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Vedanta is "Ultimate Knowledge"
Interview with Ms. Jaya Row
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Initiated into Vedanta at an early age, Ms. Jaya Row has been doing in depth vedantic research for the past 30 years. She has an excellent academic record, having passed out from St. Xavier's College, Mumbai, with a major in Microbiology and has had a distinguished management career, which she renounced eight years ago, to immerse herself in scriptures.

She has been successfully conducting management seminars for CEOs, executives and camps for the youth and the home makers. Her discourse on the Bhagvadgita has drawn huge audiences in India and abroad. The Astha Channel everyday is telecasting her lectures. The founder of the Vedanta Trust in Mumbai, Jaya Row gave a lecture at the Bharathiya Vidya Bhavan recently at Mysore. She shared her views of life and the Vedanta philosophy in a brief tete - a - tete with our correspondent.

Microbiology and Philosophy do they relate at all?
Of course. Philosophy is a subtle science. Microbiology is a materialistic science. The development of the human intellect is such that it first looks at the outer things and tries to figure out the laws of nature. This is called the age of scientific enquiry. And then after delving into nature, you wonder who put down all these laws? The root of every science perplexes you. That's where Vedanta comes in. It helps unravel the laws of nature in the mind. The meaning of Vedanta is the 'Ultimate Knowledge'.

You mean to say Vedanta, which is there for all to help lead a better life, is restricted to India only?
In its entity, it is in India only. For generations, a succession of Masters have researched and motivated people to get into the meaning of divine knowledge and that's why Indians know it better. But the principles of Vedanta are universal and may be expressed in different forms in other parts of the world. In fact, many famous Greek philosophers had acknowledged that they were inspired by Vedanta philosophy.

But this has been there since ages. Why then this sudden concern and interest?
There has been a massive disconnect for two reasons. One is foreign invasion and the other is our rigidity. In fact, the foreign invasion took place because of our rigidity. So this wide gap had cut off people from the essence of Vedanta. An American writer David Frolly says, "India has been cut off from her culture for over a millennium!!" The renaissance has now started and the effects will be long reaching. We may not see them in our lifetime, but like any other movement it will benefit the future generations. What Swami Vivekananda did a 100 years ago, we are reaping its benefits now.

As a scientist you can never accept anything without any solid proof. Were you convinced enough to leave your profession as a microbiologist and take up Vedanta?
In Vedanta everything is proved. It can be proved at a different subtler level. In materialistic science, you prove it in a test tube. Here it is at a more subtle level. It is methodic, systematic, clear and has a clear logical sequence of thought. This is what Sankhya philosophy is all about. In fact, Pluto it seems had put up a board in front of his chamber, which said "If you don't know Mathematics, don't enter." So

So Vedanta is not related to God?
Look, to lead a better life you should understand yourself better. We only know the strength at the surface level. The real wealth that lies within is unknown. There are two different levels. 1. Achieve success and happiness and 2. Happiness and fulfillment. You see that these two don't coexist. Where there is happiness there is no wealth and vice versa. Happiness is a by-product of tapping one's potential. You are the all pervading, and you are the God within. The only thing that cannot be proved is that there is God and you are God. The reason is that you don't have the equation. Even here the Gurus say come along with me and I will help you experience it.

Is Vedanta time relevant?
In every generation, Seers think and think differently. The eternal principles remain the same. What one needs to do is to re - interpret it, represent it according to the changing times, just like the scientific principles are taught. The law of gravity is not taught like how it was taught 100 years ago. Many times our fathers taught us things in the same manner like their great grand - fathers taught them and that makes everything look out of context. That is why today we focus more on the youth, between the age group of 18 - 40. Vedanta is not a declaration. It is a dialogue between the teacher and the student, and just because the student has understood what the teacher has said, he asks the next question.

The three main seers of the three different philosophies, Adwaitha, Dwaitha and Vishista Dwaitha preached the same thing too?
I told you, it's the same philosophy viewed at different angles, as per the circumstances. If you are driving up Ooty, from different approach roads, you will conjure up a map or guide book according to the path you have taken. But ultimately the destination is the same. When Hanuman was asked about his relationship with Lord Ram, he said "Deha Bhavena Dasosi, Jeeva Bhavethwa damshakaha, atma bhave thwam vahani" meaning, "When I consider my body, I am a servant; when I consider my inner self, I'm part of you; when I consider atma, I and you are one". That sums up the basic principles of the three philosophies.

Why is Vedanta being used so much in the Management circles today?
A Harvard professor has recently said, "Every organisation has to fall back on its own heritage, its distinctiveness and its uniqueness. So also the nations." As Indians, we tend to look at the west and implement their management philosophies. This really doesn't gel with the Indian psyche. We are far more emotional and by implementing the outside management practices you will be creating disharmony and discontent. Use basic Indian concepts and it will be far more successful. Vedanta helps us to use our inherent talent to our best use, without allowing stress, discord and lack of clarity to affect our functioning. This is what I call Satvik Business Model and is the main tool of my Management lectures.

Why is Vedanta and all this talk only for the educated elite, when even the lower classes need it very much?
I agree that they too need it. But please try and understand that all of us specialize in our fields of expertise. My thinking is in English and I can communicate better in that language. So I reach out to the educated class who can understand what I say. But, definetly, it will be a welcome sign, if someone who can relate these thoughts in the vernacular languages, puts it across to the common masses too. And more over let me tell you. The educated elite are the leaders of the society. Whatever they do, the masses follow. And as of now, it is not Philosophy that the common man needs, but economic help. That is why I am always propagating the concept of 'the haves sharing with the have nots.' Daana is not just tossing a few coins at a beggar. Create a surplus and use the surplus in developmental activities. That way India will really 'Shine' at all levels.

It is said only those who are insecure, take refuge in philosophy?
In the Gita, there is a description of three kinds of worship. The first is the Artharthi, the one who seeks wealth and prays for wealth. Second is the Arthaha, the one who seeks emotional solace, the third is the Jignani, who seeks knowledge and wants to improve his mastery over things. Lord Krishna says all these three kinds of worshippers are false worshippers. "It is the fourth, the Gnani, the person who pursues his path for self enlightment who is the real seeker and he will come to me."

Has there been an overdose of Vedanta of late?
As much as I would hate to say it, there has been a sudden fad for spirituality. Dedication may be wanting. But like the software boom, where those without merit fell off after the bust, only the genuine Gurus will remain.

What is the fine line dividing blind beliefs and Vedanta?
It's a dark line, a clear one. They are diametrically opposite. Vedanta tells you to think, explore, ponder over it and accept it only if it is relevant to you. It has no miracles in it, only the eternal truths. Your greatest asset is your own mind. Master your mind and set sail smoothly is what Vedanta is all about.

Nandini Srinivasan
Courtesy: Star of Mysore

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