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What is Vedanta

by Swami Sivananda

VEDANTA is no creed, no ceremony or form of worship. It is the science of the Reality: It boldly proclaims with emphasis that you are the immortal, all-pervading Atman, the universal soul or supreme Brahman in essence, in reality.

The preliminary qualifications for a student of Vedanta is an earnest desire to search for the Truth. He must always keep alive this desire for Truth. Then alone he will be able to tread the path of Truth easily.

Man is in essence a soul. He is fundamentally a spirit. He has put on this body to find out the Atman who is hidden in the chambers of his heart, to attain eternal bliss and to serve humanity with Atmabhava.

This body is like a cart or motor car. It is without intelligence. Atman is the real driver of this body. The all-wise Atman dwells in this body. So this body has been made intelligent by this Atman.

This Atman or Brahman is pure, calm, self-luminous, invisible, imperishable, eternal and independent. He is bodiless, birthless and endless. He stands in his own greatness. He is without support. He shines in his own glory.

The drift of the Srutis or Upanishads cannot be understood even in a hundred years by persons who are conceited and think themselves very learned. Therefore abandon conceit and become humble.

Knowledge of Brahman or Brahma Jnana alone can free us from the clutches of ignorance and death. This knowledge should come to us as a direct realisation through meditation. Mere scholarship or intelligence or study of religious books cannot help us to attain the summum bonum. It is a matter for direct experience, not for argument or reasoning.

The cave of the heart is to be sought after by every aspirant for Self-realisation. The Supreme Self which is full of bliss abides in the cave.

'I' and 'Mine' are the causes of this baneful worldly experience. But the pure Sattvic 'I' which is no other than the Atman is the goal of human life.

Friend, for a little while, concentrate thy attention and fix thy mind and hearing on thy inner soul. Abandon all worldly pleasures. Take to the path which is trodden by the righteous. Live on milk and fruits for a week. Endure cold and heat, hunger and thirst. Do not injure any creature even to the slightest degree. Live contentedly. Regard censure and applause equally. Derive happiness from thy soul.

Do not jeer at any one. Do not frown at anybody. Restrain all your senses. But cheerful always. Do not look back. Divest yourself of desire and wrath. Cast off pride. Turn your gaze inwards. Contemplate. You will enjoy true happiness.

Break the bonds of desire. Preserve equanimity in success and failure. Do not manifest any liking for life or dislike for death. Do not wish evil to the man who beats you or good to the man who smears your body with sandal paste. Take as much food and drink as will barely keep up life. Purify the mind. Free yourself from all attachments. Tear off mentally all bonds and ties and live as free as the wind. You will surely attain eternal happiness.

This wheel of life is continually turning like the wheel of a car. This worldly course of life is really a fleeting illusion although it looks real and eternal. It is afflicted by birth, death, decrepitude, disease, sorrow and pain. Live in God. Realise Him through worship and meditation. All miseries will come to an end. You will attain immortality.

Attain the permanent and unchanging place. Then alone you will be happy for ever. You will find such a place in Atman or Brahman only. Tread the fearless path of wisdom. Restrain the senses. Be frank and simple. Abandon the desire of bettering your position by acquisition of wealth. Seek the company of sages. Remove the faults or taints of the mind. Meditate regularly on the immortal resplendent Self. You will attain the everlasting place of happiness.

Brahman or the Supreme Self is beyond space, time and causation. He is limitless. He is tranquil and shines with effulgence in all bodies. He cannot be any particular thing. He is Chaitanya or pure consciousness. He is Vastu. Atman or Brahman or the Supreme Self is the hidden treasure. It is the Jewel of jewels. It is the Gem of gems. It is the imperishable, inexhaustible supreme wealth, which no dacoit can rob. It is Chintamani of Chintamanis that will give man whatever he wishes.

Adhyasa is the way of the mind to mistake one thing for another, the unreal for the real. It is not the cause of the appearance of this world. It is the cause of mistaking it as the real. It is born of ignorance. You mistake the body for the real Self. You identify yourself with the body. You are attached to it. You cling to it. This is Deha-adhyasa. Knowledge of the Immortal Self will destroy the Adhyasa. Start the anti-current and always try to identify yourself with the pure all-pervading Atman or Brahman.

Identification with the body or attachment to the body is the cause for fear. Think constantly of the immortal, fearless Atman which is your innermost Self. This fear will take to its heels. Think of courage. Fear cannot stand. Positive always overcomes the negative. May you become fearless! May you attain that fearless Brahman!

It is only when Deha-adhyasa vanishes by knowledge of the Self that one becomes fearless. Abhayam (fearlessness) is the highest fruit of Self-realisation.

The state of illumination and realisation of that Infinite Bliss eludes your grasp by delusion set up by the vehicles and vestures in which the soul is encased and their activities with which it identifies itself through accumulated Vasanas of countless births. But constant meditation and enquiry will remove all obstacles and help you in attaining the summum bonum.

If the mirror is dirty, you cannot see your face clearly. If the mirror is shaking, you cannot behold your face in the mirror. If there is a veil over the mirror, then also you cannot perceive your face. Even so if the mind-mirror is dirty, if the mind is oscillating, if the veil of ignorance that screens you from Brahman or the Supreme Self is not removed, you cannot behold the Supreme Self. Purify your mind by destroying desires through selfless service and Japa. Remove the tossing of the mind by the practice of Trataka, Pranayama and worship. Destroy the Avarana or veil of ignorance by meditating on the Supreme Self. You will attain Self-realisation.

Thou art the Immortal Self. The Atman cannot be hurt by bombs or shells. It is invulnerable, invincible and imperishable. Dwell on the Inner Self. Dwell on these ideas. There is no room for lamentation or fear. Be bold. Be cheerful.

There is internal peace which is not disturbed by external happenings. This is the supreme peace of the soul or the Atman. He who rests in this peace meets difficulties and troubles with fortitude. He is not upset by adversities, calamities and trying circumstances.

O Nectar's son! Enough of this mundane life. Enough of this life of passion in this earth plane. You have spent your whole life, energy and time in obtaining material wealth and power, name and fame. All your efforts have gone in vain. All your wealth is but a broken shell when compared with the inexhaustible wealth of the Atman. Obtain this priceless spiritual wealth. Give up this vain selfish struggle. You have walked too long with passionate eyes in this universe. Give up the lustful look. Meditate. Look within now. Behold the marvellous Self and be free.

By destroying Vasanas and Sankalpas you melt or annihilate the mind. By annihilating the mind you kill egoism. By killing egoism you know the Self. By knowing the Self you attain Self-realisation and become That.

Knowing the nature of Brahman or the Atman as such attain freedom. Think yourself as bodiless. Identify yourself with the Supreme Self and enjoy the supreme peace and eternal bliss of your all-pervading soul.


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