Viewing the world

The ancient Indian philosophy of advaita vedanta contained in the Upanishads teaches a concept which turns out to be very intuitive. Namely, how one’s self influences everything one does.

Of course, the self can be understood to be various things: the body-mind complex, a set of experiences etc etc. Advaita posits the idea that the individual self and the universal Self are the same entity.

Whatever one’s understanding of the self is, it is evident that most people do things that are close to their hearts. Preferences, likes and dislikes are built in naturally.

This is the idea behind Yajnavalkya’s statement to his wife, Maitreyi, in the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad, which is one of the oldest Upanishads, composed around 900 BC.

Yajnavalkya points to a simple fact that is validated by everyday experience.

na vā are patyuḥ kāmāya patiḥ priyo bhavati, ātmanastu kāmāya patiḥ priyo bhavati |

na vā are jāyāyai kāmāya jāyā priyā bhavati, ātmanastu kāmāya jāyā priyā bhavati |

na vā are pūtrāṇāṃ kāmāya putrāḥ priyā bhavanti, ātmanastu kāmāya putrāḥ priyā bhavanti |

na vā are vittasya kāmāya vittaṃ priyaṃ bhavati, ātmanastu kāmāya vittaṃ priyaṃ bhavati |

na vā are brahmaṇaḥ kāmāya brahma priyaṃ bhavati, ātmanastu kāmāya brahma priyaṃ bhavati |

na vā are kṣatrasya kāmāya kṣatraṃ priyaṃ bhavati, ātmanastu kāmāya kṣatraṃ priyaṃ bhavati |

na vā are lokānāṃ kāmāya lokāḥ priyā bhavanti, ātmanastu kāmāya lokāḥ priyā bhavanti |

na vā are devānāṃ kāmāya devāḥ priyā bhavanti, ātmanastu kāmāya devāḥ priyā bhavanti |

na vā are bhūtānāṃ kāmāya bhūtāni priyāṇi bhavanti, ātmanastu kāmāya bhūtāni priyāṇi bhavanti |

na vā are sarvasya kāmāya sarvaṃ priyaṃ bhavati, ātmanastu kāmāya sarvaṃ priyaṃ bhavati |

ātmā vā are draṣṭavyaḥ śrotavyo mantavyo nididhyāsitavyo maitreyi, ātmano vā are darśanena śravaṇena matyā vijñānenedaṃ sarvaṃ viditam || 5 ||

This can be roughly translated to:

It is not for the sake of the husband, my dear, that he is loved, but for one’s own sake that he is loved.

It is not for the sake of the wife, my dear, that she is loved, but for one’s own sake that she is loved.

It is not for the sake of the sons, my dear, that they are loved, but for one’s own sake that they are loved.

It is not for the sake of wealth, my dear, that it is loved, but for one’s own sake that it is loved.

It is not for the sake of the Brāhmaṇa, my dear, that he is loved, but for one’s own sake that he is loved.

It is not for the sake of the Kṣatriya, my dear, that he is loved, but for one’s own sake that he is loved.

It is not for the sake of the worlds, my dear, that they are loved, but for one’s own sake that they are loved.

It is not for the sake of the gods, my dear, that they are loved, but for one’s own sake that they are loved.

It is not for the sake of the beings, my -dear, that they are loved, but for one’s own sake that they are loved.

It is not for the sake of all, my dear, that all is loved, but for one’s own sake that it is loved.

The Self, my dear Maitreyī, should be realised—should be heard of, reflected on and meditated upon.

By the realisation of the Self, my dear, through hearing, reflection and meditation, all this is known.

– Brihadaranyaka Upanishad, 2.4.5

Scholar-kings

In the long history of India, there have appeared several kings who were highly trained in shastra (multidisciplinary sciences). Traditionally, kings underwent rigorous training in all the shastras.

The Kalyani Chalukya king, Someshvara III, wrote a voluminous encyclopedia in Sanskrit, known as Rajamanasollasa, in which he lists 100 different disciplines to be learned by kings.

Emperor Krishnadevaraya of Vijayanagara was also a prolific author who authored the Amuktamalyada.

In ancient times, many royals contributed to the Upanishads. Buddha himself was born a prince.

Stating facts

In stating the truth, one may come across obstacles. However the ancients recognized the absolute power of truth.

satyameva jayate nānṛtaṃ satyena panthā vitato devayānaḥ
yenākramantyṛṣayo hyāptakāmā yatra tat satyasya paramaṃ nidhānam

This can be roughly translated to:

Truth alone wins; not falsehood
Through truth, the path of the gods widens
That by which the sages whose desires have been completely fulfilled
That highest treasure is attained by truth

– Mundaka Upanishad, 3.1.6

The truth

Over the course of mankind’s evolutionary history, the idea of the truth has been one of vital importance. The Taittiriya Upanishad, composed around 2500 years ago, exhorts students who have completed their studies to follow the precept of:

Satyam vada dharmam chara

This can be roughly translated to:

Tell the truth. Follow the dharma

– Taittiriya Upanishad 1.11

Among the collective myths of various cultures of the world, the act of speaking and living truthfully has been highly valued.

One of the oldest stone inscriptions, that of King Ashoka contains the maxim: Satyameva jayate, meaning “truth alone triumphs”. This was made the national motto of the Republic of India.

It appears relevant to note this as the republic celebrates it’s 68th anniversary today.

What dreams may come

Dreams are a fascinating aspect of the human experience. They seem to occur when one has temporarily lost consciousness in the from of sleep or in cases of longer losses of consciousness in the from of coma etc. Human consciousness itself is not very well understood and dreams are a still a sort of mystery. It is almost like our we run running simulations on our basic architecture when dreaming.

Also, on a few occasions, one dreams some things which help clarify one or the other thing in real life. Dreams even foreshadow what happens in the future. Also, dreams occasionally show things which happened in the past. On other occasions, one dreams things which are completely unconnected to anything at all.

The ancient Indian scriptures, Upanishads, posit the existence of a fourth state of consciousness (apart from awake, dreaming and deep sleep) which enlightened ones attain. This is the Turiya (meaning “fourth” in Sanskrit) state.

It would be interesting to see what things mankind discovers about dreams.