The sanskrit root for the word Veda can be interpreted in various ways, but its deepest meaning is "knowledge"



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1. The Vedas

The sanskrit root for the word Veda can be interpreted in various ways, but its deepest meaning is "knowledge". The Vedas are traditionally held to be that which constitutes sacred and original knowledge, or that from which all knowledge derives, both physical and metaphysical. Traditionally, the entire work of compiling the unique and original Veda is attributed to the great sage Veda-Vyasa and to his school of thought. For Indologists the dating of Vedic(1) literature remains, to this day, a source of heated arguments(2).

The root Vid means "to know" and also "to see"; in fact the compilers of the Vedas and above all of the Rg Veda, often describe, in these works, knowledge recieved through interior vision (darshana). They propose a search for the light, a breeching out of material substance in order to enter into an illuminated space of awareness: the rishis, Upanishad sages, define this as the realization of the immortal Self, the reunion of aatman with paramaatman.

The recurring metaphor is that of an introspective, heroic action, which liberates the beasts/cows or the waters, clears the skies, conquers darkness and regains the light, dispenser of prosperity.(3)

Through this vision one gains knowledge of a superior reality; an awareness that is not intellectual but rather an interiorization or better yet an identification: the triumph of light over darkness.

In this sense, the Vedas represent a vision that gives perfect knowlegde of the reality of the three worlds(4), because it brings together the seeker of knowledge with the knower, where the known, in the philosophical apex/climax of the scriptures, is the totality of the self in all of its infinite manifestations. A sacred and blessed totality free of corruption, old age, death and re-birth. The Being that is beyond becoming, God.

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(1) Vedic literature is divided in Shruti and Smriti:



Shruti: "hearing, revelation", that which has been realized by the ancient Rishis through inspired listening, in a state of divine contemplation, therefore, that which has been revealed by God.

Shruti literature consists of:

-the four Samhita: Rig Veda, Sama Veda, Yajur Veda and Atharva Veda.

-the Brahmana: detailed instructions for the perfect execution of the rites and sacrifices described in the Vedas.

-the Upanisad: philosophic speculations on the Absolute Truth.

-the Aranyaka: books from the forest, the work of ascetics who described, through subjective language, their own spiritual experiences.

The Vedic mantra (hymn) has liturgical value and therefore knowledge of the relative doctrine is taken for granted. In order to facilitate the comprehension of the Vedas, in compendium, the study of Smriti literature is indispensable.



Smriti: "memory, tradition", which corresponds to the exegesis or traditional commentary of the Vedic texts. The most important works are the eighteen maha-Purana and the two Itihasa together with the Sutras, Shastras and Tantra.

The Vedas are also known as trai vidya because they contain three categories of knowledge:

I- Karma-kanda: pertains to the ritual and represents the liturgical aspect.

II- Upasana-kanda: instructions for adoration of the Divinities.

III- Jnana-kanda: represents the speculative-mystic aspect.

(2)The written composition of the Vedas is placed around 3000 B.C., while scholastic indologists conventionally place it around 1500 B.C, but some indologists estimate the age of the Vedas diversely. For instance: "Jacobi: 2550 B.C. ; Tilak: 8000 B.C. ; A.C. Das: 25,000 B.C. ; H.P. Blavatsky: 60,000 or 600,000 B.C." Dr. Janardan Misra, Veda and Bharat, Ess Ess Publ. N. Delhi, 1988, pag. 133.

The same applies for the Purana, that seems to date itself linguistically between the IV and VI century A.D., however, since oral traditions can exist throughout the centuries, expressed at different times with the languages of the different eras, this date has little significance.

(3)RigVeda (IV 51): Alle Aurore.

(4)Bhu-bhuvah-svah: the three planetary systems of the Vedic cosmogony, called inferior, medium and superior. The asuras or demons reside in the inferior planets, the manusha or humans reside in the terrestrial and the devas or celestial beings in the superior planets.

Most of the Vedas are composed of hymns, liturgical formulas apparently directed at praising the devas(5) in order to obtain material benefits. The western student of the Vedas remains impressed by this contradiction in purpose, both ontological and theological, on the one hand, a search for the Absolute Truth, towards the identification and reunion with, or achievement of the Absolute Being, and on the other, towards the great variety of matter/material energy directed to mundane interests: power, offspring, victory, health, wealth which can disorient and confuse the profane/uninformed. (6)

A contrast in language corresponds to this apparent contradiction. In fact, when dealing with the search for Absolute Truth and liberation from existential limits, the language utilized expresses capacity, an explicit introspective and psychological capacity which describes an interior space: light produced through meditation, a formation and perfection of the consciousness as the final goal. For example, the gayatri-mantra(7) illustrates a very subjective attitude: the idea of an interior reality expressed with such awareness is the proven evidence that the authors were persons possessing a well developed mental structure, much more developed than that which appears in the antique texts of the Mesopotamian or Greek civilization, where there is no evidence of such an introspective capacity, or capacity to describe the interior psychic reality where experience, memory, thought and projects are placed.

On the other hand, the hymns which deal with material energy are expressed with a highly objective language, lacking introspection and reflection.

According to the vedic tradition hymns are instruments that work through the direct effect of their sound, that is, material sound vibration and its corresponding vibration of the consciousness, in order to produce a desired modification of reality, both physical and metaphysical.

In noteworthy texts like the Upanisads the introspective thought and the subjective language are clearly evident. Upanisad means lesson. In many upanisadic situations, among the most significant, the following pattern repeats itself: In the beginning we find someone struggling with an existential problem dealing with the sense of life and death, survival of the individual in eternity and knowledge of the truth. Then someone else invested with these questions, gives standard answers according to a common sense, mechanical interpretation of the catechism. In the end these answers are unveiled as illusory and unsuitable by a third person with a transcendental, philosophic perspective, who puts forth a valid response - valid and subversive according to those current cultural, mundane, pseudo philosophical modes, grounded in a materialistic and fragmentary vision of reality and unable to define the self in its whole reality. Some examples are: Naciketa, Janaka, Maitreyi, Yajnavalkya. The constant in each case is a serene search, devoid of frustration, and the discovery of a perspective in which the existential problems and their solutions, guaranteed and without fault according to common sense, are later revealed as unreal, contradictory and impossible. At the same time reality appears beyond the false problem, or all that is beyond the abstract perception of the single parts becomes evident.

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(5) Powerful celestial beings whose function is to control the universe, cfr: RigVeda (I 24) : A Varuna; (II 12): A Indra.

(6) The Vedas infact propose three requirements to those who undertake their study: 1- Tapas or" sublimation"; 2-shraddha or "fede"; 3-Brahmacharya or "vote of chastity". Veda and Bharat(...)

(7) A mantra from the SamaVeda (Om bhu bhuvah svah, tat savitur bhargo devasya, dhimahi dhiyo yo nah pracodayat...), that the dvijas, or initiated, "recite" silently in meditation in the metaspace of the heart. This mantra is an instrument of inspiration and realization, with which one adores the deva of the sun in all of its glory.


1.1. Brief Introduction to Indian Philosophy.
Indian philosophy treats the same fundamental problems treated in Western philosophy and the answers also have notable similarities. But their methods of philosophic research differ, as does the process through which each forms and develops its philosophic concepts.

Indian philosophy confronts together as a whole Metaphysics, Ethics, Logic, Psychology and Epistemology. Each problem is discussed from all possible viewpoints and the solution in order to be accepted as such must be satisfying in all of its aspects.

Indian philosophers have developed a language difficult to match for its wealth of specific description and detail. This language, together with some concepts and objects of study (Time, Space, Prakrti, Karma, Dharma, Ishvara, Aatman, etc...), apparently common to many philosophic systems, on closer examination shows notable differences in their meaning. In various schools of thought the meanings of words which are morphologically identical are often notably different in their shades of meaning or substance, as if, notwithstanding the use of the same words, one speaks a different language that must be learned as if new and must not be confused from school to school. Without this introduction, the Western student could become confused.

Although different methods are utilized, the ultimate goal of most Indian philosophic systems, except the Charvaka,81 is the liberation of aatman from its conditioned state, returning it to its original state of unlimited happiness, ananda. Moksha, or liberation, is generally considered to be the final goal and the highest good.92




2. Shad-darshana

Six philosophic schools originating in the Vedas.


According to the traditional classification the philosophic schools are divided into two categories, respectively known as aastika and naastika. These two terms in a modern sense signify respectively theist and atheist, while in sanskrit philosophic literature aastika signifies one who believes in the Vedas, who has faith in life after death, rather than one who believes in God. The Mimamsa and Sankhya schools in particular, where the figure of God the creator does not appear, believe in the authority of the Vedas and in the imortality of the aatman, and as such are defined aastika. The opposite is true for the term naastika which indicates, above all, a denial of Vedic authority. These two terms are translated both with their orthodox and heterodox names. The six main philosophic systems known as shad-darshana 130 belong to the first group: Nyaaya, Vaisheshika, Sankhya, Yoga, Miimaansaa and Vedaanta. The three philosophic systems belonging to the second group, naastika, are called: Caarvaaka, Bauddha and Jaina.

Since our research is aimed essentially towards the study of the Vedas and in particular of Vedaanta in its Vaishnava interpretation, we will limit ourselves to a brief exsposition of one philosophic system, omitting entirely the naastika schools.



2.1. The Vedas role in the Indian philosophic aastika systems
The aastika philosophic schools can again be subdivided into two groups: the fist group, consisting of Nyaaya, Vaisheshika, Sankhya and Yoga, although radicated in the common matrix of Vedic thought, are based on philosophic concepts developed independently from the Vedas. The second group consisting of Miimaansaa and Vedaanta are based directly on Vedic texts(11), to the point of being traditionally considered the uninterrupted continuation of Vedic culture.

In spite of the fact that these last two philosophic systems are scrupulously based on Vedic authority, the original speculative observation of each single rshi(12) is of such significant and powerful magnificence that, even if it is deprived of this basic support of the Vedas, its structure would remain firm; in such a way that even though recognizing the supreme authority of the Vedas, the philosophic completeness of the system is not minimally compromised.


2.2 Shad-darshana

In order to introduce the term darshana to the Western public, a simple literal translation is not sufficient: Darshana does not correspond strictly to the term "theology" nor to the term "philosophy" indicated in our dictionaries, because it holds a much more complex meaning. The word darshana indicates, together with theology and philosophy, also psychology, physics, exegesis of Vedic texts, linguistic speculation, psycho-physical practices, meditation, attainment of supernatural powers and more.

Each system, although well-defined, autonomous and capable of conferring the supreme goal, has peculiar characteristics that are in some senses convergent and often complementary. Therefore, traditionally and for purely didactic reasons, these schools are studied in groups of two: Nyaaya and Vaisheshika, Sankhya and Yoga, Mimaansaa and Vedanta.
2.3. Nyaaya and Vaisheshika: logic and physics

The establishment of the Nyaaya school is traditionally attributed to the sage Gautama. He is the author of a realistic philosophic system based substantially on logic. The principal text to which it refers is the Nyaaya-suutra.

According to this school there are eleven subjects of knowledge: the self, the body, the senses and their objects, the intellect or buddhi, the mind or manas, activity or pravrtti, mental defects or dosha, rebirth or pretyabhava, feelings of pleasure and pain or phala, suffering, duhkha, and freedom from suffering, apavarga. The goal of life, perennial happiness, is attained by liberating the self, aatman, from the fetters of the material body, the senses and their objects.

The Nyaaya school demonstrates the existence of God with various arguments, and among one of the most noted is as follows: "all things in the universe like the oceans, the mountains, the sun and the moon are products, because they are made of parts. Thus, there must exist a producer." The jiva-aatman, the individual conditioned Self, cannot be author of the created, because it has access to limited means, both in terms of power and of knowledge. It is not in a position to arrange, to a great extent, imperceptible particles of material like atoms, of which the physical world is composed. The creator of the world must necessarily be an intelligent spirit endowed with infinite power, knowledge and wisdom, capable of maintaining the moral order in the universe.

The establishment of the Vaisheshika school is traditionally attributed to the sage Kanaada Muni. The principle text to which it refers is the Kanaada-suutra143, which begins stating: "Now we will explain what is dharma", then continues asserting that dharma is the instrument with which one attains prosperity and final salvation, moksha.

The Vaisheshika believe in the existence of an eternal soul, nitya-aatmaa, and that its existence is causeless. They do not take into consideration the existence of God as Supreme creator and, for them, the goal of life is the liberation of the aatmaa from pain.

The object of their study is physics; the means utilized is a correct application of dharma, which is made possible through the acquisition of a perfect knowledge, vidya, of the six categories of the phenomenal world: substance, quality, action, class conciousness, particularity and inherence.

The conditioning of the aatman is due to ignorance, avidya, and can be removed only by becoming adept in the spiritual science, vidya, the only means capable of restoring to the eternal being his peculiar original happiness.



2.4. Sankhya and Yoga: Psychology and metaphysics

The establishment of the Sankhya school is traditionally attributed to Kapila154 Rshi. This school of psychological science has little to do with modern Western psychology. The latter bases its creed on materialistic ideological presuppositions, operates exclusively in the mental and corporeal sphere, or prakrti. It limits itself to the narrow boundaries of one unique present life, is unable to overcome the barriers of space and time, and can only produce confused temporary effects, subject to modifications and frequent, substantial contradictions, liable for the frequent failures of psychiatric "cures". The self remains substantially ignorant of the causes of its mental disorders and of the deviations of its own personality.



The establishment of the school of Yoga, called asthanga-yoga, is traditionally attributed to the sage Patanjali Rshi.

2.5. Mimaansaa and Vedaanta165 : Philosophy and Theology
The establishment of the Mimaansaa school is traditionally attributed to the sage Jaimini Rshi. The texts on which he bases his philosophic assumptions are the part176 of the Vedas called karma-kanda, also called karma-mimaansaa due to the strong interest that is dedicated to yajna, the ritual Vedic sacrifice, and on the importance of apurva187.

Mimaansaa considers the physical world as real and eternally manifest: not subject to the cyclical phases of creation and dissolution sustained by the other aastikas. It attributes notable importance to sense perception and has a "realistic" approach to all existential themes. It does not believe in the existence of God as creator, but rather emphasizes the existence of the immortal aatman and its possibility of either enchainment or liberation through karma, action concluded under diverse material infuences198. The goal of this darshana is liberation presented as total happiness and obtained with the transferral to svarga-loka planets1109.
Vedaanta: it's subdivisions and philosophic questions common to Western thought: Dualism, Monism, qualified Monism.
The beginning of this philosophical system is attributed to the great Vedic sage Badarayana Rshi. It's best known and oldest reference book is the Vedaanta suutra, which represents the apex of the upanishadic speculation2110 and is justly called Vedaanta: the ultimate conclusion or summum bonum of the Veda. Aside from the text book cited above, many exegetic works exist of excellent quality, authored by the Vedaanta-acharyas2121 who, using their mystical experiences and spiritual realizations, elaborated complex philosophical treatises that form the structure of modern Vedantism. The school of Vedaanta is nearest to the concept that the Western world assigns to the term theology.

Vedaanta gave origin to two very important schools of thought, in essence differing from each other, but both decidedly vital and formative for the religious conscience of Indians in the course of the last 2000 years; they are still well rooted in the liturgy, philosophy, and theology of modern hinduism and also of importance to the Western philosophical tradition. These two schools are the Nirguna-brahman2132 founded by Shankara-acharya in the 8th century A.D.: Monistic and impersonalistic, in as much as it accepts the indifferentiated brahman as the Ultimate and Supreme Reality, thus called Advaita-Vedaanta2143 and also Maya-vada2154. The other school, the Saguna-brahman, is personalistic and conceives God as a Supreme Person, Ultimate reality, Origin and Substance of the brahman and of the aatman. This school is developed in three main branches calledVishishta-advaita, Dvaita and Acintya bheda-abheda tattva.

3. Vaishnavism
Vaishnavism2165 and the bhakti movements. The relationship between the Whole and its parts. Original and personal relationship, ideal model of happiness: sat-cid-ananda-vigraha. On the eve of the advent of Kali yuga, Mahamuni Vyasadeva, full of compassion for the unfortunate people living in this dark era, foresaw through divine vision the disastrous condition of future generations and for the purpose of saving and ensuring the integrity of the sacred law decided to put into writing all that had until then been passed on verbally: supreme Vedic knowledge, the science of spiritual realization.

This knowledge of the Vedas passed down to us through preceeding yugas via four principle disciplic lines called sampradayas named individually after their founders: Brahma-Gaudiya sampradaya, Lakshmi or Sri sampradaya, Rudra sampradaya and Sanaka or Hamsa sampradaya. The spiritual transcendent knowledge of these four paths or darshan, especially in this last millenium, was transmitted to this day intact by five important schools of Vaishnavism, with a present following of over 600,000,000 faithful who worship God as the Lord Vishnu-Krishna or one of their Avatars. These five schools of transcendence whose only aim is to spread the consciousness of God are known by the names of their respective founders (Acharya): Ramanuja, Madhva, Nimbarka, Vallabha and Sri Caitanya.2177

In retrospect, one notices the respective mystical realizations of each school because, although evolving in harmony, each one has developed a particular "rasa" or personal relationship with the Divine, an individual philosophic doctrine and other cultural differences. As follows is a description of what each school has experienced and taught.
3.1. The Ramanuja school

Ramanuja-Acharya was the first to formalize the thought and the practice of God worship in the Bhakti movement in south India initiated long before his time by a group of mystics called Alvars.2188 In the 12th century he wrote important texts based on the Vedas, establishing canons for the worship of God in the temple, canons that are still basic in the Vaishnava rituals of worship. This school called Sri Vaishnava has its monasteries or ashrams mainly in southern India. Later, Ramanandadas, an important spiritual teacher of this school, preached love for Sita-Rama and developed the cult of bhakti in central and northern India.

The philosophy of this school is a well defined monism, "Vishishta-advaita", which teaches: "Even though everything is connected with God, there are nevertheless real differences between God, the individual soul and creation."

3.2. The Madhva school

In Western India most of the present monasteries and sanctuaries were founded by Madhva-Acharya in the 13th century and maintained with great care by his numerous followers. Like other celebrated Vaishnava acharyas Madhva-Acharya initiated his studies under the guidance of a teacher from the impersonalistic school of Shankara. Dissatisfied with this school but subsequently inspired by bhakti, he asked and obtained to become a disciple of Srila Vyasadeva and later became one of the most prolific Vaishnava writers and philosophers. One of the most significant of his philosophical works is the Sarva-darshana-sangraha, of considerable historical importance, in which he reviews well known philosophical treatises including the Naastika.

The philosophy of this school is "Dvaita", dualism, in which Madhva-Acharya emphatically underlines the difference between God, the world and the individual souls. His dualism is in opposition to Shankara's monism, since Madhva rejects all ideas of a unity that signifies fusion with the Absolute. He affirms that souls are of diverse qualities: Sattva, Rajas and Tamas. His philosophy is singular and teaches that not all souls will obtain freedom and that some will eternally suffer a conditioned state.

3.3 The Nimbarka school

Nimbarka Swami in the fourteenth century paves the way for the affirmation and popularization of the worship of Sri Radha-Krishna. Today, the movement founded by him is probably the smallest among the various branches of the Vaishnava tradition. The majority of his followers is in central north India, in the area of Mathura-Vrndavana, Rajasthan and Bengal. Nimbarka Swami was the first to identify the Supreme Brahman in the Divine Couple of Sri Sri Radha-Krishna. His philosophy is defined "Dvaita-advaita", duality and simultaneous difference, a position that is situated between the monism of Shankara, which denies the world in its entirety, and the radical dualism of Madhva-Acharya. Nimbarka Swami treats the unity of existence and its differences as two truths, without putting any emphasis on either. Matter and soul are considered parts or energies of God, neither fused nor distict and separate from Him.




3.4. The Vallabha school

This movement is predominant in the northwest and north of India, especially in the region of Mathura-Vrndavana. Vallabha-Acharya a Telugu brahman of the 15th century, differs from all the other Vaishnava Acharyas in that he does not found any monastic order. He teaches that all things in the world are benevolent because they reflect some part of the beauty of God. The philosophy of Vallabha is known as suddha-advaita, "pure monism". He does not identify God and Creation as Brahman devoid of form and quality as in Shankara's school. Instead he teaches that each thing in the world is united with God, a Person, who possesses form and quality "Saguna Brahman". His position is similar to that of Ramanuja-Acharya, except Vallabha views everything as Krishna or in an immediate and intimate relation with Him. He sees everything as a reflection of God, therefore good.


3.5. The Sri Caitanya school

The movement of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu in the 16th century concludes the Bhakti renaissance initiated four centuries before by Sri Ramanuja-Acharya and emphasizes the importance of glorifying God by invoking His Holy Names, especially singing in groups with other devotees or sankirtan.2199 His school was responsible for founding most of the temples and places of pilgrimage in the Mathura-Vrndavana area and his influence spread throughout India, especially in the north and northeast. The philosophy expounded by Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu and his first disciples instructs that each thing in this world is simultaneously and inconceivably one with and separate from God, Acintya bhedabheda. This mystic power allows God to be at the same time both immanent and transcendent, which corresponds to the way His devotees experience their relationship with Him, respectively in His presence or His absence. Sri Krishna, with his wife Radha is adored as Divine Lover surrounded by intimate friends of both sexes, by multitudes of devotees in an infinite variety of forms as liberated souls who delight forever in love for God in the spiritual world. Bhakti is seen as a progressive evolution that passes through five stages in the relationship with God: neutrality, service, friendship, parental love, conjugal and amorous love. All these sentiments, rasa, are rigorously situated on a spiritual plane and have nothing in common with their homonymous worldly sentiments.

This last school out of them all has a singular and exceptional character: according to Vedic scriptures and the testimony of innumerable sages and liberated souls, the Supreme Being in this era of Kali descends upon the material world taking the form of a pure devotee of Krishna, and is renowned as Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, the great Teacher. This particular manifestation of God among men called Avatara, "He who descends", had explosive effects in the society of that period. Overstepping the rigid and artificial caste system Sri Caitanya, also called Gauranga for his golden complexion, made the pure love of God, Krishna, accessible to all in a very efficient, genuine and simple manner laying the foundations of the devotional history for the following ten millennia and opening a golden era, exceptionally propitious for the spiritual progress of the whole planet, a period that will become known as the "Caitanya Era".3200

The message of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu had great following among the people of His time: everywhere the Lord went, huge crowds would follow and acclaim Him, singing the holy names of God. Sri Caitanya had many disciples endowed with profoud spirituality, among these the six Goswamis of Vrndavana, saintly ascetic philosophers who for the benefit of future generations left the treasury of spiritual literature in the bhakti theme. Instructed by God Himself, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, in order to propagate the cult of love for Radha-Krishna, instills new life in an ancient devotional tradition with a great following of devotees called Rupanuga, followers of Rupa Goswami. The feeling and the philosophy of bhakti have continued to inspire for centuries a great variety of talents, exercising a powerful stimulation on great personalities who in their turn transmitted this message to society in the form of theatre, music, poetry, fiction, philosophy and science. In this brief draft, for lack of sufficient space, it is impossible to give adequate merit to the many saintly Vaishnavas who illuminated these last centuries. Among the greatest Acharyas, or spiritual teachers, of enormous importance for their efforts in the propagation of Vaishnavism in India and in the Western world:

Thakur Bhaktivinoda, philosopher and poet born in India in the first half of the last century in a well-to-do Brahmin family holds for a long period of time the position of Magistrate, but his devotion for Caitanya Mahaprabhu renders him famous as a saint and prolific writer. He is the first to write important works of bhakti in English, spreading in this way the message of Lord Caitanya to the greatest levels of international culture. His life and works gave spiritual impetus to many personalities of his time, both in his country and abroad.

Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Goswami, saintly ascetic and fervent preacher, born in Puri, India, in the second half of the eighteen hundreds, establishes over one hundred Vaishnava temples, initiates numerous disciples, publishes a great quantity of very important books on bhakti and starts producing two important periodicals that achieve fame: the "Harmonist" and "Hari-toshanam" in which he systematically and philosophically delves into the most relevant themes of bhakti, such as science and an applicable model of devotional life for mankind.

One of his disciples, one of the last links in this chain of teachers, was His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, born in India in 1896. He lives the first part of his life within his family, then gradually moved to compassion by humanity's desperate condition of spiritual deprivation, in 1965, nearly 70 years old, motivated by the desire to fulfill the order received thirty years earlier from his spiritual teacher to preach the message of Krishna in the Western world, he sails to America. With neither economic means nor confirmed logistic plans and after a vexing voyage he arrives in Boston. A few months later, eager to preach the knowledge of Krishna to a vast public, he moves to New York, where he conducts a life of poverty and sacrifice. In 1966 together with his first followers he founds the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON).


118 Materialism. Similar to Greek Epicurianism.

29 The Vedas prescribe four objectives that man must harmoniously follow during his life: dharma ("justice, religious attitude"), artha ("well-being, success"), kama ("pleasure, satisfaction of the senses") and moksha ("liberation"). Later we will see how in the Vaishnava tradition and particularly in Sri Caitanya's school there exists a fifth objective, pancam purushartha, the supreme objective: param-purusartha or prema, love for God, Krishna.

310 Shad signifies six, darshana, from the root drsh, signifies "vision", therefore six paths or spiritual perspectives for realizing the Absolute.

11Veda-samhita, Upanisad and Aranyaka.



12Vedic sages who manifested themselves in different social classes and spiritual orders. Raja-rshi: holy kings; brahma-rshi; powerful and pure, usually the founders of schools of thought; deva-rshi:devas whom excel by way of their sanctity and wisdom.

413 Philosophical treaty traditionally attributed to the same sage. In it are described the elements of nature: five physical elements, panca-bhutani and four subtle elements, among which, the soul, aatman and the mind, manas.

514 Two different Kapilas existed and, with them, two different schools of Sankhya philosophy. One atheist Kapila is the founder of the atheist Sankhya school, the other, an avatara of Vishnu, traditionally known as Kapila Devahuti-putra, is the founder of the theistic Sankhya school.

615 Both these schools are called Mimaansaa: to interrogate, ask questions. Respectively: Purva (ancient) or Karma-mimaansaa and Uttara-mimaansaa or Vedanta. Traditionally one refers to the first two as "Mimaansaa" and to the second two as "Vedanta".

716 The section of the Vedas that has to do with ritual and that represents the liturgical aspect.

817 Preeminently fruitful action, the results of yajna, and the dynamic benefits that spring from this.

918 triguna: tamas, rajas, sattva.

1019 Paradise, represented by different levels of superior celestial planets, where one enjoys an intense and continuous happiness, but from which one descends to the bhuvah or middle planets after the merits gained in the preceeding life are exhausted.

1120 Philosophical speculation of the Absolute Truth. The Upanishads with the Aranyaka tales of the forest, works of ascetics that relay their spiritual experiences, written therefore in a subjective form, represent the highest philosophical stage of Vedic literature. Traditionally dated circa 3000 B.C. but according to Western scholars dated between 1000 B.C. and 1000 A.D.

1221 Lit. "He who teaches by acting as a model": Great personalities, spiritual teachers, often founders of sampradayas. Schools of thought in the area of Vedantic philosophy.

1322 Lit. "Spirit without attributes". The Supreme Spirit, the brahman. This school believes that the Brahman is pure spiritual energy without any differentiating characteristic, quality, form, names, etc.

1423 Lit. "Not dualistic".

1524 Lit. Maya: "that which is not"; vada: "follower". This school describes the phenomenic world as unreal, mithya, or maya, illusory, deceptive like a mirage, for this reason the followers of this school of thought are called Mayavadi.

1625 Religious tradition going back to prehistoric antiquity, of monotheistic faith (polymorphic monotheism), preaches love for one personal God Vishnu or Krishna, or for one of their Avatars.

1727 Garuda dasa, Hinduism Today.

1828 According to tradition the first three Alvars appeared circa 4000 B.C. op. cit., pg.13.

1929 Public and collective chanting of God's names. When a mantra or hymn is sung softly and slowly it is called japa. The same mantra sung aloud is called kirtana.

2030 Historic era of ten millennia particularly propitious for spiritual realization. It begins with the coming of Lord Caitanya in 1486 A.D. cfr: Krishnadasa Kaviraja, Sri Caitanya Caritamrta, translated by His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami, BBT Italy.






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