Back of the Book
His Holiness Paramahamsa Sri Sri Satchidãnandendra Saraswathi Swãmiji, the founder of Adhyãtma Prakãsha Karyalaya and author of over 200 reputed works on Advaita in Kannada, Sanskrit and English blessed the earth with his presence for ninety- six useful and rich years (1880-1975 ).
His works are characterized by vast and deep scholarship, clear and precise perception and an attractive and lively style. His authentic interpretation of Sañkara has been greatly recognized by both the East and the West. He was not a just a rare and accomplished individual but a mighty and magnificent institution.
ABOUT THE BOOK
The topics dealt with by the Swamiji in this book of 89 pages are: (1) Atman is the real Self of each one of us even if one denies its existence, (2) Vidya is the determination of the true nature of self. Mixing of the real and unreal (Self and non-self) and mistaken transferance of the mutual properties of this is Avidya, (3) The true nature of the concepts of creation and Maya, (4) The concept of para/Apara Brahman and Isvara, (5) Bondage is ignorance of the true nature of Atman and Release is the result of right knowledge, (6) Sastra as the ultimate means of this knowledge which brings about the final intuition of Brahman-Atman, (7) The empirical and transcendental concepts used in Vedanta, $) How Sastra uses the Adhyaropapavada for this purpose and, (9) the true nature of Sannyasa and Yoga as explained in Vedanta.
Swamiji has shown in this book how Sankara’s clarifications of certain Vedantic concepts and principles of interpretations of Upanishadic teaching take us to the direct intuition.
The Upanishads contain two sets of teaching regarding Brahman or Reality, addressed to two different levels of the mind. To the highest grade of the aspirants, belongs the disciple who has attained the mental equipment necessary for entering upon the course of study, either in this birth or possesses an introvert mind as a result of discipline undergone in his last lives, qualifying him to grasp the teaching imparted in the Sruti.
This class of seekers comprises two grades. The first needs only reminding of the true nature of one’s Self by the Sruti through an experienced adept who has himself experienced the truths of Vedãnta, while the second requires guidance for the contemplation of the spiritual steps through which one has ultimately to reach that same Self. It is to this class of both the grades that the present booklet is expected to be of some assistance in the study of Vedanta.
The other set of Upanishadic teachings according to Sañkara, consists of injunctions for the meditation of the so- called Apara (lower) Brahman. This meditation is a mystical discipline, quite different from the practice of contemplation or the Adhyatma-Yoga (referred to in the present works on page 84), which leads the seeker to the direct realization of Brahman in this very life. Like the meditation taught in the non-Hindu religions, Upanishadic Meditation of Brahman also assures eschatological benefits in the Highest Heaven, here called the Brahma-loka. A separate treatise would be necessary for the guidance of the students of this class, whose practice of meditation is to be mainly founded on faith and hope. It may be remarked, in passing, that Upanishadic mysticism is perfectly rational in that it rests on the secure foundation of the proven results that can be experienced in this very life, by disciples of the first class mentioned above.
Of the teachers whose Vedantic works have survived up to our times, three famous repositories of this genuine tradition deserve mention here. It was Sri Gaudapãdãchãrya and subsequently Sri Sankaracharya and Sri Surevarachãrya, that clearly pointed to the true line of demarcation between the two sets of Upanishadic teachings to which we have here drawn the student’s attention. Before and after the time of those stalwart champions, we find that Upanishadic teachings have been uniformly treated by all interpreters as leading to some one of the systems which are mostly a conglomeration of the logical and mystical doctrines with a sprinkling of the Sankya or the Yoga system or both. In controversial works on Vedãnta brought out in recent times we find an inclination to succumb to the temptation of using the phraseology of Neo-logic also.
Sri Sañkara was perhaps the first Vedäntin to lay emphasis on the traditional method of Adhyãröpa-Apavãda and to disentangle the Upanishad texts purporting to reveal the true nature of Brahman as the non-dual Self of all the phenomenal world from the texts which have the sole purpose of enjoining meditation. He was also the first to extricate the Upanishadic teaching from the exclusively theological trends to which they were drifting in the hands of the ancient Advaitins. His clarification of certain Vedãntic concepts and principles of interpretation to be applied to the Upanishadic teaching as contrasted with that of the Karma-kãnda (portion of the Vedas treating religious works) has greatly helped us to see how the Upanishads are not mere authoritative mystical utterances to be implicitly believed in, but contain certain revelations which take us to direct intuition here and no of undeniable verities with regard to our Real Self.
It is with the object of drawing the attention of the critical student of Sankara’s Vedãnta to the genuine aspect of Vedãntic reasoning based upon intuitions, that I have been making a sustained attempt by writing a number of books in Sanskrit and English as well as in Kannada. The following pages contain a systematic account of the clarification of certain Vedantic concepts as presented in Sañkara’s classical writings, especially in his Sutra-Bhashya. It is an adaptation of the substance of the Kannada lectures delivered by me during the Sañkara Saptaham celebrations at Mysore in April this year. I shall feel amply repaid for the trouble taken in its preparation if it adds in any way to a better understanding of the matter and method of Sañkara’s Vedanta on the part of earnest seekers of truth.
My heartfelt Narayana Smaranams to Swami Brahmänandendrã Saraswati and Sri N. S. Ranga Swamy, who went through the manuscript and offered suggestions for the improvement of the work.
My Narãyana Smaranams also to the authorities of the Adhyatma Prakãsha Karyalaya, who have undertaken the publication of the booklet as they have done with regard to my other writings. May Bhagavan Nãrayana be pleased with this humble offering of my endeavour to present Sañkara’s view of Vedãnta, as I understand it.
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