The wise men, like the bees who reach deep with the tender folds of the blossoms to extract and enjoy the honey, delve deep into the scriptures, and revel in ‘the one and only ‘ Truth- the Bliss of Advaita – Advaita Makaranda. The One and Only is a unique text, Wherein the author Lakshmindhar Kavi through subtle yet powerful logic, guides the reader to the doubtless conclusion, ‘I am the infinite Existence- Consciosness-Bliss.’ Swami Tejomayananda’s commentary makes it easy for us to reflect and comprehend such unimaginable truths like, ‘I am all pervading.’ ‘I am the omniscient cause off ‘, ‘I am the imperishable’ or ‘I am the one without a second.’
Advaita Makaranda, one of the most beautiful texts on Vedanta, is a work of Sri Laksmidhara Kavi. Somehow, people have not come to know of this text; hence it is not as popular as it should be. It deserves our serious study. It is a fact that we know precious little about Sri Laksmidhara Kavi. What we know is that he lived in the late seventeenth century and was born in Jagannatha Puri in Odisha. He was a poet in the court of King Baja Bahadura of Kurumancala Pradesh.
Besides Advaita Makaranda, he authored two other texts-Amrta Tarangini, which is his short notes (tika) on Srimad Bhagavatam and Bhagavannama Kaumudi, in which he has revealed the glory and sanctity of the Lord's name and how His name can lead us to Liberation (nama mahima), He himself has mentioned at the end of Bhagavannama Kaumudi that he himself has written Amrta Tarangini, Bhagauannama Kaumudi and Advaita Makaranda, and hence there is no doubt about the authorship of these books. From these three works, we learn that his teacher
was Svami Anantananda. In the first verse of Advaita Makaranda he offers devoted salutations to'Anantananda'.
On Advaita Makaranda, we find a short commentary written by a great Vedantin, Svayamprakasa Yati. We do not
have much information about him, but it is believed that he belonged to Tiruchi in Tamil Nadu.
Makaranda means ‘the honey found in flowers’. It is that essence which only bees can reach out to and gather after crawling deep into the flowers. Others look at flowers from near or from a distance and enjoy its colour, fragrance, and feel its petals. Some as they heart. But the bee alone is capable of reaching deep within to collect the nectar from the flowers.
The Upanisad mantras are like flowers. Many are satisfied by merely reading or chanting them or listening to them from others. Some, who understand the meaning of the mantras, enjoy more. There may be some who read the Upanisad only to glorify themselves by expounding on them. Others become great speakers adept at explaining them. Others get degrees and doctorates on the knowledge of Upanisad and feel satisfied with the name and fame gained. But only wise men are able to understand, experience and enjoy the deeper indicative meaning of the mantras and reach the makaranda – the nectar – or the essence of flowers of the Upanisadas, which is the non-dual Truth (advaita Brahma). Thus, Advaita Makaranda means that the non-dual Truth (advaita Brahman) itself is the makaranda – the nectar – of the Upanisads. As in the mantras of the Upanisass, the theme of the text is the non-dual Brahma. If we can experience the bliss of Brahma in these verses, then we have enjoyed the text truly.
Vedanta texts fall into several categories. The Upanisads are called the authoritative texts (pramana granthas) since they are the source books for the supreme Knowledge. Then there are the books of categories (prakarana granthas) which themselves fall under many grades –the elementary ones like the Mandukya Karika. Some are records of the experience of realised souls (siddhanubhava granthas) which we just read and enjoy; for example, Astavakra-gita, Avadhuta- gita , and Jivanmuktananda Lahari. Again, some are informative ones for beginners, like Vedantasara). They are meant for students who are qualified with discrimination, dispassion and so on and have listened to Vedanta from a qualified Master.
Even after listening to the scriptures most of us have not directly realised that the infinite Truth (Brahman) is me. Doubts and questions arising in our minds obstruct this Realisation. Advaita Makaranda is a text in which the compassionate author Sri Laksmidhara Kavi, through reason and logic, established that the one absolute Reality is my own Self. Logic and reasoning is required since doubts arise in the intellect. Texts like the Brahmasutra also provide logic, but they are meant for Brahmasutra also provide logic, but they are meant for more advanced and serious students. Here Sri Laksmidhara Kavi gives the logic in a very simple from, so that even the dull (manda) and mediocre (madhyama) students (adhikaris) can comprehend. However the logic employed, is quite subtle and powerful.
We know that listening (sravana), reflection (manana) and meditation and (nididhyasana) are the means to the direct experience of the Self. ‘Sravana’ really is a technical term and it is more than mere listening to a discourse. It is that which removes our doubts regarding the means of Knowledge, and the subject matter or the Knowledge revealed in the Upanisads (pramana asambhavan). When a seeker listens to a Master and ascertains that the individual is the infinite Truth (Jiva-Brahma- aikya) alone is the Knowledge revealed by the Upanisads, then we say he has don sravana properly.
A man wishes to realise the supreme Truth, yet this realisation is obstructed by doubts. Often he behaves as though he is on the top of the world which is because he is really the supreme Lord, but his folly now is that he asserta this supremacy while identifying himself with his body!
Reflection (manana) is that which removes doubts such as ‘How is this identity between the finite individual and the infinite Truth be possible? How can I be the infinite Truth (Brahman)?
These doubts are removed by logical reasoning and thinking. The purpose of Advaita Makaranda is to eliminate these doubts from within us (prameya asambhavana). Simply stated, the text under study removes all the doubts n our mind regarding the Truth, thereby paving the way to Self-realisation.
The third step, meditation (nididhyasana) removes the erroneous notions of the body identification that persists in us because of our habit of our habit trough many lives (viparita bhavana).
Advaita Makaranda, is a book of reflection. Topics such as qualification of student, characteristics of a Guru, the method of approaching a Guru and so on, are not mentioned. It is an introductory textbook (prakarana grantha) which deals directly with the doubts regarding the Reality (prameya asambhavana).
The three main principles of Vedanta are –a) Brahma Satyam – The infinite Reality is the Truth. b) Jagat mithya – The word is unreal. c) Jivo Brahmaiva na parah – The individual is none other than the infinite Reality. The third one, the identity of the individual and the infinite Reality (Jiva and Brahman) is considered as the most important when we hear about this oneness of the individual and the infinite Truth, doubts arise in our mind. Why do these doubts come? We cannot say that lack of purity of mind is the only reason as we find that doubts persist in the mind of even pure indeed souls. Then why do these doubts persist? The main reason is the extreme faith that we have put in our sense organs (pratyaksa pramana) over many a lifetimes. Also inference (anumana) is based on direct perception (pratyaksa). So we take all that we perceive through the senses to be real. For example, we slip and dash our head against a wall and experience pain which is very real and excruciating to us. Therefore, we learn to take what the eyes see and the head feels as real.
Thus direct perception has been the most authentic, valid and powerful means of knowledge for us. So when the Vedas (Sruti) say or the wise men declare what is contrary to our experience, we cannot believe it. The feeling remains in our mind that the perceived knowledge (pratyaksa pramana) is stronger than the scriptural (Sruti) assertions. We do not have the firm conviction that the knowledge of the Vedas (Vedanta) alone is right even if it contradicts our experience. We need to develop this conviction. It is indeed strange that, once we have such a faith (sraddha), even through the unreality of the direct perceptions (pratyaksa), inference (anumana) and so on, the unreality of the world can be proved.
Let us make an inquiry into this aspect as our knowledge of Vedanta will be clearer if we can prove that Sruti is more convincing than direct perception (pratyaksa pramana).
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