat that he enjoys such debates, I hope he doesn’t consider this as something unimportant or offensive.

First of all, I am not in any way stating my own opinions here and I am well aware that with my age and qualifications, I am not the right candidate to present such arguments. However, whatever I write here is only from scriptures including mukya Upanishads cited by Shankaracharya, Brahmasutras, Gita and the commentaries of Shankara on these texts. Since independent works such as Vivekachudamani are not considered as authentic works of Shankara by many, those texts are not quoted.

Swami_Satchidanandendra_Saraswati

Also, these concepts are directly from the book ‘Method of Vedanta’ written by Swami Satchidanandendra Saraswati, who was a Sanskrit scholar and vedantic monk. He dedicated his whole life in bringing out the kind of teaching method that was actually adopted by Shankara. He lived up to the age 94 and has written over 200 books. He has worked hard enough to bring out the true teachings of Shankara. And, the whole Vedanta community is indebted for his extraordinary work. So, this debate is indeed between Satchidanandendra Saraswati and any other Vedanta teachers who would like to participate. I hope this debate will help to clarify much confusion that give raise to innumerous arguments among many sincere disciples of Vedanta.

A Brief Summary of the points discussed

 

  • Experience and Moksha

According to James Swartz, the teaching method in Vedanta that is taught to qualified students results in ‘self-realization’, which is an experience of self. But the knowledge has to be assimilated for years to attain Moksha, translated by him as ‘enlightenment’. Also, according to the highly revered Swami Dayananda Saraswati, there is no such thing as experience at all, which happens as the result of the teaching.

But according to Shankara, teachings lead to direct experience of self, which is same as Jnana or enlightenment. This knowledge gained through direct experience of self doesn’t have to be strengthened by any further practice. He doesn’t seem to make such a distinction between self-realization and enlightenment at all. The objection that is raised against this is usually called as Prashankyana vada.

In Brahma Sutra Bhasya, Shankara gives a lot of details on this on his commentary for the verse 1.4.7. Since his discussion on this is quite long, I wouldn’t be able to provide the entire section here. However, in the citations that I have included below, you can see some of the verses cited by Swami Satchidanandendra Saraswathi, to show how teaching results in the direct experience of self.

  • Nididhyasana

This has been defined in many ways by modern teachers.

For example, Ted Schmidt, a student of James Swartz defines it as following in his site:

Nididhyasana is the practice of continuously meditating upon the teachings of Vedanta. This type of meditation is not to be confused with formal seated meditation.”

James Swartz defines it a little differently in his site, which doesn’t sound like the practice but the result of the practice itself:

“It is the complete assimilation of the knowledge that destroys the network of ignorance-based desires and one’s sense of doership. It has a dramatic experiential impact in so far as one’s life becomes free and peaceful and completely fulfilled.”

He also says ‘nididhyasana never ends for the jiva’ in his Facebook page.

However, Satchidanandendra Saraswathi defines it as a sustained meditation on self. Please refer his explanations and citations given by him below, in the citations section.

I think it is really important for students to know what Nididhyasana exactly is. So, I hope this debate will clarify the confusion on this.

  • The Teaching model of Vedanta – Adhyaropa apavada

This is regarding a significant contribution by Satchidanandendra Saraswati, who revived the true structure of the ancient teaching taught by Upanishads and Shankara. I didn’t find any modern teachers writing or talking about the third step, which also negates the intentionally superimposed attributes on Self, which were superimposed on it solely as teaching devices in the first place. (Please refer the citations section for details).

  • Enlightenment, bliss and cessation of desires

This is something that I myself noticed in Shankara’s bhasya on Brihadaranyaka Upanishad on verse 4.3.33, which talks about cessation of desires and bliss of self..

However, James Swartz says that enlightenment doesn’t result in eternal bliss. So, was the verse just an exaggeration and did Shankara fail to mention it so? I have noticed Shankara’s commentaries and how precise they are in explaining everything; so I doubt if the latter was true.

Also, James Swartz says “This idea is another negative formulation of enlightenment. Nirvana is a desireless state of mind. This view is based on the idea that desire is suffering, which it is. To say that you want something means that you are not happy with what you have. This teaching is unworkable because a desireless mind is a contradiction in terms. When, except during sleep, do you not want something?”

Both of the above views of James are explained here in his page. And, needless to say, many teachers of Vedanta in this century share his view as well.

But doesn’t this contradict with the scriptures and Shankara? Please explain how to resolve this contradiction.

The following passages are the citations for the four points that I have mentioned.

Experience and Moksha

Known technically as ‘the Absolute’ (brahman), it is of the nature of immediate experience, void of all the attributes of transmigratory life. This is the meaning of the word ‘that’ (in the phrase ‘That thou art’), familiar to the experts in the Upanishads.

– Shankara (B.S.Bh.IV.i .2)

In the case of enquiry into the Vedic ritual, the Vedic and other traditional texts alone are the criterion. But this is not so in the case of the enquiry into the Absolute. Here it is the same texts that are the authority, but with immediate experience (and firm remembrance, etc.) added in the case of the purely metaphysical texts . For knowledge of the Absolute requires to culminate in immediate experience (anubhava), and (unlike the part of the Veda dealing with commands and prohibitions) has an already-existent reality for its object.

– Shankara (B.S. Bh.I.i.2)

Repeated resort to the appropriate means of knowledge is indeed useless in the case of the person who can attain immediate experience of the fact that his true Self is the Absolute merely from hearing the text ‘That thou art’ spoken once. But for him who is not able to do so, repetition is the proper means.

– Shankara in (B.S.Bh.IV.i .2)

True, it has been said that the Veda itself proclaims that reason must be respected, as it enjoins pondering as well as hearing. But this should not be used as a pretext for allowing empty hypothetical reasoning to gain entry. For in the present context only those arguments that are sanctioned by the Veda may be resorted to, and that only as an auxiliary to the attainment of direct experience.

– Shankara in  (B.S.Bh. II. i. 6)

 

Nididhyasana

 

Swami Satchidanandendra saraswathi explains what is nididhyasana and also quotes verses from Shankara, Gaudapa Karika and Gita which give instructions on how to practice nididhyasana.. And this differs from what is being taught by other teachers. By Nididhyasana, he means actual meditation.

Here is Swami’s explanation:

“The aim of the one practicing sustained meditation (nididhyasana) is different. He tries to attain direct vision of reality (here in this very world) by turning his mind away from all else. And there is the difference — as against upasana — that after the rise of knowledge nothing further remains to be done.

It is this sustained meditation that is referred to at Katha Upanishad I.ii.13 by the name ‘Adhyatma Yoga‘. In the Gita it is sometimes called ‘Dhyana Yoga‘ (e.g. XVIII. 52). In the Mandukya Karikas it is called ‘restraint of the mind’ (G.K.III.41, etc.). Its nature is described there in that latter work.

Everywhere its result is described in the same way as right metaphysical knowledge, and from this comes immediate liberation.

And here are the citations provided

  1. The wise man comes to know God through mastering Adhyatma Yoga, and gives up joy and sorrow. (Katha I.ii.12)

Sankara’s Commentary:

Mastering Adhyatma Yoga: Adhyatma Yoga means withdrawing the mind from objects and concentrating it on the Self. Having meditated on the deity, the Self, through attainment of Adhyatma Yoga, the wise man gives up joy and sorrow because there are no gradations of value in the Self.

  1.  ‘He is seen by those of subtle vision through their subtle minds’ says the Veda (Katha I.iii.12), pointing out that the highest state of Vi§nu is difficult to attain. Then the same text goes on to teach yoga as the means to attain it, in the words ‘The wise man should dissolve the senses into the mind and should dissolve the mind into the intellect. He should dissolve the soul into the great self and he should dissolve that into the Self that is pure peace’ (Katha I.iii. 13).

That is, he should first give up the use of speech and the other organs of action and perception and should remain identified with the lower aspect of the mind alone. He should then note that the lower aspect of the mind, too, has defects such as an inclination towards the sense objects and unsteadiness in its decisions, and he should dissolve it into that higher aspect of mind (buddhi) which has fixed determination for its nature and is sometimes known by the technical term ‘intellect’ (vijnana). He should refine the intellect and resolve it into ‘the great self, the experiencer or apex of the intellect. The ‘great self, however, must be dissolved in the ‘Self that is pure peace’, the supreme Spirit that is the subject of the section, the summit of human experience.

– Shankara (Brahma Sutra Bhasya I.iv.l  (the whole second point above is Shankara’s commentary on Brahma sutras)

  1. Resorting to dispassion, always intent on the Yoga of Meditation (Dhyana Yoga). (Bh.G. XVIII. 52)

Sankara’s Commentary:

Meditation means dwelling on the true nature of the Self. Yoga means one-pointed concentration on the Self. He who is intent on ‘Dhyana’ and ‘Yoga’ thus defined is the one ‘intent on the Yoga of Meditation’. The use of the word ‘always’ is to show that he has no other duties, such as daily repetition of the Vedic verses.

  1. That yoga should certainly be practiced with resolute mind. Giving up without exception all desires that come from individual will, restraining the sense-organs on every side through the mind, one should gradually withdraw from all activity, with will and intellect firmly controlled; keeping the mind fixed on the Self, one should not think of anything.

Wherever the fickle mind wanders , one should bring it back and fix it on the Self alone, under firm control. Supreme joy comes to such a yogi, whose mind is at perfect peace, whose lusts have subsided, who is sinless and who has become the Ab solute. Such a yogi, free from all sin, always controlling his mind in this way, easily attains the supreme joy of con tact with the Absolute. With his mind controlled through yoga, he sees himself in all beings and all beings in his own Self, seeing the same everywhere.  (Bh.G. VI. 23-9)

Sankara’ s Commentary: ‘

Seeing the same everywhere’ is said of one who has the same undifferentiated vision or knowledge of unity and identity with the Absolute and the Self in regard to all things of different grades, from Brahma to the beings of the vegetable and mineral realms. (Bh.G.Bh.VI.29)

  1. The mind must be restrained tirelessly, as if one were emptying the sea with the tip of a blade of grass. One must resort to special means to restrain the mind when it is dispersed amid desires and enjoyments. The mind must also be awakened and held in restraint even when it is perfectly calm in the dissolution of dreamless sleep. Mere dissolution in dreamless sleep is no better than desire (since it is also the seed of future worldly experience).

One restrains the mind from desires and enjoyments by remembering ‘All is pain’. When one remembers ‘All is the Unborn (the Absolute)’, one does not even see what is born. When the mind is drowsy in its practice of yoga one should arouse it, and when it is distracted one should again calm it down. One should know that the mind is soiled with latent impressions, and should not allow it to move when it has attained the state of equilibrium, free from the tendency either to dissolution or distraction.

Even there, one should not savour the joy. One should acquire non-attachment through the discriminative wisdom that sees all joy as born of Ignorance. When the mind, although at first motionless, moves out once more, one should again carefully bring it back to unity. When the mind no longer either undergoes dissolution in dreamless sleep or distraction amidst desires and enjoyments, and it is motionless and without manifestation, then it has reached its state of perfection. It (has reached the state of ‘no-mind’, G.K.III. 32, and) is the Absolute. (G.K.III. 1-6)

Adyaropa Apavada – The Teaching Method in Vedanta

 

This teaching method ‘Adhyaropa apavada‘ is not properly followed by many modern teachers who teach Vedanta today. That is why I think people get stuck in all kinds of concepts..

 Here is how he describes in short, in one of his books:

(a) In order to disclose the nature of the self as Brahman in itself Srutis like the following negate all specific features superimposed on it by the unenlightened common mind :-

“It is this Akshara (the Imperishable), 0 Gargi, so the knowers of
Brahman say. It is neither gross nor subtle, neither short nor long, not
red, not viscid, not shadowy, not dark, not the air, not the ether, not
adhesive, tasteless, odourless, without the sense of sight, without the
sense of hearing, without the vital principle, mouthless, without measure,
neither interior nor exterior,. It eats nothing, nobody eats it.”
– Br.3-8-8.

(b) Lest, by this strict denial of all properties it may be taken to be absolute nothing (s’unya), it is taught by means of illusory attributes seemingly pertaining to it owing to Upadhis (apparently conditioning factors).

(c) At the close of the teaching the rescission of even the imputed attributes used as a device for purposes of teaching, lest it should be regarded as actually belonging to it.

(Many modern teachers stop with (a) and (b) )

Citations provided by Swami:

1.”The Absolute is that in which there is no particularity. There is no name, no form, no action, no distinction, no universal, no attribute. It is through these determinations alone that speech proceeds, and not one of them belongs to the Absolute. So the latter cannot be taught by sentences of the pattern ‘This is so-and-so’.

In such upanishadic phrases and words as “The Absolute is Consciousness-Bliss’ (Brhad.III.ix.28.7) . ‘A mere mass of Consciousness’ (Brhad.II.iv.12) , ‘Brahman’, ‘Atman’, the Absolute is artificially referred to with the help of superimposed name, form and action, and spoken of exactly in the way we refer to objects of perception, as when we say ‘That white cow with horns is twitching’.

But if the desire is to express the true nature of the Absolute, void of all conditioning adjuncts and particularity, then it cannot be described by any positive means whatever. The only ‘ possible method then is to refer to it through a comprehensive denial of whatever positive characteristics have been attributed to it in previous teachings, and to say ‘neither this nor that’.

– (Brhad.Bh.II.iii.6) – Shankara

  1. “Nor can the Absolute be properly referred to by any such terms as Being or non-being. For all words are used to convey a meaning, and when heard by their hearers convey the meaning the speaker had in mind. But communicable meaning is restricted without exception to universal, action, attribute and relation….

The Absolute, however, does not belong to any universal (genus), so it cannot be expressed by a noun such as ‘Being’ or ‘non-being’. Being without attributes, it cannot be described by any adjective denoting an attribute. And being actionless, it cannot be expressed by any verb denoting activity.

For the Upanishad speaks of it as ‘Without parts, without activity, at rest’ (Svet .VI.19) . Nor has it any relation with anything. For it is ‘One’, ‘without a second’, ‘not an object’ and ‘the Self. Hence it cannot be expressed by any word. And the upanishadic texts themselves confirm this when they say ‘That from which words fall back’ (Taitt .ll.9) , and in other passages.”

– (Bh.G.Bh.XIII.12) – Shankara

  1. And because the Absolute has no particular characteristics, the Veda indicates its nature by denying of it the forms of all other things, as is shown, for instance, in the following pa sages: ‘And so, therefore, the teaching is “neither this nor that”‘ (Brhad.II.iii.6) , ‘It is other than what is known, and above the unknown’ (Kena I.U), ‘That from which words fall back without obtaining access, together with the mind’ (Taitt .II.9) .

And the Vedic texts also relate how when Badhva was questioned by Baskalin he gave his answer merely by not speaking. ‘Sir, teach me in words’, Ba§kalin said. But the Teacher remained silent. Finally, at the second or third time of asking, Badhva replied, ‘I am telling you, but you do not understand. This Self is utter silence’

– (B.S.Bh.III.ii.17) – Shankara

  1. “Who so knows the Self, thus described, as the fearless Absolute (brahman), himself becomes the Absolute, beyond fear. This is a brief statement of the meaning of the entire Upanishad.  And in order to convey this meaning rightly, the fanciful alternatives of production, maintenance and withdrawal, and the false notion of action, its factors and results, are deliberately attributed to the Self as a first step. And then later the final metaphysical truth is inculcated by negating these characteristics through a comprehensive denial of all particular superimpositions on the Absolute, expressed in the phrase ‘neither this nor that’.

Just as a man, wishing to explain numbers from one to a hundred thousand billion (points to figures that he has drawn and) says, ‘This figure is one, this figure is ten, this figure is a hundred, this figure is a thousand’ , and all the time his only purpose is to explain numbers, and not to affirm that the figures are numbers; or just as one wishing to explain the sounds of speech as represented by the written letters of the alphabet resorts to a device in the form of a palm-leaf on which he makes incisions which he later fills with ink to form letters, and all the while, (even though he point to a letter and say “This is the sound “so and so”‘) his only purpose is to explain the nature of the sounds referred to by each letter, and not to affirm that the leaf, incisions and ink are sounds;

In just the same way, the one real metaphysical principle, the Absolute, is taught by resort to many devices, such as attributing to it production (of the world) and other powers. And then after wards the nature of the Absolute is restated, through the concluding formula ‘neither this nor that’, so as to purify it of all particular notions accruing to it from the various devices used to explain its nature in the first place’.

– Brhad. Bh.IV.iv.25 by Shankara

  1. Hence that Brahman cannot be denoted by the epithet ‘jnanam’ (knowledge) either. Nevertheless, it is indicated though not expressed, by the word ‘‘jnanam’ denoting the semblance of consciousness which is really a modification of the mind. It is not directly denoted by that term because Brahman is devoid of genus and other specific features which alone are the occasion for the application of words to a thing. So is it with regard to the term ‘Satyam’ (truth). For Brahman is by its very nature devoid of all specific features. The term Satyam really refers to the genus ‘being’ inhering in external objects, and when Brahman is described as ‘Sat yam’ (Real), it is only indicated by that term. But Brahman is not actually expressed by the term ‘Satyam’.

–  Shankara – Tai. Bh. 2-1, p. 285.

  1. “Objection : “Is not even Atmandenoted by the word
    ‘Atman’ ?

Reply: No. for there are Srutis like ‘From which words fall back’,
‘That in which one sees nothing else’.
Question: How then do texts like ‘Atman alone is below ….’ and ‘It is Atman’ reveal Atman ?
Reply: This is no fault. For, the word (Atman), primarily used in the world of differences to denote individual soul as distinct from the body it possesses, is extended to indicate the entity which remains after the rejection of body and other not-selfs as not deserving that appellation, and is used to reveal what is really inexpressible by words”.

– Shankara – Ch. Bh. 7-1-3, p. 542.

Moksha, Bliss and Cessation of desires

 

Many teachers of Vedanta these days say that an enlightened person still goes through suffering and enlightenment is not a state of constant bliss. They also claim that enlightenment is not cessation of desires. (For e.g James Swartz in Shiningworld.com lists cessation of desires as one of the myths of enlightenment, in his 1 year course published in the website.)

I also found the following from Brihadaranyaka Upanishad Chapter 4, Section 3, verse 33 which contradicts this modern view.

“4.3.33   He who is perfect of body and prosperous among men. the ruler of others, and most lavishly supplied with all human enjoyments, represents the greatest joy among men. This human joy multiplied a hundred times makes one unit of joy for the Manes who have won that world of theirs. The joy of these Manes who have won that world multiplied a hundred times makes one unit of joy in the world of the celestial minstrels. This joy in the world of the celestial minstrels multiplied a hundred times makes one unit of joy for the gods by action those who attain their godhead by their actions. This joy of the gods by action multiplied a hundred times makes one unit of joy for the gods by birth, as well as of one who is versed in the Vedas, sinless and free from desire. This joy of the gods by birth multiplied a hundred times makes one unit of joy in the world of Prajapati (Viraj), as well as of one who is versed in the Vedas, sinless and free from desire. This joy in the world of Prajapati multiplied a hundred times makes one unit of joy in the world of Brahman (Hiranyagarbha), as well as of one who is versed in the Vedas, sinless and free from desire. This indeed is the supreme bliss. This is the state of Brahman, O Emperor, said ‘Yajnavalkya. I give you a thousand (cows), sir. Please instruct me further about liberation itself.’ At this Yajnavalkya was afraid that the intelligent Emperor was constraining him to finish with all his conclusions.”

Shankara also acknowledges this verse in his commentary on this Upanishad and further cites a verse from Mahabharata in his commentary:

“Vedavyasa also says, ‘The sense pleasures of this world and the great joys of heaven are not worth one-sixteenth part of the bliss that comes of the cessation of desire’ (Mbh. XII. clxxiii. 47).”

But many modern day Vedanta teachers today teach that bliss is not an attribute of truth at all. They even say that ‘Ananda’ from ‘Sat-chit-Ananda’ doesn’t translate to bliss (which is weird because the same word ananda is used in Tamil also, the language I speak, which means happiness)

Conclusion

I would like to thank you for your precious time spent reading this entire article. I would appreciate your thoughts on this so that it will clarify many questions raised by people who are sincere students of Vedanta.