The Glory of Mantra-Diksha


Swami Sivananda: “Initiation into the Divine Name or the solemn Mantra-Diksha is one of the holiest and most significant of the sacred rituals in the spiritual life. To receive the Guru Mantra from a realised Saint and Sat-Guru is the rarest of good fortune and the most precious of the divine blessings that may be bestowed upon the aspirant—the full glory of the Mantra-Diksha, specially when it is done by a realised soul, can hardly be imagined even fractionally by the uninitiated who has not yet proper idea of what that Mantra and Mantra-Diksha really imply. The process of Mantra-Diksha is one of the most ancient in this sacred land and is the grandest jewel in the treasure of our peerless culture.

“Initiation puts you in possession with the direct means of attaining the grandest and the highest thing which can be attained, attaining which you obtain everything, knowing which you know everything, and gaining which nothing more remains to be gained! Initiation leads you to the full knowledge and experience that you are neither the mind nor the body, that you are Satchidananda Atma, full of Light and full of the Highest Bliss. May the Grace of the Satguru, the Visible God, bestow upon you all the highest fruit of Self-Realisation.” (pg. 304, Yoga Samhita by Swami Sivananda)

Swami Muktananda: “The mantra given by the Guru, although seeming to be mere syllables, has the divine potency to awaken the highest yoga in a disciple. It has the power to burn up completely a sadhaka’s accumulated karmas… the mantra is capable of transforming the (sadhaka), of making him worthy of attaining oneness with (God).” (pgs. 59-60, Light on the Path by Swami Muktananda)

Swami Satyananda: “Once you are initiated into a mantra you should continue it throughout your life in order to succeed in the practice. You must have faith in the Mantra which you have received in initiation, and stick to it right up to the very end. Japa Yoga may be a long path but it is sure and certain. (pg. 117, Early Teachings of Swami Satyananda Saraswati) [Swamiji is a direct disciple of Swami Sivananda].

Swami Sri Sivaya Subramaniyam: “Mantra diksha bestows the permission and power for Japa Yoga. Without this initiation, it’s repetition bears lesser fruit,”  (pg. 405, Dancing with Siva)

Scriptures Becomes Alive in the Presence of the Guru


The auspicious Guru Purnima celebrations were held in Amma’s new Chicago Ashram.
The celebrations took place after a long day of darshan, with Swami Amritaswaroopananda leading the worship of the Guru’s feet.

Amma spoke to the devotees about the importance of the Guru disciple relationship. “A disciple with awareness, devotion and self surrender, will continuously receive the Guru’s message and guidance, no matter where they are.  Once we find a true Master, the scriptures are reborn. The Vedas and Upanishads are repeated. When we find such a Master our search ends there. All we need to do is to live in their presence and try to imbibe their sacrifice into our own lives.

“In reality, there is no new message to deliver about spirituality. ‘Everything is God, there is nothing else but God.’ This is the only message. This is the single message in the Upanishads, Vedas, Bhagavad Gita and Puranas. When we say that there are 108 Upanishads, we should understand that it is actually, 108 different ways of conveying the same message.

“Amma’s only desire is for Her children to be happy. Happiness is within everyone, but we are not able to experience it. This is because of our likes and dislikes. We are in the grip of our ego and because of this we hold on to our likes and dislikes. In order to break away from the ego, we need the help of a Satguru. Amma’s goal is to give her children this strength and love. If we let go of our likes and dislikes, we will become fit vessels to receive the Guru’s ever flowing grace. We can become freed from our mind and become a blessing to the entire world.

“Today, each of you should take some kind of vow. Sharing with others, taking only what we need, this is spirituality in practice. Every night we should contemplate, “What good did I do today? Did I hurt anyone? Did I get angry with anyone? How can I prevent myself from making this mistake tomorrow?” In case we have done something good, we should think, “How can I do better tomorrow? How can I speak even kinder words tomorrow? Can I help someone? Can I donate 10 minutes of my time to the poor or needy?” When we contemplate like this, our entire life becomes filled with light. When we have light within, no darkness can affect us.

“All your actions and duties should be filled with the sweetness of love. It is that sweetness that transforms ordinary action into Guru Seva, or service to the Guru. Devoid of the sweetness of love, action is mere labor. Action that is performed only for material growth is also mere labor. However, action that is performed to develop love within and attain spiritual growth is Guru Seva. Such actions are worship of the Inner Self. That, indeed, is true devotion. This is the key to open the doors to our True Self. The purpose of this human birth is to know God, or our true Self.

“Each and every living being in nature is part of the Guru’s body. Loving and serving such a Satguru is the path to reach our true Self. It is the key to open the doors to our soul. It is the way, it is the goal, it is the path. May all Amma’s children awaken and rise in this love, may we all become lamps of love shedding light to the whole world. May grace bless us all.”

After the message, prasad was given out to all devotees by Amma herself. Celebrations ended on a high note with Amma singing Bandalo and Hari Narayana for the overjoyed surprise of the devotees.

share your joy:
 

Swami Sivananda on Guru Purnima


THE FULL moon day in the month of Ashad (July-August) is an extremely auspicious and holy day of Guru Purnima. On this day, sacred to the memory of the great sage, Bhagavan Sri Vyasa, Sannyasins settle at some place to study and discourse on the thrice-blessed Brahma Sutras composed by Maharishi Vyasa, and engage themselves in Vedantic, philosophical investigation.

Sri Vyasa has done unforgettable service to humanity for all times by editing the four Vedas, writing the eighteen Puranas, the Mahabharata and the Srimad Bhagavata. We can only repay the deep debt of gratitude we owe him, by constant study of his works and practice of his teachings imparted for the regeneration of humanity in this iron age. In honour of this divine personage, all spiritual aspirants and devotees perform Vyasa Puja on this day, and disciples worship their spiritual preceptor. Saints, monks and men of God are honoured and entertained with acts of charity by all the householders with deep faith and sincerity. The period Chaturmas (the “four months”) begins from this day; Sannyasins stay at one place during the ensuing four rainy months, engaging in the study of the Brahma Sutras and the practice of meditation.

Mark fully the deep significance of this great day. It heralds the setting in of the eagerly awaited rains. The water drawn up and stored as clouds in the hot summer now manifests in plentiful showers that usher in the advent of fresh life everywhere. Even so, all begin seriously to put into actual practice all the theory and philosophy that have been stored up in them through patient study. Aspirants commence or resolve to intensify with all earnestness, their practical spiritual Sadhana right from this day.

Generate fresh waves of spirituality. Let all that you have read, heard, seen and learnt become transformed, through Sadhana, into a continuous outpouring of universal love, ceaseless loving service, and continuous prayer and worship of the Lord seated in all beings.

Live on milk and fruit on this day and practise rigorous Japa and meditation. Study the Brahma Sutras and do Japa of your Guru Mantra, during the four months following the Guru Purnima. You will be highly benefited.

The day of worship of one’s preceptor, is a day of pure joy to the sincere spiritual aspirant. Thrilled by the expectation of offering his reverent homage to the beloved Guru, aspirants await this occasion with eagerness and devotion. It is the Guru alone that breaks the binding cords of attachment and releases the aspirant from the trammels of earthly existence.

The Srutis say: “To that high-souled aspirant, whose devotion to the Lord is great and whose devotion to his Guru is as great as that to the Lord, the secrets explained herein become illuminated”. Guru is Brahman, the Absolute, or God Himself. He guides and inspires you from the innermost core of your being. He is everywhere.

Have a new angle of vision. Behold the entire universe as the form of the Guru. See the guiding hand, the awakening voice, the illuminating touch of the Guru in every object in this creation. The whole world will now stand transformed before your changed vision. The world as Guru will reveal all the precious secrets of life to you, and bestow wisdom upon you. The supreme Guru, as manifested in visible nature, will teach you the most valuable lessons of life.

Worship daily this Guru of Gurus, the Guru who taught even the Avadhuta Dattatreya. Dattatreya, regarded as God and the Guru of Gurus, considered Nature Herself as His Guru, and learnt a number of lessons from Her twenty-four creatures, and hence he is said to have had twenty-four Gurus. The silent, all-enduring earth with its lofty forbearance, the shady fruit-bearing tree with its willing self-sacrifice, the mighty banyan tree reposing with patience in the tiny seed, the drops of rain whose persistence wears away even the rocks, the planets and the seasons with their orderly punctuality and regularity were all divine Gurus to him. They who will look and listen, will learn.

Become a personification of receptivity. Empty yourself of your petty ego. All the treasures locked up in the bosom of Nature will become yours. You will progress and attain perfection in an amazingly short time. Become pure and unattached as the mountain breeze. As the river flows continuously, steadily and constantly towards its goal, the ocean, so also let your life flow ceaselessly towards the supreme state of absolute Existence-Knowledge-Bliss, by letting all your thoughts, all your words and all your actions be directed only towards the goal.

The moon shines by reflecting the dazzling light of the sun. It is the full moon on the Purnima day that reflects in full splendour the glorious light of the sun. It glorifies the sun. Purify yourself through the fire of selfless service and Sadhana, and like the full moon, reflect the glorious light of the Self. Become the full reflectors of Brahmic splendour, the light of lights. Make this your goal: “I will be a living witness to divinity, the brilliant Sun of suns!”

The Supreme Self alone is real. He is the Soul of all. He is all-in-all. He is the essence of this universe. He is the unity that never admits of a duality under all the varieties and diversities of nature. Thou art this immortal, all-pervading, all-blissful Self. Thou art That! Realise this and be free.

Remember these four important lines of the Brahma Sutras:
1. Athatho brahma jijnasaa—Now, therefore, the enquiry of Brahman.
2. Janmasya yathah—From which proceed the origin, etc.
3. Sastra yonitwat—The scriptures are the means of right knowledge.
4. Tat tu samanvayat—For, That is the main support (of the universe).
 
Jaya Guru Shiva Guru Hari Guru Ram;
Jagad Guru Param Guru Sat Guru Shyam.

It is through the medium of the preceptor that the individual can raise himself to Cosmic-Consciousness. It is through that medium that the imperfect can become perfect, the finite can become infinite and the mortal can pass into the eternal life of blessedness. The Guru is verily a link between the individual and the Immortal. He is a being who has raised himself from this to That and thus has a free and unhampered access to both realms. He stands, as it were, upon the threshold of immortality, and, bending down, he raises the struggling individuals with his one hand, and with the other, lifts them up into the kingdom of everlasting joy and infinite Truth-Consciousness.

Do you realise now the sacred significance and the supreme importance of the Guru’s role in the evolution of man? It was not without reason that the India of the past carefully tended and kept alive the lamp of Guru-Tattva. It is therefore not without reason that India, year after year, age after age, commemorates anew this ancient concept of the Guru, adores it and pays homage to it again and again, and thereby re-affirms its belief and allegiance to it. For, the true Indian knows that the Guru is the only guarantee for the individual to transcend the bondage of sorrow and death, and experience the Consciousness of the Reality.

Give up the delusive notion that to submit to the preceptor, to obey him and to carry out his instructions, is slavish mentality. Only the ignorant man thinks that it is beneath his dignity and against his freedom to submit to another man’s command. This is a grave blunder. If you reflect carefully, you will see that your individual freedom is in reality an absolute abject slavery to your own ego and vanity. It is the vagary of the sensual mind. He who attains victory over the mind and the ego is the truly free man. He is the hero. It is to attain this victory that a man submits to the higher, spiritualised personality of the Guru. By this submission he vanquishes his lower ego and realises the bliss and freedom of the infinite Consciousness.

 To strengthen and affirm the faith of the wavering man and to guarantee the attitude that is necessary for the fruition of all worship, the ancients have deified the personality of the Guru. To adore the Guru is indeed to adore the Supreme. In this world of mortality, the Guru is verily like an ambassador in an alien court. Just as an ambassador represents fully the nation to which he belongs, even so, the Guru is one who is the representative of the sublime transcendental state which he has attained. Just as to honour the ambassador is to honour the nation that he hails from, even so to worship and to offer adoration to the visible Guru is verily the direct worship and adoration of the Supreme Reality. Even as a distant tree though it cannot be seen is nevertheless known by the fragrance its fully-bloomed flowers waft far and wide, so also, the Guru is the divine flower who disseminates the Atmic aroma of divinity in this world, and thus proclaims the immortal Lord who is invisible to the physical eye. He is the standing witness to the Supreme Self, the counterpart of the Lord on earth, and through worship of him one attains the Self.

Remember and adore Sri Vyasa and the Gurus who are fully established in knowledge of the Self. May their blessings be upon you! May you cut asunder the knot of ignorance and shine as blessed sages shedding peace, joy and light everywhere!

At the Sivananda Ashram, Rishikesh, the Guru Purnima is celebrated every year on a grand scale. Many devotees and aspirants come from all parts of the country.

1. All aspirants awake at Brahmamuhurta, at 4 o’clock. They meditate on the Guru and chant his prayers.

2. Later in the day, the sacred worship of the Guru’s Feet is performed. Of this worship it is said in the Guru Gita:
 
Dhyaana moolam guror murtih;
Pooja moolam guror padam;
Mantra moolam guror vakyam;
Moksha moolam guror kripa

“The Guru’s form should be meditated upon; the feet of the Guru should be worshipped; his words are to be treated as a sacred Mantra; his Grace ensures final liberation”.

3. Sadhus and Sannyasins are then worshipped and fed at noon.

4. There is continuous Satsang during which discourses are held on the glory of devotion to the Guru in particular, and on spiritual topics in general.

5. Deserving aspirants are initiated into the Holy Order of Sannyas, as this is a highly auspicious occasion.

6. Devout disciples fast and spend the whole day in prayer. They also take fresh resolves for spiritual progress.

Wake up at Brahmamuhurta (at 4 a.m.) on this most holy day. Meditate on the lotus feet of your Guru. Mentally pray to him for his Grace, through which alone you can attain Self-realisation. Do vigorous Japa and meditate in the early morning hours.

After bath, worship the lotus feet of your Guru, or his image or picture with flowers, fruits, incense and camphor.

Fast or take only milk and fruits the whole day.

In the afternoon, sit with other devotees of your Guru and discuss with them the glories and teachings of your Guru.

Alternatively, you may observe the vow of silence and study the books or writings of your Guru, or mentally reflect upon his teachings.

Take fresh resolves on this holy day, to tread the spiritual path in accordance with the precepts of your Guru.
At night, assemble again with other devotees, and sing the Names of the Lord and the glories of your Guru.
The best form of worship of the Guru is to follow his teachings, to shine as the very embodiment of his teachings, and to propagate his glory and his message.

Source: pgs. 28-37, Hindu Fasts & Festivals

"Guru and Disciple" By Sri Swami Venkatesananda


It was the end of May, 1924, when Gurudev Swami Sivanandaji Maharaj reached Rishikesh. His joy knew no bounds. The perennial river Ganga, the majestic hills clad in green forest—they whom Gurudev calls his divine parents, greeted him.

On the night of his arrival at Rishikesh, he slept on the verandah of Charan Das Dharmasala near the Rishikesh Post Office. There were other Sadhus, among them was Swami Visvananda Sarasvati, an aged man of wisdom, ochre-robed, with nothing but a staff and a Kamandalu as his possessions. His face was aglow with the fire of Knowledge. It captivated Sri Gurudev’s heart the moment he had the old Sannyasin’s Darshan early in the morning. Gurudev fell prostrate at his feet. Fondly, the saint—Swami Visvanandaji—raised him and embraced him with all love and affection and said:

“My dear child! I see something on your forehead which tells me that you are a wonderful instrument in the hands of God for conveying His Message to the world. I have been watching you for the past nearly half an hour. Am I right in assuming that you have renounced the world and desire to lead the life of a monk?

“Most Holy Sire! Yes, you are right. Oh, how fortunate I am to have the Darshan of a divine sage! Blessed I am this day; blessed I am indeed. Shower your Grace on this poor humble seeker. For, it is only through thee that I can attain my goal.

“Well said, my child. I should myself feel it the greatest privilege to initiate you into Sannyasa.”

A torrent of tears from his eyes was all that Gurudev could offer in reply. He was ready and Swami Visvananda was eager.

Gurudev’s dispassion was of the highest type. Prosperity did not affect him at all; he saw in it always, the hand of God. He offered everything to God without any reservation. Swami Visvananda Saraswati now gave him the chance to make the final offering of himself to the Lord, in return for the love that had been shown on him.

Gurudev was initiated into the glorious Order of Sannyasa on the 1st June, 1924, by the saintly Swami Visvananda Sarasvati. From that day on he became known as Swami Sivananda Sarasvati.

He who has supreme devotion to God and equal devotion to his Guru, unto him the truths of the Upanishads are revealed.

—Svetasvatara Upanishad

Thus Sri Gurudev proclaimed, by his own conduct, the absolute necessity for a Guru, and for Sannyasa. He says in his ‘Autobiography’:

The spiritual path is beset with many obstacles. The Guru will guide the aspirants safely and remove all sorts of difficulties they have to face. He will inspire the students and give them spiritual powers through his blessings. Guru, Isvara, Truth and Mantra are one. There is no other way of overcoming the vicious worldly Samskaras of the passionate nature of raw, worldly-minded persons than by personal contact with and service to the Guru.”

“There are many egoistic students who say: ‘I do not need a Guru. God is my Guru.’ They change their own robes and live independently. When difficulties confront them, they are bewildered. I do not like the rules and regulations of the scriptures, sages and saints to be violated. When there is a change of heart, there should be a change in the external form also. The glory and the liberty of a Sannyasin can hardly be imagined by the timid and the weak.”

Explaining the glory of the ochre-coloured robe, Gurudev says:

“Wearing the ochre-coloured cloth, the orange robe, is very necessary for one who has a changed mind. Due to the force of Maya or habit, when the senses move among the sense-objects, the moment you look at the coloured cloth that you wear, it will remind you that you are a Sannyasin. It will give you a kick and save you from vicious actions. It has its own glory and advantages. A real Sannyasin only can cut off all connections. His friends and relatives will not trouble him. The robe is of great service when one appears on the platform for preaching. It has its own sanctity in the minds of Hindus. Common people will easily receive the ideas from a Sannyasin. Some hypocrites say: “We have given colouring to our minds. We need not change the clothes.” I do not believe these men. Even the famous Mandana Misra who fought with Sri Sankara, became a Sannyasin. He was known as Suresvaracharya. The great Rishi Yajnavalkya became a Sannyasin. Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa removed his hair and became a Sannyasin. He was initiated into the Order of Sannyasa by Swami Totapuri. It is only those who have cravings, passions, attachments, and who are timid, that dread to change the cloth; they bring forth false, ingenious, unsound arguments. It is a pity that even some great persons of the present day, who are treading the spiritual path, have not recognised the glory and importance of changing the robe.”

The great ones act in this wise, not because they need to, but to set an example for others to follow—Lokasangraha, as the Lord says in the Gita. By their own conduct they bring out the imperative necessity of having a Guru to guide one in the acquisition of knowledge. Gurudev has often said: “For learning even the simple art of cooking, you need a teacher. Nothing has been possible for man to achieve without being instructed by one who knows. How much more Herculean would be the task of reaching the Life’s Destination without a guide!”

On the 11th of March, 1949, while instructing some disciples on Guru-Bhakti, Sri Gurudev said: “You should revere the Guru who teaches you the knowledge. Only then will the learning be fruitful.” And he cited his own example in this regard, and said: “See, I had Swami Visvanandaji’s company only for a couple of hours. Yet, daily I remember him in my hymns in the morning. I include Swami Vishnudevanandaji’s name also, as it was he who performed the Viraja Homa for me. It is very necessary; only then will the spark of Mumukshutva burn bright in us.

Incidentally, he also revealed another interesting anecdote of his life in Malaya. He said: “In Malaya, there were several adept Tantriks. It was the time the Spanish Flu took a heavy toll of life in Malaya. I, too, had an attack, but somehow escaped. The Tantrik had several Mantras and Yantras. That was a wonderful Vidya (science). A special unguent is applied on the thumb-nail of the adept of the Mantra; through this unguent, the adept would be able to see and know about distant happenings. He can tell you what is going on in such and such a place in Mysore; or, what a particular person is doing, where he is and so on. I even now remember the Mantra. I had great reverence for the man who taught me the Mantra. I used to prostrate myself before him and entertain him nicely, serve him whenever the occasion arose. Later, I gave up the Tantrik practice as I did not like the idea of subjugating Devatas and getting things done through them.”

Sri Gurudev had dispassion, born of a knowledge of the permanent and the transient, which is the basis for higher knowledge of the Self. In and through the world, Gurudev had acquired a glimpse of this higher knowledge, too. He has trained himself to hear the shrill Inner Voice of God, the Indweller of all hearts. It was thus quite unnecessary for him to seek the aid of Guru, when he could more easily depend on the Prompter within.

Yet he laid his head low at the feet of Swami Visvananda and received the Mahavakyas (great sacred utterances) from his preceptor’s powerful heart.

Gurudev’s Guru-Bhakti is evident from his words quoted above. To him, the preceptor—even the one who taught him fencing and the one that taught him the Tantrik Kriya—was the Lord Himself, come upon this earth to enlighten him. As the Svetasvatara Upanishad says, in the concluding Mantra, the Truths taught in the Upanishads are apparent to one who has supreme devotion to God and equal devotion to the Guru. Truly, indeed! And Gurudev is a good example to illustrate this truth. Gurudev shampooed his preceptor’s legs and thus attracted to himself the current of spiritual knowledge which brought him nearer the Goal. Swami Visvanandaji understood the worth of his divine pupil immediately, and came to the conclusion that he no longer needed his personal help. With tears of love and regard they parted from each other, as Swami Visvanandaji took leave to return to Benares.

Source: http://www.dlshq.org/discourse/jul2008.htm

Guru Purnima


Maharshi Vyasa

By

Sri Swami Sivananda

In ancient days, our forefathers, the Rishis of Aryavartha, went to the forest to do Tapasya during the four months following Vyasa Purnima—a particular and important day in the Hindu calendar. On this memorable day, Vyasa, an incarnation of the Lord Himself, began to write his Brahma Sutras. Our ancient Rishis did this Tapasya in caves and forests. But times have changed and such facilities are not common nowadays although Grihasthas and Rajas are not wanting who are able and willing to place at the disposal of the members of the fourth Ashrama such help and facilities as they can afford. The forests and caves have given place to the rooms of Sadhus in their own Gurudwaras and Mutts. One has of necessity to suit himself to time and place; and change of place and situation should not be allowed to make such a difference in our mental attitudes. Chaturmas begins from the Vyasa Purnima Day when, according to our Shastras, we are expected to worship Vyasa and the Brahmavidya Gurus and begin the study of the Brahma Sutras and other ancient books on ‘wisdom’.

Our mythology speaks of many Vyasas; and it is said that there had been twenty-eight Vyasas before the present Vyasa—Krishna Dvaipayana—took his birth at the end of Dvapara Yuga. Krishna Dvaipayana was born of Parasara Rishi through the Matsyakanya—Satyavathi Devi—under some peculiar and wonderful circumstances. Parasara was a great Jnani and one of the supreme authorities on astrology and his book Parasara Hora is still a textbook on astrology. He has also written a Smriti known as Parasara Smriti which is held in such high esteem that it is quoted by our present-day writers on sociology and ethics. Parasara came to know that a child, conceived at a particular Ghatika or moment of time, would be born as the greatest man of the age, nay, as an Amsa of Lord Vishnu Himself.

On that day, Parasara was travelling in a boat and he spoke to the boatman about the nearing of that auspicious time. The boatman had a daughter who was of age and awaiting marriage. He was impressed with the sanctity and greatness of the Rishi and offered his daughter in marriage to Parasara. Our Vyasa was born of this union and his birth is said to be due to the blessing of Lord Siva Himself who blessed the union of a sage with a Jnani of the highest order, although of a low caste.

At a very tender age Vyasa gave out to his parents the secret of his life that he should go to the forest and do Akhanda Tapas. His mother at first did not agree, but later gave permission on one important condition that he should appear before her whenever she wished for his presence. This itself shows how far-sighted the parents and the son were. Puranas say that Vyasa took initiation at the hands of his twenty-first Guru, sage Vasudeva. He studied the Shastras under sages Sanaka and Sanandana and others. He arranged the Vedas for the good of mankind and wrote the Brahma Sutras for the quick and easy understanding of the Srutis; he also wrote the Mahabharata to enable women, Sudras and other people of lesser intellect to understand the highest knowledge in the easiest way.

Vyasa wrote the eighteen Puranas and established the system of teaching them through Upakhyanas or discourses. In this way, he established the three paths, viz., Karma, Upasana and Jnana. To him is also attributed the fact that he continued the line of his mother and that Dhritarashtra, Pandu and Vidura were his progeny. Vyasa’s last work was the Bhagavata which he undertook at the instigation of Devarshi Narada who once came to him and advised him to write it as, without it, his goal in life would not be reached.

Vyasa is considered by all Hindus as a Chiranjivi, one who is still living and roaming throughout the world for the well-being of his devotees. It is said that he appears to the true and the faithful and that Jagadguru Sankaracharya had his Darshan in the house of sage Mandana Misra and that he appeared to many others as well. Thus, in short, Vyasa lives for the welfare of the world. Let us pray for his blessings on us all and on the whole world.

Everybody knows that there are six important systems of thought developed by our ancients known as the Shad Darshanas or the six orthodox schools of philosophy, viz., Sankhya, Yoga, Nyaya, Vaiseshika, Purva Mimamsa and Uttara Mimamsa or Vedanta. Each system has a different shade of opinion. Later, these thoughts became unwieldy, and to regulate them, the Sutras came into existence. Treatises were written in short aphorisms, called “Sutras” in Sanskrit, meaning clues for memory or aids to long discussions on every topic. In the Padma Purana, the definition of a Sutra is given. It says that a Sutra should be concise and unambiguous; but the brevity was carried to such an extent that the Sutra has become unintelligible and particularly so in the Brahma Sutras. Today we find the same Sutra being interpreted in a dozen ways.

The Brahma Sutras written by Vyasa or Badarayana—for that was the name which he possessed in addition—are also known as Vedanta Sutras as they deal with Vedanta only. They are divided into four chapters, each chapter being subdivided again into four sections. It is interesting to note that they begin and end with Sutras which read together mean “the inquiry into the real nature of Brahman has no return”, meaning that “going by that way one reaches Immortality and no more returns to the world”. About the authorship of these Sutras, tradition attributes it to Vyasa.

Sankaracharya, in his Bhashya, refers to Vyasa as the author of the Gita and the Mahabharata, and to Badarayana as the author of the Brahma Sutras. His followers—Vachaspathi, Anandagiri and others—identify the two as one and the same person, while Ramanuja and others attribute the authorship of all three to Vyasa himself. The oldest commentary on the Brahma Sutras is by Sankaracharya; he was later followed by Ramanuja, Vallabha, Nimbarka, Madhva and others who established their own schools of thought.

All the five Acharyas mostly agree on two points, viz., (i) that Brahman is the cause of this world and (ii) that knowledge of Brahman leads to final emancipation. But they differ amongst themselves on the nature of this Brahman, the relation between the individual soul and the Supreme Soul, and the condition of the soul in the state of release. According to some, Bhakti and not Jnana, as interpreted by Sankara, is the chief means of attaining liberation.

Vyasa’s life is a unique example of one born for the dissemination of spiritual knowledge. His writings inspire us and the whole world even to this day. May we all live in the spirit of his writings!
(pgs. 3-6, Lives of Saint)