sista at ECN.PURDUE.EDU
Fri Jun 21 14:38:41 CDT 1996
I am sorry for not introducing myself before, although I've been
making some comments once in a while on the list. I have been kind of
putting it off for various reasons including laziness.
I am currently pursuing a Ph.D in electrical engineering at Purdue.
My entry into the mainstream advaita had been pretty interesting(at
least that is what I think looking back). I got lot of my inspiration
and initial impetus from my grandfather. We (I and my elder brother)
used to accompany him to temples and Ramakrishna mutt since our
very young age. He personally visited Ramana Maharshi, some of the
disciples of Shirdi Saibaba, and a host of other holy people.
He used to recount his travels, the sayings of the holy personalities
and his 'experiences' with all of them. He also used to tell us
stories from Puranaas.
Frankly, I used to be a little bored by the bhajans but used to love the
'Purana recital' of Ramayana and Mahabharata at the temples and the RK mutt.
That is when I got interested in these 'astraas' (I think around age 6 or 7).
Even the puraanic movies (with all those flashy effects accompanying astraas)
did their share. I remember pestering my grandfather if he knew any of those.
He even dug out some old diary of his and gave me the mantraas for
Paashupata, Brahma and Aagneya astraas :-) but later told me that they dont
work just by reading them out. I was quite disappointed. I used to think a
lot about having all the supernatural powers. However, my grandfather
always used to say that they are a hindrance to self realization. I didnt
know what self realization meant then, nor do I now, but at least the
fascination for powers is gone. Patanjali's yoga sutraas(which I read a
little later in life) cured that.
Realizing that acquiring powers/siddhis etc is lot of work, I settled
for stage magic :-) I pursued it pretty seriously for some time. I bought
books and used to do little tricks to entertain folks at home and friends.
During that time I came across a book which gave not only the regular stage
magic but also some weird stuff like animal sacrifices/capturing spirits/
strange concoctions ..etc(which is classified as black magic). I didn't
really like the idea of killing insects and animals for entertainment.
So I dropped the idea of pursuing magic altogether. Then I started my
experiments with hypnotism. As with everything my grandfather had 1 or 2
books on hypnotism as well. So I read all those carefully and memorized
the steps on how to hypnotize people (Mandrake from indrajaal comics added
to my madness). However, when I hypnotized my neighbor and suddenly realized
that he was totally under my control, I couldn't handle that fact. So I
quickly woke him up and never looked back at hypnotism :-).
Around this time I started reading Upanishads from my grandfather's
collection (13 or 14yrs old), mainly out of curiousity to find out what's
in them. Didn't comprehend much. Then I landed on some literature about
tibetan lamas, astral travelling, occult powers ..etc. I seriously
contemplated on going to Tibet and joining one of the lamaseries, but
couldn't convince my parents :-( Then, I started reading a telugu version
(translation+commentary) of Bhagavadgita(done by my grandfather's younger
brother who himself was a saadhaka). I was greatly impressed and influenced
by that. Around the same time I also read the works of Swami Vivekananda
and It was then that I started doing yoga and pranayama on my own. I just
picked up the yoga book by Swami Sivananda and started doing those, inspite
of the warning that a guru is needed. Looking back I was pretty lucky not to
have landed in any trouble. I even tried some astral travelling stuff.
However, I haven't seen the much talked about 'silver cord' and my
'sleeping body' on the bed. So I just dismissed my experiences as
lucid dreaming or very vivid dreaming. This continued until I joined
This is when I came across Jiddu Krishnamurti's works. JK's works
influenced me a lot in terms of deconditioning myself. I continued reading
BG/upanishads/JK/Zen/Buddhism alternately seeing the same message being
echoed everywhere. I also continued with yoga/pranayama off and on along
with a self styled meditation(just sitting and observing the thoughts, or
repeating om or keeping attention on agnya chakra, ... whatever comes to
the mind). After coming to Purdue and becoming Ramakrishnan's room mate,
I got a chance to read Sri Ramana Maharshi's works, Tripura Rahasya and
some of the books he has. I haven't read the main works of Shankaracharya
though. Which pretty much makes me an illiterate in the canonical advaita.
So there! That is my march, which led me to a conviction that advaita
is the way to go. However I am waiting for even this conviction to go :-)
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