11. Kanakadhara Sloka 5


कालाम्बुदालिललितोरसि कैटभारेर्
धाराधरे स्फुरति या तडिदङ्गनेव
मातुः समस्तजगतां महनीयमूर्तिर्
भद्राणि मे दिशतु भार्गवनन्दनायाः

“Kaala-Ambu-Da-Ali-Lalito[a-U]rasi Kaittabha-Arer
Dhaaraadhare Sphurati Yaa Taddid-Anggane[a-I]va
Maatuh Samasta-Jagataam Mahaniiya-Muurtir
Bhadraanni Me Dishatu Bhaargava-Nandanaayaah”

(Green Message Kanakadhara Stotram, n.d.).

Salutations to my Glorious Divine Mother (Mahaniiya-Muurtir Maatuh) of this entire reality (Samasta-Jagataam). You are the consort to the successrer (Nandanaayaah) of  Bhaargava. Who annihilate Kaitabha, the evil representing the primordial human ego (ahamkara) and rāgas (compulsive attachments). Like the dark heavy clouds (Kaalambhudhari) pervading the sky, filled with humidity, and ready to drench the land, He (Śrī Viṣṇu) is all-pervasive, filled with benevolence (lalitorasi). I urge you to shower (Dhaaradhare) your forgiveness and protect (Bhadraanni) me.

Detailed Analysis:

Means to put the concepts of Sanātana Ḍharma into implementation in our daily lives. Not everyone understands the concepts to the fullest from birth, but with confidence in parents, Guru and Iśvara, and constantly exploring Śāstra we put our concepts into practice. This hand-in-hand approach helps us one day to merge the gap between implementations and its concepts, helping us evolve in the understanding of the underlying tatva. Hence a Guru who puts one’s Ḍharma into aacharana (implementation) and becomes a living example of that ashram(am) is called an Aacharya.

Upāsanā: Is to practice and strive constantly towards achieving something. But the word upāsanā as per Śāstra is to constantly strive to explore and put to practice of Śāstra into one’s life, which is aacharana. Virtue and Sat:buddhi is not something that is available for purchase, nor can it be achieved in a day. They come through constant struggle, even if the effort is small, it grows under constant daily practice and implementation.

At the beginning of our journey, we discussed that this discourse is not just to translate the slokas of Kanakadhara but an exploration of tatvam, and it’s through this exploration that we as a human being will have the opportunity to understand the vital concepts of Sanātana Ḍharma. This sloka is one such vital part of Kanakadhara that will take our journey into the depths of various concepts such as: Ḍharma, Sanātana Ḍharma, Augraham, Śāstra, kṣhetra, Bhakti and more.

Before we head towards understand this sloka lets dwell on the answer to a vital question, can one live a life free from fear? It’s a relief when one possesses the confidence that there is someone who is watching over us and will always protect us. This so-called protector or savior should hence possess two vital characteristics, first to have the ability and the strength to protect us from any danger, with confidence in someone without such potential, only time and situation can prove if such confidence will result in our safety or will only lead to superstition. The second character for the so-called savior is to have compassion and the readiness to help us, without which even with all that power, there is no basis to cultivate trust.

Śrī Śankaracharya when composing this sloka was striving for the well-being of this brahmin family, but He is not limiting His essence and His prayers only to that very instance. His slokas are not limited to time and place, in other words, His slokas are not limited to a particular situation alone. We will slowly consume and realize that essence of Śrī Śankaracharya, as we journey through each sloka.

Google Maps (2018)

Kaladi, as we have seen earlier was the birthplace of Śrī Śankaracharya and the place He grew up, and so attained its greatness and sanctity by His presence, but then, what made Kaladi an adobe of such great personality, to begin with. Also, was there a situation or an event that inspired Śrī Śankaracharya, at such a young age, to give us such magnificence. Many great personalities and elders investigated Kanakadhara from various angles to understand the source and inspiration behind Śrī Śankaracharya’s composition apart from the obvious fact of Him being a Jagath Guru.
In Kerala, there are few families called the Nambudiri brahmin families that even today are very dedicated to Vedic discipline, fostering children to this discipline and Bhramo:Dhyana(m) at a very young age. These Aagra:hara(m)s (colonies) populated with Nambudiri residences were known as ‘Kaavu’. These residences were not just designed to stay but also to grow many types of vegetation (vegetables and roots like beetroot or potato), trees (like a banana), and many flowering vines. Such a construct was to cultivate various essentials within the residence and for long-term storage. Such a construct was to support events wherein the males of the household could dedicate months of upāsanā (practice) of a specific discipline. Vedic disciplines like the school of Mimamsa, which constitutes performing Sandhya Vandanam three times a day, also known as Threekala Sandhya Vandanam, or inviting a Guru to reside for the course of that upāsanā. During such practice, the males wouldn’t leave for work or farming for five to six months at a stretch, such a discipline is known as ‘Aatruthi’. Rice and wheat were few things that were purchased from others in exchange for various flowers and other vegetation grown within the residence. It’s through such great families and their dedication that helped flourish and retain the significance of Śāstra and Vedic literature in many such places.
It’s to be noted that, just because a place facilitates the teaching of Śāstra, one cannot automatically conclude it to be a great or well-respected location, Why? Because both the narrator and the listener should possess a level of respect and purity towards Śāstra and towards each other. Just by mere recitation or narration of Śāstra, or by mere listening for the sake of desire or fear, without respect, is to have no Shraddha. Without Shraddha toward both learning and also its implementation in one’s life, will lead to uncertainty towards one’s own knowledge and also in the concepts of Sanātana Ḍharma. Sanātana Ḍharma is an approach to life and not a religion, hence, its teaching is meant to be applied to life in each of its respective ashrama. The karma (Actions) of everyone in his/her respective disciplines are defined in detail by the mantras of various Śāstras from the time we wake up in the morning till we go back to sleep, from the stage a human fetus starts to form, till the human form dissolves back into this universe. If one attempts to learn them without implementing its tatva in life, is like what Ravana did in Ramayana Itihaasa(m). Ravan was an amazing scholar of Vedas and Śāstra but never applied it’s essence in his life, he rather used it to gain strength and wealth, though acceptable by Śāstra, he on many occasions used it towards a:Ḍharma. Hence in Sri Vālmīki Ramayanam, Sundara Kanda, book 5, Sarga (Chapter) 21, Sloka 9, Sita Devi asks Ravana:

इह सन्तो वा सन्ति सतो वा नानुवर्तसे ||तथाहि विपरीता ते बुद्धिराचारवर्जिता |”

“iha santo na vaa santi sato vaa naanuvartase ||
tathaahi vipariitaa te buddhiraachaaravarjitaa |”

(Valmiki Ramayana. S.K. n.d.)

Meaning, Sita Devi says to Ravana, “through you know Śāstra yet you are not implementing or living by that Ḍharma because of your Buddhi (Mind) now devoid of Śāstra and its application to your life”.

Hence from above, we can conclude, that no matter how much we know about Śāstra, what matters most is its application in life and living by the path of Ḍharma. A good analogy is to have a lot of sticks in the house but unable to use them to protect oneself when attached, say by animals or harmful entities. Similarly knowing Ḍharma is not sufficient, of course, it’s a great step towards evolving, but the significance is in its aacharana (implementation) and upāsanā, otherwise with such knowledge one might try to misuse it to cheat people or foster pride. Knowing how to perform Sandhya Vandanam or the ability to beautifully recite Gayatri is to be fortunate, but not implementing it in one’s life is to have such a great opportunity to go to waste. Ḍharma itself is what constitutes Sanātana Ḍharma (again it’s not a religion). Hence Sanātana Ḍharma commands aacharana at its highest significance, without which one cannot declare to live the life of Sanātana Ḍharma. Without acharana the chances of intertwining or unifying karma with devotion are very slim. Having understood this, we can say, that in Kaladi Aagrahara(m), those families in that time lived the life of Śāstra through aacharana. Śrī Śankaracharya being the jagad guru, incarnated towards revitalizing Sanātana Ḍharma, choose Kaladi as one among many that could emulate Śrī Śankaracharya’s cause. Now that we understand the times in which these families and Śāstra flourished, that day when Śrī Śankaracharya walked to the poor brahmin family’s house, saw their disparity. On one side, there were people with the opportunity to immerse themselves in Śāstra through acharana, with the help of Kaavu and all the vegetation available, on the other hand, this poor brahmin family had to starve and struggle each day for their previous karma. But they lived without devoid of the path of Ḍharma. This situation moved Śrī Śankaracharya’s heart, the heart of a Jagad Guru, and His compassion, and so come the Ganga Herself as the flow of Kanakadhara. To recognize and understand someone’s compassion, one needs to know compassion and love firsthand. (Srichaganti. K.D.S, n.d., p.12)

Note: Love is to give and not to expect anything in return hence love is unconditional, whereas desire is to quench one’s own want.

As we journey through Śrī Śankaracharya’s compositions (Kanakadhara, Soundarya Lahiri, and more) we will notice the compassion and love He has towards people and how Sanātana Ḍharma manifested in Him becoming a Jagath Guru. Let’s discuss one such incredible story of Śrī Śankaracharya that took place in Srishailam, Andhra Pradesh (adobe of Sri Mallikarjuna and Devi Bhramarambha) in His later years. One day as He was meditating in the forest of Srishailam, a master of Dark Arts (Black arts or magic) approached Śrī Śankaracharya and explained his ritual towards attaining mastery in dark arts, which requires the head of an emperor or the head of a ‘sarva sangha parityagi’, meaning a person who relinquished desire, living a life free from fear, untouched by worldly attachments. He continues by explaining that he is incapable of attaining the head of an emperor, so his only choice is someone like Śrī Śankaracharya, for which Śrī Śankaracharya gladly agreed. Such was the Śrī Śankara’s detachment towards His own body and such was his compassion towards others. There were many such instances in Śrī Śankara’s life, but let’s discuss them at a later time. The story continues like this, Śrī Śankara after agreeing, told the master of the dark arts that his students were here and so will never allow their Guru to be harmed in any way, hence, suggested to come the next morning to an isolated location while the students go for their morning bath. The dark arts master agreed and came back the next morning and saw Śrī Śankara meditating as agreed. As the master of the dark arts was getting ready to sever, one of Śrī Śankara’s students (Sri Padmapada Charya) sensed danger and a bad omen. He immediately recited and called for the help of Śrī Lakṣmī Narashima. At the very moment, the master of the dark arts raised his sword, Śrī Lakṣmī Narashima appeared and consumed the master of the dark arts saving Śrī Śankara.

From this event, we can understand the level of Śrī Śankara’s conscience and compassion. In our earlier reading if we recollect we came across a word called ‘tadi’ possessed by the divine Mother, which represents the moisture in Her eyes for Her love and compassion towards this world. The same ‘tadi’ can be felt here in these slokas of Śrī Śankara and His stories because He Himself is a manifestation of that ‘tadi’.

कालाम्बुदालिललितोरसि कैटभारेर्
धाराधरे स्फुरति या तडिदङ्गनेव
मातुः समस्तजगतां महनीयमूर्तिर्
भद्राणि मे दिशतु भार्गवनन्दनायाः

Kaala-Ambu-Da-Ali-Lalito[a-U]rasi Kaittabha-Arer
Dhaaraadhare Sphurati Yaa Taddid-Anggane[a-I]va
Maatuh Samasta-Jagataam Mahaniiya-Muurtir
Bhadraanni Me Dishatu Bhaargava-Nandanaayaah

(Green Message Kanakadhara Stotram, n.d.).

Śrī Śankara starts by introducing us to the essence of Sriman Narayana in the first stance by calling Him ‘Kaala-ambu-Daali’, meaning Dark heavy clouds, filling the sky and ready to rain. Like always, let’s ask the obvious question, why reference Him with a dark cloud. Because Sriman Narayana, like the dark cloud, has a dark completion, filled with mercy, and is ready to shower upon us. Many poets in the past have referred him with a similar title, for example, ‘Neela Megha Shama’ which also means dark blue cloud. Addressing Śrī Viṣṇu with such titles for poetical beauty is one thing, but for someone with an opportunity to be drenched under Iśvara’s anugraham (grace) is a different experience altogether, and hence has a different approach towards the choice. Please note: that it’s not an intent to compare one poet or scholar’s devotion with another, for Iśvara we are all His children. Coming to Śrī Śankara who at the age of five, used an analogy, wherein He is not just addressing Śrī Viṣṇu by His appearance (manifestation) but also His unmatched abundance of anugraham (grace).

CCO License Free Image (www.pexels.com) (2018)

Let’s walk through a scenario, a very hot summer day, we prefer to stay indoors, but the heat still makes us urge for coolness. As the day sets, imagine the sky getting darker with black clouds, gusts of cool wind filled with humidity, and unique smell in the air. In such an environment one wishes to seek solace hoping for a rain and to smell the fragrance of the wet soil. Such is the solace experienced by those who get drenched in Iśvara’s anugraham (grace). White clouds, however, are light, with moonlight emitting through them and so move very fast but, these dark clouds have two significant features, first, they are filled with humidity spanning the sky (souffle of clouds). The second feature is their readiness to drench their surroundings. Similarly, Śrī Viṣṇu, who like those dark clouds is filled with an abundance of grace and forgiveness and has the same readiness to shower upon us. Such is the distinction in words chosen for poetic beauty versus advocacy by Śrī Śankara on our behalf.

Now, from our earlier reading if we recollect, when we trust someone to protect us and help us in our need, there are two characteristics that person should have, one to possess the capacity to help us, and second, the willingness to do so. A sloka from Srimad Bhagavatam (Sri Bhagavata Puranam) composed by Bammera Pothana, states the nature of being ungrateful and gives us an example. Say someone with a lot of wealth and authority, but holds no compassion towards helping others, even if such people are related. What good comes with faith in such people? The word ‘Viṣṇu’ is derived from the word ‘Viśvām’ itself means to spread across everything and anything (and Śiva means the auspicious in everthing that spreads), like these dark clouds that spread across the sky. Śrī Viṣṇu is one to have both these qualities, the capability being the preserver of creation and the generosity to help even the smallest entity of His creation since it’s He who encompasses everything and Has the Hruday(am) (heart) filled with compassion which is Śrī Lakṣmī Herself. (Srichaganti. K.D.S, n.d., p.12)


My beautiful picture
Śrī Lakṣmī pressing feet of Śrī Mahā Viṣṇu, reclined on Adi Shesha (Deogarh, Dasavatara Temple, Deogarh, Uttar Pradesh) (1999)

Let’s talk about ability and eligibility. Even with Śrī Viṣṇu having the power and generosity, the question is, are we eligible, and what makes us eligible to receive His anugraham (grace)? Let’s think about this for a movement, consider receives this grace solely on one’s ability (intelect/skill), then what is the need to pray? What is the need to urge forgiveness? It would be like an examiner grading a student solely based on the validity of the answers. If that’s how reality works, then who do we convey our prayers and Namaskar? The fundamental essence of Sanātana Ḍharma literature is not worship oriented, its oriented on the evolution of consciousness, either through surrendering (Iśvara:praṇpada / Bhakti Yogam) or through exploration (Jñana Yoga). Now, to whom do we have to present our servitude? The Creator (Brahmā Deva) has already done His part and thus we exist. In that case, if-at-all we must bow and convey our vandanam (salutations) is for this existence. That leaves only Shiva (Śiva), to whom we can convey our Namaskar and urge for Jñana(m), with which we can eventually exit and dissolve into Him through the concept known as ‘laya’ (dissolution), this is but imminent. Based on this discussion, we can close all doors for any rituals or worship and prayers to many manifested forms of Iśvara. If this is the case, what is the significance of the concept of preservation? And how can this misconception be clarified? Śrī Śankara explains this misconception by stating that, though we reap the outcome of our Karma of current and previous lives, when one walks the path of Ḍharma, in both good and tough times, with truth and honesty, and seeks Ḍharmic desire, then Śrī Viṣṇu like the readiness of the dark cloud is ready to grant us and uplift us. Like these dark clouds when they shower, drenches everything around, and similarly, Śrī Viṣṇuu doesn’t just shower on one person, but on everyone with us (like our family, friends, and students). In a way, that anugraham (grace) will follow us forever. Śrī Śankara with this example is being very specific about Śrī Viṣṇu so that our thirst for desire and knowledge is quenched.

Kalidash, a prominent poet and scholar, devote of Divine Mother Kāli, before becoming a scholar, urged for skill and knowledge. The Divine Mother scribbled ‘Beeja-Akashara’ (seed-letters of all literature) on his tongue, for which he attained not just knowledge but mastery in literature evolving into a magnificent scholar and poet. He finally attained the great opportunity of unifying with The Divine Mother.

Now the word ‘Attain’ or rather the word eligibility comes over and over, so what is the eligibility to receive Iśvara’s anugraham (grace)? It’s implied that a realization in conjunction with Ḍharmic desire, when urged in servitude to Iśvara, is what results in we getting drenched in His grace. Does this mean Iśvara wishes that we urge Him and subjugate ourselves to Him? No, Iśvara wishes that we realize the reality that we live in, and understand that there is more to this creation than to chase mere materials and bodily comforts, hence the very word “Sanātana Ḍharma” means the one Eternal Ḍharma (innate property of all) is to seek higher consciousness. For a human mind to see past the material world, Iśvara wants us to first learn self-enquiery, humility, and when a man becomes humble, it’s then that his mind opens towards knowledge and wisdom that is beyond mere desire. (Srichaganti. K.D.S, n.d., p.12)


CCO License Free Image (www.pexels.com) (2018)

Śāstra states that in a maasam (month, two moon cycles) there must be atleast three rainfalls. One such rainfalls depends on the Ḍharma of the king of that land, such is the significance given by Śāstra towards a king (Prajapathi). The second rainfall signifies the greatness of women in the kingdom and their honesty and ‘paativratayam’ (love and dedication towards family), finally, third rainfall signifies the Ḍharma of the rest of the people of that land. Śāstra gives such high position and value to King and Women of the kingdom and with their integrity towards Ḍharma will quench the thirst of that land with two rainfalls. A woman becomes a pride as a daughter to someone and unifies two families by becoming a daughter-in-law, then moves the legacy of the family forward by becoming a mother, then she becomes the first teacher (Guru) to her child. She shares love and wisdom to the child while feeding, which the child never forgets. As we move forward we will learn the significance of women proclaimed by Śāstra.
Those who have seen drought know the importance of rain and water. We read incidents of many farmers and villagers who sell even cattle and leave their homes in the event of a drought. Without water, even the implementation of Ḍharma gets difficult, as one cannot perfume their daily rituals of Sandhya Vandhanam, Gayatri, pūjā or aachamaneyam (nitya:karmā) .

When the clouds shower, the rain quenches the thirst of not just us but to all plants and animals of that land, but these clouds expect nothing in return. They sometimes come during the night when most of us are asleep, shower, and leave seeking no gratitude. We ourselves do not necessarily show our gratitude to those clouds when it rains. They show no dissatisfaction for having given everything, they become light and float away waiting for no acknowledgment. No one shows the path for these clouds, no one navigates or supports them in the sky. They come, give, and leave by themselves. Such is the nature of Śrī Viṣṇu. Such is the analogy of Śrī Śankara towards explaining us Iśvara, His nature, making us realize His affection towards us.
In a sloka from Srimad Bhagavata(m) (Sri Bhagavata Purana(m)) composed by a Telugu poet and scholar Bammera Pothana lie a story of Kuchela. Kuchela was a friend and a classmate of Śrī Kṛṣṇa during their academic years in gurukul under Sandeepa Maharśi. Kuchela though in poverty walked the path of Ḍharma. He initially was hesitant when asked by his wife to seek the help of Śrī Kṛṣṇa. Noticing his hesitation his wife explained to him the generosity and the forgiving nature of Śrī Viṣṇu. She continues by saying, “those who don’t recollect Iśvara even in their dreams, yet when in crisis call upon Iśvara for help, giving up all ego, Iśvara will give himself to them, not judging their past ungratefulness”. One should take a moment and understand the wisdom of a woman to help navigate her husband and her family. We have seen many references from Ramayana where Devi Sita shared so much wisdom and Her affection towards Rama and devotion towards Śāstra. Kuchela’s wife explained the compassion of Iśvara as follows, in a sloka from Srimad Bhagavata(m) (Sri Bhagavata Purana(m)) composed by a poet and scholar Bammera Pothana, said:

కలలోనన్ మూన్:ఎరుంగని మహా:కష్టమూడ్:ఐనట్టి దుర్బలుడు
ఆప్త్:సమయమునం నిజపత:జాతము:ఉల్లంబునం  తలఁపన్
ఆన్: తనవచ్చి  ఆర్తి:హరుడై తన్నైనా:ఎచున్
సునిశ్చిత  భక్తి  భావముల భజించు:వారి:ఇతడే  సంపత్:విశేషాణతుల్

Kalalonan mun:erungani maha:kastathmood:eyenatti durbhaludu
aapth:samayamunan Nijapatha:jaathamu ullambhunan talapan anthana vacchi arthi:harudai tannaina echun
Sunis:chita bhakthi bhavamula bhajinchu:vaari:ithade sampath:visheshonathul

(Youtube. B.K.S. 2017).

Meaning, those who don’t recall or recognize Iśvara even in their dreams, yet during their tough times, call out to Iśvara truthfully understanding one’s limitations, for them Iśvara will come in such hast that He (Iśvara) will forget Himself. If that’s the case then what about those who are pure of heart, immersed in devotion, chant the name of Iśvara? For them, Iśvara will bestow riches so special that one cannot imagine. This is the reason why women in Sanātana Ḍharma take the highest importance.

In Sanātana Ḍharma, Iśvara is the supporter of those who worship Him and also for those who are ungrateful. Even to curse or badmouth Iśvara, one must have the strength that comes from the very food and facilities given by Him. Yet even after cursing, Iśvara is like a mother who is gentle towards her baby and forgives with love even if the baby bites Her during feeding. He uplifts those who curse Him, just because they used His name in their curse. From the above, the attempt of such an explanation is to help understand the concept of Iśvara and how He operates and the way He can be perceived by us. Because without an attempt to understand Iśvara how can we comprehend the tatva which Śrī Śankara is trying to share. (Srichaganti. K.D.S, n.d., p.12-13)


The quintessential of Sanātana Ḍharma is that Devotees dictate Iśvara and can bind Him. Numerous magnificent kṣhetra (consecrated places) are a result of devotees who urged Iśvara to manifest. Many Maharśi (rishis) and sages commanded Iśvara to reside in few places and bestow His anugraham (grace) for mankind. When we say “commanded Iśvara to reside”, doesn’t mean to have a physical presence, but more a manifested form, because we discussed that Iśvara is a concept and not limited to a form or shape. What it means is, it helps create a kṣhetra (a consecrated location) or a sanctuary for people to congregate to foster devotion via karmā (like pūjā, upācharas, Dhyāna, cultural events), to seek Iśvara in a physical sense through our indriya (sense organs), because not everyone can comprehend Iśvara at the Ātman level. This is the reason why time and again Iśvara manifested into various forms to uplift humanity. It also means that Maharśi’s asked Iśvara to create new karmā through which one can counter and reduce the effects of our dush:karma and gain sat:karma reaching higher levels of consciousness. This is the reason why each kṣhetra in Santana Ḍharma has a unique significance and a unique set of rituals with respective results, hence now two kṣhetra are the same. It’s also said that, when a student with a zeal to learn and a good listener meets a Guru from whom Śāstra:tatvam flows like a dhara, then that place becomes a kṣhetra.

Iśvara underwent abuse from His devotees, like in the story of Purandara Das who got angry and punished Panduranga, who came to him as his Servant. Another example was when Sri Anantacharya and his pregnant wife were digging a pond ‘teert(am)’ for Sri Venkateshwara in Tirumala, Tirupati, Andhra Pradesh. Seeing Sri Anantachaya’s wife getting exhausted, Sri Venkateshwara manifested in the form of a young boy and started helping Her without Anantacharya’s permission. Anantacharya got suspecious and in fury throw his shovel scarching the boy’s chin. Even today sandalwood is applied to the chin of Sir Venkateshwara in Tirumala.

Another devotee named Surdas always used to sit in Śrī Kṛṣṇa’s temple singing bhajans (rhythmic songs praising Iśvara). On the day nearing his daughter’s wedding he requested the groom to wish for a gift along with the items needed for the wedding. The groom was surprised knowing his father-in-law’s poverty, and so modestly hesitated to ask. Surdas insisted and so the groom prepared a list based on his family’s desires. Upon submitting this list, Surdas further insisted the groom for his personal preference. This austonished the groom as to how he would manage these items, so in sarcasm asked for a grinding stone. Surdas took this list and went to the temple, kept that list the feet of Śrī Kṛṣṇa and went back to his bhajans. A deliveryman in a cart approached the in-law’s place and delivered each item on that list including the grinding stone asked by the groom. Everyone was surprised and asked the deliveryman who the sender was, to which he replied it being Surdas. Everyone rushed to the temple and confronted Surdas who was deeply in his bhajan. Surdas unaware of the event urged his in-laws to patiently wait for few more days, and that he will arrange all the items demanded by them. To his surprise they confirmed to have received all the items. Surdas asked who the deliverer was, but his in-laws expressed uncertainity. Surdas realized it to be Śrī Kṛṣṇa himself and wept at his feet washing them with his tears. Such surrenderance can made Iśvara servile. This is why the path of Bhakti is the most flavorfull, colorfull, and vibrent among other paths.

Sri Chaganti Koteshwar Rao garu along with other devotees traveled to Sringeri Peetam, Karnataka, India, one of the four institutions founded by Śrī Śankaracharya. At that time the current inheritor of that that Matt (peetam) was Sri Bharathi Tirtha Swami. Sri Chaganti had the opportunity to meet the mother of Sri Bharathi Tirtha Swami and conveyed his vandanam by bowing down to Her feet. She returned a namaskar back for which Sri Chaganti requested Her not to, as she was blessed to be the mother of Sri Bharathi Tirtha Swami and it was her womb that gave birth to such great personality. Though true, she replied with modesty claimed herself to be no special in anyway.

Sri Chaganti urged Her to explain the karmā behind such great fortune. Though hesitant in the beginning, upon further requests, she explained that during Her childhood wherein each day she would get ready by taking bath and applying turmeric to Her feet would tag along with her father in joy to visit Kotappakonda temple in Guntur district, Andhra Pradesh. Eventually, she said to have realized the temple’s significant deity was Dakshina Murthy who being Śiva’s manifestation as a Guru. This karmā had the potential for which she had such great privilage.

(Please click here to read the detailed article on Bhakti and various approaches to it)

Iśvara Augraham (GRACE)

How does Iśvara’s anugraham (grace) work? Is anugraham (grace) meaning to shower riches? This topic is very difficult to comprehend and also very difficult to accept. Iśvara’s anugraham (grace) sometimes leads to removing certain joys in life, sometimes it could be the very life itself, sometimes it’s health, sometimes it is the inability to have children and or diminishing of wealth. All this is still the anugraham (grace) of Iśvara. Let’s carefully and patiently understand this concept through some examples from Puráńa(m). Sri Ram killed Ravana, is that anugraham (grace)? Yes, it is, Sri Ram if after defeating Ravana, left him alive and took Devi Sita home, what would have happened? It would have resulted in great humiliation pushing Ravana to trickle down into the pits of darkness and vengeance. Śrī Kṛṣṇa eliminated Kamsa (his uncle), was that anugraham (grace)? From the time Śrī Kṛṣṇa was born, Kamsa lived under constant fear, and it’s through death that he was freed because living in constant fear is to die each day. Not having children is very painful but sometimes it is anugraham (grace) because the karmā that haunts certain people will also haunt their children. This is a very difficult topic to reason with, so let’s leave it at that. Sri Srungagiri Petaadipati, Bharathi Teertha Swamy told a couple to name their son Sri Rama Chandra, when they weren’t even expecting pregnancy at that time. Later they were blessed with a boy and so did name him Sri Rama Chandra. On contrary, He told another couple not to expect since their karmā:phala was not ordinary. The one who understands Iśvara dwells in His anugraham (grace) even when receiving something and also when not getting or losing something. Hence, only in Sanātana Ḍharma, death is considered as ‘Devata’ (Goddess). Devata meaning to bestow, then what does death have to bestow? Imagine even after crossing ninety-five years and if the body withers and skin hangs, sight diminishes and one is unable to address bodily functions by self, then in that case death is a blessing. Even with good health if one happens to live twice the normal age then everything and alongside that person will start to diminish and disappear right in front of them, leaving that person alone. Death is the anugraham (grace) that should be bestowed, and hence it’s not a right to inflict upon oneself, which is the reason why suicide is a grave sin (pápa) that will haunt many lives to come. A doctor injects saline directly into the blood, though painful, it is for our good, so is the anugraham (grace) of Iśvara.

Iśvara’s anugraham (grace) are like clouds, so let’s see how that is related to anugraham (grace). Before the clouds and the rain, came the heat, the hot summer that dried the lakes, the ground, and our bodies. The phenomena called summer makes the water to vaporize, did Iśvara keep that water for Himself? He gave it back through a different phenomenon known as rain. In this way, Iśvara both takes and also gives, in both cases, there is karuna (empathy).

Kalidas a great scholar and poet, composed ‘Megha Sandesam’ (A message delivered by clouds) and gave a sloka about a cloud. Megha Sandesam, Sloka 5:

“ధూమ జ్యోతి స్సలిల మరుతాం సన్నిపాతః క్వ మేఘః !
సందేశార్థాః క్వ పటుకరణైః ప్రాణిభిః ప్రాపణీయాః !
ఇత్యౌత్సుక్యా దపరిగణయన్‌ గుహ్యకస్తం యయాచే
కామార్తా హి ప్రకృతికృపణా శ్చేతనాచేతనేషు”

“dhuma jyoti ssalila marutAM sannipAtaah kva mEghaah !
saMdESArthAah kva paTukaraNeiah prANibhiah prApaNIyAah !
ityautsukyA daparigaNayan^ guhyakastaM yayAchE
kAmArtA hi prakRtikRpaNA SchEtanAchEtanEshu”

(Eemaata. M. n.d).

Where in ‘Dhuma’ meaning smoke,’joyti’ is light, ‘salila’ is water, ‘mrutham’ means air, and so asked the question of how can these four elements constitute a cloud which floats in the sky without support? Such was his poetic enquery and his ingenuity to have known the constitution of a cloud.

He who takes also gives and sometimes makes us wait before giving, all of which is anugraham (grace). One, who notices both these aspects of Iśvara can live a life of gratitude and content. Gratitude is one of the vital aspects of Sanātana Ḍharma that as a human should cultivate towards everything.  (Srichaganti. K.D.S, n.d., p.13)

(Please click here to read the detailed article on Augraham)


CCO License Free Image (www.pexels.com) (2018)

There is a unique tradition followed in many villages in India, wherein, a frog is rallied in the streets honoring it with an intent to request nature (Iśvara) for rains. Many might consider this superstition, but the intent behind this ritual is to show and learn gratitude. There are many customs created by man to express respect and gratitude and this is no different. When one needs help from someone who is not well acquainted, then one would prefer to be accompanied by someone who is, so as to appeal establishing a relation or acquaintance. Similarly, to urge nature (Iśvara as Prakṛti) for rain, people honor the frog by rallying it in the village streets. So, the obvious question, why a frog? Because only a frog gives gratitude by croaking from the point when the clouds gather filling the environment with moisture and rains, till the sun shines. Even when the rest of the world is fast asleep, the frog continues to embrace the rain. The gratitude shown by a frog towards welcoming the rain is significant, hence people recognized this significance and hence choose a creature from nature to both to admire it and make an appeal on their behalf to nature (Iśvara). Now the scientific reason behind the frog croaking might be many and could evolve over time, but the point is that a human being recognized this species, which cherishes the rain and embraces it. In Sanātana Ḍharma, we can find many such instances where animals and trees are honored with regard to expressing our gratitude. Only in Sanātana Ḍharma, it is encouraged towards grooming gratitude and kindness towards nature and to learn from nature.
In Aditya:hridayam, an excellent composition on Surya Narayana (Sun) comprising thirty slokas composed by Maharśi Agastya and given to Sri Rama during His battle with Ravana. In this composition, Iśvara is addressed by the name ‘Aataphi’, meaning the one whose scorching heat dries us thirsty, making us realize the absence of what we take for granted.
Once Devote Prahlada (Son of Asura King Hiranyakasap) asked SŚrī Viṣṇu (Śrī Lakṣmī Narasimha) on the concept of why He takes and deprives us of our desires and possessions. Śrī Viṣṇu who doesn’t have to explain Himself, He the preserver of creation, that day answered to His dear devotee, and said:

విత్త వైయో రూప విద్య బల ఐశ్వర్య కర్మ జన్మ గర్వ ఉడిగి
ఇక:విమలుడై  ఎవ్వడుండు వాడు నాకొరకు రక్షింప బాలాయువాడు

“Vitta vaiyo ruupa vidya bala aishwarya karma janma garvam udyigi
Eeka:vemaludai evvadundu vaadu naakoraku rakshimpa bhalayuvaadu”

From this sloka Śrī Viṣṇu said, those who shed their cravings and pride towards possessing beauty, skill, strength, riches, previous karma that is and the ego, it’s for them I manifest to protect and foster them towards me. And said, its them I (Śrī Viṣṇu) wish to shower My anugraham (grace) and uplift them, I, in some situations take away their riches, but why?  Those who are soaked in saṃsāra  and cultivating ego, further obsessing towards materialistic possessions, those who are preoccupied with their strengths, riches and their birthrights, those with their previous karma and skills are using them towards satisfying their own pride without moral or compassion, it’s towards them I (Śrī Viṣṇu) will take up a responsibility to save them by detaching them from their compulsions. By such detachment, their spell towards their endless ego and pride will be broken, giving them an opportunity to realize the reality that nothing is forever and nothing is one’s creation or is owned forever, hence, time in hand is precious. (Srichaganti. K.D.S, n.d., p.14)

Śrī Śankaracharya in His later compositions known by Bhaja Govindam states the following in Sloka 11:

मा कुरु धनजनयौवनगर्वं  हरति निमेषात्कालः सर्वम्
मायामयमिदमखिलं हित्वा  (बुध्वाब्रह्मपदं त्वं प्रविश विदित्वा

“mā kuru dhana jana yauvana garvam harati nimeṣātkālaḥ sarvam |
māyāmayamidamakhilaṁ hitvā Brahmāpadaṁ tvaṁ praviśa viditvā ||”

(Sanskrit Documents. B. 2017).

Śrī Śankaracharya in this sloka explains that pride cultivated from wealth, influence, and youth, are consumed by the concept known as kālá(am) (time), within a matter of minutes. The answer lies in freeing oneself from māyā (illusion) cast by this reality and seeks the ultimate truth, which encompasses kālá(am) (time) and place.

In Śiva Aparatha Kshamapana stotram, sloka 15, says:

ఆయుర్నశ్యతి పశ్యతాం ప్రతిదినం యాతి క్షయం యౌవనం
ప్రత్యాయాన్తి గతాః పునర్న దివసాః కాలో జగద్భక్షకః
లక్ష్మీస్తోయతరఙ్గభఙ్గచపలా విద్యుచ్చలం జీవితం
తస్మాత్త్వాం శరణాగతం శరణద త్వం రక్ష రక్షాధునా

 आयुर्नश्यति पश्यतां प्रतिदिनं याति क्षयं यौवनं प्रत्यायान्ति गताः पुनर्न दिवसाः कालो जगद्भक्षकः
लक्ष्मीस्तोयतरङ्गभङ्गचपला विद्युच्चलं जीवितं तस्मात्त्वां शरणागतं शरणद त्वं रक्ष रक्षाधुना

“aayurnashyati pashyataaM pratidinaM yaati kShayaM yauvanaM
praatyaayaanti gataaH punarna divasaaH kaalo jagadbhakShakaH “

(Sanskrit Documents. S.K.S. 2016).

Meaning, as each day passes we get older and our youth diminishes by the concept known as kālá(am) (time), Iśvara devours everything into Him and no wealth, fame, or pride can stop or bring back that time.

By removing the source of one’s ego (like power, strength, riches, appearance, and more) Iśvara provides an opportunity to focus our attention on reality. He also wants to see one’s resolve during tough times, and to notice if one would forsake one’s morality of his Ḍharma, making oneself a fake in one’s own principle and character. This approach of Iśvara, removing one’s comforts might sound cruel, but let’s walk through a real-life scenario. Say a child takes an important item from their parent’s possessions without asking. During an urgency, the parent searches for it in haste, upon realizing its missing, expresses anxiety towards the child. Now, if the child after being scolded, realizes the difficulty faced by their parent, and strives towards their well-being with good manners and respect, wouldn’t the parent be proud, bringing them even closer to the child? Wouldn’t such a state give more confidence to face any challenge and difficulty and strive towards the wellbeing of the child? But on the other hand, if the child responds with disrespect and agitation, then wouldn’t it be natural for the parent to feel disappointed towards his own upliftment and feel the misfortune to face such a moment after years of sacrifices, hopes, and nourishment. Similarly, when Iśvara gives the opportunities to cultivate compassion, faith, and devotion, yet if one chooses to delude oneself into more and more materialistic acquisitions, leading to a never-ending cycle of ego and pride, then Iśvara like a parent must remove the source of such obsessions. Yet, if one realizes their mistakes during tough times and upholds Iśvara to the highest level without losing faith, then to those Iśvara takes up a personal responsibility to guide and uplift them. Iśvara like a father strives to mitigate the adverse effects of Karma preserving our existence and our happiness and presenting us with a path to unify with Him. Iśvara Himself proclaimed that if He doesn’t do so, then creation would certainly lose hope and faith because it’s through hope and faith that humanity strives and moves forward.

It’s also to be noted that Iśvara like a parent cannot grant every wish of ours. As we discussed earlier Iśvara is both Karma and a:karma:phala-pradatha (the granter of the result of Karma and a:karma). We ourselves as a parent don’t grant every single wish of our children. We always put the well-being of our children as a priority in both agreeing and disagreeing with their wishes. Hence, it’s unfair to blame Iśvara just because our grants are not met. We need to understand that our Karma from many lives is in play, yet with devotion and faith, Iśvara can help mitigate the ill effects of that Karma, how? That is what we are here to understand from Kanakadhara. The concept of Karma is one such concept in the creation of Iśvara that is self-executing and self-evaluating without the involvement of Iśvara, however, Iśvara can help us to mitigate its effects. He like a parent shares our suffering so that we suffer less. He acts as a shield, covering us from the adverse effect of the result of karma. Is there proof of this? Yes, as we have discussed earlier during kṣīrā:sagara Madan(am) Devatas and Asuras churned the ocean with the desire to gain the elixir of immortality, but caused halahala(m) (anti-creation element) to emerge first? At this point, all bowed down to Iśvara and urged His help, He like a parent intervened and consumed it and didn’t blame His children, nor did He ask them why He should. Iśvara is not bound by karma, yet manifests as various beings and suffers on our behalf. He does this to even the scales of our paapa(m). Time and again He has come in different forms to re-establish morality in humans, and save us from our own pride and misdoings. The least we can do is explore and recognize His efforts and His teachings, which are for our own benefit and not that He has anything personal to gain.

By proclaiming Iśvara as ‘Kalambhudhara’ and through its inherent meaning, Śrī Śankaracharyaa reminds Iśvara (not that Iśvara requires recollections) that like this dark heavy cloud, Iśvara filled with endless compassion and love towards us should shower His forgiveness and anugraham (grace) upon this brahmin family. Why? Because their karmā has deprived them of riches and so is the reason for such suffering. Yet, in their misery, they haven’t devoid of the path of Ḍharma. They stood firm in faith towards Iśvara by performing Eka:dashi fasting, not only that, this brahmin’s wife has made sure she doesn’t let this boy (Śrī Śankaracharya) leave in hunger, and so gave the only edible item in the house. So, He (Śrī Śankaracharya) assertively asks Iśvara, “isn’t this what a parent would expect from their children?”

Now let’s agree, isn’t this argument good enough for Iśvara (Śrī Lakṣmī) to shower Her anugraham (grace)? As we have read earlier Śrī Lakṣmī at the very early stages of this stotram was ready to bestow Her forgiveness, however, She waited (Śrī Lakṣmī and Śrī Viṣṇu), waited for this amazing dhara from Śrī Śankaracharya to flow, so that we today, and for generations to come can drench in its magnificence. With the understanding of this title ‘Kalambhudhara’ we can cherish our faith in Iśvara and the confidence in the path of Ḍharma. Through the constant exploration of Kanakadhara, we can be sure that Iśvara will accompany us and support us in every step during our tough times.

Dhurjati, a renowned devotee of Śiva and one among the eight chief poets for the King Sri Krishnadevaraya (King of Vijayanagara Empire 1509 till 1529 CE) composed Sri Kalahastiswara Sathakam and in sloka 12:

నిను సేవింపగ నాపదల్పొడమనీ, / నిత్యోత్సవంబబ్బనీ
జనమాత్రుండననీ మహాత్ముడననీ / సంసార మోహంబు పై
కొననీ జ్ఞానముగల్గనీ గ్రహగతుల్ / కుందింపనీ, మేలు
చ్చిన రానీ యవి నాకు భూషణములే / శ్రీకాళహస్తీశ్వరా!”

“ninu sevimpaga nāpadal voḍamanī nityotsavaṃ babbanī
janamātruṇḍananī mahātmu ḍananī saṃsāramohambu pai
konanī ṅñānamu galganī grahaganul gundimpanī meluva
ccina rānī yavi nāku bhūṣaṇamulo śrī kāḷahastīśvarā!”

(Vaidika Vignanam. S.K.H.S. 2011).

Dhurjati says, Oh Śiva, in your service even if I encounter problums, stress, insults, aclaimations, drenched in the troubles of saṃsāra, succcess and more, they are all ornaments to me.

Let’s move to the next word in the sloka which is ‘Lalitorasi’.

कालाम्बुदालिललितोरसि कैटभारेर्
धाराधरे स्फुरति या तडिदङ्गनेव
मातुः समस्तजगतां महनीयमूर्तिर्
भद्राणि मे दिशतु भार्गवनन्दनायाः

Kaala-Ambu-Da-Ali-Lalito[a-U]rasi Kaittabha-Arer
Dhaaraadhare Sphurati Yaa Taddid-Anggane[a-I]va
Maatuh Samasta-Jagataam Mahaniiya-Muurtir
Bhadraanni Me Dishatu Bhaargava-Nandanaayaah

(Green Message Kanakadhara Stotram, n.d.).

Lalitorasi’ refers to the tender and a sensitive bhavana (imagination/feeling). It’s a difficult phrase to portray into words for it being a poetic expression pertaining to an emotion. So, let’s try to understand this through a scenario, during a pleasant morning stroll admiring Iśvara’s creation, we happen to notice a beautiful rose on the ground in front of a temple. If that flower happens to get crushed under a vehicle, one of many possible feelings would be to consider it a Prasad from Ishwari Herself. With our hearts filled with devotion, we might tend to remove it and place it gently on some nearby tree. This overwhelming tender and sensitive feeling that emerged towards that flower is hard to put into words and so is described as ‘lalitorasi’.

So, to whom is Śrī Śankaracharya referring by the word ‘lalitorasi’? It’s obviously to the one who is filled with compassion, and referred as ‘Kaalambhudhari’ (like a dark cloud filled with water ready to shower), ready to shower His Anugraham. In the above scenario, ‘lalitorasi’ was towards that rose, whereas here it’s Śrī Viṣṇu’s lalitorasi towards us, to help us from our self-deluded ego and pride. Hence, even in Iśvara giving us Karma:phala, which might deprive us of some comforts, is out of His ‘lalitorasi’. So, why then do many take the wrong path? This creation and its reality with Kali:yuga being the dominant period, fosters man’s materialistic desires over compassion. It presents the option for us to dwell in pride and endless kama. The nature of Kali:yuga is to make man seek comfort through the possession of materials and in return define success in terms of such possessions, making morality and compassion secondary. Many are blessed with the opportunity of time and skill to read and explore magnificent literature, yet they rather choose to feed one’s deluded desires emerged from ego. Śrī Viṣṇu will not enforce His will over our will and choice. He like a father strives towards presenting us with options to exit our cycle of kama. He presents opportunities to explore the worlds of higher conscience, leading to the ultimate supreme joy (Brahmā:nandham).

When we say Śrī Viṣṇu doesn’t enforce His will upon us but presents opportunities to us, it’s like this story. Once a king was traveling through his kingdom on an elephant. On his way back to his palace, saw a man in a pit. Though in hurry, he got down and lowered a branch into the pit to help him climb up. But the man in the pit declined the king’s offer because he didn’t like the branch and would rather prefer a soft beautiful rope. Now, what good is the opportunity for someone who fell in a pit and was offered help by the king himself? Iśvara the ultimate creator and supreme personality is always ready to offer his support. It’s we who have to make effort towards seeking the humility and greatness in literary compositions like Kanakadhara that has been passed on to us.  If we make a judgment and derive conclusions over Ḍharma and Iśvara without an attempt towards exploring the knowledge of the Śruti, even after so much availability and accessibility of information, we are no different from the man in the pit who is consumed by ego and pride. Exploration of Śāstra and Iśvara is not a competition, rather an everyday exploration during the course of our lives. One, with no such effort, can easily to be deluded by many deceptive believes that might sound very convincing since one lacks the knowledge to compare or evaluate. Man, dwells in so many desires and tends to memorize so many things yet many lack the conscience and resolve to learn and relish at least few delightful slokas passed on to us by great personalities. So, it’s Iśvara to whom we must reach out for knowledge and guidance and make Him a part of our family and lives.

Sri Vishwanatha Satyanarayana garu, a renowned poet once said “Cheliyani Katta”, meaning ‘sea shore’, it’s to be strongly rooted into our understanding that the sea doesn’t cross its shore because it’s we who command it. It’s not we who rotate this earth, change the climates, make the flowers bloom or make the birds sing in joy. Just because we already possess (not acquired) the intelligence to understand and recreate existing phenomenon, doesn’t make us the owners. Our very existence is a phenomenon of this reality. Realizing this and understanding Iśvara’s essence allows us to rise in one’s conscience using the ladder called devotion with compassion and humility being a part of it.

कालाम्बुदालिललितोरसि कैटभारेर्
धाराधरे स्फुरति या तडिदङ्गनेव
मातुः समस्तजगतां महनीयमूर्तिर्
भद्राणि मे दिशतु भार्गवनन्दनायाः

Kaala-Ambu-Da-Ali-Lalito[a-U]rasi Kaittabha-Arer
Dhaaraadhare Sphurati Yaa Taddid-Anggane[a-I]va
Maatuh Samasta-Jagataam Mahaniiya-Muurtir
Bhadraanni Me Dishatu Bhaargava-Nandanaayaah

(Green Message Kanakadhara Stotram, n.d.).

Let’s move to the next word ‘Kaitabhari’, it means the one who condemns the Rakshasha (evil entities) Kaitabha. So, who is this Kaitabha? If we recall, Śrī Śankaracharya referred Śrī Viṣṇu as Murare and Hare in the earlier slokas, now He is referring Him as ‘Kaitabhari’. As per an account in Devi Bhagavata Purana(m) there were two Rakshasha known as Madhu and Kaitabha. These two Rakshasas represent one of the primal human desire, which arises from one’s selfish reference to identify oneself as ‘me’ and ‘mine’. When one uses the reference ‘me’, meaning that person intends to disassociate oneself from the rest, and when uses the reference ‘mine’ then it’s to claim ownership over an entity of this creation. In our daily lives, we mimic many of these features of Madhu and Kaitabha. Śrī Śankaracharya could have referred Śrī Viṣṇu by the title ‘Madhusudana’ however, He chooses to address Him by the title ‘Kaitabhari’ because it’s Śrī Viṣṇu who can dismiss the notion ‘mine’ (Kaitabha) and the ego that arises out of that notion. With this title, Śrī Śankaracharya refers to this brahmin family, who once lived in the notion ‘mine’ are now suffering, but they have endured this suffering without forsaking the path of Ḍharma and gave the only edible item in the house relinquishing the notion ‘mine’, and so are eligible for Śrī Viṣṇu’s forgiveness, hence Śrī Śankaracharya made sure to address Śrī Viṣṇu with the word ‘lalitorais’. (Srichaganti. K.D.S, n.d., p.14)


Sat:karma: Karma(kriya or actions with an associated result) performed inline with Ḍharma.
Brahmā:preeti: Brahmā meaning creation and nature, or the creator Who represents all of creation and ‘preeti’ meaning sanctity or affection. When read as a whole, it means to have sanctity towards nature and creation.
Tanubhava: next generations born of the same flesh as sons, and daughters.
Namaha: means to relinquish ownership over what we thought was ours. ‘Nama’ meaning mine, ‘aha’ meaning I relinquish it to you. Hence when we perform namaskar to Iśvara, it means to express gratitude to have received this existence which is not ours and hence we relinquish our ownership towards these materials and desires.

Vedic literature like Srimad Bhagavad Gita and Padma Purana(m), state the existence of millions of species (more than 8 million) inheriting the Earth. Among them, only a few have the unique ability to use its hand and thumb to perform various activities, especially to eat, making it a two-step processes like a human or ape, compared to other animals that eat directly through their mouth. An elephant is an exception, which also eats in a two-step process using its trunk. Only a human among so many has the unique ability to evolve to higher plains of conscience using this hand. With this hand, one can perform punya karma, such as Pitrukarya Tarpanam to honor their predecessors. With this hand, one can perform namaskar(am) to Iśvara showing gratitude and request for upliftment. With this hand one can donate, seeing Sriman Narayana in all those who are unfortunate. By doing so one can realize two vital things, first, the ability to give and second, recognize the opportunity to give which is a result of sat:karma from past lives, otherwise one would be on the receiving end and not the giving end. It’s also important to realize that having such an opportunity now will also help sustain that giving ability in future and in lives to come. This is the reason, in Sanātana Ḍharma, the man who gives bows down to the man who takes, because it’s the existence of the one who takes that, creates the opportunity to give and gain punya karma. Sanātana Ḍharma also says that one should donate with purity of heart as Brahmā:preeti and not for personal benefit or fame. This is the reason why donations and charity are something that should be done in secrecy (gupto daana(m)). A human who learns respect and compassion with this hand by putting it forward to donate and help others, then that person is headed towards the unification of Om Namaha. At the same time if one uses this hand to point to himself saying ‘this is mine’, proclaiming ownership, resorting to a:Ḍharma in possessing and retaining such objects of desire, then a day will surely come when Iśvara in the concept known as kālá(am) (time) will consume that hand making the tanubhava share those riches. Also, to be noted that these tanubhava do not accompany the Jīva after its current physical form. Once the body is devoured by kālá(am) (time), none can take their riches along. One’s karma:phala alone continues to accompany the Jīva, making this Jīva hop from one life to another across various species.

The story of Gajendra Moksha(m) from Srimad Bhagavata Purana(m) is an excellent example that emphasizes the lives and relationships of a Jīva. When Gajendra got trapped in water, soon realized that no family or acquaintance could help him when the effects of Karma finally caught up. All relationships are broken when the Jīva exists the host. It makes new bonds and relationships in the next life. No matter how many relationships and how many lives, none accompany the Jīva in its journey. At the best, these relationships endure sorrow and over time many resume normal life. There are many who don’t even honor their predecessors, such people are so consumed in lives built of desires and comforts that deprive them of gratitude towards those who are the reason for their very existence. Some are so consumed with ego that they couldn’t let go of their past disagreements and so don’t even put forward an effort to frame a good portrait of their own parents. When one understands both the significance of time and the insignificance of ego in the vastness of this creation and its illusions (māyā), then the simplest and most important thing one can foster is gratitude. Gratitude makes us focus on the important things in life and allows us to prioritize things that give meaning to life. Gratitude is the key to understanding what one has and doesn’t, finally helping us reach the state where one sees no distinction with oneself and every other entity. This is one such crucial tatva (essence) of Sanātana Ḍharma. But again, Ḍharma and Śāstra never force it’s teaching upon the will of man. (Srichaganti. K.D.S, n.d., p.15)

Life & Rebirth & Jīva Brahmā:ikya:siddhi


Mānas:  Śrī Adi Śankaracharya defines mānas as“Sankalpa Vikalpa Sangatham”, wherein Sankalpa meaning resolution or decision, and Vikalpa means to be in a state of flux or fantasy and uncertainty, and finally, Sangatham means to struggle. Hence, mānas is thatentity which struggles between resolutions and uncertainty. mānas belong to the Manomāyā Kosha and is the lowest ranking entity of antaḥkaraṇa, yet has the highest influence over the psychology of a human. Ahaṃkāra is like the spoiled arrogant child of the mānas, they together uses the Buddhi as a tool to overshadow the entire antaḥkaraṇa.

Vāsanā is an inherent habit or memory carried over by the Jīva which get triggered the Guṇa in Prakṛti. This inherent habit is an impression left over a Jīva out of Sādhanā (practice) or striving done by a Jīva in previous lives, which it carries over to the next. If one practices toward devotion or upliftment of consciousness, then that impression is carried over to the next life. The same applies towards a life lived with hate or vengeance or discrimination.

Guṇa is the manifestation of human character (persona) molded out of Vāsanā (traits from previous lives) depending on the level of conscience. In the process of evolving in conscience, a person strives to shed its inherent Vāsanā and moves either towards higher conscience or towards the darkness of hate and selfishness. Each person is different and has a different interpretation and approach towards things, like a choice or perspective and more, but how can one define the reason why people are born with such interpretation. Circumstance does play a role by providing experience, however, the choice made by an individual when presented with options is defined by this nature or Guṇa. Guṇa can be classified into three evolving states, they are thamas or thamo Guṇa,  rajas or rajo Guṇa and Satva Guṇa. The final evolved state is the Shudha Satva Guṇa.

Jīva (also pronounced as jeeva), is the innate or primordial force which inherits this body. It tethers both the Physical body (Sthula:shareera) and subtle body (Sukshma:sharera), and wears it like a cloth. It is not bound by kālá/kālám (time), meaning it doesn’t age, nor grow old or weak. This Jīva makes us recognize one’s own existence in a given time but, is not aware of its true self or its true source. It can be interpreted as a soul, but a Jīva is nothing but agitation or vibration of Brahmān. This agitation within Brahmān is to create a temporary state of “absence-of-consciousness-of-Brahmān”, meaning Brahmān (the infinite awareness) with its infinite possibilities thinks/creates a momentary agitation to temporarily mask the notion of the supreme consciousness, this temporary absence-of-consciousness-of-Brahmān is called the Jīva. Hence, Jīva is attributed to śakti (agitation) and not to Consciousness, whereas Ātman is attributed to Consciousness. This Jīva is unaware of itself and the supreme consciousness, so thinking and imagination manifests in its Antakarana (psychological framework), and consequently the mind manifests as a psychological process. Though in this momentary state, the Supreme-Infinite-consciousness abundance the thought of its Infinite state, there is no real transformation in Brahmān as there are no two entities, one Brahmān and other Jīva. Its like an actor rehearsing his character in the play. During rehearsal the actor temporarily drops his/her identity and imagines a new character to play the role. This “Psychological Framework” of a Jīva is called the Antakarana (which constitues of ChittaMānasAhaṃkāra and Buddhi/Viveka). 

Janma: A Jīva to reside in the physical realm of this reality needs a physical host body like a human being or animal or a plant and more, why? Because a human body in this physical reality becomes a means for a Jīva to both experience Punya (puńya) and pápa inherited by Karma. This body because of a means towards both pain and pleasure. The concept of taking this form is through birth in a given era of kālá(am) (time), which is known as Janma.

Ātman:There are two modes or shades in which Ātman can be explained. Various Rishis (Maharśi), Acharyas who are Avatara (manifestations) have put forth a path (Siddhānta) in each era depending on the situation, time and level of awareness of beings. As per the Advita (dvita meaning dual, a:dvita meaning there is no two entities), Ātman is nothing but Brahmān, only in conversations Rśi and Acharyas use this distinction. They use the term Ātman/Self when addressing an individual, and Brahmān when referring to whole/infinite. Since it’s not in one’s experience, neither Brahmān nor Ātman can be put into words. Ātman is a not a second entity, because the infinite doesn’t have parts, nor shades or subsections. One can’t divide infinite in pieces. One can’t divide space, we can just perseive space as cross-sections for understanding. Ātman is not a subject that one has to explore, nor an object that one has to understand through another object. It acts as a witness to māyā. Let’s take an analogy, there is nothing but space, now a bubble emerges in space, this bubble is nothing but water which encapsulates/captures space, this is called Ātman. This thin film of water is called māyā. Neither Ātman, nor māyā are separate from Brahmān. In other words, there is no such thing as his/her Ātman vs my Ātman. There is no such thing as my Ātman is trying to understand your Ātman. Ātman is not a part of Brahmān nor a subordinate. Brahmān is pure infinite awareness and pure intelligence, it is Nirguṇa, meaning that with no personalities, personas or characteristics, hence Brahmān is just a word that cannot be defined within the frontiers of the vocabulary by the intellect of mind. Creation (jagath) is not a second entity created by Brahmān, it’s an illusion (māyā) of Brahmān that a Jīva experiences. One’s Ātman is nothing but a window to Brahmān, like an empty pot, the pot is Brahmān, the space inside the pot is Brahmān, the space outside is Brahmān, the space within is not different from the space outside. The opening of the pot is called the window, this pot is an illusion called māyā it’s a window within our māyā (illusion), a shell we created out of the reflection of our mind. Another analogy is a wave in an ocean, a wave is an aggitation called māyā, the wave is not different from Ocean. It’s not the Ātman which is in confusion, it’s the Jīva’s false representation of itself as a material object, this illusion is called a:vidya arising out of māyā. Māyā, Ātman, Self, Truth are all Brahmān, there are no-two-thing, one Brahmān and other non-Brahmān. Infinite can’t be infinite if there is a second entity that is not infinite. This concept is very difficult to understand and be defined with words, hence its easy to view Ātman as a subsection of Brahmān or an extension of Para:mĀtma within Brahmān.

Why traverse through various lives? A jiva’s destination is not the Swarga:loka(m) (closest reference in English is heaven), which is a common misinterpretation. There are seven lokas above Bhu:loka(m) (Earth in the Milky Way Galaxy), and seven lokas below. Swarga:loka(m) is one among the upper seven lokas and is only a temporary stop for a Jiva to shed its Punya.

A jiva’s final purpose and abode is its unification with Para:brahma, hence the phrase ‘Aham:Brahmās:mi’. To reach this state of ‘Aham:brahmas:mi’, the jiva has to realize its own existence to be separate from its physical body and then realize itself to be none other than one Iśvara, this realization is called ‘jiva Brahmā:ikya:siddhi’. To achieve this state, jiva looks for a container to become its host and wears it to shed it karmā:phala. It also utilizes this host body to perform Ḍharmic karmā and gain Punya(m). Hence, the purpose of a human form is Ḍharma:anusthanam, meaning, implementation of one’s respective Ḍharma. In order words, Iśvara bestowed this human form for Ḍharma:Sādhanā, meaning a means to practice dharma and uplift ourselves by shedding our karmā. One can reap the benefit of punya(m) as comforts and riches and utilize them to help others, in return replenishing one’s Punya(m). One can also use these comforts and riches to educating oneself of Ḍharma and walk towards ‘jiva Brahmā:ikya:siddhi’. However, the alternate way to deplete this punya(m) is by enjoying the comforts of the karmā:phala and let kālá(am) (time) exhaust it leading them to put their hands forward to beg.

Will everyone reach ‘jiva Brahmā:ikya:siddhi’? No, but, in the concept of maha:pralaya (the process of devouring creation), Maheshwara in His Rudhra state, reaches those who couldn’t reach Him. So, the important question, how does one reach ‘Jīva Brahmā:ikya:siddhi’? This very research in pursuit of its tatva itself is a path to ‘Jīva Brahmā:ikya:siddhi’. In short, pursuing Ḍharma and walking in its path, is the way to ‘Jīva Brahmā:ikya:siddhi’. This is exactly what Śrī Rama showed us in Tretayuga and therefore even after so many yugas His name is still the taraka nama (the name which is mesmerizing and can give us shelter and comfort and this one name can make us reach Iśvara). This illusion (māyā) and the doubt in our minds can only be overcome when we seek Iśvara and ask for realization and devotion (bhakti). To gain bhakti one mush urge Iśvara for devotion, because there is no second entity other than Iśvara who can grant devotion and realization. This is exactly what Arjura (Partha) asked Śrī Kṛṣṇa during the battle of Kurukshetra, and this question (sloka) can be found in Śrīmad Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 6 of Dhyāna Yoga, Sloka 39. Also, this is the same message that can be found in Gayatri Mantra, wherein one asks the universe to help understand it. (Srichaganti. K.D.S, n.d., p.14)

Can one be happy all the time? Yes, such a state is called Brahm:anandam which arises from Jīva. However, if the question is can one be happy all the time, especially in this reality without reaching Jīva:brahmā:ikya:siddhi, well, the answer is not straightforward, as per Śāstra the very reason a species comes to existence in this loka is to shed both papa and puńya (in other words shed its karmā:phala). If a Jīva accumulates mostly puńya then that Jīva might go to higher lokas like Swarga:loka, if that Jīva accumulates mostly pápa then it might go to lower lokas like Narka:loka, but if both pápa and puńya are in certain ratio then they come to Bhu:loka to shed its karma:phala. Once a Jīva takes in a host its starts to accumulate more karmā:phala in the cycle of saṃsāra through action (karmā), or shed both and walk towards Iśvara in the path of Ḍharma. There is a total of seventeen lokas, seven are considered higher lokas and seven lower, a specific set of puńya or pápa leads a Jīva to traverse through them. Indra is the title of kingship over Swarga:loka, Śrī Mahā Viṣṇu directed King Bali to Satya:loka, there are many such examples in Puráńa(m) explaining various lokas. (Srichaganti. K.D.S, n.d., p.1-19)

(Please click here to read the detailed article on Jīva, Samisti Jīva, Kosha, Prana, Upādhi, Sthula/Sukshma Sharira, Avastha, Janma and more) 

Sanātana Ḍharma

Aum, Devanagari (2007)

Sanātana means ‘all-inclusive’ and devoid of time, hence, Sanātana is ‘Anant‘, meaning eternal. ‘Adi’ means beginning and ‘Antam’ means an end, ‘Anant(am)’ meaning that which has no beginning nor end. So, a Ḍharma which is inherent in all, irrespective of time or place is Sanātana Ḍharma. Ḍharma originates from the root concept ‘Ṛta‘ which refers to the natural flow or the natural phenomena. Ḍharma has a spectrum of definitions but in short, it can be classified in two ways, one, its an innate property of every entity in creation which constitutes a phenomenon, second, its a path to a choice-of-action (or inaction) towards the cumulative well-being of the surrounding. Sanātana Ḍharma is not a name, nor a title, nor a religion, nor a philosophy, but how, we will explore that in detail, not as opinions, but with references and proper justifications.  (Srichaganti. K.D.S, n.d., p.1-19.,Wikipedia. R. 2018)

There are various concepts that constitute Sanātana Ḍharma literature like Iśvara (Iśvara), Brahman, Guru, Mukti, Mokṣa, Karmā, Ḍharma, Puruṣa, Prakṛti, Yoga, Bhakti, Advita and more. Widely, Ḍharma, ārtha, Kama, and Mokṣa are considered fundamental, however, the quintessential concepts that define Sanātana Ḍharma are Iśvara (not Brahman)GuruḌharma, and KarmāKarmā becomes a subset of Ḍharma, and Iśvara becomes a subject explored through a Guru. So, that leaves only two concepts, Guru and Ḍharma. A Guru is a guide to help us understand Ḍharma, through Vak (speech) obtained by Śruti and or Smrti. So, a Guru’s Vak is Satyam and that Satyam is Iśvara (The Singular awareness is Brahman). Brahman is a word with no definition hence has no aspect of the study, it’s only a realization. In other words, the Smrti and Śruti are the means in which the Maharśi obtained and realized the Vedā, and Vedā is Satyam and that Satyam is the concept to explore both Guṇa (character) and Nirguṇa (devoid of character) and infinite. Iśvara is not a being, its a concept, and the entire Vedic literature proclaims the concept of Ḍharma and the concept known as Iśvara through which the realization of Brahman paves the way. This is the very reason there is no equivalent word for Ḍharma, Guru, or Isvara in any other languages, hence never interpret a Guru as a teacher, Isvara as God, and Ḍharma as duty or law. These concepts are like fundamentals towards exploring the essence and the very foundation of the Sanātana Ḍharma literature, and also Hinduism, a subset that emerging in the Kaliyuga as a religion. ‘Hind’ was more a geographical region rather than a religion, but in the current era got interpreted as religion. This region which is identified as ‘Hind’ only had Ḍharma that evolved from Vedās and other literature hence, people started using the title ‘Hindu Ḍharma‘. The meaning of Ḍharma will keep evolving in this discussion, and it should evolve during our exploration of life. Various great beings in the past have constantly explored Ḍharma in their entire lives under the guidance of Gurus (Maharśi/Rishis), through the examination of Śāstra (Śāstra Parishilana), and by making efforts to implement in one’s life (dharm:anustanam). This attempt in life to explore and understand ḍharma is called Ḍharma Sādhanā. Defining ḍharma gets a little complicated, but let’s wrap it and keep it evolving. So, let’s define ḍharma.

(Please click here to read the detailed article explaining the core of Sanātana Ḍharma and why it is not a religion or a philosophy


four stages and four disciplines of a human which are Brahmā:chairya(m), Gruhastu, Vanaprastu(m) and finally Sanyasam.
Brahmā:chairya(m): a stage in Youth wherein one takes resort under a Guru to learn about Iśvara and the life ahead.
Gruhastu: the discipline of a married stage of life wherein all its respective karmā are followed.
Vanaprastu(m): A stage where household responsibilities are handed over to the next generation so as to take up the discipline to withdraw oneself from the worldly desires.
Sanyasam:  is a discipline to renounce worldly desires and pleasures and live on arms and focus one’s buddhi towards the unification and the realization of Iśvara.

So, what is Ḍharma?

Ḍharma (Dharm) to define it, let’s look at Amarakosham, a Sanskrit literature encompassing Sanskrit vyakaranam (vocabulary and grammar), composed by the scholar Amarasimha, explains Ḍharma as:

“ढ्रुयतेव जननाना:इति धर्मां”
“Dhruyateva Jannana:ithi Dharmam”

Similarly, Manusmriti says:

“धरयैतअनेना :इति धर्मां”
“Dharyate anena iti dharma”
Meaning, that which is the very basis on which the Natural, Social and Comic phenomenon sustains is Ḍharma. We will look at these aspects in detail.
Dharma Chakra Buddhist monument (Sanchi Hill, Madhya Pradesh, India). (2013)

There is no equivalent word for Ḍharma in English. Ḍharma is not a duty, nor responsibility, nor an obligation, nor a commandment. The entire Sanātana literature proclaims the concept of Ḍharma and the concept known as Ishwara (Iśvara).  The meaning of Dharma keeps evolving as we discuss, and also it should evolve during our exploration in life, so, let’s define and examine Ḍharma from various angles. Countless great being in the past have constantly explored Ḍharma in their entire lives under the guidance of Gurus (Rishis/rśi), through the examination of Shastra (Śāstra Parishilana), and by making effects to implement in one’s life (dharm:anustanam). This attempt in life to explore and understand Ḍharma is called Ḍharma Sādhanā. So, let’s define Ḍharma, Ḍharma is that message which explains an innate property of an entity (phenomenon), it also explains a choice, towards an option, and a PATH to that option. Ḍharma, when performed as an action (or inaction), results in a consequence called sat:karmā. This consequence (sat:karmā) not only benefits the doer (Karta) but encompasses the cumulative well-being of the environment (Prakṛti) and becomes a means of reaching a higher conscience. In other words, Ḍharma is that action that doesn’t disturb the natural flow of creation (Ṛta), hence Ḍharma is that which sustains the natural order and harmonious with creation. Hence Maharśi Jaimini, who established Mīmāṃsā School and the student of  Vyāsa defined Ḍharma as:

“codaṇā-lakṣaṇaḥ arthaḥ dharmaḥ”

Meaning, that which leads to the cumulative wellbeing of all the surrounding.

This action/inaction (Ḍharma) performed is collective of the position (like ashram or upādhi) held by a being (karta) in a given situation in time (kālá). This action with its consequence (phala) together is called karmā. Ḍharma is also a default inbuilt property of a being/entity that one must not override for the sake of personal desire. For example, the Ḍharma of fire is combustion, the Ḍharma of water is to flow and stick together, the Ḍharma of air or wind is to spread. In this way, Ḍharma is an inherent nature bestowed by Prakruti (Prakṛti) (nature/creation) that an entity follows and exists in accordance with Prakṛti. Now, let’s ask a question if Prakṛti bestowed an inherent nature in all elements of creation, then we as human beings are also made up of these five elements (Pancha bhūta) then, shouldn’t we be inheriting their properties? It’s only a human out of buddhi (intellect) clouded by desire (rāga-dveṣa) and self-defined identity (Aham), chooses a path that appeals to one’s satisfaction, and not the cumulative well-being of everything. Because of individual identity and selfish desire, a human creates a false notion that oneself is independent of creation and environment around. Human beings fail to realize that we are a part of the same Prakṛti and our will (desire) is finite within the will-of-Prakṛti, it’s only our consciousness that is boundless. So, an action in-line with Ḍharma of the being in a given situation leads to sat:karmā, else leads to dush:karmā. So, the closest English equivalent word for Ḍharma is a natural or universal order which when followed results in sat:karmā. Hence, one of the two Itihāsas, Mahābhāratam, Karna Parva 69:58, compiled by Vyāsa says:

dhāraṇād dharma ityāhuḥ dharmo dhārayate prajāḥ |
ya syād dhāraṇa samyuktaḥ sa dharma iti niścayaḥ ||

Meaning, the word Ḍharma comes from the word “dhāraṇā” which refers to Sustenance, Maintenance, and Retention of the collective (samyuktaḥ) wellbeing and balance in Nature.

(Rami Sivan. 2018)

Though we have used the word ‘Law’, there are flaws in calling it so, why? Because a law (self-made or natural) can be evaded from the eyes of the enforcer of the law, but Ḍharma is such a law that is free to choose upon the will of man. A path chosen against the property of a being or a path chosen just out of personal satisfaction causes Karmā to come into play. However, what can’t be evaded or fled from is its consequence (karmāphala). The second flaw is, if Ḍharma becomes law, then it also becomes a commandment, which makes it unchangeable and in return makes it a religion. But, both Ḍharma and karmā are always changing, hence can’t be a hard rule or commandment, which leads to choice. Let’s examine this, the result of sat:karmā is experienced by a being in the form of puńya, the reverse is pápa. Meaning oneself created a situation and oneself falls responsible to face that situation. In other words, a situation that is brought upon oneself. Hence, Iśvara is not a judge and jury to punish a being for disobeying His commandments. He is karmā:akarmā:phala:pradatha, meaning He both gives the fruit for karmā and also devours that fruit in the form of puńya or pápa. He as a parent takes responsibility for His children’s actions, how? It’s through various formulas embedded into kṣhetras (temples) and kalpa (pūjās) through which one can lessen the effects of their karmā:phala, wherein Iśvara shields us from our own karmā and takes the hit on our behalf, as a parent. Well, let’s put an example to this explanation. Both Devatas and Asuras were unhappy with what they had, and so asked for immortality, Iśvara answered their prayers by suggesting kṣīrā:sagara:madanam (and event recorded in Śrīmad Bhagavatam), when they couldn’t do it, He (Śrī Mahā Viṣṇu) became a turtle to bear the burden. When Halāhala/kālakūṭa (anti-creation element) emerged, Pārama:Śiva as the parent again answered their prayers and drank it to save them. When the time came to distribute the amṛta (elixir of immortality), Śrī Mahā Viṣṇu, as the preserver of creation, manifested as Mohini to make sure this amṛta doesn’t fall in the wrong hands. So if Ḍharma keeps changing, the only unchangeable Ḍharma is Sanātana Ḍharma, meaning that Ḍharma which is Anantam (eternal). But this unchangeable Ḍharma is also free to choose upon the will of man. Hence, Ḍharma is more of a path in line with the natural order, rather than a duty, rule, or a law, hence Ḍharma is not a commandment. So the question is, a path to what end? This path is to Satyam, and that Satyam is the one unchangeable and ever constant, which is nothing but Ishwara (Iśvara). Hence the sloka from Taittiriya Upanishad:

सत्यं वद धर्मं चर”  
“Sathyam Vade, Dharmam chara”

Let’s explore Ḍharma in a different vantage by exploring the following sloka:

“deshey desheya acharyaka paramparya kramagathaka
amnayai avi:rudhasya sa:dharmas parikrithithaha”

Meaning, based on the geography of the dweller and their achara (procedure) passed on as lineage, constitutes a family’s tradition. Abiding by that tradition becomes their Ḍharma. Now, is Ḍharma  just a family tradition? If so, each geography has its own customs, each location has its own climatic and geographic challenges causing so many diverse variations in tradition. Does this mean Ḍharma has no standard? To address this, the second phase of this sloka states that, this so-called family tradition should not be against the Vedā. Hence, Vedā always takes precedence. Even more, a Guru’s word takes precedence, but a Guru will always abide by the Vedā, in return making Vedā the foundation. As time and civilization progressed, dose the message of the Vedā change? Is the knowledge given forth in the Vedā applicable overtime? The answer is Yes because the Vedā is nothing but the compilation of the phenomena of nature (Prakṛti) and its constraints. These phenomena are personified or conceptualized as various divine entities like Varuna, Agni, Soma, Indra, and more. Puráńas further personify these Vedic concepts into to a Supreme Personality so that a sect of like-minded people can perform Sādhanā in a focused way to move closer (upāsanā) towards that personification. Vedās are not commandments, they are no principles that put forth good vs bad or right vs wrong. Let’s explore this from the Itihasa of Mahābhāratam, once a Yaksha (yakṣa) asked Yudhiṣṭhira (Ḍharmaraja) about Ḍharma? Yudhiṣṭhira said, the concept of Ḍharma is not a constant rule and is always changing, based on time, situation, and the actor. For those new to this, can be like exploring a dark deep cave. Because of many variables in play, there can’t be a fixed set of commandments. Many sages, Maharśi (rśi) and enlightened beings gave forth commentary of the Vedā and its concepts, these commentaries became Siddhānta (branch/approaches) or smṛitis. Yajñámalka smṛiti, Manu smṛiti, Gouthama smṛiti and more are few such examples. However, each approach (Siddhānta/smṛiti) was presented specifically to the situation of the beings in that era. Relativity being a fundamental aspect towards the comprehension of any topic (using analogies), caused the siddhānta to be customized depending on the level of comprehension of the masses. Though various smṛitis were given forth till data, one smṛiti becomes Pramāṇa (basis) for each yuga. This being Kali Yuga, the Pramāṇa is Parāśara smṛiti, similarly, during Treta yuga, Gouthama smṛiti was considered Pramāṇa. In Kali-yuga even Yajñámalka smṛiti can also be taken as Pramāṇa (basis). Coming back to the story of Yaksha and Yudhiṣṭhira, the Yaksha then asked, if Ḍharma is always changing and the comprehension of Vedā being difficult for a common man, what is the simplest approach for a being to abide? For this Yudhiṣṭhira said the following sloka:

“maha:jano ena gathas sapandha”

Meaning, one who is unable to comprehend the Vedā or yet to explore them, in their interim should abide by the teaching and the path given forth by the enlightened beings, such as Gurus, Rushis, Avataras of that era. But, how does one determine these so-called enlightened beings? Then, one with honesty to oneself using self-conscience (antaḥkaraṇa) as Pramāṇa (basis), leaving behind personal gain and desires (rāga-dveṣa), determine their Guru as a target, through whom the entire surroundings and environment become prosperous. The concept of Antakarana Pramāṇa can be explored on this portal under Antakarana/Chitta/Buddi/Mānas.

(Please click here to read the detailed article explaining the core of Sanātana Ḍharma and how Śrī Kṛṣṇa explained it

What is Śāstra & what is the difference between Science and Śāstra?

Before we go ahead, let’s understand what is Śāstra (Śāstra)? Is Śāstra religious literature, stories, rules, proclamations? No, Śāstra are a factual compilation of natural phenomenon, constraints, and their effects, compartmentalized into various fields of study. They are not really rules, because they are not enforced by anyone. It’s like Science, which is a study compartmentalized into various fields, and are facts not enforced by anyone, except by nature itself. Since the origin of such compilation is Sanātana Ḍharma and since the descendants of this literature are widely inherent in Hinduism, it’s assumed as religious literature. Let’s take an example, Ganitha:Śāstra is the study and compilation of numeric calculations and the movement of heavenly bodies, mainly used to compose calendars and plan for future and past celestial events, one doesn’t have to believe in a superhuman entity to accept in numeric calculations. The same goes for Vasstu:Śāstra, the study of physical structures, and the alignment of the flow of Sun and other natural energies. Bhautika:Śāstra is alike physics, Rasayana:Śāstra is the compilation explaining chemical reactions, Jīva:Śāstra is the compilation of living anatomy, Yoga:Śāstra is a compilation defining the well-being of human energy in line with nature, Samudrika:Śāstra is the compilation about the Oceanic flow and entities, Muhurta:Śāstra is the study of timing in alignment with other heavenly bodies, Jotisya:Śāstra is the study of predictions and possibilities and more. There are many sure compilations of Śāstra in Sanātana Ḍharma given to us by Maharśi, but one doesn’t have to believe in a Super Human entity to accept or explore the study of the progression of the Moon, the Sun, or good health. So, does it mean Śāstra is Science? No, the difference between Science and Śāstra is, Science is a study conducted by human beings out of buddhi (intelligence) which is still in progress and still young. Science mainly involves in determining or analyzing entities using accumulated information and its comparison, and the metrics used for measurements are sensory in nature, meaning those which can be justifiable by the indriya (sense organs) of a man and so mostly relies on the physicality, meaning the physical aspect of creation (this notion is slowly changing but still theoretical). Śāstra on the other is not just obtained through indriya but through gyanendriya and Chitta by Maharśi through their Dhyāna, tapasya, and yoga of bhakti, karmā, and gyana. The metrics of science have their limitation, and since the study is still young, and in progression, it cannot be deemed that Science and Śāstra are the same. Anything in Śāstra that is yet to be rationalized by metric of the present Science is usually deemed as either philosophical or mystical, hence Śāstra is tightly associated with religion or superhuman entities. But please note, most of the content in Śāstra is derived from Vedās and are compartmentalized by various Maharśi towards the well-being of a human during one’s existence. One might comply with the significance of body hygiene, say for example dental hygiene which is explained by Śāstra towards oral health, but to classify everything else that is yet to comprehend, as either false of abstract is nothing but ignorance. There is a difference between accepting one’s lack of knowledge in the exploration and the study, verses proclaiming it as false or superstition. This is the reason why Śāstra defines a naastik as the one who doesn’t believe in the exploration and the study of Śāstra and not in the belief of Iśvara. Hence, the sloka from Srimad Bhagavat Gita, part of Śrī Mahā:bharatham, composed by Maharśi Kṛishna Dvaipāyana (prominently addressed by the title Vedā Vyāsa), chapter 16, sloka 24:

“तस्माच्छास्त्रं प्रमाणं ते कार्याकार्यव्यवस्थितौ।”
“Tasmaac Śāstram pramaananche Karya karyou vavasthitav”

(Gita Supersite. n.d., All Glory to Śrī Śrī Guru and Gauranga. 2005)

What this means is, one should perform kriya (action) because Śāstra says so, and not because one likes the kriya (action) or likes its outcome. Desire should not be the basis for a kriya (action) or its associated karmā, and so when Śāstra is taken as the basis, then the Karmā that is associated with it gets nullified. This is the reason why a gyani is not associated with an ashram and hence is not applicable to its Ḍharma, and subsequently, the karmā associated with that Ḍharma gets neutralized.

Now, if all paths lead to Iśvara (Iśvara)then what is the need for an example or hope? Kindly read the concept of Laya by clicking this title. Sanatan Ḍharma says that Iśvara reaches out to those who couldn’t reach Him, like a ball of moist clay that falls on beads, making them stick to it. Now, this statement sounds as if Iśvara is a person, for this Sage Ramana Maharshi when asked a question, what is Iśvara and how do I see Him? Said, Iśvara is the concept, and since its a concept it needs to be explored and that path of exploration leads one towards an evolved conscience, gratitude, and peace. Apart from all this, we said there are no duties or rules, because if you have rules that means there is a classification of good vs bad, but Sanātana Ḍharma doesn’t have the concept of good vs bad, right vs wrong, good vs evil. It only has one thing which is Ḍharma and the absence of Ḍharma is Aḍharma. The choice to understand Ḍharma, the choice to choose it and not to choose it, and why to choose one choice over another is for the free-will of a being, because, all paths lead to Iśvara no matter what. A good topic to understand this is Devotion and Nava:vida Bhakthi, which help us understand that there are countless paths to Iśvara, but if a person asks a question for an approach among many, then since Sanātana Ḍharma explains the construct of this reality and its constraints, it should automatically have an answer to that question. To answer such questions, we have Śāstra, and that Śāstra explains Ḍharma and that Ḍharma is a constraint of this reality whether we like it or not and so Ḍharma is not a choice, it applies irrespective of our choice. Its like this creation and this reality and this existence that is not our choice, but it is here and we are here. This is the reason why Ḍharma is not a duty nor a responsibility that one can choose or resign oneself from.  (Srichaganti. K.D.S, n.d., p.1-19)

Preserving the sanctity of Ṣanatana Ḍharma

Then the obvious question, how can one replenish the sanctity of Sanātana Ḍharma in this era of Kali:yuga? It’s neither one person’s duty nor responsibility to do that. Śāstra says, that the entire wealth of information presented in the Vedic literature is for us to evolve in conscience and not be a spokesperson for Sanātana Ḍharma. It’s our ḍharma (not a duty) to perform the karmā associated with our ashram(am). It’s a person’s ḍharma that he/she must perform Nitya Karmā (Karmā that’s to be performed daily). It’s our ḍharma (not a duty, nor obligation) to share this with our children and siblings. In this process comes a time when we ourselves raise up in conscience, without self-measure, and it is at this stage that Iśvara sends to us, those who seek knowledge and gyana. One should get ripen in Śāstra and devotion, before trying to feed others. One should grow like a big tree, wide with branches, filled with leaves, but still in one place, composed in confidence from devotion, and it’s those who seek shelter will automatically seek the shade of such a tree. A tree never attempts to publicize its shade. It’s like a drop of sugar syrup that falls on the ground and ants automatically seek and crowd around it, so will a Gygnyasu (a person eager to understand and learn about Iśvara ) will seek that person who has ripened in devotion. Puráńas depict various attempts by asuras and rakshasas to overthrow ḍharma, it’s Śrī Mahā Viṣṇu who will come if necessary to preserve the ḍharma and protect His devotees. Iśvara will manifest into anomalies like Vedā Vyāsa and Śrī Śankaracharya to revitalize Śāstra and ḍharma. Our ḍharma is to perform our respective Karmā and seek devotion. It’s Śrī Mahā Viṣṇu (Vishnu) in His Yoga Nidra considers those who urge comprehension of Iśvara and helps them reach a Guru. In few other topics we discussed that Pravachanam is not a profession nor a publication, it’s when people eager to understand Śāstra or Guru Siddhānta, urge a devoted scholar to share and explain the events in Śāstra, Puráńa and the life stories of Gurus. We ourselves should become the Kanaka (gold), shine like the gold by becoming the very dhara so that others can cherish in our luminescence. A sloka from Srimad Bhagavat Gita, part of Śrī Mahā:bharath(am), composed by Maharśi Vedā Vyāsa, said in chapter 3 of Karmā Yoga, sloka 26, Gitacharya (Śrī Kṛṣṇa) says:

“न बुद्धिभेदं जनयेदज्ञानां कर्मसङ्गिनाम्।
जोषयेत्सर्वकर्माणि विद्वान् युक्तः समाचरन्”

“Na – buddhi bhedam janayed ajnanam karmā sanginam
Josayat sarva karmani vidvan yuktah samacaran.”

(Gita Supersite. n.d., All Glory to Śrī Śrī Guru and Gauranga. 2005)

Meaning one should never agitate others just because we have accumulated some knowledge. One with their knowledge should try and implement it’s teaching in our lives and walk the path of devotion and not try to correct or enforce our will on to others, rather encourage others to perform their ḍharma.

In another sloka from Srimad Bhagavat Gita, part of Śrī Mahā:bharath(am), composed by Maharśi Vedā Vyāsa, said in chapter 3 of Karmā Yoga, sloka 29, Gitacharya (Śrī Kṛṣṇa) says:

न बुद्धिभेदं जनयेदज्ञानां कर्मसङ्गिनाम्।
जोषयेत्सर्वकर्माणि विद्वान् युक्तः समाचरन्।।

(Gita Supersite. n.d.)

Meaning, those who are deluded or are ignorant of their true existence as the Ātman, are under the impression of material and physical (Prakṛti). They are bound by the expressions and the dictations of their Guṇa (rajas, tamas, sattva) and the actions of the information interpreted by the mind and body. The one who understands one’s true self (the Ātman) shouldn’t cause agitation and disturbance in other’s lives. One shouldn’t force one’s views and understanding over others.

Once a great scholar read all the literature and felt content that he knew everything. He then reached out and urged Devi Saraswati if there is anything more, for which She opens the doors of Her library, endless in literature gratifying Iśvara . What this means is that, no matter how much we read or listen, one cannot consume the Ocean of Knowledge and the accounts and events that have happened, or yet to happen in the creation and dissolution process of Iśvara.

Then the obvious question, how and when can we learn enough to reach Ishwar(a) (Ishvar)? It’s important we understand that researching and exploring Śāstra is not a competition to finish, nor is it a syllabus or a course which at its end will have a confirmed result. Our journey towards Iśvara and devotion is like a huge salt ball that dived into the ocean to seek its depth and the vastness, but in its course of exploring the ocean’s depth it dissolved and became the Ocean itself. Similarly, exploring Iśvara, implementing Śāstra in our lives, will one day lead to Iśvara assimilating us with Himself, because it’s He who must fill our setbacks and uplift us. It’s Iśvara (Narayana/Śrī Mahā Viṣṇu) who helped Indra while performing kṣīrā:sagara Madan(am) to get the ambrosia and at the same time it’s was Iśvara (Śiva) who consumed the Halahala when it threatened them.                             (Srichaganti. K.D.S, n.d., p.16)

In Srimad Bhagavad Gita, chapter 2 or Sankhya Yoga, Sloka 46, Gitacharya (Śrī Kṛṣṇa) says:

यावानर्थ उदपाने सर्वतः संप्लुतोदके।
तावान्सर्वेषु वेदेषु ब्राह्मणस्य विजानतः।।

(Gita Supersite. n.d.)

Meaning, the one (Brahmin) who has realized one’s true self and the truth, for them the entire knowledge of the Vedā are like a small well (pool of water) when there is a floodwater everywhere.

This explains the reason why there is no equivalent word for ḍharma in other philosophies because it is a concept that’s explained in Sanātana Ḍharma only, around which all human actions are entwined with. Hence the sloka from Taittiriya Upanishad:

“सत्यं वद धर्मं चर”
“Sathyam Vade, Ḍharmam chara”

(Sanskrit Documents. T.U. 2014)

Now, let’ s ask a good question, if one doesn’t follow this so-called lifestyle, what happens? Sanātana Ḍharma doesn’t enforce its concepts upon man, it shares the nature of this reality with us, it explains the construct of this reality and also its constraints, hence, it’s our choice to either explore its significance or not. Śāstra explains Ḍharma as a path towards facing the constraint of this reality whether we like it or not, so Ḍharma is not a choice, and it’s principles are not self-created nor are they based on opinions towards good or bad. Ḍharma applies irrespective of our choice, and the yoga put forth by Śāstra is for the well-being of a human towards aligning oneself with nature, and for the overall health of body and mind, and so is not something that is enforced upon man. It’s like this creation, this reality and this existence that is not our choice, but it is here and we are here, hence, its the will of the man to choose to either explore it and incorporate it or live by accident and trial. This is the reason why Ḍharma is not a duty nor a responsibility that one can choose or resign oneself from. One can’t resign from being a Son or a daughter. One can’t resign oneself from utilizing the Prakṛti as one’s abode. However, one with free-will can choose not to abide by one’s Ḍharma leading to a certain karmā which one can’t stop from reaping its results. The term Duty equates close to the Sanskrit term Kartavya, however, kartavya is ingrained within Ḍharma. So the only real choice is, either our actions are in line with Ḍharma or not. Rather than trying to define Ḍharma, let’s explore it through various vital topics in Sanātana Ḍharma literature like karmāKamaIśvaraJanmapuńya, pápa, Aashrama, and more. Also, the concept of Ḍharma can be understood through various examples of those who actually implemented them, such literature is the Puráńas. Finally, there are stotrams like Kanakadhara, which is a constant exploration of the essence of Ḍharma and Iśvara. The origin of the concept of Ḍharma being Santana Dharma, Hinduism evolved itself out of it as a religion in the later stages of Kaliyuga and hence inherited its concepts mostly as rituals towards bhakti, but the difference can be explored in the topic of Sanātana Ḍharma on this portal.

Let’s come back to the sloka of Kanakadhara:

कालाम्बुदालिललितोरसि कैटभारेर्
धाराधरे स्फुरति या तडिदङ्गनेव
मातुः समस्तजगतां महनीयमूर्तिर्
भद्राणि मे दिशतु भार्गवनन्दनायाः

Kaala-Ambu-Da-Ali-Lalito[a-U]rasi KaittabhaArer
Dhaaradhare Sphurati Yaa Taddid-Anggane[a-I]va
Maatuh Samasta-Jagataam Mahaniiya-Muurtir
Bhadraanni Me Dishatu Bhaargava-Nandanaayaah

(Green Message Kanakadhara Stotram, n.d.).

Dhaaradhare’ wherein ‘Dhara’ as we know from the title itself refers to the flow and ‘Dhare’ means to own or hold. Śrī Śankaracharya is referring to a Guru who holds this wisdom, from whom this wisdom flows. This reference is in analogous to the dark cloud that is holding the water ready to shower. Now it’s the student who has to explore and constantly recollect this dhara of wisdom from a Guru and get drenched it in.

This phrase ‘Dhaaradhare’ as beautiful as it sounds, lies a significance since Śrī Śankaracharya used a similar phrase in Soundarya Lahiri in sloka 49.

विशाला कल्याणी स्फुतरुचिरयोध्या कुवलयैः
कृपाधाराधारा किमपि मधुराभोगवतिका
अवंती दृष्टिस्ते बहुनगरविस्तारविजया
ध्रुवं तत्तन्नामव्यवहरणयोग्याविजयते

“viSaalaa kalyaaNee sphutaruchi-rayOdhyaa kuvalayaiH
kRupaadhaaraadhaaraa kimapi madhuraabhOgavatikaa |
avantee dRuShTistE bahunagara-vistaara-vijayaa
dhruvaM tattannaama-vyavaharaNa-yOgyaavijayatE ||”

(Hindu Literature. S.L.L. n.d.)

CCO License Free Image (www.pexels.com) (2018)

The phrase ‘Dahara’ signifies the pouring of rain from those dark clouds and not a drizzle. So is the ‘Anugraham’ (grace) of Śrī Lakṣmī and Śrī Viṣṇu. A famous poet and devote, Pottanna composed Srimad Bhagavata(m) (Sri Bhagavata Purana(m)) in Telugu, signified Iśvara’s Anugraham (grace) with the same phrase as follows:

ఉరుములు మెరుపులు ఈశానాల గోశములను జల:ధరల
ఆన:మూన్:ఎరుంగము ముల్అంపగా దాయ:గోన రత్:నిధి

“Ee urumulu ee merupulu ee eshanala goshamulanu ee jala:dharal
Ee aana:mun:erungamu ee mualimpaga daaya:gona ratna:nidhi”

Now Śrī Śankaracharya is referring to Śrī Lakṣmī, claiming that She to be the one to bring out kindness from the ever-splendid charming Śrī Viṣṇu. So, what is this have to do with ‘Dhaaradhare’? Let’s recollect our discussion of the rain that happened not during the rainy season but on those scorching summer days, where Prakṛti (nature) is crying for humidity and thirst. In such a critical time imagine a dark night sky, with heaviness in the air and a gush of cool breeze, yet one cannot see the clouds or it’s fullness. Suddenly there comes a lightning, and in that flash of light, we get a glimpse of those magnificent dark clouds full and ready to shower. In the same way, it’s thought Śrī Lakṣmī’s luminescence that one can experience Śrī Viṣṇu and His anugraham, who like this dark cloud is filled with kindness and compassion. It’s His kindness and forgiveness is what we need most during our tough times.  (Srichaganti. K.D.S, n.d., p.14)

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