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Light of Vedanta

by Swami Sivananda

A STUDENT of Vedanta should study again and again the Upanishads which are but mystical experiences of the soul gushing forth in an unceasing stream of beauty. You will find in the Upanishads instances of a sincere quest after Brahman, the Supreme Soul. Nachiketas learn the science of the Reality from Yama. Kabandhi, Bhargava, Kausalya, Gargya, Satyakama, Sukesa - all these devoted to Brahman and centred in Brahman, seeking the Highest Brahman approached the revered sage Pippalada with fuel in their hands to know Brahma Vidya and realised Brahman.

A rich man keeps his valuable jewels in an iron safe hidden in the innermost chamber of his bungalow. One has to pass through five compartments before he reaches the compartment in which the iron safe is placed. Five walls screen the iron safe. Even so, this most valuable jewel of Atman is placed in the innermost recess of the heart. Five veils cover this Atman. In other words, you will have to pass through the five compartments formed by the five Koshas if you want to get at the jewel of Atman.

To look for God without, abandoning the God within, is like going in quest of conch-shell after giving up the precious diamond in the hand. If you cannot find Him in your heart, you will not find Him anywhere else. Search Him within the innermost recess of your heart. He is subtler than the subtlest. Make the lotus of your heart as pure as possible. Withdraws the fuel of desires and extinguish the fire of Sankalpas. Realise the Truth now through your higher mind. Enjoy the perennial joy or divine Bliss.

You cannot separate the particles of sugar that are mixed with sand or dust; but an ant can separate them very easily. So also, if you want to taste nectar of Immortality or enjoy the Atmic Bliss, if you want to separate the Atma from the five sheath, you must become an ant, i.e., you must kill your egoism, pride and vanity and develop humility.

If you are equipped with the four-fold discipline viz., Viveka, Vairagya, Shad-sampat and Mumukshutva, you will be able to make an enquiry into Brahman. If you have proper ethical training only, you will be able to practise deep meditation. If you possess moral qualifications, you will be able to comprehend the deep truths of Vedanta. If you have moral stamina only, you will be eligible to approach Brahman or the Absolute. Ethical discipline is an indispensable pre-requisite to the study of Vedanta. You can be a wonderful scientist or a philosopher of great repute without any moral qualification but you cannot be a student of Vedanta without ethical perfection. An immoral man can never realise Brahman.

If you can maintain, when you are engaged deeply in some work, serenity of mind which cannot be ruffled, balance of mind which can never be disturbed, you have made considerable progress in the spiritual path. This indicates that you possess immense inner spiritual strength.

If you have a serene and composed mind only, you will be able to practise introspection and meditation. The four-fold discipline makes the mind steady, serene and one-pointed. It removes laziness, inattention, sleepiness and makes you ever vigilant. The senses are kept under perfect control by its practice. You will develop the power to discrimination between the real and the unreal. You will clearly perceive the extreme evanescence of all mundane objects. You will also develop a burning desire for liberation and a burning dispassion. If you now sit for meditation you will at once enter into Samadhi.

Self-control augments energy, vitality, vigour and mental strength. A man of self-control is always cheerful. He turns out much physical and mental work. He commands respect and influences people. He always keeps a balanced mind. He is always serene, collected and composed. He never wastes his energy. He sleeps happily. He attains quickly the highest beatitude.

If you are extremely virtuous, if you are very courageous, if you are ready to give up all possessions, even your very life for the sake of Truth, if you have equal vision, if you are solely engaged in the pursuit of divine knowledge, if you do sincere service to Mahatmas or your Guru, you can quickly attain Self-realisation.

Kill desires. Rise above desires. Abandon your beggarly attitude of mind. Feel the majesty of your Self. There is neither desire nor Vasana in the Self. It is very pure. It is all-full and self-contained. Identify yourself with the glorious Self. Then all desires will die. Then all desires will be fulfilled. This is the secret of the fulfilment of desires. Then nature will obey you. You can command the elements. All the eight Siddhis and the nine Riddhis will roll at your feet. They will stand with folded hands to carry out your behests. This is the sublime teaching of Vedanta.

Jesus commanded the waves to subside. They obeyed immediately. Shams Tabriez commanded the Sun to come down a bit. The sun obeyed. Nimbarka commanded the sun not to move beyond the line of a Neem tree that was in front of his house. The sun carried out his behest immediately. Jnana Dev commanded the wall and the Masjid to move. They obeyed him at once. Visvamitra said, Let there be a third world for Trisanku. Then and there a world was created. Akalkot Swami commanded, Let this dead man come back to life. At once the dead man rose up from the ground with new life. These sages were absolutely free from selfish desires. They simply willed at times to do good to the humanity. Everything came to pass instantaneously.

Give up identification of your Self with the physical body. Identification of one's self with the body is the greatest crime. Give up planning and scheming. Abandon speculation. Relinquish cherished hopes, expectations and worldly ambitions. Give up completely thinking about yourself. Do not expect appreciations or approbation. Burn the desire for name and fame. Scorch the fears of disease and public criticism. Do not hoard wealth or anything. Do not care for the morrow. Do not pay any attention to insults or stinging remarks or abuses. Become impervious to ridicules and rebukes. Give up your rights and claims to worldly possessions. Burn all worldly attachments. You can enter now the vast domain of eternal bliss or the kingdom of Truth. You will be the emperor of the three worlds. All Devas will now pay homage to you.

Wake up from the dream of forms. Give up this clinging to false names and forms. Do not be deceived by these illusory names and forms. Cling to the solid, living reality only. Love your Atman only. Atman or Brahman is the living Truth. Atman only persists. Live in the Atman. Become Brahman. This is real life.

There is neither births nor death for you. Thou art the immortal undecaying Self. Maya deludes you and you identify yourself with the perishable body. You foolishly imagine that you are subject to birth and death. Free yourself from the clutches of Maya. Soar high in the realms of Supreme Peace and reach the abode of Immortality through purification and meditation.

The mind should be scientifically trained to soar into higher regions of awareness and joy. You should march slowly and steadily in the spiritual path. You can ultimately reach the goal if you have patience, perseverance and constant vigilant and if you are very regular in your meditation. You should avoid over-zealous nature and spasmodic effort. Constant meditation on the Self will eventually lead to the ecstasy of beatific vision or Nirvikalpa Samadhi, wherein the individual soul has become one with the Supreme Soul.

Mind is compared to a wild wandering bull. Take up the rod and beat the bull severely. It will go back to its shed. You can tie it easily now to the post. So also thrash the mind-bull severely with the rod of Vairagya. It will go back to its original home or shed, Brahman. Now it will rest in Supreme Peace.

Mind is nothing but a bundle of Sankalpas. Even if you renounce the objects, even if you abandon sensual enjoyments, it will be thinking of objects, when you close eyes and sit for meditation. This is very dangerous. You must stop this sort of thinking with the help of discrimination, dispassion and Vichara or enquiry of Who am I? Fewer the thoughts, greater the peace. Complete extinction of Sankalpas brings Moksha or absolute annihilation of the mind or Manonas. Simple living will help you to control thoughts. If you lead a simple life, you have only very few wants and you will have to think a little only.

Do not think of the past. Give up memories. You will have no desire if you give up memories. Do not plan for the future. Do not allow the mind to build up images. Live in the present. Think of the Immortal Self. Now you will have a very quiescent state. You will be pulled up. You will become one with the Being. You cannot describe this sate. Self-realisation is beyond the range of speech. You will have to experience it yourself.

Believe in the glory of your own Self. 'Thou art That'. Search. Hear. Understand. Reflect, meditate and realise the immortal Atman. This Atman was never born and will never die. Abandon all superstitions and doubts. Scorch out all wrong Samskaras and wrong suggestions. Man or woman can realise the goal of Vedanta. Burn all false differences. There is neither low nor high, neither great nor small, neither superior nor inferior, neither animate nor inanimate. Behold your own Self everywhere. There is nothing but Self.

O Ye of little faith! Wake up from your long sleep of ignorance. Get knowledge of the Self. O wanderer in this quagmire of Samsara! Go back to your original abode of eternal peace, the fountain of infinite joy and power, the spring of boundless ecstasy, the source of life, the origin of light and love, the immortal blissful Brahmic seat of illimitable splendour and pristine glory. Fill the mind with thoughts of Self. Saturate your feelings with purity and divinity. Let the Light of lights shine in every hair of your body. Let the infinite Godhead vibrate in every cell of your body. Let every breath sing the song of Infinity and Eternity with 'Soham'.

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