Mere faith in Vedanta, Un-assimilated Vedanta, are not useful

Dakshinamurthy 1

Sri Gurubhyo Namaha

These are quick notes for Brahma Sutra Bhaashya (authored by Sri Shankaracharya) classes that were taught by Swami Paramasukhananda, which I was a student of during 2012-2013. What I feel like recording I record. They are not a substitute for live classes, but done as my cogitation.

For other such short notes, check –

  • Prasad.


The rope-snake:

Since his birth, a man has been looking at a rope in a dim-lit room and thinking that it was a snake all along. Therefore he refuses to go into the room, and is scared to his wits end about it. This fear haunts him when he is awake; the imagined snake regularly appears in his dream and tries to swallow him whole now and then.

Another person, who knows that it is a rope but not a snake is now trying to convince this man.

What is the procedure of convincing? The person who knows it to be a rope should shine proper light on the object, take the person near it, and show to him that this rope has none of the characteristics of a snake really, that it was all imagined. Merely asking him to believe that the snake is actually a rope is not useful.

The teacher-person does this, and the fearful man is convinced after a process of raising doubts and getting them clarified. The picture of a snake he has no longer is matching with that of the rope in front of him.

Therefore there is no need to convince his buddhi any more. The buddhi, or intellect, is jnaanapakshapaati (बुद्धिः ज्ञानपक्षपाती), as it is said. The buddhi is the rational faculty in man and it is always convinced by logic and reason.

However, the emotional aspect of man, called mind or manah (मनः) is of a different quality. Inspite of knowing what is true, right, or correct, it falls prey to emotions that one is habituated to. In this case, the man was convinced intellectually about the ‘ropeness’ of the rope. But his habitual fear overcomes him time to time, and so he has to repeatedy focus on the knowledge gained from the teacher-person, either by going through the logic more and more number of times, testing it from time to time, and so on.

This process is required in order to get rid of the fear of the imagined snake. It is only when the mind is also settled into the knowledge of the rope’s real nature, that the problem is solved.

Faith in Vedanta, Unassimilated Vedanta are not useful:

The case with Vedanta is similar.

The natural assumption of man is that duality is true, i.e, “I am separate from the world”. When religion introduces a God, the creator, if he believes in this, then too he feels “I am separate from God”. This deep conviction resides in the buddhi and therefore the mind oscillates through the samsaaric modes, kaama (desire), krodha (anger), maatsarya (jealousy), etc. (a picture here –

The Vedantic teaching is however the opposite – “I, God, and the world, are not separate but one”.

When the Guru conveys the teaching of Vedanta, it is not the mind (the emotional faculty, but the intellect (the reasoning faculty) that receives it. If the individual persists in the process of listening to the Guru, doubts arise in the intellect about the conclusion of Vedanta, and these are cleared by the Guru and by one’s own rigorous thinking process. In time, the intellect accepts this conclusion.

However the mind is habituated to its emotions. Desire, anger, fear, etc. will continue to ravage it. To remove this and enjoy the freedom that is shown by Vedanta, the Vedantic student has to meditate on the Vedantic teaching and convert it into emotional conviction also. This is the process of assimilation of the Vedantic teaching.

Thus, Vedanta fructifies only when both the intellect has accepted its conclusion and the mind has assimilated it. Faith in Vedanta (as opposed to understanding intellectually), or Un-assimilated Vedanta are both not useful to solve the human problem of sorrow or samsaara.

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