The orthodoxy is greatest hindrance in pursuit of truth because it makes the inborn samskara or conditioning more and stronger. Until this conditioning prevails it is impossible to grasp, assimilate and realize the non-dualistic or Advaitic truth. The orthodoxy is egocentric and egocentricity is the greatest obstacle in the 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 a waste of time and effort. Thus orthodoxy is not for those who are seeking truth nothing but the truth. Mixing orthodoxy and preaching Nonduality is foolish venture.
Gaudapada said: - the merciful Veda teaches karma and upasana to people of lower and middling intellect, while jnana is taught to those of higher intellect.
Mundaka Upanishad:- The rituals and the sacrifices described in the Vedas deal with lower knowledge. The sages ignored these rituals and went in search of higher knowledge. ... Such rituals are unsafe rafts for crossing The sea of samsara, of birth and death. Doomed to shipwreck are those who try to cross The sea of samsara on these poor rafts. Ignorant of their own ignorance, yet wise In their own esteem, these deluded men Proud of their vain learning go round and round Like the blind led by the blind.
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 the ritualistic oriented lifestyle and preach theoretical philosophies which are obstacles in realizing the Advaitic truth. Many chose these orthodox scholars as their gurus. But these gurus are good to learn the conceptual Adavaita 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 or Brahma Gnana or Atma Gnana.
The scriptures are for the ignorant masses, who wholly accept the material world as it presents itself. Wisdom is for those who have begun to realize that things are not what they seem.
Each sect concocts a God to suit its own purposes. Such concocted Gods have no value in pursuit of truth. The man himself suggests that there must be a God. It is an auto-suggestion.
Prayers and sacrifices belong to a premature stage of development. However when no answers come to prayers, struggle for existence presses man, and doubt arises again. Faith in religion weakens as the man pays more attention to the facts of life and this world.
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 Upanishads 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 Upanishads (Vedanta) to mean the jnanakanda.
Vedanta it is that the 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 realize 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 realize the true state of the Self spoken of in the Upanishads? 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 the 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.
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 worshipping gods and goddesses. By worshipping 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 the 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?
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 the 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 a reality. Thus the freedom which one is seeking will remain a distant dream. For the one who accepts the birth life and death as a reality, Self-knowledge is impossible.