By Chitra Jha
Tej Gyan Foundation is a relatively recent spiritual organisation in Pune, with an intriguing approach to the truth. Read on for more details and to meet the founder, Tejguru Sirshree Tejparkhi
Are you happy with the way TGF has grown? What are your future plans?
I am and was happy, and the formation of TGF was a result of this happiness. Another way to look at it is that ‘I am Happiness’. So, there is no question of being happy or unhappy. To answer your second question, true spirituality has been lost in the world. This is being restored to its original significance. The plan for the future is the same as it is in the present. This is not a plan. It is the Divine Plan. It is not a plan of an individual.
What is the essence of the truth that you teach? Can you sum it up in a sentence?
One sentence is too much.
One word is sufficient – Saraswati
Saraswati = sar (head), swa (Self, heart), stith (established).
To shift from the head and be established at the Self (heart) is the essence of the truth that is taught.
What is your definition of enlightenment?
Enlightenment is the attainment of liberation from ego, mechanical living, all forms of bondage, preconceived notions and all vices of the mind (fear, anger, hatred, greed, attachment, envy, etc.) What remains after attainment of enlightenment is unbroken bliss – bliss which is indescribable, which constantly asserts its eternal presence and pervades every aspect of life. Enlightenment is the key to a successful and fulfilled life, the royal path to transcendence. The state of enlightenment resides within all of us.
When the Truth is understood not only intellectually but also at the experiential level… when all your questions and doubts dissolve, that is the state of enlightenment! It entails the journey from the limited confines of the mind (the head) to the unlimited realms of the Self (the heart).
When the Knowing Principle (Self) within us gets associated with worldly objects, it gives rise to maya (delusion). When it returns to its original nature (Supreme Universal Being), enlightenment is attained. To be able to grasp this, we need to first understand the true meaning of the term ‘Knowing Principle’. Everyone is specialised in a particular field of knowledge. When one possesses the knowledge of flying aircraft, that body is known as a pilot. If one has the knowledge of medicine, then the body is referred to as a doctor. With the knowledge of architecture, the body is called an architect. With the knowledge of engineering, the body is known as an engineer. If we consider this carefully, we realise that the body is not an engineer or a doctor; rather it is the Knowing Principle that has identified itself with engineering or medical knowledge which assumes the role of an engineer or doctor. The knowledge plays a particular role. This means that knowledge is present in various forms within every human body.
Knowledge resides in the human intellect. When the intellect completely surrenders at the feet of the Lord (the Self) in the heart, the body then begins to serve as an instrument for God to function. The body in which this state is achieved is said to have become the Supreme Being. The Supreme Knowledge (tejgyan) that has emerged within begins to function through the body. When the knowledge plays an ‘altogether different’ role, beyond the various worldly roles and reassociates with the Self, then alone does the Self reveal itself.
You may refer to this Creative Principle as Brahma, Vishnu, Shiva, Self, Supreme Knowledge, Tejgyan, Father, Truth…. All these names point to the same Reality.
Enlightenment is not attained after the death of the body, but in this very lifetime. We need to understand as to how this is possible. Attainment of enlightenment implies stabilisation in our original state of Pure Being; where the Experiencer experiences the Experiencer in and through every experience. There is a preliminary state before any game begins. Even while practising yogic exercises, there is an initial state before the body gets into any yogic posture. Once the yogic posture is completed, the body returns to its original posture. Science opines that it is further progress that will lead to ultimate liberation. This is inferred because science dwells on the limited framework of logic and reason. Contrary to this, the truth is that you ought to regress (go back) and stabilise in your original state.
The state of enlightenment is experienced only upon returning to the original state of Being, the state before the grand game of Creation began. Being stabilised in the state of enlightenment, actions arise out of decisions taken while dwelling in that original state. What does each decision of ours indicate? Are our decisions made with the complete understanding of who we essentially are? Are our actions an expression of who we truly are? We offer prayers; however are our actions aligned with our prayers? Our decisions clearly indicate whether we do what we say.
For instance, one may say, ‘I want to live a good healthy life'; but his actions (overeating and consequent obesity, for instance) could indicate that he wants to die. He will be puzzled if he is told that he does not value his life. He will not believe it. If we carefully reflect and understand this aspect in depth, we realise that every decision of ours reflects whether the decision is arising out of the false identification with our body or out of the clear understanding of our true identity (the Universal Self, our original nature). Enlightenment is the state of stabilisation in our original state of Being, an unshaken understanding or conviction of our true identity from where all decisions arise.
What are the prerequisites a seeker of enlightenment must possess to be successful?
Either steadfast faith or the ability to rigorously enquire are a must. Either devotion or wisdom. A true guru will ensure you get both. A seeker studying with a true guru will attain devotion to be ready for enlightenment. A devotee under the guidance of a true guru will attain wisdom to be ready for enlightenment.
The six requisites are thirst (love for the Truth); listening skills (the ability to listen without prejudice or bias), the ability to contemplate; being free of deceit towards himself and the guru; faith and obedience – steadfastly adhering to instructions from the guru
What is the significance of obtaining a 9001:2000 in the context of being a spiritual organisation? How does it benefit the organisation? How did you get it?
The ‘System for Wisdom’ was conceived at the very beginning as the need to impart knowledge systematically. In the process, recently auditors noticed that such a system can be recognised by ISO and this certification happened in the process. Obtaining a certification was not the reason for the system to be created.
What do you think lies ahead of us? Is mankind going to evolve spiritually?
Definitely yes! Mankind will evolve spiritually. Actually it has been evolving from the very beginning. The flowing river is bound to merge into the ocean.
What is the significance of year 2012?
The year 2012 holds as much significance as the current year of 2008. Some say that the world would come to an end… and some others say that 2012 will see the heights of spirituality. Human growth in its true sense has only begun. So, why talk about ‘the end’ now? You can say that the year 2008, or the year 2012 are a preparation for the year 2013. Every scene is a preparation for the next scene.
It’s not often that you come across a spiritual organisation that has ISO 9001:2000 certification. Or that claims to have found the missing link in spiritual inquiry. Intrigued? Rightly so, for this relatively new organisation is attracting thousands of aspirants and is growing at a spanking rate.
Founded by former university professor, Tejguru Sirshree Tejparkhi, and headquartered at the city of Pune, Tej Gyan Foundation (TGF) has recently opened a 25-acre ashram outside Pune. It has issued more than 80 books, audio-cassettes and other tools in English, Hindi and Marathi; and has centres in every city in Maharashtra including Mumbai, as well as in Delhi, Bhopal, Hyderabad, Ahmedabad, Raipur and Chennai. TGF operates centres in Malaysia, United States and Australia too. It conducts various spiritual and self-development programmes through a strong team of experienced trainers and over 5000 volunteers. Its flagship programme is called Maha Aasmani Retreat and is conducted by Sirshree himself.
Sirshree’s spiritual quest began about 30 years ago, leading him to various schools of thoughts and teachings, each of which left him dissatisfied, feeling that a link was missing. Eventually his quest consumed his time entirely, and he relinquished his college teaching job. He undertook a long period of contemplation on the mystery of life until his search ended with enlightenment on August 15, 1997.
He realised that lack of understanding was the missing link in all paths leading to truth. What he means by that as far as it is possible to tell is that most truths are compressed and ambiguous, an inevitable offshoot of their paradoxical nature. For instance, he says, that most wisdom traditions or teachers either say that one is nothing or one is everything. However, the complete truth or tejgyan (the missing link) to use his terminology, is “You are nothing, with the possibility of becoming everything.”
In the same vein he goes on to expand on many traditional assertions, such as the statement: “The purpose of spiritual quest is self-realisation….to experience the Self / God.” He reworks it thus: “Self-realisation is just the beginning. A true master will not just give you a glimpse. Self-stabilisation…being permanently in yourself is what a true master will give you. Again self-stabilisation is not the end. It is then that the true purpose for which your body came to this earth is justified. Self-expression begins and then there is no end.”
To impart complete understanding, therefore, is his mission along with facilitating the creation of a highly evolved society.
He says, “All paths that lead to truth begin differently, but end in the same way, with understanding. Understanding is the whole thing. This understanding is complete in itself. Listening to this understanding is enough.”
The ‘tej’ way
To distinguish the understanding he has to offer from those that others do, he affixes the term ‘tej’, bright. According to him it signifies beyond duality. For example, there is happiness, and there is unhappiness. Tej happiness (tejanand) is bliss beyond happiness and unhappiness. Similarly, there is ignorance, and there is knowledge. Tej knowledge (tejgyan) is the wisdom beyond both ignorance and knowledge. The name of the foundation, Tej Gyan, originates from this ‘knowlerience’ (a new word coined by Sirshree to speak of both the highest knowledge and its experience).
Sirshree’s disciples lovingly named him Tejparkhi – a living maestro, whose clarity and commitment is shared through the work of TGF.
In keeping with his commitment to give complete understanding, he created a ‘System for Wisdom’ in 1998. Answers are graded according to the seeker’s level. For instance, at Level 1, the answer to the question “Is it essential to achieve success in life?” is “Yes! Attaining success is essential.” This is in order to inspire the seeker to go beyond laziness. At the next level the answer is, “Success is only a beginning. It is merely the means and not the end. Achieve success and start building on it. Success is only the foundation. The palace is yet to be realised on this foundation. Treat success as a beginning and not the destination.” At the third level comes the answer, “Success is converting every negativity and every thought into the thought of Truth.” At the fourth level, the answer is, “Be quiet. Sit in peace. Success for you lies in remaining in silence.”
Clearly Sirshree has used his years as a college professor to create a curriculum for different classes in enlightenment. A novel and refreshing scheme that may well put an end to the confusion seekers flay around in, until they perceive the truth.
Understanding is all
Sirshree lays emphasis on listening as the sole effortless effort needed in understanding the truth. And understanding, in his scheme of things, is all. He says, “By listening, one understands. The moment one understands, actions automatically begin. In fact, listening, understanding, and action occur at the same time. With understanding there is a change in action. With change in action, we are liberated from the bondage of karma.”
His summation of the truth is short and succinct, consisting of five points.
• Only God exists. Ascertain, investigate, verify, whether you exist or not.
• Everything is just a game of beliefs. Understanding is the whole thing.
• The purpose of life on earth is to make the mind unshakable, pure, and loving.
• There is a reason to be always happy. It is possible to be always happy.
• Guru, God, Grace, and you are one.
Last month, I went to TGF’s MaNaN Ashram outside Pune, designed to be its headquarters; it is spread over 25 acres of land, amidst the pristine beauty of nature. There were over a thousand seekers, 80 per cent of who were in their 20s or early 30s. The diversity was mind-boggling. Peasants, software engineers, 70-year-old women and hip teenagers, were all listening to Sirshree under the same roof, and connecting with each other and the guru, through a common thread of understanding and experiencing the truth. Sirshree likes to use simple stories, jokes, and anecdotes to impart the highest knowledge making the quest downright enjoyable. I spoke to a few tejsevaks (volunteers), and satyacharyas (teachers of truth) and here is what they say.
Dr Sunita Sabnani is the editor of English books for TGF. She says, “Since childhood I had felt that this world was hopeless and life was meaningless. After completing my medical studies, I went through a long period of depression. I felt a vacuum inside me as well as turmoil regarding what to do with my career and my life. That is when I was exposed to TGF and Sirshree. Gradually, Sirshree’s simple but highest wisdom permeated my life. I started believing that everything is going to be fine with this world and my life. I have started smiling and laughing again. I have understood who I am actually and what the meaning of life is. My life has become a celebration of self-expression. I have settled down to doing what I love the most, writing.” Pramod works for an IT company. He says, “Ever since I came in touch with Sirshree, I have found answers to all my questions. My level of consciousness has grown. Now my life is full of everything – money, fulfilling relations, knowledge, great experiences, and above all, a broad outlook on life. Tejgyan has given me knowledge, not just of this world, but the world beyond death as well. I have overcome the fear of death, and have a crystal-clear understanding about the mysteries of life.”
Girish Wadhwani works for an orphanage along with his wife. He has been associated with TGF for the past 10 years. He says, “When I attended TGF’s family retreat, my relationship with my family was at an all-time low, and I even contemplated suicide. Today, I love the very same people I used to hate. I have found answers to the questions: “Who am I?”,“What is the purpose of my life?” Not just my external world, but my inner world has also changed. I live in bliss, day in and day out.”
Corporate trainer Nitin Ahir speaks with an unusual calm, “I blew up at small things, such as traffic snarls, erratic mobile network, computer breakdown, garbage dumps across the city, potholed roads, and power cuts. Life was full of stressful moments. There was no stability, only struggle.
I felt that there was no hope. At that time, Sirshree came to my rescue.
He made me realise that stability could not be found in an unstable world. Stability does not come when the world is stable. It comes when the mind is stable.”
People belonging to different faiths come to TGF and get a clear understanding about their own religion. Maulaso Nadaf, an Islamic teacher, said, “I was born in a Muslim family, yet it was in TGF that I understood what Kabir’s love and wisdom was all about.”
Police officer Sonkade Babusha, has a practical approach. He said, “If eight hours are spent catching a thief, the entire ire is vented upon him once he is caught. From now on, I will choose the right response in the face of such provocation. I will respond while remaining in the present moment. This is the understanding I have received from TGF.”
The ‘shift’ was evident everywhere, in people’s thoughts, words, and actions. It seemed as though the highly evolved society Sirshree aspires to create already exists right there in the MaNaN ashram.
is the source, from which, the polarities of happiness and unhappiness emanate
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