Menoracular; On Higher Teachings pt 2

© Yamini MacLean
Emm and I had the Saturday still free before the discourse began, so she too wished to explore the ashram... and we wished to take an auto (rickshaw) ride over to Hiranandani for a little shopping spree; fresh fruit, laundry stuff. We also dropped by an old and favourite eating place; it had changed hands but was still as excellent as ever and we thoroughly enjoyed our dhosas and sambar!  As it turned out, we visited there several times during our three weeks, because, sadly, the ashram kitchen production proved to be challenging to NRI digestive systems. (We were at a loss to understand why it was so dismal - even compared to when I was studying there, when it was plain but wholesome - especially as this was a fully paid camp and majority attending were senior folk. Oh well, our titiksha (forbearance) failed us somewhat in that area.)

© Yamini MacLean
One thing that we both felt very sorely was the massacre of the trees. There were so many proud and beautiful arboreal specimens on Sandeepany, but many of them had quite simply been hacked, ravaged ... savaged, even. Heart-breaking. We hugged as many as we could.

Classes began on Sunday 8th January. Guruji (Sw. Tejomayananda) was to be presenting to us an overview of the Upanishads, with an emphasis on what is called the 'anubandha chatushtaya', the four connections of study.

No matter what subject you ever study, a text book worth its salt, any course worth its gold, must lay out clearly its purpose (vishaya), who is best qualified to study that subject (adhikaari), what is to be gained from the study (prayojana) and how the student and the subject ought to come together (sambanda).

That last one is pretty important. There are very many students in universities and similar institutions around the globe sitting in purely intellectual phase, attempting to memorise and perhaps digest just enough to tick all the 'right boxes' at exam time. They may know that a degree course in Chemistry, say, will provide a strong education in the makeup of the material world in that particular level of understanding (vishaya) and they may well have gained reasonable marks in preceding examinations to qualify for this higher level of study (adhikaari). They will have the reward of a BSc or MSc in mind (prayojana)... but how many truly feel the chemistry, see it with a level of understanding beyond the formulae and bondings? Many folk study English to a high level - not that many use it as if it is second nature to them. This is the sambanda; the student must find such a connection with the subject that the knowledge and understanding are as if a part of their own being. Such is the style of learning in Sanskrit tradition.

Whilst this pertains as much to the  material sciences and other knowledge, how much more so must it do so to those who undertake the study of life, the universe and everything? For this is what one does when embarking on proper study of the Upanishads.

The majority of the audience at this camp were long-term Vedantins. Most had excellent book knowledge... Guruji now was seeking to have them consider that all the ability to recall and recite shlokas and mantras does not a sannyaasin (renunciate) make. One must live the words and ideals spruiked. This much was his introduction that first two classes. It set the level. We were going to have to be using our little grey cells!

Even as one who has completed the regime of study to the 'endpoint', this going back to basics was not a bad thing.



8 comments:

  1. Learning is a life long process for sure.
    The tree is beautiful!

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  2. that was nice to hug the trees... and even when some peeps laugh, I think everything has a life...even the stones... and they have feelings, even when they maybe feel different than humans...

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  3. Question, Yam, is all this in English??!!
    I never take our forest for granted. I just adore being out there.
    Our Caitlin, with a M.Sc. in hydrogeology, wrote her thesis "A Computer Applications to Predict Contaminant Dispersal in a Hydrogeologic Environment." I know, from talking to her, and her friends, that they all FEEL their subjects. The company she works for is busy working on the new LRT tunnels. Very interesting work!
    I remember she and her man getting dressed to go out and play in the snow, and they were debating a quadratic equation! They are passionate about their fields! He is an encryption engineer, and they really adore their topics.

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  4. It would be very different to feel the subject of study. Our mom said that her university degree was often "scarf and barf" of the facts needed to ace a test. Such a shame! We also love the trees and are sad when one is harmed.

    Your Pals,

    Murphy & Stanley

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  5. I never went to University and learnt most of what I know (like the languages) in the field so to say. And since I love languages it does make it easier to do things.

    Such a shame about the trees. It's never good to just chop them down.

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  6. Great post. It reminds me of three very influential poeple in my life, all of whom felt their subjects at a very deep level (all three sadly died within 18 months of each other, between 2012 and 2014). First was my father, who provided me with an early lesson in 'feeling' a subject (in his case, his love of chemistry informed almost every aspect of his life). Likewise, my dear departed friend Kate was, to the core of her being, an engineer, and my Swiss godmother Doris an inspirational teacher of literature. All the time in my work I see the difference between those geoscientists and engineers who feel their their knowledge and those who were just good at acing the exams.

    Oh but what a shame about the food and the trees...

    Cheers, Gail.

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  7. A refresher course is always a great thing. janice xx

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  8. Hari OM
    Just wanted to say a thank you to all for engaging with this post... must confess that there was a lot of self-debate about how much to write, or not as the case was. However, it would not have been true to my trip reporting if I did not include this, it being the main purpose of the travel in the first place. These more intense posts will continue for just a few more.

    More directly;
    JENN - the discourses were mainly in English due to the wide audience (broadcast live over the web), but frequent use of Sanskrit and Hindi is there. Anyone listening for the first time would still gain much.
    MARA - actually you hit the nail on the head somewhat; sambanda is really about that great love, the passion as Jenn put it in her response, which is the driver to take up the learning in the first place. It is amazing though, as
    CAROL, points out, how often students simply go through the process due to various circumstances, and that underlying love for whatever their field is not truly in place. It is this which leads to many having mid-life crises and such!
    GAIL - beautifully described dear friend! Would that we all could know for certain where our true passion lies...
    JANICE - never goes amiss!!!

    Thank you again dear blogpals. I luvz ya &*>
    YAM xx

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