Study of Vedas

Jaldhar H. Vyas jaldhar at BRAINCELLS.COM
Sun Apr 7 22:51:31 CDT 2002

On Fri, 5 Apr 2002, Srikrishna Ghadiyaram wrote:

> I guess, this is what I am trying to high-light. How
> foolish it is to spend time to acquire worldly
> knowledge on death bed.

How even more foolish to die ignorant?  That story stuck in my mind
because I thought it was inspiring how even at the end of her life, that
woman was not prepared to stop growing.  Knowledge is knowledge.  We don't
make a sharp distinction between sacred and secular knowledge.  They have
different purposes yes, but they are both worthwhile pursuing.

> It is apt for an American or
> an Indian who knows not higher goals of this precious
> life. But, if that is all one can aspire for, well,
> one may go for it.

In an earlier post I talked about the perils of 'top-down" thinking.  It
is pedagogically unsound to think one who is ignorant or disdainful of
"lower" knowledge could hope to aspire to "higher goals."  Do you know any
field of human endeavor where such a thing is true?

> There is no doubt in my mind that one should learn the
> Truth of Life and Realise it personally. Vedas whether
> it be Samhitas or Vedanta (should and) are described
> as a means of Knowledge.

THE means of knowledge.

>  While one can certainly
> benefit in gaining insights of these teachings by
> learning Samhitas or Vedanta, it should not be an end
> in all. More over it weighs in a lot on our mental and
> intellectual ability.

For a Brahman to fulfill his Dharmic obligation at a minimum he needs to
be able to accurately recite some of his shakha.  I believe everyone
reading this has at least that much mental ability and probably much more.
Why appeal to the lowest common denominator? if we aim high then we might
fall but we might also surprise ourselves as to how much we can achieve.
Nevertheless let us say there are some people who are unable or ineligble
to study the Vedas.  They can atleast study the shastras based upon the
Vedas such as the Bhagavata or the Gita or the Ramayana etc.

> Some time ago, I too felt that I should have learnt
> the Vedas under some unexplicable emotion; rather when
> I hear that this Vedic knowledge is endangered, as if
> I am going to save it. But I realized it was not "I"
> who can do it, the Supreme has His plans for it.

The Supreme Lord plans to save it by having YOU study it!  He has told you
that repeatedly.  If the Vedas have survived this long it isn't because of
magic but because of the tremendous effort its' guardians have put into
preserving them.  A culture that loses interest in maintaining itself
commits suicide.  Think not just of youeself but future generations.  To
dump your responsibility for them into the hands of others be they God or
Acharyas or scholars is criminally negligent.

> It is for me to use my time effectively to learn the
> essentials at first and get into a more contemplative
> life style, withdrawal and identify my own attachments
> and get over those short comings. In my view they are
> more important than at first emotionally deciding to
> learn Samhitas. After all the Goal is Realisation not
> memorisation of Samhitas.

Advaita Vedanta not only defines the goal but also the path to the goal.

> We all know one has to give up Samhitas for realising
> or rather being One with Brahman

_Karma_ has to be given up.  Whether that karma is sacred or secular is
irrelevant.  You have two choices--you can do both or you can do neither.
But you cannot give up Samhitas but keep your fancy job and car and other
material toys.

>, after duly and
> directly experiencing the Truth. It is with this
> clarity that I said, I wish not to waste this short
> life for Samhitas but Seek within. Of course, all
> entertainment, diversion or time pass can be gained
> through Swadhyaya, if not engaged in Enquiry with in,
> so that a man does not destroy the progress of mind.

Please read the interview with Swami Dayananda which was mentioned
earlier.  I was impressed by how he has forcefully and clearly explained
the Advaita Vedanta position on these matters.


> I guess it is upto ones scheme of evaluation or
> evolution of mind. As long as one is bound by thoughts
> that one is a Grihastha etc., one may continue to do
> those duties. But, one has to come out of such
> identifications any way, some time.

Swami Dayananda explains very well why "thoughts" are a totally useless
guide.  It matters not a hill of beans whether I "think" I am a
Brahman grhastha or an eskimo princess.  I am a grhastha because I have a
wife and daughter and a job and a car and pay taxes and...  If I wanted to
find a way out of that identification I couldn't do that by simply
abandoning my family etc.  In that case people would consider me a
contemptible monster not an enlightened saint.  Those people who try and
'think" their way out of situations are just practicing self-delusion.
Perhaps a more sophisticated kind than drinking or watching TV or the
thousand other methods people use to escape from reality but self-delusion


> All is a matter of failures to succeed. It is the mind
> which is progressing through evolution. For one fails
> now, one should not give up an attempt. After all what
> is failure ? We all know failure in the pursuit of
> nobler is better than success in paltry.

If a person instead of going to medical college spent his days randomly
stabbing pieces of meat do you think he could become a doctor?  Would you
want to be operated on by such a doctor?  Do you know of any field of
human endeavor where doing the wrong thing repeatedly leads to sucessful

We are lucky to heirs of thousands of years of experience of the path to
spiritual progress.  If our sages have recommended karma in some
situations and vairagya in others, it is for good reasons and we should be
sure we fully understand those reasons before going off on a tangent.

Jaldhar H. Vyas <jaldhar at>
It's a girl! See the pictures -
>From ADVAITA-L at LISTS.ADVAITA-VEDANTA.ORG Mon Apr  8 00:22:24 2002
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Date: Mon, 8 Apr 2002 00:22:24 -0400
Reply-To: List for advaita vedanta as taught by Shri Shankara
To: List for advaita vedanta as taught by Shri Shankara
From: "Jaldhar H. Vyas" <jaldhar at BRAINCELLS.COM>
Subject: Re: Yajnavalkya
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On Sun, 7 Apr 2002, Erik Mossel wrote:

> Can anybody of the learned assembly here give more information on the ?Atma
> Purana?. The introduction states that this Purana is written by ?the
> celeberated Swami Sankarananda [Saraswati], who is supposed to be a Guru of
> Swami Vidyaranya of the Panchadasi fame?.
> Since I couldn?t find any details about the puranic text, I am interested in
> some background details like date, complete edtion (bi-lingual
> Sanskrit-English), Who was Swami Shankaranda? Is the original text probably
> known under a different name?

I have Swami Shankaranandas' commentary on the Bhagavadgita called
Tatparyabodhini or Shankaranandi.  In the Sanskrit intrduction, the editor
(Pt. V.L Panashikar) says that Swami Shankarananda was a Jagadguru
Shankaracharya of Shringeri and the guru of Swami Vidyaranya.  That would
make him early 14th century I believe.  In the mangalacharana of
the Panchadashi, Swami Vidyaranya says:

namaH shrishaMkarAnandagurupAdAmbujanmane |

However Swami Vidyaranyas' predecessor on the Shringeri pitha was Swami
Bharati Tirth so perhaps paramaguru is meant instead?

In the colophons of the Shankaranandi, he says he is the shishya of one
Anandatma Saraswati.

According to Pt. Panashikar, his works are

Dipikas on the principal upanishads,
Dipika on the Brahmasutras,
Vivrtti on the Shankarabhashya on the Brahmasutras,
Tatparyabdhini on the Bhagavadgita,
and the Atmapurana

It is also called Upanishadratna.  and according to the New York Public
Library catalog it is "Substance of the Upanishads in verse."  It's not
a real purana and I don't know why it has that curious name.  It has been
published as volume 17 of the Dakshinamurti Sanskrit Granthamala with a
Hindi translation but apparently has not been translated into English yet
apart from the book you mentioned.

Jaldhar H. Vyas <jaldhar at>
It's a girl! See the pictures -

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