The rituals mentioned in Karmakhanda of Vedas are sought to be negated in the Jnanakhanda, which is also part of the same scriptures. While Karmakhand enjoins upon you the worship of various deities and lays down the rules for the same, Jnanakhanda constituted by the Upanishads ridicules worshiper of deities as dim-witted person no better than the beast.
This seems strange, the latter part of Vedas contradicting the former part. The first part deals throughout with karma, while the second or concluding part is all about Jnana. Owing to difference, people have gone so far as to divide into two sections: the Vedas [that is the first part] to the mean the Karmakhanda and Upanishads [Vedanta] to mean the Jnanakanda.
In Gita Lord Krishna lashes out against the Karmakhanda. It is not Buddha and Mahavira were first attacked the Vedas but Lord Krishna himself spoke against them before Buddha and Mahavira.
In Gita, 18.46 Lord Krishna says to Arjuna: - the Vedas are associated with three qualities of Sattva, Rajas and Tamas. One must transcend these qualities. Full of desire, the practitioners of Vedic rituals long for paradise and keep thinking of pleasure and material prosperity. They are born again and again and their minds are never fixed on Samadhi, these men cling to Vedic rituals.
In another passage Lord Krishna declares: - Not by Vedas am I to be not realized, nor by sacrifices, nor by much study…..”
Sri Sankara says in Aproksh Anubooti: - 143. Thus has been described Raja-Yoga consisting of these steps (mentioned above). With this is to be combined Hatha-Yoga for (the benefit of) those whose worldly desires are partially attenuated.
144. For those whose mind is completely purified this (Raja-Yoga) alone is productive of perfection. Purity of the mind, again, is speedily accessible to those who are devoted to the teacher and the Deity.
But in commentary on Brihadaranyakopanishad -page 132-133 - Sankara definitely says that, Yoga is not the means of liberation. There are so many contradictions from the same author in his work. Therefore, there is deeper investigation is necessary before accepting anything as truth.
Yogi takes for granted that there is an Iswara--God, gives it to people for concentration purposes, and then they naturally find God in their meditations. But it is only his imagined God.
Mystics see what they are looking for or that whose existence they presuppose. Therefore Yoga belongs to illusion, not truth.
God is mere belief; no one has proved that there is a God. No one has proved that the individual is God or Brahman. Personal experience which is not universally valid is no proof, neither is ecstatic feeling.
What one knows must be tested, to see if it be true or not. Experience must be taken, checked, analized and corrected. It is the characteristic of all human beings to believe they understand, even when they do not. Otherwise he may be merely imagining as he like.
The reasoning base has to be rectified from form to formless to get faultless judgment. The defective interpretation is to apply it only to waking state. The correct interpretation is to apply it to the three states. The latter leads to final settlement of the problems because it takes all data into consideration. Opinions belong to scholasticism. And opinions are of no use in pursuit of truth.
If one has a belief, it is because somebody else believes it; or the majority believes it--or it is his own experience. Is it religious authority or religious sanction or is it based upon a feeling of certainty.
People believe it merely because it is for them to believe and very difficult for them to reason. The belief makes one more and more ignorance of the true self. Without realizing the true self is not the physical but the formless soul, the true will not be revealed. The belief system rests on the belief because it is based on the belief. The truth is based on the reason not on the belief. Nearly all people want their own imagination, not truth.
So long as one believes his body and the universe is real he is bound to believe in the belief system and yogic theory. Until one believes in the belief system, he will indulge in worship of deities so as to vouchsafed happiness in worldly life. Thinking deities to be real is cause of the creation is the cause of ignorance.
Rituals are indeed not the means to realize the self. The rituals and beliefs are road blocks in realizing the self. People are not honest to admit that, they are not matured enough to for self-realization even after indulging sincerely enough in rituals and sacrifices prescribed by their belief system. The discipline prescribed by the belief system is not the means for self-realization because they are based on the false self, within the false experience.
Thus through ignorance arises in Consciousness the delusion of the universe, which, again, through Self-realization, one becomes aware that it is mere mirage created out of consciousness.
When the whole universe, movable and immovable, is known to be Consciousness, and thus the existence of everything else is negated, then there is no second thing exists other than consciousness.
The dream experience is unreal in waking, whereas the waking experience is absent in dream. Both, however, are non-existent in deep sleep which, again, is not experienced in either.
Thus all the three states are unreal inasmuch as they are the creation of ignorance of the true self; but their witness or the reality behind them is, beyond three states is Consciousness, which is eternal.
People perform all their actions in and through consciousness, but on account of ignorance they are not aware of it. Because of ignorance people do not know that universe and other all its contents are nothing but consciousness.
As indicated in ISH Upanishads: - By worshiping gods and goddesses you will go after death to the world of gods and goddesses. But will that help you? The time you spend there is wasted, because if you were not there you could have spent that time moving forward towards Self-knowledge, which is your goal. In the world of gods and goddesses you cannot do that, and thus you go deeper and deeper into darkness.
It clearly indicates that:-If the human goal is to acquire Self-Knowledge or Brahma Gnana or Atma Gnana then why one has to indulge in rituals and glorifying the conceptual gods, goddesses and gurus to go in to deeper darkness. Instead spend that time moving forward towards Self-knowledge without the religious and yogic baggage, which is one’s prime goal.