Appeal of Indian philosophy

Appeal of Indian philosophy

Indian philosophy distinguishes between two types of knowledge, the lower and higher forms of knowledge.

The lower type is what pertains to the experiential world, that which is necessary for man to lead his life amidst the pressures and necessities of mundane existence. The other type is the higher knowledge that relates to the inner world of man, the spiritual component of his life, that knowledge which is to be sought after in order to fulfil the true purpose of his birth, to elevate himself to higher levels of consciousness. 

This higher knowledge is what helps man to transcend the cycle of birth, death and rebirth. This is the cardinal tenet of the doctrine of Non-dualism, according to which the inner spirit that exists within every being is the same universal power that controls this cosmos. Acquiring this higher knowledge is possible only under the guidance of a realised preceptor or Guru. Adi Shankaracharya, in his treatise Vivekachudamani, has expounded on this matter, the qualities of the Guru and the disciple, the method and discipline to be followed and the benefits that accrue to the sincere seeker.  Written in the form of a dialogue between a teacher and a pupil, it is the quintessence of the Vedantic principles that are found in the Upanishads. While the truths highlighted in this work may appear to be primarily directed at the renunciate, it must be remembered that they hold many a valuable lesson for ordinary people too. Incorporating examples from everyday life, the work lucidly explains profound truths in an appealing manner. As Shankaracharya says, the man who has acquired spiritual outlook is not concerned with praise or censure of the world.

He learns to take things as they come with equanimity. He is not concerned when people label him as eccentric. Only the ignorant say that the sun has been swallowed by the clouds, whereas, in reality, the sun is always the splendorous, effulgent body. The wise man is ever-content in his knowledge, though outwardly he may be devoid of the trappings of wealth and power. His is a, dignified, ever smiling countenance, not unduly attached to external pleasures.

He does his duty, unmindful of the results.

Shankaracharya asks: “ Is not the actor the same man, whether he puts on the attire of his part or not? So too with the realised man. How does it matter to the tree where its withered leaf falls, whether in a rivulet or a river, on the ground, or in a holy place, or anywhere else?” The wise one knows that his body is perishable, but the inner spirit is eternal, because it is pure knowledge.

Shankaracharya builds up a magnificent edifice of timeless truths and crowns it with the appeal to mankind to resist the lure of material desires and follow the truths enshrined in this work. Thus Shankaracharya concludes the “Vivekachudamani,” the “crest jewel of discrimination.”

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