Monday, November 14, 2005

Gyan or Knowledge acquisition

Today, i am gonna draw a parallel between the Ancient and Modern methods of knowledge acquisitions.

In the Vedic disciplines, the knowledge is acquired through this quadruplet : Praman, Pramey, Sadhan, Fal. Praman is the basis of the process, Pramey is the object of knowledge, Sadhan is the means of acquiring the knowledge and Fal is the result of following the process.
First the Pramey is decided i.e. the subject about which the knowledge is to be acquired. It could be anything from the world, the soul, the God etc.
Then the Praman is to be agreed upon i.e. the references w.r.t. which the process of knowledge acuisition is followed. They could be anything like Pratyaksh (observables), Anumaan (inference), Tark (logic), Shabda (scriptural words) etc.
Then Sadhan is the procedure or means of acquiring the knowledge. Depending upon the Pramey and Praman, there is to be devised a procedure to reach the objective of acquiring the knowledge. It could be sacrifices, yoga, tap, listening, recitation, worship, servitude, dedication etc.
Finally the Fal is the result of following the process. Upon successfully practising the Sadhan as verified by Praman, achieving the Pramey is the Fal. Depending upon the degree of success, one may realize Pramey to that extent.

Now, in the modern science, we follow this quadruplet : Hypothesis, Experiment, Observation, Conclusion.
Hypothesis is our prior thinking about certain phenomenon to follow certain (mathematical) model. It is the starting point of delving into the phenomenon and understanding it.
Experiment is a set up to put to test the hypothesis. It requires instruments which can embody the process of hypothesis on the real phenomenon.
Once the experimental set up is ready, we record a set of observations regarding important output of models. Examples can be velocity, density, time, smell, colour, dimensions, amplitude, frequency, probability, errors, quality etc.
Based on the set of observations, we can draw a conclusion about the experiment to decide how far the phenomenon is modeled by the hypothesis. Generally this quadruplet cycle is repeated to refine the hypothesis model and experiment and the knowledge about the phenomenon.

There is a similarity between these two approaches of knowledge acquisitions. The Pramey is the phenomenon, the Praman is the observation metrics, Sadhan is the experimental procedure and the Fal is the conclusion and acquired knowledge. Despite of the similarities, there is also difference. The Vedic quadruplet encompasses the modern scientific quadruptlet, but not the other way round. For material knowledge acquisition, which moder science is mostly all about, the Vedic approach already provides Pratyaksh (observables), Anumaan (inferential) and Tark (logical) Pramans (metrics). But for spiritual or divine knowledge, the Vedic approach recommends using only Shabda (scriptural words) Praman, because the spirit is oblivious to matter in general and so cannot be studied with material metrics. The Shabda Praman is the exhalations of God and revealations to saintly persons about divinity. Just like a modern scientist puts trust into the modern scriptures ('revealations' (observations) to other 'saintly' (learned) modern scientists' works), a divine scientist would put trust into the divine scriptures. So trust or faith is an integral part of knowledge acquisition in either approach.

Friday, October 14, 2005

Which Bethakji's pictures are these ?

Let me see if some of you have visited this superbly beautiful Bethakji of Shree Vallabhacharya Mahaprabhuji. For those who do not know, Bethakji is a place where Shree Vallabhacharya stayed on for some time during his tour-de-world 500 years ago and recited the nector of divine love as described in Shree Subodhini as well as participated in debates, solved problems of local saintly persons and took in refuge many humble and deserving souls. Further for those who do not know, Shree Subodhiniji is his most glorified commentary on Shreemad Bhagavat. It is said he explained the message of Bhagavat in a seven-tier style : (1) letter, (2) word, (3) verse, (4) chapter, (5) section, (6) canto and (7) whole book.

Saturday, October 01, 2005

Balancing the act : Philosophy and Devotion

Shree Vallabhacharya had taken a very systematic approach to exemplify the socio-sciento-spiritual advancement of an individual. In his early childhood and youth, he studied all the major disciplines of then-existing knowledge (Vedas, Upnishads, Darshans, Vedangs, other philosophies like Baudh, Jain, Charvak etc). And soon after he set off to tour whole Indian subcontinent to strengthen his understanding in a wider context. On such toors, he discussed, debated and defeated many substandard philosophies and established his Shuddhadwait Brahmvaad (pure non-dualism) which attracted many learned scholars of his time.

But he was not content with just this scholastic accomplishment, as he also wanted to help many others un(der)-privileged individuals to realize their true self and achieve enlightenment. At this stage, the Supreme Lord commanded him to initiate a path of divine grace by taking such deserving souls in his refuge who in turn would be delivered by the Supreme Lord. Shree Vallabhacharya fulfilled this Supreme mission in the rest of his life while still continuing scholastic publications and debates.

It is based on both these aspects - philosophy and devotion - that his message, Pushtimarg, has remained alive even after 500 years. There have been many great scholars as well as devotees (the major specialization, o.w. any sincere follower has sufficient knowlege as well as devotion to sustain) who achieved enlightenments in their lives. However, in the present times, it is becoming rarer to find genuine scholars or devotees with dedication that would please him. Nontheless, the example he set, is truly marvelous to keep in front of us, if not follow.

In his small composition of five verses (Panch Shloki), he forsees the difficulty to find like-minded persons around us and thus suggests :

Sangah sarvatmana tyajya, sa chet tyaktum na shakyate |
Satbhi sah kartavyah, sangah sangasya bheshajam ||
Translation : (Bad) association should always be left. However, if that is not possible, associate with saintly perons as (good) association is remover/solution of (bad) association.

So, look around for saintly persons or remain with yourself (and of course with your Shreeji, Yamunaji and Mahaprabhuji).

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Krushnah Sevyam

Shastram avagatyam mano-vak-deheih Krushnah sevyah
It is very important to understand the purpose of understanding the scriptures - ancient and modern. One can understand them for several reasons - to satisfy one's personal, social, business or academic or even military needs. However the most important purpose that Shree Vallabhacharya instructs us is to serve Krushna - the Supreme Lord of the Universe. Universe is a term used to translate the Sanskrit word Srushti (sruj + ti : that which is created). By whom ? the Creator - the Supreme Lord Shree Krushna. Shree Vallabhacharya accertains this by saying "Param Brahmam tu Krushno hi" and "Sarvam khalu idam Brahmam".

All living and non-living entities are emanated from him as part-and-parcels of him by his own sweet will. Thus it is our most important existential purpose to remind ourselves of this relationship by serving him humbly and pleasingly. But to serve someone pleasingly, one needs to know about His likings and dislikings and it is this precise reason, why we need to understand the scriptures in a harmonious and wholistic way.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Shastram definition

In the Anubhashya, Shree Mahaprabhuji defines Shastram while giving commentary on the First Chapter, First Section, Second Sutra "Janmadyasya yatah shastrayonitvat" as :

Shaastiti (Shaasti iti) shastram vedah |
That which governs is the Shastram as per the Vedas.

Shree Navneetpriya Shastriji in his book Pushti-Pulin, also quotes similar definition "shansati it shastram".

As per this defintion, the modern civilization is governed by both ancient scriptures as well as recent scientific theories. Thus, modern science is just the natural expansion of Shastram. Understanding it in a harmonious manner is a prerequisite to the ultimate goal of serving the Supreme Lord Shree Krushna.

Friday, June 03, 2005

Shastram - scriptures

Shastram avagatyam mano-vak-deheih Krushnah sevyah (Having understood the scriptures, serve Shree Krushna with mind, speech and body)

This is the major premise of Pushtimarg according to Pu. Go. 108 Shree Shyammanoharji, from which all other minor premises are drawn. During the time of Shree Mahaprabhuji, shastram was referred to mainly of the Vedic texts which includes among others the four Vedas, the upanishadas, the six vedangs, the eighteen purans and further commentaries. Though Shree Mahaprabhuji accepted verbal testimony from the four main scriptures - Vedas, Gita, Brahmsutras and Shreemad Bhagvat - as the praman (proof), he as well as his sons - Gopinathji and Vitthalnathji - studied all the allied branches of contemporary knowledge as well. In current times, we have not only the Vedic scriptures (spiritual sciences), but also the abundance of modern scientific literatures (material sciences) to study as shastram. All these knowledge enhances our understanding of the greatness of the Supreme Lord and therefore, Shree Mahaprabhuji considers this as a background conditioning state before we can really serve Shree Krushna in all humility and gratefulness.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Check your knowledge

Shree Vallabhacharya's commentary on Brahmsutra of Vyasdev is known by

Shastrarth Prakaran

Tattvarth Dip Nibandh



Society, Science and Spirituality

Universal Vision :
"The complete cosmic manifestation coexisting blissfully and harmoniously while relishing the divine Rasa"

This is possible if we focus on "Socio-Sciento-Spiritual Advancement" i.e. social responsiveness multiplied by scientific inquisitiveness multiplied by spiritual understanding. Such a unique system of thought and practice was established by our great Acharya Mahaprabhuji Shreemad Vallabhacharyaji (1478-1530 AD). He unified the views of all the Vedic scriptures and gave us the most resplendent of the philosophies called "Shuddhadwait" alongwith the supremely blissful path of life called "Pushtimarg". His universal message to everyone is "Shastram avagatyam, mano-vak-deheih Krushnah sevyah". I offer my humblest obeisances unto his lotus feet !

Chintasantan hantaro yatpadambuj renuvah |
Swiyanam tannijacharyan pranamami muhurmuhuhu ||