Tuesday December 12, 2017

Cairn India to merge into Vedanta



New Delhi: Industrialist Anil Agarwal on Sunday announced the merger of his two group companies, the oil and gas exploration major Cairn India into the natural resources arm Vedanta Ltd. Cairn shareholders will get one equity and one redeemable preference share of Vedanta.

The transaction is intended to be completed by the first quarter of 2016, the group said.

“The merger of Cairn India and Vedanta Ltd consolidates our position as India’s leading diversified natural resources champion, uniquely positioned to support India’s economic growth,” chairman Agarwal said.

“The independent Directors, at both Vedanta and Cairn India, unanimously recommend the proposed combination. This marks a significant step towards achieving our stated long term vision of a simplified group structure with alignment of interests between all shareholders for the creation of long term sustainable value.”

The group, in a filing with stock exchanges on Sunday, said the strategy remains unchanged to continue focus on delivering attractive growth, sustainable development, long-term value for shareholders and to sustain strong dividend distribution.

“Approximately 752 million of each of equity shares and redeemable preference shares will be issued to the minority shareholders of Cairn India by Vedanta Limited pursuant to the merger,”it said, adding: “No shares will be issued to Vedanta Limited or any of its subsidiaries for their shareholding in Cairn India.”

Vedanta Limited itself was created with the merger of Sesa Goa, Sterlite and Vedanta Aluminium.


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Core of Hinduism: Know about the Concepts of Vedanta Philosophy

Vedanta goes on to assert that beneath this outward changing lies a fundamental reality which is supreme, called Brahman

Wikimedia Commons, Vedanta
Wikimedia Commons
  • Main concepts of Vedanta- the first is human’s real nature is divine and the second concept is that the aim of human life is to realise this divinity
  • Brahman is designated by Advaitins as saccidananda: as “being” (sat), “consciousness” (cit), and “bliss” (ananda)
  • Brahman, for Advaita Vedanta, is a name for that fullness of being which is the “tranquillity” of non-dualistic spiritual experience

Vedanta philosophy or Uttara Mimamsa is the orthodox philosophy of Hinduism. It has two main concepts. The first is human’s real nature is divine and the second concept is that the aim of human life is to realise this divinity. Vedanta goes on to assert that beneath this outward changing lies a fundamental reality which is supreme, called Brahman.

The Hindu scriptural tradition is quite remarkable for its size and diversity;not only are there a very large number of works designated as revelation,but the specific content of these works varies greatly. In order to make this vast body of literature more manageable, it was necessary for theologians to summarise and reconcile the many different theological doctrines found in scripture. Within the Hindu tradition, the task developed into a separate field of theological writing, known as Mimamsa, mentioned the Hinduism expert Subhamoy Das in hinduism.about.com.

The Mimamsa tradition developed along the two lines that stand out in varying degrees of conflict and conformity throughout the Hindu tradition, namely the distinction between Karma (or dharma) and jnana or action and knowledge as the means of liberation. From this tradition came two Mimamsa-type works, the Kalpa Sutras, which were concise descriptions of the Brahmanical sacrifices, and the Purva Mimamsa Sutras, which summarised the doctrines and principles behind the sacrificial tradition. Uttara Mimamsa represented a systematisation of jnana Kanda and drew its texts primarily from the Upanisads and Aranyaka portion of the Brahmans.

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Knowledge of Real-Self

The hinduism.about.com mentioned, in the age of scepticism and materialism, few people care to know their real Self, which is divine and eternal. But the knowledge of the true Self has always been the principal theme of Vedanta philosophy. Upanishads, which form portions of the Vedic Scriptures, discovered and taught that knowledge of self-lies at the root of all knowledge, whether science, philosophy or religion. Every sincere seeker after knowledge , hence, who aspire intellectual, moral or spiritual development, must first learn to distinguish between spirit and matter, soul and body, and then realise the all-knowing spiritual Self who is the eternal foundation of the universe.

Advaita Vedanta

Advaita means oneness. According to the scriptural approach, the Advaitic thinking can be condensed into three concise statements: Brahman is non-dual; the world is a delusion; (Atman) which is immortal is not different from reality (Brahman).

SwansCygnus olor.jpg
The swan is an important motif in Advaita, Image source: Wikimedia Commons

Brahman is designated by Advaitins as saccidananda: as “being” (sat), “consciousness” (cit), and “bliss” (ananda).

Being (sat)- point to the ontological principle of unity, to the oneness not constituted of parts, to the existential sun stratum of all subjects and objects. Brahman is experienced as pure unqualified being. In fact, it alone truly “exists” – which means that manner of being is not comparable to the supposes existence of anything else.

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Consciousness(cit) indicates to the principle of awareness which informs being and which is, for the Advaitin, an unchanging witness of our being.Brahman experience is an illuminating experience; it is a state of conscious enlightenment.

Bliss (Ananda) indicates to the principle of value; to the fact that Brahman-experience is ecstatic and nullify all partial value in its incomparable splendour.

Advaita Vedanta distinguishes two aspects or modes of Brahman, nirguna, and saguna. Nirguna Brahman: a Brahman without qualities is just that transcendent interminate state of being about which ultimately nothing can be affirmed. Saguna Brahman: a Brahman with qualities, is Brahman as interpreted and affirmed by the mind from its necessarily limited standpoint.

Overall: Brahman, for Advaita Vedanta, is a name for that fullness of being which is the “tranquillity” of non-dualistic spiritual experience: an experience in which all distinctions between object are shattered and in which all distinctions between subjects objects are shattered and in which remains only pure unqualified “oneness”.

–  by Akanksha Sharma of NewsGram. Twitter: Akanksha4117


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Self-Enquiry leads to Self-Realization

Photo: vividlife.me

Gleanings from Hindu Scriptures- Part 13

In the previous installments, we dealt with the questions: What is God? Where is God? And How to attain God? It was shown how God permeates the Universe and exists in the Hearts of all creatures as their Innermost Atman. It was further shown how, the only way to attain Brahman i.e. Moksha (liberation) was through Atma-Jnana (self-realization).

Now, let us see how to attain this realization of Atman.

People strongly identify themselves with their body and name and the sense of ‘I’ and ‘Mine’ is very strong in them. People introduce themselves using their name, their gender, location, age, etc. They consider the house, the family, the money they have earned as belonging to them. This strong sense of ‘I-ness’ (Ahamkara) and ‘Mine-ness’ (Mamahkara) defines one’s identity.

But, this identity of Self with the body is not a real identity, instructs the scriptures. These are all only temporary identities superimposed on Atman that have arisen due to Avidya (ignorance) about the real nature of the Self. Adi Shankaracharya in his Nirvana Shatkam clearly says, he is not the body, mind, or Causal state. Instead, he is Atman whose nature is Knowledge-Bliss.

The Upanishads repeatedly instruct through Mahavakyas (Great Sentences) like “Tat Tvam Asi” (Thou Art That) and “Aham Bahmasmi” (Self is Brahman) that the true identity of Self is that it is Brahman and not body and mind. Therefore, the realization of Atman (Atma-Jnana) constitutes removal of false identifications of the Self with the body, so that Atman can shine in its true nature without obstructions.

So, the question arises how to attain this Self? How to remove the false identifications? In the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad (2.4.5), Yajnavalkya instructs Maitreyi thus:

ātmā vā are dṛṣtavyaḥ śrotravyo mantavyo nididhyāsitavyo maitreyi

ātmano vā are darśanena śravaṇena matyā vijñānenedaṃ sarvaṃ viditam ||

Translation: The Self, oh Maitreyi, should be perceived/realized- should be heard, reflected, and meditated/contemplated upon. By realization of the Self through hearing, reflection, and meditation, all this is known.

Thus, the path to attain Atma-Jnana has four stages and this is referred as ‘Sravana chatushtaya’ in Vedanta. The four stages are: Sravana (hearing), Manana (reflection), Nidhidhyasa (Meditation on Self), and the fourth stage is Self-realization itself (Atma-Jnana).

Sravana refers to listening to the teachings of the Upanishads and Mahavakyas from a Guru. After, a student has listened to these teachings, the next stage is about internalizing those teachings. This is done through Manana. The student reflects upon the teachings again and again until, his doubts are cleared. He may even ask his teacher for clarification.

The sustained Manana results in a clarity in the mind regarding the teachings of the scriptures. But, this clarity or understanding is only intellectual or theoretical. To convert this indirect knowledge into direct realization (Aparoksha), one must then practice Nidhidhyasa or meditation on the teachings of the scriptures. This meditation is usually done on the essence of Mahavakyas.

It is important to note that, this Nidhidhyasa is different from mere reflection or thinking about the meaning of a verse. Nidhidhyasa is also different from Dhyana, which is usually translated as meditation. This Nidhidhyasa is actually what Adi Shankara or Ramana Maharshi call as “Vichara” (Self-Enquiry).

The Self-Enquiry or Niddhidhyasa consists in a person contemplating on the identity of Atman and Brahman, by slowly transcending the false identification with the body and mind. This may even involve the practice of Dharana (concentration on an object) and Dhyana (meditation on the object) of Yoga. In Yoga, the mind is further allowed to still itself, so that the Atman as a subject alone shines forth.

But, by Niddhidhyasa, the student goes one step further. By contemplating on Atman as being non-different from Brahman, the student after stilling the mind goes beyond the state of the subject.

This direct realization of the Non-dual Atman who is beyond the duality of subject-object is called as Atma-Jnana. And this Jnana then liberates (Moksha) such a person.

Therefore, without this self-inquiry, no amount of study of scriptures, or practice of Yoga postures will lead to Self-realization because the theoretical understanding of the scriptures or Yoga postures cannot remove false identifications. Only when the mind stilled, and the duality of subject and object is dissolved, the true nature of Atman is revealed. Thus, self-inquiry alone leads to Self-realization.

More in this segment:
Gleanings from Hindu Scriptures- Part 1
Gleanings from Hindu Scriptures- Part 2
Gleanings from Hindu Scriptures- Part 3
Gleanings from Hindu Scriptures- Part 4
Gleanings from Hindu Scriptures- Part 5
Gleanings from Hindu Scriptures- Part 6
Gleanings from Hindu Scriptures- Part 7
Gleanings from Hindu Scriptures- Part 8
Gleanings from Hindu Scriptures – Part 9
Gleanings from Hindu Scriptures – Part 10
Gleanings from Hindu Scriptures – Part 11
Gleanings from Hindu Scriptures – Part 12

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Chinmaya Mission: Carrying forward Swami Chinmayananda’s legacy


Hinduism is a Dharma-centric religion and tradition that stands on the firm foundation of Vedanta philosophy. The teachings of Vedanta are universal in nature and eternally applicable to every person irrespective of class, race, or gender identity.

These teachings of Vedanta, which were once confined to Patshalas (traditional schools) and particular Guru Paramparas (lineages), are now widely available in a simple language to common people everywhere, thanks to the continued efforts of various teachers and organizations.

One such organization which is foremost in spreading Vedanta all around the world is Chinmaya Mission, founded in 1953 under the guidance of late Swami Chinmayananda.

Swami Chinmayananda was a spiritual master and a teacher of Advaita Vedanta, who was inducted into the monastic order by Swami Sivananda of Divine Life Society. He was a dynamic teacher who authored more than 95 books, including insightful commentaries on the Upanishads and the Bhagavad Gita.

In 1951, when Swami Chinmayananda left Himalayas on an India-wide tour, he realized that there was a need to spread the teachings of the Upanishads to common masses. As a result, he started his first Jnana-Yajna sessions (lecture series) in December 1951.

In 1953, after a session of Jnana-Yajna held at Madras, some devotees expressed their intention to form study-groups for studying and discussing various aspects of Vedanta. Thus, the Chinmaya Mission was set up, under the guidance of Swami Chinmayananda.

Today, Chinmaya Mission has around 325 centers in 25 countries, including India, UK, USA, Canada, South Africa, UAE, Bahrain, Sri Lanka, Trinidad, Indonesia and France. It conducts a large number of activities that range from conducting Vedanta courses and Indological research to rural development, and imparting education.

Speaking to NewsGram through email, Manisha Khemlani, the Chief Operating Officer of Central Chinmaya Mission Trust (CCMT) said: “Every activity undertaken by Chinmaya Mission is guided by the vision and mission of our founder and inspiration, Swami Chinmayananda. Our Mission Statement reads, ‘To provide to individuals from any background, the wisdom of Vedanta and the practical means for spiritual growth and happiness, enabling them to become positive contributors to society.’ To put it in a nutshell, every activity we undertake seeks to give maximum happiness to maximum people for maximum time.”

The mission has established various Vedanta institutes which exclusively focus on imparting teachings of the Upanishads and the Advaita Vedanta. The very first Vedanta institute ‘Sandeepany Sadhanalaya’ was established at Powai, Mumbai in 1963. Today Sandeepany institutes (as the Vedanta institutes are called) are present in Kolhapur, Sidhbari in Himalayas, Piercy in Northern California, Prayag, Kasaragod in Kerala, Coimbatore in Tamil Nadu, and Chokkahalli in Karnataka.

When asked about the significance behind naming all Vedanta institutes as ‘Sandeepany’, Khemlani said: “They were named after Rishi Sandeepany who was the guru of Sri Krishna. Swami Chinmayananda has said that ‘Sandeepany’ symbolizes the kindling of Perfection in the hearts of men.”

Chinmaya Mission offers various courses related to Hinduism in general and Vedanta in particular. A two year residential course is offered at the Vedanta institutes for graduates (both unmarried and married). The course curriculum includes teaching of Sanskrit, Vedic chanting, Bhagavad Gita, Upanishads, Brahma-Sutras, and also the Prakarana Granthas (Instruction books) of Adi Shankaracharya.

Regarding the medium of instruction used in Vedanta institutes, Khemlani said that in Sandeepany Mumbai the courses are taught in English, whereas they are taught in Hindi in Sandeepani Sidhbari and in regional languages in other institutes.

Chinmaya mission also conducts basic and advanced postal and e-courses on Vedanta both of which has a duration of 1 year. A simple course on various aspects of Dharma and Vedanta is taught in ‘Dharma Sevak Course’. The mission also conducts a ‘Purohita Course’ to train priests in the intricacies of Hindu rituals. The course trains students in the Vedas, Agni-Karya (fire ritual), Upasana (worship), Homa (fire worship) and other aspects of ritual worship.

Apart from teaching Vedanta and ritual worship, the mission also conducts a one-year ‘Youth Empowerment Program’ that addresses youth issues and trains youngsters to find solutions of those issues.

imageAnother sector where the mission has made enormous contribution is education. It had started its first school in 1965 in Kerala. Now there are eighty-one ‘Chinmaya Vidyalayas’ across India in states like Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Odisha, and Uttar Pradesh. The mission also inaugurated its first school outside India in 2003 in Trinidad. It also runs 7 colleges across India.

The mission has also founded ‘Chinmaya Organization of Rural Development (CORD)’ for the purpose of integrated and sustainable development of rural and underprivileged communities. It’s activities include health awareness camps, vocational trainings, Balwadis for teaching small children, literacy drives, and forming Mahila Mandals (women’s groups) and self-help groups among others.

To carry out research into Sanskrit, Hindu scriptures and Indology, Chinmaya Mission established ‘Chinmaya International Foundation (CIF)’ in 1990. The center is mandated to study and disseminate knowledge in areas of Indian philosophy, culture, art, and science.

They have conducted numerous seminars and workshops in various aspects of Indology and have published various research papers and books. They also conduct online and postal courses in Sanskrit Grammar, Vedanta, Bhagavad Gita, and Vedic mathematics. This November, the foundation is conducting an ‘International Conference on the Contribution of Advaita Vedanta to Humanity’ in Pune as part of the birth centenary celebrations of Swami Chinmayananda.

Chinmaya Mission has made enormous contributions in the field of health as well. It has established ‘Chinmaya Mission Hospital (CMH)’ and ‘Chinmaya Institute of Nursing (CHIN)’ in Karnataka to provide quality health facilities. In order to promote Indian art and culture, the mission started Chinmaya Naada Bindu in 2009, in Kolwan, near Pune. It currently teaches Hindustani Vocal, Hindustani Flute, Bharatanatyam, and Tabla.

Apart from this, Chinmaya Mission is also involved in numerous centers and activities that target infants (Shishu Vihar), children (Balvihar), youth (Chinmaya Yuva Kendra), middle aged (Setukari), and the old-aged people (Chinmaya Vanaprastha). It also conducts various study groups, and spiritual camps like ‘Jnana Yajnas’ to spread spiritual awareness among people.

This session, i.e. 2015-2016, the mission is celebrating a year-long Birth Centenary Celebrations (BCC) of spreading the message of Swami Chinmayananda. Khemlani said: “It is also our way of expressing gratitude for all the he has done. This is encapsulated in the motto of BCC – Unto Him, Our Best.”

The year-long activities include global level projects as well as grassroots level programs. The celebrations were launched in Ernakulam, Kerala, by former President of India, Late Dr APJ Abdul Kalam on May 6, 2015. One of the activities that the mission has taken up is “Chinmaya Jyoti”- an eternal flame that will be taken across the country and later it will be placed in their Vision Centre – Chinmaya Vibhooti, Kolwan, to serve as a source of inspiration for every seeker.

imageAnother activity that they have taken up as part of BCC is the screening of an inspirational movie on the life of Swami Chinmayananda titled “On a Quest.” The movie traces the journey, the struggle, and the self-discovery of Balakrishna Memon who later became Swami Chinmayananda.

In Chicago, USA the movie was first screened in May 2015, which was also attended by the team members of NewsGram. The screening saw overwhelming responses from the audience. Dr. Munish Raizada of Chicago said: “Swami Chinmayananda is an example of how a one man army can transform the lives of millions of people. Today, Chinmaya Mission is playing a pivotal role in bringing Indian culture closer to the hearts of children, particularly outside India. Chinmaya Mission centers are living examples of Indian culture, traditions, and religion, particularly geared towards teaching children. This is a great biopic and more and more people should actually see it to understand his inspiring life.”

Following the huge success of its first screening, the Chinmaya Mission is now organizing another screening of the movie on October 24 in Chicago.

Other important activities being carried out as part of BCC include the International Geeta Chanting Competition and the distribution of two booklets, one on the life and vision of Swami Chinmayananda and the other on the activities of the Chinmaya Mission. The mission is distributing the booklets free of cost and hopes to reach around 40 lakh people using these booklets. Government of India also released two commemorative coins of Rs 10 and Rs 100 on May 8, 2015, as a tribute to the contributions of Swami Chinmayananda to the nation.

Swami Chinmayananda has inspired millions of people to turn away from materialism and become spiritually dedicated. He was one of the foremost guide, leader, and teacher of Hinduism in the last century.

Chinmaya Mission has successfully managed to carry forward his legacy by transforming the lives of millions of people in India as well as abroad through its initiatives in the fields of Vedanta, art, culture, education, health, and self-sustenance. The mission has further succeeded in placing Vedanta and other Hindu spiritual practices on a global map.