(Athma Bodha 11)
The verses 54 & 55 describe the state of one who has realised oneness with Brahman, through assimilation of Athma Jnanam. Mundaka upanishad (3.2.9) states that “Anyone who knows that supreme Brahman becomes Brahman indeed.” This state of Brahma prapthi or Brahmatvam is a state of total bliss, complete satisfaction and perfect peace as described in these verses.
Yallabhat Na Aparo Labho Yat Sukhat Na Aparam Sukham I
Yat Jnanaat Na Aparam Jnaanam Tath Brahmeti Avadharayet II
Realise that to be Brahman, the attainment of which leaves nothing more to be attained, the blessedness of which leaves no other blessing to be desired, and the knowledge of which leaves nothing more to be known.
Yat Drustvaa na Aparam Drusyam Yat bhootvaa na Punarbhavah I
Yat Jnaatvaa na Aparam Jneyam Tat Brahmeti Avadhaarayet. II
Realise that to be Brahman which when seen, leaves nothing more to be seen, which having become one, is not born again in this world, and which when known leaves nothing else to be known.
The highest goal in life is to realise Brahman and become Brahman. The glory of Brahma prapthi as explained in these two verses is:
(1) It is the greatest gain, attaining which there is nothing else need to be attained;
(2) It is the greatest knowledge, acquiring which one need not work for any more knowledge as this knowledge is complete with nothing else to be known;
(3) It is the greatest bliss enjoying which one need not strive for a greater bliss, as there is none.
(4) Experiencing Brahman, there is nothing more to be experienced
(5) Becoming Brahman, one is not born again
(6) Knowing Brahman, there is nothing else to be known.
Bhagavad Gita (2-72) states “---One does not become deluded after attaining this. One attains oneness with Brahman by being established in this state even in the closing years of one's life.”
In the next two verses Sri Sankara describes Brahman Itself.
Tiryak Oordhvam Adhah Poornam Satchidanandam Advayam I
Anantam Nityam Ekam Yat Tat Brahmeti Avadhaarayet. II
Realise that to be Brahman which is Existence Knowledge Bliss-Absolute, which is Non-dual and Infinite, Eternal and One and which fills all the quarters-above and below and all that exists in-between.
Atat Vyaavrutti Roopena Vedaantaih Lakshyate Advayam I
Akhandanandam Ekam Yat Tat Brahmeti Avadhaarayety. II
Realise that to be Brahman which is Non-dual, Indivisible , One and Blissful, and which is indicated in Vedanta as the indestructible substratum, realised after the negation of all tangible objects.
Brahman is all pervading and It pervades all places east and west, north and south, above and below, here and everywhere. It is one without a second. It is infinite, eternal and filled with Satchidananda. It is nondual, indivisible, blissful and always exists as only one. That one is to be understood as Brahman. Mundaka upanishad (2-2-10) states “. That immortal Brahman alone is before, that Brahman is behind, that Brahman is to the right and left. Brahman alone pervades everything above and below---" Mundaka upanishad (1-1-6) also describes Brahman as “That which cannot be perceived and grasped, which is without source, features, eyes, and ears, which has neither hands nor feet, which is eternal, multiformed, all-pervasive, extremely subtle, and indestructible, and which is the source of all and which the spiritually aware see everywhere." As Brahman is not an object of cognition and is Itself the subjective Reality, ever illumining all thoughts and actions it can only be realised indirectly through the process of negation of all that it is not, referred to as ‘Neti, Neti’ in the earlier verse 30.
Akhandananda Roopasya Tasya Ananda Lavaasritaah I
Brahmaadyaah Taaratamyena Bhavanti Anandino Akhilaah. II
Deities like Brahma and others taste only a particle of the unlimited Bliss of Brahman and enjoy in proportion their share of that particle.
Sri Sankara is trying to give an idea of the Infinite Bliss, Brahmananda, experienced by a man of realization by saying that only a ‘particle’ of it is enjoyed by great deities like Brahma, Indra and other devas. Then that small ‘particle’ is sized down even further as it is proportionately enjoyed by all the billions of creatures from Brahma down to the smallest creature on earth. Proportionate enjoyment refers to the varying capacities to enjoy the presence of God according to the degree of evolution of the being. Only the man of realization can have a true idea of what this bliss really means. To the rest of mankind, it remains only in the realm of conjecture to ponder over this state. The Taittiriya upanishad has an entire Anuvaka (chapter) devoted to the comparison of the “Relative Joy” enjoyed by all in creation.
Tad Yuktam Akhilam Vastu Vyavahaara satadanvitah I
Tasmaat Sarvagatam Brahma Ksheere Sarpiriva Akhile. II
All objects are pervaded by Brahman. All actions are possible because of Brahman: therefore Brahman permeates everything as butter permeates milk.
The whole creation is pervaded by Brahman. It is because of Brahman only all actions are taking place in this universe. Brahman permeates everything as butter permeates milk. Here the example of butter and milk is given because butter is in milk but not directly visible. To get butter one has to churn milk. Similarly Brahman is spread in the whole universe but not visible. Only through assimilation of Athma Jnanam through nitidyasanam after sravanam and mananam of scriptures under the guidance of a Brahma nishta Guru, it is possible to realise Brahman. The simile points out two things:
i) God is there in every part of this creation in the same subtle way as butter is in
every drop of the milk.
ii) As butter is the essence of milk, so also God is the essence of creation. The physical manifestation, arising from Maya, is illusory like Maya.
Ananu Asthoolam Ahraswam Adeergham Ajam Avyayam I
Aroopa Guna Varnaakhyam Tat Brahmeti Avadharayet II
Realise that to be Brahman which is neither subtle nor gross: neither short nor long: without birth or change: without form, qualities, colour and name.
In case one gets the idea from Verses 57, 58 and 59 that Brahman, beheld in all things,
must have some physical characteristics, that idea is destroyed immediately by this verse where Brahman is described as eluding any parameters by which we measure things physically. Brahman which is beyond space-time-causation can only be defined in negative terms as neither subtle nor gross; neither short nor long; without birth or change; without form and name; without colour or quality. As Brahman does not have qualities, or functions, or qualifications, or name or relationship with others Its description eludes language and the negations employed are only indicators to Brahman and not definitions of Brahman. In Brihadaranyaka upanishad (3-8-8), Yajnavalkya answering Gargi’s question describes Brahman thus “It is neither gross nor subtle, neither short nor long, neither red nor moist; It is neither shadow nor darkness, neither air nor akasa; It is unattached; It is without taste or smell, without eyes or ears, without tongue or mind; It is non-effulgent, without vital breath or mouth, without measure and without exterior or interior. ------.”
Yadbhaasaa Bhaasate Arkadi Bhasyairyattu Na Bhasyate I
Yena Sarvamidam Bhati Tat Brahmeti Avadhaarayeti. II
That by the light of which the luminous orbs like the Sun and the Moon are illuminated, but which cannot be illumined by their light, and that by which all this shines, realise that to be Brahman.
The nature of the Self is so completely different from anything that we experience in this physical world, that we can hardly reach it through words. Yet that is what is being attempted in these verses through various analogies and similes. Here Brahman is compared to a light in a highly technical sense. Light is that principle in whose presence things are known and in whose absence things are not known. That way each sense organ is a light making rupa, rasa, gandha, sabdha and sparsa known and the ultimate light is the Brahman who as Athma that is Consciousness principle illumines the mind and through the mind the sense-organs and through the sense organs the external world. Mundakopanishad (2-2-10) states “When He (Brahman) shines, everything shines after Him; by His light everything is lighted.” Lord Krishna also says in Bhagavad Gita (15-6):”The light in the sun that illumines the entire solar world and that which shines in the moon and that too which shines in the fire, know that light to be mine” He also calls Brahman as light of all lights in 13-17 (Jyothisham api Jyothihi). This idea is echoed here when Sri Sankara states that sun and moon are illuminated by Brahman and Brahman is not illuminated by their light. It is again confirmed in this verse that but for the illuminating power of Brahman nothing can shine in this universe.
Swayam Antar Bahir Vyapya Bhasayan Akhilam Jagat I
Brahma Prakaasate Vahni Pratapta Ayasa Pindavat. II
Pervading the entire universe outwardly and inwardly the Supreme Brahman shines of Itself like the fire that permeates a red hot iron-ball and glows by itself.
Brahman is swayam prakasa and pervades the entire universe inwardly and outwardly. An iron ball which is black in colour and cold to the touch when in contact with fire, which is golden in colour and hot, for a long time comes to shine red and hot as fire itself. Similarly Sat-Chit-Ananda Brahman pervading the world of creation totally, lends life and intelligence to the world of inert and insentient matter.
Jagat Vilakshanam Brahma Brahmano Anyata Kinchana I
Brahma Anyat Bhatichet Mithya Yadha Maru Mareechikaa. II
Brahman is other than this, the universe. There exists nothing that is not Brahman If any object other than Brahman appears to exist, it is unreal like the mirage.
In the previous verse an example was given which may lead to wrong thinking that world and Brahman are two different entities like fire and iron ball. To dispel that notion and establish Advaitam, Sri Sankara reminds here that world is mithya and Brahman alone is real, through the example of mirage. Mirage is unreal and desert sand alone is real. What appears to be a pool of water to the ignorant person is dry desert sand only. So what appears to the ignorant person as world of diversity with different names and forms is really only the indivisible and non-dual Brahman. The realised person who sees Brahman in everything and everything as Brahman is not deluded.
Drusyate Srooyate Yadyat Brahmano Anyan Na Tat Bhavet I
Tathvajnaanaat Cha Tadbrahma Satchidanandam Advayam II
All that is perceived, or heard, is Brahman and nothing else. Attaining the knowledge of the Reality, one sees the Universe as the Non-dual Brahman, Existence-Kowledge- Bliss-Absolute.
The idea that everything exists is Brahman only is amplified in this verse. Whatever exists either in the microcosm of limited body-mind-intellect or in the macrocosm of outer created world, they are all manifestations of Sat-Chit-Ananda rupa Brahman only. Brahman and the world are not two separate entities though in the beginning we differentiate them as Karanam and karyam for our understanding. This carefully argued out division between Consciousness (Brahman) and matter (Universe) is finally reducing to Brahman only negating the matter in the end giving the final understanding that Universe is mistaken Brahman only. This knowledge when internalised gives one Realisation of Brahman as Ekam Eva Advitiyam, as declared by the Upanishads.