Discussion Summary, September 27, 2015


An Excellent summary by Ram Ramaswamy.

Moving on to Part 2, Cantos 3, Mantra Swamiji says this third and final section of Katho Upanishad deals with Atmavidya, Brahmavidya Sadhanani and preparation for Brahmavidya.

Mantra #1: This is an important mantra. It deals with nature of Brahman. Yama now compares Creation to the Ashwatha Vriksha or Pipal Tree. Shankara in his commentary says there are many things common between the two. Describing them, he says:

  1. Both are vast in size.
  2. Both do not have a beginning or end. Thus, the tree was from the seed of another tree and so on and on until we do not know when it started. So also with Creation. It came into being due to Karma. Karma came into being because of creation. This endless paradox has been going on and knows one knows what started it all. The same is true of Creation itself. One creation after another keeps coming in an endless parade.
  3. It is inexplicable. We cannot say which is the cause and which is the effect. Is the tree the cause or the seed? Same with free will and fate, they are all mutually dependent.
  4. There is an invisible root underneath the tree that nourishes it. It is also the cause of the tree. It is same for Creation. There is one invisible root called Ishwara.
  5. Both have branches spreading widely.   Some are upper, some middle and some lower. So also with Creation; you have Bhu-loka, Patal-loka etc.
  6. Both bear fruit, called Phalatwam. Every tree bears fruit. Some are sweet, some sour and some a combination. So also with Creation, we have Sukha, Dukha and Mishraphalam.
  7. Because of the fruits, many birds nest on the branches that support them. It is a very noisy tree. Thus also with Creation that provides Jivatma (birds in the body) to nest in the Bhu-Loka branch.  Sometimes the nest changes to another higher or lower branch or Lokas.The worl d is a very noisy place says, Shankara, full of music, laughter and wailing.
  8. Even this large and powerful tree is moved by powerful winds. So also Samsara is moved by Prarabhda Karmas. Swamiji clarified that Prarabhda Karma includes my karma as well as karma of my surroundings.)
  9. Swamiji says, even this large endless tree can be uprooted. Cut off the branch, trunk and root and it permanently destroy the tree. So also the sword of Knowledge can destroy this Samsara. The aadhara of Samsara is the Atman, says Swamiji. Just as one holds on to the chain link when taking a dip in the fast moving river, so also hold on to Brahman even as you dip into this fast moving Life, says Swamiji. There is nothing that can exist outside the Brahman.

Elaborating further, even the biggest dream is in the Waker. Nachiketas asks Yama why are you talking about Brahman when I wanted to know about Atman. Yama tells him: You are everything. You are Brahman.

Mantra # 2:

Providing further clarification Swamiji says, Brahman is the intelligent cause of life. Just as dream world emerges from the Waker, everything emerges and functions in presence of Brahman. He is the creator and maintainer of everything.

Swamiji says Brahman also polices this Creation ensuring the Universe functions in an orderly manner. This policing intelligence is also called Ishwara. Those who know this achieve immortality.  Swamiji adds every suffering we undergo is a punishment for some violation. Every violation of Dharma results in sorrow.

Suggested Practice:

Mr. and Mrs. Narayan recently visited Swamiji during their trip to Chennai.  They informed him of our group’s activities. Swamiji was very happy. He suggested that the Vedanta group read and practice the teachings of Chapter 17 of the Geeta. This chapter deals with the Gunas or our qualities.