Upanishad Course – Chapter 1 (Contd)
All of us have been exposed to Vedanta, particularly Advaita Vedanta. We have come across terms like ‘Mitya’, ‘Vrisha’ which means illusion or dream. Advaita Vedanta teaches that all that we experience is an illusion or dream. When we think about this theme logically, we will conclude that ‘Advaita Vedanta’ and the ‘Satguru Sishya Parampara’ is also an illusion or dream. Advaita Vedanta does not deny that. However, some experiences in our lives keep us in the dream while some experiences wake us up from that dream! This is why our Shastra and Satguru Sishya Parampara is known as ‘Vedanta Kesari’. Kesari means lion. When we dream and a dream lion comes and roars at us, we will wake up! So we are all ‘Bhagya’ to have that lion roaring at us to wake us up!
Recap: Brahman is reality. If we engage in ‘Sva Vichara’ – that is think about reality in our own life, then we will come to understand and appreciate that Brahman is not our reality and we are not feeling infinity right here, right now. Sensing this hypocrisy and lack of cohesion, what we need is Shastra (science) to encourage clarity on how we can feel infinity as our reality. While we may be experts at many sciences like finance or cooking or cleaning – we are trying to wake up and know who we are. This is not an objective science but a subjective science. So we need a special facilitator and means (or Pramana), which in our culture comes by the term Veda (knowledge). This is not knowledge of what is outside but knowledge of what is inside.
Rishi Sandeepany was Bhagavan Krishna’s Guru. Etymology for the word Sandeepany is ‘one who can light up’. ‘Sam’ means he has already lit himself up and is adept at lighting it up for others. The symbol for our Sandeepany Ashram is the ‘Prasthana Traya’ (Upanishad, BrahmaSutras and Bhagavad Gita). The book that is shown open in the Sandeepany symbol is the Upanishad. The simplification of the Upanishad is the Bhagavad Gita and the summarization of the Upanishad is known as the Vedanta Sutras or Brahma Sutras.
The simple or lighter meaning of the word Upanishad is – ‘Upa’ means near , ‘ni’ means below and ‘sad/ṣad’ means sit – ‘come near, be below and sit’. This simple meaning shows a bhava or feeling by which our reality can change.
This Class: The heavier definition of Upanishad is ‘knowledge’ – knowledge of Brahman or reality. A deeper/heavier meaning is: ‘Upa’ means near. ‘Ni’ is ‘Nishchayena Sheelayati’. Nishchaya means commitment and Sheelayati means to practice (committed to practice in the controlled and uncontrolled environment). ‘Sad’ has three meanings – to destroy, to loosen and to lead. Nearness refers to learning this knowledge from someone who owns this knowledge and lives this. Nishchayena Sheelayati means that we are committed to being the same way. If we do this our Avidya (forgetfulness) will be destroyed. The only way for us not to experience infinity is if we ignore it or forget it – and this ignoring/forgetting will be destroyed! And with this comes a loosening of the sense of limits. We feel limited even when all is perfect externally, and this knowledge of reality will loosen those limits. The third meaning of ‘Sad’ which is leads – leads us to this reality. Happiness becomes a reality, infinity is happiness.
The lighter explanation of Upanishad given in the previous class is the feeling one should have and the heavier explanation is that this feeling will facilitate this knowledge.
Adyatma Shastra is the science of that which is the closest. A popular synonym to Adyatma Shastra and Upanishad is Vedanta. Veda means knowledge. Anta means the ends. The implication is that, after we are tired of objective sciences, we have a thirst for the subjective science – we long for that which is more authentic and deep. Anta also means inside. The more pure our personality is, the more intense our pursuit will be of Atma, Brahman, Upanishad and Vedanta. For those who don’t have a pure personality, they will be ok with Veda and don’t need Vedanta. The mind has to be ready to experience and internalize Vedanta. There are three ways that the mind has to be ready, where the first two have to already be checked off –
- Shuddata (balanced mind)
- Ekagrata (focused mind) (These two are required to even access the Vedanta.)
- Sukshmata (reflective mind, which happens with this study)
The reflective mind is what makes Vedanta real. We are engaged in a science, and what is unique about this is, the divinity is in the details. Our study will flow along the lines of Anubanda Chatushtaya (Anubanda means design, and Anubanda Chatushtaya means framework with four facets).
- Adhikari (student or Sadhu). Sadhu means ‘Parakaryam Saadnoti iti Sadhu’ – or one who facilitates/accomplishes others’ work, a noble person dedicated to helping others.
- Vishaya (subject). The subject here is knowledge of Brahma
- Prayojana (purpose). The two fundamental drivers for why we do what we do are ‘Dukha Nivrutti’ (escaping pain) and ‘Sukha praapti’ (embracing peace)
- Sambanda (connection). The connection here is between Vishaya (subject) and Prayojana (purpose). For objective science we have to know and then act to get what we need. For subjective science, the Sambanda is just knowing. Everything that is created will also be uncreated, this is all in the realm of finitude. Infinity can neither be created nor uncreated. We are not experiencing infinity because we are ignoring it, so the way to experience infinity is by knowing infinity.
Shanti Mantra is chanted at the beginning of the Upanishad. The implication is that our mind has to be that quiet to be able to internalize the peace that comes with this knowledge.
The Shanti Mantra is:
Om saha naavavatu, saha nau bhunaktu,
saha veeryamkaravaavahai, tejasvi naavadheetamastu, maa vidvishaavahai,
Om shanti shanti shantihi
saha naavavatu – may we be safe.
saha nau bhunaktu – may we enjoy
saha veeryamkaravaavahai – may we exert
tejasvi naavadheetamastu – may we shine
maa vidvishaavahai – may we understand
shanti shanti shantihi – may we be peaceful
The first shanti is chanted louder, because this shanti is for ourself where the noise is loudest. The second shanti is chanted softer , and is chanted for family and community. The third shanti is chanted even softer , and this chanted for society and humanity.
The acronym is SEES UP – safe, enjoy, exert, shine, understand, peaceful.
Anyone who is about to invoke this knowledge needs to SEES UP!