Shastra is the basis of Spirituality. An organized framework of Spirituality is usually classified as Religion. Hence Shastra is the basis of all Spiritual life. Shastras are the revealed scriptures where the teachings of the Lord and His devotees are encased. Shastra is the body of Truth. Amongst Shastras , the Satwika Shastra (in the mode of goodness) and the Transcendental Shastras ( above the 3 modes of nature) like Srimad Bhagavatham are topmost. The major challenge however is the understanding of Shastra and absorbing the deepest essence enjoined in the Shastra. Thus Shastra has two aspects one is Tattwa (universal principle) and Rasa ( The practical flavour for day to day application).
Tattwa is more or less simple and easy. The literal translation of the Shastric Injuction explains more or less the principle. For example Krishna says in chapter 18 of the Bhagavat Gita “Abandon all varieties of religion and just surrender unto Me. I shall deliver you from all sinful reaction. Do not fear”. The literal meaning of the statement means that one should abandon activities that one considers as one’s duties and surrender to Krishna. Krishna takes charge and one should not fear. However when we take the Rasa of the above statement , there are a million problems to make this Shastric advise possible. When we say “surrender” , what does the word mean and to what extent can this word take us? What makes Krishna say that there will be no fear. In fact the moment you try to apply what Krishna has said , it is the single-most fearful thing to do. How can all this be practically achieved?
Hence Tattwa represents the mode of intellectual understanding and Rasa represents realization of the Shastric injunction. Only a “tattwa darshi” ( A seer of the principle or the one who has attained the rasa) can be able to practically provide the guideline to the statement of Krishna which is heavily loaded and has an ocean of nitty gritty encased in such a simple statement. The only way to go about the statement provided above is to first find a process by which Krishna can be known. One might have heard of Krishna. But first of all do you know this fellow who claims to give you “Abhay Daan” (Fearlessness) from all that is material. Hence the logical way is to know the process to know Krishna and His characteristics so that one can learn to surrender to Him. This is possible when one takes to a framework (Sampradaya) which has within it followers of Krishna who have realized Krishna and who have become thus fearless. When one adopts such a process one will slowly realize the entire import of the Shastric Injunction which appears to be so simple.
A person with burning desire to know the truth is only qualified to know the Absolute. Others take solace in Shastra in a half-baked manner, satisfying their puny egos wasting time. Shastra is to be regarded one’s heart and soul and one should be serious about every letter in the Shastra. One should never try to understand Shastra because it is beyond mundane understanding. Yet under the auspices of elevated Vaishnavas one can still easily realize shastra because one has taken up a bonafide process to apply Shastra in one’s life.
Shastra should be free from interpretation. Interpretation refers to intellectual gymnastics by which illusory understanding of Shastra is communicated. By quoting Shastra people try to show one’s command on the subject or wrongly extend Shastra to explain house-hold situations. There are people who discuss about high life, cars, watches and other representations of Maya to explain things on behaviour etc based on Shastra. This is gross misrepresentation of the spirit of Shastra. Shastra is not a premise for self-promotion. Shastra should ideally not be discussed if one has not realized the very basis of Shastra. Only under the guidance of a Self-realized master , taking his association, one should attempt absorption of Shastric injuctions. Shastra can never be an object of Casual reading. One should also not read Shastra translated or explained by spurious “authorities”. Authorized Deeksha Guru Parampara or individual God-realized masters should only be approached while seeking guidance on a particular Shastra.