Mind Control –as a learnable skill.

Regarding skills. Couple of centuries back, a painter’s/carpenter’s/gold smith’s son would automatically have the fine precision control with his eyes and fingers. A king’s/soldier’s son would automatically have the skill to maintain stamina in difficult situations, fight, detect and react to attacks and manage people. A merchant’s son would be skilled in communicating and evaluating priorities in trade.
These skills which pertain to the different aspects of physical body and intelligence are even now recognised and admired. Though Varnashrama is no longer practiced, their skills are separately identified and taught in schools and colleges. And thus their Varna is still maintained.
However one important skill, where a student learns how to control the mind from falling to sensory desires, the skill to remain silent in the class when everybody is talking, the skill to obey rules when everybody is breaking it, the skill not to steal when everybody else steals, the skill not to get angry when everybody is provoking — is largely ignored. Unfortunately it is not even considered a skill that needs to be honed by practice. People expect this as a common moral to be learnt and mastered by all.
Like not everyone can control their fingers and be a painter, not all can control their mind against their senses. It is important not to generalise this and expect this from all students. It is also very important to enhance such skills by thorough practice in those who are having the required mental faculties.
This also does not mean that those who are not skilled enough in this aspect should not be taught this at all, though one is not a painter, he/she can learn painting, though one is not a lawyer he/she should know basic legal rules. However mastery of it should not be expected by all and yet there should be masters in those fields to guide and profess.
Essentially mind-control or indriya-nigraha is a subject that is largely ignored, trivialized and expected by all in general without any practice.
What should we call the people with such skills? “Tapasvi”/ “Sadhu”/ “Santha”? As per Ganga’s treaty with Bhagiratha, these are the people who can take away the sins of other people, Ganga would only be the medium to enable this happen.

Such skill was taught earlier in our Gurukulas and in homes as part of rituals – people fasting on ekadashi, people doing early morning pooja, sandhyavandana, tulasi pooja, eating the food only after naivedya, holding vratas, the 41 days of keeping celebacy and minimal lifestyle before visitig shabari mala etc. are all aimed at Indriya Nigraha through practice.

One more thing to be noted is daily rituals are for those who are master’s of mind control, some rituals are once a fortnight or month for people who need not have such stringent mind control. Vratas are for those who optionally want to practice it. This is hence a subjective training of mind control.

However now it is left to people to learn themselves after their studenthood is complete. But with decreasing religiousity and increased liberal lifestyle, people are becoming Charvakas and give in to their sensory desires which ia very quick in enslaving the mind.

To change this can we get a MS in “Indriya Nigraha” or “Mind Control” in future? The first step of achieving this is teaching Yoga not as a form of exercise but as a method of “Chitta Vritti Nirodha”, the first Sutra of sage Patanjali.


Copyrights in India

Once upon a time when copyright infringement was so easy, Indians had realised it was a crime. Every shloka, every utterance was attributed to right author, right sponsorer and right composer.

Example, for Omkara


Parabrahma Rishihi

Paramatma Devata

Devi Gayatri Chandaha

There are many things to understand here, first Parabrahma and Paramatma are distinct, second Gayatri Devi is one of the creators of Omkara. How they are different is a different post. But what we should understand in the context of this post is Devata is the sponsorer or producer of the creative work, Rishi is the is the  lyricist and the God of Chandas is the composer.

Another example, Gayatri Mantra

Asya Shree Gayatri Mantrasya

Vishwamitra Rishihi

Devi Gayatri Chandaha

Savitr Namaka Shree Lakshmi Narayano Devata


Not only we honoured original creators we also protected our work from copyright violators.

Vishnu took the form of Matsya and Hayagriva to protect the copyright violation by Hayagrivaasura, by posing as another Hayagriva.

Krishna killed Poundraka vasudeva who was impersonating.


1. Respect copyright of a creative work

2. Defend it from impersonators

3. Be an impersonator to fight impersonator nothing wrong in it.


Upakarma — Some thoughts

Today is Yajurvediya Upakarma. And I wanted to note down some fascinating stories and thoughts on this ritual.

Upakarma is celebrated on the full moon day of Shravana. It is said that on this day Vishnu took the form of Hayagriva and protected the Vedas from a demon of the same name. This was facilitated by Matsyavatara of Vishnu. Not many books talk about Hayagriva incarnation of Vishnu, they talk about Matsya and immediately jump on to Koormavatara.

Here is my interpretition of the story before I continue to talk about Upakarma.

Vedas are not just stories and rule book for rituals. They helped people to reach Gods. Agni facilitated it, Agni was like the original courier person who acted like bridge between humans and Gods. Just like morse code, they used a codified language in Vedas. Brahma was responsible for teaching Vedas to both humans and Gods. All was going smooth untill when demons wanted to know this codified language. The intention of demons was to destroy Gods completely and rule over the universe. Brahma not knowing this started to teach this to anybody who would come and seek. An impersonator by the name Hayagriva came and learnt all Vedas from Brahma. This is indicated by the slumber of Brahma.

Once it became known that Vedas had been stolen, both humans led by Satyavrata Manu and Gods got panicked. Hayagriva now could reach Gods using the knowledge of Vedas. And then he could also reach humans impersonating as Gods. This was a very serious matter and hence Vedas had to be protected.

How to reach Hayagriva, the long necked demons who lived across the ocean? Vishnu suggested that he will incarnate as Matsya and manu should enable him to grow bigger and learn navigation. Manu helped him in every stage, from a Kamandalu in his home, to a pond, a lake, a river, and an ocean. Matsya learnt all navigational skills and stealth movements (Meenina Hejje, the marks of fish cannot be seen).

Though this incarnation was aimed at rescuing Vedas, there was also a huge flood and Matsya’s navigational skills came handy. Manu constructed a huge ship, and led by Matsya they were moved to a safe location. And on the way, he also killed the demons Madhu and Kaitabha.

Then finally to kill the impersonator, Vishnu had to become another impersonator. He took the incarnation of Hayagriva to kill Hayagriva. After killing Hayagriva, Vedas were protected.

And from then onwards restrictions came to learning Vedas. Only licensed Dvijas were eligible to learn Vedas. Vedas had to be recited only during Yagna. The symbol of eligibility to do Yagnas was Yagnopaveeta. This license had to be renewed every year on the day Hayagriva was killed, and that day came to be known as Upakarma.

First Two Shlokas of Dashavatara Stuthi (dedicated to Matsya and Hayagriva):

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So now after knowing the reason, lets see the restrictions imposed by Manu on who should and how to wear Yagnopaveeta.

ब्रह्म वर्चसा कामस्य कार्यं विप्रस्य पञ्चमे
राज्ञे बलार्थिन: षष्टे वैश्यस्यएहार्थिनो अष्टमे

The threading ceremony, or the licencing ceremony of a a vipra (brahmana) who is interested in learning Brahma (and thereby Vedas) has to be done in 5th year. And for the king who wants to enhance his reigning limits through his strength, the licensing ceremony should be done in the 6th year. And for a businessman who wants to increase his wealth the licensing ceremony to study should be done in the 8th year.

But these are only lower limits. There are many Vipras who assist and not really are capable of reaching out to Brahma, same for the people from other Varnas. And for them there is a relaxation for a couple of years. The upper limits are mentioned here

गर्भाष्टमे अब्धे कुर्वीत ब्राह्मणस्य उपनयनं
गर्भादेकादशे राज्ञे गर्भात्तु द्वादशे विश:

Upper limits for a Brahmin boy is 8th year, for a Kshatriya boy it is 11th year and for merchant boys the upper limit is 12th year.

What we also have to understand is depending on the occupation appropriate number of years are given to stay with family and learn family specific knowledge. It does not mean they will be illiterate till then. Before Upanayana samskaara, there would be aksharaabhyaasa at a very early age. That was how sophisticated our education system was.

And in cases the student is not capable enough to learn any of these, no upanayana is done, the boy would not be called a Dvija, he would remain a Shudra.

And now some interesting Shlokas on the Yagnopaveeta itself.

मौञ्जी त्रिव्र्त्समा श्र्लक्षणा कार्या विप्रस्य मेखला
क्षत्रियस्य तु मौर्वी ज्या वैश्यस्य शनतान्तवी

The yagnopavIta of a Brahmin would be a triple chord from Munja grass, smooth and soft.The yagnopavIta of a kshatriya would be Murva fibres from which bow strings are made.The yagnopavIta of a Vaishya would be Hemp grass.

This also gives the etymology for the usage of word “Munji” for Upanayana in kannada.

So thats it for now. In my next post, I will try to elaborate on Sandhyavandanam, daily rituals supposed to be done by Dvijas.

Are we discardables?

वासांसि जीर्णानि यथा विहाय
नवानि गृह्णाति नरोऽपराणि।
तथा शरीराणि विहाय जीर्णा
न्यन्यानि संयाति नवानि देही।।2.22।।

Krishna told this to indicate bodies are really not that important. Just like we change our old clothes, the soul changes the bodies.

A jignasu wondered how should we accept that our bodies are as discardable as clothes. Just like we change our clothes as per our whims and fancies, could the soul do the same to our bodies? It is hard to accept that souls can be so careless and unattached.

This led me to think more deep about this:

The questions that arise from the above Shloka of Bhagavadgita are these:

  1. Do souls exist?
  2. Do really souls change the body as per their wish?
  3. Krishna says जीर्णानि शरीराणि, what about fully healthy bodies that get killed in accidents, homicides, suicides etc. Do they happen with/without the wishes of the souls?

Such questions could be one among the money that led to different philosophies like Dvaita, Advaita and Vishishtadvaita.

Lets see what Advaita and Dvaita doctrines of Hinduism have to say about this.

Advaita (Shankaracharya’s Bhashya of Bhagavadgita)

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Shankarabhashya is brief. Just by saying आत्मा पुरुषवत् in the end he upheld the sameness of atma(soul) and purusha(paramatma). Also he translates jeernani dehani as Durbalani Dehani. So it seems he accepted that it is wilful decision of soul to leave the body which is no more having the strength.

Now lets see what Dvaita (Madhwacharya’s Bhashya) says about this:

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Madhwacharya is even briefer. He just says that Krishna talks (aaha) about cloth (vasamsi) just as a model (drishtanta) to understand(anubhavartham) the distinction between Deha and Atma (dehatmaviveka). This means that the model should not be used for any other purposes like how much wilful the soul is and all. He never claims about body becoming weak (Durbala) etc.

For me it seems Dvaita has steered clear of ambiguous statements. So let me try to analyse the above questions as per Dvaita.

1. Do souls really exist?
If we think Bhagavadgita can be explained from atheist’s perspective we would be wrong. Though atheists can draw useful inputs from some shlokas, fundamental premise of hinduism is that souls do exist. And that there is also Punarjanma for Souls.

In many Bhashyas and treatises Madhwacharya unequivocally accepts that LifeSoul (Jeevatma) exists and is always dependent or “paratantra” of SupremeSoul(Paramatma) which is “svatantra” and exists in the body in the form of “Bimba”. Without souls Karma philosophy cant be explained. So readers of Bhagavadgita with an intention to understand it always have to accept souls.

2. Do really souls change the body as per their wish, do souls decide?

As per Dvaita it is left to Paramatma when a soul should depart. And this decision is according to Karma accrued.

Still souls of some people can opt to leave as per their decisons. They are Yogis who have zero karma balance.

2. Krishna says जीर्णानि शरीराणि, what about fully healthy bodies that get killed in accidents, homicides, suicides etc. Do they happen with/without the wishes of the souls ?

All of these happens without the wish of the soul. But it is finally soul who has to leave the body, so the Gita shloka also is perfectly right. Jeernani here should only mean used body not necessarily a weak body.

Accidents and Homicides take refuge in karma theory.  Suicide is a crime done by people whose mind controls them. Soul may not be happy with it. That’s why it is called Atma Hatya.




Distinction between God and Religion

I always keep religion and God separate. 

If a person is a “Sadhaka” a pursuer, God is the “Sadhya” or the pursuit, and religion, behaviour, are all “Sadhanas” or means of pursuit.

When we say religion is a Sadhana it becomes a tool. 

This distinction is very clear in hinduism and to some extent in Jainism and Buddhism too. But many other religions have a very tight coupling between God and Religion. This makes it difficult for them to cope with laws of nation. 

In this post I will like to present my understanding of how hinduism separates all of these. 

God is the Goal — God is beyond Senses and the reason for it.

Following excerpts are from Kena Upanishad.

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Eyes cannot reach it, Speech cannot and even not Mind
We dont know, and we cannot know how to follow it.

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It is not what speech can lead to, but it is what leads the speech.
Realise that as God not that which you are worshipping.

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It is not what mind leads to, but it is what leads the mind.
Realise that as God not that which you are worshipping.

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It is not what eyes lead to, but it is what leads the eye.
Realise that as God not that which you are worshipping.

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It is not what ears lead to, but it is what leads the ears.
Realise that as God not that which you are worshipping.

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It is not what breath lead to, but it is what leads the breath.
Realise that as God not that which you are worshipping.

All these shlokas try to tell us not to confuse God with the Vehicle to reach God. God is not the vehicle. God is the one that is the reason for the vehicle.

Religion is a tool, a vehicle.

Religion is an important concept invented to structure humanity, in such a way that seeking God is made easy. Thus religion is a vehicle and God is the destination.

There are concepts of yana or travel in hinduism and buddhism. 

In buddhism we have Hinayana and Mahayana, the words only tell that buddhism, a religion, presents itself as a vehicle of two kinds lesser and greater. The goal is Nirvana which loosely means Moksha, the final destination.

In hinduism we have Pitryana, Devayana etc.  It does not qualify them as “Heena” or “Maha” as the reason for selection of a yana depends on the person’s Guna and it cannot be rated as lesser or greater. We can only say they are different. In Taitteria they tell which vehicle to use and what is the destination to achieve certain goals.

Now comes the interesting thing. Even if one does not mind the destination, he/she can jump on the vehicle just to experience the ride. And even without their explicit goal, they will still reach the destination. A religion that makes this distinction clear can gladly accept atheists and so do hinduism, jainism and buddhism. From a theist’s perspective it’s like the thread reaching the head by the virtue of being part of the garland of flowers. Atheists anyway don’t care and just enjoy the travel.

But like many vehicles of man, religion also has its flaws. A vehicle is prone to accidents. Some vehicles need their own track, some can go on any road, some may travel retrograde. Some vehicles may fly, and sometimes people may just walk without any vehicle(sanyasis). 
Religions are thus many but goal is same.

It does not make sense to pull in people in an other vehicle to jump on ours. It is foolishness to think ours is the best vehicle. Fastest vehicle has more risks, slowest vehicle reaches the goal safely but takes more time.  

This is the reason why hinduism does not try conversions.

Religion is Social —  Religion is experienced through Senses alone.

In one way religion is a set of customs and social behaviour to a constrained living that helps to keep the senses at bay and allow people to look within. Sometimes it may help reach God, sometimes while putting constraint on one sense, it may give leeway to some other sense  so much that we loose track of seeing inwards.

Religion is aimed at binding people and that is what is destructive also.

 Neutrons and the nuclear force (strong force) binds protons inside a nucleus from repelling and exploding. However when neutrons increase in number the nucleus becomes unstable. The nuclear force when broken gives a huge explosion. 

Religion is analogous to neutrons and nuclear force to bind people that are analogous to protons. A religion when given more importance than necessary makes the society unstable. When instigated religion gives raise to terrible wars. A religion is thus a cohesive force that binds people and leads them to destination together. 

 Religion and Nation

Religion is driven by people with God as anchor. Constitution is driven by leaders with nation as anchor. There are people who say God is not there at all, and there are people who say Nation is a false concept. The biggest problem is when both the anchors are present and have conflicting opinions. Atheists are ok with constitution alone as anchor. Fascists and fanatics are ok with religion alone as anchor. Pragmatists need both anchors. Enlightened need none.



My favourite BhagavadGita Verses

All religions and even constitutions uphold certain universal moral guidelines — ahimsa (harmlessness, non agression), satya (truthfullness), astheya (integrity, not stealing other’s wealth), shoucha – kaya,vacha,manasa (purity of body, mind and speech), indriya nigraha (self control).
What action should be taken in the case of conflicts, should we take exceptions, if yes how we should take it? What is the problem if we refrain from actions completely? How should we judge people, should not we judge them at all? What is an individual’s role in society?

Truly the situation of every individual is different, circumstances are different, times are different, places are different and stake holders are different. Then how to give a precise solution to the above problems?

Mahabharatha, Ramayana, Upanishads, Vedas through numerous characters and stories bring out these exceptions and Bhagavadgita is the essence of it.
So only it is said,

sarvopaniṣado gāvo dogdhā gopālanandanaḥ |
pārtho vatsaḥ sudhīr bhoktā dugdhaṁ gītāmṛtaṁ ||

If all upanishads are cows, krishna is the milkman, arjuna is the calf without which the milk would not have come, and the Gita is the milk.

Today,  Margashira ekadashi is remembered as Gita Jayanti, the day when Bhagavadgita was narrated to Dritarashtra by Sanjaya. On this day some of my favourite shlokas here.

(1) Karma Yoga

karmaṇyevādhikāraste mā phaleṣu kadācana
mā karma phalaheturbhūrmā te sangōstu akarmaṇi

You are entitled to choose your actions (karma), but not the results (phala). So dont focus on doing result-oriented-actions.
Also do not be a no-action person.

kiṁ karma kimakarmeti kavayōpi atra mōhitāḥ |
tatte karma pravakṣyāmi yajñyātvā mōkṣyase aṣubhāt ||

But what actually is karma? And what is not karma? Even well read people get confused here. I will clarify that karma to you, which will liberate you from that bad state.

karmaṇō hyapi bōddhavyaṁ, bōddhavyaṁ ca vikarmaṇaḥ |
akarmanasṣca bōddhavyaṁ gahanā karmanō gatiḥi ||

While teaching one has to teach what is correct-action, what is incorrect-action and what is inaction. The path of karma is really complex.

karmaṇi akarma yaḥ paṣyati, akarmaṇi ca karma yaḥ |
sa budhimān manuṣyeṣu sa yuktaḥ kṛtsnakarmakṛt ||

One who sees action in inaction and inaction in action, that fellow is the intelligent among all. He is the accomplished one.

(2) Reverse Tree Model

ūrdhva mūlaṃ adhaḥ ṣākhaṁ ashvatthaṁ prāhuravyayaṁ
chandāmsi yasya parṇāni yastaṁ veda sa vedavit

This whole character based, karma oriented everlasting world can be modeled as a special tree called Ashvattha tree, that has roots on top and branches below. The knowledge of vedas are its leaves. One who understands this model, knows the vedas.

adhaschōrdhvaṃ prasṛitāstasya ṣākhāḥ guṇa pravṛddhā viṣaya pravālāḥ |
adhaṣca mūlāni anusantatāni karmānubandhīni manuṣya lōke ||

This is one of the difficult verses of Bhagavadgita/ it explains the philosophical model of the entire universe. It says that the three attributes are in the form of the roots. The branches are in the bottom that contains all the life bounded by the karma. The tree is ever growing powerful.

We need to understand this model clearly.

(3) Vibhuti Yoga

This is the tenth chapter of Bhagavadgita that explains who is the God. Vibhuti means the “ideal representation”. Unlike many other definitions of God, the definiton here is so simple, so diverse and so meaningful.

Krishna says, among the objects of a class he is that object which is the best in class. He is अ (a) among letters, among vedas he is the Sama Veda, among gods Vasu, among Adityas Vishnu, among senses he is the mind, among Rudras he is Shankara, among mountains he is the Meru. He goes on giving examples. So if we strive to be the best in what we do we will be more near to God.. (perhaps I am over simplifying here)


Aparadha Kshamapana Stotra

Amazing poem this “Aparadha Kshamapana Stotra” written by Adi Shankaracharya.
पृथिव्यां पुत्रास्ते जननि बहवः सन्ति सरलाः
परं तेषां मध्ये विरलतरलोऽहं तव सुतः ।
मदीयोऽयं त्यागः समुचितमिदं नो तव शिवे
कुपुत्रो जायेत क्वचिदपि कुमाता न भवति
In this world there are so many simple children of yours, among them I am the complex ( implicit opposite word to simple, as per the context) rare (virala) and insignificant (tarala) one. But still you should not forsake me, for there could be a bad son but not a bad mother.
I wonder what would he have meant by saying “I am not simple”?
The full lyrics, and the youtube link below.
देव्यपराधक्षमापन स्तोत्रम् न मत्रं नो यन्त्रं तदपि च न जाने स्तुतिमहो न चाह्वानं ध्यानं तदपि च न जाने स्तुतिकथाः । न जाने मुद्रास्ते तदपि च न जाने विलपनं परं जाने मातस्त्वदनुसरणं क्लेशहरणम् ॥१॥ विधेरज्ञानेन द्रविणविरहेणालसतया विधेयाशक्यत्वात्तव चरणयोर्या च्युतिरभूत् । तदेतत् क्षन्तव्यं जननि सकलोद्धारिणि शिवे कुपुत्रो जायेत क्वचिदपि कुमाता न भवति ॥२॥ पृथिव्यां पुत्रास्ते जननि बहवः सन्ति सरलाः परं तेषां मध्ये विरलतरलोऽहं तव सुतः । मदीयोऽयं त्यागः समुचितमिदं नो तव शिवे कुपुत्रो जायेत क्वचिदपि कुमाता न भवति ॥३॥ जगन्मातर्मातस्तव चरणसेवा न रचिता न वा दत्तं देवि द्रविणमपि भूयस्तव मया । तथापि त्वं स्नेहं मयि निरुपमं यत्प्रकुरुषे कुपुत्रो जायेत क्वचिदपि कुमाता न भवति ॥४॥ परित्यक्ता देवा विविधविधसेवाकुलतया मया पञ्चाशीतेरधिकमपनीते तु वयसि । इदानीं चेन्मातस्तव यदि कृपा नापि भविता निरालम्बो लम्बोदरजननि कं यामि शरणम् ॥५॥ श्वपाको जल्पाको भवति मधुपाकोपमगिरा निरातङ्को रङ्को विहरति चिरं कोटिकनकैः । तवापर्णे कर्णे विशति मनुवर्णे फलमिदं जनः को जानीते जननि जपनीयं जपविधौ ॥६॥ चिताभस्मालेपो गरलमशनं दिक्पटधरो जटाधारी कण्ठे भुजगपतिहारी पशुपतिः । कपाली भूतेशो भजति जगदीशैकपदवीं भवानि त्वत्पाणिग्रहणपरिपाटीफलमिदम् ॥७॥ न मोक्षस्याकाङ्क्षा भवविभववाञ्छापि च न मे न विज्ञानापेक्षा शशिमुखि सुखेच्छापि न पुनः । अतस्त्वां संयाचे जननि जननं यातु मम वै मृडानी रुद्राणी शिव शिव भवानीति जपतः ॥८॥ नाराधितासि विधिना विविधोपचारैः किं रुक्षचिन्तनपरैर्न कृतं वचोभिः । श्यामे त्वमेव यदि किञ्चन मय्यनाथे धत्से कृपामुचितमम्ब परं तवैव ॥९॥ आपत्सु मग्नः स्मरणं त्वदीयं करोमि दुर्गे करुणार्णवेशि । नैतच्छठत्वं मम भावयेथाः क्षुधातृषार्ता जननीं स्मरन्ति ॥१०॥ जगदम्ब विचित्रमत्र किं परिपूर्णा करुणास्ति चेन्मयि । अपराधपरम्परापरं न हि माता समुपेक्षते सुतम् ॥११ मत्समः पातकी नास्ति पापघ्नी त्वत्समा न हि । एवं ज्ञात्वा महादेवि यथायोग्यं तथा कुरु ॥१२॥