[Advaita-l] Question I

pd pdhruv at gmail.com
Thu Oct 21 21:03:43 CDT 2010

(Before I address the query of Abhyudaya Mandal, let me express my limited
knowledge about
Advaita and other philosophies. I am a novice at this. The write up is based
on the limited life
experiences that the Divine has showered on me. Please bear with my
inaccuracies and
misunderstanding. I request you to kindly correct my shortcomings).

Dear Abhyudaya Mandal,

Vedanta or Upanishads addresses one of the more fundamental questions that
every individual
has. A poor man has it, a rich man has it, a man/woman/child has it. And the
question is
that about JOY or HAPPINESS. It is not the question of how to be happy.
Everyone knows what makes
them happy. But the happiness is punctuated by periods of its opposite - the
sorrow. The question
is: How to be joyful or happy and eliminate every trace of sorrow.

The beautiful aspect of Vedant is its simplicity and direct way of
addressing the subject matter.
In this, it relies on nothing other than our own experiences and logic. And
when the logic and
experience stand against each other, logic is discarded since it goes
against the experience.

So, here is in brief how the thought process has progressed in this search
of this seemingly elusive
joy, in the Vedantic tradition.

Seemingly, everyone has a different things that will make them happy and
that they would like to
accomplish in life. For example, an astronaut today may wish to undertake a
successful journey to
Mars. A doctor, on the other hand may be happier serving his community. And
a housewife, being a
"good wife and mother", just to give a few examples.

Let us take an example of the doctor, in the above example. Ask the next
question: "why do you
want to serve your community?" The eventual answer will invariably be: it
brings me happiness or
satisfaction or contentment. This is not limited to just the doctor.

The same spirit runs through others including you and I. It holds true
across the long/medium/short
term goals of every individual. In fact, every action of every being is
performed only with the
end goal of deriving joy out of it. The Upanishads go to the extent of say
that a man loves his wife
(and vice versa) not for the sake of the wife. But for his own sake. In
other words, only because
it brings joy to himself.

So, pursuit of happiess is at the very core of every being. Therefore, we
should study deeply different
facets of this joy!

The investigation follows along the lines of (ask yourself the questions and
see if you agree with
the answers):

When was it the first time that I recall pursuing happiness? Every since the
earliest days of childhood
that I can remember.

Given a choice to be happy in terms of time line, when would I like the
happiness to being- now or
in future? Now.

If happiness can be quantified, how much happiness would I like to have?

If I had a choice, how long would I want my happiness to last? Eternity.

This is true for every being.

So we come to conclusion that the goal of every life is to be infinitely
happy which lasts for eternity.

But we "experience" that this is not the case. Naturally, the question
arises. Can "infinite happiness
that lasts for eternity" be turned into reality? Or is it just a mirage.

At this point some easily give up thinking that this the experience of
everybody. Not the Vedantins.
They are bold enough to try it out. The search therefore begins by evaluate
the world around us as well
as its constituents.

If the joy came from the world, naturally, everyone would be joyful because
of that thing. For example,
if chocolate was the source of joy, everyone will be joyful eating
chocolates. But some people may
detest chocolates. So, the conclusion that can be gained on the basis of
logic and experience is
that anything from the world, be it a object, place, situation or other
people can be source of
such happiness.

Thus, the only thing left for inspection as a source of "infinite and
eternal happiness" is my own self.

This is why the journey of investigation in Vedant turned more inwards. A
deeper study was undertaken
by the Rishes, again, on basis of experience we can corroborate and logic.
Different Upanishads
undertake this study along the investigations that are classified as:

- Sukha Dukha Pariksha (Investigations of Joy and Sorrow, what happens to my
mental state when I
                                     am happy or unhappy)
- Atma Pariksha (Investigation of my own Self, or who am I)

The Atma Pariksha is further differentiated as:

- Avastha Trai Pariksha (Investigations of the 3 states of existence -
waking, sleeping, deep sleep)
- Pancha Kosha Pariksha (Investigations of 5 layers of being)

The results of these investigations are undertaken by different traditions.
Surprisingly for the
most part, they are pretty similar, be it Dwaita School, Vishshta Advaita
School, Advaita school.
Or even Buddhist school. The minor differences are only in the "end state"
or "God".

In Advaita, the God has a single unitary existence, whose inherent nature is
"Existance, Consciousness
and Bliss". Every being is truely This at its core, but has seemingly
forgotten about his/her true nature,
in the present state of existence. That uninterrupted Blissful state is
achievable by every being in this life
itself, once he/she realizes this and works towards discarding the
"incidental associates" to his true

Thus, achieving the goal of "infinite eternal joy" is achievable and in your
own hands. It is not at
the mercy of some other being. Simply wake up to your true Reality and do
the needful. It is indeed
a very powerful message of Advaita Vedant.

According to Dvaita, the "end state" is never completely achievable by any
individual. There will
always be a gap, however small between the the Ultimate Reality and your own

According to some Buddhist schools, there is only Nothingness as Ultimate
Reality. In a way, it is
an echo of the Advaitic thought where Brahman is being called by another
name "Nothingness", because
truely if there was Nothingness in the end, there must be one "final
witness" to that Nothingness.

If you read the works of Swami Yukteshwar or Yoganandaji(available on
Amazon.com and
other bookstores), it may be surprising to find how teachings of Christ are
along the lines of the
Vedantic teachings.

* The Holy Science
* Autobiography of a Yogi

In then end, the philosophy that will appeal to you most depends on your
mental make up.

Swami Vivekanand had taught about the four paths to the journey to Ultimate

- Karma Yoga (suited for individual with predominantly activity oriented
mental aptitude)
- Raja Yoga (suited for individual with predominantly occult activity
oriented mental aptitude)
- Bhakti Yoga (suited for individuals with predominantly emotional aptitude)
- Gyan Yoga (suited for individual with predominantly logic driven aptitude)

These paths are not exclusive. For example, Ramkrishna Paramhamsa was both
Devi Bhakta as well as
Advaitin. Likewise, Shankaracharya was an Advaitins and at the same time
composed numerous hymns
for various Gods and Godesses.

As Shri Ramkrishna used to illustruate, the formless (Nirakar God) ocean
water under the cold currents
of bhakti freezes takes a shape as ice(Saakar God). The same ice (Saakar
God) under the heat of
Gyan dissolves and again becomes the formleass ocean (Niraakar God).

These seemingly different paths, which converge to the same Ultimate
Reality, are not separate. It is
probably the different stages in the same path. Let people fight about the
differences and greatness
of the paths or the state of the Ultimate Reality.

We are all marching, surely and steadily, towards that Ultimate Reality,
which Advaitins call Brahman.

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Roshan Mandal <roshanmandal at yahoo.com>
To: advaita-l at lists.advaita-vedanta.org
Date: Mon, 18 Oct 2010 12:58:29 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: [Advaita-l] Question I
Dear sirs/madams,

I am new to the realm of Vedanta. I have studied the basics. But as a
I have many questions. One of the most fundamental questions that I have is:

Why should I believe the Adavaita Vedanta philosophy over any other
philosophy/religion? What evidence does Advaita have to back up its claims?

Grateful if you could answer my question as thorougly as possible.
Thank you.

Abhyudaya Mandal

My background -- I am 16 yrs old. Most of my Vendata "knowledge" consists of
reading the Gospel of Ramakrishna, and Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda,
a few articles on the Divine Life Society site. (My knowledge is very
However, I have studied Christianity, especially, fundamentalist evangelical
Christianity for several years formally (My school has mandatory Bible

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