The Human psyche is so composed that most of us, including atheists at some point of time ask fundamental question of life. It may begin with "Why did this happen to me?" Then it goes on to" Is there God? Who am I? What is goal of human life? What happens when one dies? Why was the world created? By whom? how?
." In Tattva - Bodhah, Sri Adi Sankaracarya lovingly answers these and many such questions and introduces the aspiring student to the basic principles of Vedanta - the science of life. This preliminary text is presented in the from of a dialogue between the Guru and the disciple asks with genuine eagerness and the Guru answers with patience with depth and with precision.
Swami Tejomayananda 's commentary on this Text is illuminating and answers even unasked double of the beginner. His exposition, from what it takes to be a seeker to what it takes to make a saint of oneself, is masterly.
Pujya Guruji Swami Tejomayananda is an outstanding teacher of Vedanta, with a profound depth beneath his simplicity and humility. He has a simple conviction - to fortify, strengthen and actualise the vision of his Guru, Pujya Swami Chinmayananda.
Swamiji has written commentaries on many texts of Vedanta and authored many original compositions on Vedanta and Bhakti (Devotion).
He is the current head of the Chinmaya Mission- a global spiritual organisation with more than 250 centres worldwide.
Vedanta begins with the question what is the goal of human life? Each one seems to have and apparently different goal. One wants to become a doctor, another an actor and yet another an Olympic gold medallist. And almost all of us want to become rich. If asked, "Why do you want money or fame?" the final answer is "To become happy". So in and through all our pursuits we desire happiness alone. This is the common goal of all living beings. We think happiness is in this or 'that' object and so we make the object our goal.
When did this desire for happiness began in us? We find that we are born with it. The search for happiness presupposes an existing state of dissatisfaction or sorrow. Is it not strange that all human beings have been searching from beginningless time from morning to night from birth to death life after life for happiness and yet do not seem to have found it? Could we not give up this desire to remain in sorrow? That too is not possible. We cannot be happy being unhappy!
Let us enquire -what is the nature of the happiness we seek? Do we want be happy today tomorrow or next year? No. We want to be happy every moment starting from now and for ever after. Hence all fairy tales end with the sentences 'and they lived happily ever after. We seek eternal happiness. If we experience some happiness in place/object/ situation/person 'A' and some more in 'B', then we seek 'B' because we want the maximum happiness possible. In fact we want unlimited infinite happiness.
Presently we seek change the following in order to gain happiness but do we find it? a) Place We undergo lots of travails in travel to reach a holiday resort. When the novelty of the place wears out we return.
b) Time we always wait for better times to come.
c) Objects We change our cars, houses, TVs etc. with regularity hopping that the new model would give us greater joy or lesser trouble.
d) Circumstances/Status-the bachelor wants to get married the married one divorces and yet another becomes a renunciate in order to become happy. We change jobs in search of job satisfaction to often find that we have jumped from the frying pan into the fire.
e) People we make and break human relation. We fire the maid in order to make the mother happy and leave her in border to keep the wife smiling
f) Body we have evolved over innumerable lives from the unicellular to the human just to be happy. But even in this life many contemplate suicide ie. Change the body, to get rid of sorrow.
So just by change the above our desire for happiness does not end it would only end when we gain eternal infinite Bliss. Where is this happiness that we seek? Are we looking for it in the wrong place?
There are two aspects to life -I the experiencer, the subject and the world of objects emotions and thoughts. Now let us ascertain if happiness is the nature if subject or the objects. One cannot say that there is nothing called happiness since we all experience it, however fleetingly. Sweetness is the nature of sugar hence every particle of it is sweet. Irrespective of the time place circumstances and the persons who eats it, it tastes sweet. If eaten for the fiftieth time, it would still taste sweet. Similarly if happiness were the nature of the object of the world, irrespective of the one who experiences them, when or where or however frequently, they would give us joy. For example chocolates seem to give joy to many. But if we were woken up at midnight to eat one what would be our reaction? The fiftieth bar of chocolate would make us about all the objects of the world. If happiness is not the nature of any objects then by the law of the remainder (parisesa nyaya), it should be the nature of the subject. Therefore I am the source of happiness. In fact I am infinite Bliss. I am what I seek. This is the essence of the Vedas the revelations of the great rsis.
Let us think further in order to ascertain this fact which may initially seem too far-fetched. In the deep sleep state there is no world yet we experience happiness. Therefore it is wrong to think that objects alone make us happy. Who experiences happiness in deep sleep? I am there to witness the state of sleep and be happy.
Everything tends to change or go towards its own inherent nature. Eg. If a block of ice is placed in room temperature it begins to melt and continues to do so till it has fully reached its most natural state-water. What do we go towards-joy or sorrow? Our own nature is never a burden to us. Is happiness ever considered a burden? We only get weighted objectless happiness is our own true nature.
There are two types of achievements in the worlds.
a) Gain of the ungained thing (apraptasya Praptih): Assuming I am a pauper and in need of money, I have to know how to make and then work hard to gain it. Therefore knowledge +action= gain.
b) Gain of the thing already gained (praptasya Praptih): if I were to search for my lost keys and someone points out that they were in my pocket all along, do I have to do anything to gain them? No! They were always with me but through ignorance I thought I had lost them. On knowing their whereabouts, I gained them. Therefore knowledge =gain. NO action is required.
The gain of the self obviously belongs to the second category. The self is never far from us in terms of time or place. Happiness only appears ungained due to the ignorance of the self. It can be gained by self-knowledge.
For any knowledge to take place, three factors are required.
a) The object to be known (prameya).
b) The knower of the object (pramata).
c) The means of knowing it (pramana) are:
The most common means of knowledge are:
a) Direct perception (pratyaksa pramana) it is the knowledge gained through the five sense organs of perception. Eg. eyes see colour, from etc.
b) Inference (anumana pramana) Based on what we perceive and already know we infer a thing Eg we have experienced that whenever there is fire, there is smoke. Therefore in seeing it we can infer that there is fire.
c) Words (sabda pramana): we gain knowledge by reading or hearing fro people who have directly experienced a thing or heard about. It both inference and word knowledge are based on direct perception.
As regards self-knowledge he object to be known (prameya) is the self and the knower (pramata) is also the self. What is the means of gaining it the self is not available for direct perception therefore it cannot be inferred or spoken of. Than how is self-knowledge possible? The means for it is the Vedas.
The Vedas are the discoveries of the laws of nature, the world and the being living in it and the Ultimate Truth. They are called apaurseya grantha (authorless works) as they are not books composed by men at a particular period in history. Like the discovery these eternal Truths as revelations in meditation. They were later complied and codified by Veda Vyasa into four Vedas (Rg Veda Yajur Veda Sama Veda Atharvana Veda).
a) Dharma-The laws governing the individual (jiva), the world (jagat) and the creator (Isvara), their interrelationship and the laws of karana etc. by which man can lead a successful worldly life. This part of the Vedas is called Karana Kansa and Upasana Kanda.
b) Brahman the knowledge of the ultimate Truth. It answers the fundamental questions of life who am I? What is my goal in life? Etc. self-knowledge liberates individuals from the limitations of worldly existence. This portion is called Jnana Upanisad or Vedanta.
The three basic texts that a student of Vedanta studies from a Guru are the Upanisads Brahma Sutras and the Bhagavad Gita. They are called the Prasthana Trayi. The new initiates, if they were to begin with these texts right away would find them difficult to comprehend and therefore they are first taught introductory texts (prakarana granthah). These books explain the basic concepts of Vedanta in simple terms without going into any argumentation of various in simple terms without going into any argumentation of various philosophic thoughts.
Tatva Bodhah written by Adi sankaracarya is one such prakarana granthah. In a simple question answer style he has expounded the essence of Vedantic terminology and philosophy. The notes are added to help the seeker.
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