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Spiritual Import of Religious Festivals :Ch-4. Part - 17.

Chapter-4. Swami Sri  Adi  Sankaracharya - The Genius ( Sankara Jayanti ) :

 Part-17.

But many questions posed themselves before the minds of people.

This philosophy was found not satisfactory.

How could we reach this God who is extra-cosmic – what is the way?

Is there a ladder from earth to heaven where God lives?

His hands cannot reach us and our thoughts cannot reach Him.

There seems to be some defect in these systems.

This was the decision made by the Sankhya, which was a later development of philosophical thought.

According to this School, it is not true that there are many physical entities or realities as the Nyaya and the Vaiseshika thought.

All these manifold objects could be boiled down to certain fundamental essences or principles which are the building bricks of the cosmos.

While the Vaiseshika and the Nyaya thought that there is earth, water, fire, air, ether, mind, soul and so on, all independent of the other, though in their finer essences as atoms, etc., yet the multi…

Spiritual Import of Religious Festivals :Ch-4. Part - 16.

Chapter-4. Swami Sri  Adi  Sankaracharya - The Genius ( Sankara Jayanti ) :

 Part-16.

Now, this philosophy of uncritical acceptance of everything that is visible or everything that is sensible, to put it more generally, became the incentive behind the systems of thought called the Nyaya and the Vaiseshika, whose conclusion is that things are physical and psychological.

There is no other reality conceivable.

This conclusion is arrived at by a system of logic, argumentation, or a systematic, syllogistic process of argument.

Inasmuch as the followers of this system entirely depended on the syllogism of human thinking, logical argumentation, deducing things from given premises, the system is called the Nyaya.

'Nyaya' means logic.

It is, therefore, a logical system of pluralistic realism.

It is logical because it is syllogistic.

It is pluralistic because they accept the multiplicity of physical entities.

It is realism because the world, according to them, is external to the human …

Spiritual Import of Religious Festivals :Ch-4. Part - 15.

Chapter-4. Swami Sri  Adi  Sankaracharya - The Genius ( Sankara Jayanti ) :

 Part-15.

I started by saying that besides the chronological process, there was also a logical reason for the development of this thought which is another interesting stream of the psychological history of man, while what I have said so far is the historical, purely sociological or chronological aspect of the significance of Sankara's work in this country and in the world.

Let us now see its logical significance.

His thought is a logical consequence of all the thoughts that preceded his coming into being.

There were systems of thought called the Darsanas.

You must have heard of the schools of thought known as Nyaya, Vaiseshika, Sankhya, Yoga, Mimamsa and certain other mystical and ritualistic philosophies which were in minority, of course, yet prevalent during the time of Sankara.

The immediate or rather the crudest form of human perception is taking for granted whatever is seen by the senses.

"Oh, I…

Spiritual Import of Religious Festivals :Ch-4. Part - 14.

Chapter-4. Swami Sri  Adi  Sankaracharya - The Genius ( Sankara Jayanti ) :

 Part-14.


The next step was the advent of Sankara to rectify this extreme that was brought about in human thought by the adulterated forms of Buddhistic idealism, which were all extreme types of thinking.

They had some truth in them, but they were not the whole truth.

For example, it is not true that the world is created by our ideas, and yet it is true that our ideas have some say in the projection of the forms of objects.

It is not true that the objects are physical in their nature, yet it is true that they have some physicality in them independent of human thought.

It is not true that nothing exists, as the Nihilists say, but yet it is true that things do not exist as they appear to the senses.

All these aspects of truth had to be brought into relief by a new method of approach altogether which was the purpose of the mission of Acharya Sankara.

This was the consequence chronologically speaking, as I mentio…

Spiritual Import of Religious Festivals :Ch-4. Part - 13.

Chapter-4. Swami Sri  Adi  Sankaracharya - The Genius ( Sankara Jayanti ) :

 Part-13.


It sometimes happens that children interfere with the transistor and spoil the whole music which the parents had tuned.

This happened in the case of the followers of this great reformer, who began to interpret his teachings in their own way – even as it also happened with the followers of the Vedas, who interpreted the Mantras in their own way and landed themselves in ceremonialism, ritualism and mechanised sacrifices.

That the world is only an idea, and that the gods do not exist – which was one of the predominant teachings of the Buddha – received special emphasis in certain schools of Buddhism.

And Buddha's philosophy did not end with the death of Buddha.

It continued, but in a ramified form, not as a single stream.

It ramified itself into four streams at least – the Vijnanavada which taught that internal ideas manifest themselves as external objects, the Vaibhashika which held that really ex…

Spiritual Import of Religious Festivals :Ch-4. Part - 12.

Chapter-4. Swami Sri  Adi  Sankaracharya - The Genius ( Sankara Jayanti ) :


 Part-12.


He was a reformer in the sense that he put a check to the further growth of this externalising tendency of ritualised devotion to an imagined set of multiple of gods.

But for him, it would have landed people in a catastrophe.

We do not know what would have happened.

This tendency was checked by the psychological philosophy of Buddha, and the divinities were completely ignored.

Now, the divinity, if at all there is one, is the thinking principle in the human being himself.

The world is made by the mind; it is purely psychological.

It is a projection of ideas.

You say, the gods are protecting you; I say, they do not exist at all and it is your mind that works.

So, from the spiritual realisation and mystical experience of the sages of the Veda Samhitas, we came down to a worship and inner adoration of the multiplicity of gods.

Then we came still further down to the time when we began to make physical o…

Spiritual Import of Religious Festivals :Ch-4. Part - 11.

Chapter-4. Swami Sri  Adi  Sankaracharya - The Genius ( Sankara Jayanti ) :


 Part-11.

It was at this time that Gautama, the Buddha, was born in this country.

When anything goes to the extreme, the other extreme is set up.

A very hot day means there will be a cyclone; winds will start blowing, breaking branches of trees, and there may be a shower of rain.

Now, the clock has come full circle and the hour has struck for the other extreme step to be taken.

While there was a deep feeling and conviction that there are many gods guarding the quarters of the cosmos, who are our well-wishers and without whose satisfaction we cannot be happy in this world – these very gods, who were regarded as our very life, were denied by Buddha.

He said that they did not exist at all.

This is the other extreme.

See where we have come to!


Swami Krishnananda

To be continued  ....



Spiritual Import of Religious Festivals :Ch-4. Part - 10.

Chapter-4. Swami Sri  Adi  Sankaracharya - The Genius ( Sankara Jayanti ) :


 Part-10.


There were occasions, which we can read in the Puranas, when people who had no children prayed to the gods for bestowing upon them a child, on the condition that it would be offered again to the Devata as a Balidana.

Such is the desire for a child, though it is meant only to be sacrificed later on!

This practice continues in some parts even today, even in this fag end of the twentieth century.

Narabali, and Yajnas such as Gomedha, Asvamedha were instituted for acquiring material gain – increasing earthly prosperity – side by side with a conviction that the gods would be pleased thereby.

We have not only gone away from the centre of truth, but we have also now begun to interfere with the welfare of other people in the world.

This is naturally intolerable to the very law that operates in the universe.

Where is that original intention of the Veda Mantras which was only a consequence of the great Divine…

Spiritual Import of Religious Festivals :Ch-4. Part - 9.

Chapter-4. Swami Sri  Adi  Sankaracharya - The Genius ( Sankara Jayanti ) :


 Part-9.


Now, we know very well how we have slowly drifted away from the original intention of the Veda Mantras by the degeneration of the time process – the advent of Treta, Dvapara and Kali Yuga, or whatever we may call it.

So, the emphasis got completely shifted from the universal to the external, material, and even prejudiced way of thinking.

The offerings in these Yajnas or sacrifices meant to propitiate the gods that are many, were in the beginning holy articles such as clarified butter, certain grains and pulses, wood from sacred trees like Asvattha, Palasa and so on, gruel cooked out of rice, Payasam, Charu, etc.

But once we make a mistake, we do not stop with it.

It goes on multiplying, and there is an aggregate of errors.

Mistake after mistake began to be committed with the pious intention of propitiating the gods; all kinds of offerings were poured into the sacred fire.

Well, it came to a climax wh…

Spiritual Import of Religious Festivals :Ch-4. Part - 8.

Chapter-4. Swami Sri  Adi  Sankaracharya - The Genius ( Sankara Jayanti ) :


 Part-8.


But how could we transfer these objects that we would like to offer to the gods in the celestial region?

They are invisible!

The celestials are not known and they are not seen.

So sacrifices or Yajnas were instituted, and the holy fire, the sacred Agni became the secret messenger or the carrier of the oblations to the gods.

We say, "Agnaye svaha" and make offerings to the Supreme Messenger of the Divine Being, Agni.

May He be pleased.

In all the Havans and Yajnas, we will find the first deity to be invoked is Agni.

This ritual is called Agnisthapanam.

It is invocation of the celestial behind the principle of fire, or the divinity of fire, who is called Fire-god, Agnidevata.

He is first invoked and then He is told: "Please take this to Indra", "Please take this to Yama", "Please take this to Varuna", and so on.

He will carry our offerings to the particular deiti…

Spiritual Import of Religious Festivals :Ch-4. Part - 7.

Chapter-4. Swami Sri  Adi  Sankaracharya - The Genius ( Sankara Jayanti ) :


 Part-7.


In a third stratum of thought in this march of social history, these very divinities which were thus propitiated, began to be recognised as being almost like human individuals. 
Now they can get angry as any human being can get angry and they can also be pleased as any human being can be pleased. 
Perhaps they could even be bribed through various types of offering. 
Thus we hear of contention among the very gods and fights among the celestials, which is really very strange. 
How could the gods fight amongst themselves? 
But that is envisaged by the mind which studied the gods and the celestials in the light of human nature. 
As we are, so the gods also are. 
So, as we please people, 
we have to please the gods also in the very same way, applying the same methodology as we apply towards human beings. 
When a friend comes, we give him a cup of tea, hot water for bathing, lunch, and a soft bed for reclining and re…

Spiritual Import of Religious Festivals :Ch-4. Part - 6.

Chapter-4. Swami Sri  Adi  Sankaracharya - The Genius ( Sankara Jayanti ) :


 Part-6.


These Mantras which were visibly recorded for posterity became objects of study and also vehicles for invocation of the many gods.

To the originators of these Mantras, the gods were not manifold; they were the many phases of the One.

But, now, they lost their connection with the original unity or the background, and only the phases are seen as the multifarious divinities presiding over the quarters of the cosmos – Indra, Agni, Varuna, Mitra, Aryama and many such celestials.



These deities began to be invoked through the very same Mantras which were originally the revelations of the sages.

While in the original Samhitas, in their primordial condition, they were effects of a diviner experience, now they became a cause rather than an effect of an invocation of these multifarious gods.

We invoke these gods by placation, by propitiation, by begging and by requesting them not to do us any harm.

We pray…

Spiritual Import of Religious Festivals :Ch-4. Part - 5.

Chapter-4. Swami Sri  Adi  Sankaracharya - The Genius ( Sankara Jayanti ) :


Part-5.



This is a slightly posterior period to that of the exuberance of the Veda Samhita Mantras wherein there was only a spontaneous spiritual outpouring of devotion to the One on account of Its having been recognized in realization, in direct experience.

But, when we make a study of these outpourings, they do not look like the manifestations of the One Experience.


All study that is historical is esoteric, prosaic, mechanized and sensory, and hence the esoteric significance that was the background of the very origination of these Veda Mantras got lost in the process of time, in the passage of history.

The outward form and the visible significance as hymns offered to the various centers of divinity – the many gods, as they usually say – got emphasized, and these gods became not only objects of reverence, but also objects of fear.

It was not that gods were always beneficent.


They could also be wrathful.

While…