यावानर्थ उदपाने सर्वत: सम्प्लुतोदके |
तावान्सर्वेषु वेदेषु ब्राह्मणस्य विजानत: || 46||
yāvān artha udapāne sarvataḥ samplutodake
tāvānsarveṣhu vedeṣhu brāhmaṇasya vijānataḥ
yāvān—whatever; arthaḥ—purpose; uda-pāne—a well of water; sarvataḥ—in all respects; sampluta-udake—by a large lake; tāvān—that many; sarveṣhu—in all; vedeṣhu—Vedas; brāhmaṇasya—one who realises the Absolute Truth; vijānataḥ—who is in complete knowledge
To an enlightened person who has known the Self, all the Vedas are of as much use as is a reservoir of water in a place where there is a flood.
A small well is useful for purposes of drinking and washing. The same use is implicit in the all-filling flood of water. In the same way, all the rewards and enjoyments mentioned in the Karma Kanda of the Vedas are comprehended in the bliss of Brahman. Therefore the knower of Brahman does not care for the desire to fulfilling works mentioned in the Karma Kanda. According to the law ‘fifty is implicit in hundred’ (Sate pamchasat) and according to the truth that in the foot of the elephant the feet of all other animals are comprehended, all the various pleasures and enjoyments are comprehended in the bliss and blessedness of Atma. Therefore the wise man does not hanker after rites and rituals in the hope of enjoyments here or in heaven. It is stated here vijanatah, and so superficial knowledge is not enough, but the deep experience of Atma is necessary for perfect realisation.
One who has realized the Supreme Being will not desire the attainment of heaven mentioned as the fruits of performing Vedic rituals. Scriptures, such as the Vedas, are necessary means, but not the end. Scriptures are meant to lead and guide us on the spiritual path. Once the goal is reached, they have served their purpose.
Ramanuja and others also have given a different interpretation to this verse. For the thirsty man, all the water in the well or flood is not necessary. A few glasses will do. For the sick man, all the medicines in the world are not necessary. One or two suitable medicines are enough. For the hungry man, all the food in the world is not necessary. A few handfuls are enough. In the same way, for the wise man, a few practices mentioned in the Vedas leading to Self-knowledge are quite sufficient. By following them he attains the realisation of the Supreme. All the others are not needed for him. In the Vedas, innumerable Mantras, modes of worship, and works are revealed. The seeker may choose what suits him best to destroy the disease of ignorance and reach the goal of liberation. Here the Lord assures the devotee not at all to be discouraged by thinking that he does not know all the injunctions and practices mentioned in the Vedas.
Srimad Bhagavatam 3.33.7 —
O how wonderful! However low-born a man might be, if he has Thy name on his lips, he is indeed elevated by that! For those who take Thy name with faith must have already practised austerities, performed fire-sacrifices, bathed in holy waters, and studied the Vedas. They indeed are the worthy men!