Vedanta is the answer for the problems of the day; it is the only specific for the malady of the age. – Chinmaya
Vedanta comes from two terms – Veda+ Anta. It means that which comes at the end portion of the Vedas. It is also called as the Jnaana Kaanda portion of the Vedas. Another name of Vedanta is Upanishad.
What is the philosophy of Vedanta?
Vedanta introduces us to our perfect Self. Our true nature is Sat-Chit-Ananda, i.e. Existence-Consciousness-Bliss. There is nothing lacking in us. Perfection is our nature.
But unfortunately, we don’t know our true Self. We have misunderstood ourselves as this finite body. It is this ignorance of the Self which is the source of all sorrows. Hence the solution to all problems is “Know Thyself”, says Vedanta.
Some of the unique features of Vedanta are listed below:
1) Vedanta – The teaching which is very systematic.
In Vedanta, all topics are discussed systematically. The topics include:
i.Jeeva Vichaara; (Here the discussion is about the individual); ii.Jagad Vichaara; (Here the discussion is about the world); iii.Ishwara Vichaara; (Here the questions related to God are taken up); iv.Bandha Vichaara; (Here sufferings and their causes are taken up for discussion); v.Moksha Vichaara; (Here the discussion is about the nature of Liberation/Freedom); vi.Saadhanaa Vichaara; (Here the means of gaining liberation from all miseries are discussed).
2) Vedanta – The teaching which has an answer to all our questions.
It is only in Vedanta that the student is allowed the freedom to ask any question. Hence we often find questions raised by the student in the Upanishads and in the Bhagavad Geeta. In Vedanta, all questions have perfect, convincing and logical answers.
Blind belief is not the Vedantic-way. A questioning with a sincere desire to learn, a questioning with an open mind, a questioning with a reverential attitude towards the scriptures/Gurus is well appreciated and is most welcome in Vedanta.
3) Vedanta – The teaching which can be verified.
Vedanta deals with experiential knowledge, not mere informative knowledge. The proof of knowledge is the direct experience of the Self. Even as a seeker, one gains a healthy state of mind, which can be experienced as peace, cheerfulness, and freedom from delusions. A sincere practitioner gets a clear-cut answer when he asks himself this question – “How was I before getting exposed to Vedanta; and today how am I after years of practising Vedanta.”
4) Vedanta – The teaching which is ever relevant.
Vedantic teaching can never become obsolete or irrelevant. Whether in Satya Yuga or in Kali Yuga, seekers have always sought the supreme Self alone for strength and solace. No wonder why the Vedic teaching has been appropriately named –“Sanaatana Dharma”.
5) Vedanta- The teaching which unites all.
We find in the society that all religions fight with each other saying “My religion alone is right.” Among Hindus, there are fights between Vaishnavites and Shaivites. There are confusions regarding innumerable gods. Among Muslims, Shias and Sunnis fight against each other. Among Christians, fights between Catholics and Protestants are not uncommon.
Vedanta doesn’t talk of any God in particular. It talks of Pure Consciousness as the only substratum of the world. It gives importance to the imperishable Consciousness, and not to the perishable body. When our attention in us shifts from the BMI (body-mind-intellect) to Consciousness, we find that the very same Consciousness is present in others too. This leads to the wisdom ‘We are all One’. Hence Vedantic knowledge has the potential to put an end to all disputes amongst religions and can weed out all inequalities born of caste, creed, gender or nationality.
6) Vedanta – The teaching which can end all our psychological problems.
Hinduism talks of six major psychological problems- kaama, krodha, lobha, moha, mada and maatsarya. They are desire, anger, greed, delusion, arrogance and jealousy respectively.
Vedanta handles all problems by going to root cause. The root cause of all the above problems is desire. And the root of all desires is ego. Vedanta analyses the nature of the ego and establishes that it is illusory and non-existent. Hence once the ego is eliminated, all the ego-related problems are also eliminated.
7) Vedanta – The teaching which gives us the highest possible goal to strive for.
Vedanta points to us that we are here on this planet to realise our Divine nature. We are all God ignorant of our infinite nature. A life lived without knowing this great truth is indeed wasted, says Vedanta.
8) Vedanta – The teaching which motivates us to be good human beings.
Vedanta points us the inherent Perfection in us. But to gain this knowledge one must have a pure heart. Hence cultivation of noble values becomes a prerequisite for entry into Vedanta.
9) Vedanta- The teaching which is not divorced from the life of activity.
Vedanta does not ask us to renounce the world in order to practice spirituality. In fact, the real test of our spirituality is not in the dense jungles or solitary caves, but in the thick of life’s problems and challenges. That must be the reason why Bhagavad Geeta was given by the Lord not in a remote and peaceful ashram setting, but in the middle of the battlefield! Vedanta is meant for all, including the householders who are waging the battle of life fulfilling their worldly duties and responsibilities.
10) Vedanta- The teaching which gives Moksha (Freedom) not after death but while living!
Promising liberation after death is not the way of Vedanta. True freedom is the freedom from all wrong notions and confusions of the intellect, from the slavery of the senses, from the negativities of the mind, from addictions and cravings, from I-ness and mine-ness, and from all worries and anxieties. This has to be attained, not through somebody but by one’s own effort, not somewhere but here, not after dying but while living, says Vedanta.
11) Vedanta- The teaching which asks YOU to change, not the world.
Vedanta doesn’t attempt to change the world. The world is already perfect, well-taken care by the Omniscient Lord. The call of Vedanta is to reform oneself. One’s own faulty vision is the cause of all sorrows. Destroy the problem-creator – the ego, and one finds that there are no problems to solve!
12) Vedanta – The teaching which can be practised by anyone, at all times.
Vedanta asks us to shift the attention from the Body-Mind to the Consciousness within, from the perishable to the Imperishable, from the illusion to the Reality. “Ignore the Lord, and you suffer. Hold on to Him, and you are free.” This is something anyone can practice, irrespective of gender, nationality, caste, creed, or religion.
13) Vedanta- The teaching which is beyond all belief systems, superstitions and imaginations.
Vedanta is not an opinion; it is a science. In science, a thing has to be known AS IT IS. Just like the fire has to be known as ‘that which is hot’. No choice is given to the knower. Our imagination or belief system or our upbringing has no role to play in it. So too, the Self has to be known as Pure Consciousness. If it is known as anything else, then the knowledge is erroneous.
Again, in Vedanta, the analysis is based on our day to day experiences of Waking, Dream and Deep Sleep states. The teaching is related to what we know and what we experience. The teaching is not about some unseen world (like Vaikuntha, Kailasa, Heaven or Hell) with unknown experiences.
Thus Vedanta is free from all ambiguities, assumptions, philosophies and imaginations.
14) Vedanta – The teaching which puts an end to all evils in the society.
Vedanta, with its vision of oneness, preaches the way of love, forgiveness and compassion. How can one hate others when one knows that others are also expressions of the very same Consciousness which is throbbing as life principle in oneself? Thus one learns to love not only human beings but plants, animals, birds and all other expressions of life.
Self-ignorance pollutes the vision; and that in turn pollutes the world. Self-knowledge saves the world from all pollutions, and helps create a beautiful world, clean and orderly, peaceful and harmonious.
15) Vedanta – The teaching which puts an end to Birth-Death cycle.
Vedanta teaches in Being, not Becoming. As long as we want to become someone or the other, there is no end to rebirth. The day the desire ends to become somebody, rebirth also ends. Rebirth is only an opportunity given to us to fulfil our unfulfilled desires. Vedanta makes us desireless, thus making us birthless.
No wonder why the Lord calls this knowledge – ‘the best knowledge amongst all’ – ‘Adhyaatma Vidya Vidyaanaam’. And no wonder why the Lord Himself takes avatar time and again to give this knowledge to mankind.
May we practise Vedanta for one’s own liberation and for the welfare of the world – ‘Atmano mokshaartham jagat hitaaya cha’.
O M T A T S A T