Vedanta is one of the six ancient spiritual philosophies based on the Vedas and it is the foundation of Hinduism. The essence of Vedanta is the non-dual nature of ‘I’ realized by contemplation on the Gurus teachings by which the I is separated out from its phenomenal appendages the body, mind, and intellect.

What Vedanta philosophy says about Prana, Mind, and Brahman? Below is the summary of based on the book,  Essentials of Vedanta by 1008 Paramhansa Yogi Satchidananda Saraswati who is popularly known as “Khaptad Baba” in Nepal.

Khaptad Baba
Shri 1008 Brahmavati Paramhansa Yogi Sachidananda Saraswati “Khaptad Baba”

Prana

According to the Hindu Philosophy, before the beginning of creation, the unconditioned causal state of the universe contained potential Prana. Vedanta does not make the absurd statement that life has come from non-profit. It does not admit that vital energy is the result of mechanical forces. But modern scientists are puzzling on this issue. On the contrary, tells us that it is the force, which operates simultaneously with physics chemical forces. They are all in fact expressions of the one living energy of Prana. Ordinarily, it is translated into English by the word “Breath”, but Prana is not a simple breath.

Prana is defined as the cause of all motion and life in both the organic and inorganic world. Wherever there is the slightest expression of motion, life or mind, from the smallest atom or animalcule or bioplasma up to the largest solar system and the highest man, it is the manifestation of all-pervading force called as Prana. Modern scientists are dreaming to prove that life is the product of some kind of motion of death matter. While, Vedanta teaches that all the phenomena of the universe have evolved out of the one eternal substance, which possesses Prana or cosmic vital-force, cosmic mind, cosmic intelligence, and consciousness.

Yoga claim that this Prana is the final cause of all the manifested forces of nature. Why does an atom move and vibrate? A scientist does not know, but a yogi says because of Prana. The force, which produces vibration in an atom, is one of the expressions of the energy of Prana or the cosmic life principle. The same Prana appears as that power, by which a germ of life works on the physical plane, arouses motion in the molecules of its cells, builds up a suitable structure, repairs injuries, and reproduces its kind. It causes activity in protoplasm, in a bio-plasm or an amoeba well as in the highest man. It is closely related to the mind, which includes all the psychic activities and intelligence, displayed by that germ in the different grades of its evolution. Vital powers of the mind are indeed, two aspects of one Prana.

Mind

The mind is composed of two separate and distinct parts- the normal consciousness and the sub-normal consciousness. The line of demarcation between the two compartments is very clearly defined. Each is capable of independent action.

The normal consciousness is that which only takes cognizance of the physical world. It observes by means of the five physical senses. It is purely physical and not psychic. But not so with the sub-consciousness as it acts independently without the help of the physical senses. It is the seat of the emotions and storehouse of memory. It performs its highest functions when the physical senses are in abeyance as in sleep. It is highly and constantly amenable to hypnotism and suggestion. In hypnotism, the normal consciousness of the operator is allowed to exercise itself on the sub-consciousness of the subject. The suggestion is the means by which hypnosis is induced. The auto-suggestion is to impart suggestions to one’s own subconsciousness without the intermediary of any operator.

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Maya

‘Ma’ means not and ‘Ya’ means that. Maya as such is ‘not that’. Maya is an illusory power of Brahman. It is sat-Asat Vilakshana Anadi Bhavarupa Anirvachineeya Maya. It is neither Sat as Brahman not Asat as the horns of a rabbit because you sense the objects ‘not Asat’. It is Avarna Shakti that means indescribable. It has got two Shaktis- Avaran and Vishepa Shakti. Avarna Shakti means veiling power, which does not allow you to realize your divine Sat-Chit-Anand nature. Viskshapa Shakti means projecting power, which projects the universe and the body and causes Abhimana. It is just as heat is inseparable from fire and coldness from ice. Maya is inseparable from Brahman. It is Atmashraya or dependent on Brahman.

The world has only a Relative Existence

A thing does not exist, in the beginning, and at the end, which does not exist in the middle also. There is no pot, in the beginning, when it is broken there is no pot again, it is all clay. Even when you see a pot, you should strongly think that it has only a relative existence, in fact, there is no pot. This is the strong determination of a Viveki.

Similarly, there is no body in the beginning, it is all Swarupa. In the end when you become a Dehamukta; there is no body. So even when you see this body, you must think, it does not exist at all. It is all an illusion or Bhranti. Thus through Yukti, you can prove the Abhaba (non-existence) of the world. Sruti and Smritis support the above statement

Brahman – God exists

Every effect has a cause; this phenomenal world must, therefore, have a cause. It is an effect of Brahman, the original causeless cause, Param Karanam. ‘Aham’ means “I” in Sanskrit. ‘Edam’ means ‘this’. When I refer to myself, I say Aham and when I refer to you, I say ‘Edam’. When you talk to me these words are reversed. My ‘Aham’, becomes your ‘Edam’ and your ‘Edam’ becomes my ‘Aham’ and so on. Tables are turned over. There is only ‘Aham’ everywhere, the one common consciousness. ‘Edam’ is a mental creation or false attribution, Adhyaropa means super-imposition. It’s just as a snake is superimposed on a rope. The snake is a Vivarta, a false attribute of the rope. Similarly “Idam” is a Vivartra of Aham.

Carefully analyze this little “I”, the lower self-arrogating false personality which is the cause for all miseries, troubles, and tribulations.

The physical body is not the “I”. Even if the leg or hand is amputated, still the “I” remains. It is made up of five elements. It is the resultant product of Annam or food. Hence, it is styled as Annamaya Kosha. It has a beginning and an end. It is Vinashi or perishable. It is Jada, non-sentient, or non-intelligent.

The Indriya is not the “I”. It is Jada. It has a beginning and an end. It is the effect of Rajo Guna and Sattwa Guna. It is made up of Tanmatras.

The mind is not the “I”. There is no mind in sleep. Yet there is the feeling of continuity of consciousness. The mind is Jada. It has a beginning and an end. It is a bundle of changing ideas. It gropes in darkness. It sinks down in grief. It becomes like a block of wood in extreme fear. Prana also is not the “I”. It is an effect of Rajoguna. It is Jada. It has a beginning and an end. You can suspend the breath and yet continuity of consciousness remains.

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The Anandmaya Kosha or the Karan Saris, which constitute the Mool Agyana and which is made up of Vasanas and Sanskaras is not the little “I”. It is Jada. It has a beginning and an end. When I say “I”, I really feel “I am” or I exist, Sat aspect. I understand or comprehend that “I am”, this is the Chit aspect. On careful analysis by introspection, this little “I” dwindles into an airy nothing. Just as an onion is reduced to nothing when the different layers are peeled off. But we get at the core or “essence” of the big infinite “I”, -Sat-Chit-Anand Brahman, the substratum or background for all these appearances, little many “I”s.

In the phenomenal world also, all things are composed of five things –  Nam, Rupam Asti, Bhati, and Priya. Names and forms may change, but the Sat-Chit-Anand, (Asti-Bhati-Priya), remains forever. That is the truth. Every form has its own Sat-Chit-Anand. The form is different (Vyatireka) but the essence that is at the back is the same in all forms (Anvaya).

The practice of the Presence of God

The practice of the presence of God always is the easiest, nearest and surest way of reaching God-Consciousness. Feel his presence always, and everywhere. Feel his in-dwelling presence in everything. Feel your oneness with everything. He never talks or smiles, but his presence is sufficient for me. I am always in joy, bliss in knowledge and in immortality in His presence. This kind of Sadhana is very important for as aspirant, eventually, it leads to resting in Nirguna Brahman. All forms vanish. You are sad and depressed because you have failed or forget to feel his presence.


Source – Khaptadswami.com.np

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