Thursday, July 28, 2011

Figure Vedanta And The Hindu


Who is a Hindu : It is unfortunate that students of Indian History in our country have been fed with many historical untruths for the past two hundred years or so by having been made to study History text books written by British authors and such other authors as sponsored by the then British Government. In keeping with their avowed objective of capturing power with a divide and rule policy, the British Government re-wrote Indian History to suit their convenience and prescribed those text books for study in schools and colleges. One such distorted truth was the Theory of Aryan Invasion. According to this Theory, the Aryans migrated to India from Central Asia and other places as nomads in search for a living. This Theory has been totally demolished by subsequent research and archeological excavations.

The Aryan Invasion Theory, in its simplest form, posits that India was inhabited by Dravidians till about 3,000 to 4,000 years ago when the fair skinned Aryans from Central Asia invaded the Sub-continent, and pushed the black Dravidians to the South. It has now been proved beyond doubt that the Aryans were original settlers in India who have been born and brought up in India ever since the dawn of civilization. In fact the word ‘Arya’ is a Sanskrit word which means ‘refined and cultured’. That is why all our ancient texts call India as ‘Aryavartha’ which means ‘the land of the cultured and refined people’. In fact the Sanskrit lexicography, the Amara Kosha, defines Aryavatha as Punya Bhoomi or the Sacred Land. The famous poet in Sanskrit, Kalidasa, in his drama “Shakuntalam” uses the word ‘Anarya’ for describing an ‘uncultured person’. In fact many interesting details about the life and culture of Aryans can be gathered by a study of the Rig-Veda. Sanskrit in its archaic form was the language of the Aryans.

The River Ganga, known as the Ganges in English, has a tributary by name Sindhu [Which is a Sanskrit word] which the Englishmen called ‘The Indus’. In fact, the Sindhu is considered one of the 7 sacred rivers of our Country. The area in and around these two rivers was popular as ‘The Indo-Gangetic Plane. When the Aryans were staying in these areas, the Persians invaded this region. Because the natives were inhabitants of the Sindhu river belt, the Persians identified as them as the ‘Sindhus’ and called them as ‘Hindus’ due to the fact that in the Persian language, the letter “s” is generally transliterated as “h”—for example, the word ‘Saptah’ [A week] becomes ‘Haftah’ in Persia.. Therefore, the term “Hindu” originally referred to the well-defined geographical areas of ancient India watered by the Indus River, its inhabitants came to be known as “Hindus” and their religion as ‘Hinduism”. The Greeks later found it hard to pronounce ‘h” and dropped it altogether, so that we became known as Indians. The Greeks therefore, called the Sindhu River as the “Indus” River, its inhabitants “Indians” and the geographical area “India”.

What is Vedanta : Man’s eternal nature is total happiness and this is possible to realize only he is prepared to accept and recognize the fact that the whole world is cast in the mould of the Divinity and Divinity exists in every living being. This can be achieved only when one lives a virtuous life which is the purpose of all religions in the world. That subject which teaches every one as to how to lead such a virtuous life which ultimately leads to total and permanent happiness is called ‘Vedanta’, Vedanta is universal in application and has no geographical boundaries, caste, creed or any such distinction.

It is true that there are several religions in the world but the basic purpose of all of them is to find out the true meaning of life and the purpose of life and to locate the true source of eternal happiness. Just as the Greek mind and modern European mind tried to find out the solution to all these problems in the existing mundane world, so also our forefathers started with the external world. All of them significantly failed. While the West stopped exploring further avenues, our forefathers belonging to the Sanathana Dharma continued their search. Having been convinced that the solution does not lie in the material world, they turned the searchlight towards the shining SOUL of man neither [The Spirit or the Atman] and found the answer there. The answer was the ‘Upanishads’, otherwise called the ‘Vedanta’

The message of the Upanishads of which the forerunner was the Vedas was heard by our ancient Rishis who heard the Truth by their intense Tapas through an intuitive sight and obtained a treasure house of spiritual knowledge and sublime ideas revealed to them directly by Divinity in communion with them. The Vedas are therefore known as ‘Shruti’ which means what is heard. It is for this reason that the Vedas are called ‘Apourusheya’ which means ‘not composed by human beings’ .The essential feature of Vedanta or the Upanishads is thus the direct perception of Truth. This experience of Truth is not coloured by the senses or the mind; it is an intuitive revelation. The Vedic Rishis did not create Truth as they were only the medium through which the eternal Truth could be conveyed for the purpose of transmitting it to posterity. These Truths were articulated to the students by the Rishis in the Gurukala system of education.

When the Vedas were heard there was no system of writing in India. But such was the scrupulous zeal of those Brahmins who got the whole Vedic literature by heart by just hearing it from their preceptors that they were able to transmit to them down the line faithfully, absolutely as they had heard.

Latest research in philosophy and Vedanta has estimated that there must have been a gap of about 1,000 years between the Vedic Age and the Upanishadic Age. In the Upanishads, our ancient Rishis arrived at infallible conclusions regarding God, Nature of Man and Soul. Having made a thorough study of the Upanishads, a great Spanish philosopher has described the Upanishads as ‘The Himalayas of the Soul’ and states ‘Just as the great mountain determines the climate, rainfall and physical features of the Peninsula, so do these lofty heights of wisdom in Vedanta determine the quality of the spiritual wisdom of the race that inhabits it’.

The bedrock of the eternal impersonal principles experienced by different Rishis at different period were collected together in the concluding portion of the Vedic Literature known as the Upanishads ; therefore, they are called the ‘Vedanta’ or ‘the End portion of the Upanishads ‘. The term Vedanta is, however, used in a wider sense to represent wisdom contained in all the sacred texts that have the Upanishads as the basis and elucidation of their teachings. In the deepest sense, the Upanishads contain the very essence of the Vedas, referring primarily to knowledge. By ‘Knowledge’ is meant the direct knowledge of the Brahman

Vedanta is a world literature, a universal phenomenon. Vedanta’s attraction to the Western mind in particular has been deep and pervasive and has a left an indelible impression on the philosophy of scholars and poets like Schopenhauer, Nietzche, Max Muller, Deussen, Romain Rolland, Somerset Maugham, T.S.Eliot, Wordsworth, Coleridge and a host of others.. In fact ‘The Razor’s Edge’ by Somerset Maugham introduces the subject matter with a quotation from the Kathopanishad.

B.M.N. Murthy

Created:Saturday, June 26, 2010 2:59 AM


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