Posted by: adbhutam | August 12, 2009

GREATNESS OF SHANKARA’S LIFE AND TEACHINGS (PART III )

GREATNESS OF SHANKARA’S LIFE AND TEACHINGS (PART III )

Guru Govindapada was in Samadhi, the acme of Yoga, at that time.
Bhagavatpada did not disturb his Guru but humbly waited on with the
sincere longing for the Darshan of the exalted Guru’s holy feet. On
coming out of Samadhi, Govindapada asked, ‘What brings you here?
Who are you?’ Bhagavatpada replied in ten verses commencing with:

Na BhUmirna toyam na tejo na vAyu-
rna kham nendriyam vaa na teshAm samUhaH |
anaikaantikatvAt sushuptyekasiddha-
stadeko’vashishTaH shivaH kevalo’ham ||

(I am not the earth, nor water, nor fire, nor wind, nor Akaasha, nor
the senses, nor their collection. As they are subject to
destruction, I am the residue that is established in deep sleep. I
am Shiva, the absolute.)

This composition is known as Dashashloki. Taking the cue from the
reply, the Guru, perceiving the divine plan underlining the unique
disciple’s arrival, prepared himself to play the role of an
instrument in the execution of the divine plan. He accepted
Bhagavatpada as a disciple and imparted the great Brahmopadesha to
him. Brahmopadesha is oidinarily understood to be the instructing
of the Gayatri, for Brahma is the Veda and the Veda has the Gayatri
as its basis. The other meaning of Brahmopadesha is instructing
about Brahman, the Supreme. This is what is meant in the context.
This instruction brings about the identity of the individual soul
with the Supreme.

Is this akin to converting a tiger into a goat? No, that is
impossible. Even a dog that is black cannot be made white nor one
that is white be made black. What then to speak of changing a tiger
into a goat? However, if a goat had been painted as a tiger, the
task of converting this ‘tiger’ into a goat can be accomplished by
simply washing the paint away; the ‘tiger’ then ‘becomes’ a goat.
If the soul were to be really finite in its nature it would not be
possible to make it the infinite Supreme by any teaching
whatsoever. Only seeming finitude can be removed, so as to bring
out the inherent infinitude to the limelight.

How is this possible? The seeming finitude is merely due to name
and form. How did the originally absolute infinite entity become
the finite individual soul?

tadAtmAnam svayamakuruta
(That Brahman created Itself by Itself)

tadaikshata bahu syAm prajAyeyeti
(The Supreme visualised, ‘ I shall become many. I shall be born.)
(Taittiriya Upanishad)

How can there really be anything other than It, if all these names
and forms are merely Its own appearances?

The Veda says:

nAsadAsInno sadAsIt
(In the beginning there was neither the unmanifest nor the manifest;
there was just Brahman)

The Gita says:

Mamaivaamsho jIvaloke jIvabhUtaH sanAtanaH
(It is verily a part of Mine which has become the eternal individual
soul in the world.)

The ‘many’ is actually only a part of the One, until the ‘many’
merges in the source, that is, in the Supreme. Upon the individual
soul merging with Brahman, all the names and forms vanish.

YathA nadyaH syandamAnaaH samudre
astam gacchanti nAmarUpe vihAya (Mundakopanishat III. ii.8)

(Just as flowing rivers give up their names and forms and become
indistinguishable on reaching the ocean….)

This is the instruction that Bhagavatpada was blessed with by his
Guru. During his stay with his Guru, Bhagavatpada, by the use of
his Yogic power, brought succour to the suffering people of the
region by taking into his Kamandalu, the flood waters of the
Narmada. Later, in accordance with the instructions of his Guru, he
set out correcting the attitude of the various people who were
following several schools propounded by men merely on the strength
of their intellect. He analysed their viewpoints thoroughly and
laid bare, before such blind followers, the lacunae contained in
their merely relying upon the intellect and upon persons who
propound theories having their fancies as basis.

Kapilo yadi sarvajnaH kaNaado neti kaa pramA |
taavubhau yadi sarvajnau matibhedaH katham tayoH ||

(If Kapila were to be accepted as the all-knowing one, what is the
justification in denying such a status to KaNaada? If it be held
that both are all-knowing, why is it that their views differ?)

Reasoning that springs from the mere imagination of persons lacks
conclusiveness, for man’s conjecture has no limits. Thus, it is
seen that an argument discovered by adepts with great effort is
falsified by other adepts, and an argument hit upon by the latter is
proved to be hollow by still others. So, nobody can rely on any
argument as totally conclusive, for human intellect differs. Why
not rely upon the reasoning of somebody having wide fame say, for
instance, Kapila, under the belief that this must be conclusive?
Such reasoning too is inconclusive for even people whose greatness
is well-recognised and who are the initiators of schools of thought
are seen to hold divergent views.

There are several schools of thought in the world that accept the
existence of God. What is the speciality of those who accept the
authority of the Veda? Most of the religions have some starting
point in time. Their followers aver that God made known His laws to
mankind through some messenger of His. These messengers were sent
well after God had created the world. So, what is the fate of those
who existed prior to God making known His laws? Can they be denied
a chance for liberation? This fallacy cannot be set right by the
followers of those religions. The correct stance accepted by the
followers of the Veda is,

Saha yajnAH prajAH sRishTvA purovAchaH prajApatiH | (Bhagavad Gita
Ch.III)
(In the beginning of creation, having created beings together with
the sacrifices, Prajapati said….)

That is, the Lord manifested this world and also His teaching, the
Veda, coterminously. This teaching, the Veda, specifies two paths –
the Karma Marga, the path of works and Jnana Marga, the path of
knowledge. The former path occupies the major portion of the Vedic
teaching and it is meant for a large section of the people. On the
other hand, the Jnana Marga is meant for a few and is relatively
tough.

ManushyANAm sahasreshu kaschidyatati siddhaye |
Yatataamapi siddhaanaam kaschinmAm vetti tattvataH || (Bhagavadgita)

(One in thousands strives for liberation. Even among such persons,
scarcely one succeeds in knowing Me as I am.)

Both the paths are prevalent in the world. Bhagavatpada clearly
taught, in his Upadesha Panchakam:

Vedo nityamadhIyataam taduditam karma svanushThIyatAm

Study the Veda daily and perform sincerely the actions ordained
therein. First, the Upanayanam ceremony must be performed. Next
comes Upaakarma or the preparation to the formal study of the Veda,
then the actual study, then the performance of the various
prescribed duties, then recourse to the householder’s life and then
the ascertainment that the worldly life is trivial. This is the
sequence that Bhagavatpada talks of. When disgust for worldly life
arises, one should renounce the home.

NijagRihaat tUrNam vinirgamyatAm

Such disgust results when a person realizes that by just wallowing
in his worldly activities, he is doing neither good to the world,
nor to his own finite family or to himself. He now turns within and
attempts to bring about the reform in himself. Upon analysing, he
finds the world to be without any stuff:

asaarameva samsaaram dRishTvaa saaradidRikshayA
(Having seen that the world is definitely puerile and desirous of
apprehending the essence (the inmost truth)….

He finds it futile to look for any meaning in the world. How can
one conclude that there is no true happiness in the world? Nobody
is able to guarantee anything of lasting happiness and, subsequently
alter their position and say exactly the opposite of what they had
said earlier. One who is happy at one instant is seen to be
sorrowful the very next instant. How then can we say that there is
any significant meaning behind worldly existence?

When required to perform an underwater job, we get into the water
attired in a tight-fitting rubber garment, wearing a mask and
carrying a breathing apparatus. But do we go about in that fashion
when driving a car? No, we just put on trousers and a shirt. Thus,
we take different stances in different situations. Likewise, till
such time as we resort to discrimination and develop dispassion, we
are enamoured with worldly life. On acquiring dispassion, we see
the world as puerile and seek to renounce it. Till we realize the
Truth, regardless of whether we have desires or limited dispassion,
the world appears real to us. Once we realize the Truth, we see the
world as a mere appearance.

Many are unable to digest the teaching of Bhagavatpada that the
world is only an appearance. They wonder, ‘What is false here? Is
our sitting here now false? Is our eating our daily food a mere
appearance? What is true and what is false? To such queries, the
reply is that Bhagavatpada’s teaching about the unreality of the
world is pertinent to those who have realised the futility of
worldly experience and have obtained an understanding of the Supreme
Reality. Till that realization dawns, we are left with little
option but to look upon this world as if it were true. It would be
absurd to insist that Bhagavatpada, being a knower of the Supreme
Reality, should declare that the world is real. Bhagavatpada gave
his teaching on the strength of his realization.

A certain job was said to be lucrative as it fetched a handsome
salary of Rs.500/- per month ten years ago. But do we say that a
job which fetches the same Rs.500/- per month today is lucrative?
Situations have changed and so has the value of money. Likewise,
depending upon whether a person gets realization of the Truth or
does not, the situation is different.

We have to understand clearly as to what the knowers mean when they
say that the world is a mere appearance. It is definitely not a
void. There is an entity called ‘Baadhya’ or sublatable and another
called ‘Trikaala abaadhya’, one that is unsublatable at all times,
past, present and future. This world is present now. Before it
originated, it was not present. Will it subsist in the future? We
cannot say. Everyone accepts that this world exists at present.
The Shastras and the materialists say this but in a slightly
different manner. Both agree that the world has reached its present
state after undergoing several changes. In course of time, it will
not be.

What will not subsist in the course of time, cannot be said to be
unsublatable. But the Brahman of the Upanishads is one which always
was, is and will be. This is what is meant by Reality. But the
world does not satisfy this condition. That is why it is said to be
unreal whereas Brahman, which is unsublatable, is regarded as the
only Reality. This is the teaching of Bhagavatpada. It is the same
Reality that appears to us as all the forms seen in the world.

VaasudevaH sarvamiti sa mahaatmaa sudurlabhaH
(Rare is the great one, who knows, ‘Vaasudeva is all.’)

[View this video clipping and some other clippings on YouTube:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rSSGEQbOJtA ]
(To be continued)


Responses

  1. Sarvam Vaasudevaarpanamasthu


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