Who am I? What is the nature of the mind?

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The gross body, which is composed of the seven fundamental elements (dhatu, धातु), I am not; the five cognitive sense organs, i.e., the senses of hearing, touch, sight, taste, and smell, which apprehend their respective objects, i.e., sound, touch, color, taste, and odor, I am not; the live conative sense organs, i.e., the organs of speech, locomotion, grasping, excretion, and procreation, which have as their respective functions speaking, moving, grasping, excreting, and enjoying, I am not; the five vital airs, प्राण prana, etc., which perform respectively the live functions of in-breathing, etc., I am not; even the mind which thinks, I am not; the nescience too, which is endowed only with the residual impressions of objects, and in which there are no objects and no functions, I am not.

After negating all of the above-mentioned as “not this, not this,” that Awareness which alone remains-that I am.

What is the nature of the mind?

What is called mind is a wondrous power residing in the Self. It causes all thoughts to arise. Apart from thoughts, there is no such thing as mind. Therefore, thought is the nature of mind. Apart from thoughts, there is no independent entity called the world. In deep sleep there are no thoughts, and there is no world. In the states of waking and dream, there are thoughts, and there is a world also. Just as the spider emits the thread (of the web) out of itself and again withdraws it into itself, likewise the mind projects the world out of itself and again resolves it into itself. When the mind comes out of the Self, the world appears. Therefore, when the world appears (to be real), the Self does not appear; and when the Self appears (shines), the world does not appear. When one persistently inquires into the nature of the mind, the mind will end leaving the Self (as the residue). What is referred to as the Self is the Arman. The mind always exists only in dependence on something gross; it cannot stay alone. It is the mind that is called the subtle body or the soul जीव (jiva).

Raman Maharshi

Excerpts from The Spiritual Teaching of Raman Maharshi

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Six Schools of Philosophies of Hinduism

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In Hinduism the word darsana, ”Vision of Truth”  is used to indicate philosophy. Hinduism encompasses six schools of philosophy, called  सड -दर्शन Sad Darsanas (sad means six). Two different classifications of the schools of Hindu philosophy are recognized by the orthodox and heterodox thinkers.

The orthodox classification of the schools is:

  1. Vaisesika, Kanada
  2. Nyaya, Gautama
  3. Nir-Isvara-Sankhya निर्-ईश्वर -सान्ख्य, Kapila
  4. Sa-Isvara-Sankhya, स-ईश्वर -सान्ख्य,  Patanjali
  5. Purrva Mimansa, पूर्व मिमांसा , Jaimini
  6. Uttara Mimamsa, उत्तरा मिमांसा , Vedanta

The other classification, which gives equal status to the atheistic schools, is:

  1. Materialism – Charvaka
  2. Buddhism – Buddha
  3. Jainism – Mahavir
  4. Tarka – Kanada and Gautama
  5. Sankhya – Kapila and Patanjali
  6. Purava Mimamsa – Jaimini, and Uttara Mimansa Vedanta

Knowledge falls into two categories: secular knowledge and spiritual knowledge.

Secular knowledge pertains to the world of things and beings. Spiritual knowledge deals with the subjective realization of the transcendental Reality that lies beyond the limitations of the phenomenal world. The theme of each of the philosophies is an inquiry into spiritual knowledge.

Spiritual knowledge is divided into two main groups: theistic and atheistic.

Theists are those who accept the Vedas and believe in an eternal Reality. The Theistic school can be classified under two categories:

  1. Theistic Theism
  2. Theistic Atheism

Theistic Theism accepts the Vedas and also believes in Brahman, the nondual eternal Truth. Pure Theistic Theism is enunciated in the Brahma Sutras, which consist of the very essence of the Upanishads. This school of thought is known as Uttara Mimamsa, which had fallen into obscurity until Adi Shankaracharya revived it and brought it to the attention of the thinkers of the world as Advaita Vedanta.

Theistic Atheism supports a belief in the Vedic declarations but not in the one eternal Truth, or Brahman, as indicated by the Upanishads. Followers of this school believe that the Truth cannot be realized by study, reflection, and meditation upon the Upanishadic declarations. Three main schools of Theistic Atheism exist: Tarka, Sankhya, and Purva Mimamsa.

The Tarka school follows the points of view expounded by Kanada and Gautama, whose philosophies are called Vaisesika and Nyaya, respectively.

The Sankhyan philosophy is most rational, analytical; and scientific in its treatment. The Sankhyans fall into two groups, sustained by two great exponents, Kapila and Patanjali. Kapila’s philosophy, called Nir-Isvara-Sankhya, does not take into consideration the concept of a Creator, or Isvara. Patanjali introduces the concept of a Creator (Isvara) in his doctrine called Sa-Isvara-Sankhya.

Purva (”earlier”) Mimansa (”sequence of logical thinking”) is the last in the category of Theistic Atheism. The Vedas are divided into two sections, the Karma Kanda and the Jnana Kanda. Karma Kanda is the earlier section, which is seemingly dualistic, whereas the Jnana Kanda constitutes the later portion, which is positively non-dualistic, declaring the absolute oneness of Truth. The earlier Vedic thought, contained in the Karma Kanda, was compiled by Jaimini. The philosophy of Jaimini, discussed in the Jaimini Sutra, expounds the essence of Purva Mimansa. According to this philosophy, the human being has to follow faithfully the ritualistic portion of the Vedas. If he does so, he will gain infinite merit. To enjoy the fruits of such merit, the individual soul will get a chance to live for a fixed period of time in a realm of consciousness where he can experience subtler and more intense sensuous enjoyments. This temporary resort in Heaven is conceived by the followers Purva Mimamsa as the goal of existence.

The Atheistic school of philosophy is classified in two categories:

  1. Atheistic Atheism
  2. Atheistic Theism

Atheistic Atheism declares a disbelief in either the Vedas or the supreme Truth. This school is championed by some philosophers, the most important among them being Charvaka. The Materialists (Charvakas) believe that no higher goal than materialism is to be achieved in life, and that the human being has only to find maximum enjoyment in sensual indulgence, unrestricted by ethical or moral scruples. They believe that the human being merely exists as he is; he comes from nowhere when he is born and goes to nowhere when he dies. At death when the body is buried, everything ends.

Atheistic Theism, however, accepts a supreme Truth beyond the body and the objects of the world; however, it refutes the Vedas.

The Buddhists and the Jains fall under this category. The Atheism of Buddhism sprang from Buddha’s revolt against the excessive Vedic ritualism practiced during his age. Ritualism had reached a state of absurdity, and the people following it had grown to be barbarous and immoral. Buddha denied the authority for such practices and, in doing so, had to denounce the Vedic textbooks themselves.

The Jains, the followers of Mahavir, also belong to the Atheistic Theistic school. They are considered atheistic because of their non-acceptance of the Vedas. Their theistic leanings are attributed to their belief in the eternal Truth, which is permanent, perfect, and all-blissful.

Swami Chinmayananda

Excerpts from: Self-Unfoldment

Hindu Scriptures at a Glance

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The Hindu Scriptural literature is so vast and comprehensive that there is no branch of knowledge left uninvestigated by the great Seers of this country. The Hindu was never satisfied unless every question that he faced, be it material, scientific, religious, physical, metaphysical, philosophic or purely spiritual, was thoroughly discussed in all its varied aspects, to its irrefutable conclusion. The various Books that constitute the Hindu Scriptural literature will give an insight into the progress of Indian thought through the ages, in the field of metaphysics and will show how the sages of the past in this country relentlessly investigated into the facts and truths of life, discovered the laws governing them, arrived at the path and goal of the ultimate human destiny, enunciated and codified them in systematic treatises and bequeathed them to posterity. To them, SANATANA DHARMA meant the “ENTERNAL VALUES OF LIFE” and human endeavor which they adhered to always and in all ways. To them Hinduism was not a closed Book, because in their profound wisdom they recognized and accepted that there is no limit to knowledge. Search! You will find ‘The more you search, the more you will find! This is true of all fields of knowledge -and all faiths. Only search and stop not till the goal is reached.

The knowledge can be broadly divides into two broad categories: Para परा – intuitive and Apra अपरा – intellectual. The intellectual knowledge can be further divided into secular and non-secular.

Knowledge Para – Intuitive
Apara – Intellectual Secular
Sacred Srutis – Deal with Eternal Principles
Smritis – deal with Practical Applications of Eternal Principles

All the Sacred Books are divided into two broad categories. the Srutis श्रुति and the Smritis स्मृति. The Hindus believe that the Srutis are “God-revealed” and the Smritis are “Man-realised” –or better, “recapitulated by man,” on what he has already heard from the “Srutis” which word means “That which is heard.” The Srutis deal with eternal principles and hold good for all time; while the Smritis deal with the practical application of those eternal principles according to changing times. In fact there is a Sruti content and a Smriti content in every religion. In Hindu religious thought, the word “Sruti” stands for the “Vedas.”

The four “Vedas,” Rig, Yajus, Sama and Atharva form the . Srutis. The word “veda” वेद comes from the root “Vid” to know. The Veda is literally the Book of Knowledge-  Knowledge of the changeless and Supreme Reality.

The Sacred Books of the Hindus are tabulated for easy reference:-

Srutis – Four Vedas: Rig, Yajus, Sama, Atharva Karma Kanda Smahitas – Mantras
Brahmanas – Ritualistic
Jnana Kanda Aaranyakas  – Method of Worship
Upanishads – Vedanta
Smriti Ithihas Ramayana
Mahabharta
Puranas 18 Main Puranas
48 Ups Puranas
Smritis – Dhrama Sastras 18 Smritis
Manu Smriti – Main
Veda Upangas Nyaya – by Sage Gautama
Vaiseshika – by Sage Kanaada
Sankhya – by Sage Kapila
Yoga – by Sage Patanjali
Mimamsa – by Sage Jaimini
Vedanta – Sage Veda Vyasa
Vedangas Siksha – Phonetics
Kalpa – Religious Rites
Vyakarna – Grammer
Nirukta – Glossary
Chhandas- Prosody
Jyotisha – Astrnomy & Astrology
Upa Vedas Ayurveda – the Science of Life
Dhnur Veda – Science of Warfare
Gandhrva Veda – Science of Art & Music
Sthaptya Sastra – Mechanics & Construction

 

Excerpts from: Hinduism that is Sanatana Dharma, Chinmaya Mission