Vedanta is not Instant Gratification
S. V. Subrahmanian
svskotra at HOTMAIL.COM
Thu Aug 31 14:04:23 CDT 2000
Pursuant to Shri Anandji's mail, I thought I would share with you
the following which I say from my understanding. I am sure
there are members in the list who have just begun to learn
Vedanta. I am one such. My formal learning is just 8 months
old ie., since Y2K. It is a good practice that saha-brahmacharins
discuss their lessons, not to demonstrate their understanding
but to learn more from fellow students. I am writing the following
in this spirit. Apart from the subject matter of Vedanta, I have learnt the
following, the hard way. May be some are wrong, I hope Ishwara will guide
me in the right path, going forward. But if they are right, then other
fellow beginners, I hope will benefit.
1. puruSartha nischaya is essential:
Among the 4 puruSArthas, one has to choose among either the
preyas (dharma, artha, kama) or Sreyas (moksha). The decision making
at the initial stages of learning is essential. A person having
decided that artha is his primary goal can never make much progress
in understanding Vedanta. He might be better off taking a course
in Java and get a good job in a dot-com. Vedanta is for those
who have chosen moksha. That choice to know brahman is what gives
the enthusiasm to undertake the mental rigours needed for understanding
Vedanta. To make progress in studying Vedanta, one has to make a conscious
choice and commitment to "know".
2. Vedanta is not a self-study material:
If any of us are labouring under the impression that we can buy a
bunch of books and learn from them, we are really kidding ourselves.
A competent AchArya is essential, who explains it to us atleast
once. Atleast a discussion with fellow students is a must to
learn Vedanta. No medium of instruction can replace a Guru. It would
be worth the time trying to find an AchArya whom you can approach
for learning. Even, if he is not a brahmaniSta (difficut to find these
days), he should atleast be a Srotriya.
3. vyakaraNa is essential:
In this age, when there are not many Gurukulams and no conducive
atmosphere to spend a lot of time in Gurukulam, one is restricted in
having only few physical contacts with one's AchArya. After getting the
instructions, one has to do a lot of swAdhyaya (self-study). During these
moments, working purely of commentaries, might prove to be a handicap.
Knowledge of vyakaraNa is essential to unravel the meaning, unfold the
knowledge in the verses. Many take refuge under Shankara's verse "nahi,
nahi rakshati dukrin karane". Please, please...the meaning is obvious.
Grammar is a tool. It is not moksha in itself, but will certainly help
understand the "Sabda"s.
4. Vedanta is not a substitute for sadAchara, nor is it a
compenstaion for loose character:
As Shankara says in his bhaSya on Kathopanishad: "Indriya lolyaat
aSAnthaha", can never make progress in the study of Vedanta. sadAchAra
(good conduct), is essential for the fructification of Vedantic study in the
form of knowledge of brahman. Moksha is an act of Grace by Brahman and
nothing less than sterling character can win the Grace of Brahman. The
study of Vedanta requires "medha" Sakthi, and there is no greater drain of
"medha" Sakthi than bad character. INDISCRIMINATE QUOTING OF vAkyas TO
ABSOLVE ONESELF FROM LOOSE CHARACTER DOES NOT WORK!
5. Vedanta is not for the man in a hurry:
This part has been amplified by Shri Anandji in his criticism of
instant gratification on part of the seeker. Patience is needed to learn
and correct one's understanding. Failure to understand should not undermine
one's enthusiasm, but should encourage one to dive deeper. Ignorance amassed
in many births takes some time to be overcome. When we did not mind living
through all the previous lives as an ignorant being, why can't we be patient
for a few years atleast in studying Vedanta?
6. Vedanta is the end of the search:
One does not begin the search for God through Vedanta, instead one ends the
search for God through Vedanta. We have been searching for God in wine,
women(men) and wealth for many births and not having found, we have finally
come to take refuge under Vedanta with the Sraddha that it will deliver us.
Thus Vedanta is the last step in our search, after having understood which
there is nothing left to be understood. After having gone through all the
myriad ways and finally hit upon the "rAja mArga", it would be foolish to
attempt it half heartedly, or give it up. This is the final assault on our
ignorance, let us give it our best.
These are some of the conclusions that I have come to after my first
8 months of study of Vedanta.
S. V. Subrahmanian.
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