Taitreya Upanishad Class 19
Chapter # 1, Anuvakaha # 11, Shloka # 1:
Having taught the Vedas the preceptor enjoins the pupils, “ Speak the truth, do your duty, never swerve from study of the Vedas, do not cut off the line of descendants in your family, after giving the preceptor the fee he desires. Never err from truth, never fall from duty, never overlook your own welfare, never neglect your prosperity and never neglect the study and the propagation of the Vedas.”
Chapter # 1, Anuvakaha # 11, Shloka # 2:
Never swerve from your duties towards gods and towards the departed “souls’ (manes). May the mother be, to thee, a god. May the father be, to thee, a god. May the preceptor be to thee, a god. May the guest be, to thee, a god.
Swamiji said Anuvakaha 11, Chapter # 1, presents the core of dharma shastra’s. This knowledge is supposed to be learned by everybody and certainly followed by a Brahmachari. Dharma incudes:
- Performing puja to God or performing Karma’s.
- Developing proper values and ethics or Daivika Sampathi
- Developing proper attitude or Bhavana
All three are important. Some rituals are mentioned as well such as Daivika Karmani and Pitr Karmani
The Upanishad also talks about Satyam Vada. It also discusses some attitudes we need to develop, the topic we are now discussing.
One has to look upon one’s Mother, Father, Teacher and the Guest, each of them respectively, as God. Mother and father both may have defects. Despite that one should look upon them as God. Acharya can also have defects but one should look upon him as God. Acharya here includes teachers of material sciences (physics, chemistry…) and arts (dance, music.) as well.
Atithi is to be looked upon as God. In Vedic times this value was a very important one. The visit of a guest was looked upon as will of God. As per Vedas, Atithi is one who comes as an unknown visitor on an unplanned visit. Unfortunately, we cannot follow this value anymore as many Swami’s and Con artists are now coming in as Atithi’s. Moreover, nowadays, hotels are available as are restaurants, as well as modern tools of quick communication. Even the average family today is a small one usually living in small quarters. So, this value has become one of academic interest only. They say Shiva and Vishnu also lived with their in-laws for long periods enjoying hospitality. Even with in-laws the longer your stay, the level of hospitality decreases.
Chapter # 1, Anuvakaha # 11, Shloka # 3:
Let only actions that are free from blemishes be done, and not others. You must follow only those virtuous actions that are irreproachable, and not others.
Chapter # 1, Anuvakaha # 11, Shloka # 4:
You must not breathe a word when those, who are more distinguished than you, are in discussion on spiritual matters (or, you must offer a seat to superiors and worship them with acts of reverence and love).
Continuing Anuvakaha 11, chapter 1, here, the teacher gives an important advice. There are three sources of knowledge for dharma and adharma or establishing the Do’s and Don’ts in life. They are:
- Vedas: also known as Sruthi Grantham, is the primary source of dharma. Especially the Vedapoorva Bhaga.
- Smrithi’s: Rishi’s and Acharyas wrote secondary scriptures, also known as Smrithi Grantham. Smrithi’s are based upon Vedic teachings. Thus, words are of Acharya but content is of Vedas. Smrithi elaborates the teachings of Sruthi through stories. Values are hidden in the story like butter in milk. We have to churn and extract the butter. Acharyas churned and brought the butter up. They all bring Dharma Gyanam.
- Lifestyle of people who lived according to the Sruthis. These are people have conquered Raga and Dvesha. Their life is an open book of shastric living also called Shista Achara. They follow shastras in life. Their life is visible to us or it may even come to us in the form of a biography.
Suppose Smrithi has a statement or a Shishta does something, contradicting the Sruthi’s; whose direction should I follow? How to handle such contradictions? Citing an example of this contradiction, Durvasa was a great Rishi but he was angry all the time, while Shastra’s say one has to maintain a balanced mind.
The answer is Shruti alone dominates, not the Shista or the Smrithi. So, in all such cases of contradiction, follow the Vedas. Shastras believe, in general, that no human being is 100% perfect. Even Rishi’s can have doshas. Even Avatara’s can have Doshas. There is only one perfect being and that is God. Even god, when he comes down as a human being, he shows human weaknesses. So, the teacher says, follow the Shastra Vidhi, at all times.
Why Mahatmas perform contradictory actions, one does not know. Do not challenge them? Do not judge them. Learn from their right actions and don’t take up their wrong actions. Thus, Parashurama cut his mother’s head while Ekalavya cut his thumb as a dakshina for his Guru. In such cases do not judge or criticize them. Sometimes the situation requires compromises, like Sri Krishna’s actions in Mahabharata. No value is absolute; they are all situational. If so, why can’t I compromise, is a question that can rise? Shastras say you can also do so but only after mastering Values and Ethics. Once you conquer Raga and Dvesha you can consider compromising on values. Rishi’s and Mahatma’s have transcended Raga and Dvesha, hence they can perform contradictory actions.
Vedas say such a person can contradict Vedas and even create their own Dharma.
Birla gave a blank check book to Mahatma Gandhi. However, after quiet some time he noted that Gandhiji had used only one Rupee. So, you give freedom to one who is mature and responsible. So too, it is with Mahatma’s. Once you reach this maturity you can also perform actions contradictory to shastra’s.
Follow your Guru, but be aware that if the Guru performs actions contradicting the shastras, don’t follow him, follow the shastra’s. Thus, it is said of Sri Krishna, don’t go by what he did rather go by what he said.
Don’t take adharmic actions. Do not criticize mahatmas.
Great people also had weaknesses. Filter the weaknesses. Look at positives and imbibe them. Mimamsa is filtering positives and pulling it out. Citing several examples: Prashurama, in cutting his mother’s head, was following his father’s instructions. Ekalavya was willing to give anything as Gurudashina. He displayed Guru bhakti. Rama sent Sita to the forest. The lesson was, a king was supposed to have the pulse of the people in mind or a Prajaranjaka Raja. Pandavas sharing of one wife, here the mother’s instructions were followed. Prahalada violated father’s instructions but he was glorified. Here Pitravakyam was not in sync with the shastra’s.
Vedic tradition is not person centered. Thus, Vedas are not prophet centered like Christianity and Islam. Buddha was an Avatara but Buddhism contradicted the Vedas, hence he could not succeed in India.
Until you know the shatras, the Guru has to teach you; after that Guru has to withdraw. After that, shastras alone prevail.
Patanjali, a Rsihi, gave us the Yoga system. Yoga’s philosophy, however, was not in sync with Vedas. So, his philosophy was not accepted. Yoga itself was accepted.
Gyana Vaiseshika was accepted but its philosophy was not accepted, as it was not in sync with Vedas.
Anywhere Shastras are contradicted, do not accept it. This is the teaching of the Guru. Even Shankaracharya’s writings were analyzed for such contradictions.
Shloka # 4:
Keep an open mind. Suppose some Brahmanas ( Not by birth, rather people who have studied Vedas) were to come, who are superior to us in age, experience, and knowledge, welcome them and use it as an opportunity to learn. Experience is a big teacher. An uneducated man with experience knows a lot more than an educated one without experience. When they, come ask them to take a seat. Once seated don’t talk about your self. Use their visit to learn more. Mahatmas generally don’t like to talk. So, don’t talk about your self. Ask them questions and make them talk. Thus, learn more and more.
- Follow the teachings of Shastra’s at all times. Any contradictions to Shastras, anywhere, do not follow them.
- Do not criticize mahatmas.
With Best Wishes,