Sunday, December 6, 2009

The Middle Path

In your actions in life take the middle path,
Avoid extremes.

When you see and talk to someone,
Realize their words are but tips of an iceberg -
So never judge anyone.

In your reasonings and contemplations,
Realize that this is a world of diversity;
There are many paths to the same destination.
Just like in a buffet many types of food are there,
and many eat these in many ways
and all of them are satiated sometime or the other;
So the supreme is experienced -
Differently by different living beings!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Truth vs. Tradition

In any contest between truth and tradition, truth should prevail.

Credit: This is a note from a new translation of the Bhagavadgita; posted with permission of the author.

Saturday, June 20, 2009


Credit: This article is based on an earlier posting by my Guru. With his permission, I am republishing it with some additional comments.

Guru has multiple meanings which include teacher, father, elder brother, heavy, big, strong, tough, famous, hard to digest etc. The one most relevant to this article is that derived from Gu and Ru; Gu means darkness or ignorance and ru means dispeller or remover. Thus Guru literally means remover of ignorance. Gurus can be male or female, old or young, and come from all backgrounds. The Guru can be an event, a book, an observation etc; an animate being, or an inanimate object that symbolizes a learning.

Do we absolutely need to have a Guru? It is possible to reach the goal in our spiritual journey without the aid of a Guru. However, it is a lot easier with the guidance of a Guru. Incidentally, when the student is ready, the Guru appears!

The Guru-disciple (Shishya) relationship is perhaps the most sacred relationship in the Hindu tradition. Right from the Vedas (Acharya Devo Bhava - Teacher is like God) to the colloquial way the youngsters address their friends across India (Khya Guru, Yenu Guru, Yenna Vaadhyare, etc.) imply how deeply the word Guru has percolated into contemporary times. A special day "Guru Poornima" is dedicated during July-August months to pay respect to Guru.

We may argue that in the ancient times there was no internet or press or phone or radio or television and the only means of communication was through word of mouth and thus the Guru-shishya tradition started. Why has it sustained right to this day?

The reason for this is that the role of Guru is more than just communication of information. The ten-fold qualities of a Guru are as follows:

1. Guru is true, simple, and direct.
2. Guru does not steal our money, instead steals only our ignorance and anxiety.
3. Guru can lead us to a spiritual path without severe asceticism.
4. Guru brings peace of a cave and the experience of solitude right to our houses.
5. Guru lets us see heights of the Himalayas and Kailash in meditation (metaphorically speaking).
6. Guru does not give us wrong advice to renounce our property and wealth of this world, instead makes us renounce our ego.
7. Guru breaths in a divine factor and help us to transform our mundane life into a sacred existence.
8. Guru bestows a new life in which we can face all sorrows cheerfully.
9. Guru strives to make us attain perfection in this very world.
10. With the guidance of a Guru, we will be able to see this world as heaven and not as a place of sorrow and suffering.

A Guru will wake us up and may even walk with us side by side, but no Guru will carry us and deliver us to the truth. That we have to do ourselves, as declared in the Bhagavadgita (Chapter 6, verse 5) thus:

BG 6.5 One should elevate oneself by one’s own efforts;
one should not degrade oneself;
indeed the self alone is one’s true friend or enemy.

Thus, the Guru is right within us as well! Patiently waiting for us to turn inward!

Guru Mantra from Guru Gita:
The Guru is Brahma; the Guru is Vishnu;
the Guru is the great God Shiva.
The Guru alone is the supreme Brahman, the absolute.
To the great Guru, I offer my salutations.

Another relevant verse from the Bhagavadgita (Chapter 4, Verse 34):

BG 4.34 You must learn that knowledge from those who have realized the truth.
You should approach them with humility, sincere enquiry, and willingness to serve.
They will impart that knowledge to you.

Friday, June 19, 2009


The light of knowledge is always present,
the individual has to just turn and look.

Monday, June 15, 2009


A joke and the truth should never be explained in too much detail!

Saturday, June 13, 2009


This story has been narrated before by many. Sometimes there is a need to remind ourselves, hence the desire to write it in a different way.

Four people were called upon to a test by a wise person. The rule of the test was that they will accept to be blindfolded and feel with their hands to make an assessment of what they feel. The four people felt this would be a good adventure and decided to embark on it.

One morning they assembled in the front door of a large hall to which they were called in after being blind folded. A guide walked them to a rather warm area.

"Welcome!", said the wise person. "You may move forward one by one now, when I call you to come forward. You will have one minute to feel what is in front of you, then you will tell me what you think this is."

He called them one by one forward, each were guided in a circumlocutory way by a guide to the spot where they were going to make an assessment.

"This is nothing but a warm, leathery rope!", said one; "I am sure of it!"
"This is a big tree trunk, may be covered with cloth", said the second; "I am pretty sure of this!"
"There is no doubt!", said the third; "This is a wall, more dome like. But a wall, solid wall!"
"No! This is a snake", said the fourth person; "I can feel it hissing and hot air coming here. I can feel it twisting!"

The wise person said, "Thanks to each of you for showing us all a good lesson!", and requested the guide to remove their blind folds.

The four people looked at in astonishment at the being in front of them. The wise person was sitting atop a beautiful elephant! With a leathery tail, tree trunk like legs, wall like body and an ever moving snaky trunk!

"The truth", concluded the wise person; "is probably like this!
Perceived in many ways by many, it has no solitary explanation.
Each sees their own side and each is right in their own way and assure it by their experience, indeed!  Is there any point in contesting over it?"

~ Story adapted and modified based on ancient Eastern fable
- Narayan Srinivasan, Saturday, June 13, 2009

Saturday, June 6, 2009


Just like the sun does not pick and choose who to shine on,
The truth is available for all to search for.


Just like many rivers and streams reach the ocean,
many paths are there to reach the same truth.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Seeker's Silence

The seeker of the truth
Speaking of this and that
Searching for this and that
Speaks no more when the truth shows up

Monday, January 5, 2009

Karma Yoga - Action with detachment

Credit - The article below is based on reading various translations of the teachings of the Bhagvad Gita esp. a new work in progress translation from someone I know, who added that "yogah karmasu kaushalam" - Doing the best we can with what we have and where we are- after all that is the best any one can do!

Life is a set of actions, some voluntary and some involuntary and internal.
Action is inevitable, giving up action is impossible for our very nature forces us to act.

It is possible to renounce the attachment to the results of the actions. Either by realizing that all actions are due to our connection with material nature or by making all our actions as an offering to God. This is the spirit of Karma yoga - the yoga of renouncing the attachment to the fruit of the actions.

Karma Yoga is not one of defeatism, on the contrary it is one of incessant action where the focus is not distracted by attachment to the results. Where the action is the focus. You should have goals but you need to also realize that the action is in your control where as the results are controlled by many factors. You, the doer are just one of the factors. There are tools and ways the tools are used, there is of course the timing of your action and finally there is a chance factor or providence. All these factors influence the results - hence the need to focus on your action without attachement to the results.

Experiencing the fruit of your action is also unavoidable. There will be good results and sometimes bad results. Savour the good results ... and bear the bad ones with patience.

Strive to be good ... Realize that the universe around you is in perpetual motion...
Perform action while striving to stay detached for lasting peace!

Relevant Gita Verses:

2.47 You have control only over your actions but never over their results. The expected results should not be the motivation for action.
Also, don’t shirk away from your work. One is never in complete control over the outcome of an action. See 18:13-15.
It is pointless to worry about something that we cannot control. Focus on work without fear of failure or greed for success.

2.48 Do your work without getting attached to it; treat success and failure alike. Such equanimity is called yoga. Attachment to work indicates clinging to a possible outcome.

18.13-15 Five factors govern the outcome of all actions as proclaimed in the scriptures.
The situation, the individual, the tools one has, how one uses the tools, and the unknown causes. Whatever one does with his body, speech, or mind, with good or bad intention, the same five factors determine the outcome.
“Unknown causes” imply many events and forces that shape the outcome of our initiatives. We have limited or no control over them, because the “unknown” by virtue of being unknown is untamable. It can positively or negatively impact the out come- we may get lucky or lose out entirely. Because, it is not just us, four other factors determine the outcome.
Thus, the individual does not have control over the outcome.
See 2:47.

Credit for Bhagavadgita translation - Coming soon... The New Bhagavad-Gita: Timeless wisdom in the language of our times by Koti Sreekrishna and Hari Ravikumar is a fresh translation of the Bhagavad-Gita into plain English.