Questions for your consideration and response

Jaldhar H. Vyas jaldhar at BRAINCELLS.COM
Fri Feb 4 18:35:01 CST 2000

On Wed, 2 Feb 2000 AK426 at AOL.COM wrote:

> (a)What in your opinion are the best books to learn how to 'tread the
> path' leading to Advaita realization? What are your favorites?

More important than books even is to be able to observe the conduct of
saintly and scholarly people.  In the past even amongst the literate
classes oral tradition was considered more important.  Books were used
more as an aid to memory.  So sometimes they are cryptic and do not
explain the whole context.  But a Sadguru can explain everything tailored
to the understanding of the student and with the added bonus of practical
experience as well.

I think the Mahabharat and Bhagavat Purana have been the most educational
books for me being veritable encyclopedias of Hinduism.  Of contemporary
authors, Swami Chandrashekharendra Sarasvati of Kanchis' writings have
taught me a lot.

> (b)What is your daily practice i.e. what do you do on a daily basis to
> enhance or maintain your spiritual life, or your 'realization'?

As far as Advaita Vedanta is concerned, realization is accompanied by
sannyasa. one may come before the other but both are entwined.  Nowadays
there are people who claim that one can remain attached to worldly
posessions and still be "enlightened" but they are charlatans IMO.  So I
don't consider myself "realized" in any way but I would like to be.  To
prepare amidst worldly trials and responsibilities for that our sages
recommend performing ones duties without passion or ulterior

Ravi mentioned Ahnika or nityakarma as it is known.  Both of
these terms refer to "daily duties" that a Brahman should perform.  After
waking in the morning, (ideally before sunrise) I recite the
pratahsmarana shlokas (that begin "uttishta, uttishta
Govinda") Shankaracharya also wrote a Pratahsmarana stotra which some
people recite.  Then after bathing etc. and putting on clean clothes I do
the Morning Sandhyavandana, followed by Puja and Tarpana.  Then one should
do what is called the Vaishvadeva or Aupasana Homa but as I rent instead
of owning my own home, I don't do that yet.  Then comes the Middle
Sandhyavandana which is ideally supposed to be said at noon but as it is
often quite difficult to be pure during hectic modern days I do it
earlier.  In the evening one should do arati (usally my wife does it) and
the Evening Sandhyavandana.  Altogether it takes about an 1-1 1/2 hours a
day.  I like to spend at least an hour or so a day on study as well.

I know people who do even more elaborate and longer worship this and those
who do a lot less.  Regardless of learning, ability etc.  the ones who
derive the most spiritual benefit are the one who do what they
do--whatever it is--with a spirit of service to Bhagawan.  Pushti Margi
Vaishnavas even use the word Seva instead of Puja to describe their
worship.  These are the keys to succesful practice IMO, duty, discipline
and loving service.

> (c)What is the best way to learn the chanting of the Bhagvad Gita
> slokas in sanskrit? Have you used any tapes/CDs for this purpose or
> can you recommend some?

As I mentioned in the post on Gita versions, the Gita isn't really that
difficult.  It is mostly in one meter anushtubha (though there are several
verses in trishtubha meter here and there.)  The best way is to listen to
someone and follow them.

Jaldhar H. Vyas <jaldhar at>

bhava shankara deshikame sharaNam

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