Sunday, June 30, 2019


“Hamsa” in Sanskrit is an important motif in Advaita Vedanta, or nondualism. Ham-sa when inverted reads as sa-ham or so-hum, which in Sanskrit means the oneness of human and the divine. 

During pranayama, the inhalation is believed sound like ham, while the exhalation is believed to sound like sa. Thus, a hamsa came to epitomize the prana, the breath of life. It also means "I am That, That I am," referring to the individual's oneness with pure consciousness. The mantra "hamsa" is always with us, in the breath. It is for us to notice it and tune into it: "I am You, You are me." Ham-sa mantra is the mantra of Oneness and surrender.

Hamsa also means "swan" in Sanskrit. In Hindu mythology, it is said that the swan or hamsa can separate milk from water and drink only milk -- just as in Vedanta, we practice Viveka, or discrimination between the Real and unreal, the permanent and the always-changing, the Self and the not-self.

Photo: Detail of  Ramakrishna Mission headquarters at Belur Math, Kolkata - taken on my 2017 India trip 

* * * 

"Realizing your innermost Self, as the Witness of the intellect, and its disturbances and ever maintaining the thought, 'That I am,' shed your identification with the not-Self."

-Vivekachudamani verse 269

"The Self within is to be known as the Witness of the intellect and its thoughts. Having known and understood Its nature, one should move towards it. To step towards the Self is to assert, "I am That" ---(Hamsa); "He alone am I" -- (Soham). Start living as a mere Witness of all the pulsations of the body, mind and intellect (BMI). By this practice, the idea 'I am the Self' becomes rooted in our understanding. At present we have this understanding rooted only in the BMI. This should be renounced and the feeling 'I am the be Self' should be cultivated."

-Swami Chinmayananda's commentary on above

Monday, June 24, 2019

The Self has No Gender, No Pronoun

“In the Grammar of God,
there is no Number but Singular,
no Gender but Common,
no Tense but Present,
and no Person but First.”

(C.S. Baci, read by Ramana Maharshi)

“That which arises as ‘I’ in this body is the mind. If one enquires as to where in the body the thought ‘I’ arises first, one would discover that it rises in the heart. Of all thoughts that arise In the mind, the ‘I-thought’ is the first. It is only after the rise of this that other thoughts arise. Without the first person pronoun there will not be the second and third.”

-Ramana Maharshi

Thursday, June 20, 2019


So-hum means “I am that, that I am.”
The sound is in the breath, all the time.
On the inhale, hear the sound “so” in the breath.
On the exhale, hear the sound “hum.”
You can tune into this mantra anytime, anywhere: I, the individual self, am none other than Brahman, the Self that is the substratum of the universe.

Sunday, June 16, 2019

Shiva Yajur Mantra

karpūragauraṁ karuṇāvatāraṁ
sansārsāram bhujagendrahāram |
sadāvasantaṁ hṛdayāravinde
bhavaṁ bhavānīsahitaṁ namāmi ||

We used to chant this one at the ashram, and it has been coming to mind lately. It is found in the Yajur Veda.

Meaning of Karpur Gauram Karunavtaram Mantra:

-karpūragauraṁ – The one who is as pure/white as a camphor (Karpur).
-karuṇāvatāraṁ – The personification of compassion.
-sansārsāram – The one who is the essence of the world.
-bhujagendrahāram – The one with the serpent king as his garland.
-sadāvasantaṁ hṛdayāravinde – Always residing in the lotus-like heart. Where, Hridaya aravinde means, ‘in the heart, that is (as pure as) lotus’. Lotus, though born in the muddy waters, is untouched by the mud around it. Similarly, Lord Shiva always (Sada) resides (Vasantham) in the hearts of beings which are not affected by worldly matters.
-bhavaṁ – To the Lord
-bhavānīsahitaṁ namāmi – Accompanied by the Goddess Bhavani (A form of Parvati, Shiva’s consort), I bow

Chanting by Dr. Robert Svoboda.
More info here.

Friday, June 14, 2019


One of the words for the Self is "Satchidananda"

Sat is truth or being
Chit is consciousness, awareness or sentience
Ananda is infinite bliss, or that which is free of sorrow

Satchidananda is also the triple factor of knower, knowing and known
Sat can be thought of as the knower
Chit is the knowing
Ananda is the known

The Self *is* the triple factor.

Ramana Maharshi said, "Even though we usually describe the Reality as Sat, existence, Chit, consciousness, Ananda, bliss; even that is not quite a correct description. It cannot really be described. By this description all that we endeavor to make plain is that it is not asat, not non-existent, that it is not jada, not insentient, and that it is free from all pain."

It is none other than the indisputable awareness of your own being, ever existent, ever free.

Tat tvam asi: thou art That.