Monthly Archives: August 2012
When boards worship Lakshmi, bottomlines bottom out, says DEVDUTT PATTANAIK
Tantra uses geometrical patterns to communicate wisdom. A dot, the most elemental geometrical pattern, like a woman’s bindi, represents potential. Lines swept horizontally, seen on Shiva’s forehead represents death and destruction. A vertical line stretched upwards, the tilak, as on Vishnu’s forehead, represents growth. At face value, the path of Shiva and the path of Vishnu seem to be the opposite of each other. Shiva, the hermit, favours renunciation. Vishnu, the king, favours growth. But before one jumps to this convenient conclusion, one must notice something peculiar about Vishnu’s sacred mark.
Vishnu’s tilak, stretching upwards, is located with a deep cup made of sandal paste. The tilak, in red paste, represents material growth, no doubt. But the cup of sandal paste anchors this growth with intellectual and emotional growth. And this can only happen when one is willing to ‘destroy’ fears that inhibit intellectual and emotional growth, fears that stir our animal instincts of survival, of territoriality, of domination and control, and prevent us from being human.
That the sacred marks of India, whether a dot, or a horizontal line, or a vertical line is painted on the forehead – is significant. It reminds us of the one organ that humans have that no other creature on earth possesses, the neo-frontal cortex, located just behind the forehead, one that allows us to imagine. Imagination can amplify animal fears and make us worse than animals. When we behave like frightened animals, despite having the human advantage, then our behaviour is deemed adharma. When we use our imagination to outgrow our fear, grow intellectually and emotionally to empathise and include others, it is dharma. Read the rest of this entry
The vision of Vedanta is an equation of the identity between the jiva, individual, and Isvara, the Lord. This vision of oneness, aikya, is not available for perception or inference. Nor is the oneness that is unfolded by Vedanta contradicted by perception or inference. Oneness is purely in terms of understanding the equation. Vedanta does not promise salvation to the soul. In its vision, the atman, the soul is already free from limitations. Freedom from limitation is a fact and the release of the individual from this sense of limitation is the outcome of understanding the equation, therefore, the entire teaching of Vedanta can be expressed in one sentence — tat tvam asi, that thou art. All other sentences in the Upanishads are only meant to prove this equation.
The proofs consist of a number of methods, prakriyas, adopted by the Upanishads, and by the teachers in that tradition, to communicate the vision of the mahavakyas, tat tvam asi, the sentence revealing the oneness of the individual and the Lord. To unfold this identity between the jiva and Isvara, Vedanta employs these prakriyas.
If a system of philosophy is formulated based on these prakriyas, the whole purpose of Vedanta, which is to reveal the reality, vastu, is defeated. Therefore, Vedanta is a pramana only to reveal the oneness of atman, the self, with Isvara. Vedanta is not a pramana to prove the existence of atman, for the only self-existent, self-evident thing in this world is oneself, atman…. Read the rest of this entry