Posted by: adbhutam | January 8, 2013

From ‘The Hindu’ on the Vedanta

Here are two reports in The Hindu based on lectures delivered on the Aitareya Upanishad by Dr.Mani Dravid SastriNaH at Chennai in the past week.


Published: January 2, 2013 00:00 IST | Updated: January 2, 2013 08:04 IST

Getting rid of karma
The concepts of the passage of time, of the world and its infinite variety, etc come within the grasp of man’s intelligence. He is able to guess the idea of immortality and knows that he can even strive to attain it. But the search for the Self is not active in many and the Upanishads teach this knowledge through stories, anecdotes and analogies,
pointed out Sri Mani Dravid Sastrigal in a lecture. For instance, when the Aitareya Upanishad states that the Supreme Brahman created the entire universe and entered into all beings, it provides a clue to turn the search (for the Self) inward. If He is already all-pervading, why is He entering into the created objects and beings? If we are told
that the person whom we are looking out for has entered a specific house, our focus would turn into the house rather than searching for him all around in a vague fashion.
There are various types of beings in creation — the animals, birds, etc, human beings and the celestial beings — and all these have to sustain themselves. In this effort, they face both good and bad effects. Sometimes what is expected happens; sometimes it doesn’t. Our efforts may not succeed or without any effort we may obtain gains. This shows
that karma creates opportunities for enjoying its effects, both good and bad, and is the cause of an unbreakable chain in every being’s existence. This karma does not exhaust. There always remains a residue. In trying to get rid of this, a further residue is generated. How to shed this residue? Some may argue that the best way to get rid of karma is to ignore it. Even by ignoring karma, we incur its fruit as much as we reap by accepting it. The best option to get rid of karma is to cultivate detachment (vairagya) and
discrimination (viveka), say the scriptures. One should learn to perform one’s ordained duties with no desire for personal gain and also with no sense of ego. Lord Krishna is the best role model in this regard. Though solely responsible for creation, sustenance and dissolution of the universe, He says: “I don’t have the feeling I am doing
this. I am not going to attain anything further either. I am not doing it to attain anything at all.”

The Eternal Truth
Published: January 2, 2013 00:00 IST | Updated: January 2, 2013 08:04 IST
Vedanta implies the highest knowledge, knowing which all other differences disappear, and there is nothing further to be known. Defining and describing the nature of the Self and of the Supreme Brahman is the aim of the Upanishads. When we try to understand many things, especially in the empirical world, we have the attitude, “let me
become a knower.” This exercise comprises three entities: the knower, the object to be known and the act of knowing. For instance, when physics or chemistry is understood, the human being is the knower and these become the object of knowledge. But when one tries to understand the Self, the three entities merge since one enters the
realm of the esoteric, said Sri Mani Dravid Sastrigal in a lecture. The Upanishads contain Mahavakyas — pithy statements that encapsulate the highest knowledge, while also life here and hereafter is described. The path to liberation through Jnana is also emphasised. But there is the possibility of losing track of the spirit of quest which
the Upanishads symbolise when one wades through the maze of theories and interpretations. The unstated and implied meanings have to be explored and one has to arrive at a correct understanding. In the Aitareya Upanishad is found the axiom Prajnanam Brahma. The meaning is that the eternal and universal
consciousness is the Supreme Being which gives existence to the entire universe. The philosophical teaching in this Upanishad helps a spiritual aspirant to gain the true knowledge of the Self. The infinite variety in creation with manifold names, forms, tendencies, etc., would have remained mere toys had not the Self entered to activate each
being. The body/mind/complex which functions in human beings is possible because of the indwelling Atma. All beings thus are created live for a brief period and then die. The fear of death is largely felt in human beings. This fear has to go. Only knowledge of the Self can dispel this fear of birth and death. The Self (Atma) gives life to the body and remains imperishable. One has to identify with the immortal Atma and
not the body that is subject to growth, change, decay and death.

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