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A 'Vedanta Mission' Page dedicated to Sri Adi Sankara

Message of Sri Adi Sankara

Sri Sankaracharya sums up the entire message of Vedanta in three crisp aphorism like sentences. They are :

(a) Brahma Satyam, (b) Jagat Mithya, and (c) Jivo Brahmaiva naparah.

Brahma Satyam :

Brahman is the all pervasive life principle, consciousness. Not the conditioned consciousness which manifests at the level of brain, but 'that' which exists before & inspite of the manifestation too. Not 'consciousness of something', but the very conscious principle as such. Contrary to what some people believe that 'life' is a product of some chemistry, the Upanishads thunder that Consciousness is that which isthe ultimate truth, the timeless & transcendental reality. It exists first and matter follows after. This is not only what the scriptures reveal, but also what is logical too. If we look at matter - the atoms, the electron, proton etc then we find that these things are so perfectly created & organised that there has to be some intelligence working. That which existed before to have brought about such an orderly & beautiful creation has to be a conscious entity. We can never imagine the whole process getting started with lifeless, inert matter. Consciousness alone has to be the first & eternal reality. Rest is created, and is thus perishable. That is what this sutra reveals. Brahma Satyam. The word satya means that which exists in all the three periods of time. Past, present & future. That which transcends time, and is thus timeless. That which exists at all times, that which cannot be effaced by time. Consciousness is that which not only exists at all times but also at all places. It exists as the very truth of all that is. It is the atma of everything - living or non-living things. It is our basic essence, our truth too. That is the God which we all worship.

Jagat Mithya :

The word Jagat embraces in itself this entire world, this cosmos. All that which is or can be an 'object' of our knowledge. It includes not only the gross but also the subtle 'objects'. The thoughts, emotions, the energy all come under this word 'Jagat'. That which is near or far, inside or outside, now or later, good or bad everything is part of this Jagat. This word has been described as reffering to that which is 'Jayate gachati iti jagat', i.e. that which is born & dies is jagat. Birth & death are movements in time. That which is in time constantly changes, there is a constant flux. Something starts this process of activation & manifestation of time and thus we see this dynamic flux. A realm of experience presents itself in front of us. What exactly starts this process is a different matter, but the point here is that all what is thus brought about is ultimately transient, is not ultimately there. It is comparable to being in a dream world. Something activates the process of dreaming, and when it does get activated we see a realm of experience which is not ultimately there. Mithya is that which is not there in all three periods of time. That which had a birth at a particular time and that which will certainly die at some point of time. It is there in this present moment, because of some reason - known or unknown. The above aphorism of 'Jagat Mithya' thus implies that all what is available for experience is transient.

Mithya also implies that which does not have the capacity to give us that which we basically seek. It is certainly beautiful,in fact very beautiful, it is also true that 'objects' of the world alone are useful for our worldly needs & purposes, but at the same time this is also a fact that we basically remain where we were. It is like eating a dream food, with which we never satiate our hunger. However much we eat the dream food, we will still remain basically hungry. Whatever we have sought in this world may have helped our life to get comfortable & organised, but has certainly not helped us in eliminating the fundamental desire 'to seek' something more. Like hunger the seeking still remains as it is. The only difference is that it now manifests differently. That which is Mithya does not have any independent existence, thus it is not really dependable, for the simple reason that it itself is perishable. What ever our heart basically seeks will never be got from this Jagat. That is the implication of this sutra. It is something to be seen in a detached way & not taking too seriously. Whatever happens in the world never really matters, knowing this a person should not plan to aggrandise & enjoy, he should rather serve & give. This philosophical tenet, which is a fact of life provides us a logic & basis for our religious values, culture & even the real goal of life.

Jivo Brahmaiva naparah :

This sutra means that 'every jiva - the apparent limited & finite entity is basically the infinite & limitless Brahman, and nothing else. The truth & essence of an indiidual is the truth & essence of this whole world or rather God. Every Jiva is basically God himself wearing a cloak of limited equipments, and moreover, identified with ones equipment he lives a limited & transient life. It is basically a case of non-apprehension followed by mis-apprehension of the truth of oneself. We take ourselves to be limited and therefore we are & remain limited. Body & all our equipments are certainly limited in time &space but 'I' who knows and objectifies all these is not. A seer is always different from seen. We are conscious of the body & mind complex so we have to be different from them. We are that which knows, that which illumines, that eternal life principle - Brahman. The Upanishads reveal that whoever knows his or her true reality is a healthy person, rest are diseased. They are certainly not at ease, there seems to be some bug in them. It is the bug of mis-apprenhension of ones true self as a limited guy. If we were really limited then someone 'could' have helped us, but when we just errorneously take ourselves to be limited then it is something which God also cannot do anything about, except come and provide right knowledge. It is we who have to pause, think, deliberate, meditate & realise. Everything of this individual gets changed, except the 'I' - the self-effulgent, blissful essence. One who knows that alone lives a true life which every human deserves to live. That alone was the secret of all saints, sages & even the avatar purushas. This alone is the real teaching of all our scriptures.

The awakening of limited Jiva to the realm of limitless Brahman is not a journey in the realm of time, but it is by transcending the very time, by right knowledge. Karma is a means to attain something in the realm of time, so it is not really relevent here. With karma we attain that which is unattained. In karma we turn our attention to that which should be rather than that which is. So in order to awake to our true self, one has to keep aside all cravings to 'do or achieve something'. One has to relax and be highly observant and see some fundamental facts of life & our true self. That which is limitless & infinite is not sometjhing to be attained but that which is to be known. It is already attained, one should realise that 'I am already that', We just have to directly know it. All sadhanas are directedonly for this ultimate goal of life. This is the objective of sanyas & Moksha. Drop the hankering for everything, relax, and see that which alone is.

Consequences of the opposite :

If a person does not understand & see these facts directly then it is obvious that the fellow will take resort to that which is its opposite. Lets see what will be the consequences of that. Such a person is too fascinated by the glare of the world, he will remain an extrovert, and also an eternal seeker. To live an ego-centric existence will be his destiny, and to face the music of egocentricity an unavoidable fact. Inside him there will always remain a sense of lack and outside he will continuously keep on seeking something or the other. He will take worldly things too seriously, and will be able to go to any extent for achieving such worldly things. Such people alone play dangerous games with nature and will still not be satisfied with it. Resorting to that which is opposite amounts to create & produce the devils. Communicating these tenets of Vedanta alone amounts to helping the individual in particular & also the world at large. This is what all Rishis declared, this is what Lord Ram & Krishna lived and this is what Bhagwan Sankaracharya worked & lived for. Lets go into these deeply and see these facts of life. Lets redeem ourselves with true knowledge.