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Vedanta Invites Us To Realize The Divine Inner Essence Of All Beings

The simple message of Vedanta invites us to realize the divine inner essence, of all beings: the Atman, the purana, the immortal, immutable, incorruptible, unchanging, undecaying, eternal Self. Vedanta has therefore been called atmavidya, knowledge of the Atman. It is adhyatma-vidya, spiritual knowledge, which alone is capable of liberating humans from sorrow: Tarati shokam-atmavit. Bhagavan avers thus in the Bhagavad Gita: ‘Among all vidyas, I am adhyatma vidya.’ It is the unambiguous teaching of the Gita, the magnum opus of Vedanta, that shoka and moha, sorrow and delusion — which are the seeds of samsara, transmigratory existence — cannot be obliterated except through the realization of the Atman.

In describing the nature of the Atman, the innermost and immortal spiritual core of every being, the Gita uses the word purana. Commenting on this word, Shankaracharya states in his famous bhashya, commentary, that although ancient, it is yet modern: pura api nava. This very phrase applies equally well to Vedanta, the ‘ancient-modern’ wisdom of the Upanishads.

That which is eternal is both ancient and modern, because it is timeless. Timelessness subsumes time and the Eternal is, therefore, the source of interplay between them: between the Absolute and the relative, the Divine and the human, the One and the many. Such a teaching is truly universal and beyond space-time boundaries — Vedanta is thus the philosophy religion, and way of life of all humankind.

It does not belong to any particular country, religion, or time period; it appeals across the board — to everybody, everywhere, at all times. Being the interplay of the One and the many, it possesses infinite variety in and through the unity it embodies. The basic texts of Vedanta, the Upanishads and the Gita, have often been called ‘mother’, for they symbolize unity underlying the variety of life, binding great diversity in one strong bond of universality.

These Vedanta texts, the great mother of all, have been extensively read, studied, chanted, repeated, meditated, and commented upon; they have been interpreted in innumerable varieties of ways by numerous acharyas; they have been worshipped and lauded over the centuries by all members of Hindu society: scholars and the so-called ignorant as well, saints and ordinary folk, monks and householders.