VEDANTA : II
The ontological perspective of the Supreme Truth is important, nay, crucial as the rudder is to the boat we are taking across the waters. Though a truncated and adhoc aggregate, even the animalistic version in the belief of indigenous people, who are not introduced to an intellectually cultured religion, serves to raise a backdrop to comprehension of objects in our sight, of beings included in our action, of phenomenal events in our experience, apprehensions in our vitality and thought, and extrapolatory impressions that embed in our intellect.
The context for hunter-gathers and forest dwellers would have been limited to immediate issues or short-term concerns of survival, security or perpetuation… But even they would have had to bear themselves through the continuity of time, the before and after times to emotionally draining experiences or happenings requiring physically absorbing engagements. It is the background of beliefs that provide us with much needed meaning to unify ourselves with our mornings, surroundings, natural goings on, human and animal companions, contemporaries friendly and inimical, and with our selves.
If Vedas is the entire deck of cards, Vedanta is the “joker” that consorts harmoniously with every bit of creation. It stands by every perspective : impersonal, personal, dual, non-dual, form, formless, theist, atheist, action, devotion, knowledge, experience, spirit, mind, body, temple, synagogue, wilderness, ritual, prayer, reason, irrational … All individuals of diverse persuasion and proclivity would find something or other in Vedanta that agrees with him, from where he could set himself up for the rest. Nothing contradicts Vedanta, except dogma and bigotry that also violates reason and experience. Vedanta will accept moral failures umpteen times without condoning it. It will not cease to demand ethical conduct and exhort one to go beyond the instant reference in belief and thought. And it will never offer a lie to appease us; it will instead wait with us untill we are ready, even suggesting ways we could prepare ourselves for the rendezvous.
The apparent irreconciliable dualism or reiterating cyclicity between experienced extremes is the least of the problem in Vedanta … mere symptoms it would say ! In its expanse and focus, it is capable of including any and all inconsistencies that reveal points of singularity in our knowledge of where, in and with what, do we exist, and in our understanding of who or what we are in the universal and particular frames of being, what our moments mean alongwith all that they include … and what, why and how are we to act. Vedanta is the ocean in which we can come to rest, be and perfect ourselves in truth, far beyond and without any framework even remotely akin to what we understand as ” religion.”
It is necessary to underscore that Vedanta is not thought or belief, as it occurs with us, though it is presented as one out of sheer necessity imposed by our limited means to articulate and express. English language, and every one of which that has evolved in the West, takes its spiritual scope from the man and his Bible. The next best communication alternative we have is that expressed as science – mathematics, physics and biology, which however keep the man and his book completely out from its discourse and, instead, restricts itself within the realms of physical space, matter and time.
But that is not what truth is limited to : it is, above all, to include the man – the doer, experiencer and observer. It must include his values, relationships, actions, his mind and his conscious being. And, in speaking of it, the book dilates on spiritual dimensions of our being, at the origin of which our individuated being is sprung, the call of which we maintain in our conscience and the nature of which we rediscover in our universal moral values, and our unity with which we announce through our ethical conduct. Truth must reconcile us with the consequences of our actions we experience and live through, and reflect in the conclusions we arrive at of this whole business of life, living and death, this being in world and in our mind within.
That is what Vedanta covers, without the language commensurate with its inclusive domain. The body of the being in truth is brought alive in the Vedas – Rig, Sama, Yajur and Atharva. The mantra or hymns of Samhitas invite us to relate one-to-one with existence, the being in it before, about and within us. The Brahmanas explain, define and specify the details of that occasion we are called upon to initiate, build up and complete in action, speech and thought. The Aranyakas or Upanishads – Vedanta, in short – zero down on the conscious self at our origin, in the witness within us, and the revelations it scribbles in our intellect. What is uttered, what we read and hear and contemplate upon is still about the being in truth before, about and within us, as it is.
That is what is Vedanta about : the universe, ourself and the universe within us, in the very way of life. Comparatively, religion as it means in the West is easy, a mere affiliation to a book of tenets, loyalty to a deified historical prophet, a place of worship to recall our faith, and human intermediaries who demand belief on their interpretations of the whole business, who insist upon obedience, almost always unquestioning. The affiliates are then covered with an identity in common with others, distinct from other religions.
This undertaking intends to expose in contemporary terms a few glimpses of key discoveries from the immense unraveling edifice of Vedas and Vedanta, which require a lifetime to master.