Where Science and Metaphysics Fall Short

Sri Aurobindo’s words on the limitations of science and metaphysics in explaining the world. As he writes, “Metaphysics seeks to tell us What the Universe is and Why it is; in other words to explain the Inexplicable; but the end of this process is inevitably a juggling with words which must repel all clear-minded thinkers”. The approach of Hinduism is altogether different.

Brahma’s Lie and the Delusion of Certainty

“Brahma’s lie marks the first act of fundamentalism on the planet. The flower is punished for bearing witness and offering tacit support to the fundamentalist impulse. To claim a limited end to a limitless process, to reduce the infinite to the finite, to draw borders across the borderless, to make measurements of the unfathomable – this is the beginning of the human impulse to create certainty where none exists. It is the birth of pain, of suffering, of delusion.”
– Read more of the excerpt from the book Adiyogi: The Source of Yoga by Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev.

Life Advice from Dr Radhakrishnan

“Religion is what we do with ourselves when we are alone. In every one of us is a secret shrine where no one could intrude, to which we must retire as often as possible and discover what our true self is as distinct from the appearance we present to the world outside. Most of us are self-deceivers and constant examination alone can save us….”
5 September has been celebrated as Teacher’s Day in India since 1962 in honour of the great scholar and philosopher Dr S. Radhakrishnan who became President of India in 1962. In this excerpt from this essay ‘My Search for Truth’, Dr Radhakrishnan gives valuable advice not only for teachers but all people in general.

Indian Monk Says to Rise Above Thought and Reason (Swami Vivekananda)

Are there limits to our reason or is reason all we must rely on?
Swami Vivekanda said: “The really difficult part to understand is that this state, the Absolute, which has been called the highest, is not, as some fear, that of the zoophite, or of the stone. That would be a dangerous thing to think. According to these thinkers there are only two states of existence, one of the stone, and the other of thought. What right have they to limit existence to these two? Is there not something infinitely superior to thought?” Read more in the article.

From Vedanta to Plato: the Deep Links between India and Europe (Part 1)

Vedanta and Plato. Mahabharata and Homeric poems. Venus and Vena. Kupros and Shukra. What’s behind the fascinating parallels?

Professor Subhash Kak delves into the deep connections between India and the Graeco-Roman world which show up not only in language, but civilizational ideas, philosophy, mythology, astronomy and art. This is Part 1 in a two-part series.

From Darkness to Light – Guru Purnima Blessings

Newsletter No.6

Dear LWP Readers,

This newsletter contains news about the much awaited exclusive LWP interview with Maj Gen GD Bakshi as well as Guru Purnima blessings for one and all.  As usual, the weekly digest is included further below.

From Darkness to Light – Guru Purnima Blessings

The full moon following the summer solstice is of great significance to spiritual seekers, being the day of Guru Purnima. In ancient India, Guru Purnima was one of the most important days of the year.

The word “Guru” comes from the Sanskrit roots “gu” which means darkness and “ru” which means dispeller. The Guru is the light that dispels the darkness of ignorance. That moves one from untruth to truth. As the ancient verse from the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad goes:

Om Asato Maa Sad-Gamaya |
Tamaso Maa Jyotir-Gamaya |
Mrtyor-Maa Amrtam Gamaya |
Om Shaantih Shaantih Shaantih ||

Lead me from unreality to reality. From darkness to light. From death to immortality. Let there be peace. Om.

In Indian culture, the first Guru, Adi Guru, is considered to be Shiva, who first gave the tools of yoga to the seven rishis (saptrishis) who then passed them down to humanity. Since that time, many gurus have walked the land of India and still do, showing the way of liberation to humanity.

And yet, the Guru is not in the essence, a person with a teaching. A guru is not someone who preaches morality, a man of principle. The Guru is the principle – the Guru Tattva – inside the heart of all sentient beings. The Guru is the universal Self. The Guru is the silence that quietens the mind.

“Guru is the Self. Sometimes in his life a man becomes dissatisfied and, not content with what he has, he seeks the satisfaction of his desires through prayer to God. His mind is gradually purified until he longs to know God, more to obtain his grace than to satisfy his worldly desires. Then, God’s grace begins to manifest. God takes the form of a Guru and appears to the devotee, teaches him the truth and, moreover, purifies his mind by association. The devotee’s mind gains strength and is then able to turn inward. By meditation it is further purified and it remains still without the least ripple. The calm expanse is the Self. The Guru is both external and internal. From the exterior he gives a push to the mind to turn it inwards. From the interior he pulls the mind towards the Self and helps in the quieting of the mind. That is the Guru’s grace. There is no difference between God, Guru and the Self.”

– Sri Ramana Maharshi (Be as you are, The teachings of Sri Ramana Maharshi, p. 91)

We don’t need to strategize about ways to dispel the different forms of darkness  – we just have to let the light of Grace shine. Guru Purnima is the time when it is easiest for humans to experience Grace. It is therefore believed to be a day that we must try to spend in contemplation, meditation and fortifying our spiritual aspirations.

How much Grace we allow into our lives is completely up to us because Grace itself is always ‘on’, always flowing.

May everyone experience the Grace of the Guru this full moon day – Guru Purnima Blessings!




My conversation with GD Bakshi on ‘Soldiers & Spirituality’ was personally very interesting and enlightening. The first part of this video interview was released on LWP yesterday. In this part, GD Bakshi spoke about his guru, a fitting topic for this Guru Purnima! Many viewers of the video expressed their surprise at this heretofore hidden side to GD Bakshi who is more popular for talking about all things war and defence!

I think you will find the upcoming parts of this conversation even more interesting – revolving around GD Bakshi’s peronal meditation experiences and a broader discussion about the role of spirituality in the lives of soldiers (an apparently obvious connection given that soldiers constantly face death, but yet not a much discussed/explored one). Look out for these videos on the LWP website and YouTube channel.

Below is the Part 1 video incase you missed it.

Weekly Digest

Here’s some other important highlights from the past week on LWP:

– Glimpses of the Rath Jatra 2017 in pictures. This annual festival of Lord Jagannath (Lord of the Universe) is enigmatic, colourful and a true display of universality in which people from all walks of life (including tribals and Muslims) participate.

– Beloo Mehra shared with us a touching piece in memory of her late mother. Sometimes a person’s cooking feeds not only the stomach but also the soul as this beautiful piece shows.

– If you’re thinking of visiting Korea, know that it is a meat obsessed society but there’s ways of getting by on a healthy vegetarian diet. Danielle Oakes shared some survival tips for going ‘Meatless in Korea’.

– LWP shared Dr David Frawley’s piece on Guru Purnima – the Full Moon of the Universal Guru – an enlightening piece on the significance of this day tracing back to ancient times.

Last Sunday’s newsletter included Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev’s video on the #RallyforRivers initiative being led by the Isha Foundation to save and rejuvenate the badly depleted Indian rivers. Do watch and share the video and pledge your support for the cause (a missed call to the number: 80009 80009  registers as a support to the petition for saving the rivers which will be placed before the Indian government in October 2017). LWP supports this cause and will be sharing much more information, knowledge and support in the coming weeks.


As always, I look forward to your comments, feedback, suggestions and article contributions. Do share this with those you think may be interested so that they can also and join the wiser-living movement!

Wishing you a lovely Sunday wherever in the world you are and may you have a truly blessed Guru Purnima!

Warm regards,
Shruti Bakshi
Editor, the LivingWise Project

Guru Purnima: Full Moon of the Universal Guru

Who or what is a guru?

Many religions honour their founder or great teacher in various ways. Hindu dharma is perhaps unique in honouring the guru or spiritual master as a principle in itself beyond any particular personality, philosophy or revelation.

The true guru is a position of spiritual guidance, the illuminating presence of a higher awareness. The guru is not limited to any physical person, however exalted he or she may be.

The guru is an inner institution, an authority rooted in an experiential wisdom, not in any mere human convention. The guru works to awaken us to our own Divine potential beyond the limitations of time and space, fear or desire.

Great souls who hold the position of the guru have a special honour and immense responsibility that can only be served in a selfless manner. The true guru is not conscious of being a guru to others, but of simply sharing the light of truth to dispel the darkness of ignorance.

The guru is a powerful conduit to the universal flow of knowledge. As such, there is only one true guru in all gurus. The guru is the guiding intelligence of the universal and eternal dharma that assumes many names and forms.

The importance of having a guru resides in being able to connect with the transcendent realm through a human representative. We should emphasise the guru’s teachings, rather focusing on outer appearances.

It is the ability to surrender the human mind and its opinions that makes for a true guru. The true guru teaches a path of self-realisation, giving us back our own true nature, not making us weak or dependent.

Guru Purnima – the full moon of the universal guru

Guru Purnima is the day of the Hindu lunar calendar established for honouring the guru in every form, all the teachers, educators and teachings that help us in life, through various rituals, mantras and meditation performed in their honour.

Yet it is the spiritual master as the cosmic guru that is the main focus. On this day, one should dedicate oneself to following the guru’s instruction and putting it into practice. The guru principle is most active at this time, and we can more easily connect with notable gurus past or present.

Guru Purnima marks the birthday of Veda Vyasa, who structured the four Vedas, composed the epic of the Mahabharata, and created the foundation for the many Puranas, the vast encyclopedias of Hindu sacred lore.

As such, Veda Vyasa developed the foundation for Hindu dharma as it endures to the present day, with its main deity forms, philosophies and yogic paths. Yet Veda Vyasa stayed in the background and never made himself into an object of worship.

Veda Vyasa is said to have used Ganesha as his scribe. What this means is that his teachings were embedded in the cosmic mind, not simply composed at a human level. Ganesha rules over the organisation of all higher knowledge.

Adi Guru, Shiva with the Saptrishis (Image credit: ishafoundation.org)

Guru Purnima represents the date on which Lord Shiva as the Adi Guru or original guru taught the seven rishis who were the seers of the Vedas. This reflects the fact that Shiva is Omkara and all the higher teachings arise out of Om as the Divine Word and cosmic sound vibration.

In the Yoga Sutras, Ishvara as Pranava or Om is said to be the Adi Guru of Yoga. Lord Buddha was said to have delivered his first sermon on this day at Sarnath, reflecting the power of this sacred time.

India’s most important gift to the world is its many great gurus. Since Swami Vivekananda in the late 19th century, a galaxy of monumental teachers has inspired humanity, and awakened India to its true role as the guru among nations.

Today, a new generation of gurus is arising to continue the process of sharing the universal knowledge in this new era of global communication.

While not all gurus are great, great gurus are always present, particularly in India, some prominent in public activities, others known only to a few.

Guru Purnima falls on 9 July in 2017

read also: Bhagavad Gita – the essence of India and its profound message for the world

This article was first published in the DailyO and has been republished here with permission.

Sanskrit, Science and Ecology

“Understanding the anatomy of language through grammar enables us to reach a higher plane of creativity in art, as well as in science…The immense heritage of scientific works in Sanskrit bear proof to this creative capacity. Unfortunately, modern methods of academic instruction in mathematics and science have been disconnected from this heritage. Instead of a delightful marriage between scientific investigation and artistic beauty, we have the divergent worlds of sciences and humanities, where people fight to establish their egos in their theories. This disconnect has produced so much pollution in this world that people have forgotten that all of human endeavour is a shared enterprise, and that its objective is to elevate the consciousness to a higher Rasa.”

Diversity in Indian civilisation

For about ten thousand years, the Indian subcontinent was not only the most populous area but also the most technologically and economically advanced civilization in the world. But despite this, the region preserved its biological diversity. The forests of India housed vast numbers of tigers and other wild animals, whose numbers started to decline only during the colonial era. The same is true of linguistic and cultural diversity in human societies.

One can contrast how Irish and other Celtic languages were exterminated from the British isles with how Dravidian and South-East Asian languages thrived despite the dominance of Sanskrit. India is the only civilization in the world where tribal languages and customs are preserved, despite being in close contact with literate societies. Apart from protecting economic and lifestyle niches, religious beliefs and practices were also protected. Many external religions such as Zoroastrianism, Judaism, Syriac Christianity, Bahai’ism have sought and found refuge in India. This case of India is all the more surprising when we note that the aggressive European civilizations were but cousins to India, sharing a common linguistic and mythological ancestry. So what did its cousins lack that made India so tolerant?

Sanskrit – tool for elevating consciousness

The answer may be in the computational nature of the Sanskrit language and the sciences nourished by it. Taken together, they are a means of amplifying the consciousness of a person, making him aware of every single aspect of life and his conduct to it. This reinforcement of consciousness is the key to avoiding environmental catastrophe in any age. Often, humans destroy living ecosystems through sheer ignorance and lack of attention. Greed is a big factor, but stupidity results in greater violence in the long term.

The languages and belief systems that we think in are Prakrits – applicable to a specific place and context. A certain type of fish might survive in certain type of waters, but other fish may die. Such is the case with Prakrits – they cannot claim to be universal. Further, if they become polluted (become Apabhramsas), they cause suffering to the very creatures that thrived on them.

The greatest cause of suffering is the ego nurtured by the polluted mind. For example, after they conquered Bengal, the British systematically scorched the region with famine to break the morale of the people.  The early Americans exterminated the bison so that they could starve the native Indian tribes that depended on it. It is hard to fathom the depravities of such egotism, which continues to cause ecological destruction today. There is an important lesson to be learned from human civilizations that survived for a long time without ecological collapse like in India (at least until today’s age). The lesson is the open computational grammar of Sanskrit, which makes it modifiable to be suited to specific local contexts in space and time, such that the human mind pays attention to the changing constraints of nature.

Sanskrit is unique, because unlike any other human language, there is no dictionary needed for Sanskrit. Instead, it possesses a generative grammar of computational rules. The number of Sanskrit words is potentially infinite. Even if we restrict to words less than 5 syllables in length, there are more than hundreds of thousands of words. Each word in Sanskrit is akin to a self-explanatory computer program that can be parsed into individual syllables (phonemes) by which its meaning can be derived. Thus, an infinite number of new words can be generated whose meaning will be unambiguous to a Sanskrit speaker.  The magic of Sanskrit grammar is that you can have multiple ways of breaking a word and putting it together again, that leads to multiple angles of meaning, all of which converge on the denoted object.

Map reconstructing the now-dry ancient Saraswati river mentioned in Vedic texts. The river flowed through North-West India (Source: Wikipedia)

From the Indian perspective, the physical analogy for an algorithm is not a mechanical clock, but a constantly flowing river that nourishes people. This river is Saraswati on the banks of which the Indian civilization flourished, and who was later glorified as the goddess of speech. In the Indian tradition, this river is supposed to flow through all the other rivers, blending at sacred spots of confluence. When Indians make pilgrimages, they carry small pots of water from the rivers of their places of origin to the sacred Ganges and mix them in. This is a way of acknowledging the commonality of all the rivers.

Saraswati, Goddess of Speech, Knowledge  and the Arts

Interpreting this tradition with computers and algorithms, we should encourage interoperability of all computing systems, by periodically blending in the waters of computation with each other. Like the waters of a river, they can be enjoyed by all living beings. In a more general sense, we can say the same for open-source software if it achieves political and economic awareness amongst people. Thinking of algorithms and computer programs as rivers also requires us to maintain them free of pollution. Various types of pollution in terms of data-structures, security, network infrastructure etc. need to be addressed in a similar manner to how we address pollution in ecology.

Reviving the Sanskrit tradition

Throughout the cultural history of India, all great poets and writers in regional languages studied Sanskrit and were equally proficient in it. The power of Sanskrit in word formation and grammar has penetrated all Indian languages. In fact, the first writers of any regional language (Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam etc.) wrote a technical Paninian*-style grammar for their language before composing any literary work. This is because they understood the importance of grammar in imparting consciousness to the literary tradition. Understanding the anatomy of language through grammar enables us to reach a higher plane of creativity in art, as well as in science.

The immense heritage of scientific works in Sanskrit bear proof to this creative capacity. Unfortunately, modern methods of academic instruction in mathematics and science have been disconnected from this heritage. Instead of a delightful marriage between scientific investigation and artistic beauty, we have the divergent worlds of sciences and humanities, where people fight to establish their egos in their theories. This disconnect has produced so much pollution in this world that people have forgotten that all of human endeavour is a shared enterprise, and that its objective is to elevate the consciousness to a higher Rasa (essence). In Sanskrit tradition, the contrast could not be stronger. Great Indian mathematicians of the past like Bhaskara were also highly skilled poets. All the great Sanskrit poets and musicians used computational thinking that would pride a scientist. These bridges have to be rebuilt today, not only for the sake of lovers of Sanskrit, but for the whole world.

The mainstream narrative from western media is okay with letting Indians have their naked mystics, but not as open about acknowledging the full extent of scientific contributions. But anybody who tries to confine the applicability of Sanskrit to these narrow realms is an enemy, not of Sanskrit, but of science.

*Sankskrit grammarian in the ~6th -4th BCE, considered the father of Indian linguistics