The Darsanmala, one of the last major works of Narayana Guru, contains 100 verses lucidly expressing the guru’s unitive vision expounding the core of Vedantic wisdom. Here, Guru Nitya Chaitanya Yati, using his deep scholarship in Western psychological thought, masterfully examines this wisdom from the psychological point of view to address basic questions of human psychology like how does one experience the world, the link between I, the experiencer, and that which is experienced and the way in which one can guide one’s actions. Referring to Western thinkers including Carl Jung, St John of the Cross and Kierkegaard, Guru Nitya Chaitanya Yati explores Narayana Guru’s absolutist vision to present insights into such items as consciousness, illusion, yoga, existence, awareness, consciousness and contemplative devotion and liberation. Referring to the thought and philosophy of Greek and other Western philosophers and ancient scriptures on Advaitic philosophy, the commentary, simple in language and easy to understand, incorporates the perspectives and vision derived from the author’s guru, Nataraja Guru, who had translated the entire poem Darsanamala into English.
Guru Nitya Chaitanya Yati (1924-199) is a sannyasi in the ancient Indian tradition who has imbibed and reinterpreted the most profound thoughts of the major philosophers of the East and the West. He has studied Indian and Western psychological thought deeply to come up with varied perspectives linking psychology to philosophy and spiritual tradition. He found his calling with the Narayana Gurukula, where he dedicated himself to the transmission and interpretation of the philosophy of Narayana Guru. His writings combine rare insight and profound wisdom with an uncanny ability to communicate in terms readily understood by all.
The Darana Mala, or Garland of Visions, was one of the last major works of Narayana Guru, and was dictated by him about 1916. His disciple Swami Vidyananda transcribed the dictation, ind made a short commentary of each verse.
Narayana Guru dictated the work in Sanskrit, but its original publication was in the Malayalam language. In 1948-49, Narayana &aru’s disciple and successor. Nataraja Guru, translated the entire ti into English. This was printed in 1976 in An Anthology of the Poems of Norayana Guru, published by the Narayana Gurukula In Varkala.
This English version is used as the basis for the present commentary by Guru Nitya Chaitanya Yati, Nataraja Guru’s successos as spiritual leader of the Narayana Gurukula. This volume thus t&dies the combined work of the three gurus of the Narayana gurukula.
Darsana Mala consists of 100 verses, divided into ten chapters I it: verses each. Each chapter is a vision, complete in itself, and forming part of the greater whole.
Darsana Mala is an exceedingly compact and lucid expression of narayana Guru’s unitive vision. Each chapter is a seed of word wisdom containing within it the potential of a full unfolding. The nature of that unfolding will naturally depend on the soil in which the seed is sown.
Owing to its seminal nature, Darsana Mdia can he approached Hr different points of view. Narayana Guru’s immediate successor Nataraja Guru, made Darsana Mala the core and structure own monumental three-volume English work, An grated Science of the Absolute.
At Narayana Gum’s behest, Nataraja Guru had been educated at the Sorbonne, where he studied under Henri Bergson and was immersed in the intellectual ferment of the new fields of quantum mathematics and relativity theory.
In his great commentary, Nataraja Guru reconciles and revalues the philosophical implications of the new Western physics by means of Darsana Mala. He demonstrates the synthesis between the mystical vision of his Guru and the scientific findings of the new physicists and mathematicians of the West. Nataraja Gum takes Darsana Mala from the philosophical and metaphysical point of view.
The present work, Psychology of Darsana Ma/a, is in the same tradition, Guru Nitya Chaitanya Yati examines this unitive wisdom from the point of view of psychology. Nitya uses his own profound familiarity with Western psychological thought to create a synthesis that is available to Western readers. In this volume, Narayana Guru’s uncompromisingly absolutist vision is expanded and amplified by reference to such diverse Western thinkers as Jung and St. John of the Cross, Kierkegaard and Lewis Carroll.
Nitya uses Darsana Mala to explore and answer fundamental questions of human psychology: How do I come to experience this world? What is the nature of the transaction between I who experience and that which is experienced? How can I guide my actions?
As in all Nitya’s works, Psychology of Darsana Mala is infused with his characteristic compassion for the student. His commentary and examination are never merely for the sake of intellectual fancy. His eye is always on direct realization of the unitive life, approached through the mind, but not grasped by it.
The Psychology of Darsanamala is the magnum opus of Nitya Chaitanya Yati, an increasingly well-regarded Vedantic philosopher and writer from South India. The work is presented as a commentary on the Darsanamala of Narayana Guru, one of modern India’s most brilliant mystic philosophers and poets. It was Guru who instructed Nataraja Guru, who on turn taught ma Chaitanya Yati, so there is a direct line of understanding ‘resented in this book.
The Psychology of Darsana mala is a thoroughgoing exposition s psychological states from the origin of individual consciousness its extinction in nirvana in the past, such large-scale undertakings have been to a greater or lesser extent heterogeneous and unsystematic. By using the elegant framework of Darsanamala to properly organize the structure of the book, Gum Nitya has added an important dimension to this perennial study and at the same time made a significant contribution to the presentation of Indian technology and philosophy. The reader will find that such a systematic presentation helps bring Indian philosophy out of the realm of hypothetical speculation and into the arena of everyday life D Dan be of immediate and practical use.
In the Spring of 1958, Nitya Chaitanya Yati was completing m P.D. thesis in social psychology at Bombay University. Just as je put the finishing touches on his work, entitled ‘The problem of adjustment in the physically handicapped’, his faculty guide moved to another university. The head of the Sociology Department had been rival of Nitya’s guide, in true scholastic fashion, and he proceeded to block his thesis presentation.
You cannot present your thesis without a guide he said.
Then you present it for me please requested nitya.
I cannot I was not your guide.
No the work is finished so you cannot have a guide.
While nitya was pondering and fuming over this catch-22 his spiritual teacher natarja guru come to visit him. In inimitable style rather than give sympathy he up braided his disciple.
“You have gotten all your information from American textbooks,” he said. “In ten years you will renounce all this borrowed knowledge.
It was almost exactly ten years later that Nitya, without his doctorate but now a Guru, perceiving many of the flaws of Western psychological technique, began formulating The Psychology of Darsanamala.
The genius of the West has traditionally been expressed in an analytic methodology, developed in the ancient physical sciences. This has carried over into the modem field of psychology, where its application is more dubious than, for instance, in the categorization of animal species. A proper conception of the mind in toto is very much needed. Thousands of psychological studies are produced annually, painstakingly detailed and with great inner cohesion, but they fail to satisfy us because they do not belong to a meaningful picture of the psyche. They only depict isolated units of behaviour. ‘What’ is described from every possible angle, while the more fundamental question of ‘why’ is studiously avoided.
The process of breaking the subject down into smaller and smaller parts through analysis has led to such specialization by individuals that almost all of Western civilization is deeply dissociated from an integral understanding of the whole. The situation is aptly described in the classic story of the blind men and the elephant, where each imagines that he can accurately project the nature of the beast from the part he is in contact with, while disdaining the suggestions of a sighted person who can plainly see it is an elephant.
In India and some other parts of Asia the situation is the reverse. Intelligent thinkers have been contemplating the ‘big picture” for more than 5000 years, resulting in well-systematized schemes of synthetic, rather than analytic, reasoning. In contrast to the specialists in the West, every Indian is a philosopher, though often at the expense of everyday details. While the West is full of excellent plumbers who are unhappily divorced from their spirituality, India has an abundance of happily integrated people whose plumbing is permanently in a state of chaos.
While the twentieth century has seen some cross-pollination between the analytic and synthetic extremes, they generally remain entrenched as the rival polarized camps of materialism and spiritualism. Narayana Guru and his principal expositors, Nataraja Guru and Guru Nitya, maintain that the most beneficial attitude is one that combines the best of both in a dynamic conception. In the present work the common root where the material and spiritual worlds join is examined in some detail. In fact, the dialectical integration of the conceptual and the practical underlies the entire study of Darsanamala.
In much of Narayana Guru’s work, and especially Darsanamala, there is a fusion of the best of modem scientific understanding with the traditional wisdom of India’s ancient seers. This is in keeping with the purpose of a long line of Vedãntic revaluators, as humanity evolves there is a periodic need to restate the basic truths of life the a form that is relevant and comprehensible to the thought patterns of a particular age. In Vedanta this is taken as a matter of course. There is a proud tradition of revaluation stretching back to the Upanishads The Bhagavad Gita, written around 1000 BC, s an early and important example, and its continuing relevance K such that it is cited throughout the present work Sankara revalued Vedãnta in the context of the world of the first millennium I AD. and Narayana Guru should be considered among the most important revaluators of the present era The verticality of truths such that Narayana Guru could modestly state, “what we have to say is what Sankara said.” Or, as Nataraja Guru puts it with reference to the particular needs of the age of reason, “Narayana Guru has been able to state the gist of ancient Indian wisdom tradition in a manner lending itself to be integratively understood a unified fashion.” The Psychology of Darsanamala is the distillation of this modern restatement of Vedäntic values into the specific c of psychology. Still, since mind as viewed here is the source I the entire universe insofar as it is knowable, psychology is a a± broader subject in the Indian context than it is in the West, where mind is considered to be just one subject among thousands of independent categories.
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