Friday, April 24, 2009

Atman or Self aka soul

Atman or Self aka soul

Chandogya Upanishad

Upanishads are philosophical works, have have discussed a wide ranging topics in philosophy. They are source of Indian philosophy. Even Buddha drew his ideas from them.

1. Prajapati said: "The Self which is free from sin, free from old age, free from death, free from grief, free from hunger, free from thirst, whose desires come true and whose thoughts come true - That it is which should be searched out, That it is which one should desire to understand. He who has known this Self from the scriptures and a teacher and understood It obtains all the worlds and all desires.

Indra, the chief god came and desired to be instructed about Self.

24.1.144. Chapter VII - The Person in the Eye

4. Prajapati said to them: "The person that is seen in the eye - that is the Self." He further said: "This is immortal, fearless. This is Brahman."
They asked: "Venerable Sir, he who is perceived in the water and he who is perceived in a mirror - which of these is he?"
Prajapati replied: "The same one, indeed, is perceived in all these."

Indra pondered on this and his doubts cropped up.

"As this reflection in the water is well adorned when the body is well adorned, well dressed when the body is well dressed, clean when the body is clean, so this reflection in the water will be blind if the body is blind, one - eyed if the body is one - eyed, crippled if the body is crippled and will perish if the body perishes.
2. "I do not see any good in this doctrine." He returned and expressed his doubts.

3. "So it is Indra," replied Prajapati. "I shall explain the Self to you further.

Prajapati accepted the objections.


24.1.147. Chapter X - The Dream Self

Prajapati next taught:
1 - 2. "He who moves about, exalted, in dreams - this is the Self, this is immortal, fearless. This is Brahman."

Indra thought again, but he had more doubts. So he returned and expressed the same.

"Although this dream self is not blind even if the body is blind, nor do its eyes and nose run when the eyes and nose of the body run; although this self is not affected by the defects of the body,

"Nor killed when it (the body) is killed, nor one - eyed when it is one - eyed - yet they kill it (the dream self), as it were; they chase it, as it were. It becomes conscious of pain, as it were; it weeps, as it were. I do not see any good in this doctrine."

"So it is, Indra," replied Prajapati. "I shall explain the Self further to you."
Then Prajapati said to Indra

24.1.148. Chapter XI - The Self in Dreamless Sleep

1. "When a man is asleep, with senses withdrawn and serene and sees no dream - that is the Self. This is immortal, fearless. This is Brahman."

Indra was not automaton. He thought and found difficulties.

He (Indra) said: "Venerable Sir, in truth it (i.e. the self in dreamless sleep) does not know itself as 'I am it,' nor these other creatures. It has therefore reached utter annihilation, as it were. I do not see any good in this."

3. "So it is, Indra," replied Prajapati. "I shall explain the Self further to you and nothing else.

Then Prajapati said to him:
24.1.149. Chapter XII - The Incorporeal Self

1. "O Indra, this body is mortal, always held by death. It is the abode of the Self which is immortal and incorporeal. The embodied self is the victim of pleasure and pain. So long as one is identified with the body, there is no cessation of pleasure and pain. But neither pleasure nor pain touches one who is not identified with the body.

2 - 3. "The wind is without body; the cloud, lightning and thunder are without body. Now, as these, arising from yonder akasa and reaching the highest light, appear in their own forms,
"So does this serene Being, arising from this body and reaching the Highest Light, appear in His own form. In that state He is the Highest Person. There He moves about, laughing, playing, rejoicing - be it with women, chariots, or relatives, never thinking of the body into which he was born.

"As an animal is attached to a cart, so is the prana (i.e. the conscious self) attached to the body.

4. "When the person in the eye resides in the body, he resides where the organ of sight has entered into the akasa (i.e. the pupil of the eye); the eye is the instrument of seeing. He who is aware of the thought: 'Let me smell this,' he is the Self; the nose is the instrument of smelling. He who is aware of the thought: 'Let me speak,' he is the Self; the tongue is the instrument of speaking. He who is aware of the thought: 'Let me hear,' he is the Self; the ear is the instrument of hearing.

5. "He who is aware of the thought: 'Let me think this,' he is the Self; the mind is his divine eye. He, the Self sees all these desires in the World of Brahman through the divine eye, the mind and rejoices.

6. "The gods meditate on that Self. Therefore all worlds belong to them and all desires. He who knows that Self and understands It obtains all worlds and all desires." Thus said Prajapati, yea, thus said Prajapati.

The book ends with:

Om ! Let my limbs and speech, Prana, eyes, ears, vitality
And all the senses grow in strength.
All existence is the Brahman.
May I never deny Brahman, nor Brahman deny me.
Let there be no denial at all:
Let there be no denial at least from me.
May the virtues that are proclaimed in the Upanishads be in me,
Who am devoted to the Atman; may they reside in me.
Om ! Peace ! Peace ! Peace !

In many of the Upanishads [108 in number], a step by step approach is followed.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Obama under Indian lens

Obama under Indian lens

It appears that Obama might visit India soon. People would be looking at the event with interest. One set of admirers would no doubt applaud his color, without reference to his stance about India. Another set, less given to emotions, would look quite critically, and comparisons with Bush would inevitable. Of course, this visit will take only after the general elections in India are over and dust settles considerably. I am sure his advisers will advise him on this aspect, and not rush such a visit.

The popular, but quite a misleading perception here is that the Bush administration was more favourably disposed towards India and that the Obama policies may be more prickly for the mandarins in New Delhi.

But, this perception is partially [only partially] true. Bush was seized with one big idea: to improve America’s bilateral relationship with India, which had been estranged over the nuclear issue. Hence the singleminded determination with which he pursued the July 2005 civilian nuclear cooperation agreement, firmly overruling the objections of the non-proliferation zealots in the Beltway. Though here too the opinions are split. In contrast, Obama is keen on pouring money into Pakistan, to the chagrin of India.

USA is generally viewed as an unreliable strategic partner, and USA does not have an exactly a big share of Indian arms shopping. Time and again American military manufacturers have submitted their hardware for evaluation, always to falter at export license. Spin off is still there for the manufacturers, as their equipment is put to exacting tests and evaluation. And Indian evaluations go far, very very far. On this score Obama is yet to tested, and who knows he might as well pass too.

The bilateral relations have been at very frustrating cusp, and only a little push is all that is required to hurtle them this or that way. The US military-industrial complex aware of this, post-May 1998, that engagement with India was in Washington’s larger interest. But Bush does not appear to have pursued this with diligence.

While Bush kept himself clear of Kashmir issue, Obama tried to rush in. But fortunately, wiser counsels have prevailed and he back tracked from a pro-active [read anti India] stance. But his initial moves are not likely to be forgotten in a hurry, and an element of suspicion would remain.

But only the future would tell.