While the westerner who did not know branded Indians as a nation of primitive and uncivilized people, the more enlightened ones among them started investigations into what subsequently came to be known as “Indology”, the study of the history of the culture and civilization of this ancient race of people. As a result of this, more and more startling things have come to light and today they stand in wonder and amazement at the remarkable achievements and discoveries recorded by the forefathers of the people who they once considered primitive and uncivilized.

It is obvious that both the scientist and the philosopher are in quest for the truth. While the field of the scientist is the objective world around him, the philosopher had selected for his field of investigation the subjective world inside him.

Generations of wise men in India, just like others else where in later times first started analyzing the objects of the senses, the outer world, to gain more and more knowledge about Nature and her laws and did make great discoveries which changed the course of their lives.

This knowledge was handed down to posterity augmented by fresh acquisitions of every succeeding generation, until some of them, sometime, somewhere, began to realize that the scientific field could not give them lasting peace and happiness which in their wisdom was the only thing worth striving for.

The mysteries of life or the ultimate aim of life itself will not unfold itself if we go further away from life itself which was exactly what the scientists were doing.

To get at the truth, life itself had to be analyzed and that could be done only by looking inward into life itself and knowing man’s real nature.

The result is the profound philosophy of Vedanta to which more and more men and women from all parts of the world are flocking today for light, solace and fulfillment. So in India, philosophy is not a hobby or an escape, but an intense search for truth after having found from experience that mundane achievements only complicate our lives and take us further from our real God.

In fact, the Rishis of yore in India did not make any distinction between science being on the one side and religion and philosophy on the other. The sciences are the Upa-vedas and the Vedangas, and the philosophies are the Veda-upangas, all culminating in the Vedanta- the end of the Vedas.

The common man’s conception about Sanskrit literature is that it is only full of stories about gods and goddesses, their lives, intrigues and jealousies, poetry, religious rituals and hymns, mythology, some advice about conduct in society and a narration on the effect of punya and papa ( meritorious actions and sins) in our life herein after.

It is only the precious few who know that our ancient sages and scholars had covered a vast range of sciences like algebra, trigonometry, geometry, astronomy, calculus, neurology, chemistry, medicine, economics, music, architecture and even sexology.

When we take a glimpse into the antiquity of Indian civilization- which is Vedic civilization- we find that there are historical as well as ethnological grounds to suspect the fact that the ancient Egyptians were originally migrants from India.

Colonel Olcott, the eminent Egyptologist and Indologist says “We have a right more than suspect that India, 8000 years ago sent a colony of emigrants who carried their arts and high civilization into what is known to us as Egypt.”

Modern research scholars are of that opinion that the first treatise containing astronomical data “Vedic Jyothisha” was complied on or about 1350 B.C.E. whereas we find a lot of precious astronomical information and data in the Rig Veda which has now been accepted to be much anterior to that date.

A comparison of sidereal and synodic periods of the different planets as derived from “Surya Siddhanta” on one hand and as derived by modern scientific methods on the other reveals that in most cases they reconcile upto the second or third decimal places.

Scholars like Sylvan Bailley and Dupuis say that Hindu zodiac is the earliest known to man and that the first calendar was made in India in about 12,000 B.C.E ( refer to Bailley’s Historie d’Astronomie Ancienne p. 483 as well as the proceedings of the society of Biblical archeology- December 1901- part 1)

Emmeline M. Plunket in the great work “Ancient Calendars and Constellations” –page 152 says that there were very advanced Hindu astronomers in 6000 B.C.E.

Modern scientists have discovered that there are innumerable galaxies in the universe, some of them hundreds of time brighter than our own. Those who wonder at this information are invited to take a look into our ancient books Yoga Vasishta and Atharvana Maha Narayanopanishad wherein they will find that these things are described with special reference even to the arrangement of galaxies in the cosmic space.

According to Hindu concept of time, on Mahayuga (Kruta, Treta, Dwapara and Kaliyuga put together) is 12,000 times 360 or 4,320,000 years.

People used to believe that this was the result of the imagination of our ancestors running wild. But eminent modern astronomers have now started realizing the basis on which the Hindus of old had fixed these periods. It has now been found out that the duration of Mahayuga namely 4,320,000 years has been based on a particular motion of the earth. It has to be remembered that the earth has different motions, for example:
The daily rotation at over 1,000 miles per hour in 24 hours
The annual revolution at about 66,000 miles per hour in 365.246 days around the sun and;
The motion consequent to the gravitational pull of the giant star Hercules at about 12 miles per second.
As well as the time taken by all the planets to come in a vertical line of mean conjunction with the first degree of Aries since they last occupied similar positions in the same vertical line of mean conjunction at a place 76 degrees east long of Greenwich as they had the basis for the calculation that all the planets occupied the same position at the commencement of each Mahayuga.

Therefore this period was fixed by arriving aver of the number of days taken by each planet to make one complete revolution around the zodiac as well as the motion of the earth referred above, which could be seen to be 4,320,000 years approximately. This fourth motion of the earth has been discovered to be a slow rotation in addition to the rotation causing the days and the nights, completed once in 31,850 years around an axis the poles of the daily rotation (Refer to Maj. Eln. A.W. Drayson FRAS in “Experiences of a Woolwich Professor-1884).

The effects of sunspots on electro-magnetic waves are the resultant disturbances that go to prove that the Hindus were absolutely correct in their astro-physics at about 3,000 B.C.E. if not earlier (refer to Wallis Budge- “Students Ancient History” pg. 189, 360-366).

The Mahabharata mentions that the Vedas contain an account of the dimensions of the earth, sun, moon, planets, certain stars, and constellations and the duration of the four yugas based on systematic astronomical calculations. Heat, liquid, electricity, magnetism, ether and sound are clearly defined (refer to Max Mueller: “The Sacred Books of the East- Volume I).

Our ancestors had discovered that planetary rays affect metals and gems. Quite a number of westerners and even our own Hindus used to dismiss this as Hindu superstition until Mrs. Kolisko in 1936 showed by lantern slides the effect of solar eclipse on gold, silver, and other metals. Needless to say, scientists and astronomers changed their opinions about the scientific knowledge of our forefathers.

Today western astronomers say that the middle stare of the tail of the Great Bear (Sapta Rishis) is a double or a binary Garga and Varaha Mihira had said that Vasishta is always attended by a Sukshmatara (Telescopic star) and Arundhati his spouse. Garga records that during the reign of Yudhishtira, the Sapta Rishis were in the constellations of Magha (Regulus). These clearly show that the Hindus knew of the stellar secrets a few thousand of years before Galileo.

Dirghatamas, one of the great savants of the times, devoted a period of about 50 years of his life to study the movements of the earth, the sun, and the moon and to him goes the credit of having discovered that a year of twelve months of thirty days each leaves a gap of twenty one days in four years. Bhaskaracharya, the celebrated Hindu astronomer and mathematician who is said to have lived around 1,100 A.D. had gone deep into the subject as would be clear from a reference to his famous work “Siddhanta Siromani”.

In the fields of arthimetic, algebra geometry and trigonometry, great names like Apastamba, Aryabhata, Bhaskaracharya, Brahmagupta, Sreedhana and Padmarabha stand out in all glory. Medhatidhi was the first to extend the numerals to billions. Numerals are of Indian origin and the idea of the numerals is said to have basically come from the Vedas.

It is seen that the fact that the square on the hypotenuse of the right angled triangle is equal to the sum of the squares on the other two sides, was known in India, long before the birth of Pythagoras to whom that theorem is now attributed ( Refer to Aryabhatiya and Sulba Sutras).

In ancient Hindu mathematical treatises, we come across equivalents for debtor, creditor, simple, simultaneous and quadratic equations. “In the whole history of mathematics, there has been no more revolutionary step than the one which the Hindus made when they invented the sign “0” for the empty column of the counting frame.” (Refer to Lancelot Hogben: “Mathematics for the Millions page 47)

The advancement the Hindus had made in medical science has been marvelous. The Hindus call it “Ayurveda”, meaning “the science of life” or “the science of longevity”. When we speak of Ayurveda we pay out silent tribute to three great names: Charaka, Susruta, and Vakbhata. Vakbhatacharya was also a great bacteriologist in addition as would be clear from his definition of a bacteria- “Sookshmat Watcheke Bhavanti Adrusya Keetah.” The Samhitas of the Vedas mention ailments affecting the eyes and the ears, heart, lungs, head and stomach.

Medicinal use of herbs, minerals, and certain animal products were well known. Different types of germs and worms that cause or spread disease are mentioned in the Artharva Veda. Expert diagnosis by simply feeling the pulse of the patient was very common thing among Ayurvedic physicians of those days. It is seem that Charaka and Susruta had perfected 115 different types of surgical instruments and had conducted 13 different type of major operations. It is seen that what we call today “plastic surgery” was well known in those days, especially in military hospitals.

The most remarkable thing mentioned about them is that they developed a method by which in complicated cases of labour pains, they could extract the child from the mother’s womb without touching either the mother or the child with their hands or with any instrument.

Modern science is beginning to realize that caesarian or forceps delivery is not without 115 deleterious effects on the mother and the child respectively.

Sage Bharadivaja in 700 B.C.E. presided over the first “medicinal plants symposium” in the world, and that an account of this symposium is available in the Charaka Samhita.

The science of alchemy, the philosopher’s stone which is supposed to have the property of converting the baser metals into gold had all along remained an elusive substance to the Egyptians and the Italian alchemists who had worked at it for generations. There are Hindu Bhairages living in India even today who easily do this with the help of some herbs. Likewise science always said that mercury is a liquid metal at normal temperature whereas in India there are a set of people among the Hindus who keep mercury on solid state at normal temperature and claim certain talismanic properties for the same. This knowledge unfortunately is kept as a closely guarded secret by those who possess it. They say it is not their ‘Dharma’ to commercialize that knowledge. The purpose here is only to show that this knowledge has existed in India since long among the Hindus.

Claudius Ptolemy of Alexandria (A.D. 20-168) said that the earth was stationary and that the heavenly bodies moved around it. Every body’s worship fully believed this until Nicholas Coppernicus (A.D. 1473-1543) came on to the scene, overturned the geocentric theory and replaced it with his Helio-centric theory, the sun in the centre.

About a thousand years before the birth of Coppernicus, there lived a man in India called Aryabhatta (Born 476 A.D. at Pataliputra) the celebrated Indian astronomer and mathematician who is his work “Aryabhatiya” has described the position of earth in the galaxy, the cause of eclipse, quadratic equations, sine and cosine and various rules in algebra and trigonometry.

Sir Issac Newton (1624-1727 A.D.) and his laws of motion and gravitation are well known. But a very few, even our own people have heard the great name of our Bhaskaracharya (1114 A.D.) who lived about 500 years before the birth of Newton. His word “Siddhanta Siromani” describes the mutual attraction among bodies of cosmic space which enables them to maintain their respective positions.

The credit for having discovered the link between cause and effect goes to the sage Kanaada, the propounder of the ‘Vaiseshika Darsana’. And what is scientific study, if it is not the search for a cause or a number of causes leading to a particular phenomenon?

The first teachers who brought Yoga to the West came with the profound teachings of Vedanta as their greatest treasure to share with the world. They presented Vedanta as the philosophy of Self-realization and Yoga as the methodology by which to achieve it. Such great masters. began with Swami Vivekananda at the end of the nineteenth century and continued with Swami Rama Tirtha, Paramahansa Yogananda, and the many disciples of Swami Shivananda of Rishikesh. They called their teaching Yoga-Vedanta, which they viewed as a complete science of spiritual growth

However, in the course of time asana or yoga postures gained more popularity in the physically-minded West, and the Vedantic aspect of the teachings fell to the sidelines, particularly over the last twenty years. The result is that today few American Yoga teachers know what Vedanta is or can explain it to others. If they have an interest in meditation they generally look to Zen or Vipassana, not knowing that meditation is the very foundation of classical Yoga and its related traditions.

Even students of related disciplines like Ayurveda or Vedic astrology may know little about Vedanta, the path of self-knowledge that is the spiritual support and goal of these systems. Meanwhile, those who study the great Vedantic gurus of modern India, like Ramana Maharshi or Nisargadatta Maharaj, generally look at the particular teacher as the source of the teachings, and they may fail to understand the tradition that they are part of. In this way, the heart teachings of India’s great sages have become progressively lost even to those who claim to follow their teachings in the West.

The great sages of modern India were all Vedantins. Most notable is Ramana Maharshi, who emphasized the non-dualistic form of Vedanta and lived a life of direct Self-realization. Ramakrishna, Aurobindo, Anandamayi Ma, Nityananda, Neem Karoli Baba, and Swami Chinmayananda to mention but a few, were Vedantins, using the Vedantic terminology of Self-realization and God-realization. Vedantic traditions remain strong throughout India today, including many great teachers—for example, the different Shankaracharyas, who have never come to the West and are almost unknown here.

Current major teachers from India like Ma Amritanandamayi (Ammachi) and Satya Sai Baba similarly use the language of Vedanta and its emphasis on the Self. Maharishi Mahesh Yogi’s Transcendental Meditation follows a Vedantic view of consciousness and cosmic evolution. Swami Rama, the founder of the Himalayan Institute, was another important Vedantic teacher in America. The main Hatha Yoga teachers in recent times, like Krishnamacharya of Madras or B.K.S. Iyengar, follow Vedantic teachings for the higher aspects of Yoga. Devotional approaches like the Hare Krishna movement reflect Vedantic devotional teachings. Without an understanding of Vedanta, therefore, it is difficult to understand these great teachers or their words to us.

Vedanta is a simple philosophy. It says that our true Self, what it calls the Atman, is God. “I am God” (aham brahmasmi) is the supreme truth. The same consciousness that resides at the core of our being pervades the entire universe. To know ourselves is to know God and to become one with all. Vedanta is a philosophy of Self-realization, and its practice is a way of Self-realization through yoga and meditation.

Vedanta has a theistic side, recognizing a cosmic creator (Ishvara) who rules over the universe through the law of karma. God is the supreme teacher, the highest guru from whom all true teachings arise by the power of the divine word. Vedantic theism takes many forms such as the worship of Shiva, Vishnu, and the Goddess. In fact, it can accommodate almost any form of theism that accepts karma and rebirth.

But in non-dualistic (Advaita) Vedanta, the Creator is not the ultimate reality. The ultimate reality is the Absolute, called Brahman, which transcends time, space and causation, standing above any personal creator. Our individual Self or soul (Atman) is one with the Absolute or Brahman, which is the supreme Self (Paramatman). The soul is not merely a part of the Creator but is one with the ground of Being-Consciousness-Bliss from which even the Creator arises.

Because of its emphasis on the Self and its recognition of many forms of theism, Vedanta lies behind the tolerance and syncretic tendency that exists in the Hindu religion. Because Hindus see religion as a vehicle for Self-knowledge they can accept many different sages, holy books and spiritual paths both inside their traditions and outside of them. Hinduism has always defined itself as Sanatana Dharma, “the universal or eternal dharma”, which encompasses all dharmas and all possible spiritual paths. Many systems of Vedanta exist as well, with various philosophical differences among them covering all major views of God and consciousness. Vedanta, therefore, is not a closed but an open system that honors the Self in all beings and does not reduce it to any particular formula, personality or dogma.

Vedanta is the oldest and most enduring spiritual teaching in India. It is fully emergent in the Upanishads and synthesized in the Bhagavad Gita. But it has ancient antecedents in Vedic literature, which recent archaeological finds now date to 3500 BCE, when the ancient Indus-Saraswati culture flourished throughout North India. The main terms and practices of Vedanta exist already in the cryptic mantras of the ancient Vedas that go back to the dawn of recorded history.

Reflecting the inner truth of the ancient Vedas, Vedanta is perhaps the oldest and most enduring spiritual teaching in the world. Spirituality, after all, is a pursuit of self-knowledge, not merely religious ritual or philosophy. Vedanta is the most characteristic philosophy of India and pervades most of the teachings of the land. Even modern movements like Sikh Dharma reflect the Vedantic idea that the individual soul is one with God.

Vedanta literally means “the end of the Vedas” but more appropriately it refers to the essence of the Vedas. From the standpoint of great yogis like Sri Aurobindo, the Vedas present the truth of Vedanta in a poetic-mantric language, while Vedanta presents Vedic mantric knowledge in the form of a rational philosophy. The wisdom hidden in the mantras of the ancient Rishis shines forth in the clear insight approaches of Vedanta.

Vedanta in the form of the early Upanishads preceded Buddhism by some centuries in India, perhaps by over a thousand years. Vedanta and Buddhism have much in common as ways of spiritual knowledge born of the Indic tradition. Many scholars see Buddhism as a modification of Vedanta, while others see it as a revolt against Vedanta. Vedanta eventually absorbed Buddhism in India, which by the seventh century had ceased to be a major religion in the country. Vedantic teachers accepted the figure of the Buddha as an incarnation (avatara) of Lord Vishnu, like Rama and Krishna, but rejected portions of Buddhist philosophy, particularly its denial of the existence of a creator.

Vedanta and Buddhism share ideas of karma, rebirth, and release from the cycle of rebirth (samsara). They have similar practices of mantra and meditation. They follow the same ethical disciplines of non-violence (ahimsa) and vegetarianism, and both religious systems have well-developed monastic orders. Relative to their views of truth, the Mahayana form of Buddhism and Advaita (non-dualistic) Vedanta have a similar emphasis on the Absolute and regard the phenomenal world as maya or illusion.

Like Zen Buddhism, non-dualistic Vedanta emphasizes the Self or Self-nature as the supreme Reality. It honors that Self in the world of nature; thus its great Swamis retire into the forests for a life of meditation. Vedantic teachers laud the great beauty of nature, revealed through mountains such as the Himalaya, as reflections of our true being beyond the illusions of the world.

Dhyana, the Sanskrit term for meditation used by Hindus and Buddhists alike, first arises in Vedic literature. The Upanishads say, “By the Yoga of meditation (Dhyana Yoga) the sages saw the Divine Self-power, hidden in its own qualities” (Shvetasvatara Upanishad I.2). Another Upanishad states, “Meditate on Om as the Self” (Katha Upanishad II.5), showing the technique of mantra meditation.

Perhaps the most eloquent explication of meditation occurs in the Chandogya, one of the oldest Upanishads. “Meditation (Dhyana) indeed is greater than the mind. The earth as it were meditates. The atmosphere as it were meditates. Heaven as it were meditates. The waters as it were meditate. The mountains as it were meditate. Both men and gods as it were meditate. He who worships God (Brahman) as meditation, as far as meditation extends, so far does he gain the power to act as he wills” (Chandogya Upanishad VII.7).

According to Vedanta, liberation can be achieved only through spiritual knowledge, which requires meditation. Other factors, such as good works or rituals, are merely aids in the process. But such liberating knowledge is not any ordinary or conceptual knowledge. It is direct insight into one’s own nature of pure consciousness.

Vedanta’s main approach is threefold: hearing the teaching with a receptive mind (shravana), deep thinking about it (manana), and meditating on it consistently (nididhyasana) until full realization dawns, which is a state of samadhi or transcendent awareness. Such hearing is not simply noting the words of the teachings; it involves a deep inner listening with an open mind and heart. Such thinking requires full concentration and a firm intent to understand oneself. Such meditation is a repeated practice of self-examination and self-remembrance throughout the day as one’s primary mental state.

Vedanta is a yoga of knowledge or a path of meditation. But it recognizes that other yogic paths are helpful, if not indispensable adjuncts, particularly the path of devotion (Bhakti Yoga), which takes us directly to the Divine presence in the heart. Vedanta employs all the limbs of classical yoga from asana to samadhi, using all methods of the yogas of knowledge, devotion, service and technique, depending upon the needs of the student.

Generally Vedanta does not prescribe any particular form of meditation en masse or give the same technique to everyone. Emphasizing the Self, it recommends different methods relative to the level and temperament of each person and according to his or her unique nature and life circumstances. For this reason Vedantic meditation is hard to characterize and defies any stereotype. There is no standard formula for it. However, there are a number of common approaches, particularly the practice of Self-inquiry. Yet Self-inquiry is also applied on an individual basis, in which its methods can vary greatly from one person to another.

Vedantic meditation is not only diverse but generally private, emphasizing individual practice more than group practice. Its model is the wandering sadhu in solitary retreat, rather than the monk in a big monastery. However, meditation sessions do occur as part of the satsangs or gatherings that are common in the tradition. These may extend over a period of days or weeks. Yet those participating in such sessions may practice different forms of meditation, based upon the specific instructions of their teachers.

Buddhist meditation aims to return to the natural state of the mind, which is regarded as the enlightened state. This occurs through negating the self or ego and awakening the Buddha-mind (Bodhichitta). Vedanta, on the other hand, is based on a clear distinction between the mind (manas), which is regarded as a product of ignorance or maya, and the Self (Atman), which transcends the mind. The Vedantic way is to dissolve the mind into the Self which is our true nature beyond the mind and its conditioning.

This Vedantic emphasis on the Self is perhaps its main characteristic, as well as its main difference from Buddhism. While Vedanta approaches pure awareness as the Self or Atman, Buddhism prefers the term anatman or non-self. This Vedantic emphasis on the Self finds an echo in Western mystical traditions like Gnosticism, which influenced early Christianity, and Islamic Sufism; all refer to God as the Self or the supreme I-am. This Western tradition of the Self dates at least back to the Biblical revelation of God as I-am-that-I-am to Moses, but it was generally obscured by a greater emphasis on monotheism as the highest truth. We also find such utterances of the Divine I am in pagan traditions, like those of the Celts, Greeks and Egyptians, which have many factors in common with Hinduism.

Vedanta’s theism, honoring the Divine Father and Mother, is another point of difference from Buddhism, which does not recognize the existence of any Creator apart from karma. Vedantic theism has some connections with the theistic traditions of the West, though it is more diverse and gives a greater place to the Goddess.

With its theistic side Vedanta recognizes surrender to the Divine as a primary method of spiritual practice along with Self-inquiry. By surrender to the Divine within our hearts we can go beyond all our difficulties and limitations. Yet surrender, though easy to conceive, is also a difficult process because it requires giving up the ego and all of our fears and desires that go with it. To facilitate this way of surrender is added chanting of Divine names and other devotional forms of worship. These can also be practiced along with knowledge-oriented techniques like Self-inquiry.

In the Vedanta we approach the Creator as a means of discovering our true Self, in which both the soul and God are one. Union with God is part of the process of Self-realization. The Deity worshipped is ultimately the same as oneself and we must come to see it in all beings. Until we see the Divine beloved within our own heart, our devotion has not yet reached its highest goal.

Vedanta postulates certain ultimate principles of the Absolute, God, the Soul, and Nature. It recognizes the supreme reality as Being, Consciousness, and Bliss (called Satchidananda), which is eternal and infinite. In this regard Vedanta follows an idealistic philosophy much like the Greek philosophies of Plato, Plotinus or Parmenides. Part of Vedantic meditation is contemplating these higher principles— for example meditating, on the formless Absolute and its laws (dharmas) behind the world of nature.

Meditation on the oneness of all is another important Vedantic approach. Vedanta sees pure unity or oneness as the supreme principle in existence. It recognizes a single law or dharma governing the entire universe. Whatever we do to others we do to ourselves because there is really only one Self in all. This is also the basis of Vedantic ethics that emphasize non-violence and compassion, treating others not like our self but as our Self.

Vedantic meditation aims at returning us to this original state of unity, in which all beings abide in the Self within the heart. While Vedanta like Buddhism does recognize the Void, stating the Self is like space, it holds that the Self pervades even the Void and witnesses it. For this reason Vedanta seldom regards the Void as the ultimate principle and emphasizes the unity of Pure Being more than voidness.

Vedanta does not neglect the psychological side, either. Like most Indian spiritual systems, its purpose is to show us how to permanently overcome all suffering. Vedantic meditation involves meditating upon suffering and removing its cause. Vedanta regards ignorance of our true Self as the cause of all our life problems. Because we don’t know our true Self, which is pure awareness beyond the body and mind, we must suffer, seeking to find happiness in the shifting external world. By returning to our true Self we can transcend psychological suffering and detach ourselves from any possible physical suffering as well. The pain of body and mind do not belong to the Self that is beyond time and space.

Vedanta has a profound understanding of the different layers and functions of the mind, from what we call the unconscious to the highest superconsciousness, for which it has a precise terminology. It recognizes the role of samskaras, the tendencies created in previous births, as causing our present condition and its difficulties as well as rewards. Vedanta sees fear and desire as the main roots of the mind that get us caught in the cycle of rebirth. It regards the ego or the false I, the I identified with the body, as the basis of these problems. Another part of Vedantic meditation is clearing our minds of the afflictions and karmic residues that block the practice of meditation. This involves affirming our true Self, which is the master of the Universe beyond all fear and desire, birth and death.

Vedanta recommends regular meditation for everyone, particularly during the hour or two before dawn, which it calls Brahma Muhurta or the hour of God. Sunrise and sunset are other important times for meditation because at these transitional periods in nature, energy can be more easily transformed. The times of the new, full and half moons are also excellent, as are the solstice and equinoctial points. Meditation is part of the very rhythm of life and nature and its ongoing transformations.

Very important for meditation is the period immediately before sleep in order to clear the day’s karma from the mind. Vedanta regards the deep sleep state as the doorway to the Self, our natural daily return to God. Its practices develop our awareness through waking and dream to deep sleep and beyond. Deep sleep is the knot of ignorance; when it is removed through meditation, we can discover our true nature and eternal peace. Maintaining awareness through dream and deep sleep is an important and ancient Vedantic approach.

Vedanta is perhaps the world’s oldest continuous meditation tradition. Like our eternal soul, it witnesses all the changes of time and history. It takes on new forms and inspires new teachers in every generation. Such an ancient and diverse meditation tradition is of great importance for all those who wish to understand what meditation really is and how best to practice it.

The Many Benefits of Meditation

The hustle and bustle of today’s fast-paced world almost makes you want to cry out, “Where can I find some peace and quiet?”

Meditation has become a very popular answer to the need for balance in today’s fast-moving society. Meditation was designed primarily for spiritual development, rather than mental or physical benefits. However, by nourishing the spiritual self, its benefits are then reflected throughout the human mind and body.

Spiritual benefits:

Human beings function on spiritual, mental, emotional and physical levels, with each level impressing the next. Your soul impresses your mind and helps you to choose your beliefs about reality. These beliefs then channel your thoughts into patterns which fit into that view of reality. Your thoughts feed into your emotions, and your emotions affect the well-being of your physical form.

It makes sense, therefore, to see that the root of the human tree, your spiritual self, is given the best possible nourishment.

Through meditation you contact the most real part of you. This part is the spiritual source which existed before your physical body was formed. Through contact with that reality, the essence of your soul, you become more identified with that inner you. Your inner self is who you really are. Then, you begin to realize more of your potential because you are able to identify what that potential is.

Your soul is the fountain of wisdom within you. It has access to all information in the universe because it is consciously connected to the entire universe. Your soul is your personal connection to Infinite Being.

Through contacting your inner self, you become more aware of your greatest inner joy. When you follow that innermost joy, you consciously resonate with your soul and manifest your true potential in life. This inner resonance enhances your intuition, making you more capable of choosing the best options in life. This increases the synchronicity in your life as you have then achieved a natural flow which is more in harmony with the universe around you.

Mental benefits:

Living in the now is a spiritual practice and a habit which requires mental attention. By focusing on the now, you bring inner issues under control. Your belief system says that you cannot change the past, and that you can only change the future by acting in the present. It is therefore the “now” which holds the key to effective action. When past-related regrets or future-related worries are brought into the now, they can be experienced, examined for what they are, and then acted upon.

Meditation is well-known for producing increased mental clarity. Greater concentration and creativity are produced, as well as greater memory. The expression of creativity is one of the great natural joys in life, one which appears more and more as you follow your true path through life.

Emotional benefits:

The more you contact your inner self, the more you understand who you really are. This brings forth a balanced sense of self-esteem, one which relies upon your true self rather than the judgments of others.

Inner strength is awakened. This is a calm and self-assured strength, one which helps you face stress and anxiety with renewed energy and poise.
With stress under control, your capacity for happiness is naturally expanded.

Physical benefits:

Meditation provides a deep form of rest that works wonders for the human nervous system. This increases the human capacity for managing stressful situations and provides a sense of increased energy for handling all aspects of daily living.

Meditation brings the body, mind, emotions and spirit into harmony. Disease is a word meaning “dis-ease,” literally a form of discord which reflects from the emotions onto the physical body. Extensive research projects have produced valid claims for meditation helping control many ailments, including hypertension, anxiety and panic attacks.

With as many benefits as these, it is little wonder that meditation has become such a popular tool in helping people cope with today’s fast-paced world.

The Yoga-Meditation technique is designed for the ultimate in spiritual results, yet it reflects its benefits throughout your entire system, nourishing your mental, emotional and physical bodies.

Make meditation your daily haven of spirituality in today’s noisy world. In no time at all, your morning meditation session will become the highlight of your day.

BRAHMAN

Sanatana Dharmic thought refers to the Supreme Consciousness as Brahman. Brahman is designated as SAT-CHIT-ANANDA, translated to BEING-CONSCIOUSNESS-BLISS.

Being (sat) refers to the underlying unity of the universe in its existential substratum. The Supreme Consciousness is pure unqualified being, that transcends illusory energy (maya) and truly exists. Consciousness (cit) acknowledges the principle of awareness which informs being and acts as an unchanging witness of the universal being. This self-conscious enlightenment of the universe is an illuminating experience. Bliss (ananda) is the result of the illuminating experience. It is a state of joyous, ecstatic, and unmatched majesty.

Affirmation of these attributes does not come from mere speculation but through direct experience. However, it can also be said that Brahman is not sat-chit-ananda. As a transcendental, infinite being, Brahman flouts any and all descriptions and characterizations. This is where the significance of the negation, mentioned earlier in chapter one as neti, neti, comes into play. Neti, neti is not ultimately denial of all things but an assertion that Brahman cannot be confined into the language and syntax of mankind. Humanity will fall short because our faculties are limited. Brahman is unthinkable and can only be known through experience.

Brahman, the Supreme Consciousness, is not a person. Personhood is defined as being capable of intentional action. Brahman does not act as there is no motive for Brahman to act. Brahman simply exists: eternally peaceful, utterly secure, requiring and longing nothing. Humans are driven by desires, aversions and are constantly insecure; always victim to uncertainty and frustration. Brahman will do nothing to save humanity from despondent conditions because absolutely everything needed to change ones circumstances has been given. Brahman does not love because Brahman is love. Brahman has no interest in worldly suffering because humanity can save themselves. For Brahman there is no good or evil because those are just names and forms of mankind’s narrow identities. Humans have all the tools to become Brahman and all we need to do is to merge our narrow personhood with the Supreme Consciousness.

Atma and Brahman, One in the Same

Individuality arises by identification of the self, through ignorance with the elements; with the disappearance of consciousness of the many… it disappears. Where there is consciousness of Brahman, individuality is no more.

-Brihadaranyaka Upanishad

By peeling away every projected sheath, one discovers his/her soul or atma. That atma is only his or her because it is contained in the vessel of ones individuality. But with each sheath taken away, a composite part of ones in individuality or personhood is eliminated. With all sheaths gone, what is left is the Supreme Consciousness and that is the same for all of creation.

Since everything, animate and inanimate, is ultimately a projection of the Supreme Consciousness, what is there to know about Brahman as itself? As an entity that simply is, Brahman is declared as one that neither acts nor changes. Creation is a just an expression of Brahman’s being. A metaphor from the Mundaka Upanishad states “As plants grew from the soil and hair from the body of man, so springs the universe from the eternal Brahman.” This statement does a good job in illustrating that our existence was not a deliberate, desired or will decision of Brahman. It shows that creation is not independent from Brahman but that we are forever connected to the Supreme Source.  Realizing oneness with the Supreme Consciousness is all that is needed to move beyond a relative existence to the Absolute is-ness.

Is-ness is the highest perfection that can be attained. Distinction from Brahman is not perfection. Anything distinct from Him would make Him less perfect. A reality that is solely the Supreme Consciousness is perfect and as Brahman has no motive to act or create, no real distinctions are ever formed.

Common Perception of God

Supreme Consciousness or Brahman or God is a principle force for how many live their lives but how is God perceived? Is He a large mystical being living among white angels in the clouds, in his white robe and long beard? Or is God a being with multiple arms holding celestial weapons? There are endless characterizations of the Supreme Consciousness but how does limiting one self to a one dimensional identity of God become self-defeating? Sanatana Dharmic thought on the nature of the Supreme Consciousness has been presented but lets contrast it with how God is used a means for other goals rather than being an end.

All the religions of the world have been promising the vision of God, mental peace, salvation, and many kinds of temptations to their followers, but so far nothing has come to fruition. The more involved one get into divisive religious activities, the more likely one is to become dissatisfied. Frustrated expectations of God and religion always take their toll. Many preachers claim that if their teachings and traditions are followed without question, believers will find salvation. But after they return from their place of worship, they are frequently more strained, frustrated, and worried about their problems than are “non-believers.”

For seekers of the Ultimate truth, blind faith does not suffice. Belief in God with our emotional maturity and peace of mind, the two prerequisites for enlightenment, does not take a person very far in the search for truth and reality. On the path of enlightenment, it is necessary to have control over the senses and mind, but it is not necessary to have belief in God. Enlightenment is a state of liberation and freedom from the ignorance that causes suffering. Achieving this enlightenment is the prime necessity of every life. There is no necessity to attain mere belief in God, but it is necessary to have profound knowledge of the truth which lies behind the concept of the word God.

Superimposition of ignorance and limitations on God, causes tremendous suffering for those who choose to accept those distorted fantasies without thorough analysis. The definition of God needs to transcend convention and stand for something greater than one’s own limited existence. If the Ultimate Truth is defined as God, then there is no difficulty. The Ultimate Truth can be practiced with mind, action, and speech, and once the truth is known with mind, action, and speech, knowledge is complete. But having faith in the fantasies of the religionists or any other person for that matter, creates limited boundaries for the human intellect and leads to a religious atmosphere in which the poor followers must suffer until the last breath of their lives.

Though religious doctrines tempt the human mind with promises of the vision of God, it does not define the concept of God and give a way for one to verify that definition. The way religious books present God is injurious to human growth, for one who believes in God without understanding and experiencing what God really is, closes the door to further knowledge and learning and cannot experience the inner dimensions of life. Such false assurance are strongly discouraged in the Upanishads, which warn, “neti, neti—not this, not this.” The student is made aware of the need to understand the reality and is encouraged to search for truth within. The Upanishads inspire one first to know oneself and then to know the Self of all. Upanishadic literature makes one aware that every being embodied in a physical sheath is a moving shrine of Supreme Consciousness. It also provides methods for entering the inner shrine, wherein shines the infinite light of knowledge, peace, and happiness.

Religions often prescribe prayer as a way to connect with God. However all it really does is satisfy the need for desires to be heard and comfort people in spite for their frustrations. Many people who are not acquainted with the basic principles of Vedantic philosophy think that there are prayers in the Upanishadic literature. For example: “Lead me from the unreal to the Real; lead me from darkness to Light; lead me from mortality to Immortality” may beto be a prayer. However, it is actually an expression of the aspirant’s spiritual endeavor that reminds him/her of the Goal. It is a way of maintaining constant awareness of Supreme Consciousness. It is not asking God or any supernatural being to help one or to lead one to the higher states. The idea is not to know God as a distinct being, but to know that consciousness pervades all beings including myself. One is not actually attaining something but uncovering something that is already there. This Upanishadic verse is not a prayer asking for anything but a way of strengthening constant awareness of Supreme Consciousness which is the goal of the Upanishads.

Dualism is the first round experience of a contemplative mind. Many religions propagate dualistic concepts, such as good vs. evil, God vs. Devil, God and humans, etc… These concepts are illogical when they are analyzed with clarity of mind and pure reason. In the course of study, a student first experiences dualism—the reality that he exists and the Supreme Consciousness also exists. Then a state comes when he/she experiences “Tat-vam-asi” translated as “Thou art That””. These two fields of experience appear to be different, but they are essentially one and the same. These are the progressive states that aspirants experiences, but as far as the Supreme Consciousness  is concerned, there is only one without second.

The philosophy of the Upanishads asserts that the ultimate goal is to be free from all pain and misery whatsoever. This state of freedom from anxieties, misery, and ignorance is called enlightenment. It is the union of the individual with Universal Consciousness. Preachers of religion say that one has to have faith in the sayings of the scriptures and in the way they are preached. But in Upanishadic philosophy; the mind is released from all religious prejudices so then one can think and reason freely. The Upanishads declare that even the best of intellects is incapable of fathoming the unfathomable, and that learning the scriptures is not the ultimate way of realization. On the path of enlightenment, even the lust for learning must eventually be abandoned.

In some of the Upanishads, the word Īśa or Īśvara, which is roughly translated as God, appears. But the concept of God as preached by religion is not found in the Upanishads. In the Upanishads, the word Īśvara is used to denote a state of collective consciousness. Thus, God is not a being that sits on a high pedestal beyond the sun, moon, and stars; God is actually the state of Ultimate Reality. But due to the lack of direct experience, God has been personified and given various names and forms by religions throughout the ages. When one expands one’s individual consciousness to the Universal Consciousness, it is called Self-realization, for the individual self has realized the unity of diversity, the very underlying principle, or Universal Self, beneath all forms and names. The great sages of the Upanishads avoid the confusions related to conceptions of God and encourage students to be honest and sincere in their quests for Self-realization. Upanishadic philosophy provides various methods for unfolding higher levels of truth and helps students to be able to unravel the mysteries of the individual and the universe.

Knowledge of Brahmavidyā, the direct experience of Supreme Consciousness, is the common theme of all Upanishadic literature. “I am Brahman; the whole universe is Brahman; Thou art That”—such statements are the foundations for all its theories, principles, and practices. All philosophical and psychological discussions are meant to make students aware of their true nature—Brahman, the Supreme Consciousness. For a realized one, there is perennial joy in the universe, but for the ignorant there is only misery everywhere. The moment a student realizes his essential nature, the darkness of ignorance is dispelled, but before that the individual mind travels to the groove of self-created misery and thus projects the belief that there is misery everywhere. In reality, this universe is like a great poem of joy, a beautiful song, and a unique work of art. The moment one unfolds and realizes one’s human capacity and ability, one becomes aware that, “Thou art that—Brahman.”

Here lies the difference between a Self-realized person and a religious person. The religious person does not know and yet believes in God, but the realized person is directly aware of the Supreme Consciousness and the Ultimate Reality of life and the universe. First, he knows the truth, and then he believes it. If God is the Ultimate Truth hidden behind many forms and names, then it should be realized, and, for realizing the Truth with mind, action, and speech, one needs to practice truth rather than being a hypocrite and a fanatic. It is not necessary to believe in God to attain self-enlightenment, but it is very necessary to know the various levels of consciousness and finally to realize the ultimate source. The manifest aspect and the unmanifested aspect of consciousness (Brahman) should be realized, for that alone can enlighten aspirants.

Vedic Trinity of Original Creation

The principle of Original Creation employs three aspects of Original Consciousness. It is stated as:

 Creation = Thought + Feeling + Motion

Motion is the key aspect of Original Consciousness which brought the dance of Thought and Feeling into play, making all else in the universe possible. Infinite Being is the underlying state of all consciousness which projected itself into this Trinity of Original Creation.

Study of ancient Vedic philosophy, found that what Vedantins call Brahman is exactly the original consciousness that is referred to as Infinite Being. Study the Vedic definitions of the Trinity which created the universe.

The Vedic Trinity consists of the principles called Brahma (that’s Brahma without an ‘n’ on the end), Vishnu and Shiva. While these three principles have deity-like names, Vedantins are well aware that they represent principles of original consciousness and not person-like deities. However, in order to describe the many characteristics of these facets of original consciousness, they are given names and then extensive and poetic descriptions of their many attributes.

Basically, the traditional attributes of the Vedic Trinity are summarized as being represented by the principles of Creation, Preservation and Destruction.