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By- Devakinanda ji
ॐ अद्वयब्रह्मभूम्यै नमः
(Advaya: Non-dual, without a second; Brahman: The truth of everything, The Absolute,
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Advaita means- non-dual, one without a second. The Indian philosophical system derives this nomenclature from the fact that it recognizes Brahman (the Absolute) as the only reality and denies permanent reality to the world as also to individual souls. The entire edifice of Advaita metaphysics is built up on the foundation that Brahman is the only reality, 'brahma satyam'. This premise is based firmly on the famous Upanishadic statement 'sadevasomyaidamagrāsīt, ekamevā dvitīyam' which means, 'Dear (Śvetaketu), in the beginning (before creation) Reality (or Brahman) alone existed, the 'One without a second'. However, the world of multiplicity is a matter of our day-to-day experience. Hence, it becomes necessary to offer an explanation as to how Brahman, the One without a second, appears as this world of multiple names and forms. The explanation offered by Advaita is Anirvachanīya khyāti, a theory of erroneous cognition, which defies logic. Perceiving nacre as silver in moonlight or a rope as snake in insufficient light are stock examples given by the Advaitins. In both cases there is an erroneous perception brought about by the impressions of silver and snake from an earlier idea of the same, now superimposed up on nacre and rope under conditions favorable to the error. This superimposition called adhyāsa or adhyāropa is responsible for the mithyā jnāna (false knowledge) that the object perceived is silver or a snake.
Also Read: Maa Durga And Cosmic Divinty
The basic cause of this erroneous perception is termed ajnāna or avidyā (ignorance) which is said to be bhāvarūpa (existent) and is endowed with two śhaktis or powers i.e., āvaraṇa śhakti (veiling power) and vikṣhepa śhakti (transforming power). It veils the true nature of nacre and rope and shows up silver and snake in their place by apparently transforming them. Since this avidyā (ignorance) does not make the nacre and the rope completely disappear from view, but only makes them appear as something else, it is described as bhāvarūpa or existent.
Māya is avidya at the cosmic level. Brahman is as mall as aṇu (atom) and as large as bruhāt (infinitely big) and is the ultimate reality, One without a second. Brahman associated with māya is Saguṇa Brahman (Brahman with attributes) or Īśwara (Lord of creation, God). It is this aspect of Brahman that is responsible for creation, preservation, and annihilation of the world. As for the actual order of evolution of the created world, the descriptions given in the Upanishads are accepted.
Our Vedānta teaches 'Eko Brahman' meaning there is only Brahman, nothing else. The only land on the earth which teaches about the Only God is our mother land'Advayabrahma Bhūmi'.
By Dr. Devakinanda Pasupuleti
The Mahavakyas are “The Great Sayings” of the Upanishads, as characterized by the Advaita … In later Sanskrit usage, the term mahāvākya came to mean “discourse”, and specifically, discourse on a philosophically lofty topic. One of the four Mahavakyas is Tatvamasi. Tat Tvam Asi means- Tat means You. Tvam means GOD, and Asi means are. Meaning, ‘you are god.’ (meaning- you are the part of god).
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18) OṀ TATTVAMASIBHŨMYAI NAMAH:
ॐ तत्त्वमसितत्त्वभूम्यै नमः
(Tattvamasi: You are that, equating the Self with Brahman)
You happened to be the one you were looking for all along’ is the meaning of tattvamasi. Tattvamasi is described in Chāndogyopaniṣhad and Sāmavedasaṃhitam. Even though it sounds so simple, lifelong learning from the Vedas and Upaniṣhads may not be enough to understand the deeper spiritual meaning of this statement. It is a mahāvākyam (great declaration). Just like looking for your spectacles everywhere not realizing that they have been on your fore-head all along, the God you are looking for happens to be yourself.
Tat means- that (the Parabrahman you are looking for), tvam means-you and, asi means-are (or happen to be). We all know that Nobel Prize recipient and physicist Albert Einstein’s famous equation E=mc2 changed the world for good and it’s just three alphabets and one number. Similarly this mahāvākyam carries life changing spiritual meaning in terms of self knowledge that leads to liberation from saṃsāra (the cycle of birth and death). This statement reveals that the eternal soul (ātman) which is self- manifested and self-effulgent, which is Brahman, happens to be none other than your-self. It is the root cause of everything.
Separate from the three bodies (gross, subtle and causal); apart from the five sheaths of the body (panchakośās); and the witness of the three states (alert, sleep and dream states); Ātman (Self) is Satchidānanda (existence, awareness and bliss), which is Brahman. It is present in all three spheres of time-past, present and future. And the Vedas and Upanishads unequivocally declare that you are that (tattvamasi).
The land from which ancient rishis declared- ‘you are that‘ is Taṫṫvamasi Bhūmi’.
By Maria Wirth
This is a translation of my very first article which I wrote in 1981. I had sent it to a German magazine which I used to read during my psychology studies. They published it and later, two more magazines reprinted it. I was asked to keep sending articles. It helped me to stay in India…..
“Will you still be able to fit in with us in the West?” asked my sister in a letter (in 1981). I had shared with her some thoughts about life and death with which I had become familiar in India and which I felt made sense. Her question reminded me of what I had almost forgotten, after staying in India for about a year: how life is seen in the West.
First, people there generally do not to think about life and definitely not about death. And in case uninvited questions intrude, for example “Is there a meaning to life?” it is advised to drive them away – with activity, a new outfit or in stubborn cases, with medication. “Depression” is this stubborn state called and, as it is rather common, declared a lifestyle disease. The term ‘disease’ is used, because “healthy” desires, like the desire for wealth, power, fame and sex, are not there any longer. A person is considered healthy, when she tries her best to fulfill those desires, if necessary at the expense of others. After all, everyone has to look after himself first, otherwise he risks being left behind in the race to happiness, the obvious goal of life. And happiness is expected to come when those desires are fulfilled.
This is of course a very rough sketch of the world view in the West. But it encapsulates the essence, when I think of the hectic rat race there on one hand and of the wide-spread depression on the other, while I am writing down this in the afternoon heat at the Gulf of Bengal.
Here in India I became familiar with a different view of life which is based on intuition and experience and not only on intellectual deduction. And in my view, it does not hamper in any way one’s ability to fit in, including in the West.
‘What is the truth? From where do we come? Where will we go? Why are we here?’ These questions are essential for all of us. In India these question have been asked since times immemorial, and – answers were found. Yet in the West we keep hearing that we can never find answers to those questions and therefore better do not ask them. The Indian Rishis would probably feel compassion for our pitiable state, because we miss out on the meaning of life. Our life is meant to search for the truth and realizing the truth is the crowning accomplishment, not comparable with any worldly achievement.
But it is not easy to realize the truth. It cannot be taught or communicated from one person to another. Everybody has to search and to realize it for himself. Yet India’s wisdom has many hints how one can experience the truth. The Rishis, who have patiently and intensely searched for it without and within their own being, discovered ‘That’ from where everything emanates, and their insights were handed down over innumerable generations.
Vedanta – the highest philosophy, which is based on three major ancient texts, namely the Upanishads, the Bhagavad Gita, and the Brahmasutras, and which especially Adi Shankara commented upon and spread widely – puts this wisdom simply and clearly:
There is only Oneness, the absolute Truth, which is best described as Sat-Chit-Ananda, blissful awareness. You are That, which cannot be put into words; “Tat Tvam Asi” in Sanskrit. This Oneness manifests as ‘many’ due to the divine power called Maya. But the great multiplicity does not exist independently.
Here some explanation may be necessary. By “multiplicity” Vedanta means our huge universe with its infinite, staggering diversity where not even on our tiny earth two leaves, or two fingerprints are absolutely the same. This universe, Vedanta claims, has no absolute existence, but depends on our senses and our mind. Here even modern science agrees which, searching for the substance of matter in this seemingly so solid material world, didn’t find any substance, and now explains this apparent world as different states of one incredibly powerful energy – and thereby comes close to the ONE, called Brahman, and his creative energy, called Maya, of Vedanta.
An analogy explains the relation between the real Truth and the apparent truth: suppose we take a rope for a snake in the dark, then the rope does not exist for us, only a snake. When we see by daylight that it is a rope, the snake does not exist any longer, only the rope. In truth of course, in the dark also, only the rope existed, even when our mind and eyes convinced us that it is a snake.
Similarly, in truth only ONE (usually called Brahman) exists, but we are deceived by its great power, Maya, and take the diversity for real. ‘We’ – that refers to our body with its sense organs, and our mind with reason and intellect, but ignores our conscious essence. We think that each thing in this world is separate from other things, because we wrongly identify with our body and mind, saying “this here is me and that there is you”. It could be compared with waves on the ocean, where each wave insists on its separate identity and claims “I am this wave and you are that wave and we have nothing to do with the ocean.”
The fact that we allow ourselves to get deceived through Maya and consider the diverse, phenomenal world as true is the source for our suffering, claims Vedanta. Our biggest error is that we identify with our body and mind and that we have forgotten our true self. This is the cause for egoism, for the competition with others, whose true Self– the ONE – is in reality of course also the same like our true Self. This is also the cause for feeling inadequate or lacking or not beautiful enough. This is also the cause for the (futile) attempt to secure happiness for our ego in the world.
True, permanent happiness cannot be found in the word, the Rishis insist. YOU ARE the happiness which you search for. Realise your true Self, know your true identity, discover that Sat-Chit-Ananda is you yourself, and you will be free from suffering and you will also laugh if people speak about dying. Because it is complete nonsense to believe there is death and birth in regard to the Self. What you truly are was never born and will never die. You were here right from the start. You are the ONE, all-pervading, “Tat Tvam Asi” (You are that), “Aham Brahmasmi” (I am Brahman)… thus end the Upanishads.
You are the ONE now already. You don’t have to become it. However, you need to see through the veil of Maya. Dare to state that you are free and you will be free the same moment. Dare to make yourself independent of worldly joy and suffering, and the reward will surpass all joys of the world, the sages claim.
“Do you still not know how life in this world is? Do you still not know that each joy brings suffering?” Anandamayi Ma, a saintly woman from Bengal, once asked. In the world everything is always changing. How could it be possible to find permanent happiness there? Human relationships are like driftwood – they touch each other for a while and separate again. And yet, the whole of humankind with few exceptions searches for happiness in the world and still hopes that it can be found in a loving relationship, in wealth or in a powerful position. Maybe the relationship is not loving enough, the wealth not vast enough or the position not high enough… a feverish search for happiness in the wrong place. Great spiritual personalities and ancient texts have always maintained that happiness is in yourself, not outside.
Do you still not know how life in this world is?… each joy ends in pain, each relationship has an end. And yet, each human being desires an eternal, conscious and happy existence. And this desire actually makes sense, claims Vedanta, because eternity, consciousness and bliss are our true nature. But we make a mistake: we want this conscious, blissful, eternal existence for our body and mind, because we take this to be what we are, as we don’t see the difference between the impermanent body and mind, and our true, eternal Self.
Ask yourself frequently “Who am I?” Don’t verbalise an answer, but try to feel who you are. Dive to the source from where the (individual) I-feeling arises. This advice gave Ramana Maharshi, one of the great saints of India. “My whole body pains” – who owns the body? “My thoughts took me away” – who is “me”? Use your intellect (that’s the reason why you have it) to find out who you are. Do not be satisfied with nonsensical replies like “I am Maria” or “I am a businessman.” These are mere names for whom or what?
You will realize that you are the ONE whom pain cannot trouble, whom water cannot wet and fire cannot burn – in the same way as we won’t get wet when we bathe or burn when we catch fire in a dream. Then you are free in this word and you can play the different personalities, like an actor on stage, who is aware that in reality, the happenings in the drama do not affect him. Then you can live without hope and without fear, and then only you are free.
However, searching for truth with reason and intellect alone won’t lead to this realization. It is no doubt important, as truth does not contradict reason. Vedanta does not demand to believe something which has not been thoroughly checked by one’s own intellect, on the contrary. But to really know and realize the truth, something else is needed, and this is the complete surrender of the limited ego – which in truth anyway doesn’t ‘really’ exist – and devotion for the ONE, by whatever name one wants to call it. This is called Bhakti in Sanskrit. The path to enlightenment leads through Bhakti, wrote Ramanuja, another prominent proponent of Vedanta, who commented on the Brahmasutras in the 11th century. Bhakti develops from knowledge about this world: surrender the limiting ego due to the knowledge about its ‘nothingness’ and have devotion for a “beloved” who is That which alone is behind all happenings and actions.
The true beloved is one’s own Self, and the ego is only a fiction or an imposter. The ONE is on one hand the Absolute, the unmanifest, original cause of this manifestation (Brahman) and on the other hand it is the manifest creator (Ishwara with its many divine powers or devas).
This manifest aspect of the ONE can be experienced as a loving ‘You”, and can be imagined as a personal God. The creator did not act only once long ago, to bring forth this universe, but is still in action now and everywhere through his many divine powers, even if our egos consider themselves as the sole actors. Vedanta encourages questions: can I, this I with which we usually identify, make a baby grow? Can this I stop the body from decaying? Can this I change food into energy? Can this I add only one stone to this earth, not to mention sun, moon or stars?
And we claim in all seriousness that there are no miracles, because we have discovered some laws of nature about “how” certain things work….
Ishwara is always and everywhere present. Always, including now and everywhere, including in us. Let’s stop for a moment and let this sink in. He can be contacted and experienced in us through total, loving surrender, as he is our true Self.
His grace is not arbitrary. It is connected to whatever we think, speak and do – not only each action but even each thought has its effect, and this effect will come back and affect the thinker. An Indian analogy describes it in this way: As a calf finds her mother even among thousand cows, in the same way, the effect of a thought finds its thinker.
The Bhagavad Gita says that a human being cannot be without action even for a moment. And the consequence of our thoughts, words and deeds – not only from this life, because we are part of the game or Lila since the beginning – becomes evident in what we are today. We are self-made, the Rishis claim. What we call destiny is the result of former freely made decisions. We had a choice, but we have to experience the effect of this choice, as long as we (wrongly) consider our ego as the doer, which we probably all do because the delusional power of Maya is strong.
Now, too, we have a choice for good, for bad, for love, for hatred and the result of today’s thoughts and actions will come to us in future. This law of karma makes it clear how very important our thoughts and our behavior are. Every compassionate thought or action brings us closer to our true Self full of love and bliss. Every angry thought or action moves us farther away.
We are not on auto-pilot. We don’t have to be angry, as we can refuse thoughts. We have the choice to be good or bad, however, in all likelihood we don’t have this choice every moment, maybe we even have it rarely, because often we think and act unconsciously like on auto pilot and are helplessly dominated by our thoughts. Yet as soon as we become aware of our thoughts and know what happens in our mind, we have again a choice.
We also know that being good is better than being bad, being loving is better than being hateful, helping others is better than having contempt for others. We don’t know it because someone told us so, but because we intuitively know the path back to our true Being.
A pure life is an essential condition on the way to realize our Self. On this all sages agree. The ancient Upanishads advise to purify and refine body and mind, as they are the means to approach the Self. Speak the truth and do what is right (Satyam vada, dharmam chara), they advise. The Bhagavad Gita demands to give up anger, lust and greed, because these lead to destruction. And even more: renounce all desires.
Be bold and really renounce them. Someone, who is a slave of a desire, cannot be free. Don’t be attached to the world which is perishable. Surrender your limited ego which has no substance in itself and stop worrying about your life. Love and trust your inner Being, by whatever name you want to call it. If your inner Being becomes the main focus in your life, then you are firmly set on the path to true happiness.
- Main concepts of Vedanta- the first is human’s real nature is divine and the second concept is that the aim of human life is to realise this divinity
- Brahman is designated by Advaitins as saccidananda: as “being” (sat), “consciousness” (cit), and “bliss” (ananda)
- Brahman, for Advaita Vedanta, is a name for that fullness of being which is the “tranquillity” of non-dualistic spiritual experience
Vedanta philosophy or Uttara Mimamsa is the orthodox philosophy of Hinduism. It has two main concepts. The first is human’s real nature is divine and the second concept is that the aim of human life is to realise this divinity. Vedanta goes on to assert that beneath this outward changing lies a fundamental reality which is supreme, called Brahman.
The Hindu scriptural tradition is quite remarkable for its size and diversity;not only are there a very large number of works designated as revelation,but the specific content of these works varies greatly. In order to make this vast body of literature more manageable, it was necessary for theologians to summarise and reconcile the many different theological doctrines found in scripture. Within the Hindu tradition, the task developed into a separate field of theological writing, known as Mimamsa, mentioned the Hinduism expert Subhamoy Das in hinduism.about.com.
The Mimamsa tradition developed along the two lines that stand out in varying degrees of conflict and conformity throughout the Hindu tradition, namely the distinction between Karma (or dharma) and jnana or action and knowledge as the means of liberation. From this tradition came two Mimamsa-type works, the Kalpa Sutras, which were concise descriptions of the Brahmanical sacrifices, and the Purva Mimamsa Sutras, which summarised the doctrines and principles behind the sacrificial tradition. Uttara Mimamsa represented a systematisation of jnana Kanda and drew its texts primarily from the Upanisads and Aranyaka portion of the Brahmans.
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Knowledge of Real-Self
The hinduism.about.com mentioned, in the age of scepticism and materialism, few people care to know their real Self, which is divine and eternal. But the knowledge of the true Self has always been the principal theme of Vedanta philosophy. Upanishads, which form portions of the Vedic Scriptures, discovered and taught that knowledge of self-lies at the root of all knowledge, whether science, philosophy or religion. Every sincere seeker after knowledge , hence, who aspire intellectual, moral or spiritual development, must first learn to distinguish between spirit and matter, soul and body, and then realise the all-knowing spiritual Self who is the eternal foundation of the universe.
Advaita means oneness. According to the scriptural approach, the Advaitic thinking can be condensed into three concise statements: Brahman is non-dual; the world is a delusion; (Atman) which is immortal is not different from reality (Brahman).
Brahman is designated by Advaitins as saccidananda: as “being” (sat), “consciousness” (cit), and “bliss” (ananda).
Being (sat)- point to the ontological principle of unity, to the oneness not constituted of parts, to the existential sun stratum of all subjects and objects. Brahman is experienced as pure unqualified being. In fact, it alone truly “exists” – which means that manner of being is not comparable to the supposes existence of anything else.
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Consciousness(cit) indicates to the principle of awareness which informs being and which is, for the Advaitin, an unchanging witness of our being.Brahman experience is an illuminating experience; it is a state of conscious enlightenment.
Bliss (Ananda) indicates to the principle of value; to the fact that Brahman-experience is ecstatic and nullify all partial value in its incomparable splendour.
Advaita Vedanta distinguishes two aspects or modes of Brahman, nirguna, and saguna. Nirguna Brahman: a Brahman without qualities is just that transcendent interminate state of being about which ultimately nothing can be affirmed. Saguna Brahman: a Brahman with qualities, is Brahman as interpreted and affirmed by the mind from its necessarily limited standpoint.
Overall: Brahman, for Advaita Vedanta, is a name for that fullness of being which is the “tranquillity” of non-dualistic spiritual experience: an experience in which all distinctions between object are shattered and in which all distinctions between subjects objects are shattered and in which remains only pure unqualified “oneness”.
– by Akanksha Sharma of NewsGram. Twitter: Akanksha4117