Vedanta, A Permanent Solution for Sorrow in One by Removing Ignorance and Bringing Peace: Swamini Prajnanatmananda

Mangalam, a poem by Swamini Prajnanatmananda (Pearl Richards)

The seat of peacefulness of this mind is all mangalam, Quietude, completely self satisfied, needing nothing.

Nothing is required when there is no other being.

Subtle shadows reveal something other than what is seen.

The mind is a reflecting pool where one finds space to pray.

Sometimes beside this hushed alter images of worship, Bhagavan in special forms, arise to greet the mind.

Siva, Krishna, Rama, Durga, Laksmi, Saraswati, Ganesha, Daksinamurti, one's very own Guru.

At other times Isvara is seated with no form.

How can Bhagavan be formless yet seated in the mind ?

There is no place where Isvara is not as though seated.

This is the mangalam of all pervasive Isvara.

Everywhere one joyously abides in Bhagavan.

Swamini Prajnanatmananda (Pearl Richards) has followed the path of Vedanta for several years. Her love for Vedanta finds expression in her poetry, like the poem above. She says poetry is often a form of contemplation. Sometimes it flows but usually has to be revised.

Based in the United States, Swamini Prajnanatmananda was introduced to Vedanta by Moliji, a disciple of Pujya Swami Dayananda, who was often at the home of the Krishnaswamy family. “At this home was my first time hearing of a Swami (Swami Nijananda) giving Vedanta talks. Moliji invited me to go to Arsha Vidya Gurukulam in Saylorsburg, Pennsylvania to meet Pujya Swami Dayananda who was about to return to India.”

At a quick week-end visit, Pujya Swamiji suggested that she come for a camp in the Fall to meet/hear another of his disciples - Pujya Swamiji Viditatmanandaji. Says Swamini Prajnanatmananda, “All of these meetings were incredible and changed my life.  Having searched to understand 'God', looking at and rejecting Buddhism, doing Rosicrucian studies, I dropped all such studies because with Isvara's anugraha of knowing these teachers and Gurus, I knew what I wanted to know.” 

She says she is indebted to Pujya Swamiji Dayanandaji, Pujya Swamiji Viditatmanandaji, Pujya Swamiji Tattvavidanandaji and many whose teachings have guided her. “The Guru holds up the mirror of the pramanam, sastra, all the texts of Vedanta. Through the Guru's classes and satsangs, one is enabled to see the vision that the Guru sees. Therefore all three, the Guru, the texts and satsang, are equally anugraha of Isvara. Of course, sharanam at the Guru's feet is imperative.”

When asked why she took up sanyasa, Swamini says, “What led up to sanyasa was an intense desire for moksha.  Having lived and studied for many years in a life style like sanyasa, I wanted to  make a complete commitment of study for the single pointedness of pursuing moksa.”

She says there are many verses, slokas and mantras from the scriptures that are inspiring to her. “All of the Bhagavad Gita, of course, but one of the favorites is:

मन्मना भव मद्भक्तो मद्याजी मां नमस्कुरु ।

मामेवैष्यसि युक्तवैवमात्मानं मत्परायणः ।।

May you become one whose mind is committed to Me, who is devoted to Me, who offers rituals unto Me and may you surrender to Me. Having  yourself prepared in this way and being one for whom I am the ultimate end, you will reach Me, the self alone. (Bhagavad Gita 9.34) (Swami Dayananda)

Another passage is found in both Chandogya Upanishad and Brhadaranyaka Upanisasd :

वाचारम्भणं विकारो नाम धेयम् ।

मृतिकेत्येव सत्यम् ।।

Based on mere word modification, clay alone is Satyam (Truth). This is a famous statement saying that the word 'pot' is , for a clay pot, not reality. There is only clay as the reality of one. There are not two entities - only one - clay.

प्रतिबोधविदितं मतममृतत्वं हि विन्दते ।

आत्मना विन्दते वीर्यं विद्यया विन्दतेSमृतम् ।।

Through all thoughts is amritam (Consciousness). Atma brings courage; Knowledge brings amritam (moksa). (Kenopanishad 2.4)

'अयमात्मा ब्रह्म '...

This Atma is Brahman. (Mandukyopanishad)

अस्ति भाति प्रियं रूप् नाम चेत्यंशपञ्चकम् ।

आद्यत्रयं ब्रह्मरूपं जगद्रूपं ततो द्वयम् ।।

Every object has five aspects, namely it exists, it shines and it is pleasing, and it has a form and a name. The first three are of the nature of Brahman and the last two are of the nature of the world. (Drg-Drsya Viveka 20. Swami Viditatmananda)

...'आत्मनस्तु कामाय सर्वं प्रियं भवति'......' 

All love is for the sake of oneself (Atma-Brahman)'...(Brhadaranyakopanisad 2.4.5)

ईशावास्यमिदं सर्वं यत्किच जगत्यां जगत् ।.....

All this, whatever is created in the world, is to be covered by the Lord. (Isavasyopanishad 1.)

सत्यं ज्ञानमनन्तं ब्रह्म.....

Brahman is satyam (truth, existence - existing in all times, Jnanam (Awareness, Consciousness, Jnaapti Jnanam - intelligence) and Anantam (limitlessness, completeness). (Taittiriyopanisad)

Finding her unique path in the light of the above verses, Swamini says “All the scriptures inspire one to contemplate on the Oneness of all - One indivisible Being which allows for acceptance of all cultural manifestations seeing the Reality of all as One alone and all apparent differences as super impositions upon that Reality. Recognizing this truth brings harmony to all who come to see the beauty of this Oneness. There could be harmony amongst all in true love and peace.”

She says a small contribution for each “is the privilege of passing on, sharing what has been learned at one Guru's feet and what has been learned from all Mahatmas, from all wise beings. This Knowledge which had its birth in India is actually anadi - beginningless, and is meant for all of mankind. It is sacred Knowledge which can free one completely - bringing one to know that one is already free. It is a matter of dropping ignorance of one's Self, the world and God.”

Living a daily life with the vision of Vedanta, says Swamini, “is seeing that all drishyam, seen, is mithya. This includes the body that one thought was the self.  'Neti, Neti' (split to na iti) - not this, not this, is important to know that what is superficial is adhyasa, superimposition on the Reality of all seen. One comes to have viveka and vairagya, dropping pairs of opposites and therefore watching raga-dvesha -  binding desires, likes  and  aversions drop off. There develops samatvam, an acceptance of what 'is'.  The mind develops shamata, a quietude, peaceful disposition. It is this mind which can bring the manifestation of the vision of Vedanta into one's life. Living with Vedanta is challenging oneself in every way to let go of all preconceived notions, all complexes belonging to the body-mind-sense complex, to see the Reality of life.”

And the destiny is to develop, “A mind free of conflicts (which) can be filled with Isvara, who is all love and peace. The goal is to know aikyam (become one) with Isvara, which is already a fact and for this love and peace to flow like the fragrance of a newly opened flower towards all,” says Swamini.

While modern psychology works on the mind, Swamini says it is but a band aid covering a wound that keeps coming back. “One has complexes centered on the mind and body - notions such as family and community. One falsely attributes what is of the body and mind to one's real Self. There is a mutual superimposition that takes place. The ego is a shadow, like a ghost, claiming to be the truth of one when it is but a superimposition, an imposter. Vedanta teaches that this imposter and all its complexes belong to a mind and body which are not the Self. This Self is always complete, free of complexes, eternal, limitless, boundless love and peace. Vedanta teaches that this Self is one's svarupa, one's true nature. So Vedanta is not a band-aid. It is a permanent solution for the sorrow in one's life removing ignorance of the beauty and peace of one's Self.”

As Swamini writes in her poem Saksi Caitanya,

My Guru has surprised me with answers unexpected,

This Saksi Caitanya in all beings is the same ' I '.

 (Featured Image credits: Shri Vinay Hegde, Artist and Founder of Vinay Hegde Creations)