Taitreya Upanishad Class 21


Greetings All,

Shlokas # 6, 7 and 8:

Chapter 1, Anuvakaha # 11, Shloka # 6:

Now, if there should arise any doubt regarding your acts or any uncertainty in respect of your conduct in life, you should act in those matters exactly as those Brahmanas who are present there, who are thoughtful, religious (experienced), not set on by others, not cruel (i.e. gentle) and are devoted to dharma.

Continuing his teaching of the Upanishad Swamiji said, there is a general complaint that Hinduism is the most confusing religion in the world. Moreover, this criticism comes from Hindus themselves. They feel, compared to Hinduism, all other religions are far less confusing Swamiji says, there is some truth in this statement. Whatever is presented as inferior in Hinduism, the very same ideas also make it superior as well. So we should know about the so-called weaknesses of Hinduism as well as how they are also its greatness.

First: Hinduism has voluminous scriptures. It is said to be so vast that a person studying them 24X365 for years may not be able to complete them. It is said that Bharadwaja Rishi studied scriptures for 100 years and then asked Indra to give him boon of continuing his studies in the next birth, from birth itself, as well. Thus, he is supposed to have studied the scriptures for 300 lives at which point he asked Indra how much more he had to go? Indra picked up a handful of mud from a mountain and said you have a long ways to go. Indra also said the Vedas are infinite. Out of 1008 scriptures we have found only six of them. So, this can be a positive or negative aspect of Hinduism. To understand a part from the whole one must have an awareness of the whole. This is the discovery allopathic medicine made that while treating a part one has to consider the whole body as well the psychosomatic aspects as well.

But to know the whole you have to study each part of it as well. To study Gita, one has to study each shloka. We also need to know details of each shloka. So, to know any part of Hinduism one has to have an understanding of the totality of Vedic vision, but the scriptures are too voluminous for that. This is thus a weakness as well as positive aspect of the religion.

Second: Scriptures do not address any specific human being or group rather they address the many layers of seekers. Thus, many Varnas (Brahmana, Kshatriya, Vaishya, Shudra) and many ashramas ( Brahmachrya, Grihasta, Vanaprasta, Sanyasa), are all addressed. From the grossest (spiritually) to the most evolved are addressed. So, if we do not understand which part is meant for who it can become a problem. It is like a doctor asking one person to eat well while advising another to fast. Vedic teaching is thus directed to different adhikari’s. In some places puja is glorified while in another it is not. Karma is considered great in some while elsewhere it is not. In Mandukya Upanishad Gaudapada says it is unfortunate that people are committed to Ishwara Upasana. Gaudapada also criticizes religion, Ishwara etc., causing confusion. So, it is seemingly full of contradictions; a negative on one hand; on the other hand it addresses all levels, even a tribal can follow it; which is a positive. Thus, even Ishwara is described as Aroopa, Eka Roopa, and Aneka Roopa. So, which Ishwara Roopa is correct? It is a complex teaching.

Third: Ethics and Morality: At superficial level we can discern ethics and morality. However, at deeper level, there are more gray areas also known as Dharma Sankata. Thus, what is my duty as a husband may conflict with my duty as a father? Scriptures give us a lot of stories that illustrate Dharma Sankata;we are supposed to learn from them and take our lesson. Citing example of Rama, when he asked Sita to go to the forest, he had a conflict between the role of husband and role of ruler. Another example: a middle class person has an aged parent who needs expensive treatment while he also has a son who has to pay an expensive fee for a college admission. Where should he spend his limited money? This is dharma Sankata. Was Vibhishana correct or Kumbhakarna? The epic, Ramayana, stresses that neither Vibhishana nor Kumbhakarna strayed from the path of Dharma and that there is no single way out of a moral dilemma. Ramayana teaches that Kumbhakarna adhered to the Dharma of loyalty to his kin when his advice fails, while Vibhishana chose to oppose his kin when his advice failed.

Thus, there are a lot of gray areas. Scriptures can only guide us. There are subjective areas. In Gita as well, Sri Krishna says ahimsa is very important, therefore Arjuna should fight. While Gita teaches Satyam as a value Sri Krishna himself obfuscates the truth in many instances. Scriptures appear to be vague. Dharma is relative and not absolute.

Fourth: Scriptures were given to man a long, long, time ago. They did not imagine all situations that we face. Citing an example: For learning driving one can be taught some traffic situations. The reality is that in India all possible traffic situations are faced. Thus, we face buffaloes, pot holes etc., to name a few. Scriptures do not mention many situations. So, interpretation is required. Citing another example, consider that in many homes the toilet and bathroom are together. As per shastras one is a place for shaucham while other is a place for ashucham. Both are not supposed to be together. However, the house is usually small and both have to be placed together. So, heavy interpretation is required.

Finally: Method of interpretation is per sampradya or mimasa, which we never study. We cannot interpret on our own. Shatras have built-in interpretation and the Gurus’s presented this to students. That is a reason why scriptures were not printed. It was always passed on in an oral tradition. Under the oral tradition, one could not perform self-study. You always needed a teacher. However, due to western influences it is now printed but there is no one to help interpret them.

So, now, we go an original text without a key. Vedas used exaggeration. Thus, the story of Ajamila is that he was a Brahmin who fell into sinful ways, but at moment of death he chanted Narayana. He was actually calling for one of his sons. But his Narayana chant took him to God. Thus, in Kali Yuga, Nama smaranam is considered a path to liberation.  These are considered exaggerations of shastras.  However, because they are publicized today, without interpretation, they are causing confusion. To not to be confused one has to learn under a Guru or go to a person who can interpret. Then, Hinduism will not be confusing. The interpreter has to be a Guna Brahmana, an empath and one who is a dharma-moksha pradhana. Once you learn from them your conscience will become shastra oriented. Then, it will give you the right answer. One has to be free of Raga and Dvesha to be able to interpret Shastra.

Chapter 1, Anuvakaha # 11, Shloka # 7:

And now with regards to those who are falsely accused of some crime; you should rule yourself exactly in the same manner as do the brahmanas who are present there, who are thoughtful and religious, not set on by others, not cruel, and are devoted to Dharma.

Our doubts are usually related to conduct or rituals. Veda cites an example. Suppose you have a friend. Then, you come to know from other sources that he is not an ethical person. The question is should I drop him? Shastra say one should drop an unethical person. What should I do? So, find a brahmana interpreter and see if he associates with your friend? Or ask the interpreter about your dilemma and ask him what you should do? Seek their guidance related to dharma shastras.

Chapter 1, Anuvakaha # 11, Shloka # 8:

This is the command. This is the teaching. This is the secret of Vedas. This is the commandment.  This should be observed. Verily, having understood this fully, one must act in the way taught above, continuously till the last and not otherwise.

If one does not follow this advise of shastra, we will lose. The essence of Vedas, Veda Poorva, is enshrined in Anuvakha # 11. Following the commandments of Anuvakaha # 11 is considered following the dharma shastra itself. These are the commandments of God. It is a commandment because if you violate it then you suffer in Samsara. This is not an optional commandment. It is a requirement of Vedas. So, lead a life as per Anuvakaha # 11.

Chapter 1, Anuvakaha # 12, Shloka # 1:

Concluding Shantipatha.

May Mitra (sun) be good to us. May Varuna be good to us. May Aryama be good to us. May Indra and Brihaspathi be good to us. May all pervading Vishnu be good to us. Prostrations to the Brahman. Prostration to thee, O Vayu. Thou, indeed, art the visible Brahman. Thee I have declared the “right”. Thee I have declared the “good”. That has protected me. That has protected the teacher.

Now the shanti patha is chanted. It is a Thank you. There are some differences between the invocation shloka (chapter 1, anuvakha 1, shloka 1) and this ending shanti patha.

You have blessed us. We could complete the teaching. So, thank you. With this the Om Shanti is repeated three times. The Om Shanti is said to remove obstacles to Sravanam, Mananam and Nidhidhyasanam.

Take Away:

Dharma is relative and not absolute.

With Best Wishes,

Ram Ramaswamy