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By Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakur

Published in The Harmonist (Sree Sajjanatoshani)


Derivative Meaning: -- The intellectualism of the sacred India is associated with the importance of Vedanta Philosophy which has been a much talked of Subject among the erudite advocates of transcendence. The derivation of the word is traced to the highest pinnacle of spiritual knowledge embodied in the Holy Scriptures known as the Vedas. The ontological views of the Vedas build up the mansion of the unalloyed spirit purely based on transcendence beyond phenomena. Later on the theme of Vedanta has been cryptically presented in the form of Aphorisms ascribed to have been written by the greatest sage of India - Krishna Dwaipayana Vedavyasa, utilizing all sorts of rationalistic cosmological metaphysic. Some aphorisms speaking for the Vedanta system may be considered as reconciliative roots of the conflicting hymns of the Vedas which deal with the esoteric questions of Pure Knowledge apart from the material structures and their association in accommodable space, signifying a subtlety.

The Vedas are the emblematic representations in the shape of hymns dealing with higher knowledge in connection with the present predicament of our intellectual speculation. So Vedanta would inculcate the highest esoteric advancement of the rationalistic view for furnishing the means of tracing a cosmic Fountainhead Who can satisfy all our quests for the Being, non-Being and beings. The Vedas, in other words, are the first information reports of human knowledge which go by the name of Scriptures being unveiling agents of hidden knowledge; and Vedanta is concerned with furnishing the true materials where the exoteric phases of different conceptions find a termination.

Different Meanings: -- A certain writer of the so-called monistic school in tracing its fundamental merits went on to establish Vedanta Philosophy as applicable to a subject based on the Scriptures known as Upanishads. The Upanishads are considered as esoteric instructions of the Vedas which form the subject-matter of the treatise dealing with the cosmology of the phenomena, their sustenance and dissolution as well as an attempt at having a peep into the transcendence. A keen observation will tell us that the Aphorisms of Vedanta are meant to meet the apparently conflicting inculcations of the hymns together with a cogent rationalistic view to dispel all erroneous determinations of different scholastic explorations.

Eligibility and Designation of Readers: -- Every endeavour in this matter should be successfully carried out by experts and whenever they are found lacking in capacity, the result will be harmful; so we should learn how to grapple with the theme properly. If we are hasty on-lookers of Vedanta, it may lead us to some incorrect determination. We may utilize that very finding for earthly purposes. We may turn ourselves hunters of curiosity and leave it just after our search is completed; but we may receive the true benefit only if we patiently approach it to have the true conception of what is truly desirable for us. The first two readers will surely miss their aim to utilize properly their time and effort in order to become successful. The aim of studying Vedanta is to scale up the tallowy smooth gnomon of phenomena; but if the slippery position does not allow us to reach the summit of the post, then such an attempt will tend to remind us of the observation of the king of the Highlanders towards the unsuccessful spider. Before we are admitted as students of Vedanta, our attention should not be directed to view perishable limited objects, all of which are usually meant to be lorded over by our senses.

If we are inclined to accept the delineations of Vedanta in the same line with Nature’s limited productions, we are liable to be too confused to make any progress. If the Transcendence is brought in the same category with the sensible world, no positive knowledge could possibly be imparted to us through the Sounds, which have got transcendental values. Ordinary philosophies could not be easily managed by our sensuous exertions. But when we have no support of transcendent Sounds, we are likely to view the reading of Vedanta in the same light with ordinary philosophy and put it as a convict in the dock to answer the charges for which it is not responsible. I am going to tell you now a few words on the Vedanta. My telling craves a reciprocity of your listening to my sound through the aural reception. Sound is the main substratum of the Vedanta which deals with a subject unapproachable by our present crippled imperfect senses. The ear cannot work as a receptacle unless we are willing to admit a sound and this admittance depends on our taste and previous experience. This prior experience invites affairs within the phenomenal range, but the Vedantic sounds, have a different aim. So a more studied reciprocal situation alone will crown our efforts with success, in matters pertaining to Vedanta.

Many of our friends pose themselves as knowers because they have a true taste for knowledge. To acquire such knowledge they utilize their senses for creating their conception of objects and their components. Such knowers claim a subjective position to consider the synthetic as well as analytic values of their determination. The objects before them are known as phenomena which serve to engage their attention while scrutinizing the causes and the laws of all phenomena by their empiric and intuitive reasonings. This is in other words philosophizing the object by mental speculation.

When the knowledge of a being is restricted to phenomena, it passes by the name of natural philosophy, but the psychological dealing with sentiments discloses a branch of knowledge known as mental philosophy.

All the philosophical speculations in connection with our sensuous perception are no bar to our wrangling over them. The outward representations in all cases, if reasoned, need not exactly identify themselves with the true objective stand; as for instance, our impression of a star is much more augmented when we are conversant with the coaching of an adept in astronomy or when scientific methods predominate over our erroneous convictions. The deceptive outward manifestations are not necessarily to be accepted when such delusions are detected by some deeper activity. The seeming reasons often carry us in a wrong direction and we are not favoured with the Truth; and seeming truths though found to be efficacious in particular circumstances show a susceptibility to transformation. So the ontology of unchangeable formation should not be neglected for alternative changing features.

The methods of thinking of different people of different countries are not the same. So we cannot expect identical results in philosophy. Happiness and virtue have been selected as the essence of philosophic speculation by both the Hellenic and Hebraic Schools; whereas in China they were meant for the preservation of a loyal society and local constitutional Government. The mystic philosophy of mediaeval Europe in its different varieties has invited apathetic reflection in the judgment of many thoughtful persons. The animistic conception of Persia as well as the impersonal idea have brought out criticisms from Indian philosophers. The savage conception of philosophy as well has also been discounted by means of critical and ethical arguments.

For a long time Indian Philosophy had been mentioned in six different phases bearing dissimilar methods of exposition but in the course of the unrolling evolutionary process we have had a few dozen philosophic views coming to us for our speculative considerations. Mind has been noticed as the functional agent of agreeing or disagreeing with a standard position within the scope of its finitudinal range. It is termed conscience or Buddhi when it is fixed. The egotistic function of mind in respect of mundane objects is called Ahankaar or the subjective tendency of lording it over a partial phenomenal aspect. The Jiva or soul is different from phenomenal denomination, but the fettered condition of an individual soul has association with the material world.

The five old schools of philosophy of India do not vouchsafe to bear identical attitudes with the Vedanta philosophy. Some supersensuous methods are revealed in comparative studies, though in the beginning such warnings need not be offered to the students of the Vedanta. The science of the Vedanta philosophy has also dealt with the aspects of the constant changes of form resulting from inevitable development and also elucidated the position of permanent unalterable elements in ever-altering forms.

The Vedanta deals with a theme beyond the finite views of phenomena. The subject dealt with in that particular philosophy is not confined to any part of the material space, any definite span of time or any object of sensuous perception made up of any substance of this Universe. The activities of a being are measured in time, the playground of a being either linear, superficial or cubical is accommodated in space and the limited subjectivity or fleshly entity is confined to phenomena. The Vedantic scheme is quite different from such limited structural monuments though some people attempted to bring Vedanta within the prison bars of their senses.

Though Vedanta expresses itself in ordinary language quite dove-tailed into the views of our ordinary intelligence, it gradually heaves us up to the super-sensuous regions where the senses cannot work by their present implements or cannot help us with the words of our ordinary commerce with friends. The transcendental topics are imparted slowly through the linguistic and rationalistic attainments by differentiating the plane of transcendence from the undesirable transformable plane of enjoyments. As it help us on this progressive journey of understanding we should not stick to a stagnant view in order to gratify our senses just because the rationality and harmonious language of the Vedanta seem to fit our whims. So the method of studying this particular philosophy involves a process of eliminating all chances of confusing the transcendence with our present plane of thought.

Apprehending Community: -- The special feature of Vedanta has a marked distinction from other views of different schools of thought. The epistemology, the cosmology and the ontology of Vedantic views do not necessarily follow the hackneyed path of worldly argumentations based on phenomenal conceptions. Its specifications and special feature do not exactly dovetail into the conceptions of various schools; so there is every possibility of differing views being received with some sort of apprehension, by other schools, for fear of losing their own merits.

As there are different views maintained by the non-Vedantic community regarding the nature and essence of metaphysical advancement, we find on every side apprehensions among the ontological explorers.

We are naturally victimized by the pressures imposed on us through agents who are inclined only to participate with transformable things and passing thoughts arising out of their association with the transitory positions of different objects they come across. The new phase of thought exhibited by the Vedantists may appear to some of the thinkers to be tampering with the peaceful abode with invincible strong walls which they sought to build round themselves. Some men consider the treatise of Vedanta as a bugbear because it destroys the very root of ignorance in which they are steeped due to their close affinity with natural associations. Among the readers of Vedanta, we shall surely meet men who have vehement oppositions to counter in order to maintain their position. Some of us have become complete slaves of our present senses and find ourselves incapable of grappling with the situation when some new and powerful contending views are offered by Vedantic invasion. Misapprehensions arising from bitter experiences of this world may indicate to us the undesirability of invoking the Vedantic thought among the sensible community. The Time-serving attitude of the common man would never invite Vedantic inculcations as none of us is inclined to disturb our ease-loving aspirations.

Appreciating Community: -- As we find different mentalities of people, we may secure friends of Vedanta from the communities who have had an unwelcome experience of this world during their sojourn in life. Scholars of this pessimistic temperament would come forward to pay their full attention to Vedantic thoughts to corroborate their long-nurtured views. The accumulated treasurers of Vedanta would thus acquire a different thought to fill up the shelves of its records of mental speculation.

The treatises and discourses on Vedanta may serve also the purpose of the students of knowledge and seekers after Essential Bliss by regulating the temper which would entangle them in temporary situations. The optimists will also show themselves apt to aggrandize their hopeful and aspiring temper; but we are not confident that every optimist will welcome the Vedantic thought. Among these thinkers we cannot hope to secure sympathy of one and all, as there may be a certain section of people who are busy to participate in earthly things for their present needs and would not look after a permanent incoming treasure. The efficacy of Vedanta is truly observed when sentient existences are found to meet all their wants of present life and after. When they can understand that this emporium is a true repository to dove-tail their eternal purpose, a true appreciation will then be found in them.

When the Absolute becomes the goal of a sentient being, such sentientism, has got a character not circumscribed by the nature of the phenomenal restrictions. But when it tends to limit activities to finite things and phenomena, it leads to a temper of lording it over the finite things having only mundane relativity among them. All activities of the spirit in the direction of the transcendental Absolute have to come under devotion or Bhakti whereas gratification of the senses leads to an activity known as karma of the actor. The Absolute has an unalterable complete situation void of the three positions of the observer, observation and the observed, according to the conception of the Gnostic or jnanins. The Factor of time cannot have any supremacy over the Absolute.

Unlike phenomena where everything is liable to transformation during the course of time, the Absolute does not undergo any change. The Absolute cannot be enjoyed by sensuous activities meant to bring any profit to mind and body. All the profits that accrue by offering our services to the Absolute are never meant for our temporary happiness, depriving others of the benefit. The Vedanta would actually deprive of Bliss the human frame and subtle body, which are wrongly incorporated with the unalloyed absolute infinitesimals. By the word absolute infinitesimal I mean the individuation of the identical quality and not the quantity. The stuff of the Absolute is not liable to any change. No factor of time would have any potency to mutilate it. No space is reserved for it as for material entities. The Absolute when analysed will go to show a division between the parts and the whole. The character of the Absolute will differ from that of the non-Absolute as estimated by the properties of perfection and imperfection. The undesirable experience of regions of imperfection and inadequacies need not be carried over to the eternal aspects of the origin, nature and ontological essence of the Vedanta.

The knowledge of the Vedantic field need not be restricted to the more elementary formula that conveys the Smaarta elucidation and to treatises of such workers as have deviated from the strict path of Shruti. In fact the untenable sectional views need not be included at all under the category of the Vedanta. The different explanations of several creative thinkers and destructive explorers should not be confused with the Satwata Puranas and Pancharatras.

Besides the Smaarta development of the Vedanta we have got to deal with the various treatises written by the Vedanta scholars to enlighten us on various points in our practical life. So we find that the Vedanta includes four aspects which pass by the names of (1) Shruti Prasthan, (2) Nyaya Prasthan, (3) Smriti Prasthan and (4) Prakarana Prasthan. The first two series are accepted by impersonalists, with a very few quotations from books known as Smriti whereas they do not admit the whole arena of Smriti for their Vedantic advancement.

The Upanishads are Scriptures accepted as the Vedas or Shrutis. They are not only the Vedas but considered as the acme of Vedic literature. The rational version of the Upanishads should be considered philosophical in comparison with the adorative songs of the Samhitas towards a pantheon of Vedic gods. Though the various Upanishadic Mantras have apparently conflicting features, they are reconciled by the aphorisms of Shri Vyasa in his Uttar-mimamsa philosophy under different systematic logical categories known as Nyayas or Adhikaranas. Each theme of an Adhikarana has been fully dealt with by Panchanga or five-fold positions of the logical system to meet all opposing controversies. The aphorisms have been subjected to the polemical views of different philosophical systems which may be proved to go against the truth of the Shrutis; and again the aphorisms are supported by the Upanishad-Mantras followed by Smritis and reasons offered in favour of the citatory passages termed as Bhashyas and their commentaries by erudite savants.

The leaders of interpretations have given us first hand information regarding the classified subjects, Nyayas or Adhikaranas briefly treated in the Sutras. Among these interpreters we find contending views and explanations. Some of them differed from others in grouping together the Mantras under the same heading of a particular subject, and sometimes their views were found palpably varying with one another due to designed observations. They are all liable to contract the four-fold defects of misconception, inebriation, organic shortcomings and inclination for deception which do not permit them to have correct views.

Aim and Object: -- The aim of the Vedanta Philosophy is Transcendental Love of the Absolute, though the Absolute has not been fully explained as “Akhilarasamrita-Moorti” (Ever-manifested Emporium of relational beatitudes); but the subject treated in Vedanta will explain that Vedanta aims at no other object than the Personality of the Absolute - undeviated and unvitiated knowledge. The object of inculcating the unique philosophy of Vedanta can be traced in the first two chapters of “Relativity’ and the third chapter of Procedure to gain the only aim or goal. The object can further be traced in reconciling the apparently conflicting intellectual hymns of the Upanishads, all of which tend to the three-fold aspect of the unity viz., (1) the relative positions of the Absolute, (2) the procedure of uniting the two positions of lover and the loved, apart from the temporal vitiation, deformities of individuation, interception of non-transparent stumbling block and from opaque wrangling intransigentism due to our poor incapable senses, and (3) the incessant beatitude.

The restless nature of mental speculation for variegated entities of this temporal experienced through the senses has dissuaded us from having our final rest in indistinctive and undifferentiated manifestation. The erroneous idea of cornering the Absolute in impersonalism in order to avoid the miscomprehension of plurality and temporal position of the objects in our view should not lead us to ‘a zero-making policy’ to get rid of the numerals. The very project of eliminating the concepts of the Absolute, though apparently it leads us to One, will not be satisfied till we banish the idea of Oneness having been troubled by the numerical reference of dualism in our establishment of unity. The impersonal suggestions of dismissing the Knower would end our exploit of discoursing about the Absolute.

If we are satisfied with having gained what we wanted, that is to float on the waters of Knowledge, there will be no occasion for opening the question again. An annihilative spirit gets his final rest when he considers himself quite successful to have gained his aim. By the very proposition he has stopped his iterance of an impersonal aspect of the Absolute, so no lien can be traced of any other explanation to be offered in the quest of the Absolute Knowledge. All sorts of being-hood, unalloyed situation of Knowledge and incessant Bliss could have no operation again on his speculation.

Before delineating the objects of Vedanta we should have a thorough relative knowledge of being and non-being, knowledge and ignorance, happiness and pain; though these prove to have a temporal mundane reference, still to evade an attack of the opposers, we must explain our position in transcendental region where no such opposition need be confronted. The object may have two-fold aspects - the ingredient or the Material Cause free from mundane association, and the existence of the Manifestive Nature of the Efficient Cause. The two causes are paralysed in the impersonal conception of the indistinctive or undifferentiative monists when they talk of the Absolute, whereas the ontology of Vedanta will show as the Eternal Manifestive Play of the Absolute.

The Transcendental Entities eternally represented as the Fountain-head of the two causes will never be found in an indolent mood such as we find in insentient beings void of animation but they will be united by the tie of love for Eternal Manifestive purposes to keep up their reciprocal eternal spotless activities. The Predominating Transcendental Singular Actor will be superimposed on the predominated plural beings who are associated to serve Him and All-love.

Whenever we find a dissention between the entities of predominated ingredients, they do not agree with the sole aim of loving the All-love. So they are relieved from eternally working with the same spirit for the singular Predominating Entity. This dissension facilitates their welcoming a vitiated field of work where they get temporal affinity or apathetic feelings among them. The Vedanta has taken the difficult task of imparting instructions to relieve these rapturous tendencies among the ignorant who are prone to succumb to the tempting influence of the deluding Potency, Maya.