Hello and welcome to episode 71 of The Ask Sri Vishwanath Show. Today I want to talk about Vedanta. The greatest wisdom in the world.

Today’s question comes from Scott and he says “I am intrigued by the philosophy of Vedanta. It seems very complex and I’m having trouble putting it into practice. Can you simplify it for me?”

Thanks for the question Scott. Vedanta is a huge subject so we may need to break it down into more than one episode to cover it well. Krishna says “I am the maker of Vedanta and the knower of all Vedas. By the means of Vedas I alone am to be known.”


So what is Vedanta? To put it in simple terms, Vedanta is knowledge of Brahman. This means knowledge of universal consciousness. It includes everything: you, me, the mountains and the trees. It’s the whole universe. Everyone has this universal consciousness inside them in the form of Jiva. which represents individual consciousness.

We have family, mothers fathers, brothers and sisters but the sages do not refer to family in this way. They refer to the jiva and they think the whole world is their family because they have a universal consciousness. So Vedanta is knowledge of universal consciousness and knowledge of Brahman.

We need to clearly distinguish between Vedanta and Vedas. Vedas is typically the treasure house of Hindu philosophy. It has no beginning and no end. Even though it is written it does not stand for something that is only written. It is a collection of spiritual laws that were presented to the sages. Sages do not work through the body, mind and intellect. In a sage the seer has met the seen. This is where their great power comes from. It comes from the jiva within.

Karma and Jnana

In Vedas there are two sections. There is the karma kanda and Jnana kanda. The karma kanda contains all the rituals like performing rituals to fulfill desires. It’s all related to desires such as wealth, relationships and health. Krishna says that this is not what we should be aiming for. Humans want everything for themselves so karma kanda is all about selfish actions.

We should be focusing in the Jnana kanda which is the knowledge of Brahman. This knowledge got side tracked because no one was interested, they were only interested in themselves. The ritualistic portions of Hinduism became popular and people became dissolved in it and they forgot about the knowledge of Brahman. This is why the men and women of god come, to remind us of this universal consciousness. Krishna says “in all it exists undivided and yet it appears divided.”

Only one thing exists the knowledge of Brahman. Universal consciousness is everywhere and everything else is only an appearance. We only appear as different because of the Gunas and our individual nature. The nature and the script mean we take different forms but this is only an appearance. The sages knew this so they drew their minds in and became detached from the script.


Adi Shankaracharya

The greatest proponent of Vedanta was Adi Shankaracharya. He formed a philosophy of the knowledge of Brahman. He left home at a very young age to preach his philosophy. He was a man of god and he believed in this so much that he left home at only 8 years old. He wrote all the greatest commentaries on the Bhagavad Gita and other great works. His is a great pride of India. He started this whole movement.

I want to share a very important story with you. When Adi was 12 he was walking towards the Ganges so he could bathe in them. As he was walking he saw a light in one of the houses. He saw that an old man in the house was reading Sanskrit grammar. Adi was disturbed by this and he wrote a poem. It went like this.

The foolish one

Oh foolish one, at the hour of death your Sanskrit grammar will not help you. See God and to move towards him towards the path of liberation. What will help you is only chanting Gods name.

bhajagovindaM bhajagovindaM
govindaM bhajamuuDhamate .
saMpraapte sannihite kaale
nahi nahi rakshati DukR^iJNkaraNe

In the first paragraph he tells him that it is foolish to focus on Grammar as this will not help him to see God. At the hour of death only god’s name can help him. This does not just apply to this old man it applies to everyone. It is only God’s name that will help you at the time of death.

mUDha jahiihi dhanaagamatR^ishhNaaM
kuru sadbuddhiM manasi vitR^ishhNaam.h .
yallabhase nijakarmopaattaM
vittaM tena vinodaya chittam.h

He continues, telling him not to spend time amassing wealth. All you need to do is draw yourself in and chant Gods’ name. He tells him he must be content with what comes as a result of the fruit of his earlier lifetimes. This life is a fruit and the seed is because of the  earlier lifetime gunas and the script. Be content with whatever acrrues as a result of your past lives. This lifetime will be a seed for the fruits of the next lifetime.

yaavadvittopaarjana saktaH
staavannija parivaaro raktaH .
pashchaajjiivati jarjara dehe
vaartaaM ko.api na pR^ichchhati gehe

He says that when a man goes out and earns then his family depends on him but in old age when he is not earning his family deserts him. Even a 12 year old boy could see this. He knew this was the nature of the world.

sura ma.ndira taru muula nivaasaH
shayyaa bhuutala majinaM vaasaH .
sarva parigraha bhoga tyaagaH
kasya sukhaM na karoti viraagaH

Here he tells him to spend his time travelling to holy temples because India is so rich in spirituality. India’s greatest strength is its spirituality. He wanted him to spend time surrounded by this wonderful spirituality. He wanted him to renounce all his desires.

maa kuru dhana jana yauvana garvaM
harati nimeshhaatkaalaH sarvam.h .
maayaamayamidamakhilaM hitvaa
brahmapadaM tvaM pravisha viditvaa

He continues to tell not to be foolish and not to take so much pride in youth. Youth is only an appearance and time can snatch it away. As time moves it can destroy appearances. This is the power of maya, which is nothing but an illusion. Time destroys everything whether it is good or bad. Everything will return to the dust. Never be fooled by appearances they’re only an illusion.

bhagavad.h giitaa kiJNchidadhiitaa
gaNgaa jalalava kaNikaapiitaa .
sakRidapi yena muraari samarchaa
kriyate tasya yamena na charchaa

Here he tells him to read one verse of the Bhagavad Gita every day and drink drops of water from the Ganges River. He tells him this would purify his mind and body. This would erase his problems and give him the wisdom of Krishna at the hour of his departure. Doing this he will have no quarrels with Yama, the god of death.

punarapi jananaM punarapi maraNaM
punarapi jananii jaThare shayanam.h .
iha saMsaare bahudustaare
kRipayaa.apaare paahi muraare


He says our lives are like the waves. They disappear and then appear again. We die and are born again unless we form the gold image. So don’t waste your time and keep chanting the name of God. Be detached and draw your gunas in.

geyaM gita naama sahasraM
dhyeyaM shriipati ruupamajasram.h .
neyaM sajjana saNge chittaM
deyaM diinajanaaya cha vittam.h

He says keep reading the words of Bhagavad Gita and let them always be on your tongue. Read the Bhagavad gita and form the golden image of Krishna in your heart.

He says he must keep holy company. This is very important. Renunciation will not come to you if you stay in the company of worldly people. They will only talk about worldly things. They don’t understand so try to keep the company of holy people or read holy books.

arthamanarthaM bhaavaya nityaM
naastitataH sukhaleshaH satyam.h .
putraadapi dhana bhaajaaM bhiitiH
sarvatraishhaa vihiaa riitiH

He says reflect on what you get back by putting all your mind out and amassing all this wealth. Don’t give it relevance. A rich man even fears his son or daughter for his wealth. Keep chanting your god’s name. This all that matters.

gurucharaNaambuja nirbhara bhakataH
saMsaaraadachiraadbhava muktaH .
sendriyamaanasa niyamaadevaM
drakshyasi nija hRidayasthaM devam.h


He says now having known all this your only solace is the feet of your guru who can take you away from the worldliness. The only important thing is the consciousness Centre your mind on the guru and you will be set free.

I hope you liked this part. We will have more parts to explain it further. Remember you keep asking questions and I’ll keep answering them.

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