Advaitam and Science

OM, Purnamata purnamitam purnat purnamutachyate, purnasya purnamataye purnamevavasishyate – Bri.Up V.i.1



Sanatana dharma was passed from generation to generation through guru-sishya parampara.  The teachers and their teachings play a very important role in sanatana dharma.  In this article, we will see the different type of teachers in sanatana dharma.

Adhyapaka – He is a person who sees that each sishya understand the right meaning of the scriptures.  A adhyapaka may handle one subject or many subjects.  He teaches with a lot of patience.  He never punishes or ill-treats the students even in worse situations.  Every student is dear to him.  They are entirely different from the teachers and lectures we see in the modern world.  Modern lecturers or teachers give lecture on a particular subject based on the syllabus.  They will leave the rest for the students to understand.  The student after class has to go to a library, or approach a private teacher to have a better understanding of the subject.

  • Upadhyaya – A upadhyaya is also like the adhyapaka.  He sees to it that the sishya understands the deeper meaning of the scriptures.  The difference between the adhyapaka and the upadhyaya is that the upadhyaya is like a permanent teacher.  A student can approach the upadhyaya in any time in life to clear the doubts; he will advise the sishya even in subjects other than what he has taught.  He is like a family doctor or a family priest.  He participates in every important occasion in a sishyas life. 
  • Acharya – A person well qualified in the scriptures, must be established in the scriptures and must be able to pass on that knowledge to others in a very effective way then he is called as an acharya.  He must practice the scriptural way of life and must be able to inspire others in that knowledge.  The perfect example of a acharya is Sri Adi Sankaracharya.  He understood the scriptures very well, he was established in the scriptural knowledge and was able to comment and write explanation for the scriptures.  He was a great inspiration for others to study the scriptures. There are acharyas in the field of arts and in other philosophies.
  • Muni – Muni is a person who understands the scriptures, he contemplates on that knowledge.  He may or may not pass on that knowledge to others.  He always contemplates on the inner meaning of what he read or heard; if he prefers he will pass on that knowledge to others.
  • Guru – The most important aspect and the most revered person in sanatana dharma is the guru.  Sanatana dharma has guru-sishya parampara.  Guru means gu + ru, gu means hidden or darkness, and ru means giving light, remove, bring out.  Therefore, guru means a person who removes ignorance in us and brings out the knowledge in us or makes our knowledge shine in us; and for this reason he is respected and worshipped.  Sishya means student.  Parampara means the unbroken lineage.  A guru is a person who has knowledge, experience, patience, dispassion (vairagya) and must be established in the truth.  He must not be a guru for any financial or social gain.  He must live in truth.  Such a person must be called as a guru.  The well established gurus of the modern times are Sri Ramakrishna paramahamsa, Sri Ramana maharshi, swami Vivekananda etc.  A guru knows to convert the knowledge into experience.  Without a proper guru enlightenment is a distant dream.

To respect the guru and guru parampara every year the Vyasa poornima or guru poornima is celebrated.  Not only in philosophy every field of arts has their own guru parampara.

Today’s education is completely based on grade and salary.  In ancient times, it was based on understanding the subject thoroughly and gaining knowledge and using that knowledge to progress in life.


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