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Harih Om Tat Sat. Harih Om Tat Sat. Jai Guru. Jai Guru.
Today I thought of telling you something about the whole of our spirituo-philosophical knowledge, its source, the position and relevance of scriptures and the like. We first have in our country the Vedic thoughts. We don’t know when they were evolved or they emerged. All that I can say is it was in the very remote past, prehistoric times. The moment we say it is prehistoric, then nobody can say anything about it. Whatever they can know and they will say, they have said; that is within history. The moment anything becomes prehistoric, nobody has anything to say about it. The time frame, the age cannot be assessed at all!
I feel that our Vedas were evolved in the Gangetic planes. People can live and build a civilization only on the bank of a perennial river because they need water. The first attempt they make is to cultivate food, food grains. Those were times when the question of manufacturing, industry etc. were not there. In order to cultivate, you must have water and water will be had only from a river, that too from a perennial river. Anywhere in the world, human civilization, even animals can thrive only when there is water and water should be ample enough to cultivate. To take water for cultivation - that requires quite a lot. Maybe more than drinking water, bathing water etc. So our civilization must have flourished in the Gangetic planes.
This is a country where the pairs of opposites commingle in all the branches and activities of life. We have drought on the one side, floods on the other side, we have epidemics on one side, good health on the other side. So all these were embracing each other and like two girls holding each other’s hands and pulling and then going around, whirling, prakṛti used to bring these contradictions in our country and play a beautiful game. Naturally, the ancient man was tempted to think as to what is the force behind all this.
Our earth itself is surrounded by emptiness, the sky. Wherever you stand, you can only look up. If you look down, you see only the earth. So they started lifting their hands up and looking up and then start praying, forming different hymns in the name of superhuman powers. Some power should be controlling everything or many things or all. These powers are not of a human origin. Naturally they are superhumans. They called them ‘Devas’. They don’t know where they are. They are not visible. So looking into the invisible skies and expanse, they started lifting their hands and in submission and fondness and reliance, they started praying, forming a number of hymns.
How long can you go on praising, praising and praising without showing anything in the way of a gratitude or a fondness or an expression? If a friend or a relative visits you, how long will you go on keeping talking to him? You must offer him something in the form of food or drink. So they were tempted to offer something to the Devas whom they were praising saying that ‘We owe everything to you’. How to offer, who will take? So our Hindu mind is a very fertile mind. So they evolved fire and started placing fire in ceremonial altars. We have different types of Homakunda, semicircle, full circle, pentagon, hexagon, septagon, octagon - all the different shapes. Fire was placed in the altar chanting mantras. Various oblations were offered. They went on. But even then, their minds were not satisfied.
We are making a unilateral presentation. But where is the question of the other side receiving what we are giving and responding? They were not happy. And how long can you perform these protracted rituals making fire blaze forth and sitting by the side? So they withdrew from it. This withdrawal marked something very significant in their so-called religious and pious life. What they began with, they had to withdraw from.
When they withdrew, they withdrew into themselves within their body into their mind and intelligence. The external withdrawal gave rise to internal reflection, rumination, enquiry. When the enquiry was initiated, inspired, it became a knowledge journey - a pilgrimage within the body with the help of intelligence and mind where they did not know. These faculties are inside and they work inside. Naturally, the goal also can only be inside. Ultimately, they were able to find the source of everything in them. That is how they struck at Ātma - The Self.
They declared that what is the power that motivates the eyes, motivates the ears, motivates the other senses, what is the power that instigates the mind - then they said, it is a power inside everything which cannot be seen, heard, felt or even thought of. What cannot be contemplated on by the mind but what makes the mind contemplate, know that to be the Supreme Reality and not the one you worship here in the form of an idol or otherwise. See, they reach the end of the journey. This was further developed. There was greater focus for their search, for their finding and then we have the beautiful Upanishads with different kinds of setting, all focused on the self and the imperishable nature of existence. This is the way our orthodox, so-called religious approach started.
All this happened many many years back in the prehistoric times. My dear souls, understand that there was nothing like a word ‘religion’ in the whole world when our Vedic and Upanishadic thoughts emerged. The word ‘religion’ came into vogue only in 1700 AD, not before that. Even the word ‘religion’ if you analyze it etymologically it means tracing back the source. Our Supreme court itself has held that Hinduism is not a religion; it is a way of life. It discusses the power of sustenance so far as life is concerned. Just like medicines are there to sustain our body and regain health and preserve health, our dharma is one which goes to sustain our inner and outer personality - the power that sustains our life in fortune and misfortune, good and bad, right and wrong, sin and virtue, promotion and demotion, gain and loss, construction and destruction. It has something to tell us in the way of sustenance.
The word ‘Dharma’ means that which sustains your life. This is how our spiritual and philosophical thoughts evolved and they continue to be even today. The astounding glory of our thoughts is that they evolved in the prehistoric times when they did not use anything like writing as a medium of communication. They only uttered what they felt and the others only heard. So it was learnt from mouth by the ear, mouth to ear, from mouth, from mouth, from mouth, by hearing. If in one generation there were not people to recite it properly and also there were not some to listen to it and learn, the whole heritage would have been broken and lost. But it has not been lost. This is the greatness of the Indian society.
We are even now dealing with a language (Sanskrit) which was evolved in the prehistoric times without a change of syllable, without a change of vowel or consonant. What they thought and said then - even now we are saying and we can understand the word, the sentence, the message, the paragraph without any distortion whatsoever. Is there any society in the world which has been able to preserve a language and a treasure without any change whatsoever?
As far as I understand, any language is subject to radical changes over centuries. Unless very special efforts are made to preserve the refinement of the language, the integrity of the language will get mutilated, transformed. Somehow, we were able to make a grammar into this Sanskrit language and literally lock up the whole etymological refinement as a result of which nobody has been able to change it. This language was constantly being used by the people. There was no generation when it was not used. Its popularity and the range of usage did differ from time to time. We had inter-regional language as Sanskrit, inter-kingdom communication in Sanskrit and Sanskrit was in a way our father tongue.
When Britishers and the others came here, they felt that this language and the culture associated with this language if allowed to continue will keep the people more and more culturally bound and stronger. ‘So we should torpedo the language and install English in its place.’ Everybody knowing and speaking English became more honourable and Sanskrit and other languages were considered to be slave language. Somehow the Britishers succeeded in introducing English and destabilizing Sanskrit. That is their success and we are suffering consequences of that inroad even today. I said this and I will stop with a concluding remark.
We have so many systems of philosophy, Cārvāka - the disbelieving rational group, then we have Bauddha, Jaina, we have Nyāya, Vaiśeṣika, we have Purva Mimamsa, Uttara Mimamsa. All these are the different systems of philosophy that we have. But, but, but (that ‘but’ is very important) you will find all the others have practically become extinct. What survives even today is the Uttara Mimamsa. The Vedanta and the Upanishadic texts and whatever philosophy could be evolved from that - that philosophy we have.
Over a period of time, many epics and mythological texts were composed; but all of them rooted to the Upanishadic lore. Our poets imbibed from Ramayana and Mahabharata and in all the poetry that they wrote, they took elements from Ramayana and Mahabharata. They are the two epics where human characters are discussed. The Purāṇās have angels, Godly elements, Godly persons as the characters. We have imbibed this Ramayana and Mahabharata and it is in the mouth and heart of people. The original Ramayana in one way or the other is recited by people, learned by people, discourses are held by people, people flock to listen to them. Bhagavad Gita has been taken away from Mahabharata and given a status. Mahabharata, Upanishads and Brahma Sūtras together constitute Prasthāna-Trayam which is the backbone of our cultural civilization.
Every system of thought and a value is culture. Everything is related to the emotional mind and the rational intelligence because the mind and the intelligence continue unabatedly. Our values also continue without any reduction. That is how we have got a value immortalization here. Whatever is stated relates to the mind, relates to the intelligence and both of them have not changed from the most ancient man to the most modern man. Because our values are rational and also emotional in character, we have presented everything rationally. That rationality is the backbone of our culture and civilization.
I would like you to understand that if at all you enter into this area and you want to benefit and progress well, always take to this orthodox position. What is that orthodox position? Prayers, followed by rituals, followed by withdrawal, followed by enquiry and finding in the Upanishads. By so doing, you are imbibing inspiration from the most ancient thinkers of our land and you are getting connected to that culture. Nowadays particularly, there are people who present something modern. It is this, it is that. It’s okay, let them do it. But if you want to be a good seeker and you want to get the real abiding fulfillment, it is necessary, not even optional to take up this most ancient thought process which has been eternal, eternal and eternal. That is how Vedanta becomes relevant and forceful to the present-day humanity.
Harih Om Tat Sat. Jai Guru.