Volume 7 - Issue 09
September 2009
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What is Adhvaitha (non-dualism)? “The oneness of everything is Adhvaitha,” Bhagavan Baba says, and adds, “God is Love and Love is God. When you hold on to this principle of love and develop love-to-love relationship, you will attain the state of non-dualism.”

The message of non-dualism has been at the core of Swami’s teachings right from the time He declared His Avatarhood. Swami has not only explained very clearly and in simple terms this profound philosophy but also has given practical guidelines about its practice. And on occasions when Swami explained this concept, He often quoted the great philosopher Sri Adi Shankara and deliberated on his life and contributions.

This special quiz seeks to help all of us in understanding this unique message of ancient India by taking us through several insightful discourses of Bhagavan on this topic.

1. During a Divine Discourse in 1987, Swami reveals what causes dualism and separates us from our innate, true, divine selves: “The 'I' principle is present everywhere. It begins with the Divine itself. The first word was Aham ('I'). Even the Pranava ('Om') came after Aham. Before all creation Aham alone existed. That Aham became the many. One who realizes the oneness of what he regards as his 'I' with the cosmic Aham alone knows his reality.

The universal 'I' appears under different names and forms in different bodies owing to time and circumstance. Even the same person goes through many changes in form and relationships in life. But the 'I' remains unchanged. It is like an actor wearing different disguises, but himself remaining one and the same. The realization of the unchanging and universal character of the 'I' (the Atma) is the essential objective of the spiritual quest.”

According to Swami, what is it that brings about the sense of duality in this ‘I’ that delays us from realizing our inherent divinity?



2. In a Divine Discourse in 1996, Swami narrates the story behind how Adi Shankara surrendered his life to God: “Shankara's father, Shivaguru, passed away when Shankara was barely three years old. After the passing of Shivaguru, the grief-stricken mother devoted herself to bringing up the little boy. She took him to a guru, who taught the boy all kinds of scriptural knowledge.

“By the time he was 16, Shankara had completed study of the four Vedas and the six systems of philosophy. Normally even 50 years would not have sufficed for such study. Shankara was a prodigy. He could grasp anything at the first mention of the subject. Even the guru was astonished at the boy's genius.

“Meanwhile, the mother, was anxious to get the boy married and broached the subject with the guru. The boy was totally opposed to marriage. ‘I want to be a sanyaasi (ascetic),’ he said. ‘I want to dedicate my body, mind and all else to God. They are all gifts of God. I have surrendered myself to God.’”

At one point Shankara was attacked by a crocodile in a river and in the ensuing struggle he was able to convince his mother to allow him to take sanyaasa. How was this achieved?


3. During a Divine Discourse in 1991, Swami shared an incident, which taught Shankara a profound lesson upon which his philosophy on non-dualism was based. “When Shankaracharya was in Kasi (Varanasi), at the approach of an untouchable, Shankara said: ‘You fellow! Keep away, keep away!’ The other man asked: ‘Whom do you want to keep away from you? Is it the body? The body is inert. What right has your inert body to ask my inert body to keep away from it? Both are inert. How can one inert object talk to another? Or, is it the case that you want the atma in me to keep away from you? The atma in me is the same as the atma in you. What is it that you want to go away from you?’”

Who was this untouchable who changed the course of Shankara’s life?


4. During the Summer Showers Discourses in 1993, Swami explained how Adi Shankara’s experiences brought about tremendous transformation in his relationship with God:

“Adi Shankara, after his triumphant march all over India, reached the city of Benares. He went to the temple of Vishwanatha and prayed thus: ‘O Lord! I have come here to redeem myself of the three sins I have committed. It is said ‘Yatho Vacho Nivartante Aprapya manasa Saha.’ Though I know that the Lord is ineffable, beyond the ken of thought and word, I have dared to describe you. I have committed the sin of not practicing what I have known. This is my first sin.’"

What was the second sin that Shankara held himself guilty of?


5. During a Divine Discourse in 1985, Swami extolled Adi Shankara, the expounder of non-dualism, and the other two great teachers too, Ramanuja and Madhwacharya:

“Shankaracharya was one of the greatest teachers. At a very young age, he mastered the scriptures, and composed elaborate commentaries on the Upanishads, the Brahma Sutras and the Bhagavad Gita (three basic treatises of Sanathana Dharma). He journeyed by foot all over India, visited the famous shines and holy places, and spent some years on the Himalayas, before his death at the age of 32.

“He revealed that the fundamental message of the seers and sages was Adwaita (Non-dualism). Adwaita did not encourage or inspire devotion to a Personal God. There was no room for surrender to a master figure. The masses who longed for the removal of an inner thirst had to be led, step-by-step.”

According to Swami, after Shankara’s philosophy of non-dualism, when Ramanuja taught the Qualified Non-dualism (visitha advaita), why was it difficult for ordinary men?

It was an experience not easily accessible.

It demanded a lot of time and money to understand.


6. During a Divine Discourse in 1987, Swami teaches us the steps to march from dualism to non-dualism: “In the 18th canto of the Bhagavad Gita the Lord has declared: ‘Eashwara dwells in the heart region of all living things.’ This means that one must see the Divine in every being. When you speak about anyone, or love anyone, you must consider you are speaking about God and loving God. Develop this sacred attitude. If, on the contrary, you regard Divinity as different from yourself and lead a life based on differences, you will be wasting your life.”

According to Swami, after experiencing the dualistic approach by rituals, meditation, and so on, to get closer to God, what must one do to finally reach non-dualism?

Spend time only in Namasmarana, chanting the Lord’s name.
Accept everyone the way they are.


7. During a Divine Discourse in 1987, Swami describes in detail the three aspects of Advaita principle: “The Atma is the Truth and you are the Atma. It is when this truth is experienced, can man realize the transcendental unity that subsumes everything.

“For this purpose, an enquiry has to be made into Advaita trayam (three aspects of non-dualism). These three are: Bhaava-Advaitam, Kriya-Advaitam and Padhaartha-Advaitam. Bhaava-Advaitam is the enquiry which leads to recognition of the common basis of different objects like cloth and thread, namely, cotton. To recognize the One that underlies the many is Bhaava-Advaitam. Thisinvolves recognition of the one indwelling Spirit, which is common to all beings.”

According to Swami, what does the second aspect of non-dualism, called Kriyaa-Advaitam, relate to?

To engage ourselves in various actions collectively.
To share collective ideas in spiritual meetings frequently.
To spend time with God by thinking about His work.


8. During a Divine Discourse in 1984, Swami explains how we can eliminate dualism by chanting any mantra correctly: “In reciting any mantra the primacy to be accorded to OM should be recognized. The mantra ends with the word Namah (as for example, in Om Keshavaaya Namah - Prostrations to Keshava). In the mantras Keshavaaya namah, Govindhaaya namah, Naaraayanaaya namah, the significance of Namah, which occurs at the end of each mantra, should be noted. The worshipful attitude signified by the term Namah will be lost if the word Om is not used at the beginning of each mantra.

It is only when Om is said at the beginning and Namah at the end that the full purport of the mantra will be brought out. The integral connection between Om and namah should be recognised. Namah represents Prakrithi (objective world). OM connotes Purusha (Divinity). The purpose of the mantra is to reveal the connection between Prakrithi and Purusha.”

In this discourse, after making us realize the importance of not eliminating Om and Namah, Swami goes on explain about the benefit we can derive by eliminating Keshavaaya in the mantra. What is the benefit that Swami is referring to?


9. During the Summer Showers Discourses in 1972, Swami helps us understand the necessary steps to be taken until we adopt the non-dualistic approach for our spiritual growth:

“It is possible that you may be getting a doubt that while God is present everywhere and anywhere, why should one go to a specific place, or why should one go on pilgrimages and seek God only in those specified places. When you have been able to imbibe the essence that is contained in the words, which describe adwaitha and transform them into your experience, then you do not have to go to a specified place at all - you do not have to go anywhere at all. But as long as you are content only with using words and just talking about adwaitha and you have no experience at all, it is necessary that you should go to certain places. You have to make pilgrimages.”

According to Swami, what state of mind precludes seeking God outside?

To be expansive enough to sing the praises of ALL Names.


10. Swami has taught us often: “There is the divine in a tiger, a snake and a human being. You can recognize this as a concept, but on that account, you cannot go and embrace a tiger. The tiger must be treated as a tiger and a snake must be treated as a snake. The human being must be given the status that is appropriate to the human. You must have the faith that the same Divine dwells in all beings.”

During the Summer Showers Discourse in 1973, Swami explained this with a narration from Shankara’s life: “Once a young man aged twenty-two years went to Shankara. When Shankara was giving spiritual lessons to his disciples, he interrupted and asked Shankara if all human beings in this wide world should not be regarded as equal since the same kind of blood flows in all of them. Shankara smiled at this young man and said that the blood flowing in that youngster is hot and fast, and so he was trying to push things too far. It is not possible for man to distinguish between permanent and impermanent things. One can adopt the notion of non-duality or Adwaitha in one’s own thoughts and attitudes, but it is not possible to equate everything in the world in practice.”

Finally, what lesson did Swami teach us by using Shankara’s method of explanation?

We must not make any big decisions without consulting a guru.

Dear Reader, did you like this quiz? Is it too difficult? Is it interactive enough? Would you like more such quizzes? Please help us in serving you better by writing to h2h@radiosai.org mentioning your name and country. Thank you for your time.

- Heart2Heart Team


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