Ashish Dalela

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  • Ashish Dalela

    This question is the same as the previous one. Hence, the answer is also the same.

    in reply to: Sound Vs Shabda – difference #13162
    Ashish Dalela

    Yes, this understanding comes to us slowly. There is a truth within us, but it is covered by three false things–materialism, voidism, and impersonalism. Materialism says there is no quality; everything is a physical quantity. Voidism says that even though there are qualities, they are contradictory, and the self is a quality, therefore, by removing all contradictions, the result must be nothingness. And impersonalism says that qualities are contradictory, but the self is non-qualitative and hence non-contradictory. And we are saying that there are qualities, the self is also a quality, in the material world these qualities are contradictory, and in the spirit they are non-contradictory.

    By accepting the presence of qualities, we reject materialism (the non-qualitative view of reality). By accepting that the qualities are contradictory in this world we explain how the soul is struggling with contradictions and hence can never be happy. However, by accepting that the self is qualitites, but they are non-contradictory, we reject voidism which says that the self must not exist due to contradictions, and impersonalism which says that it exists devoid of all qualities and hence contradictions. So, the rejection of materialism, voidism, and impersonalism is based on a single idea that everything is a quality but there are contradictory and non-contradictory qualities.

    So, we have to first understand how matter is qualities rather than quantities. These are called guna of prakriti. Then we have to understand how guna are contradictory, and the world evolves due to inner contradictions between qualities (not logical consistencies). Then we have to understand that the soul is seeking a state free of contradictions, because that is the only way it can be happy. And then we have to understand how these qualities can become non-contradictory. What we call the Supreme Person is all the qualities but devoid of all contradictions. If we serve this Supreme Person, then by becoming a part of His existence, we become free of contradictions.

    So, these are the simple basic propositions of our philosophy. These are not difficult to understand (provided they are explained properly). But they are very difficult to accept. Why? Because in our heart materialism, voidism, and impersonalism are also present. The confusion exists because these three ideas exist in us. So, we have to gradually remove them by studying philosophy, cultivating detachment, and practicing devotion. These are called jnanavairagya, and bhakti.

    Even though each of these three individually can be sufficient and produce the other two, the fact is that the absence of the other two creates many problems. So, bhakti without jnana and vairagya becomes impersonalism. Jnana without vairagya and bhakti becomes materialism. And vairagya without jnana and bhakti becomes voidism. Western materialism is the result of pursuing jnana without vairagya and bhakti. And so-called Eastern mysticism is the result of pursuing vairagya without jnana and bhakti. And a lot of pseudo-religious thinking in India is the result of bhakti without jnana and vairagya. Each of these three things is a trap. And one trap leads to another trap, and the soul cycles between these three kinds of traps, until it accepts all three.

    In simple words, cultivate, bhaktijnana, and vairagya, or devotion, knowledge, and detachment. By that combination, everything will be slowly attained, but there will be no reversal.

    in reply to: Sound Vs Shabda – difference #13152
    Ashish Dalela

    In the Sri Vaishnavism tradition, there is a beautiful story about a devotee of Lord Vishnu. A time comes when Saturn has to affect this devotee for 7.5 years. This period is called sade-sati in Indian astrology. But Saturn cannot act automatically. So he approaches the devotee and seeks his permission: Can I affect you? And the devotee says: No. Then Saturn begs the devotee: I have to do my job, and by my duty, I have to affect you for some time. Then the devotee agrees for 7.5 minutes. Out of compassion for Saturn’s position, the devotee agrees, and Saturn starts his effect.

    During this effect, the devotee is holding some ornament of the Lord, and that ornament falls from the devotee’s hands and it rolls over underneath the deity. Suddenly, some visitors come into the temple and they find this ornament missing, and they accuse the devotee of stealing it. This circus goes on for 7.5 minutes. Then, someone finds the ornament under the deity, and the devotee’s reputation is restored. By Saturn’s effect, there is disrepute for the devotee, for 7.5 minutes.

    The main point is that nothing is happening automatically if we know how to control things. It is always happening by the movement of consciousness. Even planetary actions are due to consciousness. And they might affect us against our will because we don’t have sense control. Otherwise, even demigods have to consult the devotee before they can affect them. If the devotee agrees, then the effect is created, only for the time that the devotee has permitted. So, we must understand how powerful this process is even from a material perspective. Nothing can happen to you until you grant your permission. This is the meaning of saying that the soul can control matter. This control is not for everybody. It is available for those who have mastered sense control.

    in reply to: Sound Vs Shabda – difference #13151
    Ashish Dalela

    Begin by reading this post: The Tortoise Model of Perception.

    Your normal view of perception is sound is emitted, it moves toward your ears, and then it enters the ears, and then the brain, where it is recognized. This model of perception is not accepted in the Vedic scriptures. The senses are like the limbs of a tortoise. They are moving out, coming into contact with the sense objects, and by that contact, sense perception is created. The result is that if we control our senses, then we will not perceive the world. By sense control, we will only perceive what we want to perceive. Like I said in the earlier response, consciousness can be withdrawn from pain.

    There are many equivalent descriptions of this process. In a simple sense, we can say that our consciousness “goes out” to attach to the world. In a more sophisticated sense, we can say that the senses are “going out” to attach to the world. And an even more sophisticated description is that the prana is moving. What Prabhupada calls “air” is prana. You have to see the prior sentence.

    We can perceive the action of the air when the branches of a tree move or when dry leaves on the ground collect together. Similarly, it is only by the action of the air that a body moves, and when the air circulation is impeded, many diseases result.

    The “action of the air” means that there is prana and it has an effect. The tree branches and leaves move as a result of this prana. Matter exists in a state of potentiality and it doesn’t move automatically. It is moved by prana, which acts in the control of Causal Time, guna, karma, and chitta. So, five agencies are responsible for the movement. Ultimately, guna, karma, chitta, and prana are present only if a soul is present. Hence, consciousness must always be present. Similarly, Causal Time is also consciousness. So, everything moves due to that consciousness.

    When a sound is perceived, there is–(a) a channel of communication, and (b) information transacted on this channel. You can think of the client-server model of communication. The source of sound sends a request to the receiver: Do you want to listen? If the ear is eager, it accepts the request, and a connection is established, and sound is received. If the ear is withdrawn, that request is ignored, and then the sound doesn’t enter our ears, and then the sound is not heard.

    Prabhupada states the same thing as follows: “If the air circulation is stifled, we cannot approach a place after hearing”. What is “after hearing”? It is received request: Do you want to hear? What is “approach a place”? It is the information received after connection establishment. This information exchange cannot occur “if the air is stifled”. Everything is very precisely presented.

    All this seems hard because we are accustomed to think in terms of motion of matter. But in Vedic philosophy, matter doesn’t move. The consciousness moves from one place to another. So, when you hear an object, sound is not moving. Rather, the consciousness is moving to the sound. To make the consciousness move, there has to be an attract, a “request”. That request is not movement of matter but the movement of prana under the influence of another consciousness. In short, even that “request” is another consciousness interacting with our consciousness to create a connection. Thus, everything is easy if we know that matter is not moving; only the soul is moving.

    You can think of a flood, cyclone, or storm. Many things are destroyed but some things are not. The things that are protected, are saved because the flood sends a request to each thing: Should I affect you? If there is bad karma, then it is automatically approved. But those who know how to control the prana or those who don’t have the bad karma decline this request. Then there is no effect.

    All these things require a peaceful mind. Impatience will not produce any realization. You can read Time and Consciousness when you have time. It discusses this process in detail.

    in reply to: Sound Vs Shabda – difference #13135
    Ashish Dalela

    The term śabda is loosely translated as “sound”, just like vāyu is translated as “air”. This doesn’t mean what most people think it does. Vāyu, for example, means that which produces a push and pull force but it cannot be seen. This vāyu is called “dark matter” and “dark energy” in science. It is dark because it cannot be seen. This is translated as “air” because when the wind blows, it exerts a force although you cannot see the wind. So, that which exerts pressure but cannot be seen is called “air”. But this “air” is not “wind”. In Sanskrit, “wind” is called by another word pavanVāyu and pavan are not the same. The problem is that in English, there are two words (air and wind), but both mean the same thing. So, whatever word we use, we always end up in a misunderstanding.

    Similarly, there are other words such as svara and nāda, which denote ordinary sounds that we hear. And śabda is not that sound. But in English, the distinction between svaranāda, and śabda is not present. There is only one word called “sound”. So, when śabda is translated into English, then we create confusion because English doesn’t have the distinctions. Then people think that śabda is sound, and sound is svara, and svara is vibration, so śabda must be the vibration we hear.

    The term śabda means a symbol of meaning. However, when that śabda becomes a nāda then the ears can hear it, but the ears cannot understand the meaning. Thereby, a difference between word and meaning is created. Then we need a dictionary for word meanings. But śabda is not nāda. The former is meaning and the latter is sound. Only the mind perceives the śabda. As a result, if the mind is purified, then it understands śabda. But if the mind is contaminated, then śabda is not understood. Then we hear nāda and try to grasp śabda mentally, but it is not very easy.

    So, śabda is mentally perceivable meaning, and nāda is perceived by the ear. Since there is no word for distinguishing between śabda and nāda, therefore, the same word “sound” is used which creates confusion. This confusion is resolved if we understand that śabda is mental and nāda is sensual.

    Then, there is another distinction between nāda and “sound vibration” in modern science. For example, svara is a type of nāda and it is described using 7 types called sa-re-ga-ma-pa-dha-ni. But science will say that it is a “frequency”. However, science cannot explain why some frequency is considered melody while another frequency is not. Why? Because svara and nāda are measured by their effects on our senses, while “frequency” is measured in relation to a physical object.

    So, even svara and nāda are not the “sound vibration” of physics. Each person has a unique base note or sa and it is not a fixed scale. Based on the context, a different vibration becomes a sa. Thus, factually, any frequency can be sa. And based on that, all other notes are defined contextually.

    So, what are notes? They are like the words first, second, third, etc., not one, two, three. For example, in your exams, the boy who stands first may get 500 marks, then the boy who stands second may get 475 marks, and the boy who stands third may get 470 marks, etc. By the cardinal system of counting (one, two, three, ..) they got 500, 475, and 470 marks. But by the ordinal system of counting (first, second, third, …) they get a rank. The rank is not the same as the marks. So, svara and nāda are like the rank (first, second, third), and the “sound vibration” of physics is like the marks (the frequency of first, second, third). They are related, but they are not the same thing.

    So, don’t try to mix śabdanādasvara with the “sound vibration” of physics. This mixing is the unfortunate consequence of the absence of words in English, but it cannot be helped today.

    According to our philosophy, the “sound vibrations” in physics are not reality. They are effects. Effect on what? A measuring instrument. This effect is called kriya and it is produced by a quality called guna. The reality is the guna and it produces an effect called kriya. But modern science ignores the guna and models the reality on the same lines as the physically measured effects. For example, in atomic theory, by extension of observation or kriya, the reality is called the “quantum of action”. But we don’t agree with that. A quantum is a guna and the kriya is an effect.

    So, when modern science talks about vibration, they are extending the observed effect or kriya into a conception of reality. But when the Vedic science describes that same vibration, then it says: The appearance is not the reality; the reality is guna and its effect is a kriya. This kriya can be measured by physical instruments and modern science converts kriya itself into reality. But Vedic science tries to explain this kriya based on guna. The result is this. Kriya can be described both as qualities and quantities. For example, the activity of running can be described as some physical motion. But guna can never be described as physical properties. So, when modern science makes reality a kriya, then it makes the kriya physical properties, and then we get an incomplete description. That incompleteness is the many problems in science, for example, quantum incompleteness.

    However, in Vedic philosophy, they say that kriya must be explained by guna, which is never to be described in terms of physical properties. So, we get a qualitative explanation (guna) of something that can be measured as quantities, although it could also be described as qualities (e.g., running). Hence in Vedic philosophy, both guna and kriya are qualities. But because kriya can also be measured as quantities, therefore, when this kriya is extended back into reality, then we get a physical conception of reality. This confusion is resolved when we understand that what we are observing is kriya or an effect, and it is the effect of quality or guna and not quantity.

    Now, we can return to the question of what śabda is. It is qualities or guna. These qualities combine to produce qualitative meaning. This meaning can be grasped by the mind. Even svara and nāda are qualities for our senses. However, if you measure the effect of svara and nāda on a physical instrument, then you are measuring the kriya and then converting that kriya to a quantity. That effect is not the reality or śabda. The confusion of translations is that the śabda is converted into nāda, then nāda is converted into svara, then svara is converted into kriya, and then the kriya is measured using physical instruments rather than the senses, and we get a quantity called “frequency”. Meanwhile, due to the absence of words in English, everything is called “sound”.

    But if we study properly then we can understand the differences. The difference between guna and kriya is discussed in Vaiśeṣika. Similarly, śabda is described as meaning everywhere. And nāda and svara are studied in music. Once we study all these things, then there is no confusion. Otherwise it is nothing but confusion. These confusions are partly due to English and mostly due to the lack of understanding of how reality can be described qualitatively rather than quantitatively.

    in reply to: Recognizing an Avatar of God #13125
    Ashish Dalela

    Apart from scriptural references, God is recognized by great feats. Sri Chaitanya’s feat is dancing. His dancing is so beautiful that everyone was entrapped by it. Nobody can dance like Him. He attracted everyone just by dancing. Even great philosophers were attracted by His dancing. It’s not that these philosophers have not seen great dance previously. They have seen great musicians and great dancers because it exists everywhere in India, and more so in the past. But they had never seen a dancer like Him. So, dancing is the great feat by which Sri Chaitanya is recognized.

    It is also important to recognize that all dance forms in India have a spiritual origin. There are classical dance forms based on Lord Shiva’s dance, Lakshmi’s dance, Parvati’s dance, etc. There is exotic beauty in these dances, and that’s why they have continued for thousands of years. But advanced people could see that Sri Chaitanya’s dance was completely different from all of these, and so much more superior than all other dances. What is that superiority? It is the ability of the dance form to express emotions that could never be expressed before. For example, if surrender to God has to be depicted, then one could fold their arms or bow. But that doesn’t adequately depict the deep feelings of devotion. Sri Chaitanya expressed the mood of surrender by raising His arms. Just by raising His arms, He showed how the feeling of devotion is the mood of separation and helplessness. In this way, He explained what bhakti is, better than anyone else has explained in the past.

    A few decades ago, Michael Jackson introduced a new form of dance, and people went mad about it. But hardly anybody cares about that dance form today. His dancing was very vulgar, and nobody danced like that to express their love. It was just acrobatic and unique, but not a way to express moods. After the initial craze about that dance, in a few years, it has practically disappeared. This indicates how people lost interest in this type of dancing. But Sri Chaitanya’s form of dancing is going on after 500 years. All other classical dance forms are declining, and this dance which expresses the mood of vulnerability and helpless cry for the Lord is increasing. This is a great feat. Its greatness has to be recognized in comparison to the relative decline of everything else while this continues to grow. The highest truth rises even when all other things are declining.

    Similarly, He introduced the Hare Krishna mantra which thousands of people are singing even today. People create so many songs and they die after a few years. But Sri Chaitanya’s song is sung after 500 years. There is not a single mantra or song that has any parallel following. Even when people have stopped chanting Gayathri and OM, they are chanting Hare Krishna. This is proof that the Hare Krishna mantra is growing even as people are losing interest in all mantras. This is a great feat. He has given a mantra that people will accept even when they reject everything else.

    Sri Chaitanya explained the nature of God as nobody has done before. There are Vaishnava schools in India that have existed for thousands of years, and their conception of God is as a master or father. In some places, Krishna’s pastimes as a child are also discussed. But there was not a single place where Krishna’s pastimes with the gopis were discussed, or their love was even understood.

    While sexuality is all-pervading in human society, God is always depicted as an asexual person. There is no religion in the world where God’s sexuality is discussed. There is some sexuality in Shaiva Tantras but it is minimal. There is Shiva and Shakti, and the world is produced by their union, and that’s it. In Vaishnavism, God has always been asexual. Sri Chaitanya introduced the philosophy of divine love and spiritual sexuality, showing God as a Sexual Being.

    For thousands of years, religion is taught as the antithesis of sexuality. So, to say that this sexual love of God is the highest form of love of God was unimaginable in any system of religion.

    Earlier, we could trace the origin of everything in God, but we could not trace the origin of sex in God. That’s because no philosophy will allow it, although sex is all-pervasive like food in the world. So God can eat, God can sleep, and God can fight, in classical Vaishnavism. But God can’t have erotic sexual feelings. Sri Chaitanya changed that. The most conservative Vaishnava systems accepted that Krishna is the supreme form because He exhibits this sexual love, and it is the highest love.

    To institute this idea, He had to explain that everyone is inferior to God, but the gopis are superior to God. Otherwise, you will get a Lakshmi-Narayana or Sita-Rama form, where the feminine form is inferior, and God remains asexual. To explain this sexual love, there had to be a novel theology in which the feminine form is superior to the masculine form. This is a huge revolution.

    Most religions of the world consider God as exclusively masculine. Then, in Vaishnavism and Shaivism, the feminine form is subordinate to the masculine form. At most, in some scriptures, you can say that the masculine and feminine forms are considered equal. But in Sri Chaitanya’s philosophy, the masculine form is subordinate to the feminine form. So, God is subordinate to His consort. Again, we cannot imagine how revolutionary this idea is. It never happened in the past.

    Most religions have always looked down upon the feminine form. So to say that the feminine form is the most worshipable was something imaginable. Sri Chaitanya changed the image of the Divine.

    Now we have to understand that the Vedic system is so rigid that it doesn’t entertain new ideas willy-nilly. Everything goes according to a sampradaya tradition, and things cannot be changed. It is based on this rigidity that the system has survived unchanged for thousands of years. Other religions keep changing their books, adding and removing ideas, but the Vedic system does not. The moment you change even a small thing, you are kicked out of that system. In a sampradaya only things said in the past can be repeated with a little variation in understanding. For example, new mantras cannot be introduced. New methods of practice–e.g., singing and dancing–cannot be introduced. New theological aspects like the erotic love of God are inconceivable. And radical ideas such as the feminine form of God being superior to the masculine form are absolutely impossible.

    We can’t appreciate these things today because it has become fashionable in today’s world for people to change things easily, based on what people will accept. However, the Vedic system is different. They will kick out a deviant immediately, and never modify the traditional system. To appreciate these changes, we have to remember that this is happening in the Vedic system, not other religions. Then again, even when other religions were changing things willy-nilly, they never introduced the kind of radical ideas that Sri Chaitanya introduced. And He did it in the most conservative system.

    If new and radically different ideas have to be introduced in the Vedic system, then who can do it? Only God is permitted to do it. Only God can impart a new understanding about Himself. Only God can say that there is something superior to Him. Nobody else is allowed to make that statement.

    The other four Sampradayas, called Lakshmi, Rudra, Kumara, and Brahma Sampradayas, could never have done this because they can only follow the tradition established previously. And they did their job through the philosophies of Vishitadvaita, Suddhadvaita, Bhedaabheda, and Dvaita. But they cannot articulate a philosophy where the Sakti agitates and controls God. This is when something outside these four Sampradayas had to occur. And that had to be God Himself. He established Srimati Radha as the personality who controls Krishna, not by force but by love.

    All other ideas of superiority and control are based on power, and this superiority is based on love. Thus, without contradicting any previous Sampradaya system, Sri Chaitanya created something completely unique, unprecedented, and unthinkable anytime in the past. This is God’s feat.

    Thus, Sri Chaitanya is God because He performed great feats that nobody has done before. And He performed these feats not by force but by a message of love, without breaking any tradition, but by advancing all the traditions. What He did was impossible in any of the four Sampradayas, and by that impossibility, the highest truth of the love of God would forever remain hidden from people.  Since He said what was not said by Lord Shiva, Lakshmi, Brahma, and the Kumaras, therefore, He was accepted as bringing a message that could only have been brought about by God Himself. Intelligent people recognized how impossible this was, and hence they accepted Him as God.

    in reply to: The role of Abrahamic religions #13123
    Ashish Dalela

    Faith is accepted in Vedic philosophy also in the sense that you have to have some faith to read a book, some faith to approach a teacher, some faith to try a path. If there is no faith then nothing would be done. But “faith” is not the right word for this. The word is sraddha. This word has no English translation. It means reverence and trust and affection. And even this trust and reverence is not opposed to reason and observation. That’s why there is so much philosophy to understand rationally, and there is a practice for practical realization, step by step, in this life. This type of practical realization and philosophical discussion is not there in any other system in the world. Even modern science is a closed system in the sense that it operates under certain assumptions. You can only improve things within those assumptions, but you cannot challenge those assumptions. But in Vedic philosophy, you can challenge anything, and we try to answer everything. If we cannot answer it, then it is a sign that our understanding is not yet perfect, but the question is not invalid.

    Regarding the Jungian style archetypes, they are called mahattattva in Sankhya philosophy. You can call them “essences of greatness”. This mahattattva exists in every person, and it exists as your personal ideals. For example, some people might think that hard work is an ideal, honesty is an ideal, etc. And others might think that honesty and hard work are for the weak; ultimately might is right. So, there are many different ideals, and when the soul enters the material world he accepts some ideals, and based on those ideals the rest of the material life is shaped. So, there is no need to reject Jungian-style thinking; but we can reject the idea that soul and God are mahattatva. Western psychology doesn’t know how to go deeper than moral principles and ideals of life. So they claim that soul and God are nothing but these ideals. But for us, these are material principles, and soul and God are transcendent to matter. Hence, religion is also transcendent to these moral ideals.

    All these things are discussed in different books. You should try to read them one by one.

    in reply to: The role of Abrahamic religions #13120
    Ashish Dalela

    Below is an excerpt from the book Cosmic Theogony‘s last chapter entitled “Mythology and Psychology”:

    In one fell swoop, Jung resurrected all of mythology as the study of the human psyche. Therefore, if you heard about the fall of Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden, you must think not in terms of real people who fell from a real garden, but as presenting a recurring story in which the rational side of a person (Adam) is tempted by their emotional side (Eve) when the emotions are stirred by an enticement (the snake) who offers a pleasure (poisonous fruit) which has earlier been forbidden by God (the moral sense). Upon indulging in that forbidden pleasure, you lose the happiness you had (life in a garden). The point of the story then would be to not give in to your temptations and allow better sense to prevail to preserve your happiness in the longer run.

    How many times have you seen this story repeat in your life, or around you? How many movies have been made, for example, where a married couple loses their happiness because one of the partners decides to indulge in an extra marital affair, and both partners fall from their platform of happiness?

    Jung’s point is that such stories are embedded in our psyche as moral narratives. They represent the ideal and exalted behaviors expected of humans, and nobody gets tired of telling these stories again and again. The pattern of the story is the archetype, and religion is the sum total of such stories. However, since these stories are already embedded in our deep psyche, in one sense they are unconscious, and when religious texts narrate them, they only state what we can easily relate to, and by bringing them to the surface through a narration, the religious texts only present what is already within. The gods and deities are therefore not real personalities. They are instead part of our psyche and religion shows us the mirror in which we can see what lies deep within as the unconscious. Contrary to Freud—who viewed the unconscious as depraved ego, perversion, and lust—Jung saw human ideals in it.


    This type of thing is not new; it was earlier tried even for Vedic scriptures. For example, the Bhagavad-Gita is given an interpretation in which Arjuna is the mind, Krishna is the intelligence, the Kurukshetra battle is the battle of life, and the intelligence advises the mind on how to act. So, when Krishna says “surrender to Me”, the interpreter will say “surrender to the intellect”. When Krishna says “become my devotee”, then the interpreter will say “become the devotee of the intelligence”. When Krishna says “you are my friend”, then the interpreter will say “intelligence is the friend of the mind”. In this way, everything becomes a moral story about how life must be lived.

    This is almost an irrefutable philosophical twist where the scientific concepts are imaginary stories about the world using concepts such as space, time, matter, and causality, and the religious concepts are similarly imaginary stories about the world using moral values, archetypes, and ideals, etc. Both science and religion are creations of the mind, and they are both useful for human society.

    But when religion becomes a story about the world, or how to live in the world, rather than transcendence from the world into eternal life, then its purpose is lost. Now, you strip the religion of concepts such as karma and reincarnation, and God is a human invention to lead a better life. Now you can even produce an evolutionary account of religion–it helps us survive better.

    But we don’t view Vedic philosophy in this way. Religion is the theory of everything, period. There is no scientific theory separate from moral story separate from cosmology or sociology. So, in Jordan Peterson’s approach, psychology will remain one of the dozens of academic departments, all mutually incompatible. And in our approach, there will be one department of the study of God in which we study everything as an aspect of God. This is the radical approach of the Vedic texts.

    The mind is described in three ways in the West. In Locke’s philosophy, it is a blank slate. In Freud’s theories, it is forever contaminated. In Jung’s approach, it is already pure. The result of these theories is that there is simply no impetus to purify the mind. Either it already has the pure and perfect ideas (Jung), or it was a blank slate at birth and we have filled it with knowledge about the world (Locke), or it is forever dirty and there is nothing to feel guilty about (Freud).

    Now contrast these ideas with the basic principle in Christianity where the soul is sinful and fallen in the world due to its sins, and needs the help of a savior messiah to take it out of this world. Again, you have nothing to do, because Jesus will do it for you. You just have to accept Jesus as a savior.

    In short, if you are sinful, you need someone else to purify you (Christianity). Or, you are sinful but stop feeling guilty about it (Freud). Or you are already innocent (Locke). Or you are already enlightened (Jung). The net result is that you stay where you are because you are never going to make an effort to progress because you don’t want to accept any hardship. So, people may talk about this or that approach, but the point is that they don’t take anybody anywhere. These are merely apologies, rationalizations, and justifications for staying in the status quo situation.

    in reply to: The role of Abrahamic religions #13118
    Ashish Dalela

    Srimad Bhagavatam 1.1.2 states:

    dharmaḥ projjhita-kaitavo ’tra paramo nirmatsarāṇāṁ satāṁ

    The term kaitava has the following meanings from the dictionary:

    कैतव n. kaitava cheating
    कैतव n. kaitava gambling
    कैतव adj. kaitava deceitful
    कैतव n. kaitava roguery
    कैतव n. kaitava fraud
    कैतव n. kaitava falsehood
    कैतव n. kaitava deceit

    The term nirmatsara has the following meanings from the dictionary:

    निर्मत्सर adj. nirmatsara without envy or jealousy
    निर्मत्सर adj. nirmatsara unselfish

    The meaning of the verse is that all kinds of cheating, deceitful, false religions are forbidden here. This Bhagavatam is for the highest truth (param) for the truthful and non-envious (nirmatsarāṇāṁ satāṁ). By this statement, there is an indirect recognition that there are many cheating, deceitful, and false religions. But they are followed by those who are jealous of God, and selfish.

    Factually, there is no form of God in Vedic philosophy that responds to jealous or selfish attitudes. None. Not a single one. There is no form of God with whom you can enter into a contract. None. Not a single one. All forms of God require unconditional surrender, rejection of all materialistic propensities. Those who cannot do that, take to impersonalism, which is permitted as a state in which you bury your head in the sand such that you cannot see anything other than the self. When the head is buried in the sand, and the world disappears from the vision, then it is called “liberation” from the world. That is certainly allowed and permitted as the Brahman liberation.

    Then, there are levels below that which pertain to the merger into the causal ocean in which you don’t bury your head in the sand, but you enter the state of deep sleep. Now, you cannot even feel your own existence, even though it exists. This is called nirvikalpa-samadhi. This state is aspired for by the Buddhists. Higher than this, but lower than Brahman, is the state in which the soul enters the planet of Lord Shiva, who is identified as Time. In this state, you can see the world, you are conscious (and not in deep sleep), but you see the world timelessly. For example, you know that if there is prosperity today, then there will be poverty tomorrow. The poor will become rich, and the rich will become poor. You don’t have the short-term perspective. You have a really long-term perspective. It is better than deep sleep, and inferior to the Brahman realization.

    In this way, within the Vedic system, at least three forms of “religions” that lead to a deep sleep state, a timeless material observation state, and a head buried in the sand to see the self, are recognized. These are examples of what the Srimad Bhagavatam calls cheating, deceitful, and false religions.

    Similarly, the system of sacrifices is not meant for demigod worship. I’m translating the Mimamsa Sutras presently and they spend a full chapter (out of 12 chapters) repudiating demigod worship. They clearly state that the Lord of the universe is the only personality to be worshipped. Even when demigods are worshipped, since Lord Vishnu is worshipped prior, this is said to lead to progress. This so-called karma-kanda system is held in higher esteem than impersonal liberation. All claims of “oneness” are summarily rejected, even as demigod worship is conditionally accepted on the premise that because the Lord of the universe is worshipped, hence it leads to progress.

    But there are three problems here. First, the sacrifice system that caste Brahmanas were practicing before Buddhism was against the Mimamsa system; so it was already a cheating religion. Second, its repudiation by Buddhism replaced one cheating religion with a second cheating religion. Third, the repudiation of Buddhism by Advaita again replaced the second cheating religion with a third.

    We look at this history and say: Something is happening here, but the fact is that nothing of value is being produced. One false idea is replaced by another, then another, then another. We can understand this perspective if we study the whole Vedic system and the Srimad Bhagavatam. Then we can see why it begins by saying “we forbid all cheating religions”. It means that there are many cheating religions, which are practiced by the envious, selfish, and materialistic people.

    Once you have taken this exhaustive analysis of the systems within the Vedic tradition, then you can also look outwardly. Any so-called religion of contracts is a cheating religion because God never enters any contracts. Unconditional, unquestioned, and undemanding loving devotion. Sri Chaitanya expounds on this philosophy deeply: I don’t want wealth, I don’t want beautiful women, and I don’t want liberation. Life after life just an opportunity to perform bhakti. In short, even salvation is rejected, then what to speak of other materialistic contractual ideas. So, anybody who says that we have a contract with God made up something that is impossible. At least the root of that claim is impossible in principle, although there may be some other truths in them.

    Now there are some possibilities, on how to understand these religions. The first possibility is that these religions evolved out of the system of worship of the Sun, Moon, and Stars, as remnants of an erstwhile Vedic culture. I have described this view of religions in the book Cosmic Theogony. There is good evidence presented in this book that these are in some way loosely connected to the worship of Brahma (Judaism), Vishnu (Christianity), and Shiva (Islam). The religion of Lord Shiva is also the religion of the Moon, that of Lord Vishnu is also the religion of the Sun, and that of Brahma is also the religion of stars. Abraham and his wife Sarai might be Brahma and Saraswati.

    The second possibility (a very strong one) is that all these systems were extensively modified by political forces. The scriptures were not in the control of Brahmanas but in the control of Kshatriyas. Even when there were some Brahmanas, they were not from a disciplic succession. They just emerged out of nowhere, started writing some stuff, and inserted their speculations. A lot of evidence for this is presented by Western scholars. Some scholars have argued that 82% of the New Testament is doctored. There are other pieces of evidence presented about the influence of Romans on the Bible, about the conflicts between the Church and the Kings which lead to changes.

    There is also evidence available that after the supposed dawn of Islam, coins were still being minted with images of rulers on them, so the Islamic forbidding of images must have come later. Likewise, there is now evidence that the earliest Mosques–for a period until 200 years after Islam’s advent–had their Quibla pointing toward Petra and not Mecca or Medina. Since Petra was destroyed by an earthquake in the interim, there might have been changes to retell a story differently.

    The point is that there are so many discrepancies that doctoring to some extent is the only conclusion. To what extent, and to what extent in the philosophy, is not well known.

    A third possibility (which is highly debated) is that the personalities indicated in the texts never existed. In short, they were manufactured out of thin air by some people who had vested interests. I don’t think this is a very well-proven theory but people are trying to justify things forcibly.

    My personal view is that the truth is a mixture of the above three possibilities. That is, there was a remnant religion of Sun/Moon/Stars and Vishnu/Shiva/Brahma, which was extensively modified by kings and uninitiated priests for their selfish ends, and some falsehood and fabricated folklore was inserted in the process to make it attractive and appealing to common people. The personalities mentioned in these texts existed, but in what we have today, it is hard to tell what is true and what is not. There were probably good intentions behind these, but either the truth was misrepresented to appeal to the people who would not have otherwise been interested (e.g., that you can enter into a contract with God), or simply made up subsequently through changes to make it appealing (because people figured out that the original truthful presentation was not getting widely accepted).

    This is an active area of research and scholarship in a lot of religious studies departments, and I’m neither the expert nor do I have the time to do focus on these things. So, I can’t comment further on this topic, but certainly, there is scope for excavating this area more.

    I have some interest in understanding how Vedic philosophies and ideas influenced Western civilizations, but that’s again not my focus. For instance, a Greek scholar named E. Pococke wrote a book entitled “India in Greece” during colonial times, where he tries to show linguistic connections between Sanskrit and Greek. The British burned this book as it went against their narrative. But it is possible that the Greek ideas of demigod worship and Platonism were based on Mimamsa philosophy.

    There is so much that needs to be done, and so few people wanting to do it. That’s the short summary.

    in reply to: The science of prasadam and kirtan #13115
    Ashish Dalela

    Information is transferred and consciousness is not transferred. Consciousness is tied to the soul. If consciousness was transferred then the soul would also be transferred. So, if someone buys a painting of a person, then they would have bought the person. Then if they burn the painting, then they would have burnt the person. All these would be the insane outcomes of your proposal.

    You can say that the product of consciousness is transferred but the consciousness is not transferred. By receiving that product, our consciousness is also transformed. So there is a source, a destination, and a medium. The medium carries information about the source, not the source to the destination.

    in reply to: The science of prasadam and kirtan #13096
    Ashish Dalela

    It is not the “transfer of consciousness” but the transfer of mood.

    You can understand this by an example. If a sentence is spoken, then, there are some words, that are combined into a sentence by grammar, and then there is the mood of uttering the sentence. These three combine to produce an utterance. The mood is perceived in a speech by the tone. For example, you can say the same sentence happily, surprisingly, sarcastically, questioningly, angrily, jokingly, soberly, etc. All these moods change the tone of the speech, so the mood is in the speech.

    When you hear someone speaking angrily then may become angry as well. Likewise, if you listen to someone happily, then you may become happy. So the mood of the speaker is transferred from the speaker to the listener through the speech because that mood is present in the speech as tone.

    In modern linguistics, it is believed that the “meaning” of the word is only in the mind, but we don’t accept that idea. The meaning is present in the body, or the speech as well. But it requires a different kind of measurement. Just like in an angry person, the blood pressure is high, or in a nervous person, the pulse rate is high. So, the mood of the person changes the bodily state. That pulse or blood pressure is not the mood, but an effect of the mood. From that effect, the mood can be created. So, there is bidirectional causality from the body to the mind and from the mind to the body.

    When an angry person cooks food, then that angry mood is transferred to the food, and by consuming that food the anger is transferred into the person who is eating it. Similarly, the mood of the chanter is present in the chanting, and by listening to that chanting the mood is transferred.

    Of course, it needs a developed mind to read the moods and emotions in the words. This is especially true when we are ourselves not familiar with the mood. If you have never felt anger, then you cannot understand the angry tone in speech. Likewise, if we haven’t felt the devotional mood, then we cannot understand the devotional mood, even though it is there. But if we repeatedly associate with that mood, then we can get a glimpse of how it “feels”, and then we can understand it as well.

    So, when we listen to an advanced devotee, there are three things–(a) words or cognitive meaning, (b) grammar or order of the words which create a unique meaning, and (c) the mood. Of these, the cognitive meaning of words is the easiest, the meaning created by the order is harder, and the meaning created by the mood is the hardest. All these three things are combined into the term artha which is sometimes translated as “meaning”, sometimes as “purpose”, and sometimes as “object”.

    In combination with sabda, sabda-artha means word-meaning or cognitive meaning. In combination with purusapurusa-artha means the purpose of life, which is happiness or emotive meaning. In combination with indriyaindriya-artha means objects of the senses or the object that the senses are referencing or pointing toward, and it is the relational meaning. So, all three uses of artha are possible, and in different places, one specific meaning of artha is employed.

    All my books discuss these three kinds of meanings. But the question of prasadam or not listening to someone is not discussed. So, I have described them here but you can read them in the books as well.

    in reply to: Visishtadvaita conception of object and property #13089
    Ashish Dalela

    Not necessarily. Jiva being an object doesn’t mean it’s an independent object.

    So, we have to understand the difference between independent and dependent objects.

    dependent object is a part of the whole, and an independent object is not part of the whole. There is nothing wrong with being an object. The problem is the supposed independence of objects.

    Saying that I’m not an object is one way to destroy independence. But there is another way in which there is objectivity and yet not independence. Objectivity exists without independence.

    The difference is simple. If you are only a property, then you do as God says. But He must say; He must tell you what to do and you do it. Like a servant who waits for a command. But if there is an object, although not independent, then that object will do things even without being told to do so.

    Just like a mother will feed the child even if the child is not asking for food. In fact, sometimes the child will say–“I don’t want to eat anything”–and the mother will say–“If you don’t eat you will die”. The mother is serving the child without being asked, even against what the child is asking.

    This is a difference in mood. In Vishishtadvaita, God is the master, and we are the servants. We do what God asks for. But upon more advancement, God is the child and the devotee is the mother. The mother serves the child but doesn’t necessarily obey the child. Or, the mother doesn’t wait for God to ask for something. Sometimes, the mother will scold the child, punish the child. So, initially, service means obedience. And upon more advancement, service means mastery. Then God becomes subordinate. He has to obey, and sometimes even He becomes the devotee’s servant.

    In this way, there is progressive realization. Initially, we are just the property of God, just like a car. The car will not run automatically. But it will run upon the master asking for it. The devotee is also like a self-driven car; he waits for the command and then fulfills it. But upon more advancement, the car will decide where it has to go–as the car knows what the passenger will enjoy. And God will become helpless: “I don’t know what to do; I’m totally dependent on you; take Me somewhere”.

    This type of advancement is presented in Gaudiya Vaishnavism where God is not just our master. Rather, He is also the servant of His father, obedient to His mother, defeated by His friends, and chastized by His girlfriends. And He is also rebellious. So, He sometimes accepts defeat, and then He tries to win. This is not a contradiction of Vishishtadvaita. But it is more advanced. Therefore, we can never say that Sri Ramanujacharya’s philosophy is wrong. His philosophy is perfect. But there is more perfect, most perfect also. In this way, philosophy is evolved for more perfection.

    God controls the devotee in Vishishtadvaita, and the devotee controls God in Gaudiya Vaishnavism. Therefore, a devotee is a property of God in Vishishtadvaita, and God is a property of the devotee in Gaudiya Vaishnavism. This can be understood only when we reach that level.

    Philosophically, it can be said that Jiva is also an object. That doesn’t mean he is not a property. In the preliminary stage, the Jiva is a property, and in the advanced stage, the Jiva is also an object. Since the Jiva can be both property and object, therefore, both potentialities exist in the Jiva.

    in reply to: Visishtadvaita conception of object and property #13057
    Ashish Dalela

    There are many schools of Vaishnavism, and Vishishtadvaita is one of them. This school is also called Sri Ramanuja Sampradaya or just Sri Sampradaya.

    To understand Vishitadvaita you have to go back to Advaita where there is dravya and vishista. Brahman is dravya and prakriti is vishista. And these two things are said to be separate. Sri Ramanujacharya gave an interpretation of Vedanta in which the dravya is Brahman, but Brahman refers to Lord Vishnu. And prakriti and jiva are the vishista of Lord Vishnu. Just like an object and property. There is one object and many properties. Jiva is called chit or conscious property, and prakriti is called achit or non-conscious property.

    This distinction between chit and achit is not accepted in the other schools of Vedanta. Even the apara prakriti is called daivi (daivi hi esa guna-mayi) according to Krishna in Bhagavad-Gita. Even in other systems, the material energy is a conscious person called Durga or Sakti. And the soul is not just a property but also a part of the Dravya. But if the part is removed, then the whole is not diminished. Purnasya purnam adaya purnam eva vashishyate. Upon removing the complete, the balance is still complete.

    Conceiving the Inconceivable explains how to understand these things. These are difficult topics and they are not understood or even discussed by most people today. It is not necessary to understand these things in order to practice bhakti. But if you want to do philosophy and science then these things are necessary. Lots of things have been said in different schools of Vedanta, and they are all accepted as true. But that doesn’t mean that they are understood–i.e., how they can be true.

    For example, soul and matter are the body of God in Vishistadvaita. But how can God’s body be achit? God eats with His tongue, and that tongue is chit. And that tongue is not the chit called the soul. Similarly, God’s deity is made up of metal or stone, which would be called achit in Vishishtadvaita. But the Lord’s deity is factually not achit. The deity eats, sleeps, and talks. How is that possible? So, there are lots of difficulties in understanding these things, which is why we need a scientific understanding of these things.

    in reply to: How is conceptual distance measured #13044
    Ashish Dalela

    Conceptual distance is not measurable by meters or feet. It is measured by the mind.

    Just like you can say that “I am close to my parents”, although you may be living in another city many thousands of miles away. It is not an imaginary idea. When minds are close, then the thoughts in one mind appear in another mind. Due to emotional proximity, you can feel the pain of another person even if you are not related. But if you are emotionally distant, then you don’t feel the pain. If your friend is unhappy, then you become unhappy. But otherwise, there are millions of unhappy people in this world whose unhappiness doesn’t make you unhappy. Likewise, there is also ideological proximity. You can say: “Our philosophical positions are close”, and by that, you mean that you are thinking the same or similar kind of thing. So, there are three kinds of proximities–conceptual, emotional, and relational. Relationally, you are close to your parents as opposed to your neighbors. Emotionally, you can feel the pain of your neighbors, but may not feel the pain of parents. And ideologically, you can think in the same way even if you are not related or emotionally close.

    The term yojana comes from the root yuja or joining. It is also the root of the term yoga. The term yojana means how two things are joined. That joining is a path between two things. On that path, information travels from one place to another. If that path doesn’t exist, then the information doesn’t travel. Everything is not connected to everything in this world. A path between two things is created, and then information is transacted. You can think of this path like a cable connecting your laptop to your phone. If the cable is not there, then information cannot be exchanged.

    This path can be long or short. A long path means that you are emotionally far from someone, or you are distantly related to someone, or you have a different kind of idea than someone else. And short path or distance means that you are emotionally close to someone, or you are closely related to someone, or you think the same way as someone else. This path or distance is measured in terms of a unit called yojana but it is not like a meter or feet. But it is a path that is used by yogis to travel in the universe. These measurements are based on the travel of the yogis. They have traveled between Graha and measured the distances, and then they have presented them in the Vedic texts.

    The distance measured by this yogic travel is different than the distance we measure using meters and feet. Just by thinking a different thought, feeling a different feeling, and developing a different relationship, the yogi is able to transfer himself to another place. They measure the distance in terms of how different that thought, feeling, and relation is to what they had previously. Similarly, by changing their thinking, feeling, and willing, a yogi can take on the body of another species of life. When ghosts want to enjoy themselves, they think like humans, and they enter the human body.

    So, just by changing our mind, we can change the body, place in the universe, and enter a new society or a “world”. This is called the change of body, rather than the motion of the body.

    There is a distance for the change of the body and another distance for the motion of the body. The term yojana refers to the change of body, and since most people cannot think beyond motion, therefore, they equate these distances to the motion of the body. But the fact is that even by motion for the same distance they cannot reach that place because it is change and not motion.

    The first step in understanding change is to realize that the soul is moving and the body is not moving. The soul is hopping from one body to another, feeling something different, thinking something different, and relating to something different. The yogis master this art of change rather than motion, and they can do this willingly. It is possible if we gain complete control over the mind. Then you can make the mind think differently, feel differently, and relate differently.

    Tapasya or austerity is the method to do this. For example, if your mind says, “Let’s eat some ice cream”, and you bring the mind under control and say, “Now is the time to study and not enjoy”, then by this process of mind control you can develop mental power. When this is mastered by severe mental and physical austerities, then immense power is gained.

    The demigods also have this power. Therefore, a demigod can appear in the form of an animal, or take the appearance of another person. The demons are also experts in this art of body change. So in the 6 upper planetary systems, and the 7 lower planetary systems, this art is well-known. And even on this planetary system, there are many experts in this art. But they are not interested in talking to the ordinary people who know nothing, cannot understand such things even if it is explained to them, and don’t want to try it. Even if something like this is presented to them, they will distrust the person who says it. We are those unfortunate people who are ignored by the capable. So we think that all this is strange. Even if it is explained, we think “this must be totally fictional”.

    In the former ages, even 5000 years ago, the yogis were frequently traveling between planets and appearing before the eyes of common people. For example, in Mahabharata, Narada Muni appears frequently. Similarly, many sages appear from one place to another in a moment. So, because there was some respect for such advanced sages, therefore, they would come and interact with the common people. But in this degraded age of ignorance, laziness, and distrust, they are not interested in us. And so, our ignorance also becomes our misfortune that we cannot see such things.

    Yes, conceptual distance is real distance. The physical distance is imaginary distance, and it is created by an interaction. These things are discussed at length in the book Time and Consciousness. Due to this real and imaginary distance, there is an absolute space, which modern science completely ignores, and there is a relative distance or space upon which everything in physics is based.

    I was thinking that I wrote some strong words earlier, and I might have demotivated you. So, I’m happy to see that you are not demotivated, and still continuing to study these subjects. If you continue reading these books, then they are a gold mine that you can excavate for a very long time. By this knowledge, the conviction grows, and that conviction then leads to solid determination to practice and perfect oneself. Without knowledge, there is no conviction and hence no practice. So, this knowledge is very important to develop the solid conviction that we are not talking about some imaginary things. With that conviction (if acquired) you can rapidly transform your life.

    in reply to: Does a stone have a soul? #12996
    Ashish Dalela

    Yes, we have to chant the names of God, to purify ourselves of false ideas, bad habits, and wrong actions. As I explained in the answer to the last question, God’s name is a sound representation of the whole reality. In that sound representation, the whole truth is present in an unmanifest form. As we chant, initially all the dirt is washed away, which is called cheto darpan marjanam, or cleansing the mirror of the chitta.

    In Yoga philosophy, this chitta is the root from which everything springs. This chitta contains the history of all the ideas you have acquired in the past, and it is like the goggles through which you see the world. Once the goggles are clean, then you can see clearly. This is the only prescribed process for this age; all others such as philosophy etc., are not recommended because people have no brain. Instead of the brain, the head is filled with dung. But as we chant, the same head is filled with knowledge. So we can get perfection if we follow the process.

    Sri Chaitanya, therefore, says: vidya vadhu jivanam, or chanting is the life of the knowledge-bride. We teach this knowledge to show that there is a perfection of knowledge as well. Otherwise, people will just say: “I don’t believe in anything”. But the fact is that even if we present perfect knowledge, nobody is able to understand anything, and that is because their chitta is unclean. Their head is filled with all kinds of ideas acquire over thousands of lifetimes, and it is impossible to understand.

    Sri Chaitanya has prescribed the chanting of: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare Hare.

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