Gain the Highest through Knowledge

Learning from the Teacher the Highest Knowledge of the World and of Your Own Self

Om sign


Teachings by Swami Tejomayananda

When our minds are purified through karma (selfless action) and made single-pointed through up-asana (worship), we cannot remain satisfied with the small achievements in worldly life.

We begin to ask questions, such as: "What is the purpose of life? What is my true nature? What is the source and origin of this entire creation?"

When questions of this kind arise in a person's mind, his or her quest for knowledge begins. The quest can be satisfied only when the student approaches a spiritual master and learns from him his highest knowledge of the Self.

This knowledge is the subject matter of the third and the last portion of the Vedas, which we call the Upanishads, otherwise known as Vedanta. When we say 'Vedanta' philosophy, we refer to the knowledge revealed in the Upanishads.

Upanishad is a combination of three words: upa, ni, and sad. Upa means near; ni means below and determination, and sad means, to sit down. Thus the simple meaning of Upanishad is "near below sitting".

The indicative meaning is that a student, having developed sufficiently good qualities of heart and mind, with burning desire for knowledge, approaches a teacher; sits at his feet, tunes his mind to the teachings given by the master; and tries his best to absorb and practice the teachings. In short, the Upanishads contain that knowledge which can be gained be a seeker of Truth when he is sitting at the feet of his master.

Why is it said that the student must sit at the teacher's feet? Just as the flow of water is natural and effortless from an upper to a lower level, sitting at the feet of the teacher is symbolic of the student looking up to the teacher: With this attitude the knowledge of the teacher flows easily to him.

The other meanings of the word sad are to destroy and to lead. When the student receives this knowledge from the teacher, his ignorance of the real nature of the world and of his own Self is destroyed.

Therefore, the purpose of the Upanishad is ajnana nasa (the destruction of ignorance.) The most important point is that the word Upanishad does not, essentially, refer to a book, but to the knowledge of the Self.

The word ni, in Sanskrit, also means determination. This indicates that the student must approach the teacher with a firm determination to gain knowledge.

A Sanskrit verse says beautifully: Deham va patayami karyam va sadayami. "Either this body will fall down dead or I will accomplish my goal". This is the firm determination with which the student has to approach the teacher.  >>>





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