Self Knowledge is the real knowledge!
Adhi Sankara on Self Knowledge!
Ancient "Gurukul" system inculcated Self Knowledge!
Our desires are like ‘desert sands, uncountable but yield nothing. We know that desert sands do not contain even a drop of water. Still we are chasing the desert sands by the ‘mirage effects’ in the deserts. Though the mirage looks real, attracting us to an oasis, it is only a reflection of heat over the sand, which bring the ‘mirage effect, a false appearance and shadow really.
The scriptures quote the ‘mirage effect’ as an example to the illusion suffered by men. We too are disillusioned by the false appearance of women and wealth. As we go near a mirage, it moves further. In a similar manner, as we desire to enjoy the wealth and carnal pleasures of the senses, they move away from our grasp, in the sense they never yield any joy. Joy is inherent in our self. We are superimposing the inner joy on to the things and persons, and falsely believe that wealth and women give us joy!
This applies equally to all the so called pleasures enjoyed through the senses. In fact, the senses enjoy man and not the other way around! If man enjoys the senses, then he should never become weak after each period of involvement. But what we observe in reality is that man is becoming weaker and weaker, when they seek carnal pleasures. Hence it is the senses which enjoy the man!
Take the simple example of ‘taste’. If one goes on relishing dish after dish, one day he will fall terribly ill. This is attributed to overeating only! Hence, the enslaved mind will make us weaker and weaker! In the ancient days, there were hermitages where all students learn and live together. The parents used to admit their children in the hermitages at the tender age of six or seven. Why? At this age, one will not have any attractions to the pleasures of the world and hence the mind will be sharp to grasp the teachings of the preceptors. This period is called the stage of “Bramhacharya”, the celibate state! Only after completing the entire education which spans around fifteen years or so, they are sent back to their homes. There they practice their heredity profession and start earning. Only after that ‘proposals of marriage arise, since the boy will be able to support the family with the earnings. Hence throughout the period until twentieth year, the students remain celibate. By observing the discipline, one develops great memory power, which is vital for learning as well as living in this world.
Such students, who underwent the state of Bramhacharya, could control their senses at will since they have developed the sense control from young age. Vedic studies by young students’ gives additional benefit of learning the Vedic chants, which were received by eminent sages through the sky as sounds. Once a disciple learn proper pronunciation and intonation, he gets the mystic knowledge of Vedas which clarify his intelligence further and enable him to understand the reality of God and the ‘illusion of Maya which causes the creation! Once the student becomes aware of falsity of universe, it is easier for him to develop detachment and dispassion with the worldly things and person. Such a one really is qualified for the pursuit of the highest knowledge!
There is one education, by learning which; one need not pursue any other branch of learning. It is known as “Atma Vidya”, the education pertaining to the Self. The self is also termed as “Atma”! As I have already dealt in some of my previous hubs that secular knowledge can help us only in the affairs of the world, whereas spiritual knowledge or Atma Vidya can take us towards liberation itself. Those who have suffered grief, pain and agitations of the mind, would never prefer a life again on this earth. Everyone in this world need to learn the Atma Vidya , along with the secular education which fill up our bellies. Atma Vidya or self-knowledge on the other hand will confer eternal release from this miserable mundane existence! Seek only those preceptors who have practical knowledge in the self-knowledge since they have traversed the road and they want to illumine others also in the important knowledge!