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Vedanta – Religion? Philosophy? or Something else? – 1

Posted by on February 6, 2018

Lecture Given in Pitesti – Romania

Vedanta for the people of present generation is a very new concept. I taught Vedanta, but how many of us learnt Vedanta. My teaching is over, but are you learning?
Before starting any topic with respect to Vedanta, I thought it is better to understand what Vedanta is and especially what Vedanta is not.
What is Vedanta? Is it a religion?Is it a philosophy? Or is it something else?
For the first topic (first question), we have to understand what religion is.
Definition of Religion is accepting some superhuman power and worshipping it through rituals.
India has many religions, Europe has a religion, America also has many religions. India has in that many religion many Gods, Europe also has in that religion many Gods, America also has many religions and many Gods.
In India now, the main religion is cricket ?. In Europe, football, in America basketball, baseball; and we have many Gods. Previosly used to be a God called Gavaskar, then he was replaced by Tendulkar. Here also we have Maradona, then Messi. In this way we change the rituals or we change the Gods. We don’t change. That is the thing, but we change the God or we change the ritual. That is why it is very nicely said: accepting superhuman power. That is religion. A good footballer is a superhuman. It is beyond the logic. He hits the ball from here and the ball goes to the goalpost. It is beyond our imagination. So it is superhuman power.
So that is religion.
Now we come to the class, we see Guruji, we do namaskara, we say hari om, Guruji. So we have rituals. These are rituals. So Vedanta seems to be a religion. Let us come to that.
Next: what is a philosophy?
Philosophy is the inquiry into sat cit ananda. We say sat cit ananda, it is translated as existence, knowledge, bliss. This is what your dictionary says. Philosophy is the inquiry into existence, knowledge, bliss in academic view. That is the key word. When one inquires into existence, knowledge, bliss, academically that becomes philosophy.
We have different philosophies, but not all, which is accepted to be philosophy, discuss about existence, knowledge, bliss. For instance, one of those is the materialistic philosophy. This doesn’t discuss about existence. This doesn’t discuss about knowledge, this doesn’t discuss about your bliss. Nothing. But it is accepted to be materialistic philosophy, accepted to be a philosophy. But they do discuss it academically and they try to establish the materialistic philosophy above all the other philosophies.
Since they counter it, we accept it as a philosophy, otherwise it cannot be a philosophy. When one says hinduism, they say no hinduism cannot be right, because of the materialistic philosophy; buddhism, no because of accepting the same materialistic philosophy. They counter other philosophies, by establishing their own philosophy; therefore it is accepted to be a philosophy. Otherwise, there is nothing of a philosophy in the materialistic philosophy.
We have religion. Each religion believes in one or more Gods. Generally one God, a superpower. Like, cristianity, muslims. All these religions accept one superpower. In that sense, hinduism has so many superpowers. Very confusing for us. Somebody has one bomb, somebody has ten bombs. Who is powerfull? Logically. Somebody got tenth rank, somebody got first rank? Which is powerfull? One is powerfull or ten is powerfull? Very difficult to decide, because this religious fight, people will say : you don’t believe in one God, that is your problem. Believe in one God.
So Vedanta is the core of hinduism, and what we see as hinduism has many Gods and there are different rituals for each God. You cannot worship this God with the same ritual for other God. No. General principle may be the same, but, i cannot worship a God which will be happy with fruits with meat. There are some Gods which we have to worship with meat. That God will not be happy with fruits. Confusion. You are going to offer it, but what you offer, differs; how you offer differs.
When we bring religion, no matter what , whichever be the religion, we have to accept some dogma or other, some unbelievable concepts or other. There is no other way. Without that, there cannot be any religion. Superstition is invariable to religions.
So if Vedanta is a religion, because it is a part of hinduism, the esence of hinduism, then we have to accept some dogma in it. If there is dogma, God protect Vedanta! ? there is no other way. Because we are running away from superstition, we are running away from dogma and if Vedanta also has dogma, very difficult.
So do we need religion? Why do we want religion? We have a superpower. To accept the superpower, we need a religion. To worship that superpower, to be connected to that superpower, we need religion. But this is the way to worship that superpower, this is the only way to worship it.
Different people say different things about the way, the path. We are confused a lot.
Why do we really need that superpower? Why do we accept that superpower? Not out of love. We are afraid. It is out of fear. That is the reason for needing the superpower.
We need superpower to protect us. We are afraid.
We are not able to explain things, therefore we need a superpower.
We are confused a lot. Therefore, we need a superpower.
Long back, I watched a movie where this hero was travelling in a ship and that ship breaks down and he is alone in an island, he doens’t have anyone to talk to. The DHL parcel which came in that ship , has one football. So he keeps that fotball and he starts talking to it. That football becomes his God. He worships, he talks, every day. Finally somehow, someone resques him, he comes back to America. And he wonders ”should I giveup my God?”. Now that football has become his God.
I am not talking about Maradona, Messi kind of football God, no. Football itself becomes the God now in the story, because he is alone, he is afraid. We are alone and we are afraid. Therefore, we need a God.
So I thought to give up everything and stay alone in a jungle, somewhere in Rishikesh. I don’t have any fear. So one day (15 years ago), I was chanting the mantra and at least tonight I wanted to see the God. At least tonight. So it is 12 o’clock, i started to think!!, Tomorrow I have to go to the class so let me take rest. I lie down two minutes. I am not asleep. Two minutes. Somebody called me by my name. My gate is open. I don’t close it. Anyone can enter, but at 12 o’clock, who is going to enter? Somebody calls me by my name. And if it is not my neighbour and I had been waiting for that God, it should be only him. What should I do. Yes ! And open my eyes! But no, I was affraid, I took a cloth which was lying next to me and covered myself, was afraid of God. We are afraid of God. We don’t have any fearlesness, we don’t have any love (towards God).
Then God appears in front of you. What will you ask? I will ask for world peace. I will ask for lot of money, or I will ask for this thing. Nothing of these. Nothing. When God appears in front of you, you will run away.
We are affraid. That is the reality. We don’t want to accept it this is another bigger reality.
I was in Brindavan. The place where Lord Krishna lived. There is even now, in the middle of the city a small forest, Nidhivan. At 6 o’clock, no one is allowed to stay there. Not even monkeys or birds. They arrange in the night, before closing the doors of that place, they will arrange flowers very nicely, like a decoration and then leave it. Next morning they say it was a rasa lila, meaning God comes and dances with his gopikas, Lord Krishna comes and dances with his consorts. Every day the arrangement is disturbed, even today. But no monkey, no animal, no bird enters there in the night.
I was teaching to sadhus there, in Brindavan, whose goal is to see the God. They don’t want anything else. They just want to see the God. If we were there and didn’t have any goal, what would we do? I would go there directly, to that forest. Because you go there, you see the God, you will either go crazy, or, as with the majoirty case, they die. Majority see, they cannot conceive, they die. Now, so what? I see my Lord, after that i die, that is ok…what do we live for? Only for that…so it is worth dying after seeing him. But all the sadhus are sitting there, they are not going anywhere. I asked them. We think we are not afraid, we think we are doing everything to have the vision of God, but we don’t go there.
There is a story by Rabindranath Tagore. A person is in search of God, every day, he walks, walks, and walks. One day, he sees God in a distance. He runs towards him. The distance seems to reduce; at one point he sees the God opening a gate, climbing the stairs, opening the door, and entering this house. This man comes to that gate, on which is written ”God”. He enters the gate, climbs the stairs and is about to press the bell. He says, ok, wait, what will happen? God will open the door and say ’yes?’ Then? All my life I am in search of God and now when God says yes, what will happen to me? I will have no goal in my life, so what he does is removes his shoes, climbs the stairs slowly and runs away from there. If he had kept the shoes on, God would have heard the sound and would have asked who is that? So he runs away from there. And then what does he do? He is in search of God, even now. But he will not go and search there where God is. He knows that. He will not search there.
This is one thing. We may know the path, but we are afraid of the path, because it will lead you to God. We are afraid, because if it leads me to God, then, I have no individuality, everything becomes God. I will have no individuality. I am affraid of loosing myself in God..
We are afraid of the path. Because of this fear what do we do? We create religions. We are afraid of the path. Because of this fear, we don’t resolve our fear, but we create religions. We create one God, we create ten Gods, we accept different methods of worship, and say this is the true worship.
There also, again, we say : my God is different from me and the world, my God is different from me, world is part of God, these are different philosophies. I am different, God is different, world is different is one philosophy. I am different, God is different, world is part of him is another philosophy. I am a part of God , another philosophy. I am a creation of God , another philosophy and with different combinations, you have different religions (religious philosophy). You accept one thing, you are a follower of that religion, you accept another thing, you are a follower of that other religion. All these religions have come into existence. Why? Because we are afraid of the path.
So these religions accept one God superpower, and they accept different relationships with that God and the creation, with that God and me. This differentiate the religions.
Now, okay, when we start to think we need religion, it keeps us under control and lead us in path. That is what we say. Therefore, why do you say I am affraid of path ? The rituals with which each and every religion is associated change. It is not the same ritual with which it started. There is this priest who has to do this worship. So what happens? He is disturbed by his cat while he is doing the rituals. So he tells his son to catch the cat and tie it to that chair. Son does that. Every time before the ritual, father says the son and son does the same, catches the cat and ties it to that chair. Now father dies, son comes and teaches his son to do this. When his grandson period comes, when somebody wants him to perfom a ritual, he says ”no I cannot do it”. Why? ”Because the cat is no where to be seen”. ”Why do you need the cat for the ritual?” ”Because the cat should be tied to that chair, if I do this ritual”. The cat becomes part of the ritual. The ritual changes.
So we are not trying to establish the religion to be the path. No. We have religion, we have rituals and the relationship between the individual and God. That is what makes a religion. That is what makes a religion a religion.
Now, this God created me, Did this God create me? Here, First : this God created me and then , did this God creat me, third: only this God created me. Three different religions. So now, did God create me, did this God create me? Did only this God create me?
Let us suppose God created me. Why did he create me? This is a very funny thing. Kids: they come and tell the parents: ”I am very bored”. They don’t even know the meaning of what bored is. And they tell so. So probably, God was in a similar situation. He was bored. So he said, ok , let there be some ’paneer tika’ in life, let there be some masala or spice in life, let me create the individuals. Is that why he created us?
If this is so, God is bored, he wanted entertaiment and he created us, why would I worship that God? Please tell me. Because I want to escape this boredom and therefore I worship God, and when I go there I see God himself is bored, who says ”nice thing you came. I didn’t have anyone to talk to, I was bored” So will we be worshipping that kind of God? Is there any use in worshipping that kind of God?
God wanted entertaiment therefore he created us. Let us accept it. Now, this birth we are taking is only one birth or is it multiple births? Are we associated with the karmas or are we not associated with the karmas? That is another question in the religion. The religion that does not accept rebirth will be in problem. Why? God is creating us, again and again whether is recycling us or not, there is a defect in God. We call this defect supporting someone , defect of abusing someone else. Like: I am in a good position, God is supporting me, another person is in bad position, because God is against him. God has love and hatred. Will we be worship that kind of God? Should we worship a God who is bored, should we worship a God who has love and hatred?
God who is bored we don’t want, God who has love and hatred we don’t want.
So we have to put another argument: see God created us because of our own karmas. We will have to say this logic to protect God. First we started the religion for what? To protect us. Now after starting the religion, we want to protect the God from all these defects. So we say God does not create according to his whims and fancies, he creates everything based on the individuals past actions. That makes God even weaker. Why? God is dependent.
God who is bored, we don’t want, God who has love and hatred, we don’t want. Now we have a God who is dependent. Poor God.
So we have to protect God from this defect, too. So what do we say? See: God is not disturbed by that. He just sits there and lets things take place. He does not get himself involved in it, he just lets the law of karma, the law of action to do its job. That is even worse. We thought that if we worship this God through some rituals, he will look at us and take some compassion towards us and help us. Now this God, even if you are worshipping him, he is not going to involve himself in helping you. Do we have to worship that kind of God?
So we started the religion to help us to travel in a proper path, but we end in a religion where we have to protect the God. This is the limitation of the religion.
Therefore, religion, any religion has inherent limitations; just because we have a needle made out of gold doesn’t mean we have to put it in our eyes. Just because it is a gold or a platinum needle, do we put it in our eyes? No. Therefore, a religion no matter what, no matter which, has limitatios, therefore, Vedanta is a religion? As we say; say no to drugs. Similarly we say, no to religions.
We started with what is Vedanta. Is Vedanta a religion? Is Vedanta a philosophy or is Vedanta something else? So if Vedanta were a religion, we wouldn’t want Vedanta. I don’t even want to hear about it. If Vedanta is relgion, we don’t want Vedanta. Like we don’t want any other religion.

So we are talking about this God who has the following defects: he is bored, he is arbitrary (has love hatred), he is dependent, he is indifferent. There are so many defects. He created us out of boredom, he is dependend upon the karma, to protect him from that we say he is mean, he is untouched. So this God if he has power – like yesterday when there was some discussion about my previous visit, then there was a discussion about people with power so this lady who was bringing me out of the airport she said that power corrupts people. I said there is a movie dialogue, very famous dialog: power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely. So now, we have a God to whom we have given absolute powers. We should be afraid of that God, really. Will we have love towards that God who is dependent who is mean? Can we have love towards that God? Whatever image we have of God, that when we inquire upon the nature of God, becomes very troubling, because we are very good people, we are rationalist, logical. We think we are rational, but really our rationality is all about somebody saying this is what is rational, not that. We accept yes. Why? Because that is rational. How do you know? He said. Somebody whom we didn’t even meet says something that becomes our rational idea. We accept a God who has all these problems and we are taught about that God by somebody who is rational and we think ourselves to be rational and accept that as rational even without inquiring into that. This is big trouble.
If Vedanta also is that kind of religion, we have to say, no thanks.
So we discussed some aspects of religion. Whatever may be the religion, fall into these broad category.

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