Vedanta Philosophy: The Unity- in- Difference
The ancient India is the birth place of Sanatana Dharma, which is now popular as Hinduism. Unlike other major religions in the world, Hinduism believes in pluralism as a way of practice. As Veda describes “Ekam Sat Vipra Vahuda Vadanti,” the meaning, truth is one but it manifests as many. God is one but it reveals in many different ways, as many as diverse believes, faith, religion, ethos, values, rituals, practices, and so on. In Hinduism God is identified as Truth. You can understand this way—another name of God is Truth. Philosopher Rabindra Nath Tagore described God as Sat-Chit-Ananda (Truth-Consciousness-Bliss). Truth, Consciousness, and Bliss, all three are different forms of God. They are not distinct phenomena; they are separate forms of the same phenomenon. If truth stands for the God, the opposite of God is illusion (Maya), meaning the reality is God (truth) and the unreality is Maya. The ‘truth’ is one and the real, the opposites of truth are many and illusion. How does illusion appear as truth?
Sometimes, the illusion manifest as truth. It is not the truth, but manifestation of the truth. It appears to us as truth, because we see the truth through the mirror of illusion. Like, the letters and words appear to us as bigger when we see them through power glass. Similarly the ‘truth’ appears as many when we see it under the illusion. Then, what is illusion? The world is illusion. The world is creation of Maya. The Veda describes in Sanskrit “Jagat Mithya, Brahman Satya.” The world (Jagat) is illusion (Mithya), the Brahman is truth (Satya). “Jiva Brahmaiva Napara,” There is no difference between Jiva (Soul) and Brahman (God). The several millions of people we see in the world, they are creation of Maya (illusion). They are mirror images of God. The truth is God and it is one. Any religion you follow, the concept of God cannot change. You may call Him as Lord Krishna or Jesus. God is same and only one. It is our illusion to see them as different. God created the world through Lila (creative force). Like, we create many things through our imagination. Imagination is such a creation…
Further, the Vedanta says, first, you remove your screens of illusion. What is it? You are not a material body, you are a spiritual soul. You are part of the same divine force called God. You are not a material being, you are a spiritual soul. The soul you have is nothing else, but Brahman. The Atman (soul), a Sanskrit word, is Brahman. The nature of Atman is same as Brahman. What is it? Further Rabindra Nath Tagore describes the nature of Atman; it is Sat-Chit-Ananda (the Truth, Consciousness, and Bliss). The Truth is not ordinary, it is Brahman. Similarly, the Consciousness is not ordinary, it is Supreme Consciousness. Likewise, Bliss is not common, it is supreme Bliss.
Adi Sankaracharya founded the doctrine called non-dualism or monism (One God). The sect is called Advaita Vedanta. Advaita means ‘one’ and Vedanta means ‘end of Veda.’ Veda is the religious scripture in Hinduism. Veda is also called ‘Sruti,’ why Veda is called Sruti? In ancient India, the religious and spiritual knowledge transformed through Guru (teacher) to the disciple (student) in form of Sruti. ‘Sruti’ means listening and memorising. Sruti is three stage processes: Sravana (listening), Manana (understanding), and Nidhidhyasana (memorising). The student sits before the Guru, listen what the Guru says, reflect it, and restore the knowledge in memory. In the primitive age, the written form of knowledge storage was not available. So sruti was the only mode of knowledge transformation from one generation to another. The time when people learned to restore the knowledge in writing in Palm leaves, the Vedic era ended (Vedanta). Subsequently, Sruti literature restored in writing in Palm leaves. The period is called Vedanta. Adi Sankaracharya belongs to the period. Therefore, his teachings called Advaita Vedanta (non-dualism).
Truth, Consciousness, and Bliss
Philosophy of Advaita Vedanta describes the individual soul as infinite. ‘Aham Brahamsmi’– The meaning is ‘I am Brahman,’ I am infinite. I am eternal soul spirit. I am part of the same infinite Brahman. Under the false notion of ‘ego’, the individual identifies with the material body. So, I am not a Brahmin, nor a Dalit, nor PMI Mr. Narendra Modi and so on; I am infinite. The Vedic word ‘so ham,’ the meaning is ‘I am that Brahman.’ So, it also suggests that ‘I am not God/Brahman.’ But I am part of the God. I am the finite and yet the part of an Infinite. ‘I am not the finite alone.’ I am possibility of the Infinite. For example, I am not a teacher, I am possibilities of many. I can be a Gardner, Tablist, writer, Doctor, Engineer, Politician, Philosopher, and Blogger. So I have infinite possibilities. What does it mean? I am Godly; I am not God. I am a possibility of Brahman. In other words, I am a potential Brahman. What is my reality? It is Brahman! I am not yet Brahman, nor am I yet the consciousness of the Brahman. The Vedic word, in Mundaka Upanishad, describes “Brahmavid Brahmaiva Bhavati.” It means “those who know the Brahman can become Brahman.”
Certainly, your knowledge of the Brahman can help you develop the consciousness Brahman. As long as you are under the spell of ignorance, you will consider the material pleasure, the human body, and the earthly existence as the reality. Therefore, you will recognize the distinction between ‘mine’ and ‘yours,’ ‘rich’ and ‘poor,’ and ‘happiness’ and ‘sorrow,’ etc. are a reality. Once you move out of that stage through the knowledge of Brahman (Brahma Gyana), you reach the stage described as Brahman Chetana (Consciousness of Brahman). Brahman Chetana is otherwise called Cosmic Consciousness. How does one reach the stage of Brahman Chetana? It is possible through Tapa (Meditation), Japa (Chanting Hari Nama; Maha-mantra), and Brahma Gyana (Divine Knowledge).
Gyana includes knowledge of both finite (Para-vidya) and infinite (Apara-vidya). It is not knowledge of infinite alone. Because you are ‘a poor’ soul, so you are under the spell of illusion. Gyana, in a mundane life, is cultivating all positive virtues; by then you come to know the limitation of the human; so you stand for truth, righteousness, love, courage, patience, kindness, humility, and so on. Gyana, in an absolute term, is knowledge of the Supreme Reality (Apara-vidya). Finally, the seeker advised to cultivate all three, Tapa, Japa, and Gyana, simultaneously.
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Vol.1 Issue 1, Feb 28 2016 pp. 15-16.
Wikipedia, the free Encyclopaedia, “Bhagavad Gita.” Retrieved on 28/02/2016 from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bhagavad_Gita
Wikipedia, the free Encyclopaedia, “Advaita Vedanta.” Retrieved on 28/02/2016 from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Advaita_Vedanta