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Matthew Dasti

Sri Ramanuja on Karmayoga

Sri Ramanuja is one of the great teachers of karmayoga, the discipline which unites action and contemplation. In his commentary on the Bhagavad-gita, Ramanuja argues that karmayoga is essential for all yogins, and is especially important in preparing oneself for higher practices of bhakti. I have translated the following commentary, which provides insight into a central feature of karmayoga, seeing oneself as an instrument of God. Elsewhere, Ramanuja describes that the self has agency (kartritva) which is under God’s will. But here, he stresses seeing God as the agent or doer of all actions. CONTINUE READING THIS ARTICLE »

Vineet Chander

Slumdog Millionaire: An Oscar for Hope in the Face of Hopelessness

Even as the world celebrates the eight Oscars that “Slumdog Millionaire” took home tonight – including the coveted Best Picture and props to A.R. Rehman’s infectious soundtrack – in its native Mumbai, the film remains a hotbed of controversy and a musical metaphor for India’s conflicted view of itself. It is hailed for shedding light on Indian slums, and yet condemned for exoticizing them. It calls Indians to cheer in pride (a film about our slums WON at the OSCARS!), while simultaneously hanging their heads in shame (a film about OUR SLUMS won at the Oscars!). It is either proof that India has finally arrived in the mainstream, or evidence of the film industry’s neo-colonialist agenda. Like the very city it depicts, “Slumdog Millionaire” is a land of contradictions. CONTINUE READING THIS ARTICLE »

Ravindra Svarupa Dasa

Sense Gratification: An Essay in Pathology

In Bhagavad-gita (5.22) Krishna says this about enjoyment of the senses:

ye hi samsparsha-ja bhoga duhkha-yonaya eva te

“The pleasures that arise from contact between the senses and their objects are in truth the sources of all suffering.”

The Sanskrit word bhoga (with the long ‘a’ of the plural) means ‘pleasures’ or ‘enjoyments’. What kinds? The pleasures born (ja) from samsparsha, ‘the bringing into contact’—implicitly, the contact of the senses with their appropriate objects.

This is what we mean by “sense gratification”: enjoying the pleasures that arise when the eyes, or nose, or tongue, the hands, skin, or genitals comes together with their particular objects.

Krishna says something about those pleasures startlingly counter-intuitive: the enjoyments thus obtained (te) are the birth places or origins (yonaya) of suffering (duhkha). CONTINUE READING THIS ARTICLE »

Matthew Dasti

The World as the Body of God

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Sri Ramanuja
, the great theistic Vedantin, provides a model of the relationship between the world and God which sees the world as God’s body. I thought we could explore that notion here.

In Bhagavad-gita 10.20 Krishna says

I am the self, Arjuna, dwelling in all beings.

In his commentary on this text Ramanuja suggests that a self relates to a body in three ways. First, it supports a body. The self is suporter (adhara), while the body is supported (adheya). Second, it controls a body. The self is controller (niyatri) while the body is controlled (niyamya). Finally, a self is the purpose-giving end which is served by a body. Here, the self is the principal (sheshin) and the body, the accessory (shesha). CONTINUE READING THIS ARTICLE »

Kaustubha das

Indirect Perception Of Brahman in the Bhagavad-gita

Indirect full size1

The Bhagavad-gita’s chapters are replete with references to the discernment of the wise. Contrasts in perception are drawn between the yogi of disciplined mind who sees the truth, and those bewildered by ego who chase the illusions of this world.

But how does one’s vision shift from seeing stones and gold as vastly different, to seeing them as the same? How can one view friends and enemies with an equal eye? How does one perceive God within this world, a recurrent theme in the Gita?

Matthew Dasti’s paper Indirect Perception of Brahman in the Bhagavad-gita uses a contemporary account of indirect seeing to examine religious experience within the Bhagavad-gita. It was originally delivered at the Seventeenth Annual Congress of Vedanta, held at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, September 20-23, 2007.

Kaustubha das

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Matthew Dasti

More Thoughts on Ritual

Ramanuja TwotoneI want to continue the conversation about ritual with Michael and Kaustubha (link 1, link 2). The basic idea which is being discussed seems to be that in bhakti, the purpose of religious ritual is fully realized. Without the spirit of devotion and, as Michael stressed, the proper mindfulness about the purpose of ritual, it seems to degenerate into a kind of mere cultural language; a way people who identify with this or that meta-narrative tend to act in certain circumstances. CONTINUE READING THIS ARTICLE »

Matthew Dasti

Meditation as Sacrifice

Translations from the Svetasvatara Upanisad and the Bhagavad-gita

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Joshua Greene

Unhappily Ever After

Now in Bookstores: The Post-Apocalypse World

apocalypse books

Recent bestsellers on life after Armageddon point to a growing paranoia: humanity may not be capable of managing its own survival.

In her book Oryx and Crake, Booker Prize-winner Margaret Atwood tells a cautionary tale about a near-future time when the world has become a wasteland due to genetic experiments gone horribly awry. CONTINUE READING THIS ARTICLE »

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