Swami Vivekananda:- The soul is also sexless; we cannot say of the Atman that it is a man or a woman. Sex belongs to the body alone. All such ideas, therefore, as man or woman, are a delusion when spoken with regard to the Self, and are only proper when spoken of the body. So are the ideas of age. It never ages; the ancient One is always the same. How did It come down to earth? There is but one answer to that in our scriptures. Ignorance is the cause of all this bondage. It is through ignorance that we have become bound; knowledge will cure it by taking us to the other side. How will that knowledge come? Through love, Bhakti; by the worship of God, by loving all beings as the temples of God. He resides within them. Thus, with that intense love will come knowledge, and ignorance will disappear, the bonds will break, and the soul will be free. - Swami Vivekananda -The Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda/Volume 3/Lectures from Colombo to Almora/Vedantism
Nisargadatta Maharaj :- If you seek reality you must set yourself free of all backgrounds, of all cultures, of all patterns of thinking and feeling. Even the idea of being man or woman, or even human should be discarded.
The Atman or soul is the innermost self. The Atman or soul is present in the form of consciousness. The Atman or consciousness itself is ultimate truth or Brahman. Brahman is God. Thus to realize God or Brahman Self-knowledge or Bramha Gnana or Atma Gnana is necessary.
The Self is indeed Brahman, but through ignorance people identify it with intellect, mind, senses, passions, and the elements of earth, water, air, space, and fire. This is why the Self is said to consist of this and that, and appears to be everything. - Brihadaranyaka Upanishad
The Shruti has directly denied manifoldness in Brahman. The non-dual cause being an established fact, how could the phenomenal universe be different from It?
The Shruti has condemned (the belief in variety) in the words, “The person who”, being deceived by Maya, “sees variety in this (Brahman), goes from death to death”.
Inasmuch as all beings are born of Brahman, the supreme Atman, they must be understood to be verily Brahman.
The Shruti has clearly declared that Brahman alone is the substratum of all varieties of names, forms and actions.
The Shruti in the form of the Brihadaranyaka has declared that this Atman, which is the Self of all, is verily Brahman.
The conflict of opinions among mystics, yogis and belivers proves that all are imagining God as they like, not knowing what God really is.
Understanding of what God is not so easy, unless one imagines like religious scholars or go in for his own "intuition-ism." Most people god is someone up there and they imagine he is seeing God.
Most of the translations made of Indian philosophical works have represented religion and mythology, not philosophy. The orthodox pundits do not understand it because their approach is more practical, and they stuck with the reality of the world, they take it as real. That is why all the confusion.
This mythological teaching produced more and more ignorant today. Look at the conversions. Imagining that God has ashes on his forehead or blazing like the sun-- that is all poetry and depends only on faith. All Siddantas are dualistic and unphilosophical belongs the dualistic sect. Ancient dualistc sages indulged in culling some paras only from the Upanishads with convenient vagueness to establish their God and Theology to feed the ignorant masses.
Indians are more religious than other people. The six systems of Indian Philosophy are really six systems of Indian speculation. For there is only one Truth.
The Hindu tenet borrowed by theosophists of universe appearing and dissolving, days and nights of Brahma, entering into pralaya etc. is intended for mediocre intellects who cannot rise to truth. It is a convenient fable representing the philosophic truth that the whole universe dissolves in your mind in deep sleep, thus entering pralaya, and rises again next morning, i.e. it is all imagination, idea. The Brahma-God has nothing to do with it.
That is why Swami Vivekananda :- The masses in India cry to sixty million gods, and still die like dogs. Where are these gods?
Knowing this, stand up and fight! Not one step back that is the idea. ... Fight it out, whatever comes. Let the stars move from the sphere! Let the whole world stand against us! Death means only a change of garment. What of it? Thus fight! You gain nothing by becoming cowards. ... Taking a step backward, you do not avoid any misfortune. You have cried to all the gods in the world. Has misery ceased? The masses in India cry to sixty million gods, and still die like dogs. Where are these gods? ... The gods come to help you when you have succeeded. So what is the use? Die game. ... This bending the knee to superstitions, this selling yourself to your own mind does not befit you, my soul. You are infinite, deathless, birthless. Because you are infinite spirit, it does not befit you to be a slave. ... Arise! Awake! Stand up and fight! Die if you must. There is none to help you. You are the entire world. Who can help you? - Swami Vivekananda
(Delivered In San Francisco, on May 28, 1900) -The Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda/Volume 1/Lectures And Discourses/The Gita II
Isa Upanishads indicates that: By worshipping 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 or Bramaha Gnana or Atma Gnana, 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) are 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 means that the religion and its idea of god and goddesses and code of conduct, 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 Self-knowledge or Bramha Gnana or Atma Gnana.
When the self is not the form but self is formless soul, which is in the form of consciousness than how the physical conduct oriented orthodoxy can get Self-knowledge or Bramha Gnana or Atma Gnana. .
Sri, Sankara declares: - the world is a myth and Brahman alone is real then why to worship the Guru and Gods based on the ego, which is false self within the false world.
All the karmas performed by the orthodoxy are non-Vedic and barred by the Vedas.
That is why Veda bars such worships and people who indulge in such activities will suffer and sink into darkness. And Upanishads says self-realization is the human goal. Therefore, one has to strive only for self-realization or truth realization.
When the self is formless there is no need for pada pooja (feet worship) of Adavitin gurus to get freedom. A guru, who preaches conduct as the means to freedom, believes in birth, life death and the world as reality, whereas the Advitic sage Sri, Sankara declares the world as unreal. Therefore, how actions performed in unreal world can get Moksha or freedom. Therefore there is need to know the fact that, the self is not physical in order to understand and assimilate and realize the truth beyond physicality.
That is why Gaudapada says that: - The merciful Veda teaches karma and Upaasana to people of lower and middling intellect, while Jnana is taught to those of higher intellect.
Thus Goudapada suggest that the religious paths and worship of the guru and conceptual god are lower and middling intellect. But in this modern world people are sharp enough to understand and assimilate the ultimate truth or Brahman or God. Thus people who want higher truth then it is high time to discard the lower knowledge and move ahead to realize the ultimate truth, which is Brahman or God.
The religion deals with immature people who are not capable of grasping the ultimate truth or Brahman. The path of wisdom is intended for the intellectually evolved. Everyone cannot become a Gnani therefore religion, intellectuality and yoga are useful for others who are not seeking ultimate truth or Brahman.
Mundaka Upanishad says:- 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.
When the sages themselves found rituals are unsafe rafts for crossing The sea of samsara, of birth and death and ignored them and they the Mundaka Upanishad further suggest that, such rituals are unsafe rafts for crossing the realm of duality those who try to cross The realm of duality on these poor rafts are Doomed to shipwreck are. Ignorant of their own ignorance, yet wise in their own esteem, these deluded people (punndiths) proud of their vain learning go round and round like the blind led by the blind.
Therefore, if one wants to acquire Atma Jnana or Bramha Jnana or Self- Knowledge or knowledge of consciousness one has to drop all ritualistic and orthodox baggage to move forward in their pursuit of truth.
The scriptures have been interpreted in a thousand ways, according to the pundit's capacity to understand the test of all these is the reason. The path of wisdom is harder than others, this path means Gnana Yoga.
The scriptures do not give detailed explanations that may be because the knowledge of ancient days was not as advanced as it as nowadays. However there are odd words and insights here and there which give hints.
Dualistic worship of "God” only for the people who believe the practical life within the practical world as reality; wisdom is for the more evolved.
Killing doubt" is not to refrain from inquiring as religious scholars , yogis and believers say, but to tackle every doubt and to go on until one answer or solve it satisfactorily and thus the doubt disappears.
There is need to study the scriptures. One has to self-search the truth and realize it without the scriptures. And then when he reads the scriptures he becomes aware the scriptures are also saying the same thing but everything is misinterpreted.
Non-dualistic truth is supreme truth; all dualistic systems hold false self as real self and false experience as reality. Non- dualistic wisdom is the culmination of all systems including theistic Nonduality. The true non-dualist will not quarrel and argue with any theoretical philosophy because he is fully aware of the fact that, this orthodox theistic non-dualistic scholars or pundits like Dualist sages could not distinguish between ‘I’ and ‘formless witness.’ The 'I' was the witness. Their highest was the Jiva. One is so much attached to the 'I' that he does not want to think that 'I' does not exist. Again one is unable to detach the ‘I’ from the Real witness.
The orthodox pundits say that Vedas as final authority for the Vedantins and he has nothing else to believe in it, they do not know the fact that they themselves are indulging in non-Vedic rituals and activities which Vedas clearly bars.
As one goes deeper into the annals of the history, it indicates the fact that somewhere someone has added the puranas in the name of Veda Vyasa the grand master of the Vedas. It is impossible to accept and believe that Veda Vyasa authored and introduced the Puranas which has all conceptual gods because:-
In Vedas the God has been described as:-
Nirguna (Without form and properties).
This clearly indicates the nature of the innermost self, which is the soul. Sri, Sankara says: - Atman is Brahman. Thus the soul the innermost self is God. Therefore, all the gods with form and attributes are mere imagination based on the false self. Thus there is adulteration and add-ons in the past, which has to be bifurcated if one wants pure Vedic essence.
In Yajurved says:-
They enter darkness, those who worship natural things (for example air, water, sun, moon, animals, fire, stone, etc).
They sink deeper in darkness those who worship sambhuti. (Sambhuti means created things, for example table, chair, idol etc.) (Yajurved 40:9)
"Deep into shade of blinding gloom fall asambhuti's worshippers. They sink to darkness deeper yet who on sambhuti are intent." (Yajurveda Samhita by Ralph T. H. Giffith pg 538)
"They are enveloped in darkness, in other words, are steeped in ignorance and sunk in the greatest depths of misery who worship the uncreated, eternal prakrti -- the material cause of the world -- in place of the All-pervading God, But those who worship visible things born of the prakrti, such as the earth, trees, bodies (human and the like) in place of God are enveloped in still greater darkness, in other words, they are extremely foolish, fall into an awful hell of pain and sorrow, and suffer terribly for a long time." (Yajur Veda 40:9.)
So, Yajur Veda indicates that:- They sink deeper in darkness those who worship sambhuti. (Sambhuti means created things, for example table, chair, idol etc (Yajurved 40:9)
Those who worship visible things born of the prakrti, such as the earth, trees, bodies (human and the like) in place of God are enveloped in still greater darkness, in other words, they are extremely foolish, fall into an awful hell of pain and sorrow, and suffer terribly for a long time." (Yajur Veda 40:9.)
When the religion of the Veda knows no idols then why so many gods and goddesses with different form and name are being propagated as Vedic gods. Why these conceptual gods are introduced when Vedic concept of god is free from form and attributes.
Who introduced concept of god with attributes and attributeless gods, when Yajur Veda says: - those who worship visible things, born of the prakrti, such as the earth, trees, bodies (human and the like), in place of God are enveloped in still greater darkness. Therefore, all these add-ons proves that the form and attribute based concepts are introduced by some sages of the past with a new belief system and code of conducts in the name of Vedas.
Sruti is made the final or exclusive authority in apara Vidya and that for supporting the tenet of the CAUSAL relation or creatorship of Brahman, Nirguna Brahman = the "Absolute beyond qualities," which can be defined only in a negative way. For the Shankarian school = the Ultimate Reality, higher than the Lord. i.e. of Saguna or apara Brahman ... The support of Scriptural Revelation is, therefore, absolutely necessary for this hypothesis of cosmology, this Saguna or apara (= inferior) Brahman, but not for the absolute truth of Nirguna Brahman. The Sruti itself says: "This Atma is NOT to be attained by a study of the Vedas. (Katha Upanishad I, 2, 23.)
Therefore, all the add-ons and attribute based knowledge, which are inferior, have to be bifurcated and excluded to know the ultimate truth. The seeker of truth has to drop all the inferior knowledge based on the attributes and go beyond Vedas to understand assimilate and realize the ultimate truth or Brahman.
One has to go beyond Vedas means go beyond religion. Go beyond religion means, go beyond concept of god. Thus, going beyond Veda, religion and conceptual god means going beyond illusion. That is end of Vedas (Veda –antha).
Mundaka Upanishad: - This Aaman cannot be attained through the study of the Vedas, nor through intelligence, nor through much learning. He who chooses Atman—by him alone is Atman attained. It is the Atman that reveals to the seeker Its true nature. (3 page70upanhsds by Nikilananda)
It means the truth is beyond the scriptures and egocentric intelligence Thus in order to grasp, assimilate and realize the non-dualistic truth the seeker to employ soulcentric reasoning faculty.
That is why Sage Sri, Sankara says in a commentary in Vedanta Sutra that what is accepted without proper inquiry will not lead a person to the final goal. On the contrary, such acceptance will result only in evil, in something which is detrimental to our spiritual progress. Seeker of truth should not believe blindly in traditional orthodox Nonduality without verifying all the facts from every angle. One has to reflect through soulcentric reasoning over and over again without getting tired of the process.
The ignorance is the cause of experiencing form, time and space as reality. Thus eradicating the ignorance completely is necessary. And this is possible only through self-knowledge. Thus, there is no other road to freedom other than Gnana. There is no other entrance other than except Gnana. The ignorance will vanish only when the nondual wisdom dawns.
Sri Sankara, in Bhaja Govindam says: - [Jnana Viheena Sarva Mathena Bajathi na Muktim janma Shatena] - one without knowledge does not obtain liberation even in a hundred births, no matter which religious faith he follows.
The seeker has to grow from the inside out. None can teach him, none can make him spiritual. There is no other guru but his own soul.”
Self-knowledge or Atma Gnana or Brahma Gnana cannot be attained by one who is without strength or earnestness or without the receptiveness and courage to accept the truth and reject the untruth. If a serious seeker strives sincerely by means of inquiry, analysis and soulcentric reasoning, he will be able to realize it.
It is only seekers sincerity and earnestness in his spiritual pursuit, the knowledge started revealing on its own. Anyone who has humility and patience and is sincere and ready to drop their accumulated dross and receptive to accept the truth will enter nondual Self-Awareness when his conviction becomes firm.