Friday, September 12, 2008

Deivathin Kural # 37 of (Vol 2) of 22 Oct 2007.

Om Namah Sivaya.

Deivathin Kural # 37 of (Vol 2) of 22 Oct 2007.

(Continued from DK # 36 of 19 Oct 2007.)

Brahmanam and Aaranyakam.

168. Till now I have been talking about the Vedas, mainly referring to the 'Samhita' part of the Vedas. Samhita is something like the Veda's main text. Other than this in each Veda, thare is a part known as Brahmanam and Aaranyakam. Brahmanam contains instructions for various actions or Karmas, like a user's manual or a guide book. What ever Mantras are there in the Samhita, when being uttered while doing the Yagna, what would be the meaning and what would be the corresponding action, at that precise moment; would all be given clearly in the Brahmanam.

169. The word 'Aranyakam', like Dandakaranyam and Vedaranyam, has reference to life in the forest. Samhita and Brahmanam are not concerned with anything other than the worldly life. Living as a house-holder, the matters of concern are your attitude and behaviour as an individual, as a member of the family and as a member of the society. These are the main matters dealt with in Samhita and Brahmanam, covering all the daily, periodical and special occassions actions known as, 'Karma Anushtana' and conduct of Yaagas. One day or the other; some time or the other; this life or the next; everyone of us has to undergo the experience of what Buddha underwent, before becoming Buddha! There will come a time, when we have to walk away from all this involvement and, as periyaval says, "...mookkai pidithukkondu udkaaraththaan vendum..."! So to say, you have to start Pranayama and Meditation. Most importantly you will have to address the question as to "Who am I".

170. The earlier portions of the Veda are meant to prepare you for this eventuality. To enable the individual to develop to this level of maturity, the correct attitude towards oneself and others is essential. For this, 'chitta suddhi' is needed. All the Samhita portion and Brahmanam portion of Karma, are there for this purpose only! To prepare you for the Logic and Analysis of the later Aranyakam. You do not have to physically go and sit down under a tree in a forest, to follow the Logic and Analysis, known as 'Vichaara' of the Aranyakam. In 'Atma Bodha:', Adi Sankara calls it '...nitya anitya viveka vichara:...'! In another way, the idea of 'Aranyakam' is appropriate. These are 'tatva arthams' or very subtle arguements thought of by great Rishis of the hoary past, while they were seated in very lonely isolated spaces uncluttered by the presence of others; beyond the confines of Time and Space! Actually in Aranyakam, we are reading the reports submitted by those brilliant brains of the past. Brhatharanyaka Upanishad, which is both Aranyakam and Upanishad, starts off with a discussion on the thematic interpretation of the Ashwamedha Yaagam.


171. At the end of the Aranyakams occur the Upanishads. Samhita is the tree, Brahmanam is the flower, Aranyakam is the unripe 'pinju kai' and upanishad is the end fruit. In the path of Knowledge, that is Gnana Marg, Upanishads are the direct means to make us realise the oneness or the non-seperateness of the individual Soul / Self / Jeevatma and the supreme Over-self or Paramatma. The earlier parts of the Vedas are there for this purpose only. Though the Upanishads do talk of many Vidyas, Yagnas and Devata Upaasana; Tatva Vicharam or discussion of philosophy are their main contents. Their main thrust is to talk of a stage beyond actions, comparisons, assessments, evaluations, exchanges, bargains and deals! On this basis only the whole of Vedas are divided into two parts, namely, 'Poorva Meemamsaai' (everything previous to Upanishads), as against, 'Uttara Meemamsai' (the Upanishads).

172. Jaimini Maharishi studied the Karma Kandam thoroughly and came to a conclusion that, that is the 'be all and end all', of the Vedas. That included the Samhita and Brahmanam portions. He found that any further discussion of 'Vichara' was unnecessary, suprfluous and could be misleading. His conclusions contained in Jaimini Sutra, came to be called, "Poorva Meemamsai". Similarly Vyasa's analysis of the Gnana Kandam and the resultant 'Brhma Sutram', came to be called. "Uttara Meemamsai". Compared to Karma Kandam portions of Vedas, the Gnana Kandam portions are rather small. Similarly, Jaimini Sutra has a thousand sections and Vysa's Brhma Sutram contains less than 200 sections. As we find more leaves in a tree and much less flowers and fruits; In the tree of Vedas too, Karma Kandam is vast and the Upanishad portion is rather limited.

173. The analysis of the Truth in Upanishads does not end at deep intellectual cogitation only, as it happens in Philosophic investigations in other countries and other religions! What has been analysed intellectually has to be experienced personally individually. What is the use of describing the taste of a special dish such as, 'Gajar Ka Halwa'? It has to be known by eating. Remember the proverb about 'proof of the pudding'. Unlike other philosophical discussions which tend to be rather dry, Upanishads have a special additional advantage that, they have the 'Mantra Aksharas', in close support. The sound vibrations of the Mantras, immediately bring the esoteric principles in to experience, 'Anubhava' or 'Anuboothi'.

174. Instead of keeping philosophy as an exercise of the mind in intellectual gymnastics, the earlier part of the Veda, that is Karma Kaandam, prepares the individual over a period of time to live an accountable and responsible life for himself, for the family and the society; there by making him fit for the higher reaches of Vedanta. When an individual graduates to a study of Vedanta / Upanishads; It is totally unlike any reading and understanding that one might have done prior to this. Setting aside all objective cognisance, the subject is now in the process of subjective comprehension of himself / herself! At the end of such consideration is the incontrovertible truth of oneness of 'tatvam' or 'thisthat' seeming conundrum!.

175. It is to reach this seperate-less-ness of Jeevatma and Paramatma, that having ripened and matured oneself, the individual sacrifices his all and adopts the Sanyasa. At that time of taking Sanyasa, he is given by the Guru, the Upadesa of four Maha Vakyas. All four of them tell the same incontrovertible oneness of Jeevatma and Paramatma! If he gets these four sentences, by heart; keep thinking about them; does deep meditation on them; known as 'Nidhidyasanam and Dhyanam', the meditator becomes the meditated. The four Maha Vakyas of such power are occuring in four Upanishads of four different Vedas! Many Karmas, many actions, many Sthothras pleasing many Devatas, many Mantras, rules regulations, do's and don'ts; morals and restrictions; in Samhitas, Brahmanas and Aranyakas; in four different Vedas; are all there for this purpose only. The final goal / target / mission / Lakshyam, is achieved by these four Mahavakyas only!

176. "The highest experiential awareness is Brhmam", is one of the Maha Vakyas and it occurs in Aithareya Upanishad of Rik Veda. In Brhadaranyaka Upanishad, in Yajur Veda occurs the Maha Vakya, "I am Brhmam". In Sandokya Upanishad of Saama Veda, is the Maha Vakya, "You and that (God) are the same", in the form of an advice from a Guru to a Sishya. "This Atma is Brhmam only", is the Maha Vakya in Mandookya Upanishad occuring in Atharva Veda. Thus the four most important sentences in each of the Vedas, occur in one of their Upanishads only. Adi Sankara, gave us the last of his advices in 'Sopana Panchakam'. In it He says, "Learn the Veda Adhyayanam (of the Samhitas) and do all the Karmas as required in the Brahmana portion of the Vedas. Having started like this, in the end, get the Maha Vakyas as Upadesa and do 'Anusandhanam' (meaning a combination of being absorbed in, thinking, brooding, cogitating, contemplating, pondering, musing, reflecting and ruminating), on the Maha Vakyas. By so doing attain to its realization."

177. The end of all that is said in the Vedas is in Upanishad. Actually Upanishads are better known by the name of 'Vedanta'. 'Antam' is the end. End of Vedas is Vedantam! In two ways it is the end of all Vedas. If you take each branch of the Vedas, first is the Samhita, then the Brahmanam, next is the Aaranyakam and at the end of Aaranyakam is the Upanishad. When you look at it in another way, all said and done, whatever happens prior to the Upanishads are preparatory to bring you to the end point of the Mahavakya and meditation on that. So in form, sequence and content, Upanishads are the culmination of the Vedas and so are rightly known as 'Vedanta'. Temple for the city, Gopuram (spire) for the Temple, Pinnacle for the Gopuram. Like that Upanishad is the top most of all Vedas.

178. 'upa--ni--sada', means to sit close by. The Guru makes the student sit close to himself and gives him the 'upadesa'. Thus advising, he takes the Sishya close to Brhmam. Thus 'Upanishad' could mean both getting closer to God and Guru. The Upadesa given from close quarters, evidently means something secret. It is not meant for immature individuals stuck in the mire of crass narrow interests. That is why, even within Upanishad, while talking of subtle points, it will point out, "this upanishad, this upanishad". Elsewhere in the Vedas, the hidden meaning would be pointed out as, 'rahasyam'. In Vedanta, such subtle rahasyas will be pointed out as, 'upanishad'.

Brhma Sutram.

179. For each 'Siddhantam' (or 'Principled Stand Point'), Sutram, Bhashyam and Vaarthikam are there. Now in India, there are different Siddhantam as propounded by Adi Sankara, Ramanujar, Madhvar and Sri Kandar. Their Siddhantam, are all commonly known as Vaidika Madangal only, since all these Acharyas show that their View Points are based on the Upanishads only. Taking the ten important Upanishads, they have written Bhashyam, according to their view point of Siddhantam. Since all these Siddhantams put together make up the Vaidika Madam, the position of 'Sutram' is taken up by the Upanishads.

180. How should a Sutram be? It should be very terse, precise, consice and brief, conveying the meaning in minimum number of words, in the form of aphorisms. As per this definition, Upanishads cannot be called a set of sutras. But, for all the Sampradayas based on Vaidik Religion, there is one basic text book in the form of Sutra too. That is the Brhma Sutram. For Brhma Sutram, there is a Bhashyam, as per each one of the Sampradaya. What is this book of aphorisms? The quintessence of whatever is said in the Upanishads, is given by Veda Vyasa in the Brhma Sutra. 'Elandai' in Tamil is the name for a type of Berry, known as 'Ber' in Hindi and 'Badari', in Sanskrit. Since Vyasa used to sit under the shades of that tree, while doing 'Tapasya', he came to be called, 'Baadaraayanar'. So, there is another name for this book as, 'Baadaraayana Sutram'.

181. What is Jeeva? What is this abode of Jeeva known as Jagat? What is the reason or cause of existance? These three important questions are, raised, analysed and answered; by the Vedanta Sampradaya, for which Brhma Sutra is the Basic Book of Authority. It does not contain Vyasa's personal views. It only condences the already existing, Vedant Saastra Upanishads, after due indepth consideration! As it analyses the Upanishads in the end portion of the Vedas, it is also called, 'Uttara Meemamsai'. There are 555 sutras in it. It is divided into four Adhyayas or Chapters and each Adhyaya is further divided into four parts. All told, they have 191 sections. Since it talks of the ideal end points of Sanyasa, it is referred as 'Bikshu Sutram' too. It has one more name as 'Saareerakam', as it studies the 'Atma' residing in the 'Sareera' or human body!

182. 'Sutram' also means a thread or rope! As you know, the three knots tied by the bride groom, in a thread around the bride's neck, at the time of Marriage, is known as 'Mangalya Sutra'. Adi Sankara 'puns' on the double meaning of 'Sutra', as an 'Aphorism' and as a 'Thread', in this sloka:- "...vedanta vaakya kusuma kradanat tatvat sutranam...", meaning, "as the flowers of the tree of Veda are scattered, so as to make them in to a garland, the thread of Brhma Sutra, has been used!" Today, whatever is called the Hindu Madam, including all Sampradayas, all Siddhantams; are based on this basic book of Brhma Sutram. The basis of that Brhma Sutram are the Upanishads. So there is a way of bracketing all the Vaidik Religions as, 'Upanishada Madangal'.

183. Intellectuals from the rest of the world, are all praise for what is 'Vedanta', referring to the Upanishads only. In Tamil, when anyone sounds slightly uninvolved with normal worldly interests, there is a way of ticking him off, by saying, "Hey, why are you talking Vedantam? What is the matter with You ?" But, there is no gain saying the fact that, the Upanishads are so well stocked with total Gnanam! Upanishads are not only the end of Vedas, they are also the Head of the Veda Purusha. That is, if we can percieve the whole of Vedas as a divine person and call him the 'Veda Purusha', then whatever the other body parts, Upanishad will form His Head, called, 'Sruthi Siras' in Sanskrit and 'Marai Mudi' in Tamil!

(Are the Vedas and Upanishads at logger heads with each other? The answers to this question and other related matters will be considered in the next e-mail. To be continued.)




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