"Vedanta holds the first place amongst all systems of philosophies. It is a system of philosophy in which human speculation has reached its very pinnacle or acme. It is indeed a unique system of thought, which demands a subtle, sharp intellect to grasp its fundamental principles. It is unique in the boldness of its conclusions. It is absolutely free from all shades of dogmatism or pet doctrines. Vedanta is no creed, no ceremony or form of worship. It is the science of the Reality. It boldly proclaims with emphasis that you are the immortal, all-pervading Atman, the universal soul or the Supreme Brahman in essence, in reality. Vedanta is very practical. It does not preach an impossible ideal. Vama Deva, Jada Bharata, Sankara and many others realised the truth of the Vedanta, you can also realise it if you will. What is wanted is regular and constant practice. You must have perfect faith in the utterances of the Srutis, the words of your Guru. You must have perfect faith in yourself first. Vedanta or the knowledge of the Self is not the sole property of Sannyasins or recluses who live in the forests or caves of the Himalayas. Study the Upanishads and you will find that many Kshatriya kings who were very busy in the affairs of life were in possession of Brahma Jnana. They gave instructions to Brahmin priests even. Vedanta is the religion of the Upanishads. It is the property of all. It has no quarrel with any religion whatsoever. It preaches universal principles. It inculcates the idea of that universal religion which is the fountain-head of all the religions of the world. It is a great leveller. It unites all. It gives rooms to all. Vedanta can be practised only by those who are endowed with real, lasting, deep Vairagya or dispassion and who lead the path of renunciation. For those householders who do not possess burning Vairagya, who are still attached to their sons, wife and property, but who possess a dull type of Vairagya, Bhakti Marga combined with selfless service is most suitable. Vedanta means ‘no slavery.’ It gives freedom to all. It embraces all. It is the religion of the Upanishads. It is the religion of Paramahamsa Sannyasins. This is the sum-total of Vedanta: “I am the all-pervading, self-luminous, immortal, indivisible, eternal, Sat-Chit-Ananda Brahman.” The fundamental principles of Sri Sankara’s system of Vedanta are beautifully summarised in the following couplet: ‘I express in half a verse what has been said in crores of books: Brahman is real, the world is phenomenal (unreal) and the soul (Jiva) is none else than Brahman’." —Swami Sivananda

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