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The Faithful is one with the Veda || On Advait Vedanta (2019)
Author Acharya Prashant
Acharya Prashant
9 min
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ਸਾਧ ਕੀ ਮਹਿਮਾ ਬੇਦ ਨ ਜਾਨਹਿ ॥

saaDh kee mahimaa bayd na jaaneh

The glory of the Holy people is not known to the Vedas.

~ Guru Granth Sahib 272-7

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Questioner (Q): Acharya Ji, I read nine Upanishads last month. However, after reading this statement, I am feeling that I should have invested my time in reading Sukhmani Sahib instead. Are the Vedas and Upanishads less helpful than Sukhmani Sahib ?

Acharya Prashant (AP): Don’t be so mischievous. Do not turn it into a clash of the scriptures. It is something very different that is being said here. It is not about Veda or Vedanta or Upanishads versus Sukhmani Sahib or the Guru Granth Sahib . Scriptures do not quarrel with each other. What is being said is something very beautiful, very sweet, very lovely. You must look at it in the right spirit.

Sadhu ki mahima Veda na janhe . The reason is simple. It is being said that the glory of the Sadhu is not known to the Vedas; the glory of the holy people is not known to the Vedas. The reason is simple: the Sadhu is the Veda in person! Veda comes from the Sadhu, the Muni, the Rishi.

So, which of the two would you prefer? What do you want to have, me or my books? What do you want to have? And you have already given the answer by listening to these words, if at all you are there listening to me online. Why are you listening to me online when you are in charge of looking at my books? I suppose that’s the portfolio you are handling these days, right? You have all my books. Then why are you listening to me? Because you value me more than my books. And that is what is being said here. Sadhu ki mahima Veda na janhe .

If you cannot have the Sadhu, then go to the Veda. If you can have proximity with the Sadhu, then what are you doing with the Vedas? That’s what is being told here. The Sadhu is the origin of the Vedas. Why would you not go to an Aruni, an Ashtavakra, a Shaunaka, a Yājñavalkya? Or would you rather wait for the Upanishads to come to you? If the very authors of the Upanishads could come to you, would you welcome them, or would you ask them to wait, saying that you are reading the Upanishads?

Do not give these things that kind of a color. The Sikh scriptures have a great and deep relationship with Vedanta, and they are highly respectful. In fact, the Sikh gurus have taught love and humility. They are never going to be dismissive of any source from where wisdom can be had.

That’s been the thing with the saints and the people around them: they just did not put too much emphasis on the written word. It’s such a beautiful thing. They said, let there be a direct means of transmission, the written word cannot help; or, it cannot help beyond a point, it does help to an extent. They said, go directly to the one from where the scriptures come.

Now, you cannot go to the nirākāra source, to the formless source, because you carry your physicality and you won’t drop it. Being the formed one, how will you meet the formless? So, what is the next best option? Meet the Saint, the Rishi, the Sadhu, because he is the medium from where the holy utterances come.

So, if you cannot meet the formless Truth, at least meet the formed messenger of Truth. That’s your best chance. And if you cannot meet either of these two, then you can go to the books. But books are to be used only if you are so unfortunate that there is no holy man you can approach. If you can really approach a holy man, then books should not be a hindrance. Books cannot become a substitute to the company of the Sadhu.

So, this land did not put too much emphasis on scholarship. In fact, scholars and learned people and knowledgeable people and pandits were often mocked. In the Sant Samaj, they were objects of laughter; people would joke at the scholars. Because the scholars had only something very third hand, very dry, whereas the disciple who lived physically close to the Guru had something very alive, something very potent, something very dynamic.

So, the scholar could never have what the dedicated student living in the proximity of the Guru had. And the Sadhu would walk around in his mandali (community, circle), in his toli , and there would be young men, young women along, following him or her. And it was quite possible that the Sadhu might not utter a single word; the darshan was sufficient. “ Jo sukha sadhu sangha me, so vaikuntha na hoe (The joy that is found here in the company of Saints will not be found in heaven).” The saṃgati was sufficient.

It didn’t matter if the Sadhu didn’t actively teach; his being was the teaching. You won’t even know that you are being taught. So subtle and so constant was the teaching. The Sadhu will not say, “Now, come over, we will talk and we will have a session and we will finish off another chapter, and a particular syllabus is to be completed, and hours are to be met.” No, sometimes he might feel like giving a discourse; often he would not say anything, or often he would be occupied with what would look like mundane chores. But just being in his company, just spending time with him, was sufficient.

And you know what? Most of the monks and sages and fakirs and sadhus never ever bothered to write a book. So, how will you read their books? There is no book at all. How many saints have you heard of? You will struggle to count till twenty, and I am being liberal. You probably won’t be able to count beyond ten. Do you think there have been only ten saints worth noticing in India and elsewhere? There have been thousands. Why don’t you know of them? Because their teaching was not through books that could reach you; their teaching was through their person, their physical existence.

So, they taught, and they perished, and the medium of their teaching perished along with their body. They didn’t leave a book behind because they knew that leaving a book behind is not of much use. Instead, what did they leave behind? They left behind more Sadhus like themselves. They would leave behind, let’s say, ten students who would be fully equipped to take the message and the mission ahead. They didn’t leave a dead book; they left behind living carriers of the message—living, alive, conscious carriers of the message.

They said, “This is the way. Leaving behind a book doesn’t make much sense. Books anyway become tools in the hands of mischief-mongers. If I leave a book behind, it will most probably be misunderstood and misutilized. So, no book; instead, here are these ten disciples, worthy fellows. They have spent ten years, twenty years, thirty years with me, and after I am gone, they will act as I did. Only the name will change, the face will change; essentially, they will be the same as I was. So, I am not even dying.” That has been the way.

Where are the books? Compared to the number of illuminated men and women that there have been, the books are very sparse, few and far between. And even the books that you are able to lay your hands on were not really written by the sages and the monks. Most of those books were compiled by others. So, Kabir Sahib is singing in his own deep ancient flow, and somebody happens to take notes, and afterwards a book was compiled.

That’s what is being said here: that even the holiest of books like the Vedas cannot match the company of the Sadhu, the presence of the Sadhu, the weight of the Sadhu’s being.

Q: Can there be situations where writings are left behind intentionally?

AP: Writing is when you know that a living carrier is not going to be available for some reason; then you need to leave behind a book. If a living carrier is available, then the book cannot supersede that.

But there have been occasions when books have been given tremendous importance. Those occasions have had their particular uniquenesses. For example, Guru Gobind Singh ordained that “There is going to be no living Guru after me; Guru Granth Sahib would now serve as the immortal Guru. There would be no more Gurus in flesh and blood; Guru Granth Sahib would now be the Guru forever.” That was a special situation.

In general, that has not happened. In general, the way of the Sadhu has not been to leave behind a book. The way of the Sadhu has been to leave behind more awakened beings, and then those awakened beings can take the chain reaction forward. But exceptions are there, and those exceptions had their own valid reasons.

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