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EXPOSITION OF VEDIC THOUGHT : BY SATYAVRATA SIDDHANTALANKAR (HARDCOVER)

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In his book India: What Can It Teach Us Prof. Max Muller writes: ‘If I were to look over the whole world to find out the country most richly endowed with the wealth, power and beauty that nature can bestow—in some parts a very paradise on earth—I should point to India. If I were asked under what sky the human mind has most fully developed some of the choicest gifts, has most deeply pondered on the greatest problems of life, and has found solutions of some of them which well deserve the attention even of those who have studied Plato and Kant—I should point to India. And if I were to ask myself from what literature we, here in Europe, we who have been nurtured exclusively on the thoughts of Greeks and Romans, and of one Semitic race, the Jews, may draw that corrective which is most wanted in order to make our inner life more perfect, more comprehensive, more universal, in fact more truly human, a life, not for this life only, but a transfigured and eternal life—again I should point to India.’

Schopenhauer, the famous German philosopher, said: "In the whole world there is no study so beneficial and so elevating as that of the Upanishads. It has been the solace of my life, It’ll be the solace of my death." Quoting these words of Schopenhauer, Max Muller says: "If these words of Schopenhauer required any endorsement, I shall willingly give it as the result of my own experience during a long life devoted to the study of many philosophies and many religions."

Quoting from the book INDIA of Megasthenes, McCrindle describing the wars of Alexander writes that when the Greek king proceeded to invade India, his mentor, Aristotle, asked him to bring two gifts from that famous country while returning—one was the Gita, and the other some Saint-philosopher. While returning, Alexander directed his emissary Oniocratese, to find out a Saint who could accompany him back home. The emissary contacted two. Saints, one of whom accepted the invitation, while the other named Dandamese declined. It appears that the word ‘Dandamese’ is a Greek form of the Sanskrit word Dandi-Swami as ‘ese’ was used as a suffix to the proper names in Greek language. The emissary told the Saint that if he accompanied Alexander who was extolled as the son of Jupiter—God Himself—the king would be pleased to bestow upon him immense wealth and riches. Hearing this, Dandamese laughed and retorted: Having the verdure and greenery of India surrounded by Himalayas as an abode, bark of trees as clothes for covering the body, clean cold running water of the river for quenching thirst, a handful of grains for sustenance is all one needs for keeping the body and soul together. It passes one’s understanding as to why one needs more than this for living unless it were to accumulate and perish. We of this land of the Rishis possess the richness of the soul before which all the wealth of the world pales into insignificance, and without which the richest man possessing all the material wealth of the world is but a pauper in our eyes.

Aurangzeb’s brother Dara Shikoh was so much fascinated by the Upanishads that he invited some learned Pandits from Kashi and listened to their discourses for six months expounding their teachings. In 1656 he translated them into Persian. Anquetil Due Peron, a French scholar, rendered the Persian version of the Upanishads into Latin in 1801. Thus the Muslim world by Dara and the Christian world by Anquetil Due Peron were so much influenced by the Upanishadic thought that these store-houses of spiritual knowledge were avidly read with great interest by scholars of the East and the West.

The sources of Indian thought from which Aristotle, Dara Shikoh, Max Muller and Schopenhauer drew inspiration were the Vedas, the Upanishads and other classical Sanskrit literature containing Vedic thought. But, what is the quintessence of Vedic thought? The quintessence of Vedic thought is that however much advances mankind may make in the material world—we may land on the moon, travel in space with the speed of light, even tear open the bowels of the earth and make it yield unimaginable wealth—so long as we are devoid of the treasure lying hidden in the world of the Spirit, all our achievements are of no avail. But, spiritualism does not mean that this world is nothing but Maya—and the wealth of the world is an illusion. It only means that though the body is real, the soul which animates the body and is apart from the body is also real; though the world of matter is real, God which activates the world and is apart from the world is also real. To start with the body in living beings and the world of matter in the universe and to end therein as the Alpha and Omega of existence is an unreal assessment of reality. When we regard the body and the world of matter as the terminus of reality, then arises the necessity of enlightening our understanding to the fact that all that meets the eye in which we entangle ourselves though real is yet relatively unreal, because its reality is derived from and is dependent on a far greater and more fundamental reality which is independent of all other realities and without which neither the physical body nor the material universe would sustain their existence.

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EXPOSITION OF VEDIC THOUGHT : BY SATYAVRATA SIDDHANTALANKAR (HARDCOVER)
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