Vedantic Wednesday : Something for Everyone

Very often when you want to learn, you are swamped by the available volumes of literature. Every one of them look enticing. But many leave us puzzled and more confused. The fault does not lie in them, but in us for failing to have a progressive map for acquiring knowledge. The ancient masters realized we would face this same predicament when we attempt to learn from the ancient texts. So they got down to organizing it.

As in any study there are texts written to suit the needs of a variety of students. Since students / readers come in different stages of knowledge, the subject under consideration is also presented accordingly. In ancient India we find that our great rishis, have created complete and detailed texts pertaining to specific subjects. These texts are complete treatises on the subject. But they are meant for the serious and advanced learner. These texts contain knowledge based on the timeless principles. Such texts are called ‘sastra-grantas’. Some examples of ‘sastra-granthas’ include: ‘Bhautika Sastra’ – Physics; ‘Rasaayana Sastra’ – Chemistry; ‘Artha Sastra’ – Economics; ‘Vastu Sastra’ – Architecture.

With passing of time, since many learners could not develop the abilities directly to study the ‘sastra-grantas’ – the sages / rishis created another type of text called ‘prakarana-granthas’. These as the name suggests are topical texts or introductory texts. They do not contain all aspects on the subject of coverage, but take up a certain set of concepts and detail them. These texts are for the serious and sincere seeker who has just started on the path of learning, but is still not clear with the concepts and terms in the subject area. Without this fundamentals well understood, the student may get lost trying to study the ‘sastra-granthas’ and hence for such students a study of the ‘prakarana-granthas’ are suggested. Some of the ‘prakarana-granthas’ include: Vivekacudamani, Atma-bodha, Tattva-bodha.

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