Passage to Perfect Happiness

The Ancient Vedic Wisdom

by Nirode Mohanty (Author)
©2022 Monographs XXXIV, 204 Pages


Every human soul is divine and valuable. An embodied being’s ultimate purpose is the enjoyment of Supreme bliss as a free soul (Mukta, salvation, liberation) in the highest heaven. Enjoyment is also the basis of happiness upon earth. It leads to the spiritual enlightenment for happy, healthy, and peaceful life and environment. The knowledge of self is what leads to the knowledge of God and this knowledge is the road to eternal happiness or bliss. Real happiness cannot be found externally, it must be realized within. The soul of a man is in the hidden structure of God. He is inside all of us. All life comes from God. The causes of unhappiness are our ego, our prejudice, our desire, and our impropriety. There must not be any lust and hatred, neither longing for one thing, nor any loathing the opposite. The world is spiraling toward conflict, belligerence, and disharmony and is now going through an unprecedented spiritual crisis, class confrontation, calamity, and nuclear and terrorists’ threats. The rise of drug use, the rise of broken families, the rise of the number of single parents, the rise of school and public space mass shootings, the rise of suicides and depression, the rise of sexual scandals among priests and media, rise of overuse of iPad and smartphones by young kids are all threatening our home, society, schools, and the environment with vicious violence, menacing insecurity, wild protests, and rampant immorality.

Table Of Contents

  • Cover
  • Advance Praise
  • Title
  • Copyright
  • About the author
  • About the book
  • This eBook can be cited
  • Also by the Author
  • Table of Contents
  • List of Figures
  • Foreword
  • Preface
  • Introduction
  • Chapter I Path to Perfection: Six Systems
  • The Yoga Sutra of Patanjali (2nd Century BC and 3rd Century AD)
  • Nyaya
  • Vaishesika
  • Sankhya
  • Purva Mimansa
  • Vedanta-Uttara Mimansa
  • Yoga Sutra
  • Astanga Yoga-1/Raja Yoga
  • Step 1: Yama (Self-Control)
  • Step 2: Niyama (Discipline, Observance)
  • Step 3: Asana (Physical Exercises, Postures)
  • Step 4: Pranayama (Breath Exercises—Life Control)
  • Step 5: Pratyahara (Withdrawal of the Senses)
  • Step 6: Dharana (Concentration)
  • Step 7: Dhyana (Meditation)
  • Step 8: Samadhi (Complete Realization)
  • Popular Yoga Postures
  • Sukhasana/Padmasana
  • Savasana
  • Surya Namaskar
  • Nadi Shodhanam, Viloma Pranayama
  • Reality of Yoga
  • Gunas (Qualities, Attributes)
  • Mental and Physical Benefits of Yoga
  • Reincarnation (Transmigration)
  • OM (AUM)
  • Mantras
  • Chapter II Mind, Body, Self, and Paths
  • Renunciation
  • The Karma Yoga—Path of Action
  • The Bhakti Yoga—Path of Devotion
  • The Jnana Yoga—Path of Knowledge (Wisdom)
  • The Dhyana Yoga—Path of Meditation (Ashtanga)
  • The Sankhya Systems
  • Advaita Vedanta
  • The Main Puranas
  • The Law of Karma
  • Ego
  • Chapter III The Vedic Religion, Spirituality, and Culture
  • Ecology and Religion
  • Temples
  • The Vedic Reformers
  • The Vaishnavas
  • Sri Jagannath: A Symbiosis of Religions
  • Shaivism
  • Kashmiri Shaivism
  • Shaktism
  • Spiritualism
  • Culture
  • Festivals and Worshiping
  • Bangles, Bindis, and Saris
  • Marriage
  • Mysticism
  • Chapter IV The Vedic Principles and Practices
  • Shankaracharya
  • Madhava
  • Vallabhacharya
  • Arthur Schopenhauer
  • Sri Aurobindo
  • Sri Ramakrishna
  • Swami Vivekananda
  • Maharishi Mahesh Yogi
  • Swami Nikhilananda
  • Swami Shivananda
  • Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan
  • Jiddu Krishnamurti
  • Paramahansa Yogananda
  • A. C. Bhaktivedanta Prabhupada
  • Swami Chinmāyānanda
  • Swami Nikhilananda
  • B. K. S. Iyengar
  • Neem Karoli Baba
  • Swami Prabhananda
  • Ram Dass
  • Swami Abhisktananda
  • Shivaya Subramuniyaswami
  • Bede Griffiths (Swami Dayananda)
  • Chapter V The Vedic Music and Intellectuals
  • Joseph Campbell
  • Deepak Chopra
  • Andrew Cohen
  • John Coltrane
  • Ruth St. Denis
  • Will Durant
  • Mircea Eliade
  • Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • Georg Feuerstein
  • David Frawley
  • Andrew Harvey
  • Gerald Heard
  • Aldous Huxley
  • Christopher Isherwood
  • Carl Jung
  • Peter Lavezzoli
  • Gordon Matthew Thomas Summer
  • John McLaughlin
  • Yehudi Menuhin
  • Romain Rolland
  • Jerome David Salinger
  • Ravi Shankar
  • Frederic Spiegelberg
  • Huston Smith
  • Henry David Thoreau
  • Eckhart Tolle
  • Alan Watts
  • Walt Whitman
  • Ken Wilber
  • George Harrison
  • Krishna Das
  • Appendix 1: Glossary
  • Appendix 2: The Vedic Scriptures
  • Approximate Time Period
  • Vedic Texts (Wikipedia)
  • Dharma
  • Karma
  • The Vedas, the Upanishads, and the Vedanta
  • The Ramayana
  • The Mahabharata
  • The Bhagavad Gita (BG)
  • The Brahma Sutra
  • Mind and Consciousness
  • Raja Yoga
  • Hatha Yoga
  • Integral Yoga
  • Iyengar Yoga
  • Kriya Yoga
  • Kripalu Yoga
  • Astanga Yoga-2
  • Vinyasa Yoga
  • Child’s Pose Yoga (Balasana)
  • Cosmology
  • Bibliography
  • Index
  • About the Author


Philip Goldberg

When future historians look back at the evolution of spirituality in the modern era, they will no doubt record that a key development was the increased access that Western seekers had to the wisdom of ancient India. When I published my book about that transmission, American Veda, in 2010, certain trends had already been identified by reputable research organizations. The shifts in spiritual attitudes, perspectives, and practices identified in those studies bear close resemblance to core principles of Indian philosophy. And they have only increased in the 11 years since. They can be summarized as follows:

These and related developments point to a spiritual orientation much more aligned with Hinduism and the other Indic traditions (Buddhism, Jainism, and Sikhism) than with the dominant versions of the Abrahamic religions. How has this happened? Why has it happened? There are many factors involved in this complex phenomenon, but one is certainly our ever-increasing exposure, over the course of two centuries, to India’s abundant treasury of wisdom, principally the revelatory insights of the sages of Vedanta—as captured primarily in the Bhagavad Gita and the Upanishads—and the vast inventory of practices in the Yoga tradition.

The historic transmission poured into West gradually and found its way into different sectors of society through a variety of streams and tributaries. Nirode Mohanty has written about many of them crisply and concisely in Passage to Perfect Happiness, in addition to explaining the central elements of what his subtitle calls—The Ancient Vedic Wisdom.←xviii | xix→

The principal influencers, of course, have been the living emissaries from India who represented different lineages and different orientations within the diverse body of knowledge that came to be known as Hinduism (many Hindus prefer the original term Sanatana Dharma, which is perhaps best translated as the Eternal Way). It is strictly based on the Vedic scriptures. Some of the gurus, swamis, and yoga masters who came to the West attracted enormous followings and left behind institutions, trained disciples, and literature (including, for the more recent teachers, audio and video recordings) that have kept their influence alive long after their passing. You’ll meet the most prominent of those teachers in the pages of this book, from Swami Vivekananda in the late 19th century to Paramahansa Yogananda in the first half of the 20th century to Maharishi Mahesh Yogi and others who gained recognition in the 1960s and 1970s, and on to today’s popular gurus.

Those dispensers of Vedic wisdom were greeted by two types of American, both of which are still very much with us. One type is suspicious of foreigners, hostile to different races and ethnicities, and antagonistic toward proponents of belief systems different from their own. The other type of American is curious, open-minded, welcoming, and eager to learn from, experiment with, and possibly adopt anything that promises to make their lives better. The former group made the work of the messengers from India more difficult, and sometimes dangerous. The seekers in the second category made it possible for the teachers to succeed, and some of them work diligently to preserve and promulgate their guru’s legacy.

Another mighty stream through which Sanatana Dharma (based on the Vedic systems), flourished on American soil consisted of prominent citizens who absorbed the timeless wisdom of the sages, either directly from Indian teachers or by studying Vedic literature, and were to one degree or another transformed by it. They then assimilated core ideas into their own areas of expertise and dispensed it to others, both in explicit form and in ways so subtle that the original source was to some extent veiled. The more famous of these promulgators were able to reach millions through their writing; public appearances; and works of art, science, and scholarship.←xix | xx→

This adaptation of deep Eastern precepts to Western scholarly and scientific disciplines, as well as to cultural and artistic products, was not discouraged by the living emissaries from India. Quite the opposite in fact: they inspired, urged, and cheered the adaptation process, and, in fact, excelled at it themselves. The most successful gurus had an uncanny ability to shape their offerings for a new and vastly different context without diluting, distorting, or compromising their integrity.

The prominent Westerners who engaged in this East-West integration included public philosophers and intellectuals. This began in the early 19th century, decades before Swami Vivekananda’s arrival in 1893, with Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, and their Transcendentalist comrades who drank deeply from Hindu and Buddhist texts, as well as commentaries on Eastern religions by British and German philosophers. A century later, the likes of Huston Smith, Joseph Campbell, Aldous Huxley, and Alan Watts brought that process into the modern era.

They were joined by a parade of groundbreaking psychologists, from William James and Carl Jung to Abraham Maslow and Richard Alpert, who would famously become Ram Dass, the paradigmatic American dharma teacher. Entire disciplines, namely Humanistic and Transpersonal Psychology, evolved out of that East-West synthesis in the study of the mind.

Scientists from Nikola Tesla to Erwin Schrodinger to Werner Heisenberg were students of Vedanta and didn’t mind if anyone knew that they found parallels between the insights of Vedantic seers and the discoveries of modern physics.

The transmission even came through ordained representatives of the Western religions. In the 1950s and 1960s, the hugely influential Catholic monk Thomas Merton wrote glowingly about how Hindu and Buddhist teachings had deepened his own religious practice. Some of his later counterparts, such as Father Thomas Keating (founder of Contemplative Prayer) and Father Bede Griffiths, did the same. They were not requesting anyone to convert but instead were offering ways to enhance one’s own religious orientation.

The insights of Himalayan yogis also penetrated the arts, finding their way into world-class poetry, fiction, and music. Walt Whitman ←xx | xxi→sang of India’s lore; W. B. Yeats and T. S. Eliot drew from the Gita and Upanishads; the Beats Poets evoked Buddha, and one of them, Allen Ginsberg, also chanted Sanskrit mantras. Somerset Maugham’s novel The Razor’s Edge was about a quintessential American seeker who meets a guru modeled after the legendary Ramana Maharshi. Herman Hesse set spiritually themed stories in India. J. D. Salinger set his tales in New York, where he studied with a swami in the Ramakrishna-Vivekananda lineage. Readers of those artists received lessons in Indian philosophy, whether they realized it or not.

So did many who listened closely to the works of certain musicians, many of whom found their way to the spiritual source of Indian classical music, to which they were drawn when sitar maestro Ravi Shankar became well-known. Some were virtuosos of classical music, like violinist Yehudi Menuhin who recorded a Grammy-winning album with Shankar called West Meets East. Others were jazz musicians, like John and Alice Coltrane who named their son Ravi (Alice became a swami with an ashram after her husband’s untimely death). And many were rock stars. The most notable, of course, were the Beatles, who turned on the world to meditation when they took up with Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. Their impact was so enormous that I opened American Veda by asserting that their famous 1968 pilgrimage to Rishikesh was the most significant spiritual retreat since Jesus spent forty days in the wilderness (I expected to hear objections to that comparison and received not a single one).


XXXIV, 204
ISBN (Hardcover)
Publication date
2022 (April)
Passage to Perfect Happiness: The Ancient Vedic Wisdom Nirode Mohanty Veda Meditation Yoga Bhagavad Gita Mahabharata Ramayana Mind Body Self Spiritualism Cosmology Happiness
New York, Bern, Berlin, Bruxelles, Oxford, Wien, 2022. XXXIV, 204 pp., 8 b/w ill.

Biographical notes

Nirode Mohanty (Author)

Nirode Mohanty has taught, worked, and consulted on religious terrorism; GPS navigation; network architecture; systems analysis and design; signal processing; and religious studies for over 30 years. He has taught communications systems, information theory, coding, computer networks, and signal processing at the State University of New York, Buff alo; the University of California, Riverside; and California State University, Long Beach. Dr. Mohanty has directed research at various aerospace companies as a senior scientist, manager, and vice president, and senior consultant. He has received the Excellence in Creativity Award from Rockwell International and various commendations. He was chairman of IEEE Information Theory in Buff alo, New York. For his contribution to secure and survival communications systems, he has been elected an IEEE fellow (the highest recognition for contributions and publications) and is serving as an associate editor of the International Journal on Telecommunication and Networking. He is the co-author of the paper "Is the Nyquist Rate Enough" in the International Conference on Database Theory (ICDT) 2008, and the paper "Capacity Theorem for Finite Duration Symbols" in the ICDT 2009, which won best paper awards from the International Academy, Research and Industry Association (IARIA). He has published seven books. He has received an M.S., M.S.E.E., and Ph.D. from the university of Southern California.


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238 pages