Prostrations and adorations to Sri Vyasa, the founder of Uttara Mimamsa or the Vedanta system of philosophy, Avatara of Lord Vishnu, son of Sri Parasara Rishi.
Uttara Mimamsa or the Vedanta philosophy of Vyasa or Badarayana is placed as the last of the six orthodox systems, but, really, it ought to stand first.
The Uttara Mimamsa conforms closely to the doctrines propounded in the Upanishads. The term Vedanta means literally the end or essence of the Veda. It contains the doctrines set forth in the closing chapters of the Vedas. The closing chapters of the Vedas are the Upanishads. The Upanishads really form the essence of the Vedas.
The Brahma Sutras Of Bhagavan Vyasa
Sri Vyasa wrote the Brahma Sutras or the Vedanta Sutras which explain the doctrine of Brahman. Brahma Sutras are also known by the name Sariraka Sutras, because they deal with the embodiment of the Supreme Nirguna Brahman. ‘Brahma Sutras’ is one of the three books of the Prasthana Traya, the three authoritative books on Hinduism, the other two being the Upanishads and the Bhagavad-Gita. Sri Vyasa has systematised the principles of Vedanta and removed the apparent contradictions in the doctrines. The Brahma Sutras are 555 in number. Sri Sankara, Ramanuja, Madhva, Nimbarka, Vallabha, Bhaskara, Yadavaprakasa, Kesava, Nilakantha, Baladeva and Vijnana Bhikshu are the chief commentators on the Brahma Sutras. Each has commented in his own way and built his own philosophy. The most reputed teacher of this school of philosophy was Sri Sankaracharya.
Sri Vyasa has criticised the doctrines of the Vaiseshika system and the Sankhya system. The several schools of Buddhism and the Bhagavata doctrines are also discussed.
There are four chapters, viz., Samanvaya, Avirodha, Sadhana and Phala. In the first chapter, an account of the nature of Brahman and of its relation to the world and the individual soul, is given. In the second chapter, the rival theories, viz., Sankhya, Yoga, Vaiseshika, etc., are criticised. Suitable answers are given to the objections levelled against this view. In the third chapter, the means of attaining Brahma-Vidya are treated. In the fourth chapter, there is a description of the fruits of Brahma-Vidya. There is also a description of how the individual soul reaches Brahman through the Devayana or the path of the Devas, whence there is no return. The characteristics of the Jivanmukta or liberated soul are also discussed in this chapter. Each chapter has four parts (Padas). The Sutras in each part form Adhikaranas or topics.
The first five Sutras of the first chapter are very important. The first Sutra is: “Athato Brahma-Jijnasa—Now, therefore, the enquiry into Brahman.” The first aphorism states the object of the whole system in one word, viz., Brahma-Jijnasa, the desire of knowing Brahman. The second Sutra is: “Janmadyasya Yatah—Brahman is the Supreme Being from whom proceeds the origin, sustenance and dissolution of the world.” The third Sutra is: “Sastra-Yonitvat—The scriptures alone are the means of right knowledge. The omniscience of Brahman follows from Its being the source of the scriptures.” The fourth Sutra is: “Tat Tu Samanvayat—That Brahman is to be known only from the scriptures and not independently by any other means is established, because it is the main purport of all Vedanta texts.” The fifth Sutra is: “Ikshater Na Asabdam—On account of ‘thinking,’ Prakriti or Pradhana not being the first cause.” Pradhana is not based on the scriptures. The last Sutra of the fourth chapter is: “Anavrittih Sabdat, Anavrittih Sabdat—There is no return for the released souls, on account of scriptural declaration to that effect.”
Brahman, Maya And Jiva
Brahman, the Absolute, after creating the elements, enters them. It is the Golden Person in the sun. It is the Light of the soul. It is ever pure. It is Sat-Chit-Ananda, one without a second. It is Bhuma (infinite, unconditioned). It dwells in the heart of man. It is the source of everything.
Brahman is the material cause, as well as the instrumental cause, of the universe. Brahman and the universe are not different, just as the jar is not different from clay. Brahman develops Itself into the universe for Its own Lila or sporting, without undergoing the least change, and without ceasing to be Itself.
Brahman is without parts, without qualities, without action and emotion, beginningless, endless and immutable. It has no consciousness, such as is denoted by ‘I’ and ‘Thou’. It is the only Reality. Brahman is to the external world what yarn is to cloth, what earth is to jar and what gold is to a ring.
Brahman is Paramarthika Satta (Absolute Reality). The world is Vyavaharika Satta (relative reality). The dream object is Pratibhasika Satta (apparent reality).
Maya is the Sakti (power) of God. It is the Karana Sarira (causal body) of God. It hides the real and makes the unreal appear as real. It is neither Sat nor Asat nor Sat-Asat. It is Anirvachaniya (indescribable). Maya has two powers, viz., the power of veiling or Avarana Sakti and the power of projecting or Vikshepa Sakti. Man has forgotten his essential divine nature on account of the veiling power of Maya. This universe is projected owing to the Vikshepa Sakti of Maya.
The Jiva or the individual soul is enclosed within five sheaths (Kosas), which are like the sheaths of an onion. The five sheaths are food-sheath (Annamaya Kosa), vital sheath (Pranamaya Kosa), mental sheath (Manomaya Kosa), intellectual sheath (Vijnanamaya Kosa) and the bliss-sheath (Anandamaya Kosa). The first sheath constitutes the physical body. The next three sheaths form the subtle body. The last sheath forms the causal body. The individual soul should transcend all its sheaths through meditation and become one with the Supreme Soul which is beyond the five Kosas. Then only it will attain liberation or freedom.
There are three states of consciousness for the individual soul, viz., the waking state, the dreaming state and the deep sleep state. Turiya or the fourth state is the superconscious state. Turiya is Brahman. Turiya is the silent witness of the three states. The individual should transcend the first three states and identify himself with the Turiya or the fourth state. Then only he can attain oneness with the Supreme Soul.
Avidya is the causal body of Jiva or the individual soul. The Jiva identifies itself with the body, mind and the senses on account of Avidya. It has the erroneous notion that the body is the soul, just as one has the wrong notion that the rope is the serpent, in twilight. The moment the individual soul is freed from the self-imposed ignorance by a proper understanding of the Truth through the Vedanta philosophy, Vichara (enquiry), reflection and meditation on the Supreme Brahman, all the illusion disappears. The identity of the Jivatman and of the entire phenomenal world with the Supreme Soul or Brahman is re-established. The Jiva attains immortality and eternal bliss. It merges itself in Brahman or the Ocean of Bliss.
Badarayana believes in Jivanmukti or Liberation While Living.
Celebrated Vedantic Formulae
The following are the celebrated formulae of Vedanta:—
Ekam Eva Advitiyam—The Reality is One alone without a second.
Brahma Satyam Jagan Mithya, Jivo Brahmaiva Na Aparah—Brahman only exists truly, the world is false, the individual soul is Brahman only and no other.
Sarvam Khalvidam Brahma—All this is, indeed, Brahman.
Satyam Jnanam Anantam Brahma—Brahman is Truth, Knowledge and Infinity.
Brahmavid Brahmaiva Bhavati—The knower of Brahman becomes Brahman.
Santam, Sivam, Advaitam—Brahman is Peace, Auspiciousness and Non-duality.
Ayam Atma Santah—This Atman is Silence.
Asango Ayam Purusha—This Purusha is unattached.
Santam, Ajaram, Amritam, Abhayam, Param—This Brahman is Peace, without old age, Immortal, fearless and Supreme.
May you all understand the truths of Vedanta philosophy. May you all realise the bliss of oneness. May you all become Jivanmuktas while living. (Excerpt from “All About Hinduism” by Yogi Sri Swami Sivananda”)