'Text-days' are for delving into the words and theory of Advaita Vedanta.
We began our study here with Sadhana Panchakam. It gave what may be called the 'birds-eye view' of Vedanta. The completeness of the spiritual journey through this Philosophy is given in those 40 steps/five verses. It is a text which, read much later in study, acts as a reminder. Taken at the beginning of the journey, it acts almost as a 'curriculum'; it signposts what is ahead for the spiritual aspirant.
The next text we are going to tackle is TattvabodhaH (truth of self within Knowledge). It is the foundational text for providing clarity on the terminology of Vedanta. It will be followed by आत्मबोधः/aatma-bodha (The Self Knowledge), which gives clarity on the Philosophical concept. The two texts could go hand-in-hand, but things are being kept sequential here in order not to overwhelm or confuse.
You will recall that the term प्रकरण ग्रन्थ/prakarana grantha was given earlier. [NB, this is the point where those of you who took up the suggestion to begin a workbook will be benefitting…!] The term means 'early work texts' - all subjects require 'primers'! Adi Shankaraacharya's greatest gift, perhaps, was the writing of such basic texts to ensure that anyone can approach the Philosophy. One of the most confusing aspects for those who arrive newly to Vedanta is the terminology itself. The more so as it is now being taught widely outside of India; though even within India this is the case, for Sanskrit is now held as an academic language by majority (as Latin or Greek are in the West) and thus misunderstandings easily arise. Particularly where the local languages of India have similar words but which can have altered or even entirely different meanings.
Simple arithmetic cannot be done if we do not know what "+" or "=" or "x" actually mean. Now when you read those symbols, you certainly and quickly placed them in context in your brain - (didn't you??!!) Can you recall the time when these things meant nothing to you? You were not born knowing them - you had to have them explained to you and, through repetition, they became familiar and you, in turn became adept in their usage.
We also know certain words according to context; for example when we say 'platform' in general conversation, we are most probably referring to an area in a room which is raised above floor level. In computing technology however, 'platform' relates to operating software. Therefore, before going into advanced researches on any subject, we must first understand the language in which it is couched - not just the direct meanings but the contexts also. Vedanta is a technical Philosophy and therefore has many words with which it is best to familiarise yourself as they are used constantly. This is because Sanskrit words are highly contextual and, due to how the words are constructed, can have multiple meanings (conversely, there are concepts for which a number of words might be used according to context… [don't panic!]), and,so as not to have to keep repeating lengthy explanations in English (or any other language), it is best to cover the most widely used words early, so that students begin to use them for themselves like 'second nature' in the same way that +/=/x are in daily life.
In Sanskrit there is an approach to reading and getting at meaning called निरुक्त/nirukta, which literally means 'opening the word'. Let us use the text title to demonstrate this.
We can say that TattvabodhaH means 'knowledge of truth' but there is a bit more to it. "Tat" is a straightforward translation as 'That' - but what will become clear as you progress in study is 'Tat' in Vedanta is referring to the ultimate concept, or Brahman and is synonymous with "Sat", which is 'Truth' in ultimate terms. Thus we will see often, particularly at end of services and discourses, the words "ॐ तत् सत् /OM TAT SAT", indicating that all which has gone before leads to the Truth That IS. "BodhaH" is derived from the root ' बुद्धि/buddhi ('intellect gaining', ie knowledge). "Tva" adds abstraction in the way that the suffix '-ness' does in English and applies to the whole term; so it is that we are talking more of essence because everything is abstract in Philosophy.
TattvabodhaH, then, can more accurately be translated as 'essence of gaining knowledge of truthness'. Just as it is its inherent essence of 'sweetness' which makes sugar 'sugar' but is the most elusive thing to describe about it, so it is with the True Knowledge - only by tasting can one fully understand. All efforts are made, nonetheless, to describe, because the joy of 'sweetness' must be shared! This is when we find use of much analogy, in order to draw others closer to the experience.
Another part of the experience of learning, is that of 'preamble'. Even going into basics, there must still be introduction and placement in order that the student might gain the very best from what is to be studied. Here, today, was the opening preamble and it shall continue next Text-day.
At this point you are requested to use the link above to remind yourselves about the purpose of the little workbook and, perhaps, to recap where Sanskrit terms have already been used. You are encouraged, also, to utilise the links on sidebar to reach a local CM centre or the main website in your country in order to purchase a copy of the text which holds the commentary of our current head of mission, Swami Tejomayananda (aka Guru-ji).