I just read the most amazing thing today. My friend brought me a CD of Hindu chants she picked up at Amma’s Seattle program. One of the chants is listed as “Na Karmanana”, and is also known as the Sannyasa Sukta. It comes from the Upanishads. For anyone who has been to see Amma, and has been around for the beginning of the program, you would have heard the swamis reciting the Sannyasa Sukta while the pada puja is going on (i.e., washing of Amma’s feet, garlanding, aarati, etc.).
I feel totally overwhelmed every time I hear the Sannyasa Sukta, but it was just today that I learned the actual words and their meaning:
om na karmana na prajaya dhanena tyagenaike amrtatvam anasuh /
parena nakam nihitam guhayam vibhrajate yad yatayo visanti /
vedanta-vijnana suniscatartha sannyasa yogad-yataya-suddha-sattvah /
te brahma-loke tu paranta-kale paramrtat-parimucyanti sarve /
dahram vipapam parame’ sma bhutam yat-pundarikam pura-madhya sagmstham /
tatrapi dahram gaganam visokas-tasmin yad antas tad upasitavyam /
yo vedadau svarah prokto vedante ca pratistatah /
tasya prakrti-linasya yah para-sa mahesvarah //
What’s amazing about this chant is that it basically sums up the core meaning of all religious belief and practice in what amounts to one paragraph. It refers to 2 things:
1. The way to “liberation” (or salvation, if you prefer) is the renunciation of the world (i.e., surrendering the ego, or cleansing oneself of sinfulness, or removing attachments to worldly things—whatever terminology you prefer).
2. “There is a lotus situated within the body, in the middle of the heart, a place free from all suffering. It is the spiritual sky, free from all material contamination and lamentation. There resides the object of our worship”. This refers to the fact that there is not a personal God “out there” to be worshipped, but that God resides within the heart, and can only be found there.
I would argue that this is the core of all religions, regardless of any other rules, practices, rituals, or dogma. This is even true of the Western religions. On the surface, Judaism, Christianity and Islam seem to refer to a God “out there” and separate from us (and this is unfortunately how it’s understood in our culture), but if you read deeply into the spiritual writings of saints and mystics in these religions, you will find that the same concept is indicated. It removes the need for a religion that uses its scriptures as a weapon, and eliminates the science vs. religion debate—there is no need to argue about the existence of a state of consciousness. There is no discussion of a separate deity watching over things.