Satyopanishad – Upanishad Of Sri Sathya Sai – Part 23
Anil Kumar Kamaraju Questions Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba
Question) Anil Kumar: Swami! How am I to know that I am nitya, eternal? I undergo difficulties, I notice many changes all around. How can I feel that I am eternal?
Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba: A simple illustration. There was a poor villager who had a wife and a son. He found it difficult to make both ends meet. To improve his lot, he went to another town leaving his wife and son behind to do some business there.
One day he had a dream in which he was a rich man and had five sons. After some time, he woke up. When he returned to his native village, he was informed by his wife that his only son had died as he couldn’t bear separation from his father. This man stood unruffled. Then his wife asked him, “Are you not sad over the death of your only son? What has happened to you?” The poor villager replied, “I know the tragedy. But I am at a loss to know for whom I should cry. Should I cry for the loss of five sons in the dream there or for the death of the son here?” Similarly, you should know that one is a day dream and the other is a night dream. One doesn’t exist, when the other is present, but you are present in both the states. You are the experiencer in the waking and dream states.
Then what is the difference between the day dream and the night dream? The day dream is bound by factors such as the kaya, body, kala, time, karya, action, karana, reason, and kartavya, duty. Suppose, you have gone to Guntur, and you know when, why, how. You went by bus, which took ten hours to reach your place, to share with your wife all your experiences as part of your duty. But, in a dream these factors do not exist. How do you travel and how long does it take to reach your place, while your body remains lying in the bed? Like this, there are differences between the two states, but you are present in both. So you are nitya, eternal.
Question) Anil Kumar: Swami! God is the creator. He should have created only happiness. Why did he create difficulties and troubles? Pardon me, Swami, for putting this question.
Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba: Without difficulties you can never get happiness. ‘Na sukhat labhyate sukham’. You do not get happiness out of happiness. No hardships end up in hardship. Without difficulties, you will never know the value of pleasure.
For instance, you are spending your time in this air-conditioned room. If the value of air-conditioning is to be known, what you should do is to come out and go round in the open space in bright day light. Even a mother would not be able to love her child, if there is no death in her family. Here is an orange fruit. This has an outer bitter skin. But within it you find sweet juice. So, both good and bad coexist. The bitter skin protects the inner sweet juice. Does it not? Another thing you notice is, a thing that gives you happiness now may make you unhappy later. Similarly, an unhappy thing now may make you happy later.
So, nothing gives you absolute happiness or unhappiness. See, a woollen coat in winter makes you happy, but in severe summer it makes you unhappy. Does it not? So also a heater in winter makes you warm and happy. But, in summer the same heater makes you very uncomfortable and unhappy. Does it not? Therefore, happiness and unhappiness depend on the time, circumstances and position. Pleasure is an interval between two pains. Pain is an interval between two pleasures. If you think of the difficulties and the intensity of suffering in times of sadness the pain doubles. In bad times, you should think of those days and moments when you were happy. Then, the intensity of suffering decreases.
You should face all the difficulties as tests of God. A devotee should welcome troubles which are the tests of his devotion and faith. How do you expect a student to be promoted to the next higher class without facing a test? Otherwise, he has to remain in the same class. Can a doctor diagnose his patient’s disease, prescribe medicine and treat him without testing? How do you expect crude gold to shine unless it is burnt, hammered and polished so as to be shaped into an ornament? But, if you set some precondition that the gold should not be hammered or burnt and yet you want a shining jewel, will the goldsmith ever be able to make it?
You also know how you get sugar. The sugarcane must be crushed and the juice must be heated and processed so as to make sugar. Otherwise, it is impossible to extract sugar. You know how an earthen pot and a slate are made: The clay must be burnt repeatedly in order to transform it into a pot which you lift and carry on your head. Before the clay is made into a pot, it is trodden and trampled by anybody and everybody. The pot does deserve a place over our head because the clay has allowed itself to be burnt and processed. So, you should not be afraid of difficulties in life.
In the epic Mahabharata, Kunti prayed to Krishna to give her sons and herself more and more difficulties so that they would think of Him unceasingly and fervently. Hence, both good and bad are created by God for your redemption and liberation.
Question) Anil Kumar: Swami! From where has evil come? Do you say that the mind is the source? Then, what is it that transcends both, good and evil? How is evil to be eliminated? Swami alone can explain this with felicity, None else can. Kindly enlighten us.
Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba: Evil is not related to the mind. Rather it stems from samskaras, previous accomplishments.
The mind is full of thoughts. That is why it is said, “sankalpavi kalpatmakam manah”. The mind is essentially determinations and negations. Being hard like wax, the mind softens with a little heat. In that state anything and everything sticks to it. When wax is thrown into fire, it melts completely. Attachment and hatred stick to the mind only when it is in the soft state. When the mind is melted away, nothing sticks to it. Then how does the mind melt away completely? Even as fire melts away wax completely, jnana, supreme wisdom, melts away the mind..
Atma is beyond good and evil, and nothing can touch or injure it. Being a witness, Atma transcends duality. Notice this little example. The lotus flower blooms in water and mud. Without these, there is no way it can exist. But, neither water nor mud sticks to the lotus. Mud represents samskaras of past lives, and water, the fruits of present actions: The flower of the soul is beyond past and present.
Desires which are bounde by time constitute nerpu (Telugu), skill or craft, while Divinity mined from the recesses of the heart is kurpu (Telugu), arrangement or synthesis. In other words, nerpu is pravrtti, outward oriented, and kurpu is nivrtti, inward oriented. If ‘nerpu’ is a matter of the mind, ‘kurpu’ is a matter of the heart. A small example. For irrigating the fields, an etam or waterlift is used. It bails out water. A long wooden beam is laid across a well with a heavy stone tied at one end with a rope, and a bucket hanging from the other end. When the bucket goes down deep into a well or a canal, it gets filled with water. At that time, the heavy stone goes up as in a see-saw or a balance. The stone represents desires, and hence the heaviness. This is nerpu or previous accomplishment. But, the bucket is not like that. It sinks deep into the well of the heart, and fills itself with the water of divinity. This is kurpu . Are there any games without a ground to play them on or a song without a rhythm to it! The bird comes out of the egg, and the tree from the seed. Likewise the nature of atma and humanness are reciprocal, and supplement each other. Then, not taking note of evils is the way to do away with them. Consider them illusions. That would be fine.
Question) Anil Kumar: Swami! Kaikeyi had sent Rama to the wilderness on the eve of his installation as the crown prince. What was Rama’s attitude to her? Generally, it would be one of hostility, wouldn’t it?
Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba: Rama is the embodiment of Dharma, the embodiment of Tranquility. Under no circumstance did he hate Kaikeyi. It was only after bowing down at her feet that he left for the forest accompanied by Sita and Lakshmana. Longing for the darsan of Rama, Bharata too proceeded to the forest, accompanied by feudatory kings, the army, citizens of Ayodhya, and the sages. Falling at Rama’s feet, he sought to be pardoned, and prayed to Rama to return to Ayodhya and rule the Kingdom. Kaikeyi stood pitiably to one side. Rama surveyed the gathering. Right away Rama addressed Bharata with these words: “Bharata! Has mother Kaikeyi arrived? Where is she?” Turning to her, Rama bowed at her feet. Her words, like the prelude to a great drama, had inaugurated the mission of the incarnation. Had she not expressed her desire as she did, the events of the Ramayana would not have taken place. She auspiciously initiated the work of the Divine Master Plan. Rama, indeed, knew this. Then, what scope is there for hostility and hatred?
Moreover, in this context, Rama had to uphold another dharma as well. At the time of Kaikeyi’s wedding with Dasaratha, her father, the king of Kekaya had made known his desire: “O King Dasaratha! You have contemplated marriage with my daughter, Kaikeyi, in order to have progeny. Then, it is her son, who should become king, your successor, shouldn’t he? Is this acceptable to you? If your queens Kausalya or Sumitra give birth to sons, Kaikeyi’s son would lose the right to kingship, wouldn’t he?” King Dasaratha listened to this wish, consulted Kausalya and Sumitra in the matter, apprised them of the implications, and won their approval. Then, Kausalya remarked: “After you had promised that Kaikeyi’s son alone would become king of Ayodhya, even if we were to conceive and give birth to sons, they would never act contrary to their father’s word of honour. None assuredly would be born in our dynasty but those who accept respectfully the fulfilment of their father’s wishes.” Accordingly, for Sri Ramachandra the practice of dharma and the fulfilment of his father’s wishes were supreme. Therefore, Kaikeyi’s wish is lawful and righteous. This was not unknown to Rama.
Question) Anil Kumar: Swami! Is it right on the part of Rama to kill Tataka, a woman?
Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba: Rama embodies Dharma. Along with Lakshmana, He went to the forest led by Visvamitra only to destroy the demons. Defiling yajnas and yagas and killing great sages, these demons turned hermitages into cremation grounds. In fact, the very purpose of Visvamitra’s request to Dasaratha, viz., sending Rama and Lakshmana to the forest, was the destruction of the demons. The sage, if he so desired, could have himself put an end to the demons. But, as he was under the vow of yajna, he was prohibited from resorting to violence. Moreover, the mission of the incarnation of Rama awaited fulfilment. Everything has to proceed according to the Master Plan. The actions of the demons were extremely cruel. In order to wipe out this pitch of cruelty and to protect dharma, the demons had to be destroyed. Tataka may be a woman. But, her actions were demonic, weren’t they? Therefore, killing Tataka was just and fully in consonance with righteousness.
In this matter, whether the agents of wickedness are men or women is immaterial. What is crucial is the usefulness of their deeds. Because of his unrighteous conduct, Vali the king of the monkeys, though a male was not spared, was he? Tara did advise Vali: “Lord! Sugriva was only a few days ago mortally wounded and fled. How come he is now brave enough to challenge you? He has the support of Rama, don’t you know? Rama is, indeed, no ordinary man. Though you are very valiant, Rama is bent on assisting Sugriva and killing you, because of your unrighteous deeds. Seek refuge at Rama’s feet!” Vali paid no heed to her words, and fell a prey to Rama’s arrow. Thus, the primary criterion is restoration of Dharma. Gender is irrelevant.
Question) Anil Kumar: Swami! Pardon me and treat this question as arising from the influence of modernity. Our society regards Sita and Rama as the ideal couple. Now, kindly do not get angry. What happiness was there for this couple? Only troubles, for sure! How can this be ideal matrimony?
Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba: That ideal can be put in a nutshell. Not once did Sita transgress Rama’s command; likewise, not once did Rama oppose Sita’s wish. This is ideal matrimony. You may have in mind the abandonment of Sita on the report of a washerman’s words. Is it not possible that, in the kingdom there may be others besides the washerman who entertained doubts about the chastity of the virtuous Sita? Those were the words uttered by the washerman. Many others may have felt the same way. The episode of Sita’s ordeal by fire serves only to proclaim her chastity to the world. Rama knows all things. He is omniscient.
Question) Anil Kumar: Swami! Millions revere the illustrious characters in the itihasas of Bharat, for these have stirred their hearts, inspired their devotion, and offered them refuge. When, taking pity on us, you explain these figures, they appear so novel, and awesome. They come alive, swaying our hearts with their nobility and majesty. I have a question. At the end of the Great War, Lakshmana proposes to Rama that they should settle down in the golden Lanka Kingdom saying, “Bharata is ruling Ayodhya, elder brother! Let us make this charming Lanka our permanent abode!” Is Lakshmana infatuated by riches and pomp?
Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba: Not at all. Kaikeyi desired that Rama should be sent to the forest. There was no need for Lakshmana to accompany him. Voluntarily Lakshmana gave up royal pleasures and luxuries, and left behind his noble wife, considering serving Rama day and night his chief duty. Therefore, Lakshmana stands as a symbol of total surrender. This proposal of Lakshmana to rule Lanka is significant for it had occasioned Rama’s response, a clear message to humanity. Rama countered Lakshmana’s suggestion with these words: “janani janmabhumisca svargadapi gariyas – mother and motherland are greater than even Heaven”. Even if your mother is ugly, does she cease to be your mother? Just because she is beautiful, does a stranger become your mother?
Lakshmana’s suggestion bore fruit as Rama’s vitally patriotic message to the world. Is it not Lakshmana’s proposal, “Ramachandra! Now you can rule golden Lanka, can’t you?” that prompted Rama to hold up an ideal for the world to emulate? It happened just this way, and not as though Lakshmana was ever infatuated by riches and luxury.
Lakshmana’s devotion to Rama is unbounded. Once, Lakshmana saw at some distance from their hermitage a column of dust rising to the sky. Lakshmana climbed a tree close by, and noticed far away Bharata at the head of an army with its four units infantry, cavalry, elephants, and war chariots. He said to Rama, “O elder brother! Not content with sending us to the forest, Bharata is coming even to this place contemplating harm to us and bringing along all four arms of military might.” Rama gently remonstrated Lakshmana for his remarks and explained that Bharata was coming in a procession with a prayer to Rama to take back the kingdom. In this situation, you may get the impression that Lakshmana is quickly incensed. Such a conclusion is not fair. To pray to Rama to take back the kingdom, could not Bharata come alone? Why should he be accompanied by a huge army with its four arms? This is what roused Lakshmana’s suspicion, and not his hasty judgement, as you may suppose. But that was not Bharata’s fault either. When he set out to pray to Rama to rule Ayodhya, the rishis, the armed forces, and several leaders followed him for the darsan of Rama. Thus, Bharata is not to blame. Today, it is very necessary to appreciate rightly the characters drawn in our epics and puranas, their motives, the wellsprings of their action, as well as their grandeur, solemnity and generosity. You should not ascribe your attitudes to those characters.
Question) Anil Kumar: Swami! I do not know anything about Satrughna, except listing him in the names of the brothers: Rama, Lakshmana, Bharata and Satrughna. Kindly narrate to us at least one episode concerning his character.
Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba: Satrughna was distinguished as much for his valour as for his righteousness. His devotion to the master was of an extraordinary order. His fraternal love was exemplary. You know well that Lakshmana’s name stands next to Rama’s. That is why their names are treated as a compound word, “RamaLakshmana”. Similarly, Satrughna was always by the side of Bharata such that the expression “BharataSatrughna” gained currency. Just as Lakshmana served Rama with unswerving devotion, even so did Satrughna serve Bharata.
Satrughna bore immense love for Rama. Here is an instance. Along with Bharata, Satrughna returned to Ayodhya. This incident took place when they left the kingdom of Kekaya, their maternal uncle. Learning that Kaikeyi was responsible for sending Rama to the forest and for planning Bharata’s coronation, he was heartbroken. He also came to know that it was the evil counsel of Manthara that made Kaikeyi ask Dasaratha to fulfil the two boons. Enraged, he cast a look of unbridled wrath at Manthara who happened to be passing that way. At that hour Manthara was very happy. News of the crowning of Bharata, her Queen’s son, had sent her into rapturous joy. Satrughna saw her walking all smiles, dressed in very rich finery, and sporting a variety of ornaments. Striding towards her, he gave vent to his anger by kicking Manthara in the waist. She fell down and her necklace of diamonds and pearls scattered on the floor shone like stars in the sky. Meanwhile, Bharata arrived on the scene. He said, “Dear brother! Treating women cruelly like this, Rama does not approve. Actions like yours do not, in the least, please Rama. Calm down.” Such was Satrughna’s love.
Question) Anil Kumar: Swami! In the Ramayana, the role of Hanuman is very prominent. He is the best example of dasyabhakti, devotion of loyal servant, one of the nine paths of devotion. We are so fortunate to hear from you about the devotion of Hanuman. Would you kindly tell us how modern youngsters can emulate his example?
Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba: Hanuman is known for physical strength, intelligence, perfect character and scholarship. Yet, do you know what he said when he entered the court of Ravana. While introducing himself, he said, ‘dasoham Kosalendrasya, I am a servant of Rama’. The position of a servant of Rama was a matter of pride and prestige for Hanuman.
Rama asked the vanaras as to who among them could cross the ocean and go in search of Sita. One of them said that he would be able to cross 10 kilometers, another said 40 kilometers and so on but none could say he could jump satayojana, 100 kilometers across the ocean. Then Rama asked Hanuman, “Can you do it and successfully return after finding out where Sita is?” Then Hanuman replied, “Yes, I will.” Then Rama asked, “Hanuman, you have had no experience of jumping across a vast sea. You have never seen Sita earlier to identify her now. Then how do you say so confidently that you can cross the mighty ocean in search of Sita in Lanka, find her and then return?” Hanuman replied, “Would you not give me the needed strength, capacities and abilities to fulfill the mission you have assigned to me and then command me to fulfill it? With your blessings and invincible will; wouldn’t I accomplish what I am supposed to?” Such was the intensity of his devotion.
Youngsters should follow God’s command unhesitatingly. They should never doubt, question, disobey, or criticise it. Strict obedience to the divine command is called surrender. When you develop this kind of surrender to God, you are bound to succeed.
While crossing the ocean, Hanuman displayed courage and valour par excellence due to his deep devotion to Rama. Mount Mainaka prayed to him to rest on his peak for some time on the way to Lanka. Mainaka wanted to take this opportunity in order to express his gratitude to Vayu, the wind God, father of Hanuman, who had saved him earlier. But Hanuman, politely rejected the offer, telling him that he wouldn’t rest until he had completed the work assigned to him by Rama and that he would oblige Mainaka on his return from Lanka. He, thus, gave top priority to Rama’s mission.
It was the confidence born out of his devotion to Lord Rama that made him cross a vast ocean. Following His command he won the grace of Rama. Normally, a monkey is noted for its unsteady and wavering mind, but by surrendering to Rama, Hanuman’s mind became absolutely steadfast, fixed firmly in devotion to his duty and that is exactly why he is worshipped today as Hanuman.
At the time of his coronation towards the end of the epic, Rama was distributing gifts to all His subjects. But he did not give any present to Hanuman. Then Sita softly asked, “Lord! Have you forgotten Hanuman? How is it that you have not given him any gift?” Then Rama smiling said, “Sita! It is true. I want you to present him any gift of your choice”. Then Sita gave Hanuman her own pearl necklace. But Hanuman started biting every pearl in the necklace, breaking it off, bringing it close to his ear and then dropping it on the ground. Watching this, Sita said “What! Hanuman! You have not given up the habit of a monkey. What are you doing with the pearl necklace I presented to you?” Then Hanuman said, “Mother! No doubt; you have given me a most precious pearl necklace, but I want every individual pearl of the necklace to resonate with the sound of my Lord Rama’s name. So, I am testing every one of the pearls by breaking it first keeping it close to my ear to find if the sound of the Lord’s name is heard. I am throwing them out one after another as I don’t hear His name in any of these.” Nothing in this universe is more precious than the sacred name of God, Rama.
The whole assembly was adjourned for the day. Rama was retiring to his bedroom and Sita was following him. Lo and behold! Hanuman too was making his way towards the bedroom. Rama then said, “Hey Hanuman! What are you doing here?” Hanuman said, “Lord! Sita is following you. So I am also coming to you.” Rama said, “Anjaneya! Look! Sita has vermilion, on her forehead that qualifies her to get into my bedroom”. At this, Anjaneya left the place and returned after some time. He went round all the shops, collected kumkum, applied it all over his body and returned and stood in front of Rama. He said, “Oh Lord! Just for the simple reason that Mother Sita has a dot of kumkum on her forehead, you qualified her to enter your bedroom. Now; here Look! I have this sindura all over the body. What do you have to say now?” That was the standard of his devotion and the determination to be with God always.
On another occasion, the three brothers of Rama met, discussed for some time and distributed among themselves all the duties they had to do personally in attending on Lord Rama. Hanuman noticed all this and finding that he was left out with any duties to his lord, he softly asked them, “Sir! When the lord yawns, there is a need for someone to click fingers and make a snapping sound befitting His royal status, we do not know when he would yawn, so I should be with him throughout”. So, Hanuman had to be in the company of Rama while his brothers could attend on him according to duties they had taken upon themselves at different times. Thus, Hanuman was the very personification of humility, devotion, discipline and surrender.
He had all the purity to be with God. He did what he thought and said. In him there was perfect harmony of thought, word and deed. He decided to go in search of Sita, he said so, and started at once. His decision, declaration, and implementation were in total agreement and unison. This is what is meant by “The proper study of mankind is man.”
Manasyekam vacasyekam karmanyekam mahatmanam is the unmistakable feature of a man of character: unity in thought, words, and deed. But manassanyat vacassanyat karmanyanyat duratmanam, in a wicked person there is disharmony. What he thinks, says, and does are never in agreement with one another.
Hanuman said to Rama on another occasion, “Oh Lord! If I view you as my ‘King’, I am your ‘servant’. If I consider myself a ‘jiva’ – an individual entity, you are my ‘deva,’ God. If I am atma, conscience, you are ‘consciousness.’ As both of us are only one, aham brahmasmi.” So by embracing dasyabhakti, the path of a loyal servant’s devotion with intense steadfastness, Hanuman passed through these three stages and ultimately experienced unity with God. When he felt that he was a servant of Rama the King, he was passing through the state of dualism. When he found himself as an individual, with Rama as his God, it expressed qualified nondualism, and finally when he found unity with God, he experienced nondualism.
In Lanka having entered the palace of Ravana, Hanuman had to see many a woman fast asleep, as he had to identify only Mother Sita. Such was his reverence for every woman as if she were his own mother. This was the crest or crown of his character. Hanuman was the embodiment of devotion, the personification of humility and the very symbol of sincerity and obedience. All youngsters today should take him as their ideal.
Question) Anil Kumar: Swami! Ravana was the grandson of Pulastyabrahma. He was an ardent devotee of Siva. He was a great scholar in all the Sastras and the Vedas. Above all, he was a valorous warrior and an expert in archery. Such a person was reduced to total ruin. What could be the secret behind his fall?
Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba: Viewed spiritually, Ravana’s destruction at Rama’s hands teaches you that in spite of your physical strength, the strength of your intelligence, the strength of a large army, the strength of your wealth, the strength of your deep penance, if you become a victim of desire of a low order or lust, you will ruin yourself totally.
There is another inner significance to this event. At the gate of Vaikuntha, heaven, were two guards by name Jaya and Vijaya. They were discourteous to two sages, Sanaka and Sananda who came to visit Lord Vishnu. They cursed the two gatemen and consequently they had to leave Vaikuntha. Then, they prayed to be pardoned and begged them to suggest a way out. As atonement, the sages counselled them to opt for three births as rakshasas, living in utter hatred of Lord Vishnu and dying at His hands, paving thereby the way for their early return to heaven. Thus, Jaya and Vijaya were reborn as the rakshasa brothers, Hiranyaksha and Hiranyakasipu, Sisupala and Dantavaktra, Ravana and Kumbhakarna, spent their lives in bitter enmity with Vishnu, and died at His hands: This enabled them to reach their original place in Vaikuntha.
Ravana’s acts should be viewed in this context. If he entertained any bad motives in abducting Sita, how is it that he did not touch her all through the period of her stay in Lanka? Unless he abducted Sita, Rama wouldn’t fight with him. So, to fight Rama in open battle was the only way for Ravana to die at his hands. The climax of the Ramayana, the victory of Rama and the death of Ravana, indicates how Ravana’s heart pined for his lord, Rama.
Upanishad means the “inner” or “mystic teaching”. The term Upanishad is derived from “upa” (near), “ni” (down) and “shad” (to sit), i.e., sitting down near. Groups of pupils sit near the teacher to learn from him/her the secret doctrine. In the quietude of the forest hermitages the Upanishadic thinkers pondered on the problems of deepest concerns and communicated their knowledge to fit pupils near them. The most well known Upanishads are: Aitareya, Brihadaranyaka, Taittiriya, Chandogya, Kena, Isa, Svetasvatara, Katha, Mundaka, Mandukya, Prasna, Kausitaki, Maitrayani, Muktika and Shakta. The Satyopanishad is the Upanishad of Truth (Sathya) but more specifically the Truth as revealed by Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba. Anil Kumar questions the illustrious Guru and provides us with Sathya Sai Baba’s answers to ponder, ruminate and derive ananda.
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