Arsha Vidya Pitham, Saylorsburg, PA

3) From Lakshmi Venkatesh:

In addition to Vishnusahasranama, could you please suggest daily shlokas / prayers that can be recited for Vedic upasana especially to resolve anxiety in the mind.

4) From Ram Kalyanaraman:

Mr. Godman mentions that Sri Ramana has liberated some by touching at the heart location on the chest of the devotees including the cow Lakshmi. Is this removal of Vasana or something else? Please help us understand if it is possible.

5) From Lata Pimplaskar:

If there is no free will then how to explain purusharth? And Laws of Karma, and papa and punya? 

6) From Sandhya Ananda:

Is there anything called progress in spiritual journey? If yes, what are the checkpoints? If no, how do I know I’m on the right path?

7) From Mark Evans:

Is Ravana culpable for his actions if there is no free will?

8) From Nina Chetty:

Swamiji,please advise me how to help a husband who is constantly worrying about his current job,paying fees for  kids college education , his health. 

9)  From Seema Narayan:

a) The knower of the metaphor of the  Asvattha Tree is the knower of the Veda or the Knower of the Truth ? If it’s the later, the Truth is unknown and unknowable is it not? So how to reconcile this?

b) In one lecture it was mentioned that breathing is in and of itself a purifier of the mind .  Aside from the 2 deep breaths prior to meditation to quieten the mind, any suggestions on how to use normal breathing to quieten the  mind through the day ?

10) From Kishore Narayan:

a) As I understand Upasana and Karma Yoga are still in dvaita.  When a jijnasu is in the ‘preparation” stage with Upasana and Karma Yoga but still focused on advaita, is there a self-contradiction between dvaita and advaita here?

b)As I understand, Lord Krishna in Gita talks about dropping enjoyership first through Karm yoga where doership still exists and then drop doership.  It appears that sometimes we are asked to directly drop doership directly.  Can you please clarify?

c) I understand that Shraddha in the Sastra is important.  How are we to understand when some of the descriptions in the Sastra may not be scientifically accurate and/or mostly based on belief
Few examples:

i.  Gita 8 chapter description of Brahmaji’s day and night (Sahasra yuga paryantam – 8.17)

ii. Karma Siddhantam

iii.  Aitereyopanishad 2.1 – where it says life starts in the male (Pureshehava Ayam adito garbha) – whereas per science, life is initially not just restricted to males.

d) Recently, it was discussed that the descending to heart is a metaphor.  As I understand, me and mine is head and dropping me and mine is heart.  However, several places, I think the vedantic heart is described as a physical entity in GIta and Upanishads.  Can you please clarify?

e) As I understand, Vedic upasana is discussed in Upanishads and is close to Nidi Dhyasana.  However, as I understand the real vedanta teaching is to follow Sravanja, Manana, and Nidi Dhyasana.  If so, what is the purpose and role of Vedic Upasana over and above Nidi Dhyasana?  Is this to bring the karma kanda focused people closer to vedanta gradually? 

11) From Rajesh:

a) I understood from some speakers that Puranas give the essence of Vedic scriptures to reach the common public. But that statement has been put to test, as some of the stories were debunked as myths. In such scenarios how to know which ones have a connection with Vedic scriptures and which ones are just myths.

Lord Daksinamurti

In the vision of the Veda, this creation is a manifestation of the Lord. Being the cause, he is all knowledge, especially spiritual knowledge. We have a name for that Lord Daksinamurti.

The Lord presented in this form as Dakṣiṇāmūrti is the one who has eight aspects. The first five aspects are thefive elements. In the Veda the world is presented in the form of five elements—ākāśa, space,which includes time; vāyu, air; agni, fire; āpa, water; and pṛthivī, earth.

In this Vedic model of the universe, the five elements are non-separate from the Lord. In fact, these five elements constitute the Lord’s form, which is this universe.

The next two aspects are represented by the sun and the moon.

When, as an individual, I look at this world, what stands out in the sky are the sun and moon.

The moon represents all planets other than earth, and the sun represents allluminous bodies.

The eighth aspect is me, the jīva—the one who is looking at the world.

These eight aspects are to be understood as one whole. This is the Lord.

When we look at the form of Dakṣiṇāmūrti, we can see representations of the five elements. Space, ākāśa, is represented by a ḍamaru, a drum, in his right hand. In order to show space in a sculpture, it needs to be enclosed.

Empty space is enclosed in the ḍamaru, enabling it to issue sound, or śabda.

Next, vāyu, air, is represented by Dakṣiṇāmūrti’s hair with the bandana, the band, holding his hair in place against the wind. Bandana is a Sanskrit word which comes from the root band, to bind.

In his left hand, you will see a torch, which represents agni, fire.

Āpa, water, is shown by the Gaṅga, in the form of a Goddess, which you can see on Dakṣiṇāmūrti’s head.

Pṛthivī, the earth, is represented by the whole idol.

Then there are people, the jīvas, Sanaka, Sanandana, Sanātana and Sanatsujāta, who are the disciples of Dakṣiṇāmūrti, sitting at the base of sculpture.

The sun and moon are also shown in this form of the Lord.

On the left side of Dakṣiṇāmūrti you will find a crescent moon, and on his right side there is a circle, representing the sun—a whole circle.

So we see five elements, two planets and the jīva constituting the aṣṭa-mūrti-bhṛt, the Lord of these eight factors that are the whole.

You can worship Dakṣiṇāmūrti as the Lord, the one who is aṣṭa-mūrti-bhṛt, or you can invoke him as a teacher, because he also is in the form of a teacher.

His very sitting posture, āsana, is the teacher’s āsana. What does he teach? Look at his hand gesture. That shows wha the teaches. His index finger, the one we use to point at others, represents the ahaṅkāra, the ego.

The other three fingers represent your body, deha, mind, antaḥkaraņa and sense organs, prāņa.

They also may be seen as the three bodies, śarīras, the gross, subtle, and causal. This is what the jīva mistakes himself to be. The aṅguṣṭha, the thumb, represents the Lord, the puruṣa. It is away from the rest of the fingers of the hand, yet at the same time, the fingers have no strength without it.

In this gesture, mūdra, in Dakṣiṇāmūrti’s right hand, the thumb joins the other fingers to form a circle, teaching that the jīva, who takes himself to be the body, mind and senses, is the whole. The circular hand gesture visually states the entire upadeśa, teaching: tat tvam asi, “You are That.” Just as a circle has no beginning or end, you are the whole. That is the final word about you. Nobody can improve upon that vision; no culture can improve upon it.

Even in heaven, it cannot be improved upon, for the whole includes heaven. Therefore, you have the final word here, because you are everything. It is better that you know it. That teaching is contained in the Veda, represented by the palm leaves in the left hand of Dakṣiṇāmūrti. And to understand this, you require a mind that has assimilated certain values and attitudes and has developed a capacity to think in a proper and sustained way.

This can be acquired by various spiritual disciplines represented here by a japa-māla, The fact that the Lord himself is a teacher, a guru, means that any teacher is looked upon as a source of knowledge. And the teacher himself should look upon Īśvara, the Lord, as the source of knowledge. Since the Lord himself is a teacher, the first guru, there is a tradition of teaching, so there is no individual ego involved in teaching.

Dakṣiṇāmūrti is seated upon a bull, which stands for tamas, the quality of māyā that accounts for ignorance. This is the entire creative power of the world and Dakṣiṇāmūrti controls this māyā; Then, there are bound to be obstacles in your pursuit of this knowledge. Dakṣiṇāmūrti controls all possible obstacles.

Underneath his foot, under his control, is a fellow called Apasmara—the one who throws obstacles in your life. This tells us that although there will be obstacles, with the grace of the Lord, you can keep them under check and not allow them to overpower you. There is no obstacle-free life, but obstacles need not really throw you off course; you keep them under control.

Thus, the whole form of Dakṣiṇāmūrti invokes the Lord who is the source of all knowledge, the source of everything, the one who is the whole, and who teaches you that you are the whole. He is Dakṣiṇāmūrti, the one who is in the form of a teacher, guru-mūrti.

We invoke his blessing so that all of you discover that source in yourself. If this self-discovery is your pursuit, your whole life becomes worthwhile. This project of self-discovery should be the project of everyone. That is the Vedic vision of human destiny

Arsha Vidya Gurukulam was founded in 1986 by Pujya Sri Swami Dayananda Saraswati. In Swamiji’s own words,

“When I accepted the request of many people I know to start a gurukulam, I had a vision of how it should be. I visualized the gurukulam as a place where spiritual seekers can reside and learn through Vedanta courses. . . And I wanted the gurukulam to offer educational programs for children in values, attitudes, and forms of prayer and worship. When I look back now, I see all these aspects of my vision taking shape or already accomplished. With the facility now fully functional, . . . I envision its further unfoldment to serve more and more people.”

Ārṣa (arsha) means belonging to the ṛṣis or seers; vidyā means knowledge. Guru means teacher and kulam is a family.  In traditional Indian studies, even today, a student resides in the home of this teacher for the period of study. Thus, gurukulam has come to mean a place of learning. Arsha Vidya Gurukulam is a place of learning the knowledge of the ṛṣis.

The traditional study of Vedanta and auxiliary disciplines are offered at the Gurukulam. Vedanta mean end (anta) of the Veda, the sourcebook for spiritual knowledge.  Though preserved in the Veda, this wisdom is relevant to people in all cultures, at all times. The vision that Vedanta unfolds is that the reality of the self, the world, and God is one non-dual consciousness that both transcends and is the essence of everything. Knowing this, one is free from all struggle based on a sense of inadequacy.

The vision and method of its unfoldment has been carefully preserved through the ages, so that what is taught today at the Gurukulam is identical to what was revealed by the ṛṣis in the Vedas.