A Review of ‘The Finders’ by Dr. Jeffery Martin ( A Constructive Criticism)

I recently finished reading Dr. Jeffery Martin’s book ‘The Finders’, which is about finders, or the people who have access to what he calls as ‘fundamental well being’. Those finders also include the category of people who have found what I often write about – the spiritual enlightenment. The academic name for fundamental well being is ‘persistent non-symbolic experience (PSNE)’.

The book is based on the research and interviews conducted on nearly a thousand people who claim to be finders – or experiencing the states which are often referred to using words like Nondual awareness, Plateau experiences, Unity consciousness, Deautomatization, Enlightenment, Samadhi, Transcendental experiences, Flow experience, Mystical experiences, Satori
Cosmic Consciousness, The peace of God, Peak experiences, Silence beyond sound, Numinous experiences, Shamanic ecstasy etc. (This list of words is taken from the website for his own research project : nonsymbolic.org).

Regardless of the quality of the research and the accuracy of his conclusions, this book is extremely useful for people who have reached these states of consciousness. Most importantly, it is pretty interesting and useful for people like me who have gone beyond the sense of agency or sense of experiencing oneself as the ‘doer’. Because, this book has documented many things based on the inputs shared by many people who are awake (and possibly many people who have glimpses and have non-abiding awakening).

I liked the articulation and simplicity where he has explained the features of narrative self and challenges that a finder faces, especially in relationships. I have gone through a divorce after becoming a ‘finder’ and I can relate to it a lot. The book is overall wonderful but many facts that are presented can be challenged. As the author himself says, the findings need a lot of refinement and I would consider the research as being in an initial stage. We need input from other researchers and further experiments of similar nature from others to take this forward.

From my perspective, I find the concept of continuum a little problematic. May be it makes certain things easier from an academic point of view. But it is misleading to a seeker, in my opinion. I am also skeptical about many other things said in the book, like the possibility of losing one’s fundamental wellbeing.

I have discussed more in this video:

He also had a ‘Finder’s course’ to help people reach the fundamental well being and I heard that the cost was about $3000, which is a lot of money. And the claim that majority of the attendees reached fundamental well being is indeed extra-ordinary. Currently he has a program called ’45 Days to Awakening Challenge’ which costs about $500. Because of the huge claim that is being made and a very high cost, many people ask if it is a scam. If you have completed any of the above mentioned programs, comment your experiences below.

Corona Virus and Its Crazy Healers (The Religious Fanatics from Hinduism, Christianity and Islam)

Once the new coronavirus strain was detected in China’s Wuhan City in December 2019, conspiracy and pseudoscientific theories have started to circulate. There has been many from religious fanatics.

Christian fundamentalists have bizarrely linked the epidemic to prophecies in the last book of the New Testament, the Book of Revelation.

Coronavirus has been likened to the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse as well as cataclysms that will supposedly strike before the end of the world and the Messiah’s second coming.

Twitter user Alchemo A. Lozano said: “@kershaw_martin The Four Horsemen of Apocalypse representing War, Famine, Pestilence and Death as depicted in the Bible on Revelation 6:2-8 are most likely causing this coronavirus worldwide. We don’t see them but we can feel their wrath everywhere.

https://www.express.co.uk/news/weird/1244059/Coronavirus-plague-predicted-Bible-Book-of-Revelation-prophecy-coronavirus-end-of-world

An Instagram-famous bikie and convicted killer has claimed the Wuhan coronavirus sweeping across the world is ‘Allah’s revenge’ for China’s persecution of millions of Muslims.

Retired Nomads president Moudi Tajjour took to Snapchat saying Allah ‘created’ the killer virus which has killed 41 around the world and infected at least four in Australia.

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-7928151/Moudi-Tajjour-says-Coronavirus-Allahs-revenge-Chinas-persecution-Muslims.html

I am sorry to hear about the Muslim persecution though. At one hand, there are extremist Muslims around the world who have fanatic views that are inhumane. On the other hand, an innocent Muslim gets blamed for something he did not do, just because he is a Muslim. This is very disturbing. In fact, Muslims who advocate inhuman laws against fellow humans for religious reasons should realize that this is all the consequence that they created. No, I am not supporting any negative reactions towards Muslims; tit for tat wont work apart from a vicious circle of violence. But I am saying that peaceful Muslims should unite against those who advocate anything that violates human rights and raise their voice!

Swami Chakrapani Maharaj, president of Hindu Mahasabha, on Friday said cow urine and cow dung can be used for treating novel coronavirus disease. He also said that a special yagna will be performed to “kill the novel coronavirus and end its effects on the world”.

“Consuming cow urine and cow dung will stop the effect of infectious coronavirus. A person who chants Om Namah Shivay and applies cow dung on body, will be saved. A special yagna ritual will soon be performed to kill coronavirus,” said Chakrapani.

https://www.news18.com/news/india/from-cow-dung-to-urine-hindu-mahasabha-suggests-bizarre-treatment-for-coronavirus-2483153.html

This is another nonsense by BJP. Many people who support BJP or inclined towards Hindutva are prone to make such ridiculous statements of pseudoscience: https://gulfnews.com/photos/news/shocking-words-of-wisdom-from-indian-gurus-and-hindutva-brigade-1.1582048210370

I came across a meme today in Facebook and that also made me more thoughtful:

Only to those joker guys in Church who makes comedy show with people acting like possessed and crazy! They don’t realize that they are not only shaming Jesus and Indian Christianity, but also give way to criticism by Hindutva and RSS guys who are looking for a chance to mock you people…

Sane, United and peaceful Hindus, Christians and Muslims should stand against all the fanatic and shameless Hindus (Hindutva guys), shameless Christians (the crazy exorcists who misunderstand Indian iconography and call it Satanic, thus inviting trouble) shameless Muslims (those who promote Terrorism, promote killing for apostasy and everyone else that is inhuman). Peace, love and Truth always wins!

Also read:

Pappankulam – A Village of Brahmins and Four Vedas

Who is Anti-Hindu and Anti-Indian? Some Logical Questions

Why is there so much hate between Hindus and Muslims in India?

Prophet Muhammad Exposed – A Different Perspective That Everyone Should Read

Hinduism and Dharma: The Distinction between a Religion and a Way of Life

Did Hinduism, Christianity, Islam and Judaism Copy from Each Other?

12 Shocking Truths About Religions

Who is Anti-Hindu and Anti-Indian? Some Logical Questions

Pseudoscience, Religious intolerance, Injustice, Hindu Muslim Disunity, Fake spiritual babas like Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev & Nithyananda, harmful ideas like Hindu rashtra etc in a country like India is a shame for all of us.

The complete surrender, complete karma yoga and a permanent state of flow with a feeling of boundlessness, peace, fulfillment, balanced energy state, highest possible clarity, a mind devoid of conflicts and wandering incessant flow of thoughts, a feeling of harmony and synchronicity towards existence, and a feeling of oneness in everything as if one is immersed in an ocean of consciousness with blurred or fuzzy distinction and more and more and more are the gifts of the Holy Spirit or Shakthi! There is a precise science to make it true in one’s experience and being, which has been lost because of lack of royal patronage for nearly 300 years. Once Colonial movements imposed a concept called religion in India, everything has become distorted, just leaving a mess that is guided by fake gurus and power hungry politicians.

Pseudoscience in the land of Aryabhatta? Religious intolerance in the land of Shankara, Ramakrishna, Akbar, Guru Nanak, Vivekananda, Gandhi, Tirumular, Thiruvalluvar and Abdul Kalam? Injustice in the land of Manu Needhi Cholan? Provoking Hindu-Muslim disunity in the land of Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, Maulana Hasrat Mohani, Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan, Dr. Zakir Hussain, Mohammad Sharfuddin Quadri, Asaf Ali, Maulana Mazharul Haque, Dr. Saifuddin Kitchlew, Maghfoor Ahmad Ajazi, Abid Hassan etc who fought against the British rule? Speaking without logic and with whataboutery and ad hominem in the land where Nyaya Shastra, the ancient Indian school of logic thrived? Fake spiritual gurus in the land of Adi Shankara? The idea of Hindu Rashtra in the land which said Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam or the entire earth is a family? Constant ‘We’ vs ‘You all” fights in the land which proclaimed “Yadum Ure, Yavarum Kelir (Every village/town is my village. Everybody is my relative)”? Who are Anti-Indians and Anti-Hindus then? Who is actually shaming India?

Also read:

Pappankulam – A Village of Brahmins and Four Vedas

Why is there so much hate between Hindus and Muslims in India?

Prophet Muhammad Exposed – A Different Perspective That Everyone Should Read

Hinduism and Dharma: The Distinction between a Religion and a Way of Life

Did Hinduism, Christianity, Islam and Judaism Copy from Each Other?

12 Shocking Truths About Religions

A Rebuttal to Ram Ablo’s answer on Hindu Misconceptions – Quora

I recently came across the answer of Ram Ablo who says that people who claim that all religions lead to the same truth are some confused and ignorant Hindus. Well, then looks like the list would include the following people too: The list of Ignorant and confused people who claimed that all religions lead to the same goal (according to Ram Ablo): Guru Nanak, Kabir, Rumi, Ramakrishna Paramahamsa, Shirdi Sai Baba, Vivekananda, Sivananda, Gandhi, Abdul Kalam and many others.

I see a group of people teaming up and supporting each other for promoting Hindu superiority, an illusion that was created in the recent modern past. This blog or this post is not intended to personally offend them but only refute the ideas they are promoting. And comparing this clash of cultural identity with Adhi Shankara’s debates is the biggest insult to Adhi Shankara.

Let me first quote his answer:

“The biggest misconception about being a Hindu is that there is no difference or distinction between the mundane material world and the spiritual world.

I see a vast majority of Hindus being utterly confused about this real and harsh distinction between the mundane affairs of the world and what is considered spirituality. Most Hindus mix up the two, and inappropriately apply the conclusions of abstract philosophical spiritual teachings to real-world problems.

For example, these ignorant Hindus say that all religions are the same, all religions teach the same thing, so people of all religions should be treated the same way, innocently, without caring about what these different religions say, and what the followers of these religions do in the real world.

This confusion comes from the unfortunate availability of all scriptures to everybody, irrespective of qualifications. Everybody reads books on Advaita and Brahman, and without the full understanding of the appropriate application of teachings to appropriate situations, they start talking bullshit about everyone being the same, everything being the same, no need to maintain Hindu identity, no need for any action, no need to protect and defend Hinduism against predatory religions, etc.

Here’s an episode from the life of Adi Shankara, the greatest teacher of Advaita:

Once during his travels across India, teaching and debating, Adi Shankara had a discussion with a king. The king misunderstood Advaita and thought that Shankara was teaching that the world is unreal, and nothing has any value. To mock Shankara, the king ordered his attendants to release the wildest elephant in his stable just as Shankara was walking down the path of the royal garden. As soon as he saw the elephant charging, Shankara broke into a sprint and quickly climbed up the tallest coconut tree nearby.

Seeing this apparently hilarious spectacle, the king laughed and asked Shankara, why he ran from the imaginary elephant, as according to Advaita, everything is unreal? To this, Shankara gave a witty reply that what the king saw as Shankara running was also equally as imaginary as the charging elephant.

This witty episode really explains the true philosophy of Advaita.

Adi Shankara was not a fool to ignore the real-world threat of the charging elephant at the physical mundane level of existence. He protected himself with all his physical capabilities. At a higher level of consciousness, the physical level is less real, but these two levels do not interact. This was the misunderstanding of the king, who mixed the two levels of consciousness and mocked Advaita.

But today, Hindus are getting confused from the opposite side — in their immense faith, they apply their naive and dangerously wrong understanding of Advaita to the real, physical, mundane world.

I have said this in many answers and comments — Hindu philosophy guarantees the spiritual equality of everyone “up there” in the sky. But on the ground, in the physical world of flesh and blood — conflict, aggression and predation are real things that need to be guarded against if this beautiful Hindu philosophy needs to survive.

If Adi Shankara did not see the significance of debating and defeating real-world flesh-and-blood people, and re-establishing Hindu Vedic religion in a physical sense, he would not have taken the pains of travelling through the length and breadth of India and establishing real physical maThas and temples and rituals. He would have just sat in his home in Kerala, thinking, “Everything is the same, so there is no difference whether I go and preach Advaita or whether Hinduism dies.”

As Kalidasa says in Raghuvamsham, “sharIram Adyam khalu dharmasAdhanam शरीरमाद्यं खलु धर्मसाधनम्” — “The body is the primary and only means of conducting Dharma’.

For the Hindu dharma and philosophy to survive, the “body” of Hinduism needs to not only survive but thrive in robust physical forms in the real physical world of flesh-and-blood. This requires protection and defence against real physical world flesh-and-blood threats of various kinds. This protection and defence can only happen when there is unambiguous recognition that everything is not the same. There are real differences, which is why there is conflict.

There is a Sanskrit saying — “pishAcAnAm paishAcabhAshayA uttaram deyam पिशाचानां पैशाचभाषया उत्तरं देयम्” — “Villains only understand the language of villainy, so they need to be answered back in the language of villainy.”

In other words, violence and aggression do not understand the language of peace and civility, and they should be retaliated in the same way that they act.

Let us not repeat the mistake of Prithviraj Chauhan who showed foolish and innocent mercy to the ruthless and cunning Muhammad Ghori.

Innocence is not a quality that is praised in Hindu scriptures. Knowledge and intelligence (of all kinds) are praised.”

https://qr.ae/Tz8WXN

My reply, which I also left as a comment:

The list of Ignorant and confused people who claimed that all religions lead to the same goal: Guru Nanak, Kabir, Rumi, Ramakrishna Paramahamsa, Shirdi Sai Baba, Vivekananda, Sivananda, Gandhi, Abdul Kalam and many others…

All confusion arises because religion, as it is segregated now, is a modern Western concept. The term ‘religio’ was initially used to call various sects of Christianity. During protestant reformation, they actually defined what religion is, and for the first time in the history, religions were defined based on beliefs, rather than way of life. When the word Hindu was first used in colonial period, it was spelt as Hindoo and used strictly as a geographical identity. Terms like Hindoo Christians and Hindoo muslims were very common. : 12 Shocking Truths About Religions

I grew up as a devotee, and due to intense suffering I went through, I surrendered and finally became a spiritual seeker, going through self-inquiry and mindfulness for nearly 12 years. Even before that I was devotee inquiring about life and throughout my life I have always received divine guidance.

I knew this similarity between religions by studying sufism and Christian mysticism, which say the same thing. And I also did a thorough research on life and teachings of Muhammad and Jesus. What happens in today’s world in the name of religions is not what I am pointing to when I say all religions lead to to the same goal; nor am I using this term as a ‘negative terminology’ given by British. The original word for Hinduism was ‘heathens’, and it was changed to Hinduism since it was offensive.

I studied in Jayendra Saraswathi Swamigal Golden Jubilee matriculation school, Sankarnagar and I guess you can see the relationship with Adi Shankara. That school was indeed a blessing. Even if someone is not convinced by my logic when I say the original Islam and the teachings of Muhammad were the same as the paths in our own scriptures, they will be convinced by faith if they go through the story of my life. So it is not that I am talking about Advaita simply after reading some easily available material on the internet; I can backup what I am saying by science (psychology), scriptures and faith. I myself have written a detailed article for beginners about sadhana chatushtaya, the qualifications that you are talking about: What is Advaita Vedanta? – Advaita For Dummies

Since you mentioned Adi Shankara, let me quote from one of my answers:

Adi Shankara has never heard of Hinduism. Hinduism is a modern concept popularized by Irish missionary Charles Grant.

Adi Shankara debated with many people and made them his disciples once they were defeated in the argument. He did not convert anyone as there was no such concept called conversion or even Hinduism.

For your information, he not only refuted some ideas held by Buddhist monks but also refuted many ideas from the school of yoga, samkhya, pancharatra. If he existed today and came up with the same arguments, he would have been called as ‘Anti-Hindu’…

Shankara was not interested in defending any identity. Hinduism is an identity; that is how Hindus see it. But Vedanta that Shankara was teaching is a path.

If Shankara indeed defended Hinduism just like today’s Hindus do, this is how it would have been:

“Shankara: Buddhists are destroying Hinduism. That is because Hindus are not united.

Buddhist: yeah.. so it has got nothing to do with treating Shudras as third class citizens.

Shankara: look who is talking.. the follower of a person who left his wife and children to forest. No sane person would do that.”

But Shankara was not debating like that. He was not a right wing troll. His debates were more like this:

“The purvapakshin (opponent) says that universe orginated from unconscious principle called pradhana. But it is not possible because conciousness cannot arise from something that is unconscious.”

So he was dealing with ideas; not identities.

If he was alive today, it wouldn’t take much to refute the ideas in Christianity, Islam and even within Hinduism which are contradictory to Advaita. His arguments would go more like this, as seen in his commentaries:

“The purvapakshin says that those who reject the message in Quran will go to eternal hell. But it contradicts the idea of the most merciful and most gracious God which is mentioned in Quran itself. “

If you want to get a taste of how his debates sounded like, read his commentaries on Brahmasutras. it is available for free on the internet.

…………………………………………

What I see that is happening in the name of Hinduism today is just a plain hatred towards people of Abrahamic faith, shaking one of the very foundations of what this so called ‘Hinduism’ is based on: tolerance. Shankara was not fighting for a Hindu identity; this equates my Guru Shankara to a right wing troll who mindlessly abuses people without logic. Sorry… Adhi Shankara was not campaigning for BJP; in fact, he criticized many things which we would call today as an aspect of Hinduism.

An article that you may be interested in: Pappankulam – A Village of Brahmins and Four Vedas

10 Things that BJP, RSS, and Hindutva Bhakts Should Understand

My answer in Quora to the question “What message do you have for BJP Bhakts?”:

BJP as a party is nothing but a collection of people; that applies to any party. Parties are like human societies on their own with human beings with a variety of personalities.

Since good and bad people and stupid and intelligent people are randomly distributed among a group of people, it would be unwise to categorize an entire group as good or bad. It would be unwise to also categorize all members of any party with a specific label, like ‘bhakts’.

But still, there is a distinct group of BJP supporters whom you can identify as bhakts. They can be identified by specific traits, thought patterns, way of responding to criticisms etc.

The most important characteristic feature that sets them apart is that they do not know how to argue anything with logic; they are logically handicapped! This handicap varies by degrees from person to person.

In fact, such bhakts exists in every party, but BJP seems to have a large number of them, at least as far as I have observed. And, I do have a lot of things to say to them; in order to help them to get more healthy attitude towards reality and the world. So, here are my messages to them:

1. You don’t have to save Hinduism


It is typical for many BJP bhakts to act as the saviours of Hinduism. I would like to quote from my recent answer, to the question “How can Hinduism be saved in India?”

There are two kinds of people who follow any religion:

People who consider their religion as a path to walk.
People who consider their religion as an identity.
People who consider their religion as a path do not worry about saving their religion. They are happy about the fact that they have a path to walk on and they teach that path to their children. They try to understand the true essence of the scriptures. They consider love towards humanity and God as more important than anything else.

But people who take religions as an identity are the self-proclaimed saviours of those religions. For them, religion is not a matter of love, but a matter of pride. They are concerned about nourishing their ego with religion. Most of the self- proclaimed saviours of Hinduism haven’t read even Bhagavad Gita or Upanishads and have no idea about the essence of their religion. In the name of saving their religion, all they do is breed hatred. As far as I have seen, they seem to be dangerous because their attitude is anti-Hindu.

But anyway, saying that Hinduism needs to be saved is like the biggest insult to Hinduism. Come on? You really think that a library of thousands of books can be destroyed by just two books, the Bible and the Quran?

Whatever that makes sense will continue to grow and make sense to people. Whatever gives importance to love and humanity will flourish. Anything that is anti-humanity will eventually be destroyed in the world. So saving Hinduism is not your responsibility! You following the religion and understanding the essence of it is the greatest service you can do to Hinduism.

If you are still worried about saving Hinduism, I suggest you read Gita 4.7:

yada yada hi dharmasya glanir bhavati bharata

abhyutthanam adharmasya tadatmanam srjamyaham.

Meaning: whenever there is decline in righteousness and an increase in unrighteousness, I will manifest myself on earth!

Then why do you worry? Lack of faith, may be?[1]

Criticisms cannot destroy Hinduism; because, Hinduism itself is a culture which has enormous literature filled with criticisms of various schools of thought.

Even if all the temples are destroyed, it will only be a loss of property ( a huge loss, of course) and not a loss for Hinduism as a religion. Because we have the agama literature, the science which deals with creating temples. The sad part is, any attempt to understand agamas is totally ignored among these Hindu saviors. I recommend reading Rami Sivan ‘s answers to know more about agamas and other scriptures. He is a walking encyclopedia of agamas.

2) Vedic scriptures do not have modern science or technology

It is true that ancient Indians had a lot of scientific temper and made some significant contributions to science. But, even those contributions get overlooked or ignored when bhakts claim that Vedas talk about atomic structure, particle physics, quantum mechanics and nuclear weapons.

By claiming these things, you are not only making the real contributions to fade away but you are also insulting the scriptures themselves. Because scriptures such as Upanishads and Gita are filled with tons of spiritual wisdom, which can transform your life if understood properly. They show a path to supreme bliss! Ignoring all that wisdom, when you talk as if Vedas are science journals, you begin to look like a joker.

I have gone through major Upanishads, Bhagavad Gita, and some Gitas that most of the bhakts haven’t even heard of, like Ashtavakra Gita, Ribhu Gita, Avadhuta Gita, Bhoothanatha Gita etc. I see the transformative quality of these texts and that remains unnoticed because people are already creating aversion towards our scriptures by claiming extra-ordinary and baseless things.

You need to really stop doing that! Because, when I try to convince some hardcore atheists about the importance of these scriptures, I see a lack of open-mindedness, which is nothing but a direct consequence of such an illogical behaviour. Please refer Raziman T.V. (റസിമാൻ ടി.വി.) answers in which he has debunked such claims.

3) We all came from the outside

Hindu nationalists want to believe that everything originated from India. This is not a positive trait to have but it is the result of intoxicated pride.

These people would often confuse between Aryan invasion theory and Aryan migration theory. It is true that Aryans never invaded and that Aryan invasion theory was proved to be false. But it is so true that Aryans migrated from Steppes; the Aryan migration theory is true.

We not only have strong evidence for it, but it is obvious even if you read our scriptures. Migration was the nature of Aryans. For six months they would migrate, and for six months covering the winter season, they would settle down. It was called yoga and kshema respectively. When we look at the history, we can see that first the Vedic civilization thrived in the West of India, then it slowly occupied Kuru kingdom near Punjab, then moved to Ganges valley and flourished with urban culture and spiritual wisdom when it finally covered the North eastern part of India. The whole movement has a direction, from North West to South East. But apart from this, there are tons of archaeological, genetic and linguistic evidence.

But BJP and other Hindutva-inclined parties have some talented speakers who speak skillfully in trying to prove that Indians actually migrated from India and moved to different parts of the world. For someone who is naive, it may sound extraordinary. But if you get more awareness on how historical method and research works, you will start seeing the truth.

This is not to say that Dravidians were initial inhabitants of Indian subcontinent. Australoids and Negritos were here before them. Dravidians moved from mediterranean, and interbred with the earlier inhabitants to form the ancestral South Indian population. But now we all have mixed genes. No one is Dravidian or Aryan, everyone are just Indians.

Every one of us can trace their home back to Africa anyway; all divisions of language and culture came much later!

4) Sanskrit is not the oldest language in the world.

I love Sanskrit and I have been learning it for the past three years. Now I can speak and express almost anything in Sanskrit (not fluent though), read simple Sanskrit stories, write Sanskrit poems and more. But neither Sanskrit nor Tamil is the oldest language in the world; they can’t be! (My mother tongue is Tamil, by the way).

Languages evolved 150,000 years ago. No language can exist for 150,000 years without becoming extinct or transforming into a different language. So none of the languages spoken today is the oldest; they all descended from a parent language. We don’t even know what people spoke some 12,000 years ago. That was when people first started to settle down and do farming and that was when a major part of anything close to a modern language could have evolved. Because, that is when people started trading and communicating extensively.

Sanskrit descended from proto-Indo-Aryan language and Tamil descended from Pro-Dravidian language. It is true that they are hypothetical, but it is a fact that both must have descended in some parent language anyway. There is no way that such a highly advanced language like Tamil or Sanskrit can be the same as the language that humans spoke before they settled down in one place. If you understand the basics of linguistics, you will know how dumb the ‘oldest language’ claims are.

5) Historical research is not biased

There may be biased historians anywhere, but the general consensus among historians all over the world that is achieved by rigorous teamwork and peer review is not biased.

I am saying this because I recently noticed a meme shared by bhakts. It also received a lot of ‘lol’ reactions, implying how stupid those historians were. The meme said something like , “Jesus and Muhammad are historical persons, but Durga, Ganesh and Ram are not historical”.

These people simply do not understand how historical research works. The historians who say this also agree that Abraham and Moses were not historical. The only two incidents which have been agreed to be true widely by historians in Jesus’s life are his baptism by John and his crucifixion. Durga and Ganesh are forms of God intended for meditations and worship, and their stories are intended to convey spiritual wisdom symbolically. They cannot be considered as historical figures. There is no reference to Rama outside the various versions of Ramayana in ancient literature (which doesn’t reduce the significance of Ramayana in anyway or undermine its essential message). And obviously, no historian would dare to say that Muhammad really ascended to heaven, even though the fact that a person called Muhammad existed is completely and undeniably true.

Every conclusion has reasons. They are promptly explained by historians in historical journals and publications. You can argue with logic, but don’t argue simply driven by emotions.

So, bhakts! you neither understand how historical research works nor understand the purpose of mythology or epics in Hinduism. Just cool down, people who know stuff in India will take care of raising India’s pride. Keep quiet and let them speak.

6) Gandhi is not a demon and Godse is not a hero

The disastrous opinion that Gandhi was bad and deserved to be killed has poisoned a lot of these bhakts.

In seventh standard, we had a lesson about Gandhi in English. My English teacher gave me a nickname ‘Gandhi’ because I also had bad handwriting like him, was very shy like him, and left school as soon as the school closed just like he did. But later I got a lot of interest in him and read his autobiography. He is the real inspiration to every Hindu!

Gandhi was not a perfect person; no one is! Every human being is fallible, but tries his best to reach his highest potential in all dimensions. Did Gandhi strive to achieve the highest dimension in his life? Was he a seeker of truth, peace and harmony? He most certainly was! Please set your biased and preconceived notions about Gandhi and learn true history of him from people like Balaji Viswanathan (பாலாஜி விஸ்வநாதன்) and Awdhesh Singh (Quora user) .

7) Logic matters

If you really like this culture, you must stand true to the values of this culture. Logic and reasoning is one of the core values of this land. Nyaya shastra, one of the six orthodox schools of Hinduism deals extensively with logic. All Acharyas including Adhi Shankara followed the logical of Nyaya shastras in their commentaries, criticisms and debates. Adhi Shankara criticized even Pancharatra agama and yoga, without a single logical fallacy that went against Nyaya shastra. (Now we have modern informal logical which will teach you how to speak with logic.)

But it is sad to see that the comments of these Bhakts are filled with logical fallacies like ad hominem, whataboutism etc. Just google ‘informal logical fallacies and you will discover a lot of mistakes that you make when you are engaged in any heated argument. I won’t be surprised if someone asks ‘what about Congress’ in the comment section or call me anti-Hindu. This simply means that you don’t have anything valid to say, logically, to refute whatever that I have said.

8) Being devoted to a political party is not democracy

This applies to everyone, no matter what party they support. But there is too much attachment to BJP for all these BJP bhakts. For them, the only crime there is in the world is to criticize BJP or the ideas spread by the party members.

If you become committed to vote for one party for your entire life, you have forgotten the true meaning of democracy. If you want to be unbiased in your voting, you must drop your attachments and devotion to political parties and deriving your identity or self-image from them. It is not good for the country.

Bhakts have gone one step further by creating a cult of personality around Modi. There are some bhakts who even built a temple for Modi. I listened to Modi once and I liked his speech. He explained the difference between criticism and allegation and how criticism is healthy for democracy. But why are bhakts too intolerant to any healthy criticism? Because of their devotion and attachment.

9) You are misinformed about Muslims and Christians

Because of the ways of divide and rule by politicians, we are slowly forgetting what being an Indian means. The beauty and significance of India is in the unity in diversity; India is the opportunity to prove to the world that people of major religions of the world can live together without conflict. But because of our huge trust in politicians, we are slowly building up aversion towards other religions and its people. From some Facebook groups and their posts, it is very clear that this aversion is growing day by day.

First, it is a misconception to believe that Islam was brought by Mughal rulers and Christianity was brought here by British. Christianity entered South India almost a century after Jesus and Islam entered South India almost a century or two after Muhammad, Their descendants are still living in Kerala.

Second, both Christianity and Islam have mystic schools which share the same essence as Hinduism. Ramakrishna Paramahamsa went through the spiritual practices of both of those traditions independently and concluded that they all lead to the same goal, moksha! We have numerous saints like Kabir, Shirdi Sai baba etc and wonderful personalities like Mahatma Gandhi, Abdul kalam, Poet Bharathiyar etc who understood that the true essence of Islam and Christianity is the same as the essence of Hinduism. (98% of Christians and Muslims do not know this. So do not ask me whether they would accept what I say). Anyway, I have written more about this in my book “Discovering God: Bridging Christianity, Hinduism and Islam”.

If you think that people of other religions are wrong about something, engage in a healthy, logical debate with them. To do that, you must be strong in logic and scriptural knowledge yourself. A Christian reads the Bible everyday, a Muslim reads the Quran everyday; how many of you read the Gita everyday? How many of you are capable of handling any criticism with logic, instead of resorting to name calling and logical fallacies?

We are living in a world in which things that make sense will survive the test of time and things which are nonsensical will get discarded eventually. If your arguments are logically strong, there is no need to be concerned about any criticism.

10) I am not an anti-Indian or anti-Hindu.

A typical behaviour of bhakts is to label anyone who criticizes BJP as anti-Hindu or anti-Indian. I hope you understand why that is dumb, based on what we have discussed so far. So, let us be mature, shall we?

Dear Christians, Hindu Deities are not Evil Spirits! – A Criticism of Christian Churches Which Promote Religious Intolerance

I have a lot to say about Christianity. First, I will let you watch a video that narrates many incidents from my life which are associated with Christianity. I will be making many videos in the future, but this is an introduction. In this video, I have spoken the truth that I have realized in my experience, which is now as clear as the sunlight to me.  Sharing my thoughts on Christianity is intended to promote religious tolerance, inter-religious understanding and peace. I speak about all religions and this post is in specific to Christianity. First, watch the video, then read the rest of this post:

https://youtu.be/npKleb7Gh1A
The rest of this post is an answer that I wrote in Quora. But also follow the links at the end of this page. The Quora question was, ‘Why do most Christians refuse to accept “Prasad” from Hindus?

Because many churches preach that idol worship in Hinduism is Satanic and that idols have evil spirits in them. I used to have a Protestant friend, a girl, whose boyfriend is a Catholic. She wouldn’t step inside a Roman Catholic church because it has the idol of Jesus on the cross.

It is true that Hebrew Bible asks not to worship idols. But it was specifically for people in ancient Israel who were polytheists and didn’t have a strong philosophy that preaches the oneness of God. But when it comes to Hinduism, it already says God is one without a second, and idols are devices for meditation and devotion. So the idol worship that is banned in Bible is not the same as the idol worship in Hinduism.

Hinduism offers various symbols to connect with divine. The symbols include the stimuli of all the five senses. A form of God is a powerful visual stimulus that can evoke the feeling of devotion by mere exposure. This is possible because of a psychological phenomena called classical conditioning. So, in other words, Hinduism is based on deep understanding of human psychology.
Such symbolism is also present in other religions anyway. The Cresent in Islam, the Cross in Christianity, the taste of wine and the bread of the Eucharist and the melodious songs of orchestra in Church are a part of such symbolism and send powerful sensory cues.

Before there can be a real religious tolerance between various religions, people first need to understand the essence of their own religions. A Hindu cannot provide counter arguments to Christians if he himself is ignorant about his own religion.
And Christians should understand that anything that is offered to God with love is not /cannot be anti-Christian or Satanic.

I am in the process of making videos, images and infographics that promote religious tolerance and educate people about the true essence of religions.

Religious tolerance - Unity of Hinduism, Christianity and Islam

Hindu deities are not evil spirits

Idol worship in Hinduism

 

Christianity is all about love. When you reject a Prasad that is offered by someone with love, you are turning your face away from love; you are being anti-Christian.

Bible verse regarding love - 1 John 4:8

Bible verse regarding love - 1 John 4:16

Bible verse regarding love - Proverbs 3:3-4

By the way, this is not a post intended to attack Christians. And I am not in agreement with organizations like RSS who constantly abuse people of other religions in India. I am all for religious tolerance.

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Also read:

Hinduism, Christianity and Islam – One Truth, Various Names

Goddess Gomathi Amman, Adi Thabasu and Religious Tolerance

If I Speak in the Tongues of Men or of Angels – A Commentary on I Corinthians 13 and Bible’s Connection with Advaita Vedanta

The Good News – A Poem Connecting Biblical and Vedantic Thoughts

God: Who/What is God?

Christian Trinity and Vedanta

Repentance and Metanoia – A Bible question…

Rami Sivan – A Sydney based Acharya, Hindu Priest, Mimamsaka, Vedanta teacher and Pancharatrika

Dear friends,

Today I am going to introduce one of my favorite Quora writers on Hinduism to you all. He is Rami Sivan, a Sydney based Acharya, Hindu Priest, Mimamsaka, Vedanta teacher and Pancharatrika. I enjoy reading his answers and I like his no-nonsense approach to Hinduism and interpreting Hindu texts. You can find a lot of honest, unbiased answers by him. He is well versed in Mimamsa, the Indian school of hermeneutics and  also in Tarka, the Indian school of logic. So, his interpretations for Vedic texts are excellent and logical.

Rami Sivan

Going forward, I will be republishing some useful answers written by him and he gave me the permission to do so with pleasure. So I think him for providing me an opportunity to introduce his content to my readers.

(I do disagree with some of his views though; I have discussed one such view here: Hinduism and Dharma: The Distinction between a Religion and a Way of Life.)

Here is his bio from http://www.srimatham.com/about.html:

“Sydney based Acharya Ram Sivan (ordained as Sri Rama Ramanuja Achari), was born in South Africa  of a Jewish mother and Christian father, and rai by Hindu nannies. He was baptised as a Christian and had a basic education in Christianity and Judaism  and underwent a barmitzvah. He formally converted to Hinduism at the age of 15. In 1969 he emigrated to Israel where he spent a decade studying  Judaism, Christianity and Islam as well as training to be a registered nurse.  He also spent 3 years in India undertaking formal study in Yoga-Vedanta philosophy, Logic, Hermeneutics, Sanskrit, and Astrology, as well as specialising in Vedic and Tantric ritual. He studied in the traditional gurukula system in highly respected centres of spiritual and Scriptural learning in Rishikesh, Varanasi, Tirupati  and Chennai.

In 1982 he emigrated to Australia. He has practiced as a Hindu Priest and teacher of Yoga-Vedanta philosophy for over 40 years, and has travelled extensively to spread the Dharma, including in USA, South Africa and Bali. He was inducted as a preceptor (Acharya) into the South Indian Srivaishnava (Iyengar) lineage in 1990,  by the pontiff of Sriperumbudur; His Holiness Sriman Varada Yatiraja Jiyar Swamigal, with full rights of initiating others, teaching philosophy and Scripture, and conducting all the Hindu ceremonial and sacramental rites (pertaining to temples, and domestic life cycles).

Acharya Sivan is one of the founding members and the current public relations officer of the Australian Council of Hindu Clergy. He has participated in the consecration of a number of Australian and American Hindu temples, tutored other priests, and is the published author of a number of  books on Hindu subjects.

The acharya is much in demand as a domestic priest and as a Dharma teacher. He is involved in a number of Yoga schools conducting classes of philosophy as well as workshops in USA, Australia and Bali. He also  plays an active  pastoral role in counselling members of the Hindu community on their social and personal problems. He is also very active in conducting training sessions at various Sydney Hospitals in Hindu attitudes towards death and dying. Ram Sivan is fluent in English, Sanskrit, Hindi, Hebrew and conversational Arabic and Tamil.

What Is Maturity and What Is Immaturity? – (Warning! A Mature Content Written by an Immature Person)

Over the last three decades, many people who are close to me have attempted to teach me what maturity is…Sometimes it gets too much. Let me tell you the big difference between being an adult and being a kid.kisspng-child-care-pre-school-learning-infant-kids-5ac47661a290b9.8229482415228248016659.pngWhen a kid is too young, it doesn’t follow what you say as a parent but follows what you do as a parent. In other words, an immature kid is only interested in imitating others… Only when it grows up, it starts to think on its own.

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But still, we actually end up being immature to some extent, because even as an adult we still only try to follow the herd and live just like everyone else… True maturity is when you stop following the herd.

True maturity is to stop being a buffalo and becoming a lion.

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But there is another beauty in being a child. The beauty lies in its innocence, self-honesty, interest in giving and receiving love, lack of self-conflict, not being afraid of being yourself, thinking outside of the social conventions, lack of fear and shyness and not worrying about other people’s opinions. If that is what you call as immaturity, then there is nothing wrong in being immature.🤾‍♀️🤹

 

Labels Are Not The Truth!

Labels are not the truth! A word has a meaning only because we give meaning to it. So whether immaturity is good or bad depends on what you mean by that damn word. In fact, this also applies to words like ‘good’ and ‘bad’…😎

 

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If somebody gave me 3000 crores and tells me that the only choice I have is to build a statue, or else he will kill the whole humanity, then I will build a big statue of Buddha holding a board which has Kalamutta sutta written on it, with the following note:

“Let this be the last statue that we build for the sake of pride or political advantage when one part of the population is dying because of hunger. This statue is nothing but an example of the stupidity of humanity. “ 😂

Here is the Kalamutta sutta by the way:

“Do not believe in anything simply because you have heard it.

Do not believe in traditions simply because they have been handed down for many generations. …

Do not believe in anything merely on the authority of your teachers and elders.

But when, after observation and analysis, you find anything that agrees with reason, and is conducive to the good and benefit of one and all, then accept it and live up to it.”

Buddha, Kalama Sutta

 

A Request to The Readers:

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By the way, many parts in India is getting swept away by floods. There was a huge flood in Kerala and then there has been a destructive flood called Gaja in Tamil Nadu, which resulted in the loss of wealth and peace of millions of people. In India, the political situation is very bad;  many politicians from almost all parties seem to exhibit dishonesty quite transparently in public and the common public really does not seem to understand what is happening. I don’t understand how we can justify building 3-4 statues with thousands and thousand crores of money when people are dying in hunger today as we speak. After Patel statue, the plans for building many statues have been proposed.  I also suspect that what is happening in India today will be a historical example of social hypocrisy in the upcoming generations. Human rights and freedom of speech are getting violated a lot. People who speak for common men and activists are getting jailed and being called as ‘anti-nationalists’.

Since this blog is read by readers from various parts of the world, I request you, readers, to contribute something in some way to the recovery of people who are affected by Gaja floods. Only common people are getting into the fields and doing the work. Some politicians are helping but not all. And, I can’t stand seeing my people crying without food and basic facilities! Please contact some authority or some friend and try to help those people in some way..

Piyush Manush is a very sincere Activist in Salem, Tamil Nadu.  He is currently doing hard work in helping people. Here is his profile: https://www.facebook.com/piyush.manush .

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If you check his posts, you will know how hard he is working for the society. But you won’t believe that he got jailed a few times; there are people who troll him and personally attack his family. Please understand, this is the time we can show that we are humans! So, I am here begging the international readers to pay attention to the issues in India and help in whatever way you can. You can contact Piyush Manush and he is always available to provide assistance to people who are willing to help wholeheartedly

Thank you all! 

 

 

Some Wonderful lyrics of Tamil Poet Vairamuthu Regarding Spirituality

Generally, I prefer movies which show reality as it is, like a mirror. A lot of Indian movies are usually anti-reality, but things are getting better. There are a few Tamil lyrics written by Tamil poet Vairamuthu, who is currently the top lyricist in Tamil Movie Industry.

Let us start with a wonderful movie ‘Anbe Sivam’ (2003). The movie itself comes with a strong spiritual message and seems to be inspired by the Hollywood movie ‘Planes, Trains and Automobiles ‘. You can compare the stills, they look alike:

anbesivam.jpg

Now, let us see a song in the movie with its English translation:

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“யார் யார் சிவம்? நீ, நான், சிவம்!
வாழ்வே தவம்! அன்பே சிவம்!
ஆத்திகம் பேசும் அடியார்க்கெல்லாம் சிவமே அன்பாகும்!
நாத்திகம் பேசும் நல்லவருக்கோ அன்பே சிவமாகும்!
அன்பே சிவம்! அன்பே சிவம்! என்றும்,
அன்பே சிவம்! அன்பே சிவம்! எங்கும்,
அன்பின் பாதை சேர்ந்தவனுக்கு முடிவே இல்லையடா!
மனதின் நீளம் எதுவோ, அதுவே வாழ்வின் நீளமடா!

  • கவிப்பேரரசு வைரமுத்து

Who is Shiva? You and I are (essentially) Shiva!
Life is a penance; Love is Shiva!
For theists who surrender to the Almighty, Shiva is love!
For atheists who are good at heart, Love is Shiva!
Love is Shiva, Love is Shiva forever!
Love is Shiva, Love is Shiva everywhere!
If you walk on the path of life, there is no end for you..
The length of your mind (heart) is the length of your life!

  • Vairamuthu, The Great King of Poets

(If you do a search, you may be able to watch the movie online with English subtitles. I recommend watching both ”Planes, Trains and Automobiles ‘ and ‘Anbe Shivam‘ if you are interested in both movies and spirituality.

Then there is another song from the movie Padayappa (1999). Here is just a part of that song, which I like very much:

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தங்கத்தை பூட்டி வைத்தாய் வைரத்தை பூட்டி வைத்தாய்
உயிரை பூட்ட ஏது பூட்டு?
குழந்தை ஞானி இந்த இருவர் தவிர இங்கே
சுகமாய் இருப்பவர் யார் காட்டு!
“ஜீவன் இருக்கும் மட்டும் வாழ்கை நமது மட்டும்”
இது தான் ஞான சித்தர் பாட்டு!
இந்த பூமி சமம் நமக்கு;
நம் தெருவுக்குள் மத சண்டை ஜாதி சண்டை வம்பெதுக்கு?

  • கவிப்பேரரசு வைரமுத்து

You can lock the gold, you can lock the diamond,
but you cannot lock your life inside a body!
Is there anyone who is blissful except a child and a Jnani (self-realized person)?
Only as long as life is in the body, you can say that life belongs to only me.
This is the song of the Jnana Siddha!
Everyone has equal rights on the earth (like a family)..
Why should there be quarrels in our street based on religious and caste discrimination?

  • Vairamuthu, The Great King of Poets

 

Controversies on Vairamuthu

People, especially politicians in Tamil Nadu have been trying to malign and defame Vairamuthu because of an absurd reason. Vairamuthu wrote a research article about a Tamil saint Andal, completely praising her Tamil poetry.  He also quoted a researcher who said that Andal was a Devadasi who lived and died in Sri Rangam temple in Tamil Nadu. Devadasi literally means, a slave to God! A huge community called Devadasi community existed in South India and the women who belonged to this community were brought up in temples right from the young age and were taught fine arts. Women are usually good at fine arts like dancing, singing, painting etc. You can check out Sreeja Renganath from Quora for example: https://www.quora.com/profile/Sreeja-Renganath. For me, she seems to be the living manifestation of Goddess Saraswathi, the Goddess of wisdom. I am not being polite, I am being brutally honest. Read this answer of hers, you will know what I mean: https://qr.ae/TUhfF0 (an English name which represents wisdom is ‘Sophia’. This can be said like the English concept of Sarasvathi.)

Devadasis were wonderful women. Usually, they grew up to be extraordinarily devoted and consider God as the master and themselves as slaves. This is called Dasa Bhavana, the attitude that Hanuman is shown to have towards Rama in Indian epic Ramayana. These girls saw the Almighty as their husband. But later on, some people who were in charge of some temples started enslaving these Devadasis, took advantage of them and used them for prostitution. People who are so attached to the forms of deities (without realizing that all forms represent one truth), who claim that their ‘God’ can be insulted, should first realize that this tragedy that happened to Devadasi community was the actual insult to Goddess Saraswathi. Over the years, the word ‘Devadasi’ earned a bad connotation. The word ‘Devadasi’ can be very easily misunderstood nowadays as a synonym for prostitute. So, thousands of people who didn’t even read Vairamuthu’s essay started to verbally abuse him, threatened to kill him, forced him to apologize to Andal by coming to Andal’s temple in Srivilliputtur and made his life difficult after that for no reason. Vairamuthu didn’t do anything wrong in this regard!

Recently, he also has been accused of sexual harassment by a singer Chinmayi in Tamil Nadu, via the METOO campaign. Chinmayi made an allegation on him and the poet denied it.  Chinmayi says that it was something that happened more than a decade before. I have no idea who is saying the truth! But the impression that singer Chinmayi has made in general among the people of Tamil Nadu is not good. I sense a dominative character in Chinmayi and I suspect that she can lie or at least exaggerate something and make a mountain out of the molehill. Generally, after looking at the METOO issue, everyone gets this question: ‘Is this campaign really helping common men and women or is it only targetting celebrities? Because I know very well that most of these common people in India do not use Twitter or have never heard about it. Also, what makes these people to think that a person is exactly the same as how he was more than a decade ago?’

People change… But forgiveness, which seems to be the backbone of all the world religions is becoming an out of date concept these days!

The truth will win one day! No matter what the truth is, it will win! I just wrote this post to help people see and focus the positive side of poet Vairamuthu. He is a legend..

For the sake of the argument, let us say that Vairamuthi was indeed guilty of things that he is accused of. We need to still realize the fact that every saint was once a sinner and every sinner has the potential to become a saint. A human being is not a static entity, it is a process! Even Valmiki, who wrote Ramayana is said to be a robber before he became a saint!

This post is an expression of gratitude to Andal herself. The month of Marghazhi (16 Dec 2018 – 13 Jan 2019) which is considered to be special for Andal is also approaching. The name Andal reminds me of my English teacher at Sri Jayendra Saraswathi Swamigal Golden Jubilee Matriculation higher secondary school, Sankarnagar, Tirunelveli -627357. My English teacher in my seventh standard was a teacher named Andal. Whenever someone says my English is good, please understand the whole credit goes to her. Folded Hands on EmojiOne

These are the letters  that she wrote to me many years before:

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Wow, the first one is dated on 24th of  November, 1997. I didn’t realize that the anniversary of this letter was over just a couple of days before until I began to write this paragraph… (I have already mentioned about this letter and a few other letters in my Quora answer here: https://qr.ae/TUhfPb )

Satyameva Jayate!

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 )