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Saturday, February 11, 2006


Hiranmayena Patrena Satyasya Apihitam Mukham

Tatvam Pushan Apavrunu Satya Dharmaya Drustaye.


English Translation:

Similar to the way the golden-looking ( covered by light) vassal, covers all of the celestial bodies of outer space,

Oh, Pushan, the Sun, please uncover for me, so that it enables me to see Satya Dharma, the truth, which will follow Dharma, rightousness.


This 15th sloka of the Isvasya Upanishad of Sukla Yajur Veda has been widely accepted and adopted as the prayer to the Sun God prior to the practice of Sun Postures.   This acceptance comes from the meaning of the sloka, or verse.  It is not only a prayer to the Sun, but it also conveys a philosophical message;   it is a prayer, not for material gains, but for the unveiling of truth through knowledge and for the will to practice this truth regardless of circumstance.


The sun is the light to our physical world and without it, we would live in complete darkness.   The moment the sun begins to rise on the horizon, all objects become clear in their true physical form and life begins: activities commence, we become energized, and the reality of the physical world is revealed.   The sun integrates all of creation according to their nature (or Dharma).


Beyond the physical world that is revealed, the sun ignites life and energy within plants and animals.   Medical studies have shown that those people who have prolonged periods without sunlight (i.e. those who live close to the poles of the earth) have an increased propensity towards depression.   Similarly, when the sun is absent from animals or plants, it causes them to go into prolonged hibernation, or even, suffocation.  Hence, it is the sun that reveals our physical world and ignites the life within our world.


It is the physical world that is lit up for us by the sun, but the same sun hides the rest of the universe from our sight.   All of the celestial objects, such as stars, planets, milky ways, and star clusters become invisible to us with the rise of the sun.  These beautiful details of the universe are hidden from us by the sun, but those details are trivial and insignificant to our daily existence.   The sun hides these unnecessary details and reveals the picture of the world in front of us; the world in which we must live and function and thus, must be able to see.


Ironically, the sun which allows us to see the world and ignore the unnecessary details of the universe, does not allow us to look at it.   If we try to look directly at the sun, we will be blinded.  The light which is suppose to give us sight, takes away our vision.   This irony is further exemplified by the simple act of going to a movie theater or dark studio.  When you step out into the sunlight after being inside a dark room, your eyes cannot see clearly.   We find that our eyes are blinded, not by the darkness, but by the light outside.  If we try to force ourselves to see in the light, we will damage our eyes.   If the light itself blinds us, what can help us come out of such blindness?


The only solution is to succumb to the light.  Do not try to fight the force of light and slowly allow your eyes to adjust by closing your eyes, relaxing, and slowly opening them, allowing them to assimilate to the light.   Respect the light and the sun and approach it with a high degree of humbleness and gentleness. 


This analogy has been effectively applied to knowledge by an Upansadic sage.  The sun is also known as "Arya" which is the respectful address for a wise person, who is elevated spiritually and can help deliver knowledge.  Hence, the sun depicts knowledge.   This knowledge allows for the world around us to be clearly revealed, shattering confusion and resolving fear.  This light of knowledge removes the ignorance of darkness.


Knowledge provides us with the opportunity to unveil the secrets of creation.  The technological developments and the comforts of modern day society have all been created based on increased knowledge.  There is a vast amount of knowledge that is available and this knowledge will continue to grow with the passage of time.   It becomes clear that knowledge is infinite.  Hence, the saying, that the more we know, the more we will come to realize what we do not know.   Knowledge is the tool which can ultimately provide us with peace and harmony.


It is in recognizing that regardless of the amount of knowledge we obtain, there is more that we do not know, that allows for humility.   Humility is the litmus test to determine whether knowledge has made you wise.  Wisdom and arrogance do not go together.   When one becomes humbled by knowledge, knowledge has served its purpose and transformed a person.


Knowledge which has not transformed a person is not true knowledge, as it did not really become part of you.   You may be able to quote from scriptures or regurgitate facts, but that only allows the knowledge to become an addition to you, like an attachment.  All such knowledge which we do not absorb, contributes to our   "ego" which can be very dangerous.  The knowledge which is light removes our blindness, but a knowledge which becomes our ego, blinds us, much like the sun we may try to look directly at.


The knowledge which we do not absorb becomes a burden (of knowledge) which tends to pull us more towards material gains such as fame, popularity, praise, awards, position and authority.   All of these facets seem to be good, but that is how we are blinded or disillusioned.  If the eyes are blinded by ignorance, knowledge can help us come out of it, but if our eyes are blinded by knowledge itself, what can help us come out of that darkness?   Much like the sunlight which gives us clarity, can also blind us.


This is the difference between a scholar (pundit) and a spiritual seeker (sadhaka).   A scholar has arrogance of knowledge, while a seeker has humility because of knowledge.  A scholar believes that he can intellectually resolve all issues, whereas a seeker believes in the power of prayer.   A prayer is really a heart to heart with divinity acknowledging that 'I am nothing, you are everything.  I am ignorant and you are knowledge.   Knowledge does not belong to me, I belong to knowledge.'  When we surrender our ego completely in humbleness, where God leads us is the path of truth in the way of righteousness.


A wonderful story depicts this belief simply: 

A child, while walking on the sand, said to god, "I saw behind me four foot prints while walking. And I felt assured that you are walking with me because I thought the other two foot prints belong to you. But now I don't see the foot prints, I am worried where did you go, leaving me alone?"

God replied to her "Don't worry when you don't see the two extra foot prints it is only because I am carrying you and the foot prints you see are mine."


God will lead and carry us on the path of righteousness.  Humbleness, innocence, wisdom, and the path of truth and righteousness, all go hand in hand, one helping the other. In humility the sage prays, 'Oh God Pushan, the nourisher, Lord Surya, I do not see but you show me.'


Of the various forms of arrogance, the arrogance of knowledge is the most difficult to conquer.   The arrogance of beauty lives for a few years of youth.  The arrogance of wealth must be sustained through hard work and then leads to a life full of people who are also greedy, and thus is short lived.   All other arrogances are associated with some materialism which will make you realize that it is short term, while the arrogance of knowledge is something which is difficult to recognize and abandon.


A humble posture and a prayerful mood immediately makes one slow and contemplative, allows for the consideration of others' point of views, and gives the opportunity to respond suitably, rather than react emotionally.   With humbleness, it becomes apparent that reaction is futile and that understanding the issue and then responding appropriately is the only effective means of response.   Swami Vivekananda made the observation that self confidence is often mistaken as arrogance and humbleness as weakness.  Humbleness is born out of strength, the strength of true knowledge, not out of weakness.


This sun mantra is meant to remind us and acknowledge that it is God's work that is consistently going on and not ours.   He is the knowledge and we belong to that knowledge, the knowledge does not belong to us.  It is our responsibility to use this knowledge and not abuse it.


In the scriptures, when the pandavas were in the aranyavasa (the life of the forest) Krishna convinces Arjuna not to waste time but to go to earn special weapons powered by Mantra Shakti, the power of the mind.   Arjuna returns with the most powerful weapon known as the Pushupatastra.  When he told others of his achievement, they asked him to demonstrate it.   Arjuna was about to charge the weapon by uttering the necessary mantras.  Suddenly, a celestial voice told Arjuna that these are very special gifts and to be humble to this knowledge of the weapon and not to use it in order to show off or for entertainment.   The voice instructed Arjuna to utilize the power only when it is extremely necessary and for the good of mankind. 


In the same regard, the distribution of knowledge should not be with the intent of arrogance but rather to distribute information and promote learning.   A good example of this distribution of knowledge is Professor Sastry.  Although he has a wealth of scriptural knowledge            in his memory, he always uses simple language for everyone to understand and grasp what he is saying. 


It is this concept of obtaining knowledge and making it an integral, transforming part of ourselves, not our egos, that we are to take from the mantra as we say it.  







charity done with an idea that it will give you heaven is like business. it is from head- calculation.
charity done with satisfaction is from heart -  compassion.
..... Raghuram

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