The word veda comes from the root vid, "to know". Veda literally means "the book of knowledge." It is a compendium containing sacred and secular knowledge.
1. Rig Veda: hymns of praise and believed to be the oldest book of knowledge
2. Yajur Veda: special directions and formulas for the preparation and performance of rituals and ceremonies
3. Sama Veda: melodies and songs, with precise intonations and modulations to be changed at rituals and considered the most voluminous of the four Vedas
4. Atharva Veda: mystical formulas which paved the way for modern science in India.
Each Veda consists of three sections, namely:
1. Samhitas: The mantra portion, consisting of hymns of praise for Vedic deities
2. Brahmanas: The ritualistic portion, dealing with the methodology of performing Vedic rituals
3. Aranyakas: The contemplative portion.
It must also be understood that this classification is based on the content and not in the sequence of appearance.
The Upanishads belongs to Aranyakas.
Swami Chinmayananda introduces this very clearly in the book, 'Kenopanishad'. To get a copy of this book visit:
Bhaja Govindam V.4
लोकं शोकहतं च समस्तम्॥४॥
lokaṁ śokahataṁ ca samastam||4||
The water drop playing on a lotus petal has an extremely uncertain existence; so also is life ever unstable. Understand, the very world is consumed by disease and conceit and is riddled with pangs.
Life is uncertain; death waiting to take us at any moment. Understanding this we must question the purpose of our life. Why am I here? What is the purpose of my existence?
The world is riddled with pain and sorrow. Yet, we continue to seek for everlasting bliss. We go to great lengths to obtain moments of fleeting joy from this impermanent world, but we never stop to think. Can I obtain permanent joy from something impermanent?
को नाम बन्धः कथमेष आगतः
कथं प्रतिष्ठास्य कथं विमोक्षः।
कोऽसावनात्मा परमः क आत्मा
ko nāma bandhaḥ kathameṣa āgataḥ
kathaṁ pratiṣṭhāsya kathaṁ vimokṣaḥ|
ko'sāvanātmā paramaḥ ka ātmā
What is bondage? How has it come? How does it continue to exist? How is one freed from it? Who is the non-Self? Who is the Self? And how can one discriminate between them? Do tell me about all these.
Deep enquiry into oneself and the world around us brings us here. The most pertinent questions of Vedanta are being asked by the student to the teacher.
Will these answers leave me questionless? Will this search for the truth give my life relevance? Will I attain that ultimate peace and happiness?
Stay with us as we continue our journey to the Truth
Atma Bodha, V.6
संसारः स्वप्नतुल्यो हि रागद्वेषादिसङ्कुलः।
स्वकाले सत्यवद्भाति प्रबोधे सत्यसद्भवेत्॥६॥
saṁsāraḥ svapnatulyo hi rāgadveṣādisaṅkulaḥ|
svakāle satyavadbhāti prabodhe satyasadbhavet
This world, which is full of attachments and aversions is like a dream. It appears to be real, as long as it continues but is unreal when one is awake.
The world is full of change. No object ever remains the same. This is the nature of the world. Yet, we attempt to look for permanent happiness in this impermanent world. Alas, the greatest contradiction of our life!
Take a closer look. Is the world the ultimate reality? Is there something beyond what meets the eye?
Praśnopaniṣad V. 1.3
अथ कबन्धी कात्यायन उपेत्य पप्रच्छ भगवन्कुतो ह वा इमाः प्रजाः प्रजायन्त इति
atha kabandhī kātyāyana upetya papraccha bhagavankuto ha vā imāḥ prajāḥ prajāyanta iti
Then Katyayana Kabandhin having approached (Pippalada) asked him, 'Venerable Sir, from where are these creatures born?'
Here, the student is enquiring about the origin of all living beings. Why is it important to know our origin? How can this information help us?
Bhaja Govindam V. 23
कस्त्वं कोऽहं कुत आयातः
का मे जननी को मे तातः।
इति परिभावय सर्वमसारम्
विश्वं त्यक्त्वा स्वप्न विचारम्॥ २३॥
kastvaṁ ko'haṁ kuta āyātaḥ
kā me jananī ko me tātaḥ|
iti paribhāvaya sarvamasāram...
viśvaṁ tyaktvā svapna vicāram
Who are you? Who am I? From where did I come? Who is my mother? Who is my father? Thus enquire, leaving aside the entire world of experience, essenceless and a mere dreamland, born of imagination.
'Enquire the source from which we must have risen. Let us not take things for granted. Let us make use of our rational intellect. Enquire wherefrom we have come and where we are bound to- whence? And whither? 'Who are you? Who am I? Where have we come from? Who is really my mother? Who is father?' ... Such enquiries will reveal not only the hollowness of the world of names and forms of endless bewitching enchantments, but will also reveal the empty vanities of the life we now live.'
- Pujya Swami Chinmayananda , Bhaja Govindam Commentary V.23
Shri Adi Shankaracharya is the finest spokesperson the world has produced for Advaita Vedanta. It is his work that restored Advaita Vedanta in the echelons of World philosophy. The vibrancy he brought to Advaita has been picked up by many s...aints in the centuries after him. Naturally there are many biographies of the Acharya.
Adi Shankara: Finite to the Infinite is a picturesque narrative that closely follows Swami Vidyaranya's Shankara-digvijaya. It is a monograph on the life, travels and works of Acharya Shankaracharya. The presentation is lucid, very often poetical and gives us a vivid picture of the young sannyasi moving from place to place. What emerges in the end is an inspiring figure of an intrepid scholar, an illustrious teacher, a visionary administrator, and a superb poet. Certainly, we have in Adi Shankaracharya's personality the much needed motivation for the youth of today who are building the new India!
To get your personal copy or gift it, please visit the following link:
The Śivasūtraṇi (शिवसूत्राणि), also referred to as the Māheśvara sutras (माहेश्वर सूत्राणि) are fourteen mnemonic verses which encode the organization of the alphabet of the Sanskrit language. They have been referred to in th...e Aṣṭādhyāyī of Pāṇini, which is the foundational text of Sanskrit grammar. They and are called by this name as they are said to have been revealed to Pāṇini by Śiva (also known as Māheśvara) through the Tāṇḍava (ताण्डव) dance.
नृत्तावसाने नटराजराजो ननाद ढक्कां नवपञ्चवारम्।
उद्धर्त्तुकामो सनकादिसिद्धादिनेतद्विमर्शे शिवसूत्रजालम्॥
nṛttāvasāne naṭarājarājo nanāda ḍhakkāṁ navapañcavāram,
uddharttukāmo sanakādisiddhādinetadvimarśe śivasūtrajālam.
At the end of His Cosmic Dance, Śiva, the Lord of Dance, with a view to bless the sages Sanaka and so on, played on His ḍamarū fourteen times, from which emerged the fourteen sūtras, popularly known as Śivasūtras or Māheśvara sutras.
Sanskrit is a fascinating language, which opens the doors to study of Indian scriptures. Chinmaya International Foundation, the academic and research wing of the Chinmaya Mission offers opportunities for Sanskrit study to any sincere student. The Easy Sanskrit Course for beginners ( CLICK HERE) is available both in both online and postal mode; and the Advanced Postal Sanskrit Course is available for those with prior knowledge of Sanskrit basics.
Episode 47 – The Yoga of Action – Haridas & Tansen
Based on Episodes 45 and 46, which explains that sadhana (spiritual practices) is required for gaining Self-knowledge, we may conclude that two things are required - purity of mind and clarity in intellect. It is important to understand th...at with a lack of spiritual discipline (or discipline in any field) one will not be able to excel, let alone progress in that field. An undisciplined mind drives the individual to the field of sense objects so that it is never available for the Higher. But as one develops restraint over ones senses, one can 'call back' the mind whenever it wanders away to the sense fields. At the same time the intellect has to distinguish between the ephemeral objects of the world and the eternal Principle of Life. Thus, the emphasis on niddhidhyasana, which leads to a subtle discrimination. The purity and clarity render the human mind and intellect integrated for the pilgrimage to the Truth.
Shared is a pictorial explanation how the integrated mind and intellect can help one attain the Truth:
This diagram and a detailed explanation of the same form part of the introduction to Bhagavad Geeta commentary by Swami Chinmayananda.
To get your copy of the same please visit:
Yoga Vasishtha is a text in which the way of reaching the Truth is taught by Kula Guru Rishi Vasishtha to Shri Rama (in this instance, symbolising the ideal student). Analysing the nature of the mind and the vasanas therein, Sage Vasishtha states the following:
द्विविधो वासनाव्यूहः शुभश्चैवाशुभश्च ते।
वासनौघेन शुद्धेन तत्र चेदपनीयसे॥ [ योग वसिष्ठ सार संग्रह २.४]
dvividho vāsanāvyūhaḥ śubhaścaivā...śubhaśca te,
vāsanaughena śuddhena tatra cedapanīyase. [ Yoga Vasiṣṭha sāra saṁgraha 2.4]
तत्क्रमेण शुभेनैव पदं प्राप्स्यसि शाश्वतम्।
अथ चेदशुभो भावो यत्नात् जेतव्य एव सः॥ [ योग वसिष्ठ सार संग्रह २.५]
tatkrameṇa śubhenaiva padaṁ prāpsyasi śāśvatam,
atha cedaśubho bhāvo yatnāt jetavya eva saḥ. [ Yoga Vasiṣṭha sāra saṁgraha 2.5]
शुभाशुभाभ्यां मार्गाभ्यां वहन्ती वासनासरित्।
पौरुषेण प्रयत्नेन योजनीया शुभे पथि॥ [ योग वसिष्ठ सार संग्रह २.६]
śubhāśubhābhyāṁ mārgābhyāṁ vahantī vāsanāsarit,
pauruṣeṇa prayatnena yojanīyā śubhe pathi. [ Yoga Vasiṣṭha sāra saṁgraha 2.6]
Your vasanas are of two kinds – good (auspicious) and bad (inauspicious). If you are led by the stream of pure vasanas, then you will gradually reach the eternal Abode. However, if the disposition of the mind is bad then it should be conquered by effort. (2.5 & 2.6)
The river of vasanas flowing through good and bad channels should be directed to the good channel by great effort. (2.7)
Thus, it is by becoming aware of one's inherent tendencies that any change can be brought about. Subsequently, by consciously following good promptings, their forces increase. Some of the ways in which we can work on purifying / changing our vasanas are: being intellectually alert to recognise vasanas; analysis (how thoughts come to us, what sustains them, what aggravates them, what stops them); substituting negative thoughts (vasanas) by positive ones; outgrowing vasanas and also by observing terrible consequences of bad tendencies in others.
(Please note: Yoga Vasishtha is a voluminous book of 32000 verses. This has been abridged to 86 verses by Swami Tejomayananda in a text titled 'Yoga Vasishtha Sara Sangraha'. The verse numbers shared above are based on this text and not the complete Yoga Vasishtha text).
The three gunas (sattva, rajas and tamas) and their expressions are described in some detail in texts like the Bhagavad Geeta and Vivekachoodamani. This has been done so that, we as seekers of cultural expression and growth, are to take warning and strive to raise ourselves into the sattvika guna, if we find ourselves to be predominantly tamasic or rajasic. It is important to remember that the des...cription of gunas is not to classify others! They are shared to provide us a ready-reckoner to help in our constant and daily self analysis and self-discipline.
Lord Krishna tells Arjuna in the concluding chapter of the Bhagavad Geeta that no living organism in the world, 'no creature either on earth or even among the Gods in heaven,' is totally free from the influence of these three gunas. No living creature can act or work beyond the frontiers provided by these three gunas. Nature (Prakriti) itself is constituted by these three gunas; actually, the play of these three gunas is the very expression of Prakriti.
न तदस्ति पृथिव्यां वा दिवि देवेषु वा पुनः ।
सत्त्वं प्रकृतिजैर्मुक्तं यदेभिः स्यात्त्रिभिर्गुणैः ॥ [ भगवद्-गीता १८.४०]
na tadasti pṛthivyāṁ vā divi deveṣu vā punaḥ,
sattvaṁ prakṛtijairmuktaṁ yadebhiḥ syāttribhirguṇaiḥ. [ Bhagavad Gītā 18.40]
There is no being on earth, or again in the heavens among the Devas (heavenly beings); who is totally liberated from the three qualities, born of Prakriti (matter).