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We’re all the same, Believe It


To be able to see all things as one, you have to be in a state of mind that does not differentiate between likes and dislikes that are manifested in those we are looking at. Vedanta says the universe is the Supreme Absolute from which all evolved.

Shankara writes in the Atma Bodha that Self of all is like the sun and the attitude we develop are like clouds that hide the sun. When we look at a person beyond his attitudes, we find that we are all of the same eternal self luminous Atma. “Sages see with an equal eye, a learned and humble Brahmin, a cow, an elephant or even a dog or an outcaste,” said Krishna to Arjuna in the Bhagavad Gita (5.18).

A merchant goes to a wood sculptor and asks him to make an idol of Krishna in sandalwood. The sculptor requests for 15 days’ time to locate the right sandalwood to commence work. Not finding a suitable piece of wood, he goes to the merchant’s house to tell him of his inability to make the idol. The merchant is away and his wife asks him to wait. The sculptor’s eye falls on a wooden log in a corner of the room. H asks the merchant’s wife if he could take it. With her permission, he chisels out an enchanting image of Krishna. On seeing the idol the merchant praises the work; he could not believe that the wooden log which was there all the time in his house was used to make the fine idol. Then the sculptor says that all he had done was to remove the unwanted parts of the wood so that what remained was the image of Krishna. Similarly, we have to remove all irrelevant identities in us so that the Self in us shines forth.

That homogeneous mass of pure consciousness that is present in all of us is termed as Atma. It is timeless and eternal, says Krishna in the Gita. The nature of Self is sat, chit and ananda. Pure consciousness continues to survive after the death of the body. It is immortal; hence it is called Sat. Consciousness is called Chit in Sanskrit. It is also known as Chaitanya. It is not limited by time or space and hence is limitless, that is, ananta. Hence it is known as ananda which means a sense of completeness, a sense of fulfillment.

The eternal Self is the ultimate phase, like gold, while the name and form of an individual is like that of gold jewellery. Some may not like the making of the jewel but the gold that is in it is not inferior. The face value of a currency note is the same even if it is soiled. Every individual is the same like gold and the intrinsic value of a currency note. This is what Shankara tries to convey through the prism of advaita philosophy.

The dvaita philosophy of Madhava endorses the need for every individual to live life in a way that enables one to take out or forge an attractive jewel out the gold or clean the currency note so that it become new and crisp. Both these great exponents of philosophy, of advaita and dvaita, have really said the same thing but in different ways. Shankara asks us to see others in the same perspective as we see ourselves. Madhva explains to us that even though others see us in the same perspective as they see themselves, it is righteousness to live a quality life.



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