Sadhana Panchakam Study Group

Open Discussion Forum for general public to discuss and debate the fine nuances of Vedanta and its role in spirituality. Rules apply. Registration necessary.
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Open Discussion Forum for general public to discuss and debate the fine nuances of Vedanta and its role in spirituality. Rules apply. Registration necessary.

Re: Sadhana Panchakam Study Group

Postby Padmaja » Fri May 14, 2010 9:43 pm

~ SADHANA PANCHAKAM TEXT INTRODUCTION ~
- Commentary by Swami Chinmayananda

In these five verses Shankara enumerates some 40 items that constitute the "Vedantic Sadhana". Ritualism can be a discipline only in the field of many "Dvaita". In Advaita there cannot be sadhana in the form of worship, invocation, surrender or sacrifice. Yet, the student who is entangled in his mind-intellect equipment is still in the level of ego (jiva-bhav). He is to be shown the path by which he can steadily raise his vision into the Yonder, beyond the frontiers of the many (BMI and OET) into the One Self, the State of "Peace that passeth all understanding".

Adi Shankara in these five simple-looking verses lovingly lists the ways and means which can readily be followed by all Vedantin students, seeking direct experience of the Divine State, beyond the mind, the Spring of Consciousness. Any seeker who sincerely follows these pointers surely will not miss his way and wander into the labyrinth of futile, self-defeating, negative arguments and false conclusions.

Shankara shows here the great Path to Truth, the Path that was trodden by the innumerable Masters of the Vedas and the Upanishads.
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Re: Sadhana Panchakam Study Group

Postby Padmaja » Fri May 14, 2010 9:47 pm

Hari Om. Pranams to my fellow students Muruganji and Kuganji.

Let's now take up the "the first line of the first verse" for our discussion. Kuganji, can you please post the first line of the first verse and its english meaning. Muruganji, please let me know if you have the book. Thanks.
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Re: Sadhana Panchakam Study Group

Postby murugans61 » Fri May 14, 2010 10:58 pm

Hari Om

I have the book. pranams
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Re: Sadhana Panchakam Study Group

Postby Padmaja » Fri May 14, 2010 11:10 pm

Hari Om and Pranams Muruganji and Kuganji,

I think before discussing first line of the verse, it will be a good idea to discuss this portion from introduction -

"Ritualism can be a discipline only in the field of many "Dvaita". In Advaita there cannot be sadhana in the form of worship, invocation, surrender or sacrifice. Yet, the student who is entangled in his mind-intellect equipment is still in the level of ego (jiva-bhav). He is to be shown the path by which he can steadily raise his vision into the Yonder, beyond the frontiers of the many (BMI and OET) into the One Self, the State of "Peace that passeth all understanding".

Can you please post your thoughts on this. Thanks.
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Re: Sadhana Panchakam Study Group

Postby murugans61 » Sat May 15, 2010 4:41 pm

Hari Om
Thank you Padmajaji for a good start.
"Ritualism can be a discipline only in the field of many "Dvaita". In Advaita there cannot be sadhana in the form of worship, invocation, surrender or sacrifice. Yet, the student who is entangled in his mind-intellect equipment is still in the level of ego (jiva-bhav). He is to be shown the path by which he can steadily raise his vision into the Yonder, beyond the frontiers of the many (BMI and OET) into the One Self, the State of "Peace that passeth all understanding".

The importance of Sadhanas - the spiritual scheme of life - is explained in the above introduction.

To realize the Oneness as explained in the Advaita philosophy, two things are required. First one is a prepared mind (to receive the knowledge of Oneness) and the second is the knowledge of Oneness.

In order to prepare the mind which is conducive to receive the knowledge, Sadhanas are requried. Sadhanas, or spiritual scheme of life, will refine the mind and give it the right direction and also make it to achieve the goal of " knowledge of Oneness".

In Advaita, Rituals, invocation, worship, surrender etc are part of the preparation or cultivation of the mind process. Religious sadhanas aid and intensify our thirst for the truth.

Surrendering with all our heart to that which we can not comprehend, where our intellect alone can not reach, where science ends and philosophy starts is true Bhakti. And unless we truley surrender, intellectual contemplation will not be effective.

Vivekananda said: "Bhakthi without Vedanta is superstition and Vedanta without Bhakthi is madness".

Pranams
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Re: Sadhana Panchakam Study Group

Postby Padmaja » Sun May 16, 2010 1:49 pm

Hari OM. Pranams.

Muruganji, very nice. Thanks for pointing out that sadhanas are required for preparing mind to recieve knowledge. The quotation from Swami Vivekananda is beautiful and apt. Having "Bhakti without Vedanta" would be like saying "I love you but I don't know you." that is not a true love. A true lover understand beloved at a very deep level. Having "Vedanta without Bhakti" would be like saying "I know you, but I don't love you." so that knowlege will always remain "far away"(Paroksha).
Here is my attempt to understand what Pujya Gurudev's says in introduction - "Ritualism can be a discipline only in the field of many "Dvaita"(duality). In Advaita there cannot be sadhana in the form of worship, invocation, surrender or sacrifice." If we look at the list we realize that all sadhanas mentioned by Pujya Gurudev need two entities.

Worshipper(1) worships worshipped(2)
invoker(1) invokes invoked(2)
surrendered(1), surrenders to, altar of surrender(2)
sacrificer(1) sacrifices sacrificed(2)

As a matter of fact all sadhanas would fall in this category of Dvaita because -
seeker(1) - seeks - sought(2) (sadhak(1) does sadhana to gain sadhya(2))

Though sadhanas are of the nature of Dvaita they are needed because "if somebody is sick in their dream", then they would need "dream medicine" to get cured. Regular medicine won't do.
Kuganji, can you also please post your reflections on Pujya Gurudev's introduction.
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Re: Sadhana Panchakam Study Group

Postby kugan » Sun May 16, 2010 2:40 pm

Hari Om,
Apologies for the late reply. Was out of town for work the past two days in a remote area with no internet access. Just got back home. I was about to post the "Worshiper and worshiped" point but I believe that point was just posted by Padmajaji.

Anyway, going back to the verse,

In Advaita there cannot be sadhana in the form of worship, invocation, surrender or sacrifice.

I strongly believe that for most of us, although understanding in theory that the principle of Advaita represents Oneness in everything, we are,in reality, dwelling in the state of Dvaita.

Hence, for all those still in the state of dvaita, we have to follow or be shown "the path".

He is to be shown the path by which he can steadily raise his vision into the Yonder, beyond the frontiers of the many (BMI and OET) into the One Self, the State of "Peace that passeth all understanding"

What is this path?
Bhakti Yoga or perhaps in this introduction, referred to as Ritualism.

What is the definition of a ritual? - A ritual is a set of actions, performed mainly for their symbolic value.
Ritualism can, I suppose, be further defined as a set of actions performed for their symbolic value to reach a certain goal, which is very close to the meaning of "sādhanā" which means spiritual exertion towards an intended goal.

And what is that goal?
The State of "Peace that passeth all understanding"

So the importance of ritualism or Sadhana is provided in the introduction. For one who is entangled in his mind-intellect equipment, Sadhana will be the means of realising the advaita state. As we continue our sadhana steadily:
we raise our vision into the Yonder, beyond the frontiers of the many into the One Self and realise the State of "Peace that passeth all understanding"

and I believe showing us this path is the principle behind the writing of "Sadhana Panchakam"
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Re: Sadhana Panchakam Study Group

Postby meera » Sun May 16, 2010 3:03 pm

Hari Om Padmaja and others here.

I wish to join in too. I did not know a new text was being studied! By Guru's grace I have come here.

I will read up, kindly direct me as we go along.

Pranaam to all of you

with love and 'saha veeryam karavavahai'...

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Re: Sadhana Panchakam Study Group

Postby murugans61 » Sun May 16, 2010 4:27 pm

Hari Om Kuganji and Padmajaji

There are some nice points coming out regarding Advaita and Dvaita, from the discussion of introduction paragraph of Sadhana Panchakam.

My understanding of Dvaita / Advaita is as follows:

At the transactional level ( Vyavaharika), dvaita bhava can not be avoided. i.e I can not eat in order to appease the hunger of my son. As far as curing the hunger is concerned, we are two different entities.

At the mind/intellect level ( Paramarthika, I am not sure of the meaning of the sanskrit words), Advaitam is to be understood. All that is here is Isvara, Sarvam Shivamayam Jagat, I am That is at the intellectual level.

Perform karma according to dharma at the transactional level, with a clear Jnanam of Advaita bhavam and being established in it (Oneness of everything) at the intellectual level, is my understanding of these two philosophies.

Meeraji - Welcome to the discussions on the Sadana Panchakam. We look forward to your active participation and sharing your valuable knowledge.

Pranams
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Re: Sadhana Panchakam Study Group

Postby Padmaja » Mon May 17, 2010 11:19 am

Hari OM. Pranams.

Meeraji, hearty welcome to you to Sadhana Panchakam study group. Please share your thoughts on current discussion.
==========
Thanks Kuganji, for pointing out the relationship between Dvaita sadhana as path and Advaita as goal, and the purpose of Sadhana Panchakam is to show us that path. This reminded me to re-read introduction to find out "Anubandha Chatushtaya" of this text. This is what I think it is. Please give your thoughts also.

Adhikari (Qualified student): "all Vedantin students, seeking direct experience of the Divine State, beyond the mind, the Spring of Consciousness"
Vishaya(Subject): "In these five verses Shankara enumerates some 40 items that constitute the "Vedantic Sadhana"
Prayojana (Purpose): "to show the path by which he(seeker) can steadily raise his vision into the Yonder, beyond the frontiers of the many (BMI and OET) into the One Self, the State of "Peace that passeth all understanding".
Sambandh(relationship): "Shankara shows here the great Path to Truth, the Path that was trodden by the innumerable Masters of the Vedas and the Upanishads." "Any seeker who sincerely follows these pointers surely will not miss his way and wander into the labyrinth of futile, self-defeating, negative arguments and false conclusions."

Kuganji, you have given a precise definition of ritual "set of actions performed for their symbolic value to reach a certain goal."
I think if ritual is not done for gaining material goal and if we have devotion (faith, respect and love) for that goal, then probably we can call ritual as "expression of Love" e.g. if a man loves a woman, then he will do set of actions like giving flowers to her, sending cards .. to express his love. Similarly, a devotee decorates Lord's image with flowers, offers naivedya, lights fragrant incense, sings bhajans etc. I think "invocation" is the most important part of ritual. Without that ritual is inert actions.

I think every path involves ritual e.g. if I am a devotee then I invoke Lord and worship him with Love, surrender to him and sacrifice my ego at His feet. If I am a karmayogi then I invoke Lord in people and worship him by seva, surrender to the outcome of my seva and sacrifice my egocentric desires. If I am jnani then I invoke within me "Supreme Self", worship him with Mahavakya vichar, surrender to it and sacrifice my "self (BMI) (ego)" completely. All these are of the nature of invocation, worship, surrender and sacrifice in my opinion. Please share your thoughts.

Muruganji, you are pointing out that dvaita is in transactional plane as performing Karma, and understanding at mind/intellect level is Jnana. Pujya Gurudev defines Advaita as the State of "Peace that passeth all understanding" so I think even that Jnana (understanding at mind/intellect level) will fall under dvaita. What do you all think? (By the way, in my understanding Paramarthik Satta is "Self" which is true in all three periods of time, "Vyavaharic" is transactional plane (like you have said), seen by all and "Pratibhasic" is like dream that only our mind sees, others don't see it.)

These are my thoughts and my current understanding and I am looking forward to learning from you all.
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Re: Sadhana Panchakam Study Group

Postby kugan » Mon May 17, 2010 2:19 pm

Hari Om

"Pujya Gurudev defines Advaita as the State of "Peace that passeth all understanding" so I think even that Jnana (understanding at mind/intellect level) will fall under dvaita. "

I think perhaps you are right. Ultimately when we are absorbed in Oneness, all that we know, experience etc, cease to exists. Of course, none of us will be able to truly validate this point but this is what it seems to point to when Pujya Gurudev says "passeth all understanding". A state that cannot be comprehended by our mind.

So when do we start with the first verse?
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Re: Sadhana Panchakam Study Group

Postby Padmaja » Mon May 17, 2010 6:47 pm

Hari Om. Pranams.

Unless Muruganji has anything to add further we can now proceed to first verse. Meeraji, please feel free to jump in the discussion whenever you like.

Here is the first verse - first line :

Vedo Nityamadhiyatam taduditam karma svanushthiyatam

(Study the Vedas daily. Perform diligently the duties(karmas) ordained by them.)


Muruganji, can you please post Pujya Gurudev's commentary on 1. Study the Vedas daily.
Kuganji, can you please post Pujya Gurudev's commentary on 2. Perform diligently the duties(karmas) ordained by them..

Thank You. Hari Om...
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Re: Sadhana Panchakam Study Group

Postby kugan » Mon May 17, 2010 10:09 pm

Hari Om!

Taduditam karmasvanushthiyatamPerform diligently the duties ordained by them

Pujya Gurudev's commentary:

A passive study, or even intelligent reflections are not sufficient in this Subjective Science. These must be followed by a dynamic involvement of the seeker’s personality with these ideas, in his everyday life. The Karmas (duties) prescribed by the Upanisads, the way-of-life suggested by the Upanishad Rishis, must be faithfully lived. A life of intelligent self-control at all levels is consistently insisted upon. A life of minimum mental and intellectual dissipation in the world of objects-emotions-thoughts must be pursued so that the mind’s
vitalities are always conserved very zealously.
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Re: Sadhana Panchakam Study Group

Postby murugans61 » Tue May 18, 2010 9:04 am

Hari Om

Thank you Padmajaji and Kuganji for the clarifications on Advaita, which refines my understading of Advaita.

Pujya Gurudev's commentary on Vedo Nityamadhiyatam:

Study the Vedas daily - To read and reflect upon the invigorating ideas of the Upanishads is to keep the student's bosom inspired at all moments. The seeker also has to live in this very same world of enchanting sense objects, amidst other members of the community, who are constantly living in indulgence. To live among such people, amidst such objects, which can and do actually give a temporary passing spurt of joy, and to deny entirely and always is difficult unless the seeker's mind is constantly kept inspired by the larger vision of the higer essence of life. Scriptures alone are the exclusive literature that hold up the spiritual vision in a compelling language. Hence the need for daily reading of the end portion of the Vedas called the Upanishads.

Pranams
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Re: Sadhana Panchakam Study Group

Postby Padmaja » Tue May 18, 2010 3:13 pm

Hari OM. Pranams and thanks Muruganji and Kuganji

Please share your thoughts on these verses.
The word "intelligent self control" stands out to me the most in these two verses. "Intelligent" is possible by "study of Vedas" and "Self control" is achieved by "performing the duties ordained by them".
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Re: Sadhana Panchakam Study Group

Postby Padmaja » Tue May 18, 2010 9:18 pm

Hari Om. Pranams.

I have following reflection questions on the part that we just read. Muruganji, Kuganji, Meeraji and those who wish to join can you please give your thoughts. Thanks.
(** Vedas here mean upanishads)

1. Is it sufficient to just study the Vedas daily to attain goal of Advaita. If not why?
2. Is it sufficient to just Perform diligently the duties(karmas) ordained by vedas without studying vedas to attain goal of Advaita. If not, why?
3. Study of vedas will enrich quality of our mind/intellect. Performing our duties diligently will help conserve our vitality. However When the goal (Advaita) is beyond mind/intellect/karma/understanding/vitality why are these sadhans even needed?
4. How would study of Vedas will give us courage to deny temptations of temporary joys that indulgent people around us are engaged in?
5. Performing duties deligently needs putting our energy into it. How would performing duties will help us to conserve our vitality?
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Re: Sadhana Panchakam Study Group

Postby murugans61 » Wed May 19, 2010 12:39 am

Hari Om

Studying the Vedic scriptures daily is like keeping a guide map and checking whether we are moving in the right direction. If we do not follow the map continuously, we may loose the track and getting back to the right path will unnecessary waste our energies.

Just looking at the map alone is not sufficient and one has to put in adequate efforts to move in the right direction, by performing diligently the karmas ordained in the vedas.

By performing the right actions with right attitude, our mind will get refined and cleaned and will be ready to understand the Truth.

The grand scheme of living and the Knowledge of Truth explained in Vedas lifts a person to such a great height that he will not be attracted by smaller fleeting temptations, like a person who is flying at an altitude of 30k feet is not affected by the hills and rivers of the plains underneath.

Pranams
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Re: Sadhana Panchakam Study Group

Postby Padmaja » Wed May 19, 2010 3:47 am

Hari Om. Pranams Muruganji,

Wow..such excellent answers you have come up with. Thank you so much ! "like a person who is flying at an altitude of 30k feet is not affected by the hills and rivers of the plains underneath" ..how wonderful !
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Re: Sadhana Panchakam Study Group

Postby kugan » Wed May 19, 2010 7:19 am

3. Study of vedas will enrich quality of our mind/intellect. Performing our duties diligently will help conserve our vitality. However When the goal (Advaita) is beyond mind/intellect/karma/understanding/vitality why are these sadhans even needed?


Well here's an example:
We are standing in front of a mirror and the mirror is completely dirty hence we cannot see our true reflection (True Self). So Sadhana is the process of cleaning this mirror that our reflection becomes clear.

I believe that at times, the outcome of actions or sadhana cannot be truly comprehended. Remember this movie "Karate Kid"?

The student came to the master,Miyagi to learn about Karate and how to fight etc. But his teacher instead taught him how to wash cars. Two seemingly unrelated activities. He washed cars daily and one day being absolutely frustrated, called out to the teacher and asked him what was the purpose of washing the cars when he wanted to learn Karate. So at that point, the teacher tried to attack him and all of a sudden, he had a reflex which stopped the punch

And at that point, he realised that the seemingly unrelated activity actually trained him to realise the goal which was learning Karate.


Question 1 and 2 is sort of answered in the Vivekachoodamani

1. Is it sufficient to just study the Vedas daily to attain goal of Advaita. If not why?
2. Is it sufficient to just Perform diligently the duties(karmas) ordained by vedas without studying vedas to attain goal of Advaita. If not, why?



Mere studying the Vedas alone cannot grant us Liberation and merely performing our duties can't either. It goes hand in hand. What we study has to be put into practise in our daily life and duties to eventually get a direct experience of the True Self (Svanubhava). I think Muruganji's Map example was excellent.
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Re: Sadhana Panchakam Study Group

Postby Padmaja » Wed May 19, 2010 5:41 pm

Hari Om. Pranams.

Thanks Kuganji. Very Nice and apt examples of dirty mirror and karate kid ! :-)

1. Is it sufficient to just study the Vedas daily to attain goal of Advaita. If not why?

If one studies Vedas but do not strive to implement the instructions enjoined in them, then he becomes "Shabda Prabhu" (master of words). He can pull any references from anywhere, he can break and squeeze each word to show hundred different things it can imply, he can give hundreds of sanskrit quotations, related words, references, he can argue logically and defeat other theories however Samartha Ramdas Swami in his grantha "Dasbodh" says that the words coming out of such person are like "Dog's Vomit".

Why such harsh words are used by Saints and Sages? After all there is nothing wrong in wanting to learn and being intellectually savy. However when it comes to Vedanta its purpose is to remove illusion of "names and forms" and realizing our true nature. "Words" are "Names". They are to be used "as indicators" and our focus should be on "indicated" e.g. if somebody says "This is Padmaja", you will look at me. You will never know me if you just keep trying to find out many meanings of word Padmaja. If one engages just in theory and play of words, he will stay tangled in web of "names and forms" and will never make any progress in getting out of it. Pujya Guruji says "if you study scriptures without surrendering ego first, then each thing you learnt will just add one more feather in ego's hat." To know what to do with those words one needs proper attitude, faith, surrender and love, which can only come by having right contact with the world and doing ordained duties. Otherwise, it will just fatten the ego and will make the person arugmentative. Instead of doing silent introspection within he will go around judging and finding faults in others. ‘Shabdajalam maharanyam chittabhraman karnam’ (the dense jungle of the maze of words causes the mind to ramble). Ramkrishna Paramhans used to say "Mother, pray don’t bewitch me by Your world-enchanting maya."

One example our Acharya Br. Prabodhji gave us once. He said "Two pandits were engaged in logical argument on philosophy and a panel was sitting to judge them. One was saying "the silver color inside a sea shell is an appearance and it is not real silver". Other was saying "No..it is real silver". The first one knew with conviction what he was saying was right but wasn't so good at arguing. The other knew many quotations and was very good at logically proving his point so he defeated the first Pandit in argument. Judges declared verdict "The Pandit who is saying that inside of a shell is silver has won. As a prize he can take home ALL the silver in ALL the shells that are laying on this shore."
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