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The importance of a prepared mind

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Therefore, if one person sees this and another does not, and if Vedānta is looked upon as a pramāṇa, then the problem lies with the one who wants to understand. If Vedānta is not looked upon as a pramāṇa, it becomes a mystical experience. Once it is a pramāṇa, Vedānta should reveal the nature of the immediately available ātmā, because the saṃsāra that this knowledge is supposed to resolve is also immediately available, aparokṣa. If I have committed a mistake that is aparokṣa, the correction of that mistake must also be aparokṣa.

Ātmā cannot be known by perception or inference because, being yourself, it cannot be objectified. The only pramāṇa that will work is śabda. Here, statements such as 'tat tvam asi' are lakṣaṇa–vākyas and they produce immediate knowledge. They are similar to statements such as 'This is that Devadatta' or 'you are the tenth man,' which produce immediate knowledge, aparokṣa–jñāna. If that recognition is not immediate, and if you do not understand that Vedānta is a pramāṇa, you will conclude that ātmā has to be experienced. Those who know the śāstra say that Vedānta is a pramāṇa, but very few know how to handle it. As a result, there is a tendency to conclude that one has to experience something and that Vedānta is the theory, which is the basis for that experience.

Then Vedānta ceases to be a pramāṇa [for you] as far as ātmā is concerned. If Vedānta does not give you immediate knowledge of the self–evident ātmā, which is always available and which is the basis for every experience, then Vedānta is not [regarded as] a pramāṇa for ātmā.

Since some people gain the knowledge and others do not, in spite of being exposed to the pramāṇa that is Vedānta, it is clear that some other factor is necessary. Instead of taking into consideration the qualifications of the student, the idea of experience was conceived of by some people. This problem is compounded by the use of the word anubhava in the śāstra, typically translated as 'experience.' This word, however, is used by the śāstra in the sense of 'seeing–darśana,' indicating immediate knowledge.

The problem of anubhava arose long ago when it was suggested that the study of śāstra had to be followed by a special 'other–worldly' cognition, laukika–pratyakṣa. But this was much more well thought out than the modern contention that first you must get the theory of ātmā from the śāstra and then, through practice, experience it.

This problem of not seeing the nature of ātmā can either lead you to the conclusion that ātmā is yet to be experienced or that you should look into your qualifications. Since mokṣa is in the form of knowledge, there are definitely requirements for it. Fulfilling those requirements is the nature of the effort that is made here.

The emphasis is on purity of mind, antaḥkaraṇa–śuddhi, which is accomplished by a life of karma yoga and the cultivation of values. The most important thing here is inquiry. All false values and improper attitudes are due to a lack of understanding of certain relative truths. It is, therefore, important to continue to listen to the śāstra while living a life of karma yoga.

‘Bhagavad Gita Home Study Course’ Ch.15 v.11 Swami Dayananda © Copyright Arsha Vidya 2017
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