Adventures in Advaita Vedanta, the philosophy and science of spirit. We are one you and I; are you curious why?..


Here is a place to linger, to let your intellect roam. Aatmaavrajanam is being written as a progressive study and, as such, can be read like a book. Anyone arriving at any time can simply start at the very first post and work their way through at their own pace. Please take time to read the info tabs and ensure you don't miss a post, by subscribing to the blog. Interaction is welcomed. Don't be a spectator - be a participator!


Hari Om
'Freedays' are the 'gather our thoughts' days; Q&As; a general review of the week so far…

It might be observed that posts this week have had the theme of 'values', worthiness, decision-making. At an earlier date the concept of shreyas and preyas has been explored. The paths of 'proper' and 'improper'… or, it might be said, that which requires of us that we have some moral fibre, whilst the other, not necessarily 'wrong', is requiring little of us in terms of assessment, application of values.

Shreyas - the path of good - requires of us an understanding of consequences of our thoughts and actions and keeps in mind the greater good and high goal. To be the very best human being that we can be. Having strong value-based living can be a stabiliser - an anchor - in stormy times.

Preyas - is what most of us live to some degree. It is the path of least resistance. It is the call of the world and our desire to answer that call, regardless of whether or not the long-term results are good. They may be, even in preyas, but they will certainly be tinged with a 'what is in it for me' aspect, which can leave us open to being tricked and tossed about by life.

Shreyas is self-less. Preyas is just less… and we are all guilty of it on a daily basis. If we are truly on the spiritual path with a goal of Realising God, then even the decision to boil the kettle for tea can add to our debt if we do not do so with consciousness. To put only the amount of water required for the purpose in mind, to not waste any that is left over… to not take it for granted… to make sure that we are 'present' in every action is the point here. To know that water is a gift, the power to boil it a privilege and to not abuse them by excess or overuse would be shreyas. To fill unthinkingly, to forget it was boiled and then to reboil using more power than is necessary, is preyas.

This may seem a silly example. However, think more - it is but one task in every day that we do at least once. Consider that, in shreyas mode, every task requires this sort of attention. Thus it can be seen why preyas affects us all. We give up. Shreyas seems like hard work.

It is, however, like anything in life. The more one practices, the easier it becomes and the more proficient we are in its application. When we tip the balance of majority shreyas over preyas decisions and actions, when we feel the satisfaction and see the positive results of shreyas, we gather even more hope and impetus.

Watch yourself this weekend; take note of how, from minute to minute, your thoughts and actions reflect self-lessness… or not…


Decisions, Decisions

Hari OM
'Text-days' are for delving into the words and theory of Advaita Vedanta.

On Wings and Wheels is the publication we are delving into currently. It takes the form of a series of Q&As from devotees to HH Pujya Gurudev Swami Chinmayananda. There are many sections and subsections to this book - not all will be given, but it is hoped that the general thought-flow will not be broken for those omissions. To obtain the full picture and essence of the discussions, do consider attempting to purchase the text from the link above; it is currently only available from India.

Q - we are faced with choice at any given moment, and the responsibility of consequence is ours to bear. Sometimes one feels impelled to take a particular direction… is choice really ours? How free are we?

A - Man alone is the animal who can, at each challenge in life, discriminate the path of 'good' or 'evil'. To not utilise that power of the intellect is to flout the privilege of being a 'human being'. When one has, of one's own free will, chosen to be only an animal, certainly nature brings about only sorrow and limitation. We must cultivate and train the mind and intellect; if we attune to the lower values, we become insensitive animals. Training to think beyond the basic needs and wants, to higher and permanent values of Love, Tolerance and Mercy, we become cultured architects of our future.

Our whole future is based upon how we act today. Life is a series of challenges. Moment to moment we are faced with decisions and each must be assessed independently, hence no choice is the same as any other. The wise and discriminating will always opt for the path of 'good'; the ignorant may, on the other hand, take the path of least resistance, which may or may not be 'good'.

Self-development requires self-effort and as a race we have been given the gift of freedom in choice in order to determine our futures. Generally, in Vedantic terms, we understand that we are being given the very challenges which we have earned in previous existence - the law of karma - and if we have been learning our lessons well, we will be able to overcome with positive outlook.

Q - which is more powerful - purushartha (free will) or praarabdha (destiny)?
A - be careful of your understanding of praarabdha and thinking that it represents only the negativity of life! Destiny is destiny in all its forms and to think otherwise is defeatist; we throw up our hands and make no effort to rise because we assign it to 'oh this is my praarabdha!'

That we have been given a limited freedom is the truth. What we meet in life is praarabdha, how we meet it is purushaartha. The challenges will come, no doubt, but the difference within a group of people faced with the same challenge is how each will handle it and the consequences which may arise from it; there is much which will colour it, but from the point of view of karma, this is due to the way we have lived previously and our level of experience in related circumstances. Your responsibility grows as you grow - thus, in relation to our topic, your moral responsibility will increase accordingly.

Q - in circumstances outwith one's control, how morally responsible can one be?
A - When you enter spiritual life, you are following yoga in order to exhaust your vaasanas. To the extent you unload them and get free within, your moral responsibility increases; in situations outside the parameters of your immediate responsibility, you remain self-responsible. For example, in a crowd who is perhaps raising havoc at a political rally, if your morality is high, you will not stoop to the same shouting and name calling. You cannot have any say in the general situation, but you can remain responsible to yourself.


Hari OM
Application - that is what 'Workings-days' are about!

The text under study is BHAJA GOVINDAM, song of despair of time-wasting, by Sri Adi Shankaraachaarya.

Continuing the lament of the Guru, he regales the listener…

idnyaimNyaE say< àat>
izizrvsNtaE punrayat>,
kal> ³Ifit gCDTyayu>
Tadip n muÂTyazavayu>.12.
Dinayaaminyae saayam praataH
Shishiravasantau punaraayaataH,
KaalaH kriidati gachcchatyaayuH
Tadap na munchatyaashaavaayuH ||12||
Day and night, dawn and dusk,
Winter and spring, again and again (come and go);
Time sport and life ebbs away,
And yet, one leaves not the gusts of desires.

The wheel of existence continues to turn, the months steadily glide along and the flood of time rolls up in waves the years, sweeping all before its relentlessness. Before we know it we are looking back and asking, 'where did it go?'

That which was future becomes present and, in a blink, becomes past. Man, gathering memories from his past, barricades his present and any vision of future is blurred by anxieties and anticipations and expectancies. We waste so much time manoeuvering and negotiating life versus time. We see the lesson taught well by Nitchketa (Kathopanishad), who succeeds in talking with Lord Yama ("Death") and, when offered many boons by that lord, rejects them; "even the longest life that you can give is but a trifle - may you keep to yourself the dance and the music!"

Man is constantly under the thrall of 'dance and music'… the allure of the external world of objects and experiences. Life is spent in obtaining more and more of these stimulations, mistaking in them a happiness. Nothing of it can be carried with us into the realm of Death… but the desires which have been built up in pursuit of those things has left imprints - adding to the vaasana account of the jiiva to be carried forward into a further life. Each life is a chance for the jiiva to cancel that account, to grasp the true purpose of living and reach for the Highest Reality… but it will take many lives for the roaming soul to Realise. Each time the illusion created by Maya's siren call will wreck the jiiva upon the rocks of existence.

Be wise, give up desires. Seek the all-satisfying Reality that lies behind the mental show of change and sorrow. Seek it with mind withdrawn from the fever of all passions!