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A Study of Upanishads



Mantras 1 to 3

The realisation of Brahman does not take the form of personal experience. One cannot say or tell that one has known one’s Self well, because everything that is known becomes an object. The Self is the knower of all, and is not known by anything. To say that one has known it is to limit it, and to say that one has not known it is, again, to limit it. The knower does not know anything other than the knower, which cannot be called the knowledge of the knower. Knowledge works on a dualistic basis. But the Self is non-dual. There is no knower other than the Self. It alone appears as the one and the many, as the experiencer, and also the experienced. The question of the knower, the knowledge and the known does not arise regarding the pure Self. In all processes of knowledge neither the subject is well known nor the object. Human knowledge is partial knowledge. Every experience of the human being is limited. The glory and the greatness of the world of experience is a distorted shadow of the Supreme Being. No manifested knowledge can be complete, because every knowledge is either of the subject or of the object, and neither the subject nor the object is really known through any form of knowledge, because the knowledge of the object is the expression of a subjective imperfection, and the knowledge of the subject, also, is thereby concealed, for objective consciousness prevents subjective awareness. Individual knowledge always hangs midway between the knower and the known, and it is capable of knowing neither, in truth. Therefore, knowledge of Brahman cannot be expressed.

It is not possible to have a little knowledge of Brahman, as Brahman cannot be divided. Either there is full knowledge of it or no knowledge of it. Limited experiences are not in any way even a little of brahma-chaitanya. Different kinds of experience, lower and higher in degree, are the results of the degrees in the manifestation of the mind. All our experiences are mental. We cannot pierce through the mind as long as we exist. Man is the same as mind, and mind is the same as desires. Even as cloth is nothing but threads knit together, man is nothing but a bundle of desires. Differences in experience are because of the differences in desires. The lesser the desires, the better and more lasting is the experience. The state of the least desires means the experience of the greatest reflection of Truth. Higher experiences are nearer to Brahman, because a greater and truer reflection of Brahman is experienced in those states, as higher experiences are the conditions of thinner needs of the mind. But, anyhow, even the highest objective experience is mental, though very near to Truth, and is not the same as Brahman-realisation. Even the nearest is not the same as that to which it is nearest. Hence, there is no such thing as a little realisation of Brahman. As long as there is even a tinge of a single desire, Brahman is not known in truth. A finger can obstruct the vision of a huge sun. A single desire can bar us from the experience of Brahman. When it is said that everything is Brahman, it is not meant that any form of our experiences is in any way Brahman. It only means that forms have no value except on the basis of Brahman. Whatever is truth in forms is a limited and reflected aspect of Brahman. But none can expect to taste even a drop of the ocean of the absolute as long as he wishes to exist, i. e., wishes to think. Every thought is a denial of Brahman, and, therefore, thought and realisation cannot exist together. Where the one is, the other is not. Experience of Brahman has no concessions to thinking. Self-realisation, therefore, is existence as the Impersonal Absolute.

The definition of Brahman as consciousness should not be mistaken to be an attempt to bring down the nature of Brahman to the level of our understanding. We say Brahman is consciousness because nothing of this world is conscious. It is just to differentiate reality from appearance that we term Brahman consciousness. It is to exalt it and not lower it. Even when we accept that Brahman is sat or chit we do not confuse it with anything that we know. It is beyond the sat and the chit which we know of. We reject everything which we know and refuse to be satisfied with anything that comes to us as an experience. We may have the highest possession of experience, but we have to abandon it. Whatever experience one may have, grand and glorious, one should not be under the impression that one’s achievement is over. It is an infinite rejection of things and states that we have to practice. There is no end for our denials. One cannot suspect whether one is in the state of Brahman or in a state of Brahman or in a state to be denied. It will be clear when one experiences it. Dissatisfaction and the awareness of ‘I’-ness will be the indicators of the imperfection of a particular state of experience. Brahman is doubtless existence and we can experience Brahman only after self-effacement. It is not easy to know it.

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All About Bharatiya Sanatana Dharmam otherwise known as Hinduism : 2.1.1.g) -2.


The Scriptures :

1. The Srutis : g)-2

g ).The Vedangas-2.

Vyakarana is Sanskrit grammar. Panini’s books are most famous. Without knowledge of Vyakarana, you cannot understand the Vedas.

Chhandas is metre dealing with prosody.

Nirukta is philology or etymology.

Jyotisha is astronomy and astrology. It deals with the movements of the heavenly bodies, planets, etc., and their influence in human affairs.

Kalpa is the method of ritual.

The Srauta Sutras which explain the ritual of sacrifices belong to Kalpa.

The sulba Sutras, which treat of the measurements which are necessary for laying out the sacrificial areas, also belong to Kalpa.

The Grihya Sutras which concern domestic life, and the Dharma Sutras which deal with ethics, customs and laws, also belong to Kalpa.

Swami Sivananda
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All About Bharatiya Sanatana Dharmam otherwise known as Hinduism : Ch-4.5.



5. Ethical Codes In Hinduism :

Hindu ethics is superb. Hinduism lays great emphasis on ethical discipline.

Yama (self-restraint) and Niyama (religious observances or canons) are the foundations of Yoga and Vedanta.

Undeveloped persons cannot think for themselves.

Hence rules of conduct have been laid down by great sages or seers like Manu and Sage Yajnavalkya.

Lord Krishna says in the Gita: “Let the scriptures be thy authority in determining what ought to be done or what ought not to be done.

Knowing what hath been declared by the ordinances of the scriptures, thou oughtest to work in this world” (Ch. XVI-24).

The Smritis written by Yajnavalkya, Manu and other sages distinctly prescribe the rules of conduct.

As you have not got the power nor the time to think of the moral principles and rules given in the scriptures, you can get them from the sages and saints and follow them to the very letter.

Swami Sivananda
To be continued ..

All About Bharatiya Sanatana Dharmam otherwise known as Hinduism : Ch-3.15-4.3.


15. The Law of Spiritual Economics-4.2.

4. Use and Abuse of the Caste System -3.

At the present moment, the Varnasrama system exists in name only.

It has to be rebuilt properly.

Brahmanas, Kshatriyas, Vaisyas and Sudras, who have fallen from their ideals and who are not doing their respective duties, must do their respective duties properly.

They must be educated on right lines.

They must raise themselves to their original lofty level.

The sectarian spirit must die.

They should develop a new understanding heart of love and devotion, with a spirit of co-operation, sacrifice and service.

Next : 5. The Four Asramas

Swami Sivananda
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