Essence Of Vedanta
- Vedanta is expressed in the mahavakhyas (great sentences) of the
Upanishads as "Tat twam asi" "thou art that"; "Aham brahma asmi"
"I am the self." Vedanta says, "0 little man! Do not identify
yourself with this perishable body. Give up 'Iness' 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, in an ant and a dog, in a man and a woman, in a cobbler and
a scavenger. This is the real immortal entity. Mind is the dividing
principle. It tempts and deludes. Kill this mischievous mind. Control
the indriyas (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, nondual, self existent, self-luminous
essence. Behold the one self in all. See the one in many. All
miseries will come to an end."
Vedanta speaks of the one atman or Brahman or self who exists in the
past, the present and the future, who has no beginning, middle and
end, who is the support for everything, who is the embodiment of
wisdom, peace and bliss. The seers of the Upanishads have expressed
their realisation in glowing terms. They have given out their inner
experiences after long research and mighty struggle. All these have
been collected in the form of the Upanishads. This constitutes the
subject of vedanta philosophy.
Although vedanta is the direct royal road that takes one to the goal,
it should not be prescribed for all in a wholesale manner. There are
four types of aspirants. They are the karmic (active) type, the
bhakti (devotional) type, the mystic type and the rational type.
Karma yoga should be prescribed for people of karmic tendencies
for the busy and active men who have mala (impurities) in the
mind; bhakti yoga for men of devotional temperament in whom the
emotional element predominates; raja yoga for men of mystic
temperament; vedanta yoga for men of reason and will for people
of intellectual temperament.
Vicara (enquiry, "Who am I?") can only benefit that aspirant who is
free from impurity and tossing of the mind, who is endowed with bold
understanding, gigantic and tremendous will, sharp, subtle intellect
and the four means. It is certainly not meant for all it is
meant for the select few only who can really understand and realise
the full significance or import of vedanta and reap the fruits.
Sri Swami Sivananda