[Advaita-l] From 'The Hindu' on the Vedanta

V Subrahmanian v.subrahmanian at gmail.com
Mon Jan 7 22:52:22 CST 2013

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
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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