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!

The Prompt

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.

MOTIVATION (and karma phala data - the dispensing of the fruits of actions)

Q - Don't motives count in the ethical worth of an action, swami-ji?
A - Yes! For example, a surgeon uses a knife in the operation theater to save a patient's life and, even should the patient die, it cannot be called a sin; whereas the act of killing somebody with that same knife for personal gain is decidedly sinful. The merit depends upon the motive of the act.

Q - If an action is to be judged good or bad by its motive, which of the several complex motives involved in any one action are to be taken as the main standard of judgement?
A - There can only be one motive; its branches will be the other motives, but they remain branches… there can be only one motive.

Q - but when I give to charity I can have several motives in giving…
A - having motive is not then charity!

Q - no?
A - giving money or signing a cheque is not charity.

Q - Let's say the act of giving money may have several motives…
A - Yes, according to the motive, it will may be charity or something else.

Q - I may feel kindness toward another and give money, but at the same time I know that people are watching me and at the back of my mind I feel I will get some applause. On the other hand, I may be getting some income-tax relief, or maybe I want to balance out some guilt from an earlier error… so there are several motives involved in giving away the money.
A - Then it will be the cumulative or the average of all motives that will decide the result of it. So many factors go into the determination of the final result of an action. Thus, when you do an action and surrender to the Higher, the judgement of the moral worth is also surrendered and the results will come back to you as you meet life.

Q - Should the totality of motives be accounted for?
A - the totality must play into it, but then for your practical purposes you should only think in terms of 'how far am I?' By giving this is one trying to gain joy and a sense of fulfilment and satisfaction, or is it going to disturb? Suppose the main motive was only the applause which might be gained, then ultimately the action will only leave you with a sense of disappointment. It is then not a morally good one. It is not charity. You with that amount are showing off and this way are trying to purchase something to further your vanity.

Q - That means the result of action is directly related to the totality of motive…
A - Yes, naturally. That is why every action, even in secular law, is calculated by means of the motive behind it

Q - an action may be prompted by dual or complex motives, some may be lofty others of base quality; like money given to relieve suffering but also to receive recognition. If the action is to be judged by this totality of motives, then no action is absolutely good or absolutely bad, it will be more a matter or predominance of one or the other, is it not?
A - Yes that is true. Really speaking, an action itself is neither good nor bad, whether absolute or relative. Action itself is of the relative world, not the Absolute… it is a relative manifestation of Reality, a delusion…

The conversation will continue, looking at means… note that Gurudev stated there can be only a one motive which initiates an action, and although the discussion seems to have now turned to the plurality behind motive, it is to be noted that at any given point of an action being undertaken, at that point a single motive alone is the catalyst, no matter how that motive is built. The discussion is looking at what builds up to the motive and demonstrates that we are adept at sidestepping our true reasons for action and that none are completely pure in their intention… it is all a matter of degrees.

We Are Family...but...

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.

There is no denying the fact that the institution of 'home' (family bonds etc) are a beneficial influence upon us and can help to eliminate some of the basic selfish ego-centricity that mankind is prone to…

ka te kaNta kSte puÇ:
s<sarae=ymtIv ivicÇ>,
kSy Tv< k> kut Aayat>
tÅv< icNty tidh æat>.8.
Kaa te kaantaa kaste putraH
Samsaaroyamtiiva vichitraH,
Kasya tvam kaH kut aayaataH
Tattvam chintaya tadiha bhraataH ||8||
Who is your wife? who is your son?
Supremely wonderful indeed is this samsaara;
Of whom are you? From where have you come?
O brother, think of that Truth here.

The family, though, even at their best are limited; they are not an end in themselves. Living together in mutual love and respect as a couple, growing into parenthood, each have much to learn from the other. If there is a true spirit of togetherness and shared coping, it is a wonderful thing; but in truth, most grow into such unhealthy states of attachment that resentments are the result. Jealousies arise and 'love' is contorted into a sorry shadow of its truth. The Hindu shaastras declare that a man and woman must live in a spirit of togetherness - but also that there be space between the two… no clinging or dependency.

Families provide a grindstone for our personalities, but are not in themselves our destination. Life is to be lived with a degree of detachment, but family is to be held as the valuable place of learning which leads us to this.

The essential message of this verse, then, is that philosophy is provided so that we can move beyond the mundanities and not become bound by the externals. As long as we are in the material form, certainly we must engage in material matters, but as human beings we are also granted the opportunity, via our intellect, to rise above the material; to make intelligent enquiry into our condition and as to the true purpose of this life… indeed we can begin our philosophical enquiry by asking these simple questions of ourselves and grasping our proper relationship with wife, with son, with daughter, with life. If we are seeking and absorbing the answers which come properly, we will find that everything of the material world, including this very body, mind and intellect with which we "I"dentify, are nothing but clay, all the same material in different combinations of elements, and that the "I" which is seeking is something separate from these.

That then starts to become our destination, the Truth of Self.

The guru of this heroic song appeals again to the listener… acknowledges a relationship through that Self, by addressing the listener as 'brother' (it could equally be 'sister')… stop wasting time getting bogged down in nonsense, get real about The Real!!!

Governor Love

Hari Om
Each 'Choose-day' we will investigate the process by which we can reassess our activity and interaction with the world of plurality and become more congruent within our personality.

We are reading "Tips for Happy Living - jIvnsUÇai[ /jiivanasuutraani", by Swami Tejomayananda (Guru-ji). Choose-days writings are here to prompt deeper thinking on the choices made on a daily basis and seek to provide prompts for raising the standard of one's thinking and living. This text composed in format of Sanskrit traditional teachings, speaks directly to this purpose. As ever, the full text may be obtained from CM Publications - or your local centre (see sidebar).

Continuing, Guruji now ponders the question as to whether love is governed by rules.

parSpirkSnehivñase vtRmane ivixinyma AnavZyka>.3.
Aiv*mane=ip AnavZyka ytae in:)la>.4.
Paarasparika-sneha-vishvaase vartamaane vidhiniyamaa anaavashyakaaH ||3||
Avidyamaane-pi anaavashyakaa yato nishphalaaH ||4||
If there is mutual love and trust, then rules and regulations are not needed.
In its absence also, they are not needed, because they do not work.

'Love Rules, Mistrust Fails' is, perhaps, the nutshell version of this! Once, a dictator passed a law that everyone should love and respect him. They showed their love by bowing in fear before him and giving him gifts to placate him. There was a priest who commanded everyone to 'love they neighbour'. A man changed his house in order to follow the commandment!

We cannot love or trust another by simple command; love happens when we identify with the object of affection and respect. 

In the world, some rules are formed and written and some are unwritten. When love rules, there is harmony and no formal rules are needed. In a close-knit family, there are unwritten rules like 'each takes care of the other when sick, or on becoming poor, or just in sharing the chores'. Unwritten rules based on love and trust are strong. There was a time which such was there among whole communities and nobody had to lock their doors or fear for their children in the streets.

We find that laws are made, agreements and treaties are signed, constitutions are formed, rules are formalised, support is pledged, help is sanctioned and deals are authorised where love and trust prevail. Where they do not, however, these agreements do not work and there is strain and strife.

Love enables rules, but is not governed by them; where it is absent, any rules are anyway ignored.