Question 194: How does a wise one participate in Society?

pocket watchRama asks how is it that some of the wise, ensconsed in samadhi, realisation of the Absolute, can remain in society. The Sage tells the story of King Suraghu of Kranti Desh, and how he eliminated the problem of punishing criminals. The outward going mind has to be managed, the impulses or desires that disturb the mind have to be eliminated. How? 75% of our time ought be spent in self-inquiry, and inquiry into the vagaries of the mind.

samadhi: Samadhi is a state of profound and utterly absorptive contemplation of the Absolute that is undisturbed by desire, anger, or any other ego-generated thought or emotion. It is a state of joyful calm, or even of rapture and beatitude, in which one maintains one’s full mental alertness and acuity.
vasana: tendencies or desires
chitta: individual consciousness
chitta: chitta San. noun. the mind (the seat of understanding and awareness, of intellect and will); memory, thought, reflection; the soul, heart. It is the individual consciousness, composed of intelligence and intellect (buddhi), ego (ahamkara) and mind (manas). In Vedanta, chitta is one aspect of Universal Consciousness (chit). The world hangs on the thread of consciousness – without consciousness, there is no world.
atmaswaroop: cf. atmaswarupa; Consciousness, the Self, original nature, our true essential nature. (embodiment, form of the Atma)
Atma-satta The potency of Atma (the Soul).
Atma-tattva reality of the Spirit; the primordial element; the consciousness that is the primeval element of existence;
advaita San. n. ‘having no duality’, ‘one without a second’; unity, non-dualism – the philosophy which sees creator and created as one, not two. Advaita contends that only brahman has any actual existence and considers the empirical world as illusion. In the words of its propagator, Adi-shankara: ‘Brahman permeates everything as butter permeates milk. Brahman is other than the universe. Nothing exists that is not brahman’. ‘All is Self. Self is all.’
vichara: self-inquiry; contemplation, thought; reflection and introspection
vichara: inner inquiry as against blind unreasoning faith.
viveka: discrimination


Question 194: Sir, among the wise men some remain in society and participate in mundane affairs, while others do not do so but remain fixed in samadhi. Between the two, who is superior ?

Answer: Ramji, first try to understand what is samadhi, what are its characteristics and what is the arousal of ideation (sankalpa). The state of samadhi is that state where a person realises as unreal everything that is between the ego and the phenomenal attributes, and considers himself merely a witness and his chitta is always tranquil. He who is perfect in friendliness, compassion and humility and whose mind is free from sensual desires is said to be in the state of samadhi. To a person who has absolute faith that ‘I am pure consciousness and bliss’, and who is free from the attachments of the world, it makes no difference whether he stays with his family or in a forest — both are alike to him. Such a person is ever in samadhi.

Ramji, purity of the mind is highly beneficial and you must practise for that. He who is quiet overtly but is restless within, is not in samadhi. He who is engaged overtly but is in peace within, is said to he in samadhi. Where there is desire (vasana), there is restlessness; and where vasana is absent, there is always tranquillity. He who perceives presence of Atma in everything is said to be awake in his consciousness. He who considers the waking world a dream, is a person with enlightened consciousness.

Ramji, the entire universe exists in the individual consciousness. As is the attitude in the consciousness so is the experiential universe. The chitta – individual consciousness – is the seed of the universe, and the nature of the universe experienced is determined by the attitude of the individual consciousness. In reality, the entire universe is an aspect of Atma (Atmaswaroop-form of the atma); there is neither sat (the real) nor asat (the unreal); The potency of the Atma (the soul) only exists in itself. The wise perceive the universe as quiescent Atma.

Ramji, consciousness arises from ego, and the individual person suffers due to ego. It is due to ego that he experiences various kinds of joys and sorrows and wanders in the cycle of rebirths. When ego is annihilated, quiescence is attained. A wise one performs all actions without subtle ego because he knows that karma (action) too is unreal and, therefore, it is of no consequence to him whether any action takes place or not. Being stabilised in his true self, he visualises the universe with an attitude of non-duality (advaita) and performs actions as they naturally occur before him. Because he perceives nothing but Atma, he is a non-doer (akarta) even when he functions (performs karma).

Ramji, there is no distinction between a universe and Atma. Just as there is flow in water, so there is consciousness in Atma, and the universe is experienced due to modifications of consciousness. Just as there is sweetness in sugar cane, so there are time, space and objects in Atma. Just as there are waves and bubbles in water and these are not independent of water, so is ego not independent of Atma. It shows that the experiential universe is a manifestation of the primordial element (atma-tattva), Atma is all-pervasive and there is nothing outside Atma. Even though Atma is quiescent (unmodified), all potencies and modifications are latent in it. Intelligence, too, is an aspect of Atma.

Ramji, all persons come into being on the support of the knowledge-potency, and this potency arises from Atma, the Consciousness. It establishes the absence of distinctions between Atma and the universe. The non—dual indivisible Atma is immutable and indestructible. You must, therefore, concentrate upon this non-dual Atma.

Ramji, I shall now narrate for promoting your understanding the story of King Suraghu who, on obtaining wisdom from Rishi Mandavya, lived with equanimity. There ruled in Kranta Desh, a king named Suraghu who was wise and detached and had plenty of wealth. One day, it occurred to him that it was not right for him to punish criminals; but if he did not punish them, he could not rule. Being on the horns of a dilemma he could not decide either way. So he placed his problem before Rishi Mandavya and sought his advice how he could carry on his functions and yet remain in an even state. Upon this the rishi said to the king, “All disturbances arise from mind which is a non-entity and it is destroyed on reflection. All sufferings end when the mind becomes extinct”.

“There is only one way for the extinction of the mind and that is contemplation (vichara) and discrimination (viveka). First understand who ‘I’ am, what are senses, what is universe and what are birth and death. When you reflect like this over a period of time and realise yourself, you will not be affected by pain and pleasure, joy and sorrow, and attaining equanimity, you will be perfect in your functions. Contemplate constantly on Atma, and visualise everything with the attitude of Atma. Or, renounce everything that is perceived, and you will realise what remains thereafter as Truth. It is not possible to realise Atma without striving. You must engage yourself in spiritual discipline and try to disengage your conscious mind from manifest objects. When contemplation and vairagya (detachment) are fully developed within you, you will attain the bliss.” Saying so, the rishi returned to his place.

Thereafter the king, keeping himself in seclusion, used to reflect on “Who am I ?” After due reflection he arrived at the conclusion : “Neither I am anything nor does anything belong to me because all objects with names and forms exist in their own nature. Neither I am the objects, nor are the objects me.” Practising this way, he firmly realised that, “Nothing belongs to me nor do I belong to anybody. What I conceive as my own does not belong to me, because everything will part with me or perish in due course. I am a body in name only and that, too, is not within my control. It is, therefore, vain to be attached to the body. The senses, too, are not within my control because the feet cannot be made to function as hands, and the hands cannot be made to function as the eyes. If I order the eyes to hear they would not do so but would continue in their nature, because they do not belong to me. It shows that neither the senses belong to me nor do I belong to the senses.” Reflecting in this manner, King Suraghu renounced everything and began to be stabilised in awareness of the Atma (atma-satta). Thereafter he visualised everything as Brahman and his sufferings stopped and he continued to rule with an even mind.

Ramji, you, too, should develop similar attitude and contemplate so that your sufferings end, and then you will be established ever in the singular samadhi.


The fulfilment of the life of man consists in the realisation of the Atma; that is to say, experience of the Atma, the spirit. To get this realisation, one should be entirely free from vasanas or impulses. Moksha or Liberation is, in the true sense of the term, liberation from the bondage of these vasanas. These tendencies are of two types, benefic and malefic. The benefic tendencies are saturated with holiness; the malefic tendencies feed the mind and make it more and more uncontrollable and unsteady; they spread and strengthen the desire for objective pleasure.

If the pure vasanas (pure desires) or benefic impulses are encouraged and cultivated, they will not go on multiplying indefinitely and binding the mind: they become fried seeds, which will not sprout. If you stick to the pure vasanas, you can easily acquire knowledge of Brahman. These vasanas are characterised by such activities as the association with great souls, mahatmas, reverence for the great, conversation with them, following their advice, charity, fortitude, love, patience, truth, courage, continence, etc. These are the pure impulses. The impure impulses (vasanas) lead one to such vices as the craving to see things that cater to the lower desires (like cinema pictures): to eat dishes that are full of rajas (like fish, flesh, etc.); to drink intoxicants that ruin one’s personality; they develop anger, delusion, greed, conceit, deceit, hatred, envy etc. Such impure tendencies are of three types; worldly vasanas, scholarly or intellectual vasanas and physical or bodily vasanas. The physical or bodily vasanas (impulses) make man desire a beautiful physique, a strong sturdy build, a glossy skin that will never be disfigured by wrinkles and round hard muscles. The scholarly vasanas prompt man to crave for being known as an unrivalled expert and for the defeat of every competitor in the field. And lastly, the worldly vasanas, the craving for glory, for power, personal authority and pomp. All such desires can be grouped under this head. All these are impulses. These bind you to the wheel of samsara (the cycle of birth-death-birth-again) and tie you down to this Earth. The giant tree called mind has two seeds, Vasana and Prana. The seed becomes the tree, the tree yields the seed. The Prana moves because of the Vasanas. The Vasanas operate because of the Prana.

Of these, even if a single one is destroyed, the other too is destroyed. So, if the mind has to be free from their influence, ignorance or lack of wisdom, has to be transformed first. That ignorance does not exist alone; it has an off-spring: Ahamkara, selfishness. That demon, again, has two children, Raga and Vasana; that is to say, Passion and Craving. Passion and Craving are closely interrelated. As the passion, so the desire. They are sisters. Raga means attachment or attraction. Through Raga, man gets the feelings of my and mine; those feelings provoke desires; desires breed worry. Therefore, to remove Ahamkara these two, Raga and Vasana, have to be annihilated. That means ignorance has to go; for by that means alone can Ahamkara be killed. How to destroy ignorance and develop good knowledge? That is the question! The answer is: through meditation, stillness. The conquest of ignorance, Ahamkara, Raga and Vasana brings about Moksha or Liberation for the individual. Dhyana Vahini, p32


sands of time


Hamsa Gayatri
Om Hamsaaya Vidmahe
Paramahamsaya Dheemahi
Tanno Hamsa Prachodayat

“May we realise Hamsa that is our own Self as the Swan. Let us meditate on that Paramahamsa, the Supreme Self. May Hamsa illumine us.”

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