Date – 17–09–2002
I spoke about three characteristics yesterday. I said the Vedic knowledge was buried under the heavy veil, the veil of language, veil of symbolism and therefore, it was difficult to know what the Vedic knowledge was. This has happened also to Egyptian knowledge, to the ancient Greek knowledge and many other traditions of ancient knowledge. The knowledge was buried under the veil of language and symbolism. But nowhere in the world history as far as we know it, an effort was made to remove that veil, this is all what I said yesterday.
But when we come to the period of the Upanishads, which was a period much after the Veda, a special effort was made. Such an effort is therefore unparalleled it did not happen in Egypt, it did not happen in Greece, did not happen in Chaldea, this kind of an effort and it is this effort which was made in this period in India which makes Indian history unique. It draws out a new line of development in India and that is the importance of the Upanishadic period. Without the Upanishadic period, Indian history would have been similar to the history that has occurred everywhere else. But in India there is a new pattern of development, for the history of India cannot be understood properly without understanding what happened at this time, what was the effort that was made?
When the Vedic knowledge was buried, forgotten, not understood because of the veil of language and symbolism. I spoke of three characteristics of this effort, what was the nature of this effort? This is the background and I'm not giving you the clue, what is the context in which I spoke of the three characteristics, these three characteristics appertain to the nature of the effort. What was the effort made, what is the quality of the effort, what is the thrust of that effort? There I spoke of three aspects; now not tell me what are the three aspects? It does not matter if you don't remember; don't feel shy, because these things are difficult that is why I'm repeating.
This effort was not limited to any one particular group of society, is for the third aspect. All sections of society, people, coming from all sectors of society they made an effort to recover this knowledge. There is a second characteristic of which I spoke the intensity of the effort was tremendous what was the nature of the intensity there can be many kinds of intensities. That is first of all to say that knowledge is so important that you can sacrifice everything for it that intensity. Knowledge was regarded so important, overarching important that is the nature of that effort, so that knowledge was the supreme object and as a result sacrifice everything. So, supremacy of knowledge and that supremacy made a demand on the being to sacrifice everything else, I just want knowledge, no wealth, no position, no happiness, only the knowledge, − this was the cry of that period. This is the second characteristic but what is the third characteristic?
The effort was to break the veil, to go beyond symbolism, to go beyond language, to go behind language. How do you go behind the language, how do you go behind the symbolism? When words are presented to you and you say I don't want the words, I want the reality behind the words, how do you do this, they found the method by which you can break the veil. There is a very great chapter in The Life Divine, just note down the title of that chapter; it is called The Methods of Vedantic knowledge. The word Vedanta means Upanishads that means methods of Upanishadic knowledge. When you find time later on, in No School to read The Life Divine, then you read the chapter number eight. It is one of the greatest chapters in the world history. Why is it called Vedanta, that which is at the end of the Veda, ‘anta’ means end. So, that which is at the end of the Veda is called Vedanta, Upanishads are regarded as Vedanta because they came after the Veda as the end of the Veda. Therefore, it is called Vedanta, it's a Vedantic effort, Upanishadic effort is Vedantic effort, Upanishadic system of knowledge is Vedantic system of knowledge. This is the third characteristic of this effort, a kind of a method of knowledge which was discovered, practised, employed so that you go behind the veil of words and language.