Dilatato Corde 4:1
January - June, 2014


It is indeed a joy for all of us to recall two great mystics of this ashram,  Bede Griffiths and Swami Abhishiktananda. Father Bede was my spiritual director from 1979 to 1984 while I was a young Holy Cross priest at Woriur, Trichy. During this period he helped me grow spiritually in the Indian tradition and even invited me to stay in the ashram to explore the richness of Indian spirituality, in particular the Upanishadic experience and the Dravidian and Siddhar experience. Father Bede’s invitation became a spiritual challenge for me in later life. I feel at this moment that I have an advaitic relationship with Father Bede, so to present a paper on the insights of this great mystic. It is really a blessing for me.

In my doctoral research on the unique mysticism of Sri Ramana Maharshi, I discovered Abhishiktananda, another Benedictine Christian mystic. A few years back, as a member of the Indian Ashram Movement, I began to appreciate his life and especially his book, The Further Shore. The impact of his ascetic life on me has been very profound.

To look at these great mystics of the Kulithalai ashram is a moment of grace for me and so too for all of us. Bede and Abhishiktananda, each in their own way, reached great heights of spiritual consciousness. They were fond of the ancient Indian Vedic tradition, giving particular attention to the Upanishads, the centre of Brahman-Atman experience. Fortunately, they were gifted writers, and each was able to describe his particular way of relating to the fundamental experience of reality, which is called the advaitic experience. In this presentation I will especially draw on Father Bede’s books, Marriage of East and the West, and Return to the Centre. For Abhishiktananda, I will focus on Guru and Disciple, and The Further Shore.

1   The Advaitic Experience of Bede Griffiths

Bede states that the doctrine of Vedanta is not monist or pantheist or polytheist. The Vedas, Upanishads, and the Bhagavad Gita speak of supreme wisdom, which they refer to as “cosmic revelation” and “the revelation of ultimate truth.” The doctrine of the unity of humankind and the cosmos is constantly spoken of as the oneness of the whole creation. This cosmic unity is the essence of the Vedic tradition. The Upanishads reflected this cosmic unity as the unity of Brahman-Atman. This fundamental reality is perceived as the unity of cosmos-humanity. According to the seers the cosmos is nothing but Brahman in the cosmos and Atman in humanity. This inseparable relationship in cosmic unity is seen as advaita. It is not two and equally not one. Let us look at the fundamental and core experience of the seers of this land as perceived by Bede.

1.1   Saccidananda

This Brahman-Atman reality can best be expressed in the Upanishadic term,  saccidananda. In the Upanishads there are the four mahavakyas which are important expressions of the Brahman-Atman reality.[1] Saccidananda is the term best known by most of us who have gathered here in Saccidananda Ashram, and it is one of the best expressions of the advaitic reality. Sri Shankaracarya himself speaks of reality as Namarupabhedasaccidananda. The lower form of reality is reality that changes in name and form. These expressions of reality are real to the extent they are impermanent. They are only real at the practical (vivagarika) level. Some say that multiplicity is illusory. The permanent reality is the higher level of reality, Saccidananda. An advaitic experience of reality contains truth, knowledge, and bliss. Bede classically summarizes the insights of advaita in this way:

It is the sense of a cosmic unity which lies behind the Vedic tradition, and in the Upanishads the source of this cosmic unity receives a name. It is called Brahman and Atman, and gradually through deep meditation the nature of this Brahman and this Atman was revealed. It is not known by argument or reasoning, not by any activity of the sense or rational mind, but by an immediate experience of the spirit, Atman, in man. It is the experience of the spirit which the Upanishads seek to communicate and to interpret in words, as far as it can be expressed in words. It is known as Saccidananda, Being or Reality, experienced in pure consciousness, communicating perfect bliss.[2]

1.2   Purushottman

Often in Indian tradition we tend to speak of this reality as impersonal reality since the emphasis is on cosmic unity and Brahman. Bede clarifies this misunderstanding and reinstates the personal dimension of this reality. Certain Upanishads speak of reality as person, speaking not only of Nirguna Brahman but equally of Saguna Brahman. Some Upanishads offer reflections on Ishvara, the creator.

It is misleading to speak of Brahman or Atman as `impersonal’. A person is a conscious being, a being possessing itself in conscious awareness, and Brahman is therefore the supreme Person, the Purushotaman. Every being is a person just in so far as he participates in this supreme consciousness.[3]

Bede’s words imply that we need to grow in our consciousness of time and space in order to enter into transcendent consciousness. Transcending matter and mind, sense and reason, leads to universal consciousness. Our strong inclination is to make the “I” into an object of consciousness. This is an inclination that must be transcended. We also often try to establish a polarity between subject and object. This limitation of the rational mind also has to be transcended. We need to break down the polarity (duality) between subject and object and enter into non-duality, supreme consciousness, universal and personal consciousness.

As Bede demonstrates, universal or cosmic consciousness has been wrongly interpreted as loss of personal consciousness.

There is no doubt that the individual loses all sense of separation from the One and experiences a total unity, but that does not mean that the individual no longer exists. Just as every element in nature is a unique reflection of the one Reality, so every human being is a unique centre of consciousness in the universal consciousness. Just as no element in nature is lost in the ultimate reality so no individual centre of consciousness loses its unique character. It participates in the universal consciousness, it knows itself in the unity of the one Being.[4]

1.3   Grace

In the movement of self-transcendence, the individual consciousness gently grows into universal consciousness. Human consciousness goes beyond the categories of space and time and enters into the supreme consciousness. In religious language, this movement can be called grace. Bede quotes the Katha Upanishad:

He whom the Atman chooses, he knows one Self which is the source of consciousness in man and in animal. In the human consciousness there is an innate capacity for freedom, the power to choose according to the dictates of reason, reaches the limit of its capacity, it is drawn by `grace’, by the power of the Spirit, the supreme consciousness working in it, to transcend its personal limitations and to participate in the divine consciousness, the consciousness of the supreme Self.[5]

1.4   Supreme Happiness

The Mandukya Upanishad speaks of the turiya state, the state of ananda, of supreme happiness. The Bhagavad Gita speaks of it as the supreme secret. The secret is nothing but the revelation of divine love. This love is the true bhakti: devotion, total self-surrender. In the last chapter of the Bhagavad Gita, Krishna says, “Give me thy mind, give me thy heart and thy sacrifice, and the adoration. I give thee my promise, thou shalt in truth come to me, because thou art dear to me”.[6]  This reality is experienced as the bliss of pure consciousness. The ananda is nothing but the bliss of love, as Bede often emphasized. In love there is no duality, but “ekamevaadvitya” (one only without a second).

1.5   The Trinity and Advaitic Experience

Relationship is a key factor in the Christian doctrine of the Trinity. Normally relationship seems to imply duality, but, as Bede points out, this is not the case in personal relationships:

Though there is no duality in the godhead, there is relationship—relationship of knowledge and love. By knowledge we receive the form of another being into ourselves, we become that other being, by a mutual `co-inherence’. This is seen above all in personal relationship. By love we communicate ourselves to other persons and they communicate themselves to us. There is a mutual self-giving which is enjoined in sexual union, but this takes place at the deepest level of consciousness, where there is a complete in-dwelling.[7]

In the Gospel of Saint John, Jesus says, “I am in the Father and the Father is in me” (John14:10). This is not a statement of simple identity; Jesus does not say, “I am the Father.” His statement is a statement of knowledge and love. God, the Father and God, the Son co-inhere. Their relationship is advaitic, without any duality. At the Last Supper, Jesus prays that the unity among his disciples be of that kind: “. . . that they may all be one. As you, Father, are in me and I am in you, may they also be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me”. (John 17:21)

Bede clarifies that the advaitic experience is one of co-inherence. He writes that the “mutual indwelling of the Father in the Son and the Son in the Father through the Spirit of love, helps us to understand not only the nature of the godhead, but also the nature of human relationship within the godhead.”[8]

2     The Advaitic Experience of Abhishiktananda

2.1   Its Upanishadic Character

Though advaitais found first in the Veda, it reached its zenith in the Vedanta, the Upanishads. Like Bede, Abhishiktananda held that “Advaita is the central teaching of the Upanishads.”[9] The advaitic experience goes beyond the experience of God as found in monotheistic religions. The Upanishads speak of an experience of the real, sat, identifying this experience as a kind of consciousness or awareness that goes beyond the human faculties of hearing, seeing, or even thinking.

There the eye goes not, speech goes not, nor the mind. We know not, we understand not how anyone could teach it. Other indeed it is than the known and moreover above the unknown. Thus we have heard from the ancients who have explained it to us (Kena Up. 1.3).[10]

2.2   Heart of the Master

The secret of the Upanishadic teaching is communicated by the heart of the master. The mind of the disciple is broken and his heart is opened to see the inner light. Abhishiktananda insisted that the advaitic experience can be communicated only within the intimacy of the guru-disciple relationship, a relationship that already has something of a non-dual, advaitic character.  Abhishiktananda insists that the relationship between the guru and the disciple is, from the very beginning, non-dual in character. The fruit of that relationship is then equally advaitic in experience and truth.

To the one who has approached him properly,
the mind of peace, the thoughts controlled,
the sage will teach in its very truth
the knowledge of Brahman, whereby one knows the imperishable,
the Purusha, the Truth (Mund.Up. 1.2.13).[11]

The main import of this text is that the guru “must above all be the brahmanishthah, he must himself have discovered in the secret of his own heart, the inner light, atmabuddhiprakasam, shining in the very centre of his being which radiates inside and outside and makes all things resplendent with the splendour of the atman, the Self.”[12] Like the guru, the disciple must equally be ready for the knowledge of Brahman. It is said that as it is as difficult to find a guru as it is to find a disciple, a chela. The mutual discovery of guru and disciple is an advaitic experience.

2.3   Guru and Disciple

In his book, Guru and Disciple, Abhishiktananda speaks very eloquently of his personal experience with his second guru, Sri Gnanananda. The first guru to deeply challenge him was Ramana Maharishi, but it was his guru-disciple relationship with Gnanananda that called Abhishiktananda to “the further shore”.

Abhishiktananda “gazed into those eyes which, like Gnanananda’s were so full of love and deep peace. He had sensed something of that call to the Within, which seemed to sound from the very depth of that man’s awareness, now merged in the primordial mystery”.[13]

Unless one becomes a genuine disciple, a relationship with a guru is meaningless.

No one should utter this word, let alone call some one his guru, if he himself does not yet have the heart and soul of a disciple. It is in fact as unusual to meet a real disciple as is to meet a real guru. Hindu tradition is right in saying that, when the disciple is ready, the guru automatically appears, and only those who are not yet worthy of it spend their time in running after gurus. Guru and disciple form a dyad, a pair, whose two components call for each other and belong together. No more than the two poles (of a magnet) can they exist without being related to each other. On the way towards unity they are a dyad. In the ultimate realization they are a non-dual reciprocity.[14]

A guru is one who has realized in himself the real or the self. The guru knows the path of self-realization through personal experience.

The meeting with the guru is the essential meeting, the decisive turning point in a person’s life. But it is a meeting that can only happen when once you have passed beyond the spheres of sense and intellect. Its place lies Beyond, in the `fine point of the soul’, as the mystics say. . . .in the meeting of guru and disciple there is not even a fusion, for we are in the sphere of the original non-duality. Advaita remains for ever incomprehensible to anyone who has not first lived it existentially in his meeting with the guru. That which the guru says springs up from the very heart of the disciple. . . . When the vibrations of the master’s voice reach the disciple’s ear and the master’s eyes look deep into his own, then it is from within his own self, from the cave of his own heart, now at last discovered, that the thoughts proceed which reveal him to himself.[15]

The real guru is within us . . . this real guru projects himself in some outward form or other at the very moment when his help is needed for taking the final step. It was in this sense that Ramana’s guru was Arunachala.[16]

Abhishiktananda thought that Sri Gnanananda and Sri Ramana complimented one another. The teaching of Sri Gnanananda was similar to that of Sri Ramana, but his approach and practice were different. Sri Ramana did not believe that he had any responsibility for his disciples since, strictly speaking, he never considered them to be his disciples and never called himself someone’s guru.

The meeting of guru and disciple is called darshana, which literally means “vision”. This vision implies coming face to face with reality. Philosophical darshanas are only the concepts of the seekers. Darshana can also take place in the sacred space of a temple or before an image (murti). There is also the darshana of the saints. The final step of one’s spiritual journey, the final darshana, is the darshana of the guru. Here the veil is lifted and duality is completely transcended. The Indian tradition is strongly entrenched in this essential darshana or revelation of reality to the disciple at the deepest level through the medium of guru. The Prasana Upanishad (6.8) says of it, “You have enabled us to reach the further shore beyond ignorance”.

2.4    Dhyana: The Direct Tool for Advaita

In his encounter with his guru, Abhishiktananda inquired about dhyana:

What is Reality? Is it dvaita or advaita? When all is said and done, does any difference remain between God and creatures? Is there at least some possibility for man to enjoy God and realize this enjoyment in eternity?—or is there in the last resort nothing but Being itself, non-dual (advaita) and indivisible, in its infinite fullness?
“What is the use of such questions?” replied Sri Gnanananda at once. “The answer is within you. Seek it in the depths of your being. Devote yourself to dhyana, meditation, beyond all forms, and the solution will be given you directly ”.[17]

Abhishiktananda also inquired about initiation (diksha). The guru replied:

Initiations—what is the use of them? . . . Either the disciple is not ready, in which case the so-called initiation is no more than empty words; or else the disciple is ready, and neither words or signs are needed. The initiation takes place of itself ”. He went on: “So long as you perceive the world, it is ignorance, not knowing, a-jnana. When nothing of the world is any more perceived, it is wisdom, jnana, the only true knowledge.[18]      

Sri  Gnanananda spoke of the immediacy of dhyana without wasting time and effort:

You have no right to cheat when you claim to be committed to the way that leads to God. You do not hold forth on the subject of meditation, you devote yourself to it forthwith. . . . he must be give up running from place to place, talking about everything to all and sundry, reading every book that comes to hand. Let him settle in one particular place and devote himself exclusively to gazing within.[19]

The teaching of Siddhars is the same. Siddhi does not consist in going from one pilgrimage place to another, dancing, running around, and wasting your breath, even in religious services. Just sit like Shiva, and the siddhi will come to you naturally. The ego dies if you are in one place. Focus on the Divine within you. With reference to a lady who was visiting too many places after visiting the ashram of Sri Ramana, Sri Gnanananda said, ”If she is sincere and really seeking to progress spiritually, she should not stir from Arunachala, she should give up all idle chatter and distractions, and should devote herself once for all to silence and meditation”.[20]

Sri Gnanananda was emphatic about meditation, which is the fruit of the meeting of the disciple with the guru. “Having once provided the elementary needs of the body, food, hygiene and sleep, he should only have a single goal and a simple occupation—to practice meditation in the very depth of his being”.[21] He would often quote these Tamil verses:

Enter into yourself
To the place where there is nothing,
And take care that nothing enters there.
Penetrate within yourself
To the place where there is no more any thought,
And take care that no thought arises there!

There where there is nothing—
There where nothing is seen—
The Vision of Being!
There where nothing more appears—
Behold, the Self!

That is dhyana![22]

2.5   Advaitic Experience represented by Shivalinga

Abhishiktananda refers to the shivalinga, one of the most popular Hindu symbols, to explain the advaitic experience.[23] According to him, every human person is a shivalinga, revealing the true nature of reality. The advaitic experience is deeply formless and yet is revealed in form. Shivalinga does the same. Shiva is formless at the deepest level, but manifested in form by the linga. The shivalinga contains both formlessness and form and thus can be said to stand for advaita. He writes:

At the level of thought, nothing can divide Shiva from the linga in which he manifests himself. For this, advaita, non-duality, is the only appropriate word. Not monism, not dualism, but that sheer mystery in which man, without understanding it at all, rediscovers himself in the depth of the heart of God.
Shiva is wholly present in the Shivalinga, in the linga that stands in the temple, in the linga constituted by the universe, in the linga which every creature is. He is there at his heart, he is its heart, but a ‘heart’ which is not one particular part of his linga, either spatially, dialectically or ontologically…a heart which is totally `beyond’, and at the same time and for that very reason most profoundly ‘within’. Being at once absolutely transcendent and absolutely immanent.[24]

It is thus important to discover the heart of everything. Another way of saying this is that one has to find God in everything. This heart of everything is found in shivalinga. According to Abhishiktananda “The Shivalinga is a symbol of God’s having passed into his creation, and equally, of the creature’s having passed, passed away, into God. . . . . The Shivalinga stands at the frontier between form and formlessness, rupa-arupa…”.[25]

Shiva represented by the Shivalinga is always present everywhere and is always a-sparsa, a-khanda and a-dvaita. A-sparsa means that he touches nothing and nothing can touch him; he is entirely apart, totally incommunicable and yet communicates always himself. A-khanda means that he is unbroken, whole, indivisible. The Shivalinga thus manifests the advaitic experience of the mystery of God.

2.6   Mumuksutvam—The Desire to Know the Truth

The story of Naciketas in the Katha Upanishad tells us that the Lord of death, Yama, imparted the truth of life only when he ascertained that Naciketas was burning with desire to know the truth (mumuksutvam), not bound by the pleasures of the world and long life. Only then does he, as a guru, begin to reveal the truth in and through the symbols of the banyan seed, salt, and water. All the desires lodged in the ego must be abandoned, even the desires to possess God, to enjoy the sweetness of the Lord, and to have the sacred knowledge found in books (svarga). The sign of readiness for advaitic experience is “cutting the knots of the heart” (hridayagranthi) (Mund. Up. 2.2.8).[26]

2.7   Turiya-Awakening

Advaitic experience is simply called an awakening. It is a state beyond dreaming, even the dreams that occurs during deep sleep. The Upanishadic seers refer to it as turiya consciousness. It is a state of going beyond the fear of death, and the process of decaying (bhayamandmrtiyu). Abhishiktananda calls turiya “one of the key words of the Upanishads.”[27] The advaitic experience gives one the power to face fear and insecurity.

There are three ways to face fear. The first is religious—worshiping devas or the spirit. The second is philosophical—mastering one’s thoughts. The third is advaitic—following the path of a sage and coming to self-realization.

The advaitic experience must become something natural (sahaja), belonging to the fundamental nature of man. Ramana Maharishi often speaks of this level of advaitic experience, which brings true liberation, a level when one is in a continuous state of wakefulness and Brahman resides in the depth of oneself. The Self is discovered and one discovers oneself in the world of Brahman.

2.8    Who Am I?

When Abhishiktananda speaks of this advaitic experience, he recalls the words of Sri Ramana Maharishi, who often asked those who came to him for spiritual guidance,

Who are you? Who is asking? Discovering this `who’, this I that asks the question, is the very answer to your question. Looking for the I that is at the root of your queries, is what it means to contemplate, to take sannyasa, to practice yoga, to know Brahman.[28]

In Upadesa Saram, 10, the Tamil Sloka says, “To be [to hide] in the place from whence all is surging, this is karma, this is bhakti, this is yoga, this is jnana. Hence to realize this experience of `I’ one has to ask continuously `who am I?’“. Ramana Maharishi is emphatic in saying that advaitic experience is possible through different paths. Everyone can be enriched by advaitic experience; no one path is superior to the other. The search for the “I” is the basis for all these paths. This search should lead to true detachment from ego, which is opposed to true “I”, the Atman-Brahman. “I” is pure awareness, but is often hidden by the small and transitory “I” of “me and mine.”

2.9   Wholeness in Advaitic Experience

At the moment of advaitic experience one experiences wholeness. “In the beginning all this was Atman, the Self, in the form of a person [purusha]. Looking around he saw nothing else than himself. He said first: I am, aham asmi. Thence arose the name I” (Br.Up.1.4). “The seer sees only himself, that is to say, he sees himself as a whole. I am Brahman—ahambrahmasmi (Brh. Up.1.4.10), ayamatmabrahma—this self is Brahman” (Mand.Up.2).[29]

In this consciousness, one experiences fullness.

Fullness here, Fullness there,
From Fullness Fullness proceeds,
Take Fullness from Fullness,
Fullness ever remains. (Isha Up.)

The role of the master is to awaken in the disciple the awareness of “Ahamasmi” and “Tat itvamasi.”

2.10    The Advaitic Experience in Silence

Commenting on Psalm 65, Abhishiktananda writes that silence is the pleasurable work of Holy Spirit:

Silence is praise for you. Silence is prayer, silence is thanksgiving prayer and adoration, silence in meditation, silence inside and outside as the most essential preparation for the silence of the soul in which alone the Spirit  can work at his pleasure.[30]

Abhishiktananda notes that in the Vedic tradition, among the priests who sit around the fire of sacrifice, the most important fourth priest remained always silent:

whispering as it were without any interruption as almost inarticulate OM. Yet it was that silent OM which was considered as the thread uniting all the different parts of the yajna and giving to the whole its definitive value.[31]

For Abhishiktananda, the Hindu tradition of the “silence of OM” can be compared to the Christian monastic tradition of silence, especially the silence of monks or hermits. This tradition speaks of the silence of the Father “from which sounds forth eternally the unique glory which the Son, the Word, is to the Father”.[32]

This silence is not a discipline imposed from outside; it is an inner silence, imposed by the Holy Spirit. Only the person who is led by the Spirit is able to be silent as moved by the Spirit. Yet the ascetic and spiritual discipline of quieting the faculties can be a preparation for this inner silence, which explodes into deep awareness. Authentic silence does not lead to agitation, either inward or outward. It reveals inner happiness. It is the dance of Lord Shiva, the dance of death in the cremation ground of the senses and the mind, the dance of advaitic experience. Shiva sets a person free from the passing moment and brings him to the eternal present.

Abhishiktananda spoke of some concrete practices one could adopt to enter into silence:

The practice of simple yoga is helpful: so is also the use of nama-japa. . . . Yet all are only aids—temporary aids. Mantras and japa slowly become simplified and even disappear by themselves. OM alone remains, OM tat sat, and the OM which is uttered merges finally into the OM which is pure silence.[33]

2.11    The Christic and the Advaitic Experience

According to the Upanishads the advaitic experience surpasses all other human experiences. These experiences are expressed in and through the mind and senses. All these experiences are only a reflection of the advaitic experience. For Christians, the Christic experience can be seen as an advaitic experience. The Christic experience is the experience of Jesus with his Father; it is an advaitic experience. The Christian tradition is very much entrenched in names and forms, notions and images and symbols. John of the Cross speaks of the drastic purification of all symbols and refers to this as the dark night of the soul. The Hindu tradition as transmitted by the Upanishads tries to avoid as far as possible the name of God and to move from Saguna Brahman to Nirguna Brahman. The richness of these traditions needs to be shared in the light of pure consciousness. Each tradition will in turn be further enriched.


Study shows that various spiritual traditions have become blended: jnana and bhakti, wandering and being still, guru and disciple, caves in the mountains/hills and ashrams on rivers. We have seen the blending of the Hindu and Christian traditions in the spiritual experience of two great mystics, Bede Griffiths and Abhishiktananda. This Shantivanam ashram is blessed with the blending of Christian and Indian mystical ways. May we grow in blending different spiritual experiences in our lives. This is the first invitation of these gurus whose memory we commemorate here.

We live in a world of advanced technology and the rapid communication of ideas. Many of us are caught up in the whirlpool of sense experiences and the power of the intellect. But to give meaning to our life we are in need of mystics. Spiritual experience alone gives the power to live in the global village. In the world of loneliness and selfishness we need mystics to guide us towards wholeness and happiness.

Bede and Abhishiktananda came as missionaries to India. They wanted to learn the great spiritual traditions of this land. Both of them were drawn to the Vedas, the Upanishadic traditions and the Bhagavad Gita. They constantly reflected on them and in intrapersonal dialogue integrated the spiritual values they contained. They firmly believed in the cosmic unity taught by the Vedas. This led them to a unique advaitic experience of supreme consciousness that can be found in different religious tradition. They, as spiritual explorers, tried to understand the different nuances of advaitic experience. Bede and Abhishiktananda even today lead people deep within to an experience of happiness. They made great efforts to understand this advaitic experience with and in the life of Jesus Christ. Their purpose was not to convert India but be a symbol of true sannyasa and guru in this land of dharma and detachment.

In his understanding of advaitic experience Bede Griffiths highlighted the dynamic components of changeless reality, supreme consciousness, and pure bliss (saccidananda) as found in the Upanishads. Bede specifically pointed to the elements of grace and purushotaman in advaitic experience. In supreme consciousness there is a place for human and personal consciousness. The Christian understanding of the Trinity is not in any way foreign to advaitic experience.

The contribution of Swami Abhishiktananda to the understanding of advaita is truly profound. He agrees with Bede on many, but not all, points. For instance because of Sri Ramana’s great influence on him, he speaks of “I” consciousness where there is an “I to I” advaitic experience. He emphasizes that the relationship of guru and disciple leads to the advaitic experience rather than to a relationship of duality. Because of his association with his later guru, Sri Gnanananda, he speaks of shivalinga in his understanding of advaita. He says that each one of us is a shivalinga—Shiva and linga at the same time—a symbol of advaita and the expression (linga)of the Auspicious (Shiva). For Abhishiktananda both “heart” and dhyana have to go hand in hand in silence if one is to be an advaitic person experiencing wholeness of bliss.

Our advaitic journey of cosmic unity, of supreme turiya consciousness, and of love and bliss constantly needs to be deepened. May these two mystics assist us on our inward advaitic journey to make this cosmos our divine home.


[1] They are l) prajñānam brahma - “Prajña is Brahman” or “Brahman is Prajña (Aritareya Upanishad3.3 of the Rig Veda; 2) ayamātmā brahma - “I am this Self (Atman) that is Brahman” (Mandukya Upanishad 1.2 of the Atharva Veda); 3) tat tvamasi - “Thou art That” (Chandogya Upanishad 6.8.7 of the Sama Veda); 4) ahambrahmāsmi - “I am Brahman”, or “I am Divine” (Brhadaranyaka Unpanishad 1.4.10 of the Yajur Veda).

[2] Bede Griffiths, The Marriage of East and West (Shantivanam: Saccidananda Ashram), p. 82

[3] Ibid. p.  83.

[4] Ibid., p. 85.

[5] Ibid., p.  86.

[6] Ibid., p. 87.

[7] Ibid., p. 91

[8] Ibid., p. 92.

[9] Abhishiktananda, The Further Shore (ISPCK, Delhi) p. 105.

[10] Ibid.

[11] Ibid.,p. 106.

[12] Ibid.

[13] Abhishiktananda, Guru and Disciple (ISPCK, Delhi), p.  11.

[14] Ibid.

[15] Ibid. p. 12.

[16] Ibid. p. 13.

[17] Ibid., p. 8.

[18] Ibid., p. 9.

[19] Ibid., p. 64.

[20] Ibid., p. 61.

[21] Ibid., p. 65.

[22] Ibid., p. 65.

[23] A representation of the Hindu deity Shiva used for worship in temples, popularly interpreted as a phallus.

[24] Ibid., p. 43.

[25] Ibid.

[26] Ibid., 107.

[27] Ibid., p. 108.

[28] The Further Shore, p. 111.

[29] Ibid., p. 113.

[30] Ibid., p. 117.

[31] Ibid.

[32] Ibid.

[33] Ibid., p. 118.


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