The Vedas are the foundational sacred
texts revealed by Paramatma (God) to the ancient rishis. Thereafter the Upanishads, Dharma Shastras, Agamas, Puranas, Itihasas and many other texts have formed the corpus of
India's spiritual wisdom, enriching and
enlightening the Hindus for several millennia.
Hinduism has a long-standing tradition of
divine incarnations and spiritual gurus who have re-established and disseminated Vedic knowledge. When the esoteric knowledge of
and Upanishads became accessible to the masses in the form of the Puranas, there
surge in faith and devotional worship in India. Then the acharyas, Shankaracharya, Ramanujacharya
and others, gave new interpretations and philosophies based on the Upanishads, Brahmasutras and Gita. Thereafter, the saint-poets
of India gave impetus to the bhakti movement.
Thus the vast canvas of Hinduism, with all its
denominations, practices, wisdom and celebrations, provides a fascinating and vibrant
ringside view and experience to countless spiritual
aspirants. Hinduism is appealing because of its plurality and contemporariness.
More than 200 years ago Bhagwan Swaminarayan, a torchbearer of Hinduism and the founder
of the Swaminarayan Sampradaya, endeavored in promoting morality and the
spiritual practices of the Vaishnava tradition in Gujarat. He delivered the
spiritual truths in a down-to-earth yet profound manner to his disciples. His
discourses were compiled into a sacred text called the Vachanamrut (divine nectar of words), that is
acknowledged as the distillation of the Hindu sacred texts. The logical
answers, illuminating analogies, appropriate metaphors and divine revelations in the Vachanamrut provide philosophical and practical answers to seekers
Truth from Under a Tree deals with the Vachanamrut, featuring the personality of Shriji Maharaj and the various subjects he explored and
revealed. The author, Sadhu Snehmunidas, elaborates on Shriji Maharaj's clarity of scriptural knowledge, sadhana, and
insightful interpretations and definitions; emphasis on purity in
speech, action and thought and in being
vigilant of bad company (kusang) and dishonesty; divinity as the Supreme God, and
as an ideal guide and spiritual mentor. Shriji Maharaj also exhorts the audience to listen to discourses (shravan), reflect upon them (manan) and repeatedly recall them (nididhyas) as requisites to realization (sakshatkar). Sadhu Snehmunidas has persevered intensely in making this book
possible for teenagers and youths. This publication will enable the satsangi youths to understand and appreciate the teachings of Bhagwan Swaminarayan and help them in resolving the root causes of the superficial and profound
problems of life. We congratulate Sadhu Snehmunidas
for his hard work and
meticulousness in producing this important publication, and pray to Bhagwan Swaminarayan
and H.H. Pramukh Swami Maharaj to shower their blessings upon him.
The oldest prayer known to
civilization is also the most popular prayer in Hindu Dharma. It says: "Lead us from
falsehood to truth, from darkness to light, from death to immortality."
Darkness symbolizes falsehood and death. Light symbolizes truth and
immortality. In life, we try to practice, promote, and pray for
truth. We repeatedly consider abstaining from the false, and associating with
the truth. This, in a nutshell, is our life's struggle - To speak the truth, understand the
truth, and live the truth. Our life's purpose is to decrease the frequency of
that which is false, and also, increase the frequency of truth. The word truth stems from the word tree. Hence, the wise people of India practiced and prayed
for their search of truth, in the forest, under a tree.
Similarly, Bhagwan Swaminarayan(also known as Shriji Maharaj) customarily talks from under a tree. He speaks of the truth, he reveals the
truths of life, and he even explains the five eternal truths. Shriji Maharaj (or Maharaj) shares this truth, as it was
shared over ten thousand years ago in the Vedas and Upanishads - from
under a tree. Maharaj usually speaks from under a neem-tree, known as a 'limbdo' in the
Gujarati language. This ancient tree is popularly known as a herbal gem of Ayurvedic quality in the land of India. The
famous limbdo is also the
metaphorical place, from where we can stretch our spiritual limbs. Maharaj's guidance from under the limbdo is the sunlight that can stretch our personal vision of the
truth, and also the water that can strengthen us to reach for the truth.
The pages that follow are a humble
baby step towards introducing today's youth to the Vachanamrut
- the spiritual discourses of Bhagwan Swaminarayan. We hope
that this book helps plant, within your heart, the seed of an enjoyable learning
experience of the Vachanamrut's glory. We also hope
that this seed germinates to inspire you to read and realize the truth in Maharaj's words.
We would like to thank the people, who
helped nourish and nurture the fruition of Truth
From Under a Tree: First and Foremost, 'Maharaj, every time I
read your words, they open my eyes to a clear vision of the truth. Thank you
for speaking them, and thank you gifting us with a guru who lives them - my beloved
guru, His Holiness Pramukh Swami Maharaj'. 'Bapa, your love has shown me truth. I have felt your blessings and guidance gushing through
my veins, every time I sat down to write. One life is too short to repay you, but please accept my pranams nonetheless.'
Pujya Ishwarcharan Swami, 'You planted the seeds for this project in 2003, and you also helped
ensure the healthy completion of this book. Pranams.' Pujya Brahmadarshan Swami, 'This book is actually an off-shoot from your Vachanamrut Rahasya
series. Many of the concepts have been used to water the completion of Truth From
Under a Tree. Thank you.'
Pujya Vivekjivan Swami, 'You have repeatedly become flexible when I flexed my immature writing limbs, to ensure the finished fruit of this product tastes just right. Thank you.'
Pujya Amrutvijay Swami, 'My appreciations for your hard work in
preparing an Index to the book.'
Jay Parel of Chicago, Thanks for staying up all night to photo-symhesyze those cool boxes, even when you didn't have to.' Akshar
Patel of Chicago, Thanks for all your help in editing, and picking up
Prakash Suthar of
Ahmedabad, 'You are amazing. Your limber skills
and rooted patience have
helped produce the visual appeal of this final product.' And everyone else who I was nagging with questions, in my search for
direction; in my search for light; in my search of the truth.
Thank you, one and all. Pranams.
Once again, this book is, by no means, the complete truth. It is just a tip of the
iceberg. If I have slipped in any manner, on any page, in providing the truth, please forgive
me, and hopefully my mistake can even shed light for your spiritual
journey to the truth.
Finally, my prayers are with all those who read Bhagwan Swaminarayan's guidance. May we all learn to lovingly trust his words, which, in turn, will help us, help each other, take baby-steps towards the truth.
Wake-up and smell the spiritual cocoa-beans.
Welcome to the world of spirituality.
Ayurveda and Yoga, vegetarianism and meditation, are all becoming popular, healthy
options these days. Spirituality has seeped its way into homes and hospitals,
even Silicon Valley and sporting events. Until recently, spirituality has been
overlooked as an exciting ingredient of life. During the last couple of decades
though, interest in spirituality has matured with the maturing mind-set of
collective individuals. People are noticing spirituality makes a difference in
dozens of enjoyable ways.
With spirituality, come symbols. Even
before the time of the dinosaurs, spiritual symbols and metaphors have been,
and still are, used to depict an idea - both simple and profound. A common
language of symbols and metaphors contain the capacity to transcend religions
and regions. Spiritual texts embrace a hidden layer of meaning; a concealed
message that is sometimes veiled in symbols and metaphor, parable and
allegory. Similarly, during our quest to dive deeper into spirituality, we're going to
try and understand the Vachanamrut while referring to
the metaphor of a library.
Yes. You must be thinking, 'A library? Boring'. Agreed just bear with me! The character of
Professor Langdon in Dan Brown's novel, The Lost Symbol', states: 'Misunderstanding a culture's
symbols is a common root of prejudice'. So let's not pre-judge this
library-metaphor as scrap and send it to the shredder just yet. Symbols are
meant to be universal and learnt through experience. Try and keep your mind
open to any idea and close to none. As a result, you will find the fresh
fruits of knowledge and inspiration within arms reach.
Of course, any metaphor, pushed to the
limit can even end up contradicting itself; which is also probably the case for the
one we've chosen - 'a library'. But like any metaphor or symbol, it has been
chosen to better understand an abstract idea by explaining it in a tangible way.
Introduction: Rebirth of Spirituality and
BRANCH 1 - 'WELCOME! TO THE
LEAF 1: THE
Beyond the Choice: Understanding the
Shastras: The Root of All Knowledge
Let's Find a Librarian
BRANCH 2 - CREDIBLE LIBRARIAN
OF THIS INCREDIBLE
LEAF 2: MAHARAJ'S
Teachings Mirror the Vedic Library
Experiences Mirror the Vedic Library
Stability in Philosophy Amidst the Whirlwind
Stability in Sadhana Amidst
the Pull of Personal
The Classics of the Library
Crisp and Concise Definitions
LEAF 3: MAHARA;'S
The SAT of Integrity - Oneness of Speech,
Action, and Thought
'Hot Off the Presses: It's Purity; Get it Now'
Poof! 'You Are Now Pure.' - Power to Purify
A Life of Selfless Sacrifice
Words Rooted in Selflessness
This Librarian Works 24-7: Passion - Purity's Progeny
Rain or Shine, This Librarian's Mood Is Always
Passion + Patience = Selflessness
Care and Concern Are Key - Empathy
'Proceed with Caution'
May Be Hazardous to
The Toughest Pill to Swallow
Approach to Reproach
Empathy Averts Apathy
Empathy Endorses Excellence
Sounding the Alarm
Alarms Without Aversion
Penalty for Impurity
Penance for Impurity
LEAF 4: MAHARAJ's DIVINITY
Radioactive waste – Maya
to Recognize a Jivan-Mukta
Say What? - Apparent Divergence
The Greatest Guide - God
BRANCH 3 - CRACKING THE COOL LIBRARIAN CONUNDRUM
LEAF 5: LIFETIME MEMBERS OF THE LIBRARY
From the Editor's Desk - Nothing but Honesty
Four of the Foremost
Lack of Knowledge
To Cover-up or Not to Cover-up, That Is the Question
Congregation of Connoisseurs – Quality
Answers on the Counter Please, I Would Like to Counter-Question
Hungry for Progress
Hello there Stranger, Welcome!
Presence Is the Present – Sanctity
Presence of Sanctification
LEAF 6: THE ART OF ARTICULATION
A Pro at Prose – Proficiency
Variety Is the Spice of Life
Catering to Diversity
New Taste, Old Recipe - 'Am I Reading the Upanishads?'
Comfort Is the Key to Knowledge
LEAF 7: 'I'VE NEVER HAD SO MUCH FUN IN A LIBRARY'
BRANCH 4 - 'THE
LIBRARIAN HELPED ANSWER ALL MY QUESTIONS'
LEAF 8: LIFE-COACH
Reading to Apply,
Not Supply - Practicality
Our Questions, Maharaj's Answers
The Tree of Validity - Summary
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