Significance of a religious life.

In Vedās, a religious life is prescribed for all those who have :

a. Absence of Ātma Brahman Aikya jñanam.
b. Who have rāga-dveśa.

Absence of knowledge that the real nature of oneself- Ātma, is in fact, Brahman – the vast. Popularly referred to as Self-knowledge. The Self here is Ātma as oneself, and not the notion that I am an individual. This absence is referred to as Self-ignorance or simply ignorance. Ignorance is not referring to absence of any objective knowledge, like that of Physics, Economics etc. But it is stating the ignorance regarding Self-knowledge.

In the absence of Self -knowledge, the obvious outcome is “I am an individual”. And in such a notion of individuality, obvious is the presence of rāga-dveśa, likes and dislikes.

Man is afflicted by his Self ignorance primarily. It is the root cause of “ALL” the sorrows. Sprouting from it, man then gets afflicted by the likes-dislikes. In essence, the Vedās point out that a human being, irrespective of his gender, race, colour etc. spends away his life being constantly disturbed. Sorrow is encompassing all the felt disturbances.

But, an human being, again irrespective of his gender, race, colour etc. also has the equipped faculties, to gain this Self-knowledge. In the presence of which the root of Self -ignorance gets uprooted, there is then no locus for the individuality, and thus, no likes and dislikes get formed. The person of Self-knowledge, Such a human is referred to as “liberated”. Having fulfilled his human birth potential.

To uproot Self-ignorance, a lot of internal preparation is required. Just as to sow a seed, the soil is tilled; so too, for Self-knowledge, the human mind needs tilling.

This tilling is the job of a religious life.

Does every religion then take one to Self-knowledge?

No. Though ALL religions, when followed, cultivate the soil.

Vedic vision held the performance of the Vedic Karmas as religious. This was the karma-kanda, portion of Vedās detailing the knowledge regarding Karmas to be performed as per your notions of individuality. Abiding in the performance of the prescribed Karmās was being religious.

What was the advantage of this vision? The uniqueness of the vision of the Vedas? To the extent a person abided in his ordained karma, to that an extent indirectly his internal preparation took place. The source of sorrow coming from likes-dislikes got managed. And as one got prepared, the Vedās effortlessly revealed Ātma-jñana, through the Vedānta part, also called the Upanishads. Knowing which the final source of sorrow was destroyed. The one with Self-knowledge, now is the One. Where there is no sorrow. For sorrow to be, there has to be duality. But, for the Ātma-jñani, where is the other?

Thus, Vedic Karmās relevance as a religious life. And as with any knowledge, the chances of it being understood is relative, so too with Vedic knowledge. And the non-understanding leading to misunderstanding gets compounded when the knowledge is regarding the very Subject, the person, who has to re-know himself. This leads to layers and layers of deep-rooted superstitions, fanaticism, blind beliefs, rigid adherences, which more often destroy the very purpose of knowledge. And moreover, destroy the very potential of a human existence.

Law called Karma – what does it mean?

Law called Karma – what does it mean?

Since karma has found itself in the mainstream English dictionary, here, I will continue to use it as an English word instead of, and alongwith, interchangeably with action.

No karma is done without a reason, purpose, intent, motive. It is not possible to generate the will to act without them. While the physical action obviously brings a physical manifestation-as the result, the reason for your body to be propelled to act,  it is the intent also, which affects the outcome.

How much does the intent affect the result?

For very apple seed sown you get an apple tree, is the physical aspect of the law. A दृष्ट फल Drusta phala. An observable, seen result. Then there is the delayed result, which is subtle. And also not immediately experienced. It is called the अदृष्ट फल adrusta phala. The immediately unobservable, unseen, but will surely be seen at a proper time, some time. It is a delayed result. How many apples will the tree yield? What would be the taste? This cannot be known when the seed gets sown. This remains unseen. But get known when the tree matures and yields fruit.

Karta  —> karma  —> drusta phalam + some adrusta phalam.

Karta -the doer, the decider of the action, engages in the karma, action. And that action will bring back to him results in two pronged way. The immediately observable, which will be seen shortly after the completion of the action and the immediately not observable result, which will be seen much later. And so remains unrecognised, ambiguous when it fructifies. Best known only as Luck. Good / Bad are decided by the experiencer of it.

The Drusta phala gets destroyed once it is expereinced, consumed. The adrusta phala gets destroyed when it becomes Drusta phala. Take it as in the analogy of an apple seed sown. It takes time to yield the fruit. While the fruit has not matured yet, it lays latent in the tree. But, once it has, it is now ready to be consummed. That fruit gets destroyed but its seed is still there. Lives long enough. But is perishable.  Before it does, it can possibly restart the cycle of seed-fruit-seed, or perish from its ‘seed-ness’ loosing its seediness.

No karma can be disconnected with the karta-the doer. And no karta can be disconnected with his motive for the karma. Thus, common sense says, the result of karma must be enjoyed by the karta and also that each one’s differing intentions must be a major reason for the differing results for each. Since it is a common observation, that even when the same physical action is done by different people, the same result is not experienced by them.

Law of causation explains only the Drusta phala -seen aspect. For every cause there is an effect. This is a linear equation which covers only the immediately seen. Where Law of karma explains both the immediately seen and the also immediately unseen, but will-become-seen-later aspect. Understanding the Law of Karma means understanding that karma has adrusta phala, which is far greater in implications than the drushta phala.


Deepti Vishwanath

God is an incomplete translation of Iśvara.

God is an incomplete translation of Iśvara.

God is not a translation of Iśvara. It is time to separate the two from their false presumptive associations. God is a matter of mere belief. Cannot be defined either. Is subjective entirely. Belief in God is to be religious. Atheism is not having that belief.

Iśvara on the other hand is not a matter of belief. It is an understanding. A recognition which is available for an universal enquiry. Iśvara is a deliberation done by the Vedās to conclude the equation and understand the relation between man and creation. As in Math. For an equation to be resolved it begins with an assumption, suppose x=y. And then finally after all the logical, verifiable steps it is arrived at, therefore, x=y.

Iśvara has a definition. The srishti- sthithi-laya kāraṇa is Iśvara. He is also the karma-phala dātā.

You begin to solve the riddle of man and creation by assuming first, suppose an ‘x factor’ call it Iśvara, is the origin of both, man and creation. Iśvara also is the maintainer of both. Since we never see the absolute non-existence of creation ever, there is also regeneration which maintains the creation and life species. And when both disappear, the disappearance also happens in Iśvara, governed by Iśvara.

But what is the plurality and the differences of experiences in different lives? The Vedic view is, each one is a generator of his own destiny which Iśvara only enables to fructify impartially. Iśvara remains the uninvolved witness, enabling the results of karmās.

In the model of Iśvara, God is not recognised as an absolute entity on whose mercy we all live. Man has all the empowerment!

There are three different words and thus ideas, Brahman, Iśvara, Devatās, that the Vedās convey. But, the translation as God, gets substituted for all the three!  Vedās does not treat them the same and moreover they are not interchangeable either!

From the formless, eternal existence of the nature of consciousness and ānanda emerges the first shades of creation, the very first manifestation, a distinction which is in full knowledge of itself as Brahman. This first outline which can be distinguished but remains inseparable from Brahman, is Iśvara. The commander who now begins the creation, the differentiation. And the world with its plurality and the inherent laws to maintain order is created. Space, Air, fire, water, earth the basic elements and the various proportions of each become the compound and complex life forms. Indwelling all remains the same Brahman, untouched by the apparent creation. Remaining the formless, of the nature of cònsciousness and ānanda, it is now available only for recognition of its distinct nature separate from the nature of the created world.

Iśvara on the other hand has been seen in every aspect of life. What enables the eyes to see? Light. That source which one sees in creation, the highest expression of light in the macrocosm, which becomes the source of all the lights is the Sun. Thus, Sun is looked as the Devatā, since there is no other expression of light, equal to or superior to it. Another example. What is the most essential factor for the tongue to taste different flavours? Without which it looses it capacity to taste? Water. Thus the water in the macrocosm is represented as the Devatā, Varuna. But these Devatās are powerless without Iśvara. They are only following the order and conducting their portfolios! Put it in another way, Iśvara himself is in all these expresssions now, recognised as the Devatās.

With the help of such an deliberate imposition, the equation gets established. That the source of the power, the illumination of the world and living being is the same, Brahman. For Iśvara cannot exist without Brahman, Devatās cannot exist without Iśvara, Man cannot exist without the elements! They are all rooted in the ONE. And that ONE is not an externally placed GOD in heaven, but the one which shines as the consciousness, unconditioned awareness.

Iśvara is also the karma phala dātā. How? Who is an atheist according to the Vedic system? And finally, this creation is an appearance, creation is, as an appearance.

Deepti Vishwanath