Upanishad Course – Chapter 2
Rishi Valmiki originally wished to name his writing Sitayanama but decided to name it Ramayana because term “Rama” means joy. So the text became a ‘journey to joy’. In Ramayana, when Devi Sita is in Ashoka vatika, it is her sorrow that expresses as the fire that burns Lanka down. In Sanskrit, the word for fire is ‘Anala’. Anala means ‘never enough’; a fire is never satiated. We have to reach a sense of ‘Alam’ meaning ‘enough’, a feeling of enough of sorrow, enough worldliness, enough wasting. This sense of enough will help us to find Shri Rama and Be ‘Rama’. This course is designed for those who have reached this sense of ‘enough’.
Another word for Upanishad is Vedanta. Veda means science, Anta means inside. Vedanta is a science that is beyond the sciences we are familiar with. Unlike the medical science which studies the physical, Vedanta studies the metaphysical and as per Vedanta what is inside of us is ‘Advaita’. Science of inside here is ‘Advaita Vedanta. What is inside of us is oneness, of inner and outer worlds. Vishishta Advaita Vedanta, or qualified oneness. This branch of Vedanta expounds that what is inside of me is a part and all else (creator)is the whole. Another stream of Vedanta, Dvaita Vedanta which propounds that ‘I am a servant to all else which is a master (creator)’. All these are various philosophical systems to bring us back home. We are still trying to tune into this Oneness, Advaita Vedanta. It is critical therefore to accept and adapt. Accept that we appreciate and understand Advaita Vedanta and this will lead us to adapt/evolve.
In continuation of the explanation of a Shanti Mantra, SEES UP. We should burn this prayer into our lifestyle.
1. May we be safe: Safety of faith such that we don’t lose faith.
2. May we enjoy: Enjoy the struggle. Struggle is required.
3. May we exert: Ashram means ‘to work more’.
4. May we shine: Be cheerful from being content.
5. May we understand: Understand that the relationship with your Sadguru is unavoidable. Sadguru is needed to guide you.
6. May we be peaceful: Peace should be natural, not forced.
The second lesson focuses on ‘Adhikari’, the one who is qualified/eligible, the disciple. In Bhagavatam, the first skanda focuses on Adhikari. In Bhagavad Gita, second chapter focuses on Arjuna, the disciple. The application for us with this focus is to study what we can understand, study the text that you are eligible for. Since all texts have the same teaching, focusing on the text we understand will help us internalize it. The way one gets to know who is eligible for a text is through a ‘Samvada’, dialogue or the types of questions that a seeker asks. There are six sources from where a seeker asks questions.
1. Highly rajasic personality: Out of Criticism. Goal here is to Criticize the person they are asking.
2. Moderately rajasic personality: Out of Conceit, to show off what they know.
3. Slightly rajasic personality: Out of Curiosity
4. Slightly sattvic personality: Out of Confirmation, confirming what they have been reflecting on
5. Moderately sattvic personality: Out of Compassion. Asking to be able to tune into the answer, so there is sincerity that backs that question.
6. Highly sattvic personality: They don’t ask questions. They know that all their questions will be answered so they don’t have to express. They understand that our guide is our own intellect.
An adhikari comes to know the knowledge by epistemology, science of how we know anything. This is called pramana. The most common pramana is called ‘Pratyaksha pramana’ (prati+aksha= right in front of eyes), experiences brought about by experiences. Second most common way we get answers is ‘Anumana pramana’, rationale or logic or worldly knowledge. Third way is ‘Veda pramana’, knowing courtesy of Veda. Veda is the knowledge of how to be happy. We have studied in the past that to truly accept an idea, it has to be checked off by Anubhuti (experience), yukti (logic) and Shruti (as said by the wise). Pratyaksha is same as Anubhuti, Anumana is same as Yukti and Shruti is same as Veda. The import of these questions is on Veda pramana. Pratyaksha pramana and Anumana pramanaa areboth based on us as finite entities. Our experiences and mind and intellect can only help us know the finite. Veda is not based on us and is therefore not finite. Veda is described as words of God (Narayana prana).
Adhikari depends less on experience and inference and depends more on scripture. In mundaka upanishad, there is a verse that describes what makes one a disciple. One who examines what actions can create. Such an individual is a Brahmana, he who is dedicated to Brahman. After having examined, he lets go of the finite results and reflects more on ‘Na asti akritah kritena= That which is finite cannot lead to the infinite’. This will result in a desire to know and be the Infinite. Only by approaching the Guru (who is Bramhanishtha and is able to communicate that to the disciple) with samit panih (with completely surrendering the vasanas to Guru for Him to burn them) will he reach the Infinite.
Viveka and Vairagya are two qualities of the seeker. Viveka is discriminating between the relative and the absolute. Adhikari is to intensify the discrimination, hold onto the absolute and let go of relative more freely, to intensify the courage. In skanda two of Bhagavatam, Lord Brahma is confused and instead of escaping he closes his eyes. Bhagavan Narayana at this point teaches the original Bhagavatam to Lord Brahma which has 4 shlokas. Summary of these shlokas:
1. Infinity is real
2. Illusion is unreal
3. Creation is relative
4. Extraction is release: Extraction has to take place in creation. Let go of the relative.
In Hamsa gita, Bhagavan Krishna as a swan shares with Uddhava about Alata, sparkler. Just as a sparkler makes illusory designs, He says we should engage in alata Shanti, enough of the illusion.