Advaita Vision

Advaita for the 21st Century

Books and Essays by Ananda Wood

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Ananda Wood is a disciple of the Sage Sri Atmananda Krishna Menon (1883 - 1959). He was born in 1947 of mixed parentage (mother Indian national of Parsi descent, father English national of Irish descent). His upbringing and school education took place in Mumbai, India. He obtained his bachelors degree in mathematics and theoretical physics at King's College, Cambridge, UK and his doctorate in anthropology (with specialization in Indian tradition) at the University of Chicago, USA. After his university education, he returned home to India, where he worked for some years as a junior industrial executive. He has now settled down to work from home in the city of Pune, on a long-standing interest in the modern interpretation of Advaita philosophy. He is married, but with no children.

A commentary by Ananda Wood based on the teachings of Atmananda Krishna Menon is available on the Atmananda home page.

Ananda Wood has inherited this ability and provides a very readable, fresh and modern approach to traditionally difficult topics. He wishes to make the following books and essays freely available to anyone who is interested and has, accordingly, produced some superb PDF versions. The following may be read on-line from this site or downloaded. The size of the files for downloading are indicated in brackets.

  1. From The Upanishads - Free translation of selected passages from a number of the Upanishads into blank verse, along with some occasional prose. Divided up according to clear topic headings. An original adaptation to make them more accessible to the modern reader. (538k)

  2. Interpreting The Upanishads - This focuses on particular ideas from the Upanishads, and explains how these ideas can be interpreted. For each idea, selected passages are translated and placed for comparison beside much freer retellings that have been taken from the first book. The Sanskrit is often referenced with explanation of alternative translations. (463k)
    (The latest versions of the above two books contain hypertext links both within and between the two documents so that translations and interpretations may be viewed together.) N.B. Both of these books may be purchased in normal paperback form.

  3. Levels of Experience - How a reflection upon the states of consciousness described by the Mandukya Upanishad may be used to educate the mind to an understanding of the nature of reality. (40k)

  4. Levels of Language - An essay on the relationship between Consciousness, mind and the world of appearances, inspired by Bhartrihari's writings on the levels of sound and the mechanism of its manifestation. It makes extensive use of the metaphor of maps to show how a background of knowledge and experience of the whole underlies our attention to and interaction with a specific thing. (107k)

  5. Nature and Consciousness - Using the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad as a starting point, this essay begins with the classic five elements and moves on to a discussion of nature, life and the underlying non-dual Consciousness. (100k)

  6. OM - Three States and One Reality - An interpretation of the Mandukya Upanishad's discussion of the OM mantra, with its realitionship to the three states of consciousness and turiya. (69k)

  7. Where thought turns back - a skeptical approach to truth - A comparison of the scientific method and philosophical enquiry as means of discovering the truth. Includes a beautiful and simple analysis of what we actually mean by happiness and love. (85k)

  8. Dreaming, Sleep and Awakening - The three states of consciousness as described by the Mandukya Upanishad, and the backround reality of turiya. (46k)

  9. Old Ideas of Language - An essay on linguistics, comparing the ideas of the Upanishads and Bhartrihari with those of modern physics. Sound and light are explained as vibrations from the background of Consciousness. The mechanisms of speech are treated as a microcosm for the macrocosm of the universe. Covers material from 4 and 6. (185k)

  10. Educating Sciences of Life and Mind - Compares the objective, outward approach of science with the reflective, inward method of subjective enquiry as a means for obtaining knowledge. The five traditional elements are used as metaphors to explain the levels of experience. (87k)

  11. Questioning back in -- some articles - A series of short articles for an ordinary, non-technical reader. The articles ask questions that are raised by Advaita philosophy, about current issues of life, knowledge and experience in the modern world. (229k)

  12. Old ideas of mind - A description of the traditional conception that mind is 'consciousness going out towards objects'. In this conception, consciousness goes out through layers of personality that have been described as the five 'coverings' or 'koshas'. (68k)

  13. Read the essay on Science and Reality, posted to the Advaitin Egroup in August 2004.

  14. God in the Upanishads - An essay on God and the Self, as described in the Isha and Shvetashvatara Upanishads. (121k)

  15. Knowledge Before Printing and After: A View of the Advaita Tradition - How the advent of printing technology affected the attitudes towards teaching and learning in respect of the spiritual disciplines of Advaita. (61k)


Sri Ananda Wood's new book: "Ways to Truth: A View of the Hindu Tradition" is available from D.K. Printworld (P) Ltd. He describes this as follows:

It looks at the Hindu tradition from a philosophical perspective of Advaita
enquiry. From this perspective, two broad questions are raised:

* One is historical, to ask for a deeper view of history that would
allow for the primacy of living speech and interpretation, in our accounts
of the past.
* And the second is educational, to ask for a deeper view of reasoned
investigation. Such an investigation must somehow go completely beyond the
use of mechanical instruments, through a reflective examination back into
the correctness of our living faculties.

Modern communications media (from printing onwards to computers and the net)
have of course been very useful to spread information through society; and
also to document the administration of institutions that get organized and
promoted politically and commercially in the external world. But what about
the inner education of living individuals, who each make their own good or
bad use of our externally instituted capabilities? That inner education has
for long been addressed in old spiritual traditions like Advaita Vedanta.
Just what those old traditions mean is now a rather delicate question...

Other essays are available from Ananda's website.

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Page last updated: 10-Jul-2012