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Darsana Ten - Verse Ten


Nirvana Darsana verse 10


The one brahma alone is without a second;

nothing else is; there is no doubt.

Thus the knower should liberate from duality.

Thereafter he does not return.


Nataraja Guru’s translation:


The one Absolute alone there is, without a second;

Nothing else there is, no doubt herein.

Having thus understood, the well instructed one,

From duality should withdraw; (he) does not return again.


         With a profound bow to the gurus who have been and continue to nurture us, we bring the third Darsanamala study group at the Portland Gurukula to a close. What a long, wonderful trip it’s been!

         Time being what it is, this was almost certainly our last journey through this masterwork. Anyone interested in more depth along the lines of this Garland of Visions can turn to the Integrated Science of the Absolute—soon to be rereleased in an improved edition—or peruse the highlights of the Integrated Science on Nitya’s website: We plan to continue with other of Nitya’s works as long as neurons permit.

         Our last gathering featured a warm, clear evening, and was punctuated throughout by the roaring sky sounds of Nitya’s spiritual presence, masquerading as jet noise, the most we’ve had for many years, beginning right at the inception of the class and ending with our closing chant.

         As we sat silent for the opening meditation, I mused how there are so many demeaning attitudes jostling for attention these days, that even the most high-minded ideals are forced to lower their standards to get a hearing. It reminded me how very fortunate we are to regularly revel in a perspective that truly honors our intelligence and integrity, one that calls forth our best rather than forcing us to think less wholesome thoughts. I think I can speak for all of us in expressing gratitude for such rare and badly needed good fortune.

         Nitya’s brief and uplifting commentary opens with an account of the history of the universe up to the present instant, drawing a line of cause and effect all the way to the humble cup of clay from which we take a sip. Might the cup stand for something less trivial? Possibly. In his inimitable fashion Nitya draws a penetrating conclusion from an account that others might mistake for meaningless:


When such a causally conceived relationship of things is seen as the inseparable organic continuation of the world system, there emerges from that picture the idea of a purposive evolution and the intelligence of a creative insight which engineers the world phenomenon. This is the Logos that is referred to in the very first verse of Adhyaropa Darsana, chapter one of the present book, as the incipient will of paramesvara, the Supreme Lord.


As we have elsewhere noted, the very coherence of the process defines the Supreme Lord. There is no need to imagine some anthropomorphic being and then deny there are such things. All that is irrelevant, the kicking up of philosophical dust storms. We’re just talking about coherence and interrelationship. The infinite spectacular outcomes of this “blind” process should fill us with a soaring sense of bliss and gratitude. For no reason other than that we exist, we are gifted with riches beyond belief. It’s something we could all agree with, and it could be named anything along the lines of supreme, Lord or otherwise.

         For those who have a hard time shaking off their superstitious attitudes of inadequate divinities, Nitya elaborates just a smidgen how this very unfoldment of interlinked causes and effects is It, is the very divine essence we worship and honor in myriad ways. Still speaking of the first darsana, he writes:


In the tenth verse of the same chapter, the same was compared to the organic expansion and unfoldment of the latent characteristics of a fig tree, which in the course of time becomes manifested as a tree of enormous size, having roots, trunk, branches, leaves, flowers and fruit, each item of which is distinct from the others. In spite of the apparent difference between its microscopic origin and macroscopic expansion, nowhere in the process of its elaboration is there a severance of the effect from the cause; hence the creative principle, brahma, the sustaining vitality of the process, vishnu, and the continuous transmutation that is being effected from stage to stage, siva, are collectively called para, the transcendent Absolute, and sarva, the all-embracing single reality.


Need it be added that all of us benefit from and participate in the same “divine” flow, so while we are certain to interpret it in idiosyncratic ways, we can easily see how we all belong to the same context: the same religion or science or what have you. Anyone who understands this does not need to fight with those who hold different views.

         In his Integrated Science, Nataraja Guru expresses a simple yet memorable attitude regarding openness in this regard: “The absolutist outlook is not compatible with the mean spirit of judging others and thus getting judged oneself. What matters is the wisdom involved.” (II.442)

         I talked about the idea from the verse that one who is liberated from duality does not return. Similar words are sprinkled throughout the Upanishads, and they are usually taken to refer to reincarnation: once you get it together, you aren’t reborn any more. In miserable times, not coming back to the world could be an appealing goal, but it doesn’t have to be understood that way. I take it in a more down-to-earth fashion. Our ordinary mentality is grounded in repetition. We recycle previous ideas, and live within prescribed boundaries. By contrast, a liberated person lives in a fresh, unchoreographed style, meeting the present as it is, and not needing to compare it to past standards or expectations. The ninth verse, if you’ll recall, puts this quite clearly: “Thus having become certain, liberate. Thereafter modulation does not repeat.” Modulation still happens, it just isn’t repetitive. That kind of freedom is called nirvana.

         Academic thinking requires proof by experiments, studies, quoting accepted authorities, and so on. It disdains individual interpretation that isn’t grounded on previous steps. I was reminded of this when I wrote my exegesis of Hercules’ Labors. There are no extant sources of contemporaries who explained their meaning, and no speculations other than that they may have had some spiritual implications. To make sense of them I brought my own substantial awareness of human qualities to bear, but then I meditated on the stories until their patterns began to speak directly to me. Though the result was substantial and moving and possibly quite meaningful, it has no academic credibility. There is no room for the unrehearsed in academia. Which would be fine, except we have reduced pretty much all legitimate thought to that one circumscribed style. I mention this because Darsanamala and the other cups of Narayana Guru that we sip from are non-academic and aim to explode our limited horizons. The guru model is about originality, and going where no one has gone before. I fervently hope that our weekly gatherings further this aim, if only a modest amount. We modern humans are rich in minutely-focused thinking, and impoverished when it comes to setting our hearts free. Our damaged psyches are quarantined in the ICU of hard knocks, but Narayana Guru wants to heal them and get them back in the game.

         Deb noted that this type of liberation requires fearlessness, and that is another thing the studies are meant to bolster. Extraction from duality, living in oneness, makes us naturally brave. Narayana Guru describes it as being emboldened, in his magnificent conclusion to his Hundred Verses of Self-Instruction:


Neither this, nor that, nor the content of existence am I,

But existence, subsistence, joy-immortal; thus attaining clarity,

Emboldened, discarding attachment to being and non-being,

One should gently, gently, merge in SAT-AUM.


It’s easy to see how this sums up the yogic position of balancing opposites. Our Brihadaranyaka Upanishad study at the present moment addresses the need for balance between appreciation of the all-embracing unity and our habitual urge to separate: “If you make the subject an objectivized version for analysis and observation, the Self is already fabricated into an unverifiable non-Self. Almost all scriptures warn us about this.” (II.137) Nitya goes on to elaborate the details:


We are conditioned by our focusing on fragments, delimiting the subject in the frame of reference of the time/space continuum and providing every concept with content. Only by unlearning and not pursuing can we arrive at the true import of the Self. That itself is a contradictory statement because there is no coming, no going, no seeking, no realizing. Every attempt brings the opposite effect of making the real unreal, naming the unnamable, visualizing the invisible, bifurcating the nondual. In these mantras, Yajnavalkya offers us a reorientation to various aspects of the world and the individuated beings in it. (II.137-8)


This bares the elusive paradox before us. Yogis are to take the polar extremes and mash them together like plutonium and enriched uranium to release all the energy trapped within them. The outcome has only a remote relation to the original elements: a stupendous release of pent up energy.
         Learning and unlearning are an excellent example. Both have their value, and neither by itself tells the full story. Both have to participate, yet since they are diametric opposites they cannot interact in a linear fashion. They have to be made to neutralize each other. Then we get “Neither this nor that nor the content of existence am I.” What’s left is a neutral field uncluttered with fixed notions.

         Jan shared a bit about her own recent release, having taken an exciting vacation in a new country after several years of drudgery and heartbreak. It began in Morocco, where being a lone woman traveler might have made her nervous. Instead—and she appreciated the class for help with this—she felt a beautiful oneness everywhere she went. She was at home in a very different place. She burdened herself with no expectations, so she could be alive in the present, and her spirit soared. She mentioned how the Muslim calls to prayer moved her, and when she was alone in her hotel room she would assume a worshipful posture in response and allow herself to tune into the spirit of it. It was sweet to see her come alive in the telling. Joy is communicable, after all.

         Bushra is an expert traveler herself, and shared some thoughts about her experiences when journeying alone. She makes sure she feels that doing specific things is unnecessary, reminding herself she doesn’t have to follow any pattern. She simply intends to stay neutral, and she finds not forcing anything is quite liberating. If there is conflict, she merely observes it. She doesn’t feel it is incumbent on her to resolve anything.

         Neutrality is a key, and it is sensed by the other people you encounter. Any attitude is quickly sensed and may bring on an exaggerated reaction, since after all everyone is carrying baggage. Jan noted that you have to stay flexible, and she is not bothered by deferring to the folks who live in the places she visits.

         It struck me that Bushra and Jan’s advice was appropriate to any situation, and not just traveling. But what a fun way to practice your yoga, trying it out in exotic locations!

         Traveling in a tour group is a much more bound experience. The walls of expectations and defined programs are kept intact as the group moves through the foreign locations, with most of the action safely internalized within the group. Hats off to our two yogi-travelers, who are not afraid to keep the gates open.

         Because of the brevity of the final commentary, I brought in a few synthetic ideas from the Nirvana Darsana chapter of Nataraja Guru’s Integrated Science. This one is related to the unification of science and religion:


The gist of what Bergson has proved can be stated in one sentence if we say that the metaphysician and the physical scientist are equally qualified to be philosophers in a unified and integrated sense, wherein perceptual and conceptual factors cancel out as numerator and denominator, having an epistemological equality between them. Such is the scientific presupposition of the possibility of a final union of the Self with the non-Self in the absorption of both into the Absolute, which is the same as the pure nirvana of this chapter. (II.427)


Paul is eager to connect these two contrasting styles of thought, and feels that science is catching up with the more-encompassing field of philosophy or metaphysics. While science tries to adhere to observables, what constitutes their domain has become ever more subtle, to the point that some are observable only in the imagination, or very nearly so.

         Here we are studying what the gurus call brahmavidya, the science of the Absolute. While not ruling out the unknown, we are by and large keeping to observables and conceivables, as these have a direct impact on our lives. Fantasy is minimized, because it can easily lead the mind to disregard more pressing issues. This does not mean we are trying to squeeze the universe into a trite box so we can dismiss it. Heavens no! We are working to liberate, using the techniques we have been shown, in order to expand our awareness and participation exponentially.

         As a perfect example, in a kind of bonus blessing, Nitya presents saccidananda in the most cosmic possible terms, tacitly inviting us to a soul-expanding meditation:


In the present final verse of the Darsanamala, the same brahma combines within its reality the ontologic imminence of the substance of all, the dynamic process of the teleologic evolutionary manifestation, and the all-transcending idea of the Eternal Being.


Here we have an absolutely immanent existence comprehended in a perpetual goal-oriented or evolutionary framework, whose very meaning is eternal being existing in total transcendence. Nothing trivial about that!

         Nitya wraps up The Psychology of Darsanamala with indications from several Upanishads poetically instructing us to dive with all our hearts into the river of life. It is hoped that classes like the one we are concluding here extend that open invitation in a delectable (or at least palatable) way.

         I closed the evening with a poignant excerpt from the very end of the Integrated Science, written some 50 years ago:


Wisdom in India today, although it has been recognized to be precious for humanity, has at present the tendency to be neglected even by Indians, due to the impact of modern Western ideas. These ideas apparently are strong enough to put into the shade more ancient ideas now considered effete and outmoded. Such a trend, if it continues, will mean the loss of a very rich heritage of wisdom. (II.478)


Our humble gathering is a small but lovely way that the very rich heritage of India’s wisdom continues to be admired, and is shown to be eminently worthy of being honored as a guide. Those intervening fifty years have vastly accelerated the transition from India’s “effete and outmoded” ideas that so satisfyingly feed the soul to a Western-style materialism that has met many basic physical needs, yet at the expense of nourishing the populace’s hearts and minds. This worldwide trend has catapulted humanity into another period of exacerbated repression where freedom is bartered for sustenance. We honor the gurus for upholding the value of liberty at all times. Nataraja Guru puts this in his inimitable fashion:


Man has to gain his happiness through freedom. It is not merely physical freedom but a freedom applying to the human spirit with all its hopes and aspirations. As in the case of physical strength or ability, here one thinks of more inward qualities such as bravery or firmness, which at higher levels of life lead to freedom understood in terms of intelligence or right conviction about the Self or Reality treated as a whole. Bread and freedom mark the extreme limits of this kind of liberty, and within this range the human spirit finds it possible to strive for full happiness. (II.440-1)


With Nitya’s essence humming in the skies overhead as well as in our hearts, we enjoyed an extended period of silence and bliss together, grateful for our amazingly generous teachers, before stepping out into a balmy, twilit (and silent) world, and making our way back home.


Part II


         Swami Vidyananda’s commentary:


The words “one Absolute only without a second” is a teaching found in the ChÓndogya Upanishad. Its meaning is that the Absolute is without any difference between entities of the same kind. To say that there is only one Absolute and that there is no other Absolute like it, is the negation of difference between entities of the same kind. To say that besides the Absolute there is no second entity at all, constitutes the non-difference between entities of different kinds. That the Absolute has no change within itself such as origin, growth, transformation, etc. is what amounts to saying there is no internal difference in the Absolute. In the above dictum the term ekam (one) refutes any difference. The term advitiyam (without a second) underlines the absence of the difference between different kinds of entities. The term eva (itself) is meant to underline the absence of any difference within itself of the Absolute. Even in the Taittiriya Upanishad we see it often repeated that, “He, the Absolute is only one.” With the help of the meditation on these truths, one should abolish all doubt and attain firm certitude about the unique status of the Absolute. The one who has attained the state of nirvana is the real learned one. He will never more have the confusion arising from duality. He will be finally released from the suffering arising from dualistic belief. Then, by itself, that kind of happiness which is of a never-returning order happens and no more suffering can take place. In the Katha Upanishad it is also stated that a wise man is never born nor does he ever die. The released man enters into such an eternal state for ever. The Mundaka Upanishad says that when the vision of the ultimate Self takes place, the knots of the heart are severed, all doubts cut off, and all actions weakened. In the BrihadÓranyaka Upanishad it says, “He attains to the world of the Absolute (and) this is nirvana.” The same type of wise man is mentioned similarly in many parts of the wisdom texts. He enjoys the ultimate bliss of nirvana which is ever auspicious, most bright, and desirable.


*         *         *


Jay contributed one more account of a yogi’s incorruptibility:


As we talked about the death of Sri Aurobindo, Today somehow my memory gave a flesh back of reading something similar about Yogananda the writer of the famous book, "Autobiography of a Yogi"

Here is the interesting account from Wikipedia:

Claims of bodily incorruptibility

As reported in Time Magazine on August 4, 1952, Harry T. Rowe, Los Angeles Mortuary Director of the Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Glendale, California, where Yogananda's body was received, embalmed and interred,[43] wrote in a notarized letter[5]

The absence of any visual signs of decay in the dead body of Paramahansa Yogananda offers the most extraordinary case in our experience... No physical disintegration was visible in his body even twenty days after death... No indication of mold was visible on his skin, and no visible drying up took place in the bodily tissues. This state of perfect preservation of a body is, so far as we know from mortuary annals, an unparalleled one... No odor of decay emanated from his body at any time...[44][45]

Because of two statements in Rowe's letter, some have questioned whether the term "incorruptibility" is appropriate. First, in his fourth paragraph he wrote: "For protection of the public health, embalming is desirable if a dead body is to be exposed for several days to public view. Embalming of the body of Paramhansa Yogananda took place twenty-four hours after his demise." In the eleventh paragraph he wrote: "On the late morning of March 26th, we observed a very slight, a barely noticeable, change -- the appearance on the tip of the nose of a brown spot, about one-fourth inch in diameter. This small faint spot indicated that the process of desiccation (drying up) might finally be starting. No visible mold appeared however."[45]

As Forest Lawn’s Mortuary Director, Rowe, was professionally well qualified to distinguish the exceptional from the ordinary. He continued in paragraphs fourteen and fifteen: "The physical appearance of Paramhansa Yogananda on March 27th just before the bronze cover for the casket was put into position, was the same as it was on March 7th. He looked on March 27th as fresh and unravaged by decay as he had looked on the night of his death. On March 27th there was no reason to say that his body had suffered any physical disintegration at all. For these reason we state again that the case of Paramhansa Yogananda is unique in our experience. On May 11, 1952, during a telephone conversation between an officer of Forest Lawn and an officer of Self-Realization Fellowship, the amazing story was brought out for the first time."[44]

Self-Realization Fellowship published Rowe’s four-page notarized letter in its entirety in the May-June 1952 issue of its magazine Self-Realization.[46] From 1958 to the present it has been included in that organization's booklet Paramahansa Yogananda: In Memoriam[47]

The location of Yogananda's crypt is in the Great Mausoleum, Sanctuary of Golden Slumber, Mausoleum Crypt 13857, Forest Lawn Memorial Park (Glendale).[48]

Part III


Lo and behold—we received a kindly thank you note for the class, from Jan:


Great notes for our last Darsanamala class.  It was a touching one and the longer ending meditation felt so sweet.


I think you summarized well what I said about my story about my traveling experience.  In Morocco, I was taken with how this very different culture and new country showed me my own connectedness, and the underlying unity of everything.  Alive to the oneness, I felt it guiding me and it was beautiful.  Many interactions and moments were full of compassion, love, wonder, gratitude.  I felt very grateful to Nitya’s teachings that have gone deep within me and changed my life.  I marveled at how typically stressful events like cancelled flights, etc., passed rather effortlessly, without disturbing my peaceful state.  All of this reminded me of the kind of world I want to keep building, and what I want to keep letting go of.  And at the center of all that is a commitment to continually renewing my vision and understanding by returning to the Absolute and our studies of Nitya that are profound and life-affirming.


Again, I am very grateful to you and Deb for our wonderful class.  Jan


*         *         *


A new participant has just joined in time for the concluding anthem, though he is reading the notes on the website, so timing really doesn’t matter. Baiju’s family home is a few minutes away from the Varkala Gurukula and his father was a good friend of Nitya; he now lives in Bangaluru. His latest note makes a fitting close: every end is a new beginning.

         It’s heartening to find that our little class is being followed in ways we may never know about. Very cool! I now send the notes to around 125 addresses. Baiju is making reference to Nitya’s website ( and the original 8 verses of That Alone, which will be posted on the website soon as a lovely supplement to the book. We began our conversation around the old Psychic Magazine interview:


Dear Scott ji,


I have read the interview once. I had heard Guru Nitya speaking many, many times and his characteristically sweet voice is still in my mind. While reading the interview I could relive the same experience, but now experiencing the richness of what he spoke. (As a kid I used to love to listen to him, but a lot of what he spoke went above my head....)


I had a quick look at the other works on the site. A good amount of serious but enjoyable writings indeed; in Love and Blessings, I sensed Guru Nitya's natural and captivating style. Will read them at a leisurely pace. And one has to read them again and again to feel a renewed anubhuti as well as understanding every time he reads.


Thank you for recommending That Alone. I have had the book with me. I kept it for a serious study after Darsanamala. I have looked through the 8 verses and their commentaries you sent to me yesterday. I see that they are a little different from those chapters in the published book. When you read it you feel you are directly listening to the Guru in an informal environment. I will certainly use it when I start with That Alone.


I am not in a hurry; I look forward to receiving the class notes, etc. whenever there is a new project. I will also then feel nice to be in the company of people who are genuine seekers and are sincere in their effort to understand Advaita. That is probably the best possible sat sang one can hope for in the 21st century.


Aum tat sat.



Scott Teitsworth