Learning methodology

By Ramanujam

For the Vedic wisdom to benefit us, the first and foremost aspect is to understand what constitutes “Learning” in its broad and subtle levels. Every living being is naturally endowed with eternal sentience, which is self-luminous.

We are aware or conscious of ourselves, that we are each singular and are favourably disposed towards ourselves, i.e, we never become hostile to ourselves. [In traditional treatises, these are termed प्रत्यक्त्व, एकत्व and अनुकूलत्व].

To elaborate a little further, no one else needs to tell us that we are us, that “I” comes from within, is meant by self-luminous. It also means that at all times and states of being, like awake, dreaming or deep sleep, we don’t lose track of our selves. However, knowing about this is another matter!!. This is to say that, while we ARE what we are, we may not KNOW [= realise] what we are or that we know what we are. Experiencing and expressing are two different things.

Let us take an example:- अहम् अज्ञः, माम् अन्यं च न जानामि = I am ignorant; I do not know me or others. Here, While ‘I do not know myself or other person’ means lack of in-depth details, that I describe this sentence or that I am ignorant is a gross level of knowledge that will never be absent. Hence, Vedas have concentarted to a very great depth and detail about these aspects of knowledge and to teach these, it dwells on the learning of this truth, as well.

We will present many facets and aspects of this Vedic system with the original sources where necessary to illustrate the mind-boggling range of infromation and wisdom contained in Vedic texts on the issue of learning.

One marked distiction of Vedic system is its insistence on humility in all sincerity and earnest as a true test of self-realisation. Hence, the world comprising of sentient and non-sentient beings and the Lord of these, the Supreme God are always referred to very reverentially and factually, to evoke admiration, respect and gratitude.

Nature is the fulcrum around which Vedic learning and wisdom revolve. Hence, practical, realistic and true learnning is insisited upon and illustrated in many forms. We would deal with many episodes wherein, teaching, question-answers, discussions, research for alternatives, analogies and contradictions, debates, challenges, case-studies, examination, verification, hypothesis, conclusion, realising or seeing directly etc. are employed or described to present many absorbing principles and fundamental axioms.

Sample of Advices –

While the Vedas are variegated, recollections by maharshi-s (sages/seers) are also divergent. We are unable to find one single person whose views are taken as authority, unanimously, acceptable to all. The essence of ‘dharma’ is deeply hidden (in a cave – figuratively) and hence the path trodden by great people is the ‘path’ to follow.

By which the fathers went, by which the grandfathers went, one should go by that [path], for that is noble men’s path and going by that, one does not perish.

Whatever a great person does/follows, the same are done/followed by the rest of the people. Whatever norm he sets, the world follows that.

Sample of Prayers –

Peace and tranquility are the ultimate objectives worth desiring. Let deities Mitra, Varuna, Aryama, Indra, Brhaspati, Vishnu, with the huge-stride, grant us peace. We worship you, O! Vayu! You are the evident Brahma, the supreme. I express you as the evident Brahma. The happening and unchanged. Let that protect me. Let that protect the utterer. (Let that) Protect me, Protect the speaker. Let there be Peace, Peace, Peace.

Let deities Mitra, Varuna, Aryama, Indra, Brhaspati, Vishnu, with the huge-stride, grant us peace. We worship you, O! Vayu! You are the evident Brahma, the supreme. I expressed you as the evident Brahma, The happening and unchanged. That protected me. That protected the utterer. (That) Protected me, Protected the speaker. Let there be Peace, Peace, Peace.

Obeisance to the Speech, who is manifest and unmanifest. To that Speech, obeisance. Obeisance to the Speech. Obeisance to the Lord of Speech. Obeisance to the Rishi-s (Seers/sages) those who received/taught the mantras, the Lords of the mantras. Let not the Rishis, the sources and Lords of mantras, desert me. Let me not desert the Rishis, the sources and Lords of mantras. Let me utter the Speech pertaining to universal divinities, that which is auspicious, not weak, pleasing to deities. Let skies, heaven, earth, all this world be tranquil/favourable towards me. Let Moon, Sun, Brahma and Prajapati be tranquil/favourable towards me. I will speak (of) created objects, universe, power, renown, austerity/penance, brahma, the ultimate, the true, constant/unchanging, that to which I offer/spread this base/place. Let this be my base/place for begetting progeny and cattle. Let me be the support for progeny and cattle. O! Prana and Apana! (the inward and outward breaths), protect me from death. Let me not desert Prana and Apana. Let Agni instill intelligence, progeny and power in me. Let Indra instill intelligence, progeny and virility in me. Let Surya instill intelligence, progeny and lustre/effulgence in me. Let there be Peace, Peace, Peace.