Advaita Vision

Advaita for the 21st Century

Dialogue with Asamvedi

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The following is reproduced with permission from the website devoted to the j~nAni Nishkaama Naishkarmya Asamvedi, who lived in Madras from the 1930's to 1990's. The site presents information, quotations and dialogs as recalled by one of his disciples, who wishes to remain anonymous. * Site may have been disbanded Oct 2006 *

Given below are various questions asked of Asamvedi from time to time and his answers - these have been reproduced from memory, with no notes. By their very nature the questions are diverse and there is no context or continuity to them.

Q. How is non-identity and non-reaction laghu? (easy) How is it superior to "Who am I"?

A. There is no superior or inferior method in vichAra (enquiry); the choice of the method is entirely upto the seeker. Ramana's "who am I" is the shortest, if perhaps the steepest, path to Truth. Non-identity is easier, because even for one whom the I is not evident, it can work on his identities and reactions and then he may understand the falsity underlying them.

Q. You advocate watching the mind; who is watching the mind?

A. (laughs) We keep who-ing like this all the time! Suffice it to know that there is some intimation from beyond the mind which watches the mind.

Q. A j~nAni is said to have abheda dRRiShTi (non-dual vision) or sama dRRiShTi (equal vision). What does it mean?

A. This is only to give an indication of how the j~nAni sees others. In reality the j~nAni knows no "other" and has no vision.

Q. Why did Christ say "Thou shalt not commit adultery"?

A. When there is an approved and socially acceptable way of sinning, why do you want to sin more? If sex is not regulated by marriage, society is not possible.

Q. Does it mean sex is a sin?

A. Sex or marriage alone is not sin.. all kartRRitva (doership) is sin.

Q. Why did Christ say "Blessed are they that mourn, for they shall be comforted"?

A. For those who truly suffer in life, a lot of their karma will be washed away and this is very good for them.

Q. Is God real? How can there be so many gods in Hinduism?

A. God or gods are as real as you are; and that's all. The so called gods in Hinduism are nothing but various functional aspects of the single Godhead. When the Source creates, it becomes Brahma, when it protects it becomes Vishnu and so on. But these are all your own bhAva (supposition). It is irrelevant whether there is a God or not.

Q. Is rebirth real?

A. If there can be birth, why not rebirth? Again these are irrelevant.

Q. You never advocate bhakti(devotion); is not the love of God and dedication to His work an easy road to salvation?

A. Bhakti and prapatti (devotion) are no doubt grand; you people move from bhava to maha bhava and then to ati-maha-bhava! (bhAva=emotion,maha=grand, ati-maha=very-grand) But can the grandest super-bhava get at the BhAvAtIta (Bhava = emotion; bhAva-atIta=that which is beyond emotion)?

People talk all the time of surrendering to God. Surrender is no easy joke; it is a TOTAL abandonment of all self-concern. If you can do it , you are free here and now.

Q. What about dAsa bhava ? (being servant of God)?

A. Did God ever come and tell you that He is in need of your service? You create a God and then create a servant for Him and want to be His servant! What egotism!

Q. But there is sattva (harmony, joy) in bhakti...

A. Let a man feed his honest hunger and take an interest in other people's affairs and in six months I can promise him much more than mere sattva. (author's note: what Asamvedi means here is selfless, unmotivated service).

Q. Buddha used to say "I don't know" when asked about God or rebirth or life after death.

A. Because he wanted to avoid all irrelevant issues and wanted you to focus on Truth.

Q. mano nasha (death/slaying of the mind) is said to be the way for dissolving the Ego.

A. It is in reality not death of the mind but de-linking of the mind. There will be mind and thoughts, but there is no identity with the mind (as my mind and my thoughts).

Q. Is not causality unreal?

A. Yes it is. But on the human plane, when there is no causality there is no science (which is no big loss *laughs*) but there is no morality either. As long as you have kartRRittva (the sense of being the doer) you are bound by the laws of cause and effect.

Q. So if I don't have kartRRitva, does it mean I can do anything and still not be a sinner?

A. First of all, you won't have these questions if you have no doership! If you do something without doership you also have to face the consequences without doership. If you stab a man without kartRRitva and you are hanged for it, you will get hanged without kartRRitva too! *laughs*

Q. What is the role of a guru?

A. The sadguru (true guru) is within; the external guru is only a midwife. Only souls near the end of their evolution can benefit from the outer guru. Just as a midwife can only pull out a child that is ready to be born and can do nothing about a growing foetus, the outer guru can only help those souls whose sadguru is awakened. He merely hastens the process of liberation. You can take a horse to the water; but it won't drink unless it has thirst.

Q. I dont know anything about philosophy. I have no use for meditation or sAdhana or scriptures. Can you give me some simple no-nonsense steps to follow in practical life?


1. Identify with your honest needs
2. Live in the present.
3. Be fearless - don't do anything out of fear.
4. Watch yourself unceasingly, with no motive; just be interested in yourself.
5. Be completely honest with yourself.
6. Do all your work yourself.
7. Help whoever you can who are genuinely in need of help. Don't become a professional do-gooder!

( NOTE: Asamvedi always stressed the need to serve. He was himself an Infinite giver, open to one and all at all times. He also used to say "Why serve only man, why not serve moth or moss?". He said "Service has no statistical imperative; it is the quality of service that matters"

To the same question from a different individual at a different time he quickly replied "Read the New Testament - Sermon on the Mount".)

Q. What is new in what you say? It is what every j~nAni says.

A. How can Truth be new or old? It is always the same and always here and now - changeless. ekam sat vipra bahudhA vadanti ( Truth is One but commentaries are many) (RRig veda I.164.46).

Q. Why do you quote so much? Is not quoting a sign of plagiarizing?

A. What is wrong with quoting? Every j~nAni is original, for he speaks directly from the Source.

Q. Ramana Maharishi has written that there is a heart-centre where the I beats (sphuraNa).. it is not very clear to me.

A. Why do you care where the heart beats or the kidney pisses? You just work on your identities. All these are clever distractions by the intellect. Dont get carried away by irrelevant issues - focus on the I.

Q. What is tAntra?

A. "tra" in Sanskrit means protection; "tanU" means body. tAntra comes from tanU-tra which means body-protection. The tAntrik theory is that kuNDalIni flows from the head to the genitals as energy; tAntrik practices aim at reversing the flow and moving it back up to the sahasrAra (chakra in head). But kuNDalIni is only the tAntrik's name for Awareness.

Q. You often talk of honest intelligence; what do you mean by that?

A. A passion for Truth- that is what I mean by honest intelligence. If a man is very serious about the end, the means will follow.

Q. I am a skeptic out and out. I don't have any use for faith. What is the proof of Truth?

A. What is the proof of anything? All proof is within some framework of assumptions. It is alright to be skeptical provided you are skeptical about yourself too! Dont you take yourself for granted and then try to validate everything else against yourself? Go on, be consistent and be skeptical about yourself. What is the proof of you? What is the proof of what you imagine yourself to be? Examine all your ideas about yourself an see if you can prove them to yourself.

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Page last updated: 10-Jul-2012