VEDANTA FOR BEGINNERS | SWAMI SIVANANDA

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VEDANTA FOR BEGINNERS | INTRO+EBOOK | SWAMI SIVANANDA

|| INTRODUCTION ||

VEDANTA IS THE CULMINATION OF THE VEDAS . It is entering into the study of BRAHMAN . It is the science which raises the human above the plane of worldliness . It is the rational method of meditating on the Supreme Absolute , the Eternal , the Infinite . Vedanta is the culmination of human experience and is the end of the faculty of thinking . It is the greatest and the highest knowledge . This wisdom was revealed to the ancient sages .

The Rishis and sages of yore have made experiments and researches in meditation and given to the world their spiritual experiences . These are all authoritative . You must not spend much time in making the preliminary experiments once more . Your whole life-time is not sufficient for making these experiments and researches . The experiences of sages are like ready-made compressed tablets . You will have to simply follow their instructions implicitly with perfect , unswerving faith and devotion . Then alone can you make any progress in the spiritual path and attain the goal of life .

In order to practise Sadhana for the attainment of absolute freedom , you should know in the beginning itself its technique and method . You should know the nature of bondage , the cause of bondage and the way of getting rid of bondage . You have to make a searching study of life and know its mysteries .

|| KARMA ||

You are born on this earth-plane on account of your Karmas ( actions ) . . . This body and this condition of mind are both the results of effects of past Karmas . What is Karma ?

A Vasana or desire arises . Then you exert to possess the object . This is Karma . Thought itself is the real Karma . Physical action is only its manifestation . Then you enjoy the object . This is Bhoga . This Bhoga strengthens and fattens the Vasana . The Chakra or wheel of Vasana , Karma , Bhoga , is ever revolving . Give up Bhoga . Practise renunciation , discrimination and dispassion . Destroy the Vasanas by eradicating ignorance ( Ajnana ) through Brahma-Jnana , the Knowledge of the Imperishable . Then alone the wheel which binds one to this Samsara will stop revolving . Then alone you become an Atmavan or Knower of the Self .

|| WHO IS A KILLER OF ATMAN ? ||

Forgetting the Self by indulging in sensual pleasures , is killing of Atman . Even after somehow getting this rare human birth , with an innate tendency for Nivritti , one who does not strive for the liberation of the soul , is a killer of Atman . One is not an Atmavan but an Atmaha .

|| RENUNCIATION ||

The Atman can be realised only through renunciation . . . You have enjoyed sensual objects for so many years in this birth . If there has not come satisfaction in you till now , when will it come , then ? Do not run after the mirage of sensual objects . The senses are deluding you . Develop dispassion and renunciation . Realise your Atman . Then only you will get eternal satisfaction , everlasting peace and immortal bliss . Wake up from your slumber of ignorance , O worldly fool !

If your body-clothes catch fire , with what celerity you want to run towards water for cooling you ? You must feel like this from the burning fire of Samsara . You should feel that you are roasted in the fire of Samsara . Vairagya ( dispassion ) and Mumukshutva ( strong yearning for liberation ) should dawn in you . You should run to the Guru for saving you .

Enjoyment of objects strengthens the Vasanas or Trishnas ( cravings ) and makes the mind more restless . Enjoyment cannot bring satisfaction of desires . Further , Trishna drains the energy and weakens the senses .

When you dream , you see the events of fifty years within an hour . You actually feel that fifty years have passed . Which is correct , the time of one hour of waking consciousness or the fifty years of dreaming consciousness ? Both are correct . The waking state and the dreaming state are of the same quality or nature . They are equal ( Samana ) . The only difference is that the waking state is a long dream or Deerghasvapna . It will be realised that this life on earth is only a fantastic dream of the mind when the Supreme Absolute or Para-BRAHMAN is realised .

|| UPASANA ||

Practise Upasana for acquiring concentration of mind . Upasana is of various kinds , viz , Pratika Upasana , Pratima Upasana ( worship of idol ) , Panchakopasana ( worship of the five deities : Ganesha , Siva , Vishnu , Durga and Surya ) , worship of Avataras like Rama and Krishna , and Ahamgraha Upasana .

Ahamgraha Upasana is Nirguna Upasana . The aspirant meditates on one's own Self as BRAHMAN , identifing one's individual self with the Supreme Self or BRAHMAN , trying to take out the Self that is hidden , within the body of five sheaths . Hence the significant name , " Ahamgraha " Upasana .

" Food is BRAHMAN " .
" Akasa is BRAHMAN " .
" Surya is BRAHMAN " .
" Mind is BRAHMAN " .
" Prana is BRAHMAN "

— All these are Upasana-Vakyas of the Upanishads . These are all Pratika Upasanas .

Pratika is a symbol of BRAHMAN . All these are symbols of BRAHMAN . You can realise BRAHMAN through worship of these Pratikas . You will have to feel that BRAHMAN is hidden in these Pratikas . You will have to think that the Adhishthana or substratum of these Pratikas is BRAHMAN . These are some of the ways of doing the Upasana of BRAHMAN .

|| CONTROL OF THE SENSES ||

The senses should be perfectly controlled in order to be able to concentrate on BRAHMAN . The eyes and ears also are as much turbulent and mischievous as the tongue . The eyes always want to see new forms , new scenes , new pictures and new places which the mind has heard of during conversation with other people . If you have not seen Kashmir , if you hear from those who visited Kashmir ,

" Kashmir is a lovely place . The springs and sceneries are wonderful " ,

the eyes helped by the mind will agitate you again and again till you actually see Kashmir . The eyes and the ears should cease from desiring .

The two most troublesome of the senses are the tongue and the genital . One who has got an appetite for the objects of the tongue and the genital is unfit for the practice of Vedantic Sadhana .

The four means of Sadhana should be well practised and only a master of these Sadhanas can take up the practice of Vedantic Sadhana .

|| THE MIND AND ITS WORKS ||

Mind is Jagat . The mind moves the senses , the Pranas , etc . Mind is the cause of bondage and liberation . A keen study of the mind and its works is necessary for the study of Vedanta .

The presiding deity of the mind is Moon or Soma . Moon is cool . It is formed of Apas-Tattva ( water ) . Water has a tendency to run downwards . So also the tendency of the mind is always to run downwards towards sensual objects .

The external ear , the eyeballs , etc , are only instruments . They are not the real senses of Indriyas . The real centres or senses are in the brain or most correctly in the astral body ( Sukshma Sarira ) . If the auditory nerve and the vision-centre in the brain are affected you can neither hear nor see . So is the case with the other senses also .

During dream the mind itself does the function of all the senses , despite the absence of the external instruments or the senses , such as eyeballs , etc . In the mind all the senses are blended . Really it is the mind that hears , tastes , feels , etc . This proves that the real senses are within . The eyeballs , tongue , external ears , nose , hands , legs , etc . , are mere instruments ( Karanas ) .

The mind does the function of Sankalpa and Vikalpa .

It thinks : " Whether I can go to Dehra Dun or not ? "
The Buddhi or the intellect decides : " I must go . "

Ahamkara , the ego , arrogates . Chitta which is the store-house of Samskaras or impressions makes the preparation and gives orders to the senses . Then the senses act . The legs move . The eyes see .

After you reach Dehra Dun the Vritti or wave of thought that was agitating you to see Dehra Dun subsides or gets dissolved ( Laya ) . Then you get a temporary peace , after the gratification of your desire .

Strike a vessel made up of bell metal with the tuning fork . It will vibrate . Even so the mind vibrates if any one abuses or praises you , if you feel pain or pleasure . During praise and pleasure , the mind expands . During censure and pain it contracts .

Mind is miniature-Maya . When the functioning of the mind stops , and when the mind is dissolved into the Absolute , there is Self-realisation .

|| THE GURU AND THE DISCIPLE ||

The aspirant in olden days used to approach the Guru , with a bundle of sticks ( Samit ) in hand , for spiritual instruction . What does this indicate ? One prays to the preceptor ,

" O adorable Guru ! Let my bundle of sins and worldly Vasanas be burnt in the fire of wisdom through thy grace . Let the divine flame grow in me . Let me attain the highest illumination . Make me realise , the Inner Self-effulgent Atman . Let my senses , mind , Prana and egoism be given as oblation in the fire of wisdom . Let me shine as the Light of lights ! "

It is Guru's grace that removes the veil of ignorance of the disciple . The Guru's grace penetrates the heart of the disciple and raises the Brahmakara-vritti in the disciple . The highly exalted BRAHMANishtha Guru , for whom there is no world , comes down from the exalted state to teach the disciple .

|| VEDANTIC ETHICS ||

If you want to practise Vedanta or Jnana Yoga smile always , be cheerful always .

One who is gloomy , who is cheerless , who has a castor-oil face or Sunday-face cannot become a Vedantin , and is not an Adhikari or qualified person for the practice of Vedanta . One should be shut up in a cell , as a source of infection or contamination for others . Shun the company of such a negative person .

One of Viveka alone is fit for the practice of Vedantic Sadhana and one of Viveka is always peaceful and joyful .

|| THE NATURE OF BRAHMAN ||

BRAHMAN is the Absolute-Existence which is of the Nature of Knowledge-Bliss .

The world itself shines as BRAHMAN when the veil of ignorance is torn down by the dawn of Knowledge of the Imperishable . See BRAHMAN in your Guru , BRAHMAN in the world , BRAHMAN in everything .

In reality there is no creation . The world itself is an appearance of BRAHMAN . The world is superimposed upon BRAHMAN through Adhyaropa . Through Apavada-Yukti the superimposition is sublated or negated and everything is realised to be the Absolute BRAHMAN .

Only the train moves , but you do not move . Only the boat moves , but you do not move . Even so , only the body moves , but the Indweller or the Silent Sakshi , the Witness , which is identical with the Absolute BRAHMAN or Atman , never moves .

The word " Atman " is used with reference to the soul in the individual . The term " BRAHMAN " is used with reference to the same Soul as the Soul of all beings and objects in the Universe .

|| BRAHMAN IS BLISS ||

The sovereign returns from a long journey to the palace at night , and is dead tired , wanting immediate rest . The ruler does not want to talk even to the Maharani or the spouse . The objects do not afford any pleasure . The ruler wants to enjoy the bliss of sleep . From where does bliss come in deep sleep , when there are no objects of enjoyment ? The ruler ( or the Jiva ) in deep sleep comes in contact with the All-blissful Supreme Soul and refreshes and strengthens . BRAHMAN is the source of all peace and bliss .

|| ISVARA & JIVA ||

The causal body ( Karanasarira ) of the individual soul and of Isvara is one and the same . In the Jiva it is individual Avidya . Isvara's causal body is Cosmic and is called Maya .

The Jiva is called Visva , Taijasa and Prajna in the three states of waking , dreaming and deep sleep experiences , and the corresponding name for the Cosmic Principle is Virat , Hiranyagarbha and Isvara . The Kutastha-Atman in the Jiva is identical with BRAHMAN , the Absolute .

|| THE NATURE OF MAYA ||

Maya is Trigunatmika . Tamoguna is darkness and inertia . Rajoguna is passion and activity . Sattvaguna is divine light and purity .

You cannot detect your own faults on account of the force of Avidya . Avidya is the name for Maya in the individual or the Jiva . You always think that you are free from defects , that you are full of virtuous qualities , that you are the most perfect one in the world . This is Maya .

Maya is Satya or Truth for the worldly-minded . It is Anirvachaneeya or inexpressible for a Viveki or one of discrimination . It is Tuccha or nothing for a liberated sage or Jivanmukta who is identifying oneself with Satchidananda BRAHMAN .

Vasanas and Trishnas , desires and cravings , can be destroyed in toto only by annihilating Avidya or Ajnana , the source for this Samsara , just as a tree can be destroyed only by annihilating its root . If you cut the branches of a tree , again they will grow . So you must pluck out the root itself . Avidya can be destroyed by knowledge of the Imperishable or BRAHMAN , and not by indiscriminate suppression of the senses .

Destruction of Avidya will lead to the destruction of Raga-Dvesha . Raga and Dvesha are the modifications or effects of Avidya or ignorance .

Ajnana is absence of the Knowledge of BRAHMAN . Just as the trees born on the soil of the mountain hide the mountain , just as the clouds born through the sun's rays hide the sun itself , so also Ajnana born from the Sakti of BRAHMAN hides the Chaitanya or BRAHMAN .

Ajnana is twofold : Toola and Moola . Toola-Ajnana is ignorance in regard to the objects outside . Moola-Ajnana is ignorance covering the Self within .

|| THE PROJECTION OF THE WORLD ||

In summer the whole earth is parched . As soon as there is a shower the seeds sprout and plants come out . They were in an unmanifested state ( Avyakta ) before the rains . Even so the world which is in a manifested state had an unmanifested state and will become unmanifest again . It has come out of Maya , the causal body of Isvara , and will return to it in the end .

The earth , water , fire , air and ether are all productions of Maya . Water is more subtle and pervasive than earth . Fire is more subtle and pervasive than water . Air is more subtle and pervasive than fire . Akasa is more subtle and pervasive than air .

If you keep some jasmine flowers on your table , the aroma or fragrance spreads throughout the room . The fragrance is more pervasive than the flower . The flower is in one spot , but the fragrance pervades the atmosphere . The moisture of vapour is more pervasive than the earth . Sun's light is more pervasive than water . Akasa which is the originating substance for the other four Tattvas is all-pervading . All the four elements are rooted in the all-pervading Akasa .

From BRAHMAN or the Supreme Being sprang the five elements . Akasa was born first . Akasa is ether or space . It is Akasa or space that is the abode for the four other elements . It is the vessel or the container . There was Gati or motion in Akasa . That motion is Vayu or air . There was heat during motion of air . Fire was born from air . Fire cannot burn without air . Fire cooled and became water . Water solidified and became earth .

|| THE SHEATHS OF THE BODY ||

Five sheaths are covering the individual soul . They are the Annamaya , Pranamaya , Manomaya , Vijnanamaya and Anandamaya Kosas . The Antahkarana or the internal organ takes four forms , viz , mind , intellect , ego and subconscious mind ( Chitta ) .

Ahamkara or the ego has connection with the intellect ( Buddhi ) . Their abode is the Vijnanamaya Kosa . Mind ( Manas ) has connection with the Chitta . Their abode is the Manomaya Kosa .

The light of Surya ( sun ) brightens the intellect . The heat of Surya gives heat to Prana and thus maintains the heat of the body .

Just as the mind is the dividing wall between the soul and the Prana , so also Prana ( vital air , energy ) is the boundary-wall between the mind and the body .

Above the mind is the Buddhi . The Buddhi or intellect is made up of Agni-Tattva ( fire-principle ) . Below the mind is Prana which is also made up of fire . Between fire ( intellect above ) and fire ( Prana below ) is the mind ( water ) . The presiding deity of the mind is moon ( Chandra ) . Dry up this mind ( water ) through the fire of Vichara ( intellect ) , or the fire of Prana ( Pranayama ) , or both . You will attain eternal peace , everlasting bliss .

|| SAMADHI ||

Samadhi is the Turiya or the Fourth State which is Pure Consciousness or the Supreme Absolute where even a tinge of dual consciousness does not exist .

Raja Yogis practise Nirodha-Samadhi . Jnana Yogis or Vedantins practise Badha-Samadhi . In the practice of Nirodha-Samadhi the Raja Yogi stops all the Vrittis of the mind by concentrating on one form .

In the practice of Badha-Samadhi the Jnana Yogi abandons all names and forms and takes up the one essence viz , Sat-Chit-Ananda BRAHMAN that is the substratum for all these names and forms .

There is Vyapakata in the Sadhana of a Jnana Yogi . One does Sadhana even while walking . Wherever one sees one tries to see the one underlying essence and rejects the names and forms , and is in Sahaja-Samadhi even while moving .

But , a Raja Yogi sits and meditates , in need of a steady , definite pose , and so cannot be in Samadhi while walking or moving .

In Vedanta , meditation is termed as Nididhyasana . Nididhyasana leads to Sakshatkara or Nirvikalpa Samadhi .

One who has experienced Nirvikalpa Samadhi will not return to the state of embodiment once again .

|| METHODS OF VEDANTIC SADHANA ||

Sravana , Manana and Nididhyasana are the three stages of Vedantic Sadhana .

Sravana is hearing of the Truth . The Abheda-Bodha-Vakya should be heard from the BRAHMANishtha-Guru . Then Vedantic scriptures and treatises have to be carefully studied for the purpose of properly grasping the meaning of the great Mahavakyas .

Vedantic Granthas are of two kinds : the Pramana-granthas and the Prameya-granthas . One should always study standard works on Vedanta . A complete and exhaustive treatise on the subject has to be studied with the greatest care . Then only the full knowledge of Vedanta will dawn .

Works like the Advaitasiddhi , Chitsukhi , Khandanakhandakhadya , Brahmasutras , etc , are Pramana-granthas , for they refute other theories and establish the Advaita-Tattva through logic and argumentation .

Works like the Upanishads , the Bhagavadgita and the Yogavasishtha are Prameya-granthas , for they merely state the Absolute Truth with authority and do not indulge in reasoning for refuting or establishing anything . They are intuitional works , whereas the former are intellectual .

The mind should be pure and tranquil before starting Vedantic Sadhana . Keeping the Vasana in the mind is keeping a black cobra within and feeding it with milk . Your life is ever in danger . Kill these Vasanas through Vichara , Vairagya and meditation on the Atman .

The Sruti texts that deal with creation , such as

" From the Atman sprang Akasa , from Akasa Vayu , from Vayu Agni " , etc ,

are only intended for giving preliminary instructions to the neophytes or young aspirants ; for they cannot grasp at once the Ajativada or the theory of non-evolution . When you read the passages which treat of creation , always remember that all this is only Adhyaropa or superimposition .

Never forget this . Never think even for a second that the world is real . Only through Apavadayukti or refutation of superimposition can you establish the Kevala-Advaita-Siddhanta . If the world is real , if duality is real , you cannot have experience of Advaitic Realisation .

If the impurity of egoism or Ahamkara-Mala is destroyed , the other two impurities , viz , Kama-Mala ( impurity of desire ) and Karma-Mala ( impurity of actions ) will be destroyed by themselves . How , then , can there be Prarabdha for a Jivanmukta or the liberated sage that is one with the Supreme Absolute .

|| OBSTACLES IN VEDANTIC SADHANA ||

Ahamkara is the greatest obstacle to Self-realisation .

" I know everything . My view or opinion alone is correct . What I do is right . That one does not know anything . Everybody should follow what I say . Everybody should obey me . I am free from any kind of fault . I am full of auspicious qualities . I am very intelligent . That one is very stupid . That one is wretched . That one has got many defects . I am wise . I am beautiful . "

Thus says the egoistic one .

This is the nature of Rajasic Ahamkara . One hides one's own faults , exaggerates and advertises one's own abilities and qualities , belittles others , condemns others , superimposes faults on others which they have not got , sees not good but evil in others , superimposes on oneself several good qualities which one does not possess . That one cannot practise Vedantic Sadhana , and is unfit for the path of Jnana .

Raga and Dvesha constitute the great Samsara of the Jiva . They have to be destroyed through the knowledge of the Supreme BRAHMAN . Either through proper understanding and discrimination or through Pratipaksha Bhavana these currents should be destroyed .

Liberation is attained by simplicity , by carefulness , by purity , by controlling the passions and by following the footprints of saints and sages .

Through Vedantic Sadhana the Brahmakara-Vritti is generated . The bamboo strikes against the other bamboos and fire is generated . The whole forest is burnt . There is a huge conflagration . Then the fire subsides by itself . Even so , the Brahmakara-Vritti that is generated in the Sattvika-Manas through meditation on BRAHMAN or the significance of the " Tat-Tvam-Asi " Mahavakya destroys Avidya or ignorance and its effects and leads to the attainment of Brahma-Jnana , and finally dies by itself when the Supreme BRAHMAN is realised .

The paste of strychnos potatorum ( Nirmala seeds ) removes all dirt in the water and helps it to settle at the bottom of the vessel . Along with the dirt the paste also disappears . Even so , the Brahmakara-Vritti destroys all worldly ( Vishayakara ) Vrittis and finally perishes by itself after the dawn of the knowledge of the Imperishable .

|| THE NATURE OF THE JNANI ||

The Jnana Yogi practises neither Pratyahara nor Chittavritti-nirodha like the Raja Yogi . One tries to behold the One Undivided Essence of Satchidananda in all names and forms . One stands as a witness or Sakshi of all the Vrittis . All Vrittis gradually die by themselves .

The Jnani's method is positive ( Samyagdarshana ) , whereas a Raja Yogi's method is negative ( Nirodha ) .

There is no body from the Drishti or view of the sage . How can there be Prarabdha then , for a Jnani ? The Jnani is one with the Absolute and hence no change takes place in the being . One is Santam , Sivam and Advaitam . One is a Jivanmukta , is liberated in this very life itself , the body is like a burnt cloth or a sword that is changed into gold through the touch of the philosopher's stone . The ego is burnt by the fire of Supreme Wisdom .

|| VEDANTIC ASSERTIONS ||

Prajnanam Brahma
Consciousness is BRAHMAN

Aham Brahmasmi
I am BRAHMAN

Tattvamasi
That Thou Art

Ayamatma Brahma
This Atman is BRAHMAN

Sarvam Khalvidam Brahma
All this , indeed , is BRAHMAN .

Om Santi ! Santi ! Santi !

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