67 episodes

Swami Tattwamayananda’s class on Srimad Bhagavad Gita is held at the Vedanta Society of Northern California, San Francisco (founded by Swami Vivekananda in 1900) on Friday evenings in the First Universal Hindu Temple in the West (founded by Swami Trigunatitananda in 1905). Classes are held on Friday night at 7:30 pm. All are most welcome.

The Srimad Bhagavad Gita is the most important spiritual classic of Hinduism.

Swami Tattwamayananda, currently the Minister of the Vedanta Society of Northern California, San Francisco, (originally founded by Swami Vivekananda in 1900) served in various centers of the Ramakrishna Order in India as editor, publisher, and teacher of Sanskrit, Advaitic texts such as Sri Shankaracharya's commentaries on the 'Prasthanatraya' (the fundamental Sanskrit texts of Vedanta philosophy), Buddhism and Indian philosophy. He underwent traditional training in Hindu scriptures, Sanskrit, Vedic and Vedantic literature for many years, from his early days. Before coming to the United States in January 2012 he was teaching Sanskrit, Vedantic scriptures and Indian philosophy at the Training center in Belur Math, the institution that trains the monks of the Ramakrishna Order at the headquarters of the Ramakrishna Mission, Kolkata, India. Apart from his traditional education, the Swami has also received modern University education in English literature, psychology, European history, and Western philosophy. He is frequently invited for lectures on Yoga, Vedanta, and traditional Hindu scriptures and for participating in interfaith dialogues.

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Bhagavad Gita | The Essence of Vedanta Vedanta Society, San Francisco

    • Spirituality

Swami Tattwamayananda’s class on Srimad Bhagavad Gita is held at the Vedanta Society of Northern California, San Francisco (founded by Swami Vivekananda in 1900) on Friday evenings in the First Universal Hindu Temple in the West (founded by Swami Trigunatitananda in 1905). Classes are held on Friday night at 7:30 pm. All are most welcome.

The Srimad Bhagavad Gita is the most important spiritual classic of Hinduism.

Swami Tattwamayananda, currently the Minister of the Vedanta Society of Northern California, San Francisco, (originally founded by Swami Vivekananda in 1900) served in various centers of the Ramakrishna Order in India as editor, publisher, and teacher of Sanskrit, Advaitic texts such as Sri Shankaracharya's commentaries on the 'Prasthanatraya' (the fundamental Sanskrit texts of Vedanta philosophy), Buddhism and Indian philosophy. He underwent traditional training in Hindu scriptures, Sanskrit, Vedic and Vedantic literature for many years, from his early days. Before coming to the United States in January 2012 he was teaching Sanskrit, Vedantic scriptures and Indian philosophy at the Training center in Belur Math, the institution that trains the monks of the Ramakrishna Order at the headquarters of the Ramakrishna Mission, Kolkata, India. Apart from his traditional education, the Swami has also received modern University education in English literature, psychology, European history, and Western philosophy. He is frequently invited for lectures on Yoga, Vedanta, and traditional Hindu scriptures and for participating in interfaith dialogues.

For more:
Web: www.sfvedanta.org
Livestream: https://livestream.com/sfvedanta
Facebook: www.facebook.com/sfvedanta
YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/SFVedanta
All Original Content © Vedanta Society of Northern California

    65 - Influence of Inherited Samskaras | Swami Tattwamayananda

    65 - Influence of Inherited Samskaras | Swami Tattwamayananda

    -The lecture was given by Swami Tattwamayananda on December 18, 2020.
    -6th chapter: verses 37, 38, 39, 40, 41, 42, 43, 44, 45, 46
    -In the 37th, 38th and 39th verse, Arjuna asks: “Suppose a person is endowed with shraddha and is making an earnest effort to control his mind. Yet, he fails to attain perfection. What happens to such a person? Has he totally failed and fallen from both worlds – having neither attained anything in the secular world nor in the spiritual realm? I have this doubt, which you should dispel.”
    -In normal activities, we may see tangible results soon after the activity. In spiritual life, there are results, but the results may not be in visible form all the time. These results are Adhrishtam (not visible) and Apoorvam (did not exist before the activity). These results are never lost.
    -In answer to Arjuna’s questions, Lord Krishna discusses three categories of people in the next few verses. At the lowest level is Vimudha –one who is highly confused and deluded. At the next level is ārurukṣhoḥ - one desirous of entering the path of Yoga. At the advanced level is ārūḍha – one who has entered the path of spiritual life.
    -Vimudha will be born in a family where, at different stages of his life, his past samskaras start unfolding. Arurukṣhoḥ will be born in a pure and prosperous family, where his parents are spiritually oriented, and where his unfulfilled desires can be fulfilled. Arūḍha will be born in a family that has a tradition of producing great spiritual aspirants.
    -Pedigree is not a criterion for rebirth. One of the greatest devotees, Prahlada, was born to a demon, Hiranyakashipu.
    -44th verse: “The spiritual disciplines and samskaras from previous lives – they constitute the momentum that moves the seeker forward. With a sincere enquiry for higher truth (jijñāsuḥ), he begins his spiritual journey, and is superior to one who mechanically practices rituals.”
    -The stories of Ajamila and Jada Bharata show how our inherited samskaras are never lost, and how the force of our past samskaras helplessly push us towards spiritual life.
    -Ajamila initially led a spiritual life but had a deviation later. His son’s name was Narayana, synonym of Lord Vishnu. At the last moment, when he uttered Narayana to call his son, his mind went towards Lord Vishnu and he attained liberation.
    -King Bharata retired to a hermitage for spiritual practices but developed strong attachment towards a baby deer. He was born as a deer in his next life, but under the effect of his samskaras, he stayed near a hermitage. In his next life, he was born as a great saint - Jada Bharata - always established in his identity with Atman.
    -45th verse: “This Yogi who strives with great tenacity, becomes completely purified, is perfected through his evolution across many life cycles, and eventually reaches the highest goal.”
    -46th verse: “This Yogi is superior to the Tapasvi (one who practices extreme asceticism), superior to the Jnani (one who is a mere scholar), and superior to the Karmi (one who follows rituals).”
    -Per Shankaracharya, mere scholarship and intellectual understanding leads to chitta-bhrama-karanam (mental confusion). It is not spiritual wisdom, which gives inner tranquility. A Yogi is superior, because he has attained spiritual wisdom.
    -Asceticism is of three types: (1) physical, such as external purity (2) Verbal, such as truthfulness (3) Mental, such as self-restraint. A yogi is superior, because he has attained all three of these qualities.
    -Rituals can bind us and hinder further progress. A Yogi has transcended rituals, and is, therefore, superior.
    -Scriptures, asceticism and rituals have their place in spiritual evolution. However, a seeker should not stop there. He should go beyond. After traveling some distance, he should have genuine inquisitiveness about the higher truth – that’

    • 1 hr 2 min
    64 - Spiritual Wealth is Never Lost | Swami Tattwamayananda

    64 - Spiritual Wealth is Never Lost | Swami Tattwamayananda

    The lecture was given by Swami Tattwamayananda on December 11, 2020.
    -6th chapter: verses 37, 38, 39, 40, 41, 42, 43, 44
    -In the 37th, 38th and 39th verse, Arjuna asks: “Suppose a person is endowed with shraddha and is making an earnest effort to control his mind. Yet, he fails to attain perfection. What happens to such a person? Has he totally failed and fallen from both worlds – having neither attained anything in the secular world nor in the spiritual realm? I have this doubt, which you should dispel.”
    -Shankaracharya says that a seeker with shraddha, who has not yet attained the ultimate goal, may have a deviation from his spiritual ideal – this is called Yoga-bhrashta.
    -When we come in contact with sensory objects that can take us away from our spiritual path, we should withdraw our senses from these objects. We should do so by thinking about the dangers of succumbing to such temptation (dosha-drishti) – we should do so again and again.
    -The faculty to detect such temptation and withdraw from – it grows when we feed our mind with higher spiritual ideas and associate with holy people. Then, we develop an inner self-correcting mechanism.
    -Lord Krishna answers in the 40th verse: “Even if you had a deviation, do not worry. You will not lose anything. Your spiritual samskaras are like a fixed deposit that no one can take away from you – it is yours forever. Even if you want a material life, you will be forced to continue your spiritual journey – you will be helpless because of the power of your accumulated spiritual samskaras.”
    -What happens to a Yoga-bhrashta? Lord Krishna answers this question from two different perspectives in the 41st and 42nd verse. 41st verse discusses a seeker who has not achieved Shama (self-restraint), and 42nd verse discusses a more advanced spiritual seeker.
    -41st verse: “If a devotee has practiced spiritual disciplines in this life but has not achieved shama - and he has a deviation towards the end - he will be able to continue his spiritual journey by being born in a pure and prosperous family, where his parents are spiritually oriented, and where his unfulfilled desires can be fulfilled.”
    -42nd verse: “Those who are more advanced are born in families that have a tradition of producing great spiritual aspirants. Such a birth is rare indeed.”
    -In both 41st and 42nd verse, Lord Krishna’s main message is: “Nothing is lost, and you are never late. You can begin your journey right now.” We can start by praying or by doing noble deeds that give us inner tranquility and enrichment.
    -Pedigree is not a criterion for rebirth. One of the greatest devotees, Prahlada, was born to a demon, Hiranyakashipu.
    -43rd verse: “That mind and impressions inherited from previous spiritual life – you connect with those tendencies. You continue your spiritual journey. You strive for your spiritual life more vigorously. Because of the latent memory of striving hard in previous life, you desire not to fail in this life.”
    -The 43rd verse explains the mystery of how our samskaras transmigrate. At death, even though our senses of perception and action are gone, the tendencies that they created are stored in the Antahkarana (mind, intellect, memory and ego). These stored tendencies in the Antahkarana are never lost and are born again.
    -Per Shankaracharya, at re-birth, if good tendencies are dominant, they begin to manifest without delay. If bad tendencies are dominant, then the good tendencies lie dormant for some time and assert themselves after the negative tendencies are extinguished.
    -44th verse: “The spiritual disciplines and samskaras from previous life – they constitute the momentum that moves the seeker forward. Those who even have a wish to lead a spiritual life, they will reach their destination.”
    -When we transcend rituals for material prosperity and start praying for hig

    • 1 hr 3 min
    63 - Dealing with Deviations in Spiritual Life | Swami Tattwamayananda

    63 - Dealing with Deviations in Spiritual Life | Swami Tattwamayananda

    The lecture was given by Swami Tattwamayananda on December 6, 2020.
    -6th chapter: 35, 36, 37, 38, 39, 40, 41
    -Spiritual life is our ideal. We have to restrain the thought currents in the mind by feeding it with positive ideas. However, the mind is called Vikshipta-manah, always wavering like a pendulum.
    -Vyasa classifies the human mind into five categories: (1) Kshipta (scattered) (2) Mudha (dull) (3) Vikshipta (partially focused) (4) Ekagra (one-pointed) (5) Niruddha (fully focused). The mind of a normal person is in Vikshipta state.
    -Spiritual life is about coming face to face with our own mind. When we try to turn the mind away from the pulls of nature, the mind revolts.
    -In the 35th verse, Lord Krishna says to Arjuna: “You are right that the mind is restless and difficult to control. Yet, it can be controlled through constant practice and through renunciation.”
    -When we develop a sense of renunciation towards what is harmful to the mind, and we practice disciplines that feed the mind with positive food, then the mind becomes calm and quiet.
    -We should slowly withdraw the mind from conflicting thought currents by directing it towards positive channels. The existing storehouse of negative samskaras has to be nullified with a new storehouse of positive samskaras. Positive samskaras are generated by reading of scriptures and through holy associations.
    -Spiritual growth is achieved by constant practice and by one’s own self effort. When we are hungry, we have to eat to get rid of the hunger. Similarly, our own effort is crucial for progress in spiritual life. Through practice, one gets uncommon power of mind.
    -36th verse: “Yoga is very hard to attain by someone whose mind is not in his control.”
    -We should always keep in our mind a spiritual ideal. In the midst of our secular activities, we should recollect our spiritual ideal again and again.
    -In the 37th verse, Arjuna asks: “Suppose a person is endowed with shraddha and is making an earnest effort to control his mind. Yet, his mind wanders about, he feels he has not progressed enough, and he fails to attain perfection. What happens to such a person?”
    -If a spiritual seeker feels that he is not making progress, it actually shows that he is making progress. Without making progress, he would not feel such dis-satisfaction. At the same time, it means that he has not made enough progress.
    -When a person starts his spiritual practices with shraddha - - it is like boarding a train that is bound to reach its destination.
    -The person referred to in Arjuna’s question is an ārurukṣhoḥ - a spiritual seeker who is still evolving. He has not reached the Yoga-ārūḍha state, where he experiences identity with the Atman. He could also be a karma-yogi, who has not achieved contentment.
    -38th verse: Arjuna continues his question: “Has he totally failed and fallen from both worlds – having neither attained anything in the secular world nor in the spiritual realm?”
    -Per Shankaracharya, a spiritual seeker may find himself in a stage where he continues to earnestly pray, do karma-yoga, meditate - and yet does not feel inner contentment. At the same time, he sees others enjoying the world around him. This is a state that every sincere spiritual seeker has to go through.
    -Shankaracharya also says that a seeker with shraddha, who has not yet attained the ultimate goal, may have a deviation from his spiritual ideal – this is called Yoga-bhrashta. His past samskaras may assert themselves as one of the following obstacles to deviate him from his spiritual path - Disease, mental laziness, doubt, lack of interest, sloth, clinging to sense pleasures, false perception, lack of concentration, and unsteadiness in concentration.
    -There are many examples of seekers who led an intense spiritual life, then had Yoga-Bhrashta in their last life and died. In their new life, at some po

    • 48 min
    62 - Attaining Ekatvam and Samatvam | Swami Tattwamayananda

    62 - Attaining Ekatvam and Samatvam | Swami Tattwamayananda

    The lecture was given by Swami Tattwamayananda on November 27, 2020.
    -6th chapter: verses 32, 33, 34, 35
    -32nd, 33rd, 34th and 35th verses are interrelated. 32nd verse concludes the important idea of the spiritual unity of the entire creation. 33rd and 34th verses present Arjuna’s question on whether the equanimity of mind can be achieved. The 35th verse contains Lord Krishna’s response to Arjuna’s question.
    -32nd verse: “He who judges pleasure and pain everywhere by the same standard that he applies to himself, that Yogi is regarded as the highest.”
    -The first stage of spiritual evolution is Atma-jnanam, where we realize that behind and beyond the body and mind, there is the Atman. At the second stage, we realize that this Atman is identical with Brahman. At the third stage, we realize that Brahman as God is present everywhere and in everything. At this highest level, one develops ekatvam (oneness) and samatvam (evenness).
    -For a person who has reached this state of samatvam, every secular thing becomes spiritualized. His mind does not deviate from the state of samadhi.
    -We can look at clothes made of the same thread from two perspectives. We can see them as different clothes, or we can see the same thread in these clothes. Similarly, for the spiritually evolved person, wherever his mind goes, he only connects with its spiritual dimension. He cannot consciously do harm to anyone.
    -“yatra yatra mano yāti tatra tatra samādhayaha” (Drg-Drshya-Viveka 30)
    -The statement “Brahma satyam, jagat mithya” is only at a philosophical level. At the highest advaitic level, which transcends all duality, one experiences “Brahma Satyam, jagat satyam”. The world, when perceived from a transcendental perspective, without names and forms, becomes non-distinct from Brahman.
    -In the Bhagavad Purana, there is a dialogue between King Nimi and the Nava Yogis. In answer to the King’s question: “Who is an ideal devotee of God?”, one of the sages gives the following answer: “The one who sees in all beings the presence of God, and who sees the presence of all beings in God.“
    -33rd verse: Arjuna says: “You have taught me this Yoga of ekatvam and samatvam. I do not see the possibility of it becoming a reality in my life because my mind is restless.”
    -34th verse: Arjuna continues: “The mind is restless, turbulent and not yielding. It is difficult to control the mind like the wind.”
    -Arjuna thought that running away from his duties and taking on the life of a mendicant was the right path for him. Lord Krishna eventually tells him that the life of renunciation is more intense, as it deals with inner warfare. Renunciation is about taking on bigger challenges and more difficult than facing external challenges.
    -35th verse: Lord Krishna responds: “You are right that the mind is restless and difficult to control. Yet, it can be controlled through constant practice and through renunciation.”
    -Vyasa classifies the human mind into five categories: (1) Kshipta (scattered) (2) Mudha (dull) (3) Vikshipta (partially focused) (4) Ekagra (one-pointed) (5) Niruddha (fully focused). Arjuna’s question reflects the state of his mind as Vikshipta.
    -When we develop a sense of renunciation towards what is harmful to the mind, and we practice disciplines that feed the mind with positive food, then the mind becomes calm and quiet.
    -From the Bhagavad Purana: “If horses are not under your control and running away, you don’t jump away from the horses. Instead, holding the reins steady and strong, you direct the horses in the proper direction. Similarly, one should control the rebellious mind, by controlling its negative thought currents.”
    -The Bhagavad Purana says that one should slowly withdraw the mind from conflicting thought currents by directing it towards positive channels. The existing storehouse of negative samskaras has t

    • 55 min
    61 - Experiencing Spiritual Unity | Swami Tattwamayananda

    61 - Experiencing Spiritual Unity | Swami Tattwamayananda

    The lecture was given by Swami Tattwamayananda on November 20, 2020.
    -6th chapter: verses 28, 29, 30, 31, 32
    -28th verse: “Such a Yogi, free from all obstacles, experiences Atyantam Sukham – ultimate, infinite, spiritual bliss.”
    -Atyantam Sukham is not the temporary absence of unhappiness. It is happiness itself. It is the feeling of permanently being settled in a state of contentment, even in the midst of obstacles and challenges.
    -Antaraya means obstacles. Patanjali refers to the following obstacles, which cause the mind to wander - Disease, mental laziness, doubt, lack of interest, sloth, clinging to sense pleasures, false perception, lack of concentration, and unsteadiness in concentration.
    -Spiritual life is about moving against our natural instinct, which is driven by the attraction of senses towards sense objects. In spiritual life, we turn the mind away from the pulls of nature. We turn it towards our true inner chamber, the Atman. In the process, we face obstacles.
    -This Yogi, who experiences his unity with the transcendental reality in every moment and action, is Yoga-antaraya-varjitah – he has transcended all antarayas (obstacles) in his spiritual life. The Yogi gets the feeling of Atyantam Sukham, because these antarayas cannot distract his mind.
    -29th verse: “Such a Yogi develops an equanimity of mind, an eye of evenness for all things, because he beholds the presence of Atman in all beings and he beholds the presence of all beings in his own Atman.”
    -An ideal devotee may ready his holy books and go to the temple - but in his interactions with others, he sees all as children of the same God, whom he worships in his temple and whose instructions he reads in the holy book. Religion goes beyond the four walls of the temple – it reaches the hearts of everyone.
    -In the Bhagavad Purana, there is a dialog between King Nimi and the Nava Yogis. In answer to the King’s question: “Who is an ideal devotee of God?”, one of the sages gives the following answer: “The one who sees in all beings the presence of God, and who sees the presence of all beings in God.“ The same answer is given in the Gita.
    -30th verse: “One who sees God in all beings, and all beings in God – that person is never separated from God, and God is never separated from him. He is always in the company of God. “
    -As we advance in spiritual life, our interpretation of the Divine Reality also changes. In the early stages, as we experience happiness and unhappiness, we attribute these opposites to God as well. The highest reach of spiritual evolution is when we realize the Divine Reality within our own hearts, and we experience its presence in everyone and everywhere. Then we live in the constant company of God.
    -31st verse: “That Yogi, that spiritually illumined person, he is always established in this ideal of spiritual unity. He worships my presence everywhere. Whatever his mode of life, that devotee lives in me, and I live in him.”
    -The favorite dwelling place of God is the pure heart of a devotee. Often, we do not allow him to stay there as we have other guests occupying the space such as: desires, anger, hatred, aversion, fear and doubt. When trying to enter, God withdraws, as he sees other guests occupying the space. If the heart is pure, God enters that residence.
    -32nd verse: “He who judges pleasure and pain everywhere by the same standard that he applies to himself, that Yogi is regarded as the highest.”
    -Whatever is desirable to us, we should assume is desirable to others also. We should treat others as we want to be treated by them. A spiritual seeker develops this attitude when he reaches the highest level of spiritual unity.
    -The entire cosmic existence is one for a spiritual seeker who has reached this highest state. He feels compassion towards all beings and towards nature. To him, religion and spirituality

    • 53 min
    60 - Towards a Tranquil Mind | Swami Tattwamayananda

    60 - Towards a Tranquil Mind | Swami Tattwamayananda

    The lecture was given by Swami Tattwamayananda on November 13, 2020.
    -6th chapter: verses 23, 24, 25, 26, 27
    -23rd verse: “The Yogi then reaches a state of severance from any feeling of incompleteness such as agony, pain and unhappiness. This is called duḥkha-sanyoga-viyogam”
    -Every experience of happiness at the empirical level is only the temporary absence of unhappiness. We reach a state of permanent happiness with an evolved, steady and equanimous mind – when we look upon both happiness and unhappiness with a higher perspective, without attachment or aversion.
    -So long as we look upon ourselves as the mind and body, we cannot have permanent happiness. When we identify ourselves as Atman, the transcendental reality, then we experience Brahmanandam – highest, permanent happiness.
    -24th verse: “We should abandon all desires. Desires are born of sankalpa. This should be done by restraining our senses using the mind alone.”
    -Sankalpa means brooding or thinking about worldly objects. Desires are created when we connect with worldly objects through the senses. The mind creates a false notion that we need them to be happy.
    -Mind should be slowly lifted through healthy, sublime desires that are rooted in unselfishness - such as reading of scriptures, noble deeds, and holy association. This helps purify our samskaras and restrain the desire for worldly enjoyments.
    -25th verse: “With the buddhi set in patience, with the mind linked to Atman, let the spiritual seeker try to attain to peace and quietude by degrees. He should not think of anything else.”
    -Spiritual practices should be done with moderation to avoid delusions of the mind. Mind should be gradually liberated from the clutches of the senses. The senses should be liberated from the clutches of sense objects. The mind should be linked to Atman – it then becomes steady.
    -26th verse: “When the restless mind wanders away, it should be brought back closer to Atman.”
    -Mind is a continuous flow of thoughts. If the thought currents are conflicting, they manifest as restlessness and unsteadiness of the mind.
    -Patanjali refers to the following obstacles, which cause the mind to wander - Disease, mental laziness, doubt, lack of interest, sloth, clinging to sense pleasures, false perception, lack of concentration, and unsteadiness in concentration.
    -Atman is steadiness, bliss itself. Mind should be brought closer to Atman by feeding it with ideas that remind one of his true identity as Atman. Then the distractions of the mind slowly disappear and it becomes tranquil.
    -27th verse: “Mind becomes calm like an ocean with all waves completely subsided. When the mind identifies itself with the Atman, supreme bliss comes to the Yogi. His mind becomes serene, all his passions are gone, and he becomes free from all disturbances.”
    -The first step is to free the mind from the clutches of the senses. Then the mind becomes pure and slowly gets directed towards Atman. Then Avarana (veil that conceals our true identity) and Vikshepa (false projection) disappear.
    -At such a stage, the mind is free from distractions caused by Rajo and Tamo guna. A jeevan mukta has such a mind – such a Yogi thinks that everything is Brahman.
    -One can look at the ocean in two ways. One way is to look at it as disturbed with waves and currents. Another is to look upon the waves and currents as constituted by the same water that constitutes the ocean – they emerge, exist and dissolve in the ocean. The Yogi who looks upon everything as Brahman is like the person who sees the same water in waves, currents and ocean.

    • 54 min

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