Monday, January 16, 2017



JANUARY   15, 2017

The Seminar dealt with this very difficult question   which is not easy for others to answer   though we all tried  to convince.   You know how Buddha struggled to find an answer and after a long time came to the conclusion "Life is full of misery. The root cause of it is desire". Today we come across Siddhas who have struggled hard to find their own answer like Ramana Maharshi and Ramakrishna Paramahamsa. We can only follow their example of struggle and methodology of  Sadhana and find our own answers. We know Milk just as we know our body.  We have to struggle hard to know the butter in it, half-way we may discard the yogurt and miss the butter. So let us not give up.  Let us start thinking on   our own. May we find a better answer to suit us.  All our sages have come out with different approaches. But they all agree on  SATHYAM as I had explained.

Knowledge of one’s own nature is called Self-knowledge. Gaining Self –knowledge   human beings   attain liberation. Why humans?  Human being has attained perfection in the process of evolution. They   alone are endowed with an intellect, can comprehend their present state of limitations, bondage, imperfections and incompleteness.   But humans remain ignorant busy in their material pursuits.    So we cannot see our own nature, the Pure Self. People who follow religion as an escape from themselves, ultimately come to gain nothing except a lingering sorrow, dulled by blind faith that bumbles the very capacity to perceive their owe tragedies of life.

What is the way to know this Self?  Sankaracharya in his Aaatmabodha,  Ramanuja in his Vedantasangraha and Sri Bhashyam and Ramana Maharshi in his Upadesa Sara tell us how to understand  that Self and remove our ignorance. 

Sri Ganeaha Temple in Nashville held the seminar on January 15,  2016 “UNDERSTANDING SELF- WHO AM I?  JOURNEY OF SELF DISCOVERY” based on the wisdom thoughts from these great Gurus. The understanding of self has evolved through history of Hinduism from Vedic-Upanishadic times to modern times. After reviewing the fundamentals of structure of man in ancient and modern times, this seminar explored the various approaches in our journey of self-discovery.  In my lecture as attached I have  discussed briefly how    Ramanuja has shown us the way to get deeply involved in   Bhakti Marga by the wisdom gained through Jnaana and Karma  culminating in the worship  in Temple Traditions in order to integrate with the Supreme and free ourselves from worldly pleasures and pain.   In this process we should also think that the same Self abides in all of us and we should also help others to join us in the process of spiritual evolution from stone-man  to Super-manhood.  I expected lot of questions from the crowd mostly accustomed to Advaita Philosophy but surprisingly there were no questions from the highly evolved knowledgeable crowd.   

The topics presented by the various Speakers
Introduction of the Diversity Seminar and Objectives – Dr.  Vedavyasa Biliyar

Structure of our Body, Mind and Intellect, the five sheaths and three type of bodies—physical, subtle and causal according to Vedanta – Hemant Dandekar

 Ego and Identity from psychological perspective – Dr. Vedavyas Biliyar

Jan.15, 2017 
Explain concept of self and it's development 
Functional aspects of the self 
Understanding layers of our mind and it's functions 
Understand human motivation for action 
Understanding sources of conflict and their resolution 
Understanding ego functions, and development of stable identity 
Understand human development-growth, maturation and wisdom 
Introduce concept of spirituality and spiritual growth- seeking answers, seeking perfection, seeking love, seeking peace and union

Atma – Jnanaswaroopam in Upanishads – Dr. Mohan Reddy

Discovery of self through negation – ‘Nirvanashatkam’ – Dr. Sankaran Mahadevan

Relationship between the Self and the Supreme – N R Srinivasan

Role of Upasana/Bhakti in Self-Unfoldment – Dr. Panchanan Satpathy

Ultimate spiritual practice for Self-Purification – ‘ Updeshasara’ –Dr. Venkat Mani

I have pleasure in reproducing below my prepared lecture for the seminar. Dr. Vedavyas based his lecture on Western Philosophy while Dr. Hemant based his lecture on Vedanta which gave rise to modern Hindu Philosophy. Mostly Hindu philosophy is based on Vedanta. Now you come across Western Philosophy that is influenced by Eastern Philosophies like, Hindu, Buddhist, Jain, Sufi, Ober Khayam, Confucius, Sanat Kumara Western Tradition etc.   I have therefore added two such   thoughts mainly reflecting Vedanta as Appendices since some questions at the seminar came up for discussion though they were not the  main subject matter of the seminar.

Teachings of Ramanuja on the Self and the Supreme and their Relevance to worship and Universal Oneness

We all think the soul is in the body. This is a mistake.   It is more appropriate to say that the body is in the soul. The body is enveloped and pervaded by the soul which is infinite, all pervading and eternal. The body is like a pot and the soul is like the space within and without it. When the pot is moved from place to place, the space within is not moved. When the contents of the pot are boiled, the space or ether in it is not boiled. Similarly, there is in us, something uncreated, and something untouched by sin or suffering. Therefore the seeker from the very beginning should accept the fact that “I am not the body, the body is not for me”. The reason is that individual Self is of higher nature (sentient) which is a fragment of the Supreme Spirit (Paramatman) while the body and the world are of lower nature (Non-sentient). The lower nature in spite of our best efforts can’t satisfy our real desire; it can’t make us immortal, can’t wipe out our ignorance and can’t make us happy for ever when we are tainted with Karma.


Sa vaa ayamaatmaa brahma vijnaanamayo manomayah Praanamayh chakshurmayah srotramayah prithivee mayah aapomayahvaayumayah aakaasamayah tejomayah atejo mayah kaamamyah akaamamayah krodhamayah akrodhamayah dharmamayah adharmamayah sarvayah tadyatetad idam mayo adomaya iti yathaakaaree yathaachaaree tathaa bhavatI /   Saadhukaaree saadhrbhavati paapakaaree paapo bhavati punyah punyena karmanaa bhavati paapah paapena / atho khalvaahuh kaamamaya evaayam purusha iti / sa yathaakaamo bhavati tatkraturbhavati yatkraturbhavati tatkarma kurute kurute yatkarma kurute tadabhisampadyate
(Br. Up.-4-4-5)

This Self is like the Supreme itself. It is characterized with Knowledge (both its essential nature and as an attribute). It is having the mind as its instrument and is dependent on vital forces (Praana) , dependent on the eye, dependent  on the ear, dependent on the earth, it is composed of water, of air, of ether and of fire (the five elements),. It is composed of Mahat  (greatness) and Ahankara  (ego) that are other than the fire. It is full of Kaama or love and it is full of resolve and faith that are different from Kama (lust). It is full of anger and is full of  akrodha or kindness. It is full of Dharma or righteousness and adharama, what is non-righteousness.  It is composed   indeed of   all things and is composed of things in this world and the other world.  When  it is good and  it acts so it becomes.  It becomes evil by doing evil. By meritorious Karma (punya) it becomes an object of Punya. One who does sinful deeds becomes a sinner. Some say that this Purusha or self is replete with desires. Whatever desire it has it resolves like that in accordance with that. Whatever it resolves it carries out it in deeds  and whatever deed it performs it attains that.

Based on Upanishads’ Maxims Sankara concluded “Brahma(n) sathyam” “Jagan mithyam” - - Sankara concluded the Self in us is  Supreme Being (Paramaatman) and the  Supreme  is the only Truth and the whole world is unreal or Maayaa. Brahman referred as SATHYAM consists of three syllables, sath+thi+yam=Sathyam. Sat is the immortal; thi is the mortal; and yam means “by that both these are regulated” thereby meaning Supreme Brahman. Maayaa is Mithyam, opposite of Sathyam. World is Maayaa to those who have attained a desire-less (Gunateetha) state in this world with Sadhana  or spiritual training and are on their onward journey only to integrate with  Supreme. 
Sanakara during his All India tour preaching Advaiata Philosophy went to Kasi Temple.   Sanakara    confessed   before Viswanatha that it was a serious lapse on his part to think   that the one and the same Self is imminent in all beings and there is no difference between the so called Self   and   the Supreme   but yet   he was standing before Him and    praying. He even realized that it   was a sin.   Towards the end he realized the difference between the   Self and the Supreme as expressed in his Aatma Bodha and his last composition Bhaja Govindam  where he strongly recommended to all to meditate on Vishnu, the sustenance aspect of  the Supreme.

It is not that Sankara turned a Vaishnavite here or Ramanuja promoted a Vaishnava God only later. It is logical and practical to focus in our struggles in the world on sustenance aspect of Manifest Brahman (Saguna Brahman) that is Vishnu. Saguna Brahman in his role of Brahma as creator has already done his job and pushed us to Samsara. Therefore we do not worship him in Temples. When the Self starts its journey from earth leaving the body    it is handed over to Siva the dissolution aspect of Saguna Brahman, who has to evaluate its  performance in order to hand it  over to Brahma again or push it up to be integral part of Brahman. This aspect is also not in our hands. Therefore our main focus solely on Sustenance aspect of The Supreme  on earth   looks significant and logical.  

Both Rama and Krishna in their human Avatars meditated upon the Supreme and worshiped also   the Supreme conveying thereby the message that the Self and the Supreme are different as recorded in Ramayana, Mahabharata, Bhagavata and Chhandogya Upanishad.

Ultimate reality is Vishnu as absolute Consciousness; under illumined teacher’s guidance they become united with the Lord of Love called Vishnu who is present everywhere   says  Tejobindu Upanishad.  The Divines won these worlds for themselves free from fear of enemies praying to Vishnu, their Chief and look up to the abode of Vishnu all the time says  Veda mantras--(tad Vishnoh paramampadam)  Purusha manifests itself in three ways: As outer Self, the Inner Self and the Supreme Self says Aatma   Upanishad.

But unfortunately Sankara did not live long. It was left to Ramanuja to come out with his philosophy of Vishishtaadvaita to find answers to some of the doubts that bothered Sankara towards his end.

Ramanuja picked up the missing link from here and came out with his Tripartite Model of Chit (soul or Atman or Self), Achit (the Non-soul or Matter) and Iswara  (Narayana or Parabrahman or  The Supreme). He felt  Avidya (Ignorance)or  Maayaa  cannot act on the Supreme directly, for it is Intelligence. Nor Maayaa can operate on Self for this is the outcome of action of Avidya and cannot, therefore, be acted upon in anticipation. Brahmasutra says the Supreme is different from the Self in two distinct qualities.  The Supreme is not touched by Karma while even the first ever Self was bound with Karma.  Heaven or Earth  is  not the permanent  abode of  Self.  The liberated Self attains glory similar to the Supreme   except in the matter of activity relating to the creation and others of the world … and the liberated Self is not concerned with that aspect.

Ramanuja’s philosophy is based on Upanishads Gita and Brahnmsutra. Upanishads say the Supreme and  the  Self are  the two birds sitting on the same tree,  that is body.  The Self is caught in the wheel of the Supreme, Brahmachakra going round and round. Self is Truth and The Supreme is Truth of Truths.  Self is Bliss and the supreme is    indescribable Plentitude   called Bhuma.  Supreme is Self of all Selfs as inner controller.  The Self appearing as an individual in the world is the minute eternal particle of the Supreme.  The Self is Sat-Chit-Ananda (Truth-Consciousness and Bliss).  The Supreme is Sathyam Jnaanaam  Amalam  Aanandam Anantam   (Brahman, Intelligence,  Pure free from the impurity of a  Maayaa, Bliss and Plentitude). The Supreme is Substantive Consciousness and the Self is Attributive Consciousness.

Summing up Ramanuja propagated Vishishtaadvaita (Qualified Monism) Philosophy, that God (Paramaatman) is only One (Devo Ekah), but soul (Self or Atman) and Maayaa (Illusion) are  the  two  eternal  affiliates  of Absolute and Supreme God. Maayaa is lifeless power having the three
Gunas, Sattva, Rajas and Tamas. Souls are infinitesimal and unlimited. God is the Self of all Selfs. Soul (Chit) is eternally under the veil of Maayaa called Karma. Sareera (body) is destroyed only by the will of God and can’t be saved by any amount of yogic practice, austerity, yaagas (sacrifices) or any other religious or spiritual practice. The Self is an eternal servant of God. The Self becomes happy and blissful only when it meets its Divine beloved God in His divine personal form. There is no other way.

Ramanuja was of the strong view that the purport of the Vedas and Vedanta is the attainment of liberation through devotion, worship and meditation. Ramanuja advised his organization of disciples to release and propagate the three great secret Mantras;
1) Om Namoh Naaraayanaaya
2) Sriman Naaraayana charanam saranam prapadye
3) Sarva dharmaan parityajya maamekam saranam vraja | Aham tvaam sarva paapebhyo Mokshayikshaami maa suchah

Mantra 1 calls for meditation on Narayana which is Ashatkashri.   Mantra 2 calls for seeking the divine grace.   Mantra 3  says: Set aside all meritorious and religious rituals, and just surrender completely to Me alone with firm faith and loving devotion.  I shall help you to get liberated   from all sins and the bonds of Karma. Do not grieve.  Very fact Bhagawan advises Arjuna to surrender to him abandoning all religious pursuits, makes clear the Supreme is different from Self whom Arjuna represents. This also implies leaving all religions and six traditions propagated by Sankara-Siva, Vishnu, Devi, Ganapati, Kumara and Surya  traditions.

“Mamekm” in the mantra refers to The only Supreme which is often quoted as “Tadekam “ That One  and “Devo Ekah” God is One in Vedas.  The three letters in GOD in English also refers to G for Generation, O for operation and D for dissolution.

It may not be out of context to mention here following the Vedic dictum Eko Devah   Esosteric SanatKumara World Tradition prayed to  Sanat Kumara as the son of Universal God   sent with 140000 followers  from planet Venus to save the Earth,  which reference still remains in the Book of Revelations of the Holy Bible except the name Sanatkumara is replaced by a Lamb that followed Mother Mary. This Santkumara is Skanda says Chhandogya Upanishad who is Balaji worshiped as Vishnu today. I am not sure whether Ramanuja was aware of that ancient tradition or concerned with that!

“ Mokshayikshami”  means I shall help you in getting rid of all desires.  Moksha in Sanskrit consists of two words Moha meaning desire and Kshaya meaning to get rid of.    Thus the divine assurance did not guarantee liberation or Mukti or emancipation from Karma.   Once we are free from desires getting rid of sins becomes an easy and sure task by submission to the Supreme.

Ramanuja following his teachings organized worship in all Vishnu temples introducing Archa form of worship.   In temple worship the devotee first   meditates on his inner Self encased in his body.   But during   Kumbabhisheka the following prayer is uttered: “Oh Lord of the Worlds! You are unborn and pure.   I invoke You in this Moorti. Make Yourself visible to me in my concentration even as the fire in Arni wood comes out by friction.    It is made clear here that the Supreme is even the inner-controller of the Self.   Otherwise why these types of two different prayers? Viraja  Homa mantras  in our worship are directed to Atma, Antaratma and Parmatma. Sivopasasana mantra is directed to  Atma, Parama, Atmalinga and Parmalinga. It is thus clear that all   our  Prayers are directed to the Self and the Supreme.

Many religiously involved Hindu Americans still practice mechanically sectarian forms of worship guided by sectarian trained professional priests and are caught in what may be called Hindu Confusionism.   They are also influenced by inter-caste, inter racial marriages and influence from the major religions of the land. They need to have a fresh look at Spirituality to-day, come out of the walled religions and traditions and realize that The Self with its Inner Controller (Antaryamin) that is Supreme Self is within every one of us.      They should feel we are eternally and inseparably One with God and feel we should wake from the nightmare of helplessness to the Awareness of our Oneness with the Source. This is the message of Ramanuja, whose 1000 years (Sahasraabdi) is celebrated this year.


From “Psychosynthesis” by Robert Assagioli (page 118-119)
It should become a daily psycho-spiritual health measure. One should begin the day by “entering into oneself.” To enter into oneself: let us ponder on the deep significance of these words. Generally, we live “outside” ourselves; we are everywhere except in the “I”! We are constantly attracted, distracted, dispersed by countless sensations, impressions, preoccupations, memories of the past, projects for the future; we are everywhere except in our self-consciousness, in the consciousness of that which we are in reality.
I put my body into a comfortable and relaxed position with closed eyes. This done, I affirm: “I have a body but I am not my body. My body may find itself in different conditions of health or sickness: it may be rested or tired, but that has nothing to do with myself,  my real “I.” My body is my precious instrument of experience and of action in the outer world, but it is only an instrument. I treat it well; I seek to keep it in good health, but it is not myself. I have a body, but I am not my body.
“I have emotions, but I am not my emotions. These emotions are countless, contradictory, changing, and yet I know that I always remain I, my-self, in times of hope or of despair, in joy or in pain, in a state of irritation or of calm. Since I can observe, understand and judge my emotions, and then increasingly dominate, direct and utilize them, it is evident that they are not myself. I have emotions, but I am not my emotions.
“I have desires, but I am not desires, aroused by drives, physical and emotional, and by outer influences. Desires too are changeable and contradictory, with alternations of attractions and repulsion. I have desires but they are not myself.
“I have an intellect, but I am not my intellect. It is more or less developed and active; it is undisciplined but teachable; it is an organ of knowledge in regard to the outer world as well as the inner; but it is not myself. I have an intellect, but I am not my intellect.
“After this dis-identification of the ‘I’ from its contents of consciousness (sensations, emotions, desires and thoughts) I recognize and affirm that I am a Centre of pure self-consciousness. I am a Centre of Will, capable of mastering, directing and using all my psychological processes and my physical body.”
When one has practiced the exercise for some time, it can be modified by a swift dynamic use of the first three stages of dis-identificaion, leading to a deeper consideration of the fourth stage of self-identification, coupled with an inner dialogue along the following lines:
“What am I then? What remains after discarding from my self-identity the physical, emotional and mental contents of my personality, of my ego? It is the essence of myself – a center of pure self-consciousness and self-realization. It is the permanent factor in the ever varying flow of my personal life. It is that which gives me the sense of being, of permanence, of inner security. I recognize and I affirm myself as a center of pure self-consciousness. I realize that this center not only has static self-awareness but also a dynamic power; it is capable of observing, mastering, directing and using all the psychological processes and the physical body. I am a center of awareness and of power.”

There is no reason to be in fear.  Fear is of the illusion, unreal, a reaction to uncertainty which just drains your energy, because it focuses on the future, distracting you from living in this now moment which is the only time that exists.  Now is where you need to focus your attention and your feelings, and through doing that be fully aware of your state of presence right now.  Intend to maintain this constant state of present awareness so that you are fully alive and alert, and then you are open to the intuitive nudges, the wise guidance from those watching over you from the spiritual realms.
You are constantly being watched over by those who would assist you immediately if you call on them.  You are never alone or unsupported, but you do need to pay attention in order to access what is offered.  Frequently you have strong expectations of what your guidance should offer you, and so you often miss what is actually being offered.  Relax, allow, receive, and enjoy the guidance that then arises, miraculously!
Knowing, as in truth you do in every moment, that you are divinely supported and never alone, then relax into Life, into Love, and allow the Reality of that to guide you in every moment.  Always engage lovingly with others, all others!  There are no exceptions to this if you wish to heal yourselves.  Love expands, embraces, supports, and encourages, increasing your energy and your vitality; whereas fear discourages, disempowers, drains, and weakens.  Love responds with Love.  Fear responds with fear.  Remind yourselves frequently that you are Love, open yourselves to allow It to enter within you.  Love is like a vast flowing river that envelops and embraces you in every moment if you will permit.  If you shut It out it is as though you were in the river but covered completely by a dry suit, completely protected or shut off from Its warm embrace.
Love is all about allowing.  You need do nothing else because Its purpose and intent is to totally suffuse and renew your energy field in every moment if you will allow It to do so.  When you do peace and contentment will fill and uplift you.  Do not focus anxiously on the conflicts and suffering you see in the world around you while wondering what you could or should be doing to help relieve them, by all means intend to send your love to those who are suffering, but focus instead on the Love that you are as a divine creation.  By doing this the world is changed, and that is what you incarnated to do.  Where you focus your attention, whatever thoughts you hold – positive or negative – bring into your life those points of focus.
It is very difficult for you not to become distracted by the chaos and confusion with which the illusion constantly bombards you, however, you knew that this would happen before you made the choice to incarnate for this particular lifetime.  So, go within at least once daily to make contact with the divine flame burning constantly within you, It is the flame of divine Love from which you were created d from which you can NEVER be separated.
You are already saved, there is nothing you need or can do to make yourselves more acceptable to God.  God created you already perfect, from Love, from the energy field that is All That Is, and to which you are eternally connected.  You are all God’s beloved children, and there is nothing that you can ever do that can or will change that.  Sin, however grave and unforgivable it may appear to you to be, is of the illusion, it is unreal even though it brings intense pain and suffering to many who are incarnate as humans.  However, your true and eternal existence at One with each other and with your divine Source is unchanging.
Initially you constructed or built the illusion to play games and experience separation because in Reality separation is impossible, and it was only by imagining and building the illusion that you could in any way sense what separation would be like.  Now you have had enough of the intense pain and suffering that it brings you and you desire only to awaken from the nightmare that you built.  All around you are signs that people, humanity, are waking up.  When the conditions of life in the illusion become intolerable you choose to awaken, and that time has come.  The power of your awakening energy fields, your unbreakable connection to Source, is intensifying simply because that is what it does, and purely in order to assist in your awakening process.  Being divine your real wills are completely in alignment with God’s, and so your awakening is divinely assured and inevitable.  You can continue to delay it, but it makes absolutely no sense to do so, after all why would you continue to experience intense pain and suffering when there is no requirement to do so?
It seems that many are addicted to pain and suffering, it has, in fact, become so normal that without it they feel incomplete, that something important in their lives is missing.  God’s Power and God’s Love resides in each of you.  You need seek no gurus, no priests, no pastors, no intermediaries of any kind because each one of you has her or his own unbreakable connection to God which, if you will allow it or listen to it, will lead you home.  Others may be able to help you find your path, but only you can identify it through your own inner knowing, and then choose to follow it home.
That you are eternally and inseparably One with God is reason to celebrate.  To celebrate is healthy, uplifting, inspiring, and fun.  It intensifies your energy fields so that they expand out into the world, melding with others who are also celebrating, and raising the whole planetary frequency so that humanity’s awareness of its true nature arises to the surface of its consciousness thus making it impossible to deny it any longer.
Denial of your divine nature has been an enormous obstruction on your path to awakening.  You have, over the eons since the separation game commenced, been very confused about life and its purpose because of the amnesia that is a powerful aspect of it.  Consequently you have been seeking but unable to find a convincing answer to the question: “What, if there is one, is the purpose of life?”  Many myths arose with stories of gods and goddesses, demons and witches, magicians and sorcerers, but none of them offered any meaningful help or consolation because they all demanded your allegiance to someone or something outside yourself.
God is within you, period.  It is within yourselves, and only there, that you can and will find your unbreakable connection to God, Source, the Creator who so lovingly brought you into existence to enjoy the infinitely abundant fullness of life forever in His Presence.  When you chose to experience separation from your divine Source it was essential that you also chose to remove all memory of It from your conscious awareness otherwise you would have been unable to experience the sense of separation that you wanted.
Always the choice to go within and find God has been available to you, but the distractions of the world outside yourselves, the unreal world, have seduced you for eons with their siren songs that lead only to unmitigated disappointment.  Now, finally, you have made the collective to choice to dissociate yourselves from the distractions of the illusion and return to awareness of your true nature at One with God.  Your eternal Home the Home you have never left, is within you and always has been, It waits patiently and lovingly for you to remember and awaken, and that is what humanity is collectively in the process of doing right now.
The choice to awaken was made eons ago, at the moment when the apparent separation occurred, but the decision to follow through on that choice was made only in the last few decades.  All around you signs of this inevitable decision abound, so take heart and know that you are waking up from the nightmare into full awareness of your Oneness with Source, and that your joy and delight will be unbounded.
[This is what Vishishtadvaita of Ramanuja preaches—The liberated Self does not get dissolved in Paramaatman but remains integrated.]


Nondual Roots of Indian Thought and Religion

 Source: Science and Non-duality 

Non-dualism was developed earliest, and was most thoroughly explored, in India. Yet the first Indian scriptures, the Vedas (roughly 1000 BCE) are completely dualistic in their outlook. These Ur-texts of human spirituality consist mainly of poems of praise to nature deities, magical spells, and ritual invocations. After the Vedas, however, we find several important texts that contain what can be clearly understood as a nondual perspective: the Upanishads. There are only twelve main Upanishads, some very short, and yet in these texts we find the fundamental basis of Indian thought and religion. Here we find the first mention of such core concepts as karma, samsara, atman, moksha, and Brahman.

The Upanishads also show the beginning of investigation into and commentary on nondual awareness (as well as other mystical topics), and are notably different in tone and flavor from the dualistic ritualism of the Vedas. Because both Buddhism and Advaita Vedanta stem from these reflections, the Upanishads form the basis of what was later to become the greatest flowering of non-dualism the world has ever seen.

We can think of the Upanishads as the philosophical addition to the Vedas, because the Upanishads delve into deep, metaphysical questions. The Sanskrit word upanishad literally means “sitting beside,” which implies that the texts contain the secret, sacred knowledge, which was originally imparted only verbally from teacher to student. Some of these metaphysical “secrets” show the beginnings of a description of non-dual wisdom. Here is an example:

Turiya is not that which is conscious of the inner (subjective) world, nor that which is conscious of the outer (objective) world, nor that which is conscious of both, nor that which is a mass of consciousness. It is not simple consciousness nor is It unconsciousness. It is unperceived, unrelated, incomprehensible, un-inferable, unthinkable and indescribable. The essence of the Consciousness manifesting as the self in the three states, It is the cessation of all phenomena; It is all peace, all bliss and non-dual. This is what is known as the Fourth (Turiya). This is Atman and this has to be realized says the Mandukya Upandishad, 800 BCE. This quote is describing the turiya state, which means the “fourth” state. This text is the first place where we find this important term.

This Upanishad seems to clearly describe both Nirvikalpa samadhi (“it is the cessation of all phenomenon”) and nondual awareness (“it is good and nondual”), even going so far as to use the word “nondual.” The Upanishad begins by talking about AUM (which is a mantra found in the Vedas) and relates it to Brahman (“nondual reality” or “God” depending on the reader), as well as atman (“soul”).

In a very concise way, the author tells us that the soul and nondual awareness are the same thing, and both are identical to the entire universe. It is no surprise that the Mandukya Upanishad later (around 600 CE) becomes the source or root text of the Hindu Advaita (nondual) movement, as we will later see. Often the idea of God is a central concept in non-dualism. And here in this Upanishad we see that to be the case. Brahman can be thought of as God. In this formulation, we can say that the soul (atman) is the same as God (Brahman) and that both are equivalent to the universe. If the whole universe and everything in it is none other than God, then that is a nondual universe.
There are no opposites and therefore no dualities. You can see in this first known description of the non-dualism how very different it is from standard, dualistic Western religious conceptions. We’re not in Kansas anymore.
Nondualism in the Upanishads is discussed in two rather contrasting ways, which we can refer to by their Latin names, via positiva and via negativa (“the positive way” and “the negative way”). Although these appear to be opposites, they actually represent alternate routes to exactly the same destination.

One example of the via positiva version of non-dualism comes from the Isa Upanishad. This Upanishad goes into a detailed description of atman (“Self”), saying:

6: The wise man beholds all beings in the Self, and the Self in all beings; for that reason he does not hate anyone.
7: To the seer, all things have verily become the Self: what delusion, what sorrow, can there be for him who beholds that oneness?
This is a fair description of nondual awareness. If everything is composed of the same substance, how can there be any opposites?
Probably the most famous statement of the same viewpoint comes from the Chandogya Upanishad where it is said, “Thou art That” (Sanskrit: tat tvam asi). This statement is first delivered from a father to his son in the text, but then becomes the refrain or chorus for the rest of the Upanishad, and later goes on to become virtually a defining statement of Advaita Vedanta. “Thou art that” is literally saying, “No matter what you see, it’s really just you.”
So this is a positive way of looking at it: everything is you. God is you. You are God. The chair is God.
The classic statement of the via negativa approach appears in the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad (“Great Forest Text”), which is one of the oldest (c. 10th–5th century, BCE) and most important. Here we find the famous definition of Brahman as neti-neti “not this, not that.” Neti-neti means that Brahman can only be defined by what it is not, and what it is not is anything. It is not any of the names or forms of this world. “Neti-neti” is literally saying, “No matter what you see, it’s really just God.” The chair isn’t a chair. You are not you. You’re both just God.

This definition, which sounds like the opposite of Brahman being the whole universe, is actually identical to Brahman being the whole universe, because—in this way of looking at it—everything in the phenomenal universe is an illusion, including your separate self. Brahman is the reality that underlies the apparent, illusory world. Therefore everything in the universe is God. The idea of Brahman as neti-neti becomes a very strong theme in later Advaita Hinduism, both as a concept and as the root of practice.
Thus we see the beginnings of the notion of non-dualism in the Upanishads. India in the first millennium BCE was awash in philosophical speculation, most of it fueled by the many hermits and ascetics doing meditation practices off in the jungles and mountains. Previously the Vedic priests had performed their rituals publicly and in large groups with the intention of creating merit that would allow them to go to heaven in the afterlife. Vedic thinkers eventually became concerned about the possibility of using up or losing this merit in the afterlife. They believed that residence in heaven might be a temporary state, and that when one’s religious merit ran out, one would experience the greatly-feared “re-death” (Skt: punarmrityu), and subsequent loss of the felicities of heaven.

Some Vedic thinkers (particularly in the Brahmana texts) attempted to solve this spiritual conundrum using further ritual, magical means. The authors of the Upanishads, however, took a radically new approach which seems to have arisen from an equally-radical new experience. Instead of thinking up ever-more elaborate rituals, the Upanishad seers emphasized the cosmic connection behind the ritual. They saw that Brahman and Atman were identical, and therefore heaven could never be lost. Furthermore — and much more importantly 7mdash; if Brahman and Atman are identical, the need for the ritual itself disappears. Rituals are just God worshipping God, so what’s the point? And so the writers of the Upanishads gave up ritual and public sacrifice altogether, and went into seclusion to seek an experience of the union of Brahman and Atman through meditation. We can see this as the beginning of a tradition of intentionally seeking out non-dual awareness and of the philosophical speculation about non-dualism.
It is interesting and important to remember that the historical Buddha was himself born a Hindu, and was raised in a highly educated Hindu family. He almost certainly would have been taught these Upanishads as a student, and been educated as to their philosophical import. When he eventually left his father’s palace to seek enlightenment, he may not have seen himself as starting a new religion, but merely continuing in the forest-meditation tradition of the seers of the Upanishads, which was in its heyday during his lifetime. His biographies tell us that he went forth seeking an end to suffering and death, which was exactly the goal of both the rituals of the Vedic priests and the meditative inquiry of the seers of the Upanishads.

Source: Science & Nonduality


Listening to the highly philosophical lectures of learned scholars at the seminar on WHO AM  I  in Nashville,   I  made the following notes which may interest you all:

Understanding Atma
We learn that our Atma is different from our body. Let us now understand more about ourselves - our Atma. 
Do we know?

"The one who knows that Atma is different from the body, is a Pandit   (meaning scholar)" (Sri Krishna in Bhagavat GIta)--Na hi Jnaanena sadrisam)

Why is the Atma in our body?
Vedas say we are all born on this earth as a result of Papa and Punya (known as karma) that we have accumulated over several births. Atma uses this body to carry out all actions so as to reduce the karma.  Only when Karma is lost, is Atma freed from the bonds of Samsara.

Where is this Atma in our body?
Atma resides on a lotus known as 'Hridaya Kamalam' (Hridaya meaning heart and Kamalam meaning lotus) in our heart.
Being inside the body, Atma interacts with the sense organs, limbs, manas (meaning mind) and buddhi (meaning intellect).
I can see my body but why can’t I see my Atma? 
Atma is in our body and too minute for us to be seen. It is the smallest known entity. Hence it is said to Anu Swaroopam (meaning having a form that is very minute). We can only realize the presence of Atma in our body.
What is Atma made of?
Atma is Anu Swaroopam. It has within itself Paramatma as Antaryamin. We need to remember that Eswara/Paramatma is inside everything.
How can we say that Paramatma is inside Atma? Does it not contradict the statement that Atma is the smallest known entity?
There is no contradiction. The smallest known entity among all the Chit and Achit tatvas that in the universe is Atma. And Paramatma has got unimaginable potential to be inside and outside all Chit (sentient) and Achit  (non-sentient) entities.
When did Atma come into existence? How long does an Atma exist?
Atma is always existent. So Atma is said to be Nityam (meaning permanent). Just like our Vedas, Atmas are also without any beginning or end. 

"It is never born. It never dies...It never ceases to be"
(Says Krishna in Bhagawat GIta 2-20)
But when a person dies, the Atma leaves the person. How then can we say Atma is Nityam?
It is Atma that continuously goes through the cycle of birth and death. In each birth, it takes up a new body based on the karmas that it has accumulated. Upon death, it discards this body only to take up a new body.

"The self casts off its worn-out bodies and enters into others that are new."(Says Krishna in Bhagavat GIta 2-22)
"Many births of Mine have passed, O Arjuna, so is it with you. I know them all, but you do not know the” (Says Krishna in Bhagawat GIta 4-5)
How does Atma differ based on the size and age of the body ?
Atma is of the same size and nature, whether it exists in the body of a child or in the body of an old man, in the body of a man or a woman, in the body of a man or an animal and in the body of an ant or an elephant. Atma is identical in nature.

When does Atma change? Does it change when it is inside the body? Does it change when it moves from one body to another?
Atma never changes. It remains the same. That is why Atma is said to be Nirvikaram (meaning no change).
Can Atma be destroyed?
Atma is indestructible. It cannot be ever destructed   (broken, cut, burnt etc.)
"Self is eternal, indestructible and incomprehensible" (Krishna in Bhagavat GIta 2-18)

"Weapons cannot break it, fire cannot burn it, water cannot wet it and wind cannot dry it (Krishna in Bhagavat GIta 2-24)

Why can’t Atma be destroyed
To break/destroy one thing, we should have as instrument another thing which is smaller than the object to be destroyed. Atma is Anu Swaroopam. It is the smallest entity in this creation. How can there even exist, in the first place, another object smaller than this Atma?
"No one has the power to destroy this indestructible substance (Atma) (Krishna in Bhagavat GIta 2-17)
What is the nature of Atma?
Nature is called 'Swaroopam' in Samskirtam.  Atma is always awake. Atma  is Paratantra  (meaning dependent). 
Atma is said  tobe Jnanasrayam (meaning seat for knowledge).
It is said to be Jnyanamayam (meaning full of knowledge  and  Ananda-  mayam (meaning full of bliss).  
The knowledge of Atma is spread throughout the body.
Can Atma ever be independent? Why is Atma not independent?
Atma has no existence without Paramatma. Paramatma resides inside Atma and bears Atma by being outside of it.   Atma is Paratantran meaning it is dependent on Paramatma for its existence. Atma exists only for doing service to Paramatma. This is known as Seshatvam.

Why should  Atma do service to Paramatma (Araadhana) ?
 We have seen that Atma is of Paratantra swaroopa. Since, it is because of Paramatma that Atma is existent, Atma should show its gratitude to Paramatma.

We have Achit (non-sentient) as our body. Our body is at will of Atma and is for the use of Atma only. Similarly, Atma is body for Paramatma. Hence, Atma should also be at the will and disposal of Paramatma.
We learnt in school that to have knowledge, we need brains. How then is Atma associated with knowledge?
It will be surprising for us to know that brains do not have any knowledge. It is Atma that has knowledge. Brains are there in the body of both a living and dead person. Does that mean that a dead person has knowledge? Just like the battery in a car or a computer, it is Atma that remembers everything for example, our state before sleeping and our state after waking up. During sleep, even our brains are sleeping. Only Atma remains awake.
How is the knowledge of Atma spread throughout the body?
The knowledge of Atma is spread throughout our body from head to toe. That is why we see with our eyes, hear with our ears, taste with our tongue and work with our limbs. This nature of Atma is known as 'Dharma Bhoota Jnyanam". The presence of Atma is felt throughout the body.
When a person loses his hand/leg, does the detatched hand/leg still feel the presence of Atma?
 The knowledge of Atma is spread to every part of the body including the hand/leg. When a person loses his hand/leg, the detatched hand/leg is no longer a part of the body and hence not associated with the Atma of the person and hence, no longer feels the presence of Atma.
How does knowledge in one Atma differ from the knowledge in another Atma?
Atma, as we seen earlier, is identical. All Atmas have same knowledge.
If all Atmas have same knowledge, how then is one person more intelligent than the other?
ShareAll Atma have the same knowledge. The Karma that the individual Atma has, hides this knowledge of Atma. Just like how a cloud hides the sun partially or totally depending on its density, based on karmas the knowledge of Atma gets hidden partially/totally thus making one person more intelligent than the others.

In Vedanta  different kinds of Intelligence are mentioned--Prjnaanam, Vijnaanam, Samjnaanam etc. Generally they are referred by Jnaanam simply.  Even Paramatman is simply referred as Atman as these two are very identical in many respects but there is a difference.   Paramaatman is SATHYAM   and Jivatman is Sat often mentioned as SAT  in Sat-chit-Ananda.  You may kindly recall the Mahavakya Prajnaanam Brahma. Here Brahma means Brahman and not the Brahma the creator described in Puranas. Prajna consists of two syllables Pra+jna=prajna. Pra=beginning, power, source, origin, completion, perfection, excellence, purity.  Jna=wisdom, knowledge of the Supreme, learning, thinking. Prajna =knowing or understanding Brahman.  In the human body which is microcosm Prajnaanam is the source of awareness, consciousness or understanding the inner Self., simply referred as Jnaanam. In the Macrocosm Prajnaanam  is the Supreme Self. 

Brahman referred as SATHYAM consists of three syllables, sath+thi+yam=Sathyam. Sat is the immortal; thi is the mortal; and yam means “by that both these are regulated” thereby meaning Supreme Brahman. Maayaa is Mithyam, opposite of Sathyam