Application - that is what 'Workings-days' are about!
We are now undertaking basic technical discourse on Vedanta. The text forming the basis of these posts is 'Kindle Life'.
Having called upon all who can hear and who would listen to 'kindle life', Gurudev would give discourse on Vedanta itself; a comprehensive introductory talk and demonstrating its continued validity in 'modern living'.
It is worth reminding here that the aim of Aatmavrajanam is to share something of the 'study group' experience. A writing is taken, read by the individuals, then discussed in the meeting. With all of these non-scriptural texts, and most particularly with Kindle Life, the texts are not generally read within the class itself, mainly because the time is not there and when the students read the text at home they have time to come up with all their questions and concerns - it is these which are then discussed in context of the text under review that week. Here, each chapter has been given with aachaarya's voice (taken from experience of several KL classes). For the 'Kindle Life' chapter itself, though, the text was given more or less verbatim. The same will now be the case for chapters 25 and 26 as these are as succinct and clear an introduction to the philosophy as you are likely to find. You are encouraged to think deeply on what is offered (on all days!) and bring your questions and observations to the comments box, most particularly on "Workings-days" as it is only by raising doubts and issues that genuine dialogue can take place. (Where editorial licence has taken place the text will be bracketed [thus].)
Ch. 25; VEDANTA - LIFE AND ART OF LIVING.
Our age has been branded as atheistic and secular because we dare to question and we do so openly. We are not prepared to swallow any declaration, however great the prophet may be, or however revered the sage may be, unless it is convincingly proved to our vigilant reason as satisfactorily logical. We claim to live in an age of perfect intellectual awareness and scientific precision. [spiritual]Faith has the least hold on us; [yet if] the arguments are 'intellectual and scientific' we can be made to slave cheerfully under a tyrant or even walk on our heads.
This being the tendency of the age, the Philosophy of Vedanta as expounded in the Upanishads holds for us a compelling charm. Comparing Hinduism with any other religion in the world wherein religion is guided by the airtight declarations of a given prophet or master, it can be defined as a 'growing tradition'. Like modern science, Hinduism is not the declaration of any individual but is the conclusion of generations of investigators.
Even at this moment, scientific conclusions are changeable and many have in fact changed when reviewed in the light of newly discovered data. Similarly, in religion too, though the fundamentals remain the same, their application in life changes from time to time according to the changing demand of an ever-growing society. In this sense, a scripture that allows no freedom to expand will only choke itself and society, just as an iron casket is hardly a healthy shelter around the growing girth of a gigantic tree. Vedanta seems to have so far historically served all the growing demands of men.
Unfortunately, the moment we hear the word Vedanta, there are many critics who are reminded of Aachaarya Shankara and other commentators and they roll up their noses expecting endless controversial discussions and fanatical assertions. The modern educated young men, in their hasty conclusion, generally come to a feeling (and I was myself one of them!**) that the ideas preached in Vedanta are the moaning and sobs of some strange type of men who gained strange viewpoints based upon some miscalculations. They were supposed to suffer from psychological perversions, produced by their unnatural life of seclusion in the jungle during the days of self-denial and self-courted sufferings.
However, a little scientific scrutiny will reveal that these Rsis exhibited no greater or stranger peculiarity in their behaviour and life than that of any genius of the present day. For example, watch a scientist, a poet, a painter or a musician. If he be a genius in his life, completely dedicated to his work, if he be one who seeks his life's fulfilment in his chosen pursuit, we shall find that he does not subscribe himself to the commonly accepted traditions of living or behaviour. He is so engrossed in his work that he has, as it were, no eyes to see others, no ears to hear anything else, no personality even to demand any of this fundamental rights apart from his freedom to pursue his sacred vocation. The idiosyncrasies of the artists, the absentmindedness of the professor, the self-centred preoccupations of the thinkers… these are the common hallmarks of a single-minded-devotion to a particular ideal.
In this sense, if we try to understand the Rsis as true scientists of living, we will realize that their solitude and detachment are the unavoidable necessities of their sacred vocation. In their perfect detachment, the Rsis observed life and analysed and reached certain conclusions. These conclusions were faithfully transferred to a set of disciples initially trained to use the instruments of the mind and intellect to make independent valuations of life as a whole. They were also taught to work out accurately its effect on individual persons under different sets of circumstances.
All through these experiments, all of them recognised that the one unavoidable factor in life is that none can continue living life without experience, since life is merely a continuity of experiences. The moment the individual has stopped experiencing anything within or without, he is considered to be dead. Thereafter, decay sets in and the form and structure of the person crumbles down to become the very elements of which it was constituted.
...to be continued!
** Gurudev's life before Vedanta was filled with adventure and scepticism.. his biography has now been brought to life on the big screen! The young actor who is almost the spitting image of Gurudev was a Sandeepany batchmate of YAM, this roaming soul...