Why Did I Start Learning Vedic Philosophy?
In my daily stressful life in the corporate world, I was looking for a way to de-stress myself. To achieve this, I used to practice meditation at home but the result was not very encouraging. It was feel good de-stressing effect but not more than that.
So, I thought of practicing meditation under the guidance of an expert guru. I have heard of many impossible feats that our sadhus had achieved through yoga and meditation. I was always curious to learn different things including those I didn’t believe. For me, it was important to know the subject from the experts in that field, before even disbelieving those. But what I started as a mere curiosity to learn about meditation, changed me to learn more about Vedic Philosophy and eventually about modern feminism. I didn’t believe in both and both were two extreme forms of philosophies.
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On a long weekend, I traveled to an Ashram in Mysore for a three-day meditation camp. It was my first meditation camp and I have experienced the unbelievable.
Yes, I Experienced Astral Travel
It sounds like a fairy tale, it sounds like unbelievable but it was an experience I can’t stop sharing. Because only after this experience, I had a different realization of life.
It was the third day of the meditation camp, and an early morning session that started at 5 am in the morning under complete darkness. The Meditation Hall was surrounded by vast agricultural lands. It was pitch dark outside and serene calmness always engulfed the place. There was dimmed lighting in the hall.
We had only one rule for meditation, to keep all our belongings/baggage outside the hall before coming for meditation. We were all asked to wear light and comfortable clothes and keep everything else in our huts where we were staying. The ‘baggage’ also included all our relations, good/bad feelings etc. as before meditation one needed to have a free mind and our minds can’t be free as Gurus say, with all material things attached. Our body and soul can be free only when we can leave everything behind and only focus on divinity.
We were all doing Shavasana (a yoga posture lying down and relaxing). The meditation hall was full of more than 100 people, all lying down silently after an intense meditation.
We were told to think of a divine lotus inside us and stay still and not move at all and breath in a relaxed manner. So, there was absolute silence from humans. However, there is nothing called absolute silence in this world. When the noise from humans stopped, I started hearing the music of nature. All birds chirping in joy, tree leaves creating the sound as air passed through, the sound of falling leaves, sounds from millions of insects around me that I could not even see in my naked eyes. But they all existed and I was experiencing them through all my senses. I could even hear sounds coming from a distance that I normally don’t hear.
Slowly, the people around me and the meditation hall disappeared. I found myself lying alone in the middle of vast lands. There were no humans around me and nothing made by humans. Everything around me like the sound boxes, lights, people and even the hall disappeared. The sound of insects and birds became prominent. There was no sunlight, but the land around me was not dark either. I looked around and I could see millions of insects flying all over and a divine white light inside each of them. I saw that light even inside the trees. Soon I realized that divine light was their souls and those souls were dancing in joy, in a divine manner (It was more like swinging on both sides with raised arms). The light emanating from those divine souls lit the entire landscape.
The happiness and divine feeling that I had then, can’t be described in words. No form of material enjoyment could ever give me that feeling. By then I realized I was floating on the field amidst millions of insects and we all were dancing in a divine manner. Everything around me looked so happy that I didn’t see any form of unhappiness anywhere. There was enmity, no fight, no anger even among the predators and the prey. Slowly, I realized that I was flying through a tree and was going away from the earth and towards the hills at the far end.
But the moment I saw a tree under me, I became very afraid and conscious of the fact that I was floating around the nature without my body and I was going farther away from this earth. By no means I was a person accomplished to do any of that, I didn’t have any divine power and it was only out of curiosity I was in the camp to learn meditation. I didn’t know what was happening to me. No one told me beforehand that it could happen. I got scared and the moment I became scared of the situation that I was floating above the trees and was going away from the earth, I came thrashing down to my body where I was lying. It was a sudden jolt and as I opened my eyes in haste, I saw myself lying down with other people, doing Shavasana.
Before this experience, I didn’t believe that there are two entities in me. I didn’t believe in the existence of a soul that can roam around without the body. But with this unique experience, I realized why Hindu gurus say that it is possible to leave our body at our own will and also to come back at our own will. It was on that day when I understood Hindu belief that says our body can decay but not our soul. Something, that science and technology can’t explain. I saw heaven right here in this world that we can’t see in our normal state of mind.
The Aftermath of My Astral Travel
I could not share my experience with the Guru as I was still not able to believe in my experience. I thought I was not an accomplished person who could give up all material desires. Hence, I was little shy to share that experience with anyone easily.
Some study over the internet, however, told me about astral travel and the possibility of our soul entering different bodies through meditation. The experience was however rare.
After a few months of this experience, when I became more interested in Hindu philosophy, I have started learning about Vedic Philosophy. I understood why our Gurus told us not to engage in material bonds (that includes relationship bonds as well).
How to Achieve Best Results in Meditation
After my experience, I studied some literature and heard Vedic Gurus talk about achieving self-realization goals. As the gurus say and I also realized through meditation that one can’t reach the spiritual high ground if one is surrounded by all material bonds. That is why Vedic society was structured around renouncing all material benefits. Even our family bonds didn’t last for entire life. The Grhastha life ended in Banaprastha and eventually culminated in Sanyasa. So, Hindus entered the family life only to come out of it after some time.
Another biggest proof of the concept of renouncing all material benefits to attain self-realization goals was when I tried same meditation techniques at home to get the same experience. I could never achieve the same results that I have achieved in the Ashram, under the supervised meditation of a Guruji. I am so much distracted in my home, there is so much of noise from all around and there are so many different thoughts that fill my head that it is almost impossible to attain the same level of focus in meditation.
Even Minimalism Is Consumerism
Minimalism, a theory getting popular in the western world and in Japan today, is not new. Vedic Philosophers preached and practiced something beyond minimalism.
According to Vedic philosophers, if one wants to achieve self-realization goals, one needs to renounce all material desires. That is why they say, ‘everything except the god is Maya (illusion) and nothing belongs to you’. Unless one can renounce all material benefits of life, one can’t achieve divinity, the highest possible standard of human life.
The Vedic Indian society was structured around this philosophy and wanted every human to achieve divinity and wanted to establish a heaven on the earth. The Varnashrama system was established to ensure that everyone attained their spiritual high ground by following their dharma (Brahmin Dharma, Kshatriya Dharma, Stri Dharma etc.). Vedic gurus preached that even in our material world we can achieve self-realization goals by following our dharma and renouncing material benefits.
Modern Minimalists, however, do not talk about renouncing material benefits altogether but it does assign most of our miseries to the materials we possess or the value we attach to them. Minimalists claim that one can achieve happiness by the following minimalism with the material possessions one wants to have.
Vedic Gurus, however, say any form of material attachment creates lust. This lust just increases over time through different means and hence is a blocker in the path of self-realization.
So, by preaching renouncing of material benefits and following one’s dharma, Vedic society ensured that everyone achieved self-realization in their own way and even without taking Sanyasa. It also ensured that the society as a whole was made more conducive to living for humans and the crime rate was automatically contained.
Why Consumerism Was a Sin?
The lust and greed for material benefits is the biggest stumbling block to achieve divinity. Hence Vedic philosophers always preached renouncing greed for everything (food, clothes, sex etc). Because, nothing belongs to you, and this thought of I, Me and Myself or these are my possessions or my property etc.; the thoughts that come from consumer mindset, is the biggest hindrance to achieving higher human standards (self-realization). The more we get addicted to these material bonds, we remain humans stuck in our body and try to satisfy our sensory desires through sense-gratification. This hinders attaining self-realization goals.
Consumerism aggravates these feelings in humans, it creates lust, greed for more material benefits, and hence humans commit sins (even telling lies for getting some form of benefit or cheating others is a sin) to attain more material benefits. This is how consumerism that forces us to run after material benefits also force us to indulge in crime and create a subhuman society. This is what we have today. Vedic Philosophers realized this very well and preached everyone to shun lust, greed etc. which are values rooted in consumerism. This is why ‘consumerism’ (the greed and lust for material things) was considered a sin in Vedic India.
Feminism Is Consumerism
The other word for women is Kamini – one who attracts others. This includes material goods. Vedic society was especially careful in not to get attracted to Kamini, that attracts material bonds and hence is a hindrance to one’s self-realization goals. Since women attract more material things to them, we see them using more makeup, jewelry or different other means to attract others. In modern times, these attention seekers even use unnecessary abuses, their sexuality (by wearing short dresses etc.) and even false rape or molestation claim to attract attention to them.
Feminism or Women’s Rights movement gives rise to the feeling of individual rights. This gives rise to a self-centered concept and all other rights movements (like father’s rights, men’s rights, child rights etc.) are byproducts of feminism. So, a society is being structured around individual rights rather than any responsibility.
The basic concept of feminism lies in what they claim as equitable distribution of wealth. So, in a traditional society that was built on responsibilities and a concept of social good, modern feminist society is based on individual welfare, but as explained here, the feminist gender justice principles fail in all three core promises.
Feminism, that makes wealth as primary criteria of empowerment thus creates various methods to snatch wealth from the rightful owner. Like, husbands are forced to maintain their adulterous wives or their illicit children, men are supposed to pay up for crimes they have never committed or men are forced to maintain their educated and earning wives etc. When the root of feminism is based on consumerism it is more likely that a feminist society will be prone to more crime and less happy one. That is what we see today. With feminists trying to attach a price tag to mother’s love and care is the display of extreme form of consumerism that we can ever see. As a result, our mothers are losing their value, their respect for their children – a situation unthinkable even a few decades ago.
Addition on 9/9/2021
After many years I was reading the book পরমপুরুষ শ্রীশ্রীরামকৃষ্ণ, by অচিন্ত্যকুমার সেনগুপ্ত. I found the following written there about one interaction of bhagawan Shree Shree Ramkrishna and Debendranath Thakur –
রামকৃষ্ণ চেপে ধরলেন দেবেন্দ্রনাথকে । ‘তবে আমাকে কিছু ঈশ্বরীয় কথা শোনাও।’ বেদ থেকে কিছু কিছু শোনালেন দেবেন্দ্রনাথ। এই বিশ্বজগৎ প্রকাণ্ড একটা ঝাড় লণ্ঠনের মত। প্রত্যেকটি জীব ঝাড় লণ্ঠনের বাতি এক-একটি। শুধু নিজেরা জ্বলছে না, সমস্ত কিছুকে উজ্বল করে রেখেছে।
কী আশ্চর্য! আমি যে অমনি দেখেছিলুম এক দিন পঞ্চবটীতে। তোমার সঙ্গে আমার যে মিল গো ! কিন্তু বিষয়টার ব্যাখ্যা কি?
‘ঝাড় লন্ঠন না হলে কে জানতো কে দেখতো এই জগৎসংসারকে?’ দেবেন্দ্রনাথ ব্যাখ্যা করতে লাগলেন। ‘ঈশ্বর মানুষ সৃষ্টি করেছেন শুধু নিজেদের দেখাতে নয়, ঈশ্বরকে দেখাতে। শুধু নিজেদের গৌরব প্রচার করতে নয়, ঈশ্বরের গৌরব প্রচার করতে। মানুষ ছাড়া ঈশ্বরকে বোঝেই বা কে, বোঝাই বা কাকে। ঝাড়ের আলো না থাকলে সব কিছু অন্ধকার, স্বয়ং ঝাড় পর্যন্ত দেখা যায় না।’– পরমপুরুষ শ্রীশ্রীরামকৃষ্ণ, by অচিন্ত্যকুমার সেনগুপ্ত
English translation of the above paragraph is written below –
Ramkrishna urged Debendranath, ‘Give me some divine knowledge’.
Debendranath told him a few things from the Vedas. This world is like a chandelier. Every living being is like a light in this chandelier. Not only that they themselves are burning, they are lighting up the whole world.
What a surprise!! Even I have seen that one day in Panchabati. (Thakur Shree Ramkrishna used to meditate in a self made garden Panchabati in Dakshineswar). I have similarity with you. But what is the explanation of this?
If there is no chandelier, who would know this world, who would see this world? Debendranath continued to explain, ‘God has created us not just to show ourselves but to show HIM. Not only to propagate our pride, but to take pride in the God. Other than humans, who will understand the God and who will make others understand? If there is no light from the chandelier, nothing becomes visible including the chandelier.– Parampursh Shree Shree Ramkrishna by Achintya Kumar Sengupta