• Aparna Amy Lewis

Vinaya - How Shāstra Leads the Worthy Student to Abundance and Joy

The following is a teaching that comes from the oral tradition of our sampradāya, from ancient teachings passed from generations of teachers to generations of students. Like many of the ancient Vedic teachings, this knowledge was written down and those books burned, but the transmission continued through the guru-shishya parampara. With a deep gratitude for our living teacher, and for my own working sense organs and mind to receive, I share this Vinaya teaching from Acharya Shunya ji.

(True/complete) knowledge gives discipline, from discipline comes worthiness, from worthiness one gets wealth, from wealth (one does) good deeds, from that (comes) joy.

In this sutra, students of Advaita Vedānta are given a clear pathway to achieving Joy – that abiding happiness that each of us seek in this life.

Vidya gives Vinayam – Knowledge gives Discipline (and Respect)

Vidya means knowledge, but not an ordinary knowledge – rather, it is knowledge from shāstra that awakens us to the Self. Shāstra, or sacred texts of the Veda and Upanishads, is alone considered an avenue to vidya as they help to reveal the highest knowledge of the Self/Brahman. All other knowledge – whether of science, technology, art etc. is not true vidya, rather it is information. Knowledge then in this context is the knowledge of the Self. Only this vidya creates vinayam – the discipline and humility of studentship.

Vinayam gives Pātritām – Respect and Discipline gives Worthiness (as a student)

Vinaya is a cultivated mindset of respect and deep studentship in our relationship to both teacher and shāstra. Why is this important? Why should we intentionally cultivate a mindset of respect as spiritual students? When we hold this value of respect in our thoughts, our words and our deeds – in every interaction with our teacher and the teachings, we are doing our own inner work to purify our minds and egos. The knowledge of Self is there, but if our minds are in confusion and a constant state of reaction, we won’t be able to receive this wisdom from our teacher. No matter how much we hear, we cannot Know. It is only when we have Vinayam that we are able to develop pātritām – to become worthy vessels for the knowledge of Self – to become adhikari. From the Sanskrit word pātra meaning vessel, we become worthy students for this knowledge, as we purify our ego and stabilize our intellect appropriately. Our worthiness comes from our respect.

Pātritām gives Āpanoti – Worthiness gives True Abundance/Wealth

So what does pātritā give? What is the life benefit of being a worthy student of Self Knowledge (ātmabodha)? That worthiness gives dhānam or gifted abundance. The one who is this worthy vessel achieves (āpanoti) wealth. In this case, we are speaking of True Abundance – not just the wealth of dollars or rupees, but of every kind of abundance. Vinaya brings happiness in our lives and our relationships. Material health, social relationships, physical health – everything comes from this Vinaya. When we understand the many meanings of dhānam we recognize the many gifts of this life. Instead of living a deprived miserable existence, with vinaya we have achieved some “dhān”. Shāstra is itself a kind of wealth. We can also have gurudhān – the huge blessing of a teacher, or strīdhān – the gift of a wife, or putra dhān – enjoying the blessing of a son, etc. This whole life we lead is a life of blessings. From this abundance on all levels, a sense of flow emerges. This leads to dharma – a life of right action.

Dhānam gives Dharma, from Dharma comes Sukham – A life of true abundance naturally leads us to right action, which in turns brings us Joy

When we are in flow, we are in a state of deep connection to universal ethics. When we understand our wealth to be manifest in the many blessings of our lives, we experience spaciousness and generosity. We naturally make choices and take actions that are beneficial to all, not just for our own small self-interest, but for everyone.

These kinds of universal right actions lead to Joy. When we fulfill dharma we fulfill our destiny, we live in our sva-dharma. To realize and live in alignment with our highest purpose, leads to an abiding connection with Self and a lived experience of Joy.

When we understand this relationship between Knowledge, Respect, Worthiness, Wealth, Dharma and Joy we have a template for a life of wholeness. If you are ready to experience abiding happiness in your life, this simple teaching can provide insight in each step.

Contemplate the following:

  • We think we want wealth for happiness, but how can we have wealth and be able to build success without a sāttvic (balanced) mind?

  • To create a truly abundant life, we must be worthy (adikhāri).

  • We can only truly become an adikhāri when vinaya is in place – when vinaya ends, you are no longer a worthy vessel.

  • Only if there is true vinaya, not from neediness but from a place of deep humility and respect, can we have vidya.

  • Vidya dādāti vinayam – then with true knowledge (of Self) do we foster more deep and abiding respect and so the cycle continues.

Love and Light,


This article comes from Hamsa magazine. We welcome you to enjoy reading each magazine to benefit from summaries of and heartfelt reflections on Vedika founder and Acharya Shunya's teachings, written by students of her Spiritual Studies Program.

​The author Aparna Amy Lewis is a long-term student of Acharya Shunya, and serves as the Dean of Vedika’s Spiritual Studies program.

Learn more about how you can study Vedanta with Acharya Shunya in her Vedic Spiritual Studies Program.

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