Vantage View – A photographic Pranaam 🙏

Today is Thai Pongal. They say தை பிறந்தால் வழி பிறக்கும். The dawn of the Tamil Month of Thai is expected to bring in solutions to all our issues. Happy Pongal to all.

The day is also called Makar Sankranti or Uttarayan or Maghi or simply Sankranti (also known in Bangladesh as Poush Sankranti), It is a harvest festival day in the Hindu Calendar, dedicated to the nourisher Aditya or Surya (Sun). It is observed each year the day Sun enters the Capricorn zodiac which corresponds with the month of January as per the Gregoriyan Calendar. It marks the first day of the sun’s transit into Makara rashi (Capricorn). A very special day indeed for us.

On this auspicious day, here is my photographic Pranaam to Aditya.

Everyday during my walks in the early morning and in the evening, I was always under the impression that I had the best views of our nourisher “Aditya” the Sun and receive his Golden Blessings.

Somedays I get young guests joining me to share the gallery.

But never did I realize that there are always some “special beings” who had the vantage view, negating my “superior view” about myself. Here are these special ones.

No wonder we say “आदित्यहृदयं पुण्यं”. The Sun has a noble heart indeed.

Have a great day. God Bless. இறை அருள் பெருக. வளமுடன் வாழ்க !

Happy New Year 2022

The Year 2021 is coming to an end shortly. The threat of Covid-19 and its variants continues and as we find ways and means to mitigate the consequences of this pandemic, we should continue our vigil and care.

On a personal note, God has been extremely kind. With His Grace and blessings from elders, I could continue my journey of learning. Whatever I could assimilate, I could bring them out through my blogs and books and they have been well received.

From a modest beginning in 2019, prabhusponder.com now has over 250 followers, 18000 visitors from around the world (over 35 countries) and 36000 views. This only reinforces that I need to learn more and share more.

So, here is a big THANK YOU and a sincere prayer for the New Year 2022.

GOD BLESS

Dakshinamurthy Stothram – Sloka 4 – Introduction – Part 2 – Throwing some light on “Light”! – The experiments

We are used to a “question paper based exam followed by practicals” – Aren’t we? Exactly; that is what we are going to do now in our study of Dakshinamurthy Stothram, Sloka 4.

In the previous introductory blog, we saw through sets of questions and answers, as to how the Self (ātmā) is comparable to the “maha deepam” the great light source. Let us continue the conceptual exploration through two experiments.

Experiment 1 – Sun, Dark Room & Mirror Experiment:

Place some objects inside a pitch-dark room. On a bright & sunny day, position a mirror outside at an angle; open the window of the dark room and try reflecting the sunlight through the window into the dark room by adjusting the angle of the mirror. What do you observe? You see that the objects which are otherwise invisible are illumined by the patch of sun light entering the dark room via the mirror and the window.

The question is: who or what illumines the dark room? The mirror or the Sun?

Suppose we say mirror, can we try the same experiment during midnight; keep the mirror at the same angle or at any other angle and try to illumine. The mirror is not able to provide light. So, we cannot say mirror is the illuminator.

If we say that the Sun alone illumines the dark room and not the mirror, then, what will happen if we remove the mirror? Again, the room will continue to be dark, because if the mirror is not there, with a roof over the room, the sunlight can not directly penetrate in the room and illumine. Therefore, mere Sun alone cannot illumine like mere mirror cannot illumine. Therefore, a combination of both the Sun and the mirror together illumine the objects of the dark room.

Pictorially the above experiment can be summarised as under

So, what are we trying to get out of this experiment. What is the illation here?

Experiment 2 – The “holi” pot and lamp Experiment

Light and place a bright lamp (wick lamp with burning oil) on the surface of the earth within a room which is densely dark. Place a pot having five holes with its mouth down over the lamp. Outside of that pot place (in front of each of the hole), an amala (நெல்லிக்காய்) fruit, veena, musk, good gem and a fan.

Now the question is about the perception of the collection of separate objects. Is it attributed to any of the following viz. Lamp or Oil or Wick or Pot or the objects themselves? What is the significance of the 5 holes and the five objects ? Why only these objects ?

The lamp is not able to directly illumine the objects, because it is covered by a pot with five holes; Therefore cooperation of pot is required in the sense that we need a pot with holes and not just the pot. In a lighter vein, therefore we require a ‘holi pot’.

The pot with holes alone can’t illumine and we require the lamp. The holes without the lamp within, cannot also illumine the ibject.

Same arguments go for the oil, the wick and the objects. None of them are self-illumine too and only those objects which fall within the range of the beam of light that comes out of the holes are perceived.

So, what are we trying to get out of this experiment. What is the illation here?

Well, “Practicals” are over. What did we learn?

Let us get into the details in the blog next week.

To be continued……

Dakshinamurthy Stothram – Sloka 4 – Introduction – Part 1 – Throwing some light on “Light”! – Questions and Answers

We saw in the previous Sloka 3, the vedantic concept of conjoined existence and light in perception of objects and understood that both “being” and “knowing” are nothing but the same (tat tvam asi). In Sloka 4, Adi Sankara throws more light on the “Light”.

Questions

Before we venture into the Sloka, I am going to start this blog with three sets of questions.

Set 1

Can you see yourselves in broad day light ?

Can you see your friend in a crowd in the park in the day light ?

Set 2

Can you see yourselves in a pitch dark room ?

Can you see your friend in the same pitch dark room?

Set 3

Do you need a torch to see Sun in the daytime.

Can you see the stars and constellations on a clear night?

Answers

These are very simple and innocuous questions. Answering these shouldn’t pose difficulties.

Set 1

Yes. I can see myself in broad light.

Yes. I searched and can see my friend in a crowd in the park.

Set 2

No. I cant see myself physically but I know that I am there.

No. I can’t see my friend in the pitch dark room. I need light.

Set 3

I don’t need a torch to see the Sun in daylight. It is all powerful.

Yes. I am able to see stars and constellations on a clear night.

Explanatory Notes for the answers

Now let us amplify the answers given.

Set 1

Suppose if I ask whether you have seen your friend in the crowd, you will have to look around to see whether he has come or not; which means that a process is required. But when I ask you the question, are you there, you do not take any time, or even thinking. Even before the process of thinking starts, “I am here” is an evident fact.

SET 2

I don’t need a light to say that I am inside a dark room since I know that I am there. It is self evident as indicated above. But I need a process and a light to see anyone else.

SET 3

I don’t need an external light to see the Sun in daylight. It is the most powerful light source. It is a “maha deepam”. But the strange fact is I can see the stars which are millions of miles away in the sky on a clear night. Perhaps I have a powerful source of light inside me (a maha deepam) that helps me to see the stars. Maybe ! I don’t know.

Preamble to the Vedic Philosophy behind the “Light”

Apparently in these three sets of questions and answers, the underlying focus is on light and sight. Let us now throw some light on this light.

An object in the world becomes known at a particular time by our special effort. If I have to see my friend in a crowd at the park, it is an event in space and time. I have to turn in that direction and my mind should be behind the eye. Or the eyes will not see. And the light should fall on the crowd; and then a thought should take place in the mind; and that is called vritti pariṇāma, and when that takes place alone, the knowledge of my friend takes place; as an event, in the mind, because of the operation of the sense organ called eye. So, the steps involved in this light throwing process called mano vritti is as under:

1. Some object is there.

2. Light falls on it.

3. You see it through your effort with your eyes.

4. It translates that it is other than you

5. You recognize it through something.

6. It forms a wave thought

7. That gets reflected in a medium to lend existence

The process is nothing complicated. Simple. Isn’t it? But then how do you say “I am here” when you are in a pitch dark room and someone asks you “Where are you?” You even say sometimes “Don’t switch on the light. I am relaxing”. Strange ! Are you self luminous? Exactly. This is called svayam prakāśatvam of ātmā; self-evidence of ātmā; this is a very important concept in vedānta. In India we have people named as Swayam Prakash.

The core of an Individual known as ātmā is not only svayam prakāś but also a “maha deepam” – a great light.

In a lighter vein that is why if we see several Indian movies particularly the historical/mythological ones, you will see in death scenes, a light moves up from the body towards the heaven. We see obituary statements like “The light in our life has merged with the Almighty” even today.

With this introductory understanding that core of all of us viz., the inner consciousness known as the ātmā is compared to a maha deepam (the light like Sun) in, let us proceed toward our goal of understanding the Sloka 4 where Adi Sankara again comes out with simple experiments to drive home the Vedantic Concepts.

To be continued……

Arunodaya

Looking at the Sunrise with awe and reciting Aditya Hrudayam during my early morning walks has been my most enjoyable moment for the day for several years.

Nothing can be more invigorating than this particularly in this era of pandemic and lock down. The one hour that I spend in the early morning is worth the gold. That is what Aditya (Sun) seems to be telling me today morning.

Watch Him talk to me today, Sunday the 16th Morning between 0545 and 0645 Hrs in Bangalore

https://www.dropbox.com/s/782xv6yj94n67mq/Arunodaya%20.MOV?dl=0

Music Courtesy – Music Today Album Arunodayam – Bowli Raga

Lock Down ! Look Up !

After 15 months stay at the East Coast of USA, we are back at the base in Namma Bengaluru. Within two weeks of arrival, here we are ! under “Total Lock Down for 14 days” due to the second wave of the epidemic.

Heart goes out to the people suffering and affected by the virus. Lucky & fortunate elders like me should have no issues at all to stay at home in an apartment complex.

It is no big deal. Simple formula – Just lock down and look up. You will see what you want to see and not the barrage of negativity around. When you lock down negativity and look up for positives, you will see HOPE.

Here are some images of what I saw:

These iPhone images taken by me, reinforce my belief that Nature can present its best side even under stressful living.

I sincerely pray that this good side of Nature soon help us overcome its other side and presents a smile on us, the suffering Indians.

World ! Please Pray for Indians. This also will pass.

The Fairy “I” can’t fathom – She, the Big M

“It is an oft-quoted saying that philosophy begins in wonder. The mystery of the world with all its changes strikes the reflective temper. The Vedic philosophy grew out of a demand for the explanation of actual experience. Philosophy bade men seek beneath all change, which is the law of life, unity and persistency. All things are passing; what remains? Anything or nothing? The Vedic age raised the problem of philosophy and offered a solution. It was then that attempts to reflect upon the world of experience were made for the first time. When we reflect upon the world of experience, the word illusion (“Maya”) comes to the foreground.

The doctrine of Maya is consideredby many thinkers,to be an integral part of the Vedanta philosophy. The Vedanta system is supposed to be an acosmic pantheism, holding that the Absolute called Brahman alone is real and the finite manifestations are illusory. There is one absolute undifferentiated reality, the nature of which is constitutedby knowledge. The entire empirical world, with its distinction of finite minds and the objects of their thought,is an illusion. Subjects and objects are like the fleeting images which encompass the dreaming soul and melt away into nothingness at the momentof waking.

The term Maya signifies the illusory character of the finite world.” ( Dr. S. Radhakrishnan, Eminent Indian Philosopher)

Wait a minute; does this statement strike a chord in us – in today’s COVID-19 environment?

It looks like it happened “just recently”. A year and a quarter has passed since the virus silently spread across the world. Millions of lives lost. Inter and intra relationships & transactions among and within individuals and society have been completely turned around leaving one to wonder whether it is all a dream and whether we all are waking up to a new state after a deep sleep. Yes, all the three basic states of our Consciousness (awake, dream and deep sleep) have come to play in this crucial time in each one of us thanks to Maya (She, The Big M,I call it).

Well, to me it appears like that; so I woke up after my second vaccination, with a new found determination to explore Maya and her origin, the Vedanta. True to its nature, the Big M treated me like a kid (which I am) and presented me with an exclusive giant Mall with infinite toy stores. No wonder I am lost. Not to disappoint me, the Big M presented me with three books titled Tattva Bodha, Isavasya Upanishad and Dakshinamurthy Stothram.

The last 2 weeks have been fairly severe in terms of the weather; temperatures dropping to single digits (deg F) and snow storms lashing cities forcing kids like me to seek the comfort of our cozy home – that means the Big M has given me an opportunity to deep dive into the books that I got from Her. Each Sloka (Verse) and each word in the three books, is sending me into “space walks” in search of the Self . Holding each Sloka as my life line, I venture into the space of contemplation. Whenever I return back to my home base, I stare through the window at the vast white carpet of snow all around and tried to relate my space walk with the “ground reality”.

In one such “stare” in the early morning after I went on my 18th space walk (corresponding to the 18th Sloka of the Isavasya Upanishad) , the day after the snow storm I did have a direct response from the principal character of that Sloka. Here is that Sloka, its meaning in English and Tamil and the response of the character .

A word of caution here – Millions of pages have been written over centuries by “Subject” – “Matter” – Specialists to provide commentaries for the Slokas in these books. Summing them up into few lines is absolutely immature and childish; yet as a child I have started by scribblings on Vedanta. Pardon me for that.

But Children have the right to enquire and ask questions. The child I am, I am asking questions to myself with the fond hope that someday I will find answers.

The Sloka

अग्ने नय सुपथा राये अस्मान्विश्वानि देव वयुनानि विद्वान् ।

युयोध्यस्मज्जुहुराणमेनो भूयिष्ठां ते नम उक्तिं विधेम ॥ १८ ॥

English Transliteration

agne naya supathā rāye asmānviśvāni deva vayunāni vidvān |

yuyodhyasmajjuhurāṇameno bhūyiṣṭhāṃ te nama uktiṃ vidhema || 18 ||

Meaning in Tamil

அழல் தெய்வமே ! புரிவினை யாவுமறிந்திட்டுயாம்

நல்வினைப் பயனை துய்த்திட நல்வழியே நடத்திடு

உள் உறை தீவினை வஞ்சம்தனை விடுத்திடு

அளித்திட்டேன் பக்தியுடன் எம் வணங்குதலை

Meaning in English

O god of fire, lead us by the good path

To eternal joy. You know all our deeds.

Deliver us from evil, we who bow

And pray again and again.

(From The Upanishads by Eknath Easwaran)

The response

Music Courtesy: Jagruthi an awakening by Music India. (No commercial interests for me).