Interview with Adi Varuni, author of "Somewhere Among the Stars: Recollections of a Mystic"In Vedanta, the first step towards liberation is to dissolve our personal identity (Namarupa), including our thoughts, feelings, and memories.
on Mar 20, 2023
Partho who writes as Adi Varuni is a Writer and educator who has spent more than thirty years in integral education and has done intensive personal research in trans formative learning processes. Partho is one of the leading alternative educationists in the country and is associated as a mentor and consultant with many education initiatives in India. He conducts educational and spiritual retreats in India, Europe, and the United States.
Frontlist: Can you provide us with an explanation of the concept of Vedanta?
Adi Varuni: Vedanta is a term derived from two Sanskrit words - “Veda” and “Anta”. Veda means the process of knowing ‘knowledge’ itself and sources of knowledge while Anta means the end or consummation of a process, the final fulfillment of a process or peak of knowing. Thus, Vedanta means the final fulfillment of all knowledge and all-knowing in the knower. In simpler words, Vedanta is about moving your attention from knowing and knowledge to the knower alone. When the knower merges with the known, what remains is the knower alone; the self. Therefore, Vedanta is more concerned about the knower than the knowledge itself.
Frontlist: In Vedanta, who is the "Knower", and how does this concept relate to the attainment of self-knowledge and understanding of the nature of reality?
Adi Varuni: In simple terms, the Knower is the one who gains or acquires knowledge and experience. When you ask such questions, you can move beyond surface-level knowledge and enter the realm of inner knowledge. The universe you want to understand is no longer just an object outside of you - it has become part of you. So, you know the universe as you know yourself. This is called knowledge by identity. The Knower is not limited to any one person or form - rather, the Knower is the universe itself. In other words, the cosmos resides within the Knower.
Frontlist: In Vedanta, what is meant by consciousness, and how does it relate to the notion of self?
Adi Varuni: In every person, there is a knower inside. All knowers are different from each other based on how we define and describe our personalities. However, if we strip away all of these external descriptions, the knowers are essentially the same. Differences in identity, such as our social roles, create distinctions between us. If we remove all these layers of identity, what remains is a new identity based only on the form (Rupa) and movement (Gati). The entire universe is made up of Rupa and Gati. The “I” is the one who is aware and conscious of this movement and form. When all layers of identity are stripped away, what remains is the distilled residue of it all: a consciousness of movement and form. This consciousness is the true “I”.
Frontlist: What is time? How does the idea of "Maya" (illusion) impact our perception of time?
Adi Varuni: To a Vedanti, time is considered immeasurable, like Maya. It is an arbitrary measurement of something that cannot be measured. When we talk about time, we are actually referring to motion - the movement of the sun and the earth in relation to each other. If this motion didn't exist, there would be no concept of time. Time is not a linear progression but rather a simultaneity of the past, present, and future happening all at once, which is known as the "Classic paradox of time".
Frontlist: How does Vedanta philosophy understand the concept of “death”?
Adi Varuni: In Vedanta, the first step towards liberation is to dissolve our personal identity (Namarupa), including our thoughts, feelings, and memories. Once we let go of this identification, there is nothing left to die. The body itself does not know death as it has no beliefs or thoughts. Our fear of death is actually the fear of the unknown, as we don't know what it will be like. Our lack of knowledge of how to live also makes us fear death. Therefore, we need to learn how to live fully so that we can face death without fear.
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