As we know the original Mahabharata compiled by Vyasa was "Jaya". Over the...
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You have created a wonderful site here. I just beginning to read and study the...
(by NasirMahabharat 17 Nov 2013 08:48
Book 12 Shanti Parva along with Book 13 Anusasana Parva is well known as late material added to...
(by Jijith Nadumuri 30 Apr 2013 12:05
The section of the Mahabharata from Chapter 12 forward dictates that Krishna lived during the...
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There is no denying that the battles are exaggerated by the bards such as equating every duel to...
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Please read the article alien-presence-during-mahabharata which describes my analysis of some of...
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The 9th Century BC date for Kurukshetra war is arrived at based on the discredited...
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Aryan invasion theory is flawed as our scriptures don't talk about any other home of...
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Multiple View Points
There may be differences in our religion and ideologies. But one thing is common among us, may be that both of us are believers. I would like to take part in this discussion based on the Adwaita philosophy. As per the view of an Adwaitist, each religion is nothing but a unique point of view of the same reality. To see the truth, every seeker will take a point of view in the idea-space, and each such point of view is nothing but their religion.
In the figure above, assume that A, B and C are religions. The view point of A and B seems to be totally opposite, but both are oriented towards the truth. The difference in the direction is purely a function of the position (i.e. the point of view). The apparent differences in different religions, in their teachings or in their rituals are analogous to this difference in their orientations. Their position in idea space is equivalent to the conditions (historical or other) that resulted in their creation. Since they have different positions, they ought to have different orientations, to point towards the truth. In other words, different religions have differences in their manifestation, only because of the differences in the conditions that originated them.
The Singular Reality
Let me say a few words about Adwaita philosophy. In Sanskrit, Dwaita means dual and thus a-dwaita, means non-dual, that which is not two, or in the broader sense, that which is not plural. If we take the positive meaning of the word, it means, that which is singular. Thus, it denotes some thing which is singular and undivided. This is just the literary meaning of the word. But the idea and concept behind this word is unbelievably enormous and was the subject of discussion among the Indian intellectuals for centuries. It is discussed and debated among the Indian Rishis as well as the modern scientists and philosophers of the world. Surprisingly the reflection of this ideology is found in the latest theories about the universe and reality. The ‘something that is singular’, that is the core of adwaita-philosophy can be mathematically represented as the natural-number 1. In spiritual talks it appears as a concept called jagat-jeeveswara-aikyam (the oneness of the universe, us and God). It eludes intellectual comprehension and is beyond the emotions in the mind. In physical realm it is nothing but the unity of all particles, or the oneness of the universe. As a religion, adwaita is the belief in the single truth. It is different from monotheism. Monotheism is the belief in one God. Adwaita is the belief in one truth that includes God, the universe and the observer or the worshipper. Here, God is not considered as different from the universe or the observer (i.e. you and me). There is only one single reality which appears as plural.
The observer (you and me), that which is observed (the universe or the manifest), and that which is beyond observation (the God-principle: as described in other ideologies or the un-manifest) are one and the same. This is the basic principle of adwaita philosophy. Let me divert here and introduce some thoughts and concepts that will enable us to understand this philosophy better and in different perspectives. Some people base their belief, on certain historical events, that includes miracles or birth and life of some spiritual leader. Some others base their belief by considering themselves as a living-system in the universe, equipped with consciousness and free thinking ability. This universe is very vast. Billions and billions of galaxies are spread like dust-particles in it. (I am not going into the details of the pattern of galaxy-distribution in the universe.) There can be many such universes, as debated by recent cosmological models based on quantum probability. Come to each galaxy. There are billions of stars in each and our sun is just one of them! We sit in one of the small planets orbiting around this sun, which is just an ordinary star in our galaxy, the Milky Way Galaxy, which again is an ordinary galaxy in the observable universe. Human race started thinking, only for some 10000 years, which when compared with the age of the universe (~15-20 billion years.), is nothing.
There can be many intelligent species out there in the universe, now as well as in the past and the future. Each of them will have their own history and religions based on them. Thus I find it not safe to base my belief on some historical events occurred in human-history. Thus I want to transcend my existence as a human-being, when I speak about my belief, and I consider one among the possible intelligent living systems that may arise anywhere, any time, in the universe, equipped with consciousness and thinking capability. This vast set includes other fellow humans on earth, or any alien out there, for that matter. But if not based on human-history, not on miracles, on what, is my belief based up on? Let me answer. This cosmos is all about wonders! See our Earth, with all those billions of varied species, with different forms and behaviors. Each of them made of cells, which themselves work in miraculous ways to sustain life. Go inside, you see molecules and atoms that have there own story to tell. Go still further into the emptiness of atoms and into the nucleus and you end up in the real-unreal world of quantum mechanics. Observe the human-society and you see colorful variations of the human civilizations, cultures and beliefs. Go beyond Earth, into space and you see the planets, stars and galaxies, being born and getting destroyed. Supernova explosions that spawn new elements into the space and black holes that strain the curvature of the space-time! How many dimensions, does the universe have? How do we travel into past and future? What happens to the information that goes into a black-hole? Is there infinite universes? Will we find multiple copies of ourselves in them? What is the fabric of the space-time at microscopic-quantum level? How did the universe originate and how will it end, and what decides the value of the fundamental constants? Is there any theory that unifies the four fundamental forces of the universe? Beyond the observable universe are these questions, which once answered will take us to the other wonders of the cosmos that are yet to be known. Thus, as one start observing, the universe reveals and unwinds itself as a mesmerizing spiral of infinite wonders with perplexing complexity and beauty!
The Greatest of all Wonders! You!
But beyond all these wonders we see outside, there is one wonder far greater than those seen outside, that is right inside us. Guess what? Ourselves!
Surprised? Who or what is that inside us, that is surprised? What is inside us, that which admire the beauty all around, that which is mesmerized by the strangeness of all, that which creates poems, theories, postulates and beliefs? Who or what is that inside us that creates literature, art, science and religion? Who or what is that inside us that see, hear, smell, touch and taste, or feel good or bad, or think or sleep? Ourselves! We think now about ourselves, yet it eludes our thoughts! That is it! My belief is based on this entity within, in other words, my own existence which is stranger than anything I see around. Self is the greatest wonder. An Adwaitist is some one who seeks the truth through his/her own self, within. As he/she knows the truth, he/she becomes the truth. Because the truth is that, he/she is the truth itself. What happens to the earlier idea that we have to search or seek the truth? As we merge into the truth, we wake up into a greater awareness, that this earlier idea was an illusion, called Maya. Maya caused the illusion that we are different from the truth and that we have to seek it. It also causes the illusion of ‘merging’ with the truth as we become self-aware. Then the illusion or Maya also disappears. Why? Maya by definition is illusion. So it doesn’t exist. Or it is ‘that which does not exist’.
Let me explain this by an example. There was a kingdom ruled by an unknown king. You start to find the unknown king. Some learned man tells you: “Go to the palace and open the king’s rest room. Open his secret wallet. You see a script. Read it and it is written in it, who is the king“. You followed the instructions and read the script. It is written on it: “As you read this script, you will remember that you are the king of this kingdom”. Initially you feel that there is a king and there is, you. Finally you finds that there are no two people and you are the king you sought. The idea that, you and the king were different was an illusion or Maya. The truth or the singular reality is the object of discussion of the Adwaita philosophy. Truth is something that doesn’t change or that which will not undergo any transformation. Things like shape or name undergoes changes. They have a beginning and an end. They get created and destroyed. They are perishable. We see many objects around us. Like book, paper and pen, planets and stars. Each has a shape. So we gave a name also to each of them. There are some things that which don’t have a shape, for example, the objects of our thought, like kindness, love, relativity-theory or mass.
Beyond the name and shape of an entity, is the entity itself. Name and shape are just some attributes of the entity. The entity itself is hidden. We see only its shape and remember its name. But we don’t see or remember ‘it’. What is this ‘it’? It is some thing that prompted us to give a name and associate a shape, to it. Consider that we are observing a book. We see its shape and color, or find its weight and volume and give a name to the book. But all these are attributes of the book. We observe the attributes of the entity, but the entity is hidden. Let us call it as ‘x’ or the unknown. So something that is unknown is causing us to see a book. The book can bend and change its shape or can be renamed. Still the unknown remains unchanged which still causes us to call it a book.
|That unchanged unknown is the truth.
Consider the concept of love. It doesn’t have a shape. But it is having a name. But it is some thing, that we feel, and love, is the name that we give to this feeling. The feeling will remain the same though we change the name of the feeling to something else. So there is a truth that causes the feeling of love.
|That unchanged unknown is the truth.
Thus, the truth is the pure-existence behind objects (example: - book) and ideas (example:-love). Thus truth is something that is hidden behind all the shapes and names. It is some thing that causes all the shapes and names of the cosmos, yet remains hidden behind it, and beyond them. Adwaitist say that truth is hidden behind Maya. In other words all the plural shapes and names are Maya and the single reality that gives rise to this pluralistic construct is the Truth. (Remember, even the name Truth is just a name and by that we only mean that something which is single. That is why it is difficult to explain adwaita concept in a human language. It is a real test to any language. How will you comprehend the following description about truth?
|Truth is single.
|Truth is hidden and unknown.
|Yet truth can be attained and thus be known.
|The act of knowing the truth makes you the truth.
All these sentences explain the truth only partially. But all of them together give an idea about the truth. Full knowledge of the truth is nothing but an experience. This experience is the ultimate experience of any conscious being. In Upanishads it is described as brahma-sayujya, the merger with Brahman, synonym of the word Truth.) The singular truth is wrapped in the pluralistic construct called the cosmos or the Maya. In other words the singular truth radiates or projects itself as the pluralistic world of names and shapes. Rotate a flake in a circle and you see a ring of circle. In the same way the universe is projected by the power of the truth within.
Make mud-pot using clay. Destroy it and powder it and you gets the clay back. In a similar way the universe emerges out of the truth and goes back into it. The shape of the pot and the name ‘pot’ was temporary or illusory and thus is Maya. Similarly the universe is temporary or illusory and thus is Maya. The clay exists even before the pot was made out of it. During the existence of the pot, clay existed inside the pot. The shape of the pot was not clay’s property. It was pot’s property. So is the name ‘pot’. But both this shape and name is possible only due to the clay. But clay is beyond this shape and name. As the pot is destroyed all this shape and name vanishes. Clay still exists. In all these three stages, clay remained unchanged as clay. But in the middle stage, a thing called pot existed, by the power of clay and it vanished as it emerged. In this example the truth is analogous to the clay and the universe is analogous to the pot.
That which have name and form, undergoes evolution and perishes. That which is beyond the name and form, remains unchanged and is the source of all the names and forms. This principle, which is hidden, unchanged and singular, is the truth. Following are some thoughts that are directly or indirectly related to our line of thought. This include, concepts present in relativity-theory, biological- evolution and many other topics.
The ones and zeros of the Computer Language
We are now living in the era of information revolution. Computers, beyond there role as number crunchers, has become part and parcel of human life. Let us focus our attention on computer’s ability to visualize object that really doesn’t exist. For example, researchers use computer to visualize mathematically definable surfaces and objects as real as any object that we see around. Using virtual reality technology, one can experience a virtual world that is generated by a computer from pure mathematical constructs and numerical data. You may be in a game, fighting against the evil forces of the universe, or driving a car or a helicopter, or riding a rover on the surface of Mars!!
But underneath this mesmerizing, virtual-realities are just a lengthy-stream of binary digits, consisting of Ones and Zeros! All those sense of time created by the movement of shapes, all those exotic visuals and audios and senses reduces to 1’s and 0’s. That is all behind everything the computer does! Among the ones and zeros, zero is the absence of 1 and one is the presence of 1. So there is only one. Here 1 is analogous to the truth that we speak about in Adwaita philosophy and 0 is the Maya. The interplay of Maya on the Truth gives rise to the plural world. Similarly the pattern of 1 and 0 creates all the virtual reality of the computer. Maya is defined in Adwaita philosophy as that which is both existent and non existent. Zero is also like that. We use it to represent the absence or nothingness. But since we go for a representation, the nothingness gets represented as if it is something that exists. We almost forget that it really means nothingness and uses it as something that is really out there.
Information and knowledge
Another way of looking at the way computer project an unreal world onto us, is by considering the fact that it is the information or knowledge stored in the form of data and algorithms that finally appears as the virtual world. Same is the case with the Truth of Adwaita. The truth is described as an imperishable body of knowledge (chit). This knowledge generates information to create the illusory universe. Scientists also agrees that a finite amount of information is sufficient to create the universe as it is created by finite blocks as dictated by the quantum theory and each quanta can be represented by a finite amount of data. Thus it is possible that this whole universe, which we feel to be so real to us, is just a feed of data to our five senses, as it is shown in the movie The Matrix.
Ocean and Life
Observe the vast ocean and the waves in it. The waves are continuously being created and destroyed from the ocean. The universe is created and destroyed from the Truth in the similar way. As one sail across the ocean, we think less about the vast depth of the ocean, chill and calm. But we are forced to think more about the numerous and turbulent waves, against which we sail. Similarly one is so engaged in the daily miseries of life that he/she forgets the real truth about all that is around. Knowing the truth is like knowing the ocean as a whole. All these multitudes that we see around are nothing but the random fluctuations of its skin surface. The truth is singular and steady. All the million waves are just part of the ocean. Thus all of us and all we see around us are just part of the whole truth.
The reality of the universe
The stand point that, the universe is illusory may lead to a doubt that one is trying to escape from the daily happenings of life. But this is not escapism. Adwaita philosophy acknowledges and respects the reality of the universe and daily life. But it asserts that, there is a higher reality beyond the reality of the universe. Consider the idea of a farmer, that the Earth is flat. This is true to some extend. If we take a small area around any point on the surface of Earth, that area is flat. The surface of a sphere (2D-Shperical geometry) is locally Euclidean or flat. So when a mathematician or a scientist says that Earth is a sphere, he/she also agrees or respects the fact that the Earth is locally flat.
All the billion types of substances in the universe is made of 92 or so elements. A chemist knows that there are this billions of substances, but he/she finds that the 92 elements or so is all that matters. These elements are still made of a few fundamental particles called electrons and protons. Ultimately we reach a stage where every particle is described by a single entity. (For example, the strings, described by the string theory.) Thus one moves from one truth and reality to more subtle and fundamental truth and reality. It is a smooth journey towards the ultimate reality or the Truth.
The reality of me, you and us
We have seen that the sense of I-ness or identity or self-consciousness is the biggest wonder. It is the basic evidence for all the arguments of the Adwaita philosophy. Our existence is an unshakable experience. It is an undeniable reality that we exist. Thus our existence is a very valuable thing, valuable than all that we have like our intellect, mind, body, dress or wealth. Our existence is the evidence for the presence of the ultimate existence, i.e. the Truth. Our existence also acts as the tool to attain the ultimate-Truth or the path to reach the ultimate-Truth. All these words like, attaining and reaching are doesn’t convey the real meaning, as the ultimate Truth is that all are one.
Our existence is otherwise called the Atman. It is not a substance, but denotes the pure existence of a substance. You might have heard that the Atman is immortal. It simply means that your pure existence doesn’t have an end or a beginning. It is unchanged before ones death, during ones life and after ones death. As we analyzed a book, we find that there is something elusive in it that is beyond all its properties. It is the truth behind the book. It is beyond all the qualities of the book but gives rise to all the qualities of the book and makes it a reality. The truth behind the book generates the reality called ‘the book’. Similarly if we analyze us we arrive at the truth behind us that generates each one of us. Are these truths behind each of these things different from each other? How many unknowns are there? The answer is that there is only one. It is the same unknown truth that is behind the book (that we observe) and behind us (the observer.) which is also the singular ultimate-Truth. What causes the feeling that we are different from each other and from the universe? What causes the illusion of birth and death, in other words mortality? The reason is our body with its sense organs, the mind and the intellect.
Philosophers consider us as made of four layers. The core is the atman, which is wrapped in layers called the intellect (the decision maker), the mind (the seat of feelings, emotions and experiences, and the body (the outermost and grossest of all layers very familiar to us and which contains the sense organs). The sense organs receive information from a local area of the universe and communicate with the mind. The mind then experiences the universe. A part of the total matter in the universe becomes the body and gets connected with the nervous system of the body. This results in an identification crisis. The individual identifies himself/herself with the part of the universal matter that becomes his/her body and considers the rest of the universe as separate. In future science, may invent ways to connect things other than our body to our nervous system and we will truly feel those new things as part of our body just like we feel our hand and leg as a part of our body. If it is possible to connect the whole universe in this way we will feel the whole universe as our body. Also consider the scenario of connecting a remote camera to the visual cortex of our brain. The camera will act as an additional sense organ, but not in our body. This will surely shake our intimate identification with our body and expends our identity to the whole of the universe and beyond.
So the reason why we all feel as separate can be trace back to our identification with our body or mind or intellect coupled with the limitation of these layers in comprehending the universe as a whole. Body-mind-intellect can be considered as an illusory construct that appears and disappears in the continuum of the singular Truth (Param-ataman). When it happen, a part of the continuum gets trapped inside the body-mind-intellect construct and appears as the atman. When the construct disappears, the atman becomes the Param-atman again, because then there is no inside and outside. Birth and death is nothing but the appearance and disappearance of the body-mind intellect construct. Our atman is nothing but the Param-atman wrapped by our body-mind-intellect construct. It exists before our birth, during our life and after our death. It is never separate from the Param-atman. It only appears so, during our life-time because it is wrapped by our body-mind-intellect. (Body alone is called gross-body (sthula-sarira) and mind and intellect together is called the subtle body (sukshma-sarira) analogous to the hardware and the software of a computer.)
Atman is the truth inside everything. Atman illuminates everything. It is the reality behind everything. It is the liveliness in the living things. Every object has an existence. Depending on how much the Atman inside it is illuminated, it appears as non-living or living, among the living as unconscious-being or as conscious-being and among the conscious as non-thinking-being and thinking-being. Thinking-beings, on full illumination of atman, know the Truth and become one with it. This happens when the Atman dissolves the body-mind-intellect and merges with Param-atman.
As we trace the root material of our body we find its origin beyond our body, in the bodies of our parents. If we trace it further we will reach the origin of the universe itself. Thus our body is born when the universe was born. Yet for simplicity, we can say that it originated as our zygote was formed. But our birth as an individual, happened inside our brains when we were two or three years of age, during the time of our character-formation. The cells in our body have their own individual birth-life and death. The cells are being created and destroyed every day. New ideas come into our mind and become a part of us and old ideas are discarded. New habits and behaviors come and go. All this shows that we are continuously born and dead. Our individuality may die before our death; say if one goes into a coma state. Thus there is no distinct event of birth or death. If we look deep into it we see that the boundary of birth and death is blurred. What happens is that one attains more and more self-expression power of the atman within, and then looses it more and more.
The cosmic evolution
Evolution is an inherent nature of the universe. As per the popular Big-Bang theory of the origin of the universe, everything originated from an infinitesimal point in space-time, analogous to what is termed as the cosmic-egg (brahmanda) in vedantic literature. Initially there was nothing in the universe known to us, not even hydrogen or helium. In the beginning there was only energy in the form of photons and no particles of matter. After that emerged the quarks, the indivisible quantum particles of matter and the particles like electron. Quarks then fused together to form protons and neutrons. As the cosmic temperature subsided, the elements froze out of the exotic gas made of electrons and protons. Thus formed hydrogen and helium and they clubbed to from the stars and the galaxies. The stars cooked the other elements like carbon and oxygen in their cores by nuclear fusion reactions. These elements formed the compounds that later became building blocks of our own bodies! Thus we see a continuation in the evolution of the universe into the evolution of life systems on Earth-like planets. It seems like that, cosmic evolution proceeded with an inherent aim of creating intelligent living systems within it.
In other word we see a cosmic-consciousness that emerges from ignorance to knowledge. The whole universe acts as a cosmic-being, trying to know itself by transforming into myriads of living beings of all possible shapes and behaviors. It is the self-expression of the universe. The inherent knowledge in the cosmos is self-illuminated in the form of the cosmic evolution. All that is in the cosmos, the quarks , the photons, atoms, molecules and life forms are nothing but the self expression of the cosmic knowledge. The consciousness that we have, is a part of this cosmic consciousness. The universe observes itself, by becoming the observer.
We have seen that Truth is a pure body of knowledge. The only function that it does is, knowing itself. Externally this activity appears as the cosmic-drama.
The future of Biological Evolution
The biological evolution, which is the result of the self-expression of the cosmic-knowledge, will continue, until all the possibilities are exhausted. So the entire species called homo-sapiens will disappear and another intelligent species may arise with a different shape and behaviors. What happens to us? It is a question of identification. If we identify ourselves with the shape of human-form and human behavior, then it means that we no longer exist. But we have seen that it is not true. In reality we are pure knowledge, and is a part of the cosmic knowledge. Thus, we still exist as them (i.e. the new intelligent species.)! Even though our shapes and behavior changes, we as pure existence and knowledge, is always there, immortal.
Silicon Based Living Systems
Computer scientist, foresee an interesting thing that can be a reality in the future. They envision, a time, when computing machines get the ability to think and know, and thus become self-aware. This is the theme of the movie The Terminator. The term, silicon based living system, was used initially to describe such possible living forms, because today’s computer chips mostly contain the element silicon, contrary to our body which predominantly contains carbon. A new definition to such living forms is cyber-organisms or cyborgs. The term cyber is used to denote some thing that is computer-generated. Today’s computers function, by manipulating data (information from the universe) using algorithms (knowledge from the human brain, i.e. the brain of the programmer).
In a way, they are similar to us. Consider our body, our hardware. Our body functions basically by information-processing. This take place in the body-cells, that contains information stored in a molecule called the DNA (Di-oxy-rybo Nucleic Acid). Inside it is the information, of how to build our bodies, how to make our body grow in stages, how to maintain it by digesting food and circulating oxygen. It is an encyclopedia about our body and also governs the evolution of our species. The data and algorithms stored inside DNA are the result of the self-expression of the cosmic consciousness. Our mind is another example of information processing, taking place inside our brain. Data is stored inside in the form of past memories, which are taken for processing by the thought currents, or the programs running inside the brain, which helps us to make decisions, for each moment of our lives and also generate more data, which may be speculations about the future or inferences and deductions from the past and present. Some of the routines take care of the body itself and keep us alive.
Thus we see that we as well as computers are knowledge plus information- processors. The difference between today’s computer and us is that we can make the algorithm and the computer cannot. This limitation is overcome by the emergence of Artificial Intelligence, a fast developing branch of computer science. Computers with artificial intelligence will be at par with us in self awareness. They will also develop there own method of reproduction. But we can see that it is the same knowledge that gives rise to us, that becomes the knowledge inside such a being. So it is yet another form of the cosmic self expression. Thus it is us in another form!
The evolution within
The evolution of the universe, proceed and continues as the biological evolution and thus gives rise to us. The same evolution has to continue until each of us becomes self-aware that we are the truth, and thus becomes one with it. This is called self-evolution. It is a transformation within our mind. In this evolution we realizes that it is us who emerged as the universe from the big bang and later becomes, the stars and galaxies, the molecules which then formed the simple life forms. Here we see that the ability of self expression increases in each step. Molecules are in a state of eternal sleep. Simple life forms are in a state of eternal dream. Humans are the only beings that we know to posses a third state of self-consciousness (jagrat). We have the capability to move on the fourth state of awareness (turiaya), which is the awareness that we are one with the truth. Until we attain that state we can only speak about it partially with incomplete descriptions.
||the Fourth State
The evolution with in, is the transformation from the third to the fourth state. All that the religions of the worlds tell is, about this transformation. But different religions say it in different ways. Bhagavat Gita mentions about many different ways to attain the fourth state. These paths or ways are called the Yoga. The important among them are the way of devotion, the way of action and the way of knowledge.
|Way of Devotion
||Worship of God in various forms
|Way of Action
||Performing of righteous actions
|Way of Knowledge
||Seeking of the ultimate knowledge
The word yoga means merger. What is being merged? It is the observer and the observed that is being merged. Ultimately it is only one that remains. In the first path the devotee becomes one with the God. In the second path the doer of action with out regard to the results of action becomes one with the universe. In the third path the seeker becomes one with the truth. Why all these paths? It is because of the difference in the orientation that each of us has to take depending on our position in the idea-space. Thus, all the paths lead to the same destination, though they appear different. It is futile to compare the paths. What we have to do is to follow our path towards self-realization, thus emerge from the illusion to the truth, and form the ignorance to the knowledge, from the darkness to the light and from mortality to immortality.
|Asato ma sat gamaya
|Tamaso ma jyotir gamaya
|Mrutyor ma amrutam gamaya