Saturday, September 30, 2006

Ultimate Goal - Inaccessible to many


Salutations to all.

We saw in the previous posting that the ultimate goal of human life is ETERNAL BLISS. The first and foremost thing for realization is knowing the goal that has to be achieved. Unless a person knows where to go, he cannot go to that place. Thus Vedanta in its first place puts forth the ultimate goal of life as eternal bliss. This has been put in different ways in the scriptures.

We find the shishya of Shaunaka going to the sage Angiras and asking to be instructed into that by knowing which everything becomes known. Other Upanishads as well speak about the shishya seeking bliss and peace which is further emphasized by the sruthi declaring that he knows the ultimate goal becomes peaceful, blissful and bereft of sorrow-sufferings.

Thus we first have to get clear the goal which has to be achieved in life - this goal alone can give us eternal bliss, peace, contentment, satisfaction - all of which is being sought out each and every moment by each one of us.

Even though many people know the goal, still they dont reach the goal --- why?
The Lord answers this in Gita by telling that "out of thousands of people, few strive to become perfect. Out of those striving thousands, only a few realize me completely (in the right way).

It is not enough to know the goal alone. We have to find out how to reach the goal. It is not enough to know that "I have to go to A" - we have always to find out how to reach A. Thus the second step towards the ultimate goal is trying to find out the path to the goal. It is here where people are getting distracted and diverted from the right path.

Firstly, unless there is the strong desire to attain the goal - there will be no seeking of the goal. Thus a person who is content with worldly pleasure (at least for now) even though he knows worldly pleasure is temporary & eternal bliss is the goal, will not attain the goal because he doesn't seek it. It also happens that many people are shown the wrong path instead of the right path. Today is an era of self-proclaimed saints who through illusory magic attract people and lead them to utter darkness. Knowing this in advance, Sankara proclaimed in Bhaja Govindam that there are many who wear the ochre robe or have renounced everything but still not seeking the ultimate goal because their goal is just "filling the stomach".

Here the atheists would argue that "isn't all actions to fill the stomach alone?" - yes, it is. But is filling the stomach alone the goal of human life? If it is so, then there remains no difference between animals and humans (even though humans may claim that there is difference). Filling of the stomach is just for sustenace of the body which is an instrument to attain the ultimate goal. Filling of the stomach alone doesn't pacify a person - eating food can never pacify the happiness-seeking seeker. It can only lead him to more and more worldly seeking thus making him immerse in the ocean of samsaara for births and deaths.

Thus it is important for a seeker not to get into the hold of self-proclaimed saints - instead he should seek the scriptures and find out who is a real saint. Humans have been given the intellect to analyze the scriptures and imbibe their meaning -- thus able to seek the goal through a right guru.

When a seeker gets to a real Guru, the Guru creates the strong desire to seek the goal in the seeker. Thus the seeker seeks the goal in the right way.

To summarize, the ultimate goal is not accessible to many and thereby not many realize the goal because
1. There is no real desire -- it is like the story of pigs which are happy with filth and hence they dont want heaven if there is no filth in it.
2. The seeking is in the wrong place as they are directed in the wrong path by self-proclaimed saints (who are just doing this to fill their tummy).

As to where is the goal to be sought, we will see this in the next posting.

Salutations to all.


Friday, September 22, 2006

Goal of human life


Humble salutations to all.

Every activity in the life is propelled by desire to achieve something. There cannot be any actions and activities if there is no desire or nothing to be achieved. It is this "thing to be achieved" which is termed as goal in modern terms. Modern researchers on the human resource management would still split it into long-term goals and short-term goals. Vedanta on the other hand doesn't accept any long-term and short-term goal instead Vedanta propounds that there is only goal in life. Unlike the HR opinion of goals being different for every person, Vedanta says that there is only one supreme goal towards which we all as human beings are progressing.

Let us try to find out the supreme goal of our life. It can be questioned as to what is the use of finding out the supreme goal of life?? If we know what we desire to achieve in life, then we can then try to move towards achieving or attaining that goal. Unless we know the goal of our life, we will be wandering in the entire world throughout our lives trying to seek petty things in the world always remaining unsatisfied and sad with those petty things.

Each person has different desires or goals to achieve in life. Some will want to become great doctors, others software engineers, yet others music - thus the goal that we work towards differs from person to person. But this differing is only when we dont go deep into what is our real goal.

What does a person want to gain through becoming a successful businnesman??? Money -- of course each person works in the world for the sake of money.

What does a person gain or want to gain from money???
Satisfaction, happiness, peace of mind.

Everyone in the world irrespective of the profession or environment is striving to get ever-lasting bliss. We all want to be happy always - it is this desire which is the supreme goal of each person's life. Until a person gets eternal happiness, he will still be seeking something or the other. In adulthood and middle age, trying to do the work that one likes is easy - but once a person grows old that like vanishes & attention goes to something else. Thus what we think as our goal (in the external world) keeps on changing. As the great 20th century saint Raama Teertha says, a kid seeks his mother - a bit aged kid seeks toys, an adult seeks a lover, a middle aged man seeks a partner, after this he seeks a kid, when he grows old he seeks something else. Thus throughout our lives, we seek different things considering that it is the supreme goal that we want to achieve. But in fact, we forget that what we are seeking throughout our lives is ETERNAL BLISS. It is due to this reason that the great seers of Vedas after achieving ETERNAL BLISS through realization of the supreme being called as Brahman or Lord were ever happy, not seeking anything else in life.

Thus unknowingly we all are seeking eternal bliss alone. Thus the SUPREME GOAL or ULTIMATE GOAL of human life is ETERNAL BLISS. Until eternal bliss is achieved, there will desires to achieve it (through achieving perfection and non-seeking anything is achieved) and this seeking continues again and again. Thus as Adi Sankara puts it in Bhaja Govindam, births and deaths have been spent seeking eternal bliss - thus taking births as different species, different people & in different places -- yet eternal bliss is not achieved. As long as eternal bliss is not achieved, human will be immersed in the ocean of samsaara characterized by sorrows and sufferings. Thus any person who hasn't got eternal bliss suffers in life in one way or the other - he may seem to be happy but yet he doesn't realize that the happiness that he seems to be having is temporary and not eternal - thus when something goes wrong in life, he becomes sad & grieves for the same.

The first to perfection or spiritual realization is knowing that I HAVE TO GET THE ULTIMATE GOAL OF LIFE WHICH IS ETERNAL BLISS.

Once a person knows his goal, then he has to proceed towards the goal. We will see in the next posting as to why people who know this goal and are striving towards it but still not achieving it. We will also see as to how to achieve eternal bliss.

Humble salutations to all.


Thursday, September 14, 2006

Dvaita in brief


Humble salutations to all.

Currently there are three systems of vedanta which are considered as main and have a good following i the world. Those three are Advaita, Vishista Advaita and Dvaita. We have already seen Advaita and Vishista advaita in brief - let us now see dvaita vedanta in brief.

Dvaita vedanta was propounded and propagated by Madhvacharya (also called Ananda Teertha which is the sanyaasin name & Purna Prajna due to all-knowing nature). Madhvacharya established mathas wherein the tradition of madhvacharya is continuing to this date. Some of the famous and well-known acharyas in this school are Jaya Teertha, Vyaasa Teertha, Raghavendra....

Madhva wrote three commentaries on the Brahma Sutras. Madhva also wrote commentaries on Gita and the Upanishads. He also wrote the most famous khandana trayas (which are mayavada khandana, upaadhi khandana and prapancha mithyaatva anumaana khandana -- all works are targeted to attack the various concepts of advaita to show that advaita is faulty and wrong). Madhva is considered as the avatar of Vayu.

One of the very important feature of this school is the over-emphasis of attack on Advaita -- even though the main acharyas and real followers give emphasis to their system as well but most of the followers tend to attack advaita more than following their own system.

But it is also true that madhva and his followers have criticized advaita like anything. Vyaasa teertha's Nyaayamritam was a thorough critcisim of advaita but it was refuted and defended by Madhusudana Saraswathi in Advaita Siddhi. Most advaita acharyas hold that advaita siddhi and its commentaries have answers most of the logical issues put forth by madhva and his followers (there is a long list of refutation and counter refutation work starting from Nyaayamritam). There are different sets of acharyas like Sacchidanandendra Saraswathi and his followers who dont even bother to refute madhva as most of dvaita scholars have wrong understanding of advaita -- more of this later.

Vyaasa Teertha has written a verse which has nine basic fundamentals of dvaita -- dvaita philosophy is also called TATTVA VAADA:


1. Hari is Supreme
2. The world is real
3. There are five differences between
a. ishwara and jeeva
b. jeeva and jada
c. ishwara and jada
d. jeeva and jeeva
e. jada and jada
These differences are real
4. jeeva depends on Hari alone
5. there are three types of jeevas
a. neecha jeevas who are ever down and suffering
b. madhya jeevas who revolve around the jagat or world
c. uttama jeevas who are eligible to get liberated
6. mukthi or liberation is realizing bliss of one's nature
7. amalaa bhakthi or pure devotion is the means to realization
8. there are three pramaanas of pratyaksha or perception, anumaana or inference and sruthi or scriptures
9. HARI alone is praised and to be known through various scriptures.

Each of the above is exhaustive and vast to be dealt here.

The main emphasis of this system is broughout in a small verse of madhva thus:

etat tu paratantram sarvameva hareh sadaa
vasham ithyeva jaanaathi samsaaraat muchyathe hi sa

He who knows himself to dependent and HARI alone to be independent, he gets liberated from samsaara.

The differences between insentient entities or jadas, sentient entities or jeevas and hari is real -- ever present differences. jadas and jeevas are dependent on HARI who alone is independent. If a person knows himself to be dependent on HARI, what he does is gains devotion and surrender to HARI. Thus he gets liberated from samsaara by the grace of HARI. Liberation is not merging into the Lord but it is enjoying the bliss in oneself by getting clear knowledge about HARI & thereby the person ever lives as a devotee to HARI.

This brings us to the end of analysis of the three main systems of Vedanta. We will try to look into the other systems of vedanta in short -- but these have very few following and hence will not be of that much importance to learn or go through.

After dealing with the various systems in brief, we will again enter into the various concepts of Advaita.

Humble salutations to all.