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Right Understanding.


May He, the Lord of the Universe, the Great Seer, the Terror of evil

The Originator and Sustainer of heavenly beings

Who created the cosmic being in the beginning

Endow us with salutary understanding.

(Sv.U. III:4)


May the effulgent Supreme Being

Who, though one and undiversified and self-fulfilled

Creates innumerable forms in the beginning by His manifold powers

And reabsorbs the universe at the end

Endow us with salutary understanding.

(Sv. U. IV:11)


An essential requisite in life is right understanding.

We need this inner light to see the way in all circumstances. In this world of duality, good and evil, right and wrong, truth and falsehood are so intermixed that a clear understanding is indispensable for a right choice at each and every step of life.

Through it, we can view things in the true perspective and appraise them correctly. It enables us to distinguish non-essential, the primary and the secondary, the Real and the unreal.

Thus, it prevents confusion and infuses conviction in us. With this inner eye open, we feel we walk in the light.


A person may have wealth and position without being able to use them judiciously for lack of right understanding; rather there is every chance of his losing them by unwise measures.

On the other hand, a man having no rank or power can rise to the heights of glory by the exercise of right understanding. Even when all external resources fail, the right understanding alone can guide us out of all difficulties and dangers.

It teaches us how to make necessary adjustments in all conditions. It exhorts us to be at our best in each and every situation. There is no obstacle which cannot be overcome, no problem which cannot be solved, no plight from which there is no escape, when we can read the situation aroght with a clear understanding and a well-balanced mind.


Right understanding develops when the mind is purified. It is the same as pure intellect. It does not function unless the mind is calm. Mental purity and calmness go together.

Moral impurity blurs our vision and prevents us from seeing things in their true light. Even if by some means, we come to know the right course, we are not able to pursue it as long as the wrong tendencies previal in us.

As it often happens, emotions like anger, pride, greed, jealousy, hatred, fear, and lust unbalance the mind, overpower will and hoodwink reason.


So when we pray to God for right understanding, we should at the same time try our utmost to be pure in thought, speech, and deed, and pray to Him to help us be so.

Prayers are readily responded to only when we are sincere, when we make the best use of our existing capacities howsoever limited they may be.

Whatever resources God has already provided us with, we must utilize fully before we ask for more, "Heaven helps those that help themselves" is not a saying without meaning.


We have to pray to God. With all our weaknesses, how can we depend soley on ourselves?

Try howsoever we may, self-effort alone proves inadequate for our upliftment.

  • Can the bound free themselves?
  • Can the blind be their own guides?

After continuous struggle and repeated failures we realize more than ever how weak we are, how strong is our attachment to sense-life, how deep-seated are the passions and propensities in us. To eradicate them seems to be beyond mortal power.

Then we feel the absolute need of divine help, guidance and grace. Then we pray to God with all sincerity and humility.


We surrender ourselves to Him, yet our efforts do not cease. We struggle, depending on His grace for success.

Who but the all-loving, all-merciful Maker and Ruler of the Universe can forgive our faults, make us free from all sins and vices, and lead us in His path amidst the allurements of life?

Who but the all-seeing Supreme Being can endow us with the inner vision to see the Light in this world of darkness and dellusion?

Who but the ever-free, ever-pure, omnipotent Lord can remove all our bondages, miseries, and delusions and make us eternally free, pure, and perfect?


Right understanding is a rare gift of God. As it develops, the light of Truth dawns upon us. We learn to discriminate between the eternal and the evanescent, the real and the unreal, the relative and the absolute.

Eventually, we know God alone is real; He alone exists in the true sense. It is His reality that makes everything real. He who is pure Existence-Knowledge-Bliss, is the the one substance of all changing forms, the one all-pervasive Self of the manifold universe. In Him alone is true life, true lightm true peace, true freedom.


With true understanding we seek God and God alone. We pray to Him, we worship Him, not for material treasures and joys, here or hereafter, but for divine love and wisdom. We crave His direct vision. We love Him alone. Whatever else we love, we love for Him and through Him. Our entire life centers in Him. We think about Him, we talk about Him, we work for Him, we live for Him.


Of such devotees of God, Sri Krishna speaks thus:


With their minds wholly in Me, with their life absorbed in Me

Enlightening one another and always speaking of Me

They obtain satisfaction and delight.

To them, ever devout and worshipping Me with love

I give the spiritual insight by which they come to Me.

Out of mere compassion for them, I, abiding in their hearts

By the shining lamp of knowledge

Destroy the darkness born of ignorance.

(B.G. X:9-11)


The "shining lamp of knowledge" which removes all ignorance and reveals God, is the spiritual intuition into which the right understanding bestowed upon us by Him develops through His grace. Shankaracharys gives a graphic description of this lamp of knowledge in his commentary on the passage quoted above.


The lamp of knowledge characterized by discriminatory intellect, fed by the oil of pure devotion, fanned by the air of absorbing thoughts on Me, furnished with the wick of insight, evolved by the cultivation of continence and other virtues, held in the receptacle of the heart free from worldliness, placed in the wind-sheltered enclosure of the mind withdrawn from sense-objects and untainted by attachment and aversion, shining with the light of right knowledge produced by the incessant practice of earnest meditation.


Think that a ray of the Divine Sun shining in the spiritual firmament has entered into your heart in the form of right understanding and lighted the "shining lamp of knowledge" which is removing all darkness and delusions from within you and revealing Him as the all-pervasive light of pure Consciousness.

Meditate on this ocean of effulgent Bliss existing within you, around you, above you, below you and permeating you through and through, until you feel you are one with That.



That vast self-luminous, inconceivable Being

Subtler than the subtle, shines in various forms.

That is farther than the farthest and also near, here.

To the seers That is seated right here in the depths of their heart.

He is not grasped by the eye

Nor by speech, nor by other senses

Nor by austerities, nor by work.

But he whose mind is purified by the clearness of knowledge

Sees Him, the Absolute, through meditation.


(Mu.U. III:1,7,8)


May we realize Brahman by right understanding.

May we realize Supreme Bliss by right understanding.

May we realize Brahman, Who is Supreme Bliss

By right understanding.


(Tai.Ar. X:39)


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