^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ SYMBOLS OF TWELVE MAJOR WORLD RELIGIONS ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^



Uninspired scholarship condemned:
MASTER: "But you don't belong to that class.  Mere pundits are like diseased fruit that becomes hard and will not ripen at all.  Such fruit has neither the freshness of green fruit nor the flavour of ripe.  Vultures soar very high in the sky, but their eyes are fixed on rotten carrion on the ground.  The book-learned are reputed to be wise, but they are attached to 'woman and gold'.  Like the vultures, they are in search of carrion.  They are attached to the world of ignorance.  Compassion, love of God, and renunciation are the glories of true knowledge."

Vidyasagar listened to these words in silence.  The others, too, gazed at the Master and were attentive to every word he said. 

Vidyasagar was very reticent about giving religious instruction to others.  He had studied Hindu philosophy.  Once, when M. had asked him his opinion of it, Vidyasagar had said, "I think the philosophers have failed to explain what was in their minds." But in his daily life he followed all the rituals of Hindu religion and wore the sacred thread of a brahmin.  About God he had once declared: "It is indeed impossible to know Him.  What, then, should be our duty? It seems to me that we should live in such a way that, if others followed our example, this very earth would be heaven.  Everyone should try to do good to the world."

The world of duality & Transcendental nature of Brahman:
Sri Ramakrishna's conversation now turned to the Knowledge of Brahman. 
MASTER: "Brahman is beyond vidyā and avidyā, knowledge and ignorance.  It is beyond maya, the illusion of duality.

"The world consists of the illusory duality of knowledge and ignorance.  It contains knowledge and devotion, and also attachment to 'Woman and gold'; righteousness and unrighteousness; good and evil.  But Brahman is unattached to these.  Good and evil apply to the jiva, the individual soul, as do righteousness and unrighteousness; but Brahman is not at all affected by them. 
"One man may read the Bhagavata by the light of a lamp, and another may commit a forgery by that very light; but the lamp is unaffected.  The sun sheds its light on the wicked as well as on the virtuous.

"You may ask, 'How, then, can one explain misery and sin and unhappiness?' The answer is that these apply only to the jiva.  Brahman is unaffected by them.  There is poison in a snake; but though others may die if bitten by it, the snake itself is not affected by the poison.

Brahman cannot be expressed in words:
"What Brahman is cannot he described.  All things in the world - the Vedas, the Puranas, the Tantras, the six systems of philosophy - have been defiled, like food that has been touched by the tongue, for they have been read or uttered by the tongue.  Only one thing has not been defiled in this way, and that is Brahman.  No one has ever been able to say what Brahman is."

VIDYASAGAR (to his friends): "Oh! That is a remarkable statement.  I have learnt something new today."

MASTER: "A man had two sons.

  The father sent them to a preceptor to learn the Knowledge of Brahman.  After a few years they returned from their preceptor's house and bowed low before their father.  Wanting to measure the depth of their knowledge of Brahman, he first questioned the older of the two boys.  'My child,' he said, 'You have studied all the scriptures.  Now tell me, what is the nature of Brahman?' The boy began to explain Brahman by reciting various texts from the Vedas.  The father did not say anything.  Then he asked the younger son the same question.  But the boy remained silent and stood with eyes cast down.  No word escaped his lips.  The father was pleased and said to him: 'My child, you have understood a little of Brahman.  What It is cannot be expressed in words.'

Parable of ant and sugar hill:
"Men often think they have understood Brahman fully.  Once an ant went to a hill of sugar.  One grain filled its stomach.  Taking another grain in its mouth it started homeward.  On its way it thought, 'Next time I shall carry home the whole hill.' That is the way shallow minds think.  They don't know that Brahman is beyond one's words and thought.  However great a man may be, how much can he know of Brahman? Sukadeva and sages like him may have been big ants; but even they could carry at the utmost eight or ten grains of sugar!

"As for what has been said in the Vedas and the Puranas, do you know what it is like? Suppose a man has seen the ocean, and somebody asks him, 'Well, what is the ocean like?' The first man opens his mouth as wide as he can and says: 'What a sight! What tremendous waves and sounds!' The description of Brahman in the sacred books is like that.  It is said in the Vedas that Brahman is of the nature of Bliss - It is Satchidananda.

"Suka and other sages stood on the shore of this Ocean of Brahman and saw and touched the water.  According to one school of thought they never plunged into it.  Those who do, cannot come back to the world again.
Parable of salt doll:

"In samādhi one attains the Knowledge of Brahman - one realizes Brahman.  In that state reasoning stops altogether, and man becomes mute.  He has no power to describe the nature of Brahman.

"Once a salt doll went to measure the depth of the ocean.  (All laugh.) It wanted to tell others how deep the water was.  But this it could never do, for no sooner did it get into the water than it melted.  Now who was there to report the ocean's depth?"

A DEVOTEE: "Suppose a man has obtained the Knowledge of Brahman in samādhi.  Doesn't he speak any more?"

MASTER: "Sankaracharya retained the 'ego of Knowledge' in order to teach others.  After the vision of Brahman a man becomes silent.  He reasons about It as long as he has not realized It.  If you heat butter in a pan on the stove, it makes a sizzling sound as long as the water it contains has not dried up.  But when no trace of water is left the clarified butter makes no sound.  If you put an uncooked cake of flour in that butter it sizzles again.  But after the cake is cooked all sound stops.  Just so, a man established in samādhi comes down to the relative plane of consciousness in order to teach others, and then he talks about God. 

"The bee buzzes as long as it is not sitting on a flower.  It becomes silent when it begins to sip the honey.  But sometimes, intoxicated with the honey, it buzzes again. 

"An empty pitcher makes a gurgling sound when it is dipped in water.  When it fills up it becomes silent.  (All laugh.) But if the water is poured from it into another pitcher, then you will hear the sound again.  (Laughter.)

Rishis of ancient India:
"The rishis of old attained the Knowledge of Brahman.  One cannot have this so long as there is the slightest trace of worldliness.  How hard the rishis laboured! Early in the morning they would go away from the hermitage, and would spend the whole day in solitude, meditating on Brahman.  At night they would return to the hermitage and eat a little fruit or roots.  They kept their minds aloof from the objects of sight, hearing, touch, and other things of a worldly nature.  Only thus did they realize Brahman as their own inner consciousness. 

"But in the Kaliyuga, man, being totally dependent on food for life, cannot altogether shake off the idea that he is the body.  In this state of mind it is not proper for him to say, 'I am He.' When a man does all sorts of worldly things, he should not say, 'I am Brahman.' Those who cannot give up attachment to worldly things, and who find no means to shake off the feeling of 'I', should rather cherish the idea 'I am God's servant; I am His devotee.' One can also realize God by following the path of devotion.

Jnani and Vijnāni:
"The jnani gives up his  identification with worldly things, discriminating, 'Not this, not this'.  Only then can he realize Brahman.  It is like reaching the roof of a house by leaving the steps behind, one by one.  But the vijnāni, who is more intimately acquainted with Brahman, realizes something more.  He realizes that the steps are made of the same materials as the roof: bricks, lime, and brick-dust.  That which is realized intuitively as Brahman, through the eliminating process of 'Not this, not this', is then found to have become the universe and all its living beings.  The vijnāni sees that the Reality which is nirguna, without attributes, is also saguna, with attributes.

"A man cannot live on the roof a long time.  He comes down again.  Those who realize Brahman in samādhi come down also and find that it is Brahman that has become the universe and its living beings.  In the musical scale there are the notes sa, re ga, ma, pa, dha, and ni; but one cannot keep one's voice on 'ni' a long time.  The ego does not vanish altogether.  The man coming down from samādhi perceives that it is Brahman that has become the ego, the universe, and all living beings.  This is known as vijnāna. 

Path of love is easy:
"The path of knowledge leads to Truth, as does the path that combines knowledge and love.  The path of love, too, leads to this goal.  The way of love is as true as the way of knowledge.  All paths ultimately lead to the same Truth.  But as long as God keeps the feeling of ego in us, it is easier to follow the path of love. 
"The vijnāni sees that Brahman is immovable and actionless, like Mount Sumeru.  This universe consists of the three gunas - sattva, rajas, and tamas.  They are in Brahman.  But Brahman is unattached. 

God's supernatural powers:
"The vijnāni further sees that what is Brahman is the Bhagavan, the Personal God.  He who is beyond the three gunas is the Bhagavan, with His six supernatural powers.  Living beings, the universe, mind, intelligence, love, renunciation, knowledge - all these are the manifestations of His power.  (With a laugh) If an aristocrat has neither house nor property, or if he has been forced to sell them, one doesn't call him an aristocrat any more.  (All laugh.) God is endowed with the six supernatural powers.  If He were not who would obey Him? (All laugh.)



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