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October 2009

This issue of Yoga focuses on Swami Sivananda’s teachings on jnana yoga.

High on Waves

Jnana Yoga

Vairagya

Viveka Prashnottari

Shat-Sampat: Six-fold Virtues

The Voice of Conscience

Practice of Meditation in Jnana Yoga

The Experience of Silence

What is Brahman?

The Philosophy of Vedanta

The State of Jnana



The Philosophy of Vedanta

Vedanta is Brahma vidya. It is moksha shastra or the science of emancipation. It reveals the majesty of man in his essential nature. The oneness of all existence is its message. It does not exclude matter. It does not exclude anything. Absolutism is the pivot of the Vedanta philosophy and the Upanishads form its basis. Vedanta is the basic culture of India. It is the peak or acme of Indian philosophy, which has kept the Indian society alive for the past eight thousand years.

A bold message

Vedanta is the only bold philosophy which dares call man God, not merely the son of God, or His servant. It proclaims with emphasis that you are the immortal, all-pervading atman, the universal soul or Supreme Brahman in essence, in reality. Boldness is the keynote of Vedanta. The message of Vedanta is fearlessness, soul force, and unity of consciousness.

Vedanta asks for a deeper reassessment of the divine-human equation, a return to the fundamental question of every being: “What am I really? What is my real Self?”

Vedanta reminds you of your true, essential, divine nature. Vedanta says: “O little man! Do not identify yourself with this perishable body. Give up ‘I-ness’ and ‘mineness’. Do not hate your neighbour or brother. Do not try to exploit him. He is your own Self. There is a common Self or common consciousness in all. This is the same in a king and a peasant, an ant and a dog, a man and a woman, a cobbler and a scavenger. This is the real, immortal entity. Mind is the dividing principle. It tempts, deludes. Kill this mischievous mind. Control the senses which drag you out to the external objects. Fix the mind in the source. Rise above body and mind. Eradicate desires. Learn to discriminate the real from the unreal. Identify yourself with this immortal, non-dual, self-existent, self-luminous essence. Behold the one Self in all. See the one in many.”

The student of Vedanta puts the ‘neti, neti’ doctrine into daily practice. He says: “I am not this perishable body. I am not this mind. I am not this prana. I am not the senses.” Neti, neti means ‘not this, not this’. This is the path of negation. But he tries to identify himself with the all-pervading atman or Self. This practice culminates in the attainment of self-realization, the immediate intuition of the all-filling Brahman.

Vedanta denotes one’s identity with the rest of humanity. According to Vedanta, there is no stranger in this world. Everyone is related to one another in the kinship of the spirit. In Vedanta, there is no ‘mine’ and ‘for me’; but ‘ours’ and ‘for us’; and ultimately, ‘His’ and ‘for Him’. If the Vedanta philosophy is rightly understood and acted upon, then it will obliterate all ills that emanate from factional prejudices.

Vedanta is no creed, no ceremony or form of worship. It is the science of right living.

A great leveller

Vedanta is not the sole monopoly of the Hindus or the recluses. It is for all. It preaches universal principles. Vedanta is a universal, eternal religion. It is a great leveller. It unites all. It gives room to all.

Vedanta never condemns any man as beyond hope, never looks upon anyone as accursed, but takes all mankind within its fold. Vedanta is extremely catholic and liberal in its outlook.

Vedanta can offer to the modern society a common faith, a common body of principles and moral discipline. It is highly scientific in outlook and has a real appeal to people of today. Even a little understanding and a little practice of Vedanta can raise one to magnanimous heights of God-consciousness, and remove the fears and anxieties of this mundane life.

Practice of Vedanta

The path of Vedanta is not as easy as it is generally supposed to be. It is a sharp and razor-edge path. It is very easy to say “Soham. Shivoham. Aham Brahmasmi. I am He. I am Shiva. I am Brahman” like a parrot. But to live in the very spirit of Vedanta, to feel the unity of consciousness, to become ‘That’ in reality and to radiate the Brahmic bliss, joy and peace, is an extremely difficult affair. While repeating ‘Soham’, if the mind is easily upset when another utters a single harsh word, there is no use at all in that repetition. It is mere hypocrisy.

I believe in practical Vedanta. I believe in solid spiritual practices. I believe in thorough overhauling of worldly nature. You must put Vedanta in daily practice, in every action of yours. Vedanta teaches oneness or unity of Self; therefore, you must radiate love to one and all. The spirit of Vedanta must be ingrained in your cells, tissues, veins, nerves and bones. You must think of unity, speak of unity and act in unity. Mere theorizing and lecturing is only intellectual gymnastics and lingual welfare. This will not suffice.

The sun, the flowers, the Ganga, the sandal trees, the fruit-bearing trees, the cows – all teach practical Vedanta to the world. They live for serving the humanity in a disinterested spirit. The sun radiates its light alike over the cottage of a peasant and the palace of a king. The flowers waft their fragrance to all. The refreshing waters of the Ganga are drunk by all. The sandal tree wafts its aroma even to the man who cuts it down. The cows live to nourish the infants, the children, the invalids and the convalescents. Learn lessons from these practical Vedantins and become wise.

Vedanta does not want you to retire to Himalayan caves. It can be practised at home. It can be practised in all circumstances of life. It demands a changed angle of vision. Until now, the world was everything. Hereafter, the reality alone is everything.

Learn to discriminate between the permanent and the impermanent. Behold the Self in all beings, in all objects. Fix the mind on the Self when you work. This is practical Vedanta. This is the essence of the teachings of the Upanishads and sages of yore. Put these things in practice in the daily battle of life. You will shine as a dynamic yogin. There is no doubt of this.

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