Vedanta - Work and Worship - கடமையும் கடவுளும் - Isavasya Upanishad- Sloka 11
The Upanishad in this Sloka, explains in simple language the need for seamless integration of physical science Avidya vis-a-vis spiritual science Vidya. Work and worship should go together. There should be a balance of harmony in inner and outer dimensions of the two. We must realise that God not only permits personal and eternal bliss but also provides the means to all of us - an opportunity to lead quality life in this world. This is the essence of Vedanta as per my understanding.
Many of us incorrectly think that Vedanta is an organised system of belief; no, it is nothing but of fundamental truth. It is the spirit of the individual that works towards realisation of this truth. It is the search for liberation which is the fundamental goal of our life.
In that search, people may worship whatever god and goddesses they propitiate for their aspect of life related to them; religion remains and should remain a personal affair. God is there and so the happiness of life can be attained by His grace. The medium is not important, our spirit of surrender to Him and dedicated work for a noble cause is the way out to realise Him in the blissful heart. Dharma, artha, kama in every step in their true sense leads us to moksha, the liberation.
அறம், பொருள், இன்பம் நிறை மறை உரை வாழ்வு, மனித குலத்தை வீடுபேறு நோக்கி செலுத்தும்.
With this background let us now see the Sloka.
विद्यां चाविद्यां च यस्तद्वेदोभयं सह ।
अविद्यया मृत्युं तीर्त्वा विद्ययामृतमश्नुते ॥ ११ ॥
vidyāṃ cāvidyāṃ ca yastadvedobhayaṃ saha |
avidyayā mṛtyuṃ tīrtvā vidyayāmṛtamaśnute || 11 ||
Meaning in English
He who simultaneously knows both Vidya and Avidya gets over Death by Avidya and attains immortality by Vidya.
In dark night live those for whom the world without alone is real; in night darker still, for whom the world within alone is real. The first leads to a life of action, the second to a life of meditation. But those who combine action with meditation cross the sea of death through action and enter into immortality through the practice of meditation. So have we heard from the wise.
Meaning in Tamil
கர்ம வழியும் கடவுள் வழிபாடும் அறிந்துணர்வோர்
கர்மம் வழியே காயம் பெறும் மரணம் வென்று
கடவுளை வழிபட்டு மெய்யறிவில் நிலைபெறுவரே !
இவ்விரண்டிலும் சமநிலையுடன் ஈடுபடுபவன் கர்மயோகத்தால் ஆன்மிகவீழ்ச்சியில் இருந்து விடுபட்டு (மரணத்தை வென்று), தியானத்தால் ஆன்மிகசத்தியத்தை (அமுதநிலை) தன்னில் உணர்கிறான் என்பது பொதுவான ஒருவிளக்கம்.
Understanding the Sloka
The Sloka emphasises on the synthesis of Vidya and Avidya or knowledge and not knowledge or nescience. It is the real integration of head and heart; something like seeking unity in diversity. It is also relevant to the modern problems of the age. The seer asks everybody to be intensely practical in the scientific approach called Avidya, as well as in the spiritual world of deep enquiry called Vidya and see in that approach, the oneness and the harmony that will pervade the state of jeevan mukta.
The Sloka says that nothing is entirely physical or entirely metaphysical. One presupposes the other and explains another. Dualism presupposes unity and non-dualism suggests dualism. This is needed for a helpful and healthy life style in the God’s world.
Swami Paramarthananda says
“As a kartā, I require Īśvara-arpaṇa-bhāvana.
For Īśvara-arpaṇa-bhāvana Īśvara-smaraṇam is required.
Īśvara-smaraṇam will come only when we start the day with Īśvara- dhyānam. Īśvara-dhyānam is called upāsana-yoga.”
Therefore, karma-yoga will be successful only if it goes with Īśvara dhyānam. Therefore always combine karma-yoga and upāsana-yoga”.
காஞ்சி மஹா பெரியவர், தெய்வத்தின் குரலாய் இதனையே “பக்தியே இல்லாது வெறும் கர்மாக்களை மாத்திரம் செய்பவனிடமும், வேலை ஒன்றும் செய்யாது; வெறுமனே பகவானை மாத்திரம் ஸ்தோத்திரம் செய்பவனிடமும், ஆண்டவன் மகிழ்ச்சி கொள்வதில்லை” என அருள்வாக்காய் நமக்கு அளிக்கிறார்.
This is the essence of this Sloka.
Where are we in reality ?
Gary Zukav, an award winning American author on spirituality in his book “The seat of the soul” in 1989 has this to say:
“We are evolving from a species that pursues power based upon the perception of the five senses - external power - into a species that pursues authentic power - power that is based upon the perceptions and values of the spirit”
How long will we take to fully evolve?
Several thousands years ago, Sanatana Dharma preached exactly this need (through our Vedas and Upanishads) to transit. We are still in search of that path to evolve. It is time that we catch up and follow what the Vedas and Upanishads advised us.
In this transition, let us see the next block of steps as we enter into the zone of “upasana” - devotion - bhakti or whatever term you can coin that reflects the transition from senses to the soul.
We will see them in our subsequent blogs.
Recognising the spirit and pursuit of the science of spirituality is where we start the journey. These lessons help us to pursue the path to real happiness and bliss. Look forward to the next post. 🙏🏼
நாராயணா நாராயணா நாராயணா
I have come across many sadaka who suffer with the knowledge of advaita in a gross form and confuse living with day to day activities.
Your post amalgamate action in inaction inaction in action. 🙏