what is freedom

What is freedom?

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What is freedom? Can freedom and commitment go together?

what is freedom“What did you do before pursuing Vedanta full- time? What guided it? ” these were some of the questions people asked me here, in the Vedanta course in India. In response, here is a reflection of my personal journey of freedom and commitment as well as some factors for consideration to lead change. What is freedom?

When I was younger and foolish, I used to think that Freedom meant I could do what I liked and avoid what I disliked. Words like ‘commitment’, ‘duty’, and ‘responsibility’ were words that only elder people used, especially, when they wanted to give advice. Freedom was being free from responsibilities and commitments. Yes, that was it. As I grew older and wiser (hopefully), there seemed something wrong with the earlier understanding of freedom, the understanding of independence.

My work, in Mumbai involved running a counselling centre for street children – children who were abandoned and had run away from home. In listening and responding to the heart- rending stories of loss and hope, courage and helplessness, family reunions and family break ups, there was a lot to learn. We worked with children affected by drugs, violence and abuse, to see how, with small steps life could be changed – for the better. Perhaps, problems with the step mother may still be there for little R, still his positive, supportive relationship with his sister and teacher in school could help R work hard in school. And so life continued, allowing us to help 30-40 children and youth, one child at a time.

For restless me, that was not enough. More children had to be reached out to. That was non- negotiable. Around this time, my exposure to Vedanta, my limited understanding of India – its political, socio-economic realities, my understanding of Indian culture and how it has sustained dharma grew exponentially. As an Indian citizen, 15th August- Independence Day, over the years came to be associated with a lot of symbols: the tricolour flag, the national anthem, watching the Republic Day on TV, patriotic songs etc.. Rummaging through the symbols, there were a few things that became evident – India’s independence lay in living independently – her culture, her ways of living, her ways of doing things, the thought processes that unified India and most importantly India’s people that carried the above from generation to generation. Independence from the British, as important as it was, was a return or a regaining of the independence that belonged to India in the first place. What does living a life of freedom mean?

From the sceptical and cynical thought process of “India is so corrupt, nothing will ever change, the politicians cannot be counted on…it had a glorious past but the reality when we look at the living conditions of some people stink.” etc, it changed proactively to, “ I will do what I can for India because it needs to be done. I am privileged to be born into this great, free country; I owe it to this country to preserve its heritage and culture. Culture is transmitted from generation to generation by its people. If culture has to be protected, its people need to be protected. Children and youth especially the ones who are disadvantaged, need to be protected the most. ”    From the thought process, of “What can one person do?” it changed to, “Change always starts with one person.” As we started to align with agencies that worked with children and youth in the country, every year more than 12,000 children‘s lives began to be changed across the country. This phenomenal work continued for 10 years and still continues. The bondage of children and youth from limiting conditions of illiteracy, poverty, violence were being loosened, bit by bit. Some of the changes were: better access to education, getting off drugs, returning home, getting medical care, having supportive relationships, improvement in conditions of government homes for children, increased sensitivity of police to children.

For restless us (by then me had grown to we – a committed group), that was not enough. What about the families? What about the government systems for care and protection of children? How can change be positive and sustainable? And so, another series of projects began, which collaborated with the government systems, challenged them, held them accountable by doing something simple – asking them to explain themselves on what they said they would do and what they actually did. By mobilising the power of a group and collective thinking, pressure on government systems was built not by taking them to task but focusing on good governance – as citizens, how could we help the government do its job better? It was not taking a helpless victim stance, “Government should protect the weak, after all we have no power.” It was taking a proactive position, “as citizens, we have certain rights and we fulfill our responsibilities. What can we do to ensure that the Government fulfil its responsibilities?”   After all, the Government systems were not made up of people from outer space, but people like you and me. It was not easy. It is never easy but we recognised that change takes time, patience and perseverance.

The status of freedom for India and her people lies in being free from limiting conditions of bureaucracy, corruption, illiteracy, poverty and indefinite dependence on bigger countries for international aid. Living the Freedom did not mean doing what one liked or disliked. Living the Freedom meant living a life of commitment to freedom - doing what is required to be done, changing what needs to be changed – promoting conditions suitable for the well being of citizens in all respects.  So that the nation thrives and prospers.

How did we manage to contribute to social change and live a life of commitment to freedom? What are the things to consider if one wants to lead change?

  1. You are a leader if you can lead change in your own life. It is better to sort ones’ life out before trying to help others sort theirs.
  2. Identify a condition (problem) that needs to change:  A problem is any condition that compromises the well being of a person, group or community. This requires seeing the situation of the group objectively and hearing their perspective.  It is not imagining a problem where there is none. Most people try to fight helplessness by distracting themselves or rationalising it. Transform helplessness into doing what needs to be done and what will have an impact. Identify any social problem in the neighbourhood, community. It could be children in need, older people who need some support, friends who require some assistance in a skill that you possess.
  3. Define change using SMART principle – Change that is Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Time bound. An example of a change statement we implemented: xxx children in need on the streets in 8 states of India would be protected and have overall development in xx years. The numbers of children were specific (based on research), ‘overall development’ – educational, physical and emotional development focused on being attainable and realistic. The number of years to be taken for this indicated the time bound aspect- is it short/medium or long term that could be achieved. A good change statement incorporates a change that leads to the well being of people and is a condition that is sustainable.
  4. Always keep the big picture in mind and commit to change – Change is never ever a magical overnight process. It requires careful, meticulous planning of time, people and resources involved. Changes in a society take generations, that does not stop us from doing what needs to be done. Identify factors that support and constrain factors for change. Needless to say, have a tentative plan. Anybody who has tried to implement change at a personal level, for example quitting smoking knows that there are many steps forward and backward that one takes. In the end, being on the path matters, despite setbacks.  When one focuses on a change statement or the goal in other words, one plans backwards in terms of the most effective and efficient ways to achieve it. Just because one has 1000 blankets from a wholesale factory, does not mean that what the children in South India need the most are blankets.
  5. Focus on what you can do and not on what you cannot do: The reason many of us get frustrated and feel helplessly paralysed in a problem situation is because we focus on what we cannot do. The moment we break down the solution into a series of simple steps and start to focus on what we can do, given the resources, time, skills we have, things start to shift.
  6. Just do it
  7. Share your story of change. Real life stories have a magical power to inform, inspire, promote independent thinking and integrate learning. I just did.

Happy Independence Day! Happy Living a life of freedom!


Kumbha Mela Mrnalini Rao

Kumbh Mela – Reflexions by Mrnalini Rao

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Kumbh Mela – Reflexions by Mrnalini Rao

Kumbha MelaWhat moves 100 million people, a majority being Indians from all walks of life – families, spiritual seekers, enlightened people, and gurus of different schools of learning/akharas to be in the most peaceful gatehring? What moves people to come to the world’s largest religious gathering seeking the blessing of purification – or what is referred to as the ‘holy bath’ at the confluence of 3 rivers? What moves people to come to the Kumbh Mela?

If it could be summed up in one word – it is shraddha. Shraddha is more than a belief. It is a deep implicit trust and understanding in the words of the Guru and the Shastras which reveal the relationship between the person, the world and the Lord. Sraddha is the understanding that what is written in the Smriti and Vedas is true, them being the status of ‘pramana’ – a means of knowledge that tells me that this ‘holy bath’ will help wash away all of ones’s papas (unpleasant situations) that are accumulated over many lifetimes. The corollary being that with one’s papas being neutralised or minimised, the punya (conducive situations) that is accrued to the person will manifest in intensity or frequency.

Because of the astrological significance of the event and the legend behind the Kumbh Mela, it is believed that a powerful supercharge of positivity happens at Prayag, Allahabad. The whole area is energised—the water, the air and the entire atmosphere becomes charged with that force. Taking a bath in the waters, which is imbued with that power, promotes spiritual growth, health, emotional strength and puts you on the path to moksha.

Kumbh means ‘vessel’ and ‘mela’ means a festival. At the root of the Kumbh Mela legend is the search for the nectar of immortality that would end the war between the devas (gods) and the asuras (demons). Before the gods got the nectar, a few drops of nectar fell in Haridwar, Allahabad, Nasik and Ujjain – different locations in India, purifying these places. Hence, every three years, a Kumbh Mela is held by rotation in Haridwar, Allahabad, Nasik and Ujjain. The holiest of all these Kumbh Melas is the Maha Kumbh Mela that happens in Allahabad at Prayag—the confluence of three of the holiest of India’s rivers: the Ganga, the Yamuna and the mythical Saraswati, which is underground.
Because the Kumbh mela revolves largely around the holy dip, certain days are considered more auspicious than the others according to the astrological significance. On these days, the different akharas or centres of learning and the sadhus in them, according to their history of establishment, get the right to lead the procession of their group into the waters. This is marked with devotional chants, surging crowds and the whole atmosphere is electric.

Kumbha Mela Mrnalini RaoOn that cold winter morning, as we moved in the small boat, a few yards from the banks to the confluence we could clearly see Bluish Yamuna meeting brownish Ganga and the bubbling Saraswati in between. The waters looked clear and inviting. A brahmin priest who was seated in a moored boat near the confluence was available to help us state our sankalpa or ‘intention’. By clasping our hands in a specific way with an elaborate Sanskrit prayer, we dipped fully into the cold waters. We dipped again and again, in the recognition that we stood more purified and content than before. Whether it is the energy of the countless people present, our own sraddha, the Gods smiling at us, we can never say. After our dip and a few prayers, we moved around some of the tents in the Kumbh area, meeting people.

The Bhagavad Gita speaks of 4 different types of bhaktas or devotees, all of whom were there in full measure at the Kumbh. It says, the people, given to good actions who worship the Lord are four-fold (BG 7-16). This grouping is based on their understanding of God, their attitude, approach and nature of prayers.

The first two types are the ones who are seeking security, relationships, possessions. I was able to meet many of them. A middle aged lady, dressed in a green salwar kameez, said that she had come to the Kumbh to pray that her husband, who had a paralytic attack, recovers. Like her, some of us think of and pray to God only when we are in distress or grief. Many other women in unison said that they had come to pray and ask for the welfare of their children and families. Most of them believe that there is no way of having any control over situations without some grace. So whenever this group of devotees wants to accomplish something, he/she invokes the grace of Isvara to control certain factors that they cannot control or even know.

One of them quipped,” We are not here for a picnic. This is a pilgrimage and we are ready to put up with anything-be it being without adequate food, be it putting up with inconveniences, walking for miles to get to the confluence.” This thinking is linked largely to the understanding well prevalent in India of a pilgrimage. Travel is undertaken where one deliberately and willingly gives up or denies oneself certain comforts.

My travel companion, Radhika also my batchmate at the Ashram shared her purpose of coming to the Kumbh,” As a student of Vedanta, to gain the ultimate knowledge, the qualification required is a person who is free of obstacles, to gain the clarity of self knowledge. My prayer is removal of all obstacles, by this holy dip. “ She is a seeker, the one who desires to know the truth of Iswara – the third group of devotees. Very close to the third group is the fourth group of jnanis or wise people. They have recognised their oneness with the Lord.

What was unique for us to see were hundreds of sadhus, sadhvis and sanyaasis from all over India, many of whom live in quiet seclusion and only emerge during occasions like this. Most of them had been given tents spread over a few kilometres where they had camped for two months – the period of the Kumbh. Unlike the organisation of the church, some of these holy people live on their own or are associated with some ashram or some centre of learning or spiritual practice. These are people who have given themselves to the feet of the Lord with total surrender. Many of the sadhus or holy people we met, looked relaxed and happy. Some of the women sanyaasis exclaimed that,” We have chosen this lifestyle of renunciation in happiness and not to run away from situations. There is only happiness now as there is nothing to los

Kumbh Mela Horse back policeA unique thing I found about the Kumbh was seeing policemen on horseback. One of them shared the reason, “ Given the huge crowds, it is impossible to use any motor vehicle. Moreover there is no space. A wonderful thing that very few people know about horses is that they do not trample people but people think that they will be trampled and hence they regulate themselves out of fear. Another advantage is that by being on horses, we get an overhead view of the crowds and are able to diffuse problematic situations easily making crowd management smooth.”

The ultimate knowledge is that all that is here is Iswara and that is to be understood. Events like the Kumbh mela make it easier to assimilate this given the sraddha of people. We left the Kumbh knowing that we had been blessed, fortified, strengthened and purified than ever before. Om Tat Sat

This text was written by Mrnalini Rao, may i suggest another text from the same author:  “The Magic Lamp and Love“;  And for understanding more about this tradition “What are the Vedas“. harih om


Ganesha | What is Ganesha? – Satsanga Online

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Ganesha | What is Ganesha?

O que é ganesha- tanjour trichy

Ganesha is a symbol to God in the Vedic tradition also used by Hinduism. He has the head of an elephant and the body of a person, and is known as the Lord of obstacles. It is important to distinguish between Hinduism and the Vedic tradition. Because there are all kinds of sects and religions based upon the Vedas in India, defining the Vedic tradition is much easier than defining Hinduism. Ganesha is present in every religious and devotional doctrine established on the Vedas, and that is why you can see him all around India. Traditionally, a form of Ganesha should be present in every altar; and every ritual, prayer and even business start with a worship to him.

If we assume that every religion that there is today exists for, at least, 2.000 years – with rare exceptions –, then we can say Ganesha has been a remarkable figure in the history of humanity, accompanying the Vedas throughout the ages. His image does not put him in religious quarrels, for since he is half human half animal, he does not historically dispute, nor is he discarded as a pagan adoration by religious critics. With this combination, he has survived throughout ages and still is the most popular deity, or form of God, in India. People from all over the world identify with him. In a time when appearance is so highly regarded, a God with an elephant’s head and a body fat like a kid’s is surely very convenient.

Since God is the creator, it wouldn’t be wrong to say that Ganesha is the lord of fortune or of knowledge. Tradition presents him, though, as the one who is Vinayaka, Lord of all obstacles. This symbolic game of representations is the beauty of the tradition that makes God present in different aspects of life, receiving many names.

Ganesha is mentioned in many texts: bhajans (music), kirtans (music for chorus), japa mantras (small prayers for repetition), stotrams (verses and poetry), puranas (mythological stories), and even a Upanishad (text dedicated to self-knowledge), which carries his name – Ganapati Atharva Shirsha Upanishad. This upanishad and a poem called sankatanasha ganesha stotram are the most famous and traditional texts devoted to him.


Listnen to a Stotram and a Ganesha-mantra

by Jonas Masetti, courtesy of Sandro Shankara – música indiana

What is Ganesha’s tale?

“The mythological stories tell that Ganesha is son of Shiva. One day, when Shiva’s wife, Parvati, was feeling lonely, she decided to create a son, Ganesha, just to make herself company. While she was taking a shower, she asked her son not to allow anyone to come inside the house. On this day, though, Shiva arrived home earlier than usual and argued with the boy who was keeping him from getting into his own house. In the fight, Shiva cut off Ganesha’s head using his trident. When the mother saw what had happened, she cried and explained what had happened to her husband. Shiva brought Ganesha back to life and gave him the head of the first animal he saw: an elephant”. Ganesha’s stories are always beautiful and inspiring. He is very artful when it comes to solving problems. He has a brother known by the name of Kartekeya, or Subhramanyam, and, together, they take part in many adventures and offer a playful and symbolic teaching.”


And what if somebody asks: -Why should we pray to this symbol?”

Well, first, nobody prays to symbols or to pieces of stone. Symbols are only a vehicle to bring a certain attitude to the mind. It is like a soldier who salutes his country’s flag, but isn’t saluting the cloth, not even the flag. The flag is used to remember him of his engagement, of his purpose; and to bring about this attitude in his life. It is like a mother who keeps and talks to a picture of her departed son. Or like keeping an ashvatta leaf inside a book to reminds us of the ashram. These are all symbols, and they are important for the mind to give reality to relations and to bring out emotions.

Symbolic speaking, what does Ganesha represents?

In India, as on the Internet, we can see a bit of everything, but in traditional temples, Ganesha has well-defined dimensions.

Pondicherry and Tanjore o que é Ganesha

The first thing about him is that he is ekadantam – has got only one tooth. Does this mean he hasn’t brushed his teeth properly? No! The story tells that when Vyasa needed a writer to write down the Vedas, Ganesha was the first to raise his hand. Then Vyasa told him: “But you don’t have a pencil”. So he broke his teeth and said: “Problem solved!”. The idea here is the readiness to donate oneself. One cannot relate to anything or to anyone without self-giving. When you offer yourself to the other, you trust, you give a bit of yourself and the other person does the same. This is the basis of any relationship, and Ganesha’s broken teeth is there to reminds us of this.

Ele é ekadantam, pois possui apenas um dente. Isso quer dizer que ele não escovou os dentes? Não! A história diz que quando Vyasa precisava de um escritor para colocar os Vedas no papel, ele foi o primeiro a levanta a mão. E Vyasa disse para ele: “mas você não tem lápis ou caneta.” Ele crack! quebrou o dente e falou: “problema resolvido!” A idéia aqui é: a prontidão para se doar. Não existe relação com nada, nem ninguém, quando não existe uma auto-doação. Você se oferece à outra a pessoa, você confia, você dá um pouco de si e a outra pessoa faz o mesmo essa é a base de toda relação e seu dente quebrado é para a gente lembrar disso.

He has four arms. He holds his broken teeth on the first of his hands. On the second and third hands, he is holding an ankusha (an elephant hook) and a pasha (rope), which are tools used to help his devotees. He has two tools, one for each mental obstacle that needs to be dealt with. When the mind is in tamas, in lethargy, with no disposition, lazy and unproductive, he uses the elephant hook. It is the incitement that won’t allow anyone to oversleep. He does so, because tamas is only defeated by rajas, which is movement. Then, ankusha teaches us that to move from tamas, rajas is needed.

Thus, when the mind is rajas, productive, at speed, there is a danger zone if this speed is beyond limit. Whether it is danger for our health, for our relationships, or even for our own ego that begins to grow and think it is too much. This is when Ganesha uses his rope to hold us, or to pull us by the feet so that we can stumble, and reminds us we are not “all that and a bag of chips”. The rope grounds us back, showing we have a role to play in this world. This is the second symbol, and it teaches us our limits, and how to ground the ego. This limit is established by the presence of sattva in action, the sharing and the caring for people.

Ganesha’s fourth hand does varada mudra, it is the blessing hand. It blesses us by giving us our prayers results, plus being a refuge to devotees. It is viewed as a refuge because prayer is always at our disposal, and it is connected to emotional stability and spiritual evolution. A hand in varada mudra is common to many deities, since it symbolizes God’s availability and the role of devotion in individual growth.

Ganesha’s vehicle is a rat, because he is the one who controls all thoughts and minds. No one really knows which will be one’s next thought, for they are given by the creator at every moment. The rat is like the mind that goes here and there without any rest.

what is ganesha

Ganesha also has a big belly, for since he is the creator of the universe, and being the whole universe inside him, he needs a big belly for that. This is the symbolism of his belly.

And, finally, he is called the Lord of obstacles, because he is the one who puts and removes obstacles from people’s lives. He controls karma and gives actions’ results to people. That is why we think of him when we want our businesses to go well. This is a brilliant way to bring the vision of God to our lives. Whenever we start something, we naturally consider the obstacles we may face. And as obstacles are associated to Ganesha, they remind us of God. We pray and start doing what is to be done.

There are other interpretations as well, and we don’t need to be fanatics about it as long as we are coherent with the tradition. Some artists represent him holding a flower, others a plate full of sweets, and they are all just artistic representations, which can be helpful to some people. There is no God with an elephant head sitting somewhere, and we don’t pray to symbols. Some religious maturity is needed to understand them and use them as instruments for growing and appreciating God. OM TAT SAT

If you enjoyed this article i recommend “what are the vedas“. And don’t forget to leave your comments!


What is yoga? Who is the yogi?

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What is yoga? Who is the yogi?


[dropcap style=”dropcap2″]I[/dropcap]t is something common to refer to asana (postures/ physical exercise) practitioners as yogis, however, not all asana practitioner is necessarily a yogi, and there are people who have never practiced it, but are yogis. What, then, does the term “yogi” refer to? Who is the yogi? How does he relate to yoga? And what is yoga, after all?

The words yoga and yogi are widely used in the Vedas, as well as in other texts of the Vedic tradition, such as the Bhagavadgita and the Puranas, to refer to the person who seeks self-knowledge. Therefore, to understand the meaning of yoga, first we have to understand a little bit about the nature of self-knowledge.
Vedic tradition says that ignorance about our own nature is the fundamental cause for suffering. Because we don’t know anything about our limitless nature, we identify ourselves with the body-mind, and suffer with its limitations. The Vedas point out that the subject’s nature is the same happiness he seeks all the time, peace, freedom, eternity itself.
Having this “understanding” about the self as a goal, the tradition prescribes a lifestyle that consists of a group of values, a series of physical and mental practices, and the traditional exposure to the Upanishads (final part of the Vedas, also known as Vedanta, and which aims at knowledge transmission).
Besides this structure prescribed by the Vedas, the goal is that the study of Upanishads should be supported by an apparatus of disciplines which prepare the individual for the understanding of his/her limitless nature. Since we are talking about knowledge, some preparation and a level of maturity, both emotional and intellectual, are necessary. The whole process can be compared to the lightening of a fire: the lifestyle and the disciplines dry the wood, and the Vedas are like the match. If the wood is too wet, lightening it is not possible, and if you don’t strike the match properly, the fire will go down rapidly. To refer to this process, the Vedas use the terms yogi and yoga. Yogi is the person who is ready to receive the knowledge, or who is getting ready for it, having this goal in mind. Yoga is the “package” used by the yogi, in which asana, the physical exercises we know, are but the tip of a huge iceberg.

Now, having this understanding of the Vedas as a means to knowledge and all their preparatory activities, we can analyze deeper what is the essence of yoga and what defines a yogi.

Nowadays, there are two common mistakes when using the term yoga. The first of them concerns the impression we may have of yoga activities being different “types” of yoga, one separate from the other, due to the division some authors do concerning specific practices. For instance, devotional activities, such as going to a temple or performing a ritual, are called “bhakti yoga”, and meditation is referred to as “dhyana yoga”. Bhakti means devotion and dhyana, meditation, and these two words do not refer to “types of yoga”, they are both activities that constitute the same yoga, and which are both essential to acquire self-knowledge. The second common mistake is the division made in relation to the physical and energetic exercises which, nowadays, are separated into about five different basic styles of posture practice, such as Iyengar and Asthanga. The difference in method leads us to believe that there is a “variety of yogas”. In reality, though, they are just different models of practicing the exercises, and the major part of the postures are common to all of them.

The Vedic tradition states that the definition of a yogi is in his lifestyle, but we need to be careful here not to consider “lifestyle” a set of habits, which is not the point. We can say that karma yoga is what makes the yogi. And let us make it clear from the beginning that “karma yoga” is not one more type of yoga, nor is it a popular concept of voluntary work; even though it is common the usage of this term to refer to voluntary work, or to activities done without any kind of reward or payment, in many ashrams (study centers) in India. These activities may have their importance, but, in the Vedic context, karma yoga is the manner in which the yogi behaves when facing his actions (karma) in life. Lord Krsna, in Bhagavadgita, says that there are two lifestyles with self-knowledge as an aim: the lifestyle of a renouncer, who dedicates his life exclusively to the studies, and “karma yoga” for those who wish to remain living in society, but with their lives directed towards the spiritual seek. This is an important subject, for the concept of yoga is often misunderstood with some kind of repression, or rigid discipline. In truth, the Vedas show the option of a normal life, with family and children, as a way to gain self-knowledge.
So, for those who still live in society, the Vedic tradition says that, while a normal person does karma (action), a spiritualized person does “karma yoga”. The word yoga is added to karma simply to give this sense, to say that your action is yoga.

Finally, what does the yoga vision consist of?

The yoga vision, this attitude towards life, involves two aspects:

1. The vision when doing an action
2. The vision when receiving the action’s result.

According to the Vedas, the yoga vision when doing an action refers to the use of action as an instrument preparing oneself for self-knowledge. Any daily action can be used as a prayer, if it is in harmony with the Creator, who is in the form of the universe around us. This attitude of offering the action to the Creator makes it a purifying instrument.
india-sorrindo-o-que-e-yogaWhen we say “offering”, it is important to know what this means; otherwise we will say: “I offer this action to God!”, and this is not what makes the difference. The teaching, which is the Creator Himself, is in the form of the universe ahead of us, and presents Himself as the adequate decision in each moment of life. Dharma (ethics) and harmony are divine manifestations, just like our capacity to overcome our likes and dislikes to do what is right. And we do it not out of fear of what God will do to us, or to please Him, for, to the creator of this universe of billions and billions of stars, there is nothing we can do that is big enough to leave Him angry, plus, there is no feeling of lack in Him that could be fulfilled by us. We do what is right because in the basis of our personality, there is a value for union and love, and when we offer our action, performing it in harmony with the whole, we dissolve a feeling of separateness and alienation. Just like we experience a sense of satisfaction when helping our family and community, with karma yoga we find out the satisfaction of reaching out to our bigger family that is the whole universe. It is a certain attitude in action that represents, above all, a maturity in terms of our intent in life. Having self-knowledge as a goal, and seeing the limitation of action when it comes to make us absolutely happy, we are capable of discovering this style of living.
As to receiving the action’s result, yoga is the appreciation of the order that brings us the result. In general, we have a plan about how life should be, about how people should react, and in every action there is a set of expectations. It is impossible, really, to give up having expectations. However, being aware of the fact that between action and its result there is a link that does not depend on us makes all the difference. It is said that any action can produce four types of result: equal to what was expected, less than expected, more than expected and different to what was expected. One crosses the street to catch a bus, and what can happen: the bus comes and the person catches it; the bus takes a long time to arrive, and when it does, it is crowded; a friend passes by and offers a lift; or, the person wakes up three days later in a hospital for he was passed over by the bus! All results are possible results. Nobody plans on going to the emergency and, nevertheless, every hospital has its emergency room crowded.

The Vedas say that the Creator, in the form of the order of karma, distributes the actions results according to each individual, and to the actions he/she performed in the past. The concept of divine injustice and of the tension about having to control the world, go with the appreciation of the Creator in the form of the cosmic order that links actions to people. Therefore, when results or situations appear in our lives, we accept them with an attitude of deference, for being them bitter or sweet, they come from the Creator. This is an important topic for the yogi, for life is constantly presenting us with good and bad news that do not depend upon our choice. Aiming at self-knowledge turns every action into a possibility for growth of exactly what we need to live. In the other hand, without a way to canalizing our expectations, we are at the world’s mercy, just like a football fan is at his team’s mercy, without having a direct involvement in its victories or defeats. The Creator in the form of order fills that gap giving a bunch of possible results and, at the same time, not freeing us from taking part in action. We are responsible for our actions; He is responsible for our actions’ results.

Thus, karma yoga consists of performing actions as an offering to the Creator and receiving actions’ results as something coming from the Creator according to my past actions. This way of taking decisions and facing life situations is the heart of what is called yoga. After all, all discipline, or postures practice, culminate in a life that is more balanced and more in harmony with society around us.
The “yogi”, then, is not simply someone who does a series of practices and disciplines, even though they are fundamental to the spiritual path, but is someone who is capable of bringing karma yoga to his own life. As karma yoga depends on the view of the Creator that is born out of the exposition to the Vedas, we can say the Vedas are Yoga’s true essence.


This article was written by Jonas Masetti at satsangaonline(English version by Julia Rebuzzi)

Lampada do Aladim

Magic Lamp: The Magic of the Lovely lamp

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Magic LampThe myth of the Magic Lamp:  The Magic of the Lovely lamp

 Both he and she searched in friendships, in possessions, in their homes, in passing acquaintances, with family members, in children. Love would stay for a while and then disappear. Both he and she were starting to get frustrated and bitter and started snapping at each other. Any reason to talk became every reason to fight. They were beginning to think that all their efforts were in vain. Love did not exist.

 On one of the weekends just before Valentine’s day, during their routine cleaning, they spotted an old, dusty lamp. They had read in childhood that a genie had appeared when Aladdin had rubbed the lamp. Both were tempted to rub the lamp. They looked at each other and sheepishly started laughing. “ Nah..let ‘s not be silly.” She said, What do we lose, let’s try….?” Before she could complete the sentence, he had rubbed the lamp once.

 Love made a quiet entry. Just a few seconds in love ‘s presence, they started to feel loving towards each other. They bombarded Love with all the questions that had really troubled them. “Really speaking, who are you? Where do you generally live? You are both elusive and illusive – most difficult to find and most difficult to pin down as you appear differently at different times.  So much has been written about you and countless songs across the world have been composed on you. Because of you relationships reach make-break point.“

 “Because I manifest in different ways, sometimes it is difficult to spot or even nurture me.  In a wise person, or a “jñani-ज्ञानी”  I manifest unconditionally. Because a wise person has recognised his svarupa, own nature as happiness or fullness, if he or she relates to another person, it is done in fullness. Nothing can add or take away from his/her fullness. A wise person does not depend on another person to feel worthy or be loved. And hence he/she is free enough to be loving, caring and compassionate to all people of all ages that come to him/her. It is a natural response because the nature of fullness is love in relation to another. This is a part of the reason, why many people who visit gurus and spiritual teachers immediately feel free from conflict, calm and totally accepted in their presence without them saying or doing much. In their very presence, these seekers have moments of recognition of being loved. “

 Both he and she were inspired yet fazed at the description of how love manifests in a wise person. They looked at each other and shaking their heads, “ We are talking about normal people who may be otherwise, are you saying that to be loving, one has to be spiritually wise. What about until then, can love not be there in our lives. Please don’t make fun of us. How can we make you stay? “

 Love started to chuckle,” It ‘s quite simple really. I am not sure why people don’t understand how easy it is to spot me and retain me. Wise or otherwise when people truly love each other, they care for and are committed to the happiness, security and growth of the other person as much as or close to their own.    That ‘s it! If one of these things is missing you will find that love does not stay.”

Both he and she looked really puzzled and asked Love to explain.

Love said,”  “Let ‘s take the relationship of a parent (mother or father) and the child only because it is believed to be more unconditional than most relationships. Whatever be the age of the child, the parent cares for the child at all times. The parent is also committed to the security – which shows in consistently providing for the child’s needs to the extent possible. Parents work to nurture the growth of their children in all ways. Sometimes parents may want to live their life through their children and hence may stifle the growth of the children. In the name of love, they try to control their children. Some parents may only stick to being a provider for their children and may not spend enough time with them which will invoke unhappiness in their children.

 I have pointed out what happens when one of the elements of the above mentioned definition is missing  only to highlight the importance of all the elements..

  Both he and she started to look a bit sad,” We wish our parents had been more loving.”

  Love said,” Almost everybody feels they are not loved enough. And do you know what the common   mistake is? They don’t recognise that people show their love only in the way they can and are able to. For example, suppose you wanted your father to be more caring in his actions and not always disciplining you, it is important to recognise that your father knows only that way of being loving. When you recognise the intention behind the action then everything falls in place. Then you can accommodate different people ‘s behaviour and recognise that this is the way they show their love. It does not mean that they love you less.  In situations where it is possible, it is nice to communicate openly to the other person and say…I would feel more loved/cared for if you did….or did not do…. You can only state your intention. It is up to the other person to respond. However when the other person recognises your genuineness, they will certainly try out new sets of behaviours that make you feel and recognise how loved you are.”

 In a romantic relationship also, most people truly care for each other but find it difficult to consistently reflect commitment for the growth of the other person and everything gets drowned in expectations from each other. A relationship no matter how beautiful can never give you moksha. In this recognition, one is realistic and pursues self knowledge for moksha. At the same time one reflects on’ what each is doing to contribute positively to the relationship’, Can I do what needs to be done for the relationship  in actions and words…the care and commitment to the happiness, welfare and growth of the other person?

  Both he and she felt like a huge burden had lifted off their chest. Love said,” I am suddenly being called in all directions because Valentine day is approaching. I enjoyed being with you and will continue to be. Remember to invoke and enjoy my presence! It is upto you now.”

 Om Tat Sat.

  This article about the magic lamp was written by Mrinalini Rao at satsangaonline.


What is a guru?

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 The term “guru” is popular all over the world; however, few know its original meaning. As a result, we are always surprised because we do not know what to expect from them. After all “what is a guru?”


“What is a guru? The orange colored turban?”

In the spiritual realm, this term has two popular uses:

1 – The term guru is used synonymous with “guide, master or teacher.” So, we say a person is a guru or a master because s/he gives advices and teachings about life. And often times, the word is a title, or refers to a profession.

2 – The second meaning is of a person with a special blessing, capable of predicting the future, curing diseases or any other abnormality. In this case, the term guru becomes analogous to our understanding of a “saint” or a special person. This meaning even goes beyond spirituality – becoming a “money guru”, a “shopping guru”, and so on.

Although we use the term guru with these meanings and we do not have to change our way of communicating, getting to know the original meaning may explain other questions that arise when dealing with the “gurus” of this world.

First of all, let us clarify that “guru” is not a profession. It is merely a term that expresses the relationship between two people, such as a “father, friend or son.” Therefore, using the term guru, or the equivalent, as a title that defines someone is not very appropriate from the point of view of this tradition,. Someone’s guru can be somebody else’s friend, the truth is that the role of the “guru” is something that comes naturally due to the nature of this knowledge. If it were not for the particularity of the knowledge we seek, we could say the word ‘teacher’ is most adequate to refer to someone who teaches self-knowledge and Vedanta. Nevertheless, there is something special with this topic and role that gives reason to the term “guru.”

It is not some specific magical power. However, self-knowledge is something precious that cannot be discovered alone. Someone needs to open this door for us, and this person is called a “guru.” It is merely a teacher, whose lesson plan is self-knowledge.

We can try alone – that is what most of us do. After many attempts and good prayers, we have the chance to hear and appreciate an interesting fact: there are two kinds of knowledge in the world available to us – the knowledge of external objects, which are different from us and knowledge of the individual, s/he who sees, hears and acts.

We are well-accustomed to dealing with the first of the two. Some things we learn on our own, others we learn by chance when coming across a situation or object, and there are even those that, although we know it would be possible to learn alone, we do not dispense the use of a teacher such as in Sanskrit or mathematics.

Knowledge of the individual, the more we explore it, the more we notice we do not know anything and we do not have access to information. We think we are advancing by exploring emotions, past situations and meditative experiences. However, after awhile, we come to understand that emotions are also objects and situations are different from us. It seems that this is our problem: we associate ourselves to things, and we are unable to establish an independent identity from the objects around us. This confusion between the individual and objects is something that is very natural; however, every experience requires a separation between the individual and objects. Therefore, we can safely say that everything we experience is different from us, be it through dreams, meditation or awake.

So the bad news is that the “self” cannot be investigated on its own, or through some type of means of experience, in other words we do not have a means of knowledge available to it.

And the good news is that it is not a dead end road. Although our eyes can see everything in this creation except the self, the eyes can be seen by the very same eyes through a mirror. In other words, there is a means of knowledge for the individual to know the self that is not readily available to him/her.

The Vedas and more precisely its final part called Vedanta aims to be this means of knowledge. And the study process according to the text itself requires a teacher who has gone through the process, some preparation by the student and a life of yoga, which includes values and health of the body and mind.

Having understood the nature of this knowledge and the role of the teacher in the process, then we can eliminate the second popular use of the word guru, that is, of the guru as someone who has paranormal powers. According to the Vedic tradition, guru is merely the teacher who with the help of the Vedas reveals the nature of the “self” to the students. Although it is possible for the guru to receive some type of blessing through a life of prayer and asceticism, if he is really a guru, his concern to come across as a normal person will not let him promote his image through these capabilities. After all this would be an obstacle to the student. If the student has to learn and his/her interest is knowledge, it is important to find someone who has a life similar to his/hers and that can help him/her overcome barriers, and not a holy man dressed in orange in a cave that would bring the idea that this knowledge is something intangible. When the teacher or guru is a tangible person in front of us he might not be as inspiring as a holy man with super powers, but there is no better way to learn than with someone like us, who shows how it is possible to cross this journey, without magic tricks.

There are many elements that constitute the relationship between guru and shishya, or master and disciple, including, among others: the relationship of trust that is created, the surrender of the ego, the inevitable emotional projections, the observation of values and many other teachings that arise from the interaction. All these things combined form the necessary environment for the effective transfer of knowledge. Since this environment is a something precious, the teacher is usually careful, and it is not a good sign when they are missing.

Too much emphasis on “namaskaram” (greetings) or some kind of special treatment, showing that the teacher needs to affirmation by the student or simply wants to put himself above him/her.

Creating emotional or psychological dependence, with many unnecessary compliments or where the student is not at will to stop studying without disappointing the teacher. The guru- shishya relationship is based on freedom and not on a rule of conduct where “now you cannot read any books or listen to a teacher other than me!”

Classes are not charged properly; they are either too expensive or too cheap. Money is a symbol of our effort and sweat so it is important for the teacher and student to value the lessons with a fair value and for this not to be a constant issue on the agenda.

Changing roles where the teacher creates an affectionate relationship with students, this problem is compounded when the teacher renounces or is a swami, that is, took a vow not to have relationships. Much of the exchange between teacher and student is based on the fact that the teacher is someone neutral, when you create an affectionate relationship whether through sex or disproportionate attention, there is a natural rupture of this role and disruption of the flow of knowledge. Depending on the situation, it is possible to re-establish a new relationship, but a trauma often occurs with the collapse of the personality.

Since the study process requires the student’s choice, the forced invitation by the teacher for students to attend their classes also goes in line with the learning process. In general, the rule is “do not study with whom invites you!” the teacher merely makes himself available to anyone who is interested in learning.

Lastly, if we stop to analyze, we merely receive this knowledge, we have nothing to add to it, we are just another channel that passes on what was learned. So, the truth is that nobody can claim its authorship and this is why traditional teachers do not present themselves as gurus but as disciples. This tradition of knowledge presented by the Vedas consists of disciples and not “gurus.” The only guru is the creator who delivers the teachings on the hand of the rishis at the beginning of each cycle of creation and speaks through each of his disciples.

Of the verses of the tradition that talk about the guru and his role, these two connect well with the explanations given. The syllable “gu” means “darkness” and “ru” the “remover of darkness”, since it is the remover of ignorance, (he who removes) he is called “guru.”

“Greetings to the guru who removes ignorance, like the doctor who removes cataracts from the eyes.”


The Crescent Moon yearns for fullness – the trip to happiness!

By | Vedanta | One Comment

On the third day of the New Moon, the Moon looked very sad. He again started to pray to the Sun requesting him to appear. Just as he was beginning to lose hope, the radiant Sun said, “Hello, My dear…I have been thinking about you, Is everything ok? Your form of the crescent looks beautiful… How come you are sad?”

The Moon said – “You are so lucky. You are full and complete and round all the time. I am not – there are days I am a crescent, sometimes a bigger crescent, sometimes a half circle and only once in a fortnight the full moon”. With tears in his eyes, in a trembling voice, the Moon said to the Sun, “I wish I was complete and full all the time“.

It continued,“ I have experienced that whenever I am happy, I wish nothing was different. Everything is perfect. Why can it not be so all the time? Why does happiness come and go? My happiness manifests more on some days than others.  Even the people on earth, when they want to refer to something that changes, say, like the ‘waxing and waning moon’. I feel they are making fun of me and my moods“

“I have tried so many things but nothing changes. I tried doing yoga, spoke to the neighbouring moon – he too has the same problem. So I felt worse by talking to him. I tried to think positive thoughts and remember fond memories of shining brightly during a full moon day. But none of this helps. These help for some time and then I am back to square one. Is there a solution to my problem? How come you don’t have a problem? As the Sun you get covered so often by clouds. Maybe you also feel depressed like me. I don’t think you can help me….can you? “

The Sun smiled kindly and said,” My dear, I hear you completely. You are as much as I am. I am as much as you are“

The moon thought that the Sun had gone crazy, but decided to not voice his thoughts. Maybe the Sun was tired by shining all the time. Instead he said – “O sun! With due respect, this sounds like some spiritual stuff? Still, because you make me shine, maybe you know something that I don’t. Tell me more.”

“My dear, we need to inquire more into what we perceive as the changing nature of happiness or fullness. Do you want to know more? ”

Feeling validated and seeing the Sun’s compassion to help him out, the moon started to relax and intently listen.

The Sun continued, “Most of us have been taught to believe that happiness is out there. Either in relating with someone, achieving something or acquiring something. You shared how you had tried these things. If you think happiness is out there, I would ask you does it enter us through these things – achievements, spiritual disciplines , relationships etc?

“No, I don’t think so..’’ The moon said with hesitation. The Sun then asked:

“Where does happiness come from?”.

A bit confused, the Moon said “I don’t know – it’s a feeling. It must come from somewhere – maybe it is a combination of my mind and the external situation. Why does not my happiness last? I want to feel full and happy in all situations and at all times.”

The Sun smiled and said “What happens on a full moon day? You shine brilliantly. There is nothing that covers you. Your true nature is revealed. Did the day bring about the happiness? You think it did. But actually, it only invoked what you already are.  All of you is able to shine, because that is how you are. Did you struggle to achieve your roundness, your completeness? No.

“Yes, I know that… But I don’t feel complete”, the Moon said.

“A certain situation – what we think as conducive, where we do not experience any division between ourselves and the situation is generally understood as happiness. When we are happy, we don’t complain that we are happy. We don’t want to change it. It is the closest to our nature. Whether a new moon day or a full moon day, you are full and complete all the time. Do you see that?”

The Sun continued, “Understand that some situations happen to allow your happiness to manifest more than the others.  It is not the power of the situations. Because we do not see our own reality, we project it on situations. The more we think that happiness is out there, the more we want to alter our situation. The more we alter our situations and try and manipulate all the factors, the more we see happiness as a to-be-achieved-project. It becomes a long endless trip with no result in sight. All of this is fine, if happiness was really out there. But actually it is not, it is you. Every moment of happiness is a glimpse of your true nature.

“The nature of a feeling is fleeting – it comes and goes. It does not have a being of its own. Isn’t it? Because of so much emphasis on emotion – we think that how we feel is the way things are.

The more we think about this and inquire with a Guru ‘s help who has this vision, you will see what I see clearly. My guru, the Golden One, taught me this and I am teaching this to you. None of the situations, not even me can change the truth of you are – your reality, your completeness.”

The Moon started laughing with happiness. But, this time it was different and he exclaimed “How funny all of this it. Really speaking the trip to happiness was a trip to myself. And I have been thinking that I was incomplete. I have yearned and cried and prayed for fullness… All along, fullness has been my nature. There is no need to travel any more…

This article was written by Mrinalini Rao at satsangaonline.

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How much does a yoga class cost?

By | Yoga | 2 Comments

How much does a yoga class cost?

how-much-does-a-yoga-class-cost[dropcap style=”dropcap2″]A[/dropcap]lthough we have an idea of how much a class costs, what the Vedic tradition has to say about this often goes unnoticed. Whether you are an instructor or student, the cost of a yoga class is always a hotly debated question. Some say it is too little given the proposed result, while others say that in general yoga and spiritual knowledge should be free. There are students who only value classes when the price is high and instructors who charge little and regard this as the fate of the yoga instructor. Lastly, there are those instructors who are able to make a living from yoga classes and students who pay for classes with pleasure. What is the truth behind all of this? Should yoga be free? How much does a yoga class cost ?

In the West, the idea that spiritual knowledge should be free prevails. This idea may have emerged due to influence of the Church, seeing that its defense of the “right of man to the heavens” and work of “salvation” for the sake of fellow man, created a type of dissociation in our minds between money and the “heavens”, which for many represents the concept of spirituality. Money is still referred to as “demon or temptation”, and monks take a vow of poverty, despite living in one of the richest institutions in human history. We gain nothing from criticizing history or the Church and, surely, there are honest people and various types of administration for this institution, it would be unfair to condemn, however we cannot deny that these concepts are well rooted in our Western culture and on realizing this, we regain consciousness on this matter and can change.

Notwithstanding this religious influence, the capitalist mentality also exerts influence. In general, capitalism produces two effects: the overvaluation of money, making it so strong that it becomes a kind of treasure of which life revolves around; and a collective paranoia, in which we think everyone just wants to take what is ours or fool us all the time.

Indeed, in today’s age, money is an important issue for those seeking self-knowledge, seeing that it plays an important role in our minds and, naturally, in our lives. The inappropriate use of money is a disorder, since it is the inappropriate use of our own selves. Money represents “our sweat”, days worked, effort… And it is so strong and subtle that on a piece of paper we can write a check that represents all of the money we made in an entire lifetime. Thus, for a yogi, good relations with money are essential in order to balance the mind. And having good relations with money means that money “flows” proportionately to what the person considers valuable.

We spend 200 reais on a bag or eating out, but consider that same amount too much for a yoga class. We spend 10,000 reais on a trip to India and we are unable to give the beggar at the temple door 10 rupees. And we want to do big business even with our alleged friends and relatives where “you give me everything and I don’t give you anything”; we want free consultations, services and solutions to our lives. The “nerve” sustained by the fantasy that we are doing a big favor or that we will pay back later in other ways. We are under the impression that we are saving, but we are saving in the heart and becoming more alienated from the world, separated by this barrier of the “demon”, money.

According to the Vedas, money is considered a Devata, a divine aspect often referred to as Maha Lakshimi – the Goddess of Wealth. In this tradition, she has to be treated well at all times in order for our endeavors to be successful whatever they may be. Perhaps some masters do not set a price or a monthly fee, but even in the heart of India, according to the Vedas, there are no free classes. A life of a student, “brahmacari”, is a life of seva, service to the master, where one works a lot. This happened not only because master and students lived together, but also because while they study students are often unable to pay for their expenses. And this is why, traditionally, upon completing the study, in order to get married and proceed with one’s life, the student had to work for a few years to pay the master, the place of study and for all that was received.

Similarly, everything is exchangeable in the Vedic tradition. While this exchange may not be financial, it is always present. When you go to an ayurvedic doctor, you pay. When someone performs a ritual, the pujaris and even the people who help, receive money. When you go to an astrologist, you pay for the consultation. And you even pay when it is your birthday. In India, people celebrating their birthday do not get presents, the birthday is seen as an opportunity to offer food to all of the person’s friends and the community. And even through them, who ritualistically represent their ancestors, the person thanks for all that was received in life.

This vision and the way money is handled does not transform spirituality into a business, but if people are able to spiritualize their money, their own lives no longer turn into a business. The truth is that life is composed of many things that cannot be bought and much less of things that money can buy. What is a father worth? And a mother? How much do peace and happiness cost? How much does it cost to know the right medicine to take when someone is sick? What is a hug worth? And a smile? How much would you pay for one more year of life?

When we are dealing with yoga, not strictly speaking of postures, but all that this name embraces, meditation, mantras, pujas, lifestyle and self-knowledge, do all these things really have a monetary value? If no one can really pay for classes, perhaps we could pay for the instructor’s time, or the rent of the room, but this knowledge has been crossing the millennia in each Japa mala seed (Buddhist prayer beads), which have been passing from person to person, from master to disciple. Actually, no one can charge for it because it does not belong to anyone, and no one can pay for it because it is priceless. Therefore, the instructor charges enough to have an acceptable standard of living and dedicates his entire time for this task, like in any other class. The instructor’s contribution is to be the best he can for students and those who study contribute according to their abilities, and their contribution is to make sure that this knowledge continues to flow to others, much like in any other matter that is valued. This contributory attitude transforms payment into what is referred to as “dakshina”. Dakshina is an offering, a contribution, our share, our retribution, the recognition of what was given to us in each aspect of our lives and the respect with our own values and the people around us.

And this is how it goes in this tradition, if in the form of wealth God is Maha-Lakshimi, in the form of the one who provides knowledge, God is called Dakshinamurti.

ओम् नमो भगवते दक्षिणामूर्तये नमः॥

This article was written by Jonas Masetti at satsangaonline.

Life in an ashram with Jonas Masetti on Globo Reporter

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The report on the “Life in an ashram with Jonas Masetti on Globo Reporter” prompted us to write a little bit about of what it was like to participate in the program and to clarify some questions from internet users. For those who wish to access the original video we have posted it here and it can also be seen at  Globo Reporter website. Since it is in portuguese we are also placing an english translation:

“…In an ashram retreat dedicated to spiritual evolution in Coimbatore, southern India, classes are given by a guru – a master who guides students in the interpretation of sacred Indian texts and the mysteries of life – along with hours of study, long readings, prayers, and mantras. Among the retreat’s international student body, the Globo Reporter team came across 31-year-old Jonas, from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

“At first, I came across yoga, asanas, postures, and some philosophy. Then, little by little, I realized how yoga, as a lifestyle, could make a difference for me”, stated pupil Jonas Masetti. A mechanical engineer, ex-Army Lieutenant and partner of a successful consulting firm, Jonas had a solid career and an easy future – yet he felt incomplete. “It was as if life was passing through my fingers. I had a good job, I had relationships; I had it all – yet I was not getting the result that I was expecting”, explained Jonas.

Single, Jonas decided to leave everything. Last year, he sold his stake in the company and went to India for a life without television, internet and luxury: sleeping on the floor in one of the small rooms that only has space enough for a desk and a small altar. After completing the two-year course, Jonas wants to go back to Brazil to teach  and guide Brazilians in the search for self-knowledge – which has taken him so far away.

“The truth is that we don’t even have to step out of ourselves to discover this happiness and peace. It is already our very nature”, said Jonas. Places like these attract those who really want to get to know themselves. Everyone must choose their own path…”

The Globo crew was in Coimbatore for several days. Though we met them in the city many times, they were only able to go to the ashram on one occasion when all the filming was shot. As everyone noticed, the filming took place on a Maha Ganesha Caturthi, the special day for celebrating Ganesha, the Lord of Obstacles. The crew arrived when we were in the temple, as can be noted in some scenes with the low background noise of people singing Ganapati Atharva Shirsha.

Scenes were shot walking through the ashram, some in the cafeteria, the interview in the temple that gets a lot of exposure on Globo Reporter, also the room that was cleaned and tidied up especially for the occasion.

As for the filming, we think the scene cuts and the description were very well done and we are satisfied and grateful to the crew. We can imagine how difficult it must have been to try to show something attractive for the general public while at the same time try to maintain integrity on something unknown. I would like to take the opportunity to thank the Globo crew director Noberto Oda, reporter Cláudia Bomtempo, producer Gionava Vitola, cinematographer Rogério Rocha and technician Luís Finoti, who – besides being great professionals – are also great people.

Visita do Globo ReporterSince some have asked, two things must be clarified. First, we have internet at the ashram, thanks to a research center that brought the technology to the forest reserve, although it is still something new here. Second, while some do “sleep on the ground” there are beds and basic mattresses we can use. However, given the size, the quality of the mattress and the size of the room “sleeping on the ground” is often more convenient.

The course started in 2010 and is expected to last to the end of the second half of 2013. However, the date has yet to be announced by the guru.

Below is a set of questions that were answered previously at different times and may be useful for those who want to learn more about the “Life in an ashram with Jonas Masetti on Globo Reporter”.

How do the yoga community and the people in Brazil benefit from such reports?

In the world of yoga, since we are dealing with an Oriental theme, we do not have an established understanding of what it is about; we know it comes from India and that it is possibly connected to health. So a report such as this one, although it is not a direct means to teach about spirituality, shows people a little of what life is like for those who study yoga and vedanta. A number of important points were mentioned throughout the process, such as the presence of a temple, the master who teaches in Sanskrit and not through any type of meditation, which is open for men and women of all ages in the world, also requires a certain detachment to be able to focus on the studies and even if the purpose of all the entire study is greater understanding about one’s own self, which is completely connected to our happiness.

What does one study at ashram, yoga or vedanta?

According to the Vedic tradition, both words mean the same thing, however they must be looked at from different angles. The word vedanta points to the part of the Vedas that is studied with the aim of self-knowledge – anta means ‘end’, so vedanta means the end of the Vedas. Now the word yoga is the term used by these texts to refer to the process of preparing the individual for this journey, which includes not only the physical postures called asanas but an entire range of disciplines including meditations, prayers and therapeutic activities. Thus, the study of vedanta or yoga refers to the same journey of self-knowledge, sometimes we say vedanta is knowledge and yoga is preparation, but both terms are interchangeable most of the time. Note that, although the asanas are not the focus, they are part of our day-to-day routine and are present throughout the course; however, since most are experienced practitioners, the asanas are done individually or in small groups.

What is Swami Dayananda’s three-year course about?

It consists of a systematic exposure of the students to the teachings of the main texts of the vedanta, combined with the study of Sanskrit, the practice of mantras, asanas, meditation and puja at the temple of the ashram. During this period, students are not only exposed to this range of knowledge but they live side-by-side with the swamis, which is a great opportunity. By observing how they live, how they think and how they act, people are inspired to make the changes that are necessary for the journey of those who seek spirituality.

In its current format, the course was created by Swami Chinmayananda, guru of Swami Dayananda, the course’s main teacher. The course is administered by him and his substitute, Swami Saksatkrtanandaum.

The objective of the course, therefore, is to create a moment in a people’s lives where they can be immersed completely into themselves, and with the assistance of the teacher and the Vedas to acquire self-knowledge as well as to master the tools that make them independent to study and teach in the future.

What is the motivation for someone who is planning to join a course such as this one?

The motivation is, without question, the vastness of this knowledge. When we study and see the reality of our problems and conflicts dissipate like soap bubbles, we see ourselves as free, despite of all the problems of our body and mind. So, there is a natural motivation to follow this path. For those who are able to invest 3 years of their lives, this course is the best when it comes to being exposed to the knowledge of the Vedas.

And for those who are unable to attend?

The teachings do not have to have a three-year course format and in fact, it is not the best option for everyone. Indeed a course with a beginning, middle and end exposing the auxiliary tools of this tradition give stability to those who embark on the adventure to teach, but everything that is learned there can be diluted and learned progressively. This is what the Swami’s ex-students do, teaching in different cities throughout the world.

What is the difference between the Swami’s ashram and the others?

Swami’s ashram was designed objectively for the study of vedanta. Everyday it is organized with this in mind: meditations, rituals, mantras, and naturally vedanta classes, which are the focus of all the teaching. Different from other ashrams where the focus is satsanga (a festive gathering or socialization as therapeutic processes in different levels), Swami Dayananda’s ashram the focuses on teachings of the Vedas, contemplating their meaning and meditation. When there is satsanga, it is basically to clear classroom and Sanskrit questions.

The routine changes from person to person and the moment that is being lived by him/her, but to give an example: we get up at 4:45 am and go to sleep at 9:45 pm, on average we have 5 hours of classes a day plus meditation, temple and our daily chores.

Have your expectations about this course become a reality?

This question can not be answered directly, because during the studying process the person who starts the course full of expectations and fantasies is replaced by another person who understands that s/he is not in control of the learning process and accepts what comes to his or her way, objectively and truthfully. So, it is as if we ignored our expectations and everything became a big surprise. Needless to say, this process is not easy.

What did Jonas do in Brazil before going to India?

“I’m a mechanical engineer; I worked at Morning Star Consulting, a consulting firm of which I was one of the founding partners. However, in 2009, I wasn’t even thinking about the course, but my life was already leaning towards this knowledge. I lived by myself in an apartment near Vidya Mandir, where I studied and shared this knowledge with some friends. When the course began, I simply vacated my apartment and packed my bags.”

For those who wish to visit the ashram, what do you suggest?

The ashram is far from being a magical place that is perfect and people are focused and balanced, where only true seekers are present and live in harmony – although it may seem so for those only spend a few weeks. Actually, it is a place for normal people with common problems and the both people and places are far from perfect. And honestly, that’s the beauty and magic of the ashram: it helps us understand our basic reality as individuals as well as within that micro-society.

Moreover, when the mind feels secure, the subconscious “vomits” all the hidden pain and trauma. In general, it is a very intense experience for everyone. So, the recommendation is to drop preconceived ideas and judgments and do the best you can, leave the rest for the ashram, for the teacher, and Ishvara.

After 3 years studying and living in the ashram, what did you learn that was most important?

The course teaches the nature of the individual, the “Self” that iscompletely free, and no longer needs to change the world in order to be happy. Poetically speaking, we can say just like in the TV program, we do not need to exit ourselves to find the “blessed” happiness, because it is and has always been our nature.

What are your plans when returning to Brazil?

“Nothing is definite yet, I’m open for whatever comes my way. When I think about my life going back, I would like to share this knowledge with people and all that I have learned. I feel fortunate for being given the opportunity to study, not just for getting here, but for all the background that Prof. Gloria Arieira built and for all the friends in this tradition, with whom I studied, and without whom the course would have been different. In the same way I was helped, I would like to give back to this tradition by participating in the most useful and necessary way possible.”

This article was written by Jonas Masetti at satsangaonline.

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Vedanta Yoga Vedas | Satsanga Online by Jonas Masetti (en) located at Anaikatti Coimbatore - India , Arsha Vidya Gurukulam, Tamil Nadu . Reviewed by 25006 readers rated: 5 / 5