10 July 2011

Complete Works: Vol - V

Like all other volumes of Swami Vivekananda’s complete works, volume 5 also contains notes from his Lectures and Discourses, Questions and Answers, Epistles (letters), Conversations and Dialogues, Sayings and Utterances and his writings in the form of poems and prose. The volume is studded with lot of information, but I would like to restrict my citations on the concept of God, Man, Soul and on what Vedanta is, and end with few sayings.

(1) Soul, God and Man

Following are some of his sayings on God, Man and Soul from Volume 5. In fact, expounding the interrelationship between these three entities has been one of Vivekananda’s major emphasizes in all his works.
Man is a compound of animality, humanity and divinity. (p. 417)

The soul is a circle whose circumference is nowhere (limitless),
    but whose centre is in some body.
Death is but a change of centre.
God is a circle whose circumference is nowhere,
    and whose centre is everywhere. (p. 271)

When you think you are a body, you are apart from the universe;
When you think you are a soul, you are a spark from the great Eternal Fire;
When you think you are the Atman (Self), you are All. (p. 409)

God has become man; man will become God again. (p. 410)

Ah, so also some of the songs written by our Kannadasan is based up these teachings! “மனிதன் என்பவன் தெய்வமாகலாம்” என்று சுமைதாங்கி என்ற படத்துக்காக கண்ணதாசன் எழுதிய பாடல் பலருக்கும் தெரிந்திருக்கும். அது போலவவே, “கடவுள் மனிதனாகப் பிறக்க வேண்டும்” என்று வானம்பாடி படத்துக்காக கண்ணதாசன் எழுதிய மற்றுமொரு பாடலும் நினைவிற்கு வருகிறது.

It is pertinent to bring in here, the fate of the famous 9th century Persian Sufi saint Al-Hallaj who proclaimed that “I am the Truth”. Like all Sufis, Hallaj Mansur believed in union with the Divine, that God was within him (“The Kingdom of God is within you”, said Jesus; He resides in your heart” said Thirumoolar), and that he and Allah had become one and the same. However, Mansur was publically executed as he exclaimed “An al-Haq” or "I am the truth" in the state of ecstacy (self-realization) (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mansur_Al-Hallaj). What Mansoor Al-Hallaj proclaimed was nothing but the outpourings of Advaita Vedantantist in a Realized state. What Hallaj said is no different from what Jesus said “I and my father are one” or the famous Vedantic statement “Thou Art That” or Tat Tvam Asi (In Sanskrit: तत् त्वम् असि). And Jesus was put on the for crucifixion precisely for this reason only. All other Sufis who came after Hallaj stopped short of proclaiming “this truth” of self-realization because of fear of persecution by the traditional followers of Islam who were basically Dualists.

While saying “I am the Truth” or “I am God” is considered a blasphemy in Islam, Vivekananda says otherwise….

Oh, if only you knew yourselves! You are souls; you are Gods.
If ever I feel like blaspheming, it is when I call you man. (p. 417)

(2) Vedanta

We have heard a lot on Vedanta without knowing what it actually means. Literally it means “End of the Vedas”, but by way of definition, it would mean the philosophy in the Upanishads which came after the Vedas. There is however no particular work that can be recommended for students as a single most treaty on Vedanta.

Among Vedantists, there are again dualists (Dvaita) and non-dualists (Advaita), the former regarding soul and God (Brahman) as different entities, while the latter considering the individual soul and God (Brahman) to be identical. Between these two extremes is Vashistadvaita, propounded by our Ramanujacharya. Vivekananda was a strong propounder of Advaita Vedanta and according to him Vedanta by itself refers to Advaita Vedanta by default.

In volume 2, he says ……

The Vedanta says that each one must have his own path, but the path is not the goal.  (page 353)
‘Thou art That'. This is the essence of Vedanta. (p. 194)
The Vedanta recognizes no sin, it only recognizes error. (p 195)
The Vedanta says, there is nothing that is not God.  (p 321)

According to Vivekananda, the basis of every advanced religion is Vedanta. As I pointed out in my previous mails, Vivekananda cites the New Testament verse “I and my Father are one” and considers this the last word said in religion. That is why he says in Volume 5 that “Even Christians cannot understand their New Testament , without understanding Vedanta”. (p. 212)

The belief that because man is a unit of the Divine has naturally led man to seek reunion with God. This pantheistic view of considering everything as manifestation of God and that soul is nothing but a spark of that Divinity that has to be realized has been the essence of all mystical paths. The Indian religious tradition calls this Vedanta and Vivekananda proclaims:

Without the Vedanta every religion is superstition.
With it everything becomes religion. (p. 212)

(3) Sayings and Utterances

Lastly, a few sayings of Vivekananda I liked from Volume 5.

This world is a great gymnasium where we come to make ourselves strong. (p. 16)

We achieve success, and we are overthrown by failure;
We pursue pleasure, and we are pursued by pain. (p. 429)

Mental pleasures are greatly superior to physical joys.
Mental pains are more moving than physical tortures. (p. 429)

Doing good to others is virtue (Dharma);
    Injuring others is sin.
Strength and manliness are virtue;
    Weakness and cowardice are sin.
Independence is virtue;
    Dependence is sin.
Loving others is virtue;
    Hating others is sin.
Faith in God and one’s own self is virtue;
    Doubt is sin.
Knowledge of oneness is virtue;
    Seeing diversity is sin.
The different scriptures only show the means of attaining virtue. (p. 419)

It is worth translating this into Tamil:

பிறர்க்கு நண்மை செய்வதே அறம்;   
    பிறர்க்கு இன்னா செய்வது பாபம்.
அறனன்றோ ஆற்றலும் பேராண்மையும்?
     தீதன்றோ கோழைத்தனமும், அச்சமும்?
பற்றற்ற வாழ்வே அறமென்றால்,
    பற்றுடைமையன்றோ பழி?
அன்புடையமையே அறம்;
    பகையுணர்வே பாபம்.
மெய்ப்பொருள் காண்பதே அறம்;
    ஐய்யப்பாடே பழி.
ஒற்றுமை என்ற அறிவே அறம்;
    வேறுபாடு காண்பதிலுள்ளது பழி.


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