Adventures in Advaita Vedanta, the philosophy and science of spirit. We are one you and I; are you curious why?..


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Well-spring of Knowledge

Hari OM
'Text-days' are for delving into the words and theory of Advaita Vedanta.

This day has, for the purposes of this blog, been dedicated to the texts and associated writings regarding the building of Knowledge. Here is an article of Guru-ji's which gives basics of what and why of the source material.

Knowledge of the Self is called Upanishad vidya and the scriptural texts, in which it is revealed, are called the Upanishads.

The Upanishads, in the form of granthas or books, may be many; but the Self-knowledge revealed by them is one and the same. Only that knowledge which is revealed in the Vedas, and not written by anyone, is Upanishad.

Vedas – Authentic Means of Knowledge

The Upanishad texts are found in the Vedas. The word Veda comes from the root vid – knowledge.

The Vedas are not written by any Rsi; they contain truths that were revealed to the Rsis in their seat of meditation. These mantras are the Lord’s revelations and, therefore, the Rsis are called the Seers of these mantras – mantra drshtaraha, na tu mantra kartaraha; the words were 'seen' and not 'made'.

Truly speaking all knowledge is always revealed. Thereafter, it is expressed in words and put in writing by the person to whom it is revealed. Irrespective of the field, Truth is always revealed. For example, Newton’s Law of Gravitation was not something original conceived by him. This law of nature was revealed to him; it was discovered by him. Subsequently, he explained it in detail, and many others also carried out experiments to substantiate his findings.

Why Study the Vedas? In today’s scientific world and modern temper, people question the need of studying the Vedas. Here two things have been pointed out. Firstly it is said, Vedas are required for those who want to know what is dharma and adharma. Secondly, the Vedas are the means of knowledge for those who want to know what is Brahman, what is the Absolute Truth, which cannot be directly perceived or experimented upon in a laboratory.

The Vedas are not needed to study astronomy or physiology, though that knowledge also may be found in them. They are the authentic and valid means of knowing the Supreme Truth. They can also be regarded as a treasure of knowledge.

Two Categories of Upanishads

It is said that there are 108 Upanishads, but they are not all available to us. There are eleven Upanishads which are considered the important Upanishads, while some others are categorised as minor Upanishads.

As far as the content is concerned, there is no difference between them. Both reveal the same Truth. So how do they differ? The major Upanishads are those on which great acharyas of different traditions have written bhashyas (commentaries). Having studied them, it becomes possible to understand the others as well.

Often, people wonder how many Upanishads one needs to study to gain Self-Knowledge. Once, a Mahatma was asked this frequent question. He replied, ‘How many mirrors do you need to see your face? One mirror is enough. Of course, there is no harm if you wish to see it in many mirrors. Every mirror will only show a reflection of your own self.’

Similarly, to gain the Self-knowledge, the study of one Upanishad is sufficient; but if one wishes to revel in it and enjoy it, one may study many more.

When a Realised Master was asked why he still continued to read the Upanishads, he replied that he was just reading about his own glories! ‘Anorniyan mahato mahiyan – I (the Self) am greater than the greatest and subtler than the subtlest.’

That is why we love to see images of ourselves because we know, unconsciously, the reflection of our true nature, our blissful and lovable Self. It is why we grow to love the Upanishads.

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