How to read the scriptures?

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Listener 1:  I come from a very orthodox Muslim family. I have read a bit of Quran and it makes a lot of sense when it comes to particular stuff but at the same time, one of its perspective gives a feeling of narrow-mindedness. Right now, I am in a very big dilemma where to start with because I am quite illiterate in spiritual matters, and also I have been taught the same thing by the society like they condition everybody.

Acharya Prashant: Because you named the Quran, the center of Quran is Tauheed Oneness. There are no two Truths. Just That, and nothing else. Which means that be it the Prophet Mohammad or anybody else who ever could say anything of wisdom and value, the source is always the same because there are no two Truths, which means that even if you understand anything, including the Quran, the source of understanding has to be That One only.

Quran can be understood really only when you—as the ego mind; as the person, are connected to the same source that blessed the Prophet. Otherwise, one will misinterpret. And Quran has been badly misinterpreted, all religious scriptures have been misinterpreted.

The reason is obvious, very simple: the fellow who is speaking; the point from where his words are coming, that point is up there on that hill. Up there and pure, snow-like, beautiful, up there in the sky, the very peak, the climax, that is from where those words come. But words are words. Words belong to human languages. Be it Sanskrit or Aramaic or Arabic, doesn’t matter, words are words. The source of words is there but words are in the language of the commoners. So the commoners feel that they can interpret those words because they are in the commoners’ language, and commoners interpret those words standing in the valleys.

Words are coming from the sky and you are listening to them standing in the valley. You don’t want to rise up to that point. You don’t want that closeness; that oneness; unity with the source. You are so full of ego that you want to remain what you are. You want to protect your house which is in the depths of the valley. Remaining what you are, you apply your intellect upon the scriptures. Obviously, you will distort the scriptures. 

Sometimes you do it deliberately, sometimes you do it inadvertently, but invariably it does happen. Before you go to the Quran or the Bhagwad Gita or Bible or any book of any wisdom or any man of any wisdom, before you go anywhere you must first be in a condition to understand what that man or that book or that situation is saying.

Is it not right?

Suppose you are drunk and you start reading a holy book. Will you be able to make any sense of it? The whole of mankind is perpetually drunk. Can you allow a dunker to even touch the Quran? If you find that somebody has come to the Quran and he is stinking of alcohol, is it advisable, permissible that in that state he can read the verses, recites, interpret it? Is it alright? It cannot be alright in any religion.

In fact, it is said that you must be pure, you should’ve taken a bath, you should be fully awake, and then in a nice peaceful place, you should go to the scripture. The question is: Is it about the peace of the external? Is it about the peace of the words? Is it about the cleanliness of the body?

You should go to the scriptures with a very clean mind. You don’t just have to take a bath to purify the body, your mind should’ve been first purified, and only then you can go to the scriptures. Otherwise, you’ll make the mess of the teachings.

L2: Sir in due course of time the scriptures have been modified and altered as per the interests of a few. I have seen that people have started creating scriptures in their own way. The scriptures are the same but they interpret it accordingly so as to suit them. Therefore in my view people should not consider scriptures very much because they try to alter the sayings in their own way, but it seems so negative.

AP: No, it’s not at all negative, you see, what you are saying is exactly what at least the Indic scriptures say. They say that the highest point is to forget the scriptures. The scriptures do not recommend that you must constantly remember them. They say your mind is full of rubbish, you come to us so that the rubbish is cleared. And once you’ve gotten rid of the rubbish, you must also get rid of the scripture. In the same way, as one gets rid of the boat after crossing the river. Now, that you have crossed the river why are you still sitting in the boat.

So, if one can drop all the nonsense that is there in the name of religion then one is truly religious.

It requires a really religious man to drop all the religious nonsense.

Unless you have faith how will you really rebel against religion?

You look at Jesus, was the Jesus following the Bible? Not at least the new testament. Maybe, even the old testament, he wasn’t really following, he was clearly giving it new meanings. He said that the commandments are there but let me tell you what those commandments really mean. So it is an expression of the deep religiosity of Jesus that he rebels against the existing religion.

Only when you can rebel against the existing religion then you can be assured that God is powering you. Because without the support of that One reality, that one Truth, how will you have the courage to stand against the false?

The false is so overwhelming, you know, today you have communities that number in billions—Christians are over two billion, Muslims must be approaching two billion, more than one billion Hindus are there and Buddhists and numbers and numbers. Now, when such a huge number is following a particular way, then from where will you get the strength to not to follow that way?

That requires the support of God.

So that is real religiosity.

You see, be it, Jesus or Mohammad, they are first and foremost rebels. Mohammad didn’t carry forward a pre-existing religion. He had something new to say, and that is why it is said that He was in direct touch with Allah. Because without being in direct touch with God how will you ever come upon something new? You’ll just keep repeating the old.

So, feel free, totally free, don’t have that fear that you must follow the conventional.

Religion is not at all about going in a particular line, going down the beaten track, not at all.

Religion is extremely dynamic, religion is more modern than modern.

Religion does not consist of rituals.

Religion means, ‘I will live my life with Honesty and Truth.’

And are Honesty and Truth outdated things? Are Honesty and Truth something that belongs to the seventh or first centuries?

They don’t!

Is love something that you would take as primordial? And without religion what love are you talking about?  

So, religion is cool; religion is young; religion is vigour.

But not the religion that is touted, not the religion that is being publicised.


Excerpts from a ‘Shabd-Yoga’ session. Edited for clarity.

Watch the session: Acharya Prashant: How to read the scriptures?

Read more articles on this topic:

Article 1: God and scriptures are not matters of personal belief

Article 2: On Quran: You cannot guess the ways of God

Article 3:Spiritual scriptures have no meaning


Editor’s Note: 

Books by Acharya Prashant :

Amazon:  http://tinyurl.com/Acharya-Prashant
Flipkart:  https://goo.gl/fS0zHf

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2 thoughts on “How to read the scriptures?

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