Sunday, August 5, 2012

Vedanta is Living Experience & Pseudo-Vedantic Student

Vedanta is Living Experience
by Swami Sivananda

VEDANTA is today a much abused term. All sorts of vanity, hypocrisy and self-conceit have been masquerading in its name. It has become the fashion of the day to pass for a Vedantin as it is then convenient to give up all sorts of responsibilities, rituals and restrictions of the Varnashrama Dharma and enables one to lead a happy-go-lucky life to ease, lethargy and inertia. The Punjab is full of dry, lip-Vedantins. Punjabi women have also taken to Vedanta and they take great pride in calling themselves Vedantins, whether or not they understand the philosophy, whether or not they do any practice. All retired officers who have not done any selfless service or any Sadhana or worship or charity take to Vedanta as a sort of fancy.

Thus Vedanta has become a very comfortable philosophy, because one can do whatever he chooses and eat whatever he likes. Licentiousness is mistaken for a life of expansion. If a man can eat anything in any hotel in any part of the world, if he can move socially with any man or woman, that does not mean, he is a Vedantin. There is much tall talk of Vedanta now-a-days. There is idle Vedantic gossiping. But there is no practical Vedanta. Nobody wants to do any real solid Vedantic Sadhana. Man feels ashamed to call himself a Bhakta, but he takes great pride in calling himself a Yogi or a Vedantin, because he foolishly imagines he will respected by the public. Many ignorant Vedantins have mistaken the body for Brahman and hence there is corruption amongst the so-called loose Vedantins. This is not only lamentable but also highly deplorable.

Wholesale preaching of Vedanta to the Masses is not advisable. It will result in chaos, bewilderment and stagnation. Grasping of Vedantic principles and a right understanding of the philosophy and Sadhana are very difficult. Vedanta is for a select few who are equipped with the four means of salvation or Sadhana Chatushtaya and who have removed the impurities of their minds and mental oscillation through constant practice of Nishkama Karma Yoga and Upasana. The path of Vedanta is not so easy as it is generally supposed to be. It is a sharp razor-edge path. Therefore, those who preach Vedanta to the masses do more harm than any good. They are misleading the people.

It is very very easy to say, Soham - I am He, Sivoham - I am Siva, Aham Brahma Asmi - I am Brahman like a parrot, but to live in the very spirit of Vedanta, to feel the oneness or unity of consciousness, to become ‘That' in reality and to radiate the Brahmic Bliss, Joy and Peace is an extremely difficult affair. While repeating ‘Soham', if his mind is easily upset when another utters a single harsh word, and if he begins to fight with that man vehemently, there is no use at all in that repetition. It is mere hypocrisy. He will not be able to influence others. People will take him for a cheat.

Vedanta is not merely a concept or a dogma. It is neither a theory nor a dry philosophy for contention and argumentation. It is the actual life of perennial joy in Brahman or Truth. A single practical Vedantin like Sankara could move the whole world. A practical Vedantin will outweigh a thousand and one Sandows when weighed in a balance. A practical Vedantin possesses tremendous inner spiritual strength. The whole world rejoices at the sight of a real practical Vedantin. Practical Vedanta is a living experience, the melting of the individual self in the ocean of consciousness or the Supreme Self. The experiencer exclaims with inexpressible joy, All indeed is Brahman. All differences, distinctions, qualities have vanished. I see Brahman and Oneness everywhere. I am Brahman.


The mind should be pure and tranquil before starting Vedantic Sadhana. Keeping the Vasana in the mind is keeping a black cobra within and feeding it with milk. Your life is ever in danger. Kill these Vasanas through Vichara, Vairagya and meditation on the Atman.

Mind is Jagat. The mind moves the senses, the Pranas, etc. Mind is the cause of bondage liberation. A keen study of the mind and its works is necessary for the study of Vedanta.
Raga and Dvesha constitute the great Samsara of the Jiva. They have to be destroyed through the knowledge of the Supreme Brahman. Either through proper understanding and discrimination or through Pratipaksha Bhavana these currents should be destroyed.

Liberation is attained by simplicity, by carefulness, by purity, by controlling the passions and by following the footprints of saints and sages.


A young aspirant says: “I have taste for Vedanta only. I do not like either Bhakti or Karma Yoga. They are far inferior to Vedanta. Only Vedanta elevates me. Only Vedanta inspires me and raises me to the magnanimous heights of Divine Splendour and Glory.”

This foolish Vedantic student is like the greedy typhoid patient with ulcers in his bowels, who wants to eat and says, “I have taste for sweetmeats. I want to eat them now.” What will be the result if he eats Rasagullas and Laddus at this stage? The bowels will rupture and he will die of bleeding from the bowels or intestinal hemorrhage immediately.

He is also like the patient who selects himself a medicine from the almirah, Liquor
Arsenicalis or Tr. of Opium, and says, “I like this medicine only. I want to taste this now.” What will happen if he tastes this medicine without consulting the doctor? He will die of arsenical or opium poisoning. He does not know the dose of the medicine. Instead of taking a few drops he may take them in a large quantity and give up his vital breath at once. It is the doctor alone who can select the right medicine for the patient.

Everybody cannot want to become a Commissioner or District Collector or Governor without possessing the necessary qualifications. Can anyone become an M.A., Ph.D., without undergoing the course for Matriculation, F.A. and B.A.?

It is the Guru alone who can select the right type of Yoga for the aspirant and right kind of books for him. He knows the degree of evolution of the student and he alone can chalk out the right path for the aspirant. He will ask him to study first Atma-Bodha, Tattva-Bodha, Atma-Anatma-Viveka. But the raw self-willed student goes to the library and at once takes up the highly advanced books, Yoga-Vasishtha and Brahma-Sutras, for his study! He becomes a pseudo-Vedantin or lip-Vedantin within six months and enters into discussions with elderly aspirants.

A little knowledge is a dangerous thing. After studying Yoga-Vasishtha and the Karikas on Mandukya Upanishad for six months, he says: “There is no world in the three periods of time. Aham Brahma Asmi—Sivoham—Sivah Kevaloham.” He is puffed up with empty pride, vanity and hollowness, and walks in the streets with his head erect. He will never make any prostration to elderly Sannyasis and Sadhus, but chant the formula very often, “Sivoham, Sivoham.”

Such aspirants are formidable Asuras on this earth. They are a great burden on this earth. They pollute the atmosphere and create dissensions and quarrels everywhere, by entering into heated debates with sincere devotees and Karma Yogis. They cannot prosper in the spiritual path.

Vedanta in the hands of raw and unregenerate persons who lack purity and devotion and who have not removed the impurity of their hearts through untiring selfless service with Atma-Bhava and Kirtan and prayer, is perilous. It is like a sharp razor in the hands of a child.

Instead of expanding their hearts the Vedantic study will thicken and fatten their egoism. They fall into the deep abyss of ignorance. There is no hope, for them, of being lifted up, as their heart is filled with foolish, Tamasic, obstinacy, false Vedantic pride and self-superiority and false Tushti (satisfaction).

May this land be free from such impotent, pseudo lip-Vedantins! May this world abound with real Vedantins like Dattatreya, Yajnavalkya and Adisankara!

See also the essay of Timothy Conway about: Neo-Advaita or Pseudo-Advaita and Real Advaita-Nonduality :

Peace love harmony