|© Yamini MacLean|
|© Yamini MacLean|
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.