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Robin Datta

Fresno, California

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There is really no “coming” to Vedanta: Mandukya Upanishad, Gaudapada Karika 2:32. For those old enough to remember, two (dvaita) rupees were thirty-two annas.


I was born in Quetta, Baluchistan, in the Islamic Republic a year and a half after it was carved out, by which time those of my father’s ten siblings who were not already across the border made a bee-line towards Calcutta (Kolkotha). His family was from Narayanganj about eleven miles north of Dacca (Dhaka) which was then in East Pakistan. Interestingly both houses of the Baluchistan legislature and the head of state (the Khan of Kalat) unanimously voted against joining Pakistan.


My mother was a Telegu-speaking Dravidian (Hyderabad, Deccan), but fortunately my parents were commissioned officers in the Royal Indian Army in the Second World War, so their common language (and my first language since day one) was English, with the small disadvantage that I had to unlearn it when I came to ‘mericuh.


My various mental ruminations brought me to the point where it was obvious that the reality of my being was consciousness (awareness without an “of”). In the presence of an object, the object is perceived; in the absence of an object, there is blankness. Attempting to turn awareness on itself was quite fruitless. This was all at about twelve years of age, in Hyderabad (Sindh) about eight years before I had even heard a word of Vedanta.


My father’s relatives being in India were as if in some parallel universe of a multiverse, unknown to me/us in Pakistan. I was in Dacca Medical College at the time when my mother died in 1969, and three days later an abbreviated English translation of the Bhagavad Gita addressed to me sent by one of the uncles showed up in the mail. I guess that was my manifest introduction to Vedanta. In Reality its message is not subject to time (trikala abaditam) and therefore has no introduction.


In America with the coming of the Internet, I began listening to talks by swamis, first saraswatis, and then (and now) RK-Puris. I have never been formally initiated, but I think I got something akin to it while reading a book on Kabbalah. So nothing attracted me to Vedanta; it caught me like a tiger may catch a bull. Of course, what it says is rather obvious.


I have been manifestly associated with Vedanta since 1961, but there is really no such thing as a beginning. As Swamiji had said, all efforts of all sentient beings are directed towards the same goal - wittingly or unwittingly.


One difference between the Saraswatis and the RK-Puris is that the former consider karma and upasana as preparatory and purifying, but not in themselves leading to realization: to the latter however, bhakti, karma, upasana and gnyana can all lead to realization. Indeed this is pointed out in the Bhagavad Gita 4:38.


Vedanta aligns and orients one’s existence. Whether or not one reaches realization, one does not have to wonder which way is up and which way is down, or which way is forward and which backwards, et cetera. One would like to progress from jivatma bhava ⇨ paramatma bhava ⇨ sarvatma bhava or perhaps as in the Bhagavad Gita 5:8-9.


I live in Fresno where 100°F in summer is occasion to thank the Divine for the cool temperature. I will be seventy five on the nineteenth instant. Robin Datta أوم نَمو بھگھاوتے راماکرشنایا

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