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, the daughter (Nandanaayaah) of  Bhārgava, are the consort of He who annihilated Kaitabha, the evil representing the primordial human ego (ahamkara) and rāgas (compulsive attachments). Like the dark heavy clouds (Kalambudali) 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 to one day merge the gap between concepts and their implementation, thereby helping us evolve in the understanding of the underlying tatva. 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, means to constantly strive to explore Śāstra and put it into practice in one’s life, which is aacharana. Virtue and Sat:buddhi are not something available for purchase, nor can they 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 is 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 understanding this sloka, let us dwell on the answer to a vital question, can one live a life free from fear? It is a relief when one possesses the confidence that there is someone who is watching over us and will always protect us. Only time and situation can prove if such confidence will result in our safety or will only lead to superstition. This so-called protector or savior should possess the ability and the strength to protect us from any danger. Secondly, this savior must have compassion and the readiness to help us – without which, even with all that power, there is no basis to cultivate trust.

When composing this sloka, Śrī Śankaracharya was striving for the well-being of this brahmin family, but he was 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. 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 the adobe of such a 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 have 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 Jagat Guru.
In Kerala, there are a 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 live in but also to grow varied vegetation (vegetables and roots like beetroot or potato), trees (like 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 some of the things that were purchased from others in exchange for various flowers and other vegetation grown within the residence. It is the dedication of such great families that helped Śāstra and Vedic literature retain their significance flourish and in many such places.
It is to be noted that just because a place facilitates the teaching of Śāstra, one cannot automatically conclude it is 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. Lack of Shraddha towards both learning and 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 ashramas. 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 their tatva in life, it is like what Ravana did in Ramayana Itihaasa(m). Ravana was an amazing scholar of the Vedas and Śāstra but never applied their essence in his life; rather, he used his knowledge to gain strength and wealth, though this is acceptable by Śāstra. However, on many occasions, he 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, though 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.

From this, 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 be unable to use them to protect oneself when attacked, say by animals or harmful entities. Similarly, just knowing Ḍharma is not sufficient. Of course, it is 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 the Gayatri Mantra is to be fortunate, but not implementing it in one’s life is to have such a great opportunity go to waste. Ḍharma itself is what constitutes Sanātana Ḍharma (again, it is not a religion). Hence, Sanātana Ḍharma commands aacharana at its highest significance, without which one cannot claim to be living the life of Sanātana Ḍharma. Without aacharana, 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 a jagat guru, incarnated towards revitalizing Sanātana Ḍharma and chose Kaladi as it could facilitate his cause. Now we understand the times in which these families and Śāstra flourished, that day when Śrī Śankaracharya walked to the poor brahmin family’s house and saw the inequality. On one side, there were people with the opportunity to immerse themselves in Śāstra through aacharana, 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 deviating from the path of Ḍharma. This situation moved Śrī Śankaracharya’s heart, the heart of a Jagat Guru, and his compassion, and so came 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 Lahari, and more) we will notice the compassion and love he has towards people and how Sanātana Ḍharma resulted in him becoming a Jagat Guru. Let us discuss one such incredible story of Śrī Śankaracharya that took place in Srishailam, Andhra Pradesh (abode 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 required the head of an emperor or the head of a “sarva sangha parityagi”, meaning a person who has relinquished desire and is living a life free from fear, untouched by worldly attachments. He continued by explaining that he was incapable of attaining the head of an emperor, so his only option was someone like Śrī Śankaracharya. To this, Śrī Śankaracharya gladly agreed. Such was 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 us discuss them at a later time. The story continues like this. Śrī Śankara told the master of the dark arts that his students were there and would never allow their Guru to be harmed in any way. Hence, he suggested meeting at an isolated location the next morning when the students went for their morning bath. The dark arts master came back the next morning and saw Śrī Śankara meditating. As he was getting ready to strike, one of Śrī Śankara’s students (Sri Padmapadacharya) 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 him, saving Śrī Śankara.

From this event, we can understand the level of Śrī Śankara’s conscience and compassion. In our earlier reading we came across the word “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 by calling Him “Kaala-ambu-Daali”, meaning dark heavy clouds, filling the sky and ready to rain. Like always, let us ask the obvious question, why refer to Him as a dark cloud? Because Sriman Narayana, like the dark cloud, has a dark complexion, is filled with mercy, and is ready to shower upon us. Many poets in the past have referred to him with a similar title – for example, “Neela Megha Shyama”, 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) it is a different experience altogether. (Please note that it is not our intent to compare one poet or scholar’s devotion with another’s; for Iśvara, we are all His children). Śrī Śankara, 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 us 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 a unique smell in the air. In such an environment one wishes to seek solace, hoping for 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 are light, with moonlight passing through them, and move very fast. But these dark clouds spanning the sky (souffle of clouds) have two significant features – first, they are filled with humidity, and second,they are ready to drench their surroundings. Similarly, Śrī Viṣṇu – 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, as we have seen earlier, 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 has a lot of wealth and authority, but holds no inclination 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 and means to spread across everything and anything (and Śiva means the auspicious in everything that spreads), like these dark clouds that spread across the sky. Śrī Viṣṇu has both these qualities, the capability of being the preserver of creation and the generosity to help even the smallest entity of His creation since it is He who encompasses everything and Has the Hriday(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 us 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 us think about this for a moment. One receives this grace based solely on one’s ability (intellect/skill), then what is the need to pray? What is the need to seek forgiveness? It would be like an examiner grading a student based solely on the validity of the answers. If that is how reality works, then to whom do we convey our prayers and Namaskar? The fundamental essence of Sanātana Ḍharma literature is not worship oriented, it is 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) for this existence. That leaves only Shiva (Śiva), to whom we can convey our Namaskar and ask 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 what we seek and uplift us. Like these dark clouds drench everything around when they shower, Śrī Viṣṇu 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. With this example, Śrī Śankara is being very specific about Śrī Viṣṇu so that our thirst for desire and knowledge is quenched.

Kalidasa, a prominent poet and scholar, devotee of Divine Mother Kāli, before becoming a scholar, pleaded for skill and knowledge. The Divine Mother scribbled “Beeja-Akshara” (seed-letters of all literature) on his tongue, by 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, what is the eligibility to receive Iśvara’s anugraham (grace)? It is implied that a realization in conjunction with Ḍharmic desire, when sought in servitude to Iśvara, is what results in us getting drenched in His grace. Does this mean Iśvara wishes that we seek 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 material 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-enquiry and humility; and when a man becomes humble, it is 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 maas(am) (month, two moon cycles) there must be at least three rainfalls. One such rainfall depends on the Ḍharma of the king of that land – such is the significance given by Śāstra towards a king (Prajapati). The second rainfall signifies the greatness of women in the kingdom and their honesty and “pativratam” (love and dedication towards husband and family). Finally, the third rainfall signifies the Ḍharma of the rest of the people of that land. Śāstra gives such high position and value to the king and the women of the kingdom that, with their integrity towards Ḍharma, they can 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 provides love and wisdom to the child while feeding, which the child never forgets. As we move forward, we will learn the significance of women as proclaimed by Śāstra.
Those who have seen drought know the importance of rain and water. We read incidents of many farmers and villagers who even sell their cattle and leave their homes in the event of a drought. Without water, even the implementation of Ḍharma gets difficult, as one cannot perfom their daily rituals of Sandhya Vandana, Gayatri Pūjā or aachamaneyam (nitya:karmā) .

When the clouds shower, the rain quenches the thirst of not just humans but of all plants and animals of that land; however, 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 to 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 when describing Iśvara and 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 lies a story of Kuchela. Kuchela was a friend and a classmate of Śrī Kṛṣṇa during their academic years in a gurukul under Sandeepa Maharśi. Kuchela, though poor, walked the path of Ḍharma. He was initially 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 said that if those who didn’t recollect Iśvara even in their dreams called upon Him for help when in crisis, giving up all ego, Iśvara would give Himself to them, not judging their past ungratefulness. One should take a moment and understand the wisdom of a woman in guiding her husband and her family. We have seen many references from the 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)):

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, for them Iśvara will come in such haste that He (Iśvara) will forget Himself. If that is the case, then what about those who are pure of heart, are immersed in devotion, and chant the name of Iśvara? Iśvara will bestow on them riches so special that one cannot imagine. This is the reason why, in Sanātana Ḍharma, women take the highest importance.

In Sanātana Ḍharma, Iśvara is the supporter of those who worship Him and also of 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. This explanation is an attempt 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, we cannot comprehend the tatva which Śrī Śankara is trying to share. (Srichaganti. K.D.S, n.d., p.12-13)


The quintessence of Sanātana Ḍharma is that devotees can dictate to Iśvara and can bind Him. Numerous magnificent kṣhetras (consecrated places) are a result of devotees who urged Iśvara to manifest. Many Maharśi (rishis) and sages commanded Iśvara to reside in certain places and bestow His anugraham (grace) on mankind. When we say “commanded Iśvara to reside”, it does not mean to have a physical presence, but more a manifested form, because – as we discussed earlier – Iśvara is a concept and not limited to a form or shape. What this means is, it helps to 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 the 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 Maharśis asked Iśvara to create new karmā through which one can counter and reduce the effects of one’s 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. No two kṣhetras are the same. It is also said that when a student who is a good listener, and has the zeal to learn, 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 suspicious and, in fury, threw his shovel at the boy, scratching his 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 ask for a gift along with the items needed for the wedding. The groom was surprised, knowing his father-in-law’s poverty, and so hesitated to ask. But Surdas insisted and the groom prepared a list based on his family’s desires. Upon submitting this list, Surdas further asked the groom for his personal preference. This astonished the groom and, in sarcasm, he asked for a grinding stone. Surdas took this list and went to the temple, kept that list at 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 requested by the groom. Everyone was surprised and asked the deliveryman who the sender was, to which he replied it was Surdas. Everyone rushed to the temple and confronted Surdas who was lost deep in his bhajan. Surdas, unaware of the event, urged his in-laws to patiently wait for few more days, saying that he would arrange all the items demanded by them. To his surprise they confirmed having received all the items. Surdas asked who the deliverer was, but his in-laws expressed uncertainty. Surdas realized it was Śrī Kṛṣṇa himself and wept at his feet, washing them with his tears. Such surrender can make Iśvara servile. This is why the path of Bhakti is the most flavorful, colorful and vibrant among all the paths.

Sri Chaganti Koteshwar Rao Garu, along with other devotees, traveled to Sringeri Peeth, Karnataka, India – one of the four institutions founded by Śrī Śankaracharya. At that time the current inheritor of that Math (Peeth) was Sri Bharati Tirtha Swami. Sri Chaganti had the opportunity to meet the mother of Sri Bharati Tirtha Swami and conveyed his vandanam by bowing down to her feet, to which she replied with a namaskar. Sri Chaganti requested her not to, as she was blessed to be the mother of Sri Bharati Tirtha Swami and it was her womb that gave birth to such a great personality. Though this was true, she replied with modesty that she was not special in any way.

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

(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? Does anugraham (grace) mean the showering of 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 is health. Sometimes it is the inability to have children or diminishing of wealth. All this is still the anugraham (grace) of Iśvara. Let us carefully and patiently understand this concept through some examples from Puráńa(m). Sri Rama killed Ravana, is that anugraham (grace)? Yes, it is. If, after defeating Ravana, Sri Rama had left him alive and taken Devi Sita home, what would have happened? It would have resulted in great humiliation, pushing Ravana to fall into the pit 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 was 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 us leave it at that. Sri Srungagiri Peethaadipati, Bharati Tirtha Swami 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 the 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. In Sanātana Ḍharma, death is considered as “Devata” (God). Devata means to bestow; then what does death have to bestow? Imagine crossing ninety-five years – the body withers and skin hangs, sight diminishes and one is unable to address bodily functions by oneself. In that case, death is a blessing. Even with good health, if one happens to live twice the normal age then everything 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; it is not a right that one can inflict upon oneself. This 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) is like the clouds. Let us see how the two are related. Before the clouds and the rain comes the heat – the hot summer that dries the lakes, the ground, and our bodies. The phenomenon called summer makes the water evaporate. 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 gives. In both cases, there is karuna (empathy).

Kalidas, a great scholar and poet, composed “Megha Sandesam” ( 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).

Here “Dhuma” means smoke, “jyoti” is light, “salila” is water, “marutam” means air; and so Kalidasa wondered how these four elements could constitute a cloud which floats in the sky without support? Such was his poetic inquiry and his ingenuity that he knew 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 a human should cultivate towards everything.  (Srichaganti. K.D.S, n.d., p.13)

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


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

There is a unique tradition followed in many villages in India, wherein a frog is honored and paraded in the streets 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 with whom one is not well acquainted, then one would prefer to be accompanied by someone who is, so as to establish a relationship or acquaintance. Similarly, to ask nature (Iśvara as Prakṛti) for rain, people honor the frog by parading it in the village streets. So, the obvious question, why a frog? Because a frog shows 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 the rain is significant. People recognized this significance and chose a creature from nature to both admire it and to make an appeal on their behalf to nature (Iśvara). Now the scientific reasons 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. In Sanātana Ḍharma, such customs are encouraged to teach gratitude and kindness towards nature and to learn from nature.
Aditya:hridayam is 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 causes thirst, making us realize the absence of what we take for granted.
Once devotee Prahlada (son of Asura King Hiranyakashipu) asked Śrī Viṣṇu (Śrī Lakṣmī Narasimha) 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”

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

Śrī Śankaracharya, in his later composition Bhaja Govindam, gives 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).

In this sloka, Śrī Śankaracharya 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 solution lies in freeing oneself from māyā (illusion) cast by this reality and seeking the ultimate truth, which encompasses kālá(am) (time) and place.

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 with 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, etc.) Iśvara provides an opportunity to focus one’s attention on reality. He also wants to see one’s resolve during tough times, and to check if one would forsake the morality of one’s Ḍharma, making one a fake in one’s own principles and character. This approach of Iśvara – removing one’s comforts – might sound cruel, but let us 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 that it is missing, the parent 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 well-being 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 on facing such a moment after years of sacrifices, hopes, and nourishment? Similarly, when Iśvara provides the opportunities to cultivate compassion, faith, and devotion, 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 obsession. Yet, if one realizes one’s mistake during tough times and upholds Iśvara to the highest level without losing faith, then 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 is through hope and faith that humanity strives and moves forward.

It is also to be noted that Iśvara, like a parent, cannot grant every wish of ours. As we discussed earlier, Iśvara is both Karmaphala and a:karma:phala-pradata (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 is unfair to blame Iśvara just because our wishes are not granted. 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 mitigate its effects. He, like a parent, shares our suffering so that we suffer less. He acts as a shield, protecting us from the adverse effect of the result of karma. Is there proof of this? Yes, as we have discussed earlier during kṣīrā:sagara manthan(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 sought His help. He did not blame His children nor did He ask them why He should intervene, but consumed the halahala. 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 “Kalambudali” and through its inherent meaning, Śrī Śankaracharya reminds Iśvara (not that Iśvara requires reminding) 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 deviated from 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 hungry, and so gave him 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, 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 to flow from Śrī Śankaracharya, so that we today, and generations to come, can can get drenched in its magnificence. With the understanding of this title “Kalambudali” 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 Shatakam and, in sloka 12, says:

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 problems, stress, insults, troubles of the saṃsāra, succcess, and more, they are all ornaments to me.

Let us 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 sensitive bhavana (imagination/feeling). It is a difficult phrase to portray into words – it being a poetic expression pertaining to an emotion. So, let us 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 emerges 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 is obviously to the one who is filled with compassion, also referred to as “Kalambudali” (like a dark cloud filled with water ready to shower), ready to shower His Anugraham. In the earlier scenario, “lalitorasi” was towards that rose, whereas here it is Śrī Viṣṇu’s lalitorasi towards us, to help us rid ourselves of our ego and pride. Hence, even in Iśvara giving us Karma:phala – which might deprive us of some comforts – it is His “lalitorasi”. So, why then do many take the wrong path? This creation and its reality, with Kali:yuga being the dominant period, foster man’s materialistic desires over compassion, presenting 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 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 choose to feed the deluded desires arising from their ego. Śrī Viṣṇu will not enforce His will over our will and choice. He, like a father, presents us with options to exit our cycle of karma. He presents opportunities to explore the worlds of higher consciousness, leading to the ultimate supreme joy (Brahmā:nandam).

When we say Śrī Viṣṇu doesn’t enforce His will upon us but presents opportunities to us, it is like the following story. Once a king was traveling through his kingdom on an elephant. On his way back to his palace, he saw a man in a pit. Though in a hurry, he got down and lowered a branch into the pit to help the man climb up. But the man in the pit declined the king’s offer because he didn’t like the branch and would have preferred a beautiful soft rope. Similarly, Iśvara – the ultimate creator and supreme personality – is always ready to offer His support. It is we who have to make an 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 come to conclusions about 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. With no such effort, one can easily be deluded by many deceptive beliefs that might sound very convincing, since one lacks the knowledge to compare or evaluate. Men dwell in so many desires and tend to memorize so many things, yet many lack the conscience and resolve to learn and relish at least a few delightful slokas passed on to us by great personalities. So, it is 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, wrote the “Cheliyali Katta”, meaning “sea shore”. It should be strongly rooted into our understanding that the sea doesn’t cross its shore because we command it. It is 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 the intelligence to understand and recreate existing phenomena, we do not become the owners. Our very existence is a phenomenon of this reality. Realizing this and understanding Iśvara’s essence allows us to rise in our consciousness 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 us move to the next word “Kaitabharer”. It means the one who condemns the Rakshasa (evil entity) Kaitabha. So, who is this Kaitabha? If we recall, Śrī Śankaracharya referred to Śrī Viṣṇu as Murare and Hare in the earlier slokas, now he is referring Him as “Kaitabharer”. As per an account in Devi Bhagavata Purana(m), there were two Rakshashas known as Madhu and Kaitabha. These two Rakshasas represent one of the primal human desires, which arises from one’s selfish reference to identify oneself as “me” and “mine”. When one uses the word “me”, that person intends to disassociate oneself from the rest, and when the word “mine” is used, it is 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 to Śrī Viṣṇu by the title “Madhusudana”. However, he chooses to address Him by the title “Kaitabharer” because Śrī Viṣṇu can dismiss the notion of “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 of “mine” and are now suffering, but they have endured this suffering without forsaking the path of Ḍharma and gave away the only edible item in the house, relinquishing the notion of “mine”. So they are eligible for Śrī Viṣṇu’s forgiveness. Śrī Śankaracharya made sure to address Śrī Viṣṇu with the word “lalitorasi”. (Srichaganti. K.D.S, n.d., p.14)


Sat:karma: Karma (kriya or actions with an associated result) performed in line with Ḍharma.
Brahmā:preeti: Brahmā meaning creation and nature, or the creator who represents all of creation, and “preeti” meaning affection. When read as a whole, it means to have affection 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 we express gratitude for having 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) states the existence of millions of species (more than 8 million) inheriting the Earth. Among them, only a few – like humans or apes – have the unique ability to use their hands and thumbs to perform various activities, especially to eat, making it a two-step process, as compared to other animals that eat directly through their mouth. The elephant is an exception, which also eats in a two-step process using its trunk. Only a human – among so many species – has the unique ability to evolve to higher planes of consciousness using this hand. With this hand, one can perform punya karma, such as Pitrukarya Tarpanam to honor one’s 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 is 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 is the existence of the one who takes that creates the opportunity to give what is needed and to 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 (gupta daana(m)). A human who learns respect and compassion with this hand by putting it forward to donate and help others 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 form of kālá(am) (time), will consume that hand, making the tanubhava share those riches. It is 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, he 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 exits 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 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 cannot 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 does not have, finally helping one reach the state where one sees no distinction between oneself and every other entity. This is one such crucial tatva (essence) of Sanātana Ḍharma. But again, Ḍharma and Śāstra never force their teaching upon the will of man. (Srichaganti. K.D.S, n.d., p.15)

Life & Rebirth and Jīva Brahmā:ikya:siddhi


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

Vāsanā is an inherent habit or memory carried over by the Jīva and gets triggered by the Guṇa in Prakṛti. This inherent habit is an impression left over a Jīva due to 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 to 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 the 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, but how can one define the reason why people are born with such interpretations? 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 tamas or tamo 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:shareera), and wears it like a cloth. It is not bound by kālá/kālám (time), which means it doesn’t age, nor grow old or weak. This Jīva makes one 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 Antahkarana (psychological framework) and, consequently, the mind manifests as a psychological process. Though, in this momentary state, the Supreme-Infinite-Consciousness abandons the thought of its infinite state, there is no real transformation in Brahmān as there are no two entities, one Brahmān and other Jīva. It is like an actor rehearsing his character in a 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 Antahkarana (which is comprised 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 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 becomes a means towards both pain and pleasure. This form is taken 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 do Rśis and Acharyas use this distinction. They use the term Ātman (self) when addressing an individual, and Brahmān when referring to the whole/infinite. Since it is not in one’s experience, neither Brahmān nor Ātman can be put into words. Ātman is not a second entity, because the infinite doesn’t have parts, nor shades or subsections. One cannot divide infinite into pieces. One cannot divide space; one can just perceive 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 us 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 encapsulated space 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 or mind. Creation (jagat) is not a second entity created by Brahmān, it is an illusion (māyā) of Brahmān that a Jīva experiences. One’s Ātman is nothing but a window to Brahmān, like the opening of an empty pot. The space inside the pot is Brahmān, the space outside is Brahmān, the space within is not different from the space outside. This pot is an illusion called māyā, a shell we created out of the reflection of our mind, and the opening of the pot is a window within our māyā (illusion). Another analogy is a wave in an ocean. A wave is an agitation called māyā; the wave is not different from the ocean. It is not the Ātman which is in confusion, it is 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-things, one Brahmān and other non-Brahmān. Infinite cannot be infinite if there is a second entity that is not infinite. This concept is very difficult to understand and to define with words, hence it is 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 six 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, the 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 dharmic 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 turn replenishing one’s Punya(m). One can also use these comforts and riches to educate oneself on 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 letting kālá(am) (time) exhaust it, leading them to put their hands forward to beg.

Will everyone reach “jiva Brahmā:ikya:siddhi”? No, but during maha:pralaya (the process of devouring creation), Maheshwara – in His Rudra 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 must ask Iśvara for devotion, because there is no second entity other than Iśvara who can grant devotion and realization. This is exactly what Arjuna (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 the 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 the 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, to shed its karmā:phala). If a Jīva accumulates mostly puńya, then that Jīva might go to higher lokas like Swarga:loka; if the Jīva accumulates mostly pápa, then it might go to lower lokas like Narka:loka; but if both pápa and puńya are in a certain ratio, then it comes to Bhu:loka to shed its karma:phala. Once a Jīva takes a host, it starts to accumulate more karmā:phala in the cycle of saṃsāra through action (karmā), or to shed both and walk towards Iśvara in the path of Ḍharma. There is a total of fourteen 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 “Anta” means end, “Anant(am)” means 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, it is an innate property of every entity in creation which constitutes a phenomenon; second, it is 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. We will explore what it is 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. 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. 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, it is only a realization. In other words, the Smrti and Śruti are the means by which the Maharśi obtained and realized the Vedā; Vedā is Satyam and that Satyam is the concept to explore both Guṇa (character) and Nirguṇa (devoid of character) of the Infinite Consciousness. Iśvara is not a being, it is a concept, and the entire Vedic literature proclaims the concept of Ḍharma and the concept of Iśvara – which pave the way for the realization of Brahman. This is the very reason there is no equivalent word for Ḍharma, Guru, or Isvara in any other languages. 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 segment that emerged in Kaliyuga as a religion. “Hind” was more a geographical region rather than a religion, but in the current era got interpreted as a religion. This region which is identified as “Hind” only had Ḍharma that evolved from the 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 explored Ḍharma 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:anusthanam). This attempt in life to explore and understand ḍharma is called Ḍharma Sādhanā. Defining ḍharma gets a little complicated, but let us make an effort.

(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:charya(m), Gruhastu, Vanaprastu(m) and finally Sanyasam.
Brahmā:charya(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 of withdrawing oneself from worldly desires.
Sanyasam:  is a discipline to renounce worldly desires and pleasures, and live on alms, and focus one’s buddhi towards the unification and the realization of Iśvara.

So, what is Ḍharma?

To define Dharma, let us look at Amarakoshaha, a Sanskrit text encompassing Sanskrit vyakarana (grammar) and vocabulary, composed by the scholar Amarasimha. It 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 Cosmic phenomenon sustains is Ḍharma. We will look at these aspects in detail.
Dharma Chakra Buddhist monument (Sanchi Hill, Madhya Pradesh, India). (2013)

As already stated, there is no equivalent word for Ḍharma in English. Ḍharma is not a duty, nor responsibility, nor an obligation, nor a commandment. Let us define and examine Ḍharma from various angles. Ḍharma is that message which explains an innate property of an entity (phenomenon); it also explains the choice of an appropriate 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 consciousness. In other words, Ḍharma is that action that doesn’t disturb the natural flow of creation (Ṛta), it sustains the natural order and harmony within creation. Hence Maharśi Jaimini, who established the Mīmāṃsā School of philosophy and was a student of  Vyāsa, defined Ḍharma as:

“codaṇā-lakṣaṇaḥ arthaḥ dharmaḥ”

Meaning, that which leads to the cumulative well-being of all the surroundings.

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 is called karmā and its consequence is called phala (fruit). 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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