Limitations are a darkness and obstruct the vision of Truth. They make Reality appear what it is not; where there is bliss they paint a picture of distress, pain, sorrow and disappointment. Our mind is a limitation and so are the senses and their objects. In the language of Vedanta, the aggregate of limitations is called Maya or Avidya (nescience). It is not a self-controlling force like the Nature of the Victorian scientists or the Prakriti of Sankhya. The Ruler and Governor of Maya is Ishvara, the Lord of the universe. It is the duty of each and every man to realize the identity of his inner Self with the Self of Ishvara and to see the light of Truth under which limitations are seen as phenomenal aid not real. There is no other way to freedom, independence and bliss for which the soul of man is searching. Like the deer in a sandy desert which runs after the mirage river to quench its thirst and eventually falls fatigued and unsatisfied, the soul of man which looks for inner peace (Shanti) in education, in love- affairs, in military glory, in self-distinction in one object and another, eventually falls fatigued and suffers from neurosis as a result of which life appears bitter in so many respects.
The supreme authority on the great spiritual Truth called Advaita is the holy Shruti. It is revealed by Ishvara Himself but it is written in an archaic language and is subject to many interpretations. It is not a keen intellect or a scholarly mind that can know of itself the truth of the Spirit; it is the one who has given up all evil desires and actions, who has acquired tranquillity and equimindedness, who is magnanimous and infinite in his compassion and forgiveness, who can see the truth revealed in the holy Shruti.
One authority only has interpreted the Upanishads in a convincing way in the light of his own personal experience and with a dialectical skill which surpasses that of any other philosopher. He is Shri Bhagavadpad Shankara-acharya. His commentaries are a miracle. His language is a model of beauty and simplicity and his thoughts are as spacious as the blue sky. Many scholars who pretend to be followers of Vedanta have failed to understand the real meaning of the Shruti as interpreted by the holy Bhagavadpad Shankara. Many personal opinions and interpretations are to be found in the writings of half-educated Advaitins for instance, one writer defines Maya as ”a description of facts”, while another interprets Brahman in terms of quasi materialism.
The following essays attempt to explain the spiritual truth of the world, the Jiva, Maya, Ishvara, Brahman, the state of Jivan-Mukti, the ethical responsibility of a Jivan-Mukta and other fundamental doctrines of Vedanta.
We have no private theories to advocate, nor do we claim to have fully grasped the dialectical philosophy of Shri Bhagavadpad Acharya. Here is an attempt to interpret the Advaita Vedanta in simple language in the light of his writings. Deussen and others have made attempts to do the but the meaning has been distorted by the eye-glasses of their intellects and coloured by their prejudices; they have failed to grasp the real truth and significance of the philosophy of Advaita expounded by the great Shankara.
Index for this series of essays