Man and His Becoming according to the Vedanta (Collected Works of René Guénon)
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Man and His Becoming according to the Vedanta is Guénon's central exposition of traditional metaphysics, companion to his other two great works in this genre: The Symbolism of the Cross and The Multiple States of the Being. Guénon held that Hinduism embraces the most ancient, profound, and comprehensive expression of traditional metaphysics we possess, which can in some ways function as a key to every other traditional form, and this work has been called the first reliable exposition of Hindu metaphysics in any Western language. Before Guénon, the West's image of Hinduism was a hodge-podge of translated scriptures lacking traditional commentary, fragments of doctrine reported by Jesuits and other missionaries, random impressions of merchants, imperialists, and adventurers, unreliable Eurocentric constructions of the orientalists, and the fantasies of the Theosophical Society and their ilk. To this day, Man and His Becoming remains one of the best (if not the best) expositions of the doctrines of the Vedanta, an exposition entirely free from the modernizing and Westernizing tendencies that first infiltrated the Indian subcontinent under the British Raj, and have not yet abated. This text is a veritable bible of traditional metaphysics and anthropology. In his Studies in Hinduism and Introduction to the Study of the Hindu Doctines, Guénon treats historical and cosmological aspects of Hinduism in further detail.
every spark] .'4 It is not subject to the conditions which [Ashvattha saniitana] the roots of which point upward into the air, while the branches grow downward into the earth, and the hymns of the Veda are its leaves; whosoever knows it, the same knows the Veda: The root is above because it stands for the Principle, and the branches are below because they represent the deploying of manifestation; if the figure of tree is thus seen upside-down, it is because anal ogy, here as everywhere else,
pp395-396). 5 . I t is as nirguna that Brahma is karana, and as saguna that it is kiirya; the former is the 'Supreme' or Para-Brahma and the latter is the 'Non-Supreme' or Apara-Brahma (who is Ishvara); but it in no wise follows that Brahma ceases in any way to be 'without duality' (Advaita}, for the 'Non-Supreme' Itself is but illusory insofar as It is distinguished from the 'Supreme', just as the effect is not truly and essentially different from the cause. It should be noted that Para-Brahma
(vii) and finally the earth , that is to say, symbolically, the final term in actuation of the entire corporeal manifestation, corresponds to the feet, which are taken here as the emblem of the whole lower portion of the body. The relationship of these various members to one another and their functions in the cosmic whole to which they belong is analogous (but not identical, be it understood) with the relationship between the corresponding parts of the human organism. It will be noticed that no
but by no means incompatible, directions. Besides, the Sanskrit word darshana, which is attached to each of these concep tions, properly signifies 'view' or 'point of view', for the verbal root drish, whence it is derived, has as its primary meaning that of 'see ing': it cannot in any way denote 'system', and if orientalists translate it thus, that is merely the result of Western habits of thought which lead them into false assimilations at every step. Seeing nothing but philosophy everywhere,
with the essential principles. Since these are contained in the Veda, it follows that it is agreement with the Veda that constitutes the criterion of orthodoxy. Heterodoxy is found, therefore, at that point where contradiction with the Veda arises; whether voluntary or involuntary, it indicates a more or less far-reaching deviation or alteration of the doctrine, which moreover generally occurs only within somewhat restricted schools and can only affect special points, sometimes of very sec