[Advaita-l] SAstra vAsana

M. S. Ravisankar ravi at ambaa.org
Fri Jun 20 18:59:09 CDT 2003

You have listed two situations. When the context is different they cease to
be contradictory.

vaasaana is a latent impression of feeling. For instance, when one drinks
coffee; the aroma, color, warmth, and taste of coffee creates a sensory
experience and euphoria. This is recorded impression in chitta is vaasana.
Every time this is repeated, the impression gets stronger. It reaches a
point one stops drinking coffee for joy or even a need, instead it becomes
an addiction. And intellect loses control in this matter and one almost
becomes an automaton. vaasana-s has its own benefits in some areas. Good
vaasanaa-s  are OK, but still one should be become a blind automaton to

One reads shaastra for a purpose. Not merely gaining knowledge or for
pleasure. The knowledge gained from the text is used achieve a certain
objective, solve a certain problem, etc.  But once, one starts liking the
very act of gaining the information and not interested in achieving its
intended objective, then it becomes a detriment. mAyA has potential for a
great variety and it can keep one busy in its realm for inifinite time
showing him wonders and different things.  Knowledge, which is gained as
paroxa (or second hand), for the purpose of impelling a person to gain
aparoxa, then (because of the mere addiction to knowledge) tends to keep him
tied down. This is your case (a). It is almost like an addiction.

When there is a genuine need to learn something, and it has a potential
application. One should continue to learn. Not by addiction, but by choice
and with an understanding of the need and the goal. This is the second case.
Any spiritual effort  will not go waste (as Krishna says) and will save one
from the great fear.

They are not contradictory.

When does one know when to stop. This question in the realm of spiritual
field arises out of two possible reasons: a) not having a direct guidance
from a guru and b) theory without practice. Pratice will lead to direct
knowledge and will answer the question by itself.  When is one pregnant,
possible beyond the first trimester one will not wonder whether I am
pregnant or not. And definitely not after delivering the baby :-))

Swami Yogananda gives a good formula for reading. He says, if you read
something for an hour, write notes on it for two hours and contemplate on it
for three hours, and on the meditate on the essence truth  much more time.
He says this in the context of developing good reasoning power. But one can
simply summarize it as: theory and practise go hand in hand. shravana
(listening, reading) the truth is one step. Then manana ( is thinking about,
writing notes on it, ironing out the inconsistencies) is the next step, and
vital step is nidhidhyAsana. It is a meditative contemplation.

My 2c.


Prasad Balasubramanian wrote:

 I've a question on Sastra vAsana - the
attachment to studying scriptures.

In jIvan mukthi vivEka, Acharya says that
it is not possible to study all the Sastras
and the more we learn, it becomes only a burden.
He gives examples of Rishi durvAsA and others who want to
gain knowledge in more and more
fields but are made to know that this gaining
of knowledge in various domains only becomes a burden
and will not help in realizing the brahman.
Acharya says that one who aims at realizing brahman
should remove this SAstra vAsanA completely.

But simulataneously, many Acharyas preach
that learning should be continuous and
should go on until the last moment as
any kind of knowledge gained will not go
unused. They as well preach that if the
knowledge gained in this janma goes unused,
it will certainly be useful in the forth
coming janmas.

More information about the Advaita-l mailing list