Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Different Paths for Different Individuals Says Suta Samhita of Skanda Purana

The systems of philosophy to which the Indian mind has given birth   range   from   the   ultra-materialistic   system   of   a Charvaka to the most sublime ultraspiritual system of the Vedanta. It must, however, be borne in mind that all these apparently most divergent systems of thought are necessary steps through which the intellect of man must pass and has passed, marking as they do the various stages of man's intellectual  development. The  various  systems  have  bee intended as the training ground for the varying intellects of man, one system leading to another, each man honestly taking to that system of thought which appeals to him most, as best suited to the grain of his mind, as the system which to him appears to embody rules of conduct based on a most rational basis. When the different systems are viewed in this light, when the value of even the most materialistic philosophy of a Charvaka is recognised as perforce gradually in the course of enquiry leading the intellect to a less materialistic and more spiritual system, the intellect finding no rest till it lands upon the most convicting truth, it becomes easy to understand what the author of the Purana means when he speaks of the different systems of faith in the following terms:

"Listen with faith, O sages, to what I say as to the truth of the various paths. Vedas, Dharmasastras, Purana, Bharata, Vedangas and minor Vedas; Kamika and other agamas; Kapala and Lakula in all their variety; the Pasupata, Soma, Bhairava and other agamas with their hundred varieties: Vaishnava and Brahma agamas; the agamas of the Buddhas and the Arhats; Lokayata, and the Tarkasastras in all their vastness; the profound Mimamsa, as also Sankhya and Yoga; all these and many more Sastras, the Omniscient Divine Being has made in brief. It is only by the Grace of Rudra that Devas like Brahma and Vishnu, Siddhas, Vidyadharas, Yakshas, Rakshasas, Munis and men make the Sastras again, in brief or in extenso. The wise say that each of these sastras is intended for a particular class according to the individual qualification, not all for one. These paths are not to be rudely handled by the learned subjecting them to rigorous unrelenting logic. As all streams ultimately empty themselves into the ocean, so all these paths ultimately lead to the Mahesvara Himself. Worshipped in what form soever by people as ordained in their respective scriptures. He assumes that form and takes the devotee on to the next higher step, By His Grace man attains to superior paths. The Divine Being worshipped in the form in which He is represented in these paths takes the devotee step by step onward to the path of the Veda. The form which the Divine Being assumes  in  the  path  of  the  Veda  is  the  immediate  cause  of salvation. Even there the form of the Divine Being as represented by the ritualistic portion of the Veda only stimulates a longing for knowledge; while, worshipped in the form presented in the theosophical portion  He  leads  the  devotee  to  moksha  through wisdom.

"As the highest salvation is only of one kind, the knowledge which leads to it must be of one kind and of one kind' only. The Vedanta treats of Sankara as the non-dual Atman. No other path treats of Him directly as the Vedanta does. Therefore knowledge produced by the Veda is alone wisdom. Knowledge obtained by other means is avidya, unwisdom. The other paths cannot themselves lead to moksha; they are serviceable only as leading to it through the intervening steps. Mahadeva, as known by the Vedanta, directly gives moksha; as known and worshipped in the other paths He leads to moksha by gradually taking the soul on to the direct path. Wherefore he  who  treads  the  path  of  the  Vedanta  should  not change it for any other. To those who tread the path of the Veda, nothing is hard to attain. There alone lie the supreme mukti and other enjoyments in plenty.

"Wherefore   the   different   paths   are   useful   to   the   different individuals for whom they are specially intended. Whenever other paths are opposed to the Vedanta in their theories as to the nature of  Isvara, as  to the cause of bondage, as  to  the cause of  the Universe, as to mukti, and as to what constitutes wisdom, and so on, those theories, to be sure, have been furnished in accordance with the prevailing desires of the ignorant whose minds are darkened by the mighty delusion: not because they are absolutely true in themselves, but because they serve, by holding out some legitimate pleasures to ultimately bring them round to the right path when their sins have been washed away in the waters of the more or less pure morality therein inculcated. As man allures an erratic cow by holding out grass, so does Mahesvara first hold out some  pleasure  and  then  gives  supreme  wisdom  as  the  mind becomes perfected.

"Thus these paths, laid out as they are by Siva, are all of them true and serviceable. How can Siva be a deceiver? He is supremely merciful, omniscient, and altogether stainless. Yet of all the paths, the  path  of  the  Veda  is  the  best.  as  conducing  to  all  good." 

(Skanda-Purana, Suta-Samhita, Yajna-Vaibhava-Khanda, 22nd adhyaya).

This unique attitude of the Purana towards the several antagonistic systems of religion and philosophy only gives expression to the consciousness of the fact that mankind, made up as it is of different individuals who have reached different stages of intellectual and moral progress, cannot all think to order, in one and the same way

Source: Dakshinamurti Stotra With Manasollasa Of Sureshwaracharya Translated by Alladi Mahadeva Sastri. Pages 35-37

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