[Advaita-l] On the forms of Guru

Sunil Bhattacharjya sunil_bhattacharjya at yahoo.com
Tue Mar 30 02:26:46 CDT 2010

Dear Vidyasankarji,
In a man in the upright position the chest region is considered to be the central point of the body and \this is also the heart region. When we say the heart of the matter, we refer to the central idea. Thus heart refers more to the central zone. Hortizontally looking we can say that the physical heart is off-centre to the left but there are exceptions and some people do have heart on the off-centre to the right. Ramana Maharshi,whom  most people (me included) believe to be a wise person, believed the spiritual heart bto be in the region, off-centre to the right.
Sunil K. Bhattacharjya

--- On Thu, 3/25/10, Vidyasankar Sundaresan <svidyasankar at hotmail.com> wrote:

From: Vidyasankar Sundaresan <svidyasankar at hotmail.com>
Subject: Re: [Advaita-l] On the forms of Guru
To: "Advaita List" <advaita-l at lists.advaita-vedanta.org>
Date: Thursday, March 25, 2010, 3:37 PM

> And Sunilji is right. Bhagavan says the locale of the hrdhayam is on the
> right chest where we all point to when saying 'I'. Hrdhayam is translated
> as heart in English for whatever reason but that does not mean it is a
> physical heart that is on the left that is meant.

hRt (Sanskrit), heart (English), herz (German), hjarta (Swedish/Icelandic),
hjerte (Norwegian/Danish), hart (Dutch), cardia (Greek) - all have a common
ancestry in the Indo-European languages. There is a good reason for the
translation and part of the connotation is the physical heart. In all these
languages, there are also many non-literal usages of the word heart, e.g.
to lose heart, to steal one's heart, etc. Even in English, the word heart
does not refer only to the physical organ.

Also, "the physical heart is on the left side" is overdone in common talk. It
is really quite along the center of the chest. There is a slight leftward tilt
in its orientation - that is all. If it were substantially on the left side, there
would be no room for the left lung! When we point to the chest and talk
of hRdaya, our fingers land on the sternum bone, almost exactly on top
of the physical heart. We don't point over the right pectoral muscle.

It should be perfectly obvious to anyone, from the context, when the word
"heart" is used to refer to the physical organ and when the word is used in
a non-literal manner. In my opinion, there is no need to go on and posit
another entity, also called heart, non-physical in nature, but still physically
located in the body on the right side of the chest. I mean no disrespect to
Ramana Maharishi here. I would request you to see whether he said this
himself or if it was something a disciple asked and he merely said, "yes,
people say this." There is a world of difference between the two scenarios.
A lot of what people attribute to Ramana Maharishi lies in the questions that
his disciples and devotees put to him, not quite in the answers that he gave!

Finally, returning to the vedAntic source-texts, even the location of the
Atman/ISvara in the heart is meant primarily to focus a sAdhaka's attention.
The Atman is really all-pervading - there is no one place where it is nor is
there any place where it is not.

> The vedanthin hold that the locale of the mind is at the throat. Sorry to
> differ with you on that one (because you think it is in the physical heart)
> and hold on to a view that is much more ancient than the 19th century! 

It should be clear that I am pointing to a view that is timeless, more ancient
than ancient and more modern than modern, because I base them on the
upanishad-s and their commentaries. But you are always welcome to differ;
no need to feel sorry about it!

I presume your view about the mind being located at the throat is based on
the taittirIya passage, "antareNa tAluke | ya esha stana iva ..." Again, this
is not meant literally, but only to focus attention as part of a meditation. This
is made clear in the upanishad itself at the end of the same anuvAka, "iti 
prAcInayogya upAssva |" (Meditate thus, O Pracinayogya).

> I know that so many people consider western education to be superior and all
> knowledge should be known in its light. On the other hand we folks talk of
> 'para' vidya some of which are not even written or spoken, yet transmitted
> from the Guru to sishya. The western education would be nowhere near it!

Let me clarify that I neither privilege Western education nor deny that it
has made a deep mark on Indian thinking in the recent past and now has
a permanent place there for the conceivable future. And it is unfair to
disparage Western education by comparing it with parA vidyA. Because,
standard Eastern education also, of whatever variety, is still aparA vidyA,
nowhere near the parA vidyA.

Best regards,

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