Seemaateetamnadyantam naamochharanabheshajam |
Kaamitaasheshaphaladam Shrimadvishnum ahamaashrayeh ||
My salutations to Lord Vishnu who has neither a beginning nor an end;
who is eternal and infinite, chanting of whose name cures all the illness and
whose grace fulfils all the desires in life - A verse from Guruparampara stotram.
Govinda bhagavdpada disciple of Gaudapada Acharya was the first in the guruparampara to propagate the teachings of Advaita Vedanta after Gaudapada acharya. Though Govinda bhagavadpadaachrya’s birth time, place and works are not definite he is known for being the Guru of Sri Sankara Bhagavadpada. Govinda bhagavadpada is believed to be the incarnation of Lord Vishnu’s Adisesha.
We can approximately categorise the age of rishi’s as – 800-500 BCE, age of Acharya as 700-1800CE and from then on to present period, ie. As global age - 1800 to the present date. The roots of the Advaita teachings are found in the ancient scripts The Vedas. A section of the Vedas- the Upanishads deals with the non-dualism. Rishi’s imparted the knowledge of the non-dual Brahman to dedicated aspirants. Those days students used to stay at guru’s ashram for twelve years to study and memorise the texts. Let's try to explore the knowledge through one such conversation from the ancient mythology by imagining ourselves as a sishya travelling down to that period.
• Guru:- What is that by which everything unknown becomes known?
• Sishya:- How could there be such a thing?
• Guru:- With the help of an analogy, guru asks, Is it not by knowing clay all that is made of clay know? Similarly, Can we not by knowing gold all that’s made of gold be known? Further explains, In this metaphor, the pot is nothing but clay; the clay took the shape of the pot. Clay can exist without a container/pot, but pot cannot exists without clay. That which can exist independently is real, Satya and that which cannot live independently is mithya- i.e. its existence is dependent on something else. By knowing Brahman the nondual substance; all that exists in the entire universe becomes known. That is, Brahman is Satya and Universe is mithya- which depends on something else and not independent.
• Guru:- Further explains, name and form are based merely on words or ideas. Therefore in this metaphor clay alone is real.
**Note:-By analysing the underlying substance in all that we see we realise the fundamental element from which everything is made but; that can be even further subdivided to the minute of the minute form. Rishis due to their power of penance realised the underlying reality in all the types, and they called it as the Brahman.**
• Sishya:- Teacher; I do not know this.
• Guru:- knowledge of Brahmin is taught to those specific students who are capable of understanding and not to all.
• Sishya:- Completely surrendering to revered Guru he asked, “Guru, please teach me.”
• Guru:- Dear, in the beginning, all this universe was existence alone. Everything in the world emerged from the underlying reality called Brahman which is one alone and non-dual. The fundamental truth is Brahman. That is the” true self.” The self of all, the essence of all the existence and ”tat tvam asi” you are non-separate from Brahman.
• Sishya:- Guru, please explain to me further. I do not understand.
The above was a conversation between father and son- Sage Uddalaka Aruni and son Svetaketu.
Please teach me again, humbly asked Swetaketu. It’s only after Swetaketu was taught nine times did he attain realisation. It, therefore, helps us understand that the personal understanding of non-dual Brahman is achieved just after the aspirant is thoroughly prepared and gains the capacity to grasp the highest truth and by constant effort to know.
The Self is invisible like salt in water, permeates all things. When a crystal of salt is put in water, it melts. Then, just looking at the water we cannot assume or understand that the water contains salt in it. Deep insight byways of tasting or experimenting enable to realise it’s presence. Similarly, is the Soul/Self that is all-pervasive can be understood only through deep insights.
“TAT TVAM ASI” Is known as a Mahavakya.
In this way, the knowledge was passed on to sishya who have the qualities of humility, in the ancient rishi age.
We shall try to know the knowledge of the Brahman and how it was imparted in the age of acharyas through the following
Aum tat sat.