All Things are Ephemeral

All things are ephemeral.

As amongst earthen pots

some break while still on the potter’s wheel,

some while partially shaped,

some as soon as brought into share,

some after removal from the wheel,

some while in course of being removed.

Some after removal,

some while wet,

some while dry,

some while being burnt,

some while being removed from the kiln,

some after removal therefrom, and

some while being used.

Even such is the case with the bodies of embodied creatures.

Some are destroyed while yet in the womb,

some after coming out of womb,

some on the day after,

some of the expiration of fortnight or of a month,

some on expiration of a year or two,

some in youth, some in middle age and some when old.

Creatures are born or destroyed according to their acts in previous lives.

When such is course of the world why do you then indulge in grief?

  • by Sage Vidhura, Mahabharatha

“Sanatsujatiyam” – The story of US

“Sanatsujatiyam” is a chapter from udyoga parva in Bhagavatam, a well known Indian epic, of the same time period as that of Bhagavat Gita. While Gita is about the dialogue between  Lord Krishna and Arjuna in the battle field, Sanatsujatiyam is the teaching of Sage Sanatsujata  to Dhrutarashtra, the blind King and the father of Kauravas who are one of the main protagonist of Mahabharata war.

The Questions

Sanatsujatiyam answers some fundamental  philosophical questions that has been in our mind from time immemorial and raised by Dhrutarashtra in this case.

What do we do to go beyond all sorrow and will we be able to look with equanimity upon gain and loss, desire and hate, old age and death, joy and sorrow, hunger and thirst, fear and fearlessness, merit and sin, decline and rise the essential dhwandhas or the duality that are the conflicts of life.

Which are the cause of transmigration and how to attain liberation from these.

Is there death are there is no death.

Who are we. What is “Brahman”? How do we know Brahman which is our essential nature. What do we do to regain our essential self.

The man thinks himself to be body, mind and senses.we are active, doing things constantly trying to avoid pain and enjoy pleasures and result is facing miseries and failure to attain freedom which is the goal of life. We are born and we die again and again continuing this life cycle only each time under different body, name and circumstances. But then question arises. Is there death. Or what is death. Who is the real person behind these names and forms.

what is the knowledge that would make man immortal free from the duality of the world. Can enlightenment be reached and death be conquered by performance of Vedic rituals. Could it be done through combination of ritual and knowledge. Seers are of the view that there is death and no death. How can these contradictory views can be realised.

Who are we and when do we die are some of the questions asked of  Sage Sanatsujata and he replies to them as follows.

Who are we

The scriptures say ones real nature is liberation. We are divine beings. We are on vacation in this world.  The death happens when we forget that and fall from that state to this life. This forgetting of the natural state is the cause of all our problems in this life and the start of Karmic activities of production, attainment, modification and purification.

Ignorance is the cause of bondage and knowledge is the cause of liberation and we are all deluded because of this sheath of ignorance

The Atma or the soul residing in a person is beyond body and mind and beyond and continues in three states of waking, dream and deep sleep of a person. Since one is Atma there is no birth and death.

Body identification and doership is the cause for miseries of life. The man who is created from water, five elements, has gross body that embodies soul in his heart which is purely consciousness, and wrongly identifies himself with gross body. This body identification creates  self-not self concept and that leads to all sorrows, joy, misery and worry again based on his karma. Body identification leads to samsara in other words this circle of life of desire fulfillment, old age, decay and death. The five sense organs, the five organs of action, mind and intellect twelve in all are the cause of externalities and by withdrawing them internally the cause of transmigration is avoided and bliss is attained.

When any activity has to be carried out it has to be done with total detachment, without the feeling of ” I ” am doing it and expectation of result. Thus when mind is pure and free from desire and emotions of anger, greed, jealousy etc self knowledge and realisation happens. If one thinks the body is real and there are these unfulfilled desires at the time of death then the soul carries them along with it and comes back again and again. Hence no liberation from this cycle of life or samsara. When sense objects and desire arising from sense organs are understood to be transient and ephemeral leading to more karma and sorrow and overcome liberation is achieved. Raising above the body level and keeping the mind content and calm which happens when there is no thinking or no mind, or when activities of the mind ceases then path to liberation opens.

The  Brahman

The Brahman is that which is beyond cause and effect, all pervasive, beyond the reach of speech and mind that which is present in every being and object in the is experienced as pure consciousness. The Brahman has no form. It is infinite and not confined into any space and not made up of five elements. It can not be negated and is beyond ignorance. It is subtler than the subtlest and bigger than anything imaginable. It is that from which all in the universe emerges and  and at the end time of universe everything merges with it.  The entire universe shines because of the light of the Brahman. All the universe is established in it.

The person who is born in this world, the self, is the manifestation of Brahman and the self is a non-dual, infinite consciousness and bliss. The knower of self knows it as Brahman and who knows it becomes immortal.

Know Brahman

It is the creator, the supreme being who creates the entire universe out of five elements – fire, air, Earth, water, and ether- in everything and everyone and transmigrates. Who makes him do that and for what purpose and what happens when that action ceases is the play of creation. It is Brahman the being, pure consciousness and bliss.

The Brahman can be attained by truth, rectitude, humility, control of the senses, purity of mind and knowledge and keeping out pride and delusion.

Avoid these

As to the question if one can escape the consequences of sinful acts if he has learnt the scriptures the answer is no and that the fruits of good and bad activities have to be experienced separately and that one does not negates the other. The Brahman can be obtained by tapas which is rigour, penance and austerity. As it is affected the qualities of desire, anger, lust, greed, ignorance, pleasure from sense objects, cruelty, casting aspersions delusion, complaining, worry, covetousness malice, envy and hatred aspirant should avoid these qualities. Also one should avoid sense gratification, prosperity at the cost of others (note the qualifier here), lamenting giving away of gift after it is done, willing to face humiliation for gain, lack of discrimination, boasting and  ill treating one’s spouse.

Pride and the qualities that amplify it are also to be avoided by one.

Cultivate these qualities

One who knows Brahman is a brahmana. (Note – it is by qualities and not be birth). And the twelve great qualities of brahmana are speaking truth, speaking what is good for others, controlling ones mind, studying scriptures, caring for well being of others, proprietary, not talking about faults of others in public, self control under all circumstrances and control of senses. Thus those who have achieved these qualities would be in a position to attain great knowledge and success and position in this world.

Control of senses is effective when along with above qualities one is not quarrelsome, respects all, not lamenting about past or worrying about future, equanimous in all circumstances, Knowledgeable, not causing injury to others, detached and spiritualistic.

Practising the above leads one to happiness.

Know thy self

An object is identified by words only if it has some quality as name, form, action, and relationship with some other objects. As the self does not have any of these qualities it cannot be described but only perceived as pointed by Vedas. Self can be realised by giving up sense objects, which is done by withdrawing senses, being quite, away from all actions and by contemplation and meditation. Brahman is the source of all names and forms and self is Brahman. So knower of the self knows the source of everything in the universe. Attaining Brahman, the ultimate reality, pure consciousness, bliss (sat, chit, ananda) that is happiness, and that is the goal of life. And those who attain the knowledge of self are liberated.

Thus one who knows himself to be Brahman had no death. It is unborn and is the self of all moving and unmoving. By meditating on this he is fulfilled. Brahman is immortal and all beings are born from it and merge into it. Brahman is the self, not self and all that exist and exist not.



-“Sanatsujatiyam” translated by S N Sastri

  • Discourse by Shri Swami Anubhavananda Saraswati on Sanatsujatiyam – available on YouTube

Leon Denis On Sorrow and Suffering – Part V

On Facing Sorrow

Learn how to suffer. I do not say seek sorrow! but when it comes, and stands in evitable in your path, receive it like a friend. Learn to appreciate its austere beauty, to seize its secret knowledge: study its hidden works, and in place of revolting against it, or resting inert and stunned under its action, associate your will with the aim fixed by sorrow, and seek to draw from it all the profit it can offer to a spirit or a heart. Force yourself to be an example for others, and by your acceptation of it, your courage, and your confidence in the future, render it more acceptable to other eyes. In a word, make sorrow beautiful! Harmony and beauty are universal laws, and in this ensemble sorrow has its aesthetic role.

Elevate yourself by higher views and hopes : see in it the supreme remedy for all the woes of earth. You who bend under the burdens of your trials, you who walk in the silence, no matter what comes, do not despair. Remember that nothing comes in vain, or without cause. Almost all our sorrows come from ourselves in the past, and they open the paths to heaven for us. Suffering is an initiation. It reveals the serious inspiring side of life. Life is not a frivolous comedy, but often a poignant tragedy. It is the struggle for the conquest of spiritual life, and in this struggle we must employ all that is great within us—patience firmness—heroism—resignation. Those old allegories of Prometheus and the Argonauts, and the sacred mysteries of the Orient, had no other meaning. A profound instinct makes us admire those whose existence is a perpetual combat with sorrow, a constant effort to climb the abrupt heights which lead to virgin summits and unviolated treasures. We do not admire only the heroism which brings forth the enthusiasm of crowds, but also that which strives in obscurity against privations, maladies, and miseries, all that detaches souls from material ties and transitory things. They strengthen the character for the combat of life—develop force and resistance—take from the soul all that weakens it—elevate the ideal to the pinnacle of force and grandeur. This is what education should adopt for the essential objective.

Let us open our souls to the breath of space, and lift ourselves to the limitless future. This future belongs to us! our task is to conquer it

  • This concludes the five part series (Notes) on “sorrow and suffering” by Leon Denis

Excerpt from “Life and Destiny”, Leon Denis (1846 – 1927), Translated by Ella Wheeler Wilcox

Leon Denis on – “Death”


Death is but a change of state; the destruction of a fragile form which no longer furnishes life with the necessary conditions for its evolution. On the other side of the tomb, another phase of existence opens. The spirit in form etheric, imponderable, prepares for new incarnations.

Know that the bones and dust which lie there are nothing; the souls which animated them are gone. They will come again in more refined and subtle forms. From the bosom of the Invisible, where your prayers reach and move them, they follow you with their loving eyes; they smile, and they respond to your thoughts. They are often at your side—these beloved beings you seek in the cemetery. They come and watch over you—they who were the companions of your joys and sorrows. Around you float a throng of beings who disappeared in death, a throng which calls to you, and tries to show the path for you to pursue.

Why, then, this fear of death—this poignant anxiety regarding the act which is not the end of life?

The spiritualist knows death ends nothing. It is for him the entrance into a mode of life full of rich impressions and sensations. Not only are we still in possession of spiritual joys, but they are augmented by new resources and more varied powers of enjoyment. Death does not even deprive us of the things of earth; we continue to see those we loved and left behind us. From the bosom of space we follow the progress of this planet; we see the changes which take place; and we assist in new discoveries, in the development of nations politically, socially, and religiously:

and until the hour of our return to flesh we participate, etherically, to the measure of our power and our advancement, in the labours of those who toil for humanity. Instead of avoiding the idea of death, we should look it in the face, and know what it is. Let us disengage it from the shadows and chimeras with whichit has been enveloped, and ask of it in what manner we should prepare ourselves for this necessary and natural incident in the course of life.


In truth, what would happen if death were suppressed? This globe would become too small to contain the throngs of humanity. While here we weep over the departure of those who are lost to us in seeming nothingness, above us beings glorified welcome their arrival in the light in the same manner that we welcome the arrival of an infant whose soul comes to blossom newly on earth. Our dead are the living in Heaven.

Many people fear the physical phases of death, but the spirits tell us that the moment of death is almost always painless. Death is but falling asleep. The knowledge which we have been able to acquire of the conditions of the future life exercises a great influence on our last moments. It gives us more assurance, and enables the soul to quickly disengage itself.

Death is but a change of state; the destruction of a fragile form which no longer furnishes life with the necessary conditions for its evolution. Our progress demands that one day or another we should be relieved from this earthly envelope which, after having rendered its service, becomes unsuitable for other plans of destiny.

Every time death knocks at our door in its splendid austerity it is an invitation to us to live better, to act better, and to increase the worth of our lives by ceaseless efforts. Death, it tells us, changes nothing in our spiritual nature or our character—that which constitutes the veritable ME. It simply sets us free in the measure of our advancement.

While here we weep over the departure of those who are lost to us in seeming nothingness, above us beings glorified welcome their arrival in the light in the same manner that we welcome the arrival of an infant whose soul comes to blossom newly on earth. Our dead are the living in Heaven. Many people fear the physical phases of death, but the spirits tell us that the moment of death is almost always painless. Death is but falling asleep.

The human being pertains to two worlds. By his physical body, he is tied to the visible world ; by his etheric body, to the invisible. Sleep is the temporary separation of the two bodies; Death, the separation definite. Birth is a death to the soul. It is prisoned with its etheric body in the tomb of flesh. What we call death is simply the return of the our soul to liberty, enriched by the acquisitions it has been able to make during the course of its earth life.

The best means of securing a sweet and peaceful death, is to live worthily, simply, soberly, and to vitalise existence with high thoughts and noble actions.

Excerpt from: “Life and Destiny”, Leon Denis (1846 – 1927), Translated by Ella Wheeler Wilcox