Personalities - Paramacharya - The Multifaceted Personality

Paramacharya - The Multifaceted Personality














Paramacharya - The Multifaceted Personality

Paramacharya - The Multifaceted Personality

Paramacharya - The Multifaceted Personality

Inaugural Speech

It is a great privilege to be associated with this symposium which has been organised to pay tributes to Puyash Chandrasekharandra Sarasvati Swami ji who has been hailed as the Master of masters. During his illness of 100 years. He brought to our country the message of the Veda and the Upanishads and showed their relevance and practicability ever in the critical times through which we are passing today are indeed thanks to Dr. Venkatasubramanwan and his colleagues for having organised this symposium and brought together all these scholars who are dedicated to the noblest teachings of our country and who would like the rebirth we this country on the foundations at the knowledge of oneness that is contained in the Veda

The Vedas and the Upanishad's declare that the highest realisation has to be achieved here itself in this very body. The Kenopanishad declares:

इह चेदवेदीदथ सत्यमस्ति न चेदिहावेदीन्महती विनष्टिः ।
( Kenopanishad. 2,5)

"If here one comes to that knowledge then one truly is it here one comes not to the knowledge then great is the perdition."

True to this great teaching all those who have come into contact with Paranacharyaji testify that it was here that he had come to that knowledge and therefore, he truly was and is. He has been described as Jivamukta liberated in this very life. To remember and to dedicate ourselves to the ideal of jivanmukti is so precious that we feel beholden to all those who have given us this opportunity to understand and reflect upon this great ideal of Jivanmukti.

Among countless discourses that Paramacharya has given and which are published in a number of books — the latest being "Hindu Dharma" published by Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan in 1996 — the most important themes that predominate are those of the Vedas and Dharma. On both these subjects, Pamacharya has thrown authoritative light and inspired people belonging to different religions and no religion to pursue the life of Dharma.

In an important discourse on the "Western Vedic Research" Paramacharya paid tributes to those Western scholars who took great pains to discover ancient Indian texts and publish volume after volume incorporating their findings. He, however, pointed out that while some good was done, "this good was not unmixed and had undesirable elements". He explained that "the intention of many of those who call themselves orientalists or Indologists was not above reproach. They wanted to resurrect the history of India on the basis of study of the Veda, and in course of this, they concocted the Aryan-Dravidian theory of races and sowed the seeds of hatred among the people. Purporting to be rationalists, they wrongly interpreted, in an allegorical manner, what cannot be comprehended by our senses. In commenting on the Vedas, they took the view that the sages were primitive men." Those views were expressed by Paramacharya, not in the spirit of polemics but in the spirit of his impartial search for the Truth. And, indeed, they invite us to undertake fresh efforts to revisit the Veda. Are the Vedas, we may ask, compositions of primitive people? It is argued that these compositions are obscure and barbarous. How is it, we may ask, that they have had the most splendid good fortune to be the reputed source not only of some of the world's richest and profoundest religions, but also some of subtlest metaphysical philosophies? Can obscurity and primitiveness ever come to be revered not only as the origin but even the standard of all that has been universally acknowledged to contain profound and illumined thoughts, and of systems of subtle and elaborate psychology? We must consider and evaluate properly how and why Vedas have been revered as the source and criterion of Truth for all that can be held as authoritative and true in Brahamanas and Upanishads, in Tantras and Puranas, in the doctrines of great philosophical schools and in the teaching of famous saints and sages. The only name that was borne by these compositions was Veda, the knowledge, — the received name for the highest spiritual truth of which the human mind is capable. Surely, this great tradition starting from the Rishis of the Vedas and the Upanishads like Vasishtha and Yajnavalkya, and continuing even till today through modern Rishis like Sri Aurobindo could not have been sustained, if the Vedas were merely what the Western scholarship wants us to believe it to be, namely, collections of sacrificial compositions of primitive and still barbarous race written around a system of ceremonial and propitiatory rites addressed to powers of Nature and replete with a confused mass of half-power myth and crude astronomical allegories yet in the making.

Paramacharya - The Multifaceted Personality

Paramacharya - The Multifaceted Personality

Paramacharya has rightly pointed out that the great Vedic declaration ekam sat vipra bahuda vadanti, (That reality is one but it is formulated variously by wise men) can only be a summit of luminous human thought and spiritual experience. For our immediate purpose, we may, refer to a brief but powerfully pregnant Rik of the famous Sukta (170 of the first Mandala) where Indra makes a statement of the nature on the Ultimate Reality:

न नूनमस्ति नो शवः कस्तद वेद यदद्भुतम |
अन्यस्यचित्तमभि संचरेण्यमुताधीतं वि नश्यति ||

"It is not now, nor is it tomorrow; who knoweth that which is Supreme and Wonderful? It has motion and action in the consciousness of another but when It is approached by the thought, It vanishes."

Commenting on this Rik, Sri Aurobindo points out that Indra here speaks of the unknowable source of things, which can come to be thought of or striven after only when the highest summits of thought are reached and transcended. It is then that the wonder and strangeness of oneness of Reality comes to be glimpsed, and one begins to perceive something which is beyond Space and Time. In effect, Indra says, "That is not to be found in Time. It does not exist in the actualities of the present, nor in the eventualities of the future. It neither is now nor becomes hereafter. Its being is beyond Space and Time and therefore in Itself cannot be known by that which is in Space and Time. It manifests Itself by Its form and activities in the consciousness of that which not Itself and through those activities it is meant that it should be realised. But if one tries to approach It and study It in itself, It disappears from the thought that would seize It and is as if It were not."

We are at once reminded of the famous verse of the Kenopanishad :

न तत्र चक्षुर्गच्छति न वाग्गच्छति नो मनो न विद्मो न विजानीमो यथैतदनुशिष्यादन्यदेव तद्विदितादथो अविदितादधि । इति शुश्रुम पूर्वेषां ये नस्तद्व्याचचक्षिरे ॥ ३ ॥
(केनोपनिषद्, १.३)

"There sight travels not, nor speech, nor the mind. We know it, we know It not, nor can we distinguish how one should teach of It. For It is other than the known; It is therefore, above the unknown. It is so we have heard from men of old who declared that to our understanding."

Again, Paramacharya ji has rightly declared that the entire theory which aims at promoting the division between Aryans and Dravidians is a concoction. The latest research has now provided ample evidence to show that the whole story of Aryan invasion through Punjab is a myth of philologists. In this connection, let me present the following quotation from Sri Aurobindo describing his experience when he came from Bengal to stay in Southern India and who had held at that time the second-hand belief in the racial division between Northern Aryans and Southern Dravidians. He writes in "The Secret of the Veda":

"I could not, however, be long in Southern India without being impressed by the general recurrence of northern or "Aryan" types in the Tamil race. Wherever I turned, I seemed to recognise with a startling distinctness, not only among the Brahmins but in all castes and classes, the old familiar faces, features, figures of my friends of Maharashtra, Gujerat, Hindustan, even, though this similarlity was less widely spread, of my own province Bengal. The impression I received was as if an army of all the tribes of the North had descended on the South and submerged any previous populations that may have occupied it. A general impression of a Southern type survived, but it was impossible to fix it rigidly while studying the physiognomy of individuals. And in the end I could not but perceive that whatever admixtures might have taken place, whatever regional differences might have been evolved, there remains, behind all variations, a unity of physical as well as of cultural type throughout India."

He was, however, still aware of the differences of language to support the theory of the division between Aryan and Dravidian races. But even here, he found that Sanskrit and Tamil appeared to have been both derived from the one lost primitive tongue. He has stated :

Paramacharya - The Multifaceted Personality

Paramacharya - The Multifaceted Personality

"For on examining the vocables of the Tamil language, in appearance so foreign to the Sanskritic form and character, 1 yet found myself continually guided by words or by families of words supposed to be pure Tamil in establishing new relations between Sanskrit and its distant sister, Latin, and occasionally, between the Greek and the Sanskrit. Sometimes the Tamil vocable not only suggested the connection, but proved the missing link in a family of connected words. And it was through this Dravidian language that I came first to perceive what seems to me now the true law, origins and, as it were, the embryology of the Aryan tongues. I was unable to pursue my examination far enough to establish any definite conclusion, but it certainly seems to me that the original connection between the Dravidians and Aryan tongues was far closer and more extensive than is usually supposed and the possibility suggests itself that they may even have been two divergent families derived from one lost primitive tongue."

We must be grateful to Paramacharya for having taught us that there is no ground to divide India on any racial or linguistic basis and that India is one united nation with varieties of differences that do not amount to division.

Commenting on the subject of Dharma, he refers to the great sayings:

वेदोऽखिलो धर्ममूलं।


धर्मो रक्षति रक्षितः ।

Paramacharya traces the root of Dharma in the Veda. In doing so, he points out that the most difficult thing in life is the knowledge of life and application of that knowledge to day-to-day management and conduct of life. In regard to both these things, he explains how the Veda is the science of life and art of life. It may be mentioned that no science is as difficult to establish and systematise as the science of life. For that would require the knowledge of both the beginning of life and the end of life, which are to our ordinary consciousness, perpetual mysteries. Again, these two mysteries become intricately complex when we realise that life is endlessly multiple and that it exhibits characteristics of what may be called apparent chance, a play of multiple probabilities and possibilities and also of the iron grip of blind or intelligent inevitabilities. And yet, Veda happens to manifest such a mastery of knowledge of life, death and immortality and such definitive assurance of what life can deliver to man at the highest levels of explorations that one cannot but acknowledge the depth of and heights of the Vedic science. It is no ordinary thing when Prashara describes the realisation of Angirasas in the following words:

वी॒ळु चि॑द्दृ॒ळ्हा पि॒तरो॑ न उ॒क्थैरद्रिं॑ रुज॒न्नङ्गि॑रसो॒ रवे॑ण।
च॒क्रुर्दि॒वो बृ॑ह॒तो गा॒तुम॒स्मे अहः॒ स्व॑र्विविदुः के॒तुमु॒स्राः ॥
(Rigveda 1,71,2)

"Our fathers broke open the firm and strong places by their words, Yea, Angirasas broke open the hill by their cry; they made in us the path to the great heaven; they found the day and swar and vision and the luminous cows."

Or let us refer to Vamadeva who declared:

नेश॒त्तमो॒ दुधि॑तं॒ रोच॑त॒ द्यौरुद्दे॒व्या उ॒षसो॑ भा॒नुर॑र्त।
आ सूर्यो॑ बृह॒तस्ति॑ष्ठ॒दज्राँ॑ ऋ॒जु मर्ते॑षु वृजि॒ना च॒ पश्य॑न् ॥ 
(Rigveda. 4,1,17)

Paramacharya - The Multifaceted Personality

Paramacharya - The Multifaceted Personality

"Vanished the darkness, shaken in its foundation; Heaven shone out; upward rose the light of the divine dawn; the sun entered the vast fields upholding the straight and crooked in mortals... let there be the truth for our thought, O master of harmony, O master of vastness."

The entire Veda, vedo' khila is the statement of exploration of the vastness in which life is spread out, and it gives us definitive guidelines that will help every explorer in regard to the geography of the domains of life and insights into the interaction of forces which create history of life. The Veda also gives us the secret of how one can overcome what seems Inevitable so as to actualise even the most difficult but most desirable probabilities. How to conquer the inevitability of death and attain the most difficult nectars of Immortality, ‒ this is the climax of the Vedic science and Vedic art of life.

It is clear that the Vedic Rishis had discovered what can be called the eternal rhythms which govern the creation and maintenance of universo and human life. As the Rigveda declares:

अ॒ग्निर्हि दे॒वाँ अ॒मृतो॑ दुव॒स्यत्यथा॒ धर्मा॑णि स॒नता॒ न दू॑दुषत्॥ (Rigveda. 3,3,1.)

"Immortal mystic fire of aspiration adores cosmic powers and beings so that the eternal principles of Dharma may not be violated."

These great words of Vishwamitra give us a glimpse of the concept of Sanatana Dharma of which Paramacharya has given extensive exposition in his discourses and writings.

Sanatana Dharma is to be distinguished from what is called religion or rather sectarian religion or religionism. The word Dharma has nothing to do with dogma and outer aspects of sectarianism. Dharma is the scientific law that sustains the rhythms of life and rhythms of the growth of life. Again, Sanatana Dharma is so called because the Vedic Rishis discovered that the fundamental rhythms of life are constant, and that if they are violated, they cannot but inflict a blow to sustenance and growth of life. These eternal principles of dharma are again to be worked out in detail in respect of the age, country, group and individual and that in each case, there are discernible principles of variations. We have, therefore, the concept of Yuga Dharma, Rashtra Dharma, Varna Dharma and Swadharma. All the flexibility that the human society requires in maintaining and developing interrelationship between individual and collectivity is provided for in the concept of Sanatana Dharma.

Paramacharya insisted that it is by observing dharma, it is by protecting dharma that we can expect dharma to protect us. In the numerous discourses, Paramacharya has expounded how Dharma can be practised and how human beings are distinguishable from animals only when they conduct their life in accordance with Dharma. The famous statement of Adi Shankaracharya tells us:

Paramacharya - The Multifaceted Personality

Paramacharya - The Multifaceted Personality

आहारनिद्राभयमैथुनं च सामान्यमेतत् पशुभिर्नराणाम् ।
धर्मो हि तेषामधिको विशेषः धर्मेण हीनाः पशुभिस्समानाः ।।

“The human beings and animals have the same urges. They eat and sleep and copulate and, besides, the feelings of fear are common to both. What, then, is the difference between the two? It is adherence to Dharma that distinguishes human beings from animals. Without dharma to guide him, man would be no better than an animal."

Expounding the idea of Dharma, Paramacharya states: "There is a law governing the behaviour of everything in this universe. All must submit to it for the world to function properly. Otherwise, things will go awry and end up in chaos... if there is a law that applies to trees, there must be one that applies to us also... what is called Dharma is this law, the law of governing the conduct of man." (Hindu Dharma, Part I, page 2).

Within this broad context of the concept of Dharma, Paramacharya has expounded, with his mastery over shastras, various institutions of varnasharama. In regard to various details, one could raise points for discussion, provided we have the time for the same. But one feels confident that Paramacharya had wide catholicity and the very fact that he exhorted adherents of different religions to pursue their own religions with steadfast devotion, and considering that different religions differ widely in regard to many matters of importance, he would only prescribe persuasion rather than arbitrary imposition.

To study Paramacharya is to study a vast ocean. He has not only dealt with Vedas, Brahamanas, Arayankas, and Upanishads, he has given insights also into Vedangas. He has thrown light on different systems of philosophy. He has explained the Puranas, Tantras, history of Indian religion and spirituality. He has dwelt upon the contributions made by Buddhism and Jainism. He was widely awake in respect of varieties of doctrines and their conflicts, and he had shown the way of reconciliation and harmony. He had profound knowledge of literature, art and architecture. Above all, he had the supreme mastery over advaita vedanta and the great yoga of inward meditation by which oneness of beings can be realised. This is not the occasion to expound even a fraction of what Paramacharya had given to India as his precious
heritage. We can only sit before him in humility and admire his greatness

Paramacharya - The Multifaceted Personality

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