The orthodox Advaitins Gurus argue:-
The rituals mentioned in the karmakanda of the Vedas are sought to be negated in the jnanakanda which is also part of the same scripture. While the karmakanda enjoins upon you the worship of various deities and lays down rules for the same, the jnanakanda constituted by the Upanisads ridicules the worshipper of deities as a dim-witted person no better than a beast.
This seems strange, the latter part of the Vedas contradicting the former part. The first part deals throughout with karma, while the second or concluding part is all about jnana. Owing to this difference, people have gone so far as to divide our scripture into two sections: the Vedas (that is the first part) to mean the karmakanda and the Upanisads (Vedanta) to mean the jnanakanda.
Vedanta it is that Lord teaches us in the Gita and in it he lashes out against the karmakanda. It is generally believed that the Buddha and Mahavira were the first to attack the Vedas.
It is not so. Sir Krsna Paramatman himself spoke against them long before these two religious leaders. At one place in the Gita he says to Arjuna :"The Vedas are associated with the three qualities of sattva, rajas and tamas.
You must transcend these three qualities. Full of desire, they (the practitioners of Vedic rituals) long for paradise and keep thinking of pleasures and material prosperity. They are born again and again and their minds are never fixed in Samadhi, these men clinging to Vedic rituals. “In another passage Krishna declares : "Not by the Vedas am I to be realised, nor by sacrifices nor by much study. . . . "
Does not such talk contradict all that I have spoken so far about the Vedas, that they are the source of all our dharma?
With some thinking we will realise that there is in fact no contradiction. Would it be possible for us, in our present condition, to go beyond the three gunas even to the slightest extent and realise the true state of the Self spoken of in the Upanisads? The purpose of the Vedic rituals is to take us, by degrees, to this state. So long as we believe that the world is real we worship the deities so as to be vouchsafed happiness. And this world, which we think is real, is also benefited by such worship.
Thinking the deities to be real, we help them and in return we are helped by them. Living happily on this earth we long to go to the world of the celestials and enjoy the pleasures of paradise. So far so good. But if we stopped at this stage would it not mean losing sight of our supreme objective? Is not this objective, this goal, our becoming one with the Paramatman? Would it not be foolish to ignore this great ideal of ours and still cling to mundane happiness?
In our present state of immaturity it is not possible to think of the world being unreal. Recognising this, the Vedas provide us the rituals to be performed for happiness in this world. Because of our inadequacies we are unable to devote ourselves to a formless Paramatman from whom we are not different.
So the Vedas have devised a system in which a number of deities are worshipped. But, in course of time, as we perform the rituals and worship the deities, we must make efforts to advance to the state of wisdom and enlightenment in which the world will be seen to be unreal and the rites will become unnecessary. Instead of worshipping many deities, we must reach the state in which we will recognise that we have no existence other than that of our being dissolved in the Paramatman. We must perform Vedic sacraments with the knowledge that they prepare us to go to this state by making our mind pure and one-pointed.
If we perform rituals with the sole idea of worldly happiness and carry on trade with the celestials by conducting sacrifices (offering them oblations and receiving benefits from them in return), we will never come face to face with the Truth. Even if we go to the world of the celestials, we will not be blessed with Self-realisation. Our residence in paradise is commensurate with the merit we earn here and is not permanent.
Sooner or later we will have to return to this world and be in the womb of a mother. The ritual worship and other sacraments of the Vedas are to some extent the result of making an adjustment to our present immature state of mind. But their real purpose is to take us forward gradually from this very immature state and illumine us within. It would be wrong to refuse to go beyond the stage of ritual worship.
If, to begin with, it is not right to refuse all at once to perform Vedic rites, it would be equally not right, subsequently, to refuse to give them up. Nowadays, people are averse to ritual to start with itself. "What? " they exclaim. "Who wants to perform sacrifices? Why should we chant the Vedas? Let us go directly to the Upanishads. " Some of them can speak eloquently about the Upanishads from a mere intellectual understanding of them. But none has the inward experience of the truths propounded in them and we do not see them emerging as men of detachment with a true awareness of the Self. The reason for this is that they have not prepared themselves for this higher state of perception through the performance of rituals. If this is wrong in one sense, refusal to take the path of jnana from that of karma is equally not justifiable.
The orthodoxy has to be dropped if one has chosen the path of Gnana or wisdom.
The orthodoxy is greatest hindrance in pursuit of truth because it makes the inborn samskara or conditioning more and more stronger. Until this conditioning prevails it is impossible to grasp, assimilate and realize the non-dual truth. The orthodoxy is egocentric and egocentricity is greatest obstacle in path of truth. The orthodoxy is indulging non-Vedic rituals because of add-ons and adulteration and such rituals leads one nowhere and it is waste of time and effort. Thus orthodoxy is not for those who are seeking truth nothing but truth. Mixing orthodoxy and preaching non-duality is foolish venture.
Gaudapada says :- the merciful Veda teaches karma and upaasana to people of lower and middling intellect, while jnana is taught to those of higher intellect.
So they clearly indicate rituals and theories are not meant for those who are searching for the higher knowledge or wisdom.
All the orthodox Advaitins indulge and immersed themselves in ritualistic oriented life style and preach theoretical philosophies which are obstacle in realizing the Advaitic truth. Many chose these orthodox scholars as their gurus. But these gurus are good to learn the conceptual Advaita meant for those orthodox who believe their conduct oriented life style leads to liberation. But those who are seeking truth have to do their own homework in order to acquire self-knowledge.
That is why in Ish Upanishads declares :-
Vidya and Avidya both are hindrances to Self-knowledge, but Vidya is even worse than Avidya. The word Vidya is used here in a special sense; here it means worshiping gods and goddesses. 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.
Avidya is Karma and therefore a hindrance. You perform Avidya - i.e., you perform Agnihotra and other sacrifices. This is a roundabout way of purifying the mind, and it is also groping in the dark. But it may not have as heavy a toll on your time and energy as the other.
Therefore, self-realization is necessary in order to realize the ultimate truth or god. Self-realization is real God realization.
People are ignorant and they are unaware of the reality of their true existence. Man and his experience of universe is simply a mirage created out of the consciousness, Consciousness is the real Self, the real Atman, is the reality.
Sri Sankara says in Aparokshanubhuti:-
88. When the whole universe, movable and immovable, is known to be Atman, and thus the existence of everything else is negated, where is then any room to say that the body is Atman?
88. When the whole universe, movable and immovable, is known to be Atman, and thus the existence of everything else is negated, where is then any room to say that the body is Atman?
89. O enlightened one, pass your time always contemplating on Atman while you are experiencing all the results of Prarabdha; for it ill becomes you to feel distressed.
90. The theory one hears of from the scripture, that Prarabdha does not lose its hold upon one even after the origination of the knowledge of Atman, is now being refuted.
91. After the origination of the knowledge of Reality, Prarabdha verily ceases to exist, inasmuch as the body and the like become non-existent; just as a dream does not exist on waking.
92. That Karma which is done in a previous life is known as Prarabdha (which produces the present life). But such Karma cannot take the place of Prarabdha (for a man of knowledge), as he has no other birth (being free from ego).
93. Just as the body in a dream is superimposed (and therefore illusory), so is also this body. How could there be any birth of the superimposed (body), and in the absence of birth (of the body) where is the room for that (i.e., Prarabdha) at all ?
94. The Vedanta texts declare ignorance to be verily the material (cause) of the phenomenal world just as earth is of a jar. That (ignorance) being destroyed, where can the universe subsist ?
95. Just as a person out of confusion perceives only the snake leaving aside the rope, so does an ignorant person see only the phenomenal world without knowing the reality?
96. The real nature of the rope being known, the appearance of the snake no longer persists; so the substratum being known, the phenomenal world disappears completely.
97. The body also being within the phenomenal world (and therefore unreal), how could Prarabdha exist ? It is, therefore, for the understanding of the ignorant alone that the Shruti speaks of Prarabdha.
98. “And all the actions of a man perish when he realizes that (Atman) which is both the higher and the lower”. Here the clear use of the plural by the Shruti is to negate Prarabdha as well.
99. If the ignorant still arbitrarily maintain this, they will not only involve themselves into two absurdities but will also run the risk of forgoing the Vedantic conclusion. So one should accept those Shrutis alone from which proceeds true knowledge.
The above proves that the karma is reality only on the base of false self, where one thinks body and the universes as reality. When one becomes aware of the fact that, the true self is formless soul, then the karma becomes part and parcel of illusion. My point is that, if one accepts the karma theory as reality, he will never be able to come out of the ignorance. And ignorance makes him believe the cycle of birth, life and death as reality. Thus the freedom which one is seeking will remain distant dream. For the one who accepts the birth life and death as reality, Self-knowledge is impossible.
Sri, Sankara says in VivekaChudamani :-
56. Neither by Yoga, nor by Sankhya, nor by work, nor by learning, but by the realisation of one's identity with Brahman is Liberation possible, and by no other means.
58. Loud speech consisting of a shower of words, the skill in expounding the Scriptures, and likewise erudition - these merely bring on a little personal enjoyment to the scholar, but are no good for Liberation.
59. The study of the Scriptures is useless so long as the highest Truth is unknown, and it is equally useless when the highest Truth has already been known.
60. The Scriptures consisting of many words are a dense forest which merely causes the mind to ramble. Hence men of wisdom should earnestly set about knowing the true nature of the Self.
61. For one who has been bitten by the serpent of Ignorance, the only remedy is the knowledge of Brahman. Of what avail are the Vedas and (other) Scriptures, Mantras (sacred formulae) and medicines to such a one?
62. A disease does not leave off if one simply utter the name of the medicine, without taking it; (similarly) without direct realisation one cannot be liberated by the mere utterance of the word Brahman.
63. Without causing the objective universe to vanish and without knowing the truth of the Self, how is one to achieve Liberation by the mere utterance of the word Brahman ? — It would result merely in an effort of speech.
64. Without killing one’s enemies, and possessing oneself of the splendour of the entire surrounding region, one cannot claim to be an emperor by merely saying, ‘I am an emperor’.
65. As a treasure hidden underground requires (for its extraction) competent instruction, excavation, the removal of stones and other such things lying above it and (finally) grasping, but never comes out by being (merely) called out by name, so the transparent Truth of the self, which is hidden by Maya and its effects, is to be attained through the instructions of a knower of Brahman, followed by reflection, meditation and so forth, but not through perverted arguments.
66. Therefore the wise should, as in the case of disease and the like, personally strive by all the means in their power to be free from the bondage of repeated births and deaths.
67. The question that thou hast asked today is excellent, approved by those versed in the Scriptures, aphoristic, pregnant with meaning and fit to be known by the seekers after Liberation.
Sri, Sankara goes on to said:-
A sickness of not cured by saying the word “medicine.” You must take the medicine. Liberation does not come by merely saying the word “Brahman.” Brahman must be experienced. Until you allow this apparent universe to dissolve from your consciousness, until you have experienced Brahman, how can you find liberation just by saying the word Brahman? The result is merely a noise. Until a man has destroyed his enemies and taken possession of the splendour and wealth of the kingdom, he cannot become a king by simply saying “I am a king.”
Isa Upanishads indicates that: By worshiping gods and goddesses and going to the world of gods after death is of no use. The time one spends in ritualistic practices is wasted; one can spend same time moving forward towards Self-knowledge, which is the main goal. One cannot reach the non-dual destination by glorifying god and goddesses and by doing that, one goes deeper and deeper into darkness. It surely indicates the fact that, the seeker of truth has to drop the worshiping god and goddess in order to get Self-Knowledge or Brahma Gnana or Atma Gnana.
It also indicates that, Religious Rituals (Avidya) is Karma (action) and therefore a hindrance. By performing Agnihotra and other sacrifices (Avidya) is a roundabout way of purifying the mind, and it is also groping in the dark.
In addition, it indicates the karma is limited only to the religious rituals, not on the whole human life. This karma theory based on the human conduct must have been adopted from Buddhism and other theories based on human conducts.
When it says: Perform the obligatory karmas without any attachment to the fruits, and at the same time worship gods and goddesses, again without any desire to go to heaven - then you can get the benefit of both, liberation and bliss. For those who are not yet ready to renounce, this path is recommended, it mean that the religion and its idea of god and goddesses and code of conducts, and its rituals are meant for the mass who are incapable of thinking of the beyond.
In addition, it also speaks of heaven the abode of gods, where one goes after death, and it speaks of rebirth, this contradiction, seeker has to conclude that religion, rituals god and its code of conducts are meant for the mass that is not receptive to receive Self-Knowledge or Brahma Gnana or Atma Gnana.
When the self is not the body (‘ego or waking entity’) whatever one sees, knows, believes, experiences and feels on the base of the body(‘ego or waking entity’)as self is bound to be illusion. Thus, the karma performed in illusion is bound to be illusion. The birth, life and death is happening within the illusion, therefore it is bound to be illusion. Thus, rebirth and reincarnation theories based on the false self within the false experience are bound to be illusion on the base of the true self. Only the witness of the illusion is real or Brahman. Therefore, everything has to be viewed and judged, on the base of the Formless Witness (soul) in order to overcome the illusion or duality.
Seeker of truth has to know somewhere he is going wrong, and it is for the seeker to go on his own and remove the obstacle. The greatest hindrance is mixing religion, god, scriptures, and yogic theories. Moreover, attachment to scriptures, personal god and religious code of conduct keeps one permanently in the grip of duality.
Seeker has to have courage to accept the truth and reject the untruth because most people will not be able to subscribe to path of truth because they sentimentally and emotionally involved with their inherited belief system and even if one does he has to overcome all his doubts confusion and despair. These are problem for the seekers who are from religious back ground because of their conditioning and they are made to accept their blind belief as truth and their interest or insight is not deep. Thus all my blogs are useful analyze these problems because they highlight the what is not truth according to their own religious scriptures and make them to accept the truth and reject all the false conditioning and move ahead in pursuit of truth.
It becomes difficult for the orthodox cult to accept anything else as truth other than their accepted belief, which they hold as truth. Although all religious followers are participants alike in the spiritual endeavour of the world, overzealous followers of each religion are not prepared to accord equal status to other faiths and assert the superiority of their own. Thus universal brother hood is total impossibility because it is difficult to accept anything other than their inherited belief system.
Most of the pundits are egoic and they try to snub others who question them. They think they are unquestionable authority. They quote the citation from the scriptures as proof without verifying the validity. All punditry is a great obstacle in realizing the Advaitic truth expounded by the Sri, Sankara and Goudapada.
One finds lots of differences between Advaita preaching and practice. There is need to bifurcate religion, concept of god and scriptures from Advaitic philosophy to assimilate the essence of Advaita.
Sri, Sankara says in Brahma Sutras: that Brahman is the cause of the world, whereas in Mandukya he denies it. This is because he says that at the lower stage of understanding, the former teaching must be given, for people will get frightened as they cannot understand how the world can be without a cause, but to those in a higher stage, the truth of non-causality can be revealed.
Sri, Sankara himself has warned us not to use ambiguous words, and to practice semantic analysis in his book "Definition of one's own Self. ( Page 199, v.24 of "Sankara's Selected Works)
Sri, Sankara founded his Advaita Vedanta either on reason independent of sruti or on sruti confirmed by reason." Sri, Sankara's commentary on the Mandukya Upanishad, II, 1: This [the unreality of duality] is borne out by the Srutis ... But it is possible also to show the unreality of the object world even from pure reasoning, and this second chapter is undertaken for that purpose.
Sri, Sankara himself had often said that his philosophy was based on Sruti, or revealed scripture. This may be because Sri, Sankara addressed the ordinary man, who finds security in the idea of causality and thus in the idea of God—and Revelation is indispensable to prove the latter. He believed that those of superior intelligence, have no need of this idea of divine causality, and can therefore dispense with Sruti and arrive at the truth of Non-Dualism by pure reason.
Moksha is freedom. Freedom is becoming free from experiencing the illusion or duality as reality by realizing the fact that, the self is not the form but self is formless. It is possible to realize this without realizing the fact that, the individual self or ego is reality within the false experience. Thus all the knowledge accumulated by judging on the base of false self, is false knowledge.
People believe in old myths propagated by their religion. Every religion has propagated its own myth. Every religious belief contradicts other beliefs. It is mere blind belief accepted as truth without verification and evidence. This causes division. Modern science has exposed many Religious dogmas as myth. All these dogma were introduced in primitive era before people had the benefit of modern science. Science attempts to objectively discover how life works, and religion makes one blindly believe and cast his burden on the blind belief without verification, to live in peace and harmony in worldly life.
Seekers main aim is to investigate both dual and non-dual experiences to find and define the underlying truth in everything, thereby realizing what the ultimate truth is. Because of so many beliefs propagated by belief system, people think seekers of truth are atheists because they do not accept the belief blindly. Seekers of truth believe the religionist and atheists both are believers because religionist believe in the belief of god and atheists believe in belief of no god.
Pursuit of truth is all about accepting uncertainty and open questions and seeking for the things that are certainty. Believers and nonbelievers will not accept anything other than their inherited belief system or accepted truth. Atheists feel there is no proof for god’s existence. So atheist chooses to just believe there is no such thing called God. And religionists just believe in the existence of their conceptual god. A Gnani is one who is fully aware of the fact that, the existence or non-existence of God cannot be proven on the base of physical self. Therefore deeper understanding is necessary to understand and assimilate the truth about Gods existence to know what is supposed to be the God.
In Vedas the God (Soul/Ataman) has been described as:-
The Self or Ataman is God and God is Self or Ataman.
Nirguna (Without form and properties).
The Soul/God further has been told as
It means the ultimate truth is god. That is Atman is Brahman. That is the true self is ultimate truth.
In Advaita Vedanta: - Brahman is without attributes and strictly impersonal. It can be best described as infinite Being, infinite Consciousness and infinite Bliss. It is pure knowledge itself, similar to a source of infinite radiance. Since the Advaitins regard Brahman to be the Ultimate Truth, so in comparison to Brahman, every other thing, including the material world, its distinctness, the individuality of the living creatures and even Ishvara (the Supreme Lord) itself are all untrue. Brahman is the effulgent cause of everything that exists and can possibly exist. Since it is beyond human comprehension, it is without any attributes, for assigning attributes to it would be distorting the true nature of Brahman. Advaitins believe in the existence of both Saguna Brahman and Nirguna Brahman; however they consider Nirguna Brahman to be the absolute supreme truth.
Atman is the inner most self. The Atman, the innermost self is present in the form of consciousness is ultimate truth and it is God.
The Atman(soul) is within the mind (universe) and mind (universe) is within the soul. The universe is within the self(soul) and self(soul) is within universe. The chicken is in the egg and the egg is in the chicken. The tree is in the seed and the seed is in the tree. The same thing that was told by the Vedas was repeated by the Saint John (10-38)? Father is in me and I am in Father. Thus the father (soul/self)is our immediate, neighbour- love thy neighbour. Therefore, one has to love the soul or Christ in order to become one with the formless spirit or soul or Christ, which is the creator, sustainer and dissolver of the world or duality.
Therefore, self-realization is necessary in order to realize the ultimate truth or God. Self-Realization is real God realization.