Author Topic: What is scriptural study?  (Read 5356 times)

sanjaya_ganesh

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What is scriptural study?
« on: March 21, 2013, 07:58:05 AM »
Friends

I think there is a great deal of "seemingly" different opinions on Scriptural study. May I request other members to state what they mean by scriptural study? To me Lakshyartha is more important than vachyartha. If someone knows the Lakshyartha of the scriptures without even reading once - they dont need to keep reading / learning scriptures.

Upanishads have no confusion when they communicate something. Even when 108 Upanishads and Brahma Sutra say same thing - they say things with utmost clarity - and show you the same goal. They dont talk "theories" - that is not their aim - "to create theories". There may be many many other texts and theories floated by various people. My humble suggestion is not to call at least scriptures like Upanishads and Brahma Sutra as "proposing probable theories" etc. and flush them aside as mere 'theories'. Upanishads and Brahma Sutra dont talk about "just probable" things - they are utmost clear in what they say. If we dont understand, we just have to understand more - that is all - not to brush aside texts like Upanishads as "probable theories" and say it just happens by grace etc. Upanishads and Brahma Sutra and Gita never ever even once says that "just wait. It all happens unexpectedly by grace. it is like a lottery etc". We should spare the great triads - Prasthana Thraya - from such brush asides - they dont advocate or publish lottery drawing theories.

Would like to hear from others - again, my main point is "Lakshyartha" and not "Vachyartha" that I mean when I refer to scriptural knowledge. And this to my mind is completely different from what many organizations and missions try to do.

Sanjay.
« Last Edit: March 21, 2013, 09:03:42 AM by sanjaya_ganesh »
Salutations to Bhagawan

Nagaraj

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Re: What is scriptural study?
« Reply #1 on: March 21, 2013, 09:18:44 AM »
Upnishat literally means "Sitting near" sitting near is Being near Truth, where ever Truth resides.

Mere academic studies of Scriptures is useless. If you carefully look into the originis of the scriptures, all upanishads never came to existence by sheer will to write an upanishad. The disciples were given practical lessons. None of the Sages of yore realised by mere studies of Vedas and its allied scriptures. There are plenty of examples, which i can share as and when situation takes presents itself.

At this moment, I will share a story from Mahabharatha -

Kaushika was his parents' only son. "Mother," he said one day, " I want to go off into the jungle and devote myself to spiritual studies. "
His mother said with concern, "But son, your father and I are very old. Your father is so sick he can hardly move. If you go away, what will happen to us? Who will attend to our needs?" Kaushika did not listen. He was determined to study the Vedas. His mother cried in vain as she watched her son turn his back on her and leave for the jungle.

Eventually Kaushika acquired great mystical powers. One afternoon, as he was meditating under a tree, a crane flew up, and perched herself on a branch above Kaushika. Some bird droppings fell on Kaushika's head. Kaushika furiously threw a fiery gaze at the crane. The crane immediately fell dead.

The sage felt sorry for what he had done. "How could I have allowed my anger to take over me that way?" He mourned. Later in the day, he went to a village to beg for alms. The lady of the house asked him to wait and went to get some food. Right then her husband arrived. She immediately set aside the pot of food she was taking to the sage and went to attend her husband. After washing his feet, giving him food, and attending to his needs, she came back out to give the alms to the sage. The sage was very insulted. "You put your husband before a pious sage? Do you know the power of a Brahmin?"

She calmly replied, "Yes, a true Brahmin is he who has mastered his anger. Please do not threaten me, I am not a crane that will die by your fiery gaze."

The sage was amazed. "How does she know about the crane?" he wondered. The lady continued, "Oh holy one! You are a learned Brahmin but you have not understood the truth about virtue. If you want to be enlightened, go to Dharmavyadha who lives in Mathura. Any one will tell you where he lives."

The sage thanked the lady and hurried to Mathura. "He must be a great and learned sage indeed," Kaushika thought to himself.

But when he finally reached Dharmavyadaha's place, he found it to be a butcher shop!

A very ordinary looking man came out and said, "Welcome holy one. I am Dharmavyadaha, the man you seek."

"How can a butcher be spiritually enlightened?" Kaushika asked in amazement.

Dharmavyadaha smiled and said with compassion, "I know the story of the crane and of the woman who sent you here. Come, let us go to my house. "

The sage could not contain himself and blurted out, "But butchering animals is such a sinful profession! Are you not ashamed?" "I am not," the butcher calmly said. "I am engaged in a family trade. I work hard and honestly at it. There is no reason for me to be ashamed of my work!"

"Holy one," continued the butcher. "If I do injury to other creatures, so do you as you did to the crane. "

"As we walk on the soil, we are trampling on numerous creatures. Nor is the air devoid of creatures."

"You see that farmer tilling the land? He is killing so many animals that thrive under the soil."

They reached the butcher's house. The butcher's wife was doing her house hold chores and his two boys were playing.

The butcher introduced the sage to his wife and boys.

Then the butcher entered the house and touched his parents' feet.

"Here is a learned Brahmin who has come from a far-off place." the butcher told his old father.

"Welcome, holy one," the father said.

Before leaving the room, the butcher remarked, "My parents are my Gods. My wife and my children attend to them with devotion and love. We consider caring for them to be our greatest duty."

"In doing one's duty cheerfully, lies true virtue. This is what the dutiful wife sent you to learn."
"Oh learned one!" the butcher continued, "You have run away from your responsibilities and deserted your aged father and mother.

Spiritual achievement is useless if one has neglected one's Dharma, or duties."

The sage remembered his mother crying, "Who will look after us when you are gone my son?"

The sage apologized, "You have shown me the path of true virtue, the true meaning of Dharma, Oh pious one. I am deeply indebted to you."

Kaushika immediately returned to his parents and served them lovingly till the end of their days.

"In doing one's duty cheerfully, lies true virtue. This is what the dutiful wife sent you to learn."

"Oh learned one!" the butcher continued, "You have run away from your responsibilities and deserted your aged father and mother. Spiritual achievement is useless if one has neglected one's Dharma, or duties."

The sage remembered his mother crying, "Who will look after us when you are gone my son?"

The sage apologized, "You have shown me the path of true virtue, the true meaning of Dharma, Oh pious one. I am deeply indebted to you."

Kaushika immediately returned to his parents and served them lovingly till the end of their days.

(This Kaushika is the Famous Sage Kausika Maharshi)

This is true studies. Not mere academic studies by reading books can one uplift oneself

more later...

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॥ शांतमात्मनि तिष्ट ॥
Remain quietly in the Self.
~ Vasishta

sanjaya_ganesh

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Re: What is scriptural study?
« Reply #2 on: March 21, 2013, 09:24:08 AM »
Nagaraj garu - I completely agree with your view though such opportunities of practical wisdom 1x1 with a realized guru of Upanishadic days are very far and rare these days. It is also very clear in Taittiriya Upanishad where Uddalaka reinforces tatwamasi through 9 practical exercises which he takes his son through.

And it also amuses me how we seem to "differ" in between discussions though we agree on fundamentals  - the "power" of communication and English language I guess :).

Well said, Nagaraj.

Sanjay.
« Last Edit: March 21, 2013, 09:26:06 AM by sanjaya_ganesh »
Salutations to Bhagawan

Nagaraj

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Re: What is scriptural study?
« Reply #3 on: March 21, 2013, 09:25:39 AM »
Here I share the story of Swethakethu, i think it appears in chandogya upanishad, i am not sure. see how upanishads came to existence. They are pure practical exposure, there are no academics in upanishads. Swethakethu finishes his studies from his Guru, and comes back to his father and claims he has learnt all that is to be learnt, the father sees the flawed knowledge in him and guides him further, this became upanishad. Read on..

Uddalaka was a great rishi. He had a son by name Svetaketu.

After giving him the sacred thread at the proper age, the rishi called him one day and said, "Svetaketu, proceed to the house of a guru and living there as a student, learn the Vedas well; for, there is none in our family who is not learned in the Vedas."

As directed by his father, Svetaketu went to a gurukula or the ashrama of a guru and studied the Vedas under the guru. He returned home when he was twenty-four years of age, a proud scholar. He thought that there remained little else for him to know.

His father was a shrewd man. He at once knew that his son's head was swollen with pride. He wanted to correct him.

One day he called him and said, "Son, I think you feel you have mastered all knowledge on the face of the earth; but, have you ever learnt that knowledge, by which we can hear what is not heard; perceive what cannot be perceived, and know what cannot be known?"

Svetaketu was a trifle upset. He asked humbly, "Sire, won't you tell me what that knowledge is? Seeing that his son was coming round, the father said, "My dear, let me explain myself fully. When, for instance, you know one clod of Clay, you can know all that is made of clay. When you know a nugget of gold, you can know all ornaments made of gold, because the essence of it is gold. When you know a nail-cutter, you can know all that is made of iron, the truth being that all of them are iron. The only difference is in their names and forms. That is the knowledge I am talking about." Svetaketu said, "Sir, my venerable gurus did not perhaps know it.

Had they known, why would they have not taught it to me? Please teach it to me." '

Uddalaka said, "All right. I shall teach you;- listen. In the beginning of creation, O child, the Sat or True Being alone existed. It had neither equal nor second. It thought, 'Let me multiply myself and create beings.' He first created Tejas or fire god. The fire god wanted to multiply himself. He created the water god. That is why whenever anybody weeps or perspires, water comes out. The water god wanted to multiply himself and created the food god. Then the True Being thought, 'I have now created these three gods. Now I shall enter them as Jivatma and assume name and form!'

'Later on, the True Being thought, 'I shall now make each of them enter into the other.' "Having thus entered them with His living spirit, It assumed names and forms like Agni, Indra etc. The True Being made them enter into one another, again. 0 child, now learn what each became thereafter. Whatever was fire showed as red. Whatever was water showed as white and whatever was food showed as black. Thus you will see the word Agni vanishes in fire. This change has only been in name. The three primary forms Tejas, Apas or water and Annam or food are the only true forms.

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The red colour of the Sun is Tejas; its white colour is water; its black colour is the food or the earth. Thus the name Aditya for Sun should vanish. It is only a conventional name. "You have now learnt from me, child, how every deity and element is descended from the three primary forms of the True Being.

"He or the Sat alone is all-name, because every name is His name.

He alone is all-power, because every power is His. All the forms that belong to others are reflections of His form. He is the only one without an equal or second. He is the best of all. He being the Chief, He is called Sat or the True Being. Knowing Him we know everything else. When a man sleeps soundly, he comes into contact with the Sat. When man dies, his speech merges in the mind, the mind in his breath, his breath in the fire and the fire in the Highest God, the True Being. Thus the soul or Jiva-Atman is deathless. All the universe is controlled by the Sat. He pervades it all. He is the destroyer of all. He is full of perfect qualities. O Svetaketu, you are not that God.

Svetaketu asked, "Sire, please teach me more."

Uddalaka said, "The bees, my child, collect the honey from different flowers and mix them in the hive. Now, honeys of different flowers cannot know one from the other.

"My child, the rivers that run in the different directions rise from the sea and go back to the sea. Yet the sea remains the same. The rivers, while in the sea, cannot identify themselves as one particular river or another. So also creatures that have come from Sat know not that they have come from that Sat, although they become one or the other again and again."

Uddalaka then asked his son to bring a fig fruit. When he did so, Uddalaka asked him to break it. He broke it.

Uddalaka: "What do you see in it?"

Svetaketu "I see small seeds."

Uddalaka "Break one of the seeds and say what you see."

Svetaketu "Nothing Sir."

Uddalaka: "You are unable to see the minute particles of the seed after breaking it. Now, the big fig tree is born out of that essence of that particle. Like that, the True Being is the essence of all creation. " Uddalaka asked his son to bring some salt and put it into a cup of water and bring the cup next morning.

Svetaketu did so.

Uddalaka: "You put the salt into the water in this cup. Will you take the salt out?

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Svetaketu "I am unable to find the salt; for it has dissolved."

Uddalaka "Taste a drop from the surface of this water." Svetaketu "It is saltish."

Uddalaka "Now taste a drop from the middle of the cup."

Svetaketu "It tastes the same, saltish."

Uddalaka: "Now taste a drop from the bottom."

Svetaketu "It is saltish all the same."

Uddalaka "Now child, you do not see the salt, although it is certainly in the water. Even so, the True Being is present everywhere in this universe, although you do not see Him. He is the essence of all, and the desired of all. He is known to the subtlest intellect."

Svetaketu became humble thereafter, and became a great rishi himself in course of time. This is a story from the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad.
॥ शांतमात्मनि तिष्ट ॥
Remain quietly in the Self.
~ Vasishta

Nagaraj

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Re: What is scriptural study?
« Reply #4 on: March 21, 2013, 09:31:08 AM »
I completely agree with your view though such opportunities of practical wisdom 1x1 with a realized guru of Upanishadic days are very far and rare these days :). It is also very clear in Taittiriya Upanishad where Uddalaka reinforces tatwamasi through 9 practical exercises which he takes his son through.

Sri Sanjaya, I can assuredly tell you, it is not rare... to the extent of our desire, to that same extent will we find our Guru. The problem is we are not even ready to move out of our comfort zone, our jobs, house, luxuries, etc... we usually expect all the platter to be served in our lap, that will not happen.

I can assuredly tell you, there are many many realised Gurus who are unknown, but, they will not be popular, but we must make effort to go near them and no way that will ever come to our lap.

Sandhya and other karmas are laid so that we do not get caught in worldly affairs. If it is time for Sandhya, then our jobs should not be a hindrance to it. We have to give weightage to Paramarthika over Vyavaharthika.

There is a lot of sacrifice, there is no second to sacrifice. one has to give up a lot of worldly affairs if one has to reach the feet of Guru.

--
« Last Edit: July 09, 2014, 02:09:45 PM by Nagaraj »
॥ शांतमात्मनि तिष्ट ॥
Remain quietly in the Self.
~ Vasishta

sanjaya_ganesh

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Re: What is scriptural study?
« Reply #5 on: March 21, 2013, 09:39:12 AM »
I agree. I dont think many - including me - are elated to the level where I can leave ailing parents and son and walk out in search of truth. It needs a lot more courage, which at least (speaking for myself) - I am not there yet. My ego still feels deep inside - "It is MY DUTY to take care of my ailing parents and son".

But I also see many around me who are unmarried, have no burden and still only keep talking. I wonder at the power of Maya when I see such things played by Mother Maya when I see them. Very true - what you said.

Sanjay
Salutations to Bhagawan

Nagaraj

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Re: What is scriptural study?
« Reply #6 on: March 21, 2013, 09:45:49 AM »
Adi Shankara who himself sang the wonder Dasa Shloki at his meeting of his Guru Govinda Bhagavat Pada, had to travel from down south Kalady to somewhere in Madhya Pradesh, and learn from Him. He had already composed several works. He is already is said to have composed Soundarya Lahiri, etc... Just imagine the Such Shankara going to Guru, who is already master of all Chatur Vedas. How did he get to know about his Guru? what communication were available in those days, and what was his age, and moreover, Shankara was only son and had lost his father, he could no way leave his Mother and go in search for Guru in morality terms. But when the wish is pure and sincere, situations transpire themselves and divine interventions take place which take care the needs Shankara Mother and the crocodile episode took place, and Hismother agreed top his pleed.

We should have such strong conviction in Paramarthika. There is no hindrance in Quest for God. Hindrance is only Vyavaharika.

Just some points for our reflections.

--
॥ शांतमात्मनि तिष्ट ॥
Remain quietly in the Self.
~ Vasishta

atmavichar100

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Re: What is scriptural study?
« Reply #7 on: March 21, 2013, 10:00:07 AM »
Since the qualities of a student on spiritual path are discussed , I am giving below an excellent piece from Sri Aurobindo on the same .


Essays on The Gita First series Chapter IV - The Core of the Teaching
 by  Sri Aurobindo


Quote
Therefore it is a mistake to interpret the Gita from the standpoint of the mentality of today and force it to teach us the disinterested performance of duty as the highest and all-sufficient law.

A little consideration of the situation with which the Gita deals will show us that this could not be its meaning. For the whole point of the teaching, that from which it arises, that which compels the disciple to seek the Teacher, is an inextricable clash of the various related conceptions of duty ending in the collapse of the whole useful intellectual and moral edifice erected by the human mind. In human life some sort of a clash arises fairly often, as for instance between domestic duties and the call of the country or the cause, or between the claim of the country and the good of humanity or some larger religious or moral principle. An inner situation may even arise, as with the Buddha, in which all duties have to be abandoned, trampled on, flung aside in order to follow the call of the Divine within. I cannot think that the Gita would solve such an inner situation by sending Buddha back to his wife and father and the government of the Sakya State, or would direct a Ramakrishna to become a Pundit in a vernacular school and disinterestedly teach little boys their lessons, or bind down a Vivekananda to support his family and for that to follow dispassionately the law or medicine or journalism. The Gita does not teach the disinterested performance of duties but the following of the divine life, the abandonment of all dharmas, sarvadharman, to take refuge in the Supreme alone, and the divine activity of a Buddha, a Ramakrishna, a Vivekananda is perfectly in consonance with this teaching. Nay, although the Gita prefers action to inaction, it does not rule out the renunciation of works, but accepts it as one of the ways to the Divine. If that can only be attained by renouncing works and life and all duties and the call is strong within us, then into the bonfire they must go, and there is no help for it. The call of God is imperative and cannot be weighed against any other considerations.
However many holy words you read, however many you speak, what good will they do you if you do not act on upon them? - Buddha

Nagaraj

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Re: What is scriptural study?
« Reply #8 on: March 21, 2013, 11:10:51 AM »
Dear Sanjaya, Atmavichar and Friends,

This small video is of much relevance in the subject of Spiritual Quest. How we complicate things, from a Hindi Movie 3 Idiots -

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C86pLho1hlE

Afterall, i find it easier to communicate with such movie scenes than spiritual jargons, is it not?

--
॥ शांतमात्मनि तिष्ट ॥
Remain quietly in the Self.
~ Vasishta

Nagaraj

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Re: What is scriptural study?
« Reply #9 on: March 21, 2013, 11:22:59 AM »
There is no denial, only thing is that these studies may happen in any manner, and need not necessarily be only in typical prototype manner.

--
॥ शांतमात्मनि तिष्ट ॥
Remain quietly in the Self.
~ Vasishta

Ravi.N

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Re: What is scriptural study?
« Reply #10 on: March 21, 2013, 11:40:54 AM »
Friends,
I have already posted the Four aids chapter from Sri Aurobindo's Synthesis of Yoga-This captures all the essentials of Sadhana in a wonderful way.With regard to study of sastra,here is the excerpt:

usually the representative influence occupies a much larger place in the life of the Sadhaka. If the Yoga is guided by a received written Shastra, -- some Word from the past which embodies the experience of former Yogins, -- it may be practised either by personal effort alone or with the aid of a Gum. The spiritual knowledge is then gained through meditation on the truths that are taught and it is made living and conscious by their realisation in the personal experience; the Yoga proceeds by the results of prescribed methods taught in a Scripture or a tradition and reinforced and illumined by the instructions of the Master. This is a narrower practice, but safe and effective within its limits, because it follows a well-beaten track to a long familiar goal.

For the Sadhaka of the Integral Yoga it is necessary to remember that no written Shastra, however great its authority or however large its spirit, can be more than a partial expression of the eternal Knowledge. He will use, but never bind himself even by the greatest Scripture. Where the Scripture is profound, wide, catholic, it may exercise upon him an influence for the highest good and of incalculable importance. It may be associated in his experience with his awakening to crowning verities and his realisation of the highest experiences. His Yoga may be governed for a long time by one Scripture or by several successively, -- if it is in the line of the great Hindu tradition, by the Gita, for example, the Upanishads, the Veda. Or it may be a good part of his development to include in its material a richly varied experience of the truths of many Scriptures and make the future opulent with all that is best in the past. But in the end he must take his station, or better still, if he can, always and from the beginning he must live in his own soul beyond the written Truth, -- sabdabrahmativartate -- beyond all that he has heard and all that he has yet to hear, -- srotaryasya srutasya ca. For he is not the Sadhaka of a book or of many books; he is a Sadhaka of the Infinite.
 
Another kind of Shastra is not Scripture, but a statement of the science and methods, the effective principles and way of working of the path of Yoga which the Sadhaka elects to follow. Each path has its Shastra, either written or traditional, passing from mouth to mouth through a long line of Teachers. In India a great authority, a high reverence even is ordinarily attached to the written or traditional teaching. All the lines of the Yoga are supposed to be fixed and the Teacher who has received the Shastra by tradition and realised it in practice guides the disciple along the immemorial tracks. One often even hears the objection urged against a new practice, a new Yogic teaching, the adoption of a new formula, "It is not according to the Shastra." But neither in fact nor in the actual practice of the Yogins is there really any such entire rigidity of an iron door shut against new truth, fresh revelation, widened experience. The written or traditional teaching expresses the knowledge and experiences of many centuries systematised, organised, made attainable to the beginner. Its importance and utility are therefore immense. But a great freedom of variation and development is always practicable. Even so highly scientific a system as Rajayoga can be practised on other lines than the organised method of Patanjali. Each of the three paths, trimarga, breaks into many bypaths which meet again at the goal. The general knowledge on which the Yoga depends is fixed, but the order, the succession, the devices, the forms must be allowed to vary, for the needs and particular impulsions of the individual nature have to be satisfied even while the general truths remain firm and constant.

continued....

Ravi.N

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Re: What is scriptural study?
« Reply #11 on: March 21, 2013, 11:47:56 AM »
Excerpt from Sri Aurobindo- Four-aids Chapter from Synthesis of Yoga continued....

An integral and synthetic Yoga needs especially not to be bound by any written or traditional Shastra; for while it embraces the knowledge received from the past, it seeks to organise it anew for the present and the future. An absolute liberty of experience and of the restatement of knowledge in new terms and new combinations is the condition of its self-formation. Seeking to embrace all life in itself, it is in the position not of a pilgrim following the highroad to his destination, but, to that extent at least, of a path-finder hewing his way through a virgin forest. For Yoga has long diverged from life and the ancient systems which sought to embrace it, such as those of our Vedic forefathers, are far away from us, expressed in terms which are no longer accessible, thrown into forms which are no longer applicable. Since then mankind has moved forward on the current of eternal Time and the same problem has to be approached from a new starting-point.
By this Yoga we not only seek the Infinite, but we call upon the Infinite to unfold himself in human life. Therefore the Shastra of our Yoga must provide for an infinite liberty in the receptive human soul. A free adaptability in the manner and type of the individual's acceptance of the Universal and Transcendent into himself is the right condition for the full spiritual life in man. Vivekananda, pointing out that the unity of all religions must necessarily express itself by an increasing richness of variety in its forms, said once that the perfect state of that essential unity would come when each man had his own religion, when not bound by sect or traditional form he followed the free self-adaptation of his nature in its relations with the Supreme. So also one may say that the perfection of the integral Yoga will come when each man is able to follow his own path of Yoga, pursuing the development of his own nature in its upsurging towards that which transcends the nature. For freedom is the final law and the last consummation.
     
Meanwhile certain general lines have to be formed which may help to guide the thought and practice of the Sadhaka. But these must take, as much as possible, forms of general truths, general statements of principle, the most powerful broad directions of effort and development rather than a fixed system which has to be followed as a routine. All Shastra is the outcome of past experience and a help to future experience. It is an aid and a partial guide. It puts up signposts, gives the names of the main roads and the already explored directions, so that the traveller may know whither and by what paths he is proceeding.

Sri Aurobindo then proceeds to the Practice&self-effort,the Role of Guru and the Ishta....a wonderful and concise coverage of all that is vital for practical sadhana.Those interested may look up this thread-Sri Aurobindo-The Four Aids ,a chapter in The Synthesis of Yoga  under
Translations and Commentaries by Forum Members.
Namaskar.


Ravi.N

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Re: What is scriptural study?
« Reply #12 on: March 21, 2013, 12:10:35 PM »
udai,

Quote
I am not sure Aurobindo was liberated!


What do you mean by liberation?

Namaskar.

atmavichar100

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Re: What is scriptural study?
« Reply #13 on: March 21, 2013, 12:12:54 PM »
Quote
I am not sure Aurobindo was liberated!

Quote
What do you mean by liberation?

Match started again . Very Interesting  :)
However many holy words you read, however many you speak, what good will they do you if you do not act on upon them? - Buddha

sanjaya_ganesh

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Re: What is scriptural study?
« Reply #14 on: March 21, 2013, 12:45:36 PM »
:)
Salutations to Bhagawan