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Note: This guide is not only intended for Balavikas students, this also helps every one who wants to know about the Indian Culture and Spirituality and also refresh the memory of those who have forgotten many of them. This will also guide all parents to teach their children and putting a foundation in their mind about Indian Culture and spirituality. Therefore we take pleasure in posting this in seven parts in our Forum for the benefit of all and are intended for fact-finding reading.  Thanks to the author.  ‘saidevotees_worldnet’

 Om Sri Sai Ram

GUIDE TO INDIAN CULTURE AND SPIRITUALITY

[Based on the Divine Teachings of BHAGAWAN SRI SATHYA SAI BABA]

By Smt. KAUSALYARANI RAGHAVAN

II. THE SYSTEMS OF INDIAN PHILOSOPHY

109. What is the meaning of Darshan?

'Darshan' is the Supreme Vision seen by the inner eye.

110. What is the meaning of Asthikas and Nasthikas?

'Asthikas' are believers in the existence of God. They have faith in 'Karma' and rebirth.

Nasthikas are those who do not accept the existence of God. They do not believe in the existence of Heaven, Hell and rebirth.

111. How many systems of Philosophies are there in India?

There are six systems of Indian Philosophy (Darshans). Adwaita Darshan and Dwaita Darshan are the two categories into which all Darshan fall. Under Dwaita there are several Darshans of Asthikas as well as Nasthika school.

112. Briefly explain the Philosophy of "Charvaka Darshan"?

The 'Charvaka' system of Philosophy does not accept the existence of God. It considers both body and soul as transient and perishable. It does not believe in Heaven and Hell. It accepts the goal of life as material enjoyment only. According to this philosophy the nature of things and chance are the cause for creation. They do not accept any entity apart from the body. For its followers consciousness is also a physical property of the body. They belong to Nastika School of thoughts and they do not have a concept of God.

113. Explain the 'Sankhya' system of Philosophy?

The Sankhyas believe that matter or 'Prakriti' and spirit or 'Purusha' co-exist. Creation and evolution proceed when 'Prakriti' comes into contact with 'Purusha'. The self consists of the combination of 'Chaitanya' and 'Anthakarana'. The system of evolution is scientific, but still they do not recognize God.

114. Explain the 'Yoga system' of ancient India.

In the Yoga system God is recognized because he is the 'Purusha' or 'Chetana'. Yoga is theistic (Asthika). In Yoga the basic discipline is proper control of mind. Patanjali describes Yoga aptly as "Chitta Vritthi Nirodhah". Purity of mind and body is the essential requisite with which a Yogi can meditate on God. To practice it a competent Guru is very necessary. God is accepted fully in Yoga. God is a being of the highest excellence and perfection.

115. Which is the main source to know about the Yoga system of Philosophy?

'Patanjali's Yoga Sutra' is the main source for the Yoga system of Philosophy.

116. How many Padas or parts are there in Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras and what are they? Explain.

Patanjali's Yoga Sutra consists of four padas or parts:

(l) Samadhi Pada; (2) Sadhana Pada; (3) Vibhutti Pada; (4) Kaivalya Pada.

Samadhi Pada deals with pure consciousness. Sadhana Pada deals with the methods and techniques of Yoga. Vibhutti Pada deals with the awakening of spiritual powers. Kaivalya Pada is concerned with Moksha or spiritual liberation.

117. What are the Five Defects an individual possess as per 'Yoga Sutra'?

The individual has five defects:

(1) Avidya (ignorance), (2) Asmiti (egoism), (3) Raga (attachment), (4) Dvesha (disgust), (5) Abhinivesa (infinite aspiration to life).

118. Explain the term 'Astanga Yoga'.

The Yoga Sutra prescribes eight important steps in the practice of discipline for realising God. They are:

(1) Yama (Good conduct), (2) Niyama (Purity of thought) (3) Asana (Posture), (4) Pranayama (Breath control), (5) Prathyahara (Mind control), (6) Dharana (Single pointed concentration), (7) Dhyana (Uninterrupted contemplation on the object), (8) Samadhi (Dhyana without self-consciousness). These eight fold practices comprise Astanga Yoga. The first five are external aids and the last three are internal aids to Yoga.

119. How to practice the step called 'Yama' in the Yoga?

Yama consists of five practices; they are (1) Ahimsa (non-violence), (2) Sathya (Truth), (3) Astheya (non-stealing), (4) Brahmacharya (celibacy), and (5) Aparigraha (non-accepting of gifts).

120. What are the steps to practice 'Niyama' in Yoga?

Niyama consists of five practices:

(1) Sacha (purity of body), (2) Santosha (happiness, contentment), (3) Tapas (penance), (4) Swadhyaya (studying), (5) Ishwara Pranidhana (surrender to God).

121. What is the most important aspect of Yoga?

'Chittavrithi Nirodha' is an important aspect of Yoga. Complete control of mind and senses and purity of mind and body are very important. The Yoga awakens the Kundalini 'Shakti' that lies just behind the nerves and passes through the six centres of spirituality from Mooladhara to Ajna and reaches 'Sahasrara' or the thousand petalled lotus and enjoys the bliss or union with God.

122. Explain the teachings of Nyaya Vaiseshika systems of Philosophy?

The Nyaya and Vaiseshika systems are studied together because of their similarities in many respects. Both of them say that the self or Atman is a substance independent of body. It is eternal and allpervasive. Knowledge, will, joy, etc., are external properties of the self and not the self itself. The Nyaya Vaiseshikas believe in creation and not in evolution. The agent is Ishwara. Reason is the basis of the Nyaya and Vaiseshika systems of philosophy.

123. What are the four ways laid down by Nyaya Vaiseshika Darshan in order to gather knowledge?

Whether it is worldly or spiritual, there are four ways of gathering knowledge. There are:

(1) Direct experience; (2) Reasoning and inference; (3) Analogy; and (4) The Vedas.

124. Explain the Purva Mimamsa.

It is an inquiry into or interpretation of the mantras of the Vedas. It is based on the eternity of Sound, identified with Brahman. The Purva Mimamsa differs in some important respects from Nyaya and Vaiseshika. To the Purva Mimamsa's believers the 'Self' is a substance but knowledge is not external to it. It is a mode or 'Kriya' of the Atma or Self. The self is neither completely inert (jada) nor Chaitanya.

125. What is Uttara Mimamsa and what does it contain?

The Uttara Mimamsa came afterwards and it contains Vedanta. It has developed into three schools of thought, namely, (1) Adwaita; (2) Visishta Adwaita; and (3) Dwaita.

126. What does the "Adwaita Darshan" proclaim?

What is not two is Adwaita, that is Brahman alone, is not two. Among the six Darshanas Advaita is the only system of philosophy which regards Atman and Paramatman as one and the same Supreme Reality. The Adwaita is based on direct experience. According to Advaita, the seen world of senses is Mithya-that is, neither Sathya nor Asathya. It is illusory and the unseen Atman is the one and only reality. The Advaithins believe that the self is a combination of 'Shudha-Chaitanya' and the 'Antahkarana' which comprises the 'Budhi', the 'Manas' and 'Chitta' and the 'Ahankara'. Here the Chaitanya underlies both the objective and the subjective sides. The concept of the Pancha-Kosha and the three States of Experience, the waking, Dreaming and sleeping, the Sthula, Sukshma, and the Karana bodies are elaborated here. They consider Brahman as the combination of Shuddha chaitanya and Maya. Maya with its Power of 'Avarana' and 'Vikshepa' can project the universe. "Brahma Sathyam and Jagath Mithya" says Advaita.

127. What are the three essential principles in Adwaita Philosophy?

In Adwaita Philosophy, there are three essential principles.

(1) The first principle says that Brahman alone is real; (2) The second says that the world is illusory; and (3) The third says that the soul is nothing else but Brahman.

128. Explain the Word 'Mithya'.

'Mithya' means illusion. Neither real nor unreal: Adi Sankaracharya says in his 'Adwaita' Philosophy that this world is 'Mithya'. By the term Reality, we mean that which is not subject to change and contradiction. This ever-changing world cannot be accepted as real. At the same time it is not 'unreal' or empty. It is neither real nor unreal. Therefore it is indescribable. It is just an appearance such as is found in "Vivartha" or transfiguration.

129. Explain the term "Maya".

"Maya" is the cause for the perception of the world we see, in its many forms. Maya works with two powers, one which enables it to conceal the truth and the other to protect an illusory image. 'Maya' cannot delude Brahman; but it causes 'Avidya' (ignorance) in man.

130. What are the three levels of reality accepted in 'Adwaita Darshan'?

Adwaita accepts three levels of reality they are as follows:

(1) Brahman the highest reality, (2) Relative truth or Vyavaharika Sathya, (3) Appearance or Pratibhasika Sathya. These are only levels of Reality. Truth speaking Reality is only one that is Brahman.

131. What is the method of realising truth prescribed by 'Adwaita'?

The method of realising truth as prescribed by 'Adwaita' is 'Jnana'. No amount of action or prayer will help to dispel the ignorance. Karma (work) and Bhakti (Devotion) help to cleanse the mind. But only Jnana gives the realisation of Truth says the Adwaita Philosophy.

132. What are the ways in which 'Jnana' can be acquired?

Jnana can be got in four ways:

(1) By the study of scriptures; (2) By reflecting upon what we study (Manana); (3) By contemplation; and (4) Lastly, by direct experience or vision.

133. What are the beliefs of 'Advaitins' about 'liberation'?

It is believed by the 'Advaitins' that 'Liberation' can be had either by sudden revelation in this life or by gradual development, doing good deeds and worship. They also speak of individual salvation and the salvation of all stating that unless every soul is liberated no soul is completely released. The soul has to reach the place from where it has come.

134. Who propagated 'Advaita' Philosophy?

The 'Adwaita' Darshan drawing its essence from Vedas and Vedanta was systematised first by 'Goudapada' and then latter by Adi Shankara. Adi Shankara established and propagated Adwaita or non-dual philosophy in this world.

135. What are the authorities for 'Adwaita' Darshanam'?

They (1) Sruthi; (2) Yukti; and (3) Anubhava, are the three authorities which Adwaita quotes for establishing its Philosophy. Shankara places 'Anubhava' or common experience at the top and regards Sruthis only as guides.

136. Explain 'Dwaita' Philosophy?

The Dwaitins believe in dualism. They believe that the self is different from the Brahman. This self is a prototype of Brahman but not identical. The Dwaita Philosophy is some what similar to Sankhya and Nyaya Vaiseshikas. To them 'Prakriti' is the material cause while Purusha is the 'Karta' or creator. They say 'Jiva' and Prakriti always exist and are always there, but they never become one.

137. Who propagated Dwaita Philosophy?

Sri Madhavacharya propounded 'Dwaita' Philosophy.

138. Who propagated Visistadvaita Philosophy? Explain Visistadvaita Philosophy.

Sri Ramanuja propagated Visistadvaita Philosophy. The Visistadvaita accepts the phenomena of appearance and illusion and says about 'Chit' and 'Achit' in the phenomena world. It states that both are true and valid. Visishtadvaita has also established the oneness of Jagat which is 'Jada' or inert and Jiva which is full of consciousness. Visistadvaita also says that Jada and Chaitanya, i.e., inertness and consciousness are the manifestations of the same principle of Divinity and therefore equally valid. Jagat the universe, Jiva the consciousness and Purusha the Supreme are not three separate entities but are the same from the ultimate point of view. Though the appearance may be different the unifying spirit is the same. For example, though the ornaments may be different gold is the same. Similarly the forms are different, but there is only one Purusha which is the unity in the diversity and multiplicity.

139. What are the two aspects present in illusion or Maya?

There are two aspects present in this illusion. The one is 'Parinama' or evolution and the other is 'Vivarta'.

140. Explain in detail the terms, 'Parinama' and 'Vivarta'.

'Vivarta' is the property which makes us think that there is a change though the substance remains the same, for example, sometimes we come across a rope and get deluded to imagine it as a serpent. The rope does not go, the serpent does not come. It is Vivarta or illusion. It is the quality which makes us forget the real thing and makes us impose upon that some other thing which is not there. It is the effect of Maya.

'Parinama' is the property of evolution or change, like milk turning into curd. If there is no milk there is no curd. Parinama is that which changes. Maya is present both in 'Parinama' and 'Vivarta'.

141. We are under the influence of 'Vivarta'. Explain this statement and say how?

Though we are Atma Swarupas, we forget the Supreme Reality and we live in 'Dehabhranti' or bodily illusion. We mistake our ephemeral existence to be the real existence. We are not afraid of the rope but afraid of the serpent. Similarly, we are not afraid of "Atma" but are afraid of the "life".

Though we are "Atma Swarupas" and should be free from fear, unfortunately we are lost in fear and illusion. This is the effect of "Vivarta". It is therefore correct to say that we live under the influence of "Vivarta".

142. "Adwaita, Visishtadvaita and Dwaita". Though they are different systems of Philosophy there is an underlying unity in them. What is it?

Adwaita, Visishtadvaita and Dwaita, though different as systems of Philosophy, all these three talk about the 'Atmatathva'. The 'Atmatathva' is the only permanent thing and it remains eternal and changeless. In Dwaita, duality always remains. Visishtadvaita teaches us that there may be differences of Rupa and Nama, form and name, but the Purusha behind them is the same. They also accept the permanence of both jada and Chaitanya. Jada is as true as Chaitanya. Because we have one sided outlook we are not able to recognize the other side of the picture. When we are able to recognize both, then only will be able to realise the unity. We must attempt to reach unity through duality. If we want to attain Adwaita stage, we have to pass first through Dwaita state.

TO BE CONTINUED …

Source:  GUIDE TO INDIAN CULTURE AND SPIRITUALITY Published by

Sri Sathya Sai Books & Publications Trust Prashanthi Nilayam, India

Sent with Sai love by Sai brother M. Palaniswamy, ‘saidevotees_worldnet’

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Chapter -3a