Advaita Vision

Advaita for the 21st Century

Vedanta - Part 3

VEDĀNTA the solution to our fundamental problem
D. Venugopal

D. Venugopal is a student of Swami Paramarthananda and a direct disciple of Pujya Swami Dayananda. He has successfully completed the long-term residential course in Vedanta and Sanskrit conducted from May 2002 to July 2005 at the Arsha Vidya Gurukulam, Anaikatti.




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III - We judge ourselves as wanting in all respects

The cause of our continual craving for support is our self-judgment that we are inadequate. Our self-judgement arises out of our self-consciousness. All living beings are conscious of themselves and have some degree of self-identification. For instance, the dog has species identity. A Great Dane knows that the lap dog is also one of its kind, despite the vast difference between them. But it has no critical awareness of itself as a separate entity. The Great Dane does not consider itself as belonging to a superior breed and does not feel proud on winning in the dog show. But our self-consciousness is complete as a distinct individual. It is also so acute that we keep judging all aspects of ourselves and of others almost all the time.


As a child, we find everyone to be tall, huge, and towering above us and judge ourselves as small and puny. We do not like being so and we want to be like them. So, we wear our father’s shirt, and try to walk in his shoes. We keep on saying that we are now grown up and are no longer a child! In the school also, we are forming opinion about ourselves with reference to our classmates. We have judgement about our size, color, looks, clothes, parents, house, skills etc. When we think that any of them suffer in comparison with others, we are dissatisfied with ourselves. If our classmate possesses something that we do not have, we pester our mother to get us the same thing. Until we acquire them, we feel small when compared to him. When in our judgement we are better, we are satisfied with ourselves and are happy. When we win in a competition, we are delighted.


When we have been assessing ourselves, we have been taking ourselves to be the body with the mind and the organs of perception and action. Even when we grow up, we continue to think that it is these that define what we are, setting us apart from everything else. On the face of it, this appears to be the correct conclusion as each of us are intimately aware of the functioning of only our body, mind and sense-organs, and not of others. Our everyday experience also confirms our thinking since all transactions are based on the distinction between each of us and the rest. We, constituted of the body, the mind and the sense-organs, are the subject and all others are objects.


Based on this division, we find that in terms of space, if we are here, we are not elsewhere. In terms of time, there was a time when we were not there and there will be a time when we will not be there. Physically, we cannot do everything that we want to or protect ourselves while facing stronger adversaries. Emotionally, our mind is subject to varying moods, like being calm or agitated, or being happy or unhappy. Intellectually, we find that certain subjects are beyond our grasp. As regards knowledge, we find that the more we know, we discover that there is a lot more to be known. We conclude that we are wanting in every respect as an individual.3

IV - Becoming free from being a wanting person is our basic concern and our actions flow from it

Owing to the self-judging nature of our mind, our awareness of the sense of lack is constant. In most circumstances, we do not feel truly at home; something further is needed. Our basic notions are that “I am small, insignificant and vulnerable” and “I am displeased with myself”. These conclusions about ourselves make us an insecure and unhappy person. We are unable to accept ourselves in this state, as on a number of occasions we have the experience of the adequate self in which we feel fulfilled, complete and happy. Thus, we find that the urge to be free from all limitations and be secure and happy is natural to us like the urge to breathe or the urge to eat. As a result, we are impelled to do whatever we can to prove to ourselves that we are not wanting in any respect.


We soar in the sky to feel limitless like space. We take care of all the indications of ageing and try to overcome time. If we consider ourselves defenseless, we work towards becoming powerful. If we think of ourselves as poor and ignored, we exert to become rich and well known. If we feel that our childhood was deprived and had missed the pleasures, we try to earn lot of money so that we can now enjoy as much as we can and provide our children with what we missed in our childhood. If we get the impression that others find us wanting in any particular way, we exert to gain that and more to prove them wrong. If we consider that a particular personal appearance, qualification, skill, possession or social position would make us a satisfied and secure person, then we make efforts to achieve them. We also try to adjust our setup to suit our ends and attempt suitably to alter the attitude and behaviour of people with whom we often interact. We also try to change the economic, political, cultural and religious climate of society so that it may become conducive to us. Thus we make efforts on all fronts, since we cannot see ourselves as a wanting person who is not pleased with himself.

V - Fulfilling particular wants does not solve our problem

Despite all our efforts, we are never able fully to achieve our goal. We find that fulfilling particular wants does not end our notion of being wanting. This is clear from the fact that none of us is able to conclude, “Now, I am what I want to be. I am entirely happy with myself. There is nothing at all for me to gain further”.4 When the fulfillment of a given desire takes place, we find that there is hushed silence in the mind and there is peace and joy. We are pleased with ourselves. At that time, we find ourselves to be the one who is not a desirer. But, as we have an all-embracing sense of dissatisfaction, very soon our mind picks up one want after another and the “I want ..., I want ..., I want ...” stream of thoughts continues to flow in our mind and we cease to remain a person who is at peace with himself. What we lack may be different at various points of time. But that we are wanting is constant. This is why we require nothing but ourselves with our thoughts to be uneasy and unhappy.

3. Our conclusions regarding limitations are of deça (space), käla (time) and vastu (material).
4. A person who has accomplished all that has to be accomplished is called kåtakåtyaù.

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Page last updated: 10-Dec-2013