Messages of Vedanta For The Women, Men & Children of Modern India – Part I
The river does not drink its own water, nor does the tree eat its own fruit. They live for other Similarly, from time to time great souls are born whose lives are lived for the good of others. They bring peace and happiness to mankind. Having themselves crossed the dreadful ocean of maya (relative existence); they help others to cross without any selfish motive. The Divine Power of Its own accord wants to help you; you don’t have to coax. But you do have to use your will to demand as His child and to behave as His child.[Real devotees] know that even if they have not been able to give up bad habits they can bring God closer and closer by constantly calling upon Him and expecting Him to be present at all times – to take part in their daily lives as well as to respond to them in their moments of prayer. They know that all things are possible to God and that most understanding lies beyond the intellect.
It does not matter when and where a great soul is born or how long he lives; his life and messages are a source of inspiration to all people, in all ages. These principles and doctrines have been laid down in our thousands of year old Vedanta. Following these principles of life, India had become a giant amongst nations. India was the Golden Bowl, till almost everyone, from all over the world, scrambled for the riches of India. Be it whether Great Alexander, the British, the Portuguese, The French, Taimud Long, Chengheese Khan, Babar, Akbar, Humayun, Aurangzeb, almost every one.
It is the ancient tradition of India that men of renunciation, and not men of wealth, had leaded the society and the nation. We observe the tremendous influence of such spiritual giants as Buddha, Shankara, Chaitanya and Nanaka, Paramahansa Ramakrishna, Swami Vivekananda, BabaJi, Sri YukteshwarJi, Paramahansa Yogananda, have over millions of people. Their impact on the minds of the mass is deeper and more lasting than that of Kings and Emperors. We, from their life story, see that from childhood, these great Masters had not only given indications but also lead a life of renunciates. We see these example in Swami Vivekanda, Paramahansa Ramakrishna,Paramahansa Yogananda, Chaitanya, Ramana Maharshi, to name only a few.
This is the age of the jet, the rocket and the satellite. People want to move speedily and expect to achieve everything fast, if not instantly. People unfamiliar with Vedanta, they are running after the illusions. Those who are trying to understand, they do not realize that they are trying to know Vedanta in five minutes about a spiritual tradition that has been handed down to us for the last five thousand years. And therefore, soon enough, they give up. I know I am not doing proper justice to Vedanta by trying to describe it in this short note, but nevertheless I shall try to answer the question, “What is Vedanta?”
When a person asks me, “What is Vedanta?” it reminds me of a story.Once a great teacher of Vedanta was invited by a group of people to give a talk on Vedanta. When he arrived at a lecture hall he asked the audience, “Do you know what I am going to tell you?” The people all said, “No”. “Then I shall not say anything to you, because you have no background”. Saying this, the teacher left the hall. The following week he was again invited by the people, but the leaders of the group planned in advance. They told the audience to say yes if the teacher asked the same question. The teacher was escorted to the hall and sure enough, he asked the same question. This time the audience replied, “Yes”, immediately the teacher said, “You know everything then, so I have nothing to say”, and he left. Again the leaders made a plan for the teacher’s next visit and asked half of the audience to say yes and the other half to say no. When the teacher came for the third time he repeated the same question, “Do you know what I am going to tell you?” and the audience responded as they had been instructed. Then the teacher said, “Those who have said no, please learn from those who have said yes”. Without another word he left. The people were puzzled and did not know what to do. They finally decided that the next time they would simply remain silent. After repeated requests the teacher came once more and asked the same question. This time he did not get any answer. He noticed that the whole audience was absorbed in deep silence, and he knew that this was the right time to talk to them about Vedanta.
Vedanta is the culmination of knowledge, the sacred wisdom of the Hindu sages, the transcendental experience of the seers of Truth. It is the essence, or conclusion, of the Vedas. As the Upanishads come at the end of the Vedas, it is called Vedanta. Literally, Veda means knowledge and anta means end.
The main tenets of Vedanta are
Brahman is the ultimate reality, the one without a second. It is Existence-Consciousness-Bliss Absolute. It is beyond name and form, devoid of qualities, without beginning or end. It is the unchanging Truth, beyond space, time and causation. But this vast, infinite Brahman manifests itself as the universe and the individual beings through its inscrutable power of maya. Thus one becomes many. When Brahman is associated with its maya, it is called God or Ishvara.
The universe is apparent, like water in a mirage and is continuously changing. We perceive the universe through space, time and causation. Space begins when one gets a body, time begins when one starts thinking and causation begins when one becomes limited. This beautiful, tangible universe disappears from one’s awareness when one enters into the sleep state or merges into Samadhi and again it reappears in the waking state. So this world is in the mind.
Human beings are divine. Their real nature is the Atman, which is infinite, eternal, pure, luminous, ever free, blissful and identical with Brahman. These ‘Humans’ are not sinners. They make mistakes and suffer because of ignorance. As darkness disappears when light dawns, so ignorance goes away with the advent of knowledge awakens. Bondage and freedom are in the mind. Thinking of weakness and bondage, one becomes weak and bound. Thinking of strength and freedom, one becomes strong and free. No human being wants slavery, because it is painful. Joy is only in freedom, which is, as Vedanta declares, the inherent nature of all beings. The goal of human life is to realize God, and the purpose of religion is to teach one how to manifest the divinity within.