N. HARI HARA AIYAR, B.A.,
As the nature of every living being from Brahman to a shaft of grass demands that it should be free from every kind of misery, there arises a spontaneous desire in them to avert it. But Pain cannot be avoided as long as there is embodies existence, and body is the outcome of the stored up fruits of our deeds good and bad. These fruits arising from actions enjoined and prohibited cannot lose their effects. Actions have their source in Desire and Hate, and the latter in pleasant and unpleasant associations of ideas. These mental associations arise from a false notion of duality of objects, which again is due to the ignorance of the self-existent and second less Atman an ignorance similar to that which confounds mother-of-pearl for silver. It is clear therefore that Ignorance is the root of all misery. This ignorance is the obstacle to Eternal Bliss, which is the very essence of the Self, which is not subject to increase or diminution and which depends on nothing external for its achievement. Hence the summum bonum [Summum bonum is a Latin expression meaning "the highest good"] of all human ends can be attained only when Ignorance is set aside. This can only be effected by knowledge which is the sole remedy. But the Atman without understanding whom all happiness is impelled, cannot be revealed by such ordinary and non-Vedic methods of proof as Perception and Inference, and can only be attained from Vedanta. It is the object of this treatise which is a compendium of the Vedantic Philosophy to reveal such knowledge.
The first verse serves the double purpose of invoking Hari for success in the completion of this work, as well as of introducing the subject on hand:-
"Salutation to Hari, the witness of Intelligence, who dispels the darkness of Ignorance, and from whom emanate all the elements, ether to earth as the idea of a snake from a garland." (1)
The next verse pays homage to the Guru by bestowing high praise on his merits, with a view to show that the doctrines herein explained have their foundation on such a great authority:-
"Salutation to the Guru who loosens the knot of Ignorance and before whom all superlative qualities pale into insignificance." (2)
The next verse explains the purpose of the salutation to the Guru:-
"I now proceed to explain the knowledge of the Eternal substance, which puts an end to samsara and which is embodies in Vedantic texts." (3)
The subject-matter of this treatise is then described:-
"The precise nature of that entity which is a matter of intuition alone, and which realized, everything else is realized and without which nothing can be realized is now explained." (4)
The next verse says that the arguments herein set forth are based on the authority of the Guru, in order to remove the doubt that there may be mistakes of omission or commission which may invalidate the authority of this work:-
"The doctrines of the Vedanta have already been explained by the Guru and I feel myself unable to supplement him; for, how can a fire-fly shine in the all-pervading rays of the Sun." (5)
Now a doubt is raised as to whether the present treatise is at all necessary if the doctrines of the Vedas have already been explained by the Guru. The next verse removes this doubt:-
"This treatise is commenced not with a view to supplement, enrich or elucidate what has already been said but only to test my knowledge on the whetstone of the knowers of Brahman." (6)
The next verse divides the subject-matter into four heads
(2) The cause of Pain
(3) The summum bonum
(4) The means of obtaining the summum bonum.
"The non-understanding of the Unity of the Self due to the experience of the Self (in previous births) is termed Nescience, the root of samsara. The destruction of samsara is called Liberation of the Self." (7)
Having explained the first three divisions in the preceding verse, the author proceeds to describe the last division in the following verse:-
"The fire of right knowledge arising from the Vedantic texts destroys Illusion and not karma, for the latter does not prevent Ignorance." (8)
Now the various objections to the above proposition are set forth and answered as follows:-
Granting knowledge to be capable of destroying Illusion, how can it be of any use for Liberation which is attained by works alone? If you ask how this is, listen carefully to what I say:-
Suppose a person abstains from doing deeds which are coupled with a motive and avoids all those which are forbidden, and performs only those which are enjoined as absolute duties.
"Well, the fruits of these motivated deeds do not affect him nor does he descends to hell or attain lower-births, the forbidden deeds having been carefully avoided."