Atman Diaries- The Nyagrodha Tree

The conversation between father Uddalaka and son Svetaketu, as narrated in Chandogya Upanisad.

As was the customary in those days, Svetaketu was sent to an ashram for his education and when he returned after the completion, Uddalaka asked him, “What did you learn while in the Ashram, my son?”

“I learned everything that can be known, father,” Svetaketu answered .

When Uddalaka heard this, he became silent and thought, “What pride! Such conceit is born only out of ignorance. My son has not yet grasped the essence of the supreme knowledge of Atman which brings humility.”

He asked Svetaketu to fetch a fruit of  the Nyagrodha tree.  Shvetketu picked a fruit from the tree and brought it to his father.

“Break it, son, and look inside,” suggested Uddalaka.

“What do you see?” Uddalaka questioned.

“These extremely fine seeds, father,” replied Svetaketu.

“Of these, please break one and what you see inside?” asked Uddalaka.

“No! There is nothing there” responded Svetaketu.

Nyagrodha Seed

Then Uddalaka said to his son, “My dear, that subtle essence which you do not perceive, from that very essence this great Nyagrodha tree exists. That, Svetaketu, is the Atman, that subtle essence, this whole world has for its self. That is the truth. The Atman pervades the universe, and, my son, you are a part of that universe.”

Uddalaka explains how the world which has the name and form arises from Pure Being which is subtle and doesn’t possess name and form .

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Our Own Nature-The Hindu Trinity

It is true that we just cannot stay inactive, can we? We want to create something, not necessarily unique but a strong compulsion within to play the role of a creator. From creating jobs as an entrepreneur to the scientists creating motherless-babies, we humans are indeed a creative breed. There is no boundary of human endeavor and there is no one who doesn’t have an urge to create or let me put it this way, nature ensures we create. We are creators, period.

Isn’t this blog itself a product of my desire to create. But we do not just stop at creating, we indeed play the role of the Hindu trinity, Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva. While Brahma in us keeps himself busy, the Vishnu and Shiva aren’t left out. They work parallel with him and in congruence. For instance, whatever we create we want to sustain it, be that be our jobs,relationships,status,blog, money,negativity,jealousy,ignorance..;)

As Brahma and Vishnu are engaged in their activity, our own nature decides when it had to terminate what it has created. That phenomenon is what we call by the name ‘Shiva’. It is our own nature that expresses itself threefold, plays the part of these Trimurtis. Everything that has a start has an end and every end has a new beginning. Now this holy trinity is a symbolic representation of the life we lead here. Like I said before, we are so occupied and weary playing all the three roles that we never get to live our lives.

So, break the wheel of monotony and start enjoying what you already have before it is gone. There are many suggestions on the web on living a full life but from experience, we know after a while even that gets boring. In my opinion, we should learn to spend time with ourselves too alongside with the new things we take on. Being creative is being alive however being your self is being divine. Don’t you think we are capable of balancing both?

Na hi kascit ksanam api jatu tisthaty akarma-krt
Karyate hy avasah karma sarvah prakrti-jair gunaih

One cannot remain without engaging in any activity at any time, even for a moment, certainly, all living entities are helplessly compelled to action by the qualities endowed by the material nature.

Interesting read :

Knowing My Self

Someone who read my posts asked me a question, thought it would be interesting to blog it. I was asked if I had ever experienced a marred self-image and if meditation helped me recover?

So what is self-image? It is simply how I see my self.
Actually, we all have a clear sense of self, a sense of ‘I’ but when we are asked to pinpoint and describe ‘I’ then it gets difficult. Many times we do not know how to heal our selves as we are unsure what to work on. Think of it, when asked to better our selves, we work on our career or body image or relationships thinking this is where our self lies. In reality, they belong to us but can they be us?

Many ancient Hindu philosophers and scriptures claim that we are living a life of mistaken identity, a pseudo self which is transient and impermanent.
At times, Body = I Mind = I
They state the ‘I’ present during the dream, waking and deep sleep states is called ‘Atman’ which is distinct from the mind and body. And, until the above identifications with the inner & outer body stop, we cannot be at peace. So, their advice is to know our real self and avoid any emotional scars which can damage our self-image.

I had my own encounters with emotions, felt helpless, the more I talked about it to others, those impressions seemed to get stronger. If I wasn’t seeking help outside then the thoughts that I wished to avoid kept coming back with vengeance. I felt my inside was that of a battlefield and I turned hostile.

That is when I started paying attention to my thoughts, till then I barely knew what crossed my mind.  My mind was troubled by its own thoughts just as the silkworm bound by its own thread. I started observing my thoughts, the more my mind entertained those negative thoughts the more they surfaced. When sublimated, they took another form, but still existed.

Say someone knocks at your door and you do not respond to it then what happens? Whoever it is, have to go back after trying to get your attention, isn’t it? If we do not give the thought a thought, it has to go back. But it will return and knock again many a time, simply stop giving it any more power. Eventually, it will die down. Trust me, any such experiences in life will only leave you empowered with a better understanding of the mind.

Meditation may not be possible for someone with a low esteem. We need to fix that first. Learn to forgive you. To err is human, so learn from the experience and move on. Try giving; start taking responsibility your emotional needs and that will breed confidence.

Contemplating on any object is meditation but if you wish to understand and meditate upon the SELF then you have to approach a teacher. Spiritual books can gain a lifetime of knowledge but you may still miss the deeper meaning. He/she will help you put the principles into practice. For example, ‘Live in the present moment’, isn’t as simple as it may sound and nothing will change overnight. Be patient and practice until it gets hard-wired.

Though you are already That TRUTH/God(whatever you wish to call), ignorance will stop you from being that.  So, you should consciously trash your old knowledge and instill new ones and allow them to seep in. This sure is an investment of your time and energy but you deserve to know who you really are 🙂

Brilliant Mind & Eureka Moments

Upon watching the Mathew Brown’s movie, The Man Who Knew Infinity, I pondered on how important it is to have a clear mind for a creative brain. By the way, it’s a biopic on Srinivasa Ramanujan and his friendship with British mathematician G.H. Hardy. A man of intuition with little to no formal education, Ramanujan, was a phenomenal and celebrated mathematician much ahead of his time.

What interested me is his answer to the mathematician G.H. Hardy to how he derived at a new equation? He said it came to him in his dreams.

He failed to systematically prove his work. He was unable to provide any logical account and admitted that they were the thought of God and hence did not require any proof. That epiphany which caused me to think of how many such intuitive moments had come to my aid but could never confess openly the work of my unconscious thoughts. Each one of us everyday experiences these flash moments but how many of us are aware and could successfully apply those to our lives. No doubt, he was wired differently from the others during his time.

‘Intuition’, which made me think and am sure you would agree that some of our best decisions were not the result of our reasoning but that of a hunch. Though uncomfortable but still the truth ;). When our wisdom and intellect fails, intuition is the light we follow, that gut-feeling which defies all logic but works when executed. Does that mean we should reject all analytical reasoning to embrace that inner voice? Not necessarily, everything needs to be balanced. Can’t we integrate them with our other tools available to make the best possible decision?


Let us take a look at the history, shall we? Every grand discovery had an aha moment, brilliant ideas surfaced when it was least expected.  If those eureka moments were to be true then why did we stop at only idolising the individual but never ventured into their world, their mind. We celebrated the body which housed magnificent mind but couldn’t gather information on how they tuned into the secrets of the universe.

It always had been the work of an attentive and inquisitive mind. Our next questions should have been in the direction of the source, the place where these ideas are born. The only reasoning might be that they were too ahead of their times.

I strongly believe that any breakthrough to be made should already be there waiting to be discovered. The more connected we are to the thought/idea the better we stand a chance to discover it. Bhagavad Gita beautifully explains this phenomenon, it says a sudden appearance of a thing does not mean it wasn’t there already. It was there you weren’t observing, now that you observed it appeared. Nothing here is ever created new, it is always discovered. [B.G. 2,28]

Avyaktadini bhutani vyakta-madhyani bharata
Avyakta-nidhanany eva tatra ka paridevana

Then, why only a few discover great things? Are we born different? Do we all not have the same qualitative brain make-up?

Ideas come to minds that are lucid. How can anything reflect on a troubled mind? Even if it did, the chaotic mind wouldn’t see it. However, if our minds start believing and literally living in any idea then history records that the idea had turned from a mere thought to a real experience. Examples are many, from Mahatma Gandhi to Adolf Hitler 🙂


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Love Yourself

Whenever our environment gives fewer data, we let our subjective self-interpret it and respond to clear the ambivalence.

Some of us, when met with ambiguity, may turn to anger or sadness. For example, when you meet with uncertainty, and say you believe it is hugely important to please everybody around then the amount of stress that you would undergo is fairly proportional.

Unfortunately, if social support is the only thing we are clinging to then we do not have enough choices to depend on. And the bizarre thing is that we avoid social contact and turn a loner when stressed, don’t we?

Besides, we feel stressed when we are compelled to saying “YES” when we really want to say “NO”. This is something that we come across more often than not. Maybe I feel this had played a huge role in not wanting to continue in an undivided family which was very popular in Indian subcontinent at one time. Thanks to stress, we now have the nuclear family, pun intended.

From experience, I know how hard it is to say NO to a friend or to a family member. It is next to impossible to saying NO to your superior or someone in authority. But we all know how the frustration gets build up and sometimes translates into indirect aggressionThen why can’t we say ‘No’? Because reciprocity and guilt weigh us down.

The need to comply and to stay part of social groups kick in high cortisol levels. This is huge because this leads to prolonged stress. Yet, learning to say NO when appropriate is important to our well-being. In the long run, people will respect you for that.

Decline gracefully. Be kind to yourself and you will radiate the same. If judging others is incorrect, judging self is equally wrong.

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