An Indian Civilizational Perspective

Vedanta's strength is its Process

Vedanta is well rounded, better and holistically thought out. That’s a Process statement and not a qualitative statement. In modern science terms, its proponents have been “peer reviewed”. Some folks came up with Vedas, Yajnavalka came up with his Ashtavakara Samhita, Vasistha gave his philosophy through Yoga Vasistha. IN came Krishna and He critiqued Vedas and gave a radically fresh interpretation of the principles of Yajnavalka and Vasistha and in some cases changed the direction of spirituality and Vedanta through Einstein-style radicalism.

For example, when Yajnavalka was asked “What is God”, he told his students – Neti.. Neti.. .which means Not This.. Not This. Whatever you can observe is NOT “God”.. for there is still an “Observer”. In this process, the tool used was “Vivek” or Discrimination (between Truth and Untruth) – so you rejected everything until the questioner could experience a constant “hum” or vibration.. in the end, even that was “weeded out” to come to a Zero Existence.

Krishna went the other route. Arjun asks him in the 9th chapter “Who are you?”. He replies, I am this.. I am that. I am everything.. what am I not? He “integrated” everything into Him as opposed to “differentiating” everything. Through this method Krishna came to Infinite Existence. Very Radical! Why? because Integration requires Compassion.. tremendous Compassion. No wonder, Bhakti Movement was initiated and Krishna became its motif. Sufism was founded on THIS compassion!

Now, its one thing to enjoy Gulzar’s ghazal, quite another to write it yourself. Vedanta went through journey of expression-assimilation-critique-new expression-critique.. Constant “Peer Review”.

Also read:  Living Wholeness: J. Krishnamurti

After Krishna, came the Upanishadic writers, who asimilated His views in their writings and gave a new direction, different from the Karma Kanda of Vedas. The string of proponents never ended – Madhavacharya, Adi Shankara, Ramakrishna, Swami Vivekananda, and the current ones. Adi Shankara carried on the tradition – when he debated with all around and gave his commentary.

To understand why Vedanta is well rounded and not “personality-limited”, Vivekananda’s quote is very useful:

“Gita is not great because Krishna gave it, but Krishna is great because he gave Gita”. It is like saying “Relativity was not great because Einstein gave it, Einstein became a great because he gave Relativity”.

Such open-ness, peer review, unabashed critique and assimilation of new ideas is what makes Vedanta well-rounded and well thought out.

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