Vedic Vision For the Modern Age
Immense changes shaking the very foundations of human life are taking place around us as seen in the collapse of the bipolar world, disappearance of cold war, fragmentation of mega nations, and in the emergence of godless materialism, merciless commercialism and senseless consumerism. The possibility of a Kurukshetra war between the spiritual and material civilisations cannot be ruled out. At the same time are audible echoes of Sri Krishna’s Panchajanya in the newly emerging paradigm of Reality with its watchwords of ‘common inheritance’, ‘unity of existence’ and ‘shared destiny’ little knowing that these were part of the Vedic Vision propounded by the Indian Seers aeons ago. These have to be intensified, amplified and made part of the thinking of the entire humanity. This is indeed a challenge which the diverse spiritual traditions of the world are called upon to answer.
A recycling of values is going on everywhere. To fathom the real value of values they must be studied in depth, not only in the outer world but also in the realm of consciousness and then tested in life. To achieve this we should go to the very fountainhead of values by deepening our intellectual search. Only then would we be rewarded with glimpses of the Eternal and the Infinite behind the transient and the finite, which is the real foundation of life in its totality. That is the source of all values and virtues which ennoble and enrich human beings and hold us all together as one. All character-building, man- making, nation-building and universe-sustaining impulses emanate from that source only. And that source is the Ultimate Reality or Satyasya Satyam, as the Vedic seers realized it.
It will not be wrong to say that the warp and woof of India’s spiritual heritage has been set in the loom of this Vedic Vision. From time immemorial that all-encompassing vision has nurtured and sustained a spiritual culture of extraordinary depth and splendour, held this nation as one amidst all its bewildering diversities, preserved it against all vicissitudes of history, endowed human life with divine potentiality, woven a social fabric of lasting durability and elegance, established most splendid and hoary traditions of great scientific and practical significance covering every aspect of human life such as, art, literature and religion, built up immeasurably valuable holistic scientific concepts interrelating man with the visible and invisible cosmic laws and forces, created from time to time incarnations, sages, saints and philosophers whose words continue to inspire mankind to this day, fashioned heroes and heroines of unsurpassed beauty, character and excellence worthy of emulation, and above all, made our motherland renowned as Punyabhoomi, Karmabhoomi, Dharmabhoomi and so on and made it a blessing to be born here. Perpetuating this vision for the posterity should become the prime concern of every Indian.
Thousands of years ago, when humanity was still in a state of slumber, the super scientists of India, the Vedic rishis, were engaged in the knotty task of uncovering the Ultimate Reality of life. This Reality of all realities, they soon found out, was beyond whatever the senses could perceive. Through a step-by-step approach, penetrating through the world of plurality, they looked into the very core of their inner being and discovered the Ultimate Truth as the Self (Atman) within. This they called as Satyam, the Truth. Its nature was described as Sat Chit Ananda( Existence, Knowledge, Bliss)
When they woke up from this superconscious experience of Oneness, they also discovered that Truth is One but its expressions could be diverse. It is this Truth in which everything in the universe remains interconnected, interrelated and interdependent. Evolving a superfine technology for uncovering this Truth through Self-realization is the greatest discovery and blessing that the rishis have conferred on humanity.
It is the awareness of the Oneness of Truth and its manifestations as many constituting the ‘Jagat’ that mark the Vedic Vision. This awareness of Truth must be nurtured within the individuals to achieve personal integration as well as peace and happiness outside. This Truth alone can pave way for global peace and understanding. “Nanyah pantha vidyate ayanaya” declare the Upanishads in unequivocal terms. It is unfortunate that in spite of the affirmation of this Truth in all our scriptures, its declaration by realised souls from time immemorial and its inscription on our national emblem, we as a nation are becoming committed to untruth, moving farther and farther away from these ideals with disastrous consequences. Restoring the value of Truth in our lives is the need of the hour, to bring dignity to man, to redeem our society, our nation and the whole world. Such a Vision has bestowed upon our country a rare spiritual fragrance and would therefore remain as the Vision of Bharath for all times to come.
For us, in India, this discovery ushered in the dawn of enlightenment and introduced us to the most wonderful idea of Life Eternal. Since then, this Ganga of integral vision of the rishis or Vedic Vision, has been cascading down the centuries, enriching every field of human activity and giving birth to a unique and spiritually oriented civilization and culture. This Satyam, the Eternal Truth, is the basis of Indian culture and civilisation to this day as reflected in India’s national emblem, Satyameva Jayate (‘Truth alone triumphs’) – a phrase taken from the Mundaka Upanishad.
Satyam Param Dheemahi
India’s greatest contribution to world thought and culture is the concept of the One, Eternal, Indivisible, Omniscient, Omnipotent and Omnipresent Truth as the be-all and end-all of all existence. This Truth, our Rishis (Scientists) established as the basis of all knowledge, of spirituality and science. Hindu culture and Religion grew and expanded holding on to this Oneness of Truth, which manifests as the many in the Universe, where everything remains interrelated, interconnected and interdependent. This Truth is realisable by man within himself, as the central core of his being through the path of self – enquiry, transcending the distractions created by the body, mind and intellect.
Understanding the One in the many and the many in the One, India developed her unique cultural characteristics. Satyameva jayate, Satyam param deemahi became the watch words of our spiritual heritage based on Vedic Vision. It is a matter of great pride to us that the modern science, as it starts revealing more and more the innate Oneness of the Universe, is moving closer and closer to this Indian ideal. The result is, scientists and visionaries all over the world are becoming increasingly aware of the magnificient contribution that India has made in the field of Science, a science which is holistic, man – making and planet sustaining as well. Our scientific tradition is all the more attractive also because, here spirituality and science blended so well and harmoniously, each being complementary to the other. The sum total of this development was that life itself came to be recognised as the unfoldment of the One Eternal Truth and its prime goal in life was considered as the realisation of that Truth.
In other parts of the world, on the other hand, Science or search for truth was focused on the material side only, as they were, through the physical means available with them, unable to go beyond the world of senses, mind and intellect. They were unable to decipher the One Truth behind the many (names and forms). The world owes it to Albert Einstein who opened the eyes of the Scientific community to the ‘relativity’ of the ‘material’. It was he, who for the first time elevated the modern science to the understanding of One Absolute Truth behind the many, through the famous equation E=mc2.
That is the uniqueness of Vedic Vision and India, therefore, has a special role to play in the present crisis when mankind is looking for a new paradigm of Reality, in the hope that such an approach would restore sanity to mankind and usher in an era of peace and happiness. This paradigm has to be centered in the search for unity or Truth or Solidarity of the whole universe.
Search for Unity
In 1893 when Swami Vivekananda spoke on Hinduism to the learned audience at the Chicago Parliament, Swamiji projected the harmony between science and spirituality based on One Truth and laid the foundation for making the Vedic Vision, for the first time the World Vision.
“Science is nothing but the finding of unity. As soon as science would reach perfect unity, it would stop from further progress, because it would reach the goal. Thus chemistry could not progress farther when it would discover one element out of which all others could be made. Physics would stop when it would be able to fulfil its services in discovering one energy of which all the others are but manifestations, and the science of religion become perfect when it would discover Him who is the one life in a universe of death, Him, who is the constant basis of an ever – changing world, One, who is the only soul of which all souls are but delusive manifestations. Thus is it, through multiplicity and duality, the ultimate unity is reached. Religion can go no farther. This is the goal of all science”.
Dharma – translation of Truth into Life
Dharma is the second most essential ingredient of Vedic Vision, next only to Satya.
A simple definition of Dharma could be translation of Truth into life principles enabling man to lead a noble life, pursue his enquiry into Truth by which he manifests his own divinity and helps others to manifest theirs. Dharmic values alone can help man to control his inner and outer nature so that he is elevated spiritually. Dharma denotes the disciplines and the code of conduct that should govern the individual and collective lives of the entire humanity. All the subtle aspects of dharma have been thoroughly investigated by our seers earning for this land the name of Dharma Bhoomi.
It is the bud of Satya that blossoms up in real life as dharma. Dharma assures all round peace, happiness and fulfillment not only to the individual but to the society as a whole. Unfortunately the value of dharma is lost on the present day society, deeply sunk in the morass of materialism where every individual is bent upon upsetting the rhythm of the Cosmic Whole.
Realisation of Truth in its absolute and ultimate form has been the be-all and end-all of human life in this country from ancient times. After actualising this Truth as the Consciousness within and without, the Vedic seers also evolved a superfine technology of realising that Truth and translating It into life in toto, thus laying the foundation of the all-comprehensive Law of Being, Dharma. The final aim of dharma is Self realisation. This is what constitutes the essence of Upanishadic knowledge. To know the Self, again, dharma is the way. This vision has been summarised in the eloquent words in Taittiriya Upanishad, satyam vada, dharmam chara (‘speak Truth, follow Dharma’)
Dharma rooted as it is in the Ultimate Reality of the Oneness of Consciousness can provide a most satisfying conceptual foundation to life anywhere and everywhere, provide a basis or raison d’etre - for universally acceptable social, moral and ethical values which can integrate man with the WHOLE, help him to manifest the divinity within and evolve him toward Godhood, here in this very life itself. It is amazing that as envisaged by our great rishis and repeatedly asserted by the seers of our times like Sri Ramakrishna, Swami Vivekananda, Sri Aurobindo and others, modern scientific research for Truth has also started edging towards this very same conceptualisation. The indebtedness that we in Bharat, nay, the entire humanity, owe to the rishis of our land, whose astounding intellectual penetrations into Consciousness revealed such an unparalleled unified wholeness of the entire universe, spreading beyond time and space, and the power of whose knowledge, will and action continues to project and sustain this vision through century after century, is simply immeasurable.
What is Vedic Vision?
The ideal that Vedic Vision holds before us is the realization of the Eternal Truth within oneself, feel its presence in the entire universe and adjust all our activities in such a way as to reflect that principle of Oneness in thoughts, words and deeds. To the rishis, the Nature outside was an external expression of the Truth within. This realization was truly a quantum leap in knowledge – from unity to universality. This vision of the Whole and the awareness of man’s interrelatedness with and interdependence on all that exists is what has made the Indian culture so singularly spiritual and, at once, in modern terms, highly scientific and holistic.
A profound respect for nature and the wisdom inherent in it is the hallmark of Vedic vision. To the Vedic mind, tolerance is a byword. When one gets truly established in it, genuine hospitality and warm friendship replace feelings of resentment and strangeness. Ecological balance and social justice are the natural outcome of such a wholesome living centred round the vision of a Universal Reality – where the individual feels himself bound to the cosmos as a whole. This became the Dharma of the individual.
Yajna – the high potential cosmic dynamo
To ensure that Vedic Vision becomes a working practical model, the spirit of Yajna should enter into it. The immense spiritual energy that is stored up in the Cosmos becomes available to man when he transforms his life into Yajna. Devoid of kartrutwa and bhoktrutwa bhavas when work is done, with no selfish motivation it automatically turns into an act of Yajna. Such actions not only benefit the doer but add to the potential spiritual energy in the Universe. That is why our Puranas connect individual’s yajnas with proper and timely rains, rich harvest, etc. Except the selfishly motivated work done by man, every other action has a cosmic dimension and implication. One sure way to catch the glory of Yajna into our life is to carry on all our life activities as dedication to the Supreme. That would also remove unwanted tensions in the lives of people centered on their ego.
Let us not forget that it is the fire of knowledge from the Yagnavedis of Vedic times that has uninterruptedly lighted the lives of the Great Masters in our country whom we continue to adore and worship to this day.
How to make the Vedic Vision a World Vision
In their own simple, elegant and unique style our rishis have formulated very practical guidelines to achieve this. Given below are a few of those guidelines.
‘Isavasyamidamsarvam’ ( Isavasyopanishad)
A more harmonizing and positive statement of the omniscience of Truth, with ways and means of practising the same as our dharma is hard to find in any scriptural literature. Everything in this Universe – moving and unmoving, living and nonliving whatever there be are all pervaded by divinity which is infinite, indestructible and eternal. Swami Vivekananda makes the statement more fitting to the present in his inimitable way thus. “Everything that is finite in the Universe would find its ultimate rest only when classified into infinite.”
To incorporate this Truth as part of our life comes the statement from the same Upanishad:
‘Tena tyaktena bhunjitha, ma gridha kasya sviddhanam’
This is a very pertinent statement where Upanishad reminds us that there is only one way we can enjoy – through self restraint, never coveting another’s wealth. When ‘I’ am part of the ‘Whole’ , where is the question of indulging in exploitation, over utilisation, aggrandizement and other associated maladies which are presently tearing apart human lives and devastating our environment.
In this highly thought provoking statement we can find a subjective Truth for the adjustment within the human personality as also a spiritual and scientific basis for man to establish his relationship with the outside world.
‘Ekam sat viprah bahudha vadanti’
The relentless search for Truth which our learned seers undertook thousands of years back, at a time when civilization and culture as we understand them today were almost none existent led them to the astounding discovery, that behind the façade of multiplicity of material forms there is one Ultimate Truth or Reality which is the real ‘material and efficient cause’ behind the Universe. The goal and purpose of life were to recognize this Truth and realize it to the best of one’s ability. The names by which Truth may be called by different seekers or sects of people were of no importance. They found that this Truth was a great subjective spiritual realization carrying man beyond his body, mind and intellect into the realm of spirit, of Self.
These meditations provided our seers with a vision of Reality, of Oneness where there was neither subject nor object, the one Truth pervaded everything everywhere. Nature outside was seen as an externalized expression of the same Truth within cognized by the sense organs as many and different. This understanding was indeed a quantum leap in knowledge - from Unity to Universality. This vision of the Whole, an awareness of man’s interrelatedness with and interdependence on all that exists, is what has made the vedic vision so unique, at once spiritual and in modern terms highly scientific.
The above concept centered in the awareness of one Truth, visualizing the whole Universe as one’s family leads to an unparalleled expansion of human mind which provides a homely remedy for all the ills which are creeping into man’s mind spoiling his interrelationships with people and the environment. The utter simplicity of the statement reveals what intricate training of the mind has been achieved by the Vedic Seers, what expansion, what identification with the Whole!
The statement says that ‘the whole universe is one family. The welfare of the family rests on the proper exercise of the rights and responsibilities by all its members individually and collectively. Respect, regard, love, sacrifice, service – manifold are the expressions through which those rights and responsibilities are exercised in real life. In the togetherness, mutuality, each member responsibly carrying out one’s duties remaining as part of the whole and ever keeping at bay his individualistic egotism, lie the wholesomeness of a family. To get at this magnificent cohesiveness what else, but the awareness of the spiritual solidity of the whole, could be the basis?
Such a “systems” view of life is gaining wide acceptance in the West presently, which recognizes the continuous interactions among living beings and the surrounding eco systems, as also the complex, yet natural interdependence that exists in nature. The interconnectedness, interrelatedness and interdependence that are being revealed at every step are not only revelations of the facets of One Omniscient Truth but are also pointers to man as to how he has to rectify his mistakes and save the planet we live in. A new approach to life and its challenges based on such a global ecological awareness or in Indian terms ‘spiritual’ approach or in modern terminology ‘holistic’ or ‘systemic’ view is very much warranted today as we are posed with the question of the very survival of mankind.
In this vision of Reality lies hidden the mystery and mastery of creation, an understanding and appreciation of which would make living joyful and fulfilling at every moment, a fact we in India had recognized, realized and practised since long. A profound respect for nature and the wisdom inherent in it were the hallmarks of Indian culture. It helped us to see beauty, glory and goodness where otherwise one saw only ugliness and evil. Tolerance became a by word in life. A feeling of genuine hospitality and warm friendship replaced feelings of resentment and strangeness. Moderation in conduct, balance in behavior and harmony in activity followed. Ecological balance and social justice were the ‘natural outcome of such a wholesome living in tune with nature – centered round the vision of Universal Reality – where the individual felt himself bound to the cosmos as a whole. This became the ‘dharma of the individual’.
An awareness of our unbreakable relationship with the entire cosmos and a deep concern for everything around us is a must for all. That alone can reconvert this world into a healthy home for all of us to live together joyously and harmoniously. No other country or culture has evolved such a scientific unifying and universal vision of the Whole and perpetuated it through centuries. Nowhere can be find millions of people praying for the welfare of the entire humanity, sans religion, race or creed through prayers such as “Sarve bhavanthu sukhina’’ and “Lokah samastah sukhino bhavantu” and we Indians should strive to make them the Universal prayer of the entire humanity.
This multi faceted gem of universal understanding or vedic vision has been chiseled and polished by countless seers and sages from time immemorial to this day. The present issue of Kendra Patrika presents before us the sparkling emanations from the efforts of these great savants like Swami Vivekananda, Maharshi Aurobindo, Sri Dayananda Saraswathi and a host of others. They reveal the great contemplations these teachers had undertaken to absorb this great Truth and impart it to the humanity as a whole. Each article is an intensive study requiring great upasana from the readers to understand the full import of the meaning conveyed by them.
There is nothing as purifying as Jnana and this great compilation brings before us the essence of vedic knowledge and the vision emanating from it, in a profound and at the same time appealing to the modern intellect. May the Divine Veda Mata purify the minds of the readers and instill in them the capacity to make vedic vision an essential ingredient of their lives’ mission.Dr.Lakshmikumari