Reading the scriptures

Every religion has its scriptures which are repositories of its tenets.These have been formulated, codified and transmitted down the ages either through the written word or oral means or a combination of both by savants, religious scholars, sages, evangelists and others.

While it is an undisputed fact that reading these scriptures is truly a ‘revealing’ experience, unfolding as it does the true magnificence, glory and truth embedded within them, it is also true that the average person, the man of this world has little or no time to read these scriptures, due to very many reasons.

But, even a cursory reading, whether the  original text, a translation, an abridged version, selected verses or passages, anything- it can be a rewarding experience. It is like opening a website where there are so many other links, by clicking on which, many other new vistas open up. Even a casual glance can be a stimulating and enriching experience.

Adi Shankaracharya in his work ‘Vivekachudamani’ speaks on the importance of reading the scriptures.  “When you read the scriptures, you learn to discriminate between what is necessary and important from the unnecessary and unimportant,” says Shankara.

Unnecessary means the worldly, material attachments and desires. Necessary means the awareness of the nourishment needed for a balanced way of life, to become aware of the divine presence within, to jettison the unwanted baggage of greed, anger, egotism and such other negative tendencies.  It is like separating the grain from the chaff!

Shankara likens this reading of the scriptures and acquisition of discriminatory abilities to a sharp sword, using which the harmful, evil aspects of the personality can be cut off. So what happens when we are able to distinguish good from  bad? “Your mind gets purified,” says Shankara.

What is this ‘purification’? “You become receptive to positive influences, allowing enriching and elevating thoughts to enter your mind,” says Shankara. It is like opening the doors of your house to allow desirable and welcome guests, not gatecrashers!

“A mind that functions in accordance with the scriptural injunctions enables you to realise the divinity residing in you, it confers great knowledge upon you which enables you to act accordantly and acquire true maturity and wisdom,” exhorts Shankara.

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