In the greatest level of abstraction Vedanta means knowledge of the absolute reality. Vedanta espouses that such knowledge is not gained by symbolic practices, consumption of voluminous scriptures but through direct experience. In the physical manifestation, Vedanta – represents the end portion of the Vedas – ‘Veda-anta’.
Thought to have been composed over thousands of years, the Vedas are as per religious tradition considered to be created for the benefit of humanity by the supreme Being – ‘Brahman’. They contain within them the eternal truths and become manifest as per the need of the age.
Each of the Vedas is considered to be made of four distinct sections.
- ‘Mantras’ – the collection of hymns and prayers through which one can seek almost everything that is conceivable in the physical world from the numerous gods and goddesses.
- ‘Brahmana’ – collection of rituals, rules and details for performance of various sacrifices and conduct of yagnas. It interprets the word of Mantras and how they are to be understood in the conduct of sacrifices.
- ‘Aranyaka’ – is the beginning of the purely spiritual elements of the Vedas, where one moves from the performance of sacrifices to understand and inquire about their context and meaning.
- ‘Upanishads’ – following the Aranyakas represents the repository of spirituality. It is in Upanishads that one finds the inquiry into ultimate reality, where oneness of Atman and Brahman and the universal implications are recorded as seen by sages. The journey from Mantras to Aranyakas through Brahmana prepares the mortal mind to grasp this truth.
Upanishads – as sacred texts are called Vedanta – the end portions of the veda. Situated physically at the end of each Veda, they hold within them the eternal truth that is found by powerful internal inquiry, with the power to liberate us from bondage.
Upanishads poised at the end of each of the vedas propound the oneness of Atman and Brahman. Aitareya Upanisad of the Rigveda states “Prajnanam Brahma“ (The Brahman means realising the jnana that is the highest ), ” Aham Brahmasmi” (I am the Brahman) is stated in the Brhadaranyaka Upanisad of the Yajurveda., “Tat tvam asi” (The Paramatman and you are the one and the same) is from the Chandogya Upanisad of the samaveda and “Ayam Atma Brahma” (This Self is the Brahman”), is from the Mandukya Upanisad of the Atharvaveda.
The structuring of these ageless scriptures, all based on the concerted note of oneness is a strong indication of the singular view of the universal truth.
While trying to grasp and experience what is contained in these texts is akin to emptying ocean with our cupped palms ; every dip one takes, however brief – has a cleansing effect that is undeniable!