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Pathways to Liberation - Exploring the Vedic Tradition

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Item Code: NAJ192
Author: K. Sankaranarayanan
Publisher: Radha Soami Satsang Beas
Language: English
Edition: 2016
ISBN: 9788184664522
Pages: 512
Cover: Hardcover
Other Details 9.0 inch X 6.0 inch
Weight 700 gm
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Book Description
About the book

There are various ways to reach the summit of a mountain. Likewise, according to Vedic tradition, there are various paths a spiritual aspirant can travel to attain liberation. While the vedic tradition is not path-specific , it is certainly goal-specific – all paths have the objective of God-realization . The guru decides the best path for his disciples to follow depending on their capabilities and temperaments . These paths are not sealed, watertight compartments . each path flows into the other as they all finally flow to one , the Almighty , the Ultimate . for example , Karma Yoga coalesces into Bhakti Yoga as seamlessly as the letter into the former.

Author Note

There are various paths to reach the summit of a mountain. likewise, according to Vedic tradition, there are various paths by which a spiritual aspirant can travel to attain the goal of liberation from the cycle of birth and death. While the Vedic tradition is not path-specific, It is certainly goal-specific.

The pathways to liberation taught by the ancient scriptures that I feel are most relevant for the modern seekers are the paths of renunciation (Nivrittri Marga ), selfless action (Kara Yoga), love and devotion (Bhakti Yoga), knowledge (Jnana Yoga ), spiritual discipline and meditation (Raja Yoga ), Self – surrender (prapatti marga ) and sound (nada Yoga). While different paths have been laid down to suit different temperaments of seekers , these paths are not sealed, watertight compartments . Each path flows into the others as finally they all flow to the One , the almighty , the Ultimate. For Example, karma Yoga coalesces into Bhakti Yoga as seamlessly as the latter into the former.

One might ask , when there is a plethora of books on the subject , what is the need for this one? When I started reading Vedic literature , I found it difficult to comprehend some of the complex concepts and doctrines. My quest to understand them took some time . I would like to share my understanding with those who may have encountered similar difficulties in their spiritual search . this book is a synthesis of my understanding of the pathways to liberation and the foundations on which they are based as described in the Vedas , Upanishads and allied scriptures such as the Brahma sutra and the Bhagavad gita.

The main text of the book is intended to give to a lay readership a systematic and comprehensive introduction to the multi-faceted features of spirituality embedded in the Vedic tradition. Appendices are provided to satisfy the curiosity of those readers who would like to have additional information on some of the topics . As the book is geared towards the lay reader , I have endeavoured to presents the subject matter in a simple way, despite the attendant risk of misrepresentation or inadequate treatment . I have exercised due diligence and I do hope that I have neither misrepresented facts nor presented them in just a cursory way Also. Each chapter of the book designed to be self-contained and independent. Therefore, repetition of some concepts and doctrines in unavoidable.

I am indebted to the a many authors whose valuable understanding of this subjects has made this book possible. With regard to quotes, I have largely used or based my translation on those of eminent scholars and spiritual teachers. This was a deliberate decision. If my translation were to differ from conventional translation , mine could be considered to be biased. However , my own judgement comes through in the translation I have chosen. Fr example , the conventional translation of anavrittih shabdat (Brahma sutra 4.4.22) is : there is no return for realised souls , according to the scriptures.” However this sutra is also translated as: “by sound one becomes liberated .” I have used this translation because I believe it has spiritual import.

The Book includes a glossary of definitions of terms used frequently in the text as well as notes on the ain sculpture s and author quoted in the book. A bibliography organized by scripture names for those who would like to find translation of particular scriptures. A subject index is also included.

For Sanskrit words, I have adopted a simplified system by using diacritics only for the transliteration of the long a , I and u. since spiritual knowledge is the privilege of all human beings - both men and women - the pronouns ‘he ,’ his and ‘him’ appearing in the book are used by way of experience, not with any gender bias. For ease of reading, parentheses rather than square brackets are used for explanatory information inserted in quotations.

I hope this book will be of some help to spiritual seekers who are trying to realize their quest t achieve the ultimate goal: liberation from the cycle of birth and death.


The Radha Somai Satsang Beas Society exist t support seekers of spiritual truth through regular Discourses held at as its centres in India and abroad and its publication on universal spiritual subjects . its activities seek to bear witness to the spirituality that the one common spiritual energy or divine power - we many call it Lord, God, father or any other name – that is the source from which the entire creation was projected and continues to be sustained. the Society Promotes the Understanding that personal experiences of this supreme Oneness bring liberation.

Pathways to liberations explores the search for eternal freedom in the context of the Vedic and Upanishadic traditions of India . It looks at some of the many ways that have evolved over the centuries in India to find liberation and peace of mind in the physical creation. It explores the rich and varied Journeys that people undertake to experience what they yarn for, all arising from the timeless truth expressed in the Vedas and Upanishads.

As the world gets ever smaller and people of different cultures and creeds find them selves living closer to one another, It is our great pleasure to presents this book as a welcome addition to the RSSB “Mysticism in world Religions “ Publication list. It is our sincere hope that it will contribute to the Understanding of the one spiritual truth link humanity and builds a universal fellowship of brothers , sister and friends.


In One of the Upanishads central to the Vedic tradition we read, “ Revered Sir, I have studied all the Vedas…. I have heard from spiritual teachers like you that a knower of self goes beyond sorrow. I am lost in sorrow . Please teach me how to get rid of sorrow and how to go beyond . “And the teacher answered, “Whatever you know it just words of finite phenomena . It is the Infinite that is the source of abiding joy because it is not subjects to change. therefore seek to know the Infinite.

This book Unfolds for us a perspective on the many paths of Hinduism - all born from the ancient Vedic and Upanishadic traditions of India – that lead to that universal place beyond all change , beyond death and suffering and all the university and differences or life on earth . As the author of the book comments , the vedic tradition is goal –specific , not path-specific.

The Indian Vedas and the Upanishads have been With us for millennia . In great detail and with beautiful subtlety , they , offer to us some of the oldest verbal representations of human understanding of the nature of life . They are at the base of most of the culture of the India Subcontinent . They underpin much of Indian Philosophy , thinking an d customs . they are at the heart of what we might think of as the Hindu experience.

India has made for itself a unique place in the history of the search for truth. We many note that, Unlike many other nations, India until today has not transformed records of spiritual experiment and personal experience into national dogma, or used the power of the stat e to impose religion in a particular from on its people . On the contrary , as this book explores , Indian search to know what is real has always been understood to be person’s individual journey to understand one’s true Self . The nature of the Hindu spiritual Journey , rooted deeply in the soil of the of the Vedas , is not equated with one particular set of dogmas or with national identity , but is reflected in the phrase made famous by Mahatma Gandhi: the individual’s experiment with truth.’

In vedic tradition self-realization and God –realization are generally perceived as one journey , a singular opportunity for a fulfilled life. The Path followed to reach the goal is respected as the individual’s personal choice,. This long - established openness to the nature of the spiritual quest has produced many paths. Over the centuries it has also enabled India to develop a sophisticated and rich language of spirituality, exploring and articulating as possibility n o other culture has, the subtle and complex realms of spirit.

He many paths arising from the Vedic understanding of reality point to the Hindu understanding of humanity’s Intrinsic spiritual nature and extraordinary capability at a time history when so many people are disillusioned with the outcome of religious dogmatism dividing peoples from each other the Vedic Perspective avoids negative connotations , offering insights on the Universal nature of spiritual truth . As the teacher quoted above says , mere reading and intellectual brilliance does not take one a “knower of self.” Words neeed to be powered by the experience of truth to have value - na experience that can shared by all , that is intrinsic to human nature itself.

How then does someone within the Vedic tradition find his or her way when there are so many paths and differing options? For this, the author focuses on the crucial role of the guru in awakening and guiding true understanding . In the many Vedic paths it is the living relationship with the guru or teacher , the expert mentor and friend , which enlivens of words with truth and guides the seeker to travel beyond sorrow to the Infinite. Whether the vessel is complex , sophisticate d or simple , a seekers travelling alone , without a transformative relationship with a teacher who is familiar with the chosen path will be confused and lost in the vast maelstrom of concepts that ever define and redefine Creation.

The Author of the book has been a lifelong seeker of supreme truth and a practitioners of a modern from of and a Yoga known as Surat shabd yoga under the guidance of a living guru. With his awareness of the Vedic tradition and Within other traditions from other parts of the World an other times including our modern times , he presents a welcome overview and introduction to the rich underpinnings of Hindu thought and their universal relevance for seekers of today.


Preface ix
Foreword x
Author's Note xiii
Part 1: Primary Scriptures 1
The Vedas 3
The Upanishads 16
The Bhagavad Gita 24
Part 2: concepts 31
The divine  
Concept of God in the Vedas 33
Concept of God in the Upanishads 46
Personal and Impersonal God 63
The soul  
The Hanuman From 70
action, reaction and Transmigration 104
The Purpose of human Life: Liberation 119
Inner reality  
The Divine Sound 134
The Light Within 146
Part 3: Practice 153
From Outer to Inner  
One Gal , Many Paths 155
Discipline the Mind 161
Meditation 180
Pathways to Liberation  
Nivritti Marga : The Path of Renunciation 213
Karma Yoga : the Path of Describes action 220
Janana Yoga: the Path of Knowledge 229
Bhakti Yoga: The Path of Love and Devotion 238
Raja Yoga: the Royal Path 256
Prapatti marga: The path of self-Surrender 261
Nada Yoga: the Path of sound 269
The guru 279
Grace 301
Appendices 307
Appendix 1: Vedangas - Limbs of the Vedas 309
Appendix 2: List of 108 Upanishads 312
Appendix 3: Gods worshipped by early Vedic People 314
Appendix 4: The four Castes 325
Appendix 5: The four stages of Life 331
Appendix 6: The cycle of Time 338
Appendix 7: The Six Classical system of liberation 343
Endnotes 392
Glossary 401
Bibliography 453
Bibliography of scriptures 469
Index 473
Book on spirituality 491
Address for Information and Books 493


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